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Sunday, January 31, 2016

He Knows The Plan

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.”

Sometimes, I just don’t know what to write.  I have learned to wait on God.  He never fails to reveal to me what it is that I need to share with you.  Yesterday, I saw a post from Tiffany, a long-time friend of mine.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Part of it says this; “A friend recently asked me what my long term goals were and it occurred to me that I have been so consumed with trying to navigate my way through the present that I haven’t bothered to even consider long term goals.”

This is so true in this now season of my life.  I am so consumed with making ends meet, my work, my family, and so forth that I have totally forgotten about tomorrow. Long term goals, huh? Where do I see myself in 10 years?  I don't know.  Where I would like to see myself is retired and spending time with my grandchildren.  But, in 10 years, they will be all grown up.  Finding balance between now and tomorrow takes obedience, dedication, and self-control. I pretty much fail at all three of those.

The Bible tells us that God knows the plans He has for us. Sometimes I sure wish He'd make those plans obvious so that I'd know what they are, too. Wouldn't life be so much easier?  Am I the only one who is middle-aged and still wandering?  What are your long term goals. Are you prepared for your future?

Hey God, it's me again. This week you used a friend’s words to make me think about what I'm doing with my life. You have plans for me to prosper. I keep getting in my way, God. I know that my future is to spend eternity with You in Heaven. My now needs to be guiding me towards that goal. I'm not sure where You want me right now, God. I'm not sure where You want me tomorrow and the next day, either. You know the plans You have for me. Help me to listen to my heart when You're sharing those plans with me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When Emotions Control You ~

1 Corinthians 13:4-5  Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. NLT

Blended families.  Hurt feelings.  Control. Getting along with people you are supposed to love.  Letting go of bitterness and resentment when you feel you’ve been singled out to be left out.  This morning, there is a total battlefield going on inside my heart.  I know better than to let these emotions harbor in my life, and yet, they rear their ugly head every now and then.

Unless you live a solitary life, you’re going to get your feelings hurt.  What you do with those feelings will play a huge impact on your life and the future of your relationships with family.  Let’s face it.  We don’t live in a world where everybody loves everybody and we all love each other.  We should, but we don’t.  There are people in our lives, and in our families, that we just cannot get along with.  As I’m struggling with these emotions this morning; the hurt, the betrayal, the feeling of being left out purposely, I felt the urge to ask myself this questions:  What part do I play in the problem? Are my feelings hurt or am I just mad because I didn’t have any control over the situation?  

I’m about to cuss, so if it offends you, skip this paragraph.  As I’m slamming cabinets and cleaning house and checking to see what was posted on Facebook (which is totally the devil’s best modern day tool), I was reminded of words my daddy said to me when I was fussing about my family one day.  He shut me up really quick with these words:  “Honey, you’ve got to realize that it’s hard to love a bitch.”   Ummmm, wow.  Isn’t that the truth, even if we don’t like it?  All of the ugly actions I can throw out there certainly will not help the situation.  Sometimes, things are just what they are.  It’s how I handle them that will give me peace in my life.  Letting these emotions fester in my heart today doesn’t hurt anybody but me.  It cannot set the tone for my household.

Today, God, I’m sorry.  I’m all out of sorts again.  Help me to remember that I cannot make people be who I want them to be.  Sometimes, I don’t like what You are showing me.  You’re working on peeling those layers off, aren’t You?  Thank You for showing me when I’m about to wreck things.  Every now and then, You just have to tell me to pump my brakes.  And once again, thank You for not giving up on me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In Due Season

Galatians 6:9  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Yesterday and today, I struggled with a topic for my blog.  I don’t want to write words to just write words, I want to be obedient to Him.  I googled and read and prayed and so forth.  I also felt a little sorry for myself. I was growing weary.  I want this blog to do well.  I want other women to connect with what God is revealing in my life and in turn feel encouraged.  I want to connect with other women who may struggling so we can support each other.  God does some pretty cool stuff if we just be still and listen.  Well, I have a hard time with being still and an even harder time with listening.

For 5 years, I have volunteered my photographic services for an organization.  At the end of last season, I was weary.  I felt like I had been totally used up, taken advantage of, and maybe ...well, used. I was pretty sure I was finished with giving away my work.

