Saturday, September 24, 2016

Grace Still Covers Me

A dear friend of mine texted me this week and told me to listen to this new song by Casting Crowns - who I adore!!!!  This is just a great song!!!  I am posting the lyrics because they are awesome and I cannot find a link to the video yet, but everyone needs to download this song!  My favorite line in the song is

"I hid from you haunted by my failure, and found a God whose grace still covers me."

"God Of All My Days"
I came to You with my heart in pieces
And found the God with healing in His hands
I turned to You, put everything behind me
And found the God who makes all things new
I looked to You, drowning in my questions
And found the God who holds all wisdom
And I trusted You and stepped out on the ocean
You caught my hand among the waves
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days
Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

                        I ran from You, I wandered in the shadows
And found a God who relentlessly pursues
I hid from You, haunted by my failure
And found the God whose grace still covers me
I fell on You when I was at my weakest
And found the God, the lifter of my head
And I’ve worshiped You
And felt You right beside me
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days


In my worry, God You are my stillness
In my searching, God You are my answers
In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
In my weakness, God You are my power
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Living Loved

I started my very first Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study this morning.  I was very excited about this study because it is based on the new book by one of my favorite authors - Lysa Terkeurst.  The Bible study is about living loved when you feel left out, lonely, and less than.  The book is Uninvited.  I have had the book for awhile but have hesitated getting started with reading it because I knew that it would hit hard and somewhere very deep.  I don't want that to sound like a "oh, poor pitiful me" statement because I am not wanting anyone to feel sorry for me.  I don't often feel uninvited or left out but it is the feeling loved part that I struggle with.  I have really really been battling this for about 2 years or so and even more so in the past year.

This morning, we watched a couple of videos and had our first memory verse.  The memory verse was Colossians 3:12.  I am going to give it to you from the NLT because I really like the part that says "people he loves."  

"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

I am convinced that Lysa and I are the same person...or at the very least, we would be BFF if we knew each other in real life!!!!  Something she said today resonated with me and is SPOT ON with what I have been feeling.  

"I want to live from a place where an off kilter interaction with other people is not a downward spiral of wonky feelings but stable love instead." ~Lysa Terkeurst


I mean there are days when someone can say or do one thing.  One response that was not in line with my expectation and I am spent!  What in the world?!  So many days I feel like I am the only one in the world that feels this way, and the fact that someone put this on paper is so refreshing and encouraging to me.  I don't feel like such a freak!  ;)  Do I like it any better?  Nope, but I know that I am not alone.  

She went on to talk about the guilt associated with feeling anything but thankful for all of the blessings in her life when others around her have it so much worse (raises hand), but describes it as an "undercurrent of disappointments that ebbed and flowed" when she is truly honest about her feelings.  Then....what do I do?  I perform.  I start pouring out love and service with the hope that someone will give me what I am longing for.  

"Performance based endeavors are not the answer for living loved.  Living loved is sourced in your quiet, daily surrender to the One Who made you."

As I was looking back over these notes and thinking about these words, it kind of frustrated me.  I got frustrated at myself.  I mean, why is it so hard to just live loved because I am?  The Bible tells me that I am loved by God, I have been taught that, I am closer to God now than ever before, I am His princess, I am redeemed, forgiven, set free, I AM LOVED!  Why in THE WORLD is that so hard to just believe and LIVE??!!  Pick it up, take it with me, drink it, eat it, live it, and BELIEVE it?!  I do not have an answer for that, but regardless, it makes me cry.  A lot....from the deepest part of my heart.  I cry.  Why oh why do I look for love in all the wrong places?  Not bad places but not God places.  HE is the only One that can fill that void.  It is not my friends' job to come to my rescue.  When I don't get x number of likes on a Facebook post or Instagram picture, my world should not come crashing down.  When I text, "I love you" and I don't get that in return, my heart should not shatter.  I should live LOVED.  BECAUSE I AM.  Those people that I so desperately long to be loved by....they actually DO love me, but even more important than that....GOD LOVES ME and THAT is Who I should seek to please.  

Wanting to be loved by the very One that created me should be my greatest desire.

All I know is that He is not done with me.......pressing on.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

In the Silence

What do you do when your husband takes your kids, all of them, to Arkansas for a week and you are left by yourself?  You do all of the things that you can't do when the kids are home, right?  You plan stuff every night.  You stay up super late and eat ice cream for dinner.  And watch movies that children's eyes can't see.  You have friends over and go to the movies, shop, and get pedicures.  That all sounds fun but I actually did not do ANY of that.  None of it.  

At the end of the previous week, I posted about how my week was...well, less than what I wanted it to be.  And, I am not going to take that back, but it was actually a blessing in disguise.  At the end of that post, I said, "God is so good." And, you know what?  He is!  I wasn't trying to convince myself that He is good.  I believed it because I knew that, even in the midst of a crummy week, He had something in store for me that I could not see at that moment.  And, boy, was I right!  

I remember thinking as my family was about to drive away for 7 days, that I was feeling a bit anxious because I did not have one single solitary thing planned for my week.  The irony of it is that I did not even know when I was going to return to work at that point....long story.  My family was leaving and I had a chance to do all of the things that wanted to do and nothing was on the agenda.  I remember going to my bedroom and laying down on the bed and reflecting on the week that had just unfolded and I began to cry.  The next thing I remember was waking up a couple of hours later.  I was tired.  God said, "Rest."  And that would be my theme for the remainder of the week....

