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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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I Want ~

Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  NIV

It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post.   I’ve had what I thought was writer’s block.  I couldn’t come up with words, or topics, or idea.  I was empty.  A few days ago, I was standing in the shower, praying for God to show me what was going on.  I asked if He remembered my plan.  I want to help women, God.  Remember?  I want to inspire people.  I want to let women know that it’s ok to struggle because God has you always.  I want to write, God.  

Plain as day, God said…..”I”.   Oh wow.  Just wow.  I’m throwing out all of these, “I want this and I want that’s” and God said “It’s not all about you, Kim.  That is not why you write.  You write because I chose to use you as a vessel to tell people about Me.  You need to remember that.”

God, it says in Your word that whatever we do, we should do it in the name of Jesus.  I forgot.  I guess we all go through periods in our lives to where we lose focus on why we are doing the things we do.  We get caught up in the praise and forget that we are all servants.  These grand ideas shouldn't just pop into our heads, work out, and leave us with a “look what I did” little moment.  Help all of us remember that it is You who gave us the little idea. It is You you who directs our steps.  It is You who put us in the paths of those You want us to help and throw us directly into the path of someone who can change our lives.  Thanking You, in the name of the Lord Jesus,’for this reminder.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

God Says I'm Strong ~

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;  He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Strong…..and courageous.   Most of you know that last year, I decided to write a children’s book to document the stories I use to tell my children and grandchildren when they were little.  I prayed and prayed and prayed about it.  I wrote, scratched, wrote some more…..made eleventy-million mistakes, but I prayed and believed that I was in the season that God wanted me to be in.  With lots of input from my family, and tons and tons of support from friends, not only did I complete one book, but a series of five.

I have had the best of time visiting schools and encouraging little people to read.  Book sales are growing.  I am able to give my grandkids little royalty dollars.  After all, they are the reason I wanted to write these books.  This adventure has opened so many doors for me.  God has even used me to encourage another woman to finish a novel that she truly wanted to write but didn’t feel courageous enough to do so.  This whole “put people in your path at just the right moment” has never been truer than it has been the past year.  I don’t even have words to tell you how grateful I am for this season I’m in.

One of the strongest lessons I have learned from the books is this:  You get out of something what you put into it.  Marketing is hard….really hard.  For every school I get invited to, I get rejected by 3 more.  Be strong and courageous.   Don’t be afraid or terrified.  I’m not real good at that part.   Fear chokes me down.   Now, I will tell you, I am the master of talking a good line.  Marketing is my background.  I know how to promote and work.  But then Satan and his lying ass shows up and all of a sudden, I’m doubting everything I’m doing.    Let me give you an example.  Recently, I attended a function and was feeling pretty excited with the way things were going.  I talked to so many people and was able to encourage a room full of young writers to follow their dream while they, in turn, encouraged each other and me.  On the way home, however, I got a phone call from another marketer.  “I don’t think I could ever use my grandchildren to sell books like you do….”  After that, I didn’t hear anything else.  My mind was filled with doubt.  What I was so excited to share with my grandchildren was perceived as extortion by someone else. Does Satan do that to you, too?  Just bust in and steal your joy?

Hey God, I want to thank You for this verse today.  This isn’t about books, or grandchildren, or following a dream.  I’m not trying to “attention seek” or feel sorry for myself.  You made me so You know that all of my life I’ve taken my toys and just quit and gone home when someone hurts my feelings.  But this verse... it’s Biblical proof that You’ve got me.  You will guide me.  You will encourage me.  You will always, always, ALWAYS lead me where I need to be, if only I stay in Your will.   Thank You for once again showing me the perfect verse at the perfect time.  Thank You, also, for the little caution flag you raised so that I keep my balance with my marketing strategies.  Satan knows exactly which buttons to push.  Thankfully, You say I’m strong.  Believing I’m exactly where You want me to be ~

Monday, April 24, 2017

Missing the Storms ~

Missing the Storm ~
Colossians 3:21  Fathers, (or mothers) do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.  NIV

Sometimes, it does me good to hear the other point of view. Recently, I wrote a blog on how good it is for everyone to get   along when you are raising children.  Last week, I had someone say to me…..”I could add to that”.  I ask her what she meant.  She looked at me and said, “Just because a person should love a child, doesn’t mean they always do.”   Um….wow.  What a humbling moment for me.  I’m over here trying to write this inspirational, feel good blog, and I’m blinded by my rose colored glasses.

As a family photographer, I see this all of the time.  I’ve even had a lady tell me, “He’s just my stepson. I don’t need him in all of our family pictures.”  That was a horrible thing for her to say, but it was even worse that the biological parent allowed his son to be treated that way.  

