Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do you ever wonder if Jesus loves you? Or maybe the question is How can He love me and how does He show it?  To be honest, I always wonder why He takes such delight in me and why He chooses me, desires me.  But I know that He does and in the last month I have seen Him show it in little ways that amaze me.

For example, the hubbs and I recently moved from Tennessee to Florida and I see His love in the friends He blessed me with while in Nashville.  He has blessed me with encouraging women of faith in every town I have lived in.   He loves me through the fellowship of His saints.

Example #2, every time we move He provides a home for us that is just right.  This one makes me giggle a little.  You see when Matt and I came to Florida to look around we drove through a neighborhood and thought to ourselves how nice it would be to live there.  So we went through the process of renting our place and are quite happy with it.  On Saturday we drove through the back side of our neighborhood and found ourselves in the very area we wanted to be in! We didn't really even ask Him for it -He just knew.  He loves me through His provision for my needs and my wants.
Just to be clear, the main reason I know Jesus loves me is because He chose to come to earth in the form of a man, die to cover my sins, rise to victory and promised to return for me some day. His grace and salvation is love enough. But He chooses to do more.   He interweaves His love throughout my day.  Like the picture above.  The first day Matt and I were in Florida we took the kids to a park.  While playing we looked up and saw an airplane writing in the sky, "Jesus loves you.".

Today I encourage to look for His little bits of love through out your day.  Maybe it was the sight of the rising sun glistening off the snow.  Perhaps it is the smile of your children or a song that bids your heart to rise and worship Him.  Whatever the example, know this you are always loved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Heavenly Treasures

Several years ago my husband and I began to change the way we did Christmas.  Like any parent, when the holidays come along you want it to be a speacial time for your kids - you want to spoil them.  I know this was espceially true for my husband and I, because we rarely bought anything that wasn't a need.  Well one Christamas we sat down to open gifts and watched our sons race through gift after gift without even noticing what they were opening.  When the underbelly of the tree was empty, we sat back filled with horror and disapointment.  It was then and there we decided to change Christmas.  We wanted to instill the true value of Christmas in our children.

Each year we have looked for a new way to focus the boy's attentions on the Lord and others.  My favorite traditions which have been implemented are born from the phrase, "Jesus, others, us." We start our morning with the conclusion of our Advent book and then before the paper begins to fly we gather around the computer and purchase items for people in need through Gospel for Asia.  This year we bought a pair of chickens, lambs, Bibles and Gospel tracks.  We also took the time to go shopping for several families in our area who could not afford gifts for their children.  I have enjoyed watching their attitudes begin to change.
As much as we've scaled back on gifts and tried to change our focus; I'm still a mom and I still love to see their suprised faces on Christmas morning.  So this year I began to pray about a gift for the boys that they would enjoy but continue to instill in them the eternal attitude I so desperately want written on their hearts.  God is so good to answer! He told me to make treasure chests for them.  Let me tell you why...
First of all, I am not a pack rat.  My family has learned that if an item is important to them, they hide it from me.  Any item left laying around will eventually find it's way to the trash can.  So, the boys have gotten in the habit of stuffing their "treasures" under the bed in various boxes.  What would be better but a nice wooden box to put it all in?!
Secondly, we have been studying scripture all month about generosity and storing up our treasures in heaven. So my hubbs and I found wooden boxes, drew their names on the front, and wrote Matthew 6:19-21 on the top.  On Christmas morning we gave them the boxes, explained the meaning of them and our hopes that one day the boxes would be empty because of their understanding of what treasure truly is.  We then prayed a blessings over them. I cannot explain the joy that filled my heart as they shook their heads in agreement and began to excitedly filled them.  The rest of the morning was peaceful, and full of gratitude.