As I woke up Monday morning, I set out for my week, unsure of what it would look like.  That day, I had a sweet time just visiting with one of my favorite people.  We talked about important things, shared everyday happenings in our lives, and just shared what God had us share.  One of the highlights of my week.  Tuesday, I went back to work and the evening was spent eating take out in my PJs and watching the Rangers beat the As from my living room. Tuesday a neat thing happened that I am convinced God orchestrated.  I sat and visited with a friend that I have not really talked to in awhile.  She has been sick with a rare illness that causes issues with balance and coordination.  One of the things she said really stuck with me and I think it will for a long time.  I noticed that she is different in the way that she deals with things.  I said, "You are so calm."  Her response was, "You know, you go to bed one night with all of these plans, thinking that you will just wake up tomorrow and everything will be the same as it was when you went to bed.  Then something happens, and your world changes.  Suddenly, the things that you thought were important, they aren't quite as important as you thought they were.  You learn that you can only do what you can do, and the rest, you just let it go.  God told me to be still and I did not listen.  Now, I am listening."  Wow.  I mean.  Wow......Wednesday, work then Bible study and catching up with an old (young) friend.  It was incredibly spur of the moment, simple, catching up.  Thursday, I went to counseling, then went shopping for a baby shower that I helped with yesterday and then home.  Friday night, I was able to go to the Ranger game with the Russell family and it was one of the funnest things I have done in a long time!  I had a really good time!  They are one of my favorite families.  Just genuinely good people.  Love them so much!  And, the Rangers won!!!!!  My family came back last night and I got to love on my two youngest girls.  My best friend is back and my girls are already arguing again.  All {almost - Rachel will be home Friday} is right with the world!!  

I walked into my house one night this week and I just stood there and listened....there was not one sound.  It was silent.  All I could do was say, "God is so so good."  God is doing such a refining work in my life right now and I do not understand it all.  He is speaking and I am listening.  I just want to hear Him clearly.  As I got still and in the midst of activity around me this weekend, I began reflecting in my heart all of the things that God has done in my life, and He started speaking to me.   It is an incredible thing when we know what we are supposed to be doing.  When God opens and closes doors and we obey, He will equip us in the areas He has called us to. 

May I always be listening.  When God gives me silence, I hope I always stop and listen.  When I am anxious because I don't have any plans, may I recognize that He will give me divine appointments with golden nuggets of wisdom from people that will impact my life forever.  When He tells me to be still, I pray that I will listen and that I will know that tomorrow could very possibly look different than today did and my plans are not God's.  He is FOR me and wants my best.  

You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.  Colossians 3:12,16

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What If!?

I feel like I spend my life asking the question "What if?"

The fear of the unknown seems to be something that I struggle with more than I care to admit but why?  Control.  That is what I have decided that it all boils down to.  I want to be able to control every situation and know the outcome.   What if I knew the outcome before taking the action?  Would I make a different choice?  Perhaps. Maybe not.  Who knows.  The thing is....I would be able to control what happens.  

I remember back to 2010 when I had surrendered and repented of a past sin and knew that I had to go and confess this sin to someone very close to me.  The days leading up to meeting with her were nearly excruciating.  I knew that I was doing the right thing by getting my heart right with God and not allowing satan to have the stronghold over this area of my life any longer, but I was so afraid of what this might do this relationship.  What I distinctly remember in the days and weeks leading up to the meeting with my friend was a prayer that I said anytime I became anxious.  I prayed over and over again, "Lord, whatever the outcome, please let me be okay. Please protect my heart, whatever happens."  You see, I had no idea what was going to happen and I had no control over the situation.  My biggest fear was that she would never speak to me again.  That she would decide that she did not love me anymore and that she would simply "write me out" of her life.  What I did know for sure was that I HAD to follow what Christ was asking me to do.  That was non-negotiable so all I could do each time I thought about it and satan placed that fear in my heart was pray that whatever the outcome, that God would allow my heart to be at peace.  During my drive to Canton that day to meet Christi, I just remember a peace like I cannot explain.  Sure, I was nervous, but I was okay.  The end result is that our relationship today is better than ever.  My point, though, is that what God was asking me to do was far better than anything that I was fearful of.  My need to be in control of a situation was not the important part, because God was telling me that He was going to take care of it and all I needed to do was be obedient.

I tell that story because so many times today I get caught up in the "what ifs."  What if someone gets mad at me.  What if I fail at this or that?  What if I don't say yes?  What if the party doesn't turn out exactly like I planned it?  What if my picture doesn't get 45 "likes" on Facebook?  What if my words are not received well when they were well intentioned?  What if, what if, what if?  The fact is that none of can excel or be perfect or get rave reviews about everything every time!  Life is not comprised of warm fuzzy feelings every second of the day.  We will fail.  We will have disappointments.  People will fail us.  Our friends likely are going to get mad at us.  We are going to argue with our spouses.  We are going to get complaints at work.  Our children are going to say we are not their best friends.  The good news is that if our friends are our TRUE friends, they still love us and our friendships will not only recover but be stronger.  Our marriages will not only survive but we will grow closer together.  We will learn from our mistakes and grow.  Our children will realize that we want the best for them.  And the best thing about all of this is that we have a God that is bigger than it all who loves us bigger and more than all of it!  He loves us more than we can imagine and nothing we can do can make Him love us more or make Him love us any less!  What a wonderful promise.  That is something that we cannot control but there is also no conditional "what if" attached to it!

What I want is to be able to take all of these things and say, when my friend doesn't respond the way I expect her to during a conversation, "Lord, please help me to be okay, whatever the outcome."  When I get overwhelmed at work or receive a complaint, I want to be able to say, "Lord, please guard my heart and let me be okay, whatever the outcome."  I know that this may sound a little overly dramatic to most of you, but if you know me at all, you know how sensitive I am.  I get my feelings hurt very easily and in the course of a day, I can feel like my world if crumbling due to 4 or 5 of these things all happening within a few hours.  I want to be able to have peace in my heart knowing that I am following God's plan and doing what He would have for me.  If I am not following God's plan, I pray that He show me that and how I can change that to line up with His desires for me, then whatever the outcome is, that I would be at peace with that outcome.  

I want to have peace in my life and make decisions based on hearing from God, not fear of what others will think.  It is so important to make decisions with a pure heart and right motivation.

