Wednesday, December 28, 2011


It's never easy to say "see ya' later" to those that you love.  Nor is it easy to make a decision that brings such finality to an area of your life.  Combine these together and, well, it just makes for a hard week.  On December 12th, I was hit with the brutal truth of never being able to have children again when I signed a "Consent to Sterilization" form before being wheeled into the operating room for a hysterectomy.  "Sterilization" is such a cold and heartless word.  How many women have been forced through illness and other reasons to sign such a form?  To sign away one of the most precious privileges a woman can have.  Not that Rich and I were planning to have anymore children.  It's just the reality of it all.  The finality of it.  There's no turning back.  There's no more leaving room for God to move if He so chooses.  Yet, I'm reminded by the Holy Spirit that He most certainly could have moved differently had He wanted to.  Oh, His still small voice is the only thing that keeps the haunting voices at bay.  The reminders.  The nighttime nightmares of not being able to find your baby...the one you don't have.  This experience is certainly building my heart for those women who have faced this same situation...often under harsher circumstances.  The sense of loss is tremendous.

As I was recoverying from the surgery...just five days later, my sweet aunt passed away.  She had been battling MS for so long.  Her body was tired and everyone knew it.  It wasn't a shock when the call came, but none the less painful.  It is hard to see my uncle and cousin's family going through the pain of loss.  Burying your wife and mother just four days before Christmas just makes it more difficult.  But I will say that as my heart is sad, I absolutely celebrate with my aunt.  She was a Godly woman.  I can not hear the name Kay Author without thinking of my aunt.  She loved Kay.   She had so many of her tapes, CDs and books.  She left a Godly heritage to her family.  One that is being carried on by them.  One she is would be very proud of.  And through her life as a follower of Christ, she has finally received that new body she so desparately needed.  Today, she is dancing with the saints on the streets of gold.  She is singing.  She is waving her arms as a banner of holiness to the Lord.  All things she has not been able to do for so many years.  She is free.  THAT will always make me smile when I think of her. 

The day after my aunt passed away, a very dear friend lost his battle with cancer.  I say "lost" but in all actuality he was certainly the winner.  He too was a devoted man of God.  Mr. Roy will always hold a special place in my heart.  He was an old Marine that could "jerk a knot in your tail" but at the same time love you like nobodies business.  He took to Rich and I...we were always so blessed to have him speak into our lives.  He was a man of wisdom and solid truth.  He operated in honor, integrity and love.  He leaves behind one of the sweetest wives anyone could ever know.  It will be our responsibility to look after her...what an honor to help cover her until she can be with him again.  My only regret was that his funeral was on the same day as my aunt' we missed it.  I wanted so much to honor him by being there.  He was a man that didn't get tied up over nonsense so I know he would tell me to just dust off my feet and keep moving.  He wrote a letter to the church before he passed away.  I can't wait to hear what was in that letter.  I know that the way to truly honor him is not to be front and center at a memorial service but instead to live a pure and holy that he would be proud of.

Three losses in less than a week.  Three losses where the Lord will be glorified...only, in all honesty I wish He had picked another way to be glorified.  He has taught me much (and continues to teach me) through the healing process of these losses.  Lessons that I will learn and carry through the rest of my time here on this Earth.  I see the light and the glory in the earthly deaths of my aunt and friend.  I see the Lord glorified in how He brought me from the threshold of a life-threatening illness.  I will simply have to trust Him with the rest.  As I battle the internal pain, I pray that the light will soon burst forth from the darkness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daughters and Pinterest

I have done a terrible thing.  I have introduced my daughter to Pinterest.  But instead of her getting her own account, she is using mine.  I now have a board titled "Things That Remind Me of Tori".  It was fun for a day.  My dearest Tori, please get your own account. 



However, this...

unfortunately is...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Protecting the Holidays

Ellen:  Clark, I think it'd be best if everyone went home... before things get worse.
Clark: WORSE? How could things get any worse? Take a look around here, Ellen. We're at the threshold of hell.

Every holiday season, Rich and I try to watch the ever-so-hilarious movie...National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.  (The edited version, of course.  We tried once to rent the movie and watch it.  We didn't realize just how much language was cut out for the TV version.  Wow!  So we're very glad to have DVR this year.)  We love this movie, as millions of other Americans do.  Why?  Why do we find it so funny?  Well, it's because the truth is what makes a joke or movie funny.  We can relate to the "hell" that is portrayed in this movie.  Many of us have elderly people in our families that speak their minds, have habits and functions that are less-than-pleasant.  Then there's "that" uncle or aunt that is just so very different from the family core and usually brings excitement (and often division) to the scene.  And who can forget the teenagers that spend their entire holiday trying to escape the visiting family.  This is the one time of year you will find them united in their efforts to escape even if it means that brother and sister must cooperative with one another.  Oh but wait, there's more...the in-laws.  How great is it to deal with the sarcastic, know-it-all father-in-law and the controlling mother-in-law?

All of this for the sake of getting a check mark on the "Family Duties" checklist of life. 

We may walk away feeling robbed, abused and pure-dee mad.  The days leading up to the "joyous celebration" are filled with unpleasant planning conversations, late night discussions with the spouse about what happened last time and how things are shaping up to be just as miserable, the dredging up of old memories and fights that have caused a root of bitterness to set up in us, feelings of dread and even anger and the overall attempt for many in the room to ignore the fact that if everyone was honest they would admit that they would rather be getting a root canal.  In essences, NO ONE IS HAVING A GOOD TIME!

The joy gets sucked out of the holiday.  Our children are robbed of creating wonderful holiday memories.  We allow the curse of bad holidays to continue.  We spend the next few days repenting for our thoughts, words, feeling and actions.  We forget that Christ should be in the middle of each holiday.  Maybe we don't forget that He's the reason, but we sure do wonder when He's going to show up!  Am I speaking to anyone?  (All three of you, that is.)

