Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Prison of Fear...

Chances are if you know me, you know I place a great importance on obedience. Deep down to my core I believe if children never learn obedience with their earthly father, they will never learn to be obedient to their heavenly father.  I believe obedience coupled with discipline, respect, independence, critical thinking, love, etc. can set our children up for success in whatever way we define it.  Our children are far from perfect and are  just like all other children in that they don't always obey the first time around or at all from time to time. However, we strive to teach them obedience.

With that being said, I often catch myself praying to be more obedient to God's commands. I want to be obedient. I want to do good. I want to be Christ-like. I want to be obedient to His work and growing his kingdom. 
Many times, though, I choose the disobedient way out. Many times I choose to do what I want instead of what God wants. 

There are some crazy things happening on the horizon here. Dreams becoming realities. Opportunities to be obedient at our feet. Prayers being answered with desired results or unexpected results which are greater than our desires.  The unknown turning into clarity. 

As all of these things are playing out, my first emotions have been overwhelming excitement and joy.  It is exciting to see God moving and working in ways you couldn't even imagine. 
Watching things work together so perfectly and so intricately brings awe and amazement. I am not sure I can even articulate all the excitement going on over here.

The next emotion that comes, usually in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping, is fear. The fear of the what if's. What if we aren't kept safe? What if this drastically changes things? What if it doesn't? What if we are hurt? What if we are rejected? What if...

I was in the middle of having a major nervous breakdown when I looked down at my leather cuff on my wrist. "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders." -Hillsong

I have sung this song for months. I wear these words on my wrist. I pray them with my whole heart. 

I want to trust the Spirit to lead me. I want the Spirit to drive out fear, to drive out borders. 

When you ask for opportunity to be boldly obedient and for trust without borders, you just might get it.  

You see, I like borders. Borders are safe and comfy and border-like. They provide me with limitations, excuses, if you will, to assist in holding me back and continue in my comfortable life.  They keep me feeling contained. They provide me some security and peace of mind.  They give me some feeling of control. 

But outside the borders, outside the security and comfort, anything can happen. The risk is greater. That is when the fear pours in. 

As long as I am inside the borders I can feel brave. Once I cross that line, though, my false sense of bravery disappears and my true feelings of fear and doubt are left exposed. 

Now I have to really decide am I going to trust God with everything I have or am I going to crawl back into my false sense of bravery?

The truth is we like to be obedient as long as it fits within our plans and our borders. We like to trust God as long as He provides us with what we want. As long as our children, spouse, and money are kept safe our faith is strong. Compromise those things and we are shaken. 

I hope to be able to share more soon about how God is moving in and through us. There are still some unknowns to work out.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared, if I wasn't hesitant, and even a little worried. However, Caleb and I together have decided to take some leaps of faith. We are prayerful that great things will come from our simple act of obedience.

I never want my children to see fear defining my life. I never want them to shy away from stepping out in faith or taking risks, only because they are afraid.

 I don't want my fear to become my border, because then it actually becomes more like a prison. 

And a prison is never ideal. 

Maybe there is freedom outside the borders, but you must be brave enough to find out first.

What fears keep you from being boldly obedient and trusting God fully? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Let's Just Get Over Ourselves, Shall We?

A few months back, I received a text message from a sweet friend that read something like this...

'You appear to handle and balance the crazy and fun of summer so well. I would have never thought to check on you to see how you are handling it all.'

It was in the thick of summer madness. In an effort of full disclosure this message was received shortly after a confession to said friend about a mild breakdown and mommy failure moment. 

Here is the thing. This mom thing. It is hard. 

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Each day brings new challenges. I just roll with it the best I can and pray God takes care of the rest. If I fail, I knock off the dirt, pray, and try again. 

And I am okay with that parenting strategy. 

Because *news flash* no one else knows what they are doing, either.

The rest of my life strategy is basically the same thing. I make decisions based on the information and knowledge I have at that given time and pray for the rest. 

It works pretty well for me. 


I start buying into the the criticism, defensiveness, and over-sensitivity of the world. 

This isn't a problem with the internet or social media; its a problem with the world. It isn't a problem with churches, mothers, or politics; it is a problem with people. 

The only way it will change is if we change ourselves. 

The first way to do that is to put down your pitch fork, your shield, and your tissues. Now that your hands and heart are free try picking up some forgiveness, grace, and understanding. 

Much better, right? 

Oh my word. What I wouldn't give to see a little more forgiveness, grace, and understanding with a lot less defenses, accusations, and offended people. 

Can we just all chill out a little, people? 

If Mrs. Smith attends your mothers funeral and offers condolences, she probably isn't trying to offend you with insensitive words. She is trying to be nice. People are different. Loss is hard. Some words comfort some but not others. She came, she supported, she offered love in the only way she knew how. 

If pinterest mommy throws a circus party for little sue with camel rides, homemade cotton candy, and freshly fried funnel cakes and hand sown ringmaster costumes, maybe she isn't trying to one up your Wal-mart cake and ice cream-no decorations- free park party. She has the beautiful gift that her pinterest projects actually resemble the picture and she is just trying to make her beloved child feel special, loved, and wanted on their birthday. 

If a wife shares her healthy, home-cooked meal with ingredients she grew in her organic soil garden, maybe she isn't calling you a bad wife for calling your husband and having him grab a pizza and some break and bake cookies on the way home. Maybe she has just discovered a new passion and wants to share it with the world in the hopes some one else might share that passion. 