Last night, God led me to a room of 270 people at a local church. This church is doing an amazing project in the community and I wanted to be a part of it.  I knew plenty of people.  I spoke to several and hugged necks.  I was excited to be there, but I felt out of place on where I volunteered  to help with this project.  I knew in my heart that something was off.  I wasn’t listening.

Before I knew what hit me, I was being moved from the group I had volunteered to be in to a group I had not signed up for.  I’m setting back, resisting, and trying to explain, and my friend, Jennie Ann, is dragging me up the aisle.  After a few moments of extreme discomfort, I just gave in and got still and listened.  I found myself surrounded by like-minded people.  I found myself reaping joy at the new assignment I had been given.  I begin to get excited with the opportunities that had just been dumped in my lap. Oh my goodness!  I was reaping possibilities.

Hey God, again this morning, I sat down to write.  What I started with is not what I finished with.  You do that to me a lot!! One way or another, You are going to place me where You want me to be.  Sometimes, You will use friends like Jennie Ann to drag me around.  I love you, God.  You’re amazing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Negative Can't Live Here

Luke 11:28 He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." ESV

About 3 years ago, I was photographing a friend’s grandson.  I remember talking as I was working, telling my friend just how burned out I was.  I was tired of traveling, tired of people, tired of trying to make ends meet….just tired.  Negative and nasty.  That was me.  I remember my friend looking at me and saying, “You need to go on a mission trip.”  I thought to myself, there is no way I’m going out of the country.

Three weeks later I was on a plane to Nicaragua.  I’m telling you, when God wants you to do something, everything will just fall into place.  The church paid for my trip so I could document their work.  My passport came back in less than 10 days.  My friend loaned me extra gear to take.  Everything just worked. There were about 20 people total from different areas who were to meet to work for a week. Dude!  I was going to document a third world country.  I actually was excited to see the work I could do.  I wanted to “tell a story in images”.

We landed in Leon at around 2 in the morning.  I thought I had landed in hell.  It was so hot that sweat just poured off of me as soon as I stepped out of the airport.  Oh..the airport was this little block building with maybe 4 plane ports.  Men in uniforms with automatic weapons were everywhere.  I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Fast forward to arriving at the house where we would be staying.  Bunk beds, no hot water, and sometimes we had air...sometimes we didn’t, and we were told “don’t even brush your teeth with the water, much less drink it” .  We fell into bed, hot and sweaty, only to be awakened in about 3 hours to “get on the bus”.  That bus….it sort of had air conditioning, but not always.  I fixed my hair and put on a little makeup, grabbed my gear, and was ready. But, I was pumped!  I was a journalist!

After a great breakfast, we were off.  I must say that the ladies at the compound fed us wonderful food all week.  We drove for about 2 hours and arrived at a little village somewhere.  I remember just being overwhelmed at the number of little children in the village.  They were so clean and dressed up to see us.  They were so excited to have someone to play with.  We had a Bible story, then played games with them.  The cook team prepared a meal on the side.  I was shooting away, trying to get everything I could documented.  Oh, my gosh.  Nicaragua is ….hot and dirty.  I had dirt everywhere. This day, I learned that they had nothing.  They were thankful.  They were happy anyway.

Back on the bus at lunch, we headed to another village.  This continued for 3 days. It was work. I was hot and I was dirty.  I couldn’t get past my thoughts that, man, this preacher guy has it made.  He has people working for him, churches paying his way, all his needs met.  Let me stop right here and tell you this.  If I were a character from Biblical times, I’d be Thomas.  I doubt everything.  You have to show me before I believe anything.  I couldn’t understand why you would keep feeding these people, so they’d be healthy to have more children that they couldn’t feed, and so on.  Shouldn’t they be trying to break the cycle and educate them instead?  Negative and nasty.  I still didn’t get it.

On the fourth day, we went to the beach, which was unbelievably beautiful. We got back on the bus.  I looked at the minister and still had my reservations about his motives.  So far, I still thought he had it made.

After lunch, we went into the city.  We went to the hospital.  Their hospital had very few windows and we were told not to touch the walls or handrails because we have no immunities to the diseases here. We went to the maternity ward.  I remember seeing a child who had falling into a fire. She was sitting in a pink plastic pan of water, softly crying, “me duele” (it hurts me). Her mom was so broken. We went on to the newborn room.  There was a tiny baby there with a full cleft palate laying alone in a crib.  The nurse told us she would die, but she would be loved until she did.  I began to break.  It wasn’t about me anymore.  

