Monday, December 31, 2012

GOLD: 2012


Keeping track of golden nuggets requires a commitment I didn't uphold the second half of 2011. It wasn't that treasure was lacking, but rather my commitment to place it here in my treasure chest. Each year I learn (at least) one thing about myself that I didn't know the year prior. One of my many learnings from 2011 is that while God's gold abounds, I have to purpose to take hold of it and put it in a place for safe keeping.


Do not [yourself] depreciate the Words of God spoken over you. And do not allow time to depreciate the Words of God either. {WordInSeason spoken at Gateway Leadership Meeting at Hilton Townsquare}


This is what the LORD says: It is not for your sake that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of MY HOLY NAME." Ezekiel 36:22


Love love LOVE when God speaks so clearly that I turn expecting to see His face next to me just as clearly. {me}

Ask the Father to help you desire the thoughts, feelings and purpose of His heart. He’ll give you a new heart—His. You’ll begin to have His perspective and a supernatural love, compassion and righteous indignation that will stir you to pray on behalf of others, our government, families, nations, for Israel and so much more. This is the gift of intercession. It’s in this place of partnering with God— asking for His will on earth to be released as it is in heaven—where great joy is found. {In Jesus' Name, Gateway Devotional}


It's hard to lead like Jesus if we misunderstand what Jesus was leading us TO. He leads TO life altering encounters with a Living Father. {Bob Hamp}


A habit of listening to the sweet inner voice of His presence results in a radical determination to obey that voice. {AW Tozer}


When you pray for someone or something because of a godly burden and a desire for God’s justice and will to be performed, you’re interceding. {Anonymous}


The cost of excellence is discipline. The cost of mediocrity is disappointment. {John Paul Jackson}


More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. {Doug Larson}


A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. {Mignon McLaughlin}



Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish yourself to be. {Thomas Kempis}

Three golden nuggets that shined for me in this article I Can See Clearly Now by Deb DeArmond on Destiny In Bloom:
1. On paper, I am not qualified to do most of what God has placed on my plate.
2. I had experienced a genuine change of heart, but had allowed it to slip away.
3. ... but at least for today...
It's so like God to use words written with one purpose to go out and speak something completely different to another set of ears. I love.Love.LOVE. this about His Word!!!
#1 speaks directly to that place in my soul that satan wants to chip away at, and attempts to do almost daily; to convict me of my lack of qualifications to (fill in the blank). BUT GOD ... (I also love those two words) is not calling me because of my resume or accomplishments, but out of His purposes for my life; and what He plans, His Word accomplishes.
#2 is a reminder regarding a subject so off my radar that reading those words this morning is like a wake up call of strong proportions. He is so clear in that sentence. He reminded me that He has already done the work I asked of Him almost a year ago, but that I have not nurtured that heart newness. I didn't even realize I needed this reminder.
#3 are five words that are breathing freedom into my soul and reminding me of the fact that HolySpirit is not here to convict me of what I didn't do yesterday, but convince me of who I am ... at least for today.


It's good to go through seasons where you feel you don't have all the reminds you He's the only one that does! {Preston Morrison}


Falling in love again isn’t so much about communicating better, but about connecting deeper. {Ann Voskamp}


If you don't guard your heart it will become hard sooner or later. {Brian Johnson}


don’t know what holds us back from being receivers when our God just loves to give. {Rebecca Lee Gates}


Modesty does not mean that all your beauty is hidden from all men, but that the fullness of your beauty is reserved for one man. {Alan Smith}


Celebrate God in the very area that you are feeling lack in. Exalt him for His goodness. {Bill Johnson}


Spiritual leaders influence more than they direct, and they inspire more than they instruct. {Bob Hamp}


When you've done everything you know to do & don't really even know how or what to pray: Stand. Pray. Be Bold. Eph 6:13 {Kari Jobe tweet}


When God makes wine, he makes really good wine ... stressed vines produce good wines. {John Piper}


Blessed is she who believes that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. {Luke 1:45}


Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn't be its precondition. {Anonymous Tweet}


For God to teach you about real love, He must bring unlovely people in your life. {Matt Knisely}


Any attempt to draw closer to your spouse will be infinitely blessed by God. {Marriage Today}


Nothing about me will remain passive when the enemy comes to rob me of ground I have labored and plowed and sewn. {Rebecca Gates}


He knew his God would come through, & he acted upon that security. {Nancy Smith}


A wise mother knows what men can forget: the way to move heaven & earth isn't with a strong arm but a bowed head. {Ann Voskamp}


No matter the seen circumstances, when God speaks to you, it changes your perspective. {Me}


Our fall was, has always been, and will always be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. {Ann Voskamp}


Burdens are heavy because God's not in the burden, He's in the revelation of what will relieve the burden. {Me}


Modesty. It’s not about rules. It’s about knowing who you are. {Alan Smith}


Reaching people requires a story, not just logic; empathy, not just argument; meaning, not just info. {Rick Warren}


God never approaches relationships out of His own need. He relates to give not get. You were made in His image. {Alan Smith}

There isn't a loss on earth that can ever rob us of the riches our Lord has saved us for in Him. {Ann Voskamp}

Writing is an act of worship. It's choosing perfect words and placing them in precise order. It's downloading and concentrating life's epiphanies to a microship of influence. The purpose of taking pen in hand it to illuminate the face and heart of God; and the result is to aid humankind in the process of being changed into His likeness. I can't write unless I am inspired by nothing less than Him--not my ideas or creativity or thought process or experience. Him. {Bonnie Saul Wilks}


Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24


When the enemy tries to tempt me to fashion my words like another writer, God reminds me that He is intentionally unique with me...with ALL. {Me}


Praying for God to rend the heavens and come down? He already did in Jesus. The heavens are open. Receive it by faith. {Alan Smith}


There may not often be great opportunities to change the world, but every day there are small ones. {Ann Voskamp}


We are desperately weak & nothing can change that. But our God is omnipotent and nothing can change that. Faith connects us to His strength. {Jimmy Evans}

sometimes i get frustrated with myself for feeling like i need yet another new beginning. i've often found myself in places of failure and frustration, in need of forgiveness once again, which makes me feel like even more of a failure.  yet scripture clearly reveals God's delight in showing us mercy, grace, peace and blessing. new normal is good. the God of Glory is always doing something new. {crystal lewis}

Don't let the scrutiny of the uninformed majority distract you from your calling. {Preston Morrison}

Sometimes it is good to waste money to create memories. {Gunnar Johnson}

Satan knows that if he can defeat you in your mind, he can defeat you in your experience. {Joyce Meyer}


A thought God just hit me with: Don't buy into the saying that "truth hurts" and run away from it. Believe that truth heals and run to it! {God}

REGARDLESS of what my spouse does or does not do, I have to decide: ‘What kind of PERSON (not spouse) do I want to be?’ {@thegracedoctor}

Mental focus on who God is must be renewed, for the idolatrous culture of the world erodes clarity. {via Lauren Scruggs on Twitter}

When the sun comes up, you can see it — each day is another gift birthed straight from the grace of God.. {Ann Voskamp}

cof·fee /ˈkôfē/ A magical substance that turns, "leave me alone or die" into "good morning everyone." {Matt Knisely via Twitter}

Healthy couples fight for Resolution. Unhealthy couples fight for Victory. {Craig Groeschel}


When we forget where we've come from, we have trouble meeting people where they are. {Kyle Fox}


Two things Satan will tempt you with to keep you from fulfilling your calling: pride/arrogance and depression. {Brady Boyd}


God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:24 [MSG]

Do something today that narrows the gap between who you are and who you want to be. {Preston Morrison}

5. We must do that which we know we cannot--to prove that it's our God who cannot fail. Our God appoints those who will disappoint--to point to a God who never disappoints.
6. Travel in the direction of your fears--to let God direct your life.


I don't want a paycheck to settle my fear. I want my faith & trust & dependence on God to bind it before a paycheck is ever on the horizon. {me}
There are times in life where it becomes obvious that you need a new anointing for a new place. Good news: He breathes on whatever He births. {Preston Morrison}


Good things happen outside of our comfort zones! {Bear Grylls}


Lovers change to protect the love. {Danny Silk}


The promises of God don't change just because your circumstances do - He who promised is faithful! {Christine Caine}


Love and honor need to coexist. If you remove one, you threaten the other. {Danny Silk}


Our position as children of God does not grant immunity from the pain, problems and the difficulties of life. Jesus told His disciples that they would experience troubles but through Him they could also have peace (John 16:33). We can be assured that nothing can happen to us apart from the permissive will of our gracious Father (Romans 9:39). These promises give us peace in the midst of turmoil, hope instead of despair, confidence rather than doubt, assurance in the place of fear. {newspringchurchblog}


Once I transplanted it to a larger pot, (the plant) began expanding and adapting to its new environment. This was one of the most revelatory experiences for me with my little garden. I didn't realize that plants' growth was stunted once it reached the capacity of its' container.{Brittany Loose}


Even when we approach God for help, we may not recognize in our souls this thing called self-sufficiency. Sometimes self-sufficiency disguises itself as expectations. Specifically when we try to tell God how we need help or what kind of help we need, we are still operating in self-sufficiency. {Bob Hamp}

Laughter is carbonated medicine. {Anne Lamott, tweet}

Asking a good question is a far more powerful tool in leading [people] to a solution than telling them what you think. {Danny Silk, Loving our Kids on Purpose}

Whoever controls our minds, controls us. {Jimmy Evans, tweet}

...because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand you. {The Velveteen Rabbit}

What's inside of you takes dominion over what's around you. {Bob Hamp, TDLeadD}

Pain and loss in life are inevitable. Misery is optional. {Rick Warren}

But somewhere inside you she lives. The beautiful one who is unafraid and unashamed. She sings, still, whether you listen, or not. She cries whether you listen, or not. Somewhere inside you she lives. Hidden away beneath layers of life and circumstances, she is hoping that you will care for her like the others did not. She is hoping you will introduce her to the One who made her. {Bob Hamp, Somewhere Inside You She Lives}

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Perfect Distraction

When I look at my blog and see that it's been almost six months since I last posted anything new, my brain immediately begins flipping through my mind files to determine which event is most relevant to write about, and my heart feels the burden of realizing I've allowed a lot of life to go unrecorded and, possibly, unprocessed.

It's not that I haven't sat here -- at my laptop with the thought to write -- in six months; it's that I haven't sat here with a true desire to forever keep the words rattling around my head and heart. But today ... today I read a portion of scripture posted on a friend's Facebook wall and knew that I would have to ignore that urge to write in order to not write. Yes, I've done this enough times to know that's Holy Spirit nudging me, because when I write, He often speaks.

So, here I go!
"Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land." [Psalm 37:1-9]
These words immediately pulled [her] to the surface of my thoughts and the deep pit of deception that was both created and taught. This passage poked at some of the questions that have been roaming around in my spirit for a couple weeks now and brought about an (almost) immediate release of the anger and confusion that's been resident in my soul just as long. That's the power of the Word of God.

