Stop Being Afraid!

Fear.  It is something that is in nearly every person’s life.  To some it’s just an annoyance, and to others it is crippling.  Most of the time, the thing we fear most is people.  Whether it be consciously or subconsciously.

I was reading Jeremiah 1 today and I got to verse 8, and something just struck me.  It says, “And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you.  I, the Lord, have spoken!”  He straight up told Jeremiah to not be afraid.  Why?  Because HE WOULD BE WITH HIM!  So, why do we constantly walk around in fear, regardless of what were scared of, especially if God is with us?  Because we don’t trust Him and that He really is with us.  Oswald Chambers said “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

I have noticed over the last several months that a common phrase that comes out of my mouth is “I’m afraid that…(insert fear here)”.  It’s become a habit.  A very bad habit.  I don’t even think I realize I’m saying it because it has become a catchphrase for me.  But there is truth in it.  I automatically fear.  Why?

“Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles. If a man has the one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust.” – Alexander MacLaren

Because I have forces within that are at odds with each other.  The one that I have given more power to is the one that has been driving me for most of my life.  Granted it is something that I have been chiseling away at over the last year, but why haven’t I purposefully decided to cast it aside?  Because I’m afraid to.  And in that, is the vicious cycle.  I’m AFRAID to cast out FEAR!  Even though I’m afraid of being fearful.  Fear does nothing but spin around itself.  It creates a stranglehold.

“The fear of man strangles us, because we can never please everybody; but the fear of the Lord frees us, because it challenges us to live and serve for an audience of One.” – Paul Chappell

God tells us 365 times throughout the Bible “Do not be afraid” in some capacity.  Guess how Satan likes to strike the most?  To strike fear in the heart of man.  If he can render you fearful, he renders you inactive.  If he can make you inactive, it’s one less soldier that he has to deal with.  But he doesn’t have the authority to do that unless we give it to him.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.  Fear is not of God and it has no place in us if we don’t give it a place.  Scripture tells us so!  1 John 4:17-18, And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.  So we will not be afraid of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  SUCH LOVE HAS NO FEAR, because perfect love EXPELS ALL FEAR!

So the question is, how are we living in God?  ARE we even living in God?  Do we just dip our toe in the water every now and then and say “that’s enough Jesus for today” or do we run down the dock, as fast as we can, and jump in, shouting with joy, doing a cannonball?  Which would soak us in His presence more?  Our toe or our dive?  Or have we been rendered so fearful that we’re too afraid to even enter His presence?  It’s time to cast out fear and be a child again.  So, run as fast as you can and JUMP OFF THE DOCK INTO THE WATER!  It’s time!

=)  Be Blessed!


Every Prayer Counts

I can’t tell you how often I get hung up on prayers. For some reason it either has to be hours long or no prayer at all, in my head. But that’s not the way God sees it. He wants to have steady communication with us all day long. So in reality, we don’t have to focus on the length of our prayer but just time spent.  Even if it’s just short moments.  Besides, it helps keep Him on your mind all day.  🙂  Be Blessed!


Ready For Battle

I’m up, out of bed at 4:30 in the morning.  Why?  I fell, once again, victim to Satan’s tricks.  Why can’t I figure it out when it’s happening?  So, as of right now, he’s still winning since I am losing sleep over it.  The worst part is that I don’t know how to stop believing them.  I mean I “know” how but actually doing it is different.  Mainly because I have realized that they are so engrained into my mind.  I have had the same reactive pattern for so long, it’s really hard to break.  The worse part is I self destruct.  That is, after I annihilate anyone in my path.  Then I feel guilty, stupid and completely embarrassed because I’ve made a total butt of myself and God only knows how much damage I’ve done.  Plus, in my head, I run through all the Scriptures about being a good wife and think of how I’ve blown them.  Which ones?  Oh let’s see.  Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29, 1 Timothy 3:11…So, I want to completely hide.

So, here is my issue.  At certain times, I lose total self-control.  I don’t deal with criticism very well AT ALL!  Unwarranted criticism tops the list.  I’m even worse when it has to do with someone close to me.  The problem comes when it triggers a domino effect for everything else.  We’re talking my chest gets tight, my hands shake in anger, I get tunnel vision, ect.  It’s fight or flight but I feel trapped and the fight feeling starts to take over.  I can’t be this way.  It’s beneficial to no one.  It not only is damaging to myself but those around me.

