Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Eat

Y'all, I like food. A lot.  I wake up in the morning wondering what I will have for lunch.  Before lunch, I wonder what I will have for dinner.

I used to be a pretty picky eater. But growing up on pork chops and pinto beans, I eagerly began trying new foods.  I found that I love seafood and Chinese and Japanese food.  I love Reese's Pieces and Rolo's.

I like to eat.

Sometimes that can be a problem.

I've had problems with the eat to live versus live to eat dilemma.

At one time, it got so bad that I lost 32 pounds in a short amount of time.

I'm also an emotional eater.  Happy? Eat. Sad? Eat. Bored? Eat.

I have to be careful because I know that food can control me. I've been there and done that. Thankfully, at that pivotal point in my life, I escaped the chains that food held on me.

However, I know that I can easily fall back into that trap.  Those moments of weakness or deliciousness can grab hold of me quickly.  Too quickly. I've had those moments, moments I haven't been proud of myself.  But I thank God that He is with me, giving me the conviction of my sin and weakness and picking me up when I have failed.

Thank you so much for joining me for Five Minute Friday. Would you do me a favor?  Would you stop by my class blog and show some Five Minute Friday love to my students.  Three of them posted their first FMF prompts today.  Just click HERE to check them out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

When the Bible Tells Me So

God's Word.

The Bible.

We have to decide for ourselves this one thing.....

Do I believe that the Bible is God's Word and that it is Truth?

It is all or nothing.

My answer is YES.  I believe the Bible. All of it.

I don't understand everything in it, but I believe everything in it.

I don't believe the Bible because someone told me to.  I believe it because of what it has done to me.  God's Word is living. It has changed me.  God's Word has given me hope, wisdom, and conviction.

Ah, conviction.

We don't like that very much. Maybe that is why we stay away from the Bible. Maybe that is why we stay away from churches that preach ALL of the Word.  We get convicted of our sin.

Oh, another word we don't like.

Let's just get it out there.....We don't want to be told we are wrong.


Some see the Bible as a list of rules. Don't..... Don't..... Don't......Oh, the negativity of it all.

But really, the Bible is not a list of rules.  For me, it is a book of life instruction....that if I follow what it says, then I will be better off. Not that my life will be perfect and pain free --- the Bible tells me that isn't so ----- but I can find joy in the sorrows of life, I can have hope for tomorrow, I can be free of the things that hold me back.

Bad things happen. Why?  Because we are sinners.  We chose to do the wrong thing.  When I yell at my kids, that is wrong.  It affects our relationship. When I gossip about a coworker, that is wrong. It affects our relationship with each other and our relationship with others.  If I were to steal, that is wrong.  If I were to get drunk, if I were to cheat, if I were to lie, if I were to put anything other than God first in my life.......all of it is wrong, wrong, wrong.  The Bible tells me so.

Our world would be a different place if we all accepted the Truth of God's Word.  But it isn't because we don't.

Some choose to believe it all.
Some pick and choose.
Some dismiss it completely.

The Bible talks about some hot topics: the sanctity of life, homosexuality, drunkenness, marriage, idolatry, gossip, gluttony, laziness, theft, causing others to fall into sin, blasphemy, adding to and taking away from God's Word.....shall I go on?

And I don't see this as list of DO NOT..... I see this as "If I follow God's instructions on these things, I won't have to deal with certain problems."

I believe a sin is a sin.  A sin is anything we do that God doesn't want us to.

I'm not going to rank sins on a scale of 1 to 10.  That's being judgmental and that is God's place to judge our sins.

Some people say gossip isn't really that big of deal, but I beg to differ.  I'll admit that I have gossiped about people.  After doing so, I've felt guilty. I've worried over what would happen if that person found out. I've lined up a set of lies to get myself out of trouble if I was confronted.  Not really what you want to hear from me, but it's true.  I've seen what gossip has done to people, the pain it has caused, the broken relationships.  I've walked away from gossip sessions that I was a part of and that I just overhead and felt dirty and disgusted.

I've seen what idolatry can do.
I've seen what laziness can do.
I've seen what drugs and alcohol can do.
I've seen what abortion can do.
I've seen what homosexuality can do.
I've seen what sin has done.

I'm not saying any of this to be a bigot or judgmental or hypocritical or unloving. I'm saying this because I know what God's Word says, and I've seen the effects of what happens when we don't obey it. I've also seen the effects of what happens when we thrive on God's Word.

Don't take my word for it.

I challenge you......

Take God's Word for it.

Get a Bible in a translation that is easy for you to read.  I prefer the NKJV, NLT, and ESV translations.

Wholeheartedly, say this prayer: God, if you are real, if this book is Holy, if it is Truth, show me.
(Hey, You really have to mean it.)

Start with Matthew in the New Testament and read at least 15 minutes each day.

