Wednesday, August 30, 2006
In honor of my Mom, I wanted to give her blog a plug and encourage you to take the time to read her latest post. Not only does she make a fashion statement with her clothes, shoes and accessories but she does it with her amazing knowledge of God's Word. She has taught me how much I have to rely on His word and rely on it DAILY. So please go on over to Fashion Statement and love on her like you love on me!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Let's go back to the question/questions I am emailed a lot. "What do you do for a devotion time/quiet time daily? Do you have one? Do you think it is important to have one daily? How do you find the time?" I think a lot of women, including myself, put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We have a list in our mind of things we need to do in a month, a week or even just a day. We may compare ourselves to other moms (a dangerous thing to do) and try to do things like them. The problem with that is, God did not create us to be someone else! Some moms homeschool, some don't. Some moms sit down and read books to their kids every single day or they may not allow television or sugar in their children's diet. When we compare ourselves to other women, we will always feel like we have failed. At times I find myself wanting to be the best mother, wife, cook, decorator, fashion expert and bible reading machine there is. But how exhausting is that? When Josiah gets to kindergarten, there will probably be a mom that can make better cupcakes than me! Perish the thought! There may be a better "Room Mom" than me. I pray even now that God will not allow me to get caught up in things like that. It may sound silly, but many moms do. We put so much of our security in this role called "Mom" that we don't even let ourselves begin to think about failing. We do things like make schedules and post them on our refrigerator. I had one once, but I took it down. I am not saying schedules are bad but mine set me up for failure. Professional women have bad days at the office, they miss deadlines, they make a mistake, they are late for a meeting or they may even get called into the bosses office. What about us Moms? Are we not allowed the same kind of day? It's okay for your child to have a day of too much TV. It happens! It's okay if you miss a storytime, a play group or a devotion time with your kids. If you yell or do something that hurts their feelings, it's okay. Your kids will be okay! I am not saying we shouldn't work on these things, we should. But the very fact that you are home with them every single day fulfills a need in their life that no one else can fill. And if we put so much pressure on ourselves as Mom's, you can bet it will spill over into our spiritual life. We do the same thing in our relationship sometimes with the Lord. If we can't read our Bibles daily, if we can't have a prayer time, then we get down on ourselves OR we just choose to not do it because we don't want to feel guilty.
Do I have a daily quite time? I try with every ounce of my being to do so. I do not do it out of guilt or obligation. I do it because I know how much I need that time with my Lord. But here's the deal. My time with Him has changed over the last six months because I realized the pressure I was putting on myself. We have grown up hearing about a "quiet time". We have this idea in our minds that we have to pray for this amount of time or read for this amount of time. That is a dangerous mindset because it's overwhelming, it's a big expectation to put on ourselves. God is not mad when we don't do this. But then there is the opposite side to that. Attending church, having a weekly bible study or home group, is not your personal time with the Lord. How can you possibly win others to the Lord without reading His word? How can you fall in love with him more and more without studying His promises? How can you fight battles without memorizing and meditating on his scriptures? How can you be the best Wife and Mother He has called you to be without eating the bread He gives through the Bible? You can't! You can't soak up everything from others! A bible study with your friends cannot take the place of personal time with him! Church should only help us, it's not there to be our everything spiritually. As women our mindset has to change when it comes to being Godly women. The way we have tried to do it, doesn't work. Something new has to happen.
A few nights ago I watched Beth Moore on the James Robinson show preach a powerful messaged. She didn't speak, the woman preached! As I listened to her, I was in complete and total shock of how much that woman knew the Word of God. She didn't get there over night. It's like I said in yesterday's post, the Proverbs 31 woman had a lifetime to leave the legacy she did. She did not live that life in one day, it was her whole life! Beth Moore has had years of studying His Word, it did not happen overnight. Sunday morning I listened to Joyce Meyer. Another woman that is FILLED with God's Word. Saturday I listened to Lucy Swindoll, Patsy Clairmont, Sheila Walsh, Nicole Johnson, Thelma Wells (my favorite) and many more speak about the things God has done in their life. All of these women spoke of God's Word like it TRULY meant something to them. As Godly women, isn't that what we should strive for? Isn't that what we should work hard at knowing? God's Word?! It's better than any novel, any devotion, any book! It gives us life! And I need it! Oh how I need it!