If a family dunks a bunch of ice water on their heads for a cause, it doesn't necessarily mean they expect that to be considered worthy, ignore other diseases, or even think the disease will no longer exist. Maybe they were challenged and accepted because they weren't aware of the disease until great aunt Mable contracted it and suffered a hard and unbearable death and, as the caretakers during the toughest moments,  would hate to witness anyone else bearing that burden.  

I could come up with a million other what ifs, but the examples aren't the point. The point is I think people need to be given a little more credit. I think we need to put down the weapons and arguments and spend a little more time listening and forgiving and loving. 

Criticism, defenses, and sensitivity have a place. They can be helpful in the appropriate setting. Hurt feelings, judgement, discernment, constructive criticism, etc are all real and have their purpose. These things are necessary and important for many reasons. They all can be used for good. All too often, though, they are used to cut, wound, and/or play the victim. 

I am all for addressing feelings and standing up for yourself. Please don't misunderstand me. 

But, for the love, can we please just lighten up a little and stop with all the fighting, pointed accusations, and poor-pitiful-me-someone-hurt-my-feelings bit?

Can we pull up our big girl panties for once, take responsibility for our actions, and get to work loving, supporting, and caring for one another without the worry of am I doing this right? 

I believe I can only change myself, so I am striving to be less critical and more forgiving, less defensiveness and more listening, less offended and more understanding. 

Will you join me in putting down the pitch forks, including the one pointed at yourself? 

I hope so. Now if you will excuse me I have to scrape smushed banana off my hardwood floors and I don't feel guilty or embarrassed about that at all. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Resting and Refocusing

To say I have been uninspired lately is a huge understatement. 

Life is beautifully hard. Changes, struggles, meanness, discouragement, hurt, death, love, blessings and loss all mix together and create a world which at times is difficult to navigate.  I have had the privilege of walking alongside many friends recently as they experience different ups and downs of life. I have loved it!

I have loved listening to stories, hopes, and dreams. I have loved checking in and encouraging each of them when needed. I have loved share scripture and prayers. I have been honored to be trusted with honest feelings of hopelessness, fear, and concern. I loved pouring specific prayers over my sweet friends. I have loved mourning and rejoicing with my people as they navigate through this crazy life.

In the midst of it all my life didn't stop, though. We have been busy with programs, trips, meetings, service, new jobs, birthdays and preparing for some upcoming changes.

I LOVE it all! I love the busy. I love the going. I love the doing. I love the listening. I love the people. I love supporting. I love encouraging. I love sharing. I love it all.

But sometimes it becomes too much. Sometimes between the listening, supporting, loving, sharing, serving, going, doing, changing, growing, mourning, and rejoicing, I am left exhausted and overwhelmed. I begin to have trouble processing it all. I lose my focus. 

I need to stop. I need to breathe. I need to refocus. I need to rest. I need to refuel. I need to be comforted. I need to be encouraged. I need to be loved.

I need the very thing I have tried so very hard to give all those around me.  

Occasionally when life gets too crazy, I am reminded of why Jesus made time to retreat to the mountains alone. I am reminded of the need to rest, pray, smother my thoughts with God, and return focus to Him.

I want to live a life which exudes Christ. I desperately try to do so. I am so often reminded though that there has to be balance between focusing on my own growth in Christ and encouraging others to know him.

I must have both. I must retreat to the mountain to abide in Him and I must use my life to share Him.
It is an and where so many of us put an or.

This past week I caught myself retreating to one of  my mountains. 

This past week was the week my people were at the Bible camp I spent one week each summer growing, learning, and loving as a child.  Due to small children, other obligations, and diapers I haven't been able to commit to the full week in several years. This year as my family made our way up the mountain to visit the first night, I looked at Caleb and exclaimed when I am here I feel home, I feel loved, I feel encouraged, and I feel renewed. I feel peace.

He laughed.

I really do feel those things there. I was baptized on that mountain. I spent a portion of every summer there for so many years. I met my husband there. I made some of my most precious memories and relationships there.  He proposed to me there. There is peace in that place for me. I became so much of who I am there. 

Each night I found myself driving up the one lane, rough, bumpy road in search of that peace. Each night I left with it.

Slowly the mountain was renewing me. Slowly it was reminding me. Slowly it was refreshing me. Slowly it was remaking me.

It wasn't until about Tuesday that I realized I had been searching for a mountain to retreat to for a while now.  Over the past several months as I have searched, listened, encouraged, prayed, mourned and rejoiced for myself and my friends, one thing held true. In all of it I was searching for a peace. I was searching for Jesus.

 I needed a mountain to retreat to in order to see it.

I needed to be anchored in Jesus so I could balance the mourning and rejoicing, the serving and abiding, the encouraging and the encouraged.

The last night I made my way down in the wee hours of the night. I whispered prayers in my car that God would remind me when I needed rest and renewal.  It comes in so many forms and places. I need my eyes opened to see it. 

I left that mountain inspired and excited. My faith was challenged and renewed. I was reminded that my commitment and duty as a follower of Christ matters. I was reminded of my purpose. My focus was removed off of self and replaced onto the creator.

This week I am left with a little bit better understanding on why Jesus chose to temporarily leave his followers, leave his purpose, and leave his works. In order for him to stay committed and focus on his Father and His ultimate plan he had to do so.

I am not sure why, in all my humanity, I fail to realize that very need in myself. 

I am continually amazed by Jesus. He managed to give a perfect example of dying to self while preserving his well being in order to fulfill the greater plan.

Now if only I can remember to follow it...

