Thursday, December 23, 2010


The past few weeks of my life have been quite overwhelming. Now, in the past, I associated the overwhelmed feeling with mostly negative experiences in my life. However, for every negative that overwhelmed me this time, God has provided something positive that is equal to or even greater than the negative experience. Here are just a few of my experiences...
1. Doctor diagnoses me with cancerous tumor...before I am awake family and friends have arrived at the hospital in overwhelming numbers to pray and support Stephen and me.
2. Tough chemo and radiation are ordered...special friends that are really like family provide me with fuzzy, warm pajamas, fuzzy pink slippers, and fuzzy warm blankets to comfort and keep me warm.
3. Overwhelmed with family shows up and provides meals...each time, more than we needed.
4. Within one week, all 3 boys visit the doctor plus Stephen plus 2 hospital visits for me...God provides financial support through several of my WES family and other friends
5. Days before Christmas, I spend time in the hospital (not prepared for Christmas, b/c I procrastinate)..instead of stress, God provides me with an awesome nursing staff that is knowledgable, caring, and professional
I could go on for days. God has not only met each and every need. He has overwhelmed us with support and people who are waiting to meet our needs. That is just the kind of God He is. When this journey first began, I  knew that I would be relying on God as my Healer. I'm also learning how He is my provider. I always knew He would provide for my every need. After all, He met the most important need for the Savior. My need for redemption, He provided. It seems each time something bad or tough has come along, God has met our need--sometimes even before we knew what the need was. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude. Amazing is the only way to describe how God has placed people in my life who have helped me along this journey. It is simply indescribable.
At least once a day, I try to have each of my boys look me straight in the eye as I tell them "I love you." Throughout this experience, I feel as if God has taken my face in His hands, looking me in the eyes saying, "My child, I love you." The last two weeks have been rough. At times, I felt as if I was in a dark valley. Yet the entire time, I could feel His presence...His hands holding my facing reminding me of how much He cares. I don't know that I'll ever comprehend how much He loves me. I don't think I'll ever understand why He continues to love me. I do know this...I am honored to have Him walk this journey with me. I am honored to have a precious husband beside me each step of the way. I am honored to have the family and friends that cover me in prayer so faithfully each day. Overwhelmed....with His love, grace, and mercy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

God is using a fanny pack to save my life

Alright. If I'm learning nothing else from my current journey in life -- the one thing I am learning is to never say never. For instance, "I'll never wear a fanny pack. That's just not going to happen." Hmmmm. I know that God must be laughing. He has a sense of humor, otherwise, this whole fanny pack thing would be downright cruel. I have not decided on my own that a fanny pack is my choice to make a fashion statement. The "pack" as I will now refer to it, mainly because I despise the sound of the other name I've been using for it, will carry a pump that distributes part of my chemo treatments. I mean, my goodness, was nothing better looking that the medical field could come up with??? There are a lot of smart people out there, don't tell me there is not a stitch of fashion sense among it. You just never know what life is going to throw at you next. I had written several days ago that I was facing several unknowns. The truth of it all is that we are all facing countless unknowns in our life. We think that we know. We think we have it planned. We think we have it all figured out. At least, I thought I did. God has a way of just showing up and placing a "road closed" sign in front of us. This forces us to take another path. It may not be the path we had planned for, maybe it was a consideration -- but not the one we wanted. Sometimes, that path was not even an option in our feeble human minds.
As I was driving to one of my appointments (6 days after my diagnosis, 2 days before tragedy struck my WHS kids) I was listening to a sermon on the Lord's prayer. My pastor has been preaching on this, so this was kind of an enrichment lesson I guess one could say. The topic was the line in the prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Ever really thought about that? You've probably prayed it before. I know I have. I also know that I'm quite guilty of praying this without really meaning it. If I truly desire for God's will to come alive in my life, I must be willing to give him complete access and rule over every area of my heart. The following example was given. Imagine inviting a guest to your home. You sincerely tell them to make themselves at home. What is yours is theirs. You want your guest to feel total freedom in your home. The next morning, you leave for work. Before doing so, you lock the fridge, lock the bathroom, lock the family room (with access to the television) and so on. You get the picture. It was like God slapped me in the face. This pastor was talking to me. To allow God to be glorified, I had to hand over the control of this cancer battle to Him. Only He could work in a way that would bring honor and glorify His name. There is nothing I can do to accomplish that. I have a diagnosis. I have a treatment plan. Again, the doctors are keeping me on a need to know basis. Not too much information at any given point lest I try to take the reigns away from the One who really is in charge. The fact is, they are having to wait on the first round of treatment to really decide where to go next. The seem to know everything about my cancer. However, I do know that they don't know what tomorrow holds. But I know who does.
Just a week ago, 3 teenage boys were traveling on a familiar stretch of road. The vehicle struck a phone pole and one young man was killed instantly. Two others were sent to the hospital with numbers of injuries, some requiring extensive surgery. Did any of these boys plan on this? No. Did their families in any way forsee this? No. Was our Heavenly Father surprised by this? No. He knew this was going to happen. Nothing surprises him. Now to us, it was an unknown. We had no clue this was coming. The entire community is still wondering how to work through the sorrow and grief accompanied with this situation. One young man had plans for the very next day -- he actually didn't make it to that destination, instead he stood before the Creator of the universe. One young man will never have the same life. They all three had plans for the weekend, plans for a senior year, even college plans. Planning is not a bad thing. I guess I'm just learning that God may change our plans. I must be sensitive to His heart so that I am able to accept these changes. When these changes are hard and may bring hurt and sorrow to our hearts, I have to trust Him to walk through that valley with me.
In the 23rd Psalm, the writer tells us that even when we walk through the shadow of the valley of death, HE is with us. The prince of darkness is waiting in that shadow. Waiting for God's children to throw in the towel and declare that we quit. I've felt like doing that at times. However, I have to stand tall and remember who I serve. Cancer, death, financial hardships....none of these ever surprise Him.
Just some of the things He's told us:
I'll never leave you nor forsake you...
I've loved you with an everlasting love...
I know the plans I have for you....
Those that wait upon the Lord...Isaiah 40:31

To those of you at WHS, I love you dearly and pray for you daily. How about we face these unknowns together in prayer??
To my family (both blood and non-blood related) --couldn't make it without you. God has blessed me beyond what my mind can conceive.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm a Survivor

Relay for Life has been a passion of mine for quite some time, now. Well, somebody needs to let the people in charge know that I will be in need of a Survivor shirt in May!! I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I have God on my side and He is bigger and better than anything else that may come my way. For some reason, He has seen fit to allow me to walk through this time. Maybe some day he will reveal this to me, but He may choose not to. Either way, I'm praying He is glorified and people are brought to His saving grace through this experience.
The next few days are busy, but again...I'll take busy. In case you don't know, I received the results from my pet scan today. They confirmed what April's dog had already told Ashley, April, Cindy, and myself on Saturday night -- no additional cancer. Now, I do have to apologize to Sam, because I didn't completely trust his judgement. Sorry, old boy. There's a box of doggie treats on its way!! Here is a rough outline of what we expect.
Wednesday: Dr at Trinity will perform an ultrasound that will provide even more details on the tumor. This will help the radiation oncologist be as precise as possible.
Thursday: I might get to eat.  Yippee!! I'm thinking lots of m&m's......Maybe even chocolate ice cream....
Friday: Visit with the radiation oncologist -- I haven't met him yet. However, I think there will be days that I won't like him a whole lot -- but at the end I'll pretty much love him to pieces.
Monday: Visit with surgeon who will schedule to put in a port for chemo; also another visit with oncologist
After that, we will begin treatments asap. The oncologists hopes to have things underway next week.
I don't know how I'll feel. I don't have the name of the exact drug and its intensity yet. I'll try to keep the blog updated. No matter what, I feel the prayers you are all sending to our Heavenly Father. He is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. I am so very grateful for that. You all will never know the impact you are having on my life. It is an honor to be surrounded with such a support system, I know I very much don't deserve it.
God provides grace for us to handle situations as He guides us through. However, he doesn't just give us a lump sum of what we'll need prior to the situation. I can't help but think about the Hebrew children as they waited each day to receive the manna God provided. If they stored too much, it spoiled. If they did not receive what God had sent, they went hungry that day. God will provide the grace and strength I need just when I need it. He also will provide enough to see me through. Recently, Holly sent me the song "Always Enough" by Casting Crowns. It is becoming my new "theme' song. I constantly have a song that I cling to that describes my life situation at the moment. This one just hit home -- it fits. He is always enough. No matter what you are going through now or what you will face in the future, my Savior is always enough. He was enough to cover my sin, what more could I want?? If He can do that, He can fight this cancer battle with me!

Humor in all this:
My best gal pal was riding in the car with her 8 year old daughter.
Daughter: Mom, you've been praying for Ms. Tracey like I have. I think we've been praying the same thing.
Mom: Well, what have you been praying for?
Daughter: I've been praying that the pet scan shows cancer has not spread to her liver. Because if it has, she might get the jaundice like Michael Jackson did. We don't want that, do we?!?!

