Entertainer’s Wife in December

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This post deviates a little from the things I typically write about. I have had this conversation several times in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would go ahead and make a blog post. If you are the wife of an entertainer, or a husband who is self-employed, or you may be self-employed then you may understand where this is headed. In our home, like so many others who walk this path, there are only 2 seasons in your home. They are feast or famine. After a while, you begin to see a pattern emerge and you know how to properly plan for those times of famine.

I have a love/hate relationship with the end of September to the start of December. I love that it’s my husband’s busiest time of year and we can afford a few extras and small splurges. It’s also a time where my husband is thinking about the fact that January and February are coming. While we try to save year round, this is where we throw what can into savings, so we are covered the first of the year. It’s also the time of year where the kids and I rarely see him. My husband works hard all year, but this is his marathon season.

While he is out working hard to provide for our family, what is my role in preparing for the first of the year? Stockpiling. No not crazy coupon lady, but slowly filling the pantry and hall closet. It also means that Christmas shopping starts in August for us.

When I look at our biggest monthly expenses on a personal front, what do we use the most? For us, that’s toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and milk. We joke that our kids are milkohoclics because they go through 5-7 gallons of milk a week. While I can’t stockpile milk, I can toilet paper and our laundry stuff.

When looking at some of the smaller items like toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo, bar soap, deodorant and things like, those are things I can throw in the hall closet and they won’t go bad. I even think about things like hair bands for my daughter and may or may not pick up a pack or 2, if she needs them.

Other smaller things that I can start picking up in October are canned goods. Those typically have a great shelf life, so slowly buying a few cans here and few cans there are easy to do. The kids eat a fruit cup almost every single day with their lunches and Kroger often marks those 2 for $4. Their other snack packs can be bought at Wal-Mart for under $5. My kids also love Ritz and Graham Crackers. Wal-Mart sells the family size boxes of those cracker and I will make sure we have at least 2 full boxes by the end of the month. I will also make sure our brown and white rice containers are full and that we have several boxes of pasta noodle in the cupboard. You can make a whole range of dishes with rice and noodles.

With it being December, I am now working to stock our freezer. It’s not huge, so I can’t go crazy. I wait for Kroger to put their frozen vegetable on sale 10 for $10. Corn dogs and pizza snackers are sold in the freezer section and hot dogs freeze well. These are things my kids love. We also freeze our extra turkey bacon. I will have a full bag of chicken breasts, ground turkey and  types of sausage in our freezer. Because we enjoy wings during the National Title game, I will also make sure we have a full bag of wings in the freezer.

The ultimate goal is to only need to buy perishable items as the year starts. The fridge will be full come January 1st, but I can’t stock 2-3 months worth of perishables in there. We already have one Kroger gift card ready to go and I will probably purchase at least 2 more, in case of emergencies.

I shared earlier in the post that Christmas shopping starts in August for us. By that time of year, there are some things the kids have been asking for since the first of the year. It also helps that things are most likely to be fully stocked. This year, we did run into an issue with a gift for our daughter, but she will receive a special letter from Santa letting her know that the gift will arrive sometime in the spring once he has had a chance to restock the workshop. Thanks to my mom, my kids never go without at Christmas, even if things are tight on our end.

I don’t share any of this for sympathy, but to give a shout out to all of you are married to, or are someone who is self-employed. This is a reality and a way of life for many of us. There are times of the year when we are able to say “yes” because we can swing things financially. There are other times when we have to say “no.” It’s not anything personal, it’s just not going to fit in the budget at the moment.

I’m guessing several of you out there can 100% relate to this post. For others, I hope you see what it’s like for those of us who are self-employed or have contract positions. We have to look at and prepare for things in a different manner than those who have consistent salaried positions.

God, Friendship and the Election

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To state this election has been tumultuous would be an understatement. While the past couple of elections have been heated, they have nothing on the one we are currently experiencing. Hateful words have flown from both sides of the aisle. Insults have been hurled. Morals and values have been tossed out the window. Friendships have been damaged or destroyed. It’s an election where most of us feel we could use some healing and some breathing room to cope. It’s also left us wondering if God is anywhere near us?

When I look at our two major party candidates, I’m still a little shocked they were the last two standing. The prospect of one of them sitting in the Oval Office is enough to send chills up my spine and makes me wonder what it means for our kids and their futures. I have honestly felt a great deal of fear over the past several months. There seems to be so much riding on this election and so many decisions will be made based on who wins. It’s hard to know for certain what will happen.