After "the night of discovery and disconnection" a few weeks ago, I have been wandering like a nomad in a desert of anger, regret, questions and blame. I've asked more questions than I have answers to, but, on the flip side, some important puzzle pieces were uncovered and a fractured picture is a bit more whole. Things that haven't made sense for years are now understandable, not justifiable, but understandable.

"Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes." [vs. 7]

A simple statement. A straightforward instruction. My vagabond heart was instantly settled. 

The word scheming has rolled off my tongue numerous times lately when joined with her name, and I've struggled to wrap my mind around her purposeful plotting of a desired outcome that I couldn't help but label as "corrupt". But God's simple instruction of "don't worry" dropped this peace into my spirit that has escaped me since that night. I've been asking a lot "why's?", but in that moment I knew that He was asking me that same question. 

"Why is it so important to you to have the actions and intentions of another person with whom you have little to no relationship explained?"

Hmmm. His question stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. Asking "why did she ...?" or even "how could she ...?" has been this impenetrable obstacle in my mind. I know one answer is "hurt people hurt people"--I've heard it multiple times and even used it myself in conversation with others--but that wasn't good enough for me, probably because it was now me and not someone else. I thought I needed to reconcile the how and why in order to move forward, but God was challenging me, kind of like a Freedom Pastor. ;) 

"So, how's that working for you?" 

The emotional realty I've surrendered to figuring her out--with no productive results--is pointless, and I see that now. Even if I were to somehow have the why and how revealed, I'm not sure they would bring the peace I've longed for; they would probably just bring more questions.

So I'm laying this part of this journey down. I recognize the futility of my obsession to identify with or influence someone with whom I have zero relational equity, and by choice of my will, I am letting it go ... letting her go ... letting this battle go. Five-and-a-half years later I realize I may have been duped all along anyway. She was never my battlefield, just my enemy's perfect distraction.

*this is just one train of thought regarding this scripture passage, and there are more remaining, but I needed to focus this blog on this one point for sake of clarity and length.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Traveling the Path of Fear and Faith

The thing about paths is that they always lead somewhere. The scary thing about paths is not knowing what kind of journey they'll take me on. The exciting thing about paths is that they always come with an adventure attached ... well, as long as you view life as an adventure ... and I do.
Seeing the end of the path from the beginning is not my promise. Some paths come wrapped in a dream I've longed to take on and fulfill. Others may appear to be cloaked by a cloud of fear trying to disguise itself as the unknown. But in the end, the decision--to put one foot in front of the other and walk--rests squarely on my shoulders. Do I walk by faith or in fear?

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 [NKJV]
In a blog I read today "10 Things You've Got to Know about Fear", written by Ann Voskamp, there were two points she made with which I really resonated, because one spoke about the path from where I've come (point 5) and the other speaks to the path on which I'm heading (point 6).
“5. We must do that which we know we cannot — to prove that it’s our God who cannot fail.”
I started walking this edict out last year (about this very time) when God asked if I would commit to a year-long women’s group, Titus 2, at my church. One of my longtime fears has revolved around women and engaging in groups of women because I've had a long running relationship with the enemy of comparison due to rejection by the "populars" when I was in elementary and middle school. So my soul questions: Will I fit in? Will I be judged if I don’t dress like they do? Will there already be impenetrable cliques? Will there be whispering and gossip and competition? Will I come out with deeper doubts and greater trust issues, or will my wounds be washed clean by the unknown journey that God is asking me to take with Him?
There were many obstacles in my heart when God asked me to pursue Titus 2, but I did it anyway. I was scared to death, but I trusted in the One who asked me.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You." Psalm 56:3 [ESV]

I had enough faith to know that my God would never ask me to do something just so He could throw salt on my open wound. He's in the business of healing not harming, and healing comes in many different forms. Some healing is immediate, but some requires a journey where each choice to step out with God brings truth, which replaces lies, which brings freedom, which heals our wounds day-by-day, and in my case, interaction-by-interaction.
When group started, I wanted nothing more than to find a good "reason", i.e. excuse, to dart and not return after the first week ... and the next, and probably even the next. But once I triumphed (through shear commitment to God alone) past the first few weeks and made it to small group introductions, I found myself settling in and cheering God for putting me in a group with leaders I could relate to. I'm not much of a girly-girl, so having two very down-to-earth, strong and steady women as leaders cemented the deal that I would definitely stay the course for the year. 
Upon completion of my first year, my fear of women is almost gone (I'm still fighting a battle or two with that pesky enemy of comparison), and my rear view mirror is full of goodness: I've gained many new friends, I understand the hearts of women like never before, I've received exceptional teaching from exceptional women walking out their destinies, I've found acceptance and love without condition, and I've been encouraged to pursue even greater paths by having purpose, vision and character spoken into me through "words in season". 
“6. Travel in the direction of your fears — to let God direct your life.”
Now, as I step into my second year with Titus 2, I'm walking into that room not just as a participant but also as a small group leader. Did fear begin speaking once I was approached to be a part of leadership? Yep. And to be honest, multiple times I thought about backing out because fear loves to pursue me, taunting me with the "what if's?". But God kept speaking directly to those places in me that built me up and gave me the courage to keep moving forward, and when I chose to listen to Him, fear had no choice but to stop bullying me.
By hearing and obeying God, and being empowered by the very women I was afraid of just a year ago, I am traveling directly on the path where fear hides; and by simply making the choice to walk, and not let fear grind me to a halt, I am conquering fear and building faith one day, one decision, one footstep at a time. 
God doesn't expect us not to feel fear, He only asks that we trust Him enough to obey when He speaks. Fear can't reside where Faith reigns!
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Battle Grounds

My blog has a familiar cycle of writing, whether in fullness or lack. When days are brimming with laughter and I'm living with a smile on my face because it's reaching outward from my heart, I find myself more apt to write. When seasons are ripe with learning and I'm pressing into God for the treasures buried deep, I find myself more apt to write. But when storms come and the rain falls and thunder rattles the windows of my soul, I tend to turn inward to process, and I'm far less apt to write.