My thoughts: Don't we wish the only problem Michael Jackson had was the jaundice???

My dear Kylee, you will never know the place you hold in my heart!! Much love!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeling loved

Although my diagnosis is not yet complete, I know that the almighty Creator is in charge. I may not like what the doctors tell me on Tuesday, but my Father has a master plan that only He is holy enough to carry out. I would like to begin what I am calling a "prayer adoption." I am listing specific people on this list that I would like for you to pray for. I am praying that God will lay each name on the heart of someone that will seriously take the responsibility of praying daily for that individual.
1. My precious husband, Stephen
2. Andrew
3. Aaron
4. John Curtis
5. My parents
6. My oncologist - Dr. Castillo
7. Radiologist
8. Surgeon
9. My cancer information specialists =) The Rameys
10. my sister
11. my grandparents

There are many more in my family that are standing behind me. Please include them also. I have such an amazing support system -- one that I very much don't deserve. May God bless you today.
2 Timothy 1:12   For I know whom I have believed....

Praise Be Unto HIS name,


Friday, November 12, 2010

What now

I don't know where to begin. The past 36 hours have been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. I have seen how God can use people on an unbelievable level that you would not believe. Yesterday morning, Stephen and I learned that I have cancerous tumor. Where most of the time, one would have been immediately moved to a regular hospital room, I was kept in the outpatient day surgery area for most of the day. I did not arrive in my room until late afternoon. Before I was awake from the "fog" induced by medication administered prior to my colonoscopy, I was moved to a room that I don't believe is intended for patients to spend more than a few minutes. This was because most of my family had arrived once the learned of the news.
I don't remember exactly when it was, but one particular nurse commented that she could feel God's presence in my room. I think this was before I learned of my diagnosis, but I could be wrong. Each and every nurse that cared for me did so with a special love and grace that only God could provide. I know for a fact that they were each placed in my pathway that day by my loving Father. Jesus told his followers that they would be known by their works. These ladies are truly using their gifts to glorify God and further His kingdom. He knew what Stephen and I would need. He knew a long time ago that he would include these special people in my life. Each of these ladies constantly reminded me that they were praying and that we serve a mighty God. I know this, but this is one of those times that I didn't quite know what to say to God. I've always heard about those times that you don't know what to pray. I think I might have had some of those after mom died. However, there were MANY of those moments yesterday.
Oncologists, cancer center, chemo, radiation---all are now linked to my name. This wasn't in my plan. Not at all. As a matter of fact it is downright inconvenient. Those of you who know me are fully aware that I don't like to stray from the plan and I don't tolerate inconvenience. So, here we are. Stephen and I surrounded by family and friends (friends that really are family even without sharing the same DNA) -- staring down a pathway full of unknowns. There are going to be several unknowns for a few days. A pet scan is scheduled for Monday to see if the cancer has spread...pray Stephen and I will have peace and the Pet scan will show no other cancers.
Enough about the unknowns, I'm having to trust God to take care of that. I admit, I worry. Know I'm not supposed to...but we're working on that. Here are some of the things I do know:
1. Whatever is happening inside my body, God knew about it way before any doctor suspected a thing.
2. God is bigger than this and He will not leave me. After all, the Bible tells us that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
3. God blessed with the most amazing husband any woman could ever ask for. I didn't deserve him 10 years ago, and I still don't deserve him. I'm absolutely blessed beyond measure here.
4. April Jordan rocks. A girl couldn't ask for a better gal pal and prayer warrior.
5. I have 3 boys that are absolutely worth fighting for.
6. I am surrounded by an amazing family.
There are lots of other things I know, but I'll share them as time goes on. I've done a lot of talking about God, but now let's see if I can live up to what I've claimed over the past years. Of course, I'd absolutely appreciate it if this was miraculously removed from my life today. However, I know that no matter how hard, long, and bumpy this road may be, I serve a mighty God -- in the Bible, He is called Jehovah Rophe -- my healer. I'm claiming that. To those who are praying, you will never know what impact you are having. I am asking you to pray for Stephen -- for his emotional and physical strength. He is a strong Godly man, and I want him to make sure he takes care of himself. He always handles our finances in a manner that would honor God. I can't help but wonder when the financial hardships will strike -- but I know they will. Pray God will meet these needs as they come. I will try my best to keep updates. Pray for the boys, I'm afraid this will be especially hard on Andrew. Aaron does not like being away from Stephen and me or his bed at home. John Curtis just has the setting "full speed ahead" so I'm praying that he will teach me some lessons. Pray most of all that God will be glorified.

With love,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The darkness

As I've listened to the narration in our Christmas musical, there has been one line that consumes my thoughts. The author writes of darkness. The times in life where things seem so dark and dreary that you can't even see your hand in front of your face, are you familiar with these? Been there. Done that. Two particular situations weigh on my mind tonight. One -- two special friends with desires in their hearts that now seem unfulfilled. Two -- a group of young people who've experience unimagineable heartache in the past 14 months. In both situations, I know God is there. I know God has a plan that is far beyond anything I could ever imagine or come up with myself. The plan I think would be best, is obviously not the best. That's not the way He's working right now. I can't help but reflect back to a song from my youth choir days that declared, "when you can't trace His hand, trust His heart." Although, I'm not in the midst of this dark night, some of those that I love dearly are experiencing that pain and hurt. I know they are children of God. I know they have declared their faith in Jesus Christ. I don't know what God's plan is. I don't know what the future holds for each of these precious individuals. I'm sure at moments, they feel as if life has just been turned upside down and may never be straightened out again. There were been times after the loss of my mother that I was sure that life would never feel "right" again. Pain, suffering, grief, sorrow...I had come to accept these as part of my life. However, my precious Father, Jehovah Jireh, El Shaddai, used this to bring me closer to His heart. You see, He never moves. It is me. I'm the mover. There have been times in a church service, when Andrew does not want to behave as I expect him to. He will continually "inch" away from me hoping to reach the point where he is out of "pinching" range. Now you know that a "church pinch" from your mama can hurt like nobody's business. Sometimes I find myself "inching" away from God. Sometimes I run. It's not because I don't love Him. It's because sometimes what I see scares me out of my mind. I forget that no matter what is in store, He is with me. He has planned my life out by the second. He has my best interest in hand. Nothing can harm me while His hand is on me. He is the very one that maintains the order in our universe. This very God sits beside me in the darkness when I can see absolutely nothing. He takes my face in His hands and whispers, "I love you." He orders my steps because he has had a plan for me from the beginning. There's nothing I can experience that He has not already conquered. So, heartache, grief, sorrow, you may be present now. But watch out, because my joy will come in the morning. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Switching directions, as I think about darkness, I think about Christ coming to Earth. Lately I've been thinking about the things I despise most. Yeah, weird, twisted, I know. You all know how warped I am. There is a purpose just stay with me. Think about the one thing you despise most. A smell, such as cigarette smoke or macaroni & cheese? A color combination, such as orange and royal blue? An animal, worms, snakes, rats? An action, deceit, hatred? One thing I despise is the smell when the sewage guys come and pump out the tank near my classroom. You see, I have a window in my classroom with a crack. Odors seem to pour through this crack like a fugitive looking for a place to hide. The stench is unimagineable. Gross. Icky. Yuck. Ewwww. Get the picture? I wondered the other day, what if I had to live with that smell all the time? I don't believe I would ever get used to it. I certainly would not choose to live in that situation. However, that's exactly what our Savior did. He despises sin. He is sinless. The thing he hates most -- he CHOSE to dwell in the midst of it for 33 years. I wouldn't make it 3 days with the sewage odor, much less 33 years. I definitely would not CHOOSE to live with that odor. My stomach turns just thinking about it. I wonder if Jesus ever felt His stomach turn when living in a sinful world. Not because of the people necessarily, but because of the sin. I know He loves us and that's why He did it. I guess that is just one more thing that amazes me about Him. He chose to inhabit the sinful planet - He chose to inhabit a place that housed the sin He despises so much. All because He was our only chance to be rescued from death and hell. What darkness God's people must have experienced in the years right before Messiah's arrival. Then He steps into humanity, not with trumpets and royal robes, but in the most humble manner possible. I said earlier, it's always darkest before the dawn.....What a magnificent dawn it was when the Messiah blessed us with His entrance as a babe in a manger. What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see -- When I look upon His face, the One who SAVED me by HIS GRACE.
He is our Deliver, Healer, Provider, Author and Finisher of our salvation! Praise be to God!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An audience