I know that as a parent I have a lot left to learn.  I will fail many times over and then try again.  But this year I learned how to pray for my children in a specific way and then translate it into an action that I believe will have lasting impact on their lives.  This will be my new tradition - to give to them the gift the Lord wants for them.  I encourage you to do the same.  There is no greater gift than the one that points them to Jesus. Because...
Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither dust nor moth destroy and
theives do not break in and steal.
For where your heart is there will
your treasure be also.
Matthew 6:20-21

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where Is Our Focus

The Lord is good to those who wait
on Him.  To the soul who seeks Him
It is good to wait and hope quietly.
Lamentations 3:25

It would seem that the majority of my adult life I have been waiting on the Lord to give me direction.  I want know which job to take, which house to rent, what school would be best for the boys.  Constantly I am seeking Him for my own good.  Well He enlightened me the other day and I think I have been missing the point.  Waiting on the Lord should be with the intent of seeing Him - to know Him better.  God doesn't give us seasons of waiting, change or hardship to change us, but rather to seek and know Him.  Change in us is a byproduct.  We can not help but change when we are in His presence.

So often when we are struggling in life we are encouraged to go back and count our blessings; to focus on the things God has done in our lives.  While this is good and does produce a change in our attitude I believe that it is secondary to our main purpose.  We make the mistake of making it about ourselves again.  Look what God has done for me.  It needs to be about Jesus and who He is.  Maybe the next time I am in a mood or experiencing a difficulty I should begin to recount the characteristics of Jesus.  To this end my attention would be taken completely off of me and instead focused entirely on Him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Grace Overcomes Insanity

I must put down these words while in the midst of my angst. I can not share with the world my thoughts at this moment for several different reasons.  Most simply however; I must wait upon the Lord.  But I do not want to forget these emotions while I wrestle and the lessons He is teaching my heart in the midst of the fight. Waiting and being still is the most important yet most difficult lesson one must learn.  I believe it to be one that we must learn over and over.  At least that is the case for me. It seems that every ten to twelve months I am plopped in the middle of a situation where I must beat down my flesh, quiet the cries of my heart and be still.  It is in these moments that I realize how fragile and vulnerable I am beneath my faith. At these times I am made aware of how strong my flesh is and what I am capable of.

Judge me if you will, but perhaps instead you will identify with my insanity. If you judge then I would say you need to examine your own heart.  We need to be authentic - honest with who we are and where we're at in our walk. My greatest prayer would be that in my weakness His strength would be known and someone would be encouraged - drawn to the throne of grace and overwhelmed with His peace.

This morning the balance of my heart was weighing anger over my situation against forgiveness and love.  As I stared into the boiling pot of water I was prepping for oatmeal the crazy thought crossed my mind, "stick your face in there". Laugh, or shake your head - I don't care. All I was thinking was at least my mind would be taken off of this current struggle.  The fleeting thought was quickly replaced by the knowledge that in my own strength I could easily destroy myself.  Were it not for the grace of God, I long ago would have succumbed to the desires of my flesh and been ruined.  An overwhelming understand and compassion filled my heart.  When we allow ourselves to be in control we wash in and out with the tide of our emotions. We speak and act in ways that affect people around us, drawing them into the current. In contrast when we stand upon the truth of Jesus, we stand firm no matter what life brings us.  When we stand upon the rock, hide beneath the shelter of His tabernacle we are able to live in His grace, extend it to others and wait quietly in the chaotic seasons of this thing called life.

The Lord is good to those who wait on Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:25

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blessing Because I Am Blessed

We're all on a journey.  Some of us sit in one spot, while others travel the world.  Most important is the journey our hearts take.  Geographical location is pointless if our hearts stay in one place.  I, for one will admit my heart has had seasons of growing and seasons where it has been dormant.  While I haven't questioned who God is and the role Jesus plays in my life, there have been times that I am stretched in my walk and I allow it to grow my faith.  And there have been times, shamefully, that I have sat down, thrown a tantrum and refused to budge.  It all becomes a part of my journey heavenward.

Over the last several months, I have wrestled with our financial state of being - wanting more and not being content with what the Lord has provided and struggling with areas I think are lacking.  In this season, thankfully the Lord has not left me to sit in my pity party.  He has through several venues, challenged me to see how blessed I am.  One Sunday morning, after a Saturday of antiquing and my brain overflowing with crafting ideas, I heard the still voice of Jesus, "look how much you have". I contemplated His words and and began to count all I had - running water, comfortable home, clean clothes, enough food and the bills get paid. Compare that to those who only have dirty water to drink and bathe in, scrimp for food and homes made of scraps of metal and wood and I am in the top 10% of the earth's wealthy. Couple that with what I have been studying in His word and some outside reading I have been convinced it is time to look outside of my selfishness and start reaching out locally, even globally with the blessings God has bestowed upon me.