So this is what I do. Right now I have COMMITTED to reading one chapter a day of a particular book. I also read Proverbs every day too. I try to do it in the morning but sometimes one of the kids wakes up before me. I try to do it during nap time but sometimes I have something else I am doing. I really try to make that time sacred but it doesn't always happen that way. I may have to read in the bathroom while using the restroom or taking a bath. I may have to do it when everyone is asleep. But I do it! When I make it a part of my day, it changes me. Today I started reading the book of Genesis with my best friend and with a lady who reads my blog. We don't see each other when we read, we don't do a bible study to go along with it. We call each other or email each other to communicate that we have read. It's nice to have accountability. As I read, I pray for these women and I pray that God will give us revelation as we read His word. It's powerful! It's amazing the things God teaches me. Also, it helps my flesh come under submission. I would much rather walk in the spirit than walk in the flesh. How about you?
Think about this. If you had a problem or a need that you needed to share with someone, would you want to share it with a woman that his been in God's Word or a woman that has been buried in a Nicolas Sparks book? Seriously. What is coming out of our mouths? What do our words say about who we are as women? As stay at home moms or wives, we have a responsibility and unless you are being fed by the Word of God, you can't expect your home, your children, your marriage, your relationships or even your self esteem to be in order. We have to get our priorities straight and everything else will line up. Everything else will have order! It will not happen overnight, it can't. In the first chapter of Genesis, everything took time. God didn't create EVERYTHING in one day. Each day was something new. He took time to plan it out. The same goes for our life. Each day is something new. It can't happen all at once, not even God works that way. While I would love to have the wisdom that Beth and Joyce, I realize it will take time to get there. But why not start now? Why not try to be all that God wants me to be now? Why not start today? When I get too busy, when my Bible needs dusting, may I start over!
One more thing. (I know this is long! Aren't all of my posts?!) Thelma Wells, one of the speakers at Women of Faith, talked about a woman and her cell phone. It was comical but so true. If we leave our cell phone at home, we turn around and drive back to get it. If we can't find it, we freak out! So we wear it on our hips, keep it in our purse and we never go ANYWHERE without it. Thelma said, "What if we treated our Bibles like we treat our cell phones? What if we wore it on our hips, carried it in our purses or drove home to get it when it was forgotten? We would never find dust on our cell phones! And we probably read more text messages in the cell phone than we do in our Bibles!"
That got me thinking and I just want to encourage all of you to get out that Word and read it as MUCH as you can! It's worth it! You need it! You will be amazed at how one chapter a day can change your life. I started with Genesis, chapter one today. There is a lot of meat in Genesis. We like to talk to our grandparents about our heritage and where we came from, well Genesis does kind of the same. So If you want to go back with me and read about the beginning, join in! I just started today! His Word will change you, His Word will bring victory, His Word will bring life! Do this and watch how things come together. Make this a priority and everything else will fall into place. This is the only thing that will bring order to your life.
Monday, August 28, 2006
For the past several weeks I have really been struggling with keeping my house clean, laundry, menu planning, etc. Now I would never want to sound like a domestic goddess because I am not! Some may think so but I would never look at myself in that fashion because most days I feel like I am wingin' it! How about you? But lately I have really struggled. A wonderful blogging friend, Keri, really encouraged me last week with this post on her blog. It's always nice to be able to reach out and grab something and claim it for yourself and her post was something I really felt and needed. So I took it in and really began to pray about order in my home. As I read Proverbs 31, I am sometimes overwhelmed. I have to remind myself that this is a story of one woman's lifetime. It's not a story about one day in her life, it's her life. She had a lifetime to be the Proverbs 31 woman. Does that make sense? And though I would truly like to model her life, it's very difficult. Some days are tougher than others. But then I have good days when everything flows smoothly in my house. I spend time in God's Word, the kids behave, we sit at the table to work on writing Josiah's name, I color with Ava Beth, the laundry is folded instead of on the couch for days and dinner is waiting on my husband when he gets home. My kids are in order, I am in order, my home is in order and this really makes my marriage in order. This is what I need as a stay at home mom and wife. When things are not running right, when things are in total disarray, our home suffers.