Friday, June 6, 2014


The first time I remember the 'aha' moment crashing over me, I was riding in the car with my husband and one year old baby boy while 'Yo Gabba Gabba' was blaring through the speakers. 

Brady at his 3rd B-day party with his Brobee Gabba cake.
Both of my children have loved this odd and quirky show. At first I was mortified by the strange characters and apparent drug use that it took to create this show. Upon further observation, I quickly began to realize this very weird show portrayed a great message. The lyrics and story lines are educational and positive. I mean, Muno was a key element in helping teach Brady to not bite his friends. It was a dark few months of biting any kid in his way, we were grasping at straws.  

The day of the 'aha' moment the song differences was playing. I looked at Caleb and said, "I just learned something from Yo Gabba". He sighed and looked over with a look that shouted oh boy here she goes again. 

One line in the song says all my friends are different, but I love them all the same

Bam! Right in the face it slapped me. All are different, but loved the same. 

I worked out the thoughts flooding my mind while my mouth struggled to keep up and share them with listening ears. I looked at him and asked, "why don't people believe this? Think of the possibilities if people would love and embrace the differences of their friends instead of compare and beat each other down over them? I don't think I have done a good job at this. I am going to do better at this. " 

Once I had spilled all my thoughts on the subject. I mentally prayed a quick prayer that I would be able to effectively teach my children to love and embrace the differences of those around them by my example of loving and embracing those around me.  

Four years later and I still whisper this prayer when the song plays in our van.  My prayer has developed and changed some, though. Over the years my eyes have been opened to all the ways we allow differences to hold us back. 

If I could tell the whole world one thing it would be that different doesn't always equal wrong. 

Brady may have said it best about this time last year when he marched into the kitchen and announced, "Alma(our hispanic neighbor) has much darker skin than me." I asked him what he thought about that and he quickly replied, "I don't think about that".

The truth is different is just different.

(Disclaimer: I am not talking about differences which go against absolute truth, sin, or breaking the law. There are differences that could be considered wrong, but they should still be greeted with love. ;) That is a different ball game, I am speaking of just plain old, every day differences.) 

I take great comfort that I believe in a God who intentionally created humans to each be unique. A God who designed the church to be like a body with all different parts working together for a common purpose. A God who is wise enough to know that in order for things to work, grow, and progress, differences are necessary. 

At some point we as a society have decided that if something is different it must be bad, wrong, or evil. When a friend parents a little differently than we do, we often immediately begin to defend our decisions instead of loving and respecting one another. When a sister serves and shows obedience a little bit differently, we often become critical and begin to compare works. When a Christian college graduate decides to live a single life, we often wonder what is wrong with them or other things. When a neighbor who looks a little different moves onto our street, we often swirl thoughts of lowering property values and changing demographics of our community around in our minds.  

I could go on and on, but the point is the world NEEDS different, not criticism, comparison, or hate.  

We each have to learn how to be who God intended us to be while loving, encouraging, and allowing others to also be who He intended them to be. 

It is hard, ugly, and downright messy at times. BUT when we all appreciate each other and work together while finding a balance of giving and taking and shouting and holding back, then mountains will move. 

 The key to learning all of this begins with love. 

Love God. 
Love people. 

It is so simple and so complex. 

Think of the possibilities if the world believed this. Think of the way things would change if instead of defending differences we welcomed them. Think of the work we could accomplish if we allowed the foot to be a foot and the hand to be a hand. Think of the glory God would receive if we chose to grab each others hand and shout we are all different, but we love all the same. 

Today I ask you to allow God to reveal where you are allowing differences to hold you back and where you can insert love and begin to embrace those differences around you. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

No One Likes To Be Ignored.

I never thought entering a contest and rallying your people to win would pull, stretch, challenge, or exhaust me as much as this #styleforjustice contest with Noonday and IJM has. 

I have experienced nearly every emotion I can think of over the last several days. It has been exhausting. 

Each day as I sat with my husband and reflected on the day, my response nearly every time was I would rather be hated than ignored.

I would rather people hate me than never acknowledge my existence. 

I would rather people type mean and ugly things all over my Facebook page, than completely ignore my desire to be a part of this trip. 

Each time I said this, my intentions were selfish. 

I would see friends sharing and supporting others in their endeavors, whatever that may be, and I would think why do they not even notice me. Why don't people care about me?

As the competition continued I felt less like this and more overwhelmed and humbled that my people and my people's people would help me move up OVER 100 spots in just a few days. 

That thought, however, of rather being hated than ignored was burned into my mind. 

As the words swirled around in my head it finally hit me.

 I am so guilty of doing this. 

There was a little girl in Brady's class all year. This little girl lives on our short, dead end street. I had no idea until the last 2 weeks of school. There were 9 kids in his class. I have no excuse as to why I never realized they lived only a few houses down. I failed to acknowledged their existence in our lives. 

Our worship services are filled each Sunday with people no one ever notices. 

Our students are sitting in classrooms and no one ever notices the battle they are fighting at home. 

People are starving right under our noses and we are too busy to even believe it. 

Women and girls are being used and sold and it is easier to just pretend it doesn't exist than to care. 

Children often scream, yell, fight, bully, and bite in order to be noticed. They often do these things because they would rather get in trouble than be ignored. 

They would rather be hated than to never be acknowledged.