Battles have a way of disarming my words and my desire to hold onto those memories. I live each and every one of those hard moments, after all, and if I was really honest I'd confess my belief that living through them is enough for me. Keeping them forever through the written word never sounds appetizing.

Plus, in the past year I've become determined to absorb the wisdom of choosing correctly between "speak now" and its fraternal twin "forever hold your peace". Speak now seems to come quite naturally, but it's in the holding I find my strongest opponent. So I waffle between writing or not, wondering if I'll look back and wish I had not sounded like such a complainer or see a journey of perspective that leaves me grateful? Choices. It's always about choices.

These past few months have felt like a constant competition between joy and sorrow, faith and doubt, courage and fear, firm foundations and slippery slopes. It's been a Jekyll and Hyde kind of emotional ride for me, and I really have no one to blame except myself. The daily choice is mine, always mine. Look up and fill up and believe in the inherent goodness of God or focus on the circumstances in front of me and listen to their taunting "what if's?". There are days I choose wisely. And there are days I ... do not.

This week has been an uphill struggle for me. Normally the sunshine season represents freedom and playing and lazy days to read for hours and the opportunity to enjoy endless summer days. It's about vacations and lakes and laughter. But with finances already pulled tight and no new freelance jobs on the foreseeable horizon, the weight of lean resources coupled with an abundance of free time does not make for a breezy summertime equation.

My soul is desperate for an escape route--one that will provide time beyond these four walls. I want to tack some memories to a vacation wall in my heart and label it "Summer 2012". But that hope is dim. Money does not solve all problems and is not the key to all happiness, but the reality is that doing and going and experiencing almost always have a price tag tied to them. Not always, but almost always.

I am surrounded by tweets and wall posts of movie and amusement park excursions, season passes to water parks, family dinners to fun restaurants, trips to sandy beaches and airline flights to out-of-state destinations. Family after family is filling their summertime scrapbooks, and if I'm 1000% honest, I'm envious ... heartbroken really. It's not the same brokenness of losing love or a loved-one, but of losing something you love.

While most look to indoor activities when the mercury rises, I bask in the heat. I am a lover of all things sunshine and summertime and the potential this season holds; it's this potential that my heart is losing grip of and mourning more with each passing day. Instead of looking forward to the long hours of daytime, I find myself wondering how we're going to pass them.

September, school and schedules will be here before I know it and my fear is that I'll look back to this season and it will not have been marked with any sort of family getaway, big or small ... not even snapshots of one day on the lake, with memories of adrenaline filled screams and the hysterical laughter that comes with trying to stay on the tube as it flies out past the wake of the boat.

More importantly, I'm longing for a breakthrough in my heart and in my soul; the kind that turns me around in a second and effortlessly abolishes the discouragement that clings to me. I've experienced it often, that powerful touch from my Creator that changes my perspective even when circumstances remain intact, especially in this current season of life. But I'm still waiting and in that waiting I'm left to wonder if breakthrough isn't sometimes just a matter of choice--of turning away from the world and turning towards God? If this silence is not my teacher of discipline through discretion? If breakthrough is not so much a matter of what I see but of how I look, of authority and not affect?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Glorious Awakening

This morning I was up before dawn. Actually, I awoke at 3am after nodding off around 1am, and when by 5am I wasn't back to sleep I finally decided to just get up. Out to the balcony I headed with laptop (and iPhone) in hand. My plan was to read a lot (only read a little) and then to write some (I simply re-edited my blog from yesterday).

The truth is, God captured and held much of my attention by His glorious display. I found myself watching the varying light and color transitions of night into morning, and several times I stood to photograph the stages of daybreak with my camera. I only wish that the camera lens could capture the same colors that my eye saw, but this is nonetheless beautiful.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Seven days ago I sat down and wrote the following blog:

"Writing is an act of worship. It's choosing perfect words and placing them in precise order. It's downloading and concentrating life's epiphanies to a microchip of influence. The purpose of taking pen in hand to illuminate the face and heart of God; and the result is to aid humankind in the process of being changed into His likeness. I can't write unless I am inspired by nothing less than Him--not my ideas or creativity or thought process or experience. Him." Bonnie Saul Wilks
It's a quiet kind of Sunday morning as I head out to my balcony, coffee and laptop in hand, chair already positioned in the shade from days ago. These times are few and far between anymore: the solitude of thought and technology woven with the warmth and peace of the unhurried sunrise.

The past few months have not held a very productive season of writing for me, and this blog shows it. Not because my heart stopped thinking or bits of heavenly revelation ceased to break through into my tiny piece of inhabited earth. Quite the contrary. There's been an abundance of life and countless ruminating moments and God ordained epiphanies. Enough that I could have been here--writing--every day.

But my daily routine--even as unroutine as it is--was flipped on its head when my husband became a full-time presence in our home. February brought unexpected news of company downsizing and with the loss of his job came the surrender of a very appreciated and helpful tool: a company laptop he used both at work and home. Owning only one laptop personally, and with lives that are greatly intertwined with the Internet, decreasing from two computers to one was a pinch deeply felt.

