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I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

26 Sep

grace for the good girl

Have you read it?  If not, I highly recommend it.  But I also need to advise … this isn’t a kindle-type-o-book!  This is a worn-pages-highlighter-and-notes-all-over-it-kind-o-book!  One you’ll want to tuck away to read again and again.

And I’m only in the first few chapters!

I’ve been a long time, inspired reader of Emily’s blog, Chatting at the Sky.  You might remember my Tuesday’s Unwrapped musings?  I wrote of an unexpected gift in the the everyday ordinary, and did my best to unwrap it for you each Tuesday.

I can’t even remember how long ago it was, but Emily started sharing how she was writing a book … and took us all on the journey with her.  I was first in line to pre-order on Amazon {cuz I’m a preferred customer and all}, and felt fully vested in her journey.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, and dive into the words God breathed into her to share with us all.

So imagine my delight when I found out her sister … who lives a mere ten minutes from me and happens to go by the little ol’ name of the nester … was throwing her a book-signing shindig!

To say I was excited would be a bit of an understatement!  To say I was a nervous dork wreck would also be a huge bit of an understatement!

You see, I’m learning about my good girl ways … I wasn’t always a self-proclaimed good girl, but I wasn’t necessarily a bad girl either.  I’m the first though, to admit I’ve got some things I’m not so proud of in my closet.

Here are a few things I’ve highlighted so far … can anyone relate?

  • I felt the heavy weight of impossible expectations and had the insatiable desire to explain every mistake.
  • I taught people around me that I had no needs and then was secretly angry with them for believing me.
  • This fear of rejection drives me hard, eating away at my courage.
  • I hide behind fine and good.
  • And though the purpose of my mask is to fool you, don’t be fooled.
  • My instinctive impulse was to find my worth in the response of the people around me, and as a result, people became measuring sticks for my goodness rather than unique expressions of God.
  • You may be hiding from something, hiding behind something, or simply hiding something.
  • And this prison of self-protection has kept me from receiving the boundless, unfathomable, gracious love of God.

Oh but our God is gracious, isn’t He?  I love that we are all knitted together … we all have our masks … we all have our issues.  And He sends a sweet writer to share, encourage, inspire with her own journey to find grace.

I can’t encourage you enough to pick up a copy and unwrap a very unexpected gift in Emily’s words.

I’m not gonna lie … I felt a little star-struck over at the nester’s place!  In full disclosure, I’m not a regular stalker reader of hers … but goodgracious, I certainly knew enough to know it was a treasure to visit the one and only NEST!  :)

And I sure wasn’t disappointed!  If I ever write a book {and more on that later my friends}, I’d stalk her kindly ask til she agreed to host me a party!  Wait … scratch that … her party was so fabulous that I think I’d write a book, with the sole purpose of her hosting the party!

For some fun deets and photos of the party, click on over here, here, and here!

And then order the book.  Pronto!  But not the kindle version.  I promise it’ll change your life.  True story.


Posted in inspiration, resources, tuesdays unwrapped, writing


5 Aug

sure! {repost}

Another great reminder to make memories …
{original post 9.7.10}

What’s your parenting style?  Do you reserve your “no’s” for when you really need them?  Do you say yes more than you say no?  Do you think before you say no?

The other day the girls asked if they could color their hair.  With markers.

I thought a minute and answered, “sure!”

When my girls are grown and gone … those are the moments I want them to remember.  In the midst of the morning chaos, mom took 5 minutes to slow time and make memories.

This post is linked up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky


Posted in parenting, tuesdays unwrapped


4 Aug

press pause {repost}

This post reminds me to stop and enjoy the little moments in life … it’s passing by at lightening speed and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
{original post 3.9.10}

So … it’s Safari Day.  CJ had to leave at some ungodly hour in the morning to catch a flight and I was at it alone with the kiddos.  I was running late, not feeling great {MS symptoms flaring up} and needed to get everyone dressed up in safari gear and make sure we had all accouterments in hand as we rushed out the door.  Hence bugles for breakfast in the car!

So I’m in the shower and miss Hunter starts knocking and saying something.  I couldn’t hear her and what, with my rush and all … I felt a little annoyance rising.  She sat there patiently until I turned the water off.  I asked what she was saying and she asked me to “draw” her a heart.

Honestly, I was in a hurry and didn’t want to spare the … oh, TWO seconds it would take to draw a heart!

But I decided in that moment to push the pause button on my rising stress and put a little joy in my baby’s day.

So I drew her a heart.  And then I put her initial in the center of it.

This was the image I saw.  She radiated pure joy at the sight of seeing that heart.  I smiled.  I forgot we were in a rush.  The chaos around me faded.

The gift I’d like to unwrap for you today is the gentle reminder that these small everyday pleasures or gestures take no time at all … but yet they mean the world to the ones we love.

What can you do today to “press pause” and add an unexpected moment of joy to your {or someone you love} life?

