Sunday, December 29, 2013

It Speaks for Itself

Sometimes, commentary on Scripture is necessary. Sometimes it's difficult to understand the authors' meaning without the help of those who have studied it in depth. 

Other times, however, Scripture doesn't need any help. Other times, God Himself is clear, and it doesn't matter who has studied it. Other times, there is no denying the meaning behind the words. 

John 14:31 "I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father."

The only question here is: "Does the world know I love the Father?"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankfulness (Days 11-15)

I have to admit that I didn't plan on writing every 5 days. It has just worked out that way. However, my OCD is SO. VERY. EXTREMELY glad it has!!

November 11/Day 11: Today I am thankful that God is always in control of ALL things, even when it feels like everything is spiraling out of control. Several days ago, my last remaining great-grandmother passed away. I know she is in a better place and that her pain was enough and her years beyond what most people even hope for that everyone knows that it was time. It was "easy" to let go - relatively speaking. Today, I learned that my grandfather has recently had a heart attack. He is home and doing much better. It does remind me though how fragile life is. In the midst of those things, our van has been having some transmission trouble. Hopefully we have it figured out and fixed now . . . hopefully . . . and today our washing machine quit on us. It was old and we knew its time was coming (though we secretly hoped for longer!!). It was used for several years, given to my sister who used it for several years, and then passed to us. We've had it for almost 2 years. It has served me faithfully! :-) All that said, here at the end of this day I am so completely ready to "throw in the towel" (pun intended!!)!! I'm thankful that I have a God who has a plan and that even when things seem to be going wrong, they're actually going perfectly according to His ultimate plan.

November 12/Day 12: Today I am thanking God for my brother and Courtney. The way they stand up for each other blesses me. The way they love each other is obvious to everyone who meets them. Their love for God is infectious. I'm so thankful they are a part of our family. We have many, many memories - some good, some not so good - and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I love you guys!!

November 13/Day 13: Well, I moved away from the area literally weeks - if not sooner - after Rachel and Daniel got married. So, I don't know Daniel very well. I do know that he loves God and my sister and his kids with everything in him. I know that he takes care of Rachel and that her best interest goes into each little decision he makes. Today, I miss Rachel. We had a special year together when we shared an apartment in Seabrook. We created so many memories in that little two bedroom place. There was LOTS of laughter and a few tears. There was even some disgust over moving the washing machine (came with the place) out from the wall and finding a pacifier from the previous renters. :-/ Dis-gus-ting!!! We even "weathered" a hurricane together (again, pun intended!!), and prayed like crazy during that storm that we wouldn't lose anything. The day we went back and found that the water had risen to almost the ceiling of the second floor . . . well, let's just say, we were never more thankful for a third floor apartment!! I love you both, and I'm extremely thankful for you!!

November 14/Day 14: Today I am thankful for my broken washing machine!!! (When I'm at the laundromat tomorrow with a week's worth of laundry, someone please remind me of this!!) I have had 4 days of NO laundry! I know most families only do laundry once a week, but in a 6 person family where only one person can do it and 3 of the 4 kids wet the bed almost every night, well, I usually do at least 2 loads a day. This has been somewhat of a restful week. Okay, okay. You got me. There is nothing restful about my life!!! :-) However, I got some cleaning-out done and got caught up on some chores and paperwork and miscellaneous stuff that I had fallen behind on doing. So, for those reasons, I'm thankful for the broken washer and the week without laundry.

November 15/Day 15: Well, it's 3:02 AM so the day hasn't really started yet. I don't know what this day will bring (besides LOADS of laundry and some grocery shopping and planning for our week trip to Gran's!!!), but I already know what I'm thankful for on this day. Today, I am thankful for my husband's job. Truthfully, his annual income, for our size family, is considered poverty - and that's before insurance and taxes. His bring-home pay would shock most people. However, we have never gone without. God has provided time and time again. His paycheck covers all of our bills and buys our groceries in full. I used to be frustrated with his job. I used to think he wasn't getting paid what he deserves for the number of hours he puts in. That may all still be true, but at least he has a job. There are so many people right now who don't have that blessing. They don't know where their next meal is going to come from. It may take extra planning on my part and little bit of a struggle to fit everything into the budget, but at least I know that I can go to the grocery store today and pick up the things I need. I will be able to buy diapers and formula and baby food. I will be able to pick up the food we need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will be able to buy our shampoo and soap and all the other things we need. So, on this payday, I am so very grateful that God has blessed my husband with a job that provides exactly what we need. Proverbs 30:8-9 - "First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thankfulness (Days 6-10)

November 6/Day 6: Today I am thankful for my sweet Samantha Brooke. When she was an infant, we did not get along well. She cried every time I held her. She wouldn't even eat for me. I had to put her in her carseat and prop up the bottle. I was depressed and cried all day, every day. She was a difficult baby and cried all day, every day. I thought we would never bond. Today, I am glad to say that we have such a precious relationship. Though those first few months were extremely difficult, I would not trade them for the world. They have magnified the greatness of our relationship now. She is snuggly and sweet and loving. She can be terribly clingy, but after a year of not wanting anything to do with me, I'll gladly hold her all day long - although I wouldn't mind a shower or a trip to the bathroom by myself once in a while!!! I'm super thankful for the blessing she is in my life. I thank God daily for allowing this precious girl to be a part of our family - even if I was originally upset that she was another girl instead of a boy!

November 7/Day 7: CJ, CJ, CJ - my life would not be complete without him! Oh how thankful I am for this little boy that has so completely captured my heart. One little glance was all it took. I will never be the same. The way he watches me as I walk through the house doing my chores. The way he sits in his swing, staring at me from across the living room as I work at the kitchen sink. The way he gently places his hands on my cheek every time I pick him up. The way he grins from ear-to-ear, his eyes almost shut when he sees me looking back at him. They way he laughs when I talk to him. No, I will NEVER be the same. I have SO greatly blessed.

November 8/Day 8: Grandparents. Where would we be without them? Well, probably not in existence! :-) I have been blessed to, not only have met but also to also remember a set of great-great grandparents, a set of great-grandparents and two great-grandmothers, and two sets of grandparents on my dad's side; two great-grandmothers and a set of grandparents on my mom's side; both sets of Chase's grandparents. That is a LOT of people! My family has had its share of issues - of course, whose hasn't??? - but I also know that I am loved and cherished and cared for. I know that I would be welcome in any of their homes at any time of the day or night. I know that I am prayed for. As for Chase's family, what a wonderful blessing they have been. Both sets have welcomed me into their families and made me one of their own. I have no doubt they love me as much as they love their biological grandchildren. What a heritage I and my husband and my children have been given.

November 9/Day 9: Today I am thankful for Lillian. She is a very loving little girl. God knew what He was doing when he placed her in my care while her parents are working. She is the perfect fit for our family. She gets along with my girls and she LOVES CJ! She is always hugging and kissing on him. She is very kind and gentle. Her sweet giggles are infectious! I look forward to having her in my home each day. Her parents, also, are a joy to know. They are kind and understanding. They love their little girl, but they also know that in a house with 4 other kids, things happen! They are flexible and easy-going. Not only is the family themselves a blessing, but the job itself is also a blessing. It has provided for unexpected expenses on more than one occasion. God always knows what He is doing!! Today, I know recognize His will as a blessing in my life.

