8/29/14

The day I wore a frog headband

I just had to share this story with my blogger friends.  Some of you may also follow me on Facebook and know that we've had issues with frogs getting in my bathroom lately....still not certain how.

I don't have to tell you how alarmed I am about that and how close I've come to having a heart attack both times!  No, really.  I just can't stand the thought of those slimy things jumping on me!

Well, I had just about decided that the frog plague might be over....until this morning.

Every morning after I take Lucy out to potty, our two cats always come in with her through the front door and beg me to take them out back and feed them.  You see, they have to eat in the mornings due to a opossum that thinks he's one of our pets.  He shows up every night for supper!  Yeah, I know.  Crazy.  If you dont' believe me, take a look at this picture.


Yes.  You are looking at a opossum laid up in my cat's bed!  I don't make these things up.  I promise.  And I don't know who I'm more afraid of...the opossum or the frogs?

Anyway, I took Lucy out this morning and the cats followed us back through the house and wanted their breakfast.  As I opened the door, I noticed I didn't see the little clear/green frog stuck on the door or the window nearby like usual.  "Hmmm", I thought.  "Maybe he decided to find a new hangout".  I felt so relieved because I absolutely hate having to go out there and worrying about where he is.

I fed the cats and then came back inside to feed Lucy.  That's when I realized something was moving on top of my head!!!  My worst fear had come true!  Before I could process what was happening, the frog jumped from my headband, crawled through my hair, and then jumped down to the floor.  In that moment, I heard sounds coming from my vocal chords that I will never be able to translate.  Somehow I managed not to scream at the top of my lungs because I didn't want to wake Scott up early on his day off work and risk him hating me forever.

As I danced around the kitchen making strange noises while trying to avoid the frog, I also knew that I somehow had to capture him.  I knew I didn't have time to get the rainbow vac down the hall because he would escape and forever be lost in my house.  That, in turn, would mean I would have to move out.  

Lucy decided I must be playing a game with her. Bless her heart, because she only has that one little eye, she never saw the frog....not even when he jumped into her water bowl!  She barked and jumped around and begged for more!

Anyway, I ran to the cabinet and grabbed the largest cup I could find....Scott's Auburn Tigers cup...sorry, babe ;)  By that time, the frog had jumped behind the trashcan on the side of the cabinet.  After a couple of misses, I finally had him trapped in the cup.  

Well, we all know I wasn't about to put my hand over it!  Then I realized I could reach a measuring cup that was large enough to cover the top of the lid.  I tried to shake him up while keeping the cup against the cabinet at the same time.  I lifted the edge up enough to see he was at the bottom and quickly put the measuring cup over it and threw the whole thing out the back door.

I thought my heart would never stop racing, but I was proud of myself for handling this deadly situation on my own.  By now, Lucy really thought we had a game going on and barked and continued to jump up and down in excitement.  

So yeah.  It was that kind of morning.  I'm so glad it's Friday because I need a period of recuperation after that!



8/26/14

Where We Worship


I stood with hands raised high in worship as the sound of the praise band resonated throughout the auditorium.  It had been a long time since my soul had been so touched by the sweet harmony of voices and instruments.

Being in a new place brought back some of my old insecurities.  Could I ever feel completely at home here?  Would my gifts of service be needed here?  My husband and I had visited this congregation several times over the last year and always left knowing that God was doing something special here.  We had also sensed that God was doing something new in us,  stirring within us our passions to serve Him in new ways.

As these thoughts crossed my mind, they were quickly swept away by the peace that overcame me in the Spirit's presence.  His presence was so powerfully felt that I wondered why I had allowed myself to be so complacent for so long.  For as long as I can remember, it seems my soul has been searching for more of Jesus.  There had to be more...didn't there?  I'd surrendered to the call to women's ministry and I'd taken advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.  But I've always been left standing there feeling empty and wanting more, needing more.

Was God calling us to get out of our comfort zone once again?  Was He calling us to leave where we currently serve?  Was He calling me to leave the only denomination of worship that I have ever known?  Did denominations even matter, really?  After all, I believe the important thing is whether or not the Blood of Jesus is being preached.

I've come to realize in recent months that we, as Christians, can get so picky and defensive about our own denominational beliefs that it can cause us to become stubborn and judgmental.  We pick apart the scriptures to prove that our way is the right way and forget that there's only one way to God and that's through Jesus Christ.

"You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life" - John 5:39-40.  

We quickly quote our favorite verses to support our opinions and forget about God's opinion or the feelings of those we argue with.  These religious blinders can cause us to miss out on opportunities to stand together as one body of believes in Christ to accomplish more than any of us can on our own.  These religious blinders reflect the heart of  Pharisees and Sadducees in the scripture.  These Pharisees and Sadducees are alive and well today.

As I stood there in God's presence in that moment, I heard the sound of a very familiar voice singing on stage.  A voice that I hear singing around the house.  A voice that has faithfully led worship where we've attend for years.  It was the voice of my husband.