Read the entire New Testament, say that prayer each and every day before you start.  Try it to live the way it tells you. See what happens.

I have found truth, love, grace, mercy, patience, hope, and wisdom in God's Word. I don't feel the need to change anything that God says. I believe and I pray you do too.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why Hello There #write31days


There's this thing called a blog that I committed to write every day for 31 days.

I failed at my #write31days commitment.

As a child of God,  I have to set priorities.  As much as I love this space, my priorities don't always include this space.

Sure, I could put my bible study and family on hold, but I'm not going to.  Sure I could put my laundry and housework on hold - wait- I do that, but not for the blog, just for my family. Working full-time, taking care of my family, volunteering after school 3 days a week, keeping up with my church responsibilities, and keep up with a blog is challenging.

Part of being a child of God is being able to identify areas of struggle, areas of temptation, areas that will pull us away from our priorities.

It is so easy to come here and post for the sake of posting. You know, getting those likes and shares.  We want to know that people have a desire to hear our words. But that's a temptation.  A temptation to put what you want ahead of what God wants, to put my self-centeredness above my family and other obligations.

When I come here, I want my heart to be in the right place.  I want this to be a place where I can focus on what God will have me say.  All to often we are quick to talk just to be heard.  I don't want you to hear me; I want you to hear God.

In my busyness of life (mama, teacher, robotics coach, academic team mentor, chauffeur, laundry doer, butler, maid, cook, custodian, counselor, nurse, psychiatrist, -----), I yearn for my quiet time. My time to be still and listen for His still small voice.  I yearn for my prayer time, my bible study time, my praise and worship time.

And He wants me to yearn for Him, to desire Him above all else.  And when I do, He can make me into the woman He wants me to be.

So, after reading this words......
turn the TV off
put the phone away
say goodnight to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat

be still
yearn for Him
feel His closeness
take Him in

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where I Stand

Tonight at dinner, I got a very interesting phone call.  The caller identified himself and asked if I remembered him. I did, and then he proceeded to tell me the purpose of his call.  This young man had called on behalf of a local political party encouraging me to vote in the upcoming election and to vote for that specific party's candidate.

I was very proud of this 15 year old for being an active and responsible citizen, for doing what he felt was right.

We had a nice chat.  Well, I asked him some questions concerning the major topics at hand, since he was trying to persuade me.  He was prepared for some of those questions, but others he wasn't.  However, I had to admire him for "campaigning."

Are you curious as to where I stand on the issues at hand?

First and foremost, I am a Christian.  Before I identify as a republican or democrat, I AM A CHRISTIAN.  My desire is to have political representation of Christian values.  Isn't that after all what this country was founded upon?  I want leaders who will defend Christians and not allow God's Word to be thrown to the wayside.  God's Word is very clear on morals, ethics, and sin. I also know what the Bible says about forgiveness and judgement.  So when I look at the sins of the politicians, I have to keep those things in mind. Both of our presidential candidates are sinners (we can't say one more than the other). A sinner is a sinner.

Next, I am a military spouse.  I have a husband who has been to war. I want to know with utmost certainty that whoever is in our highest political positions will support our service members at all times.  Our service members make up a very small percentage of our American population.  However, without them......well, I don't even want to think about it. Until you live this military life, you can't not fathom the uncertainties, the unseen scars.  I have to determine which candidate I trust with my husband's life.

As a mother and educator, I am concerned about the educational system in our country.  When parents can not help their first graders with their math homework, then there is a problem.  I understand the importance of a good, solid education.  However, when businessmen and politicians make education and testing a moneymaker, then the wellbeing of our children is taken out of the equation.

A friend of mine just became a grandmother again.  Her grandson was born at 28 weeks gestation.  He is growing and doing very well for a premature baby.  Do you want to tell me and his parents and grandparents that aborting him would have been ok at 28 weeks because he wasn't really a baby yet????? Really????

What is wrong with having secure borders?  What is wrong with requiring voters to be US citizens? What is wrong with requiring those who want to live in our country to go through the legal process of doing so?  America is an amazing country, however, I don't understand how it can continue to be when others who are here illegally are allowed to have the same rights as those who obey the laws. My feelings about this are not racist. Wanting people to follow the law is not racist.

These are my feelings on some of the major topics at hand in America today.  With that being stated, let me also say this....

I am offended.

I am offended by BOTH presidential candidates.

I am offended by many Americans.

I am offended each and every time I turn on the television.

I am offended when my radio strays off WayFM.

I am offended by those who fuss about the lady in the welfare office being rude.

I am offended when people think I am a hypocritical, judgmental bigot/racist based on my beliefs.

I answer to God.  I will have to answer to Him when I vote in November.  I will have to answer to Him for all I have said and done.

So here is where I stand....I stand with Jesus.  I trust Him to lead me and guide me when I fill out my ballot in November.