Having a blended family is hard.  I made some critical mistakes that I could go on and on about. I can’t change yesterdays.  I can say this…...I wish I had never put any person in my life above the welfare and happiness of my children when they were in such an emotionally unstable time in their lives.  No child should ever have to wonder why their parent doesn’t care about them because they are so consumed with their own selfish needs. A child should never worry about….their happiness….their stability….their emotional health….their security. They are absolutely the MOST important people in your lives.  Usually, when “kids are resilient” prefaces a statement, it means a parent is NOT putting the emotional welfare of their children first.  

God, I could go on a soapbox rant here.  I could say so many judgemental things, but I’d be a hypocrite.  Been there...failed that.  Parents need to be parents when their children are children, and children should be allowed to be little.  I pray that parents, both men and women, choose their children over who they are dating/marrying/sleeping with.  Some people just don’t need to be stepparents, no matter how good they are as a partner. And creating a child doesn’t make you a parent.  But, that’s a topic for another day. Thank You for the people you put in my path.  Sometimes, I am thinking sunshine and rainbows and I’m missing the storms.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Put That In Your Blog ~

Psalms 103:3-5  He forgives all my sins.  He heals me.  He ransoms me from hell.  He surrounds me with loving kindness and tender mercies.  He fills my life with good things.
The Book

Psalms 103.  I really needed this beautiful chapter of the Bible to fall open today.  Last week, I had a bit of temper and spoke a few of those cuss words I use to say quite a bit of.  It’s been a while, but I guess I remember them pretty well.  Someone in my life said, “You should put that in your Jesus blog.”    Hand out…..mike drop.  

Instantly, I was filled with regret, condemnation, and the worst;  insecurity and worthlessness.  Then I wanted to do the finger pointing thing, making sure they knew they had NO right to judge me based on their representation of Christianity. I wanted to justify my outburst.  I didn’t say anything, but instead was filled with shame.  I  spent a week asking for forgiveness, but I have also spent a week believing Satan telling me that, “You know they are right.  You have no business trying to be a Christian.  You’re a hypocrite.  You are not worthy to tell others about God.”   Satan almost convinced me that he was right.   He used someone I love to make me feel unworthy.  He will use whatever and whomever he can to take us down.  

What I have learned is that I absolutely should not use curse words, even in anger, because people listen.  What I have also learned is this:  I’m not Jesus and I’m going to fall flat on my face in the sin department…...a lot.  I just need to learn from this and move on.  That is the beautiful part of this journey. God knows this and loves us anyway.  

God, conviction isn’t fun.  For whatever reason, You feel that I am worthy to write a blog to help others know and trust You.  I know when the word is from You.  I also know when I’m trying to make this all about me.  Today, I ask You to remind everyone that we all mess up.  None of us are worthy.  Your word says that if we simply ask, we will be forgiven and You will remove our sin as far as the east is from the west. (Psalms 103:12)   For this, I sure am thankful.

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Got You ~

I’ve Got You ~

1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  

What is it that you want to do?  Who is your target?  What do you love and enjoying in your life?  What are you resenting and hating in your life?  What makes you feel totally overwhelmed?

These questions rolled through my little problem-solving mind this morning as I was praying and searching for scripture to write a blog post.  Why this topic?  Because, in order to move forward with some life changes, I have to finish where I am now.  Let me rephrase that...I have stacked so much stuff on my plate that I don’t know what to do to get it all done.

You know what this causes?  Self-imposed destruction.  When we, as women, think we have to do everything, we blow ourselves up.  We become overwhelmed, resentful, angry, and about 10 more words.  Some call it “multi-tasking”.  Ha.

So, this morning, I’m making a list of what I need to get done.  It’s long.  But, I’m also praying as I am writing it all out.  I’m also thinking about some very wise words my precious cousin said to me recently….”When you don’t know what to do, just do the next thing...and the next...and the next...It’s much easier to face one thing at a time.”  Isn’t that just so simple?

Hey God, today I come to you and I give you my anxiety.  Here.  I cannot be fully involved in my future if I’m stuck and frazzled where I am now. Help me to face each task and stick to it until it’s completed, then let me have the strength to leave it and move on to the next task.  It looks like I’d learn, God...yet, here I am again.  You made me so You totally understand what I’m thinking, God.  I know You’ve got me.  You’ve always got me.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

It's Not Their Fault ~

Colossians 3:21  Father, (and mothers), do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.  NIV (with a little Kim Stone)

I want to tell you about a scene I witnessed recently.