We have become busy, selfish, and indifferent in many ways. The story of Annanias and Sapphira in Acts has long been the most disturbing story in the Bible for me. Basically what happens is they sell all their belongings, but agree to lie to the apostles about the sum and agree to keep a portion for themselves. When they come forward to offer the money, they are caught in the lie and struck dead before the apostles. There is a little more, but this is the basic idea. 

It is crazy, disturbing, and unbelievable. I am sure there are many conclusions you could draw from this story, but one that screams out to me is that there is great danger in claiming to be all in, but in reality being half-hearted. Annanias and Sapphira believed what they had seen and heard and even acted on it. However, they couldn't fully commit. They were lukewarm. They wanted to serve both masters. They were in a sense indifferent to the call of God. 

When our hearts become indifferent, we are in great danger of death. 

Indifference leads to a group of people who know there is work to do, but don't care if it is done or not. 

I believe indifference is Satan's greatest tool. I believe indifference is the way to hurt someone in the most damaging way. 

I wanted to go on this trip to Rwanda, not to save the people there or elevate myself, but to give them faces. I wanted to hug them and tell them I love them and I care. Hear their stories and love their babies. Tell them they are important to me and allow others to see they are real, they are human, and they have worth. 

As it stands it is very unlikely I will move up the 48 spots or so I need to be in the top 7 and move forward  in the competition. I would still love the opportunity, but I am okay if this is not mine. I know more opportunities will come. I hope when they do, I will be able to say yes. I hope I will be able to notice. I hope I will care.  

Until then I am challenging myself, and you too if you want, to look for the unnoticed in my life. Maybe it is someone on your street, maybe it is the bully in your school, maybe it is the defensive, bitter man in your community, maybe it is a grandmother unable to get out and about, or maybe it is a small child or husband you have put on the back burner. 

If my hands are the only hands Jesus has, I want to wrap them around the broken and unloved. 
If my mouth is the only mouth Jesus has, I want to use it to speak words of love and Jesus. 
If my feet are the only feet Jesus has, I want to walk where people need to see him. 

In order to do these things and have them mean something, I have to care and love first. 

Where is your heart indifferent? What areas do you need God to soften your heart and open your eyes? How can we let people know we care? 

Thank you, friends, so very much for loving and caring about me through this. You have taught me so many lessons on community, love, and support. I am incredibly humbled by your support and desire to make this happen for me. The amount of kind words, texts, and messages shared with me over the past several days have overwhelmed me. I love you. I need you. I care about you. Thank you! 

You can still vote until Wednesday here

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Noonday collection and the International Justice Mission has teamed up for the #StyleForJustice Story Team Trip to Rwanda. An amazing group of bloggers will be making this trip to spread the word that when we use our purchasing power for good and pursue the cause of justice, hope for the poor is possible. 

They have left room for one lucky winner to join the team with an all expense paid trip. 

After much prayer, consideration, and questioning myself and competence, I have entered to win. You can vote {HERE} for me every day on all your internet devices from now until May 28. This would be a life changing opportunity and I would be so grateful for your votes. 

I am including my entry essay on why I should be chosen for this trip. 

Thanks for your support in all things, friends. Much love to you all.

    I don't have a fancy reason or story on why I should be chosen to go on this trip.  The truth is I don't believe there is one deserving woman. I think we all are in so many ways. My heart leaps with joy and excitement at the thought of being able to travel to Rwanda with such brave, bold, confident, and loving women.  My arms ache to hug mothers all over the world trying to survive and make a better life for their family. My mouth waters to whisper words of love and encouragement to children living in unimaginable conditions. My mind races with millions of ways this trip would change my mind and open my eyes.

       I would be so honored to join in this campaign and cause, not because of who I am, but because of who God is. He is the link that joins us and the tie that binds.  I am just a vessel.  A vessel which spends her days doing very ordinary things in the hopes my children, and those around me, will see Jesus and see the world through love.  A vessel who desperately desires to share His greatness.  A vessel which truly believes the way to a better world and life is to fiercely love day in and day out through the big and the small.

      I believe Noonday is a living, thriving example of this and it thrills my soul to share in that cause. 

Friday, May 9, 2014


We sat brokenhearted and lost inside our small house in our small town. I was 6, my little sister was 3, and mom was 30.

(Don't think I haven't picked up on the fact that I turn 30 this year and Brady turns 6, it haunts my dreams)

Our family of four literally changed to a family of three overnight.

I went to bed a part of a happy, imperfect family of four, and I woke a part of a shattered family of three.

I woke to a house full of somewhat familiar faces and lots of cries.

Once my daddies funeral was over and everyone else went back to their lives, we sat missing one vital piece of our family.

As the tears poured down our faces, I asked my mom to stop crying, just please stop crying.

And she did.

Just like that she stopped crying.

In fact, I never saw her cry again until I moved off to college and showed up the next morning back home claiming I needed more stuff, desperately trying  to cover up my tears and fears as I pretended it was everything I thought it would be and I wasn't scared at all.

We both knew.

We both cried.

She fought with every ounce of her being to tell me that I didn't have to go back, that I could just stay home.

I could tell.

 I could see the words, the grief, the fear, the desire to comfort and make it all go away building inside her.

Instead she helped me gather up some more stuff and load it into my car. Then with a brave face and a smile she sent me back to Nashville.

I was fine and so was she.

I don't think my sweet mother realizes the beautiful lessons she taught me in these and many other moments.

She taught me to be a mom, well before I felt that first flutter or wiped that tiny nose.

She taught me our hope is above and nothing in this world is bigger or scarier than our God.

She taught me that when life is hard,  you wipe the tears, get up and get moving.