{and maybe I do shower with a camera!}


Posted in family photos, family thoughts, hunter, parenting, tuesdays unwrapped


28 Jul

refinement {repost}

There is so much truth in this post.  Who knew when I wrote it over a year and a half ago that I would be standing firm to these words today.  And the whole MS thing?  I believe I was healed from that nasty disease last night!  This is a long post … but so many things to cling to in times of trial … I pray you read it through, and I pray it blesses you.
{original post 12.15.09}

refinement definition

The process of removing impurities or unwanted elements …

I started a bible study in my home a little over a year ago.  It was something God started whispering to me about.  Then it got stronger.  And the signs got clearer.  Everything fell into place.  It’s an amazing story really.

Actually, I’m going to attempt to put the whole story together here … I’ve not done that before.

So as I said … it started as a whisper.  God talks to us like that, you know.  He starts softly … before you get the spanking.  Oh, and for real … you better believe it … God spanks us.  How many of you can relate?

Anyway.

I heard God softly telling me he was preparing me for something.  Then I started getting signs.  Hearing signs.  I started following a blog where she talked about starting a bible study.  The whispering got louder.

Out of the blue, I’d picture myself talking in front of people, telling them my “story.”

You can read more here

So … when I finally figure out that God wants me to lead a bible study … I have no idea what I’m supposed to talk about.

Angie {the blog I linked to above}, was going to be doing a Beth Moore bible study.  So I went to the book store to check into Beth Moore studies.  They didn’t have a single one there.  Now listen … I was in a Christian book store … and Beth is as Christian as they come.  Her books and studies are typically all over a Christian book store.  So the fact I couldn’t find a single one was a huge sign.

What did I find?  A study from Max Lucado called, Facing Your Giants, the story of David.

Facing your giants, huh?  Okay … I’ll bite.  After all, I’ve got me a few giants in my proverbial closet!

I was finally putting together the pieces of the puzzle, and what I believed God wanted from me.  I believe God wanted me to share with others the “giants” I had faced {up to that point} in my life and how He saw me through them.

And if this was the case, there was just one piece left to put into place.  Without that piece, which involved permission from my husband, I wouldn’t be able to proceed.

This particular giant CJ and I have gone through is a biggie.  Doozie, if you will.  And I was purty darn sure he wouldn’t want me talking about it.  In fact, up until that point, only a few close friends had ever known.

So God?  If this is something you want me to move forward with … you know you’ve got a big hurdle to cross here, don’t you?

Wanna know how that turned out?  You can read about how God had the whole thing in His hands, right here.

The rest is really history … We had our first meeting and have been going strong ever since.  We started the study with “Facing Your Giants.”  I started that first night and shared all of the things I’ve been through in my life.  Everything.  The good, the bad, and the very, very ugly.

My purpose was to open my closet and let others see that we all have “giants.”  Some are big, some are small … but they are deep … and difficult … and need the grace of God to see us through them.

It was a great series, and a great book … I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it before.

And anyway … we’ve gone on to discuss marriage and now are studying the end times and a DVD series from John Bevere titled, “Driven by Eternity.”

And … let me loop back around to the purpose of this post …

In our study last week, John talked about being refined like gold.  And that really struck a chord with me.  I talked about it with the group and what it meant to me.  Especially given what I’m going through now with my MS diagnosis and symptoms.

So the gift I’d like to unwrap for you today is … refinement.  And maybe a new way of looking into your own trials and situations.

What is refinement?  The process of removing impurities or unwanted elements.  The process of refining gold means putting the gold dust in a crucible and heating it until it melts. It is then that impurities begin to come up to the surface as a dirty film. The refiner then takes a ladle to scoop off these impurities and discards them.

The refiner may repeat the process a number of times, ‘boiling’ the gold to bring up the impurities and removing them, until he is able to look into the refined gold and can see the reflection of his face, as if he were looking into a mirror.  {text found here}

This is what the bible says:
“These {trials} have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  {1 Peter 1:7, NIV}

What I want to scream to you all … to everyone who is “down on their luck” or struggling with unforgiveness, or going through a trial, or loss, or just plain ol’ being dealt a bad hand … you are being refined my friends!  Embrace it.

And I don’t mean, for one minute, to sound trite.  Believe me … I know.  I know what it’s like to go through some unspeakable things.  As honest and open as y’all think I am, there are still some things I can’t talk about here.

What I can tell you:
~ my parents separated when I was young
~ my father pretty much never wanted to see us
~ my parents divorced
~ the last time I saw my real dad was 32 some years ago
~ and the last words I heard from him were, “you are not my girls anymore”
~ as a child, I was sexually molested three times, by three different men
~ on a separate occasion as a child, I was held at knife point and almost raped
~ I’m divorced myself
~ 4 miscarriages in just over a year
~ I’ve been diagnosed with MS

That’s about where the story ends for now.

Because some of the other things I’ve been through are intensely private and involve other people, I can’t share some of the other things I’ve been struggling with for the last four{ish} years.  And not that I wouldn’t share … I have shared with the 20 some ladies in my bible study group … but because I honestly don’t know how many and who all read this blog, or where the information would go …

But what I do want you to know is … I’m no stranger to pain.  I know a trial or two.

What I also know … God will give you, again and again, the same trials sometimes until you learn {or embrace} the lesson He needs you to get.  Much like the refiner of gold continues to repeat the ‘boiling’ process.