I know that all my life I've been taught that my focus should be on the condition of my heart since that is what God sees. I've also been taught that God is the only one that matters. It doesn't matter what others think about me as long as I am in line with God's will and scripture. Tonight, again, I battle with the issue that just will not seem to go away. Spirit = willing, flesh = weak???? Insecurity is my biggest flaw. What reason do I have to be insecure?? I have the one reason to feel secure - salvation through Jesus Christ.
The first thing I tend to forget is that my measuring stick is our precious Savior. He is the only one to walk sinless upon this earth. He is the only one that paid the penalty for my horrific sins. Upon searching for a definition of measurement, I found several. One stood out among the others. Wikipedia notes that measurement systems are valid if qualifying with accuracy and precision. Hmmm.So, if I think about all the people who have walked or will walk this planet, are any of them completely accurate and precise all the time? Only one. Why then do I continually look around and compare myself to others? Again, spirit - flesh, battling continually. For weeks, my mind has been overtaken with 5 tasks in which I wish to succeed. These tasks would be considered noble by most people. I think God has placed these tasks/responsibilities in my hands. However....I don't believe  I'm seeing things His way all the time.
I'm reminded of Peter. In Matthew 15, Peter and the other disciples were in a boat. Jesus came to them during the night. You know the story...the waves were crashing against the boat, the wind had kicked it up a bit. Peter has a brave moment. Jesus tells him to come out on the water. He goes. What a picture of faith. Waves are crashing, wind is howling, but Peter still wants to display his faith by walking with Jesus on the water. But then, Peter notices the circumstances around him. That's when he began to sink. Our Savior is still there. He's not surprised. He hasn't walked away. He's just still there waiting to deliver Peter from himself. El Shaddaii - Our Deliverer.
When I turn my eyes from the One who truly matters, my measurement of my progress is no longer accurate or precise. Only when I'm focused on my Savior, will He bring my life into focus. As I turn my eyes to him, I must remember what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21.

It is an honor to call God my Father. Why He chose to redeem me, I'll never understand. Psalm 40 is one of my favorites. The entire thing is pretty good stuff. Tonight, my heart worships Him.
Psalm 40: 1-3
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy ppit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Over the past few months, a desire has overwhelmed my soul to experience worship as I never have before. I've longed and begged for the Father to allow me the honor of experiencing the most precious true worship possible. I know that only when I see Him face to face is when I might even begin to understand. When the desire of our heart is in line with God's word and His will, amazing things happen. I ask for a number of things each day. Constantly, I petition the throne of God - sometimes with selfish desires, sometimes in intercession for another, and even sometimes for just the grace I need to make it through each moment of every day without totally completely messing up everything in which I engage. In all honesty, it is probably minimal if you were to count the number of times that me desires and petitions are completely in line with God's word and His will for my life. Well, ask -- and you shall receive...
God began allowingme to see how warped my view of worship had become. Through conversations, scripture, listening to others, sermons preached by some of the greatest men to ever proclaim the gospel -- God used all of these to help me "redefine" my understanding of true worship. It would not be truthful if I told you I was not partial to some particular artists and songs. Who isn't? However, I've found true worship begins when my heart begins to bask in the indescribable majesty of our Heavenly Father. Worship is not a song or a particular style of music. Yes, the praise and worship music written over the past decade has some amazing stuff so to speak. Some of the songs make me want to take a "Hallelujah" lap around my house. Yes, some of the hymns cause my heart to tremble when I think of the attributes described in these amazing pieces of music. Although these things can be used in worship, they are not worship.
I have been questioning my reason for worship. Oh, there are many more reasons than I could ever count. Just thinking about who God is overwhelmed my soul. The song "Heart of Worship" was written several years ago. If you don't know the story behind that song - you need to check it out. A little research never hurt anybody. The lyrics repeat - it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus My worship had to get back to Him. He is the center of worship. How often do I allow my "worship" to be contained in a particular song, artist, drama, feeling, location? That makes it all about me. That my friends is not all about Him, and therefore is not true worship. He is the Living God. Our Healer. Yahweh. Our Deliver. The Prince of Peace. Almighty One. Alpha and Omega. Author of our salvation. Redeemer.As I reflect on some experiences I at one time considered worship, it frightens me. I actually defined the parameters of my worship. Attitudes such as, it's not the right song, not the right place, don't like to hear who's singing it.... They deprived me from some precious experiences with my Father.
As this year has progressed, I've found myself experiencing worship in some places that I once would have considered odd. Small things that are sometimes barely noticeable have sparked a worship experience for me. The fact that He allows me to worship Him, wow. I'm so unworthy - and to think I still at times want to run the show explaining to Him what I need to worship. Me - explaining to a Holy God what He needs to do so that I may enjoy a worship experience. Scary stuff. He created everything, saved me, heals people everyday - the last thing He needs to hear from me is how comfortable I need to be to worship Him. I suspect He desires to hear that phrase it's all about You, it's all about YOU!
Another thing I learned is that worship is like the manna God provided in the Old Testament. I've tried to live on past worship experiences, expecting them to satisfy that desire for today. Oh, to remember is good. Nothing wrong with that. However, He is so amazing that yesterday's worship just won't do for today. His mercies are new every morning - so should my worship be also.
As always, God has used some of those precious servants of His to guide me in learning. I only wish there were words to thank you and to thank Him for allowing me to learn from you all.

With love and a joyful heart,

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Over the past 2-3 months, I've learned some valuable lessons concerning friendship. I strongly believe that God brings people into our lives exactly when we need them. Some of these people are there to encourage us, cry with us, celebrate with us and walk with us through every valley and over every mountain top. Others are brought into our lives to help us see how we can better serve and increase our impact on this Earth to bring glory to the Savior who reigns over all. I've considered all those in my life. I have found that I'm using the word friendship to describe some of my relationships with people that are really just acquaintances. The word friend has been overused by me. We hear a lot of talk about the overuse of the word "love" -- for example, I love chocolate, I love college basketball, I love the beach and the sound of the waves. In my experience, I believe I have used the word friend to describe some really nice people. However, I've found a true friend that is deserving of that title has some special qualities. Now, how did I learn these lessons???? You guys all probably are aware of these things, but as you know (because you love me and care about me) I'm kinda' hard headed concerning some things. It takes me a bit longer to catch on sometimes.
A couple of months ago, two acquaintances who I thought were friends launced a very personal attack on me. Every aspect of my life was considered fair game, I guess one could say. From my profession to my ability to parent and my ability to be a good wife... I have to say I considered the advice of these people. However, after much prayer, tears and searching the scripture, I realized this attack was straight from Satan. The attackers were unrelenting until I finally "admitted" that they were right, I was horrible and a complete failure. Then they were glad to see that I was accepting their help -- yes, they called it help. Their attacks ceased. I had waved the white flag - which is TOTALLY unlike me. I didn't really agree with all the accusations, but I agreed verbally in hope to stop the whole dramatic sequence that seemed unwilling to end. The attack had succeeded in ripping my heart and soul into emotional shreds.  Since then, recovery has been my focus this summer. I did examine my life to see if their diagnosis was accurate. God showed me some areas that needed to be worked on. Most of all, He has taught me to be a little more discerning in who I listen to. He taught me that these two people were not dependable to seek Godly advice from or even depend on to help me grow closer to Him. I haven't been really good at that discerning thing, still working on it, and will continue to work on it probably for the rest of my life. Along this road I also battled attacks from other areas. Most of these have centered around one of two things.  A: The fact that I am ultra, ultra, ultra conservative and I don't waver or apologize for my convictions (which I try to make sure are based on scripture) B: I am very quick to pull away from people when I feel threatened or feel as if I'm ridculed by them for my convictions and belief.
I have called myself a social recluse. I initially pulled away from almost everyone except my family and April. I was able to observe some of those "friends" and determine whether they were truly my friend or just someone God had placed in my path for a period of time to teach me a specific lesson.
This is what I discovered.
God has blessed me with an amazing husband. He is a godly man that picks me up when I'm face down in the mud and mire. I couldn't ask for a better best friend.
I've been blessed with the 3 most precious boys ever gracing the planet. They love me in spite of my fallen state.
I have family that surrounds me during the hard times, they correct me when I'm wrong, and the never give up on me even though I have countless inadequacies. Please know this includes my family & Stephen's. I wouldn't trade any of them for the world.
I have learned that family does not have to be there for you. They make a choice. A sister, an aunt, and a special cousin have never failed to love on me when the toughest times have come. They never fail to rejoice when the happiest of times are here.
April and Ashley were just dropped into my lap, so to speak. You girls will never know the impact you've had on me. I love you both. These girls would walk with me through the darkest of valleys, and I hope they know that I would do the same for them.
Finally, the most important, the greatest friend one could ever have, the one who gave His life for me. Every human connection I have could leave me or fail me. We are not perfect, we are of the flesh. I could fail each and every one of these people that I love. However, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Healer, will never leave me or fail me. He is the ultimate example of what a friend is.
I'm grateful for my acquaintances, they are involved in my process of sanctification. God uses them to teach me. Some lessons are fun, some not so much.
However, these true friends are a magnificent gift from God. He is amazing.
These past few months have been emotionally trying, but I still stick to that song - Joy Comes in the Morning...
Well, I still have a lot to learn, a lot of healing that my Father will provide, and millions of things to be grateful for. Thanks be to God for those friends he has given me that have and will hold my hand as the fiery darts are sent my way.