I once had a laptop I called "mine" (although I shared it with our kids) that allowed me the freedom to tackle the technology tethered side of my life as I pleased. Emails, spreadsheets, budget tracking, home school, bill paying, social media, reading, writing, researching, etc. were done throughout my day at will. Flexibility is not only a requirement with my role responsibilities, ironically, it's also a key factor in remaining sane on days where schedules are crazy and I log hours of chauffeur time in the car. 
But it's the sharing of this one laptop that has strictly limited my time and access, and in turn, has bound me and my words. Often I am too discouraged to write, for the choice between productivity and creativity always looms.

Writing has always been about a moment of seized opportunity--a Carpe Diem of words and time--when I can't go one more minute without allowing my fingers to speak through the keyboard, spilling inside-out my thoughts and emotions and God's unveiled truths. Purging is cathartic and necessary. When held within, too many words cause me to feel burdened. Heavy. Writing frees me. Without it, I seem to shrivel.

Sensory stimulus is also a necessary part of thought release; my linguistic spring board of sorts. A desk, an office chair and a static monitor do not stir the pot of words in my soul. Give me an open window, or better yet, an unlocked door to the bounty of life outside these four walls and it is then that I am unleashed, free to roam in contemplation and creativity.

I need to personally witness the occasional hawk soaring among the clouds of the blue sky, breathe in the fresh air, regardless of what temperature the digital thermometer reads, and listen to the harmony of a bird's song and cricket's chirp mixed with the intermittent sound of a car door closing or engine turning over. Every moment out there is the potential catalyst for a new idea recorded here.

But it's the restriction of time with this shared laptop that has bound me, and the heaviness of this word load inside me is beginning to take its toll.

I take a step outside. Butterflies are thriving this year. I don't just want to read about them through a post on someone's wall or see them via a friend's Twitpic. I want to marvel at their spotted wings and tongues that curl like cinnamon rolls with my own eyes. And those birds that are a constant presence on the rain gutter above my living room window? I want to listen to them with my own ears and wonder what they're communicating to one another ... or their Creator. Their song is like a beautiful prayer language. I don't know what is being said, I just know that they are speaking and that God is listening.

It's in moments like these where sight and sound becomes the invitation and inspiration to write.

"Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being." Romans 1:20 [MSG]

I look and listen, asking for mystery to be unveiled through creation; for the Hand of Heaven to reach down and write His Words on my heart.

"God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun - a super dome! The morning sun's a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed. The day-breaking sun an athlete racing to the tape." Psalm 19:1-4 [MSG]

A lone bird has flown through balcony openings between guard rail and ceiling five separate times in just as many minutes. I stop. Always stop and give an audience to the comings and goings of God's creatures. She is "this close" to me. Fluttering, even pausing mid-air, repetitively looking for a place to land. But rest is not found here for her. I want to capture this moment on film, but the thought comes too late. Her investigation has concluded and a subsequent choice to locate a wider beam is made. As she flies away, I wonder if God's creatures are as fascinated with my movements and sounds as I am with theirs? I shake my head in answer to my own question. Probably not. He did not create us for them, but them for us. 

I pause to ponder and stop to see, soaking in what can only be enjoyed in moments of intermission, and I realize how much I have missed these writing recesses--deliberate sojourns in my day taken with the sole purpose of becoming and transcribing inspiration--of hearing Him in bird's song, seeing Him in soaring wings and inhaling Him in morning breeze. With this computer in my lap, I record much of what I experience--embers of ideas holding the potential of completed word offerings.

But it's the sharing of this laptop that has bound me and my words and restricted my access to opportunities like these. Or has it?
Oh, how a week can change circumstances, even when nothing but perspective is shifted. Let me explain...

In April, Anthony and I were meeting with a friend at church (actually he was meeting and I was tagging along). Through our discussion said friend concluded correctly that as a family we were sharing one laptop and popped up with, "Could you guys use an iMac? It's an older one, but I don't use it anymore and would love to bless your family." Whaaaat? Within 24 hours we had the computer in our home and set up at the family desk. Every time I walked by it I was blown away by God's goodness and the utmost generosity of this friend.

What tickled me even more was that four years earlier Anthony had shown me an iMac at the Apple store in Southlake and told me that it was the computer he wanted for our family, but we weren't in a place of needing or affording a new system. Within that time frame we went from four computers to one: two Windows desktops crashed (because that's just what they do) and my MacBook died (because I accidentally spilled some coffee on it), and we've been operating with our lone laptop for the past year.

With this gift, God not only doubled the computer access in our home but, more significantly, He also blessed us with the very computer my husband had desired for our family. That's not just provision but Ephesians 3:20 abundance.

Here's how I tie today's thoughts with the blog above: When we brought the iMac home we had the choice of using it as our family computer or setting it up in our bedroom (which is also Anthony's office) and allowing the family to use the laptop. We decided the iMac was the better choice for the family for three reasons: the MB Pro has years of life on it for both Anthony and me, the substantial monitor on the iMac allows us to easily view what our kids are doing on the internet and it just made sense because it was the very system Anthony had talked about for years. So I moved the files I absolutely needed from the laptop to the iMac and relished, albeit shortly, the opportunity to accomplish my responsibilities during daytime hours instead of waiting until evening when Anthony could relinquish the laptop.

