To the Friend Who Trusted God and Feels Let Down

When God gives me the opportunity to share the same message with more than one dear friend in a short period of time, I consider it a nudge from above and I share it with the masses. And this message seems to be quite timely given the brokenness of our world right now.

To the friend who trusted God and now feels ignored, unheard, abandoned, forsaken, alone, disappointed, or let down…

I’ve been there.

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I had clung to God’s promises for five years. I knew He was going to answer my prayers. I knew He was going to restore what had been broken. I knew He would come through for me. I trusted Him explicitly. I never once doubted His ability, His willingness, or His timing. It was hard to wait but I trusted my Savior to come riding in on His white horse to save the day.

But He didn’t come.

My heart shattered. My life shattered. And my faith was tested. Would I still trust God even when He didn’t rescue me?

I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time I heard Natalie Grant’s song, Held. These words touched a part of my heart that hurt so deeply and soothed my soul with the reminder of this simple truth: He was holding me.

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held

Oh, how I could relate! The sacred had been torn from my life and yet, I survived. I wanted to be rescued. I wanted to be saved from the nightmare of my reality, but I wasn’t and I didn’t understand why.

But God never promised that if we cling to Him, He’ll make our wishes come true. No, He never promised to give us what we’ve wanted or even to give us what we’ve earned. He just promised to hold us through this very difficult journey we’re on called life.

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When things don’t go our way, God has not disappeared. He has not forsaken us. He has not abandoned us. He has not failed us in any way. He is there. And He is holding us.

My sweet, hurting, broken friends…

It’s not your fault. It’s not your lack of faith. It’s nothing you did wrong or failed to do.

We live in a broken, fallen world. And somehow, despite our own brokenness, despite our own sin, we think we deserve to live a life exempt of the consequences of the sin all around us.

Do we really dare to think that we deserve to be rescued? To be saved?

Maybe we consider ourselves better than other people in our world. Maybe our sins aren’t as destructive, or heinous, or costly. But when we compare ourselves to the standard of perfection which is the life of Christ, can we really be so bold as to think we deserve deliverance??

Another song that speaks volumes to my heart on this very subject is a song that has brought many of us to tears over the past year. Hillary Scott & the Scott Family sing Thy Will Be Done and it brings me to my knees every time. Why? Because we love to focus our minds on the goodness of God and when He allows the pain of this world to encroach upon our lives, we don’t accept it. We reject it. We think it must be a mistake. It goes against everything we want to believe about a good and loving God.

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done

But it’s not our view of God that is clouded. I’m beginning to realize that it’s my evaluation of my own self that is skewed. It’s my assessment of my own place in this massive universe that is inaccurate.

You see, I’m not the center of the world and neither are you. Yes, God loves me (and  you) enough to die on a cross for our sins, but we are not the only two people He did that for. There are some events and situations and circumstances in our lives that actually have nothing to do with us and everything to do about the people around us.

What if God’s sole purpose in creating me was to use me to help someone else?

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Wow. That changes the way I look at my life. 

What if God allowed me to suffer through the greatest pain in my life so that He could bring me alongside of someone else going through a similar and use me to bring that person to a saving knowledge of Him??

What if the whole purpose of my life, my pain, and my entire life was just to point others to Him and to bring Him glory??

Oh, wait.

Isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of my life???

At what point in my journey through life did I begin to think that my life was about my happiness? When, as a Christian, was I ever taught that my feelings are more important than the will of God? Where, in the Bible, have I ever read that God’s purpose is to please me?

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When I stop focusing on what I think God owes me and I start focusing on what I owe God, then my perspective of my problems (as painful and traumatic as they might be) becomes much more clear and I’m just grateful that God can use my messed up life to help someone else and I’m not quite as upset anymore when things aren’t going my way.

I truly believe that I will never know on this side of heaven what purpose God has for many of the obstacles that I’ve hurdled (or crashed into) in my life. But I know that the Savior of the world loves me. I know that I don’t deserve His salvation. I know that I fall short of His glory and grace every single day. And I know that His Word says that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.

His plans don’t always feel good.

But He’s a good, good Father.

This is what it means to be held.

Thy will be done.

 

 

 

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Unhurried in the Hammock

Some days, life just seems way too daily. The to-do list is long and the amount of time available to accomplish those tasks is shortened by interruptions from kids and emergencies and of course, Facebook. Still, on my most disciplined of days I’m doing good to get a few hours of homeschooling in, answer my messages (email, text, and yes Facebook), get my errands ran, and POSSIBLY remember to lay something out for dinner. Possibly. And at the end of the day my to-do list often still has the four things on it that were there the day before. Like “Call the dentist”. And “Talk about the budget with husband.” OK, that last one has been there for six years, but we’ll talk about my procrastination issues some other time.