One of the major phrases flying throughout this election has been “If you are a Christian, you can’t vote for ______.” People have turned this into an election of shaming others and demeaning them for choosing to stand by their candidate. I wonder how many believers walked away from the polls and wondering if the Lord could really love them or consider them His child because of how they voted? Is it theologically sound to question the salvation of another based on their vote? Is it correct for us to sit in the judgement seat based on a person’s vote? The answer is “no.” There is no vote that will cause the Lord to love you less or for you to lose your salvation. By the time you read this, the votes will be in and we will have to find a way  to move forward as a nation. This also means looking at those sitting on the opposite side of the aisle remembering the Lord loves them and many of them have a personal relationship with Christ.

My pastor has been in Ephesians for a couple of weeks now. As I read chapter 1, I couldn’t help but think about where we are as a nation. Yes, this may be seen as a stretch, but hold on with me for just a minute:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ;
4 for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love
5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,
6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him
10 for the administration) of the days of fulfillment-to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
11 In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,
12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory.
13 In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation-in Him when you believed-were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

The passage has a great deal of us and them in it, then as it nears the end it jumps to “our.” Technically, this passage is talking about the Jews and the gentiles and then the body as a whole. I think if we’re honest we have been throwing out us and them throughout this whole election, when in reality it is about “our.” Just as Christ died for ALL of us, our president sits in office for ALL of us. No, I am not making our current president or president-elect out to be the savior of our nation, but under our president we are one nation. I think the sooner we adopt the “our” mentality, the better off we will be.

This post is a little weird because I started it as Americans headed to the polls and am completing it the day after. It was a long night. Many of us rode the crazy roller coaster. We waited until the AP called it a little after 2AM and then waited another 15-20 mins until Fox had called it. For better or worse, Mr. Trump is our next president. As I have scrolled through social media today, my heart has been broken. This is not necessarily because of the outcome, but be because there really is a line in the sand between the left and the right. Insults are still flying and the division appears to be even greater. We have 2 choices. We can choose to repair broken relationships with those on the other side of the aisle, or we can allow the line to become the great divide. How awesome would it be to work together and then at the end of the next 4 years to look back and realize we came together in unity and put an end to the hatred?

My challenge to you is this, reach out. Talk to the person who has polar opposite views from you and really listen to what it is they have to say. I’m not saying you have to agree with them, but let them know they’ve been heard and you care. In the areas where you can, find a way to compromise. Create ways to extend the olive branch and build bridges. I think this will go a long to repair relationships broken through this process and create the nation of unity we all so much desire. I also encourage you to remember that God is The King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. Regardless of how the next 4 years play out, HE is still on HIS throne and we are still His children.

Right or Wrong Way to Worship?

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Monday night I went to see Bethel in concert over at the Opry House with several friends. I will be honest and say it wasn’t at all what I expected. There were a couple of times throughout the night where I was uncomfortable. The atmosphere was different and at one point, I am pretty sure a couple of people were speaking in tongues. I grew up in a ultra conservative Southern Baptist Church where we didn’t raise hands, or yell out “Amen.” As I grew up I attended a couple of SBC churches were raising hands is the norm and you might hear the occasional “Amen” from someone. The church where I am currently a member, the raising of hands is the norm on a Sunday morning, but nothing overly charismatic.

We sat behind a group of college students. Given the college they attend is associated with Church of God, I am guessing they are definitely more charismatic in their worship. The one student was talking to the girl next to him and telling her all about how he sees demons and has watched them fly towards him while he is driving. When Bethel was singing these students were shaking their heads and dancing all over the place, while wiggling their fingers. When Lisa Bevere got up to speak, they shouted out, shook their heads and raise their hands. At one point, after the music started again, another guy was curled up on the floor in between the pews. Throughout the evening they were never still. Worship was active and almost interactive for them.

This little SBC girl wasn’t overly sure what to think. I have attended many worship concerts/ events over my lifetime. This one reminded me of the Acquire the Fire conference held in my hometown when I was in high school. That conference was sponsored by the Assembly of God church. These are not worship experiences I am used to at all. After having a little over a day to reflect back on that night, I had to make myself take an honest look at the thoughts that went through my head that night. No, not all of them were positive. Much of that had to do with the fact that it was a different kind of worship experience for me.

Looking through scripture, you see many examples of people dancing before the Lord and in celebration. I, myself, am a part of the dance ministry team here at our church. Just because we don’t dance in every single service doesn’t mean dancing as a response to worship isn’t incorrect. Throughout Monday night, people all over the Opry were dancing.

