Monday, October 17, 2011

Over the past year of counting blessings it seems that my lens has changed significantly.
I currently find myself in a very hearty season.
A season full of beauty, full of commitments, full of joy,
full of grief, full of why's and full of wonder .
This type of season usually sends me into a spin as I try to manage, control and orchestrate in an attempt to appear as though I have it all together when I am actually freaking out on the inside that everyone is going to KNOW that I am really an overcommitted, overemotional Hot Mess.
And while that can be true, it is also true that in the fullness of this season,
I am learning a lot about trusting God and believing His word.
I am slowly becoming more secure in who He says I am.
I am learning that He is everywhere.
And I am at my best when I focus on Him.
I want to see and be changed.
I am also finding it easier and more satisfying to express gratitude for the hard stuff and the why's?
The hard and why stuff is ever present right now and 
there are no easy answers to the pain and suffering. 
And perhaps the hard and why stuff is what keeps leading me back into thanksgiving,
back to love and back to acceptance.
Joy is a choice.
A choice expressed most abundantly when I trust and I believe and I move knowing that
 He has me right
 where He wants me. 
His purpose. His plan.
His love expressed through me.
Even when it is hard and the answers are few.
Thanks be to God.


  •  little boys who are growing up
  • celebrating 7
  • my sweet friend who lives hope and inspires my walk
  • praying for full, whole miracles
  • knowing that He hears and answers according to His sovereign plan
  • pink ribbons
  • girl's day out
  • field trips
  • rain, rain, rain
  • sameness

Monday, October 3, 2011

Possibilities

Everything is possible for one who believes.
Mark 9:23 (NIV)
This verse has been chasing me for the last couple of weeks and
popping up everywhere I go.
LAB's small group has been asking the question,
"What's impossible with God?" for the last two weeks,
thus many of our conversations have centered around God's mind blowing abilities.
So I was a bit stunned last night when this question and verse came up again in my women's study,
Believing God.
And because, Mrs. Beth does such an amazing job of digging deep into heart matters
and offering little escape from hard to swallow questions,
I have been emotionally wrestling all day.
And after a lot of conversations with God, myself and the teachers in the pick up line at school,
I am beginning to gain a smidge of clarity.
Here it is...
I believe the Bible.
I believe that God works all things for good...
even the hard things that I kind of wish he would do differently.
I believe that He hears my prayers, that He loves me and that He is present in my life.
And sometimes this whole believing thing is just unbelievable
and seriously freaks me out when I really, really think about it.
I don't struggle with believing.
I just get overwhelmed and a tad immobile when it comes to possibilities and I start to limit Him in my mind.
And this verse keeps coming and coming and coming.
And I know He wants my attention about something specific.
I am guessing that it's the specific thing that keeps holding my heart back from going wild with love.
The something specific that resonates in my heart when I fully surrender to this particular truth:
 He's got it.
He doesn't need my help.
I was designed to be free.
To believe, trust and follow Him.
 He wants to blow my mind with His grace.
No matter what.
And that just plain scares me.
Because I know what "no matter what" can look like.
And no matter what can rock your world in some really scary ways
and it can rock your world in some pretty awesome ways.
And truth be told either is pretty scary for me.
And I am not always sure how I feel about falling head over heels without knowing where He will take me.
And I don't know that I want to go wherever He leads.
And I seem to prefer to wrestle and believe that he needs my help.
Because this spiritual tug of war gives me the illusion that I have some of the power
and that I am somehow in control of the outcome...and that just seems safe.
But it limits Him.
And I don't want to miss out on all He can do because I am believing the lie that I have to hold the rope.
I am seeking freedom.
Freedom that finds comfort in His embrace, trusts His plan, basks in His love and craves His truth.
No fear, no worry, no what if's.
No matter what He presents.
No matter what.
And I believe that this kind of freedom is possible for me.
 Nothing is impossible with Him.


Counting grace with Ann and friends,

  • puppy errands
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes
  • Fall decorations mixed with seashells
  • baseball games
  • tailgates with fun friends
  • new bible studies
  • sweet hugs from big boys
  • jean weather
  • pink, pink, pink
  • late night walks
  • big hits from my little one
  • ribs and pasta salad
  • football season