"The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you."  Psalm 32:8

Friday, July 22, 2016

What I Have Learned This Week

What I have learned this week is a lot of things that I likely already knew but I was reminded of from real life circumstances. I learned that life is hard. I learned that letting go of things can be uncomfortable and tricky but necessary. I learned that when your figurative plate is full, you have a tendency to drop it and break it, shattering everything on it in the floor. I was reminded that those that love you the most can hurt you the most. I learned that the closer you get to God, the more satan attacks where you are most vulnerable. I've learned that just when you think you have passed through the valley and are on the upward swing, another dark cloud can come. Perception is key and pride can destroy almost anything. People feel loved and give love in different ways and it is important to know the difference. I've learned....well, I've admitted that social media is a major source of anxiety for me. I've learned that I CAN live without social media. When things were really tough at times, I ran to Jesus instead of my friends. That's the right thing to do. Jesus wants me to run to him. My friends wish I did less running to them. That's what I learned this week. I learned that sometimes I get too sensitive. That drives people away. It's a miracle I still have any friends. I learned that I am loud and obnoxious...a friend told me that today. I learned that sometimes it feels good to sit in the closet floor and cry...a lot. Sometimes it feels good to yell...really loud. And I learned that I am much more of an introvert than I once realized.

Above all, I learned that God is big. He's so so so GOOD!! He is working in my heart, in my soul, in my mind, through my sorrows, through my heartaches, despite my flaws, and He LOVES me! He wants me to trust Him. Fully, completely, above anyone and anything trust and depend on Him! He alone can fill and satisfy.

It's been an incredibly hard week but experiencing the amazing work of Christ...worth it. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trust or Faith?

The definition of trust is: belief that someone or something is good, honest, reliable, and effective. It is the assured reliance on the characterabilitystrength, or truth of someone or something. It can also be defined as one in which confidence is placed. 

Faith is a strong belief or trust in someone or something. The dictionary defines faith as complete trust. The Bible defines faith as the "confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1) 

Are these two things the same? Is one dependent on the other? That question may be for someone a tad smarter than me but I will tell you what I do know.

I know that trust does not come easy for me. I know that hurt has been a real part of my life. I know that I don't like it. I know that I have walls. Tall ones. I know that I have a tendency to be cold towards people and not even realize it...especially if I have even an inkling that I will be hurt. I know that even today...this very day, that satan has told me that I am not worthy of anyone's love and when others tell me they love me it is out of pity and obligation. Maybe it is. Who knows for sure. 

I also know that I have been protected from some ugly stuff in my life with a protection that is quite unexplainable. I was delivered from sin and convicted from a place so deep within that there is only one possible explanation. I know that tiny life was formed from nothing and was weaved and formed inside my body more than once. The product of those miracles now walk around my house and cause me more anxiety than I will ever experience again. Only one being can create that. 

My trust and my faith are in a God that created me in His image. He chose me and He loves me. He spoke life into my soul and He redeemed me from the very mess I created for myself. By faith I chose to believe that He lived, He died, He was buried, He was resurrected, He still loves today, and one day, He is coming back for me! 

My days have been very very hard lately. I cannot explain to you why, because honestly, I am not really sure. My emotions are all over the place. I'm closer to God than I have ever been and the devil is utterly aware of that. He knows my insecurities. He knows I'm sensitive. He knows I get my feelings hurt easily and he uses what he can to attack me. A lot of days, he ends up getting a good hold of me. Does he win? No! Because of whose I am! 

Do I trust fully in God? I'm trying. I feel like it's a process. I read something recently that asked if we trust in God like our life depended on it. Like a newborn baby trusts his mom. For everything. I can't say that I'm there...but I'm trying.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Somedays You Just.....

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose...that's how the saying goes, right? I think it is safe to say that someDAYS we win and someDAYS we lose...especially as parents. Y'all, if you are a parent you totally understand where I am today, I guarantee it. 

As most of you know, I have three girls - ages 9, 7, and 14...oops, I mean 4. My girls are such a treasure to me. God's grace is not lost on me, especially when I look in the face of my beautiful children. But being a mom is the hardest thing I have ever done. Ever. I feel ill equipped, unworthy, frustrated, and just downright defeated sometimes. How can someone so small have so much power over you?! 

The reason why we make ourselves crazy where our kids are concerned is because we want them to grow up and be decent, functioning people in society. I would love for my kids to become something productive one day...helping others and living as God would have them. It's my greatest desire to see my children come to the Lord and two have already. More than that, though, I want to be able to witness them living for Him, telling others about Him, and wanting Him to be the center of their lives. That's what I want more than anything. And let's face it, I would rather not know that they are sitting on a therapist's couch telling her what a horrible parent I was. It would break my heart for them to go to others for motherly advice, wisdom, and love because they didn't feel like they got it from me. was not a good parenting day. I feel like, somehow I failed my kids but I can't quite put my finger on how. The evidence? They were TERRIBLE!!!! I have not seen Hannah act and talk like that probably ever! Even Rachel ended the day in tears sorry for how she acted today. Lauren is going through a phase right now but was worse than usual today. It makes me sad. Yes, they are children and they will have days like this, but somehow I think I could have done better. Did they need more from me? Probably. Maybe they will forget today. I'd be okay with that.

My prayer is that God will help me love these kids He has entrusted to me like He does. They need specific things at specific times. I pray that He leads me to help shepherd their hearts and shape their minds to be more like Him. In the process, we can all grow closer to the Lord. 

His mercies are new every morning!  Praise the Lord! 

Friday, July 15, 2016


Even on the crummiest of days, God is still good!! 

He gives us people in our life to remind us that He loves us! 

Friends help us remember to laugh....even when all we want to do is cry. 