It’s more than that though. It’s the lies that I keep falling for. It’s not just the damage I do in the heat of the moment, it’s what I do afterwards that I’m learning is what is most damaging. Here is a rundown of what happens in my head. These are things that I have said, be it out loud or just to myself. “I’m useless. The kids deserve a better mother. You deserve a better wife. I’m fat. It’s hopeless.  I can’t do it. I quit. I’m done. I’m garbage. I’m an absolute waste of time. I’m not good enough. She’s better than me. God hates me. I drag you down.” Now, multiply that by a ton (depending on how big the blunder was) and you have my brain.

The Bible talks about self-control a lot.  Apparently it’s an important trait to have.  It’s not just how you handle yourself in public but with yourself as well.  I’m learning that it’s one that has to be nurtured and grown.  There are many Scriptures that address the issue.  A couple are: He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness (Prov. 5:23).  A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls (Prov. 25:28).  Obviously, it’s not a good thing to lack it.  It can do a lot of damage.

That being said, this is what I think is really going on. It seems I’ve been having these triggers a lot over the last few months. As I was thinking tonight I remembered that I had been praying that God would reveal the areas that I needed to start working on. What I had expected Him to do was to just quietly tell me what it was and then He and I could talk about it in private.  Ohhhh no. That is apparently NOT how this growth period is going to work (crap!).  Sitting here (since I have a clear head now), I can say, “BRING IT ON!”  Only good can come of this right???  I’m so thankful for the leadership that God has brought us to sit under.  Even though I’m falling apart, I know that they’ve got my back and are willing to hold me accountable but love me THROUGH the process.  Even though I’m a hot mess right now.  They are tapped in to what God is calling them to do and it shows.  I’m grateful that God has brought them alongside me (us) to help guide this process a long.

We are doing a series right now at church about the Armor of God. How fitting. Honestly, that is the first place that I need to start if I’m going to beat this.  So, how much armor are we to put on?  Ephesians 6:10-17 says,

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  

As I read through it and chew on it, I come to the realization that I am fighting naked!  It’s like taking a knife to a gun fight.  You can’t go to battle unprepared.  We forget that we are at war.  We talk a lot about God’s love but we need to be talking about the battle before us if we want to win!  And to win we have to make sure that we are tapped into the Source of power and protected with what our God has provided for us to shield ourselves with.  We have to be real with ourselves and acknowledge that we are fighting naked.  If we can’t be real with ourselves, we can’t be real with anybody else and they sure can’t be real with us.

So, now I have to decide if I’m going to continue to cower and run and never get anywhere or am I going to lace up my boots, grab my gear and go head on into the fight before me.  You can only run from yourself (and God) for so long before your tail end (& He) catches up with ya.  It’s time to quit running and start to fight…the right way!

So, who’s with me?  =)  Be blessed!

Standing Unshakable & Saving Lives

Have you ever been shaken?  Has the foundation you were standing on ever suddenly gave way, making you unsteady and unsure of your footing?  The same thing can happen and does happen in our walk with Christ.

We are facing tumultuous times.  It is a time when our faith is being put the ultimate test.  Not only is our faith being tested, but more importantly our true devotion to Christ.  Sure we have faith when we are short on money for our bills for the month or when a hardship in some other fashion comes our way.  What happens when your core beliefs are tested?  Will you be shaken then?  Will you cave and go along with what’s “PC” so as not to offend anyone?

Hebrews 12:26-27 says, “When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’  This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.”

When the shaking comes or is coming, will you be able to stand unshakable?  God warns us that the we can be certain if we are listening to the right voice and not rejecting what He is telling us.  If we back up a verse to Hebrews 12:25 it says, “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.  For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!”  The only way to know for certain is to be listening to the right voice.

Right now there seem to be many voices all speaking about a lot of things that blatantly go against God’s word.  His word is getting twisted and warped and the enemy is using this to create a lot of confusion.  Our foundation, as a country, is shaking.  What we need now is those with true unshakable foundations to rise up.  Satan is at work and God’s army needs to put on it’s armor and go to battle.  We are to do this as the BODY of Christ not just as individuals.  We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to fill each and every one of us as we march forth.

