Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moving Past Mom-Fail Moments

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  This is an online Bible Study which will be taking place over the next seven weeks.

The topic I chose for this post is a #movingforward story.

This week I had one of those epic mom fail moments.  You see, for those of you who don't know me, I am a stay-at-home mom.  My oldest is five and started kindergarten this year.  I honestly never thought kindergarten could make a mom feel so unorganized and inadequate. When I was his age (yes, I said it), I spent a total of three hours at school and took a nap there.  My son is there a full day, has no nap, and comes home with homework and a folder full of flyers, papers for parents to sign and return, and announcements every day.  But I digress.

So on Wednesday I had one of those moments when all I wanted to do was find a hole to crawl into and bury my head.  I feel as though I've been in a fog the past few weeks and it finally culminated a couple of days ago when I was given a not-so-subtle alarm to snap out of it.

My haze started in mid October when our family faced financial difficulties as a result of the government shut down.  Later that week a long distance phone call to my parents revealed that my brother, who suffers from drug addiction, had been arrested.  A couple of days later our furnace stopped working, leaving me stressed about our already shrinking bank account.

In the midst of my haze, I somehow forgot that my son got out of school three hours early on Wednesday.  There was no flyer sent home and as a mom of a high maintenance two-year-old who relies heavily on reminders of dates and changes in schedules, I was out of the loop. So that afternoon I heard someone banging on our front door while my youngest was napping.  Of course, my first response was annoyance because I didn't want them to wake my son.

Imagine my surprise when I look out the window and see my kindergartner standing there with my neighbor and her two boys.  My neighbor with the perfectly manicured yard, who is head of the PTA and highly involved in the day to day activities of the school.  My neighbor who was kind enough to walk my son home from school when his oblivious mom forgot.

I thanked her repeatedly and my son, fortunately, could've cared less who walked him home.  So did I move on?  No.  I spent the next couple of days worrying.  Far too little time rejoicing in the fact that my son was safe, and too much time wrapped in my insecurity over what others would think.  I would be know as that mom.  The scatter-brained mom.

I am so grateful for Chapter 5 of A Confident Heart because Renee reminded me that what others think about me is ultimately unimportant.  What God thinks of me, however, is endlessly important.  And to God, I am a masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  Yes, I will fail.  I will make mistakes.  But if I learn from them and confess my sins before God, He is just and faithful to forgive, to give me a clean slate and remember my sins and mistakes no more.  Thank you, Jesus.

As I move forward, I find so much freedom in praying and speaking God's promises aloud. I will continue to meditate on them each day.  Speaking aloud gives my mind less room to be distracted.  I spend far to much time feeling anxious about the opinion of others, and must move out of the shadow of insecurity and into the light of my Savior.  He is the God of second chances.  A God whose love is perfect even when I am not.  I will stop looking in the rearview mirror, dwelling on my past failures, and look to my bright and shining future.  A future declared by My Father to have purpose and meaning.  A plan to prosper and not to harm.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Path to Surrender

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  This is an online Bible Study which will be taking place over the next eight weeks.

This post's topic is the point when I fully surrendered my life to Christ. Renee talks about this experience in her own life throughout chapter 3 of her book.

Reading Renee's story, I found so many similarities between the two of us.  I spent much of my life looking to things other than a life surrendered to Christ to fill me and fulfill me.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, you name it.  I dated many different boys throughout high school and college, thinking that if I found the right relationship, I would be content.

Although I grew up in the church, I never fully understood that having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ also meant trusting him with my heart, relinquishing control, and having faith that his will for my life is always the best path. I left the church as a teenager because of anger toward God… anger because of the abuse that a dear friend had experienced at the hands of my childhood pastor, anger because of the drug addition my brother was, and still is, under the shadow of, anger at my parents for being enablers instead of enforcing consequences, anger at myself for never fitting into the cliques at youth group and school.

So I ran… I ran far away from God and tried to immerse myself into the college life, which for me mostly meant parties and boys. And drugs. Lots of alcohol. Some studying here and there.