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

God has blessed me far beyond what I deserve. Yes, today had some rough moments that reminded me that people are not always nice and that life is not always easy, but God is ALWAYS good!! I am so grateful for the friends He has given me. 💜💜 I love them dearly and I will NEVER take them for granted. Never. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

What If....I am Fearful?

Flying?  Nah. I like it.  It doesn't bother me.  Actually, it is even a little bit thrilling.  I mean, the take off...sometimes that can really be a big rush!  Roller coasters.  The anticipation might turn my stomach but it isn't scary.  It is exciting!  I love the excitement of the twists and turns.  Bees.  Now, my husband, he has a fear of bees.  Well, any flying, stinging insect, really.  Not me.  Just walk past them, and for the most part, they won't bother you.  If they sting you, it...well, stings, and then it goes away.  

fearan unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  

I am afraid of spiders.  They are sneaky and creepy crawly.  I feel like they are just kind of out to get me.  Storms!  I am TERRIFIED of storms.  Fearful does not even begin to describe how I get during a bad storm, especially when tornadoes and sirens are involved.  I am scared of the dark, of huge giant roaches (I call them water bugs), of loud yelling, and any kind of fighting (adults) will likely cause me to get in a fetal position. 

I am afraid of losing all of my friends and feeling alone.  I am afraid of trusting people.  I am afraid of everyone that I love leaving me.  I am afraid of making people mad and of messing up.  I am afraid of not being fixable.  

Those are the things that I lay awake at night thinking about.  What if I said something today that caused that person to hate me forever? Will they ever forgive me?  Am I even worthy of to be forgiven by them?  I didn't deserve their friendship anyway.  I might as well just forget they ever knew me.  But then, they might tell someone else what I did and then that person will hate me too.  

Yes.  It is messed up thinking and it is insecure garbage but vulnerability nailed to the wall, this is me.  It is exhausting.  It is not from God and likely 98% of the time, my friends DO NOT think or do this!!!!  (I am guessing, as most of the time, I keep all of this nonsense to myself for FEAR that if they knew I was thinking all of that they would find me to be "too much" and drop me like a hot potato)!  

I have always said that I am not a fearful person but I am.  I am fearful of many things.  I think we all have some fears.  What do we do with our fear?  And what is it that we fear most?  Do we fear trusting God?  I read one time a quote that said, "When we don't trust God, we are saying that we think we can handle our problems better than He can."  

Three different times yesterday I had three different people tell me that "perfect love casts out fear."  That comes from the book of 1 John in the New Testament.  I was fearful of something yesterday that I shared with exactly two people, but for some reason, God laid me on a third person's heart and that verse was perfect timing from all three of these precious friends.  

It is interesting because until yesterday, I would tell you that I am not a fearful person.  I don't panic much.  I am not a helicopter mom to my kids and I am not in constant fear and worry about what might happen to them, but I worry about other things.  Some may say silly things...and perhaps they are.  The second part of that same verse in 1 John says, "the one who fears has not reached perfection in love."  I have not reached anything...even in love.  

So, what if....I am fearful?  God has an answer.  The verse right before the one above says, "As we live in God, our love grows more perfect (or complete)."  No, I have not reached perfection in love, but as I continue to live and grow in God's goodness, my love will grow more perfect....not because of anything I have done, but because of God alone.  For God's love casts out fear!  

Starting to read this book this week by Angie Smith.

 I'll let you know what I think!  

PS:  Anyone who would like to join me in some type of summer reading club - and NO I have no idea what that looks like - let me know!! I love to read and would love to exchange books and talk about the books we read.

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

1 John 4:17-18

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Am Saying, "Yes"

Sometimes when it is almost super late-30, your FitBit is screaming at you regarding the fact that you have registered nearly 16,000 steps, and your alarm went off at 4:00 am summoning you to work out, the logical thing to do would be to go to bed.  Yes, that is what seems like the smart thing to do, but sometimes God lays a message on your heart that you feel like you need to share. **Besides, I was waiting up to see my friend, Candace, AKA ChewbaccaMaskMama, on The Late Late Show!!!  Is she not hilarious?!  So happy for her.**

I cannot express how incredible the past few months have been for me.  There have been days that were so incredibly painful that I did not want to get out of bed, much less talk to anyone, but persevere I did.  No, nothing major has happened but I have struggled with emotional days that I cannot explain.  What keeps me going?  Joy that only comes from Jesus Christ.  My daily walk with God, my quiet time that speaks to my heart and mind more than I can explain, and my beautiful friends that pray with and for me.  

I have never been an incredibly devoted Bible studier or prayerful person.  There have been brief periods of time where I would read the Bible for a few weeks but nothing incredibly consistent.  I am known to my close friends as one who does not finish Bible studies.  I have traditionally been one of those people, yes, those people that I get really irritated with that say they are praying but really aren't.  It's a good "Sunday school" answer.  That isn't exactly fair.  I mean, I always have good intentions but the follow through was where I lacked.  I have changed.  God has changed me.  

I shared on my blog recently that in the early fall last year, God rocked my world, asked me to put my big girl panties on, and really deal with grown up stuff.  While it was (and still is) painful, I will be forever grateful for what God is doing in those situations and in my life, personally.  As I type this, I get tearful, because I cannot grasp how wonderful He truly is.  He changed me.  

Beginning the first of this year, I made a commitment to read my Bible every day.  I knew it was something that would be hard for me because of my schedule and how busy I was, but I also knew that it HAD to be a priority.  I found a blogger mom who posted calendars with a verse on each day.  The goal is to write the Scripture verse and then journal about.  I did this for about 3 months every day.  Then, I started a Bible study, then another and my heart and mind changed into something different.  I no longer felt the need to read my Bible daily, I wanted to.  I cannot wait to find out each day what God is going to teach me through is Word and by talking directly to Him about my desires, wants, needs, praises, requests, thankfulness, etc.  