How do we protect our holidays?  How do we break this cycle, tradition...curse?  "Curse" may seem like a strong word, but that's exactly what it is.  Words have been spoken countless times by us and other family members that have cursed our family holiday gatherings.  If the above even partly describes your family gathering (and it's been that way since you can remember) then your family is operating in a curse.  Some can remember a time when family gatherings were good but then something happened that changed everything.  Now what ever happened stands in the way of you all enjoying one another.  If it isn't resolved soon, it will become a curse that is passed down to your children.  They will then exercise this same "tradition" with their children.  If the curse is going to be broken, we can't wait for someone else to do it.  We must be "that person" that puts their spiritual foot down and says "NO MORE".  We must start with repenting for our words and attitudes (maybe even actions).  We have to then verbally break any curses we see.  We have to take back the ground that satan has stolen from our families.  Then we have to walk in the belief that the others will soon follow.  If they don't, then we must decide that "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  Even when that means being the only ones in the room that make an effort to change the "climate".

Breaking the curse isn't easy.  I should know, I've been trying for years.  I type this today feeling defeated over a holiday season that hasn't even started yet.  I attempt to tackle each year with hope, joy and belief that this year is going to be different.  Only to have resistance come from areas that should be marching forward with me, not against me.  We have tried to change things in our family.  Many of them were big epic failures.  The enemy made his way in and robbed us each time.  Sometimes we recovered well, got up and started over again.  Other times, we joined in the enemies plan and came out swinging only to "tear down our house with our own hands".  What it is going to take is biting our tongues (a lot), holding our tempers, being servants to others and being the one that brings the fun back to the holidays.  WE are the ones that must protect the holidays.  We must take this battle on, otherwise all will be lost. 

As parents, we are responsible for our children.  What kind of holiday memories are we creating for them?  I will tell you that as their protector, it is mine and Rich's responsibility to protect them...even from their own family at times.  We do believe that there is a line where grace and understanding stops and protecting the child by removing them from the situation begins.   Short of them being in harms way or experiencing damaging words, sights or actions, we want them to understand that family is important.  We are often tempted to say, "Fine, we just won't go this year."  (Maybe that's the correct decision for your family situation.)  But we do not want them growing up not understanding the importance of loving people regardless of that person's weaknesses.  "The world knows how to love the lovable...there is no medal for doing that..."  We don't want them to run from difficult relationships (unless they're in danger, of course).  With all of that said, we also strive to protect their holiday memories by insuring that they have plenty of good memories that stem from our immediate family traditions.  Traditions that we will carry on with our grandchildren.  One day, the curses of ole will be nothing more than life lessons that cause us to continue to protect the holidays.

May we all walk in holiday victory this year!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Satisfaction Guaranteed

I just came from a meeting where the people at the table clearly find their satisfaction in their work (and hearing themselves talk).  I found myself thinking of how easy it must be to drown yourself in your work, thinking all along that you'd found the source of happiness.  How easy it is for satan to deceive us into thinking that "this is have arrived"!  While our work is certainly important, no matter what we do for a living, scripture tells us to work as unto the Lord.  Our witness is walked out at work.  The talents and giftings bestowed upon us by our God are to be shared with others...always with the intent of the glory given to God.  But that job (or anything else in this world) is not capable of being our sole source of satisfaction.  As much as I love my work,  I believe in it tremendously, it could never fulfill those deepest places of my life where only the Lord can satisfy.  I could certainly spend hours upon extra hours pouring over work literature, books, magazines, white papers and such.  I could network at every event.  I could work until late at night.  I could go back and get a Phd in...something. (And don't get me wrong, bettering yourself is never a bad thing.)  I just know that none of those things could ever bring the satisfaction that the Lord brings to my life.  One place of ministry for me is certainly work, but my work doesn't define me.  Christ defines me.  That's where my satisfaction comes from.  Sinking my roots, deep into His living water, is my source of strength, joy and satisfaction.  Sitting in a rain shower of His love quenches my thirst.  The world's "stuff" can't come close.  Anyone saying, "I can't get no satisfaction" needs to meet my God.  His satisfaction is guaranteed!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Goodness of 2011

After yesterday's post...and several previous posts...I decided it was time for me to post about the good things from this first half of 2011.  Pictures say 1,000 words, so I've decided to let them speak for me...

I was blessed in having the opportunity to teach about being a Warrior of God...the story of David continues to work in my life!

My job allowed me to do some traveling to some beautiful parts of the state...

and I got to spend a lot of time with these folks...

They are my heart's delight!!! (This picture is a little old, but they are just a
gorgeous today as they were in this picture.)

I experienced snow, more than once in this horrifically hot state of Arkansas...I LOVE snow!!!

This little man continues to be inspired by...

This little man....

Which means my little man is growing up and developing closer to his age group...
which is an amazing praise report for our family!

I've been able to watch this amazing young woman grow in the Lord and expand her horizon as a leader.

I'm certainly growing in the Lord too.  "If you're not growing, you're dying!" ~Bro. Bill

He's still the man of my dreams...even in his Roman guard dress :)
I could go on for hours about how he had become an even better
husband this year.  His support, wisdom, love and leadership
has been absolutely amazing!!

I had the honor of co-leading the first ever Revolution Student Ministry encounter retreat.
Wow, God...Wow!!!

I continue to be blessed day after day by these two folks.  My parents are unbelievable! 
They have served us and loved us just like Jesus.

My precious, precious new life group.  Wow...I love these women!! 
I'm so honored to be their new leader.  I knew I would be a life group
pastor one day.  I never dreamed it would be young adult women.
We're going to have a ton of fun!