Speaking in tongues in something I struggle with and I have yet to be comfortable on that front. Our own convention is starting to take a different view. Where it used to be there was zero acceptance of tongues, a group is now looking at whether or not it’s acceptable. The view of this does vary from church to church within in the SBC.

If you look at the denominations across the board, the worship style varies. Even within a denomination you may see a wide variety of worship styles. In the SBC, there are still many churches who hold tight to their hymns and refuse praise and worship music. Others may do more of a blended service, while churches like the one I attend tend to lean more towards a contemporary style of worship.

The guy talking about demons did have me concerned about his theology and that he may lead the girl he was talking to down an incorrect view of theology. Other than that, was there anything really wrong with what I witnessed that night? Just because most of those who were there worship differently than I do, does that make one group of us right and the other wrong? The answer to that has to be “no.” As long as there is a true heart of worship and people are focused on the Lord, there really is no right or wrong way to worship. I have lived my SBC bubble for so long, that sometimes it takes going to an event like this to 1) get me out of my comfort zone and 2) to be reminded there are multiple ways to worship.

Because I was so caught up in looking at those around me and was caught up in being uncomfortable, how much of a worship experience did I miss out on? Would I ever had done what those around me were doing? No. If I had closed my eyes and focused on the Lord and only the Lord, how much more would I have received that night? In the second worship set, Francesca Battistelli came out and started singing songs I actually knew. It was little easier for me to relax and try to worship, but still a challenge with all that was going on around me.

All of this to say, look around you. Explore how your friends worship. I am not saying to change what you do when you worship, but be open to exploring at how others worship. Also, ask the Lord if there is anything holding you back from worshiping Him how He desires you to worship. This may be nothing more than walking into a service with an open heart truly desiring to seek Him. For others it may be time to raise your hands in worship.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

 

Sometimes it IS About You

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Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, it IS about YOU! Society teaches us to to put others first. We are taught at a young age to put others first and to only think about those around us. If you grew up in church, especially a Southern Baptist Church, you were taught the prayer model of JOY. This means you repent and thank the Lord for blessings. You then pray for those around you and finally you pray for things you need. We are taught that putting ourselves before others is selfish. We are told that our thoughts and opinions should take a back seat to those around us.

There are times when we need to take a step back and care for those around us. There are times when a family member or friend are in crisis and they need us to be strong. As parents, we often put our kids first and ourselves on the back burner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, BUT I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely OK to put yourself first every now and then. Sometimes you NEED to put yourself first. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that your opinion is valid. Sometimes you NEED to let others know that while you love them, you really can’t be there for them and that you are taking a step back.

Your opinion IS valid. What you think matters. I will give you a semi petty example of this. At this point I have 2 kids in our county school system and our 3rd will join them next year. On the county school page there was debate going on over a proposed change. A parent said that because I was a newer parent to our district that my opinion didn’t count. Honestly, the issue isn’t a hill I want to die on. That being said, my opinion does matter and it is just as valid as hers. How many times, when it comes to larger issues, have we allowed another person to tell us that our opinion doesn’t matter? How many times have we shut our mouths and walked away, even though it really was a big deal for us? How many times have you felt that you aren’t experienced enough or good enough to have your opinion count? It’s acceptable for you to share what it is you think and allow your voice to be heard.

Your past experiences DO matter. There are times in the valley for all of us. While our valleys may not be as low as others, it doesn’t mean that your emotions and experiences are any less valid. Yes, your valley may have seemed a little easier to another person, but that doesn’t mean you were really walking on a plateau. How many times have you shared a valley experience and had another person tell you “it really wasn’t that bad,” or “That person had it much worse than you and you should be thankful that it wasn’t as bad.” It stinks to be told your emotions aren’t valid and you shouldn’t feel a certain way. It’s acceptable to stand up for your emotions and let others know your past experiences count.
Taking time to care for yourself is important. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you will eventually lose steam and crash.There are times when you need to take a step back from your activities and take time for yourself. It could mean it’s time to find a counselor you trust to talk through and process whatever the situation may be. It may also be time to take a trip to your PCP to have a conversation about an anti-anxiety, an anti-depressant or some sort of mood stabilizer. It could also be doing something as simple as signing up for a class at the gym, or a class in another area that interests you. Sometimes you NEED to take care of yourself and you need to be honest with your spouse, or inner circle about what it is you need. If you don’t speak up for yourself, how will those around you know what you need.

