Sunday, April 20, 2014

Perception--Will I Write a Book?

It was early in my career when I first had the thought to write a book.  The thought would come to the forefront of my mind anytime I was faced with children crying for someone to help them, parents desperately seeking to control themselves after being caught in a moment of passion, enraged adults taking their anger out on the innocent, or people of all ages losing control emotionally thus making attempts at their own lives.  The end results included threats, death, harm to others, emotional distress, tears of sorrow, loud voices, hallow words.  The title of my book has been unwavering--"All the Things I Wish I'd Never Seen."  I have repeated that title to many people over the course of my social work career.  I knew inside I would take many of the details of situations I have been involved with to my grave.

Yesterday, I was hit emotionally like a tornado in an open field tearing apart the old barn in its path  shattering the splinters of the wood then tossing all the contents to and fro.  Why would I wish away where God ordered my footsteps?  After all, I have also had an unwavering life verse.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. NIV

I actually never really meant that I wish I had not seen any of these things.  I count it a privilege that God has trusted me enough to place me in the middle of tragedy, heartache and loss of others.  I know I am unworthy of the calling but early in my Christian life I dedicated my life to mission work. I spent brief time in Thailand, but my heart longed for home.  I never felt I missed the call or neglected what God placed on my heart.  I instead found the job he gave me stateside, right in my back yard, to be my mission field.  

I recently began reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp as part of a Wednesday night Bible Study.  Ann challenges us to change our perspective and live a life of eucharisteo...a life where we find thankfulness in situations we are faced with.  Her challenge was to look for God in the situations He places us in including the simple daily tasks.  If you have never read the book, it is worth the investment....I could never do it justice. I can say, however, it has changed the way I look at the blessings I have each day before me.  I don't find pleasure in situations that cause a mother to fear for her child or a parent to long for healing, but I find contentment in the fact that God found me worthy of being His hands and feet in these situation.  May I never again wish away the privilege God has given me as He allows me to walk with others during hard times.  

May you find contentment in the place God has you. Like Paul, we need to learn to be content where ever God has placed us. We are all in different places in life.  Where ever you are, if you are a believer, be content.  God makes no mistakes.  He has placed you there for a reason.

Phillipians 4:11-12

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. NIV

I was talking to someone yesterday who was faced with a heart wrenching issue.  These were not just words I used, these are heart dripping emotions from having been there done that...I stated, "Endure this my friend, stand strong.  Don't let your testimony be tainted.  God will see you through and when He does He will use you for His glory.  Someone else weaker will come along unable to endure, God will place you in their path to speak as a sojourner having been in the valley before. Count it a blessing He saw you worthy."   May those who come behind you find you faithful!  

Finish the fight well my friends!  Be able to say:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where were you when Jesus took the road to Calvary?

It was another Friday night in Valdosta...what were most teens doing?  Cruisin' Ashley Street...what else?  The loop was Ashley Cinemas to Wendy's and back again.  The drill? Roll your window down and hoot & holler at other people cruisin'.  If you were the passenger, hang out of the sunroof hootin' & hollerin'.  If you didn't think it before, you certainly do now...yes, I was a country girl.  After all, if you had a few friends and a cool car (I did---well in my mind the 1985 red Thunderbird was something special....), you were living the life!  The year was 1987, and I had just graduated high school.  I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted.  Again, what more could a girl want.  Those of you as old as I am are smiling because you drove this same loop or another strip in your hometown.

Memories...I have some great ones from high school and those few months after high school...I also have some regrets.  Let's just say, I would not have been the most likely candidate to attend church or teach Sunday School.  However, someone took a risk on me and I was invited to go to a youth event at Morningside Baptist Church.  That July night would begin a spiritual journey for me that would climax in September when I would come face to face with my Savior.  Needless to say, I realized I didn't have it all.  I had all the world had to offer but I was missing the most important thing of all...a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Another event at Morningside, I walked the aisle and made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  That's not my focus here but what I brought with me is....a life that had been lived for myself and my own pleasures....a life that had taken many risks with no regard for the reality of death being just around the corner.  Yet, in a split second, I was faced with the cross.  John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  The cross where Jesus paid the debt for all those sins I committed as a teenager...all those mistakes I made...all the selfish choices....all the risks---including the many times I had driven like a nascar racer just because my car would allow.