I no longer do the daily calendar verses because I am doing a study in Hebrews as well as a study with our women's ministry in 1 Peter.  We finished up the last women's ministry Bible study and took a 2-week break.  I did not want to take a break and the reason was two-fold.  I wanted to keep reading God's Word, and I knew that on my own, I might not be as faithful as I needed to be at that time.  So, I downloaded the Hebrews study and started it on my own with the intention of stopping when we started the 1 Peter study.  In those two weeks, I had already gotten to about the 3rd week in Hebrews and I could not stop.  I was LOVING it!!!  So now, I am one week away from finishing Hebrews - a 12-week study and two weeks away from finished 1 Peter - a 7-week study.  

I plan to blog about what God has taught me through these studies - well, a glimpse anyway, but for today, I am moved to discuss what I have learned the last few days.  In short, I have realized that I can trust God with my everything.  I know, truly know, that God is faithful.  I know that, if I believe God is who He says He is, then I have to put my "yes" on the table in obedience.  I know that He deserves my whole self as an act of spiritual worship, as that is the only thing that is acceptable to Him.  

When I got to Hebrews 11, I knew the passage pretty well.  The interesting thing is that when I started actually reading it, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I remember just sitting in my car in the parking garage before work sobbing after coming to the realization that all of these people I was reading about were faithful, yes, but they were broken.  They were sinful.  They were not perfect but GOD USED THEM!!!!  Not one of them was worthy of what God did in their lives but He did it anyway.  Why?  Because He is merciful and He is full of grace.  This was huge for me coming off of the recent revelation that God had given me several weeks back - that I am to seek His approval alone, not anyone else's.  I am not perfect but God can use me.  I have never felt good enough.  I measure myself against friends and peers.  I compare myself to those that I find, in my small mind, to be worthy of whatever it is I am seeking at the moment.  In the car, that morning, I realized that I am just as worthy as those "greats" that I have been reading about all of my life - Abraham, Noah, Sarah, David, Rahab.  God loves me just as much as He loved them and I can be used.  That morning, I said "yes."  I told God, "Whatever it is, even if that means going to another country to proclaim your truth, I will do it."  

Sunday morning, my Bible study included the verses, "Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.  For our God is a devouring fire."  Hebrews 12:28-29.  I wrote that morning, "We should have a heart of worship that is acceptable to Him."  Later, that day during the sermon at church, Bro. Tommy preached from Malachi 1:6-14.  The jest of it was that Israel was bringing to God their leftovers.  They were honoring others and there was no honor left for God which left him asking, "Where is my honor?"  This automatically made me think about the verse I had read earlier that morning.  "Let us worship Him with holy fear and awe."  The Israelites were trying to get away with the least they could in terms of worship towards God.  That is quite the opposite of what He has commanded us.  My favorites verses of Scripture are from Romans 12:1-2 - "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your spiritual act of worship."  He wants us - ALL of us - our everything.  That is our sacrifice, not what everyone did not get first.  He wants us - that is acceptable to Him.  

Today, God continued to teach me more on this topic.  I always feel like that if God is repeating something to me that it is either because I did not get it the first time or He really wants me to know what He is speaking to me.  Like, He really wants me to not only get it, but LIVE it!  I finished another week in Hebrews and today I listened to the podcast by Jen Wilkin, like I do every week.  She said SO MUCH good stuff this morning, I have two full pages of notes, but on this topic specifically, she said, 

What is acceptable worship?  Acceptable worship is offered out of gratitude.  The joy of our salvation should drive us to right worship of our Savior.  We should worship with awe and reverence which gives recognition of who God is.  Romans 12:1 says to present your bodies as living sacrifices - that is what is good and acceptable - a reasonable act of worship.  We are to lay our lives down daily, setting aside our pleasures, and look toward the finish line.  We need to take inventory of those things that we place our daily comfort in, think about what things are fleeing, and where I am so consumed with myself that I miss others' needs.  The Father that disciplines me is infinitely good and infinitely able, and He will bring me to the Kingdom that is unshakeable.  

Over and over again, God has spoken to my heart about this idea of worship.  I can trust Him.  He is faithful.  I have such a strong desire to walk with Him daily and seek His face that I cannot wait to worship Him.  

There are few things in my life right now where I feel God specifically speaking to me.  One is about my career and one is about my place in ministry.  Where those two come together and where those separate is what I am still seeking His face about.  I am incredibly happy at my job, but is it where God would have me?  I want so bad to devote more time to ministry but what does that look like?  Will you pray with me that God reveals these things more clearly to me in the coming days, months, and years?  

I am not perfect but God can and WILL use me...if I allow Him to.  I want nothing more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Is It Worth It?

Sticky fingers, digging in the dirt and giggling about the things of the day, two little curly headed girls run around at recess. It wasn't long ago that they begged their mom to buy matching outfits and the heart necklaces that have the jagged edges with "Best Friends" etched in them, one for each to wear. That way the whole world, well, their whole world, would know that they belong to each other. She is the other's "person." Who knew a tiny girl needed a person? What are the odds that those two darlings will remain friends for a lifetime? Is the investment at such an early age worth it?

Whispers of true love. Who is taking who to the prom? Notes being passed in the halls, or these days it is more likely texts exchanged. The excitement fills a young girl's heart as she shares her deepest secrets to her best friends. The teenage years, such an awkward time and a time when friendships are so very important. Endless sleepovers, Friday night football games, movies, school dances, multiple things done with best friends that everyone regrets as adults....both cherished and wished they could forget. Fights, arguments, girl drama, horrible heartbreaks, and all of the yuck that comes from the teenage years, was it all worth it? Some of those friendships are still intact but many of them are gone...were they worth it? 