It's a horrible feeling. I hate feeling like my mind is on an untuned radio station! My mind is full of nothing but static! As I sat at Women of Faith on Saturday, I began to think about how much I needed to get things in order in my house. So when I got home, that's what I did! Today I feel so much better. The laundry is almost done. My pantry is full, my menu is planned out for the entire week (SO NO EATING OUT AMANDA!), my bathrooms are CLEAN, my closet is clean, the kid's rooms are clean, everyone is dressed and out of pajamas before 10am, I have spent time with the Lord and I even made a homemade chocolate cream pie! Even though it's not Fall, it looks fallish outside today and I felt like baking. Plus I need to get my tail in gear for this coming up soon! I even made a homemade pie crust (which is very easy by the way) and the only thing left to do is the meringue (another very easy thing to make). Jeremy will be very happy to come home and find one of his favorite deserts sitting on the table!
And you know what? All of this stuff makes me feel good about who I am! This is the kind of day that truly fulfills me. This is when I feel like I am truly doing what God has called me to do. Sometimes it's really hard. I struggle with staying consistent. But today as the kids slept and I baked, I prayed that God would help me in this area. I want to be the best at taking care of my family. I want Josiah, Ava Beth and Ezekiel to come home from college at Thanksgiving with a car load of friends and hear the words, "My mom makes the best pies!" Or "I can't wait to have Mom's Thanksgiving dinner!" or "Mom makes Christmas so special!" I want to start perfecting my legacy! I need HIS help every single day. I cannot do it without him. I love being the heart of my home but I need to get better at keeping it in order. When my home is in order, I can be who God created me to be. Today, that's what I am doing and it feels good.
Friday, August 25, 2006
About two months ago I started getting the urge to go to Women of Faith. I have never been but I have always listened to it live on a local radio station in Dallas. The only person I knew going to the conference this year was my friend Courtney who lives in Indiana and of course she attended the conference in Indiana last weekend. But two months ago I decided to ask God to make a way for me to go. My prayer was something like this. "Lord, I really would like to go to Women of Faith this year. Please put us at a church that has a group of women going or orchestrate something that would make a clear path for me to go. We don't really have the extra money right now for me to buy a ticket so please make a way." Yep, I was specific and I just plain and simple ask God to send me to Women of Faith this year.
This past week has been a bit of a beating for me. There have been moments of discouragement, confusion and me just being tired and worn out. I completely forgot that Women of Faith was in Dallas this weekend. It never crossed my mind. If I would have thought about it, I would have been disappointed to not be going. Every night this week I was supposed to be working on stuff for a garage sale at my house this weekend. But every single afternoon when my husband got home I told him that I just couldn't get it together. I kept suggesting we do our garage sale next weekend. He told me not to worry about pricing things yet, we would do it Friday night together (tonight) since the kids would be at his mom's. So we continued to plan for tomorrow. Despite the 100 degree weather, I was game for a garage sale. Last night while I was sitting in my bathtub reading my Bible, I had a sweet moment with the Lord. I love that I can talk to Him all anytime I want, I love that Jesus really is my friend. It's so incredible to think that I AM A FRIEND OF GOD! (Which is one of my favorite songs to sing!) But as I cried out to Him while trying to relax in the tub, I ask him once again for something very specific. "Lord, I am tired. I need a break. I need some encouragement, I need to be refreshed!"
I figured that my prayer would be answered by me having some alone time today while the kids spent the night with grandparents. That always revives me! But God had something different in mind. Right before the kids left, the phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize but I answered. It was my next door neighbor that I had at my old house. (We moved over a year ago from that house) That is a neat story in itself! She is one of the first women that I had the privilege of discipling. God did some amazing things in her life and we spent many hours praying together. Anyway I have not spoken with her in almost a year! I was surprised by her call but excited too. And then, this happened! "I have just been given two VIP tickets, plus a parking pass for Women of Faith this weekend. Not only are they VIP tickets, the seats are in the Mary Kay Suite. We would be in a suite with free food, free drinks and you would not have to pay a dime. As soon as I was given these tickets, I knew I wanted you to be the first one I asked to go. So can you go?"