I could share so many personal things about those times but don't feel I should at this time in order not to distract from my purpose in writing today.  Instead, I want to ask you where were you when Jesus took that journey to the cross.  I was living a life for myself playing Russian roulette with my choices...but Jesus saw something in me I didn't see...He saw someone worthy of salvation.  As we are in this Holy Week reflect on the journey Jesus took....Hosanna in the Highest...He took the road to the cross to pay for whatever sins you committed.  Rest assured, if He could find me worthy, He won't turn you away.  I am 26 years this side of my encounter with Calvary but it is as real to me today as if it were yesterday.  In your busy week, take just a minute and pause...reflect on where you were when you got saved...don't lose sight of where you were....then share that with someone else in need of our Savior!

Maybe you are reading this and wonder what does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I would love to share with you or you can follow this link below:

Below is an exert from David Jeremiah's website

  • Because of our sin, we are separated from God.For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • The Penalty for our sin is death.For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)
    ...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stranger in the night 1 Peter 5:8

A few years ago, I had an encounter at the baseball field that left me with a cliche I often use now---"My kids, My bubble."  The story is one of those "why do things like this happen to me?" moments. Abi was probably 7 at the time if not a little younger. We were playing rec ball several nights a week. There is a tree all the kids love to climb at the ball park -- a few nights in a row a stranger approached Abi at the tree and talked to her. One night she offered Abi hot chocolate....having trained Abi on the "don't take candy from strangers rule," she was able to globalize this and realize that includes hot chocolate. Stranger had asked Abi her age on another occasion and asked Abi to go with her to see someone where she is sitting on another occassion....ummm TMI solicited from my child.

Before the next game, Abi and I had a conversation that included warnings about the stranger.  This included being vigilantly aware of her surroundings at the ballpark and know mommy is always watching.  If said stranger approaches you again, tell her you are not allowed to talk to her, walk away, come to mommy, run, scream....anything necessary to avoid said stranger.  Remembering and KNOWING mommy has her eyes on you so all the while I will be "in route!"  (AKA steps away).  Being the predictable stranger she was...the lady approaches Abi once again the next time we are at the ball park. Being the social worker mom that I am, radar immediately kicks in and I begin to approach.

Stranger (we never name her--after all we don't want a relationship with her) pulls out her phone to take Abi's picture. I approach and say "excuse me, can I help you?" She says NO! "That's funny because this is my daughter you have been talking to and just took a picture of," I say. She begins to tell me that she tried to get my daughter to go with her the night before (yes, I know!). She goes on to say Abi looks like a child that died and she wanted to show Abi to "so and so" (another name that I didn't process...after all, irrelevant 'cause "she ain't goin' no where with said stranger," said under my breath in my south Georgia dialect). I say (where I can be heard yet calmly), "well you are scaring her and I would like to ask you not to talk to her anymore." 

With rage and fury, stranger asks me, "do you think I am a child molester or something....I just wanted to show her to someone." With less calmness, I say "well since you mentioned it, I have no idea if you are a child molester or not but I know this are not getting near my child." Of course, Abi is clutched in my arms at this point and most games have stopped so all eyes are on us. She yells again wanting to know what my problem is ....she says, "do you plan on keeping your child in a bubble her whole life?" (NOTE she was 7??)....I respond "my child, my bubble..." and I walk away. Looking back, I had so much to say to this woman...who do you think you are? What kind of crazy person in this day and age approaches a child and offers them a drink or ask a child to go with a stranger...takes pictures etc..? Do you know what I do for a living??  And the list of my thoughts goes on and on.   I of course never struggle to find my words...which is not always a good thing. But for some reason on this night, God saw fit to give me restriaint, not ruin my testimony as dozens looked on.