My point is, most days (like most of you) I find myself feeling pulled in multiple directions. Even when I’m sitting still I feel like I should be doing something. If I’m riding (not driving) in the car, I work my business from my cell phone. If I’m making dinner, I answer messages on my cell phone. If I have 8 minutes while the cookies are baking, I hop on the computer and work on my lesson for co-op. When I’m trying to encourage a friend via text message, I think of a great image I could make, create it, then post it to all of my social media accounts and all of the ministry social media accounts that I run. Do you get what I’m saying. I’m never singularly focused. I’m always multi-tasking. Always thinking of what the next thing is that I need to do. Always hurrying on to that next thing.

How many times have my kids asked me a question while I hurriedly finished typing something “important” with my thumbs while mumbling, “Hang on…. almost done… just gotta finish this….one more sentence…… and….. What did you need?”

I even have a hard time keeping up with this blog. I mentally post here about 12 times a day. I’m not even kidding. I glean nuggets of wisdom from others that I find worthy of sharing and I mull over the best way to express those thoughts… while brushing my teeth, or cleaning my bathtub, or buying groceries. Those words never make it to this screen. I loose focus. I’ve moved on to the next thing.

And THAT is why I have decided that Heather needs Hammock time. Daily. Well, at least 3-4 times a week. And half of my hammock time needs to be phone free. At least.

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Today I went out to the hammock, phone in hand. For a while I listened to some praise music on Pandora from my phone. But then the multi-tasking began and I decided I needed to put it away. So I chose to sit in silence. I watched the clouds. I listened to the birds. I relished the fact that the air was warm and the breeze was light. I thanked God that I lived in Florida. And then I started thinking of the people I love who are going through immense difficulties. I prayed for the friend who’s husband is in immense physical pain. I prayed for the friend who recently lost her best friend. I prayed for my kids and my friends’ kids and for my marriage. Then I just sat.

I’ll be honest. It took a good twenty or thirty minutes before that jittery, restless, incessant need to do the next thing finally stopped.

But it did.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT a workaholic. I’m not a busy bee. I’m not one of those people that work work work from sun up til sun down. In fact, I don’t do much at all compared to most stay at home / homeschool moms I know. I have lazy days (more than I’d care to admit). But even my lazy days are spent with divided attention. I’m never fully present.

And that brings me back to my words for 2017.

Focus and consistency.

Even if it takes me thirty minutes of staring at the clouds, I WILL learn to focus myself on one thing at a time.

And if I have to put this on my calendar and set reminders three times a week, I will.

Because the world deserves my best ME. Not a third of what I can give while doing two other things. And I deserve the peace that comes when you’re focused and not frantic.

So if you need me, I’ll be in the hammock. Unhurried. Without my phone. …. most of the time.

This is My Story

Like so many others, my social media news feed has been abuzz this week with political posts regarding our new President, the Women’s March on DC, and the Pro-Life/ Pro-Choice debate. And while I usually don’t add much to political discussions, the issues of femininity and life are two issues that I really can’t stay silent on. They are intimately woven into the fabric of who I am and what makes me, me. I’ve already shared my thoughts this week on feminism, so today I’m compelled to share why I absolutely have to be pro-life.

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This picture right here is 1/5th of my story. This is my youngest daughter, Maddie, and in this picture she is about 16 weeks old, in utero. This picture is why I have to be pro-life. Do you see her round little head? She still has that unmistakably round forehead. Can you see her little hand waving at me? This is a picture of my BABY. This is why I have no other choice but to defend the lives of the unborn. You can argue all day long about a woman’s rights, federal funding of abortion clinics, or compassion for victims of incest and rape. But at the end of the day, we are still talking about a baby. That never changes.

My story starts with another baby, though. Her name is Miracle and aptly so. Our story is one of God’s grace and it has a very happy ending.

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I’ve shared it before Congressmen. I’ve shared it before Senators. I’ve shared it to women facing an unplanned pregnancy and women wanting an abortion. I’ve shared it with strangers and I’ve shared it with friends. I’ve shared it on my blog before and today it felt fitting to share my story again.  Please follow the link below.

Welcome to My Story.

