Wednesday, July 20, 2016

But WHY God?

There was once a girl who dreamed of a big family.   A family where kids ran around with laughter and giggles and warmth filled the entire home. Love would radiate from the inside out. The husband would adore his wife with such adoration and life would be invincible.

This dream seemed so obtainable, so possible. This young and naive little girl lived in a world, where although she knew heartache existed, she believed that love could overcome anything.

The dream quickly faded when this girl too quickly grew up and realized that we are not as invincible as she had hoped.

Heartache gives no warning and too often no reason. Pain comes like a thief in the night to steal our joy and cripple our entire world.

You see, we want to be invincible. We want to believe it would never happen to us. The broken friendship, failing marriage, rebellious children or the life gone too soon.

The heartache happens and we are often left standing with the questions and brokenness and nothing seems to make sense.

We cling to the why. We need to know why. If we knew why something had happen or gone wrong then somehow and someway it would make us feel better, give us a reason to understand.

I can remember waiting for days, weeks after Bethany had died for her autopsy report. I needed and craved the answers to her death. I begged God to help me understand why my little girl had to die. The phone rang and my heart was not prepared to hear what I heard…

“The results where normal. Nothing was wrong. It was simply a sudden death.”

I was angry and mad. That was not good enough. I needed more. I could deal with a birth defect, I could understand that my daughter was sick, but to take her for no reason. This I did not understand.

For weeks I became bitter and even angrier with God. I had nothing to cling to anymore, no reason to heal or move on.

Over time God began to tug on my heart. Pulling me closer and closer. I soon began to see that my story was not over. I would never get the answer to why she had to go, but yet, I would see her again. This world is not my forever home.

God had to teach me that it is not always about why something has happened, but about what is going to happen. The heartache we go through can destroy us literally from the inside out. We have to make the choice to believe that it does not define us and our story is not over.

I still believe that love can overcome anything, and even more so when that love comes from a God who promises to turn our sorrows into joy. What will tomorrow hold? Bitterness and anger or hope for a better tomorrow. 

The Lord says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? Isaiah 43:18-19
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The "Perfect" Church?!?!

            I find myself doubting so much today. My self-esteem, motherhood, being a wife, teacher; really everything.

I look at the world around me and my heart simply hurts. I hurt for my children and I hurt for what has become.

I wonder where love and kindness for one another has gone. Do any of us even care anymore? Are we so wrapped up in making things perfect or right for our cause that we are forgetting the most important cause of all…? To Love and bring others to Him.

1 Corinthians 13 says, 
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

I recently passed a church and the name simply struck me. It was called, “The Perfect Church.” 

Now, I know nothing about this specific church and their reason for its name; however, it made me think.

We are the “church”. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. The church is sooooooo much more than a building or the name plastered on the outside for others to see. The church resides in the heart of every person willing to be what we were called to be.

 I get it. I SO GET IT! 

Inside the walls of the church it can be easier to be what God has called us to be. We can love and have compassion and understanding because we are with likeminded people. So what happens when we leave that building? Or better yet, people leave the “church” because they still are not getting that all-encompassing love and forgiveness that we are called to give.

We lose our since of security. We forget how to love those who are different or need Jesus more than ever.  We lose track of those that are truly hurting and crying out for help. We become stagnant and complacent. And sadly, we forget how to be the hands of Jesus to our enemies; those who are often desperately seeking to fill a void. 

Matthew 5:44 says, But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

We are called to love our enemies. There is no exception or reading between the lines. We are called to PRAY and pray hard. We are called to love and love ALL!

…but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

I was not put here to judge others. Believe me, I disagree with SO much of what people do sometimes, but my job is still to LOVE. Love like it hurts. Love till they feel it.

Perfect is a word that has never sat well with me. I struggle with wanting perfection in an imperfect world. I make unrealistic expectations and then struggle to understand why things fall apart and where the perfection went.

The truth is, there is truly no greater gift than to love. Love can calm an aching heart and show forgiveness and kindness to the most unlikely souls.

