Discover your dreams and find your purpose

It's funny how we can know in our spirit that God has spoken something to our heart, only to let years of disappointments and circumstances of life cause us to doubt.  Maybe we heard wrong?  Maybe I just imagined it?

I recently finished reading Rebekah Lyons' book, "Freefall to fly", and God has used her words to remind me once again of what He has called me to do.

As instructed by Rebekah, I've written down my earliest dreams for my life.  I thought long and hard and they go back to my childhood.

I can remember hoping to marry my prince charming and living a fairy tale life with a cute house and children.  I dreamed of decorating our home and turning it into a haven for my little family.  My children would be just as cute as the house and so sweet and well mannered.  My husband would adore me and make me feel like a queen.

I am now married to my prince charming and I have my cute little house....and I just have to add that Dillan is as cute as it gets ;)  But this dream did not happen the way I envisioned it.  Much to the contrary.  It would come after three divorces and one miscarriage.  Years of depression and suffering physical, emotional, and verbal abuse.

I could write a long time about why it took so long for this dream to come true, but the point of this post is that I'm reminded of how God uses our successes and failures, our choices, and our relationships with others to write our story.  If we pay attention along the way, we will learn life lessons and be reminded again and again of our deepest hopes and dreams.....God-given dreams.

I believe we all have dreams.  He has created each of us for a divine purpose on this earth and it's up to us to find our purpose.  It's not a secret that He's locked up in a box and buried somewhere.  It's there in plain sight if we will do our part and seek it.....want it.

After I found the man that God had created for me so long ago and we began our life together, I started dreaming again.  I felt God calling me to full time vocational women's ministry.  And the Lord certainly knows I ran after that dream and tried to make it come true on my own!

I also started writing again during that time.  I remembered how much I had loved to write poetry as a child/teen.  I sought opportunities to share my words with others, hoping it could be an encouragement to women going through difficult times in their own lives.

Over the last 14 years, I have chased after these dreams at times, but I have also lost sight of them when it got too hard or uncomfortable.  My dreams have been there all along, waiting for me to pick them back up and continue with pursuing my calling.

God has been so faithful and patient and has taught me so much over the years.  I believe my life experiences over these last 14 years have only helped me to gain insight to be able to see more clearly the full nature of my calling.  I know that although circumstances of life can shift our dreams and take us in other directions at times, we can be sure to see it to the end.....a successful end.  I want my time on this earth to count.  I want to be remembered as a girl who didn't let her past determine her future.  A girl who loved God more because of what she had been through.  I want to be an example of Christ.

I've written down all of my dreams.  The fairy tale marriage, cute house, cute kid, and my dream of becoming a writer (author) and working in ministry full time.

I also wrote down the major turning points in my life.  Depression, marriage, divorce, becoming a mother, having my writing published, ministry opportunities, and earning my degree in Christian Counseling.

My talents center around writing, organizing, homemaking, encouraging, and administration.

Lastly, I did what Rebekah suggested in her book and wrote down my greatest burdens.  My greatest burdens center around having a close relationship with Christ, my son's relationship with Christ and helping him know and accept his own calling, and my burden for women living in abuse and in bondage to sin and depression.

When I looked at everything I'd written down, it became so clear that I truly have known my calling all along.  It's also clear how God has used each and every circumstance and every relationship (good and bad) with people who have been in my life at some point to mold me and shape me for the work He has for me.

I know I will still have doubt some days and there will be times when I want to give up, but I'm determined to accomplish something for Christ with the assignment He has given me....with the dreams that He instilled in me even before my birth.  To help me keep focus, I've written down a descriptive statement of what my responsibilities might be:

"My calling is to empower and encourage women to find healing in Christ from depression, abuse, and divorce".

I'm eager to take the next steps and to see what opportunities God puts in my path.  I would also love to hear from you about the dreams and desires God has given you.  Let's pray for one another and encourage one another!  Maybe we have something in common?  If you live in the area of the country where I live, maybe we can accomplish some things together for Christ?

Hope to hear from you soon!