As we got back on the bus, I looked over to the minister.  He was looking at a nasty, drunk man staggering down the street.  The minister began to weep.  Just great sobs rose from him and tears fell.  In Spanish, he said, “He is so lost.  I have tried and I cannot reach him.”  I broke a little more.  

The last day, we were taken to “The Dump”.  This is a landfill at the bottom of a volcano.  It is acres and acres of trash.  There is a little village of people who live here.  They forage the trash to find metal to sell in order to buy their food.  Again, little clean children met the bus with joy on their faces.  They were so happy.  I was off in one corner working away, when the mission team brought out bags of clothing for the families.  I have never seen such joy over hand-me-downs.  These little people took one item, thanked us, and ran to their mama to show them with joy in their faces.  I broke a little more.  We have everything.

When we got back to the compound, we cleaned up and packed.  We were flying out at about 3 in the morning.  I had made so many friends that I would probably never see again, but I God put them in my life for a week for a reason.  More importantly, I was leaving with a grateful heart.  We have so much.  

Dear God, thank You for reminding me of this time in my life.  I’ve been ungrateful lately.  I forget so often that it is totally not about me.  My family has everything we need and then some.  On that trip, You used my camera to break my heart.  Like an onion, You peeled away layer after layer until you got to the good part that You could use.  I need to shed some layers again, God.  I can’t very well represent You by being negative and nasty.  Got it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

One Of Those Days...

Psalms 51:10 - Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

I didn't have a very good day. I overslept a little and then a client called and then I was late to my first appointment. I don't handle late well at all. I was in a foul mood most of the day. I said “dammit” more than once. It's a good thing we don't live in the times of having to offer sheep for sacrifice to get forgiveness. My pasture would have been empty today. I'd probably have to steal sheep from my neighbor to sacrifice, too.

I didn't take the time to just stop and regroup. Well, I was running late so I didn't have the time to stop, but I did have the time to regroup. I sure didn't have to waste a whole day with a bad attitude. But you know what? We all have days when we are just off balance. That's one of the greatest things about the love of Christ. When I realized that I needed to get over myself, all I had to do was ask God for forgiveness for my attitude and my language. I had to mean it...and I did.

Hey God, I wasted over half of a day that You blessed me with today. I sure am sorry that I let You down. I'm sorry that I let me down, too. This changing thing is going to be a work in progress. I know that days like today help us build our testimony. You know, where we are...where we should be.  Once again, I thank you for your mercy and your grace.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Overloaded and Unappreciated?

1 Corinthians 14:40  But all things should be done decently and in order. ESV

I know that there are times in our lives when we take on more than we can handle.  We may be asked by a friend, boss, or committee to help out.  We have no desire to be involved, but pressure to do the right thing causes us to cave in to their request.  When we are overloaded, we tend to halfway do things to just get them done.  Sometimes, I say yes to a project and then find myself resenting it so badly that I have to work hard to do it decently.  Then I take it out on my family, who in turn resent me, and so on and so forth.  I have just set the tone for my household.

Our lives absolutely do not have to be this way.  We won’t cause a landslide of disaster if we simply say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but at this time, I’m not able to help you with this.”  It is a win/win for everyone.  You’re not resentful and they find someone who will give them the time that is needed.

Every one of us has limits on what we can physically accomplish.  We already have family, jobs, kids, housework, shuttle service, ballgames, friendships, and the list goes on and on.  What I want to say to you today is this: Unless you can do tasks decently, don’t feel pressured to do them.  Take care of yourself.

Today, God, I ask you to help me know my limitations.  Help me to know when I can help and when it is best for me to say no.  I ask that You remind me, that in everything I do, I am representing You.  Help me to do everything decently.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sinner, Sinner

Matthew 7:1-6  Don’t criticize (judge), and then you won’t be criticized (judged).  For others will treat you as you treat them.

Okay, so I’m judgmental.  About everything.  I form an opinion pretty fast, especially when I think I’m being judged.  Sinner, sinner, chicken dinner… I’m defensive, too.