So...I'm headed to Mexico.  It will be the first mission trip I have taken since college and married life.  Though Matty likes to remind me that I've been a radio missionary for years; it's just been within our borders.  Not only will I be stepping outside of my comfort zone, I must absolutely trust the Lord for provision for both this trip and my family. I want to challenge you to take a look at your life.  What are you taking for granted?  What are you complaining about?  How can you reach outside of yourself and minister to others the love of Jesus?
~Matthew 16:24~
Then Jesus said to His disciples, if any man will
come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross,
and follow Me.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's Just a Book

Parenting in and of itself can be quite challenging.  But when you add in your efforts to walk with the Lord and pass that heritage on to your children; a battle is waged.  It's a spiritual battle and one that I am becoming more and more aware of.  I have made it no secret how much I want my boys to become men of God.  To be honest, I don't want to wait for them to be men.  I want them to be anointed now. I want them to rise up in their innocence and declare who their God is.  My obstacle is my own laziness and mediocrity coupled with a struggle to overcome a legalistic faith.  How do I succeed?

I admit that most days my thoughts are not allowed the luxury of such soul searching.  My feet hit the floor at 5:30am to answer the morning's demands of hot cocoa and a dog needing out.  But this morning I was challenged by my oldest while I tried to break up a fight and resolve the issue in a peaceful manner.  I try when disciplining my boys to use scripture to back up the desired behavior. Well today while on my soap box, he yelled, "why does it always have to be about the Bible? It's just a book!" I stopped for just a moment before I went all cray Christianese on him, and in that brief second I was reminded that he has a free will and some day he was going to have to choose to believe for himself.  I took a deep breath told him that I loved him and that Jesus loved him.  I told him that God's word is alive and powerful and if he wanted to know that in his life all he had to do was ask and the Lord would show him.

The funny thing about walking with the Lord and parenting is that usually I am given insight into my own heart while trying to teach my children. Obviously, while I am attempting to interject God's word into our family's daily life, I have failed to convey the power in His words.  Perhaps that is because I have not let His words live powerfully in my own life.  So now I have a new challenge: to live more fully in the power of His Word and to show my sons that power in a way that grasps their little hearts.

For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than 
any two edged sword, piercing even to the division
of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner 
of thoughts and the intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

Monday, May 7, 2012

Worrying Over Your Arrow

How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them:
They will not be ashamed 
When they speak with their enemies at the gate.
~ Psalm 127:5 ~

I am like any other mom; I worry about the bumps & bruises.  I try not to think of any thing bigger than the occasional scrape.  But I will admit there is one area in which I really worry, sometimes to the point of heartbreak.  I obsess about my son's future.  It terrifies me to think of what sin they might struggle with or what this world might do to my children.  If you've ever read any of my other posts, you know how serious I take my responsibility of raising up men of God. Thankfully, my fears send me to my knees,  pleading on behalf of my boys.

Recently at my women's bible study we were discussing the thorns in our lives and how God uses them in our lives to create dependence on Him.  One dear women was sharing her current struggles with her son and confirmed my worst fears.  She shared how she has questioned God, "Lord, I have spent his entire life praying for him, why is he doing this?" The answer God gave her spoke volumes to me...  

What is the purpose of a arrow?  To go beyond where we can reach- to accomplish what we can not.  
We pray for a full quiver, and then hope that they will shoot straight & true.  Once they leave the bow, they will be affected by the world around them.  We must trust the One who created the arrow.  It became very clear to me that my boys will encounter this world and my fretting will not help them or add a day to my life.  While I would pray that they be spared from any heartache and they never make a wrong decision, a wiser prayer would be that whatever comes their way would turn them toward their heavenly Father and create a dependence upon Him. I worry about them being out of reach & control.  And yet that is the very thing they are meant for - to fly beyond me and do so much for the Lord. So now I pray that they would shoot straight & true, that they would sail far beyond what I could ever do for the Lord, and that whatever they encounter would strengthen them, humble them and no matter their failings in the end bring glory to Jesus Christ.