November 10/Day 10: Today, I am thankful for my church family. We have not gotten super close to anyone because we haven't been able to attend on a regular basis. Between sick kids, husband with allergies, and an undependable vehicle, we end up missing more than we attend! However, I know that when are finally ale to attend, we are always welcome. It doesn't feel awkward to walk into our SS class after being gone for several weeks. It feels like going home. Thank you, God, for this wonderful blessing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thankfulness (Days 1-5)

Every year, in November, people all over Facebook do a daily "I'm thankful for . . . " status. I've never participated. Probably due to being depressed, I've stayed away from it on purpose. "What if I get a few days into it and can't think of anything else?" "What if I don't have 30 things to be thankful for?"

I know, I know. Ridiculous. I can see that now. Now that I'm taking my meds, I think like a normal person. Now, I know I have TONS to be thankful for. 30 days isn't enough to list all of the ways I have been blessed.

So, this year I started on November 1 . . . and made it 2 days! I have been too busy with the 5 little people in my care to sit down and write it down each day. Who has time for an in depth post on Facebook with 5 children ages 8 months - 4 years running through the house like wild maniacs???? Not this girl! (Plus I spent the day yesterday rearranging and cleaning out closets! That might have had something to do with lack of time.) Besides that, there just isn't enough space on Facebook to go into detail about why I'm thankful. I like words. :-)

With that said, I decided to share it all here. This first post is a catch up of days 1-8. Here goes.

November 1/Day 1: I am so very thankful for my mom and my mother-in-law. I have been blessed with two women who love God more than anything this world has to offer. They are both a godly example of what a mother and wife should be. I have two sets of footprints to follow. I have two women I can call at any hour of the day or night to get advice. They are both kind and gentle, sweet and giving. They love their grandbabies to pieces and are extremely helpful with them. They never complain about how many children I have and both love the fact that I would be perfectly content with having more! I have been greatly blessed! Happy birthday Momma! I can't wait to see you tomorrow Jenny!

November 2/Day 2: I am very thankful for the nieces and nephews God has given me. I don't live close enough to be well-known by them or to know them well, but I love them with everything in me. Dylan, Calum, Granger, Adilynn, Christopher Michael, Solomon, Abigail, Carrick, Kata, 2 on the way, 5 in heaven - I'm so very grateful God has placed you in my family and allowed me to be your aunt! Dylan, you may not have been born into this family, but you're no less special than the others. I pray you all grow into godly men and women and that you learn to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength". You are each special and unique and have been created EXACTLY the way God intended. Don't ever forget that, and don't let anyone tell you any different. You may not be perfect - we were all born with a sin nature - but you were perfectly created by a perfect God. He knew what He was doing when He created each of you as the precious person you are. I can't wait to see you guys at Christmas! Happy birthday Dylan!!! I love you all more than you know!

November 3/Day 3: I have been blessed enough to have 3 fathers, and I am very thankful for each one of them and the role they play/have played in my life. First and foremost, my biological father. He was a godly man and a wonderful example of what a husband should be. He was my father, teacher, principal, and pastor. He filled every leadership role in my life. He was worthy of being followed. The only selfish moment of his entire life (at least, the 20 years I was a part of it!) was the one that ended his life. Other than that, he lived his life according to the Scripture. I am so thankful for the years God allowed me to call him Daddy. I am also thankful for my stepfather. Though I was grown when he married my mother, he has stepped in and taken ownership of his role in our family. While my mom and siblings and I all remember my dad vividly, our spouses and children never met him. Tim is the only one they've known in this role. He has been a great father-in-law, an amazing grandfather, and an awesome substitute father. I'm not glad Daddy passed away, but I'm glad Tim has been there to help pick up the pieces and to take over the roles he left behind. Last, I'm thankful for my father-in-law. He is always looking out for our best interest. He loves to teach new things and provide information for us. He is helpful and kind and caring. He is loving and gentle. He loves his grandchildren and always has room for them on his lap - even while watching the Cowboys! Thank you, Shawn, for helping Chase fix our van today!!!

November 4/Day 4: Happy 3rd birthday to my favorite Jennifer Bryce. Though you have the ability to drive me crazy at times - most times!! - with constantly getting into things you shouldn't (stickers, taking a bath in the kitchen sink, board games, my makeup, need I list more???), I love you more than you could ever know. You may not have been my first baby, but you changed my life - for the better - when you were born. Our family would not be the same without you. I thank God for you everyday. I hope and pray you have the greatest birthday and enjoy your "blue birthday" (cake)!!!!

November 5/Day 5: My precious Elizabeth Ann. You made me a mother. If you had never come along . . . well, I don't want to imagine how my life would be different now. It would be quieter, for sure, and I would be sleeping through the night(!), but there wouldn't be near as much joy or excitement or wonder in my days. Your "why?" can make me crazy and your attitude is enough to drive me insane(!!!), BUT I still wouldn't trade my life with you for all of the quiet and sleep in the world. You have been a HUGE help to me in recent days as I try to juggle taking care of Samantha, Lilly, and CJ. I couldn't do it without you sweetie! And of course, your pickiness at the dinner table always leaves us with plenty of leftovers for dinner the next night - though I'm not sure how your tummy feels about that! I love you baby girl, and I'm very thankful to God for giving you to us!

Because my wild hooligans have infiltrated my living room instead of destroying their room upstairs (aka playing) like they are supposed to be doing, I'll have to end this post here and finish catching up tomorrow!!!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The House - The Explanation

This dream had been so vivid that when I woke up I felt as if I had just experienced it in real life. I was shaken to the very core of my being.

I have bad dreams on a regular basis. I have since I was a kid. Almost every night, bad dreams enter my peaceful sleep and interrupt my night.

This dream was different than others I'd ever had. I knew there was an explanation behind it. I began to pray and ask God what the meaning was behind this dream; what was I supposed to learn from it. Before a few words of my prayer escaped from my lips, the explanation became clear. God showed me the meaning before I even finished praying. It was then that I knew that what I had experienced through my dream, I had also experienced in real life.

So here is the explanation:

In our lives, there is a constant spiritual battle going on for our souls. If we are rooted in God, we will win the ultimate battle. We will be with Him for all of eternity.

However, there is a daily battle going on as well. Satan sends all kinds of things our way to tempt us and try us so that we will give in to the pressures of the world and follow him instead of God.

Life is no game. We are in a battle against demons and Satan even as we speak. Every decision we make either gives Satan a foothold in our life and gives him some power over us or it keeps the power from him and leaves God in control.

In this dream:
1.) The House was my life.
2.) The Creatures were demons.
3.) The Stranger was the leader of the demons, Satan.
4.) The Battles represented the daily battles against the evil powers of this world.

When this dream took place, years ago before I was even married, it changed my life. It changed the way I see my day-to-day actions. It changed my view of everything. Of course, I got married and had children and "the cares of this world" crept in.

Recently, God brought this dream back to my mind. It has, again, changed me. I picture myself going about my day with a spiritual battle going on all around me, each side fighting for my decisions, fighting for me.

I don't know if this all makes sense. There might be a better way to say it. I pray that, in spite of my lack of being able to explain it all eloquently, you will understand what I'm trying to say. Our lives are not a game. There is a spiritual battle going on for our souls and our choices every second of the day.

The House - The Second Battle

The first battle was over. I had defeated those creatures. I was the only one left standing. I knew another battle was coming. I knew the leader of those creatures would come to defend his followers. I knew I would have to face him. What I didn't realize was just how quickly that second battle would arrive.