Instead of calling the candidates bigots, racists, and lunatics, why not pray for them?  Why not ask God to touch their hearts?  Why not ask God to convict them, to turn away from their sins and put HIM first instead of their own agendas?

If we want American great, we have to allow God to take over.  We have to have leaders who love the Lord and are lead by the Lord.

I beg you....PRAY.  PRAY for God's Will to be done in America.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Mail

My favorite writing time of the week: time with my Five Minute Friday friends, both old and new.  We breathe deep as we read Kate's one word prompt. We exhale. Then, we write for five minutes flat.

Today's prompt: MAIL.

Mail. It's one of those things we get a love/hate relationship with.  I love mail from friends and family, learning how they are doing, seeing how their children are growing.  I love those birthday cards and Christmas cards.  But I loathe junk mail and bills.  I see bills as a means of survival. You know, doctor's bills are necessary, but the cost......eesh!

I've anticipated the mail many times. Most recently, I've anticipated the arrival of my Five Minute Friday book and sweatshirt (technically, the sweatshirt was mom's mail, but still).

The purpose of mail is to bring us word of something.

I'd like to look at God's Word as mail too.

Psalm 143:8 says, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love."

And you know what?  I anticipate my time in God's Word each morning.  It brings me word of His love and the hope and peace only found in Him.  It's mail that I want to open and read each and every day.

Mail.  You might think that this is an unusual word to write about, but I encourage you to join the Five Minute Friday community. Head over to Kate's to find out what others have to say about mail.

Don't forget to leave some love when you visit someone's blog.  One of the reason's I love FMF is the encouragement of the community.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What Other People Think

One of my favorite books is Something to Sing About.  In this book, the son has a history of struggles, struggles with jobs and struggles with marriages.  At one point, the parents were talking about Pate's failed marriages, and Pate's father asked his mother, "What would other people think?"

At this, she replied, "Since when do we live our lives based on what other people think?"

Isn't that an excellent question for all of us?

Even me.  Take yesterday for instance.

Yesterday, my husband had to be in Nashville to sit with a family of a church member who was having a heart procedure done. This meant that I would be taking all the children to school.  My regular morning routine was cut short because I would have to leave the house earlier than normal.  I did my morning Bible study and then began the work of getting little boys ready for school.  After working all day, I had an extra hour and a half after school with my robotics team.  I had enough time to run home and clean up a mess my youngest son had made and then head to church.  After church, we had our usual dinner at Dairy Queen with some of our church family. We came home spent some time together as a family, and then it was off to bed.

My #write31days was put on hold yesterday, and at one point, I worried what you might think of that.  I'll admit that I felt a little bit guilty about that. I didn't want you to be disappointed in me or think of me as a slacker.

But then this......

I realized that it didn't really matter what you thought about my absence from here yesterday, that God knew where my heart was.  He knew that I was being the wife, mother, teacher, coach, and friend that He needed me to be yesterday.  And that meant not sharing words with you.

As much as I love this space, this space to share words, connect, and encourage, I absolutely refuse to neglect the other things that I love to be here.

And I think that is part of our identity in Christ: we recognize our priorities and don't make idols for ourselves.

My love for my family should not be placed above my love for Christ.

My love for writing should not be placed above my love for my family.

Books, social media, friends, laundry, food, exercise.....nothing should be more important that being the woman that God has called me to be.

What you think of me should not be more important that what God thinks of me.

I know you are probably laughing and thinking, "Goodness, Girl! You're talking about writing a blog.  That's not that big of a deal."

But it is.  Because my desire to come here and share words can turn into the desire to get more likes and shares.  When it becomes a popularity contest, I could risk ruining my witness or making an idol out of blogging.

It's just like with anything else.....we care what our coworkers say so we engage in gossip.  We care what our friends think, so we sit around and drink wine with them.  We care what our kids' friends' parents think so we try to live a lifestyle that's just not right for our family.

Caring too much about what other people think can't have devastating effects.  People have been known to lose their marriages, friendships, homes, jobs, and lives.....all for caring what other people think.

Mark 8:36 says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?"

Our souls are precious. More precious than what car we drive, what clothes we wear, what ball team we are on.  Our souls are expensive.  They were bought with the price of the blood of Jesus.  Our souls were created for an eternal life in heaven.  Do we really want to spend a life in Hell because we care what other people think? Do we want to risk losing what we love because of what other people think?

Today, let's live caring only what God thinks, only what He knows about our hearts.  Ask Him to reveal to us things that are not pleasing to Him, things that are holding us back from being all He has created  us to be.  And then, let's live! Let's live with the peace and love and hope and assurance only possible by living for Christ!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Let Me See

To get this day started off right, let's be honest: we can be pretty judgmental and harsh toward one another. Women in particular find themselves caught up in gossip and just plain ugly talk about one another.  Don't deny it girls.  We are all guilty.