She taught me that love is stronger than any grief you might ever experience.

She taught me to love, to be strong, to be weak, to be compassionate, to care, to help, to teach, to lead, to listen, to follow, and so so much more I am still learning.

She is still teaching and loving me. I don't think it will ever stop.


As Mother's Day approaches my thoughts have been overcome with thoughts of mothers every where.

 I think of the mother who so desperately desires to hold her baby, but is unable to. 
I think of the mother who is so filed with joy because her heart and arms are full with squishy cheeks and sweet smiles, maybe for the first time. 
I think of the mother who would give her whole life to bear the name. 
I think of the mother whose daughter is very much alive, but far away in distance. 
I think of the mother who is so tired but so in love with her children that she keeps pressing on.
I think of the mothers with broken lives and deep feelings of guilt eating them away when it comes to their children.
 I think of the sons and daughters who so desperately want to pick up the phone or drive down the street to love their mother. 
I think of the grandmothers. 
I think of the mothers who literally only have love to offer their children. 
I think of those very much in the mothering role, but aren't actually given the name. 
I think of the mothers who have given up their child for a life much better than they could dream of offering.
 I think of the young mothers, the old mothers, the great mothers, and the mothers who have failed. 

All I know is that mothers are a chosen, unique group.

They aren't perfect. They aren't super heroes. They aren't well payed. They are overworked. They are under-appreciated. They definitely aren't glamorous. Hello, poopy, vomit, and snot!

But mothers have the most important role in the entire world.

Mothers make the world go around.

Mothers teach.

Mothers lead.

 Mothers mold.

Mothers unite.

Mothers love.

No one loves like a mother loves.

I mean who else's proud, knowing, or disappointed stares can transcend all languages, cultures, countries, and demographics, but Momma's.

Happy Mother's Day, friends!

Go love your Momma and thank you for jumping in the messy trenches of motherhood! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Loving the Church People

Caleb's junior year of college, he took a class entitled Marriage and the Family at a non christian college. I, ironically that same semester, took a class entitled Marriage and the Christian Home at a Christian college. 

We spent many nights that semester on the phone discussing the differences between these two classes with similar names and subject matters. 
While I was discovering family bias's, gender roles, and learning how to place God at the center of all relationships. Caleb was being taught something very different. 

One particular night he was exceptionally fired up after a frustrating class. The professor was pretty cynical when it came to love, specifically the dating relationship. This particular class the professor used an example of how guys pay for dinner and/or express love with the notion the girl will provide something in return. I understand he was very specific in what the girl was to return, if you know what I am saying. The point being that love is conditional and, therefore, superficial.

I sat in my tiny dorm room while Caleb and I dissected all of our thoughts on love over our flip phones.

We are old, people.  

We ultimately agreed to disagree with that professor.

However, all too many times this is exactly how the world views love. It looks at love as conditional, superficial, and reserved only for those who look, sound, and believe just like me. 

Our churches are filled with people shouting love, love, love. Love the orphan. Love the homeless. Love the unloved. 

But at the same time our churches are splitting over neck ties, song choices, and auditorium temperatures.

I find it fascinating that Jesus shares these words to his closest followers, while most likely wearing sandals, 2,000 years before any 90 year old ladies complained about the ministers choice in footwear at the pulpit. 

"I am giving you a new commandment, and it's this: love one another! Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13: 34-35

He tells them to love one another AND by this they will know they are His. 

Jesus knew in order to get people to buy into this life of sacrifice and love, the disciples, the very ones he put his faith into continue sharing the gospel, MUST LOVE EACH OTHER. 

If they weren't united, then it wouldn't work. 

If Peter loved the poor, but didn't love John, then it was superficial. 

If James only loved Matthew when he agreed with everything he said, then it was conditional. 

And if Timothy adopted an orphan, but wouldn't even acknowledge Andrews existence, then it was pointless. 

When our love becomes superficial and conditional, it becomes something people run from rather than run towards. 

Is it possible that the unlovable person in your life is your own brother or sister in Christ? Have we become so outwardly focused that we have failed to cultivate and preserve the relationships with each other? What if "the church people" have become the very people we want to run from?

What good does it do to love those who don't yet know Jesus, if we can't even love those who already do? 

I believe it is counterproductive. 

I am not asking you to abandon all efforts of outreach or evangelism.
 I am not asking you to abandon your preferences on dress or worship, necessarily.
I am not asking you to stop buying TOMS.  

I am asking you to think about who among your fellow believers you are failing to love.
 I am asking you to offer respect to those believers who may not agree with everything you say. 
I am asking you to offer compassion instead of defenses when with your body of believers.
 I am asking you to work through your problems instead of spreading them to others. 

I am asking you to love one another. 

I am asking you to be a community of people so committed and engrossed in love that outsiders want to be apart of it. 


It is intertwined with God. 

Christ loved the church so much that he was willing to die for it. 

I think it is time we try to do the same. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Forgiveness and Freedom

Imagine you are on vacation with your family at the beach.  You are sitting in your chair with sand between your toes, a cold drink in your hand, the warm kiss of sun on your skin, the smell of sunscreen and salty air filling your nose, and the soothing sound of waves crashing at your feet as your thoughts and eyes drift away.

Suddenly, you are jarred awake by panic and screaming in an all too familiar voice. You jump to your feet and see your spouse flailing and yelling in your direction. You can hear the voice, but you are unable to comprehend the words. You quickly look to your right and see one child, where is the other one?