If you're a mom like me, you worry.  Well I am here to encourage you to take it one day at a time and relinquish all control, or illusion of control to Jesus and hope in His great plan for your kiddo.  He will give you peace beyond understanding and when those thorny days come, the strength and comfort to endure them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A man's heart plans his ways,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

I can't begin to tell you how true this verse is.  I don't know that I really ever planned on getting married and having a family.  I don't think most people would believe it though. After finishing college without seriously dating anyone, and no desire to go looking for a relationship, I wanted to travel and write. And then God plopped Matt right in my path.  And that is where the wild ride began.

I love to tell the story that God has written on the pages of our life.  I  enjoy the looks of surprise from those who hear it.  My heart is blessed by the testimony of faith and trust it has given us.  I love challenging the younger generation to seek God's will for their lives in full expectation of Him fulfilling it.

Now when I say plop, I do mean plop!  I had finished college and was deciding on my next step when our youth group needed a worship leader.  I'm not much of a musician, but those poor Jr. & Sr. High students didn't seem to notice.  Being apart of the youth ministry lead to winter camp and summer camp.  This led to my now brother and sister-n-law inviting me to lunch and dinner several times and Matt just happening to show up.  Wink, wink. After a month of hanging out with his family, we both prayed about it and felt the Lord's leading.  Matt proposed and six months later we were married.  I think we only had one formal date in that time and it was a double date with his brother and wife.

It's now been eleven years, three little boys, ten states, fifteen houses, and three different radio networks. We've had ups and downs, transitions galore, heart break and joy and I can say that every single moment has the finger print of God upon it. There are so many stories I could share, but for now this is my message-

To the young looking to the future: God has a perfect plan for your life.  He has that one and only help mate created just for you.  You don't have to go searching for anything.  There isn't a need to try several things or people to find what is going to stick.  Be still, and know God. He will direct your steps.

To those in the middle: Maybe life hasn't been what you planned.  Maybe you wrestle with disappointment.  God is still in control.  The awesome thing about God's will is that He can bend it and smooth it the point of bringing Him glory.  He can still give you direction.  And even in the brokenness He can still be given glory.  Again, be still and know God.

For everyone beginning, middle and end: Look back and give thanks for each step taken and God's divine plan.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Rain Kissed Afternoon

So here's another one.  Not sure of the ending, but hopefully you'll see the vivid picture in my mind.

The wild thrashing of the rain had beat against the window pane all day. I pressed my nose against the cold glass watching the squiggly lines of raindrops gliding downward. For awhile I stood over Grandmas old wall heater feeling the warmth blow up my legs to surround my small body like an invisible blanket.  I was bored. I could hear the squeals of my little sisters jumping around our bedroom.  They danced like the flames of the fireplace, jumping from one bed to the next.  Dare they fall into the hot imaginary liquid of hot lava they held on to each in pure delight.  I had grown tired of the game and wandered away looking for something else to amuse me.

The gray of the storm matched my mood. Grandma was whisking away at something in the kitchen, while Momma labored over tomorrow's school lessons. Needing a space of my own, I quietly grabbed my sweater and crept to the back porch. So busy were they, that I slipped away unnoticed.  In a way that made me happy, but also a little sad.

The rain, was more like a mist now and I freely twirled and danced. It felt light upon my face.  Like a brush of  Momma's lips for a kiss.  I tapped the branches of the cherry tree, watching the droplets of water spring into the air and fall back to the ground promising the sweetness of rich red cherries come summer.

Then like a fawn I lept through the air bounding toward the grapevines. Diving beneath the branches heavy with the storms out pouring, I crawled beneath the leaves and felt the water drip down my head and into my sweater.  It was cold, but I delighted in the rich smell of rain and dirt.  Above me were dried up old grapes of last season.  Leftovers from Grandma's juice making efforts.  I slowly chewed the tough raisin imagining Grandma's thick juice sliding down my throat. I am warmed by the memory.