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FIXING

I have always been one to take matters into my own hands.
I am by nature a "fixer". 
For most of my life when something went wrong, I looked for a solution and got busy executing it.
It was instinctive and I was often unaware that I was doing it.
Especially when it came to relationships.
And people I love, loving each other.
And people I love hurting.
And I always thought that my "fixing" was a good thing.
I just wanted everyone to be okay.
Until I realized that I had a tendency to make myself and others crazy with it.
And then there is the glaring fact that most things are not mine to fix.
In an effort to experience "fixer" success, I became a therapist, which put me face to face with a lot of stuff.
Of my own.
And over time, I became a bit too devoted to my own self-interest, my own insight
and my own perspectives.
And in all of the me, me, me... I got real tired and real overwhelmed.
And started to run. By grace, my running led me to Christ.
And now I am learning to stop and trust.
 That joy most often comes with process.
And processes are not always pretty, or short, or fun.
This process of stopping has taught me to wait, experience and SEE.
To not seek my own understanding.
To not seek happy, safe and secure.
But to press into him,
and stand in the moment and feel the full range of emotions that has most often
 made me want to grab a magic wand
 and make everything better.
At least by my standards.
I am steadily learning to trust His process. And naturally there are bumps along the way.
I have friends and family that are sick with diseases that bring continuous pain and fatigue.
I want to fix that. I want healing.
I have friends broken by barely there marriages, financial crisis, spiritual crisis,
 emotional crisis, fear and an unwillingness to forgive and let go.
I sit with the kids at work and we play in the sand...the dollhouse...we paint with our toes and slay dragons.
I want to make their fear go away. To pretend the bad stuff never happened.
I want to take away their sadness, their anxiety, their anger.
And I am helpless to do that.
So I pray silent prayers to the ONE who can while we race cars
on invisible roadways and love on babydolls together.
I hold their stories.
I so badly want it to go away.
And I walk.
And I do my best to trust His process.
And it's hard sometimes, because more often than not I am a mess.
So I get it together (one more time) and press in and look up.
There is nothing to fear, nothing to hide from,
nothing that cannot be overcome and nothing that he cannot make right.
I am learning that I don't need to understand. I just need to stand surrendered.
Jesus Saves.
Trusting, believing, praying and holding fast,


  • boys and brothers
  • girlfriends
  • long car rides with LAB
  • my mama
  • beach weeks with family
  • Sara's grace
  • music
  • tailgating fun
  • husband on vacation
  • awesome teachers
  • new bible studies
  • chocolate chip and banana muffins
  • candy corn pumpkins
  • a morning with lucie
  • the hard stuff that still points me HOME


Friday, September 16, 2011

JOY

I don't know that I had ever thought much about Joy
until a few years ago when I realized I did not have a lot of it.
I was tired and worn out and probably even angry.
I could spend time telling you why but over time I have come to understand that while so much is different about us, there is much understanding when you get right down to it.
I was ready to be transformed.
To lay down the bags that I had carried for so long and experience JOY.
So I started a little project. And in the starting, I learned to STOP. To be still.
And surrender to a truth that had long escaped me. That He is God and I am not.
And my getting out of my own way and the ways of others, made a path towards joy.
It opened doors for me that I would have breezed right past on my own.
It showed me that grace is so much better than being right and that love is harder than I thought.
It convicted me that his will is worth waiting for and better than what I would choose for myself.
It also showed me that loving God doesn't prevent bad stuff from happening.
And that is where Joy has surprised me.
Because the bad stuff kept me from surrendering and sometimes it still can.
The bad stuff can exasperate me.
And He tells us to count all as joy.
And that is so hard sometimes.
Because sometimes I just want it to stop.
I don't want to hear about another child dying, another parent with cancer, another family terrified by their finances, another marriage on the rocks, another believer disappointed by the church, another friendship betrayed, another child abused, rejected, fearful.
The list goes on and on.
But I know He is there. That I am not alone.
Our circumstances most often point us to Him, if we can just let go of ourselves and hold fast to Him.
That is how we begin to know joy in every circumstance, even when it has us on our knees, tears falling and begging for something different.
Joy lives in Him. He is always holding us.
He is my portion. He is my joy.






Friday, September 2, 2011

Rest


I am using the prompt "rest" from 5 minute Friday but this post was absolutely not written in 5 minutes. I was a little overwhelmed by the prompt and decided to just write today in hopes that this post will help me rest.




