SLIDER

Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Loving Can Hurt Sometimes



Last week I had a cardiac ablation. Wires were taken through my groin up into my veins and then to my heart to burn out unnecessary tissue that had been causing me to frequently have an irregular heart rhythm. In the days leading up to the procedure, it took everything in me not to hit up google and seek out the risks associated with it. Because with every medical decision made to hopefully improve the quality of your life, there comes a list of risks and almost every one of those lists ends with 'stroke or death.'

But isn't that the way it should be? I mean as far as the human existence goes, we should be compelled to have a better 'quality of life' about us, should we not? Just living it and managing a physical heart rhythm isn't enough. There needs to be more than just breath.

Still the only true and real thing that boosts the quality of our lives is LOVE. Love is our reason for  existing. It's the precise reason for our being alive. Our goal is to love the Lord God, love others, love ourselves. If we don't have love, we are nothing. Remember that?

Be that as it may...love hurts. Although it’s true that a higher quality of life is embodied in love, it can feel risky. Because of the incredible depth of it, there is always that chance that on the other side of love... is pain. And the fear of pain...or ample experience with it...can hold us back from having a genuinely rewarding existence from here on out.
The many facets and types of love can leave us feeling jaded or even battered depending on our exact situation. Parents may have mistreated us. Friends may have back stabbed us. Relatives may have abused us. Our child may have fallen ill. A spouse may have cheated on us. A boyfriend/girlfriend may have left us. A church friend may have talked about us. A leader may have failed us. A loved one may have passed away too soon. A trusted person may have abandoned or betrayed us.

Any of these situations and the plethora of others you may have experienced can leave you feeling afraid to really love again.

Why take the risk? It hurts too bad. We don't like to be hurt. We don't like how people make us feel.  We don't like when people leave us too soon. We don't like to feel disappointed...or worse, completely broken.. So why lay everything on the line to love people if it's only going to leave you wounded? Intentionally or unintentionally.

These past few years have been hard for me. People I loved died. People I loved got sick. People I loved talked. People I loved walked away. Everything in me wanted to shut down. It felt like too much. I didn't want to love anymore. It felt too unreliable. The moment I felt some certainty  was the moment I'd feel myself sink and my heart ache all over again.
I didn't want to allow love while the pain that resulted from it threatened to wear me down. Over and over, I'd say no more. No more to letting my guard down. My heart had become too fragile.

But that would mean I'm just existing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Day after day. Year after year.
I would barely survive. I would become numb to the beauty around me.
There would be no real quality to my life and the quantity of my days would feel like an eternity.
I would never grow or learn anything.  I would never laugh with someone, or cry for that matter...
I would never feel amazing. I would never feel much at all.
Or at least I would tell myself that.

That is not the life we are built for. This time here on this earth is not for us to hold back and guard ourselves. But rather to continue to stretch and to pour into others, even if there are risks involved. True there may be no certainty in love as far as who, what, when and how much of a 'return' you'll receive on your investment into another human being, if anything.

But that doesn't mean we just stop.

Understand this... we are here for a purpose.
Utilizing the LOVE that is instilled in all of us makes all the difference in the overall quality of our lives. We are not here to be alone and die never giving our best to someone else. We need to do more than just breathe. We are here for that child. that friend, that parent, that sibling, that significant other. We're even capable of loving strangers. People do it all the time.

Despite our misgivings, bad experiences and our fears. We are capable of choosing love over it all.



Loving can hurt. Loving can hurt sometimes.
But it's the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive


Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it's the only thing that I know, 
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of you
and it's the only thing we take with us when we die

Ed Sheeran- Lyrics to Photograph

Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!



2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!




What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Change Your Picture



I'm told I don't have a life. I don't know how often I've said that to myself. Or thought it.
But it's been a lot.
And I want to address this subject of 'not having a life' we hear of and speak of so often.

About 3 weeks ago, I was honored with the good ol' parental obligation of taking away privileges. It became a big thing in our home that day. BIG. I won't even go into the original reason, but we took computer privileges away from my oldest, about to be a teenager-but still a child, son. The original sentencing consisted of 2 days or so, but gradually additional days were added per attitude. Somehow, we wound up around the 2 1/2 week mark with no laptop, no phone.

He has only had a phone for a couple of weeks and technically it doesn't have service, but it's my old phone and is still able to connect to WiFi, so we thought we'd let him use it, all the while making it clear that it is still my phone and I am able to let whomever use it of my choosing. But mainly, he's the oldest, so we let him keep tabs on it. It was long awaited and begged for and he loved it from the moment it was handed over. So along with the laptop (his first love), it was the 2nd to go.

When do I get it back?- is always the first question. Usually in disgust.
NOT how can I change my attitude to get it back or what can I do to win your trust again, Mom?
When rolled eyes (by him) and pure frustration (by me) changed to let's sit down and talk, I was finally able to pull together my thoughts on what was happening and why. And then we talked.
"You will get it back when I feel you understand what life is really about and what it's not about."
I know that's big and deep, but it's not really. Life is not about the computer. Life is not about the phone. Or the tablet. Or the Wii U. Or the Xbox One. Or even 'wince'... Netflix. The computer we let you use is not a right. It is a privilege.  And your phone is not real life. When I say "Do your homework" or "It's time for church" or "Get ready for school" or "Come and eat" or "Let's do something as a family" - I am not interrupting your real life with things like family/ God/ responsibility because I loathe you and want to (I quote) ruin your life. Despite what you may feel at that moment.