We share some "news" we over heard about someone we know.

We look at a coworker's outfit in disgust and say to someone else, "Can you believe she had the nerve to wear that?"

We talk about the past of someone else to overshadow our own dark times.

We get caught up in discussing someone's choice of boyfriends, amount of cleavage shown, tightness of pants, or loudness to get attention.

And we look at others in a different way:
She has her life together, and she always looks so happy. I envy her so much. I can't even get out of the house without yelling at someone!

Look at these Facebook posts! She has a perfect life.

Her kids are so well behaved, but I am a loser mom because my kids can't stay quite for 5 minutes in church.

She looks so put together every day, never looking tired or overwhelmed.  I can't seem to get rid of these bags under my eyes, and my clothes are so out of style.

Basically we are caught up with what we see on the outside, and we fail to look at the heart of others.

1Samuel 16:7 says, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Let me tell you this in the words of my dear friend Sara, "We are all crazy!"

Seriously though. No one is perfect.  The outside  of a person may make us envious, but you don't know what is in their heart.  You don't want the struggles that are covered by the smile and new clothes.

More moms than you realize plaster a fake smile on their faces while walking into church because they have just yelled at their kids in the parking lot.

That Facebook post is meant to portray a particular image because she is striving to fit in with a particular group of people.

The pants of your coworker are too tight because she has an eating disorder she's dealt with since high school.

She is not secure in herself so she must talk about others to get the attention off of her.

She appears to look put together, so the world can't see she's falling apart. She'd be considered a failure if they only knew....

If they only knew what is in her heart.......would they still love her?

Isn't that what we want?  To be really and truly known and still be really and truly loved?
Not judged.
Not ridiculed.
Not gossiped about.
Not left out.


We want someone to know our good side and bad side, our sins and struggles, and we want them to still love us and want us.

There is someone who does that.  Jesus Christ.

As a Child of God, I can tell Him:
Lord, I'm falling apart.
Jesus, I feel like the worst mom in the world.
Dear God, I'm tired and worn out and lonely.
Father, I am struggling and can't do this on my own.

As a Child of God, I can rest in the comforting fact that my Lord will cover me with His love, that if I honest to goodness ask Him too, He will reveal what's in my heart and work with me to make it right.

As Christ followers, we need to see like Jesus sees.  We need to look at the heart of others. We need to pray for them instead of gossip about them.  We need to encourage them instead of dog them out.

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ, you are NOT alone.  Like Sara says, we are all crazy in our own way. We have to be there for one another and lift each other up. We have to be transparent so others can see our struggles AND see how Christ works in our lives.

You have along day ahead of you. You will run into many people: coworkers, friends, strangers. Ask God to give you His eyes. Ask Him to help you see how He sees. Then love like crazy. Love people the way you want to be loved. When you do, they will see Christ in you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Test

As a teacher, one of the things I hate doing the most is grading tests.  I get so disappointed and frustrated when I score them because I know of all the hard work that went into preparing my students for the test and their hard work learning the material.  But when those averages come out lower than I anticipated.....well, it just stinks.

And I wonder if God looks at us the same way.  He prepares us, molds us, refines us for things to come.  For the test.  And then what happens?  Sometimes we pass with flying colors and sometimes we fail miserably.

Any either case, whether my fifth grade reading test or God's test, why do we fail?

I think a lot of time it is effort.  We give up before we ever get started.  That isn't fair to the teacher or the student.

I tell my students to treat everything....homework, pre-assessments, fire if it were the real thing.

And as for this life of ours?? We only get this one shot.  One try to pass the test.

Do You Grow Your Faith?

When my husband was deployed, I got the same comment over and over again,"I just don't know how you do it."

I was working full time, coaching robotics, taking 3 kids to and fro, teaching at church, and keeping up with my home and regular responsibilities.

My response each time was, "It isn't me. God gets me through."

My strength came from God. It still does.

Y'all I work hard on my relationship with God. I'm not boasting about that at all. I just think it is important for me to say that we have to work at our relationship with Christ in order to grow and strengthen our faith.

Life is hard.  Life is good.  And in both of those, we need God all the time.  So many times, we place God aside in the good times.  We don't spend time with Him or read His Word.  But when life is hard, we call out to our friends and family to pray for us. We start to pray. We start to reach and pull for anything that is God related.


The storm settles, and we push God aside again.



We begin to wonder where He is, why things happened the way the day, how we got to where we are.

And I truly believe it's because we didn't work on our relationship with Him.

I'll be the first to admit that for a long time I struggled to find time for God.  I was busy, y'all.  There was never enough time. Prayer and Bible study just didn't fit into my schedule.

But then, I started being a mom that I didn't want to be.  At the end of the day, I wasn't proud of myself. I was struggling in my relationships with others due to trust and gossip issues. I started to really examine who I was and what made me the way I was.

