Monday, November 10, 2014


Yesterday at church, we sang the old hymn, Because He Lives. This has been my favorite since I was a little girl. I sing it around the house all the time. It's one of the songs I sing when I'm rocking my babies. I sing it while I'm washing dishes and when I'm folding laundry. It's almost like it's just a part of me. I sing it without even thinking about it.

But yesterday? Yesterday I wasn't distracted with kids or clothes or dishes. I didn't have my mind on anything else. I was totally focused on the song I was singing. And for a slight second, it brought me to tears. I was taken back to that day. It's been almost 10 years, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. 

I remember staying awake all night waiting for him to come home. I remember praying and crying for hours on end. I remember police at our front door telling my mom that it was too soon to file a missing persons report. I remember her telling them that this wasn't normal for him. I remember her telling them that he was always home at the same time every day. I remember begging God to bring him home, even though, deep down, I already knew we would never see him again this side of eternity. I remember sitting in the living room feeling guilty because there had been multiple times over the past several months that I had had the feeling that something wasn't right with him. I remember vividly thinking he wasn't okay. 

I remember the next morning getting a phone call that he had been found. I remember a glimmer of hope that he was still alive. I remember that hope come crashing down when we found out he had ended his life. I remember our car pulling into the parking lot of the warehouse where he worked. I remember seeing the ambulance with its flashing lights. I remember seeing his car, walking toward it, laying my head on the back window with my arms outstretched, as if I was trying to hug him while hugging his car instead, all while my mom screamed at me to "don't go in there!" because she thought I was going to try to find him. I remember the police questioning my mom as a suspect even though there was no possible way a woman that small could have done that to man as big as he was! 

I remember days of looking through pictures, of planning a funeral. I remember floods of people pouring through our house bring cards and money and food and words of encouragement. 

I remember the funeral with friends sharing our grief. I remember my "nephew" - who was just 3 at the time, sitting on the front row with us and asking his mom, loudly, why that man was sleeping in church. I remember the giggles rippling through the church as people responded to the little boy's innocence and tried to remain reverent at the same time. I remember enjoying having kids come to our house and the funeral because they brought laughter and joy and happiness during a dark time. I remember speaking at my dad's funeral, though I don't remember what I said. I remember the slide show we put together, and I remember the friends who sang and which song they shared. But mostly? 

Mostly, I remember singing a congregational hymn. And I remember, after everyone had exited, our family gathered around his casket and sang the chorus of that hymn accapella. The hymn? Because He Lives. 

At the time, I knew it was true though my heart had trouble believing it. These past 9.5 years, I have struggled with trying to figure out what I learned through that experience. My family all talks about how they have learned to trust God more because He has proven that He is there for us. I, on the other hand, have been saying that it made it harder for me to trust Him. I mean, I know I can trust that He is able to do anything. But trusting that He will? That's a whole other ballgame. While the death of my father has proven to have positive outcomes for my family, I felt like it only had a negative impact on me. 

And then Sunday came. Sunday morning, the tears dried up as quickly as they came. My sadness turned around. Joy came in the morning, just as His Word says it will. 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Whether that tomorrow is the death of a parent or other family member. Or a spouse addicted to pornography or having an affair. Or financial problems. Or an illness. Or a rebellious child. Or even something as small as burning dinner or misplacing an important piece of paper. WE can face tomorrow because of Him.
Then there's this. "Life is worth the living, just because He lives". Our tomorrows may be painful. They may be filled with deep, deep valleys. They may have mountains so tall and steep that it feels doubtful we'll ever reach the top. On the other hand, we may live a peaceful, joyful, happy existence with never an issue in sight. Whichever path our lives take, those situations can be learning experiences, but they're not our reason for living. They're not what makes or breaks life. They are but a brief moment in all of creation. The only thing that makes life worth living is because He lives. Without that, nothing matters. Even the person with the easiest life has no hope. With that, the death of a loved one, illness, unfaithfulness of a spouse, it is painful, but it doesn't remove the hope we have.

The second verse, though, is what spoke to me most.
"How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day because Christ lives"
I've always loved this verse. When I was little it was because it said something about a baby, and we all know how I feel about those! In more recent years, since I've started having children of my own, it's become a promise that my children can face those uncertain days. Sunday it became personal. I can face uncertain days. Not my mom and stepdad. Not my grandparents. Not my siblings or my nieces and nephews. Not my husband. Not my children. Not my grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

But me.