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On Funerals, Friendship, Feminism, and Washing the Floor

I only wish that as I start penning these words, a quelling would occur of the emotions flooding my soul. So many emotions within twenty-four hours: anger, disappointment, sorrow, grief, encouragement, hope, sheer joy. Like the hot and cold air currently swirling over Florida tonight, these polar ends of emotions have ignited a number of little tornados taking formation in my heart. It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

I learned this morning that a young mother in our church died unexpectedly just before our morning worship service began. She was only 36 years old. She leaves behind a husband, a 2 year old daughter, and a 2 month old daughter. Two little girls who will never remember their mommy. I didn’t know Jen as well as many of my friends knew her. She was the MOPS leader at our church and ironically, I had just spoken about friendship at their last meeting, at her request. I spoke about the different types of friendships. I talked about how real friends are the ones that go through the hard stuff with you. The good and the bad. The easy and the difficult. The tough stuff. She kept her eyes on me the entire time I talked, smiling and nodding with encouragement. How could we have possibly known that the next weekend we’d be walking through this hard stuff… without her? How could we have known that this week we would be helping her husband plan her funeral? It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

When I went to bed last night I had no idea that today I’d be mourning the loss of  a beautiful soul. No, last night when I went to bed, I was mourning the loss of morals and values in our country. I mourned the loss of 57 million aborted babies who have been killed by abortion since 1973. I was angry at the pictures I saw of women taking part in the Women’s March on Washington yesterday. I was embarrassed that the rest of the world might think these women represented me in any way. I was disappointed that women could be so misguided and uninformed about their own worth that they would degrade themselves in their quest for equality. It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

Tonight, with hot and cold swirling… with north and south repelling….with light and dark colliding, I began to see things for what they are. There is a difference between the women I wept with today and the women that crammed my social media news feed.

At church this morning I huddled with four dear friends and we prayed for our friend’s husband and baby girls. We prayed for her parents and her sister. We prayed for our other friends who will be ministering to this family in the coming weeks. We prayed for strength for ourselves. And as we prayed, the tears fell gently and puddled at our feet. I’ve heard a lot of disputing over what a woman’s role is this week, but I assure you that each of us praying today considered it an honor and a privilege to wash the floor with our tears. We weren’t seeking to have our voices heard by the mainstream media. We were simply crying out to our Savior and He heard our cries. It’s just too much.

Jesus, help us do this.

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Women have the ability to give life. That alone makes us SO unable to be equal to men. Men will never know that power. I sat with women tonight who cried as they talked about how little baby A is going to wake up tomorrow and ask for her mommy. We talked about how our own children are asking who is going to be A and H’s mommy now. The answer? We are. We are going to be her mommy. All of us. Collectively. The mommies of our church will love A and H. Because we are her family. We are her friends. We are mommies and we give life. We will give these precious babies life in the midst of her death. We will give life to her memory. We will give life to her unconditional love. It’s not too much.

Jesus, help us do this.

Another friend recently gave birth to a baby that is not her own. She carried this child for 32 weeks for a friend who had lost her own daughter tragically and could not carry another child of her own. Last week this friend brought a new baby into the world and laid it gently into the awaiting arms of his parents. She gave life. To this baby. To this broken family. She. Gave. Life. It wasn’t too much.

Jesus helped her do this.

This afternoon, my eight year old daughter had many questions about Miss Jen’s passing. Jen was her kids’ choir director. She was the VBS director. She wore many other hats as well and my little girl could not make any more sense of this loss than I could. Her questions of heaven and hell sparked a new understanding inside of her and together, we prayed the prayer of salvation and my baby asked Jesus into her heart. For all of eternity. Because He is the giver of life. Joy unspeakable!!  Jen’s legacy of love and Kingdom service lives on, even in her death. It wasn’t too much.

Jesus helped her do this.

As I continue to sort out these emotions and feelings, a lot of confusion remains. How could women take the life of their own child? How could women possibly think that they’re the same as men? How could they degrade themselves and humiliate themselves in the name of feminism the way they did?

How are we going to help Jen’s family get through the tough stuff? How do we say goodbye to our friend? How do I guide my daughter in her new faith? There are so many questions. But, it’s not too much.

Jesus will help us do this.

 

 

 

 

Dear Mama, You Failed

FAIL is not the worst of all four letter words, despite popular opinion. Fail means you tried. And in today’s world of celebrating mediocrity, trying earns you a ribbon. There are certainly worse things in life than failing.

Yet, in our fear of negative emotions, we absolutely denounce feelings of failure in ourselves and others. I know I’ve been guilty of it. A mom friend sends a text and says, “I have failed at parenting today. Adulting is so hard.” And you know that you reply to these texts the same way I do with absolute assurance that said friend is the exact mama that Jesus handpicked for those children and that said friend is not a failure in any way. And maybe you even throw in a comment or two about children being little demons. No? Just me? Oh well. I’m ok with that.

But Papa God taught me something this week that I just have to share with you.

It’s ok to fail.

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No, truly. It is. Please keep reading.