I looked up and noticed the tears streaming down his face. That was the moment that I knew I could never stand in the way of his being used by God in any capacity.  In that moment, my doubts disappeared and I knew we were both in agreement with the Holy Spirit as to where He was leading us.

There will be those who do not understand.  There will be those who think denominational ties are more important than partnering with other brothers and sisters in Christ who have been given a similar vision.

What needs to be remembered by all is where our loyalty should truly lie.  Our loyalty should not be to a church or denomination...our loyalty should be to God.  We are to love the church, His bride, but where we worship is not as important as WHO we worship.

We are each on a unique journey in this life.  We are not all called to minister to the same people necessarily, or even in the same way.  We are called to be obedient to Christ and what He instructs us to do in our current season of life.

We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and build one another up...not tear one another apart with our judgmental attitudes and pride.  We are called to know and love the scriptures, but love the One who inspired them even more.

I could never say this better than a post I read by Melissa Moore years ago on her mom's blog and I'll close with that.  (By the way, her mom is Beth Moore, one of my favorite Bible teachers!).  Melissa says:

There was a long stretch of time during my first several years of theological education that I did not pray. At all. I sat in classes and sermons and rather than receiving the word of God, I listened for leaders to make a theological mistake. And then I would sit around with other students and we would talk about the theological mistakes and whatnot. And we did and said all of this in the name of piety. We would “humbly” explain how we revered the word of God and we didn’t want anyone distorting it or tainting it or mishandling it. Now, don’t get me wrong, those kind of statements are appropriate and noble but when you add a very hard heart, a critical spirit, and a lack of intimacy with God to it- well, it simply isn’t authentic and things go downhill. Very fast. Now this is not everyone’s experience but it was mine. For a season. Thank God He allowed me to live on. My Mom was the most instrumental person in my life in helping guide me out of that dry season. She would often say to me “this is not bearing good fruit in you, Darling… have you spent actual time with the Lord today?” I no longer had the love of God in my heart and it was starting to surface in the way I criticized and looked down on other people and in the way I neglected time with Jesus Himself (see John 5.42).
But the catch here is that during that dry season I was studying Scripture more intensely than I had ever studied it before. Yet I was no longer engaged with the One to whom Scripture points, Jesus. I was no longer receiving life itself. This is a good reminder for all of us who love to study Scripture and my heart leapt for joy when Dr. Hayner preached on this very issue during orientation. Those of us who tend to assume that our spiritual maturity is directly equal to how much Scripture we read on a particular day would do well to keep this verse at the forefront of our minds.
Now, I am not saying that a person can be spiritually mature without reading Scripture but what I am saying is that a person can study Scripture rigorously and not be spiritually mature. Indeed, Jesus said that a person can “diligently study” the Scriptures yet refuse to receive life in Him altogether. The difference here is profound and chilling. There is a right way to read the Scriptures and a wrong way- the wrong way is to read them spiritually detached from the One to whom they point. So, all this to say, I am looking forward to a year drenched in study of the Scripture but I am grateful for the warning and all I know is that I don’t want to go back to that dark place again.
I want to end this blog post with a poem that was also a part of our chapel service but coincidentally is a poem that one of my dear Professors from Wheaton used in his classes on the first day. It made me feel at home. You’ve probably heard it before but it blesses me anew each time I read it.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
[Sir Francis Drake]



8/22/14

Summer Recap: favorite moments & then some


I finally finished my college education and graduated on May 10th.  I can't think of a better way to kick off the summer season than the awesome trip to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend my graduation ceremony.....except that my baby sister was along for the ride as a graduate as well.


After graduation, I was able to enjoy the lazy days of summer with NO HOMEWORK......the first time in four LONG years!  Then it was time to go on our big family vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC for a week of fun and relaxation.


But on the way, we made a stop to see my niece, Natalie in her first beauty pageant.    It was a big-to-do and we were so proud of how well she did!


Another great memory of the summer was setting up my office space as the Christian Counselor for Wilcox Christian Learning Center.  It really is a dream-come-true for me to have a place to "do ministry" in my home town.  I'll share some photos with you later of how the space turned out.


On July 17th, I once again had the awesome privilege of being featured as a guest writer at (in)courage.  If you've never been to their site, you need to pay them a visit.  So much inspiration and encouragement!


And I just realized that August 6th was the 1 year anniversary of my first children's book being published!  If you haven't already and would like to, you can purchase a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Here's a link for your convenience:





In other news:  Miss Lucy is as spoiled as ever!  She recently had to make a trip to the doctor for her yearly exam and shots.  Doesn't she look so cute sitting there?  She was a good little patient ;)


I can't talk about one baby without mentioning my other one.  Dillan has still been busy modeling.  He's also in training right now and taking acting lessons there in Atlanta.




He had the opportunity to do some modeling for Belk recently.  This is a total different look than what he would normally wear, but doesn't he look handsome?


And we know summer is about to come to an end when it' time for a foot ball scrimmage.  I don't know about you, but I am sooo ready.....for football and fall!



8/20/14

Making Art



Dillan recently held a concept photo shoot at our place in the "wildwood".  We had spent several weeks planning and getting our props together for the big day and it was so much fun.  