The lesson in this has resounded in my mind over and over....the practical one to keep my children in my bubble for as long as I can but then there is one more spiritual.  1 Peter 5:8 tells us to " Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

I think of this story and how my mommy senses knew to offer warnings to my child.  I had to depend on her to remember lessons I had taught her and the need for her to continue to trust I was watching/protecting her.  The Lord is watching over us, He has given us lessons/warnings in scripture to be aware and alert of what is happening around us. God (way more than me as a mom) knows all that is going on in His children's lives. He desires to protect us --- He has a bubble He wants to keep us in--- His arms....His ways...His will.  Not to stifle us but to protect us.   This is way safer than the arms of the "stranger"--- the devil--- who may offer us something that looks good on the surface but once he gets his snares in us it will cost us more than we want to pay.

The issue is we have to be alert and aware to know the warnings and dangers.  We do this by being in God's word faithfully so we know what scripture warns us of and know what it means to be safe in the Saviors arms.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us "All scripture if God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  We can't wait until we are in a trial to begin to read God's word---we need to be equipped ahead of time.  We need to be prepared for what is in front of us by being studied in God's word. Oh reading it at any time is good...but if we know going in to trials who is in control, we will save ourselves a lot of heartache.

If Abi had not known before hand that mommy was a watchdog and a  protector...she would have still been safe because my eyes were always on her...but it made for a settled spirit in her because the fear was not there.  So not knowing does not change God's protective hand but not knowing does make room for fear.  God desires us to trust in Him and to KNOW Him....Psalm 91 NIV is a good place to end today....

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Prayers for the stranger in the night to flee from you because when you call on HIS (God's name) the stranger will have no power over you!  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Emoticon Warnings!

Maybe I am the only traveler who has not used WAZE.  On our trip today, I was introduced to WAZE. This is the coolest GPS app I have seen yet!   People using WAZE have the option to select an emoticon to tag the map letting you know if an object is in the road, if there is an accident, if the police are in the median etc.  The point?  To warn those behind you.  When Lance's phone started announcing object in the road...police ahead...I was immediately intrigued.  We all know it does not take much to entertain me.

Warnings...probably saved me a ticket or two along the way...certainly protected the front end of my new ride today.  For all that, I appreciate the random stranger traveling a mile ahead of us who keeps pinging warnings.  I just offered my first warning to travelers coming behind me!  Warning sheetrock in the road!  Bad day for that construction truck.  As Christian brothers and sisters, we should warn each other when we see signs/obstacles/threats.  I am thankful for sisters in Christ who have offered me their advice along the way...warning---you are playing with fire....protect your heart and mind... I know I have been protected because of godly women who have gone ahead of me warning me from lessons they learned.   

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Part of encouraging and spuring one another on to good deeds is to warn others of temptations along the way...maybe we can't ping an emoticon to warn each other but we can pray for one another (James 5:16) and offer godly counsel.   

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. (Proverbs 19:20 NKJV)

This is not because we are weak but because in Him we are strong.  God wants us to be connected to each other.  Jesus modeled this with His disciples.  I am thankful for godly friends....I am watching for your emoticons...please ping me if you see a warning ahead. 

God has called you to be the iron that sharpens others’ iron, as their iron will sharpen you (Prov. 27:17)!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This morning I decided to clean out my pictures on my phone...some of you should be glad because I had some pretty funny pictures of my peeps!  One of you especially who tried to avoid my paparazzi skills last know who you are!  Pictures are a great way to capture memories...I learned my camera skills from my Granny Weis.  She ALWAYS had a camera in hand. I can only imagine what she would have been like with a smart phone thus always camera ready.  We have all captured pictures of ourselves and others that are less than flattering...sometimes we are in control of the delete button at other times we have to run a CSI mission to steal--I mean borrow---someone's phone long enough to delete.  At other times, we grimace as our "friend" circulates our less than flattering picture for the masses to see on social media.