Before you know what is happening you are running towards the sporadic splashing of ocean water. You search for your sinking child. Your beautiful, smart, funny, wonderful blessing is sinking and you reach out to him. I am here. I can show you the way, your eyes speak.

He is calling your name, however, he is resisting your touch. He won't let you save him. He is drowning. The more you try to rescue, the more he resists. You cry out, "let me help you, I know the way to dry land. I can erase this from your life, give you life. I can save you. I love you, please stop pushing me away." He insists he needs you, but will not let you near. With each splash of water you can feel him drifting from you.

With tears streaming down your face and salty water entering your mouth, you make one last effort to grab your sweet, perfect child and carry him to safety. But life leaves him and he drifts away.

~ ~ ~

"My sin is so great, the creator of the entire world could never forgive me."

"The guilt of my former life eats away at me day after day."

"My failures are so large, no one could ever forgive me, especially the God of all things." 

"If I had known participating in sin would've had such a huge effect on me after all this time, I would have stayed away from it." 

These are just a few statements I have heard from women over the short course of my adult life. 

I asked my husband if past sin left him with unimaginable guilt, he responded, "what do you mean?" I attempted to further explain, but was left with the all too familiar blank stare in which my husband looks as though I have suddenly begun speaking in tongues and all comprehension is lost. 

I quickly took this response to confirm my suspicions that this is an issue which mostly haunts women. 

We tend to have a difficult time forgiving OURSELVES. 

Long after our slate has been wiped clean by our redeemer through baptism and grace, we are still hoarding those sins in our hearts and minds. Leaving ourselves trapped in the bonds of sin despite the forgiveness that has been so freely extended to us.

Guilt literally eats away at us, while we miss out on the freedom our Father has extended to us. 

While the example above may seem ridiculous and extreme, I fear it is all to real to the Christian woman(and maybe man, sans my husband) today. We are calling out to God to save us and he is standing with open arms. I already have.

"If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I'm not going to judge them. That wasn't why I came. I came to save the world, not to judge it.  Anyone who rejects me and doesn't hold on to my words has a judge. The word which I have spoken will judge them on the last day." 
John 12:47- 48, The Kingdom New Testament

If Jesus came to save, why won't we let him save us?

If I am not willing to be saved, what good is a savior?

Sin is real. Judgement is coming. Death will happen.

However, through Jesus, we have been given an opportunity to break free from these things.

New life and hope has been breathed into believers who seek and follow Jesus. The old has been removed. We are cleansed. We are set free.

If our old lives of separation from God consume our hearts and thoughts, then we are unable to experience and fulfill the love, joy, peace and goodness our Savior brings us.

Satan is binding you to your sin by your guilt. He has you in his stronghold and is laughing as you drift towards him and away from freedom.

If you are burdened with the deep scars of sin from the past, I ask you, to let your Savior save you. Let Him draw you out of the deep waters of guilt and shame the enemy is binding you to. Allow God to provide you with peace and joy.

Offer forgiveness to yourself as your Father has forgiven you. Move along onto better things, my friend.

"If you remain in my word," he said, "you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8: 31b-32

Join me as we let go of the old and forge ahead with the new. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Little Encourager

Our little Presley will turn 2 in July.  From the moment Presley was beginning to form in my womb, she has been a firecracker, so its only fitting she was born 2 days before the 4th of July. 
 I became very sick a week before I even knew she was developing.  Baby girl was so strong her earliest kicks were visible from the outside. Caleb and I began to play a game nightly to see how far she could kick an object off my growing belly. 

I will never forget one night in our hospital room hearing a baby cry down the hall  in the nursery and looking at Caleb and saying, "that's Presley". The nurse walked in giggling while Presley was red faced from screaming her lungs out. The experienced nurse gently said, "I have never seen one get so worked up the moment she was hungry. She was fine and then she wasn't and she let me have the whole way here."  We all laughed because we had heard her as they made the entire walk through the halls to our room. 

My brother recently commented about Presley being the most opinionated baby he has ever met. 

Its true. 

Its a running joke in our family that if you sit with or around us during Sunday morning worship, you need to be prepared to duck in the event of flying objects. You see, if you offer Presley a bowl of goldfish and she wants raisins, she doesn't just nod no or turn away. She takes them and launches them back at you. Despite my best efforts, this is still her response. 

These are characteristics of Presley that people notice. These are the things that speak the loudest. These are the things she is known for the most. 

However, in the simple moments of bath time, ball practices, car rides, and playing in the living room floor, Presley is a beautiful encourager. 

Brady recently lead a song and prayer at a singing service. He did an excellent job. For the entire 30 minute drive home, Presley exclaimed at the top of her lungs, "Yay, my bubba, Yay!". 

At Brady's ball practice, she passes the time by cheering and encouraging her brother from the sidelines. 

Go, Bubba, Go Go Go!!!

While Rylan (a friends 1 year old I watch during the week) figured out how to work a toy, Presley was there shouting, "Yay, Baby Ry! Luh you!". 

When I hand her her blanket and paci in the car she sweetly replies, "Thank you my Momma! yay!" 

When a waitress at a restaurant brings food, Presley yells, without fail, YAAAAY!  I have yet to see a waitor or waitress walk away from her cheers without a smile on their face. 

In a world where everyone seems to seek personal gain and spotlight, Presley loves sitting on the sidelines and cheering others on. She has her desires, wants, and opinions. She makes them VERY clear. But she is genuinely happy when others seek and find their desires, wants, and opinions. 