The two concepts were:

American Gypsy


and

Tousled Tierras


I have seen sooo many beautiful photos taken during the day, but wanted to share these of my niece, Natalie.


She's such a natural in front of the camera that she made Dillan's job so easy!

We are so thankful for those who came and for the good weather we had.  The gnats were a little annoying late that afternoon, but thanks to Dil's mad editing skills, you won't find them in a single pic ;)


If you haven't seen his new website, go check it out.  If you live in our area or around Atlanta where he lives, contact him and I'm sure he could find some extra time to capture some special moments for you too.

Here's a link to his website and Facebook page:








8/11/14

God sized dreams



Thirteen years ago, God began moving in my life and steering me in a direction I never could have imagined before that time.  After years of broken relationships and many bad choices, I rediscovered who I was in Christ.

Through some soul searching, in-depth Bible study, and hours on my knees in prayer, I finally had a glimpse of why I was put on this earth.  I told my family and friends that I was being called to ministry.  At the time, I didn't really know what that would look like, but that didn't stop me from stepping out in faith and pursuing my calling.

I have learned so much about myself and God's Will over these 13 years while trying to fully grasp what it is that God wants me to do.  During this process I have earned two college degrees, become a freelance writer and blogger, moved back to the town I grew up in, written my first children's book, and so much more!  I've also fallen on my face numerous times and threatened to give up on my dream more times than I can count.  But something on the inside of me wouldn't allow me to give up or give in.  

I have been encouraged as well as felt defeated.  I have been inspired by God's Word as well as slapped in the face with the reality of who I am without Christ.  I have learned so much about myself and have learned to trust Jesus in new and different ways.  Over the years, I sometimes wondered if God had forgotten about what He told me.  Maybe I did hear wrong.  Maybe I should accept the doubt and disbelief of others.  I had been so busy trying to make things happen on my own that I forgot the possibility of how God can move and open doors I never even knew existed.

Back in the spring, I received a phone call one day that reminded me that God has not forgotten me or all of the dreams that He put in my heart.   The one thing I came to understand those years ago was that I knew I wanted to do Christian counseling.  That one thing was the biggest reason I decided to go back to school and further my education.  I carefully chose a major that would allow me a career path in the secular work place, but that would also prepare me for opportunities for Christian ministry.  That's why I chose an undergrad in Psychology, but with a Christian Counseling specialization.  That's also why my M.A. is Human Services Counseling.

I always thought I'd have to go out of town and work for a large church or Christian organization to fulfill the ministry aspect of my dream, but I assumed wrong.  Jesus had already prepared a way for me to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I feel as if He just asked me to hold out my hands and accept an opportunity I could not have orchestrated on my own if I had tried.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to be the Christian Counselor for Wilcox Christian Learning Center in my hometown.  When I got the call, it seemed almost too good to be true, but over the last few months, I've been preparing and am now offering counseling by appointment right here in my home town!

In case you're wondering what WCLC is, it's a non-profit organization that offers Bible classes as electives to the middle and high school students in our county.  Last year was their first year in operation.  After careful evaluation at the end of the school year, they saw the need for a Christian Counselor to be available to counsel their students and families and God led them straight to me.

I am thrilled to be able to share in this tremendous opportunity to share the love of Christ with the students and families in our area, and I am excited to be a part of what God is doing in our little part of the world.

I'd appreciate your prayers so much....not only for me, but for our teachers, Board of Directors, and our students.

Praying for a great year full of God's blessings!

7/17/14

The Samaritan Woman In Me

Photography: Dillan Moore
God longs to meet you where you are.  In your sin and in your less-than-perfect circumstances.  He longs to give you a new beginning and a new found freedom - freedom in Christ.

Today, I'm talking about that freedom over at (in)courage.  I hope you'll Join Me.

7/7/14

Independence Day in Myrtle Beach, SC


This year, we decided to take our first ever extended family beach vacation.  Two of my sisters and their families, as well as my mom, all headed to Myrtle Beach, SC for a week of fun and sun. 

 

We rented a home in North Myrtle Beach on the marsh area.  It was in a darling neighborhood with beautiful views at sunrise and sunset.  



Two of my three sisters and our mother



One night we all sat out on the front deck and enjoyed some tunes.....courtesy of the Mister.

Natalie and Walker looking down from my and Scott's private balcony




There are always lots of laughs when we are all together :)

One afternoon, we enjoyed a trip to Broadway on the Beach.  There was lots of shopping and fun rides for the kids and teens.


And of course, there was some good eating!  Never ones to miss a photo opp, we took advantage of every prop we saw.



The first hurricane of the season, Arthur, was passing by that Thursday, so we had lots of wind and rain.  But that didn't put a damper on our fun.  We just went shopping ;)  The skies were clear and sunny again the next day.

Friday, the 4th of July, we donned ourselves in red, white, & blue and took family photos.




And we enjoyed a spectacular fire works display on the beach.

I hope each of you had a great July 4th as well.  I'm so thankful to live in America....the home of the brave.  May God continue to bless our great nation.