I've been blessed with a friendship that has
grown even deeper in 2011...
And I just received news yesterday that she will be staying here forever...
Not sure it was really THAT concrete...but that's my interpretation.

Blonde-headed Blessing #1...


Blonde-headed Blessing #2...

My card-playing nemesis...MEAT HUD....
Husband of Jenny...
Dad of Blonde-headed Blessings #1 & #2...

I proudly watched as my beautiful, sweet Adj graduated from high school...

Once again...I can not allow circumstances to rob me of the joys of being blessed with
our dream home.  The home that we have waited for, prayed for, dreamed about for over
two years.  The home that we separately fell in love with before we ever imagined having
a home like this.  The Lord has blessed us abundantly...we can wait to fill it with the
laughter, tears and conversation that await our ministry!

2011 has been a year of goodness...let us not loose that
in the midst of trying times!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Challenged to the Core

As we entered into 2011, Rich told me one night in the car that he felt as though 2011 was going to be a year of great change...of good things.  (Looking back on that moment, I sometimes wish I had known what I know now so that I could have told him to take that statement back!) I had no idea just how deep that change would go.  I could not fathom how broad-sweeping that profession would be.  We are only 7 months into the year, and I'm looking ahead wondering what else the Lord has for us in the remaining 4 months.  I'm sure I'll read over this post in a year or so and laugh with the knowledge of what happened in the remaining months.

The Lord has certainly been passing out change slips to the Roberts household.  We've been up, down, round and round in the selling of our old home and purchasing a new home.  We are in the process of "making the new home ours" which has proven to be one challenge after another.  (Who knew it could be so difficult to get flooring installed or that paint could be so expensive or that people don't really do what they say they are going to do?...ok...we already knew that.) We've had to deal with family issues that we wished had turned out differently.  We stared into the eyes of haunting health problems.  My new job escalated in responsibility and travel. We've paid off debt.  (I had to throw that one in because I'm just so dog gone excited about it!)  We've taken on a new area of ministry.  (Although not viewed by me as positive, in the beginning, I am now 110% certain that this is a great change.)  We learned new things about some of the people in our lives.  We learned new things about ourselves.  

All of these have challenged me to the core.  To the deepest part of my core.  There were times when I could physically feel the changes effecting my life.  I have shed tears.  I've yelled.  I've fought (and lost).  I've dug my heels into the ground.  I've thrown a fit (or two).  I've given in, only to take up the fight later the next day.  I've questioned who I am and what in the world I'm doing.  I've questioned God.  I've contemplated just giving up and being a status quo Christian.  All the while, the Lord was taking away layer after layer of stuff sin so that He could get to my "core".  The central part of my life.  All so that He could be my helmsman.  He was refining what was already there.  He was making sure that I am not the same person today as I was on January 1, 2011.  He has picked me up, turned me upside down and shaken everything out of my pockets.  I thought I was strong.  He showed me my weaknesses.  I thought I trusted Him completely.  He proved to me that my faith wasn't as big as it seemed.  I thought I was trucking right along doing well in my spiritual walk.  He pulled the road out from under me.  I thought I had a good attitude.  He gave me a whiff of the stench that was rolling off my attitude.

I have been challenged to my core, and I'm shocked at what He had to remove and/or change.  BUT GOD... Man, He is so faithful to us.  I can see that what He's doing in me is to prepare me for something far greater.  (Do you ever get tired of saying that or wonder if you sound as cliche to others as you sound to yourself?)  All of those things had to go if I'm going to grow as a leader.  I can say "I don't want anymore, Lord.  Just stop!"  But I do want more.  So much more. The thought of being stuck right here, spiritually, for the rest of my life gives me an anxiety attack.  What a waste of a person I would be!  Through this all, He has uncovered new passions within me that I didn't even know were there.  I had packed so much junk around my "core" that I didn't even know what was there.  There are all these things that He has put inside of me, and I just keep covering them up with sin, ideas of my own and the daily grind of life.

Now not everything that was around my core was bad.  I have some really sweet fruit that has grown from my core...just like the apple above.  But I feel like the Lord has pulled that fruit back so that the seeds He's been planting in me could be used to produce more fruit.  We sometimes like to hang on to old fruit and show it off for as long as we can.  We love to talk about the time back at the Fall 2001 retreat where we led this lady to the Lord and she's now a powerful woman of God.  "Yep, look at my fruit...isn't she lovely?"  Only problem is that we get into a rut thinking that we've done one good thing so we can just sit down and have a rest for the next 10 years.  We get really comfortable in our Christian walk because we continue to focus on the good stuff we've already done and we end up forgetting that there's more to be done.  So He's making sure that I don't become one of those complacent Christians.  He's not allowing my fruit to rot or become damaged.  He wants me to be constantly sowing and reaping.  So He continues to refine me.  He continues to dig deeper and uncover the more mature seeds....all while pulling out the worms and getting rid of the rot.

That process has been painful...BUT GOD has been an amazing provider and healer.  Every cut He makes, He covers with the Balm of Gilead.  Every thing He takes, He replaces with something greater.  Every time He turns me upside down, He eventually stands me back up on my feet...kisses me on the top of my head and says, "Go get 'em Tiger."  Man, I love Him!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Work in Progress

We are about ready to sign the papers to finalize the purchase of a "new-to-us" home.  We have waited on this house for well over two years.  This house oozes with character and potential.  It represents the very essences of both of our styles and desires.  It was built for us.  The Cummings may have thought they were building it for them back in 1987...but they were really building it for the Roberts' household in 2011.

We have endured many ups and downs while waiting to see our dream come true.  We thought waiting on this house was tough.  Then we got into the middle of making it all happen and discovered that the fight had only just begun.  We have literally had to fight for this every step of the way.