Garage sale tomorrow? NO! I am going to WOMEN OF FAITH!!!!!!!!!!! You see God never does things half way either! Not only am I going, but I am sitting in a suite! My friend works at the corporate office for Mary Kay and today the Lord gave her favor because she got two tickets at the last minute. Then the Lord gave me favor because I have not talked to my friend in almost a year. She had no idea I had prayed that prayer, she had no idea that I even wanted to go but the Lord put ME on her heart! My kids are with grandparents, my husband is relieved that there is no garage sale tomorrow and I am BLESSED beyond measure! So Jeremy is going to take the boat out and go fishing, which will totally recharge him and I am going to Women of Faith and I am pretty sure I will feel refreshed when I come back home! GOD IS GOOD! GOD IS SO GOOD! He has made me giggle today. Thank you Lord!
I think now I will begin praying for Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboy Tickets (another dream of mine!). Just kidding! But seriously, never doubt my friend. He cares about every detail of your life and he LOVES to bless you! And you never know, you just might be sitting in a suite!
As women we are all so different. Our pasts are different, our experiences, our hopes and dreams. Some of us will connect and have many things to talk about because we feel an instant common bond. In the last month I have become very close to a few blogging friends. We have had bible discussions (we did not always agree on), we have had child raising discussions, marriage discussions or just exchanges childhood stories. We have found a foundation and began to build something on it. There is a bit of a safety net with friends on the internet. I am sure if we all lived by one another the boundaries would be different but since our relationship is on the phone and via email, we get along quite well and both parties feel pretty safe. It's nice too. It's nice to be real and completely transparent with who you are. I think sometimes it is hard for us as women to take a risk and be real among our friends. But when one of us decide to take that risk, it teaches everyone else that it's okay and SAFE to do the same. Many of us wear masks in our relationships and I try really hard not to. So instead of writing all of the things that God is showing me in a journal, I write them on my blog. It's freeing in a way. It holds me accountable! I am naked before a lot of people, I am naked before all of YOU. In return I have women email me and tell me something they are dealing with that they do not even feel comfortable telling their own friends. I love that! I love that God can use my pain or my mistakes to bring freedom to others. Some of the things I write about have made others feel uncomfortable. They tell me that they do not have any marriage troubles, they grew up in a good home, no troubles as a child and they don't really have any troubles now. I think that is pretty awesome and I applaud anyone for being able to live such a pain free life. But that's why this blog may not be for them. I would think if you can't relate to anything I am saying, you would move on. I am praying that yesterday's post will send some of my readers in another direction.
I explained in the beginning of this post that I have deleted many emails after reading the first line. Some emails have said that they look at me as a "hurting" woman. Well, this statement can't be further form the truth. I am a VICTORIOUS woman! I am a woman that has been hurt and I will continue to be hurt from time to time. Life isn't perfect. But my writing has been misconstrued and it leads me to believe that I don't have "readers", I have "skimmers". When I write about difficult subjects, I always, always, always, always end it in a prayer or with some sort of resolution. Or maybe the next day I share how God helped me through that. But many people have obviously not seen that. When I write about my childhood, I am told how bad I need counseling. Well, I am not a woman that walks around the house crying every single day over my childhood but I talk about it because I feel freedom in doing so. I have been through counseling, I have also been through a four month counseling program created by Dr. Phil. Through the counseling I learned to not be ashamed of my story. I am PROUD of my timeline! That timeline has given me the most incredible relationship with the Lord. I know my Savior cares for me and my pain has given me a faith beyond measure. I would not trade anything for what I have now. If me being able to talk about difficult things makes you feel uncomfortable, then I pray you will move on. This blog is not for you. Whether or not I have deleted your comment or your email, I don't really have a fight for you anymore. I have no words to respond with on email so please don't send them anymore. I am a Godly woman, I know that, my family and friends know that but most importantly my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knows that. For Christ is the one I long to please!