I have many favorite scriptures and passages. The past few weeks, and especially the past 24 hours, I've had to cling to Psalm 30 & 40. It came from a Beth Moore study -- she's got some pretty good stuff.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Life is hard

One of my favorite songs is I Will Praise You in the Storm. I usually like anything that Casting Crowns puts out, but this one is just special to me. Today I was very much reminded of how hard it is sometimes to focus on the praise that God deserves. Sometimes, the storm rages with such fury, that praise is the last thing on my mind. I do hope a very special couple knows that they are in my prayers tonight. Some news is hard to take - especially when it includes the loss of a precious life. God does have a plan. I know that. This couple knows that. However, sometimes it still hurts.
I'm no expert on dealing with the yuck of life. I have learned some things. The biggest lesson I have to review quite often is that God made us emotional creatures. He expects us to experience emotions when life experiences are enjoyable and when they are not so much fun. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I could be upset, sad, hurt, etc. The key is to remember through my sadness and hurt that He still loves me. When I hurt, He hurts. He also will not abandon me no matter how yucky life gets. I know yucky is not really the most magnificent description, but it fits some situations. For me, the times where I feel the most hurt and sadness lead to some of the most precious times with my Father God. Hurt and sadness do not come alone to His children. The presence of the awesome peace only He can provide sweeps over and consumes our soul. Peace that comes when He steps in and takes over. He may not change our circumstances. He may not instantly remove the pain. He will lead us through. He will provide comfort for what could turn into a long daunting journey through dark valleys. I had a hard time accepting that it was alright for me to experience all of these emotions. I felt as if I was a failure to feel this way. No. Depending on Him to heal and provide comfort is exactly what I need to do.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Psalm 30

Have you ever felt that some serious efforts you had put into things made no difference whatsoever?? This has been one of the most trying weeks I've had in quite some time. The 30th psalm is one of my favorites. It's been playing in the back of my mind since the storm hit Monday. Not a literal James Spann kind of storm, but that mental, emotional, spiritual kind of storm. The kind that Paul referred to in Ephesians 6:12. Last Sunday, our pastor preached on facing the storms in life. I have to admit, I left church feeling more prepared than ever to face the week. I had on my spiritual raincoat and rainboots. My super sized spiritual umbrella was ready for the rains to come. I had my life raft inflated and ready to go. I stood ready to face the storm. The only problem was, I expected the storm to come from the Atlantic, and it creeped up behind me from the total opposite direction. (That would be the Pacific for you geographically challeneged folks.) I totally didn't expect the first storm. I've shared with some about this particular one. I'm still praying my way through it. Knowing now that it could be a slow moving storm, I've actually been able to turn this one over to God pretty easily. Now, remembering I'm a control freak, that should speak volumes. Anyhow, I had no other choice but to turn it over - I had NO clue how to navigate through it.
Coming from Alabama, especially the eastern-central part of Alabama, we have a lot of weather. For everyone knows the weather pocket is here and Birmingham doesn't experience weather. (Katrina and Brandon - that one was for you..the lady from O'Charley's sometime back.) Before you question my ability to effectively teach science, I know we are not in a weather pocket and Birmingham does experience weather. Moving on...many times when a severe weather system moves through, more storms appear due to the unstable atmosphere and the way God designed things. Well, somewhere along the way another storm developed. This one - I'm not really sure which direction it came from. I was focused on the other one. It just seemed to come out of nowhere and slap me in the back of the head with seriously strong winds. By now, my umbrella is blown inside out, my life boat is punctured by a stick from someone's campfire debris at Talladega, and even my raincoat is soaked inside and out - no longer offering a dry haven for my weary self. It's just me and God. I've not yet shared this battle with anyone. It's still just mine. I don't know if pride keeps me from calling in my prayer partners or if it's some deeper issue I don't realize because I stink at psychology unless it's concerning 5th graders. I can figure out 5th graders, it's the rest of the population I struggle with.
There have been times that I've honestly wondered what impact I'm having. I seem to be getting no response in one particular service area in my life. I work really hard at it. I have a deep passion for it. I'm not the best at it, but I think I'm pretty average. Why then do I not see some evidence that it is impacting someone? I'm trying to muddle through and figure out if this is God's way of telling me that it's not what He wants me to do or if I'm just not going about things the right way. Either way, I'm really anxious for the answer. Before my dad and grandmother get hold of this...I'm not changing careers. It probably would panic both of them if I quit my job. I know without a doubt I'm in the career where God wants me. I wish James Spann had some kind of spiritual radar that could map out this storm and it's path. At least I'd know where I'm headed and the severity of things. Of course, on second thought, I'd probably be scared to death if I knew what was ahead. I think I'll just wait on God and hope that I don't mess up things too badly.
I wish certain people could see the passion I have for this particular service and know really where my heart is. My head knows it really doesn't matter, because, after all -- it's really all about HIM and what He thinks. Convincing my heart of that is easier some days than others.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birds and ugly words

Several months ago, we purchased a family membership to the local museum. Wow. We are such smart parents. The world of knowledge that is contained within those hallowed walls - The Anniston Museum of Natural History......(the readers gasp with amazement and awe at the wisdom of these two parents.) Actually, we did it because it was a cheap way to entertain our children. Anyhow, Andrew reads very well and was challenging himself on reading all the posted information. We arrived at the bird section. The display is rather nice. Beneath some very fancy panels, one will discover the name of a species of bird and a description of its habitat and behaviors. Welllll, the very first one Andrew opens is spelled b-u-s-h-t-i-t. As you can imagine, no pronounciation he could come up with turned out well. Lots of people were around to hear - yay!! He treated them to several pronounciations which either sounded profane or vulgar. Of course, he had no clue. Each attempt included a loud emphasis on a syllable of an undesirable sort. Woo-hoo for phonics. We couldn't choose the owl or flamingo - nooo, that would not embarrass mom nearly as bad.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today was a usual Monday. Life started off in a rush because I like to sleep 5 minutes past when I really should. Administered the science assessment today - don't really know what to expect from it. Oh, well. It's out of my hands now. Life began to improve when I heard there was no faculty meeting. Now, those of you've who have experienced a long faculty meeting at the end of a hard Monday, when the weather is know how it is. Oh yeah, and you are all out of caffeine free cokes and skittles to help you through the meeting. Improvement was short-lived.
Stephen picked up Aaron and John Curtis from day care. When Andrew was in preschool, we didn't have to keep a weekly log of how many times he got on yellow or red. Welllll, Aaron is another story. Not just another chapter. Not just another book. A whole new series by a different author in a completely different literary genre. Now, Aaron is a whole LOT like his daddy. There is one major difference. Aaron is not nearly as sly or sneaky about his mischief. He pretty much puts his michief out there for all to see. Last week, ONE of his many incidents included rolling down the hallway at school. Mrs. Lucy told the children to line up. Aaron did just as she said. Well, she obviously didn't tell him that this was not the national "practice your stop drop and roll" day. Hey, we have talk like a pirate day, Aaron just figured this was a good concept. So, since Mrs. Lucy did not specify that he was to WALK down the hallway, Aaron decided he would practice rolling down the hallway. I know exactly what he did, because he's done it a thousand times at home. He lays in the floor. His arms stretch out above his head. His toes stretch as far as the can. Let the rolling begin. Aaron is rolling down the hallway like an escaped log from the show Ax Men. Mrs. Lucy abruptly interrupts his session of perfecting his stop, drop, and roll technique. I guess she realized that fire safety week is coming later in the year. Now, to the good stuff.
Monday's misery.....
Mrs. Lucy has a policy of letting children in her classroom earn back their green status after their name has been moved to the yellow apple. Not only did Aaron not earn back his green status, he decided to promote himself to the red apple. This qualifies one to take a note home to mom and dad. Ohhhh, the dreaded note that is clipped to the sign-out board with my name on it.
As Stephen lumbered through the doorway with the two little ones, he sent Aaron straight to his room. Of course, Aaron forgetting that he is some serious trouble, skips to his room. Eyes twinkling. A bounce in every step.
Upon entering Aaron's room, he notices THE NOTE in my hand. I explained to him that we needed to talk about what happened at school. The conversation was as follows:
Me:   Aaron, I'm about to read you the note Mrs. Lucy sent. It tells me what you did at school today.
Aaron:  Mommy, you see, I reeeeeallllly tried to stay on green for a long time. But I didn't.
blue eyes twinkling - attempting to lure me away from employing consequences
Me: I read the note. Aaron, why did you hit someone in the face?
Aaron: I really tried to stay on yellow, but hers had to put me on red. It's alright though. I can be on green tomorrow.
Me:  Aaron, you know that you are to keep your hands to yourself. You are certainly not to hurt your friends at school.
Aaron: Welllll, I really tried to stay on green for a long time, but then I got on yellow for a long time, and then hers had to put me on green.
Letting me know that he thinks repeating his argument over and over will wear me down. Little does he know that I am the queen of stubborn humans. I will overcome the deceptive nature of this youngster.Me: You know that there are consequences for your actions. I'm going to give you your consequences now.
Aaron: That's okay, mommy. I don't want them.

