Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prayers Needed

Today I'm asking that you pray for my sister, Crystal. She has had a long couple of days. Yesterday her oldest son, Collin, went to the doctor and learned that he possibly has some form of asthma. Today they woke up to find that Haleigh, her youngest daughter, has and infection around the implant she has to help remove the nevus she has. She is on antibiotics and being watched closely. There is a possibility they will have to go back to Birmingham if the oral antibiotics don't work.

Crystal's family at Disney, November 2012

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Pinterest World

If you haven't entered the world of Pinterest take caution in doing so.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy Pinterest. I have tried some great recipes, found creative office gifts at Christmas, and have gotten direction on spiritual topics. The sharing of knowledge can be great!

Yet, I also see the other path this can take. Single girls "pinning" wedding ideas, those without children (self included) posting ideas for children yet to come, married women and mothers posting sarcastic sayings that belittle where they or others are in life, inappropriate language, etc. I'm not saying that we shouldn't think about our futures. I'm not saying that the sarcastic sayings aren't how someone might really feel at that moment. 

By no means do I consider myself an expert, but these thoughts have been running through my head the past few days. Here we go:

My thought is what kind of eternal value does this hold? What does all this "planning" do? I'm sure I have pinned over a thousand recipes and have only attempted 20 at best. Instead of focusing on what we know is present and real we focus on things that may not be real. What if God's plan doesn't include that young woman getting married? What if God's plan doesn't include children for that couple? Is it ok to think about the future? YES. Is it ok to dream? YES. Is it ok for a dream of a potential future to get so big you're blinded to God's plan? NO.

Also, I wonder if it is affecting how we value ourselves. As women we have this need (sometimes big, sometimes small) to match up. Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter are supposed to be ways of sharing ideas. Yet, for many it has turned into a to do list for a picture perfect life. This is a life that isn't real. I am here to say that if your daughter doesn't get a 4 tier hand made princess cake life will not end! We do NOT need houses that give each person 1,000 square feet to themselves! 

What do our spouses and children need? Love. Unconditional love and attention. I believe there is a breakdown in the family when you think you need a living room, office, "man cave", hang out room for the kids, separate bedrooms, and an outdoor living space. By no means am I saying that those with these things are wrong. However, I think that much space and time apart from each other causes a lack of unity and connection within the family. 

I'm almost certain that no one on their death bed has whispered "I wish I had had more privacy in my life" or "I wish I had spent more time alone". God created us to need relationships. 

There is what is now being called the Facebook Vacation (Click Here for more information). Those that have cut off Facebook completely (or in some portion) have stated that they actually felt closer to family and friends when they weren't on Facebook as much! You heard right while not on Facebook (the site that is suppose to bring people closer together) these people felt that their relationships were stronger without it!I encourage you to make connections. First make deeper connections with those under your roof and then branch out.

Ideas of what to give up for Lent.
I am in charge of some pages for work & church, but for Lent I plan to not be on my personal Facebook page. 40 Days starting tomorrow!Are you giving up anything in attempts to draw closer to the Lord?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Courage & Strength

What's wrong with the world today?

The lack of true courage & strength...

I'm not talking about the courage it takes to run in a burning building, or patrol our streets, or to fight in a foreign country for the safety of others. This type of courage we have and I am so thankful for those men and women!

The type of courage I'm talking about is the basic day to day life that the Lord has called us to. We use to sing "onward Christian soldiers". Now, we act as if being bold for Christ is someone else's job. Yet, Christ has called all true followers of His to be bold.

Most definitions imply that courage is being able to face situations or obstacles that could be difficult or cause pain without fear. On some level I disagree with the part about being without fear. If one is without fear, does it make them courageous? Yes. But, I also believe one can be fearless without being courageous. Personally, I view courage as what one does in spite of the fear. In the scriptures I've read God usually says "be courageous" and "do not fear" separately. This leads me to believe they are not one in the same. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) states "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) states "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The thing I am amazed by when it comes to biblical courage and God commanding it, not suggesting it, is that He always follows up by stating that He is going before us and will be there with us during the battle. 

Most of us don't think of the Christian life as a battle, but it is. There is spiritual warfare going all around us. The war is over souls and Christ is expecting us to stand up and fight. Fight for Him, for those people who have yet to meet Him as their savior, and for our families and friends! Every Christian is called to boldly proclaim His name and to share the Gospel with others!

It is a daily reminder that I have had to put in my heart and mind that God has equipped me and is waiting on me to be willing to be the person He wants me to be. And knowing that He is there beside me and I that I don't have to do it alone makes all the difference.

I truly believe that if men and women practiced the form of courage and strength God teaches in the Word that the world we live in would be a completely different place.

Many of us have seen the movie Courageous and know how it has changed the lives of men, women, and families everywhere. If you have not I suggest it.

For free training on how to share the Gospel click here.

To learn more about being a man or woman or courage click here for resources.