I’m excited about what God is doing in my life!  I’m thankful that He is helping me write and share and learn and grow.  However, (there is always a ‘however’) it seems like every time I get a chance to share what is happening in my life, I get the look when I share the name of this blog.  It really happens a lot in a church setting, because real Christians don’t cuss, right?  Wrong.  They might not say an actual curse word or use foul language, but somehow, every day of their lives, sin just happens.  Sometimes, I think that a judgmental attitude of church-goers is exactly what keeps new Christ-followers from being church-goers!  Isn’t this a nasty cycle Satan is trying to create here?  Somebody hurt my feelings, so I am defensive, then I get judgmental, then I feel insecure.  Stop it!!!  Satan, you just need to go back to hell and leave me alone.

Hey God, You know how I am when I get my feelings hurt.  Help me to stay encouraged when I am discouraged by others.  This isn’t about me.  It’s about telling others what You are doing in my life. Help me to learn from this.  Help me to know the whole story before I jump to a conclusion.  Help me to ask if I don’t understand.  Forgive me for having an attitude.  I’m pretty sure I was a hypocrite today.  Forgive me…..again.  Thank You for Your faithfulness.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Birthday To My Son

Numbers 6:24-26  “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”  NIV

Thirty years ago today, I woke up with a crazy back ache.  My tailbone felt like it was broken.  I was 35 ½ weeks pregnant with my second child.  It was a Saturday.  I just didn’t get any relief and decided I might need to go be seen.  6 hours later, I was holding a tiny 5 lb 5 oz baby boy.  He was 4 inches from shoulder to shoulder.  His little arm was the size of my thumb, and his daddy could put his wedding ring over his foot.  We were scared to death.  But my boy was a fighter.

Jake has been a fighter all of his life. He’s had some struggles. Not only did God bring him through all of these struggles, He made him a wonderful man.  God sent him a wife who loves him and cares for him.  God blessed him with a son with this marriage, who is a blessing to our family.  God blessed their daughter with a beautiful heart. God gave them a beautiful, buck wild, precious son together.  The best part about his wife?  She puts up with him.  While a mama thinks her child is perfect, a wife gets to deal with all of the crazy.

My children and my grandchildren are the greatest joy in my life.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pray for them and their spouses.  There have been times when we haven’t seen eye to eye, usually because I try to get in their business.  Thankfully, God also blessed my son with a forgiving heart.  That heart is probably encouraged by his wife, who knows the true value of family and forgiveness.  

As God works on me, I am also learning that remembering what  “happened” in the past can take all of your joy and rob you of so many precious times that will “happen” in the future. I see first hand in other family members the devastation and sadness that comes from parents holding on to old grudges.  It doesn’t matter how old a child is, they are still your child.  Love them like God loves you.  Unconditionally.

Dear God, today I thank you for my son.  Shine Your face on him.  Be gracious to him.  Bless him and his family.  Let him do mighty things for You.  You did a great job with him.  Thank You for choosing me to be his mom.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wonderfully Made

Psalms 139:14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. ESV

January.  Resolutions.  Business plans.  My off season.  My strongest season of doubt because I set such high expectations for myself, that I end up failing. I relate my feelings of disappointment to my self worth.  My hurt with myself spills over to my personal life.  I let some small bump in the road turn into a mountain.  I end up lashing out at my family or withdrawing completely because I feel less than worthy.  Then I feel bad about that.  It is a cycle; a cycle that cannot be allowed to begin.

The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We are wonderful!  Every day, we will face challenges.  Someone will push every button we have.  We will not meet a deadline.  We will feel overwhelmed because we take too much on ourselves, knowing that we are already at our max capacity.  I don’t know if you are the same way, but when I’m stress-overloaded, I tend to be pissy.  Then I have to rein myself in and do some apologizing.  It’s not everybody else’s fault that I had a day out of balance.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for reminding me that I am wonderfully made.  When my world is out of balance, please remind me to turn to You.  Remind me that I can’t do everything, and do them well.  I can, however, do Your works.  Remind my soul to slow down and listen to You.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Truth In Words

Proverbs 12:18  Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.  NLT

There is a little bit of truth in every word that comes out of a person’s mouth.  Even when you add a remark such as “just kidding” or “lol”, most of the time, you’re not.

For most of my adult life, I thought that sarcasm was my spiritual gift.  I had no filter and just pretty much said what I thought.  It took me years, and some therapy, to realize that sarcasm is a tool to cover up hurt and insecurity.