I can face uncertain days.

I've always known God can do anything. I've struggled with will He? Ya know what? It doesn't matter. I may walk through dark valley. I may face painful times. There will most likely be tears and hurts. He will be with me through it all. He will walk beside me. He will hold my hand. He will dry my tears. He may even carry me at times. But He will never leave me. How do I know? Because He has promised, and Because He Lives, I can trust that He will keep that promise.

Everything He does and everything He allows is part of a greater plan to draw me and others closer to Him and to reveal His glory among other aspects of His character. If it's for His glory, surely I can face uncertain days, no matter what they contain. He will never leave me or forsake me. He Lives.

Because He Lives

God sent His son
They called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives

Because He lives, I am face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just 
Because He lives

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day because Christ lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just
Because He lives

And then one day, I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's final war with pain
And then as death gives way to victr'y
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just
Because He lives. 

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.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Is God Really Good?

I hear all the time "if God is so good, why do bad things happen?" I think there is a HUGE problem with our view of God. We paint Him as this loving, kind, good, gracious God. He is. God is all of these things. However, God is MUCH, MUCH more.

Did you know that God is jealous?
(Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15; Joshua 24:19)

Did you now that God gets angry?
(Isaiah 30:27-28; Exodus 32:9-10)

Did you know that God knows He is the best thing for us? Did you know that because of that, He requires that He be our number 1? Did you know that when He isn't our number 1, He will do whatever it takes to draw us back to Him, because He loves us that much?

God doesn't need us. He is self-sufficient (Acts 17:25). Just because He doesn't need us, doesn't change the fact that we need Him. Desperately. He knows that. He knows that we can't survive without Him.

God longs for us to "remain in [Him]" because He knows He is the best. He knows He is the only One. This is not egotistical. This is not a puffed up pride. This is simply because He is the only One. Because He is the only One, He knows it. Because He knows it, He would NOT be loving if He didn't do everything in His power to draw us to Him. He would be unloving if He left us to ourselves, if He didn't show us the error of our ways and require our complete and total devotion.

Why do bad things happen? Maybe, just maybe it is BECAUSE God is good and not in spite of that fact. Maybe we give Satan too much credit for the "bad" things that take place. Instead of saying, "it's just the evil world we live in", maybe we should say "Have I wandered away from God, even slightly?" Maybe the bad things that are happening are because God is trying to get our attention.

Please, please, please hear me! God does not WANT bad things to happen to us. Psalm 56:8 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." God grieves when we grieve.

He doesn't WANT bad things to happen to us. He does cause them though. Lamentations 3:31-33 says, "For the Lord does not abandon anyone forever. Though He brings grief, He also shows compassion according to the greatness of His unfailing love. For He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow." To the world, to most Christians, that doesn't sound like a good God. To me, that sounds like a great God!

The death of a child, losing a home in a fire, terminal illness . . . those are terrible, horrible, painful, life-altering things. But are they bad? Seen in and of themselves, yes. Seen in light of God trying to draw us to Himself, no. See, God knows that though the pain of these things is immense, unbearable, it is nothing compared to the pain of life and eternity without Him.

Though God grieves when we grieve, though it hurts Him to cause us pain, He is willing because He is a kind and loving God. He doesn't want to "send" anyone to hell. (Btw, God doesn't send anyone to hell, but that is another post for another day!) He causes these circumstances in our lives because He is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

*Sometimes bad things happen because of the evil world we live in. Sometimes they happen because God wants to remind us that He is in control of all things. Sometimes they happen so we can be a witness to someone we will come into contact with. Just because bad things happen doesn't mean we have wandered from Him. However, sometimes that is the case, and I think we've turned a bind eye to that in order to "prove" that God is good. I think it's time we looked at this side of our God. He is oh so much more!*

Yes, God is good. A thousand times, yes! It just doesn't always look the way our definition of "good" says it should.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day by Day

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best - 
Lovingly, it's part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure",
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting, 
Till I reach the promised land.

I Sing Because

I've been singing about my Lord for many years.
I've sung when I was happy.
I've sung through lots of tears.
Some folks have even questioned if it was just a show.
Well, the reason that I'm singing, I want the world to know.