One of the first major turning points in my life came when I met my husband. He reached his time of surrender a year before meeting me, and after going on only a few dates, I could picture myself marrying him. He was unlike any person I'd ever met. We married after about three years together and throughout that time I could feel God pursuing me. I began going to church every now and then. I sent up a prayer here and there. But I still wasn't ready. I was trying to behave, to stay clean, to live a life I felt was worthy. Of what? I don't know. I just didn't get it. I couldn't grasp what I was missing.

There were two major events which catapulted me into the realization that I needed God in the deepest way. That I would seek Him and find Him when I searched with all my heart. 

The first was a cross-country move to Utah. I had lived in the same place, Columbia, South Carolina, my entire life. Utah is very different culturally than the "Bible Belt" of the south. The second was the birth of my son, which coincided with the death of my grandmother, and sent me into a long battle with postpartum depression.

Anti-depressants left me feeling worse and unable to sleep in my already zombie-like state. Exercise helped my mood but couldn't fill the void in my life.

God continued his pursuit of me. A series of messages entitled "God is Bigger…" at the church we'd been attending really resonated in my heart. A friend and follower of Jesus reached out. She didn't look like the typical "Christian" that I'd stereotyped them to be. I finally admitted I needed help with my depression and began seeing a Christian therapist. 

I was sitting on the living room coach of our home in Utah, after putting our son to bed, reading "The Purpose Driven Life" with my husband when I made the decision to follow Jesus with everything that I had…heart, soul and mind. To live a life surrendered. It was time. There was a chapter where he extended an invitation and I took it. 

I made the choice to leave my life of ruins and come to the living water which never runs dry.

I remember the first chapter of that book hitting me like a freight train.  "It's Not About You." Wow. How convicting. How liberating. How freeing to not have to think about myself so much. To get over my own neurosis. To realize that I have a purpose that has nothing to do with my self-loathing and everything to do with glorifying the God of the Universe. A God who loves me and cares for me so much He sent his son to die in my place.

Since that day on November 10, 2009, I've realized that God is sovereign even when I don't understand my circumstances. That despite my control-freak tendencies, my life is in his hands and there is freedom found in knowing He's at the wheel. He is a big God who will reveal Himself to me when I earnestly seek Him.

It is a day by day process. There are so many distractions begging to divert my attention from the One who gives me peace. But I'm learning. Each step. Each leg of the race. I will keep my eyes on Him. I will let him mold me to become the woman He made to be.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

At the Well

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  This is an online Bible Study which will be taking place over the next nine weeks.  

For today's blog hop topic I read chapter 2 of Renee's book and looked at the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4.  As I read the story, our study leader Melissa Taylor challenged us to ask God to meet us in the story, see if there are areas of our hearts that need repair, and identify similarities between our story and the Samaritan woman's.

image courtesy of

The story of the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 touches me on so many levels.  From the way Jesus gets straight to the heart of the matter to the way he seeks out this woman who had probably been rejected by her community for years.  I love how Renee Swope points out in her book A Confident Heart that while most Jews simply traveled around Samaria to avoid having anything to do with this loathed people, Jesus was very intentional about going through Samaria.  He knew his Father had work for him to do there. 

I can identify with the woman at the well because like her, I often try to avoid the issues which most deeply affect my heart.  As Renee talks about in chapter 2, I often would rather tell people I'm "fine" than delve into the problems of my life, fearing that the burden would be too heavy for most or that I will push people away.  Other times, I feel as though my troubles are trivial in comparison to what's going on in someone else's life.  I begin thinking about those living in third world countries who struggle to provide food and clean water to their families, and wonder why I can't seem to handle all the resources and blessings God has given me in a responsible way.

I believe the Samaritan woman deeply desired just to be seen.  To be loved for who she was.  She was with her fifth man, a man who didn't even want to commit to being her husband.  Often, I struggle with the desire to be seen also, and lately, what I feel God pressing repeatedly onto my heart is "I see you."  I believe it's a lifelong lesson but it's one I've really been in the trenches of lately.

Being a stay-at-home mom is often a thankless job.  I love my children with all of my heart and I do not question my decision to devote my time to them, but often I just want more of…something.  I started blogging about four months ago because although I've been writing since a very young age, I felt as though God was pushing me to share my writing with others.  Often, when I look at my statistics, I wonder why I continue.  And then I hear God gently saying again, "Keep going.  I see you.  I will complete the work I started in you."