Life is simple at this point. God. Family. Responsibilities. That's what I told him.
That's what having a life is. For real.
(I will add friendship on as well, because obviously that is important. But if you tell that to a 12 year old in the year 2016, with friendship automatically comes skype and gaming or things of the like, and we aren't going there for now.)

My heart to heart with my son turned into a day date with him with lots of hugs, apologies and him nodding his head in agreement of what I was trying to teach him. We had a fun day. However my words sat with me so much longer than that day.
What is life really about?

Just days later, those very words "you don't have a life" were casually flung in my direction (not by my son, for the record). Whether or not it was intended doesn't matter, because either way it made me think hard about what I do each day, what I want to be doing and who I am doing it for....

I don't currently work outside the home. I had a good 20+ years of work on the outside starting at the age of 14 and will probably get back there someday and will have the rest of my life to do so, but for now I stay home with my little man and of course, my four kids in the summer. I don't really want to miss a moment. (Well, maybe a couple moments wouldn't hurt -hint: free babysitters please) But it's just where I am, personally. And it's where I want to be. Over the course of the ups and downs of my adult life, I've realized what I want out of this life and I am 'going for it."
Going for it sounds small to to others when you are "just sitting around" -at home. But raising a family, being with your children and involved in almost every single moment of every day and experiencing every moment with them is gigantic. And beautiful. And exhausting too, in it's own way. If being a mom and who God called me to be isn't enough, I do also home school my oldest son part time (which even part time feels like a full time job some days- props to you full time home school Mommas!). I watch other peoples kids occasionally so they are able to work. And I volunteer more hours than people realize for our church all week long. Not to mention, I write my heart out when I can squeeze in some midnight moments like tonight.
But primarily in this season of my life, it is my honor to just be Mom. I can't imagine it any other way. When I tickle and snuggle my baby boy after the big kids leave for school in the mornings or when I pick my girls up from school and Leila talks my ear off or when I sit with Jada and we do devotions together or when I sit with Wesley and we go over his home school lessons together and he gets distracted with telling me minecraft stories, I never ever thought of it as not having a life. Every single time, I think to myself, this is what life is all about. Honoring the Lord, by loving my family and training them in the way they should go. This is the desire God has given me. In this particular season, yes, this is what I am designed for. For such a time as this...

All the other things we can desire or strive for on this earth, I wouldn't say they are always distractions from the true abundant life, but they certainly can be if we let real life become more about them and less about what will stick with us...

It makes me ponder all the Mommas out there who have had this very thought or said these very words out loud. I don't have a life.  I don't get any sleep. I can't get a babysitter. I don't ever get a break. I used to love to read. I wish I had time for myself. We say it jokingly in our facebook posts or to the other moms, but half way crying on the inside, wondering where our life went. All this because real life is kicking your tail every single day.
Girl, you DO have a real life... and this is it. The circumstances may have changed (and become better really, I think)...But this is abundance if you know how to really live smack dab in the middle of it.
Be so so thankful and embrace each breath, each giggle, each minute. Work hard and at the same time, just rest. You're doing it. You do have it all. The dream. You just have to change the picture in your head of what life is supposed to be. (Thanks for that, Hart of Dixie!)

To all the Mommas that work so hard outside the home and come home to just a few short hours with their babies each night, to all the Mommas busy creating and writing and designing in between those home school lessons, to all the Mommas who desperately love their children, and are taking care of someone else's children too and never seem to have a kid free moment... I just want you to know, what you are doing is important. This is life. It's not a matter of not having one. It's a matter of what you what you want out of it, make of it, who the grace comes from and all glory goes to.

Change Your Picture.

When our desire and pursuit of God's heart, 
our recognition of the beautiful design of family (and friendship), 
our ambition to take on responsibility genuinely and with integrity, 
and our passion for honoring the Lord by using our talents and chasing those dreams God placed inside of us...
When these things all come together, then we have found a beautiful life and yes, a real life.
We have found the abundant life Jesus wanted for us and gives us. 
It's not about the things, the jobs, the titles, the comparisons...
It's about knowing who you are in Christ and embracing all He's placed around you and on the inside of you. Don't let it sit there. Stand tall in those roles you play in life. Wear all those hats proud. And as you do every moment, do it in honor to the one who gave it all to you.




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well



I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...




Monday, November 16, 2015

Your Future Is Bright




Over the weekend, I've been trying my best to process what is happening in our world. The evident evil taking over otherwise happy, everyday moments of so many lives in so many places. From threats of terror to movie theater and school shootings, life can really feel unpretty these days. Like the rest of the world, my heart was aching the moment I heard about attacks of concert goers and city dwellers in Paris. My heart was aching and my mind was fearful. Then articles started pouring in about suicide bombings in Beirut. And hashtags start switching from #prayforparis to #prayfortheworld as people around the world began letting their voice be heard of their own tragedy.

Everytime I hear of a mass attack on humanity by any means, two things automatically cross my mind. One, what happened to these people? These were once someone's tiny sweet innocent babies, full of life and purpose. How did they get to this place where this was okay in their mind? And second, why oh why have I brought children into this world? I am just one person and can only protect them so far, so how do I protect them from things like this, because it seems to me, no one is immune.

In the midst of all our facebook filters and hashtags rallying support around others that have had tragedy strike, we either live in fear or we keep convincing ourselves to just keep living fearlessly, because we may as well make the best of our life, do the most that we can, while we still have breath to breathe. We know our true future is in Heaven, but what about now?