She was tired. 19 years together and all I had to do was catch a
glimpse of her at the office door and I knew.
The knowing took my breath away.
Tears streamed hot. Her work was done.
When we first met it was questionable who needed who most.
I was a 20 year old mess who was so lost that I was looking for anything that might help me escape.
She had been abandoned in the woods and rescued. 
She fit in the palm of my hand and seemed so fragile.
I fell in love with her the minute I saw her.
She hid in my closet for weeks and when she came out she was fierce.
Brave and wild and fun and beautiful.
A Siamese with big blue eyes.
I named her, Jewels.
It is crazy how much you can love an animal.
Almost every person I have known for the last 19 years knew Jewels.
It was as though she was a thread that ran through every experience.
I wrote short stories in college about her.
I have always used her as a character in my work with children.
She was so pretty that she seemed to command attention without even trying.
Her biggest claim to fame was the fact that she did not have
the best reputation for being easy to get along with.
And there was something about that, that made so many smile...often in hindsight.
In the early years, she would just as soon bite you as look at you.
If you played with her, you would have the battle wounds to show it.
She would appear to be enjoying the attention and moments
later rear her ears back and hiss so loudly that it would make you jump.
But she always saved the best for me.
I was her girl, her person and she gave me so many quiet moments
that seemed all the more special given her tendencies.
When I got pregnant she would lie on my belly as though she knew
we were cooking up something amazing.
As cute as her "egg hatching" was, I worried how she would treat the babies when they arrived.
But motherhood seemed to chill her out and her mama instincts kicked right in.
She thought that both of her boys hung the moon and she took over their rooms when they arrived.
 19 years....a husband, two boys and so much else later, Jewels somehow got old.
And it was hard for me to see.
And perhaps it was hard because I had gotten 19 years older too.
And I just cannot believe that much time has passed.
For the last year, we have done all we could to make her comfortable.
Our neighbors on both sides, have cared for her when she would wind up at their doors and they loved on her up with ear rubs and fresh water.
Everyone kept making observations and I continually reassured myself that I would know.
That she would tell me.
When I saw her at the door Monday night I knew.
My sweet girl needed rest.
She was tired.
She had fought the good fight.
I wrapped her in my first born's baby blanket and my mom drove us to the vet.
As we rode, she reached a paw up to my face and seemed to wipe my tears as we drove.
Telling me, telling me, telling me...
It is so much easier to rest when you have loved deeply and been deeply loved.
Amen, sweet girl.
Thank you.
Rest.










Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shadows




This post was inspired by my friend Lisa Whittle's challenge @ http://www.lisawhittle.com/

Shadows lurk deep at my core. 
Cold, lonely, dark and musty places that evade light and cringe at the possibility of exposure.
 Shadows were my favorite friends for a long time.
They were a place to hide, deny, blame, simmer, boil
and indulge in ingratitude, self-righteousness and entitlement...
I lived in fear that if you really knew me, than you would know that I was much more of a mess than
I considered it polite to be and I just couldn't bear the thought of you knowing THAT.
Before my collision with Christ, I sat in yet one more therapist's office
and explained my desire to live a life of congruence.
For my words, my actions, my beliefs and thoughts to align.
No more pretending.
No more peeling back my layers in an effort to justify my actions.
No more focusing my attention on everyone else and how they were messing me up by
not measuring up to who I thought they should be.
Little did I know that this desire for congruency and transformation
would lead me to a full blown collision with Christ.
But He knew...God is funny like that.
So while I would love to bedazzle my experience by retreating to the shadows and telling you that this collision has always been beautiful and glossy...
it hasn't.
It has been messy, scary, doubt-filled, confusing, intimidating, lonely, disagreeable and oh-so very imperfect.
And some shadows remain.
And some seem to go away...only to return when I least expect it.
And sometimes the shadows fight for my attention and I want to feel the coolness and get lost in the dark.
Because I don't always want to trust, or pray, or surrender, or turn the other cheek, or forgive
or choose to see the best in another.
Sometimes I can be really ugly.
I don't want that to be true...but it is.
 I am after the kind of transformation that requires radical transparency.
The kind of radical transparency that knows nothing of shadows and hiding.
The kind that requires a willingness to dig deep.
And to not just revel in the pretty parts of my relationship with Christ but to shine a light on the ugliness and trust in a love that can sustain my pain and bring redemption.
Salvation did not make me perfect and it never will.
But I need a Savior.
I was a wreck without Him.
And on many days I am a wreck with Him.
And today I stand here in the light, radically transparent for all of you to see.



Friday, August 19, 2011

NEW




I used to believe in a different kind of new.
The kind of new where new shoes, new clothes, a new house, being somewhere new, anything new would make everything better.
That kind of new creates a scary, lonely cycle.
But I have stretched.
And changed.
And I don't believe in that kind of new anymore.
Each day we face the prospect of something new.
Life can change in an instant.
And while something new can bring celebration, it can also shake us to our core and make us ask why.
 Safety beckons and new presents a risky challenge.
New calls us to walk on the edge.
To be present, alive, courageous, open because we do not know what He has in store.
Our senses are heightened and our lives become alive in the new.
New comes in the willingness to wrap our lives around the present
and not just engage in the pretty and controlled.
But to stay put and feel...
no matter how amazing it is, how bad it hurts,
how angry it makes us, how scary it is, how vulnerable we feel.
And while it always seems easier to color within the lines of the plan I create for myself and not take risks and embrace something new...
I long for transformation and freedom.
I long for new.
image: mikemart.com

 






Monday, August 15, 2011

School is Approaching

I am officially grieving the end of summer.
In ten days my boys will walk back into their school and into a routine that week after glorious week will get increasingly harder on ME.
I just don't have a great deal of stamina when it comes to alarm clocks, spelling tests, lunch packing and folder signing.
It makes me woozie and requires far more organization than I care to pretend I posses.
And given my propensity for rebellion, this is really not all that surprising.