My dream is become a published writer for Women's Ministry.  I believe this is a God-given dream that he has placed in my heart, and that He will see it to fruition.  But like so many women, I often doubt myself.  I am hoping through this study, I will replace my doubts with confidence.  I know that God's timing is always perfect, but as humans we often want to just get to the finish line, get the next item checked off our list, and see instant results.  But this boxed way of thinking is not how an infinite God operates.

God, help me to see that your plans are always better than my own.  You cause all things to work for good for those who love you.  I love you so much, God, and although I often feel weak, because your power is made perfect through my weakness, I am strong.  Thank you so much for this promise.  In Jesus name, Amen.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Monday, October 14, 2013

Anything But Ordinary

It's Friday. (Well, actually for me it's Monday) Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing. One word. No hyper-editing. No getting in your own way. Just writing, flat out. The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you. Won't you join us?

I believe the closest glimpse I will ever get to God's love is what I feel when I look at my children.

Today's prompt: Ordinary


It would be easy to write my life off as ordinary.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  Most of my days look the same, with the same schedule and routine, and there are few variations week to week aside from the impromptu trip to the fall festival or a trip to see the in-laws.  I take my oldest son to the bus stop at the same time every morning and pick him up at the same time every afternoon.

Often, I daydream about white sand beaches and turquoise blue ocean waters whisking me away, with soft island music playing a sweet melody. A fruity drink in one hand and my lover's fingers intertwined in the other.

One day that may happen.  But that is not my day to day reality.

But you see, my life is anything but ordinary.  Because I am loved by a God who created the Heavens and the universe and somehow thought about me all at the same time.  He knows every worry wrinkle in my brow.  He knows the words on my tongue before I speak.  He is the source of the only perfect love in all eternity, and He has covered me, drenched me with it so that at times I feel as though I can't even breathe.

And that, my friends, if words can even be found to describe such a love, is extraordinary.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Welcome the Silence

The of my favorite places to enjoy silence. Just the waves and the breeze.

This tired mama has been sick for the past five days with some sort of viral infection which ended with laryngitis. So, for the past two days I've been unable to speak except for in a whisper or short, raspy spurts.  Somehow I've managed to escape this diagnosis my entire life, but my husband gets it every year.  He's been empathetic and gave me an interesting piece of advice: Enjoy the silence. (Mine, obviously, not my boys) Use the time to think.  Our mouths get us into trouble way too often.

At first, I became a little defensive because as a stay-at-home mom and somewhat introverted personality type, I do a lot of thinking already.  I've always been better at expressing myself in written form rather than verbally.  However, after giving what he said some time to sink into my exhausted brain, I realized he had a point.

It's something that God has been pressing on my heart more and more.  How every time we speak, we have the opportunity to give grace, to be a light in someone's dark place, to encourage and bring hope.  All to often, we instead use our mouths to complain, speak words of anger, slander others, and stampede over other's dreams. 

I want to be the grace giver.  And I'm trying.  Little by little. Step by step.  Do I fail?  Yes, all the time.  But I get up and try again.  Sometimes I beat myself up a little but I keep going and make every effort to keep my eyes on what's ahead instead of what's in the rearview mirror. 

I know there will be days when I simply need to vent. To find a person I trust and unload, to share my troubles and sometimes just empty into a listening ear rather than find a solution. But I pray that even on those days, I can reflect the peace and assurance I have in Jesus in the process.

Confidence is a trait I've struggled to embrace my entire life.  I've come a long way in the past five years, and that is mainly due to my relationship with God through Christ and seeing myself as He sees me.  But it's also because He gave me a supportive, incredibly loving husband, who builds me up and tells me I can when my natural tendency is self-doubt.

I want my children to believe in themselves.  More than that, I want them to know they are God's masterpiece.  On a couple of recent occasions I've heard people say that the voice we use with our children becomes their inner voice.  If we are constantly yelling, using exasperated tones, or telling them they can't do something, the voice in their heads will reflect constant defeat.  I don't know about you, but that is not what I want for my kids.  