Some women don't want to say this or admit it. But I will. There is a breakdown in women's relationships. We tear one another down. We give unsolicited advice, our opinions and say a lot of things to one another that are not well thought out or prayed over. Our words are loose! Our words can really hurt and destroy. We serve in our church, we sing in the choir, we take care of the babies in the nursery, we blog and post things about Jesus but our words are disgusting. I am guilty, you are guilty, women are guilty of being harsh to one another. It's called judgment! In my home we do Santa Clause and my kids dress up for Halloween. Some of you disagree and would judge me based on that. I would judge you based on the fact that you don't. You get my point? This is what women do. Don't say you don't, you do. When my third child is born, I will try to breastfeed maybe or maybe I will do formula. I don't know but I am praying about it. And I buy babyfood at the store! The thought of making it sends me into convulsion! When it comes to schooling for my children, I lean towards public right now. I am two years away but I do not see myself doing homeschool. But if you do, I honestly think you are amazing. Maybe one of you will be the one to show me it is a real option for me. I don't see me changing my mind but I am not there yet, who knows! But this is me. This is who Amanda is! I am going to continue to try everyday to be the woman God created me to be. Some will like it, some will hate, some will love it, some will even be inspired by it. I am flawed, you are flawed, we are all flawed. But I pray that as Christian women, we can allow the Lord to use blogging as a tool to unite us, instead of tear us apart. What's happened on my blog is only one instance. I came across two women yesterday that shut down their blog because of mean spirited comments. From this point on I am going to pray harder than I ever have before I write things on this blog. We have to realize that God has given us a huge responsibility with our blogs. You may not like an author, a Pastor or you may think mega churches are horrible (I have read this). One of my dear friends was saved in a mega church, so was her little boy AND I went to a mega church for four years and loved it! I even posted something about a contestant on American Idol only to feel convicted later. What if that person googled her name? How would she feel after reading such harsh criticism? That's another blog I deleted. I see this happening, I read it. The blogging world has only made me realize how much more of a problem there is.
I pray that the Lord will reveal my heart to anyone questioning. I know He will fight for me, He always has. But what I have experienced over the last few months has really made me sad. If it means I turn my comments off and keep people from responding for a while, I will. You don't have to agree and I am going to be okay with that. Regardless, I am a victorious woman in Christ. So get ready, I have much more to share about life and what God is teaching me!
(Since I do not use bloglines, I did not know that every single time I add to or edit after writing something, that it would show up in bloglines again. SORRY! So if I am blessed enough to be a part of your bloglines, THANK YOU and please forgive me for editing and adding after I have posted! I don't see me changing this bad habit. :) )
Thursday, August 24, 2006
When I was nineteen years old I began writing devotions. After writing them, I would send them out on email. I have a binded homemade book that a friend sent me a few years ago that was full of my devotions. She spent a lot of time putting my devotions together and then made a beautiful book full of all of my devotions and sent it to me on my birthday. It was priceless! God speaks to me in incredible ways that I can truly take hold of. When he does, I like to write it out. Call them sermonettes, object lessons or whatever but it's stuff that the Lord gives me and I like to share. So last year I discovered blogging. I knew one person that had a blog. I decided after reading her's a few times that I wanted a blog of my own to write devotions. I had no idea that strangers would read my blog. I did it so my friends and family could read what I was writing. That's what I did it for! When total strangers began coming to my blog, I was excited. My knowledge of the internet or blogs was minimal. I did not even realize how people were finding my blog. It became much more fun! I was now going to blogs, leaving comments and meeting women all over the world. There was something wonderful about blogging for me. As a stay at home mom in a new community, I was lonely. This helped and brought new joy to my days. That is how I started blogging. I love to write, I love it! I don't consider myself to be a great writer and that's not really my purpose. But one thing I do want to be is an anointed writer. I feel called to minister to women and I am passionate about doing so. This blog has helped me to be able to do that and it has helped me find healing in my own life.