We have asked "Why is this so hard" many times.  We have both prayed, "Lord, if this isn't you please shut these doors.  We don't want to buy this home if this isn't where You want us." At times the stress was so great that we secretly wished He would stop it.  Our little house was looking better and better at times.  Isn't that just like us in our spiritual walk?  When something is new, unknown, painful, inconvenient, bigger than us and hard we would just rather stay right where we are...even if that means staying in the pigs pen and forgoing the blessing. (Luke 15)  But the peace of God never left us and we knew that we were on the right path, no matter how difficult.

As we barrel into month four of the fight, I can say that the end beginning is near.  We close on July 15th.  Appraisal, home inspection, flood determination, financing, etc. etc. are almost complete and we have now turned our attention to the move and remodeling of the house.  (Rich is, of course, very focused on the landscaping!)

As we pick out flooring, furniture and paint colors we continue to fight.  This house will clearly be a "Work In Progress" over the next several years.  I know that in my head but a part of me wants it all done right now...yesterday.  This is the house.  The one where I want to get every piece right.  I don't want to compromise.  I don't want to settle.  I want the style to flow.  I want it to be what we love...not just like.  This is an investment for us.  This is a place we will live in until we pass away.  We will help raise our grandchildren here.  It will be a huge tool in our ministry.  At the same time, it will be a refuge for our family.  We want it to be right.  Unfortunately all of this takes money and time...both of which we are limited on.  So, it will be a "Work in Progress".

I still want to walk into a finished product on day one.  I want to move right in to the perfectly decorated and remodeled house.  I want to immediately enjoy the beauty of the home.  Just like I want to be perfect in my walk with Christ.  I want to be the ultimate woman of God without waiting on any additional work.  Yet, we all know that is not how it works.  As I nail the "Work in Progress" sign on the front door of our new home, I also have to don a t-shirt that says "Work in Progress".

As I've been working on the transaction of purchasing the home and soon to be physically working on the home, the Lord has been working on me.  Through the pressures of these last four months, He has shown me that I didn't trust Him near as much as I thought I did.  He is so faithful, yet I demand (through my actions and thoughts) that He prove that to me over and over again.  I went into this believing I was strong in my faith.  I very shortly discovered that I was far too weak.  As I'm nearing the end of this trial, I can look in the mirror and see that I am now stronger in understanding just how faithful He really is.  I see the growth in me already.  I rejoice in the pruning He has done in my life.  But I'm a "Work in Progress" and I know that as I enter into the physical work of this project He will continue to grow me...all for His glory and His kingdom.

(James 1:2 - 8 NIV)  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Lord God, I do not want to be unstable nor double-minded.  Finish the work You need to do in me so I can be the woman of God You intended for me to be.  I want to be all shiny and new at the end of this trial.  I want to be a rock for others.  I want to look and act more like Christ.  I don't want to be tossed around by storms and circumstances.  I want to stand strong in all things.  Thank you for loving me so much that you insist on pruning me.  Thank you that at the end of this is a beautiful blessing in a home that we never dreamed we could have.  You continue to blow me away.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just Laugh and Keep On Walking

I need to be here...

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. ~ James 1:2 (MSG)

We're in the process of selling our home and buying another one.  We chose to buy an existing home because we knew the challenges of building a home would just simply be too much for Richard and I to handle.  We knew that selling and buying a home would not be easy either.  We prepared ourselves in our minds for what "could" be ahead of us.  We found the home that we knew God was calling us to and pursued it cautiously. (He had actually showed us this home two years ago and we've been patiently waiting for the right time.)  It's much easier to follow Him and trust Him when things are going smoothly. 

Like I said, we cautiously moved forward because in our eyes this home was more than we could imagine ourselves having the honor of purchasing.  We didn't want to make a wrong move.  We prayed, we cried (ok, I cried), we even tried to run away.  (Have you ever tried to run from a blessing because you just couldn't phathom that God would bless you with such a tremendous gift? Oh, how our carnal mindsets will rob us if we let them!)  I remember the first time I "saw" this home.  I had grown up in the neighborhood and never once paid a bit of attention to that house.  But then one day, I saw it and said to myself, "I could only dream of having a home like this one day.  Man, we could do so much with this home.  It is beautiful."  Little did I know that God was birthing something in me that day.  In all reality, God was the one that clearly started this.  He has made His hand known so many times through the process.  Who am I to close the door on one of His works?  Deep in our spirits, we both knew that this larger home was not really about's about His ministry.  It's about being disciples and making disciples.  Sure, we get to enjoy the perks of the home...but ultimately, it is being set up in our lives as a tool of ministry.  So, to run from this home would ultimately mean running from His calling of ministry on our lives.  I've done enough of that lately...I'm not interested in doing it again.  (Please reference the above postings if you would like to hear about my latest Jonah moments.)

Here's the fun part...the brighter spot of this whole thing...we immediately began praying for the perfect buyer for our home.  We wanted our home to truly bless someone.  We kept that in mind over the years as we made updates to the house.  We prayed and prayed over that house.  We attempted to put it on the market but before the realtor contract could be signed, it was already sold.  Hours...our house sold within hours of me mentioning it on Facebook.  The Lord was already preparing one of my sisters for the house.  Selling the home to her has been so full of the richness of God's presences.  I'm not kidding.  It has been wonderful completing a few projects, knowing who we were doing them for.  It has been great having conversations with her about the home.  She has been so flexible and giving with us on deadlines, etc.  Things moved so quickly with this transaction.  How wonderful for her.  BUT the enemy has certainly tried to sabatoge this home.  Contractors don't show up when they are supposed to, they charge more than I like to think they should (although some blessed us like crazy which helped offset what some of the others did), things within the house that have never given us a bit of trouble are now breaking.  Sometimes, you just have to laugh and keep walking...