Just this morning, LAB asked what our plans were for the day.
I explained that I am on strike and refusing to acknowledge or purchase school supplies
(even though I have had their lists for 2 weeks).
Traffic is too bad to make the trek across town to the uniform store
(and gas is expensive and it's hot outside).
And yesterday I covered my bases and asked my soon to be 1st grader to read me a book just
 to ensure that he had not forgotten how
(because that would have made me look really bad).

If you are still reading this bless your heart.
Because this is all a bunch of silly bravado aimed at avoiding the truth.
The truth is, I don't want school to start because the momentum picks up.
And our easy pace gets interrupted..
School also takes them away from me, which just makes me sad.
With each lunch packed, spelling test taken, memory verse recited, alarm clock set...
they get more independent.
And of course I know that's a good thing.
But it doesn't make it easy.
I kneel beside them and watch them sleep.
They sleep side by side. 
 Their legs hook around one another and their heads tilt together.
They take my breath away.
They are perfect gifts.
Brothers. Sons.
HIS.
I pray for God to guard their eyes, ears, hearts and minds.
I pray that He will set them on fire for Him.
I pray for His will.
Tears fall.
They unpeel me because more than anything or anyone they point me to Him.
And I just want to hold on.

And breathe them in for as long as possible, counting His grace... with no interruptions.


  • Questions with no answers
  • Beyblades in plastic tupperware containers making TONS of noise
  • Pokemon talk that makes no sense
  • Puppy wrestling
  • Sneaking gum from drawers
  • Dance moves that impress
  • Blueberry mustaches
  • Signed baseballs
  • Movie nights
  • clean closets
  • snakes in the drain pipes (or frogs)
  • Heathwood Drive baseball in the dark with neighbors
  • painting
  • ice cream
  • lightsaber fights
  • smoothies (with spinach hidden inside)




Friday, August 12, 2011

Beauty


I was taught well how to reject my reflection by my mother who had also been taught well.
It was generational.
And so very hard to escape. 
Beauty was always just five more pounds away, somewhere waiting in a department store, in the approval of others or
in the latest $100 anti-aging potions.
Satan's generational curse has long pulsed through my women and held our joy captive.
Comparison. Sizing up the competition.
Looking, listening, judging...beauty.
It has been one of my hardest obstacles.
Letting go of lies told and retold by the people that love me best and that I love best.
These women and their ideas that I was once so dependent on. 
But my women did not know that we are more precious than rubies,
that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we become what we behold.
They could only see that they did not measure up and they were afraid...
because maybe I wouldn't either.
Rage builds, self-hatred boils and
life becomes dictated by fear in world that is never satisfied.
But beauty is everywhere.
More abundant than I ever knew.
It begs for acceptance. Even in the yuck.
Beauty cannot be compared, judged or shunned.
Because our Creator is perfect and He defines beauty perfectly.
In everyone and everything
But we must be willing to see differently.
Yes.
We must trust and see.
Him.
This is the new story.



Monday, August 8, 2011

Keys

Football season is quickly approaching and given that I married the biggest ECU Pirate fan ever, preparations for game day have recently kicked into high gear.
Forget that the tax-free weekend had most of my friends
scrambling to save on school supplies and backpacks. 
In our house we were preparing tailgating menus, reading stats, dreaming of bowl games and
I was looking for purple and gold inspiration of the retail type.
Let if be said that I just love Game Days.
I am the mama of two boys and the wife of a die hard sport's fan.
Testosterone is a major fact of life in my house.
And when it comes to football, I like to add some sparkle to whatever
purple and gold ensemble I can come up with.
So I found a cute dress online and decided to have my crazy creative little sister make it for me.
So off to JoAnn's Fabrics we go.
With two cars and three kids in 110 degree weather.
Two of whom had never seen a fabric store (mine) and briefly thought that it might be a good time to lose their minds.
Especially since I was completely overstimulated by everything in sight, the 40% off coupon and the PEACOCK feathers...but that's another story.
Anyway, we finally get the kids untangled from the boas and pay the cashier $14 as I do a happy dance and declare how thrifty and smart I am, when the panic sets in and I realize...
I have lost my keys.
In a 10,000 sq. foot fabric store.
I kind of whisper the news to my sister who gives me the look...well you know.
Scary truth is I do this A LOT.
I am just prone to be a bit free spirited and ditzy at the worst possible times.
Little sister is used to it and loves me in spite of myself but she is in no mood for my antics today.
She wants to go to Costco for free samples or lunch as it is sometimes called in our house.
She continues to remind me how much she loves me as she pulls
bolt after bolt of fabric out with no sign of my keys.
After searching for 15 minutes, I said a prayer and asked God for help.
I really needed it.
I was up against 2 giants.
My sister who was hungry, hot and trying to keep 3 kids from rioting.
And my husband who would have been very displeased if I had arrived home in my sister's car with fabric for a new dress, no keys and no car.
And within minutes of my prayer...
on an aisle full of every glorious color and width of ribbon ever created.
Were my keys.
The Halllelujah chorus played in my head.
And I thanked God.
And followed my sister to Costco for lunch...I mean samples.


