9/16/14

When God opens doors


God has been busy lately!  After years of praying and months of sensing a mighty move of God on the way, we have been blessed and amazed as God has opened not one, but several doors of opportunity for us lately.

I recently told you about the awesome privilege I have of being asked to be a Christian Counselor in my local community through our Christian Learning Center.  Not long after God opened that door, we sensed God moving us to serve in a different church body.  I talked about that here.

We have now attended the last three Sundays at our new church home and could not be more excited about our new church family and opportunities to serve God!

After making the decision to change churches, job opportunities started flooding in for me!  I've not really talked about it on the blog, but I have been praying for several years for a new job opportunity.  I sensed in my spirit that my current job was not where I was supposed to be...that my time here was never meant to be permanent.  I don't think it was a mistake to take accept this job, but for some reason, once I'd been here for about a year, feelings of discontentment began to surface over and over.  I naturally took that to mean that I should apply for other jobs and make a career move.  

I can't even tell you how many jobs I have applied for over the years....jobs that weren't even what I really wanted exactly, but I became desperate to leave.  I even interviewed for several positions, but the door would never open.  I found that strange because up to this point, I'd always gotten every job I interviewed for.  But for some reason, God kept me here much longer than I ever anticipated.  I had become resigned to the fact that maybe God was trying to teach me something, so I stopped looking elsewhere.

Several months ago, when Scott and I set a date to leave the church we had been serving at, job opportunities for my career field started opening up - and I started submitting applications once again.

I've had multiple interviews lately, but it all culminated last week when I interviewed for two jobs that were high on my list of preferences.  One would require me stay at my current place of employment, but in a different position (in my career field).  The other was really like a dream job for me.  By Friday, I was hoping to know what door God was finally going to open!

I had been so nervous not knowing for sure what would happen.  I am a bit of a control freak, so I'll have to admit that it's hard to let go and trust God sometimes when I don't know what the outcome will be.  But last week at church (our second Sunday in our new church home), I went to the alter for  prayer.  During that time with several people praying over me and one prophesying, I felt the weight and pressures of years of struggle come off of me.  I no longer felt nervous about the week ahead and the interviews, but a calm assurance that God was going to move and make His will known.  After all this time, God was going to open that one door that I had anxiously waited to see open for so long.

I expected to hear from both employers by Friday.  I didn't know if I'd receive two offers or just one, but I prayed that God would have His way.  My existing employer still hasn't let their decision be known, but I got a call from the other one....the one I wanted more than anything!

So yesterday I made it official at work and turned in my two-week notice.  I start my new job on October 1st.

I am so excited about this new journey and being able to work in my career field - and with a more flexible work schedule.  Except for visiting my clients, training, and meetings, I will have the privilege of working from home.

This work situation will allow me more flexibility to schedule counseling sessions as well as more time to write and blog.  I plan to make good use of my time at home and structure my schedule to accomplish all of these things - plus some "me" time to get in more daily exercise and quiet time with the Lord.

I'd appreciate your prayers so much for me as I transition into my new career.  Your prayers are never wasted on me and I value them so much.

God bless each of you.  Have a great rest of the week!

9/3/14

Gun Cabinet Turned Book Shelf



Several years ago, my mom decided to get rid of my daddy's gun cabinet.  Since it was my ex-husband who had given it to daddy, mama asked me if I wanted it.  

I decided to get it and put it in Dillan's bedroom to keep his gun and bow in a safe place.  After he moved out and went to college, we decided to do a complete makeover on his room.  We moved the cabinet out of his room into mine and it just sat there for a while.  By then, I had already decided it would make a neat little book shelf, but it just sat in the corner of the room with a few books stacked on the bottom.

Well, lately, I've been trying to get some projects completed around the house.  You know me.....got to get things taken care of before the holiday decorating rolls around!  

This project required little in the way of money to be completed.....just a little time.  I purchased a few cans of white primer and the same Heirloom White paint we used on other furniture in the room.  I still had a can of the Satin Nickel for the hardware and we had a few shelving boards on hand to make book shelves.  So we Scott got to work!


First he made the four shelves and brackets we would need and painted them.


Then he did a little light sanding on the piece and sprayed it with the white primer.


After the final coat of the Heirloom White paint, we laid it on its back and used double-stick tape to back it with wrapping paper.  I didn't want to paint the back the same color as the rest of the cabinet and I couldn't really find what I wanted, but this coppery-silver will look pretty in the room ;)


Because of the shine in the paper, it's difficult to keep it completely smooth looking, but the shelves/books hide any imperfections.


Then we added the shelves.


Put the freshly sprayed hardware on along with the glass front door.


And I LOVE the way it turned out!  Isn't it precious?!


It provides a neat little enclosed shelf space for some of my favorite books/pieces in my room.


So what do you think?  Do you like to transform pieces of furniture for new uses too?


8/29/14

A frog in my hair!

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!