As women, we use words like, “fine” or “sure” or “whatever”.  What we really mean is, “I’d really rather you not but I know you won’t listen to me anyway” or “You know you're about to get throat punched,” or “Are you really that stupid?”  As I’m working to filter my life, I’m also working to filter my mouth.  I’m also learning to say words that need to be said gently, before I’m to the pissed off stage.  I'm also learning that sometimes it's best to say nothing at all. 

Dear Jesus, thank you for helping me learn to use words that are pleasing to You. Help me know when it is ok to stand my ground with my words in an appropriate way. Help me to speak up when my feelings are hurt instead of dwelling on it. Help me to not use those cutting remarks when healing words will work so much better. Thank You for continuing to let me be a work in progress.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The China Cup

1 Corinthians 13:4  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. ESV
It's funny how God puts people in your life at just the right time. I'm in Atlanta this week at a photography conference. I went to a little meet and greet last evening. I met several ladies there. One in particular seemed to talk more to me. She said that her daughter isn't speaking to her right now. As we talked, I was reminded of times I have totally failed as a parent. I remembered times when my children were miffed with me. It was usually about control. Mine. 
It seems this mom (who I was talking to) and her daughter had had a misunderstanding. Then her daughter had gotten mad with her. She said her first clue was when her daughter was drinking coffee out of fine china but served her out of an everyday mug. 
Wow. I was being pretty judgmental, thinking, now that's a pretty stupid thing to get mad about. Then I realized, this isn't about a coffee cup. This lady needs a friend. We ended up sitting on the staircase talking for a long time. I told her that one of the biggest lessons I've learned while trying to find my balance is that you have to look at what's right instead of what you perceive as wrong. In other words, would she rather have coffee with her daughter out of a everyday mug or would she rather have hurt feelings about the China cup?

So many times, we focus on the silliest things. In the "now", they look important, but when we stop to think, our hurt feelings are over something that doesn't even matter at all. I know I am so guilty of this. 
Tonight, Jesus, I thank you that you reminded me to look at what's right in my life. Thank you for letting me have a good relationship with my children. Thank you for giving me words to say to her. You are always teaching us and using us. Thank you for letting me be where you wanted me to be to listen. I pray that you will heal their relationship, God. Mama's need their daughters.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thank You, Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:18  In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
I have spent the last 3 days in Atlanta at a conference for my work.  First off, praise Jesus I don’t have to live in Atlanta.  I think I would just die if I had to deal with the daily traffic.  But sometimes, you have to see what you don’t have to be able to see what you do have.  We don’t have 10 lanes of traffic.  We have 2 lane roads.  Thank you, Jesus.
I have been in workshops with hundreds of people all day.  I don’t have gazillion dollar cameras.  I don’t make $600 for a newborn session.  I don’t have a studio with the latest and greatest of equipment.  But, I have what I need for where I am in my career.  I have great clients, most of the time...I make enough to have all I need.  Thank you, Jesus.
Most of the people at the conference stayed in the city and walked to the conference.  So convenient.  I had to drive in 20 miles everyday.  But, I have a friend who let me stay with her and save that $200 a night on a motel room.  Thank you, Jesus.
Sometimes, I am guilty of focusing on what I don’t have.  Instead of being excited to go home and try new things, I find myself thinking negative thoughts.  I don’t have that camera. I don’t have that lens.  I don’t have this or that.  I’m stuck.  Things will never get better for my business.  Instead of being inspired, I find myself feeling…..I don’t know..Jealous?  Envious? Depressed?  Human?  Yeah, that.  Just how wrong is that?  Instead of being grateful, I’m being a brat.  I’m kind of telling God that what He has so graciously provided me with, just isn’t enough.
Hey Jesus, it’s me again.  I sure am sorry that I take so much for granted.  You have given me the opportunity to live a dream.  I’m sorry that sometimes I am greedy and want more.  Help me to find the balance between being satisfied and being all that You designed me to be.  Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Loneliness in Marriage

1 Peter 3:7  In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.  ISV

Today I spent most of the morning talking to and praying with a friend. She is struggling in this “now” season of her life.   So many emotions came out as we talked and cried.  Feeling neglected by her husband, she is struggling with her self worth.  Nobody should have to feel lonely in a marriage.  Nobody.  