He really, seriously thinks he has a choice in this matter. While enduring his consequences, he repeatedly screamed for PawPaw to come help him. I guess this lets me know he recognizes the lack of compassion flowing from his mother's heart. After all, one of Pawpaw's strengths is compassion. Oh, well, at least he's figured it out early.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taking a Stand

Alright people. Here it is. This is not for those who are offended easily, especially if you are offended by the word of God. Many have asked me not to hold back any more.

I am at a loss for adjectives to describe my feelings right now. Anger, appalled, disbelief -- none seem to really fit. Let me begin with my thoughts of sin. My sin is just as bad as anyone else on this planet. I am no better than any other human, even those that have committed the most heinous crimes. I am no more saved than any of you. I am no less saved than any one who seems to be better than me according to man's standards. God's standard is all that matters. Not mine, not yours, not any political leader or celebrity.

The flippant attitude in our society about sex outside of marriage absolutely infuriates me. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained by God. The only acceptable grounds for physical intimacy is inside the marriage of a man and a woman. I am a conservative. I am very private. However, this has NOTHING to do with either of these personality traits. This is all about abiding by God's standard. I know some of you are not happy and may be wondering exactly who this is directed at. SOCIETY - that's who. Anyone who will listen - that's who. I think abstinence should be taught in high schools. Handing out condoms or contraception only gives students the go ahead. How stupid can we be as adults???? Allowing this to happen? God forgive us. WE should be the responsible ones.
Now, do I think that anyone who has had a baby out of wedlock should be punished? No. Everyone makes a bad decision. I'm the queen of bad decisions. Most of them involve not biting my tongue when I should. About 3  years ago, a young lady that was very special came to visit me. This young lady is very intelligent. She was gorgeous and had scholarships waiting from major universities. When she was in elementary school, we often had the conversation of how the sky was the limit for any dream that she had. She could have done anything - and that is a very literal anything. She was just one of those outstanding individuals. Her family was very conservative. She was raised to abide by a very strict standard. Anyhow, she came to talk with me about news that her mother had shared with me. This young unmarried 17 year old was pregnant. She was scared out of her mind. We talked many times over the coming months as she awaited the arrival of her beautiful baby. She and her boyfriend had been dating quite some time before she got pregnant. The very first thing she said to me was," I know this was not the way God instructed me. However, this is where I am. I've learned from my mistake. God does not want for me to have an intimate relationship with a man I'm not married to." She then burst into tears and asked if I could ever forgive her. My heart was breaking. I told her that she did not need to ask for my forgiveness. I was not mad at her. The difference between this amazing young woman and so many other young women is the maturity that occurred after learning she was pregnant. She immediately started seeking out Godly women who could advise her on how to raise a child. Also, she sought GODLY advice - notice the GODLY part, she wasn't talking to some of these idiot liberals out there - as to whether or not she and her boyfriend should marry. Over the past two years, this young lady has acted like a mother. She has put her child first. She is happily married - now, be careful. I do not think just because a young couple should marry just because of pregnancy. That is many times the recipe for disaster. This couple, however, had dated a while and planned to marry prior to the pregnancy. They are both doing really well. Life is a little harder than they thought it would be at this age, but they are seeking God's will in their lives and attempting to raise their child as God desires. I have seen some young ladies step up to the plate and mature just as this one. I try to support this particular young woman anyhow I can. Not because of a bad decision, but because she is honestly trying to learn from others and grow in God.
I think any mom (single moms, married moms, step-moms) should act in a certain manner. This means the life-style of partying and the actively, knowingly, repeatedly, and willingly pursuing carnal desires should cease. They should grow up and realize their responsibility is to raise their children according to God's word. This requires acknowledging the entire Bible and abiding by it. When I mess up, I have those Christian friends who will call me out and pray with me to fix things. I strongly encourage all moms to have at least one of these people (outside your family) to do this. I think someone called it.....spiritual mentoring?????? Sound familiar? I think that moms should act in a respectable manner. They should dress in a modest manner. This doesn't have to be off the great-grandma shelf at Wal-Mart. I know many people who look very trendy and cute, yet still dress in a modest manner. I myself am fashion challenged, so the trendy and cute part is not working for me real well all the time.
To sum up my ranting:
1. Adopt the biblical view on the aforementioned topic concerning physical intimacy.
2. If you mess up, start acting responsible and not like a pagan.
3. Seek Godly women who can guide you in the right direction.
4. If you are acting responsible, then people won't be quite as upset with your actions. This would be because you are acting RESPONSIBLE!
5. God creates every baby with a specific plan.
6. We don't need to mess with the order of his plan.

I'm not judging or throwing anyone under the bus. Just because I've been guilty of gossip before, doesn't mean that I can still do it without having to answer for it. Do I think gossip is as bad of a sin as any other? YEP! (I meant to spell it that way you grammar fanatics. I didn't mistype yes.) The same applies to any sin. God knows we are gonna' mess up. We've been messing things up since the Adam, Eve, the serpent, the fruit, etc. He's not surprised by our mistakes. He does expect us to come with a repentant heart and turn from our sin. Jesus told many people during his ministry that their sins were forgiven, and to go and sin no more. I think he says the same thing to us today. He's forgiven our sins. Don't keep visiting back to that behavior you know is wrong.
To the young lady I wrote about -- you know who you are. I love you and am so proud of how you seek God's will on a daily basis. You are a true example of repentance and surrendering your life to God. With all my love sweetheart, may God pour His richest blessings upon you and protect you for many days.

Another story if you are still reading.
I had the privilege of knowing a lady who was a single mom with two fantastic boys. Unfortunately she was divorced. She had been in a marriage that was quite tragic. This particular woman was raising these two boys by herself. Her parents were not around. No child support was being sent. She would not accept any aid from the government. Although, I wish she would have to help as she worked her way through college as her boys were in public school. She is the individual that would not stay on assistance forever - just until she got her feet on the ground. She made sure that her boys were given an example of a responsible adult. After all, she was the only example they saw with no extended family around them. So responsible. Such a hard worker. She will probably never know that respect I have for her. She never had vacations. Never received spa treatments. She totally focused on her college education, her job, and providing for her sons. Might I say, she provided very well for them emotionally, mentally, and physically. Maturity, focus, determination.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A soapbox

One of the things my aunt tried to teach me as I was growing up was the art of knowing when to bite your tongue. Now, not only am I having to bite my tongue, but with facebook, I'm having to control my fingers. Those of you who know me best are aware that I have strong feelings and am usually not afraid to voice those feelings. Filtering my thoughts before they are verbalized is a daily battle for me. Instead of climbing on one of my MANY soapboxes and screaming loudly, tonight I'm choosing an alternate plan.
Anyone who has ever worked with preteens and/or teenagers knows that they are different. I teach preteens and absolutely love being with them, most of the time. They can increase my blood pressure to unsafe levels at times, but it is worth it. The pressures facing our adolescent population today are downright frightening. I see what my students face each day, and my heart breaks for them. The tough family situations some of my kids live in...well, it's amazing they can even function. The pressures and temptations presented on television, internet, other humans - it is completely overwhelming. If you are not already making it a point to pray each and every day for the young generation - elementary school through college - then I encourage you to make that a priority today.
What young minds have to deal with is appalling. Depression, viewing themselves as worthless, bearing the weight of tragic family situations, pondering the lack of money in their family just needed to make ends meet...
I am happy to say that I have seen some young people who are attempting to reach their generation. Last year, I had a student who frequently shared the plan of salvation with his peers. He was quite remarkable. Other students looked up to him and respected anything he did or said. I know they saw him living out the gospel on a minute by minute basis. Another student would routinely refer to the scripture his mom placed in his notebook every week. Hats off to this mom! I'm trying my best to support these students and others as they try to reach their peers for Christ.
I see college students away from home who are sacrificing their time to come to church and involve themselves in ministry. Nobody is making them climb out of bed. They are not being forced to practice their instruments and songs that are to be shared at church. Praise God for these individuals.
My prayer is that the young generation will be drawn to these individuals rather than those who are living a self-centered life while actively and willingly seeking the temptations of the world. The world needs more people like Collin, Mary, TJ, Walker, Brandi, Tony, and Aaron. I love you guys. Words will never express what you mean to me. Read Phillipians 1:3-5. Know that you are loved. May God bless you as you continue His work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lessons I've Learned through Motherhood

1. My children need my undivided attention as soon as I sit down in front of a plate with food.
2. My children will not eat the food on their plate, but find the same food on my plate irresistible.
3. They don't like sleep near as much as I do.
4. Don't take children through the checkout line where they have an issue of Cosmo displayed.
5. Children make you stupid by destroying your brain cells. It's their superpower that allows them to do this.
6. My children are very much like me -- much to my dismay.
7. Most of the bad habits my children have, came guessed it. ME!
8. It's physically difficult to spank a child when you are trying not to laugh at them. Especially when their father is in the other room doubled over laughing.
9. I will always love my children no matter what they do; however, liking them is a different story.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning

There's a childrens song that proclaims "He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.."