I have the choice.  God help me, but I can decide.  

Being sick has forced me to choose my words more sparingly because of the effort it takes to speak.  Perhaps this is a practice I could use more often?

God, guide me.  Let me show others the grace you have shown me.  Give me your eyes to see them the way you do.  May the words of my lips honor you and reflect you love.  Amen.

"…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,"  James 1:19

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Prayer for Just Legislation

Today I am joining Lysa Terkeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries in 31 days of prayer to stop human trafficking.  Please join me.  Click the link above for details on this opportunity to come before God seeking an end to an awful violence which is taking place in our own cities.

photo courtesy of

Our Father in Heaven, I come before your throne of Grace now in the name of Jesus.  The name that is above all names.  I ask that your angels come, that your mercy come, to enter into a battle which is taking place at this very moment.  

Father you have said in your word that your thoughts are higher than our thoughts and your ways higher than our ways.  But your rain will not come down to earth without watering the ground.  Oh Lord, rain down.  Do not let your word come to us and return empty.

Today I pray for just legislation in our country and in others where corruption is thick.

I pray that the leaders here and overseas would turn away from what is evil.  That scandal and exploitation of citizens and unnecessary violence would end.

I pray that a heavy hand would come down on those who use the bodies of helpless children, women and men for their own profit and personal gain.  I pray for justice, God, for you are a God who is just.

God, I know that with you all things are possible.   I ask that hearts and lives would be changed in these governments which so desperately need guidance.

In Jesus' name, Amen.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where is Home?

The place we now call "home"

Lately I've thought a lot about how a person defines home.  Many would say it's the place where they grew up, or the place they've lived their entire lives.  Some have moved all over the country from a very young age, whether it be because their family is military or other reasons, so there is no specific place they can say they spent their childhood.

I lived in the same area for the first twenty-eight years of my life, but almost immediately after I got married, my husband and I began moving.  A lot.  And although our moving was more out of necessity than want, it has taught me a great deal about who I am and forced me to redefine the word "home."

South Carolina, which is where I grew up and spent most of my life, will always call my name.

What's in South Carolina?  Well, you haven't tasted real BBQ until you've visited the South.  You may think you have.  Trust me.  You haven't. 

SC is also home to some of the juiciest, sweetest peaches I've ever tasted and boasts beautiful beaches and rich history.  And most importantly, it is where my family is.  My mom.  My dad.  My brother and niece.  Several of my cousins.  I miss being able to jump in the car and see them at a moments notice, sharing meals together, and spending the evening just talking and watching movies.

Most of all I miss the time they are away from my children, who don't have the opportunity to spend the night and Pa Pa and Grandma's house unless it's during summer vacation.

As much as I miss all these things, I know that moving cross-country twice in the past seven years, with a couple of smaller moves in-between, was part of God's plan.  My husband and I learned to rely on each other and find strength in mutual love and understanding of one another.

One year after we made our first big move, I had my first son.  Two years after our move, I gave my life to Jesus.  Our faith has grown in leaps and bounds.  We've begun to trust God in the seasons of struggle and not lose hope.  

I moved past my awkward, shy, introverted self and met some amazing people who  stretched me in my walk with Christ.  I realized that relationships form and grow in God's timing and not my own.

Through all of the transitions and the growing experiences, I discovered that home is where my family is.  Not my Mom and Dad, brothers, niece and cousins.  But my husband.  My kids.  Me.  I slapped some paint on walls, hung pictures and kids' art work.  I filled several homes with as much love as one mother's heart can hold.  

Home is walking through the door to a warm embrace and dogs licking my feet.  Home is hearing shouts of "Mama" after an evening away and trying not to trip over little arms and legs.  Home is my Meemaw's shadow box hanging on the wall, a sweet memory of a loved one who is now in her eternal home.

One of the most important things moving has taught me is that the dwellings we call "home" here on earth are temporary.  My prayer is that no matter where the future takes us, my family will feel home in the very essence of their being, no matter the place... because of the security that they have in God and the love they feel when they walk through the door.

"In my Father's house are many rooms... I am going there to prepare a place for you." 
John 14:2