Thanking Him for the little stuff, the big stuff and for being everywhere....

  • a beautiful day at Granny's
  • funny stories
  • rain, rain, rain
  • dinner with a friend
  • brothers
  • progress
  • green smoothies
  • water
  • letters
  • Canadian geese
  • the sweetest puppy ever so glad to see me after 3 nights away
  • boy hugs, boy questions, boy prayers
  • blueberries and blackberries
  • time with my dad
  • transformation stories where Jesus is the star

Friday, August 5, 2011

5 Minute Friday


 
I am one of those girls who grew up always believing that something was missing.
I remember wanting desperately to fit in with other girls and I guess that in many ways it looked like I did. 
But it never felt like it.
I could play the part and look like I belonged to whatever group grabbed my interest at the time but true authenticity was always something that escaped me.
Whenever I felt as though something was lacking my immediate response was to fix it.
And I tried...hard.
I have done every foolish thing I can think of to feel right...to feel WHOLE, to know peace.
Sometimes to the point of self-destruction.
And the very last thing I ever wanted to try,
has been the only thing that has had any power over the gaping hole.
The only thing that has not lost it's power.
The gospel.
 I was made for the King.
And His love makes me WHOLE.
Far from perfect.
But WHOLE.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am out doing my nightly walk around the neighborhood and I hear this verse from Proverbs through my headphones.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life".
Guard my heart?
I think about this for less than a second, quickly concluding, "I've got this one".
I guard well. I always have.
Iron clad.
Protect... shield....defend.
Yep, this I know how to do.
I smile and I keep walking.
I am listening to an Andy Stanley podcast on marriage...on staying in love.
 He continues, explaining that in knowing my heart
I can better understand my often WILD reactions when someone
(most specifically my husband) "bumps" me.
His illustration is too cute.
A boy mug full of blue beads bumping into a girl mug full of pink beads.
Bumping one another with responses that leave them both unpeeled.
The beads are spilling everywhere.
It's messy.
It is a great illustration.
But then he shares this little tidbit of information that hits me right between the eyes.
No one (husband or not) brings out the worst in me.
The pink beads come out and make a mess because that is what is inside of me.
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Hold on Andy...
The yucky stuff just lies dormant until I get bumped?
And the bumping can lead to a blame-filled explosion of words, emotions, behavior...even silence.
This is my wellspring?
This is what I get for protecting, shielding and defending so well.
A big fat tendency to rush right into DEFENSE mode rather than search my heart
for the truth about what is really going on.
Really?
And how much easier would it be if this struggle only happened in my marriage.
But no, this is a struggle in many relationships.
Relationships simply ignite my ongoing struggle with
rejection, disappointment, fear, lonliness, anxiety and a need to be right.
Do I need this much self-awareness?
Apparently I do.
Holding Fast and Believing in His power to transform,





Friday, July 29, 2011

STILL





Still...it is the word that I determined to understand in 2010.
I knew nothing of stillness. Nothing of being in the moment.
Nothing of peace or trust.
I long tended to overmanage, overworry, overfrustrate, overexpect, overplan and overcompensate.
But these words got hold of me,
"Be Still and Know that I Am God."
These words became bigger than my need for self-fulfillment.
Nothing He asks of me is ever easy.
I always want to jump in with both feet and get busy.
I have learned a lot about being still.
And stillness continues to be a huge part of my process.
Stillness has quietly taught me to hold my stuff up to the light and dig deep into my motivation and ask why?
Why am I trying to manipulate, control, avoid or indulge my self?
Is it because I don't trust Him?
Most often it is.
And how silly am I to think that my plan could ever be better than His.