My 12 year old son was showing some concern on and off over the weekend for the "what ifs?" What if it happened here?  How do we arm ourselves and our families? How do we not show up at the wrong place at that wrong time? And as I was looking to the Lord, he showed me that our only answer is to know His voice. We need to know the voice of God's spirit. We need to learn how to let it lead us, how to let it stop us and how to let it give us the go ahead. The Holy Spirit was given to us as our comforter and helper, to reveal to us the deep things of God and to show us things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:10, John 16:13.

In times like these people tend to think that God doesn't care, but the fact remains that he gave men dominion of this world for this time period. They do with this world what they wish. For some, it's evil. For other's its selfishness. For others, it may be just living life oblivious to what we are truly here for. But while he gave mankind dominion, He gave believers the Holy Spirit so that they would allow Him to lead them and guide them throughout their life. And we better have our ears tuned in to His voice, because our future and life depends on it.

It frustrates me at times, watching the enemy working on the lives of Christians, getting them to a place where they compromise truth for lies. They compromise living lives in close communion with the Lord to living lives based off quotes and memes on the internet. Honestly, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how inspirational a person or his words are, if it's not the whole word of God, it's not truth. And memes and quotes aren't going to save anyone when the enemy is working on someone's mind to blow a up a building that you just walked into. Being led by God's spirit and knowing His voice is our only hope and comfort in this time. We need to know Him and be willing to obey his leading. We need to stop getting in our own way, stop playing the devils games and get serious about this life, friends. Clearly the devil is serious. He means business. He is at constant war with humanity because his sole enemy is the God who created them. So why do we play games in a world he's infiltrating?

I know this is a serious post, but this is a serious time we live in. And sometimes I fear for people that want to say as long as we love Jesus, everything is okay. Love Jesus or not, if we don't know His voice, how will He ever warn us or show us things we need to know? Time away from this 'world' and spent soaking in God's presence is key. I believe God will and does show all kinds of people all kinds of things they need to know for their future, but if you are too busy following all the other voices that are beckoning you in this world, online, in books, on youtube or even in our own mind... you will always second guess or flat out disobey his voice--His voice that was trying to show you things that will protect or bless you and your family.

I get tired of the gross darkness that is attempting to cover our world and even infiltrate the body of Christ. And I just had to say it. It's deceptive. It's sneaky. And It's meant as a distraction to water down the power and presence and anointing of God in our lives. And ultimately, it's meant to deter the body of Christ from hearing His voice and doing what they are called to do. God's love is bigger than acceptance which seems to be the mantra these days . Jesus came to set people free from the things that hold us captive, to give us authority over the enemy, and then He left us with His Spirit to keep us growing, moving, protected & guided. All incredible acts of His incredible love.

And right now I'm thanking God for all the tools He's provided for me. I'm thanking God I don't have to live in fear. And it's my hearts purpose to make better use of what He left for me to use, both for myself and for the world around me... I'm thanking God my future is bright. My kids future is bright. My husbands future is bright...

And yours can be bright too, friend.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Am Not Broken.


I've been noticing this trend in our culture.
This trend where we dare to break free from fear of what people might think and we do our best to live authentically. It happens in all circles. Political, religious, personal. We are 'authentic.' No more being afraid of what people think. No more secrets.

We open the pages of our lives, for most of us it's online,  (unless we are a published author or speaker or celebrity) and we dig out the nitty gritty dirty things of our lives and we share them. We parade our humanness in order to relate to humanity. We want people to know and understand us. Sometimes we need them to know us for our sake. We need them to get that 'we are only human.' We fall, we mess up, we suffer. So please, cut us some slack. But I think more often that not, we want to empathize with people. In order for people to hear us out, we need them to know that we understand. We've been there. We are there. And we are working it out. Someway, somehow... this too shall pass.

I've dipped my toes in these waters. I've opened my pages for others to see bits and pieces of my story. The messy parts. The hard parts. And the promising parts. I don't think I've dived completely in, but I've waded, somewhat hesitantly. And I've stumbled around, finding my place of comfort, my place of discomfort and where I can be stretched... and those places where I sense the Lord is giving me the 'go ahead' to lay it all out there.

And just like you, just like us all, I have been through the wringer. Some days the wringer has wrung and wrung and wringed and wrung. Some of those days have turned into weeks, and some of the weeks into long tormented seasons.
But here's the thing. I am still standing. Here's the thing. I am a daughter of God. Have I had brokenness in my life? Yes. But I am not broken. Have I had messy days? Yes. But I am not a mess. Have I failed? Yes. But I am not a failure. Have I felt hurt, been sick, lacked provision at times? Of course, we live in a human world.

But my identity is not wrapped up in my brokenness.
My identity is wrapped up in redemption.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "...I delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
So I get it. I understand that it's when we finally realize we can't do this hard life alone, that Christ's power can work through us. But it's for that purpose that we recognize the broken, tough, icky messed up parts of us... we recognize it, so that we can then become strong. If you are a redeemed son or daughter of God, you are not broken. You are not a mess. You are not a failure. You are not weak. You are not frail. You are not empty.
YOU ARE STRONG, friend. Walk in it.

Does our need to relate to others sometimes have us glorying a little more in our weaknesses than in His strength?
Have our immensely poetic and philosophical thoughts and quotes carried us to to a place where we just float and sulk in a weighted heaviness that Jesus already bore on the cross and redeemed us from? Sometimes I almost think it's unfair to Jesus, that after everything He went through for our salvation, healing, provision, joy, peace, abundant life and redemption as a whole... that we still qualify ourselves as 'broken.' We sing melancholy tunes of our empty lives that Jesus already filled.