So it's been over a year since I started blogging. My first blog no one really came to. It was a site I had to pay for. Then I learned that blogger was free so I switched. That's when I discovered a whole new world. I was shocked! I had no idea that there were particular days of the week that women wrote about recipes, cleaning tips, or posted photos. I was totally unaware of this world I stumbled across. I have never participated in any of those daily or weekly writings on my blog but I have read many of yours and I enjoy it. I don't have anything against it, I just don't choose to do it. My purpose for blogging is different and that's okay. Right? I am often tagged to participate in memes and before blogging I did not even know what that word meant. So I have done one meme in the life of this blog, one. Again I don't have a problem with reading memes, I just don't care to do them. Then I discovered blogging awards. I was shocked! You mean people are being recognized for their blog and receiving awards to display on their site?? Wow. (If I sound bitter about blogging awards, I am not. I am sure I would post my award PROUDLY!) You can also add a site meter to your site to figure who is coming to your blog and where they are coming from? I can actually find out how many people have come to my blog in one day and if they came more than once. Amazing! There are endless things about this blogging world that I did not know about. Moms are obsessed with blogging. I have become obsessed with blogging. I love it! I love being able to write about what I want to write about and I can say whatever I want to say! This is my blog! Right?
But something started happening that I did not particularly care for. Women started giving me advice, giving me their opinions, even diagnosing me. It was gut wrenching! In my writing I have always been honest, open and completely transparent about my life, especially my childhood. Those of you that have read my blog must know by now that I am 100% aware of my crap, I write about it. I reveal to you my crap all the time! I have told you that when I am stressed I want to go buy a pack of cigarettes and that I have smoked many times when I am stressed! Don't worry, I don't now! I am pregnant! But over the past few days if I was not pregnant, I probably would have already smoke an entire pack. And here's the deal, I am not a smoker! You also know that I have stretch marks on my hips and that I have acne scars and that I have yelled at my three and 1/2 year old and that I have called my husband a name! YES! My marriage is not perfect. I have thrown shoes at my husband, I have thrown something into the wall and knocked a hole in the wall. I have cussed! I still struggle with saying DAMMIT! I AM NOT PERFECT and I have never tried to make any of you think I am. I watch too much TV, I like the Black Eyed Peas CD and YES, I do drink alcohol. But those of you that KNOW me, know that I feel convicted for watching all of the reality TV crap that I do and I don't listen to the Black Eyed Peas anymore and I am not at home drinking every single night or every single week. I try not to yell, I pray that God will break me of yelling and I have not thrown anything at my husband in a long time. AND I can't remember the last time I called him a name! But I did say a cuss word just this morning! My blog is a way I can share, journal and be real with the world. Some choose not to share the type of things I do but I feel called to do so. Many would say that If I am going to post the content I do, I should be able to take the feedback I get. But I feel a different way. This is my blog, it's not yours. If I want to write about your life, I will ask your permission. So as I write about mine, I have the right to filter the feedback I receive. I do have a teachable spirit, my family knows that, my friends know that and most of you know that. But I have chosen to reject some of the things that come my way through this blog. The Lord has given me discernment and I can tell the spirit behind some things said to me, I don't like it.
Some comments/emails are women that want to give advice. Even when I have asked at the bottom of my post to not give advice, it still comes. Only God knows the heart behind some of the comments I receive, I am not always sure of the motive. But one thing I am finding is that women have a hard time being "real". If you want to say, "I am praying for you." Great! If you want to say, "Hey, I have been there." GREAT! That's encouragement to me. PLEASE do not treat me like you have beaten all of your demons in life. None of us have. Pain is pain. You may not face the stress of approval addiction or codependency like me. Yours may be jealousy, fear, infertility, weight troubles, marriage troubles, child troubles, grief, depression, anorexia or panic attacks. We all have battles ladies and none of us have it all figured out. We can find freedom, rest and hope and healing from Jesus Christ but we will NEVER be complete until we bow at his feet! Our Lord will do whatever He has to do to remind us that WE NEED A SAVIOR. That;s what happen to me this week. The conflict that came up in my life was a result of me needing a reminder. I needed to be reminded that I am still on a journey and I still need lots of help. Counseling? Maybe so. Prayer? Of course. But through my trial, God showed me that I was not prepared for the conflict that came my way. I had neglected His word, I had not been reading it. My battle was lost because I had nothing to fight with! My mom tells me all the time, "You can't go into battle without your sword!" That's what my conflict taught me and I had a part two planned for the blog I had posted but I deleted the blog.