Monday, July 25, 2011

Hold Fast

9,400 women gathered this weekend in Charlotte, NC
to worship Jesus through the leadership of Beth Moore.
I got to go with three girls I am absolutely crazy about.
Girl's weekends with these ladies are hard to come by but somehow
He made it happen and we loved, laughed, shared and teared up the whole time.
As for Mrs. Beth...well this was everyone's first time seeing her in person.
And she is just the cutest thing ever.
And WoW can she deliver a message straight from HIM.
HOLD FAST was her message for Charlotte.
HOLD FAST to Jesus Now.
Right Now.
She tells us,
"He is the only way yo fulfill your purpose in this life.
Don't let anything come between you.
Adhere to Him, cleave to Him, stick to Him like glue.
He holds you always but you must hold Him back to experience a life more abundant.
You are called to a life that works.
You are not called to be a train wreck (love that one).
You do not know who you are until you love God.
The more you put off obedience the more you put off His blessings".
And that was my moment.
Obey is my word for 2011 and it has been a struggle.
Death of self is a hard one even though I have had all of me I can take.
And the more I struggle with obeying my own desires over the desires He has for me
the more I am convicted  and acknowledging that I hold on loosely.
I am not clinging.
I waver and wander.
And I often find myself dancing around in this earthly world that seeks to destroy me
and keep me distracted.
Somtimes I want destruction. Sometimes I want distraction.
Jesus is not always easy and He is not always fun.
And Beth says, "Choose life. Choose your hard. Hard Victory or Hard Defeat".
And it stings because I know.
I am hardwired to want them both.
To know and want the victory that Jesus brings and to be so freaked out by it that I run a million miles backwards and into the arms of the temporary.
What would it be like to live His truth and belive that I am radically loved and forgiven?
Can I hold fast even when it hurts and my life shakes?
When insecurity and the pit calls my name.
When the temporary teases?
Is it possible for me to trust Him that much?
Can I tolerate the discomfort long enough to find out?
At the end, before we close in worship,
I take the hands of one of the most precious women that God has chosen for me to do life with.
I can see my sister holding onto the most wonderful bundle of courage, strength and determination I know.
And we follow Beth in speaking Truth to one another.
It is a moment that is rare.
Intimate and unforgettable...
and so very needed.
Hold Fast Sister...until the day that you bow at His feet and lay your crown before Him.
Hold fast...


Counting blessings with Ann,
  • road trips
  • the sound of worship songs led by Travis Cottrell and belted out by 9,400 women
  • tin foil
  • ultra cheap hotel rooms that lead to abundant laughter
  • weddings
  • swollen eyes
  • confessions, digging deep and repentence
  • funny mall pictures
  • even funnier photo booth pictures
  • collard greens, deviled eggs, fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, green beans at King's Kitchen
  • husbands that hold down the fort for the weekend
  • Green Lantern and Captain America waiting for me at home
  • my oldest asking to be baptised
  • Starbucks iced coffee
  • butterflies
  • pink
  • hands lifted high in praise

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moments




The puppy is chewing something she shouldn't.
She is always chewing something she shouldn't.
The boys are sleeping.
The husband is working.
And I am thinking.
About everything.
Emotions have run strong this week and His presence has kind of overwhelmed me.
I have seen Him and felt His presence everywhere.
So many moments.
On the beach with my sister's family. Buckets full of hermit crabs, bags of chips and happy cousins.
On boat rides where His beauty and creativity was so much more obvious than the lavish homes that fight for attention.
In a sweet little island rental with my sister-in-law's family and favorite friends. Gooey pizza, fried seafood and noticing that my boys suddenly seem SO BIG.
On a long waterway excursion with four little boys when the engine suddenly stopped and black smoke billowed.
Being pulled safely back to my father-in-law's by Sea-Tow as sparkly fireworks danced in the sky in every direction.
In my neighbor's text as were being towed. Her husband's brother had died instantly of a heart attack.
In her phone call the next day. The loss of her brother-in-law had left her 12 year old niece without a father or a mother.
In a moment her family had grown from three to four.
I weep and smile.
I know He is here.
Here when it all makes sense.
And here when it doesn't.
Always.
Trusting that His will is sovereign can be tough business.
Especially when it exposes the reality that moments matter.
Instant or gradual...moments build and
we cannot escape the reality that moments alter our perspective,
change our circumstances and transform us.
But they don't change Him.
He is always LOVE.
Even when I don't understand.
Even when I don't like it.
Even when it exposes me.
He is always LOVE.
There is no time for my selfish motives.
No time for motives that twist and turn Truth and elevate the enemy.
No.
Time counts.
Love cannot wait.

Loving deeply and doing my best to get out of my own way and let his light SHINE.
 
  • my brother and sister
  • my nieces and nephews
  • my sister-in-law's and brother-in-law's
  • my mom
  • my dad
  • my sweet friends
  • my husband
  • my beautiful boys
  • doing life with all of the above
  • the magnificence of the coast
  • a birthday party in the country with cornfields that stretch for miles
  • sharing a new dream with LAB
  • U2 tribute band on the waterfront
  • late night with the boys at the frozen yogurt bar
  • a SUPER clean car
  • rain
  • a working garbage disposal
  • a naughty puppy

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grateful




Grateful...
It is a word that holds deeper meaning every day.
I am learning that it requires action to really understand.
It is a pretty word.
A word that I used to use over and over again without ever accepting the challenge that lies within it.
The dare to go deeper and learn to really SEE.
To experience differently....to open my hands.
To not compare.
I often have parents tell me that their children are ungrateful.
Spoiled, disrespectul, only thinking of themselves.
I am certain that I get a twinkle in my eye during these conversations because Jesus has shown me that I have a pretty strong tendency to be the exact same way.
When I suggest to parents, that perhaps gratitude is an action that is learned.
That when we open up our hearts and arms to see what we have and stop focusing on what we don't have that our lives change...radically.
That we teach gratitude by living it ourselves, I often get a puzzled look.
Then a nod, perhaps an uncomfortable smile? This is a hard one.
And I know that they are thinking...we came here to talk about fixing my child.
I know.
This is not worldly counsel.
This truth doesn't come from self-reliance, higher self-esteem, glossy magazines, red carpet premieres, shopping malls, smaller sizes and bigger toys.
This is the counsel of our Savior.
And I am grateful to know Him.

