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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Satan and Social Media ~

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. NIV
James 3:10  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things out not to be so. NIV

I’ve been struggling with this post for about a month now.  If you know me, you know that what comes into my head, usually comes out of my mouth.  One of the biggest spiritual battles I have ever fought is learning not to fight back when someone hurts my feelings.  It seems that this is the year for Satan to use people who should be close to me in my life as his ultimate weapons to try to keep me from doing God’s will.   Then that starts the ball rolling towards self-doubt and conviction that maybe something is terribly wrong with me to make others dislike me so much. And there you go.  Trying to change a sinful habit is not easy at all, especially in this day of social media.

I have to confess.  I have been a nasty person on social media.  I have hurt feelings, been judgmental, got fired up, and lost friendships over stupid stuff.  This past year, a very good friend of mine and I had a long conversation about me. He loved me enough to talk to me in a very open way to show me that, basically, I was being a social media jerk and that I was hurting people who I was supposed to consider friends.  God used him in a powerful way that day. Am I “social media sinless” now? No….but I’m working on it. Am I still a hypocrite at times? Ummmm...yes, shamefully.

What has happened to people?  When did we become a society of such souls who think that hurtful words and bullying, sly little comments, memes (which you spend hours finding just the right one to hurt someone) become the norm?  What has happened is Satan. Satan is having a field day, every day, on social media. And you know what is even scarier? Social media is so addictive that it is ruining peoples lives. Marriages are falling apart.  Children are being neglected while parents have their devices stuck in their faces instead of being engaged with them. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their LIVES because they are on their devices while driving.  On and on I could go. Satan…..

God, this week has been extremely trying for me.  I’m really struggling with the desire to “hurt back”.  So far, You’ve filled me with conviction. Thank You for guarding my lips...and my fingers.  It’s hard, but I know that how I react is how people will see me. It would be so easy to share some creative joke publicly, and perhaps it would be funny to some…...but there is always a little bit of truth in a joke….a little bit of anger...a little bit of pain….a little bit of “I hope that hurts you back”...

Satan, I refuse to let you use me to give you glory. I will not run this one in and put points on your scoreboard.  You need to go on back to hell and leave me alone. God, You got this.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Why She Stayed ~

Why She Stayed ~

Proverbs 22:24-25   Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.  NIV

We knew that my step-daughter was in an abusive relationship for about a year.  Me, being me, also knew that unless a person is ready for help, there is really no need to try to help them.  Let me just say here that I cannot understand this concept.  But, I am a strong woman.  Not everybody is like me.  I am a “wait til he’s asleep and bust him in the face with a cast iron skillet” type of woman.  My step-daughter is not.  I could not grasp the concept that she would let someone be mean to her kids.  We would encourage her to leave.  She would say, “you don’t understand”.

And then the truth started to unfold.  Little by little, we learned why she stayed.  Little by little he isolated her.  We couldn’t see her or the kids unless he was present.  He took her child support.  He disabled her car.  He isolated her.  He put her out in the yard at 1:00 in the morning.  He told her that he knew everybody in the county.  His daddy is in law enforcement and nobody would believe her.  He told her that he would kill her and the children before she left him.  So, in fear….she stayed.

Do I agree with this?  Nope.  I think I’d have done anything to get away from him.  But before I judge her, I have to remember that I’ve never been in that position.  I’ve never feared that a man would kill my child.  I’ve never had to witness a man hold my little girl by the neck while she screams.  I’ve never had to see a man try to make a child eat their vomit.  I’ve never been so brainwashed to believe that nobody would care.  In desperation, she made videos with her phone, hoping that someone would finally believe her.  Did you know that unless the person being videod KNOWS they are being taped, that they are not admissible  as evidence, no matter how violent they are?  Did you also know that the person making the videos can be arrested for making or sharing them?

We went through all of the proper channels. We got her out.  We got her safe.  And then we found out that she was right.   The small town “good ol’ boy” club showed up in full force.   Her phone was taken as evidence.  All of the videos showing violence mysteriously were “corrupted”.  Strange, huh?  Matt and I were threatened with arrest if we interfered in any way with “their” investigation.  (that means sharing this video with ya’ if I go to jail...please come bail me out)

Today, she went to court to ask for an injunction for protection.  Today, the good ol’ boys came in together and sat together...Today, we realized that by getting our daughter out of an abusive relationship, all we did was make her homeless with three children, with no job, with no vehicle, with nothing.  But she has her kids.  And they are safe.  