I sing because there is an empty grave.
I sing because there is a power that saves.
I sing because His grace is real to me.
I sing because I know I'm not alone.
I sing because someday I'm going home
Where I'll sing for all eternity.

I've sung to those who were walking through the fiery trial.
I've seen their saddened faces turn to happy smiles.
I've bowed my head and whispered, "Please do the same for me".
I'm glad that I can tell you, He gave me victory.

I sing because there is an empty grave.
I sing because there is a power that saves.
I sing because His grace is real to me.
I sing because I know I'm not alone.
I sing because some day I'm going home
Where I'll sing for all eternity.

I sing because I know I'm not alone.
I sing because some day I'm going home
Where I'll sing for all eternity.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

To the Men

Men. Men. Men.

We were created to be your helpmeet. We were created because "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). God has made it clear that you need us! God is our first priority. You are our second priority. (Well, you should be. That's another topic for another day. Don't worry though. I will cover that! It's a burden that's been on my heart recently.)

We were created to be your helper. Women have taken that and used it to say that we can do everything you can do AND have babies! Women have used that as an excuse to say "I don't need a man."

Please don't believe that. We need you too. We know you go to work for MANY hours each day. We know you work hard while you're there. We know you want to unwind when you get home. We know you need some quietness. We know you need peace. We know you need some personal space. We know that. We respect that. We want nothing more than to give you that.

I'm not gonna sit here and try to convince you that we (as stay-at-home moms/women or as working moms/women) work just as hard as you. I'm not gonna try to point out our job description and everything we think and feel and do in a single day. We are not in a competition. Whether you work harder or we do does not matter. If God is our first priority, we will each be doing what He has called us to do. There is no comparison. We each follow God, and do His work.

That doesn't change the fact that just as you need us, we need you. You are our protector. I don't know what the technical definition is for that word, but as a woman, I can tell you it's not just a physical protection.

It's emotional. We need to be able to be wrapped in your arms, lean our head on your chest, and cry. We need to be able to talk to you about our fears and sorrows. We need to be able to share our joys. We don't just need to know that we can share with you. We need to know you care about what we're sharing.

It's mental. We need to know you're present and available for your family. Just because you're in the room doesn't mean you're here with us. We need you to unplug - from the TV, from the phone, from the internet, from the video games, from the books, from etc, etc, etc.

We need to know that you're willing to do things you don't particularly enjoy because you know it is something that is important to us. We need you to invest in us. There would probably be a lot fewer women complaining about having to endure sports with their husbands if there were more husband willing to "unplug" from all distractions and play a board game or go for a walk or browse antique stores.

It's spiritual. We need you to lead us closer to God. We need you to initiate Bible reading and praying together. Not just when times are tough but when they're good as well. We need you to remind us that God 1.) is in control of all things and 2.) has given us much to be thankful for.

It's financial. When we're freaking out about how we're gonna pay the bills and fix the car and take the kids to the doctor and eat dinner, we need you to remind us that it's okay, necessary even, to relax and spend a dollar to rent a movie. When we're on a spending spree, spending every penny in sight, we need you to remind us that we need to be more responsible with our money. We need you to remind us that there are things that need to be taken care of. When you're freaked out about money and how to pay the bills, etc, we need you to remember that sometimes even a 50 cent candle goes a long way to removing depression. When you're on a spending spree, we need you to remember that we are trying to figure out how to pay for school supplies and provide clothing for that child that won't stop growing.

Of course, it is physical. We need you to remember that while we were home all day and may not have taken a shower or gotten dressed until 5 minutes before you walked in the door, we weren't being lazy all day. We need you to remember that we have been working non-stop all day. When we are 8 months pregnant and weigh 1,000 pounds we need you to make us sit down and rest. (We might need you to put us on a diet too!!!) When we have 500 kids running around the house all day, we need you to read the weariness in our eyes, like we do for you, and help us fill plates or put laundry in the dryer. We need you understand that bed time goes a lot smoother for everyone involved when you help tuck kids in bed. They haven't been with you all day. They need you. We need you.

We look up to you. We honor you. We respect you. We don't talk bad about you to our friends and family. We remain faithful to you. We pray for you. We help you. Help us to help you. We need your protection. We need you. We want you. We love you.


Guess this refers to the paperwork I'm drowning in as we speak!!