What I found was this.....

I had been that person that placed God inside a box.  I pulled Him out when I was hurt and desperate.  When things calmed down, I placed Him back in the box.  I wasn't growing in my faith. I found that I was filling my time with things that didn't really matter all that much. I knew that something had to change.  I had to change.

Yes, I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.  But I realized there was more to it than just that.  Like my marriage and my other relationships, I had to work at my relationship with Christ.

Church became a priority.  Instead of deciding we were just too tired for church or had too much to do on Sundays, my husband and I made the commitment to attend church regularly. This included attending Sunday evening and Wednesday night services as well.  My family also became involved in Sunday School classes.  We built relationships with others while learning more about God's Word. Instead of Easter and Christmas churchgoers, we became dedicated to being in church when the doors were open.

On top of all this, I made a commitment to read my Bible (the whole entire thing) on my own. I've done Bible studies alone and with small groups (in person and online).  I've journaled and written and prayed.  There is time intentionally carved out for God.....each and every matter if I woke up on time or matter how busy I am, He is the priority.

I've often heard people say that their faith gets them through. I've started to wonder and want to ask, "Your faith in what?"

Last night, our pastor said this, "There is a difference in knowing about God and knowing God."  I couldn't agree more.

I can know about God and have faith that He will take care of me and get me through my storms.


I can have a deep growing relationship, learning more about God and getting to know Him better every single day. Then seeing how He has worked throughout my life and using those promises and the way He has proved himself through His Word and His work to put my faith and trust fully in Him.

During my husband's deployment, God was my priority.  I made time for Him each and every day, no matter how difficult they day was, no matter how tired I was, no matter how busy I was. God was and is always first.

When I say that my faith gets me through a difficult situation, I also want to add that my faith gets me through my day to day life as well, no matter how good or how bad.

I want my faith to grow because my relationship with Christ has grown.

Are you stagnant in your relationship with Christ?  Did you get saved and baptized and just stop right there?  Do you struggle with finding time for God each day?  Do you spend time in prayer by praising Him instead of asking Him for things?

Dear Friend, I encourage you to grow, to flourish, to have an amazing relationship with Christ.  You don't have to jump all in at once.  In fact, I'd encourage you not to do that because it can become overwhelming. Start small.

~ Get up 20 minutes earlier to read your Bible.  I recommend a One Year Bible or start reading the New Testament with Matthew chapter 1.

~ Make prayer intentional.  Pray in the shower. Pray in the car. Pray while folding laundry and washing dishes.

~ Keep a Bible with you at all times.  Read in pick up line.  Read at the doctor's office. Think about places where you have to just sit and wait and read there.

~ During your prayer time, PRAISE more than you make requests.  Thank God for all He has done for you.

~ Keep a prayer journal. Record your prayers and praise reports.

~ Keep a gratitude journal. Each day try to record 1-3 things you are thankful for....the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the laughter of your children, no bills in the mailbox.

~ Make a commitment to attend church regularly.

~ Find a Sunday School class for you. I don't know how your church is set up, but ours has classes for every age group.  We've even started classes for people that feel like they don't "belong" in what we already offer.

~ Start a Bible study either online or in person.  I've done both and have seen the benefits of both.

I've done all these things (and continue to do so). I'm not always perfect in all of them. But they've all been important in my growth.  And please keep this in mind: we will NEVER reach a point where we  can not grow any more in our faith and relationship with Christ.  It is a relationship. Just like our marriages and friendships, a relationship with Christ requires time and effort. It requires patience and endurance.

I would love to hear from you.....What things help you grow closer to Christ?  What things do you need to work on? Can I pray for you?

Our growth is so important for us to find our identity in Christ.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Whether We Want to Admit it or Not

The world today doesn't like to be told what to do.

 As a classroom teacher, I get told many times that I am wrong for telling children their behavior or language is wrong. I'm told it isn't my place to correct children, only teach them academics and that if they fail, it is always my fault.

No one wants to be held accountable.  We want to blame everyone else.  The age old response for any excuse is "He made me."

Really now?

Someone else makes us lie?  Some one else makes us overeat? Someone else makes us waste our time on Facebook and not read our Bibles?

I may be about to burst some bubbles and have some folks click the X in the corner of the screen, but I am going to say it anyway....

You are a sinner.

I am a sinner.

I'm sorry, but we are not perfect.

The quicker we can admit to our sinfulness, the faster we can change. Notice, I did not say become perfect.

We will never be perfect this side of heaven.

Part of our identity is knowing full well that we are imperfect people who desperately need a perfect God.

We can't blame God when our own imperfections and the imperfections of others hurt us.

We can't blame God when we've chosen a path of our own and not sought out His good and perfect will for our lives.

We can't blame God when we've placed him in a little box and reached for him in only times of desperation.