Hearts fluttering, true love has been found! Who is the first one to call? The best friend of course! "I'm getting married!!!" Bridesmaids are chosen, perfect dress fits like a glove, you walk down the aisle and your friends then become a secondary thing as your best friend is now this man (what???) that you will spend the rest of your life with!! When did everything change??  All of a sudden the heart is divided. There is this person that no one could love more, who will now see you at the very best and worst of times...always, and the person who just stood there and straightened the train of that incredibly over-priced dress that will never be worn again....and gave the amazingly heart-warming speech at the rehearsal dinner because you haven't cried enough. Two people that are loved.  Incredibly loved in two very different ways. One that will remain in your life forever and one that, honestly, may not. I had five bridesmaids in my wedding. Three I never talk to. Two, I talk to occasionally, and that includes my matron of honor. She was my very best friend. I stood beside her a month before as her maid of honor. Was it worth it?

Positive. Of course the first person you tell is your husband but then? Of course, your best friend!!!! A baby?? How do you take care of a tiny human? Who knows until it actually gets here. The friends that share these days are priceless. Doing life with friends in these precious times are quite possibly the ones that I count the most least at this point in my life. Parenting is hard. Those sleepless newborn nights are painful and when no one else understands, that girlfriend certainly does. Pick up the phone and cry and she just knows. She knows because she was just there the day before and you helped her. You talk everyday about everything and nothing all at the same time. Her baby gets sick and you drop everything to go running to help. Births, illnesses, baby showers, baby dedications, field trips, things no one else could possibly understand...she is your person. And this friend, you argue but it's deep rooted hard arguments that require out-of-town trips to resolve and in the end you are closer because of it. Then, one day, you get the call that she wants to meet you for lunch but it isn't the happy call. Something is different because you know her. Something is different and not good different. Her husband is in the ministry and everything your gut told you is true...they are being called away. Your heart is broken and your friendship will never be the same. Was it worth it?

Life is different. While before friends were many and life was shared with lots of people, it is becoming evident that God is changing circumstances. In a nutshell, being a grownup has proven to be a little more difficult than you want it to be. True friends are few and far between. Trust has been put to the test and failed. Hearts have been shattered many times over and walls have been built. God has placed some incredible people in the path to be friends but they are not plentiful. Coffee shops, late nights, hospital waiting rooms, women's Bible studies, and life's most difficult circumstances are where these friends have been present. God has proven himself faithful yet again but it just looks a little different. There are fun times too like painting parties, weekend trips, vacations to magical kingdoms, and lots of laughter but life is just different these days. It is still filled with drama, heartache, and pain but some of the most precious times have been spent talking about what God is doing, how He is moving, what we are learning through the trials, life stories through things like adoptions, marriage struggles, and at the end, how we are better because of it all. I have never loved and cherished my friends like I do in my life right at this this season. The thing could change in an instant. People move, tragedies happen, and change is inevitable. Is it worth it?

Is it worth it? Was it worth it? The simple answer is yes. Yes, it was, it is, and it always will be. In each stage of life as portrayed in this post, life throws us challenges and beauty. Why walk it alone? God gives us people for a season and in each season of my life, I can pinpoint people who have been a special part of it. Some of those people I still talk to, some I don't. In the end, I think that it is important to recognize that we are shaped by the experiences that we have and part of that is the people we choose to let in our lives. Yes. I have been hurt and I have caused hurt. I have single-handedly caused friendships to end and I hate it but I have also learned from it. Today, I have some of the best friends that I have ever had in my entire life. Ladies that I can pick up the phone and call for prayer, to cry, to pick up my kids in a crunch, or just to vent to and they are there. I would do the same for them. Tomorrow if that all changed, I would be heartbroken but it would still be worth it. It is worth it!

"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17

Saturday, April 23, 2016

No Rhythm, No Worries? No Problem!

About two months ago, I decided that I wanted to go see Carrie Underwood in concert.  I checked her tour schedule and my friends calendars to see if a girls' weekend was possible.  One of the girls was already busy that weekend :( but the other three of us decided to go!  At that time, the closest venue to Dallas that Carrie was to appear was going to be Bossier City, LA.  Of course, since that time, she has added other cities, guessed it, DALLAS!  O'WELL....we needed the weekend away!

This weekend was SHOW TIME!!!  I took off on Friday. I asked Brice to get us some snacks.  Every good girls' trip should include:  peanut butter M&Ms, our favorite drinks (Diet Dr. Pepper for me, Coke for Rachel, and water for Sara), popcorn, Chex Mix, and Twizzlers, of course!! :)  I downloaded Carrie's CDs on iTunes, burned them on discs, got everything and everyone in the car and we were headed out!!!!  First stop, Zig Zag Stripe Boutique in Mansfield!

I won't bore you with a bunch of details about this stop, except this....Sara bought an ADORABLE outfit that I will show you later!!!  AND...I do not own any cowboy boots. I tried some on at ZZS and LOVED them.  They were just SO expensive!!!  I did not end up buying them and, honestly, I kind of regret it.  I anticipate that I will either go back and buy them or buy them somewhere else!!  We grabbed lunch and then zipped on to I-20 for a lot of miles towards the state where crawfish are plenty!

It had been rainy and dreary all week long and God was so good to us to give us an ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS day of traveling!!!!  The weather was beautiful, skies were blue, and the clouds were big and fluffy!!!  We could not have asked for more perfect traveling conditions!

We made it all the way to Van, Texas before we stopped to go to the bathroom (thank you to Cynthia for the restroom stop tips ;) We were going to stop at Buc-ees but we did not have time on the way there.  We did stop on the way home!! :) 

We pulled into the hotel parking lot way later than we intended to (anyone that knows Rachel and me are likely not surprised by this) but with still plenty of time....or so we thought!!!!  Our plan was never to drive to the concert venue.  I did not want to deal with traffic, paying to park, or just the headache of it all.  The hotel has a shuttle but what we did not know is if the shuttle would go to the venue.  Our backup plan was Uber.  