Failure is like death. Now, hear me out. God gave this to me, so it’s good. Failure is like death. It’s sad when someone dies and it’s ok to be sad when someone dies. We will miss them. We wish they could still be with us. But it doesn’t end with sadness. If the deceased was a Christian believer, then death is not the end. Sadness is not the end. We have peace and hope and even joy when a believer dies because we know we will see them again someday in heaven. Sadness is not the end of this life because of redemption.

The same holds true with failure. Sadness, regret, and shame are not the end of failure for the Christian mama – if she gives it over to Jesus.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are so deeply grieved by our own shortcomings that we forget to give it over to our Redeemer. As if we, in our failings, could possibly make it better and not worse.

Failure is like death. It may look like it’s the end but it doesn’t have to be.

So, dear mama, you failed. You lost your cool. You yelled. You made a bad decision. You ruined Christmas, a birthday, a special occasion. You forgot about the tooth fairy. You got divorced. You got married. You trusted someone untrustworthy. You harmed your child. You ignored your child. You infuriated your child. You didn’t love your child enough. You failed.

Satan wants you to think it’s over, but it’s not. Failure is not the end of the game. It’s not the end of the race. It’s not the end of your story….if you don’t want it to be. It certainly can be and for many people, it certainly is. Failure leads some to the bottom of a bottle. To the backseat of someone’s car. To a life of loneliness and hopelessness and despair. But Jesus died on a cross so that our failure could still be used for His glory. He died so that all of our messy imperfection could be made perfect.

When your teenager looks you in the eye and tells you that you’ve failed them, hug that sassy thing back and thank God that it’s not over.

When you’ve messed up the checkbook and the electricity gets shut off, light a candle and thank God that it’s not over.

When the man you’ve loved and devoted your life to walks out the door, pour yourself a bubble bath and thank God that it’s not over.

So, you failed. Admit it. Don’t try to sugar coat it. Don’t deny it. Deal with it by giving it to Jesus and asking Him to redeem it. He makes all things new. And that “all things” includes you. And your babies. And your relationships. Dear mama, we are all going to fail. It’s ok to fail. It means you are in need of a Savior. A Redeemer. A Friend.

Be a friend to another failing mama and let her know it’s ok. It’s not over.

 

 

 

Three Little Words that Grieve Me

 

Legalistic… Liberal… Lukewarm

These three words have been spinning in my head a lot lately. A triad of extremes. Three little words that grieve me.

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They’ve been in the media. They’ve been spoken at church. I’ve read them on Facebook. I’ve heard them in sermons, commercials, testimonies, and speeches. They bother me.

These three words, each in their own right detrimental to America’s way of thinking and acting and voting and living. These three words that are encroaching upon the way non-Christians view the church. These three words that some Christians are embracing with loving acceptance.

Liberal. Legalistic. Or Lukewarm.

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I’ll start with Legalistic because that’s where I started. Legalistic Baptist Church. Wearing dresses or skirts only. In the church every time the doors were open. Memorizing. Quoting. Performing. Knocking on doors. Not because I was in love with Jesus but because that is what was expected of me. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of folks there who probably loved Jesus a lot but I never felt that we were doing things out of love as much as we were doing things out of obligation. I walked the aisle at age 9 because I was terrified of hell, not because I was in love with my Savior.

I sat at church camp in my culottes. I sat in the sanctuary tapping my toes to the organ music. I sat there all 6 nights of Revival services. I sat in the choir loft during the Christmas Cantatas. I sat in the back row during my youth group days. I sat in the nursery on my Sundays to serve. I sat in the van on mission trips. I sat. And I sat. Nobody was running or leaping or … (dare I say it?)…. DANCING!! Dancing was on the long list of forbidden “thou shalt nots” that I adhered to for fear of hell, fire, and being a permanent outcast.

Legalism in the church stifles any spark that the Holy Spirit wants to fan into a roaring flame. It hinders growth. It puts the Holy Spirit in a box. It kills churches and it turns sinners away without any hope of ever measuring up to the impossible “thou must always” list that’s posted by the front doors. Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could live out our lives checking boxes and aiming for unattainable perfection. No, He did not. Jesus died on a cross because we are ALL hopeless, flawed, imperfect human beings in need of not only a Savior but a relationship with a Savior that loves us unconditionally. Yes, He did.

But where Legalism smothers a spark, Liberalism burns out of control.

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Liberal Christianity is on a rise and secular media is embracing it with arms open wide. While this should be a tell tale sign to Christians that something is amiss, this generation’s fear of being labeled “intolerant” has them running by the truck-load into the open arms of the all-tolerant liberal media. (Well, maybe not “all-tolerant”. They tend not to tolerate the intolerant. But that’s another blog post entirely.)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been participating in a Bible study by a popular, beloved Christian author. She’s wildly hilarious, has an amazing writing style, and her honest vulnerability is a breath of fresh air to worn out mamas and yoga-pants-wearing-women everywhere. But as I followed her on social media I was shocked by her very openly liberal political opinions and her unashamed passion for things that I am very much against.