After the battle, I sat down on the couch to catch my breath and try to calm my nerves. As I sat there, suddenly The Stranger was back. He just appeared on the couch next to me. It didn't shock me that he would be there. It was almost as though I was waiting for him. He seemed to appear when I was most vulnerable, when I needed someone most. I was almost excited to see him. I had been looking forward to him coming back so I could get to know him better.

"Are you okay?" he asked, concern filling his kind and compassionate voice.

"Just a little fatigued," I responded. "I just went through the hardest battle I've ever experienced."

He began asking questions about the battle and pacing through the house. I stayed on the couch, my head leaned back, my eyes closed while I answered his questions. As we talked his voice became deeper and more gravelly with every word he spoke. At first it was so subtle I almost missed it. I was just enjoying the conversation. The more we talked, the more obvious the changes in his voice became.

Suddenly, my eyes popped open, my head lifted off the back of the couch, and I looked behind me just in time to see him taking some of my things. Just as the creatures had done, he was putting things in his pockets and in his shirt.

Disappointment filled my heart and soul as I realized this handsome man was the leader of those creatures. He didn't tell me; I just knew it. Already exhausted from the previous battle, I was nearing the end of my limit. I knew though that I HAD to win this battle against him. I knew if I didn't muster up every last ounce of energy left in me and beat him at this game, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I would end up serving him until my dying day. This was no game.

I jumped up off the couch and pursued him with everything I had in me. I managed to get my things from him. As I did, his hand reached out and grabbed something else. We went round and round this way for several hours. Just when I thought I couldn't go on anymore and would have to give up, he seemed to realize he was no match for me. He relented. He surrendered. He gave up. He left.

And I woke up.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The House - The First Battle

After the stranger left, I was, again, alone in the house. Though mysterious things kept happening, I was not scared. I wasn't even questioning these things. I was simply accepting them as they came. They all seemed quite normal at the time.

Suddenly, I was surrounded by my friends again. I never did learn where they went. I never learned how they left or how they returned. They simply weren't there and then were again. There was no need for discussion. It was just accepted.

As friends often do, we decided to go out. Again, I have no idea where we went or how we got there. I do know that when we returned it was night again . . . and we had "company".

There were no boats in the water, but before we entered the house, we knew they were there. We knew they were waiting for us. We knew that a battle awaited us. We entered anyway.

There they were. The creatures had returned. This time they had dared to enter the house. I don't think they expected us to return while they were there. They seemed genuinely scared at first. They clearly had not been expecting a battle on this night. They recovered quickly though and battle ensued.

This battle was not a typical battle. There were no weapons involved. There were no injuries. There were no deaths. I don't really know how to explain it except like this:

As we walked in, the creatures were taking things of ours - pillows, jackets, blankets, etc. They were hiding them in their pockets or in their shirts. Every time they grabbed onto something that belonged to us, we lost any power. They had a hold over us. We had to wrestle the item away from them. Once we had our item back, they lost their power. It became a battle to see who could hold out the longest. One by one, they realized they were not going to win this battle, and they slowly made their way from the house.

From the description above this does not seem like a very intense battle. Truthfully, I cannot put into words just how difficult this battle truly was. It only took a matter of minutes to describe this event, but it actually lasted for hours. There are no words to describe the anguish and sweat and tears that were poured out during this battle. It was a battle unlike any I've seen or experienced before or since.

When the battle was over, when every creature had returned to the place from where it had come, I looked around me. I was alone again. My friends were all gone. I don't know if they won this battle and went "home" or if they lost and went with the creatures. All I know is that there was no one else in the house with me. For long . . .

Friday, October 4, 2013

The House - The Stranger

When I woke up the next morning, I was alone in the house. I was not scared though. I had a peace about me. As I walked through the house with the sunlight streaming in, yawing and stretching, I again surveyed my surroundings. The house was quite comfortable. I had slept well the night before. I awoke feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day held. That's a good thing too because the events of the day suddenly unfolded before my eyes.

I was standing at the open wall, looking at the bright blue sky, when I heard a male voice from the kitchen. I'll never know how he got there or when - he wasn't there when I first woke up - but there he was. 

"Are you hungry?" he asked

"I could eat. Who are you?"

He avoided my question completely as he passed me some breakfast. It didn't seem odd at the time. I just accepted his silence. While I sat there eating, I surveyed him. He was actually quite attractive.  He was tall, very muscular, and well built. He had a strong jaw and was clean shaven. He had big, dark, piercing eyes and dark hair, perfectly in place. I felt myself drawn to him. It was a stronger pull than any I had ever known . . . almost.

Suddenly, he was gone. He left just as quickly and mysteriously as he had come. I was a little disappointed. I wanted to get to know him. Little did I know that I would have another chance.

The House - The First Night

Though the house was abandoned, that fact was not obvious from the furnishings. The kitchen was fully stocked. The lights were on and the appliances were functional. The kitchen opened directly into the only other room in the house. The furniture in the living room was in impeccable condition. There were two throw pillows on the couch and one on the arm chair. The overhead light was off, but the lamp on the side table was turned on, providing dim lighting to the room. The lack of abandonment, however, ended there.

The house was fully enclosed on three sides. The fourth side was almost completely open. It looked as if a storm had come through and torn off that one wall. Pieces of insulation hung in various places along the top and edges. There were a couple of boards running the entire length of the wall as if to provide a barrier so one wouldn't fall out of the house. Just outside that wall was a porch that also ran the entire length. It wasn't technically a porch. There were only a few loose, rickety boards attached to the side of the house. There were no stairs leading down to the ground below. In fact, there was no "ground below". The house was completely surrounded by water. It was as if this house was its own private island.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how we came to be at this house. We never questioned how we got there or who owned the house. Maybe one of us did. Maybe all of us did. I don't know. We were just there.

The beginnings of this story are a little blurry to me. It has been so long since it took place. If I'm remembering right, we were in hiding, but I know not from whom or why. I don't remember how many of us there were, for in the end, it was only me left. I know we were all good friends. I think there were 6 or 7 of us. I don't know if we were all girls or if there were some guys in the mix. I cannot tell you what happened to any of them through the course of this story. This story is my battle. They were engaged in battles of their own. I do not know if they won their battles or lost them. My own journey was that intense. All I know is that I was not alone that first night.

Anyway, after seeing all there was to see about the house, we walked to the open wall. We stood there staring out at the peaceful dark sky, the open water stretched out before us. The calm was suddenly interrupted by boats. There were only 3 or 4 of them, but they were circling the house. They were filled with ugly, angry, beastly creatures. The creatures' brown skin was leathery and wrinkled. They reminded me of the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies. (It was only years later, when I saw these movies for the first time, that I was able to make that connection.) They were unified in their purpose but clearly, there was no single leader. It was obvious they had been sent. They were doing their job well in spite of that. They were yelling and laughing at us and mocking us. They didn't reach out to us though. They didn't try to get out of the boats to get to us. It was as if their mission was to let us know we had been found and to scare us.

Once they felt their mission complete, they left as quickly as they had come. We all went away from the open wall and went to sleep for the night.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Want . . .

An anniversary letter to my husband . . .

A couple of things:
1.) I know it's not our anniversary until the end of November, but I feel that if I have something that needs to be said, I should say it NOW instead of waiting for that elusive tomorrow. I know, from experience, that tomorrow may never come.