Suddenly a brilliant beam of sunlight breaks through my leafy fortress.  The clouds are rolling through the sky as if it were chasing it's future. Peaking out from my hiding spot I find that a canvas of color awaits me. The rainbow fills the sky with vivid hues of blue, red, violet, yellow and green.  My once gray heart bursts from the spectacular show and I can not help the notes of joy that escape my lips. I sing of promises, and praise the Keeper of them.  Wrapping my arms around me to hold this moment tight, I wander through the tall rain kissed grass to the warmth of the house. My rainy day blues gone with the storm, I am ready to again join the adventures of playing hot lava.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Plan "B"

As you know we recently moved and due to Matt's new schedule, the un-opened door for private school and public schools that test way below the national average- we decided to homeschool Noah & Isaiah.  I have to admit it has been difficult. Moving in of itself is an adjustment.  But then you add trying to get into the groove of getting through a school day and over 12 hours of  Mom & the boys.  It makes for some challenges.  I have to admit, that my attitude as been less than stellar at times. Life was awesome before all the changes.  The boys loved school, Canon and I had grand adventures each day together, I had time to write and sew and have coffee with friends.  Now I spend the day trying to motivate two little boys through school, while navigating through multiple disagreements and don't forget to add the house work.  Never mind time for making new friends or a little alone time.

All that to say (don't judge me!) I struggle with loving on the boys and loving my life right now.  In the back of my head, I kept telling myself, "try it and if it doesn't work, throw them in the public school.  They belong to God - they'll survive."  But in my heart I know I don't just want them to survive.  I want them to grow into thriving and active men of God.  Over the course of the last month, when I was ready to throw in the towel God has lifted me up.  In church on Sundays and Wednesdays our pastor has been teaching out of 2 Timothy.  The whole book speaks to us about being faithful to the end.  Every time I step into that building God keeps laying on my heart what He has appointed me to do and to fulfill my ministry.

But you be watchful in all things,
endure afflictions, 
do the work of an evangelist,
fulfill your ministry,
~ 2 Timothy 4:5 ~

I know every family is different and God has a different call on everyone's life, but I am convinced of His call to holiness and righteousness in our lives and the command to raise up our children in this way.  I have recently been encouraged through a fellow homeschooling mom and blogger, Erica of Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She said it best in her article "Why We Homeschool" - 

 Deut. 6:5-7 says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

"I wondered to myself, how am I to teach my children when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up if they are gone all day long? How can I hide God’s word in their heart if most of the opportunities happen when they are at school? How can I truly impress upon their hearts if I only see them at dinner and at bedtime?" - Erica

He has appointed me to be the minister to these boys.  My ministry is to disciple them in the way of Jesus.  And He has very clearly laid it on my heart that the only way to accomplish this at this time is to keep them home.  There is no plan "B".

So we are going to keep going and not give up.  I place it all in His mighty hands to work out.  Perhaps for you the struggle isn't home life.  Maybe it's a job or maybe a relationship.  I encourage you to not give up.  Whatever ministry God has put in your life - fulfill it!  The rad thing about God is He doesn't just call us to something and then leave us to figure it out.  He empowers us.  He strengthens us.

But the Lord stood with me,
and strengthened me, so that the message 
might be fully preached.
~ 2 Timothy 4:17 ~

Ps. Be sure to check out Erica at!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Littlest Lizard

Like most stay at home moms, I have many a story that I like to weave and tell to the delight of my children. And probably like many, someday I would love to see them published.  But I am always so busy that getting any of my ideas on paper seems almost impossible.  Well, I've decided it's only impossible if I never try.  Since I was a child all I have ever wanted to do, was write.  Well then, I shall.  So they may be slightly rough, maybe even a little rusty, but I am going to try.  Hope you enjoy.

This one is for my sweet friend, Kim Pennington...