Mountain tops, valleys, and the tough times in between

Like you, I'm no stranger to mountain tops or valleys.  I've experienced both in my life and I know that God is there with me in either place.  But lately I've been thinking about the valleys that I've walked through.  Some of those times, I found myself there as the result of unconfessed sin  in my life.  Other times it was because I was trying to do things my way and didn't listen to that still, small voice telling me, "This is the way...walk here".

The past couple of months have been very hard on me spiritually.  I have felt as if I was in a dry, desert land.....not even a valley.....seeking God, but not able to feel His presence fully.  I would sense Him at times, but it always felt like He was standing off to the side...watching and waiting.  I couldn't figure out what He was doing or why He chose to sit in silence.

The past couple of months have been extremely busy, so I contributed some of it to my being distracted and maybe not paying full attention to the Spirit.  But no matter how much I called out to Him to draw near, nothing changed.

I felt as if I had no words to share...not on this blog or even in conversations with those God put in my path.  It seemed like all of my creativity, all of my passions were lost.  I was clueless to why I felt this way.  I know enough about God and His Word to know that He will never leave me or forsake me.  I know the gifts and talents He has blessed me with and because I try to use them for His glory, I didn't think He had just taken them away from me.

A couple of days into our fast, I was doing my morning devotion.  It seemed like I had been just going through the motions lately, always coming up empty.  But this particular day, I felt God speak to my heart.  All of the emptiness I had been feeling....all of the guilt about feeling like I was going backwards instead of forwards....it all started to make sense.

I had had not one, but several mountain top experiences last year.  I was able to climb from peak to peak as each moment came, but eventually I would have to come back down. I had lost sight of those mountain tops and all I could see was the rough, ragged terrain on the long journey back down.  I would have to go down to the valley.....it just took me a while to get there.

The journey down the mountain was much harder than it is here in the valley, for in the valley, I can feel His presence again.  We are His sheep and He is our good Shepard.  His sheep find peace in the valley.  There are green pastures here beside the still water.  There is rest for our souls.

The valley is known for temptations and trials, but we must remember that He is there with us....leading us and guiding us along the way.  He is preparing us for the next mountaintop experience and the hard work has to be done here.

When I didn't feel close to God, I seemed to lose some of my ability to have a compassionate heart for others.  My heart didn't ache for the lost.  During these times, we lose the burden to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  But I feel Him near me now.  I hear Him speaking to me and the words I am to share are easy to type.  The tears are back as well....compassion for others.....sadness about the evil in the world, for God softens our hearts to mirror His.    

So, these last couple of months were to remind me that if I do not have the heart of God, I will not make a difference for Christ in this sinful world.  I don't know about you, but I want my time here to count!  I'm here for a reason and I want to live out God's calling on my life.  I will experience mountain tops and I will rest and learn in the valleys.  And on the rough, ragged terrain in between, I'm gonna keep on trusting Him to see me through.


fasting, bad luck, & blessings

I mentioned in my last post that Scott and I were going to be experiencing our first time of fasting this month.  Our goal was to fast for 7 days....21 days is the norm for the Daniel Fast.

I'm here to tell you that fasting is something not to be taken lightly.  It requires commitment, determination, and endurance to see it through.  I'm happy to say that Scott and I stuck to our diet and gave it all we had.  And I'm not upset or disappointed that we decided to end our fast after the 4th day.

I'm sure you are wondering why since we were doing ok.  Well, the main reason is because of the severity of the headaches we were having....even on the fourth day.  It's normal to have headaches from caffeine withdrawal, and we expected that.  But we didn't count on the cold weather fronts coming through our area that always trigger migraines for me.  I was having to take medicine EVERY day to be able to even function.  And I was running out of medicine.  Do you know how it feels to have migraines and nothing to take for them?  That's not a good feeling!

Scott doesn't have migraines, but he doesn't have the luxury of conveniently eating his meals at regular times throughout the day either (he works for the railroad).  Sometimes when they are working, he doesn't even have a chance to eat lunch.  Because he was staying in a hotel out of town working last week, it was especially hard on him physically.  His head hurt so bad every day that it was hard for him to work at all.  I think the biggest problem was that he wasn't able to get enough food in his body at any time to overcome the headaches.