What I quickly discovered was that everything I worked on, from finances to personal email, was visible to anyone who walked by because our family computer is located in a high traffic area and the large iMac monitor puts everything on easy display. On the creative scale, I found writing difficult because "A desk, an office chair and a static monitor (facing a blank wall) do not stir the pot of words in my soul."

Within weeks I curtailed my usage on the iMac until the kids had gone to bed (for privacy) and found myself right back in the same quandary I had previously been in when sharing the laptop: working and writing later in the night, or not at all, because daytime hours contained obstacles and evening hours were filled with dinner, family time and chauffeuring responsibilities. The iMac was a huge blessing and joy for our kids, and for that I was over-the-moon thankful, but it just wasn't working for me. Or was it?

Fast forward 60 days, past April's gift and last Sunday's lament, to yesterday's epiphany that brought a large slice of freedom to our household ... okay, really to me. While working at the iMac God asked me, "Why is the static computer out here and the portable laptop in there (our bedroom) when Anthony is always sitting at the desk working? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring the laptop out here so that you can have the freedom you need to unplug and move about?"

*Insert the sound of God's common sense brick hitting me upside the head*

[And there's a bonus ... the kids don't even have to touch the laptop because we have an external mouse and keyboard attached, and we can still see their movement on the internet because we have a large dual monitor set up next to it.]

"There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 14:12

Allow me a little latitude with this scripture. I know it references our choices in life leading to eternal death, but on a surface level it fits this situation. For months I had been shriveling (dieing) inside--from a way that seemed right--when the answer was in front of me the entire time. God had not only provided a second computer to solve the laptop sharing dilemma, but had also made a way for the flexibility (life) my soul craved. My eyes were so focused on the what-made-the-most-sense-details that I completely missed the forest for the trees. I can hear Gateway's freedom teaching resounding in my head now: "We have to get you to remove your hand from in front of your face so God can show you the bigger picture."

And yes, in case you doubted, God is interested in and even cares about the seemingly insignificant "life problems" such as how to best share computers because we're told that "the very hairs on our heads are numbered" (Luke 12:7), and that seems like pretty useless information to me.

Hand gone. Vision caught. Problem solved. Freedom found.

I am now unbound.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For My Mom...

To remember my heart for her on this Mother's Day. {May 13, 2012}

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Inspired Scribe

While at a Gateway Leadership event in January, a man who was there to speak prophetically over the group said these words before delivering the word God had given him, "Never devalue the Word of God given to you." Basically, he was saying to put value to every word God speaks to you, whether through Himself or through others. Never let it fall to the wayside because you haven't seen its fruit yet or because it doesn't fit for your "right now" life. (and that's with the understanding that you have already taken said word to God to confirm that it really is for you.)

With that said, I am taking the time today to record the various Words God has purposed to speak to me through various people. They'll all be housed under the label of Prophecy, so if you're interested in reading God's heart for me over the years, choose that label.

Today, at our last large group meeting for this year of Titus 2, each set of Small Group Leaders had a prophetic word for each person within their specific small group. A word they had sought God for earlier that week. Here's mine:
Babs: Inspired Scribe

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, But water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that is may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

As I prayed for you I felt the Lord was saying, "You have a story to tell about Me. It's one of great adventure, mystery and a love that never fails. It's different than what you're used to doing. This story, about Me, will change hearts for My kingdom. I've set the stage. By My Spirit, you are inspired with the details."
God has been speaking to me [directly] about my writing since I moved to Texas. Actually, my first Word about writing came from Him in the summer of 2007. I had already been blogging because I've always been one who journals, just never consistently. Back then I assumed it was about my blog. That people would be drawn there for inspiration because I'm very transparent about my life, the ups and downs, the flesh of me and the spirit. But in the past few years God has expanded His reach through me via Destiny In Bloom, a women's online magazine. And in the past year He has spoken quite a few times about a future book that I will write.

As a matter of fact, during one of my first few small group meetings for Titus 2, one of my leaders, who at that time really knew nothing about me, "prophetically punched me in the arm" (there's a story behind that) when another member mentioned her ability to give free radio publicity for anyone who needed it, like if they had a book to the word out about. That's when she punched me (it didn't hurt) as a reaction to what her spirit sensed about book writing and me. She said that that word was for me and the book I would write. What??? She didn't know a thing about me and yet still delivered that impression ... that was obviously strong enough for her to react physically. :)

I don't know what God wants to write through me when it comes to a published book, but I know (because of another Word I received at Titus 2 in our large group meeting), that if He opens the door, the only way I won't walk through it will be because of direct disobedience to Him.

So, I'm a writer. It's time to get disciplined and sink into my scripture verse for 2012: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. [Hebrews 12:11]

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Team KK

I am an avid reader of Karen Kingsbury's books because, as a fiction writer, she has an incredible knack for using words to pull you into her stories and make you feel as if you know her characters like family. She just posted another opportunity to become part of Team KK, and both Teighlor and I posted our submissions for a chance to win. Below is the info and my response (because I thought it would be fun to have this post on my blog and look back if I get chosen):

TEAM KK NOTICE: It's that time again!!!
I will choose 30 of you to win an ADVANCE COPY of LOVING for the purpose of REVIEWING it for our FACEBOOK FRIENDS here in my virtual living room!! I will also choose 30 of you, whose comments I will publish in an upcoming book.
HOW TO ENTER: Write 1-3 lines describing me as an author or the way you feel about my books. Also include 1 line about why you want to be on TEAM KK. I will choose 30 of you whose comments I will publish in an upcoming book. OR I may choose you among an additional 30 people to be on TEAM KK. If you are chosen to be on TEAM KK, you will receive the book next week and you will need to submit a 250-word review by Friday, March 9. NO SPOILERS, of course :) Please only enter if you are able to do this :)
You will receive a private message tomorrow if you are a winner.
Submit your comment about me or my books below this post. You could win by having your comment selected for a future book, or by being selected as TEAM KK, to review an advance copy of LOVING.
Entries can be submitted through 8 a.m. Friday (PST).
Here we go!!! Love you all :)
"In a world inundated with writers who fill pages with hopeless violence, excessive indulgence and unnecessary promiscuity, Karen always captures my heart with characters that become family members and story-lines filled with hope, redemption and the transforming power of God's love. Her books are shining lights in a dark world."