God, tonight, I’m mad.  I’m mad at the system.  I’m mad that a poor little boy had to be brutalized.  I’m mad that she felt that she had to stay in it.  I’m mad that she let this happen.  I’m mad that she was right.  I’m mad that law enforcement is too busy playing “good ol’ boy” than to protect a child.  And I’m mad that in order to save her, I have to come up with thousands of dollars.  I’m mad that at the end of the day, nobody who is supposed to care, really cares.

I cannot show the video.  The language is awful.  There are 17 of them, but I have been threatened with charges if I share them.  But, you see...a strong woman has a backup plan.  A strong woman makes copies of everything.  A strong woman sees through a hot-headed bully.  A strong woman comes along side a weaker woman.  I’ll stand by her side.  If not for her, then for those kids.  And that son of a bitch will never touch them again…..Thank You, God, for making me a strong woman.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My Enough Bucket ~

Jeremiah 29:11   For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  NIV
2017.  What a year.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the year we had.  320 photo shoots, over 30 schools visited, a beautiful dream vacation to the Keys,  a book series that made the top ten on Amazon, a wildly popular blog series, dinner with the First Lady of Florida, and a visit to meet the President and tour Air Force One.  My brother-in-law was cured from leukemia after being given 10 days to live.  I traveled to many beautiful locations.  I caught a whole bunch of bass. We were able to bless over 100 families with our mini sessions.  I am one blessed person.  

Or so I say on social media.  To the world, I live a perfect life; have a perfect marriage; love my job; have the best family life.  Don’t we wish what we post is what we live?

2017 has been hard.  Very hard.  I have felt like I I’m scattered in 40 directions.  Socially, I’m golden.  Emotionally, I’m more like rust.  My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  I hate Parkinson’s.  I think I was home about 2 nights a week before 11:30 PM several months in a row.   Two  people I love more than life itself have had their world ripped apart and are forced to adapt to changes that nobody should have to face.  I am so burned out that if I never picked up a camera again...ever...I’d be ok.  I’m pretty ashamed of that.   The worst, though, is that I have had to face the fact that no matter what I do, I will never be good enough for some people.  I have some “messy” people in my life.  

My sister got on to me a week ago. She said that I am blind to what I have.  I only focus on what I can’t or don’t have.   I’m not loving that.  I’m really not loving that she is right.  Why is it that we cannot see what we have?  Why does Satan have such a strong-hold on our negative emotions?  The Bible teaches us that God knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper.  
In my heart, I know she is right.  I know I am so blessed.  I know that I have had opportunities of a lifetime.  I know.   And yet, I focus on the heartache in my life.

I had an epiphany yesterday.  After hearing a “she said you said story” I said “enough!”.  Enough!!!  I have had enough.  I proceeded to get out an imaginary bucket.  It is my “not my problem” bucket.  I began to fill it with negative thoughts.  I began to put insecurity and doubt in it.  I threw a few people (head first and stomped em to make sure they didn’t jump out) in my bucket, too.  The only “enough” I am going to focus on is the promise from God that says “I” am enough.  I am worthy.  I am perfectly imperfect.  

It’s scary to think about getting back on track with God.  I got derailed by one of those messy people who spoke words to me that made me feel inadequate to follow God’s will for my life.  Enough.  I am enough.  I know Satan will try me again, but God knows the plan.  I just have to focus on that hope and that future He promises.

Wishing all of you a very happy 2018.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Small Town Christian ~

Philippians 3:13   Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead….

I have just about stopped writing this blog.  Call it writer’s block.  Call it conviction.  Call it whatever.  But, just like that….the “why” left me.   It was my intention to write true life stories to help other women who may have come upon similar circumstances; to encourage; to uplift; to show that you can overcome hard divorces, custody battles, problems with your children.  For a while, the Holy Spirit just filled me with words to share.  Finding a topic was easy.  Knowing what to write was never a battle.  Now, it is.

We all know what spiritual warfare is.  We have all faced it.  Anytime you want to do good in life, Satan gets busy messing up your plans.  Right now, I’m battling trying to be a better person in a small town.  You know why?  My past.  I did some incredibly stupid stuff in my past.  People in small towns don’t forget your stupid stuff.  Why is it that we (me included) can remember  the sins of someone’s past, but we struggle with the good they have done.  Like, I couldn’t tell you who the valedictorian was for my graduation in 1977, but I know who got drunk at prom.  