Oh, my. It did just take him a week to make all of this universe (although, He could have done it quicker if He'd wanted.) However, He is still having to work on me. Kinda' shameful for me - the fact that all that creating He did in a week, and I'm still so difficult that after almost 34 years, I'm far from finished. This week has revealed to me some of the ways God is trying to grow me. Notice I said "God is trying". He gave me free will. Sometimes that stubborn fleshly side of me really gives Him a good fight. I think that if I were sitting in a classroom with God in charge, the daily objectives on the board would read something like this:

1. Understand that God is still God and always has been God.
2. Understand that you are not irreplacable.
3. Understand that you do not make the world go round.
4. Understand that you can learn from others.

I frequently tell my students that if you fully understand something, then your actions will reflect that understanding and knowledge. I need to listen to my own preaching. #1 is a lesson He's teaching me with every breath that I have on this earth. Not sure I'll ever completely understand this one and comprehend all that is with it. The second objective I believe has been the hardest. Mastery of this one requires complete surrender on my part every moment of every day.
Those of you who know me best are familiar with the fact that:
-my way is the best way.
-you may have an opinion, but mine is right.
-I like being in control.
These attitudes contribute to the inflated vision I have of my importance in this world. Don't get me wrong. I know God loves me - Christ on the cross proved that one - and I know He has a plan for me. The problem is sometimes I act as if He can't function without me. I act as if this world, my coworkers, my family, my students, my children can't function without my help and input. The truth is, if I disappeared tonight, all of these things would eventually work out a way to function without me. That is a hard thing for me to admit. I'm not the end all be all in this world. Just a mere speck of dust in the vast expanse of this universe. (Now, I am a speck that Jesus loves and died to pay my enormous sin debt.) So, I'm a loved, saved speck. If I lived every moment of every day with the attitude of I can't live without Him not He can't live without me, what would the impact of my witness be? How would this change my outlook on servanthood? Might be worth a try.
One of the greatest reveals I've been blessed with over the past several years is the presence of spiritually mature women who are able to mentor and guide me in my spiritual walk and every other aspect of my life (wife, mother, teacher, daughter, friend, etc.) Although I believe my generation has much to contribute to the church, I feel as if we close our eyes and ears to the advice and examples offered by those Godly women who've been through all we're going through. After all, they've proven themselves successful. They're still here and thriving in the church, aren't they?? These women provide advice on how to raise my children and how to pray for my husband. Others have modeled patience and the ability to bite your tongue. Mine is becoming scarred from practicing this. Solomon asked God for wisdom. This was not just a verbal request, but a true desire of the heart. I've always SAID that I desired wisdom more than anything else from God. However, looking back, I see that this was not my true heart's desire. So many other distractions clouded my view. I'm hoping that through these lessons, my true heart's desire will continue to become true wisdom from God.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. --Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Contentment & trust

Contentment. Is it a state of mind? an attitude? a choice we make? Am I personally and solely responsible for my own contentment? I've found that contentment comes when I know - the absolute, completely sure kind of knowing - that I am where God wants me to be. At the beginning of this school year, I began to wonder if there was something else. Not necessarily because something was wrong, but I'd been in the same job for 10 years. Surely I'd accomplished all I needed to in that place, right? I mean, if I couldn't do it in 10 years, then I must be some kind of complete failure. I began to pray and I can say honestly seek God's will in this situation. It's not easy to send me messages - I don't pick up that quickly. Kind of like Gideon with repeated testing of the fleece and the dew on the ground. I don't doubt God, I doubt my interpretation. Anyhow, I asked that God would give me some strong convincing evidence that would lead me down the right path. The path that will continue from where I am now, or another path that will take one of those really sharp hairpin turns along the side of a really steep cliff. Slowly, God began to reveal the answer. This came through people who didn't even know they were being used to reassure me. Sometimes, God whispered to me during certain circumstances (some fun, some not so much). As time crawled on, unusually slowly crawling this year, I had an increasing sense of contentment settle over my soul. I know where He wants me. My contentment is a very close relative of my trust in God. Learning this has been somewhat hard. To experience contentment, I have to trust that God will equip me to deal with all that comes my way. I didn't say I was content with an easy situation. Even staying where I am, and loving it, there are still those fiery trials. One in particular is more like a massive incinerator burning at full force instead of a lovely campfire. I prefer the campfire kind of trials myself if I am forced to pick one. Anyhow, staying content as He walks with me in the fire can only come if I totally trust His guidance and ability to take care of me.
A precious missionary couple in Haiti is a prime example of contentment and trust. Pre-earthquake Haiti had its dangers and hardships. However, post-earthquake Haiti's dangers and hardships have increased exponentially. More than I could ever imagine.... This particular couple has sought God's will always, but especially in the past few weeks. Many people may think it selfish that they remain in Haiti and "cause their family worry". I have a different opinion. Actually, I think it's more than opinion, but rather the "right" way of viewing this situation. If my narrow mind offends you, then feel free to quit reading and go recycle something to make the world a better place. Here it is---selfish has NOTHING to do with it. The contentment they have in their situation comes from actively seeking God's will for their lives and where He wants them at this time. I praise God for their family's support. Will their families remain concerned for their health and wellbeing?? You bet. That's what mothers do best isn't it? However, this family realizes that their children are focused on the thoughts of the ONE that matters. God. He has a purpose and a plan for them. Some precious Haitian will walk the streets of gold in our heavenly home because of these precious servants of God.
It doesn't really matter where you are or who you are. Contentment will come in that precious place where the Father wants you. He loves you more than anyone else, so He's not going to abandon you in His will for your life. I am blessed beyond measure that He chooses to use me. I am so unworthy to work for Him. Yet, He picks me up where I am. He helps me get to where I'm supposed to be - and He doesn't even need GPS.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jesus and tractors

One of Andrew's favorite games is Bible Trivia. Our version is probably 20 years old, but the Bible has stayed the same - so I guess the age of our game is irrelevant. As Stephen was reading Andrew a question, Aaron decided it was time he become involved. Andrew did not remember the answer, so Stephen was trying to give him clues. The answer was John the Baptist. Stephen offered clues such as he was close to Jesus' age, he told people about Jesus coming, he was related to Jesus, etc. He finally told Andrew, "His name was John....." Aaron, not wasting any time, piped in with "John Deere?" Don't you feel good about the theological upbringing our children are receiving?!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still trying to be thankful in all things

As I ponder the situation of a particular family tonight, I realize that I have so many things to be grateful for. With the sorrow and grief that will overwhelm this family in the coming days, I know (and they know) that God will hold them so very close. He will pour his compassion, grace, mercy and all of those other amazing gifts He has upon this precious family. Heaven will be a little sweeter, and one will receive that healing many have requested in prayer on his behalf. After all, He is the Great Physician. I've seen enough to know that the healing does not always come on this earth, and it doesn't always speak of physical healing. As I pray for this family and in a fury search for things I can do to help them in this time of need, a feeling of inadequacy spreads throughout my entire soul. Only God is capable of filling in this huge loss they are experiencing. I am just here to pray and offer a helping hand in the meaningless day to day tasks. Again, I'm honored He allows me to do these things. There are so many that are worlds better and more holy than me.
In the meantime, I'm thankful for the loud noises tonight. Thankful that my boys are healthy enough to be loud and run around the house even though it's waaay past bedtime. Thankful for a husband who loves me in spite of myself and because he wants to, not because he feels he has to. Thankful for a Savior who left his rightful place of royalty in Heaven to enter this dark and sinful world as one of us. Thankful that He will be with me no matter what lies ahead. I'm still amazed at what He teaches me. As I watch my brothers and sisters travel through those dark valleys, they are teaching me invaluable lessons just by their faith and unwavering walk with God. To all of you who continuously touch my life, thank you. Thank you for allowing God to teach me through you. May you be blessed in ways you've never imagined.