I am in the midst of studying the book of John. Recently while studying chapter 3, this very lesson Presley has been teaching me jumped out and smacked me in the face.
John the Baptist is being questioned because Jesus is now baptizing more people than John. John the Baptist once again exclaims he is not the Messiah and continues into a story of how the bridegroom gets the bride, not the bridegrooms friend. 

 Then John the baptist turns the world upside down with this response. 

 At the end of verse 29 through verse 30, John the Baptist states "Therefore I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater, and I must become less." 

Joy at his success. 

Not my success. 

I become less and in this I find joy. 

As Presley finds joy in the success of her brother, my heart is softened to search where I need to become less and find joy.

I also am reminded that the encourager has a huge role in the kingdom. The encourager keeps spirits high, the encourager motivates to keep going, the encourager moves people to seek the Lord working in their lives, the encourager brings us back to focus, and the encourager challenges those to run faster. 

The encourager is important.

I am so in love with our little encourager and I beg you to never overlook the encourager in your life. 

I beg you to appreciate them, learn from them, and encourage them in response.

My prayer today is that I can help Presley see the importance in this gift of encouragement she has been given. I pray I can provide an environment which allows her gift to flourish. I also hope to become an encourager myself through her innocent example. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

A lesson from a water bottle hoarder...

I cleaned out my "tupperware" cabinet a few weeks ago. I feel its important to note I don't actually own a single piece of brand named tupperware, it is all cheap plastic containers we put leftovers in. I am also not sure what I did classified as cleaning out. Basically what happened was the tower of unmatched bowls and lids fell into the floor for the millionth time and I decided to quickly toss out a few pieces, take a few to my mom, and stack the others back in as neatly as possible.

What I discovered in the back of the cabinet was 8 different reusable water bottles. EIGHT.  Some with squirt tops, some with straws, and even a cute, fancy Tervis with a clip. I pulled them all out and thought well that is a bit excessive. I can vividly remember purchasing or being gifted each one and EVERY SINGLE TIME thinking, "oh this will help me drink more water".

Well guess what...

I still don't drink much water.

It may have helped for a week or so, but once the new wore off, I was back to my old habits.

The thing is the problem isn't in the water bottle.

The problem is in me.

I don't hate water, but I don't love it.

Mostly I don't want water.

I want a cherry Dr. Pepper, sweet tea, or coffee.

I have had at least 4 separate conversations with 4 very different people over the past several months, but the content was very much the same. They all expressed in some way, how they were having trouble focusing and getting the important things done.

What struck me as interesting is all of these people had something to blame for their lack of focus. Its possible social media or their new love of Downton Abbey(okay, so no one has actually mentioned giving up Downton, pending no one else dies) is in part to blame for the struggle.

 Let me preface this next paragraph by saying, I always think there is benefit in stepping back from things that we fill our time with to refocus. I think it is necessary, important, and biblical. 

However, what concerns me is that we tend to have a really hard time owning our failures. It is easier to blame something or someone else for our problems. It is easy to blame the tiny humans for my messy home. It is easy to blame my DVR for my lack of time in the word. It is easy to blame being tired for forgetting to pray. It is easy to blame the water bottle for the lack of water intake.

When the real problem is in me, in us.  I just don't want to do this.

I want to watch Downton Abbey... or read Divergent... or take a nap... or fill in the blank...

When we take on Christ in baptism and commit to following Him, we essentially give up our life and entrust it to God.

We are committing to changing our desires to God's desires. 

And guess what...

Its no longer about me.

Its no longer about what I want.

Its about what God wants.

And God wants my life.


So maybe instead of blaming and running away from all the distractions in our life, we give them to God and allow him to transform them into avenues for his work to be done. 

Maybe we use the internet as a tool to strengthen our bible study, maybe we use our Facebook to tell 500+ people in one second how God has rescued us and he can rescue them, maybe we use our radio to worship our Father and teach our children of His greatness while driving, or maybe we use the baseball field to love the unloved.

And then if you can't give it God, you prayerfully consider purging it from your life.

What is God asking you to hand over or purge? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Lesson from my Children...

A little over 5 years ago, Caleb and I jumped in head first to this thing called parenting. I think it is safe to say we had absolutely no idea how much that a tiny human would change our world. We were warned about the sleepless nights, change in priorities, and miracle of it all, so there was a sense of change well before we ever experienced it. However, no one ever said this child will teach you more than you could ever dream of teaching him. 

It's no secret Jesus spent much time with and used children in his teachings. I tend to believe the reason, in part, being that children have an amazing ability to use their simple innocence as a great ministry. Children don't typically have an agenda or biases. They just have simplistic innocence. They are pure, honest, and open.

Last night, I was over being Mommy for the day. It was still an hour or two before Caleb would walk in and save the day. As a result, I did what any tired, American, good mom would do, I sent them to Brady's room to watch a movie and then told them to not come out until they heard their daddy come home. Parenting at its finest. I should probably have a trophy for best mom ever. 

Imagine my distraught, when they didn't stay in his room at all, but came parading into my space.  

The two of them stood before me, each grasping a canister in their hands. A canister that they had picked up at church. These particular canisters are to collect money for a nearby orphanage. 

Brady quickly asked, "would it be okay if we emptied our piggy banks into these?" 

I nodded, a little in shock of the question being presented to me, when I so clearly was done being a good influence for the night. The two scurried off and began to line up every piggy bank in the house. Together they emptied each one into the two canisters before them. Brady gently expressed to Presley, "that isn't money, baby, the children need money. They don't have mommies or daddies."