My doubting heart finds rest in knowing that yes, I fail daily. I get it wrong more than I choose to admit. But the failures of this life lead us to love and encourage others. Lift others up and be the light this dark world is so desperately crying out for. 

I pray we can remember that perfect is so far from existence while on this Earth, but yet I hope I can teach my children to look past the walls of the building itself and be the church we are called to be. Be the hands and feet of Jesus without hesitation.

Love with no restrictions!
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Enemy...

I love Rose bushes. I think there is just something so refreshing, new and beautiful about them.
When we first moved into our new house, I was so excited to see that we had two huge beautiful flourishing rose bushes in our back yard. They simply took my breath away. I loved that I could cut roses from them for my table and yet it appeared as though new roses were blooming daily.
I guess I have somewhat got lost in the here in there of life and lost track of my roses over the last few months. I recently was helping my husband in the yard and discovered that one of the bushes is completely dead. I was shocked. For a few days, we happened to be in the yard working, I found myself drawn to this rose bush, or lack of. It was completely brown and lifeless while the other continued to flourish and produce beautiful roses.

I began to wonder…

What happened? What went wrong?

They both received the same shade, same sunlight and same nutrients, and yet one diminishes while the other blossoms.

I began to wonder how often we as Christians are the same way. We go to church, hear the word of God and yet so often our bible sits on our night stand and the enemy seeps in. We never truly flourish in the word of God.

In Genesis, God had favor on Lot and his wife. He gave him time to flee, telling them not to look back before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords,[b] please! 19 Your[c] servant has found favor in your[d] eyes, and you[e] have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”
21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee their quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.[f])
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

I wonder what went through her mind. Why did she turn away and look back? We will probably never really know what made her look back, but we do know that God gave them hope and life to free them and flourish them and yet, she looked away.

I think of how often I look away as a Christian. How often I doubt that clear voice of God telling me what to do and yet I turn away anyways.

John 10:10 says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

So, come to find out, we had voles eating the roots of my rose bush. These nasty little rodents made holes under the ground and completely cut off all nutrients my plant could get to survive.

Well, it kinda makes sense. That is EXACTLY  what the enemy does; DESTROY and kill any hopes that you or I or anybody might flourish in Jesus Christ.

Regardless of the reason Lot’s wife actually turned around that day, I can’t help but feel like the enemy wanted to destroy, but the problem is; he never wins!

The second part of that verse is the part that says JESUS comes so that we may have life ABUNDANTLY! You see, my other rose bush is blooming, because when we stop the enemy from attacking, Jesus will grow and Shine no matter what the enemy may try! 

What really amazes me is how Christ can rise through what the enemy has destroyed. You see; the voles completely killed my plant; however, right underneath it is a tiny new rose bush forming. New life! 

How AMAZING is that!

It is a reminder to me that beauty can come from darkness and that Jesus Christ can make ALL things new again!

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The power of change

It happens JUST LIKE THAT!

It happens quick, sudden and sometimes before you can even blink and realize that your world as you once knew it is spinning to a new horizon.

Life happens…too quickly it seems. We go from changing diapers to driving lessons and you wonder how things changed SO quickly.

Change is tough, crippling at times. It encompasses our entire soul for that “season” of life. We go from predictable to the unknown, losing our sense of safety and security we thought we had.

I sat in church this morning and found myself lost in prayer. (A good place to be lost I recon!) We have a candle that is lit every Sunday during prayer. It is a candle to remind us to be in prayer for our Pastor Search committee. I found myself drawn to that candle this morning and even more so, to a deep connection with Jesus.

This is the type of change my heart hurts over. I cringe at the thought of being thrown from my comfort zone and everything I loved about my church. My pastor was my safe haven I guess you could say. He had been there for my family through so much. He knew us, I mean, he loved his church and the people in it with a deep passion. So why change?  My heart was broken when he left. In a predictable world, church stays the same, right? Same leaders, same songs, same seat?!?! 
My heart began to see that God was using our pastor for His glory and this CHANGE was not about my comfort at all.

The truth is, in some ways we all have an opposition to change, especially when life seems to be going just great. We seem to forget that we serve a God who makes ALL things new.
Revelation 21:6 says: “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make ALL things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful."