Our testimony to others isn't in the middle of the mess we made of our lives or in the pain that our circumstances caused us. Our testimony of God's goodness comes when we walk out of our mess into our victory with confidence and thankfulness to our Redeemer.

I understand that people, all people... relate to brokenness. People relate to hurt. People relate to screwing up and making bad choices and being let down. And that is why all people need hope. They don't just need us to empathize with our own sad stories and a tidbit about God thrown in at the end. They need more.

We all need more. We all need Jesus.

People need to know 'I am just like you. I've been depressed. I've been abused. I've been poor. I've been sick. I've failed too many times to admit. I've been a bad parent. I've neglected my spouse. I've rolled my eyes, gossiped, wallowed in self pity, been addicted, experiences loss....
But that is not who I am.
I am not broken, because I know the restorer of broken lives.
I do not fall apart daily because my God is the lifter of my head.
I may fail but I am not a failure, because I know someone who forgives and empowers me to keep going.

Life can get pretty dicey sometimes. We live in a natural world. But as sons and daughters of God, we are no longer broken, but made whole. Let's show the world how big Jesus is, what he can do with broken lives and how his redemptive work brings healing and newness.

Old things are passed away. All things are become new.




Thursday, November 6, 2014

ME AND JESUS (don't) HAVE OUR OWN THING GOING ON



In my last post (yes, over three weeks ago) I talked about being a quitter. About how everytime I sought to find a way and a reason to quit, I was reminded (no doubt by the Holy Spirit) that I am not an island unto myself. It's not all about me and what I want to do in that moment.

Lately, I feel so many of us have fallen prey to the lie that says "Me and Jesus have our own thing going on and nobody can say anything about it."  While, yes, it's true that our relationship with the Lord is and should be one of intimacy. The quiet moments with Him are in fact just between you and Him. When He speaks, you should be listening. And when you cry out to Him, His ears are open to you. However this doesn't mean that you can do what you want, where you want, how you want, say what you want and it bares no relevance to anyone else, nor does it affect anyone else.

Because it does. You and Jesus don't have your own thing going on. Nor do I. Because if we are not living a life that sets up a path for others to follow Jesus, then we are not doing at all what He needs us to do in this life.
And that is to be a light for the world to see. Be a light for our children, our friends, our co-workers, our family.
It's not just about me loving Jesus and Him loving me. It's about surrendering my all to Him. It's about leaning on Him and Him alone. Finding strength in Him.

But mostly, it's about being bold to speak. And when we are so bold to speak, we don't speak up about our freedom and human rights to do this and that, but it's about our freedom and deliverance from the bondage that was brought on by this or that. Because it was Jesus that brought us through.

Our entire purpose to even maintain a relationship with the Lord is that so we can let others know of his goodness. Salvation isn't just for you and you alone. It's for you to show forth the goodness of God so that they will know too. If your goal in this thing with 'you and Jesus' is just to superficially love Jesus and do what you want, then it's simply not a relationship at all. Because in any relationship, true love always produces actions. So does true faith.

More and more our world is becoming one where we feel like we have rights and we (humanity) can dictate and reason what we think is right and wrong above and beyond the Word of God. And it's infiltrated our churches and the people of God. Our standards for living life have become lower and lower.  We justify our actions on the example that someone else has set.

So we see someone else do it or say it or maybe someone offended us... so what... ??? It doesn't give us a human right to dot dot dot...
It just proves that that persons actions have affected you. That persons example of a relationship with Jesus has affected how you see what a relationship with Jesus is.

It wasn't just about Him and Jesus. It is now about Him and Jesus and You.
Do you see?

No, we are not an island unto ourselves.
My relationship with the Lord isn't just about me and Jesus.
I so love my moments when it is just me and Him. But my life and your life has the ability to domino affect on so many other lives.

We either believe the God of the Bible or we don't. But if we say we do & YES, HE is my Lord,  then let's grasp ahold of His EVERY truth like it is our breath. And let's not use it to stand on our soapbox and  revel in selfishness while we proclaim freedom. Because it's not freedom. What this world thinks is freedom has the ability to bring destruction, hurt, pain, torment and so much more bondage.

What we need is freedom from the bondage and addiction and sickness and hurt and immorality and depression and pain and all the other things the enemy brings~Let that be the freedom that we live and speak of. It's the freedom that GIVES the abundant life.

I want to be a vessel fit for my Masters use. I want to give and live and shine.
I want to be reminded every day that it's not just about ME & Jesus.
But it's about Me & Jesus & them...





Friday, September 12, 2014

What Good Is The Internet?



Some days I really struggle with the internet. I struggle with the good and bad of it.
Let's face it. There is a lot of bad. There is greasy, dirty, whiny, angry, gossipy & downright sleazy all over the place.  It's gross. It's meant to suck people in.  And it accomplishes what it sets out to do. All we have to do is see a pretty picture or a catchy title and suddenly with the click of a mouse or tap of our phone we are engaged in what so and so thinks about so and so and the 7 reasons why.

And if we are not careful, we begin to feed our hearts with trash. It may not look dirty, but it makes our hearts dirty. We read it. We involve ourselves in argument and debate over it. We dwell on it. We infuriate over it.  And suddenly, Jesus is not first and foremost. This thing is. This issue. This debate. This gossip.