This post flies in the face of what most of us have been taught. Remember there were times Jesus went off to be by Himself. He needed time alone. There were other times when He went off with just Peter and John. Time alone and time with your closest, inner circle is not a bad thing. You just need to brave enough to speak up for what it is you need.

There are times when it IS about YOU!!!

A Glowstick Season

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Last week I was searching images in Google and came across a meme that said “It’s ok to be a glowstick; sometimes we need to break before we can shine.” Since I read the meme, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head and it seems appropriate for this season of my life. Think about a glowstick for just a minute. Unless it’s broken, it can’t be used. It HAS to be broken in order to fulfill its purpose and glow. Many times the Lord has to break us in order for us to function and glow as He desires.

It’s hard to believe that I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. In October I will only have a single year left in my 30s. My life is changing. The Lord is breaking certain things in me and I can tell a new chapter is getting ready to begin. Since I resigned my job as a school based therapist back in May of 2013. I feel like I have been in a holding pattern. It’s been a chapter of waiting. While I don’t have all of the answers, I can see where the Lord is breaking me and He is slowly changing my circle of friends.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine knocking down walls one has spent almost an entire life building. Different circumstances and events have added bricks and reinforcements in my own wall and it almost resembles a fortress at this point. I am now watching the Lord bring people into my life to start tearing down that wall. Yes, I have some great friends, but many of those relationships aren’t what they used to be. Part of that has been me pulling back. Part of it is life has pulled us in different directions and other times it’s just part of the natural ebb and flow of life. There are days when it’s hard to see that some of those relationships are not what they used to be. In some ways I look at how life has pulled certain people together and while I haven’t been left out completely, the relationships have changed. Here lately, I feel like I am on the outside looking in when it comes to certain friends.

Two years ago, the Lord allowed me to walk into a Christian Women in Media Association regional dinner. I had no idea what I was walking into and had no idea the blessing I would receive from this group. The beginning of this year the Lord brought an incredible small group of ladies to a regional dinner. While we are all still getting to know each other, I am grateful for the time spent with them this past week in conversation and a ministry event. These ladies are all beautiful in their own rights. They have amazing testimonies of how the Lord has moved in their lives. I count it a privilege to cheer them on in their current projects and am grateful for their encouragement in pursuing my own dreams. I’m excited to spend more time with these ladies and get to know them better. I’m also excited to watch the Lord expand all of our ministries with the support and encouragement of each other.

I have spent almost 2 years attempting to write a book. The first time I was about 3 chapters in when my computer ate the whole thing and refused to let it be recovered. Last fall I started writing again, but stopped almost 2 chapters in because I was terrified of failing. If I didn’t finish the book, it couldn’t be rejected and I wouldn’t be seen as a failure. Fear has never stopped me from pursuing anything in the past, but I have dreamt of writing a book since I graduated from college and the fear of moving forward is almost paralyzing. The Lord never hands us fear. He only gives courage. In my season of being a glowstick, He is trying to break me of my fear. At my age is almost embarrassing to admit that fear is even a factor in pursuing my dreams. “Do not fear,” “Be courageous” is something I have heard repeatedly over the past several months. Without a shadow of doubt, I know the Lord wants me to release all fears and trust Him to move forward with the dream He gave me.

The Lord is also trying to break me of my independence. I don’t mean this in a way that I will start being codependent and not able to function on my own, but breaking me of the mentality that I have to do things alone. When I rely on my strength and my strength alone, I will fail every single time. When I rely on the Lord, things fall into place in a way that only He can make them work. When I allow others to be His hands and feet in my life, it takes bricks out of my wall. It opens me up to genuine relationships. I have been stubborn and independent my entire life. Granted, there are times when it’s helped, but too many times I stumbled because I was too proud to ask for help.

Allowing the Lord to bring you into a time of breaking is hard and can be somewhat painful. While it can be a lonely season, especially when change is involved, lean into Him because it will be worth it in the end.

Allow the Lord to break you my dear friends and shine!

Courage and Obedience

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This is probably going to be one of the most honest blog posts I have ever written. The Lord has had me one a journey for 2 years now. Honestly, I still have no idea as to how all of this is going to play out over the next several years. It’s weird to be on the downhill slide to 40 and asking the Lord where I’m headed. I feel like I should be in the middle of my calling at this point, but feel like He is getting ready to write a whole new chapter for me.