The transaction of purchasing our "new to us" home has not gone so well.  Dealing with righteous people makes a difference in life whether it be business or pleasure.  I have not handled the ups and downs of this rollercoaster ride as well as I needed to.  "...You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors..."  Well James, the pressure from all sides has revealed a lower level of faith than I thought I had.  I've had lots of "professional development" in faith building, clearly I needed a bit more.  Some days have been harder than others.  There have been days that I wanted to run away (again).  There have been days that in the natural it didn't appear that it was going to work out.  Today, if I choose to look at the situation through natural eyes, it looks like it may not happen.  However, My Father started this...He will certainly finish it. 

I realized today that through this all, my faith is deepening.  Today, when things look as though they are falling apart and the enemy is attacking our existing home in hopes of stopping us from closing this week...I simply laugh and keep walking.  My Spirit is laughing in the enemy's face.  My Spirit has said, "I will not be denied".  I take joy in what the Father is doing in me through this situation.  I love the maturing that I'm seeing take place within me.  I love the possibilities of using what I have learned to teach others.  I love how at the end of the day, I may not know exactly where I will be sleeping on July 16th but My Daddy knows....He's already made the bed for me and is waiting to tell me good night.  He holds my world in the palm of His hand...He can most assuredly orchestrate me moving out of one house and into another home.  All along the way, I mature and become the womand of God He wants me to be.  I get to learn new things to help my future life group members.  I will be a better leader for them.  I will be a better mother, wife, friend and employee.  I will be better prepared for the trials and challenges that come my way...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Running After You

"This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter..." Jonah 3:3 (The Message)

As Richard and I were heading to bed last night, I struck up the conversation again about this calling God has put on my life.  I'm blessed to have a husband that is full of tremendous wisdom and grace.  He has studied me and knows me better than I know myself.  So when it comes time to have hard discussions, he knows exactly when and how to say things.  (The art of communication should never be taken lightly.  How we say things, what we say and when we say them makes or breaks the outcome.)   

I'm still amazed at how well he handled me.  How he poured out wisdom and "food for thought"...He helped me to realize some things I had not thought about.  He focused me on the important things.  He showed me the truth about the sacrifice.  His words were dripping with the love of Christ.  The Holy Spirit used him to shed light...and I walked away with more peace than I've ever had about this particular subject matter.

Things are beginning to seem "doable".  I no longer want to throw up when I think of the calling.  But I still feel myself trying to throw my arms up to stop myself from getting too close.  But those arms are quickly becoming paralyzed from the thought of missing the Lord's call on my life.  The reality of missing the Lord draws more fear than the fear of the calling itself.

I am running...running after you....Lord!

Monday, May 23, 2011


"But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord..."
Jonah 1:3 (NLT)

It's odd...I've never been here before.  This is the first time the Lord has called me into an area of ministry where I've dug my heels in the sand and said, "No way, Jose!"  Well, at least I'm trying to do that, but I'm looking behind me and seeing ruts in the sand where He's dragging me there anyways.  My friend Jenny will read this all and laugh.  My life group leader will read this and chuckle.  My husband will read this and breathe a sigh of relief that I'm finally dealing with it.  Others have simply said, "Yeah, we knew it..."  Well, I feel as though everyone around me knew it...but me.  I suppose it's easier to see a calling on someone else's life than it is to see what is on your own life.

Every single time I try to question why, the Lord always responds with a solid answer.  Each time I try to argue, He reminds me of what He's brought me through and what He's put within me.  Even when I try to bargain with Him, He cautions me about being careful what I "wish' for.  I'm doing all the things that Jonah did...and we all know where he ended up.  No thank you!  I'm not interested in spending even 3 minutes, much less 3 days, in a dark, stinking, lonely place.  Jenny calls my "fight", rebellion...and that's as witchcraft.  Whatever to you, Jenny!  I told her to hush....that I didn't want her truth.  Of course, she laughs at me and I laugh at myself because we both know I carve the truth and the relationship with my Lord.

I do want the will of the Lord for my life.  I don't want to try to carve my way through this world.  I want Him to carve my path.  I want to show up on Judgement Day with empty pockets from giving everything I had before my time was up.  So here I stand at a crossroad.  I know which direction to go but fear hinders my walk.  The thought of the sacrifice shakes me up.  I try one more time to tell my Maker that He didn't make me to do this...

My accountability partner gave me 30 days from May 11th to wave my little white flag in surrender.  I have 19 days left....

Friday, April 15, 2011

When the Lord Uses You

I'm so amazed and honored that the Lord continues to use me to minister to the broken-hearted.  It was only about 10 years ago I was that broken-hearted person.  Now, He gives me a platform to encourage and share His love with others.  Every time I minister, I am grieved by the tremendous amount of sin and hurt that many people carry around.  For some, it's as though that hurt and sin have become a part of them in such a way that they don't realize they could ever live any differently.  Some do not even recognize that it is there.  To others, the sin and hurt have become their best friend.  The sin and hurt never stops being taxing on your life, you just learn how to work with it.  Slaves...that's what we become.  Slaves that feel no hope or need to break free.  Others want it to go away but just don't know how to get away from it.  So they crawl into a cage where the sin and hurt can not reach them.  Only, they too are within the bars of slavery inside that cage.  I had one of those cages too.  It was a great "escape" for a short while.  I was certainly a prisoner no matter where I went or what I did.  My happiest moment was not as happy as it could have been.  My good friend Jenny says that we do not live as free as Jesus died for us to be. precious.