So why do we fall for it?
Why do we spend our time accommodating the patterns of the world? That's not who we are.
Romans 12:2 says Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing & perfect will.
We are called to be more. We are called to protect our hearts. Do you want to know why?
Because everything we do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23) 
Are we protecting our heart with every click of our mouse?  Are we allowing the life of God to flow out of us?  Or is what flows from our mouths and fingertips something else? 
It's something to think about.

1 Peter 2:9 -"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
What I see here is that God has chosen you. You are prized. You are precious. You are holy and royalty. And you are different. And because of that, you are called to show the goodness of God. That is your purpose here on this earth- to show others his goodness. Whatever you do, whatever you speak, whatever you share, let it bring glory to God alone.

The thing about the internet it has given anyone and everyone a public voice. This can be a good thing if the right people are using it, but more often than not it's doing the opposite. Some people don't know when to keep their mouths closed. Some people entertain idol argument too quickly. And some people just just want to tell the world what they think.
But as a man or woman of God, that is not what we are called to do.
That's not who we are supposed to be.

Yes, we are to defend the gospel, but we should allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into doing so with the right words.



The internet can be an excellent tool if you use it correctly~If your intent is to honor God with your words and not yourself, if your intent is to honor God and not dishonor others. There are certainly very talented speakers and writers and debaters and actors and politicians that have the ability to captivate us and persuade us and entertain us. But talent & persuasion don't equal truth.
Let's not take every word out of every great writer or speaker and cut it up and swallow and digest it as truth just because it's said with eloquence. On that same not, let's not take every word and throw it out just because someone is imperfect. 
If we renew our minds daily with God's word, and ask him to open our eyes, we will know the truth inside of us.  We just will.   And that is what we should be sharing. That truth that brings glory to God. We shouldn't let ourselves to conform to the thoughts and patterns of the world we live in.

Our voice, if we should decide to use it publicly (which most of us do to some degree nowadays if we own any sort of social media account) is to be used to breathe the life of God into any given situation. If we are not using the online voice we have, (however little or big it may be), to bring God glory, what are we using it for? If we are speaking up on this or that, we need to be sure our heart is close to God's heart and our voice is guided by Him. Because when it comes down to it, our opinions are not what matter. We can certainly have them, but they aren't what matter. What matters is bringing God glory. And bringing people to see Jesus.

And likewise, let those who do wish to glorify God, be brave enough to do it publicly. We need more brave people online pointing people to Jesus, not just away from things or people. Give people somewhere to look, not only something to look away from.

Let's ask ourselves this question before we speak, 
"Will they see Jesus in what I am about to say?"
And if the answer is no, maybe we should lay that thought quietly down for awhile and let God work in us what HE wants us to say. Or we can say nothing at all. Sometimes that is better, ya know? It just is. I hold back a lot of my initial thoughts. Because it's just that, it's my thoughts and my reaction to other peoples thoughts. That's all.  And I want to be sure that when I speak it's not hasty and when I speak, it's really very simple, I want people to see Jesus.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you  have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you  have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 4:11

The internet isn't going away anytime soon. But as we engage ourselves in it's use, let's not get tangled up in the grossness of it. We need to learn to recognize when what we read or what we say is a ploy meant to shift our focus onto people or ideas rather than the Lord.  Instead, let's use our voice on the internet to boast about the NAME that is far above every other name that calls out to us.
The name of Jesus.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Are You Holding Against Her/Him?



Sometimes, I find it interesting the ruler we hold other people against. The ruler of perfection.
We stand on our pedestal, expecting the forgiveness of God to erase all of our past,
yet we fail to forgive others.
We call them fake, hypocritie, prideful...a fraud.
Because of some standard in our mind we think they should adhere to.
It's our standard, not God's.
God standard tells us to come as we are.
God's standard says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And we proclaim the love and forgiveness and grace of God in our own lives.
We speak of how he has forgiven our past,
how he is so kind and decent and doesn't hold things against us.
Yes, He is indeed a merciful God.

After the thousands and thousands of times we have hurt him.
The thousands of times we have hurt others, when he specifically tells us to do two things.
1) Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul & mind
2) Love your neighbor as yourself
Yet, we have all clearly fallen short of these over and over and over in our lives.
And over and over and over he has forgiven us. Yes?

Yet, when we see something we don't like in someone else.
A mistake they made.
Something they have done to hurt us or someone else.
Something they didn't even know they did to offend us.
And it suddenly becomes okay to hold that against them.

Is it though?
What is it today that you are holding against someone?


Is it something they have done to hurt you over and over?
Is it something they said to you just one time?
Is it something you are simply assuming or over analyzing what they must be doing or saying about you?
Is it something they didn't do that you think they should have?
Is it a behavior you have seen that you frankly dislike?
Maybe it's not even something they knowingly did...
yet you are holding them accountable for that action YOU deem unworthy of your forgiveness.
You just disapprove. It's that simple.

Look at your life and all that you have been forgiven of. Look at all the times God could have turned his back on you, held grudges against you or even called you a hypocrite.

Yet, while you were in sin, he died for you. He didn't wait until you apologized for your actions.
Sometimes, in our attitudes or remarks and fits of anger or bouts of gossip, we don't even realized we have sinned. We just do it. We don't premeditate it. It just happens out of pure human emotion and before we know it, the words have come out of our mouth.
Yet it's still sin...
and it's sin that Jesus died for willingly.
He made the first move to redeem you from the hurt you caused him and others.
And then put the ball in your court.
If someone has hurt you, offended your or simply annoyed you in some day,
ask God to help you forgive them, or not judge them
in the same way he has forgiven you.