Delete....sometimes it works, sometimes it's not an option.  Hmmm.  Decisions we make daily...sometimes they are flattering to us, other times--not so much!  At times, we can discreetly overcome our poor choices and other times news of it circulates like a picture on facebook/twitter/instagram/VINE.  (A lesson on thanksgiving for later is THANK GOD we did not have the internet when I was a teenager!!)  So we may not can stop the circulation but I know someone who is way better than delete!  Jesus died for our sins so we could be cleansed and forgiven.  1 Corinthians 15:3 "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."   And no matter who knows....all of social media or just me, his death on the cross deletes our sins!  He washes our sin away!  Forgives us, died for us, loves us enough that He paid the price!  John 3: 16 "For God so loved the world that that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 

NOW what about that circulation problem?  Well, He does the forgiving but we may still have consequences for our choices.  As Christians, we are not perfect and still make poor choices post salvation but “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 It requires our confession meaning that we recognize we did something wrong and own up to it!    After we confess/take ownership, we may still have a consequence BUT He will walk with us through the consequences and make us stronger through it.  Maybe once He grows you through whatever sin you were consumed with, He will use you to minister to others struggling in that area.  Maybe the scars (see yesterdays post) are meant to remind you of something.  Maybe He is humbling you to remind you He is in control.  Maybe all of the above. Either way, He will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death and victory is on the other side!

I would like to say cleaning out my phone is a one time event but I can promise I will get some of you this week on camera but will be nice enough to delete the less than flattering footage (maybe :) ).  In the same (but more gracious) way, Jesus' forgiveness is also a daily need for us.  May we remember this each morning when we wake up and with each breath we take!  Jesus we need your seventy times seven delete button daily!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's a dogs life!

It's a dogs life.  That's what I am thinking right now after I have worked in the house most of the day and look to see my poodle sleeping on my pillow…on my unmade bed as I sigh knowing I should have made it up.  I comment under my breath "it must be nice to be a dog," I move him over and think about making the bed….never mind it is Spring Break, I might get back in it!  After that thought, I laugh.  The only reason I think he has it so good is because I do everything for him.  He doesn't wonder where his next meal will come from nor does he worry about tomorrow…he knows I will take care of tomorrow…"oh, I created this," I think and smile.

Hmmm…maybe I do have a dogs life.  My life is (or should be) in the hands of God.  He knows and orders my footsteps so I don't have to worry about tomorrow.  Proverbs 20:24 NIV says "A person's steps are directed by the Lord.  How can anyone understand their own way?"    "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…Pslam 37:23.   He is saying, "I created you!" with a more literal meaning than my comment about the dog!  "…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…" Psalm 139:14.

 I don't have to worry about tomorrow because He has that under control too.  Romans 8:28 says "All things work together for good for those called according to His purpose."   Therefore, tomorrow has to be good. It does not mean trials won't come but it means He will work His will and purpose in all no matter if in my eyes it looks good, bad or indifferent.   I have every meal I need both physically and spiritually.   Ah, so maybe I can't lay on that pillow all day but I can know He has me under control so I will  yield ---- the old adage, let go and let God more real today than ever before.


Sometimes I do things just to humor myself....sometimes I do things that humor (AKA embarrass) my children....other times I do things for no good reason but either way it makes my little corner of the world well entertained.  The other day a friend (@zebrastripes) told me something that made me have one of those hallelujah fits I referenced in my last post.  So I took to the trampoline to express my joy....Reid captured this on video as I did a front flip and landed hysterically laughing at myself...which means I was ok with him laughing at me too.  Immediately, I felt a burn on my elbow only to realize I had a minor injury to remind me I am over 40!  That did not stop me from rolling around laughing but later it got my attention!  This has been a few weeks and I still have a fading scar to remind me to leave the tumbling to Abi!