We sing about freedom, honor freedom and cherish freedom when it comes to our country and our rights.  We even focus on freeing a whale name Willie.  But we tend to forget that there is another type of freedom.  Spiritual freedom.  A real freedom.  A freedom that is not dictated by the policies of man.  A freedom that was secured for us on a cross.  A freedom that costs but one person His life...Jesus.  A freedom that we did not have to march down the streets of Heaven and picket or demonstrate outside the throne room of grace to get.  There are no "Free The Sinners" signs and cheers needed.  A freedom that was freely given to us...all we have to do is receive it and walk in it.  THAT freedom is the type of freedom that we are all called to walk in.  Freedom from wickedness, bondage, yoke of sin, curses, hurt, etc.  A freedom that is sweeter than Mississippi sweet tea and state fair cotton candy.  We can fight to keep our guns.  We can fight for the freedom to vote or to choose our own healthcare, but what good are those temporal things if we continue to live in bondage to an enemy that is looking to bankrupt us, steal from us, kill us and throw us into eternal hell?  Paul lived in prison more than any one innocent person should have to...BUT...he lived in complete freedom in his spirit.  His surroundings, circumstances, enemies, etc. did not take away from the fact that Paul was a free man. 

We may continue to have circumstances around us that are painful and pressing.  We may live in surroundings that honor everything and everyone except God.  We may have more enemies that we can count.  However, when we are free from sin and hurt we find strength, peace and grace as we press towards the goal of being men and women of God.  We will be a light in the midst of all that darkness.  We will have peace.  Yes, peace.  A peace that we can't understand in the natural.  A peace that man-dictated freedom can't give us.  Spiritual freedom brings peace.  And as long as I have the peace of God, I can get through anything.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Falling Off the Grace Wagon

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
Romans 5:20 (MSG)

You often hear of people with vices "falling off the wagon" meaning they return back to their vice (such as alcohol) after giving it up for a time. So does "falling off the grace wagon" even make sense?  I mean, grace is certainly not a vice.  Follow me here and let's see if we can make a case for this.  

There have been times in my life that I have given up on the grace of God.  That sounds harsh for someone who loves the Lord and in all honesty, it is harsh.  It's plain ridiculous too. When I say I "gave up" what I mean is, I simply gave it no thought.  I took it for granted.  I acted as though it didn't even exist.  I called Him a liar by acting and talking as though I had no hope.  I would rant and rave, cry and question, worry and give up.  I would wallow in the thoughts of past sins that I had already repented for.  I would assume that He couldn't use me in a mighty way...because of my past.  Pile current sins on top of that and you can imagine what a mess I have been.

I love what Romans 5:20 in The Message says about the "aggressive forgiveness we call grace".  Sin crouches at our door, ready to pounce on us.  It calls to us.  Seduces us from behind a shroud of temporary gratification.  Faithlessness is certainly sin too.  Hopelessness is sin.  A lack of trust in the sin.  Those sins come in more like a tsunami.  Overwhelming us.  Sweeping us out to sea.  Drowning us in a wave polluted with hurtful debris.  Isolating us from our source of life.  In both cases, those sins (vices) are all aggressive in seeking us out as their prey/victims.  Yet Romans 5:20 is telling us that God's grace is even more aggressive.  It wins out every time.  It goes beyond the farthest reaching points of our sin.  Sin offers us death.  Grace offers us life through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

This is certainly not a grace that should be taken lightly.  No, taking it for granted is spitting in the face of Jesus.  How precious is the grace that was made possible through the Blood of Jesus.  Kay Arthur, in one of her teachings in the Anointed, Transformed and Redeemed bible study, talks about how grace is previous.  Before the days of the Earth.  Before you and me, God determined that He would send His only Son as the blood sacrifice for my sins.  For your sins.  For our children's sins when they are 10...17...34...even 80.  Yes, before the days of the Earth, He was already showing incredible grace by preparing a way for us to be reconciled with Him.  He knew Adam and Eve would fall to sin.  He knew I would become rebellious, foul-mouthed, cold-hearted, angry, a gossiper, addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol and lustful.  Nothing I did, nothing you've done, surprised him.  He was ready and waiting for us.  He had already started extending grace to us before we ever breathed our first breath.

Grace is not something you can cover in a blog.  It's so wide.  I dare not attempt to try and say all that is in my heart towards God's grace.  Our pastor has been teaching on grace and it has been wonderful for me.  We can never fool ourselves into thinking that we have a complete grasp on something as large as God's grace.  Hearing the messages and reading more about it in the Word has heightened my awareness of it.  I'm just so thankful that 11 years ago, I came face-to-face with His grace as He reached down and took my hand, pulling me from the pit I had been living in.  I'm thankful that today, He takes my hand over and over again and pulls me out of the tsunamis of life.  Yes, I have fallen off the grace wagon.  I have taken back up my love of His grace.  I live in it.  I walk in it.  I breathe it.  I enjoy it.  Tell me, have you fallen off the grace wagon or are you still holding out for "something better"? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

He Spoke And Then He Moved

I'm an Amplified Bible kind of girl.  So much so that my life group will not allow me to read our study scriptures out loud for time purposes.  They always say, "Will someone, besides Shannon, read Psalm 37..."  I personally feel they are missing out on the depth of each scripture by reading their "cliff note" versions, but I suppose they have a point about the whole time issue.

Yesterday I was sitting in the "pick up" line at my sons school.  I'm one of those that gets there about 30 - 45 minutes early so that I'm one of the first ones in line.  This gives me time to read, balance my checkbook, knit a blanket, etc.  I've been in a bit of a twirling storm the past few weeks.  The enemy has thrown so many "below the waist" punches at me.  You know what I'm talking about, those low, "I know he did not just go there" punches.  This, of course, all started after I taught on The Heart of a Warrior.  He is certainly angry about the Word that went forth and the lives that were changed from it.  We know that the Word will do what it sets out to do.  So he lost there and thought he would direct his attack to me.  I've been battling.  A lot of days I win.  Some times I get knocked down but praise the Lord for the His strength that enables me to get back up.