I've always heard people say that when you are fasting, you should pray when you are hungry and turn to scripture for encouragement.  I agree with that, but I also say that when your work requires lots of physical labor and you aren't your own boss, you don't always have the luxury to study the Word at any given time.  You can pray any time, but isn't the goal of fasting to spend even more time with God in prayer and scripture?  And when you are physically ill from fasting, it's hard enough just trying to function with what you have to do.

Long story short......we didn't get the benefits from fasting that we were seeking.  I won't say that I didn't feel God's presence at all because I did.  And for me that was huge because I've felt like I've been wandering around in a dessert for a few months. I've not mentioned it on here, but I'll be talking about that some time soon and what the Lord revealed to me during my 4 day fast.  But because of the migraines and my work schedule, I didn't find more time than normal to study scripture.  But I haven't given up on that.  I'm about to start a 8 week Bible study of my own and I'm looking forward to hearing what God has to say to me.....with a cup of coffee in my hand [grin]. That was the hardest thing to fast!

In other news.............

You could call it bad luck or you could say what Scott said....."Funny how this started happening after we came off our fast early".  But last Thursday was a very trying day around here.

Thursday morning at 5:30 am, all three of the smoke detectors in the back of our house by our bedrooms started beeping.  All three of them!  With the first beep, Lucy was wigged out!  She didn't know what it was and was scared to death.

Scott was still out of town and Dillan had come home for a couple of days since he was working nearby that week so it woke him up too.  I got up and changed all the batteries and they still kept beeping.  I had to put Lucy in the bed with Dillan and shut the door to try to quiet the sound some for her.  For some reason there's not a detector in Dillan's room, but in the hall outside his room.  Anyway, I couldn't go back to sleep after that, so I was sleep deprived all day.

On my way to visit some clients later that morning, Dillan called and we had no water in the house.  With the freezing temps, the water had frozen up at the well and he couldn't take a shower.  He had to head back toward Atlanta that morning for a photo shoot, so that put him in tail spin.  He had to go next door to my cousin's house and shower (thanks, Hollie!), but he made it to the shoot on time.

Photo by We Do Photography
Scott and I both got back home later that afternoon and he got the water back running and fixed the smoke detectors.  We thought that was the end to our bad day and hard week.  But things got much worse that night around 8:45 pm.  Dillan's car broke down in the 20 degree freezing weather on I75 on his way back to Atlanta from the photoshoot.  An hour from his apartment and 2 hours from us, we were a bit concerned about how to get him warm and safe quickly.  It's bad enough to be stranded on 75, but in freezing weather?  Needless to say I was concerned. But I kept my head and thanks to iphones, Dillan knew the closest towing service to call.  The problem was that they couldn't get to him for an hour.  We stayed on the phone with him off and on until a friend in Macon could get to him. Sterling was the closest person to him....about 30-40 minutes (thank you again, Sterling!).  As God would have it, she arrived right before the tow truck, so we didn't have to worry about leaving his car unattended on the side of the road either.  They towed it to a garage in Atlanta and so we'll be waiting on a verdict Monday some time.

We are so thankful and blessed that Dillan wasn't hurt during all of this.  He had to get through two or three lanes of traffic to make it to the side of the road.  Can you imagine being stranded IN the middle of 75?!  An even scarier part is when he told me he accidentally cut a guy off trying to get to the side of the road.  That guy pulled over ahead of him and got out and "cussed" at him. I'm so thankful that he got back in his car and left.  If he had touched my child......I don't even want to think about that!

So.  As you can see, it's been a week of sorts!  But God is good and we are all ok.  The timing of the beeping smoke alarms, freezing water, and car problem was not a punishment from God for not fasting a whole week.  Now, it could quite possibly have been Satan scheming and plotting, but he didn't win. God protected Dillan and continually provides for me and my family in the midst of beeping smoke alarms, lack of sleep, no water, and broke down vehicles.  My God never sleeps.  He is always watching and knows what is happening in our lives.  He sees our hearts and hears our prayers.


Looking back over 2014

As I look back over the year of 2014, I'm amazed at all that has happened! This has really been an incredible year with some major accomplishments, new beginnings, and lessons learned.