Monday, June 27, 2011





I have written lots recently about the ways that Jesus radically entered my life 4 yrs. ago and pretty much changed everything. 
I do this for one reason.
 Because I had no idea that He could.
Change EVERYTHING...
I was under the illusion that salvation meant that you prayed a prayer and life was instantly easy.
And boring.
And full of rules and people happy to let you know if you broke any.
It seemed naive.
And judgemental.
So I avoided Him.
And charted my own course.
I focused on all of the things that were supposed to make me feel on the inside the way other people looked on the outside.
I wanted more. I needed more. I deserved more.
My eyes focused only on the voids that needed filling.
And I tried harder and harder to write the story.
The one where I was the star.
And I kept coming up empty.
Afraid.
Exhausted.
Mad.
But one day I heard the right thing at the right moment.
And I chose.
I released my hands and surrendered the pen to Jesus.
It wasn't instant.
And I doubted.
It definitely hurt. 
What if?
Reborn and vulnerable,
it exposed me.
What if? What if? What if?
Surrender was scary.
It still is.
It forced clarity.
Many have not understood.
And the "what if's" have not disappeared entirely.
Joy seeped in.
Flooded in.
And it was different.
Radically different.
Simple.
Filling.
Relational.
Perfectly imperfect.
Always...imperfect.
ALWAYS.
A life now aware of  and transformed by moments, stories, choices, pain and blessings.
All of it designed to forever point me back to HIM.
Grace and deep dependency.
Truth.
Promises.
 And daily I learn to wait, to trust, to see.
To count.
This is how he fills the emptiness.
He is the gift.
His story is the only one that needs to be told.

Focusing my eyes on the gifts that are right in front of me and all joy,

  • beautiful and sweaty boy hugs, kisses and I love you's
  • a morning at the beach watching brothers laugh and ride waves
  • the tiniest seashells
  • 12 years of marriage...trusting and loving him more
  • hard conversations that lead to deeper understanding
  • long walks in muggy, hot weather
  • celebrations of baptism
  • the sound of beyblades in tupperware
  • aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and grandparents cheering on my oldest in his baseball tournament
  • his smile when he sees them all there and how he watches them
  • late night conversation with my brother
  • a seagull on the baseball field
  • girlfriends who tell it
  • grasshoppers
  • puppy love and hugs and kisses
  • singing in the car with the boys
  • the little people I get to work with who create and heal and trust me to walk beside them

Friday, June 24, 2011

WONDER

Here in the south, wonder and wander kind of sound the same.
As I am thinking through the word wonder, my mind keeps wandering and that is the way it goes with me most of the time.
I wonder about everything.
Choices, decisions, justifications, rationalizations, fears, forgiveness, celebrations, success...you name it...
I wonder about it.
I ask questions and try not to make assumptions.
Try is the key word.
And then I wander.
In and out, above and below, around and through the truth of my faith, the truth of His promises. 
I contrast this truth to the worldly interpretations, meanings and counsel that are abundant everywhere I go.
And I get confused.
And wonder.
When I will ever stop wandering from the Truth?




Monday, June 20, 2011

The Land of Rejection

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8)



I have been focusing on the word "obey" this year and don' you know that God has just thrown open the floodgates and taken lots of opportunities to show me just how disobedient I really am.
And because I like to torture myself by processing everything to death...
my disobedience has pointed me in an unlikely direction. 
The rocky, yucky, prickly plains of REJECTION.
God has used the first part of this year to shine a big ol' bright light on how rejected I still feel and how hard I still work to avoid feeling that way.
Uggh. And to think that I had no idea that I am still so insecure.
So last night, in a hot bubble bath I took a little mental ride through history and into the present. 
 I ended up with a crinkled nose and squinched eyes...it hurt that bad.
Here is a little preview:
I am the girl who morphed into whoever and whatever you wanted me to be to ensure I had your approval and you didn't walk away.
I am the girl who rejected others in an effort to ensure that no one rejected her. 
I am the girl who obsessed over and rejected her own appearance believing that clothing, highlights and numbers on a scale would prevent you from knowing how imperfect I felt on the inside.
I am the girl who got married but did not trust that her husband could lead her family and tried to control everything, even him.
I am the girl who overmanaged every aspect of her life in an effort to avoid criticism and rejection and ended up so anxious she could hardly leave the house.
This next one really hurts:
I am the girl who just realized that her lifelong fear of rejection has been impacting her view of her own children. The girl whose vision has been clouded because she has been trying so hard to prevent them from ever feeling the way she did.
OH yes, girl.
Obedience is hard. God has redeemed so much. I am transformed yet far from perfected.
I have experienced His freedom.
And He is not finished.
But sister, I am still a scared, hot mess and this is so not an all inclusive list!
I am coming clean on this one in whole hearted obedience because this is where JOY comes from.
I know that God will bring me past this sneaky fear that often masks itself as something else and continues to creep in when I least expect it.
Nothing I ever do will prevent me or my children from feeling rejection.
This world is hurting and it will hurt them. It hurts me all the time.
But they are not me, they have their own calling and I will not scar them, hold them back or diminish their light with my fears...my brokenness.
Jesus saves.
  I will walk with Him in transparency and brave my imperfections.
I will make every effort to point my children solely in His direction.
 I will pray for Him to guard their hearts and minds as I witness their stories unfolding.
And I will remember that God uses everything. Every experience. 
Every bump, bruise and open wound.
And everything calls me to Him.
Counting and counting His grace...