The best place to start is by setting time aside to sit in the quiet and just listen.  God will speak to your heart and direct your steps.  It’s time to solidify those shaky foundations and stand firm, individually and corporately.  Set aside all our selfish motives (1 Peter 2:1-3) and be obedient to the One who called us.  Walk boldly with the power that Christ gives us.  Lives are at stake.  We can no longer sit in our “country club” churches, punching our spiritual time cards and keep putting off the job we were so obviously given to do.  Mark 16:15.  And then He told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to EVERYONE”.  Not just the ones who happen to make their way inside our doors, but EVERYONE.  They’re standing on shaky ground and don’t even know it.    Unity in the body is what is needed.  Let’s get to work!  =)  Be blessed!

Hi Ho Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work I’ve Gone

So, I went back to work in June.  My main reason was because I was battling insomnia and figured I might as well do something with my time through the night.  I applied at one place, a convenience store.  I got an email immediately and was amazed at what God was unfolding in front of me.  My intention was to only work maybe 20 hours a week to bring in a little extra pocket-money.  Yet, what God placed in front of me was a full-time job WITH benefits.  About 2 days after I started my job, Tevis was let go from his.  His company had cut all hours from all the seasonal employees.  God and His timing…and somehow we end up doubting again and again.

I was a nervous wreck about starting work again.  It would be the first time in about 14 years.  Granted I had worked in this field before but things had changed over that time.  So, into the workforce I went.  I can’t tell you how much pain I have been  in with my knees, but on I continue with the dream of getting our house purchased.  To qualify for a mortgage, we have to have a full-time job and with both of us  (Tevis found a new job about 2 weeks later) having one, it helps tremendously.  It is also going to create extra income to be able to send Destiny to study abroad in South Korea hopefully next year or the year after, if all goes well.

This has also strengthened my resolve about wives working outside the home.  For us to be able to complete all that it is we are to do scripturaly for our families, it is really hard to work outside the home.  I’m meaning a 40 hour a week job PLUS having to do all that is required of us at home.  I’m not just talking about chores either, but about the emotional aspect.  I strongly believe that this is one of the reason for such high divorce rates.  I know, I know.  I’m probably stepping on some toes.

I’m working the graveyard shift, so needless to say it is extra draining since I have to try to sleep during the day (which is nearly impossible).  I have neighbors who think they have to mow just about every other day.  I have also managed to put on about 25 pounds since I am so drained we end up eating out the majority of the time.  I swear my severe anemia has a HUGE part to play in this.  Needless to say, I’m very concerned about the neglect it is causing of my calling as a wife and mother not to mention my role as a pastor’s wife and being able serve the Body.  I require twice as much sleep as I would if I was sleeping at night.  It’s crazy.

The plus side though is that God has used this time at work to bring people into my life.  I can’t tell you the countless times that I have had people come in and just spill their hearts out about things and how God has been able to use me in those moments to just uplift and encourage them.  Most importantly to be able to pray with them.  I especially love it when they make the comment, “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.”  Well, I sure can.  It’s all God!  I joke that I feel like a bartender at times.  We get our crazies in the store but we also get the regulars who I have come to love.  They are the ones who I know, if they are in the store and one of the crazies come in and start something, they’ve got my back.  I feel safe when they are in.  Not to mention my cop friend who comes in to chat and check on me.

Sometimes sacrifices have to be made though.  Right now, that sacrifice is my time with my family.  It’s only for a season.  A very short one I hope.  But, I love getting to be able to tell my kids about what God did the night before.  I hope that they understand.  Hunter still has a few issues with me working.  It’s a change in the norm for him.  Granted I’ve been doing it since June but he likes his consistency and occasionally my schedule changes and it throws him for a loop.  I know that Tevis doesn’t like me working.  He has his reasons and no they aren’t chauvinistic ones.  It shows me how much he loves me.

This is just a stepping stone.  God will use this in some way.  Might not be for me.  It’s more than likely for someone else’s benefit that I will never know about.  If that is the case, so be it.  Our work isn’t always about what we do inside the church walls but what we do outside of them.  Most of the time, that is where lives are touched the most.  So, whose life are you touching?  =)  Be Blessed!


The Potter & His Clay

Six years ago today, we had a beautiful little girl.  We named her Faith Elizabeth.  Faith because that is what it took and was going to take to walk the path that God was taking us on.  Elizabeth because we believed and prayed for that child.  Our Valentine’s Day will be forever changed because that is the day that we were induced to have a child that we knew God had taken back home.  Thankfully, labor took long enough so she was born on the 15th.