I was able to pick up my son from school because I am recovering from a medical procedure that is part of his latest "attempt" on my life.  I was feeling a little weak and knew that I needed some Word for encouragement and strength.  After all, I'm getting ready to deliver the warrior teaching to our youth group next week.  I certainly don't expect him to go down without a fight.  So I opened my bible to Psalm 37.  The words became like a cool drink of water to me.  They were soothing to my soul.

3 Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
6 And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.
7 Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

I was so drawn to these verses.  The Lord began to speak to me so deeply.  I loved, loved, loved the part in verse 3 that says, "and feed surely on His faithfulness".  That very moment I imagined myself feasting at the table of the Lord and getting so full.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's like sitting down at Grandma's Sunday lunch table.  You get so full you have to unbutton your pants...but you hate to stop eating because it's so good and you won't get to eat that way again for another week or so.  I love how His table never runs out.  I can just stay right there and rest in Him and continue to feast.  There's always a place for me at His table.  The sweet aroma of His goodness continues to draw me there.  Yesterday, in that car line...He drew me in with the sweetness of His love and promises.

He continued to speak to me about rolling my cares/load over on Him.  That was huge for me considering the challenges I have faced and continue to eyeball.  At one point He said, "Just lean on me honey."  The word trust continued to jump off the page at me.  As I type this, it is ministering to me.  He just wants us to trust Him.  Why do we keep forgetting or refusing to do that.  He is utterly trustworthy.  Why in the world would I doubt Him?  Why do you doubt Him?  As we wait on Him patiently.  He will certainly move on our behalf.  He will move heaven and earth on our behalf.  Verse 4 reassures us that we can be delighted in Him because He knows our secret petitions and the desires of our hearts.  Even those things we've not uttered to anyone...not even our momma.  He knows them.  When we wait on Him, delight ourselves in Him, put our trust in Him, and commit ourselves to Him...we find that our desires line up with His and He begins to meet those by one. 

He was speaking to me greatly yesterday through these passages.  He was speaking encouragement for what had already happened and strength/delight in what was about to happen.  He spoke to me...and then He moved.  Within hours of Him speaking through these verses, He began opening doors to the desires of my heart (one of those great big desires that you're not sure will ever really happen).  It just came out of the blue.  It's a bit overwhelming.  Unexpected.  It is something we must approach with faith and wisdom....and absolute humility.  But I know that I can lean on Him, trust Him to work it all out because my Daddy took the time to speak to me before He moved.  Just another testament to His faithfulness. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hey Daddy, Watch This!

I know a lot of really cool people.  Honestly, I think I have some of the greatest people to walk the earth entrenched in my life.  These people come in all shapes, sizes, ages, personalities and backgrounds.  I feel very 1-dimensional when I'm with them.  I'm really not, but surely some of you know what it's like to have at least one person in your life that is just so well-rounded that you take a look in the mirror and say, "'re boring."  Or maybe not.  Maybe I'm the only one out here talking to myself in the mirror.

I know God has brought every single person to me for a very specific purpose.  Every one of them has true value to add to my life.  There are no accidents when you live in Christ.  Every little intricate detail of your life is planned out before the days of the Earth.  I love that about Him. 

There is one person in particular that has been standing out to me lately.  Great things come in small packages, right ladies? :)  Well, the Lord has brought me a very beautiful and very unique gift in a very small package.  She is wonderful.  She is sweet.  She is beautiful.  She is wise WAY beyond her years.  She is full of Christ.  She is a servant.  She walks in boldness and humility.  She is well-spoken.  She is well-educated.  She loves me and that makes me smile.  The moment I met her, she nestled her way into my heart.  She has brought me much joy.  We have had great talks that have enlightened me.  She smiles at me and hugs me a lot.  You get the picture...

Well my memory verse for the next two weeks is 1 Peter 3:12 (amp) "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayers.  But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil."  This verse came alive to me today because the Lord corresponded it with an encouraging word He had me deliver to this sweet friend of mine over the weekend.  He used the love I have for her to minister to me about how much He loves He is saying the same to me.  He loves me us so much that He constantly watches us.  He looks for us when we wake up in the morning.  His gaze follows us all day.  It's not just any gaze.  It's that deep, loving gaze that is protective like a lion and as loving as a lamb.  The depth of His gaze is far too deep for us to ever understand.  It is hot with passion.  It is a jealous stare that says, "Go ahead Satan...make my day.  Touch her and I'll crush you again."

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted so much for your Daddy to pay attention to you.  "Hey Dad, watch this!"  Then you do some "amazing" trick. :)  As children we long for our parents to watch us and listen to us every moment of the day.  I have a son that would love nothing more than to have my full attention 24/7.  As an earthly parent, that can be exhausting and totally impossible.  But it's not a problem for our Heavenly Father.  He constantly watches us and "His ears are attentive to our prayers."  He listens to every word.  He doesn't miss anything.  He listens when I praise Him.  He pays attention when I attempt to blame Him.  He intently tunes in to my requests.  I'm convinced He laughs at my jokes when no one else does.  He loves it when I quote His Word back to Him.  He is moved when I weep at His feet. 