"I want to be on Team KK to get even a small chance to be a part of Karen's ministry through the faithful use of her God-give gift with story-telling would be the opportunity of a lifetime for this devoted reader."

Team KK gets chosen this week. I'm hoping that both of us get picked, but if I had to be honest, it would thrill me most if Teighlor was chosen because she lives and breathes Karen's books, even to the point of reading some multiple times.

God, would you bless Teighlor with this special opportunity? Love, her Mom

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Got You

I just got through reading this on Kate's blog,
"... and I thought about how God had heard my prayer. He had my back. He was and is working it out. He’s not tired. He’s not going to abandon the project before He’s brought it all to the complete redemption He’s meant for it. And none of this is because I’d been having regular “quiet times”, or praying as much as I could have, or being a particularly good anything. It doesn’t make sense, really. But He has me in a way I can hardly wrap my mind around…and He loves me. He is the same every day - faithful and true to His word - regardless of where I’m at."
and I had these thoughts:
  • Do I always believe that God's got me, that He really has my back?
  • What is about me that so firmly believes, without doubt, in the redemptive work of God in the lives of those I know, but I struggle at times to hold onto that for myself?
  • How often do I stop to consider the fact that God never sleeps, even when He created me to?
  • How long will it take for me to become convinced of who I am to Him and that He requires nothing of me except to abide in Him?
  • Is it remotely possible to understand the depth and height and width and sheer volume of God's love for me ... even just a teensy-weensy bit?
As I write that last bullet point, the song "Let's Worship" by Deluge & Kari Jobe is playing; and I am reminded of how I wrestled with the concept of that song over a year ago in my closet for hours on end (especially the line "I will sing from the overflow of love in my heart"), playing it on repeat over 30 times before I got up. Coincidence? I think not. I digress...
"And none of this is because I’d been having regular “quiet times”, or praying as much as I could have, or being a particularly good anything." (Italics mine)
That line caught me in my heart as soon as it passed through my mind. And I immediately thought of my kids. And I understood the depth of that thought. The sheer volume of love weaved throughout it and wrapped all around it.

Do I require anything of my children in order to love them; to take care of them; to protect them; to provide for them; to pray for them; to help them; to meet their needs ... and even exceed them? 

No. And neither does my Daddy-God.

Although I wrote the above question as I thought of my children, I could just as easily go back and hear God's voice speaking it over me. After all, I think this thought because He thought it first. I love because He first loved me; and I've learned how to take care, protect, provide, pray, meet needs ... and even exceed them ... because He did (and does) it all first.

"I Got You."

That simple sentence is abounding in strength and swimming in fierce tenderness all at the same time. It makes me exhale in peaceful and smile at its sweetness. He's got me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beauty Redefined

"I am weathered but still elegant ..." Song of Solomon 1:5 {TheMessage}

Friday, February 10, 2012

[I AM] encouragement

Last Sunday, Anthony and I attended a meeting at Gateway for Small Group Section/Zone Leaders. The last part of the meeting consisted of the leaders getting in groups just to pray, encourage and prophesy over one another. love.Love.LOVE. times like this!

As we were huddled in circles drawn by chairs and prayers began being lifted up, I felt HolySpirit spark my heart and heard His voice begin speaking. I grabbed my notebook and pen and wrote as fast as the words came. When there came a pause in prayer, I shared this with our group.

These words were God's heart for us and a reminder of [who] He is, and I wanted to share them with you, too. Sometimes, just having our Dad tap us on the shoulder and say, "I AM here", is all we need.

I AM the LORD your God
I go before and behind you
I encircle round about you
There is no place, no crack, that I do not cover
I AM your strength and shield; your strong tower
I AM your peace
I AM your wisdom
I AM your safety
I AM your joy
I AM the answer to your every question
I AM laughter in the midst of your frustration
I AM the eye in the center of your raging storm
I AM your comfort in the lowest place
I AM your all in all
because I AM

Awkward Acceptance

“Do I want my husband to stop seeing me and calling me beautiful? Is that really a question I need to be asked? Apparently.”
i sometimes think you write from the perspective of a fly on the wall of my heart. sometimes i read your words and they [too eerily] tell my story. it is almost unsettling at times. unsettling because you make me face me by surprise. maybe we share heart similarities without even knowing it. hearts that have been used, i’m discovering, are hearts that don’t want to believe in being seen, and adored, and loved … just for who we are. GOD is whispering…
the paragraph that starts with “my husband tells me” was like a page from the story of my life. i understand your discomfort in accepting. and your transparency has caused me to flinch a little. now i know i have to ask the question “why?”. why do i? why don’t i? and then i have to let GOD work out of me to work in me. to let freedom replace awkward acceptance. GOD is whispering…
thank you for your [heart]words.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gut-Check and Healing