Look at these verses and see what God has to say about forgiveness and let it soak into your heart on a daily basis...
and notice all the reminders of 
"if, as, with the same measure, just as."

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:2

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Matthew 11:25






Friday, April 4, 2014

Is Constant Devotion To God Even Possible?


One of the most captivating things about having faith in God is that we are assured that He is the only constant thing in our lives. He is the unchanging God. His faithfulness endures. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It moves us to desire more, to crave the deeper things he has promised us, because we know that when the day comes that we are in desperate need, he will be the only constant thing we can cling to. When that defining moment arrives where our lives seem to lead to a variety of scattered events and emotions that can turn our worlds upside down, He will keep us standing.
It is our God that remains constant. We sing about it. We say it all the time. We write about it. His faithfulness to us remains uninterrupted. He is the hope that remains. He is invariable.
HE is constant.

But what about us? 
With mood changes, busy lives, families, emotions, unpredictable life events, church events, school events...where do we stand with our devotion to him?
Is it possible that we can remain constantly faithful to God and his word?
When we don't even have a quiet moment in our day from morning to evening, how is it possible to keep his sweet & gentle & sometimes harsh truths in our hearts?

I believe it is.

Joshua 1:8-9 says "Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it DAY and NIGHT so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper & succeed in all you do. This is my command~be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Study and meditation are two different things obviously. And obviously, we cant be sitting down, studying all the time. God has given us lives and families to care for. However the moments that we do sit down at the feet of Jesus and soak in each word he offers us that day, it has the ability to stick with us. We are able to keep it in our thoughts and in our mouths throughout our day, week or month. We are able to thank Him for his promises continually. We are able to ask him questions, seek his wisdom continually. And it's in that constant communion with Him, that his word is ever present in our hearts. We can be picking up kids from school, folding laundry, taking the animals to the vet or pacing through the aisles of the grocery store and still be communicating with the Lord...
and he in return continues speaking to us.
Are we listening at all times?

Don't let yourself feel defeated or guilty because you missed a couple days of devotional time. 
Of course, we want all that we can get from Him, but sometimes "study" time or "quiet" time just isn't possible. But that doesn't mean we have to give up on time with him all together that day or that week. 
We are always thinking about something. 
Let our thoughts be focused on what he spoke to us last week or last month. Or we can look around at the world, the creation, the people and let God use everything we see to speak to us or remind us of his truth.

Though are lives are surely filled with distractions, we can still adjust our thoughts.
We CAN BE constant in our meditation of Him and his word. 
It IS possible.

And if you look closely, you see this isn't simply a commandment because God is demanding of our every thought, but meditation on him is for our benefit and success in life. Every commandment God gives us is for our own good.
V.7 says "THEN you will be successful in everything you do..."

What an amazing God. He gives us the "how to's" of everything he has promised. And he teaches us, comforts us, warns us, instructs us, corrects us and gives us joy along the way.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fear, The Truth & Toxoplasmosis




Eight weeks from tomorrow (if all goes as planned) we will be meeting our new baby boy.
I couldn't be more thrilled for several reasons. Obviously to meet him and finally hold him in my arms and kiss his little face.
I'm excited to have a summer baby too. My first 3 are all winter babies, so I went right from the hospital to bundling them up in the frigid cold of Wisconsin winters. Bundling kids up is one of the worst things about winter I think. By the time you get them all wrapped up, you're good to go for a nap.
Our plan is to deliver on Tuesday, May 27th...the day after Memorial Day. After 3 csections, we will be scheduling this one at 38 weeks, because of a high risk condition called "your skin and muscles have been stretched and cut too many times and we don't want you to burst."
Ok, I don't actually know what it is called, but my doctor told me he was out of town one time and one of his patients wanted to wait to deliver until he got back in town and she was 40+ weeks and you could actually see the baby's head through her skin. Eeeeesh. Don't want that. So 38 weeks it is!
With 2 of my 3 kids, I developed high blood pressure and preeclampsia so I ended up delivering one at 36 weeks and one at 37 weeks...I'm not completely opposed to go slightly earlier if I have to, but I'm not banking on high blood pressure. I'm keeping an eye on it though. I went in today because of some unusual swelling and it was slightly higher than normal, but nothing dangerous at this point.
Obviously the longer he bakes his buns in my oven, the better.

This pregnancy has been a journey of faith from the day I found out I was pregnant. Having 2 miscarriages behind you always can cause a slight array of emotions when you find out your are pregnant again, but I've also had 3 healthy full term pregnancies so I know the faithfulness of God. Then last summer, I had another miscarriage (or chemical pregnancy) so again, fear wanted to jump in the moment I found out.
There is the weird place of trying to contain your excitement and trying to control your fear when you have a sad  and uncertain history behind you. And I was just trying to remain calmly in the middle. The day after I found out I was pregnant with this little guy, I started bleeding. And I continued bleeding on and off through my 17th week of pregnancy. I have never had happen that before and the only times I did have it, I miscarried. But each time I went in for another ultrasound, they couldn't find a reason for the bleeding. I remember my Aunt Carolyn telling me "Don't base your faith in your history, but in what God is able to do in your future."
That stuck with me. My faith isn't based on what has happened before...