I Will Serve You While I'm Waiting

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord
by John Waller
Kick Off Rally for WALK for LIFE 2010

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Time God

There seems to be a continual battle in my mind to do what I planned for my life and allowing God to do what He wants with my life. I realize in theory that I should give it all over to Christ, and I know this in truth and fact as well. Yet, for some reason I revert back to thoughts of my plans so often!

Graduating from University of Mobile 2012 (w/ Amanda)
Like last week I started looking up graduate degrees and certificates. I in no way need one or do I believe that it is what God wants me to do in this season of my life. I no longer desire to spend nights writing papers or saturdays in a library. I have no desire to argue with professors or to pull al nighters on projects. What I do believe is going on is that i have this false idea of where I should be at this point in my life. According to society we should all be college graduates and then continue our education so that we can beat out the person next to us. We should all be number 1 and above average and be in the corner office! But as I once heard on a after school special monologue "If we are all on the stage who's in the audience?".

My calendar was obviously different than God's. In high school I had resolved to never take a man's last name. I planned to attend college in North Carolina and finish in three years so that I could finish grad school by 23. I would then have a great job, get married, and have four beautiful children with hyphenated last names.

Camping 2012 - week of my graduation
Then I went to college, ran from God, and then ran back to Him. I bounced around at least 5 different degrees and during this time met my amazing husband, Jason, fell in love and got married and took his name. I did finally finish my undergraduate degree (10 years after I started) and I am in a job that is challenging and rewarding. And we adopted a dog, named Pepper. However, the children, that we assumed would naturally easily come into our lives did not. So I have tried to fill my time up with other things. I chose not to go to grad school to start preparing our home for children. I am obviously not a patient person, considering it hasn't even been a year since I heard God telling me not to pursue grad school.

Pepper on a car ride.
The reality of the matter is, I am in a waiting period. And because of that I feel like I haven't achieved much. It is a constant battle to remind myself that my worth is not found in others or even myself, but in Christ!

     Philippians 1:6  says "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the Day of Jesus Christ." I must hold on to this truth while I am waiting. As one of my co workers always says "He is an on time God".

Thoughts on Prayer

Belief in the prayer has been apart of me for as long as I can remember. However, fully believing and the beginning of understanding the power it holds has been a more recent adventure. And I am fully aware that I have so much more to learn.

When I was younger prayer was before meals, at church, before going to bad, and if something really bed was going on. I wasn't taught that this was the only time to pray, but I don't remember being taught otherwise. Sometimes Prayer was something on my "Christian to do list".

I realized this when I was working at a coffee shop downtown. There was a girl that was also a Christian working there. We rarely had shifts together, but when we did we enjoyed discussing our faith with one another.

Well, one day someone asked me if I was going to do an upcoming 5K. I had recently been told by 2 doctors that until I built up the muscle around my knee to NOT run (unless I was being chased - lol). The girl I worked with asked if I wanted her and her husband to pray over my knee. I remember just sitting there not knowing what to say. Then she asked if I believed in prayer. I quickly said yes, it was just that I had never had anyone offer to pray for me on the spot or in public. She said she understood and that when I was ready to come to her. I wonder sometimes if things would be different if I had let them.

Well, then I was coming up on being "fully trained" as a volunteer at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center. I was terrified and I went to my pastor an asked for prayer. He looked me in the eyes (which I was not use to from a pastor) and said "Ok, let's do that right now" (which I was also not use to) and he prayed right then in the foyer while others were walking around. I felt God's presence and knew my fears had been lifted.

These two events introduced me to my journey with prayer. I sometimes still fall in the routine of praying the same things and at certain times. But now my prayers aren't as one sided. I have to purposefully allow myself to take the time for the Lord to speak to me and to just sit in His presence. I'm sure that for everyone it is different but here are the things I do with my private prayer or devotional time:

1. I have set up a place in my home that is where I pray. It is a simple chair in the corner of my bedroom (where there is no tv, radio, my phone is in the other room, and I cannot see a clock). I realize this is not feasible for some with small children or small living areas, but I encourage everyone to find a place that you associate with prayer! (car, kitchen table, outside, etc.)

If you have small children I suggest a book Naked Fruit by Elisa Morgan from MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).

2. First I pray that God will prepare my heart and I sit in His presence waiting for Him to direct me. Sometimes I need to confess sins or hurts to Him so that I can hear Him clearly. Sometimes I begin to lift prayers of praise.

3. Currently I am using Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" (click here for the book) with my devotional and read the corresponding scriptures (I encourage you to use whatever translation is best for you). I then get out my journal an pray about application of what I have been taught.

To learn more about what Bible Version or Translation is best for you  click here.

4. Then I pray for whoever has requested prayers or who the Lord brings to my mind. You don't have to know what is going on in this person's life to pray for them. Th Lord will lead you in you let Him.

5. I usually close with thanks and taking a few moments of silence with the Lord making sure I haven't missed anything He wants me to hear.