My heart is so extremely burdened. It has been for quite a while. I have trouble sleeping. I walk through my days with sadness. For months now I've done my chores throughout the day while going over these issues in my head. God has been after me to write this blog. I've put it off . . . intentionally.


Well, for starters, I simply don't know where to start. I'm overwhelmed.

Secondly, I know that it'll require some changes on my part, and I haven't been ready to surrender those things. Selfish, I know. God has been dealing with me.

Tonight, the third night of not being able to fall asleep because of these thoughts swirling in my head, I'm surrendering. I'm sharing. I'm emptying my heart onto "paper". There is so much here though. I don't know how many posts it will cover. I don't know how long it will take me to write each one. All I do know is that God has called me, and it's time to respond. So here goes . . .

*I am not bringing up specific titles/people to start an argument. I'm simply sharing the events that God used to speak to me over these past months.*

Movies. Books. Music.

Our entertainment industry has recently been dominated by things that stepped up the game; that have lowered, even more, those standards that were already well below what God calls holy.

*First, "Magic Mike" made an appearance. Christians all over the country were appalled over this. There were many blog posts and articles written about this. Many pastors and teachers subtly slipped it into their sermons and lessons as they began covering topics of pornography and purity. A question was posed to me during this time as I joined the voices speaking out against this movie. I remained silent to that question. Why? I had already made it clear I wasn't in agreement, so why did I remain silent? Well, it caused me to go deeper in my thinking, and I knew it would make people angry. I wasn't ready for that.

*Very shortly after that time, "50 Shades of Grey" popped up on bookstore shelves all over the nation. It became available in hard copy, as an ebook, in audio format. It was advertised on numerous websites all over the internet. Again, people all over the world were speaking out against this type of literature. People were confronting it head-on. I read blogs about it, but I didn't join my voice in with the thousands of others. The question I had been asked during the Magic Mike "era" came resonating back into my head, and I knew I needed to answer it. Instead, I became a coward and sealed my lips.

*Not too long later, a young girl named Miley Cyrus got on stage, and well, there's no need for me to spell out what happened there. Even non-Christians were outraged at the spectacle she made. Negative comments shot up from every direction. A link to the video that was taken of that performance began circling the internet. It was almost impossible to get online without seeing a reference to and link for that video. I knew that if I spoke out on that topic, no one would argue with me. I knew I would have full support in any comment against it. I also "knew" though that it was so picked over that probably no one would read what I had to say anyway. In that moment, I listened to the lies of Satan and chose silence.

I truly believe that my heavy heart and the burden I've been carrying are not so much from the situations that have infiltrated our entertainment industry as they are from my choice of silence when God was telling me to speak. My silence put a distance between God and me. And now, I'm breaking that silence and filling in the gap I've created.

So, what is the infamous question I was asked? Well, it was posed to me as a statement: "This is only a movie and [there are] lots of movies out there kinda like this one and for some reason this is getting a lot of attention." My first thought was anger. "It doesn't matter what else is out there. This is still wrong."

Then I calmed down and realized this person was right. Why were we paying so much attention to this movie? Why did that book get so much of our attention? Why did that girl cause us all to freak out? There are plenty of other things out there that are just as bad, if not worse, than those things that caused us all so much grief.

Though this person's goal was to get me to realize that we need to stop picking on the entertainment, it had quiet the opposite effect. My question became "why didn't we start fighting this crap a long time ago?"

I'm not very much into recent movies and shows. Though there are a few I enjoy, most of them are just not very interesting to me. I like older movies. Black and whites. Dean Martin. Jerry Lewis. Fred Astaire. Bing Crosby. Doris Day. Someone was always singing and/or dancing in those movies. It was entertaining. They have always seemed so innocent to me . . . until this question was brought to me.

Shortly after this conversation took place, I was watching the ever-popular "White Christmas", and my eyes were opened to the truth. Then I watched a Doris Day movie (the title of which escapes my memory at the moment), and I was saddened. How had I been so blind all this time? In "White Christmas" the songs are wonderful, the talent is amazing, the dancing . . . well, it could have been awesome. They had to add in inappropriate, immodest clothing. The outfits the girls wear in that movie leave very little to the imagination of the men in the audience. The Doris Day movie I referred to, well, there is more than one scene of a woman in the bathtub. Though she has bubbles up to her neck, it's still not appropriate.