We can't blame God for the sinfulness of this world, the direction of this country, the hurt and pain we experience all because we have thrown out His Word and what he says is right and wrong....all because we don't want to admit that we are in the wrong.

So, as we are searching for who we are, what we are to do, the path we are to follow, we need to search our hearts for anything that is not pleasing to God.

1Corinthians 6:9-11 says this,
 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

That list, Friend, that list is the "stuff" that we don't want to be told is wrong. That's our sin.  We have created idols in our lives. We have taken that which was not ours. We have broken our wedding vows, We have preferred our alcohol and drugs over sober minds. We have lusted over what belongs to our neighbors.  We have become sexually immoral.  We have gone against the word of God.

But there is hope for us all.

There is hope in Jesus Christ.

We have to be willing to step back and say, "I don't want these things in my life. I want the blessings of God."

But there's more.

We have to mean it.  We have to want to truly be found in Him and known as His.  When those temptations arise, and they will, we must call out to God to give us strength, to provide a way out, an alternative, to lead us and guide us on the path of righteousness.

And in the mean time, we must build our relationship with Jesus.  Just like with any relationship, a relationship with Christ requires time and effort.  We have to grow and learn and spend time with him.  We have to seek him each and every day, each and every moment, in the sun and in the storm.

And that will produce fruit. That will produce light. That will grow our faith. And that will be how we are seen and known as His.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Wait. What?

Wait, What?

That's a common line at my home. The boys are expecting one thing, but something unexpected happens, and they are caught in disbelief.

And we are the same.

We have high expectations, goals, plans, dreams. And things don't turn out the way we thought.

When remodeling our first home, we packed up everything, put it all into storage and moved in with my in-laws. We got into our home 4 days before going into labor with my first son. Wait. What?

I dreamed of having 3 children: 2 boys and a girl.  Wait. What? I have three boys and my fourth baby was lost through miscarriage.

After ten years of marriage, my husband decided to join the military. Wait. What?

Teaching is all I've ever intended on doing. Recently, though, writing has become more important in my life, something I feel God leading me toward. Wait. What?

After house looking for two years and being very particular about what we were looking for, we bought a house on a whim because it was too good to pass up.  Wait. What?

When I checked the scales after weeks of intense exercise, the numbers had not changed. Wait. What?

Life is full of those moments.  Just ask any one.  Especially Job.

Job had it all.  Everything was great. Family. Friends. Prosperity.  But then.....he lost everything.

Wait. What?

I have to believe that Job said that just like we do.  However, what he said next, many of us don't say: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." ~ Job 1:21.

Wait. What?

Job blessed the name of the Lord after he'd lost everything?  Was he crazy?

No.  He just knew God.

When our "Wait. What?" moments turn out pretty awesome - like the purchase of our home - it is easy to praise the name of the Lord.  But what about those moments of heart break, of bad news, of uncertainty, those moments when, like Job, everything is turned upside down.

We must praise Him then too.

Before I move on, let me just say, I do not know why bad things happen.  I do know this: there is sin in the world and we make choices. I also know that God uses everything for His glory.  Any experience I speak of is mine and how God has used it.

With that being said......

No doubt we were a bit surprised by our fourth pregnancy. It happened quite quickly upon my husband's return from deployment.  However, we were excited and nervous, and in awe of this new journey. I even had this nervousness about whether or not this baby would be a girl.  After all, I wasn't quite sure what it would be like raising a daughter after being a boymom for so long. Not long after we  began spreading the news of our newest blessing, we discovered that something was seriously wrong.  After an agonizing wait, we found out that our little one had stopped growing. I lost my baby through a natural miscarriage. Aside from watching my husband leave for war, this was the worst thing I've ever had to experience.

Being a mom is a blessing to me.  I'm not a perfect mom, but I love being a mom.  During this time, I questioned myself.  Had a done something to cause this?  Had I jinxed myself by telling before the first trimester was over? What did I do that caused the loss of this baby?

I had a choice to make, I could be bitter and angry over this devastation or I could lean on God and praise Him.

I chose God.

God gave me that baby.  I'm not going to question why I wasn't allowed to keep that child.  It isn't my place.  I am going to choose to do something with that experience.  So, I write here. I share with others.  And I'm amazed at how the healing has come to me and others.  We will never be completely healed on this side of heaven, but we can grow from here. We can be there for others. And through this experience, I've grown closer to God.  I've been strengthened by him.

God didn't change during this time.

He didn't change while my husband served overseas.

He didn't change while we waited on whether our not my husband would be called to pastor a church.

He didn't change when I felt like a loser mom after yelling at my kids for the umpteenth time.

He didn't change when my bank account was far less than what makes me comfortable.

He didn't change when my middle son stayed sick for so long.

He didn't change when.......and He won't.