I picture this precious friend of mine, as she lives her life pure and holy before the Lord...I see her twirling around, arms reached out towards Heaven, with a beautiful smile on her face and a sweet giggle in her voice saying, "Hey Daddy, watch this!"  He's watching her.  He's been watching her.  He's so pleased with her.  She is His delight.  I know He is absolutely in love with her.  I know this because He had me tell her.  Then His gentle yet firm voice says to me, "And I love you too..."  Those words fill me with great joy and overwhelming strength.  As long as my Daddy is watching me and listening to me...all things are possible.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning What it REALLY Means to be a Warrior

The enemy HATES when we take a stand against him.  He can't stand to see us cut the heads off of our Goliaths.  When we do he quickly rallies his troops and sends out another attack.  Sometimes that attack is harder than the previous.  If we aren't grounded on the foundation of Jesus Christ we will crumble under the attack.  We must have the Word in us so we can understand who we are in Christ and who He is as our All-Sufficient, Sovereign Father.  We have to know that we can lean on Him and that He is so faithful to us.  We have to be deeply rooted in Him so that when the wind and heat from storms and trials come, we will survive.  Just as David spent time in the pasture tending the sheep and allowing God to instill those deep, intimate things in him...we must do the same.  If we don't we will quickly succumb to fear, doubt and the temptation to quit. 

We may get the wind knocked out of us at first.  (That first blow can come as a major surprise and can often catch us off-guard.  That's just part of being human.) But we can't stay down very long.  We have to fight the paralysis of fear.  It certainly is a choice we have to make.  We have to decide, "this day I stand up and fight" or "I think I'll lay here another day".  Oh the temptation to just lay there.  I mean, what could it hurt, right!?  Just one more day.  Maybe if I go back to sleep tomorrow it will all have been a dream.  We won't get stronger just laying there.  Often times we won't immediately know what the fight is going to look like.  We won't know how long or how hard we're going to have to fight.  What we do know is that this fight we are in has already been won.  Ultimately we win.  Until that day of redemption, we can certainly win the fights on this side of Heaven by relying on our Father.  By fighting with the power and authority that has been given to us.  It is senseless to ignore the amazing tools, resources and weapons provided to us by God.  Many of us sit on the battlefield with our armor and weapons laying on the ground beside us instead of putting them on and using them.  The powerful name of Jesus alone is greater than any nuclear bomb man could ever make.  We must not waste them.

This fight will be a testimony to those that are watching us fight.  And trust me, they are watching!  People always look for the greatest warriors on the battlefield.  Anyone can give up and this world is looking for that rare gem of a person that chooses to fight...and fight right.  There is too much at stake.  Too many eternal lives will be lost if we don't walk out our battles in power, authority, obedience and humility.  Our lives aren't really about us.  The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will all become real warriors.

So today I make a choice to fight.  It is time to get back on my feet.  I have a testimony to build and the Glory of God will be all over it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Everyday Life of a Warrior


Yesterday's Heart to Heart ladies breakfast was amazing.  The Lord truly blessed us with His presences and He certainly did not let us down in ministering to all of us about the Goliaths in our lives.  It was so good to see the auditorium completely full of women that were hungry for the Lord.  I believe we all left there filled up with Him and ready to fight the good fight!

Now that I am no longer focused on the "Heart of a Warrior" message, I will have a little extra time to begin reading other books.  Our church is reading "You Were Born for This" and my friends started Beth Moore's 90 Day Journey of Faith with Paul.  There was no way I was going to sit back and watch them grow in leaps and bounds without me! So I have to say a thousand "thank yous" to Amanda for blessing me with that awesome book.

 I can't think of two greater books to begin reading after studying the heart of a warrior.  The title alone of "You Were Born for This" screams warrior and Paul was certainly one of the greatest New Testament warriors to walk the face of the to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. :) I know that reading these books are going to help equipment me to walk out the everyday life of a warrior.  As I opened the pages of Paul (Which is one of the most gorgeous books I have seen in a long time.  There's just something about reading a "beautiful book" that helps add to the overall content.), I find myself challenged to consider the traditions that I follow within my walk with Christ.  I am embarassed to say that until this morning it had been a really long time, if ever, that I have stopped and thought about the depth and importance of the traditions that the Lord calls us to observe as Christians.  To think that as I take the Lord's Supper I am carrying on a tradition established by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.  And for thousands of years other Christians have done the same.  As elementary as it my seem to you, it was an "ah-ha" moment for me.  I walked away from this morning's quiet time with a deeper appreciation and awareness of the traditions that are sacred to those that follow Christ.

I also began reading "You Were Born for This" and was immediately challenged.  I'm a person that underlines things in the books that I'm reading and I found myself underlining several statements that Bruce Wilkinson makes on the first few pages of text.  The very first thing I underlined was on page 7 - "He never asks you or me to serve Him in a way that doesn't fit us personally and perfectly."  For me, this related back to the message yesterday that David could not wear Saul's armor, neither can we wear someone else's anointing or armor.  The Lord is a God of such intricate detail.  Everything He gives us and asks us to do is tailor-made just for us.  And that my friend gives us grounds to whole-heartedly trust Him in everything that He does and asks us to do.  It make that "Warriors Walk in Obedience" a lot easier to fulfill.  By the time I made it to page 8, I discovered that I had to redefine what I consider to be miraculous.  I often think of healing the blind as a miracle.  I've not really seen me being at the right place, at the right time to bless someone as a miracle.  I do it, I just never labeled it as such.  I had just always labeled it as "being used by God to meet the needs of someone".  As I continued to read and underline I ran across the statement on page 10 that totally connected this to the heart of a warrior. 

"You'll discover that what God chooses depend on for these divine encounters is simply a willing servant."  That was the very first characteristic of a warrior's heart that we saw in David yesterday.  He was a willing, humble servant and because of those characteristics God used him in one divine encounter after another.  One of those being his divine encounter with a 9-foot-tall giant that found himself face down in the dirt.  Things didn't end well for him and the Children of Israel were delivered from a tormenting enemy that seemed too big to conquer.  I just get so excited thinking about how this is all working out for the women of Family Church.  God's plan is amazingly intricate.  He weaves our lives together so beautifully.  He delivered us a powerful word yesterday on being a warrior and now He's given us a book that's going to help us walk out that calling.

The cry of this warrior is "God, please send me to do Your work by Your power today!"