Listen, I know all the ideas of "well, just fast-forward through that scene" and all that. That's good. That is wise. I'm concerned though about where that train of thought has brought us. We accepted it back then, and just "skipped over" that part. We supported it then when we should have avoided it at all costs. Women in inappropriate clothing back in the 50's was accepted, and now we have movies of people without ANY clothes! What did we truly expect to happen? The old adage "what one generation allows in moderation, the next will allow in excess" has proven true. I know Christians fought against these three particular things, but while we were doing that, we were still supporting other books, movies, and music that are just as ungodly. I mean, I can't speak for everyone else here, but I can speak for myself. And I can tell you that though I have been criticized for how strict my standards are, I was still supporting ungodly things (like the two movies I just mentioned).

I can't - AND WON'T - tell you what specific movies you should watch. I can't - AND WON'T - tell you what books to read or music to listen to. I can give some advice though. I can help steer you in the right direction. I'm "authorized" to do that because it comes from the Bible.

Ephesians 5:3-4 - "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (bold added)

Ephesians 5:11-12 - "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." (bold added)

I can't speak for you, but my "strict" movie, music,  and book choices don't follow the guidelines set forth in Scripture. I'm sorry to fellow Christians for being a bad witness, to non-Christians for possibly leading you astray, and to my LORD and Savior for not being holy in my walk. I love you all, and I pray you'll join me on this journey of purifying our walks with Him.

(Sidenote: There is still more burdening my heart, but this is all I feel compelled to share right now. Please pray for me as God shows me more and more. Pray for me to have courage to share what I've been shown. Pray for me to have kind, loving words to gently lead others to the truth.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Because HE Lives!

They just don't write 'em like this anymore! Miss singing hymns like this in church.

God sent His Son; they called Him Jesus.
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon.
An empty grave is there to prove:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still, the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day, I'll cross the river.
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory, 
I'll see the lights of glory, and
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Not in Vain

In my sickened state I lounged on the couch with two children sleeping, one playing cheerfully on the floor beside me, two happily coloring on chalkboards at the table, and Rapunzel playing quietly on the television in the background. In spite of the contentment in my home on this gorgeous day, I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed.

In the past I've always been afraid to mention the stresses that go along with motherhood. I've kept quiet and pretended everything is always easy. Why did I do this? Well, I chose this life. I wanted these children. I chose to have them so close together. What right do I have to complain?

The truth is, I'm not complaining. I love my life. I wouldn't change it for ANYthing! If I could do it all again, knowing what I know now, I'd do it all again exactly the same way. That doesn't change the fact that it's hard. It's difficult. Most days I feel like I'm living life in the trenches. And if I am, who else is feeling this way?

We prayed for these children, we must keep quiet about how difficult they are. We are pressured to enjoy the grass stains on the clothes. We are encouraged to be thankful for the piles of laundry, the dirty floors, the fingerprints on the windows, and all the dishes in the sink. Really????

My sister said to me the other day, "Everyone says we'll look back on these days and miss it. I'm sure they're right, but today, I don't miss it. At this particular moment I don't think I'll ever miss this stuff."

She's right of course. When I hear people reminisce about the past, I don't ever hear them sad about the fact that they don't have millions of loads of laundry. I don't hear them wishing to have back all the dishes and clothes that need mending and etc, etc, etc.

What they do miss is their children being small. They miss being able to hold their children and rock them to sleep. They miss being able to stand over their child's bed and listen to them breathing quietly in the darkness of the night.

They don't miss that other stuff. Why? Because it's hard work. Because it's the battle. It's the race. It's the sweat and tears and difficulties of life. And it's okay to mention those in real life. It's okay to admit that life with children is hard. It's okay to share our experiences and as for prayer. It's okay to join with other moms and admit that sometimes these little people that God calls blessings feel like anything but that!

It was with these thoughts swirling around in my head that I got on Facebook and found a link to this blog post. It changed me. It opened my eyes to the truth. I don't know the author. I can't vouch for any of her previous posts. All I know is that this one is spot on. I encourage you to read it. Even if you're not a parent, please read it. We all face discouragement in the life we chose (job, spouse, children) and her post, while directed at mothers, is true for all of us.

I pray it encourages you as much as it did me!