The last 2 weeks our pastor has continued to preach out of Acts and has talked about stepping up to serve as well as courage. Last week Pastor Mark gave reasons as to why people won’t serve. These include “not feeling led,” “not having time” and “not wanting to take away from family.” This week, he talked about the courage of Paul and how Paul knew what was coming and was willing to go for the sake of The Gospel anyway.

As I have chewed on these sermons and looked at where I have been the past 2 years, I can’t help but think about other reasons why people don’t serve and why I am still sitting where I am. Yes, I have been actively involved in dance ministry, worship choir and Summer Jam. I have also been serving in a contract position as the Family Assistance Coordinator with responsibilities in our automotive ministry. If you asked me, I would tell you that when it comes to ministry I am doing what I need to do. Sadly, it’s not the truth.

4 years ago, this month, when my husband and I walked into The Glade Church we were church hurt and had walked through crises in 2 other churches. We were over the whole church thing. We knew our kids needed to be involved in a solid theological, evangelical church. We knew we needed to be surrounded by a solid body of believers, but didn’t necessarily think we could find a church we could trust. The Lord only brought us to one service at The Glade and we felt at home. It was scary, but we trusted. We needed time to heal. Up until the beginning of this year, I would have said I was completely over the hurt of our experiences. It’s funny how the Lord uses circumstances and conversations to show you that your aren’t really where you thought you were.

I acknowledge I have a wall around me, but didn’t realize how high and reinforced that wall was until late February, early March. When talking with one of the pastors on our staff about situation, I was hit with a startling reality. People at our church, even the staff around me, don’t know me at all and it’s all because I have refused to let anyone in. While I have been involved, I haven’t been serving with my whole heart. I have only been serving in partial obedience. I realized that I have an entire set of talents and skill sets that our staff and others at church have no idea even exist. I have kept my relationships at church on an extremely shallow level because it’s been the safe route to take.

Obedience. I am the Major’s Daughter. I know what it’s like to be the daughter of a soldier. I know the importance of receiving marching orders and then following them without question or hesitation. While I have always said I don’t care what others think about me, I realize my drive to be the “good girl” and “do as I’m told” comes from a desire to please those around me, but it’s not necessarily been to please the Lord even though I have acted as it has.

Around the time I graduated from college, I knew the Lord was calling me to eventually write a book. He called me seminary to prepare for ministry. While I was still working as a full time school based therapist, I knew the Lord was calling me to women’s ministry. I have only completed about 2 chapters in the book and am honestly terrified to keep on writing because I don’t know how it will be received. I am still waiting for direction on women’s ministry. I know that on the women’s ministry front I have not been completely obedient, but am earnestly seeking His face for direction.

Last summer, I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies Connect Group on Sunday mornings and I gave the Lord every excuse under the sun as to why I couldn’t do it. In the past I have taught little ones through high school, but never adults. Yes, I have taught at conferences, but never taught adults on a regular basis. While I was never overly rebellious growing up, I did have my moments. My past doesn’t necessarily look how I think it should and have struggled with wondering why anyone would think I was qualified to lead in that area. I love singing in choir, but used it as a reason as to why I couldn’t step out during the first service and serve. This past spring there was a string of events and the Lord used those events to kick my tail. I said I would start teaching in May and ended up putting it off until the first Sunday of August. Yes, I am teaching class out of obedience, but it was delayed obedience and I’m not proud of that fact.

While I think Pastor Mark hit the nail on the head with some of the reasons why people don’t serve, I think there is also a different set of reasons why people won’t/ don’t serve. While he was talking about the courage of Paul this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how many of us sit silent because we lack the courage and confidence to serve. We don’t sit on the sidelines because we don’t desire to serve, or lack of calling. We sit on the sidelines because we lack the courage of Paul. We lack confidence. Too many of us sit sidelined due to fear, guilt and shame. We don’t think we have much to offer. We also sit sidelined because to get up and serve means to be authentic and vulnerable to others.

Where do I go from here? I have a document sitting on the Google drive at my computer at the church that needs to be turned into one of the pastors. I need to faithfully continue to teach the Connect Group I committed to teach. I need to continue writing the book the Lord has laid on my heart. I also need to pray the Lord would remove the fear I have struggled with over the past several years and move forward in confidence.

The verse that jumped out to me this morning and one I underlined in my Bible was Acts 23:11 which says:

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

“Take courage!” Yes, courage. This means to put aside fear and walk boldly in what the Lord has called you and I to do. This means not worrying about our past or what others may think, but rely on the Lord and only the Lord. HE is the sole source of our confidence. Once we embrace the confidence that can only come from the Lord, we can then walk boldly in obedience. It may not always be easy, but we can know with no uncertainty that we are being 100% obedient and that is all He asks of us.