  • my youngest after a bath, "mom, i look shiny".
  • glitter


  • baseball with my oldest and the way God is using it to help me dig deeper and closer
  • my niece's dedication
  • my puppy who sees me through Jesus glasses
  • seeing a friend in a parking lot and being so excited by her blessing counting
  • "Bulletproof" and "Witness" by Nicole Witt played at full volume in my car
  • a full and double rainbow after a scary storm
  • blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs
  • my husband who has been oh, so very patient with wonderful me and seen me through many seasons
  • LAB who throws hundreds of balls and pitches without complaining and until they say they've had enough
  • a dedicated, Jesus loving father for my boys who understands sacrifice and works so hard
  • movie night, popcorn and snuggly boys
  • sleep
  • snow cones, hot dogs, chili fries, double bubble and pixie sticks for lunch



Friday, June 17, 2011

Home



So here are the rules for 5 minute Friday straight from thegypsymama.com
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Go buck wild with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.


Home took on a whole new meaning the day that my father left. I was twenty-six years old, newly married and living in a different state but I loved going home.
My parents marriage had been tense and distant for many years but when I stepped into their home, I had hope.
Hope that change and a renewal of love and sacrifice was possible.
Hope that my presence, my brother and sister's presence, all of us being together and remembering better days would be enough. 
So when he left and did not turn back and moved into a new home with a new family, my 26 year old self had to accept that home would never feel the same...at least not in the way I craved and sometimes still do. 
Several years later, we welcomed home a 5lb 15 oz baby boy  and my life began to shake and shiver. I remember walking him through the doors of each room in our house and the way that hope and fear settled deeply into my bones. I was full of joy and scared to death.
This was a love I did not know and the walls that I had built to protect myself from hurting, believing, hoping began to reveal so many flaws.
And the more unsteady I became, the more I tried to control, the more I could feel Him pointing me towards  my Heavenly father and my real home.
And at home one night, sitting in an overstuffed chair, desperate with tears that seemed to stream forever, I opened my hands and received a new life, a new hope and a new forever home.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Oh my! What a weekend.
My sister and I headed to the NC mountains Friday for the Image of the Maker retreat with
Christa Wells, Nicole Witt and Ann Voskamp.

It was 24 hours of pure nourishment full of laughter, tears, creativity and brave transparency.
I just love being with groups of women and hearing redemption stories.
Combine that with some of the most beautiful worship music I have ever heard, an author who has surrendered her comfort zone in obedience to Christ and taught me how to count all over again and
 the chance to embellish a cross with glue, rhinestones and seashells.


Well, let's just say...it was pretty close to perfection.
I was unprepared however to be absolutely smitten by two beautiful Texans, runners from SC and KY, a NC author whose jewelry I just know I would love to raid, a Compassion advocate full of stories and talent and an incredible mother of 8!
It was truly the most amazing time...
embracing brokenness, the pea of possibility, giftedness, stewardship, long faithfulness, healing,
culture making and the lens of Jesus.
May all applause be for my Creator alone.
Dear God, lead me to faithful and joyful obedience and the courage to run towards your healing.


Counting the ways he loves,
  • Boys in swimming pools, dripping wet and welcoming me home
  • All the baseball mamas I met that laughed with me and understood
  • violins, voices and pianos that bring cleansing tears



  • just not being able to get enough of our 4 legged family member
  • a little one sooo dirty I couldn't help but smile
  • my oldest smiling, sweaty, arm around my waist and head on my side
  • LAB getting everyone where they needed to be while I was away
  • gifts given and stewarded well
  • all the possibilities of summer break
  • this post that i suddenly remembered this weekend and how very much I needed it at the time http://www.aholyexperience.com/2007/09/baptized/
  • this baptism that paved the way for her to join me this weekend (my sister) http://vimeo.com/19544839



The Joy Project 40

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