I had to have a blood transfusion before they would induce me because my overall blood volume in my body was low.  The day they put me in the hospital to have her, it so happened that it was a full moon, so everybody in Louisville was going into labor.  It was interesting to have a doctor come in and tell you that you had to wait to have your child because they had to take the women who had “viable” babies first.  I totally understood that, but it was still unsettling.

A week after Faith was born, I had to go back for a checkup.  This was one of the hardest things I had to do.  Needless to say, there were A LOT of women in for their checkup.  I sat there and listened to some young (late teens) mothers complain about how they had to get up every 3 hours to feed their babies and how tired they were and on and on.  I so badly wanted to point out to them how selfish they were being and how they should be grateful that their child was even alive!  And how having to feed every 3 hours is nothing.  Try doing it every 45 minutes with a premie!  (Hunter was a premie and would eat that way because it wore him out so quickly.  Can you tell I was angry???)  I finally got called back to my room and my doctor had been paged for a delivery so I had to wait.  Down the hall they had a mother having a Fetal Stress Test done, so for an hour I got to sit and listen to a baby’s heartbeat.  I left the doctor’s office broken and hurt.  I went and bought my first pack of cigarettes in 5 years.  In my mind, at that moment, it was either smoking or drinking.  So, I chose the lesser of the two evils, so to speak.

Over the next few months, I grew more and more bitter the more I thought about it and the things that I witnessed around me with new mothers.  I couldn’t understand WHY God would allow drug addicts, young teens, irresponsible people (the list goes on and on) to have babies.  I can honestly say that I was so angry at God that I hated Him.  I was mad at myself and Tevis.  Why was I having to go through this?  What good could possibly come from this?  I was at a pivotal point in my life where I had to make some decisions about the direction I was going to go.

It all came down to pottery.  Potters have to do a lot of work to the clay to make it into what they are trying to shape.  Pottery is made by forming a clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln which removes all the water from the clay, which induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing their strength and hardening and setting their shape.  Prior to some shaping processes, clay must be prepared. Kneading helps to ensure an even moisture content throughout the body. Air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed. This is called de-airing and can be accomplished by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can also help produce an even moisture content. Once a clay body has been kneaded and de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After shaping it is dried and then fired. (Wikipedia)  

I was (am) a very bull-headed person.  I don’t like being moved from my comfort zone.  I like to be in control of things.  It gives me security.  What I learned through Faith’s death was I needed to be refined.  And for stubborn pieces of clay, they take some extra work.  Extra HARD work, because they are difficult.  They have to be broken down to be able to build back up.  Once they are finally workable and are shaped, the piece is then fired at temperatures between 1800 – 2500 *F.  That’s hot!  The product that you get in the end is one of treasure and durability.  But it has to go through the entire process to get that way.

I can now say that I am thankful for the trial that we got to walk through with her death.  The bitterness has subsided and I’m no longer angry at God.  I still have those nagging questions as to why us but I understand a little better for what purpose.  I have had the opportunity to talk with other women who have just lost or are currently walking through that same hurricane.  He gives us each our own storm so we can bring hope to others going through the same thing.  Though I am struggling this year with it, I know the good that can come of it.  I just have to let the process continue and trust that in the end, the piece of pottery I will become will be something worth treasuring.  The storms come and the storms go but God’s loving hand is always their even though we may not feel it at that moment.  He’s crying when we cry, laughing when we laugh and He’s still always there, cheering us on.  “Take another step my child.  Trust me.  Take another step.”  So, on I walk.  Praising Him through each storm He sends.  =)  Be Blessed!

A Beautiful Choir of Autism

I came across this the other night and it brought tears to my eyes.  Yes, I understand that they are on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, but too often we do not give these kiddos a chance to develop the giftings that God blessed them with.  These kids HAVE a purpose just like everybody else.  God blessed them (yes I said blessed) with these different abilities.  I am thankful that to see someone taking the time to develop these children’s gifts.  I love the quote at the end of the video.  “The only limits to what they can do are the ones we put on them.”  So true and that can even go for others as well.  Let’s not limit these children.  Let’s help them soar!  How amazing!