2.) I also know that you rarely read this blog. I know that it is likely that you will never see this. While I'm writing it for you, I understand that you may never even know about it. I read once that wives should talk uplifting about their husbands when he IS around and when he ISN'T - even when he may never know what was said.

3.) There are a lot of things I could say about God and our relationship with Him as a couple. Our relationship wouldn't be possible without Him. We wouldn't be a "we" without His handing having moved in our lives. He brought us together, and He, and ONLY He, will separate us. Marriage takes 3 - you, me, and God. Without Him, life and marriage and family are empty.

Anyway, here we go . . .
Five years. In so many ways it seems like just yesterday you were standing at the front of the church in your white tux surrounded by groomsmen and bridesmaids in black and white as I walked toward you with my white dress and red roses. It seems like just yesterday we were saying "I do" to the vows as your Bipaw read them to us word-for-word as he had for your parents so many years ago. It seems like just yesterday we were repeating those 
well-known words from Ruth 1:16-17 as we promised each other forever. It seems like just yesterday you were singing Steven Curtis Chapman's "I Will Be Here" as I stood listening, oblivious to the crowd behind me. How is it that 5 years has gone by so quickly?

Five years. So much has happened in these past years. I had no idea how much life could be jam packed into such a short amount of time! We've experienced the birth of three daughters and a son. We experienced the birth of 4 nephews and 2 nieces on my side and 1 of each on your side. We've been together for the weddings of my youngest sister to Daniel and your brothers to Laura and Casie. We've been together through the death of my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my great-aunt, and my great-uncle. You have been there for me through 5 Aprils as I journey through the anniversary of my dad's death and (2 days later) the would-be birthday of a very close family friend. You have been there for me through 5 Julys as I journey through the anniversary of the death of that same close friend and (2 days later) the would-be birthday of my dad. 

Births. Deaths. Everything in between. We have been through so much together.  We have had issues that the "whole world" has known about and prayed and supported us through. We have had issues that only a select few have known about. We have had issues that only we and God know about. We have faced questions and concerns. We have had good times and bad times. We have celebrated together and mourned together. We have been together "for better or worse" and "for richer or poorer" but mostly poorer!!! :-) We have cried together and laughed together. We have questioned together and learned together. There have been times you have carried me and times I have carried you. There have been times we each tried to go it alone, realized that doesn't work in a marriage, and come back together, stronger and closer. We've talked. We've argued. We've disagreed. We've agreed. We've given ourselves to each other for five years.

Five years. So, after five years, what do I have to say? Well, I'm not creative enough to come up with my own words (we all know my negative relationship with poetry!) so I've "stolen" someone else's! Here ya go - since I know your love for country music, I've chosen lyrics from that style! I love you, baby. Knowing what I know, having been through all the negative we've been through, I'd still do it all over again. Happy early 5 year anniversary!

(Some of the song doesn't apply to us so I skipped over those parts with a [. . .]. Those parts of the song are good, but I wanted you to be able to just focus on the parts I would say if I had written it myself!)

Still the One
When I first saw you, I saw love.
And the first time you touched me, I felt love.
And after all this time, you're still the one I love. 

. . . 

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss goodnight

Ain't nothing better
We beat the odds together
I'm glad we didn't listen [to our trials]
Look at what we would be missing

. . . 

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss goodnight

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss goodnight

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I want to start this post by asking that you see it as nothing more than me giving praise to God and sharing what He has done for me and in my life. There is no hidden message in the things I'm about to share. God has been so faithful to me and such a source of comfort in my life that when He speaks to me this clearly, I MUST share - even if the subject tends to be "taboo". So, here goes.

From the beginning of our marriage - almost 5 years ago - life has been rough. Actually, it has been rough from the beginning of our relationship - almost 6 years ago. Finances have never been available in abundance, if you know what I mean. Chase had to borrow money for my engagement ring! Our wedding was a simple affair without many decorations, but we were in love so it didn't matter. The first night of our 3 day honeymoon was a wedding gift from an anonymous source. The other 2 nights were paid for by gift cards we received as wedding gifts. The rest of the week was spent sharing a room with his brothers at the family Thanksgiving reunion! We didn't care! Life was "perfect"!!!

After the wedding and honeymoon, it was back to real life. We both continued our individual jobs and worked an additional job together cleaning the church just to make ends meet.

9 months and 1 week after the wedding, Elizabeth Ann was born. The original plan was for me to quit working and us keep the cleaning job. We quickly realized that wasn't going to pay the bills. However, with a new baby, it just wasn't practical for me to work all day and then work again in the evenings. So we stopped the cleaning job, and I continued my day job.

14 months later, still barely able to keep food on the table, Jennifer Bryce was born. I had to continue working. I hated it, but it was where we were in life. 

When she was about 4 months old, Chase joined the management program at work. The pay increase was just enough to replace my job! I was ecstatic!!! I was going to be a stay-at-home wife and mommy! I was going to live my dream and my calling. Life was "perfect".

The new job required us to move to Waco. As soon as we got there, Chase's truck broke down. We couldn't afford to fix it. So he took our only vehicle to work for 13 hours a day, and I sat at home with two babies. I couldn't afford curtains, but it was too hot to leave the windows uncovered. We couldn't afford the electric bill if we did. We couldn't afford to turn the lights on during the day either though. So we sat in the house with the lights off and blankets nailed over the windows. I didn't complain (much). After all, I had asked for this, right???

I found out I was pregnant with #3, but even with insurance, we couldn't afford health care. I got an infected wisdom tooth. I couldn't get it taken care of. The money simply wasn't there. 

It was about this time that God began teaching me a very valuable lesson, one I hope I never forget. It is important for me to make note right here that this lack of financial resources was nothing new to me. It was how I had grown up. There were times we were thanking God for dinner before it had made its way into our home. There were Christmas' where "Santa" literally showed up on Christmas Eve. (Seriously, neighbor men dressed as Santa dropped a bag of toys off on our front porch one Christmas Eve because they knew my parents had absolutely nothing for us!) I was familiar with this lifestyle. It wasn't/isn't important for me to have things. My frustration was that it seemed every pay period we were begging God to stretch the money so the bills could get paid. God used a conversation with my sister to show me that He was/is trying to teach me dependence on Him. He also showed me that my children are learning valuable lessons through this as well.

Anyway, back to the story. Samantha Brooke was born 15 months after her big sister. She was a welcome addition to the family, even if we didn't know how we were going to afford diapers! When she was 5 weeks old, we moved to Terrell. Shortly after, Chase was up for a raise. It was small, but between that and an larger-than-expected tax return, and an unexpected bonus, we were able to pay off some of our debt (except for Chase's school loan, all of our debt is medical) just in time for . . . You guessed it! We found out #4 was on the way. 

Because we had gotten some debt paid off, we were able to afford health care. God blessed me with an amazing doctor who somehow new our financial situation and didn't charge me for the weekly office visit to get my progesterone shot. He also blessed us with an amazing medical company that didn't charge us for the progesterone shots! I slowly began to be able to see His hand moving us toward greener pastures. 

I'm sure the fact that I was diagnosed with depression and put on meds helped. He had been moving the entire time. I just wasn't okay enough to see it. 

Anyway, things are still tough. We didn't come across a million dollars. We didn't receive a vast inheritance from some wealthy ancestor. We have simply been faithful to God. I have made it a point to pay tithe (10%) from each paycheck. I didn't always want to, but if things were this tough WITH God helping, I didn't want to experience it without his blessing!! Know what I mean??? 