A mom and a daughter were shopping together.  The little girl wanted a simple toy, like little girls do in a store.  The lady said, “Tell your dad you want it.”  The little girl said back, “Daddy will just say he gives you money every month for me.”  The lady grabbed the toy and threw it in the cart and said, “Fine, but you’re not taking it to your stupid father’s house.”  

All I could say was, “It’s not her fault” as I passed by.  I expected to get my head busted but instead, tears filled the mother’s eyes.  

It was easy for me to show compassion to her because 20 years ago, this could have been me.  I was so bitter and broken that I wanted to make sure my children knew what a jerk their dad was.  He was so out of sorts that he only referred to me as, “Your stupid f-ing mama”.  I thought that would be my legal name on the final judgement papers…

You know what I know now?  That burden was ours to carry, not our childrens’.  They weren’t the ones who couldn’t get it together.  However, they were the ones who suffered.  

I can’t undo those days.  I can be an advocate  for those of you who are where I was then.  It doesn’t matter how much you hurt, how alone you feel, how unfair everything seems, how much you hate the person who is your child’s other parent….it’s not your child’s fault.  None of it is.  

God,  I’ve learned that You won’t leave me alone when something needs to be posted.  I’ve put this post off for a week.  I pray that whoever needs to see this today will see it.  Hopefully, someone will see themselves and think before they speak words that will hurt their children.  Help them, instead,  to teach their children mercy and grace.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mine ~

Mine ~

Deuteronomy 10:21  He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.  
My blog entries have gotten fewer because I have let my boat get overloaded with other stuff.  Did you watch the movie,  Finding Nemo?  Do you remember the seagulls whose one line was “mine”?  The fish landed in front of a flock of seagulls, and all of the birds started grabbing at the fish and started chanting  “mine”.  That’s how I feel sometimes.  Everybody wants something from me…..I’m so thankful for my circle of friends who see when I’m drowning and swim out to help me swim back to shore.  They keep me balanced.  They show me mercy and grace and love me when I’m just a mess.  

A few entries back, I shared with you the story of my brother-in-law; about the raging fevers and the prayers that would calm the storms during his battle with leukemia.  On August 26th, 2016, this man was given maybe 10 days to live.  This morning, they received the news that there is no detectable trace of the mutation for leukemia in his bone marrow and he has a “most favorable prognosis”.  I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my brother-in-law and my sister.  

Hey God, You showed out in a big way with this miracle You gave to our family.  My little problems sure seem silly compared to the storms that You brought my brother-in-law through.  You had Your plan in place this whole time.  You wrapped him in Your arms and said, “Mine”.  Help me to remember that I am Yours.  Sometimes You give us storms. You also give us friends to help us through.  But, most importantly, you keep us in your arms, and whisper, “Mine”.  Thank You for putting things into perspective for me this morning.  Thank You for your continued mercy….and miracles.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nothing Changes ~

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes ~

Matthew 7:8  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  NIV

January is always my month of wishing things were different in my life.   It’s winter and dreary.  I’m usually about 10 pounds heavier than any other time of the year.  It’s my off season for photography and while I love the break because I’m usually so burned out, I struggle to make ends meet. That’s mainly because I don’t manage my money very well over the Christmas holidays.  Happens every year.  

I’ve spent the last two weeks thinking about this blog post.  I’ve come up with lots of excuses not to write it.  I grumbled to my friend about being unhappy with where I am with my business.  “I really want my book series to take off and support me.”  “I’d love for this blog to pay my bills.”  “I wish” and “I want” just kept pouring out of my mouth.  She said, “Change isn’t going to come to you at your door while you’re just sitting there.”  Then she posted something to my Facebook wall.  It said, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”  I’m telling you, those 5 words have haunted me this week.  I’m not sure I like it, either, because I have had to realize that I am standing in my own way of getting the things I want in my life.  In order to have what I want, I have to get off my procrastinating, insecure butt and make it happen.  Nothing will change until I make it change.

God, I wonder how many other women struggle with where they are in their lives.  Certainly, I’m not the only one who prays for things to be different but puts forth little or no effort to do my part and make things different.  Tonight my prayer is that You will remind me that we are a team in change. You guide when I pray.  You give when I ask.  You will open the door for what I need in my life.  Nowhere in that verse does it say, “Hey, Kim.  Here you go...wait, don’t get up.  Sit right there.  I’ll bring it to you and everything will be fine.”  It says, “the door will be open”.  Nothing changes unless I get up and go through that door.  Thank You for my friends, God.  Thank You for these lessons that keep me balanced.