Recently, I have really tried to be a better person, to work hard to give to our community, to try not to gossip, and especially to try my best to not engage in social media drama.  Sometimes, I fail miserably.  Sometimes, I go fishing and use up all my cuss words to get my frustrations out.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m still not good enough to share with anybody what God has done in my life.  I’m not sure I can ever be more that a hypocrite because I sin daily.  And that, my friends, is spiritual warfare.  Satan is about to win as he has almost snuffed out my “why”.

Maybe my blog was a seasonal thing, and this season has ended.  I’m ok with that, as long as it’s what God wants and not because Satan destroyed my confidence.

God, I’m asking You this morning to come along beside me.  Your scripture says for me to forget what lies behind and strain towards what lies ahead.  Help me to remember this, also as I look at other people.  I need to remember that who people are today aren’t who they use to be.  If You want me to continue to help others, then I need You to show up and move the enemy from my path, or show me how to go up, over, under or around him.   I will always be a small town girl with a past. Remind me of this when I get all judgmental, too.   Always.  But, it is my desire to be a small town girl with a future in heaven with You, and take others with me.   I’m not sure what lies ahead for me, but right now, at this moment, I’m listening.  Speak to my heart.   

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Choose Grace ~

Choose Grace ~

Proverbs 13:3  Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.  NLT

This weekend was another brick in my life-lesson foundation.  All of my life, I have been outspoken and blunt.  Matter of fact, my husband calls me, “Frank”.  I pretty much built my social media reputation with outlandish, hard words.  What is sad is that people love that.  Our generation thrives on hateful words to others.  As God started working on me two years ago, it was plain that I have to work on my mouth.  It isn’t cute or funny or snappy to be a smartass.  It sure isn’t Godly.  

Part of my scripture last week set me up to really pay attention over the weekend to how people talk to each other.  Let me see in others, God…… Don’t ask God to do anything if you really don’t want to see the answers.  Let me tell you, He had no problems making abundantly clear the “your mouth can ruin everything” part of that scripture.

You guys know I write children’s books.  I’m over the moon excited about them and just joyful that I’ve had the opportunity to share them.  I went to a social gathering and an older woman came up to me and said, “I read Cody Cowboy and Clint Cowboy.”  I asked her if she enjoyed them.  With great hesitation, she said, “Well, they were ….ummmm….cute.”  Then she went on to tell me that she enjoyed them and that her grandson enjoyed them.  I didn’t hear a word of the praise after the first seed of doubt was planted.  

I used that analogy, not to gain praise or sympathy or even empathy.  This was a great lesson for me.  My words...the ones I speak, are powerful.  God used her to show me how words can make people feel insecure.  I needed that.

My son cooked his first dinner for us Sunday evening.  He was so, so proud of the meal.  It wasn’t bad, but let me tell you, the self-righteous, high-and-mighty, know-everything “me” wanted to open my mouth and tell him what was wrong with his meal.  Instead, I chose grace.  I chose to tell him what was right with everything about the meal. It was exciting to see what power words of praise and encouragement had on him.  I did a lot of thinking that night and had conviction that just as easily, I could have hurt my son with a few negative words.  Thank You so much, Jesus, that You let me choose grace.

I have a lot of regrets about the way I have spoken in the past, especially to my children.  I’ve hurt people, especially my daughter.  For many years, my daughter battled an eating disorder. This year, we are celebrating her great strides in her recovery.  I have to consciously  choose to see the progress and encourage her on this even if it is minor. I wonder how many times I said things that made her feel less than perfect and contributed to that deep-rooted insecurity that still controls her to this day?  Let me tell you this;  NEVER speak harsh words to your child about their weight, no matter how you feel.  EVER… You will scar them for life.  It makes me 44 hot to hear an adult use words like “fat”, “obese”, “chubby”, “diet” when talking to a child.  That’s verbal abuse, and I am guilty of it, I’m sure…...But that is a topic for another day.

God, I can’t change my past, but I can make a conscious effort to filter my words and soften them before I speak them. Help me to  choose grace before I speak, or help me to just shut up.  Thank You for the powerful lessons You put in my face this weekend.  I know that You have put me in a position to touch many lives, and I’m overwhelmed by that.  Help me to be who You want me to be.  Thank You for Your grace with me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Accountability ~

Galatians 6:7. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. ESV

Sometimes, it seems like you wake up one morning and your life has gone straight to hell… gasoline panties.
In my life, I've sure had those days.  Who am I kidding?  I've had seasons in my life that lasted months like this.