Slowly but surely, I began seeing that God is going to take care of us. He is going to meet our needs. We may be below poverty level for the rest of our lives, but we will always be taken care of. 

One day, one of the kids asked for something, and I told them we couldn't afford it. They asked why, and I told them "because we are what most people would consider poor. BUT we have each other and we have God, so we are actually RICH!!" Jennifer said, "I will ask God to give you more money." (Apparently I have a materialistic daughter!!!) Then she prayed. When she finished, she looked at me and said, "He said He will." This is a common comment after they pray so I thanked her politely and went on my way. I only thought of it again later to tell Chase because it was funny to me. I didn't realize God was speaking through her.

A few days later, I woke up with some discouragement. Though I know he is taking care of us, the debt hangs over me like a dark cloud, and some days I wake up frustrated by it. This particular morning I woke up and read my Bible. This is the passage that was the "Verse of the Day":

"Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!
Rejoice in the LORD your God!
For the rain He sends demonstrates his faithfulness. [I have to point out that it was raining as I read this!]
Once more the autumn rains will come,
as well as the rains of spring.
The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain,
and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.
The LORD says, "I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts,
the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and
the cutting locusts.
It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.
Once again you will have all the food you want,
and you will praise the LORD your God,
who does these miracles for you.
Never again will my people be disgraced.
Then you will know that I am among my people Israel,
that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other.
Never again will my people be disgraced."

I know these verses from Joel 2 are meant as a prophecy to the people of Israel, but that morning, they were for me as well. It was like He was telling me that He had sent this lack of financial resources in order to teach me, but that I had learned (or was close to learning) the lesson, and I was about to see His had move in a mighty way. I knew, clear as day, that these verses were meant for me that morning. 

A couple of days later nothing had changed. Well, nothing for the better. A family member had to loan us some money for a few days because of some unexpected charges. We were frustrated and embarrassed that we had to ask for help . . . again. 

I was praying that afternoon and telling God that I was sick of this. I told Him that I wanted to be free from debt so we could afford to pay for our own unexpected expenses. 

Suddenly it clicked.

For the past (almost) 6 years, I have been praying for God to provide so we can get out of debt. I want to put every single penny toward it so that, in a few years, we can help people the way we have been helped. Don't get me wrong. This is a noble, honorable thing. This is a good thing. God wants us to be free from debt. 

However, He doesn't want us to wait until then to help others. He wants me to want to help others NOW. He wants me to give NOW. 

As I was praying, the words just came out. "God I wanna pay off debt, but more than that, I wanna be able to help people. I wanna be able to give. I wanna be able to be a blessing instead of the one always on the receiving end. Even if I don't get debt paid off any sooner than I would have, would you please bless me so that I can bless others? Don't bless me because I deserve it. I don't. Bless me so I can be a blessing."

No lie, the NEXT evening, a job opportunity came my way. A job keeping a little girl in our home. I have been trying to do this for years now, and God has always shut the door. It was as if he was saying, "Finally. You got it."

I don't know about you, but when God says, "You got it", that makes me feel good. I stuck with it until the "end". I finished the race. I learned the lesson. I'm not saying I'm finished and have reached perfection. All I'm saying is that I continued to seek His face until I learned His lesson, and He was faithful to keep His promise.

Whatever you're facing today, don't give up. Continue persevering. Continue seeking His face. He won't leave you in the wilderness forever. One day, you'll learn the lesson He is trying to teach, and the reward will be all the sweeter because of the path you walked with Him in order to reach it. 

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." Galatians 6:9

Monday, September 23, 2013


Romans 5:19 says, "Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous."

Because of the surrounding verses, I know this is talking about Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden and Jesus' obedience on the Cross. However, I can't help but feel that there is an underlying message here for us as well.

The Bible teaches, in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2, that if we cause a person to stumble, it would be better for us "to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around [our] neck".

The Bible also teaches, in Romans 14:13, that we are to live in such a way that we do not cause another believer to stumble.

If we disobey God, our lifestyle WILL cause others to stumble. It WILL point them away from Christ. 

If we live in obedience to Him, our lives WILL reflect Him, and many will "be made righteous".

Each action we make, each step we take make up the whole of our lifestyle. Are our lives pointing others to Him or away from Him?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I recently came across a book at the blog "The Time-Warp Wife". I fell in love with her blog immediately. She was a definite kindred spirit! (Thank you, Anne Shirley for that phrase!!) So when I had a chance to get a copy of her ebook for FREE, I snagged it up immediately.

I was in the middle of reading another book so I didn't read it right away. I finally started it last night, and let me tell you, I wish I had done so sooner! It has already changed my life, and I haven't even finished it yet! 

One of her points really stood out to me. It was about changing the way we think. I felt like God was speaking to me through that. Then, this morning, the verse of the day in my Bible app was Romans 12:2. It says, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Emphasis added.)

God confirmed to me, this morning, through His Word that it truly was Him speaking to me through the book last night.

Like I said, I haven't finished the book. However, I'm recommending it anyway. It is written for wives - stay-at-home, work-at-home, go-to-work - but I think it could be helpful for those who even WANT to be wives. It's better to learn this stuff now than to wait and learn it after it should already be being put into practice! It is called "The Good Wife's Guide". It is written by Darlene Schacht. It is not still free, but the eBook is only $2.99. You can get it in print through Amazon, but it is a little more costly. 

Here is the link:

Sunday, August 25, 2013


My Sweet Jennifer,

I don't know if it is because I'm paying closer attention or because your personality is coming out more and more, but I'm finding myself learning a lot of things about you recently.

The first thing has been noticed by everyone who has met you. It's no new revelation to me. Your Aunt Chelle calls you the happiest non-compliant child she's ever met! Even when you're disobeying, you are always happy. You smile through your tears! Your joy is contagious. Your smile is a ray of sunshine in the midst of the dark clouds of life. Your laughter rings out through the thickness, the heaviness of the air on a rough day. You have been given a gift in this. You see the positive in every situation. Your cheeriness causes even the grumpiest of people to smile - I've experienced it firsthand! Proverbs 17 teaches that a cheerful heart is good medicine. It's good for you and for those around you. I pray that no matter what hardships you face in your lifetime, no matter what trials, no matter what struggles you walk through, you won't allow your heart to become hardened. Keep laughing sweetie. Keep your joy. Keep being an infectious ray of sunshine. BUT remember that your joy, true joy, can only come from one place. It's a "Fruit of the Spirit". So, in the midst of those trials, run to Him, and you'll keep that fruit.

I'm learning also that you are terribly OCD! You are a perfectionist to the very core of your being. You come by this honestly so I'm preaching to myself here as well! Being a perfectionist can be a good thing. You'll probably always be neat and organized. You'll be on time and always meet your deadlines. Everything will have a place, and everything will always be in its place. These are not bad things. In fact, they'll most likely make your life easier. Being a perfectionist can be a negative thing too. Don't beat yourself up when you make a mistake - sin. Repent, and turn back to Him who died for your soul, but don't hate yourself. Give yourself and others a little grace. I'm not saying you should let others walk all over you, but realize that no one is perfect. Everyone messes up now and then. Learn to let it go instead of becoming bitter. Oh, and it's okay if your bed isn't perfectly made up while you're sleeping in it! Learn this now at age 2 you'll save yourself a lot of heartache!!! :-)

This letter is already longer than it was when I was writing in my head, but I have one more thing before I end. It's okay to be stubborn. That trait will help you hold fast to your beliefs and convictions. You'll be be like a tree firmly planted along a riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water (Jeremiah 17:8). You won't be easily swayed. You'll be more likely to stay on course. It can be a bad thing too though. When you do get off course, it'll be harder for you to be convinced of the error of your ways. Be teachable sweetheart. Learn to listen to correction and criticism. Find godly people that love you and that you trust, and accept their advice.