I sat on my couch watching and praying with tear filled eyes. 

Quickly before putting everything away, Brady ran in and declared, "I found a dollar, can I put it with the money for the children that don't have mommies and daddies, too?"

They each returned their canisters to me much heavier with big grins on their faces. 

In an effort of full disclosure, about a year and half ago, Caleb and I spent some time collecting money and teaching Brady about orphans. We filled and returned a couple canisters and went on with life. 

I noticed a few weeks ago, the empty canisters had returned to the church lobby. In all honesty, I secretly hoped Brady wouldn't see them and avoided walking near them at all cost.

I want to help orphans, really, I do. But I did not want the hassle of making sure it was full and remembering to return it to the church building. 

After all, we had already filled and returned two. We sponser a child overseas monthly. We wear friends adoption fundraiser shirts proudly. We have devotionals explaining how not everyone is blessed with one or both parents. 

We are done with that service and teaching, right?

This is the amazing thing about this situation.
Caleb and I had a goal to soften our children's hearts to those who aren't blessed with parents. We were intentional and focused on this goal for a while. We eventually got to a point were we felt it was complete and we stopped teaching intentionally on this specific issue. 

But Brady hadn't stopped learning. 

He understood much more clearly than even I did. 

We are never done. Walking in the light is continuous. Forever.

Once one can is full, we move to fill the next. 

When he spotted those canisters in the lobby, he remembered their importance. He remembered the meaning. He remembered the call to action and obedience. 

He stuffed, not one, but two empty canisters into our bag, despite my attempt to return them. He wanted to share with his younger sister this need. He wanted to teach her about orphans and encourage her to act in love as well. 

So as I retired to my couch last night drained from the obligations of life, God presented me with an example of discipleship in its simplest form right in my living room. 

I have been so vividly reminded that my walk with Jesus is just beginning. It is continuous. It is important. It calls me to action and obedience. I still have so much to learn. 

Thank you Lord for my children. Thank you for their innocence. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart to see you through them. 

Then he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Matthew 18:3, new living translation

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Word Resolution

New Years Resolutions aren't really my thing. I am, however, a big fan of small goals throughout the year. I like focus. I like having something to work towards. I like the accomplished feeling when one of those goals are met. 

I have a running list of goals at any given time. 

We recently spent some time at a couples retreat. We were asked to pair off with our spouse and write out 6 goals for 6 different categories. I am not the best at math, but that is 36 goals, y'all!

I rattled off about 20 goals in about 5 minutes as Caleb struggled to come up with one for each category. So, I don't really need the new year to make me sit down and come up with a resolution. 

However, I am loving the idea of the One Word Resolutions. I mean one word that will carry you through 2014 and inspire you throughout. Count me in. 

I have had the hardest time nailing down ONE word for the entire year, though. 

Immediately at least 100 words scroll through my mind. 

Bold, obedient, faithful, servant, share, prayer, prioritize, search, see, go, goodness, kind, love, follow, humility, hope, desire, present, intentional, submit 

I have so many areas in my life that need improvement, that I have trouble narrowing down one area I need to focus on this year. 

But if I am completely honest, God has been whispering one word to me over and over for a while now. Not literally whispering, but turning my attention to one word repeatedly. My friend alludes to it when she persuades me to write. A sweet lady at church speaks it when she gently encourages me to teach more classes. My husband begs for me to hear it when he says everything will be fine. My children yearn for it when they see the doubt in my eyes. The scriptures scream it at me when I study them. 

The word floats around in my mind constantly as I struggle to stuff it into a deep corner and forget it. 

So my word for 2014 is TRUST.  

Trust that God is who He says He is. 

Trust that God will do what He says He will do.

Trust in my marriage.

Trust in God to take hold of my fears and alleviate them as submit myself to complete obedience.

Trust that I am worthy.

Trust God will provide. 

Trust that God can use me.

Trust when my baby boy walks into his kindergarten classroom alone, that he isn't really alone.

Trust as I enter the land of the 30's. 


Throughout this year, I may face ridicule. I may face struggles. I may face heartbreak. I may be disappointed. It may be our best year yet.

2014 may fail me.  I am choosing to trust with my whole heart, despite my independent spirit, no matter what comes, that God will not. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Welcome to my new space.
I hope to use this space to write and hopefully share my thoughts and ideas in a way that uplifts and encourages and maybe even makes you laugh. You see, I have a lot of thoughts and ideas. I have a lot of opinions. My brain NEVER stops. This is why I watch shows like the Bachelor, it requires no thinking of any kind. It is completely mindless. Sometimes I need something mindless.

BUT I am a nothing spectacular. Our life is fairly uneventful. Our home is small. Our street quiet.  I am not a theologian. I only speak one language. I am young. I have only lived in one state and 3 cities. I have traveled, but not excessively. I haven't started a non profit organization or saved the world. I don't have all the answers. I am learning, growing, and changing. I hope I always am.

  I am nothing spectacular.

 I am a sinner struggling to overcome a multitude of sins every day that stand in the way of reaching the full potential God has for me.

Fortunately for me (and you), my God is spectacular and he chose me (and you). He is fully capable of using an ordinary wife and mommy for his glory. He is fully capable of turning nothing into something.  He is able to transform my nothing into something spectacular.

God is capable.

My hope is that the words in this space point you to God. I pray that God can use this space to be his voice.  I will try to get out of the way.

As we jump into 2014 full force, I pray that God can open our eyes and hearts while we embark on this journey together.

Thank you for joining me.