These things can take time to make since or not feel silly when you start. Also, remember that you can pray where ever you are. The most important thing to remember is that the God that loves us, created us, and sent His son to die for us wants to speak to us and wants to hear from us!

Prayer has changed my life. I am still on my journey and I'm not saying I'm getting it all correct, but I know the Lord is with me on this journey.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Bloom Book Club

I have found Bloom, an online Christian book club. The next book is Prayer by Richard J. Foster. The study starts a week from today and I am really excited. If you can't afford the book you can request a free copy (supplies are limited) on their website. I will try to post as I am going through the study. We could all use a little more prayer in our lives, right?

Click Here to learn more.

Anxious For Nothing...

Much of my life I have been a worrier. Thing is, except for to a few people, I don't appear overly anxious. I have an amazing "ability" to hold all of the things that bother me inside. Which in some situations is a good thing, but what inevitably takes place is that it eventually overflows in a way that results in confusion and/or hurt  for those closest by when my calm exterior fades.

I think how often do people ask how we are and we respond with "too blessed to be stressed" or "great" or "doing fine" with a huge smile on our faces when on the inside we're thinking "that is a loaded question and you really don't want to know how I'm doing!"? Granted I don't think we should over share with every person that ask this question, but we should at least be able to let them know if we need prayer. Or am I the only one that does this?

I remember one time in particular that this overflowed at the most unexpected time. Last Mother's Day, at our old church, I basically cried through the entire service. At this point Jason and I had been married for 4 years and had been doing fertility treatments for a year. When anyone, including my doctor, asked how I was I responded in my typical fashion. I would say "it can be stressful but we're doing great" or "we haven't been going through this as long as other, so I'm not too worried yet". My doctor seemed concerned that I ignored the suggestion that I may be stressed out.

Leading up to that week I encountered one too may "why don't you have kids", "do you want kids", "have you tried standing on your head" conversations. That morning things were like any other Sunday. Worship was amazing and my husband was actually off work to be there with me. Then the pastor went forward and wanted to honor mothers of children living or with children that had passed. I was fine through this. Then he wanted to pray for those that had been unable to conceive. I was frozen! I gripped Jason's hand and started to weep. I had never cried at church, let alone about this. I really didn't hear the rest of what the pastor said as a handkerchief was passed to me. I'm not even sure if Jason had ever seen me cry over our situation like that. Afterward though it was a relief that people knew and that I wasn't hiding anymore. Hiding can be exhausting. I haven't really had the opportunity to open up at our new church about what we are going through, but I don't feel as anxious about the possibility of it coming up.

Then I wonder how many people have I asked how they were and they responded with the same "white lies" and I took it for face value, never thinking to really find out. 

We all in turn miss out on the blessings that come from being prayed for and being able to pray for others. These fears and anxieties do not come from the Lord, but from the enemy (I Peter 5:8). I pray that as women (and men) of the body of Christ we will be more willing to be open and allow people into our lives that may not be perfect, but are being perfected through Him. May we seek to bless each other with the safety of of love and lifting each other up in prayer to the Lord. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Long Time... No Blog

So it has been a while since I have posted anything. And a lot has taken place since. So I'll just dive right into it:

My responsibilities at work and church have increased. I am in charge of the blog, facebook page, and newsletter at work. I have been leading a Bible study for some of the clients. At church I am helping Jason, my husband and the worship leader, with the Facebook page, website, and twitter account. I'm also on the tech team (which is almost comical to me) and am a greeter on some Sunday mornings. All this keeps me busy.

Then, my sister, Crystal, found out she was pregnant. During her 19th week of pregnancy her water broke and there was nothing the doctors could do. Joshua was born on December 13 and lived for just a few minuets. We had a service the following week and our family was changed forever by the life Joshua had. Crystal has started a blog about her experience click here to read her story.

After that Crystal's daughter Haleigh had her 3rd surgery in the process of removing a Nevus birthmark she was born with. We do annual fundraisers to help with travel for these surgeries. We have also started a "Just Love Coffee" fundraiser. Click Here to help Haleigh get the medical care she needs.

For the moment the adoption thoughts are on hold. Originally we were going to adopt from China, but learned that we no longer qualify even after we make age minimum. After researching the focus moved to Russia, which has now passed laws no longer allowing Americans to adopt Russian children. So we have decided to focus on other aspects to eventually prep us for the process. There are a few things we need to do to our home before a home study. We would like to get in a position that we don't owe as much on the house and maybe have my car paid off before officially starting the adoption process.

I would also like to be in better health before we invite a child into our family. Over the next year my goal is to prep for a few 5K runs. In January Murphy High School has a 5K. Christmas Day MHS was hit by a tornado and the students have been displaced to another location until the damage is repaired to the historical site. Also I plan to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run in support of Breast Cancer awareness. I feel that this goal will be more motivating than the number on the scale.