When this happens, I tend to start looking for someone to point fingers at and blame for my misery.

It's taken me a lot of years, some growing up (which I'm still working on) to realize that most of the time, when things go south in my day to day life, I had a lot to do with it, whether I want to admit that or not.   Ownership.

Take social media for instance.  Today's society just can't shut up. All of a sudden, lives seem to revolve around who posts what on social media. “Is that about me?”   “Did you see what he said?”  “Oh heck no!!!! I'm about to tell him/her what I think in a reply.”   I've sure gotten myself in some stupid predicaments over typed words…. Ownership.

As I work through this new season in my life, I still battle with old hurts and heartbreaks from the past.  Sometimes, I find myself still wishing the karma bus would run a few people over.  But it says right there in God’s word….what you sow, you will reap.   It's got me to thinking...just how much of our misery was caused from not acknowledging our part in those hellish days?
What would happen if we took ownership of our roles in hurts and heartbreaks?  What would it feel like to release the bondages of yesterday's anger? How many hellish days could we prevent in our future by seeing our contribution and not repeating that behavior?

God, today I ask that You keep me aware of my responsibility of sowing good seeds.  Give me an awareness of when to just shut up.  Help me to let go of old hurts.  Let me take ownership of the part I played in fanning the flames of turmoil, so that I can forgive not only the ones who hurt me, but also that they will forgive me as I take ownership of hurting others. Thank You for Your mercy and Your grace.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Daddy ~

Proverbs 23:22   Listen to your father, who gave you life…..NIV

My Daddy~
Thank you for letting me follow you around all these years. I learned so much from you.
One of the earliest lessons I remember is to duck when you walked in front of me and pushed a limb out of the way...cause you were going to turn it loose and let it hit me and then you'd laugh when you let me go hunting with you. I learned to love bird dogs on point.
I learned to shoot a handgun, a rifle, and a bow. I'm pretty good at sticking a knife, too.
I learned to love cutting horses and watching them get down and work. I learned to get chills when they just stall out and dance.  I learned that “them horses will hurt you”, too.
I learned to work on cars, change a tire , change oil, drive a stick, cut hay, bail hay, LOAD hay.  Lots of loading hay. I learned to put an exhaust on a Toyota while you coached me in your body cast that one long year.
I learned to sand with the grain, miter edges and read a tape; the old wooden ones you fold out.  Measure twice, cut once.  
I learned to care about what I looked, dressed and "acted" like, to be self-sufficient but act like a lady.
I learned to problem solve and be a peacemaker. I learned to forgive and love, no matter what was done to me.  I remember you saying to me that you worked the same job for more than 30 years, then you asked me why I changed jobs so many times. I learned a whole lot that day. I've been a photographer for 17 years now.
I learned to "just get it right in the camera" so I'd edit less.  
I learned to give to people, to be kind, to share what I know. If you had been paid for all you’ve made and given away, you’d be a wealthy man.
I learned to talk to anybody...a lot.  
I learned to fish.  I guess from the time I could walk, I "needed to" fish. I guess that's the "Annerson" in me. I never did learn to hunt, though, even though you sure tried to get me to.
I learned that I could tell you anything and you'd love me anyway,  that you'd always be proud of me, even when I wasn't so proud of myself.
I learned in 2010 that God grants extensions when medical people say there's little hope if you fight hard enough. You're seven years passed that awful year. I learned also that behind every good man is a better woman. My mom sure is an example there.
I learned a big lesson the day I just unloaded on you about my husband and you simply looked at me and said, "Well, Honey, it's hard to love a bitch."  You don't mind calling me out when I need it.  
I learned that you’d step up and love my husband like your own son and become the dad he never had.
I learned to rest when "my ass is dragging so far behind it knocked on the door 15 minutes after I got home".   
I learned to travel from the camper trips we took as a family. I learned to pick up a pretty rock and bring it home.
I learned to love God and my country...oohrah.

So many life lessons I have learned from you, Daddy, and yet it's not enough.  Not everybody is blessed to have a daddy like you. I know you’re human and certainly not perfect, but in my eyes, you’re pretty darn close.  Happy Father’s Day.  xoxo