I posted the following to my Facebook page on January 31st so that I could share a story, a moment, of God's power through healing. After reading through the comments I received, I decided I didn't want to lose this moment somewhere on Facebook, so I'm keeping it here ... where it belongs.
Yesterday, Teighlor talked to me about pain she's had in her neck, with almost constant headaches, for the past 2 months. We'd though it was muscular and that she was out of adjustment. We tried massages, different pillows, etc., but nothing worked. Yesterday something didn't sit right with my gut. I was legitimately concerned. So was Teighlor. I knew in my knower, without knowing what, that it was more than a sore muscle. Immediately I heard HolySpirit tell me to take her to the Healing Rooms at Gateway Church last night. They laid hands on her and prayed. The woman felt the "small lump" at the base of her skull when she began praying. Teighlor and this woman both felt intense heat at the spot where she laid her hand during prayer. After prayer, Teighlor's pain (which was constant) was gone and so was the lump! This morning, she woke up with no pain for the first time in 2 months! PRAISE GOD! I don't know [what] He healed, I just know He did! I know what He spoke to me and I believe the gut-check I had was from Him as much as the word He spoke to bring her to the Healing Rooms. He is healer!
[Healing occurred on Monday, January 30, 2012]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grace Breeds Grace

"Grace breeds grace and gives you eyes to see the person, not the offense."

Good Lawd, Ris, you could have just written that sentence and it would have been enough to slay me, but then you followed up with these words:

"It was hard because my heart wanted to hold on to judgment, but God was prodding it towards grace. He almost always wants to do that if we let him."

"Our marriages are living, ever-changing exchanges between two imperfect people that need to daily draw from grace."

I asked HolySpirit this morning to speak into me perspective, because last night I went to bed frustrated and miffed, and in all honesty, woke up that way too.

And then I opened my email and saw the title of this article sitting there, waiting for me. "The.Gracious.Wife." I had to grab a fresh cup of coffee because I just knew I was going to be wooed out of my pity-party and into the wise lap of my Father who understands my emotions, but more importantly, desires to align my heart with His.

Sometimes alignment hurts. Even more so, it's humbling because it requires choice. I can choose grace this morning, or I can choose offense. Oh, how my flesh desires the second choice. But, the Spirit of God ... well, He knows the beauty of grace and sings over me loud enough to cover the grumblings of my selfish soul.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reality ... For Reals

As 2011 began to draw to a close, I came across a couple blogs on weight loss that inspired me.

Maybe that's normal because the end of one year usually brings with it many resolutions to lose those unwanted pounds in the new year; resolutions that are hastily broken because they are made with a mob mentality--just jumping on the same weight loss bandwagon with everyone else.

But, I could sense that although I've been part of that resolution mob in years past, something new was stirring. It wasn't just this desire to get my figure back, because I'd experienced before just how far desire will take me. A blog I posted almost 6 months ago shows my desire to be something different, but it didn't result in any behavioral changes.

No, this stirring was more of a knowing that weight loss wasn't going to be my single focus, it was going to become a piece in the pie of learning discipline.

Crystal's yearlong journey to successful weight loss through healthy eating and exercise was the story God used to switch the way I viewed goals, and Angie's quick loss method lead to a piercing realization about the way we can 'choose' to see ourselves. Then this picture showed up on Facebook that was my reality exposed moment.

"Oh, crap! That's what I really look like?"

When someone manages to snap a photo of you with your guard completely down and no awareness to manipulate the pose to look better, it can be real eye-opening. At first, this picture made me angry. Why would anyone purposefully post a photo that is so incredibly unflattering? Wasn't there any other option? But then, as the horror of seeing my 'fattest photo ever' began to subside, I heard the voice that spoke truth-filled love into my soul. "It's time to stop hiding."

I've come to understand that there's a lot more to that statement than I first realized. And that word--Hiding--is the catalyst to another blog I'll soon write.

With a message on gluttony in December, a church-wide 40-day health fast to start the new year, a call to discipline and couple of favorite bloggers' stories tucked into my arsenal, I walked into 2012 with a mindset that was ready to finally tackle the how's and why's of my 30 pound weight gain over the past four years:

  • I memorized my 2012 verse, Hebrews 12:11.
  • I reactivated my SparkPeople account to keep a log of everything I ate and drank so I was fully aware of every calorie choice I made each day.
  • I used Pinterest to find healthy recipes that would deliver flavor in healthy ways.
  • I set my mind on the year's goals ahead of me: lose 36 pounds in 12 months by eating healthy foods, eating more often in smaller portions, consuming water like crazy and exercising at least 5 days per week.
  • I weighed myself on January 1st: 175. (The last time I weighed that much I was 9-months pregnant and checking into the hospital to give birth. That child is now 15 years old.)
  • I got up each day and made purposeful, healthy choices about food.
  • I ate throughout the day in smaller portions.
  • ♫"I. I. I worked out." 
  • Some days exercise was by sheer choice of my will, and other days I found myself looking forward to sweating.

Yesterday morning, a mere 13 days into my eating and exercising plan, I stood on the scale and was elated by the result. I had already lost 6 pounds! The scale read 169. It was the first time in almost 18 months that I had stepped on a scale and had the second number in my weight not start with a '7'.

While a certain number on the scale is not my ultimate goal but rather something to work toward, it still is incredibly motivating to see the result this early on of choosing differently. I am celebrating this small victory in the same way a recovering alcoholic would celebrate his first week of sobriety. Beginning is often the most difficult choice because every journey has to start somewhere, and every battle victory is worthy of recognition.

After all, the battle victories win the war in the end.