I See You

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Towards the end of spring I had the privilege of attending the Sandy Patty Farewell Tour Concert and then hearing Christine Caine speak at an event. There were similarities in both events. One of those was the worship. All I can say is the Spirit was moving in both sanctuaries. Lights were turned down low and they gave you the time to be “alone” with the Lord. The second thing both had in common was they talked about how the Lord says “I see you,” “I found you,” “I know you” repeatedly through out scripture.

“I see you.” How amazingly wonderful is that? Back in Genesis the Lord asks Adam and Eve “where are you?” It’s not that He didn’t know the answer, but the Lord was letting them know that He knew. No matter where we are in life, He knows. No matter the amount of running and hiding we try to do, He sees us. He sees all of us and knows everything there is to know about us. There is no thought or action we have that He doesn’t already know. The things we are the most scared others may find out, He knows and loves us anyway.

“I found you.” Like the parable of the lost sheep, the Lord comes and looks for us when we walk away, or are trying to run away. He sees us valuable enough to come looking for us and then rejoices when we are found. Personally, there are days when I want to run and hide. I may not necessarily want to run from the Lord, but circumstances in life cause me to want to run away, never to be seen again. The thing I find most comforting in those moments in life is that I know the Lord loves me and will never leave me.

“I know you.” That’s right. There is nothing the Lord doesn’t know about us! He knows it all because He created us. The deepest pain and biggest dreams we don’t dare to share, He already knows. Those things we long to say to another person, but are too afraid to speak, we can tell Him, because it isn’t a secret to Him. Those things we dared to speak, but no other person wants to believe, He does! He knows every single movement we’ve ever made, every thought we’ve ever had and saw every tear that fell in private.

As I reflect on all of the craziness in the world today, I take comfort in knowing the Lord sees all of us. So many times I think that’s what people want. We want to know that someone sees us, not just acknowledges our presence, but really sees us, the good, the bad and the ugly. We want to know to someone cares enough to really listen to what it is that’s on our hearts and minds. We want to know we are valued. We want people to below the surface and see into our hearts. Even when it seems not a living soul around is capable of this, the Lord is.

What would happen if we followed the Lord’s example on this? What would happen if we really took the time to see the person/ people in front of us who may be driving us crazy and even causing us to be angry? What would happen if instead of muttering under our breath when we encounter that one person/ group of people, we took the time to really listen to what it is they want to say without trying to rely on an auto response based on what we think we know?

What if we really took the time to look deep into the eyes of our friends to see what is beneath the surface. Too many of our friends put on a brave front every day. They work so hard to keep their hurts concealed, while hoping and praying someone loves them enough to see the past the mask. We have friends we interact with on a daily basis, but don’t take the time to have deep heart to heart conversations with. These friends not only need to hear from you that you see them, but more importantly that the Lord sees them. They need to hear the Lord loves them and took the time to seek them out, even if they can’t feel His presence.

Who in your life needs to hear their seen, found and known? I challenge you to take a look around you and find the person in your circle who needs to hear this message. Take the time to be the voice and the hands of Christ.

To Be or Not To Be a Lady?

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Before anyone decides to lynch me for this post, let me tell you a little bit about myself. People who have known me my entire life will tell you it’s all true. I am a Tomboy. I am a bluejeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes/ flip flop kind of girl. I’d rather be camping, hiking, or out on the water than in a mall shopping. I can’t stand wearing make-up, but will wear it only when the situation absolutely calls for it, maybe. I don’t enjoy wearing dresses and there is not a single pair of heels to be found in my closet.

I also support and encourage girls and ladies to excel in all areas. The valedictorian and co-valedictorian of my high school graduating class were females. My undergrad degree is from a Southern Baptist all women’s college, where I spent four years surrounded by intelligent and driven ladies. Several of them have gone on to excel in their areas of expertise. At SWBTS I had the privilege of serving as secretary, vice-president and president of the largest student organization on campus. I believe it’s possible for ladies to lead and be the top in their fields.

Now that I have cleared that part up, let’s explore my frustration with a growing trend I have seen on social media and on television. When did we decide that being treated and acting like a lady was degrading to our gender? When did we decide that men holding doors open for us, picking up the tab, leading on the dance floor, or even fixing things for us was bad? When did we as a society decide that men were another mountain to  be conquered?