Politics. Yep. I’m bringing up politics. It’s an election year so politics are everywhere and as ready as we all are to be done with this horrid election, it’s still worth mentioning that a person’s political views are completely intertwined with their religious/spiritual/ethical/moral convictions. And if they’re not… well then, their convictions must not run very deep.

Let me be clear- contrary to what almost all secular and liberal media outlets report- being “against” something does NOT mean you are afraid of it. I’m not sure who stumbled upon the gold mine of labeling unashamed Christians as being “afraid”, but it has certainly been beneficial to their cause. Don’t like a Christian saying they think homosexuality is a sin? Tell the Christian they are afraid of homosexuality and you’ll make them and their argument look weak. Don’t like a Christian saying that we need to respect our police officers and other law enforcement officials? Tell the (white) Christian they are afraid of black people and make them and their argument look weak.

I’m here to tell you I am not weak. I am not afraid. Of homosexuals. Of black people. Of politics. Of loud-mouth liberals. Of secular media. I am not afraid. Why? Because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). I can and I will stand firmly on Biblical truth because it cannot be shaken. God cannot be shaken. My beliefs, my views, my moral compass… they’re not part of a trending fad of acceptance and tolerance. They are timeless truths that were given to me by the love and mercy of my Savior and nothing is going to change that. Ever.

I struggled as I read Facebook posts and interviews and Tweets of the afore mentioned author. Do I stop reading her books? Do I tell my friends that I’m done with this author? Do I publicly denounce any further alignment with her and her book studies? One article about her liberal beliefs said that Christians should just take her beliefs with “a grain of salt” and filter them through their own beliefs. I think that’s true with anything we read outside of Scripture, but that response felt very weak. A mamby-pamby response to a mamby-pamby response.

So I’m just going to say it. Sin is sin. Sin should not be accepted. But it SHOULD and it MUST be forgiven. When Jesus talked to the adulteress woman in John 8, not only did He not condemn her, but He told her to “go and sin no more”. He didn’t pretend adultery wasn’t a sin. He didn’t embrace her and tell her she could go and commit adultery in His house. He reminded the people condemning her that they were all sinners just as each of us today are all guilty of sin. But Jesus would have done this woman a disservice if He told her to go about living her sinful lifestyle just as Christians today do a disservice to those we do not warn about the dangers of the sinful lifestyles they are in.

Liberalism is a slippery slope.

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Lukewarm. There’s a word.

If you ever watched the movie “War Room” you saw Miss Clara give Elizabeth a great analogy of what it means to be lukewarm when she offered her a cup of room temperature coffee. Like the Scripture in God’s Word, Elizabeth was ready to spit that lukewarm substance out of her mouth. Like a good cup of coffee, God wants His children to be hot or cold.

Lukewarm Christianity is dangerous. Anything not leading people TO Christ is leading people away from Him. Anyone not standing up to evil is falling to evil. Edmund Burke is credited with saying that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Truer words have never been said.

Saying “I don’t want to get involved” is the same as saying “I don’t care enough about this situation to stand up for it.” Many Christians don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to face the reality that they’re lack of involvement is really just acceptance. They don’t feel that they have to fight every fight. They don’t feel that they need to put themselves out on a limb if it’s not something they’re directly involved with. So they don’t. And when good men do nothing, evil triumphs.

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Legalistic. Liberal. Lukewarm. Three little words that grieve the heart of God. Three little words that should grieve the hearts of Christians and call them to action against complacency, altruism, and a life of checking boxes. Three little words that God has laid on my heart to recognize. To call out. To call attention to. To warn others of. To speak out against in His Church. Three little words that can bring so much damage if good people do nothing.

 

 

 

 

Legacy & Changing Perspective

Legacy has been a buzzword in my life as of late and I’ve found myself pondering what it is I will be known for when I’m gone someday. Who will my children and grandchildren say that I am? How will I be remembered? What will have been my greatest accomplishment?

Thinking about legacy has shifted my perspective.

OK, so I’m changing more than my perspective. I’ve changed the blog up quite a bit, too. Whatta ya think? Snazzy, huh? Maybe not quite snazzy but I had to get rid of the previous set up. It wasn’t me anymore.

I created the previous blog page as part of a college assignment which required me to “brand myself” by trying to appear exceptional in some area of my life.

Yeah. That totally didn’t happen.