By the 3rd-ish ultrasound, I was getting tired of dealing with this feeling of being up in the air all the time, not really knowing why this was happening, but at the same time I was like "well I guess it's just one of those unexplained weird pregnancy things."

Between dealing with the continual bleeding and also severe ulcer pain, horrible nausea, a wretched eczema breakout covering my entire body, an injured back where I had to bend over to walk and just feeling sort of too old & decrepit in general, the beginning of this pregnancy was really a rough season for me.
So much so that it took me that long to tell people I was even pregnant. I finally asked for prayer from several people including confiding in the gals from Thrive Moms in on what I was dealing with and then my whole facebook friends list. I didn't really give the detail what was going on through facebook, other than I was going through a lot and it was one of those moments where I didn't have the strength to fight this on my own. I craved the prayers of others to stand with me. I'm not usually one to ask for prayer. I like to stand in faith and trust God on my own. But I was really at the end of myself and I needed someone...
anyone to agree with me.



At my 24 week appointment, I was feeling much better. Every other symptom I was previously dealing with was gone thanks to everyone's prayers, but something new came to my attention.
Right before I got pregnant we bought a pixie bob kitten. And despite all the warnings from books and people, I was the main person to take care of the cat and change her litter box through the first half of the pregnancy. I started getting frustrated, that when I asked for help from my family I felt like I was nagging constantly and if I didn't just do it on my own, the poop would sit for days...
So I just did it.
I knew there were dangers in it and I tried to be careful, but in the back of my mind I was wishing I wasn't the one doing this.

Finally, I broke down crying one night after seeing a mouse in our house and watching my cat sit for days in front of the area the mouse had made it's original appearance, just waiting for it to return. Generally, I don't always like to find out what google has to say about everything, but for the sake of being careful, I looked it up and learned that toxoplasmosis is a parasite that cats can get and shed in their feces... if they kill an animal or eat raw meat. It does little to no harm to children or adults, generally nothing more than flu type symptoms. But if a mother gets it during pregnancy, it has a 30% chance of being given to her unborn baby and can cause anything  from learning disabilities to blindness to seizures to still birth.

I broke down in frustration because I just wanted someone to take this seriously as I was...
I wanted someone to offer to help.
But in that moment of frustration, the Lord reminded me of a scripture...
In Mark 16:17-18 where Jesus says "And these miraculous signs will follow them who believe...and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them..."

I thought surely that goes for if they touch any deadly thing, it shall not harm them, as well. 
Knowing full well, I wasn't purposely testing or tempting God, but if for some reason Nova (our cat) did kill an animal and I did somehow catch some sort of parasite from her, that it would not affect me or my child.
I would not let it. Because after all I believed. And I am heir to all of God's promises.

I went into my doctor appointment soon after this and I told my doctor about our cat and the mice we saw her chasing and I asked him to test me. The next day I received a phonecall from his office and the report I received was that I, in fact, tested positive for currently contracting toxoplasmosis.
In that moment, I could have freaked. I could  have feared all the possibilities of what may happen and there was a part of me that wondered why I was so calm. I let the nurse finish telling me that they would retest me at my next appointment and see what happened and we would take it from there. I turned around to my husband and told him point blank "I tested positive."
A few hours later I went to my mom and dad and started crying. It was weird, the scare and shock of it had me in tears. I'm an emotional person to begin with, so anything will make me cry. But at the same time, I told them "I still have peace. And I believe at my next appointment that everything will come back negative."

My parents listened and agreed with me in prayer. We took the scripture from Mark 16:17-18 about how any deadly thing will not harm me or this baby and we took God at his word.
I was also aware of a high rate of false positives with this test.
Either way, I was done playing around with all this fear and worry garbage throughout this pregnancy.
I had had enough, to be honest. I wasn't going to let the devil destroy my joy. I wasn't going to spend the next 4 weeks worrying about what my next test results would be. I'm not saying the thoughts didn't solicit me, but when they did, I would change my thoughts to something else. I would tell myself, Nope. You are not dwelling on fear or worry or the negative. You have a promise from God far greater than what some test says. You have the truth.

I even started getting the flu and started wondering if those were the signs of toxoplasmosis finally showing up. Seriously, it took everything in me just to remain calm and at peace during those four weeks. I didn't tell ANYONE because I wanted to remain confident in what I knew to be true. God's truth is the only truth I know. And absolutely didn't want anyone speaking words of doubt or fear over my situation to me or behind my back. I only wanted words of life spoken and I felt responsible to make sure that happened.   I can't control other peoples tongues, but I can control mine. And I continually thanked God that 'the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead, gives life to my body (and my baby's body)' -Romans 8:11

God is so good though, you know.
He reminded me of another time, 13 years ago when I got a false positive of a fatal disease. Yes, this has happened to me before during my very first pregnancy 13 years ago with another disease.. It was the scariest week of my life I think, but in the end after seeing a specialist, my results came back negative. And remembering back to that gave me an additional boost of hope throughout this current situation.

Anyways, last week I went in for my 29 week appointment and we originally had to go in to do an ultrasound to check on the baby's stomach, because at my anatomy ultrasound at 21 weeks, the tech said it looked small so they weren't sure if he was swallowing correctly. And we also did a blood test for toxoplasmosis. I checked my website eagerly and hourly for the next two days waiting for the test results.
I am happy and ever so thankful to report & testify that it was a lie! It came back completely negative. Whether it was a false positive to begin with or whether whatever parasite that was growing was killed, I had complete peace and confidence that it would be negative despite my then current positive status. I wasn't even expecting a positive test result whatsoever the next time I went in. I kept telling myself that everything that has a name HAS to bow to the name of Jesus. He is the name above all names, afterall.
That includes parasites and diseases, right? Yep.