Last May, I made the trip up to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend my graduation ceremony at Liberty University.  I never dreamed that completing my master's degree would be the beginning of some major changes that God would do in my life throughout the rest of the year.

I was able to enjoy my summer with no school work for the first time in four years and used this down time to get some rest and to refocus on my passions and dreams.  During this time, I was contacted about serving as a Christian counselor for our local Christian Learning Center.  For the first time in a while, I felt God confirming again the vision He had given me for ministry so long ago.

Through the Learning Center, I was also able to minister to those affected by divorce.  I taught a Divorce Care Class and continued my Christian counseling through the fall.

Soon after that, I received a job offer coordinating services for people with disabilities and was finally able to start working from home.  Working from home has been a dream of mine for a long time and the opportunity could not have come at a better time for me.  But I've learned that you can work much harder from home than you do away from home.  My main problem is that I have a hard time putting my work down.  I like to stay on top of things and since I'm still learning my job, I'm a little paranoid that I'm going to miss something.  But now that I've completed my training, I feel like I will be able to take advantage of working from home even more.

I've learned alot about myself over the last few months (some good things and some not-so-good things) and as this year draws to a close, I'm trying to get things in place to make 2015 the best year yet!  I don't know what the new year will hold for me and my family, but I'm determined to get things off to a great start.

I will be doing my first fast in January to seek God's Will about some things in my life and to strengthen my faith and my relationship with Him.  I'll be sharing more about that in the next few days.  Until then............

Happy New Year!


Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Just wanted to take a moment before the busyness of the day to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!  I hope your day is full of laughs and special moments with family and friends, but most of all, I hope this Christmas day is a reminder of the ultimate gift.....the gift of Jesus Christ to all mankind.

Merry Christmas!


Tis the season

Tis the season for "decking the halls" and making our homes festive with everything that's merry and bright! But this year, I decided to keep things a little simpler.  I didn't unpack everything from the boxes stored in the attic....just my favorite things.  Instead of garlands and bows, I kept the mantle simple again this year with mostly white and silver.  

I downloaded some photos off my phone for this post, so they don't do the room justice.  But getting the camera out would just add to the long list of things I need to do, so this will have to suffice ;)

I'm still absolutely in love with the burlap stocking my mama made for me last year and the little white deer from Target were must-haves for me when we were shopping after Thanksgiving!

I found the little snow owl at a local store, Flint River Pottery.  I spotted them last year and knew I'd need some this year for my living room :)

The paper flower was a gift from a friend and I have it next to my log candle sticks on the foyer table next to the nativity scene.

I only put out a few of my nutcrackers this year.  I always like to add some of the small ones to this mirror shelf in the dining room.

More white and silver....I'm loving the brightness that white and soft blue make in my living room.  I still haven't uploaded photos of the living room redesign.....maybe I'll get to that after Christmas?

I love themed trees, but my favorite will always be one filled with beautiful ornaments as well as handmade ones and cute little child-like additions like elves and dolls :)  You can't take the kid out of me at Christmas!

I'm not done with all of my shopping, but the majority of it is done, so I don't feel stressed about it.  This is my last week of work for the month, so I'm looking forward to next week!  I plan on watching Christmas movies with Dillan, making candy for friends, and savoring every moment of the holiday with my family and church family.

My hope for you is that you will also take the time to think of the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate it with family and friends.  We must never forget that Jesus truly is the REASON FOR THE SEASON!


Thankful for simple pleasures

It's hard to beat making smores around a nice, warm camp fire!  And Scott got our new fire pit built just in time to start enjoying it for the holiday season.  

It's something we've talked about doing for a long time and I was so excited to see it done!  

We've got plans to add a wood swing, benches, and more "campy" lights for atmosphere.  But we're already enjoying having a special place to hang out outside with family and friends.  

We hosted our family Thanksgiving meal this year and roasting marshmallows around the camp fire was something the kids looked forward to all day long!  

It was a great day spent with family making memories for years to come.  I'm so thankful to the Lord for his blessings on us and I hope your Thanksgiving was just as special.  We all have so much to be thankful for.