I am good at a lot of thing… but I am not exceptional. And I really did not like pretending to be an authority on life as a military wife. Blah. Not even close. (Too bad I just renewed my domain name. Working on that. There’s gotta be a way to change it. Stay tuned!)

I’m awed by the women in my life who seem to have clear direction, clear purpose, and a clear understanding of who God has called them to be. That’s never been me. I’ve never stood out in any area. I’ve never gravitated to one side. I’ve never lead others in a new direction. And I’ve certainly never been the best at anything I’ve attempted. While that used to frustrate me, leaving me feeling inadequate and “stuck” I’ve found that being smack in the middle of average and ordinary tends to make me quite accessible to everyone. And I like that.

Maybe someday my legacy will be, “She speaks. She writes. Well…she really tries.”

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I’m totally ok with that. Because if people know that I’m trying, then they know that something has mattered to me. God matters to me. My marriage matters to me. My children matter to me. People matter to me.

So I’m changing my perspective and I’m no longer focused on finding one area of my life that God can use me. I want Him to use every area of my life. I want Him to use me in the grocery store and around our homeschool table and on conference stages and in my prayer closet. Wherever I find myself, I want Him to use me. And if I don’t write well…and I don’t speak well… well, at least I tried.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Healing the Heart- Crying, Jesus, & Root Beer

Just a few hours ago I blogged about trusting the heart. After a horrific week of tragic news from various family members, I knew what I needed.

A good cry. And Jesus.

And a Root Beer.

So I asked my husband to take me for a drive down my favorite road in Central Florida. At sunset. Because that’s where I see Jesus. And because my favorite soda stop is at the end of that road. Because my husband knows the look on my face when I need to take a drive, he hopped in the car and we drove.

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Not only was the show amazing in the sky, but God had synchronized our drive to the absolute perfect music.

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The first song on the radio was, “Jesus Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me.

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray

So I started to tear up. A little.

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So the sky kept glowing and the music kept getting more and more powerful. The next song on the radio was “Ever Be” by Aaron Shust.

You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
And You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
Now You’re making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

That’s when the tears started flowing.

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Despite the pain. Despite the stress. Despite the hurt. Despite it all… God is good.

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By the time we reached my soda stop, I had tears streaming down both cheeks so my sweet husband drove me through the orange groves so that my crying and my praising could continue on a few more minutes. I let it all out. The root beer could wait.

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That’s when “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on the radio and I took in a deep breath and felt God filling up my lungs with His peace. This messiness. This shame. This pain. It’s going to be alright. It’s ok to take a day to ponder and process and cry and talk it out. It’s ok to admit I can’t do this by myself. Thank God, I don’t have to.

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

That’s when He showed me that there’s healing in the brokenness. Only God can heal the heart.

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My heart may hurt right now, but my heart will heal. His healing has already begun.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

 

 

Trusting the Heart

I learned a long time ago that you cannot always trust a person’s words. Sometimes even a person’s actions are not an accurate barometer of who that person truly is. You know, the real person- not just the person that people see on the surface. People make mistakes. They go through phases. They are often misled or misguided. People are people. And as the adage goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

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But we have to judge people by something. We have to make decisions and responses and relationships with people based on some variable. For years I struggled with this. Mainly because I was not brought up in what I now would deem an emotionally secure environment. My parents did the absolute best they could but they were still reeling from their own upbringings and trying to establish security of their own. I do not fault them for not being able to provide it for me. But as a parent now, I still don’t get how they allowed it.

It honestly wasn’t until after I married my husband Bob that I recognized the variable that I could (and should) use to filter a person’s words and actions and attitudes. It’s the heart. When you’re married to a person with a traumatic brain injury, you learn that you cannot always trust a person’s words. But I began to rely on what I knew about his heart. And while sticks and stones still leave scratches and broken bones, they don’t end marriages. Not when you know and trust someone’s heart. I trust that my husband loves me. I trust that  my husband would never intentionally hurt me. I trust that my husband always has my best interest at heart. And I trust that he’ll make mistakes along the way but that it will never negate all the things that I just stated which are true.

This has been an emotionally trying week. A week of spiritual assaults on so many different fronts that I’ve lost track. I’m even battling in my sleep. Literally and figuratively. Then today even more bad news came followed by a wave of tragedy and the heaviest of all the things weighing on me was this: I don’t think the people in my life (in my family) have learned how to read a person’s heart. Either that or their loyalties are seriously misplaced. I don’t know. But it has devastating consequences.