Yes I have a strong personality and am extremely independent, BUT, and this is a huge but, I LOVE it when my husband does certain things for me. I love it when he opens doors for me. I love it when he kisses me on top of the forehead. I love it when there is an issue with our home, or one of our cars and he takes care of it. He doesn’t do these things because I am incapable of doing them. He does it out of respect for me. He doesn’t view me as weak, or dumb. He does it because he loves me and wants me to feel every bit a lady.

While I think we have come a long way in women’s rights, I think we have tried to overstep what that really means. We should have the right to vote. We should have the right to an education. We should have the right to excel at work. Granted, pay equality still needs some work. I don’t think we should push until we have turned men into the weaker sex. I don’t think we should push men out of their Biblical roles.

Eve was created out of the rib of Adam to be his helpmate. Adam was still created to lead. We are wired differently than men and I fail to see where that is a bad thing. In spite of my independent personality, I LOVE it when my husband takes the lead. I love knowing that I have a husband who isn’t afraid to lead and to wear the pants in our marriage.

I will raise my daughter to be strong and independent. I will encourage her to do her best in whatever field of study she lands. I will also encourage her to find a man much like her daddy. I will raise my daughter to know how to take care of certain things, but at the same time teach her that it’s ok if her future husband takes care of it for her. I want her to know what it means to be a helpmate for her husband and what working along side him means. I by no means expect my daughter to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.

My boys already hear me say “be a gentleman.” My boys are being taught to open doors for ladies and to to watch our for and protect the girls around them. I will also teach them that it’s ok for girls to be smart and independent. I pray the girls they marry are strong and independent. I also pray those girls will allow my boys to lead their homes.

My husband and I function as a team. I have a voice in what happens inside of our home, including finances. Most of the time we will come to an agreement on how to handle things. This doesn’t mean that I will get my way, or that he will get his. Many times it’s a compromise of what we both want. There have been a handful of times in our almost 11 year marriage that we have disagreed and he has done what he felt was best for our family. Most of the time, that’s worked out well. There have been a couple of times where he has come back and said he wished he had listened to me. Regardless of what happens, my husband is still the head of our home. By allowing him to be the head, we are following the Lord’s guidelines for marriage and it means that I am the lady of the house, rather than the one wearing the metaphorical pants.

Being a lady doesn’t mean being dumb or being unable to do anything for ourselves. It means allowing the men in our lives to fulfill the roles they were given. By my husband taking care of certain things, it allows me to focus on our kids and our home. It even frees me up to write and to pursue my dreams.

Mothers Day can be Bittersweet

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Mothers Day can bring about a myriad of emotions. There are some who love it. There are some who hate it and others who feel everything in between. Even from where I sit, there are times when I struggle with Mothers Day.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know my story. Those of you who are joining me for the first time, I will give you a brief overview of the path I’ve walked. I had my first miscarriage a week before my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple in December of 05. My 2nd miscarriage would come a week before Mothers Day 06. It would take a while to get pregnant again, only to have my 3rd miscarriage in August of 07. It would be September 08 before I would find out that I was pregnant with my daughter and she would be born 2 days after Mothers Day 09. I then had my older son in July 2010. It wouldn’t be very much time after was born that I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. When we went in for the first ultrasound, I would have the joy of seeing twins on the screens. That joy would be temporary because the tech would tell me that baby B had no heartbeat and had passed the week before. His birth in May 2011 would be a bittersweet day because I knew I should be celebrating the birth of two baby boys, but would only ever get to hold one.

I have friends who have seen more positive pregnancy tests than they care to admit, only to have those sweet babies enter back into the arms of Christ before they ever made it into the arms of their mothers. Other friends have never experienced the emotions associated with a positive pregnancy test. I have another group of friends who have walked both of those paths and looked towards adoption to expand their families only to have the adoptions fall through and still have empty arms.

Having been on both sides of that coin, I struggle with how Mothers Day should be celebrated. When I was walking the path of miscarriage and infertility, I struggled with going to baby showers and eventually would only send a gift through a friend. I stopped going to church on Mothers Day and Fathers Day because it was just too hard to be surrounded by so many happy mothers. On those days, I would hide at home and watch my favorite chick flicks and order Chinese food.

I also wanted to honor my mother, my sister and celebrate my friends who had become mothers. I still sent a card to my mother and would call my mother and sister. They deserved to be honored and celebrated. My mother brought me into this world and raised me as a single parent while putting herself through nursing school. She deserves to be celebrated. My sister walked a hard path to having my niece and nephew. She deserves to be celebrated. I have several spiritual mothers who prayed along side my mother to get me to where I am now. They deserve to be celebrated. Churches should acknowledge and celebrate mothers in their congregations.