I love you very much precious girl. You mean the world to me. We've had personality clashes before, and there have been times when I didn't feel suited to raise you because I didn't understand you. I still don't. However, God entrusted you to me. So I am committing to seeking His face and His guidance each and every day for direction on how to be the mother and leader you need. 

Keep smiling baby girl. Keep laughing. Let God shine through you.

Love, Mommy

Friday, August 23, 2013


To My Precious Son,

I waited and waited for you. Three pregnancies came and went, and each time, another precious girl was placed in my arms. I love them more than life itself, and I would do anything to protect them. I wouldn't trade them for the world. But my heart was yearning for a son.

I wanted a sweet baby boy. I ached for the doctor to place you in my arms. Finally, the fourth time around, it happened! I was ecstatic!

Having a little boy was different from the vey beginning. For a mommy who gets her boy first, the difference may not be so obvious once they have a little girl. But after having three little girls, the emotional attachment of having a little boy is glaringly different. You touched my heart in ways your sisters couldn't. You won't understand this until you're a parent. I barely understand it myself. I definitely have trouble putting it into words. It's not that I love you more than your sisters. I simply love you differently. You're my son. 

Since that first moment when the doctor placed you in my arms, I've done everything I can to protect you. Physically. I have changed your diaper. I have fed you. I have dressed you (or undressed you based on the crazy Texas weather!!). I've taken you to the doctor. I've made sure you've gotten your shots. (Though there are those that would say that I'm not caring for you by doing that!) I have held you. I've comforted you. I've wiped your tears away. I have cared for you to the best of my ability.

As the days slowly, yet oh so swiftly, passed by, I came to realize that while there is definitely an emotional difference, there are other differences as well. 

I realized that, like every other person on the planet, you were born with a sin nature. You are going to sin at some point in your life. There are no two ways about it. It's going to happen. However, again like every other human, when you were born, your mind was a blank slate. There was nothing there. It was perfectly pure and innocent. Your eyes had never seen anything inappropriate. Your ears had never heard words they shouldn't have. 

And it is my job to make sure that everything you're exposed to helps keep it that way. Dear God, please help me!!

Now, we live in a sinful world. You are going to be exposed to ungodly things simply by going outside. Truthfully, with the bad attitudes your sisters and I can muster up, you're going to be exposed to it in your own home. I know I can't shelter you from every negative thing. It would be naive of me to think otherwise. I can do my part though to keep you innocent as long as possible. 

When your uncle was a little boy, his uncles took him out and showed him pornography. When he came home crying, they told your grandparents, "He's gonna see it eventually". (To say that your grandparents were not pleased is a drastic understatement!!!!)

Sure, you'll see "it" eventually. It is my job to do everything necessary to make sure that "eventually" takes place on your wedding night.

So, I'm vowing, here and now, to do everything in my power to help you reach that goal; to help you stay on that course; to help you uphold that standard; to keep your purity - not for the sake of the girls you date, but for YOU! For YOUR relationship with God. (Yes, I care about those girls, but it is just as wrong for you as it is for them. Purity is not just for girls. It's for men too. And it's manly.)

I said I'll do anything to help you, and I mean that. If that means not having Internet in the house, we'll get rid of it. If that means we never turn on the TV, so be it. If that means you need me to go on your dates with you, I'll be happy to assist you! :-) Whatever you need, I will gladly pour my heart and soul into helping. 

Until you are old enough to know what you need, I WILL be making those decisions for you. I know you're only 5 months old. You don't even know what a girl is! That doesn't matter to me. I'm already working to keep your mind sweet and innocent for as long as possible. 

Sometimes your sisters and I would watch "girl" movies - movies where the girls may not have been dressed as appropriately as they should - when daddy wasn't home to see it. No more. We've gotten rid of some stuff already. If I don't want it in your mind at 5 years or 15 years, I don't want it in your mind at 5 months. And neither does God.

Since we all know that females wear underwear and bras, I'm gonna throw this out there. I'll NEVER take you to that section of any store. Your 3 year old sister comments on how immodest the models are. You don't need to see that. I don't buy your dad's, and he doesn't buy mine. You won't go with me to buy even your sister's - unless of course they're still young enough that there are no models on the packaging. 

Your mind and your purity are mine to protect, and I will take my job seriously at ALL costs. I love you my precious son. You changed my life in ways I didn't even know were possible. I'm so thankful to God for giving you to me. 

You're not our oldest so there will be lessons I've already learned by the time you walk those pathways. You're (most likely) not going to be our youngest so there will be others who benefit from the mistakes we make with you. You are our first boy though. We're learning what it means to raise a son. I will make mistakes and use poor judgment at times, but I'm going to strive and struggle and sweat and run this race with endurance to keep this promise I'm making to you. I'm not keeping it alone though. I'm waking up each morning, begging God, pleading with Him to give me wisdom in raising you to be a pure and godly man.

One day, you'll be that godly man, and I'll continue to pray for you to make wise choices. But you'll be praying for yourself as well. How do I know this? I have a promise from God in Proverbs 22:6. I'm claiming this verse from God. I'm going to do my part, and I KNOW He will do His.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." 

I love you my precious CJ. 

Love, Mommy

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Curve Ball

Sometimes when bad things happen, we console ourselves by saying that God didn't make it happen; that it's just because we live in a fallen sinful world. While God is always in control and must always give permission before things can happen, I believe this way of thinking is partially true. 

Psalm 139:16 says, "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you."

Sometimes life throws us curve balls. It seems like nothing is going right and everything is going wrong. 

The truth is, it's not life. It's God. You see, God has character traits He was to build up in us, values He wants the world to see in our lives, lessons He wants us to learn. And sometimes He has to send situations into our lives to accomplish that will in us. 

Recently, "life" threw some curve balls our way. I was frustrated and angry and overwhelmed. I told my grandma, only half jokingly, that sometimes I wish God would just write on the wall what He is trying to teach me. I'm willing to learn. I just want to know what it is. I knew there was a lesson for me in these things. I simply couldn't figure out what it was. 

Then, in the middle of our conversation, God spoke directly to me. I heard the words "learn from me", and I recognized them from Matthew 11:29.

Okay, God. What do you want me to learn? I quickly realized that He was pointing me to Scripture. He led me straight to the lesson. I didn't have to do any digging. He basically answered the request I had uttered to my grandma. He wrote it down for me. What is He wanting me to learn?

I'll let James tell you like he told me:
James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Paul says it this way:
Romans 5:3
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation."

1.) God wants me to learn to have joy in spite of, and rejoice in the midst of, my trials because He is using them to develop me into a woman who reflects His image. That right there should be reason enough. He cares enough about me to let me face difficulties just so I can reflect Him. He loves me enough to walk me through hard times simply so others see Him in me, and so my life brings Him glory. 