So here’s the thing … and I’ve talked about this before … but we need to be people who embrace what God’s given us.  We need to stand at attention.  Step up to the plate and be ready to swing.

Ask God … talk to Him … find out what He wants you to learn.  We can. not. let our circumstances overcome us.  We must rise above them.  We must realize God has a plan for our lives.

There are a couple of songs that I love.  Give me chills and make me cry every time I sing or hear them.  I’ve linked the titles to a YouTube video of the song.  They’re long videos {over 5 minutes each}, but they’re such inspiring songs.  Maybe you could link and play the music in the background.

Please read the lyrics carefully … let them really sink in …

Bless the Lord
For your beauty,
For your goodness,
And your wisdom.. Awesome God
Praise the Lord oh my soul, Praise the Lord.

For your power,
For your honor,
And your splendor… Mighty God
Praise the Lord oh my soul, Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord oh my soul, Praise the Lord.

{chorus}

For your Kindness
For your Favor,
For your Mercy.. Gracious One
Thank the Lord oh my Soul, Thank the Lord.

For your fire,
For your testing

And your Spirit… Holy One
Thank the Lord oh my Soul, Thank the Lord.
Thank the Lord oh my Soul, Thank the Lord.

{chorus}

For your Suffering,
For your Anguish
And your sorrow.. humble King,
Bless the Lord oh my soul, Bless the Lord
Bless the Lord oh my soul, Bless the Lord

For your Victory {Victory},
For your Triumph,
And you’ll soon come and reign over all.

The above song … we are thanking.  And praising.  And blessing the Lord … for His fire.  For His testing.  But also his power, kindness, favor and … wisdom.

I rest … trust … in the fact that our Creator has wisdom.  He’ll not have me go through my trials {the trials He’s given me} in vain.

And here’s another thing … I believe when we can have this outlook … this kind of faith … He gives us the peace inside we need to get through it.  I mean, isn’t that a lot of times, the worst of it?  The torment and worry and frustration?  Wouldn’t you want to have a source to “hold” that torment and worry?  Don’t you want a place to rest?

The bible tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  {Matthew 11:28, NIV}

Blessed Be Your Name
Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

{chorus}
Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s “all as it should be”
Blessed be You name
And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

{chorus}

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
I will bless Your name

{chorus}

And again … with this song, here we are blessing the name of the Lord.  In plenty and in want … I’ll choose to say, “blessed be your name.”

When the sun’s shining down on me … or the road’s marked with suffering … I’ll choose to say, “blessed be your name.”

Ahhh … I could go on and on.

Obviously, I feel passionate about this.  I’ve been working on this post for over a week now and it’s been brewing inside me for even longer.

And if you’re still reading, you deserve a prize! :)

Even after yesterday’s discouragement … I trust in a God who has a plan for me.  I rest in that fact.

Wow … this is a post of all posts … and no photos even!  Sorry ’bout that … but hey … wanna know what God’s been whispering to me lately?

I’ll give you a few hints … it involves:
~ writing
~ chapters
~ a title
~ a hardcover
~ and a lot of work!


Posted in bible study, inspiration, multiple sclerosis, tuesdays unwrapped


25 Jul

go deep {repost}

This post encourages me to continue to “fight the good fight” and press in deep to my Savior.
{original post 6.1.10}

It’s not what you do once in a while, it’s what you do
day in and day out that makes the difference.

– Jenny Craig

On one of our trips to Exuma, we were on the beach building sandcastles and moats.  Hunter went to fill her bucket with water, but she wouldn’t go in.  She was standing there for what seemed like forever … waiting for the water to magically jump into her pail.

I sat there watching her, thinking it had to be a metaphor for something … and quickly jumped to grab my camera and get a few shots of her.

As I was taking the photos and continued to ponder … it came to me.  She needed to go deep.  Go deeper.  Get wet.  To get her bucket filled.

Just as Hunter’s standing on the shore waiting for the water to come to her … we can sometimes do the same with God.  We stand on our own shore waiting for God to fill our bucket … but it doesn’t work like that.

Think of your best relationships.  How much time and effort do you put into them?  Don’t you try to know all you can about your friend?  Don’t you care when they’re hurting?  Don’t you try to be a good friend?  Don’t you want to talk to them often?  Don’t you think of them constantly?  Only when you’re putting into your friendship, can you get something out of it.

A relationship with God is much the same way.  We need to talk to Him everyday.  We need to read His Word.  We need to learn all we can about Him.  Hurt when He’s hurting.  Love how He loves.

It’s only when we step off our comfortable shoreline and go deeper that we are filled.

Are you in a place where you’re wondering “does God even care?”  I promise you He does.  He cares very much.  You may not have the answer the way you want it, or see things in the light you want to see with.

But as you press deep into God, you’ll begin to see things with His light.  You’ll begin to understand that it’s His answer.  And the amazing thing that happens is that you’ll find peace in those things.  You’ll begin to realize your Heavenly Father is waiting for you in the deep end.  He created you to meet Him there.

Dive in.  Get wet.  And watch your bucket overflow.

This post is linked up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky


Posted in family thoughts, hunter, inspiration, tuesdays unwrapped