I have seen friends and family be refined by the fire because they fell to their knees in prayer. I've seen friends and family grow in their walk with Christ because they chose hope instead of defeat.  I've seen lives changed because others used their weaknesses, their paths of uncertainty, and their sinfulness to trust God.

I've seen miracles because of those who have chosen not to be defined by their circumstances, but have chosen to bless the name of the Lord during their "Wait. What?" moments.

Today, I ask you to take inventory of your circumstances.  What are you struggling with?  Then wholeheartedly, lay it at the foot of the cross and bless the name of the Lord.  Friend, we were created for an awesome relationship with Christ.  Let go of whatever is holding you back from experiencing peace and joy.

You are not defined by your bank account.

You are not defined by your appearance.

You are not defined by cancer.

You are not defined by your sin.

You are a child of God and that is what defines you.

Friday, October 07, 2016

It's Who I Am

The whole point of this #write31days series is for us to find our identities in Christ, for us to see ourselves as God sees us.  We'd like to think that we are pretty awesome the way we are.  However....

I'll be the first to admit a few personal things.....there are things about my personality that my seem awkward.  There are things about myself I would change somewhat. I am not perfect.

There I said it.  It is out in the we can get real.

I am not a very outgoing person, especially if I don't know you very well.  When I was at the Five Minute Friday Retreat last year, someone said, "Natasha, you're supposed to talk at these things."  I agreed, and then said, "I will. I like to listen first." That's how I take in my surroundings. I listen, I people watch.  I try to figure out where I fit in.  It isn't that I am trying to be rude, far from it.  I don't always know what to say, and I want to feel comfortable before I put myself out there. It's who I am.

As for friendships, I am not always open to letting others get close to me.  I was hurt in the past by some friends that I thought would never betray me.  Even to this day, I'm not sure where our friendships went wrong. I've decided "it is what it is," and I've forgiven them.  I'm just not always eager to let others in. Again, this makes me standoffish.  It's just who I am.

I'd love to have my husband's people person skills, his outgoing friendly personality.  He can can talk to anyone anywhere.  But that's who he is, and I shouldn't compare.

There are other things I might change about myself given the, weight, crow's feet, money in the bank account. I'm 5'4" and a bit overweight.  My clothes fit a bit too tight, I have thinning/graying hair, and time is marching across my face.  I could use a little more money in my bank account to pay off student loans, a mortgage, and buy Starbucks, books, and shoes anytime I want.  But for now, I'll keep paying my bills until they are paid off, look for clearance sales, and buy Starbucks on occasion. It's who I am.

Philippians 4:11 says, "I have learned in whatever state I am to be content."

That, my Friend, is something we all need to learn.

Psalm 139 tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, my social awkwardness, my thin graying hair, and my season of life are who I am.  No part of who I am, no part of my personality, no part of my life is a surprise to God.  He made me.  He knew when in knit me together in my mother's womb that I would  be clumsy. He knew that I would lose my temper easily and need lots of help to overcome that sin.  He knew that I would have difficulty making friends and struggle with a healthy lifestyle.  He knew when my flappy arms would develop and when my hair would start to turn gray.  He knows everything about past, my present, my future.  And yet, He loves me anyway.

Regardless of whatever season of life I'm in, regardless of whether my body ages gracefully or not, I must and will choose to be content.  God has ordained this path I'm on. I will praise Him because I'm a Child of God. It's who I am.

On this journey, let's look at ourselves truthfully.....changing bodies, changing seasons of life, our sinfulness.  Look at it all, ask God to point out what is not pleasing to Him and ask Him to help you change it.  Don't ask Him for someone else's life or looks. Don't ask Him for someone else's job or home.  Ask Him to be the YOU he has planned you to be.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

This Day

On this day 39 years ago, I was born.  I had been a dream for my parents for 9 months.  They wandered about me, imagined who I would be and what I would be like.  They may have been a little surprised that I was a girl.

But I was no surprise to God.

The Lord says in  Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you."

Yes, God knew all about me.  He formed each and every part of my being.  He knew my strengths and weaknesses before I cried my first cry.

As I celebrate the gift of another year, I pause and thank God for loving me, providing for me, and blessing me.  I look back and see how He has held my hand or carried me the last 39 years.

And as I am pushing 40, almost over the hill, or whatever else we want to call it as we get older,  I have nothing to fear.  I have nothing to dread.  No matter what God has in store for me, I know everything will work out to His plan.

God has proved himself faithful.  Not that He had to, but He proved himself to me through His Word and His creation.  In each of my struggles, I can see where His hand of provision was.  In each celebration, I can see where He provided for me.

As kids, we put a lot of thought into what gifts we wanted for our birthdays.  But now....

As an adult, I see gifts a little differently.  It isn't the store bought stuff I want.  God has blessed me and given me gifts each and every day. Although I will certainly treasure whatever gifts my children get for me, they are one of my greatest gifts.  My husband is an amazing gift.  God has provided me with other gifts as well.....a family, a job, a home, health, a talent, a wonderful church, salvation through His son Jesus Christ.