With all my love,

Friday, February 19, 2010

...and they bowed down to John Curtis

During the Christmas musical of 2007, John Curtis was the baby in the manger. Now, Andrew was almost 5 at the time. He and I waited on the last pew as I held John Curtis anxiously awaiting the moment when I would deliver him to David and Kathryn (aka Joseph & Mary). Andrew pleaded that I not take John Curtis "up there". I guess he was afraid that Mary & Joseph were gonna' ride off into the sunset on a donkey with his baby brother. Now, if it had been Aaron, Andrew would have probably gladly let him ride off into the sunset with complete strangers - don't you feel the love between those two??? As our "cue" came, we climbed the stairs to deliver John Curtis. On our way back, Andrew had a complete nuclear meltdown. After calming him (miracle from God), we made it in just in time to see the shepherds arrive at the stable. Andrew's eyes began to dance. He watched in awe and wonder at the majestic parade of kings that arrived to worship. Speechless - until he noticed John Curtis in the manger. "John Curtis is baby Jesus?!?", he inquired. "No, dear, he is just part of the play that we are watching," hoping this would calm him and prevent another nuclear meltdown that would disrupt the spirit of worship there. That answer was sufficient for that moment.
The next day, Andrew recounted every second from the entrance of the lowly shepherds to the pomp and circumstance surrounding the kings' entrance. His story climaxed with "and they all bowed down to John Curtis!!" After all, he was the proud big brother. That night, I began to wonder, what/who does my heart bow to. Yes, I am a Christian, but how many times do I allow the world to distract me from who should be my focus of service and worship.
Over the past 2 years, I have become painfully aware of the "whats" and "whos" that attempt to distract me. One way I feel that Satan is distracting God's people is by blurring the lines and creating gray areas where there should only be black and white. When I begin here, I'm usually told one of the following:
-you are way too conservative.
-loosen up a little.
-there are no absolutes.
-I'm a Christian too, but I at least I have a sense of humor and can have fun.
-enjoy life a little.
-too serious, back off a little.

I posted on my facebook that I "kinda' like being the outsider". In high school and even my early adult years, I never wanted to be the outsider. I'm learning that being the outsider can be okay.
I won't take a stand on something until I know why I am agreeing with that particular view. I usually have a pretty sound argument. It may be opinion, but it is based on fact and usually some research and scripture. I have been known for making some snap judgements, but I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong.
Sometimes I wonder how much more "tolerant" we as Christians will become. Now, I know most of us loudly proclaim our belief on abortion, the institution of marriage by God, and so forth. But, the smaller issues that are being compromised bother me. The literature we allow our kids to read. Not "adult material", but other "children's literature" that expose our precious young children to some things that I feel are not of God. If you know me, you're familiar with my Harry Potter argument - again it's based on research and scripture. If you ask - no my child has not seen Snow White, Cinderella, or the Little Mermaid. There have been some I disagree with that were shown at school, but Andrew now knows how to deal with this. We've explained to him that we don't watch it because it contains some content does not portray how God would have us act. Yes, I know some of the most recent children's movies have adult humor and my child probably wouldn't "get it". However, he probably wouldn't understand a horror movie or one that addresses witchcraft , etc. Am I going to show him those? Don't think so. Just because a child won't understand the content, even if it's a cartoon is not a good enough reason for me to expose my boys.
The second major concern I have is the breakdown of modesty among our Christian women. The way some women dress for church, the things discussed among some Christian women, and even particular places/events attended are different from the convictions I hold to. I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone. I'm not. My sin is just as big as the next person's. I believe a lack of modesty has gotten our country to the shape it's in now. (By modesty, I mean dress, actions, topics of discussion...) I need not go into detail, you know what it's like. Not everyone has to be as conservative as me, but just please let me be. I do however feel that if I could stick to this like I really should and more of use would draw that line in the sand, the world might just take notice.  I'm just attempting to make sure my heart bows down to the Right Person. I am probably have to be this way because I'm more easily distracted than others and that's why I have to be so careful and conservative. Whatever the reason, my convictions run deep and I when I fall, it's usually pretty hard. However, He still loves me and is working on every second that I'm breathing on this planet. Not guaranteed tomorrow. Just trying to do what I can today before He calls me home. 
So many distractions - husband, children, family, job, household chores, the list goes on and on and on....However, please God, turn my heart toward you. May my focus of service and worship have YOU at the center. This will be accomplished only with your power, mercy and grace.

I have to remind myself not daily, but moment by moment:
Ephesians 2
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21 in HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD.
22 And in HIM you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weaknesses plus some Aaron"isms"

God is so amazing. Although I experience His grace, mercy, and compassion on a daily basis, it still amazes me how He works. Peace that settles over my heart in times of need can only be provided by Him. Two very rough weeks are about to come to an end (hopefully). However, there has never been a moment when He wasn't beside me. There were no surprises for Him - now it was full of surprises for me. Many things on my agenda fell to ground, trampled by the realities of my life. This is because my agenda was not completely in line with His - good intentions, but not His itinerary for me. No matter what, He still loves me and has been quite patient with me this week.
I fail miserably on a daily basis with particular struggles in my life. Particulary, the one that I feel the need to be in control of everything in my life. Alright, the small group of you who are shouting "Amen," and "I've been telling you that for years," can stop reading and leave me alone. Waves of panic flood every fiber of my being when there is a hint that I've lost any bit of control in any given situation. I'm learning. He is the one in control. God has been holding my hand, showing me through others that He is so much better in control than I am. My two biggest weaknesses definitely are my OCD and the control fanatic factor. Many times, I've prayed that God would wave his magic spiritual wand and rid me of these two horrific personality flaws. Most days, I resent these traits. After all, they have to be the culprit that is holding me back from true greatness, RIGHT? My lack of patience and intolerance have NOTHING to do with that. Anyhow, I'm slowly learning that even in my weaknesses, He is able to work in ways I couldn't even have imagined.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

My weaknesses fixed by his perfect power. He is never surprised. He loves being the hero that saves my day.

Aaron: I won't be able to come to school anymore.
Aaron's teacher: Why is that Aaron? (no doubt, the teacher's voice is full of curiosity and concern)
Aaron: I'm allergic to school.

Setting: Wednesday morning after we had been at the doctor until 10:00 pm. I was allowing Aaron to sleep a little longer thinking he'd be tired.
Aaron: (bouncing into the kitchen with 1bazillion watts of energy) Mommy, you forgot me.
Me: What, forgot you?
Aaron: Everyone else is dressed, but not me. You forgot me.
Me: Seriously Aaron. I was letting you sleep late. I didn't forget you. Mommy knew exactly where you were.
Aaron: (with a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye; cackling with that "yeah right" laugh he has) Yeah, mommy, don't be silly. You forgot me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Being thankful in ALL things

Between Aaron and Reese, I will probably one day have enough material to write several books and complete a 2-year tour as a stand-up comedian. Although, they both have some very funny moments, Reese's prayer a couple of weeks ago stuck in my brain and won't leave. It was at the time Granddaddy was in the hospital and Grandmother's knee surgery was rapidly approaching. Now, to appreciate this, you have to understand Reese. She will talk to me on the phone, but when she tires of the conversation (approximately 5-6 seconds) runs away from the phone, yelling over her shoulder - "Byebyeiloveyou". Apparantley, Reese's bedtime prayers are as short-lived as many of her telephone conversations.
Dear God,
Thank you for my family.
I imagine this is stated very quickly and without much hesitation. Let's face it, she's a girl who knows exactly what she wants and precisely what she desires to say.
Katrina recently was telling me about Reese's "extended" prayer. Now, extended for Reese and Aaron is all of 10-12 seconds.
Dear God,
Thank you for my family, Thank you for Granddaddy in the hospital and making him better. Thank you for Grandmother's hurt knee.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Now, I've heard this most of my life. The "all circumstances" part has been something I've really tried to grasp over the past few months in my life. Think about it. All circumstances - the 9/11 attack, earthquakes in Haiti, tsunamis taking the life of thousands within minutes, diagnosis from a doctor that the cancer is everywhere and they're stopping all treatments to send you home on morphine - the list goes on and on.
Was Reese glad that her great-grandfather was in the hospital? Absolutely not. However, she held high expectations for God to work. She was thankful for how He would heal Granddaddy. Does she understand all this? Well, she is a pretty smart little lady, who knows?
Thoughts of Reese's thankful heart have consumed me lately.Any tragic situation I can think of is not one where God will abandon. He's there all the time. I should be thankful for that. On those days that I feel as if a category 5 hurricane is about to make landfall on my soul, God will work. He will do something mighty. I might not see it immediately, but He's still there. He will carry me through. Remaining thankful in all things proves quite difficult sometimes. My aunt always told me that hard times will make you "better or bitter". She often reminded me it is a choice that I make. Thankfulness is a choice that I make. To be honest, I don't really know how thankful I was for the actual attacks on 9/11. However, in retrospect, I've heard stories of how God moved in a mighty way in people's lives. We witnessed selfless individuals rise to the aid of complete strangers. Now I don't know about you, but I have some days almost given up on the self-centered society we live in. 9/11 was a day when God restored that urgency to share the gospel in people like me who had grown lazy in this effort. Think about the people already sent to Haiti just in the past few weeks. Many more will be traveling that way I expect. They perhaps would not have gone without the devestation caused by earthquakes. Some of these will share the gospel and the love of Jesus with those so desperatly longing for His love and saving grace.
Maybe sometimes, I try to "overspiritualize" things - yes, April and Katrina, I know that's not really a word. That verse said to be thankful IN all circumstances. I don't necessarily need to spout off to everyone that I'm thankful for the death of a loved one, or earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc. Being thankful for how God will work and guide me in all those circumstances is how I'll attempt to accomplish this. Although, I'm messing up quite a bit. The last part of that verse was about God's will for us. He wants us to be thankful and joyful.