The problem is, without change growth is impossible. We become stagnant and complacent.
In Genesis 12, God called Abram to leave everything he had ever know. Completely take a step of faith and simply trust God.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all on earth will be blessed through you.”

I can only imagine what went through Abram’s mind. Fear, worry doubt? The inevitable fear of the unknown often cripples us from being the servants we are called to be. Abram trusted God. He obeyed God. His whole world was changed and yet he had no clue the vast reality of what God had in store for his future. He became the father of the Hebrew nation, the land which God gave;  Israel. The nation from which God would send the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.  

I simply find myself in awe of how God can use us if we only trust and obey.
I pray that I can have a heart like Abram. I want to follow God wherever He leads, no matter what change may come.

I pray that God leads our church into realms I can’t even fathom. I realize that God has amazing things in store for our church. That candle was a reminder to me that He is the light we seek. He is the change we need. My heart prayed for our committee and our future pastor. I pray that fear and change will not be overwhelming but yet welcomed with prayer and guidance for what our future holds in Him!

My heart holds true to this. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and in God. 

Hebrews 13"8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The one unchanging truth my heart clings to. 

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My Fairy Tale

I can’t tell you how many times I have taken my husband for granted; too many to count. He has supported me when I didn’t deserve it and loved me when I was unlovable. He has cherished my every breath and his eyes have never wandered. He has provided for our family and never lost hope when moments seemed impossible. He is a Godly man who continues to seek Christ and put his family first in everything that he does; so what else could I want?

I wanted a fairy tale...perfection that is! 

We often search our whole lives to find what has been right in front of us the whole entire time. I have known Brad since I was a teeny bopper. From the moment I saw him I just knew there was something about him. My heart would skip a beat every time he was around. He made me feel special. He made me feel like nothing I had every felt before. 

As the years went on, I knew he was my everything. We had a bond like no other and it felt is though nothing in this world could bring us down. 

I guess you could say the honeymoon faze came and went WAY faster than I had hoped. I guess that is what happens when you start marriage with a newborn.

In fact, life happened WAY more than I ever could have imagined. 

We moved a million times, had a million jobs between us. 
We both finished our bachelor’s degrees. 
We had 3 children, 1 stillbirth and 4 miscarriages.
I went through a severe depression AND Brad served his time in the military; and let's not forget deployments! 

Talk about LIFE showing up in a B.I.G way.

My fairy tale did not seem so perfect anymore, in fact, it seemed lost... 

Along the journey, I think I became complacent with our life; our marriage. Brad was the one person my heart had wanted and longed for and yet I had forgotten that God was allowing me to share this journey WITH him and not BESIDE him.

The truth is, while I thought my fairy tale had fallen apart, the story had  simply changed. 
I had become so complacent in the mundane of LIFE, I forgot to stop and see, enjoy the biggest blessing God had ever given to me. A husband to go through every valley and rejoice in every victory together!!! 

I never lost the fairy tale, God simply re-wrote the story to match the journey He destined for us to be on...together

I have watched Brad grow and seek to become the leader our family needs. I'm humbled at the way he serves others. 

I am so proud to call this man my husband and the father of my children. I am not better because of him, I am better with him as we go through this journey of life together side by side! 
Happy Father's Day Brad

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The grass is greener...Or is it?

The grass is always greener on the other side, or is it?

We live in a world where bigger is better and beauty is defined by what you see on the cover of a magazine.

I admit, I am as guilty as anyone else. I see the Instagram “life”. I see the mom that never yells and always has perfect put together children…I “see” it all. I “want” what they have. I mean, who wouldn’t want that life.

I also see the life I don’t want. I see the bitter mom, the angry mom. The mom that yells too much. I think to myself, “I will NEVER be that bad, right?”

I can remember walking into a store a few weeks after Bethany had died. I was numb and pretty much walking through the mundane motions of day to day life. I can remember thinking that so many people were happy and I could not understand for the life of me why. How could anyone be happy? How could life seem so normal to everyone else and yet feel so distant and broken to me? I got what I needed and went to check out. I was trying to hurry and leave, and without even looking up I heard the haunting words coming from the cashier. “Thank God you’re not pregnant. Everyone through my line today has been pregnant.” My heart froze. I froze. I never even looked up. I paid and ran from the store as fast as my legs could run.