As I sit here tonight, writing a blog post, I’m convicted of spending too much time on social media.  Even now, my husband is sitting beside me with a tablet in his hand.  When did we get to this point in our lives? The difference in my marriage and my friend’s marriage is that Matt and I value our time together.  We make time to be together.  He gives me the attention that I want and need, and I give him the same.  However, I think sometimes we put devices ahead of spouses.  Why is it so important to maintain relationships with people we don’t even know or maybe we have met them briefly, while we let the relationship with the person sitting right beside us wither up and die?

Marriage is so exciting when it begins.  We can’t wait for our husband’s to get home.  We do special things for them.  We dote on them.  But, if we aren’t careful, we let the new wear off and we begin to take them for granted.  Once children come along, we naturally pay more attention to the babies, because that’s what Mama’s do.  Add to the mix having to compete with Monday Night Football, hunting season, and Facebook, and before we know it our marriage is moved to the back burner.

Dear Jesus, tonight I ask you to show Yourself mightily in my friend’s marriage, but more importantly, show her how worthy she is to You. Help her husband turn to her instead of a device when he wants to talk.  Thank You for reminding me to be dedicated to my marriage.  Thank You for reminding me that my husband, the person sitting next to me, deserves my attention and my love.  Also, thank You that for giving me a husband who loves me and who loves You.  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Get Out of My Head

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. NIV

Do you have a secret desire in your heart?  Is there something you would love to accomplish but you just don’t have the courage or the confidence to step out and try?  Do you fear what others may think or that you will not be good enough?  Let me tell you something.  Every person on this earth suffers from doubt sometimes.  You are no different, no less worthy of greatness, no less able to accomplish your dreams, than any other person.  Sometimes, the greatest barrier will be the doubts that you plant in your own head.  Get out of your head. Tell yourself to leave you alone.

When I first had the desire in my heart to write devotionals, I didn’t move forward with it for almost a year.  I talked to a few people and hinted around that I’d love to encourage other women to be strong in their lives.  Some of my friends were really encouraging.  Others, who know my past, laughed.  

When God lays something on your heart, eventually you will have to do something about it.  He will encourage and remind and plant seeds of hope until you obey him.  I began to write, praying and choosing my scriptures carefully. I am really enjoying writing, but Satan is doing his destroy my joy. I am weak in the self-confidence area of my life.  I am a quitter.  It’s much easier to just give up than to stay and fight.  Not this time.  It doesn’t matter if I reach one or reach many, God said for me to write, and I will.

What is it that you would love to do?  Do you want your own business?  Do you want to go back to school?  These seeds of promise come from our God.  The seeds of doubt, the “I can’t”, “You will never,” the “What makes you think”, are from the enemy.  Satan does not want us to succeed and he certainly does not want us to give God the glory for our success.  I want you to know that if God is with you, no one can be against you.  Not your friends, not your neighbor, not your family, not even yourself.   You have everything you need inside of you to be successful.  It’s very important for all of us to keep praying and working towards our goal.  One of the greatest lessons I learned is that “not now” does not mean “not ever”.

Women are mighty.  We are strong.  We are successful.  We can accomplish whatever God lays on our hearts to do.  Don’t believe Satan when he tries to make you believe you are not worthy. God will give you the ability to be all that He has designed you to be. Keep yourself aligned with your goals. Keep praying.  Keep asking God for direction and guidance.  Above all, remember to thank Him for believing in you and trusting you to do what he has laid on your heart.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It Will Be Ok

Psalms 85:10 that, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet ~ righteousness and peace kiss each other.” ESV

Having grandchildren is one of the greatest gifts you will ever have in your life.  There is something so forgiving about the innocence of these little people.  What drove you crazy with your own children doesn’t seem to faze you with their children.  It could be that we are older and not as overwhelmed as we were when we were raising our children.  Or it could be that we know these children will go home soon!!

However, (isn’t it funny how there always seems to be a ‘however’ during a really good teaching moment) these little people are fully capable of just pushing all of the buttons in your patience remote and setting you off.  
One particular day, my smallest one, Luke, was over for a play date.  Now, Luke is all boy.  All buck wild boy.  He was having a good time doing what little boys do.  I don’t remember exactly what he did that day to get in trouble, but I do remember saying, “Luke, Mimi’s had enough.”
He looked at me with big blue eyes, took my face in his little hands and said, “Let me kiss you, Mimi. It will be ok.”  Wow!  I went from 44 hot to a melted puddle right there.