At the end of the road was a small white house with a dark attic.  In the far corner of the attic was a chest - a treasure chest.  Not the kind full of pirate's booty, but the treasures of a boy named Pete and his sister Kate.  Among the treasures tucked inside this chest was, a strong and mighty soldier, a beautiful and graceful ballerina, the bounciest red ball ever, sturdy wooden blocks and the silliest clown named Clinny.  They spent their days in the dark remembering the adventures of Pete and Kate's childhood.

"Remember the time Pete took me camping?", the strong soldier asked.  "He took me to the top of the mountain, where together we defeated bears and mountain lions."

"Oh, I remember when dear Kate took me to see The Nutcracker, I sat upon her lap watching the dancers twirl and swing", said the sweet ballerina.

They each had their favorite memory which proclaimed the greatness of the certain toy and just how special they were to either Pete or Kate.  On and on their days went.  Occasionally, bright sunlight would peep in through the key hole.  They would all bask in the fleeting moment of warmth and wish to be free of their dark confines.  One day, Clinny the clown had had enough and broke down in tears.  "Oh, how I wish to make a child laugh!" The pretty ballerina agreed, sharing how she would love to dance with a graceful little girl once again.  They all began to chime in with their desires, until the strong soldier declared it must be done, " We need to be free of our treasure chest!  Free to bring joy to a small child once again!  Who's with me?" And so they began to work together to build stairs to the top of the chest.  But try as they might, they were not strong enough to lift the lid.  Sadly it was locked on the outside.

A feeling of despair crept into the crowd, when a small quiet voice spoke up, "perhaps I could help?". From the deepest corner of the chest came a lizard.  He was the littlest lizard you have ever seen. Not only was he small, but he was the deepest green.  He blended right into the dark corner.  So much so that none of the toys had noticed him all these years.

"I remember the day Pete got me for his birthday.  I wasn't as fancy as all the other toys and definitely not as big.  I remember some of the other boys snickering at my lack of luster and size, but Pete's smile was warm and welcoming."  "He kept me in his pocket everyday until he went away", said the little lizard.

"Well, you're still little!  How are you going to help us now?" demanded the strong soldier.
"You don't have to be big to be useful" answered the littlest lizard, "sometimes being small is the most helpful of all." And without a word the littlest lizard quickly climbed the stairs and smoothly slid though the key hole. All of the toys were astonished as they heard the click of the lock. Now with the effort of all the toys they were able to lift the lid and climb out of the treasure chest.  The toys danced and cheered until they fell to the ground tired from such joyous celebrating.  It was then that they stopped to thank the littlest lizard and and apologize for doubting him.  They had learned that each one has a special gift to share.

From down the stairs came the sounds of running feet and calls to behave.  Someone was looking at the house and someone was coming their way. As the children came busting into the room the toys froze in their spots. Gleefully the children scooped them up to show to their parents.  The smallest boy took the littlest lizard, kissed him on the nose and then stuck him deep within his pocket.  In the warm dark pocket the littlest lizard smiled in anticipation of adventures to come.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Tattoo And This Year's Heart Lesson

For several years I have wanted a tattoo. I want a sparrow with a ribbon in it's beak and on the ribbon something that greatly symbolizes my life and walk with the Lord. Matt even made me an appointment for one on my thirtieth birthday, but I chickened out. It's probably not a bad thing seeing as I still can't decide what to put in the ribbon. 

Sometimes I feel like my soul is so rough around the edges. God is continually pressing in, honing and polishing this diamond that will one day be presented before His throne.  I could inscribe my ribbon with the lesson learned about awaiting His timing. His timing is perfect and His plan for me complete. Or perhaps the word treasure should be printed upon it, from when I learned to let go of earthly positions and place the yearnings of my heart upon heaven. And then there is the lesson of following His leading. I am a pilgrim on a journey. Of course after accepting that lesson I had to learn to trust where He guided my steps despite my planning. Currently I think I would have to engrave my ribbon with the lesson of being still and knowing God. Of course I'm still in the midst of that one. 

Really there has been so many lessons and I know so many more are to come. There isn't enough room on that ribbon, I might end up with a whole tattooed sleeve. Then my mom would probably disown me! So for now the tattoo will have to go at the top of my bucket list and maybe someday I will know exactly what to inscribe on my ribbon. For now, I will simply be still.