Arriving to the hotel around 5:30 pm (just an 1 1/2 hours before the concert STARTED) was a little stressful as we still had to get dressed and ready and figure out how we were getting to the concert.  We had given up on eating dinner before the concert at this point.  We rushed around, got pretty, and started figuring everything out.  We began stressing out when we figured out that the shuttle DID NOT go to the Centurylink Center, Uber DID NOT service the area, and the cab would take over 45 minutes to get us there, when the concert was then supposed to start in 30 minutes!!!  I said, "Okay, girls, LET'S GO!!!"  I grabbed my keys and we jumped in my van and I drove....well, as Sara says, "aggressively."  

I have to give some serious Kudos to this venue!  The parking was absolutely FREE and they had some pretty efficient parking staff!  I was super impressed!!  We got to the Centurylink Center in about 15 minutes and still had 15 minutes to spare!!!  WORD!!!  We thought we were living right!  We walked up and saw that there was a door right there that said, "Entrance for VIP and floor seating only."  Well, HOT DIGGITY DOG...guess what?  We had floor seating!!  We pranced right on in, got our little swanky floor seating wrist bands, and the kind lady said, "All right girls, it's general admission but it is standing room only.  There are no seats."  Cue the dropped jaws, eyes wide open, blank stares.  "I'm sorry, what?"  She said, "Yes, that's right.  The concert people changed it because Carrie's stage is too big and no chairs will fit on the floor along with her stage so it is standing room only."  We all just looked at each other.   Rachel went off upstairs to see if she could talk to someone because of her back issues about getting a seat and Sara and I scoped things out a little.  Ultimately, we all decided to keep our spots by the stage as the place we had was so super close to where the performers were going to be.  Little did we know the condition we would be in at the end of the night!  

The first act was the Swon Brothers.  Apparently, they were on the Voice which I have never watched one second of but they were pretty good.  The second act was someone named Easton Corbin and I have never heard of him either but I kind of liked him.  I could have done without how long he performed but he was really good.  Then....Carrie Underwood!!!!!!!

First of all, she was just great!!!  She was a great performer, her vocals were amazing, and the best part, she just sang!  She was classy, beautiful, and entertaining.  I just thoroughly enjoyed the show!  It was one of the best concerts that I have ever been to.  She changed clothes five times, I think.  She sang for a SOLID 3 hours and never took an intermission.  Awesome, awesome show!!! One of my favorite parts was when she sat on the piano and did a tribute to her son and husband.  Loved it!!!!  

After it was over, I knew that I had a blister the size of Texas on my heel.  I borrowed pair of boots from Maura and they were just a smidge too small, I am afraid.  I need to be real honest for a minute...I am not a dancer and I do not profess to have very good AT ALL!!!!  BUT...boy did I MOVE at this concert!!! the car...and in the hotel room!!!! I just let it loose.  I had THE BEST TIME!!!!!!  I think that might be part of the reason for this blister.  So the blister and the fact that I had been standing for 4 1/2 hours straight was KILLING my back!!!!!  I COULD NOT walk straight!!!  I looked like I had drank about 4 too many beers.  Well, I hadn't!  When we got back to the van, it hurt to sit down.  I couldn't breathe!  We just sat in the parking lot waiting for the cars to file out which was good because I had to get the boots OFF!  We talked and laughed and just goofed around!!!  

We were STARVING but recognized that we had NO IDEA what would be open at 11:30 at night in Bossier City, Louisiana!  We landed at Chili's.  Problem was....I had to put the boots back on!  The hostess....have you ever watched the Bon Qui Qui videos on YouTube?  If you haven't, you should...they are entertaining and that is what our hostess reminded me of!!  We ate dinner and headed back to the hotel.

After taking turns prying our boots off, we took meds to ease our aching backs, talked until the meds kicked in and then went to sleep at about 2 am!!!!

When you are on a girls' weekend trip and you have the capability to sleep in until AT LEAST 11:00 am, what happens????  Your body does not allow you to sleep later than 7:30!!!!!!  But that does not mean we had to get out of bed!!  We I laid in bed as long as I could before Sara would not let me anymore. I was stressing her out!!!!  :)  We all got ready, had a mini concert in the room, did Bible study together (one of my favorite parts of the weekend), and checked out of the hotel, headed for lunch!  

Some of our church friends (from Louisiana) recommended this restaurant called Posado's in Bossier so we ate there at lunch.  It was pretty good.  We just all shared everything.  Funny little story...we were trying to get a good picture of the front of the restaurant know...documenting purposes (and because we were jamming to the song on the radio) so they had me drive around the restaurant THREE TIMES!!!!  LOL!!!  We were all a little sad after lunch because it was time to head home.

We got gas and hopped on I-20 headed to the Big D!  Next stop....Buc-ees!

Buc-ees is a Texas monument!  The one we went to today is actually the newest one Terrell, Texas.  It just opened in June of last year.  If you do not know what Buc-ees is, it is a HUGE gas station with like 150 gas pumps, a convenience store, and mini Walmart all in one.  It's pretty cool!!  It was the first time any of us had been to one.  We three got matching shirts and I got shirts for everyone in my family.  :)

The trip was officially over with the arrival home to my babies and my sweet, sweet husband!!!  My husband who has so selflessly given of himself this past week for everyone!!  I cannot say enough about Brice and how he has served so many people lately.  I don't deserve all.  

This was one of the best trips I have ever had!!!!  I was 100%, completely myself!!!!  I let anything and everything GO!!!  I have not laughed that hard in such a long time!!!!  It was so good to just laugh, sing at the top of my lungs, roll back the sunroof, listen to the same song over and over and over again, dance even though I have zero rhythm, and let the cares of the world stay in my rear view mirror...even for just 24 hours.  It was good!!  The Lord so graciously gave us beautiful weather and traveling mercies.  So so thankful for the blessings that He gives me.  The Lord is so good!!!