Not only that but, the baby's stomach looked good and healthy. Nothing scary to report there. Even if there was, I wouldn't report anything but what God says in his word.

Our little guy is measuring in the 79th percentile at this point,so we are doing one more ultrasound to track his growth. My babies were always in the 5th percentile, so that's a big baby for me. I remain confident in the character and promises of God concerning the remaining 8 weeks of this pregnancy, our baby's health and mine.


I'm excited to finally reveal our little guy's name:
We are naming him Wyatt Cash.
Wyatt was a favorite name of Jeff's since Wesley was born. Those two names were a toss up when we were thinking of names with our first son. At the time, I wasn't crazy about Wyatt, but I do have a deep place in my heart for the movie Tombstone. Haha. Seriously, I love the Wyatt Earp story, so yes, that is where his name came from. And as for 'Cash' I wanted something cool and "westerny' or 'country' to go with Wyatt, so we were going over famous cowboys or famous country singers and we think Johnny Cash totally rocks, so his middle name is after Johnny Cash himself.
Nothing sentimental from family or scripture, just a name we love and think is pretty cool...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eight weeks to go, people, until our final baby is born. I can't wait!
After that, we have discussed the possibility of adoption of one more older child, believe it or not.
We will see where that path leads us in the coming years. Yikes!

On a side note: Yes, my husband has taken care of the cat along with some help from the kids every single day since that first result. I haven't gone near it. =)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Girl Without A Bff



In this day of social media.
Can I just say it?
There are things you find out.
Things you don't always want to find out.
                                 Things you could have gone without knowing.

Inside jokes between mutual friends, only being semi-revealed on facebook.
You can feel the laughter on both ends, as each sits by their phone or computer giggling
....at 'their' joke.

Photos of people who went out and had fun without you. Smiles, laughter, meals.
Wait, this happened last night? Why didn't anyone invite me?
Why, you ask, well you're not a BFF, of course.

Then you've got plans being made by people, events accidentally made public,
and just in the knick of time, before they realized they needed to switch it to private:
you realize you were not invited...
and bam.
suddenly, the event is private.
Ooops, you weren't supposed to see that. You're not on 'that' list of friends.
You're just a facebook friend, didn't you know? 

What about community & networking on instagram or twitter?
Sometimes it's just another form of saying, "This is an A & B conversation, you can C your way out."
You chime in with what you thought was a clever or funny or kind remark or suggestion...
Maybe, just maybe... you will get a favorite, not an actual reply, but a click of a star.
Is that all you are worth?

And my personal worst is this: the proclamations of everyone and 'their' BFF.
"Me and my BFF are doing this..."
"Just hanging out with my BFF..."
"A joke only a BFF would get..."
"Hey guys, stop by and meet my bloggy BFF..." (double whammy)
It's a good way of saying, "I might consider you a friend. But I already have a list topper."

Why is it my personal worst?
Well, I have a confession. I don't have a BFF. 

I have 2 sisters & a brother that I love. I have friends I confide in. 
I have a mom who I love to hang out with. I have a husband that I laugh with and cry with. 
I have kids that I do stuff with non-stop. But I don't have a girl. One single girl. Or even a group of girls that I can put up a picture and say "Me and my BFFs."
I can say, "me and my girls" or "girls night" but I can't post of picture, nor can anyone post a picture of me and say with conviction, "THIS girl IS my one and only BFF."

Social Media has a really quick way of pointing out how alone you are.
(or at least making you feel that way).
It has a way of making you feel less than...
well, less than everyone else. Is 'her' life better?
There is a whole world of things happening outside your home and family
that 10 years ago you were perfectly happy not knowing about.
Ignorance was bliss, yes?
But now you know. Because you see everything.
You know it sucks. I know it sucks.
It just sucks to see the world revolve and you suddenly feel clueless. And left out.

So what do you do about it? 
How do you feel like you matter in this social media world that may make you feel like you don't?
                              You become confident in what you do have and who you do matter most to.

I can tell you without a doubt, my kids world revolve around me.
I can tell you without a doubt, my husband will do anything for me.
I can tell you without a doubt, my parents will always do their best to help me out...
I can tell you without a doubt, my siblings will always talk with me and listen to me...

But most importantly, even when every other person fails me.....
even when those people seem to let me down...
When my kids are disobedient or disrespectful, when my husband grumbles if I ask him to do anything, when my parents aren't able to help, when my friends have their other friends to do stuff with, when my siblings have their own friends & families,
when it seems like the entire world is going and moving along without me...

I still have someone that I know is completely head over heels crazy for me.
He backs me up in any situation I feel helpless.
He gives whatever I need when I am lacking.
He wraps his arms around me when I am crying.
When I'm weak, he becomes strong for me.

He is my confidence in the face of adversity.
He is my guarantee in the face of uncertainty.
He is my positive in a world of negative.

He is who I see when I look in a mirror. I don't see loser. I don't see lonely.  I don't see less than.
I see Jesus. Name above all names. Greater than. Victorious. Confident. Strong. Encourager. Friend.
And I see beautiful.

I give my everything because I am lacking for nothing...
Because I am made in his image. And that is who he is.



"You show that you are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3


 
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