I wonder how many times in our own lives we push God’s buttons on the patience remote?  Daily, I’m sure.  I am so thankful that I can tell God that I blew it and ask Him to forgive me.  I envision our Heavenly Father holding my face and telling me, “It will be ok.”

It is an awakening moment when we understand that concept.  When we are steadfast and faithful to love our God, come to Him with our overloaded minds and admit our shortcomings,  RIGHT THEN everything is made right and peaceful in our world.  We know that He doesn’t even remember what it was that we did in the first place, because we are forgiven and, “It will be ok.”

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pretty Words ~

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.  ESV

This morning started with a text from a lifelong friend of mine.  It seems that we fell asleep before we finished our conversation last night.  One thing led to another and we ended up talking about this blog. Belinda has been my rock throughout this whole writing venture. She is the most encouraging person I have ever come in contact with.  She has a gift of saying the perfect words  at the perfect time to tie a knot in my rope when I’ve reached the end of it.

Belinda is a mother to two young children whom she homeschools.  Her husband is self-employed and they are neck-deep in a home remodel.  I asked her how she held it all together and maintained her sanity.  As we talked together, we realized that there are times when we have a gift of sounding really pretty to someone on the outside when inside, we are feeling really ugly.

I’m a fixer.  When someone comes to me with a burden, I have just the right thing to say.  I have a stockpile of “you can do it” and “you got this” phrases and problem solving skills just waiting to be shared.  It’s easy to see anybody else’s problems and offer words of encouragement to make it better, but I cannot fix myself.  As wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, or whatever we may be, I think that is how we are made.  We think that we need to put ourselves last so that we can take care of everybody else.  The Bible teaches us to encourage one another and lift each other up.  Helping others gives us such a wonderful feeling inside.  While I am genuine in my encouragement, it dawned on Belinda and I that pretty words to others when we are so stressed out and emotionally overloaded that our own personal lives are hanging by threads are just that….pretty words.  

Inside of every one of us, God is building a testimony.  If I’m so stressed out that I am difficult to live with, then my testimony is not very believable.  Perhaps it’s time to fix myself.

Dear Jesus, today I come to You asking for Your guidance.  As I begin the new year, help me to remember to schedule time in for myself.  I need to remember that it is okay to rest.  Help all of us remember that we are no good to anybody unless we are good to ourselves.  Help us to remember that we matter to You.  Our body is Your temple, bought and paid for by You.  Thank You for friends who help us see what we can’t see for ourselves.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Ephesians 4:22-24 …to put off our old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ESV

If any of you know me or follow me on social media, you know that I can be outspoken and brutally honest.  I struggle with having a filter.  I even built my following of thousands on social media by telling it like it is.  You know what?  I’m not proud of that.  I’ve hurt a lot of people over the years with words that I have said and posted trying to be popular.

Things began to change for me about 2 years ago.  Suddenly, I was hearing phrases like “difficult to work with”, “she will make fun of you”, and “I was scared I would read about me on your page.”  I’m loud and outspoken and hard headed, but I’m telling you, those words gave me a terrible case of “yeahbutcha’s”.  I knew it was time to make changes in my life, but I came up with every excuse in the world why I couldn’t change..

What in the world are “yeahbutcha’s”?  It is doubt.  It is a powerful tool that Satan uses to make me question my self worth. I would think I was doing better and then I’d hear in my head, “yeah, but you know you haven’t really changed,” or “yeah, but you have hurt so many people,” or “yeah, but everybody remembers how you were on social media. You can’t change.  That’s who you really are.”

Ephesians 4:27,  the Apostle Paul tells us “and give no opportunity to the devil.”  Now, when I try to make changes in my life and that old self-doubt begins to manifest itself in my thoughts, I have to remember that I can put off my old self.  I can change.  God believes in me.  He made me in His image.  He even sent His only Son to DIE so that I am able to put on a new self.  There is nothing that I have done, am doing, or am going to do in the future that will make it impossible to change my life.  I will not suffer from “yeahbutcha’s”. I believe that God has a purpose for me.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I do know that He will show me when it is time.  Until then, I will rejoice in knowing that I am worthy.

The same goes for all of you.  There is nothing in your past that can keep you from the future that God has planned for you.  Nothing.  God already knows your past.  He also knows your future. Don’t make excuses.  Make goals.  Today is a brand new day.  Renew your mind.  Focus on where you are going, not where you have been.  Be worthy of all you are designed to be.