Throughout the trip I started writing down quotes because there were things that we did not want to forget!!  I have recorded some of them below for your entertainment.
Rachel:  Y'all, I think deep down I have always had an inner theatrical side.
Sara:  Inner???  I think it comes out way more than you know!


Sara (to Rikki):  It's okay that we are running late.  You seem to be an aggressive driver.  We will get there.


Conversation about syncing our FitBits....

Rikki:  Cynthia synced really early this morning.
Sara:  Well, she's an hour ahead of us I think.  At least Florida is...
Rikki:  Oh, yeah, that's right.  So, is Mississippi the next state over, then Alabama, then Florida.
Sara:  See this is how it works...
Rikki:  WOAH...I am not looking for a geography lesson!!!!


Sara:  Oh!!!!!  Look at this beautiful day!!!!  I AM SO EXCITED!!!  (This one comes with a picture...below!!!)


Rikki:  I wonder what Posado means?
Rachel:  Do you think it means tortilla?

That one is our favorite from the entire trip!!!!!  We laughed about that for hours!!!!  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

He Is Better

"For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a Mighty Savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." ~Zephaniah 3:17

 All I prayed for was for God to make my feelings change.  I had been feeling so desperate for love and so incredibly sad for the past three days and I could not stand it any longer.  That morning, I uttered two very distinct prayers intermingled amongst the other things I said to God.  Those two things were:  God, change my feelings.  Please, just make my heart feel better.  I am broken and I do not know what to do, and keep satan so far away from me today.  I know that he loves to take anything when I am like this and dig deeper into my insecurities.

This was Monday...this past Monday.  Let me back up a little.  My feelings have been waxing and waning for quite some time over the past several months.  While I can recognize that God has been doing some good things in my life, those good things have not been easy (back up a couple of posts for more details).  Sometimes sadness comes flooding in with great intensity and I am not sure what to do with it.  Most of the time, I try to stay away from people that I care about in order to keep those relationships "safe" and not alienate them.  This last weekend, it was bad.  Monday morning, I just knew that I was going to wake up feeling better.  But I didn't.  I woke up, still feeling crummy and stumbled downstairs to do my Bible study like I do every morning.  Then I spoke the prayer above, got dressed, gathered Hannah, and went out the door.  

About 15 minutes before I left, I received a text that said, "Happy Monday.  I love you BIG."  

She had no idea how much that meant to me and how much I needed that at that moment, so I told her just that.  

I dropped Hannah off, got back into the car, and what happened next is quite impossible to put into words.  I have not ever been one to say that I have heard God speak audibly and I didn't this time either, but this was God speaking to me.  This is what came to me...

Rikki, when you were a child, the very people that were supposed to love you unconditionally, tenderly, daily, without fail, and never leave you did not do that.  They did not show you what love is.  They would tell you that they loved you but were not consistent in their actions.  The healthy sense of love and affection that a child should learn early on was not shown to you by the most important people in your life.  Your parents did not show you that you were the most important thing in their life.  They (and drugs) were the most important things to them.  You learned that from a very early age and to compensate for that, you found love in constructive ways, but in ways that would plague you as an adult.  

You went to school and you earned love.  You were an excellent student.  You performed well, you were a shining star, you put on a great show.  No one would have ever believed that your home life was what it was.  You were popular, you were a best friend to everyone, you got straight As, you were a cheerleader, basketball player, softball player, leaders in clubs, drama teams, in the 5th grade your last report card was ALL 100s for crying out loud!!!!! But why??  Because you wanted to be noticed.  You wanted to be loved and accepted, and the way you did that was by showing that you were worthy of that love.  It worked!  Except when it didn't.  

I sat in my car probably with my mouth wide open.  My complete attitude changed.  In a split-second my feelings changed.  I was no longer overcome with sadness but almost relieved that God had given me such an insight into why I was so incredibly dysfunctional!!!  I think I found some sort of comfort in the fact that, although, I am in control of my own actions, I did not have to be completely at fault for the way I am.  I felt a peace wash over me like I cannot explain.  I felt God say to me that it was all going to be okay.  Once again, I felt His presence and Him say, "Rikki, this might be hard, but I am with you."  It is hard.  It is not fun to dig up old things that you want to not think about.  I have long forgiven my parents for the pain from my childhood.  I am thankful for the person that I am today, for the most part.  I am thankful for the relationship that I have with both my dad and with my mom.  My mom and I have gotten so much closer in the last 8 months, because I have prayed that God would show me how to be her daughter and for Him to show me what she needs from me.  This life is not all about me, it is about Him and I want to point her to Him.  

I don't know exactly what this revelation means for me except that I know that God is teaching me to trust in Him.  I cannot serve two masters.  If I seek approval and significance in man, then I am looking in the wrong place.  I need to be more concerned about what God thinks about me instead of what people think.  I know that every time I have a tendency to do something or say something or buy something for someone, I will question my motive first to make sure that I am doing it out of a giving heart and not because I need an extra dose of love or acceptance that day.  I know that God is changing my heart.  I know that God loves me and that I do not have to do anything to make Him love me more but it is the people that I love that has been my issue.  I have to trust that the people that love me, love me because they simply LOVE ME not love that I tell them they are pretty, buy them presents, or that I act a certain way.  If I have to do that for someone to love me, they did not truly love me to begin with.  This is going to be a process but I will be okay.

I have wonderful friends.  They are absolutely a gift from God and I will NEVER quit thanking Him for that.  I have a handful of people that I can call right this very second and I know that they would, if able, do ANYTHING for me.  I have to trust that they are not going to "drop me" when I am a hard friend to love or when I make mistakes, because Lord knows I will.  

God not only changed my feelings on Monday, He took my simple prayer request and He said, "I am going to do something even better than that, I am going to change your entire perspective on life.  I am going to change you!"  My goodness, I cannot wait to see where He takes me! 

Reason to Rejoice
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