No matter where I am on this journey God has planned for me, I will know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

And today, I celebrate being 39 years old.  I celebrate another day being a Child of God.

If you are struggling with getting older, if you are struggling with who you are on this life journey, I pray that you will seek God's good and perfect will for your life.  Being His is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Mindful of Me

I love sunsets and sunrises, ocean and mountain views, pouring rain and drifting snow, sunny days and foggy mornings.   Nature is beautiful. More importantly, it is reminder of two things:

1. God is awesome and creative.
2. God makes amazing things.

Psalm 8:3-4 says, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him?"

As we consider the work of the Lord's fingers, we are in awe.  No two sunsets or sunrises are the same.  Each are unique in their colors. There may be many clouds, a few, or none at all.  And consider the power of thunderstorms, how dramatic the thunder and lightning can be or the peacefulness of it all.

God has placed the sun, moon, and earth in their proper places.  Consider if He'd placed them slightly differently, maybe just a few miles closer or further apart.  That would greatly impact life on earth.

The stars in the skies have been placed in the heavens for specific purposes as well.  Many explorers have faithfully used them to navigate.

Yes, nature is amazing because God is amazing.

And God created us as well.

God is as mindful of us as He is of nature.

We are each unique.  Although we may have the same weight and height, our hair and eyes are different. Our appearances are different. Our personalities are different.  No matter how alike we are, we are different.

But God is mindful of us.

He cares for us in ways that are specific to our differences and needs.  He provides for us in ways we could never imagine.  He loves us tremendously, which is proved  by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

We all have times we get down on ourselves.
I'm  not pretty enough.
I'm not athletic enough.
I'm not talented enough.
I'm not rich enough.
I'm not........enough

Let's take today to look at how God is mindful of us.....
For instance,  maybe God provided a friend at just the right time.
Maybe God provided an answer to a prayer.
Maybe God said no to a prayer and it was the best thing.

My challenge to you today, as we continue looking at who we are in Christ, is to look at how God is mindful of you.

Look for what makes you unique and praise God.
Look at what you enjoy and praise God.
Look at your family and friends and praise God.
Look at your job and your home and praise God.
Look at the cross and praise God.

I promise.....if you look, you will see how God is mindful of you and only you.

Don't compare yourself to anyone else.  You are not the same as anyone else. When my cousin was going through her chemo treatments, she said that several of them were comparing their treatments and would become upset that they weren't getting the same treatment. The nurse had to stop the discussions and remind them that their diagnosis were different, that they couldn't have the same treatment plan.  And we can't compare how God provides for us with how He provides for someone else.  We have different temperaments. We have different sins. We have made different decisions in life.

We are different because God loves us that much.

How has God been mindful of you?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Where I Come From

I'm from a dead-end street where we played hide and seek until the street light came on.

I'm from grandparents who called me "Sista Nose" and "Field Mouse."

I'm from summers of banana Popsicles, watermelon, and snow in gallon size Ziploc bags.

I'm from a big brother whom I hit in the face with an Easter basket. I may or may not have affected any of his teeth.

I'm from skinned knees and mud pies.

I'm from country music and Bon Jovi.

Those are a few of my childhood memories, my background, my history.

Later, I would be from

FSMS yearbook staff and Harlequin romance novels

4 proms with my high school sweet heart

Chocolate chip cookies in the hall during Spanish III.

Class of '96

Quick meals at Arby's before nursery duty.

Tireless days of student teaching.

WKU Class of '99

As I've gotten older, my responsibilities have changed.  Who I was and who I hoped to be would change.

I'm not who I was 20 years ago when I graduated high school.

I'm not who I was 17 years ago when I said, "I do."

I'm not who I was 6 months ago.

Although my experiences are a part of me....they've helped mold me.....they've helped me determine my next steps, the next path, the next journey.....

My experiences ultimately do not define me.

When I look in the mirror, I'm not defined by the gray hair and crows feet.

I'm not defined by my clumsiness or my social awkwardness.

I am defined by one thing and one thing only, my relationship with Christ.

He is where I come from.

Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them."

When I look in the mirror, I see the image of God. I see someone created by the hands of God.

Many times, I've not felt myself worthy or good for whatever reason. I would get down on my self for making mistakes.  There were times I felt I didn't matter.  But the more I studied God's word and grew closer to Him, the more I felt my confidence grow, the more I saw my importance.

David Crowder sings a song called "Everything Glorious," and in this song, he sings of the glorious things God has done and created.  The line I love the most is this....

You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

And those words remind me of where I come from.

I come from God who has made everything glorious.  And because He makes everything glorious and I am His.....well, that makes me pretty special.

Today, I encourage you to take a look at yourself.  See yourself the way God see you.....Glorious.