For days her words haunted me like a bad dream, only it wasn’t a dream, it was my reality. I wasn’t pregnant and my baby was not coming back. At first I was angry that God had not shielded me from her words. I didn’t think my heart could take anymore, and then it hit me. What about her? What was this girl going through to cry out to a stranger and say such a thing? Had she too lost a baby? Was the sight of pregnant women giving her such pain her heart and soul couldn’t take it?

I got it. I finally got it.

We ALL have baggage. We ALL think we want to be on the other side of someone’s life. The grass always looks greener when you are just a bystander looking in. 

Their is someone out there crying out for help. A cashier, a mom or dad. The waitress with a forced smile on her face. The so called perfectionist mom you see at church every Sunday that always says “I’m fine” when you ask politely how she is.

The truth is; pain is pain. It runs deep and it is raw. There are those who are fighting to heal relationships. Battling to save a marriage or keep their children. Those battling mental illness. Too many who wake up numb and scared the pain will never go away.
The battle is raging and the question remains…Where is your armor?

God’s word is my light, my foundation to keep me grounded. I don’t want to be like that “perfect” mom or the bitter mom, because neither one truly exists. I see what I want to see. I make the perfect mom look unrealistic when in reality she is just as real and raw as the rest of us. I make the bitter mom look bad to make myself feel better… OUCH! 

What would happen if we lived in a world where we didn’t put so many expectations on each other? What if we craved to follow the example of Christ and not the so called version of what this world tells us is right. What if we actually helped one another through life instead of blaming each other for every wrong this world has to offer?

I imagine we would learn to love more deeply. The kind of love that comes from our Savior. We would stop judging others so quickly and stop assuming others are judging us. We would serve like Him, Love like Him and more than anything… grow in knowledge and wisdom of who He really is and created us to be! We would truly learn that maybe, just maybe, 
LOVE really can change the world!!! 
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Real Life

Real Life

I often find myself living in a fairy tale world. A world where life is perfect. My family will do things together and everyone will laugh and smile and have a wonderful day full of memories…

I mean, that IS what you see on Facebook and social media, RIGHT???

The idea of perfection often drags me down. The reality of this so called perfection is SO far from reality it really is scary!

I envision this perfect day in my mind and then steps in reality; yes, a 16, 13 and 10 year old version of REAL LIFE! They each have so wonderfully grown into independent creatures that the thought of each other looking at another, or even touching one another, often takes on a whole new dimension.

(They may or not have been the CRAZY children pushing/racing each other down the aisle at Publix at 10:00 at night. I did my motherly duty of quietly asking them to stop, but not REALLY enforcing it. Secretly, because I LOVED that they were laughing together and creating memories and moments THEY would always remember!)

I am learning through the chaos of these years, that the fairy tale world is what we make of it. As much as I would like to say my children adore one another and never fight, well, I try not to lie! The truth is, I live in reality. They have a love/hate relationship. Every moment is a moment to grow and learn to love each other more. Each opportunity and family outing is another fairy tale fail and a memory made.

The truth is, reality is REAL, it is raw and amazing. I look back on my childhood and I remember the moments and memories we made, not the “perfection”.  My hope is that my children will remember we were together. They will remember the moments, and a little of the crazy too! 

Memories Made to Last

I was SO beyond excited to spend a week alone with this sweet boy! We had breakfast and dinner dates. We went to a late night movie. We went to the lake. We had picnic lunches and SO MUCH MORE! 

The joys and advantage of having older children, are the impromptu shopping "dates" we get to go on. 
Fun times spent together just the two of us. I way too often take these precious moments for granted. I am loved, I am BLESSED to have this man in my life! 

A family day spent together. Perfection, well, it depends on who you ask! To me, YES! We spent the whole day together and lived to make memories! :) 
I sure do love this crew of mine!!!

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