Thank You, God, for forgiveness. When I say, “Yeah, but I've done so much wrong,” I know You will answer with, “Yeah, but I made you. My Son died for those wrongs. It is forgiven.”

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fear ~

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you:  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In 2010, my dad, who was 79 at the time, started having some reflux problems.  After a series of doctor’s appointments, it was decided that he needed a minor surgery to remove his gall bladder and to fix a hernia.  Easy.  Routine.  So they said.  Things went horribly wrong.  His liver was cut, his stomach stitched to his lung, and he was highly overmedicated.  He ended up having a feeding tube put in and and spending many days in the hospital.  He didn’t get well.  We prayed and prayed and prayed some more.  We learned the meaning of fear.  My sister, a former RN with Hospice, kept my daddy alive.  My mom, a retired nurse herself, devoted her life to my dad, and yet he did not turn the page. Nobody could seem to help him.  He was dying.

We began to pray for mercy.  We prayed for help.  I remember posting on my Facebook page, asking for prayers.  We felt so hopeless and didn’t know where to turn except to God.  My friend, Becky, saw this post.  She messaged me saying her brother-in-law worked at The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and he may be able to help.  Within 48 hours, my dad was being seen by one of the most renowned gastric surgeons at the clinic.  God had heard our prayers and granted our family mercy.  Things didn’t turn around immediately, but we began to see major changes.  We were so excited and thankful that God had paved the way for Daddy to see this surgeon.  We had hope.

Corrective surgery was scheduled for the mistakes to be corrected.  After the first go round, I was so filled with fear that I couldn’t sleep, eat, or hardly function.  When the doctor came into the waiting room to get us and called us into a private room, I felt the most horrific fear of my life.  I cried out for Jesus.  I just knew it hadn’t gone well.  But I was wrong.  My dad was granted an extension here on this earth.  He turned 85 in October .  I know he has more days behind him than he has ahead of him, but I thank God every night for those days.

So many times we take God for granted.  We take everything for granted as long as things are good.  How quick we are to cry out to God when things go wrong.  Aren’t we thankful that He never leaves us or forsakes us, that when we turn to him in fear, we know He is there, holding us in righteous right hand?  I sure am.

Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me even when I take You for granted. Help me remember to come to You with thanks and honor, and not just when I need You. Thank You for Your unconditional love.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Childlike Faith

Mark 11:22  And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.”  ESV

When my daughter was about 4 years old, she was a very determined little person.  She got it in her head that she wanted a kitten.  Not just any kitten, but a black and white kitten named “Socks” because he needed to have 4 white feet.  She told us every day that she needed that kitten.  Finally, I tried to compromise by telling her that we would let her have this kitten if we could find a black kitten with white feet, but it had to be a boy.  She bounced around, excited as could be.  I thought I was off the hook, at least for a while.

That night, when I tucked her into bed, she said her prayers.  I am paraphrasing some but her prayer went something like this:  “And Jesus, my mommy said I could have my kitten so you need to make a kitten that is black with all four of his feet white and he needs to be a boy.  Amen”  We laughed about her praying for a kitten.

The next afternoon, I picked them up from the sitter and stopped by our business for something.  When we got out of the van, (yes, I was the mini-van driving Mama), we heard tiny little sounds coming from our work dumpster.  My daughter ran over to look. She came running back to me holding the most pitiful looking kitten I’ve ever seen.  He was scrawny and sickly….but he was a black and white kitten with 4 white feet and he was a boy.  She said, “See!! Jesus was listening, Mama, just like they said in Sunday School.”  Needless to say, we took the poor thing home, got him well and had him for many years.

How many times do we pray for the seemingly impossible, but have no faith that our prayers will be heard or answered?  Or we don’t even pray at all because we don’t feel that God will answer?  One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp is that God always listens.  He always hears our prayers.  He always answers our prayers.  He just doesn’t always answer them like I may want him to.  I don’t have that innocent faith like a little girl does, but I’m learning to have faith again.  I’m learning to see that His answers are always so much better than how I had it planned anyway.

Whatever you are going through in this season of your life, remember to ask God to guide you.  There is nothing that He can’t help you get through.  Just have faith.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for reminding me of this story about having faith.  Thank you for providing a life lesson to a little girl, but more importantly, to her Mommy.  Help us to remember that You are always faithful, even when we forget to be.