2.) PERSEVERANCE is defined ( as "steady persistence in a course of action . . . in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement" and ENDURANCE is defined as "the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions". What is the "course of action"? Following God and reflecting Him to a lost and dying world with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength - with the way I respond to these trials. Galatians 6:9 says, "So let's not get tired of doing good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."

3.) What is this "harvest of blessing"? Maturity. Completeness. Lacking nothing.  Paul says "let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." (Hebrews 12:1b) One day, these trials will make sense. One day they won't matter. Face them with joy and endurance and don't give up. The blessing is worth the struggle.

4.) Hebrews 12:28, "Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakeable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe." No matter the trial, worship Him!

5.) He will give rest for our souls. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Isaiah 40:31 - "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

Hebrews 12:12 - "So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees."

Monday, August 12, 2013


To say that this month has been stressful is quite an understatement.

• Chase has applied for a higher position within the company he is currently working for. We have heard nothing about it. 

• I have been getting about 4 hours of sleep on average every night due to kids with bad dreams or bad attitudes (refusing to give in to sleep and standing in their bed screaming angrily because they don't know how to get out!)!

• Our 18 month old snuck into our room and got my glasses off the nightstand and broke off the ear piece completely.

• The washing machine overflowed. It took 13 towels and 3 twin size quilts (hey, ya use what ya have!) to get it dried up.

• I suffered from a headache for over 24 hours in spite of taking medicine.

• The water heater in our apartment broke. Actually, it didn't just break. The bottom of it completely rusted away and the water came gushing into our kitchen and living room. 

• Due to not having water overnight while waiting for the water heater to be replaced, we had to stay with a cousin. On the way there, I accidentally grabbed my necklace as I was adjusting the seatbelt and completely snapped the chain in half. 

I'm frustrated. I'm overwhelmed. I want to just quit. I want to go lay in bed with the blanket over my head. Not from depression. Just from fear of what's gonna happen next. However, with an infant, a toddler, and 2 preschoolers, that's not an option!

As I sat in the backyard at my cousin's house, watching my older two daughters run and play and conquer their fears on the slide, watching my youngest daughter tramp through the grass wearing nothing but a diaper and trailing her blanket behind her, listening to the thunder sound forth from a dry sky, I was overwhelmed and fatigued. I felt like I couldn't face another day. Then suddenly, a beautiful sight appeared before my eyes.

After the flood, God promised Noah that He would NEVER flood the entire earth again. He didn't say that parts of the earth wouldn't experience flooding, but that the entire earth would not face that punishment again. Then He put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of His promise so that when we see it we'll know that God is keeping His promise. Watching my daughters in awe over seeing a rainbow for the first time, reminded me of the splendor of such a sight. It was as if God was telling me, "you're experiencing flooding - literal and figurative - in your life right now, but it's only in areas. Your entire world is not going to come crashing down because of these floods. You will not drown in these waters that feel like they are overtaking you. I am with you. This rainbow is a sign of my promise to you that you will not drown in these waters." Oh how that sight spoke to my heart.

That should have been enough. That was enough. Then God blessed me with another beautiful sight, as though He wanted to confirm to me that He is still in control and that He truly was speaking to me through the rainbow. As I moved from my sitting position in the grass and began pushing my older two daughters on the swings, this picture from heaven appeared before my eyes.

Elizabeth said, "Look Momma! The clouds are moving so God can come through! God is coming! Hi, God!" He used my little girl's awe of His painting in the sky to confirm His promise to me and  to remind me that He is awesome and powerful. He reminded my weary brain that, no matter the circumstances, He is in control of all. Though I don't understand it, His way is perfect. 

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says The Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

The reason these things are happening all at the same time, make no sense to me. In my human-ness, I cannot understand how this all "works together for my good". I don't understand, but I don't have to.

Thank you, God, for using your marvelous handiwork to remind me that you are powerful and in control of all! Thank you for reminding me of your majesty and glory!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Intense Longing

David's adoration for the laws and regulations and commands of God fills Psalm 119. It's as though he can't get enough of God's statutes. 

In Psalm 42:1-2 he proves this to be true. "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?"

I started thinking about my own life. Do I have this kind of passion? this thirst? 

I have 4 kids, 3 and under, and finding time to devour Scripture is difficult. But is it really all that difficult? Or am I just using my kids as an excuse to avoid sitting down and spending time learning how I should be living? The truth is, if I'm passionate about something, I find a way to spend time doing it. I will make it fit into my life, even if it means staying up until all hours of the night . . . or morning!!!

Oh God, that I would have an unquenchable thirst for You and Your Word. Oh, that I would have a hungering to know You more and follow You with every part of my being.

My reading of Psalm 119 brought me to verse 136 - "Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions."

I'm sure that David had tears for the "salvation" of those who rejected God, that they would come to know Him in a real and personal way. However, in the context of this particular verse, his "rivers of tears" were for the forgotten, disobeyed instructions. 

David knows a profound truth, that I would do good to learn. The laws and regulations and commands of God are life-giving waters. They draw us closer to the One for whom our soul cries out. They lead us to the One we were created to need and whom, without, life has no meaning or purpose. They show what brings pleasure and glory and honor to the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, the Ruler of all rulers.

Oh, that I would have such a passion for God's Word that "rivers of tears gush" from my eyes when it see it disobeyed or when I disobey it myself. 

Give me a thirst, oh God. Give me a hunger. Give me a deep, deep need, like the one David had. Not just a love for and desire to obey them, but an intense longing like I've never known.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

God Forgive Us

Kermit Gosnell (news article) . . . Douglas Karpen (news article) . . . partial birth abortion . . . late term abortion . . . the terms are endless, the supporters are everywhere.

How did we get to this place? How did we get so far from "be fruitful and multiply"? What happened to "Children are a blessing from the Lord; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3)? I know for a fact that we didn't just suddenly wake up in this state of affairs. Somehow we actually traveled here.

The question in dealing with abortion has been "when does life start?" If it starts at conception, abortion is wrong. If it starts with the first heartbeat, abortion is okay before then. If it starts with the first breath outside the womb, abortion is okay at any stage of the pregnancy. We could come up with hundreds of scenarios. This is a good question to ask if abortion is truly the issue. I don't believe it is. I don't think God thinks it is either. I believe (and I believe God feels that) abortion is a symptom of a bigger issue.

Yes, sin is the ultimate root cause, but what if, even we as Christians, have helped pave the way to this symptom call abortion? What if there is a mindset we need to change? I challenge you to walk this path where God has led me.

Abortion hasn't always been the answer for "disposing" of an unwanted pregnancy. Before abortion, an unborn baby was just that: a baby, and the thought of killing it was appalling. It would have been considered murder. So, how did a mother deal with an unwanted pregnancy? She gave the baby up for adoption. (PLEASE HEAR THIS: I am NOT against adoption. I think it is a noble calling to raise someone else's child.) We condone women giving up their baby. We praise women, nowadays, for making that hard choice and sacrificing their child and allowing it to be raised by someone else. I know there are times when a child MUST be removed from the home because it is not a safe place to live, and my heart hurts for those children. I know there are children who have lost both parents and have no one else in this world. I am saddened for those children. But the ones I grieve for are the unwanted. The ones whose mother gave them up because she didn't want to be a mother. How sad it is that we have reached a place where it is a negative thing to be a mother.