Yes, that means I think churches should give mothers a flower or small gift. The oldest mother, the newest mother and the mother with most the most kids should be recognized. The sermon should be geared towards mothers and what motherhood means. Mothers do so much and deserved to be celebrated. Without them, none of us would be here. Many of us wouldn’t have made it to where we are in life if those mothers hadn’t spent many hours praying for us, cheering us on and encouraging us.

Nowhere in scripture is the role of motherhood downplayed. Nowhere in scripture did the Lord say that mothers weren’t important. In fact, the Lord talks about women from the Old Testament all the way through to the end of the New Testament. There are some women who may have never been mothers, but they mentored those around them. He saw them all as important. The church should do the same.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate the fact that I have three precious kiddos who bestowed me with title of Mom. I will celebrate and honor my mother and my sister, who are both incredible moms. I will also think about the four little one whom I will never meet this side of Heaven.
Tomorrow, regardless of what side of the coin you are on, do what you need to do. For some of you it may mean spending a quiet day at home. For others, it may mean heading to church to celebrate being a mother and celebrating the mothers around you.

To those of you with empty arms, I pray for a peace that can only come from the Lord.

To those who are mothers, enjoy your day with your little ones.

To my mom and my sister, I love you both and pray you both have a wonderful and Happy Mothers Day!

Fear of Failure

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Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Failure: lack of success

As believers, why is it that we spend so much struggling with fear? Did you know that “Do not be afraid,” “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. That’s one verse for every single day of the year. It seems to me that if the Lord has put the much time into telling us not to be afraid that we’d be able to lay our fear at the alter and move on.

I’ll be honest, I there are several things that cause me to be afraid. Some are normal. Others, maybe not so much. I have learned that if I think I am going to fail at something, then I don’t even make the attempt to try. I grew up as a military brat. Failure at anything was never really accepted. This led me down the path of not even attempting to do certain things that I really wanted to do because I couldn’t handle the thought of anyone viewing me as a failure.

I have shared in at least one other post that I am a member of Christian Women in Media. I joined this group because I have a desire to be a freelance writer, author and hopefully, one day a speaker. After attending meetings for over a year, I officially joined and paid dues back in November. My husband asks me frequently “You want to write. What are you doing about it?” I’ll be honest. I don’t always have an answer for him, even though I have a long list of dreams associated with writing.

Fast forward to March. I attended a regional dinner of CWIMA. April was sitting at my table and was getting ready to launch a brand new online women’s ministry within the next week. She talked about her dreams for the ministry as well as talking about guest bloggers. I knew I wanted to be a part of what she was doing, but couldn’t find the words or the courage to speak up.

Our main speaker, Angela, talked a great deal about overcoming fear. It was almost as if she had been inside of my head, knew what I had been praying, as well as been a part of several conversations I’d over the past couple of weeks. There were several times while she was speaking that I honestly wanted to cry. As she was speaking, I felt like the Lord kept telling me that I needed to talk to April once the dinner was over. I argued with the Lord for the better part of an hour.

Once we had been dismissed I really wanted to run to my car and speed home. After all, who was I to ask to write for a new women’s ministry? My degree is not in journalism and all I have is a blog that I don’t keep up with like I should because I don’t think most people want to read what I have to say. Most of my writing is in my journal and those are private thoughts that I know no other soul is going to read. Yes, I gripped with fear.

I have to laugh how the Lord works. As I am trying to get to the door to basically escape, who should I hit the door with at the same time? Yep, April. At that point, I opened my mouth and tentatively asked if she was looking to add any more guest bloggers and would she consider me? I was shocked when she said “Yes.” I really wanted to ask if she was sure, but I didn’t. We ended up standing in the parking lot and talking until almost 11p that night.

The following week I sent her a link to my blog. We talked about a possible timeline for a post. Within about two weeks I had sent her a bio, a picture and a blog post. Honestly, I didn’t think she would like or accept it. When she actually posted it, I was probably little more excited than I should have been. This was the first time I had been published anywhere. If I had let the fear of failure grip me that Thursday night, this never would have happened. Yesterday I submitted my second post for the ministry.

What is it you are afraid of? Are you like me and the fear of failure has prevented you from truly going after your dreams? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Do you have a dream you know the Lord has placed on your heart and it’s been there more years than you care to admit? What are you waiting for? It’s past time to take that first step! Go forth and do NOT fear!