I wouldn’t know how to go about telling someone how to do this. How to read someone’s heart and know whether or not their heart is a safe place. A good place. Maybe it’s not something that everyone can do but it’s something I now realize I’ve done my entire life.  For as long as I can remember, there have been people in my life who I viewed as “good” and then there were people who I viewed as …uncomfortable to be around. Now I view them as “bad” but in my innocence, I  never imagined that anyone in my family could be inherently “bad”. Bad people commit murders and robberies and rot in jail. My family was not bad. They just made me feel uncomfortable. Or sad. Or scared.

For years I was prodded (ok, required) to accept various forms of abuse because, well,…family is family. As an adult I was told… pushed…ok, required to accept hurtful words, toxic behaviors, and sinful lifestyles because… well, family is family.

Friends, I am here to tell you that a common last name or shared strand of DNA does NOT make family a safe place.

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Earlier this week, my husband and I were shook to the core to learn that our 3 year old nephew had been found dead. A long, messy story. But the adults in his life had failed him. Adults whose hearts I did not trust. Adults I was told to trust anyway because, well… family is family. “That’s just the way this family is” has been said far too many times. And now a precious child is dead. Why? Because… well, family is family.

Late last night, my grandmother passed a way. A woman dearly beloved by many. A pillar in her church and in her family. Yet a person who  rejected me at birth and hurt me badly. But I was never protected from it, defended when it occurred, or given grace when I walked away from it. I was expected to take it because, well… family is family. And “that’s just the way this family is.” Don’t get me wrong- I have some very fond memories of her. She had many wonderful qualities. But how do you decide if a person is good or bad based on their words or actions? Make a list? Weigh the good and bad words and deeds against each other? I don’t know. So I look at a person’s heart.

Then today I received even worse news regarding another family member who had sexually molested some younger family members. Again, someone I was encouraged to love and accept (because, well… family is family) but always feared.

No one can judge another man’s heart but God. Yet, He gives us common sense and guidance (when we ask for it) to discern the ways of man. No, we cannot always trust man’s words. No, we cannot always trust a man’s actions, though they tend to tell us more about a person than his words. But you can trust that a man’s heart is who he is. That doesn’t mean you have to shun him if his heart is not good. It doesn’t mean that you should deny his existence or badger him and belittle him. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forgive them because you absolutely should. Every time.  But we wise. Be on guard. Be prepared to defend and protect others from him. Don’t let your obedience in extending forgiveness overshadow the need to protect those who could still be hurt. Including yourself.

Most of my life I have been criticized, yelled at, ostracized, or at the very least, misunderstood for being wary of people whose hearts have troubled me. For keeping my children away from relatives whose hearts I did not trust to be good. To be safe. Today my heart grieves for the loss of a young child who could have been saved. I grieve not only for the relationship with my  grandmother that I “should have” had but also for the lack of action that any adult in my life had dared to take to stop the toxicity that had taken over the family. I sob for the young cousins who were violated in the most unimaginable of ways by the most unimaginable of people. Family is not always a safe place.

But I’ve never doubted the love of my Heavenly Father. I’ve always felt the safety of His wings around me. I can look back now and see what He spared me from. I can see what He spared my children from and I pray that He will bring healing and strength to my family members are that anguishing so much today.

I have no moral to this story. I have no shining nugget of wisdom to leave you with. I have no grand revelation to share. I just don’t want others to walk this same path if they can keep from it. Family absolutely SHOULD be a safe place. A sacred place. Where people grow and learn and thrive. But please, never allow your child to be in danger – emotionally, physically, or spiritually because… well, family is family.

I leave you only with a call to action:

Protect your children from abuse.

Protect your children from neglect.

Protect your children.

Just protect your children.

And be a safe place.

 

 

Why I’m Voting for Donald Trump

Thursday evening my husband and I attended a Donald Trump rally in Kissimme, FL and I posted some of the pictures and videos on my Facebook page. When the umpteenth person messaged me and asked me why I was voting for Trump and what I say to other Christians who don’t want to vote for him, I decided maybe I should just put my thoughts into words that everyone can see.

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Let me start off by saying that I know nothing about politics. When we watch the Convention and the inner party debates I have to ask my husband to give me the play-by-play in layman’s terms because my mind tends to forget election-year jargon in between elections. It’s like I need an Intro to Civics class every four year and a quick history on each of the key players. “Who’s that guy and where did he come from?” But as a Christian that rarely ever holds back her thoughts or feelings on anything, I feel that it’s important to share what God has showed me and what He’s laid on my heart about this year’s Presidential election.

Donald J. Trump is not my first candidate of choice for POTUS. But since my husband isn’t running for office, I have to pick someone else. Truthfully, Dr. Ben Carson was my first pick of those original Republican candidates that begged for our money and our vote. I wasn’t sure if he was strong enough as a contender but I knew he was strong in his faith, in his beliefs, in his values, in his morals, and in his desire to be a servant leader of our country. But he didn’t win the Republican nomination.