Scars....they are not always bad things.  They are meant to remind us of something.  For me, to remind me I am older than I feel!  This reminds me of scars that signify an eternal price someone paid for me.  Jesus willingly took the journey to the cross because He loved us --- we all know John 3:16....For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to die for us.  Jesus knew what He would face on the cross, the suffering He would endure, the scars He would gain.  He found it all worthwhile so we could have eternal life. Not something we deserved but something He wanted to do for us because He loves us! For us, He was happy to gain scars.  His scars from the cross were something He willingly acquired because of grace---God's riches at Christ's expense!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

As we approach Easter, may we remember the price Christ paid for us.  May we ponder the scars of the cross and have a hallelujah fit that He loved us enough to die for us!!  Then he rose again after three days --- the only change--- scars to tell the story of the cross.  

If you have never pondered these scars:

Below is an exert from David Jeremiah's website

  • Because of our sin, we are separated from God.For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • The Penalty for our sin is death.For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)
    ...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

Sunday, April 6, 2014


This week I was sharing something about a case I had worked with a colleague.  When I finished, I sighed somewhat in dismay that I was not able to "fix" the problem at hand.  I gave my spill, shared the 411 and said I've done all I can do so I will leave this with you.  As I began to leave, this person said..."I don't think you are wired that way..."  I smiled knowing this person knew I would not relent, would not leave it at that and would continue to ponder until I had a new angle or answer....if you know me well, you are laughing now because you know I can be relentless.

I am not sure where this trait comes from but it does remind me of one relentless woman in my life.  My Granny Weis (my mom's mom---her name was Eloise but we give nicknames to everyone in my family), she was a prayer warrior.  I was 18 when I got saved but that sweet woman prayed for me relentlessly day in and day out way before then.  She would tell me she was praying for my salvation every time I saw her.  She would talk to me about the Lord even when it made me uncomfortable and she knew it...she didn't relent.  She was never bothered by how her comments made others feel as long as she knew the Lord's name was being honored.  The amazing thing is she never I said I was 18 when I got saved.  I wish I would have asked her how long she prayed for me because I know it was a long time.  Oh, not that I was the only one!  She prayed --- by name --- for all of her children, son/daughter in laws, grand children and great grands.  She was relentless.

Knowing God's sense of humor is one reason I would love to know how long she endured those prayers for my salvation...because I found myself praying those same salvation prayers for my Dad.  I was a Daddy's girl and my dad was an amazing father but I knew he was missing the most important part of life...a relationship with the Lord. I prayed for his salvation for 17 years and the Lord answered those prayers!  I was not the one to lead him to the Lord but I know God heard my prayers.  In those prayers, I was relentless!  Why?  Because I loved that man!  I knew I had something I wanted him to have!  I had one hallelujah fit when he told me he had asked Jesus in to his heart!

A few lessons here, God says seek Him....1 Chronicles 16:11---Seek the Lord and his strength; seek His face continually.  Jeremiah 29:13---Seek Him and you will find Him...but you have to seek with ALL your heart!   This follows my life verse that God KNOWS the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Interesting to note that He knows the plans....if you want to know them you do this by SEEKING Him. It is about HIM not us.  Our prayers are to be about Him too.  Seeking and finding Him...praying for His will to be done.  This means in His timing not ours.

Don't give up hope!  If you are praying for someone, remember God's "appointed season" is not the same as ours.  That's another lesson on Titus timing!  If you are not praying for someone, may God bring someone to your mind right now to pray for....

And if you are not saved or you are struggling, maybe you have a prayer warrior praying you through. Maybe a prayer warrior has stood in the gap for you and you did not know it.  I often reflected on some things I did and wondered why I was protected...but looking back I am sure it was the prayers of my Granny Weis...or some other unsung prayer warrior I never knew was praying me through.

Listen to this song by Allen Asbury

Who are you "praying through"?  I have a list...some of you are on it.  May I be relentless in my prayers --- may you be relentless in yours!