I was not really thankful when Aaron and John Curtis would NOT go to sleep tonight. However, I'm trying to remind myself to remain thankful for what God will teach me through this. A particular individual suggested that I'm not very patient, and God's using that to "grow you in that area". Maybe so........although I'm not enjoying it, I'll try to remember and be thankful what I'll learn in the process.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

yes, I did really say that

As Andrew returned to school from a pretty nasty virus, he kept letting me know how much he wanted to just rest in his bed. I explained to him that I completely understood that. I knew he was tired; however, he really needed to be at school. As the morning passed, I went to his classroom to check on him. His teacher said that she had been trying to convince him to make the journey to my room so that I could examine him. He kept responding with, "My mom knows I don't feel good, she just doesn't care." After she had asked him several times about this, his response was:

You just don't understand my mom. She said that unless I was throwing up in front of her, or my leg was broken, I HAD to be at class. She would not listen to anything else I said.

All of this was stated with a dramatic flair and many hand motions to convey the desparation of his situation. Mrs. Hightower looked as if she was waiting for me to scold him - not believing that any mother would be so lacking in compassion and mercy. I had to admit, "Yes, I really did say that." She reminded me that I'm too hard on him..that he's really a sweet boy. (She spoils him, and we think she's the best 1st grade teacher ever!!) So, now Andrew's entire class thinks that his mommy is some horrible person. Each time I've passed their class line in the hallway, they seem to cower back as if I'm going to turn into some green monster with 3 heads. Little do they know all of those are the democrats in Washington filling Congressional seats.

Now, on the same day, Aaron was throwing a mortal fit because I had taken away something. He declared very loudly and sternly, "I want that. Give it back." Well, needless to say, I didn't respond well. After a swift pop on the leg, he declared with a glare, "That's not cool." Yes, he's only 3.

Now.... more of what I ought not have to say:
-Don't take your cherry icee into your bedroom and eat it while sitting on your crisp, clean WHITE sheets.

What I really ought not have to say in the same 24 hour period after I've stated the above:
-Don't take your cherry popcicle into your bedroom and eat it on the quilt your great-great-grandmother quilted generations ago.

Something I learned this week...
You have to tell a first grader that writing sentences due to misbehavior is considered discipline. So when I ask you if you've had any discipline at school, say YES if you've had to write a particular rule 25 times.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things I ought not have to say

Those of you who know me well, are aware of the two lists I have that continually receive updates. For those of you who don't know, these are:
1. Things that ought not happen
2. Things I ought not have to say

For the latest additions to "Things I Ought Not Have to Say"
-Please don't use your iphone/laptop/blackberry/cell phone/any other communication device while in the restroom.
-From the FDA, "Fake diet pill may cause health problems"  Ya' think?!?!?!?!?!
-Don't feed your 18 month old a boiled egg for breakfast (No, my husband is not the guilty party.) Really, is that what you would want your mama to fix for you?????
-When the teacher moves your desk away from someone for poking them, please do not continue poking them.
-Aaron, I understand it makes a really cool sound when you stand on the top bunk bed and stick your hand between the ceiling fan blades to stop it - BUT some really nice man installed a switch to keep you from having to do that.
-Aaron, you need to put underwear on BEFORE you put on your pants. It's just a little thing we civilized people do........Seriously??????

Saturday, January 23, 2010


As I look around my house, I see small handprints everywhere. It seems that my children feel it is their obligation to touch every square inch of surface anywhere. Then the thought of all the germs sends a nauseous feeling throughout every fiber of my being. (Then thoughts of a certain person's blackberry.) Lately I've been thinking a lot about fingerprints. It could be because I watch way toooo much DEA, Manhunt Fugitive Task Force, and the First 48. Anyhow, we all have a unique fingerprint that God carefully designed. Sometimes I wonder how much fun He must have had doing that. As I reflect on recent circumstances, it's as if I can see His fingerprints on the situations in my life - the good and the bad. Forensic scientists can connect a person to a place because of their fingerprint. People can be confirmed innocent or guilty by the presence (or lack of) a fingerprint. I know God is present during times of great happiness or the greatest sorrow. His fingerprints confirm that He is all over the situation. I have a former student who visits frequently. He is a true prayer warrior at the ripe old age of 12. Whenever something scary is happening, he is the first to say, "It's under control. God's in it. He doesn't leave His children. Now, let's pray. The bible tells us about these times. We should expect them. Now let's pray specifically that God will guide us through it." Yes I have this memorized. Since I'm a high-maintenance Type-A personality, I flip out quite easily. A change in schedule can prove scary to me. So, I've heard this quite often - therefore commiting it to memory. God's in it - His fingerprints are all over it -- He's got it under control. His fingerprints have been on the lives of so many greats: Joseph, Job, Rahab, Ruth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary... The list goes on and on. He's been at it for a long time. Maybe the show Dirty Jobs should do an episode on God. I know He must get tired of digging me out of these messes I manage to jump into more often than I'd like to admit. I'm glad he doesn't mind getting dirty, or leaving fingerprint evidence behind.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Joy Comes In the Morning

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I've created this blog mostly because of my love of writing. However, lately God has been teaching me some things that I just never dreamed of. Things that I consider need to be shared to show how amazing He truly is.

At the age of 15, my mother passed away after many years of suffering with and illness. At that time, and for many years to follow, I felt as if my heart had been ripped into pieces. The pain and grief were more than I could bear on my own. I don't remember being angry at God, but it was a very dark time, so it could be something I've blocked from my memory. (My children block things from their memory all the time. For example, when someone leaves crayons in the back seat of the car on a warm sunny day. Amazingly enough, when I discover the crayons, no one recalls having taken the crayons into the car. I just was not aware until I had children that Crayola made magical crayons that are able to transport themselves to my vehicle.) Anyhow, I remember many sorrow filled days. Hearing others talk of the time they spent shopping or at the hair salon with their mother was like taking a knife through the heart. I knew others didn't intend to cause hurt - I just wished I was having those special times. Looking back, when mom was so sick, I began to cut myself off from her. Guilt came with that realization - thinking about how I had probably broken her heart. Lots of healing had to take place. God carefully place several people in my life as he slowly began to mend my heart that was broken into so many pieces. My aunt and cousin, Katrina, were always there - even when I acted like a complete idiot and treated my family mean and horrible. Dad played the role of both parents while working a stressful job. Ladies like Vicky Brown, Betty Gorham, and Ira Dean Newman had major roles in setting me on the right path. Then God placed the most godly man in my life, my husband. He held my hand through some very scary and emotional times as I dealt with fear, sorrow, anger, guilt, and a million other horrific emotions. I had a pretty happy life. Finally, a peace began to settle in my spirit. God was preparing my heart for some moments I never expected.
I've heard the song Joy Comes in the Morning so many times. I've always liked it, but now have a new appreciation for the words of that song.
Although I had a peace, I can now say that there was a little joy missing. Whoever heard of being joyful because your mom suffered a horrible illness and died when you were a teenager. I was glad she was in heaven and all, but joy? Come on, seriously??? About a year and a half ago, I encountered a young girl whose mom had been diagnosed with a devestating illness. She spent a lot of time in hospitals and rehab facilities to due the disabling condition of her illness. I was able to minister to this young girl because of what I'd been through. Still no joy - beginning to see that God could use my trials to help someone, but no joy from my mom's death. Then 6 months later, I had the opportunity to work with a young lady whose mom had died suddenly. Meeting with this young lady on occassion, I've been able to listen and assure her that she's not crazy - just experiencing much of the same thoughts and feelings I did.  I was excited with the opportunity. Grateful God could use me, excited to be used, but still not the joy I now know that song speaks of.
Two weeks ago, I was called into the hall at work. One of my students had lost her mom over the weekend. As I learned more, this mom's illness was eerily similar to my mom's - not the same diagnosis, but very similar circumstances. The counselor informed the young lady of my story and let her know I was available. She soon after confronted me with the question, "What do you do when your mother dies? I don't know what I'm supposed to do." At that moment, the joy came. Not because my mom had died. Not because the young girl's mother had died. I saw myself (that is my 1991 self - the old self.) My mind raced through the journey that God had carried me on. It was that day that God opened my eyes to the what all He had done. The joy was because I saw the whole picture of how my heavenly Father had carefully ordered my steps so that He could work through me. I always thought the joy would come when I finally finished "dealing" with the death of my mom. I learned that the joy and the morning were when I stepped back and let Him full control to use my struggles and help someone else.

Psalm 30:1-3
I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and di not let my enemies gloat over me.
O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me,
O Lord , you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit
Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.