So, now we have Trump and Hilary.

Yes, I could quote what many of my fellow Conservatives have said in that “Any vote against Trump is a vote for Hilary” and that is true. But my reasons for voting for Trump go much further beyond that. I actually have a few things I like about the guy. And I have the longest laundry list in history of reasons nobody should ever vote for Hilary Clinton. I’ll do my best to summarize those as concisely as possible, though. This is a blog. Not a sequel to War and Peace.

OK, so why I like Trump: First off, like it or not, he won the Republican nomination. He won. That tells me a few things. 1. He’s obviously better at this politics stuff than we thought he was. 2. The American people are tired of politicians. And 3. He must know a lot more than I know because I have no idea how he beat out the candidates but he did. Second, if anyone knows about money and debt and how to have more money than debt, it’s Donald Trump. The man has built an empire. He has failed along the way many times. But he has kept building higher and higher. If there’s any hope of someone looking at the financial ruin our country is currently in and finding a way to dig us out of it, Trump can. Third, while I’m not a huge fan of his temperament, Donald Trump is not a man that other world leaders will easily push around. We’ve been viewed as a weak, passive nation for the past 8 years and I think it will take someone with a strong personality and strong initiative to bring us back to the top. We need a President who will keep us safe and fight to protect us from RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS. Trump isn’t afraid to call them what they are. And he won’t be afraid to keep them out of our country.

Most importantly, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump for this one reason: The next President of the United States will have the honor and privilege of assigning potentially 2-4 future Supreme Court Justices. Why does this matter? Because Presidents don’t get to make laws. Presidents can’t end abortion. Presidents don’t rule on marriage or gun control or our freedom of speech. But Supreme Court Justices do. And we need a President in the White House that will appoint Conservative Justices to the Supreme Court. If you want to see positive change in our country, this is where it will be.

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Now for the short list of why I don’t like Hilary: First, I don’t want a President that is already wrapped up in a number of controversial scandals. If your personal integrity is not strong enough to keep you out of this kind of trouble BEFORE you’re President, you have no hope of reigning with integrity from within the Oval Office. Second, I do not trust a word that comes out of that woman’s mouth. Plain and simple – she has a loooooooong record of lying to the American public. Third, while I think a woman could make a fine President, I do not think SHE would make even a descent President and voting for her simply because she’s a woman would make me sexist. Fourth, she has not made our international relationships stronger. She knows nothing about international trade. And she is certainly not respected or taken seriously by many foreign dignitaries. She stands no chance of becoming a strong world leader. And finally fifth, she will ABSOLUTELY appoint liberal Justices to the Supreme Court, taking away our guns, limiting our freedom of speech, demanding acceptance of muslim extremists and sharia law in our country. She will not protect our integrity. She will not protect our borders. She will not protect us from terrorism. She will bring further demise to our sinking country.

I left the Trump rally with a longer list of things I like about Trump and things I dislike about Trump than what I walked in with. But my support for him as our next President grew exponentially. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if there’s any hope for our nation, it will be with him as our Commander in Chief. And I know that if he is not elected President, it won’t be the fault of the liberals. It won’t be the fault of the pro-choice and the anti-gun and the pro-tolerance-of-everything. It will be the fault of the Evangelical Christians and other card carrying members of the Republican party who are too busy fighting amongst themselves to remember who they’re supposed to be fighting against. It will be the fault of the Americans who don’t want to vote because they don’t like either candidate. It will be the fault of the Americans who think their vote doesn’t matter. And it will be the fault of the Trump supporters who didn’t want to stick their necks out on Facebook or in the office or in their Sunday School class or at the gym or at the shooting range or at lunch and say something about the truth of our nation and the consequences of voting Hilary Clinton into office. It will be my fault if I haven’t done everything I possibly can to encourage my friends to take their civic duty seriously and to pray hard about their right to vote and to pray hard for the next President of the United States.

I don’t know a lot about politics and government and international diplomatic relations. But I know that our country needs to fall on her face before God and beg Him for forgiveness for the sins of our nation. And I know that 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that, “If my people, who are called by my name, will HUMBLE themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and I will HEAL their land.” [emphasis added is mine] I don’t see a lot of humility in either candidate. And I don’t hear anyone asking for forgiveness. But Donald Trump is the only one that I see seeking the counsel of those who pray. He’s the only one I see seeking the counsel from conservative, Bible believing, God loving Christians. He’s the only candidate of the two that might bring us any closer to that HEALING we so desperately want and need in our land.

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That’s why I’m voting for Donald Trump. And that’s why I’m asking you to give him your vote, too.