How did motherhood become such a terrible thing? Personally, I think it happened on accident. Not too long before my time, sex before marriage was out of the question. It just didn't happen. Well, it did, but there was much shame when it was found out. Some time throughout the years, it became an acceptable practice. We had to do something though to keep our daughters from getting pregnant. We needed something to prevent our sons from becoming single dads. So what did we do? We created condoms and birth control and all kinds of methods. Instead of teaching our children "don't have sex", we started teaching them "you don't want a baby". With these blurred lines, the message that was passed on was that a baby is an inconvenience. A baby is a bad thing. We need to do something to keep a baby from being created. And so condoms and birth control became common household items. Our sons keep condoms in their wallets. Our daughters have alarms set as reminders to take a pill.

With this thought process, the Christian's mindset has taken a turn as well. Birth control and condoms have become common even within the confines of marriage. I do believe there is a time and a place to use these methods. I'll be honest; for medical reasons, I'm currently on birth control. However, for most couples, the reason for using these methods is to prevent pregnancy. We don't want another child. We can't afford another child. We're not ready to be parents. We don't want to be parents at all. This is a sad state for us.

We are to be the "light of the world" and to be an example to others. We are to live God's Word for all the world to see. No, birth control and condoms are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. I'm not going to try to argue that they are. However, preventing pregnancy is mentioned, and it had some serious consequences. God doesn't play games. According to the story of Tamar in Genesis 38, her brother-in-law-turned-husband, prevented her from becoming pregnant. God struck him dead immediately.

Not only did God say to "be fruitful and multiply", and call children "a blessing" and "a reward", He killed the one who prevented it! That sounds like a serious warning to me. I think it's time to change our mindset.

There is a saying (I've heard that it's in the Bible but could not find it there so don't want to quote it as such.) that what parents do in moderation, their children will do in excess. I think this can be applied to Christians and non-Christians. We (should) set the example for the lost world. What Christians allow in moderation, non-Christians will allow in excess. If we continue to show the world that children are a hindrance, that they're an inconvenience, that we don't want them, well, Kermit Gosnell and Douglas Karpen didn't want them either. We don't want them so we keep them from being conceived. They didn't want them so they kill them. How are we any different if we have the same mindset?

Psalm 139:13-18
13. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
         and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
         Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it.
15. You watched as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
         as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16. You saw me before I was born.
         Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
      Every moment was laid out
         before a single day had passed.
17. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
         They cannot be numbered!
18. I can't even count them;
         they outnumber the grains of sand!
      And when I wake up,
         you are still with me!

Getting Back to My Roots

I started this blog almost exactly 17 months ago. When I started it, it was for accountability purposes. I'm not going to go into all of the details, but you can read the post here. I started a verse-by-verse study of Proverbs 31. Somewhere along the way, this blog became less about sharing what God had shown me and more about sharing it with others in hopes that they, too, would learn something from Him. I became more concerned with how many people were reading my posts and commenting on them. I began writing based on what I thought God wanted other people to know instead of based on what He was speaking into my life. Somewhere along the way my perspective got jumbled up. I began worrying what other people thought of my writing. I began basing my worth (in the context of my writing) on how many comments came my way. My focus was completely off.

So, I had to take a break. I had to walk away from this thing I love doing. I had to step back and reevaluate my priorities. I've been spending time with God away from this arena. I've been allowing Him to speak into my heart and share His passions and desires with me. He has shown me so much of His heart. I've fallen in love with Him all over again. We've "renewed our vows" so to speak. He has given me permission to return to this. He has put so much on my heart. He has taught me so much, and I want to share it all. If you learn something in the process, well, thank God! If not, that's okay. He'll speak to you through your own time with Him. 

(SIDE NOTE: I encourage you to get alone with Him at some point each and every day. The morning is truly the best time because you can commit the entire day to Him before any of it has happened. However, if your house is like mine, no matter how early you get up to get some quiet time, your kids will hear you and wake up too. Don't get stuck on "it has to be in the morning". Morning may be best, but it's better to do it at other parts of the day than not at all.)

All that said, from now on, I'm not going to be stuck on finishing Proverbs 31. There are so many things He has been showing me that I have put off sharing because it was not part of Proverbs 31. From this day on, I'm going to share what He has shown me that day through my time with Him. If it comes from Proverbs 31 (and I do have one post He has been writing in my head :-)) then my OCD will be happy! If not, that's okay too. This blog has been committed to God. His hands are on the keyboard from this point on. 

P.S. I might still share posts about my kids occasionally!!! :-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Absolute Surrender

As I lay in my bed the other night with Good Luck Charlie playing on Netflix on the computer beside me, a cup of Diet Dr Pepper calling my name even though the caffeine would keep me up all night, and a box of cookies screaming its temptation from the floor beside the bed, this conversation played over and over in my head.

Why do you have so much trouble trusting God?

I have had a lot of hurtful events take place in my life. {Several hurtful things that I cannot go into publicly}, my first car burned up before I even had it paid off, my dad committed suicide, 3 of my 4 children were born early and had to spend a week or more in the NICU, {more hurtful things that I cannot go into publicly}. Every time I feel like I'm making progress in trusting God, He allows something else to happen. I'm scared to trust Him. I'm afraid that He'll see that and allow me to be tested in that area to see if my trust is real. Almost as if He is taking advantage of my trust. I know that's not the case, but that's what it feels like.

Do you believe that God loves you?

(Confidently) Yes.

Do you love God?

Of course.

Do you believe that God's plan is perfect?

(Timidly) Yes.

Do you believe that God is in control of all things?


Even the bad things?

I believe that even though the bad things might not be His perfect plan, He does allow them.

So, if He allows bad things, then he's allowed the bad things you've experienced?


Which means He could have prevented them?


Romans 8:28 says , "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." God's ultimate purpose is to bring glory to Himself. You say that you believe that God's plan is perfect and that He has allowed the bad things you've experienced. Whether you believe the truth of this verse is irrelevant. It's in the Bible, therefore it is true.

Well, I do believe it.

Good. Based on what you say you believe, along with this verse, you must see that all of the things you've experienced - whether they make any sense alone - are all working together for your good. One day you will have a story to tell, which will point others to God, bringing Him glory. He is using these events to further His cause. The question here is not whether you can trust God or not. You know you can trust Him. The true question is that which every Christian has had or will have to answer at some point. It is part of taking up your cross daily (Luke 9:23). Are you willing to endure hard things, some possibly even harder than that which you've already experienced, knowing that it is all part of His story for you that will eventually bring Him glory? Will you exercise faith (Hebrews 11:1) that God's plan is perfect even when it hurts? Is His ultimate glory important enough to you that you will boldly face whatever He asks of you?


I have to admit that this is a hard question to answer. I have "counted the cost" (Proverbs 20:25, Luke 14:28). I understand what could be asked of me. Honestly, the possibilities keep me awake at night, and when I do finally sleep, fill my dreams. I've come to realize though that this requires a day by day answer. There is a reason that Luke says in 19:23 that we should take up our cross daily. This question requires a daily surrendering to Him. If I try to answer this question for tomorrow or the next day I will become overwhelmed and begin worrying, which goes directly against Matthew 6. I must answer this question for today only.

So, today, my answer is yes. Yes, God. I will boldly face, today, whatever you ask of me. Please give me the strength to do so. Walk with me each step of the way. Lead me along your path, and hold my hand as I walk through the hard places. Be near me. Help me to say, as David did in Psalm 23, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me."