I deleted the post because my point to the particular post was lost. People came to my blog and to my inbox with their own agenda. An agenda to tell me that I need help and they didn't. There was a lack of humility, a lack of love, a lack of true concern. It hurt me. It made me second guess myself and it invaded my space. So today I have to draw a line in the sand and tell you that I will not allow my boundaries to be crossed anymore. If you comment in my blog with something that does not flow within the vein I am writing in, it will be deleted. If you comment with something that has nothing to do with my post, it will be deleted. If you comment with your own agenda, it will be deleted. If you try to diagnose me, it will be deleted. If you correct my grammar, it will be deleted. Often I will have comments based on comments of others, I do not want this happening. I do not want my comment section turned into a chat room on how to counsel Amanda with her troubles. When I write, it is raw, it is my stuff and I own it, so please don't try to take it away from me and make yourself look good. Those are the boundaries. If you do not wish to abide by these, do not read my blog anymore.
The enemy is real. He is alive and kickin'!Blogging is just another area where he would like to take control. I will not let that happen. It's time for me to walk to the enemy's camp and take back many things he has tried to steal from me this week. My blog is the first thing I am taking back!
Since I am aware of how God is constantly molding me, I have to ask myself a very important question. As I ask myself this, I take another risk of my problems being answered by some of my readers. Hopefully after this post, that will not happen but here it goes! Why have I let this blogging thing bother me? Why have I let some of your comments hurt me? Once again, I am on a journey to figure that out but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let me be counseled by those I am in covenant with and let me be counseled by HIS word and by HIS spirit.
Monday, August 21, 2006
31 Things I love about my husband!
(in no particular order)
1. He is a man's man. Hunter, fisherman, a total outdoorsman! I love that!
2. He loves sports but he is not the type of man that HAS to watch sports center! THANK YOU GOD! I could not handle that!
3. He can build anything! With all of the tools he has, there is nothing that man can't build!
4. He can fix ANYTHING! ANYTHING!
5. He brags constantly on my cooking/baking and brags to other people.
6. When I am singing somewhere, he gets nervous for me.
7. When we are out to dinner, he pretends like he is Rachel Ray on her $40 a day show. After he takes his first bite, he gives me the total run down on the food. This is HILARIOUS! (you would have to see her show. she is quite crazy over her bites of food)
8. He is always trying to come up with a name for our very own show on the Food Network. He says this is how we should be making money! I agree.
9. He is the MOST hands on Dad I have ever seen! He does not make me do everything. He actually gives the baths too!
10. He always notices my new outfits and shoes! Okay, maybe this is a bad thing. :)
He pays attention and I like that!
11. He tells me everything and I do the same with him. There is nothing we hide or keep from one another.
12. He is funny. You would not think this because he is shy. But he is the funniest person I know.
13. He changes more diapers than me when he is at home!
14. He is affectionate. I have to work on this one. He is the first one to hold hands. Always.
15. He is a man of integrity. He is respected at the city gates. My husband's reputation is GOLD.
16. He is a servant. He will help anyone and he would not want the credit.
17. He takes me fishing. When I catch more than him, he doesn't get mad. He's proud of me!
18. He does not gossip, he hates it. If he hears me saying something ugly about someone, I get in trouble!
19. He is kind and gentle. He would never be forceful or confrontational. Never!
20. Why did I wait until #20 to say this? HE IS HOT! Yes, that's right! My husband is HOT!
21. He has worked for UPS for almost 13 years. He is a very hard worker and loyal to the bone.
22. He is extremely stable. He has brought so much stability to my life and I needed that.
23. He is the best looking UPS man you have ever seen! I will promise that one!
People joke with me all the time and ask if he is on the UPS calendar. I always call him Mr. January! :)
24. He is dark, very tan all year around. I love this! Olive skin! My kids got his coloring too! Yeah!
25. He is in love with me! A friend of mine told me not too long ago that she could see how Jeremy worshipped the ground I walked on. That was an incredible compliment. But she was right. I know he is my biggest fan in life. He adores me.
26. He has a country boy accent, you know kind of like Matthew McConaughey. He grew up in a small, small town. I like that about him! You should hear him say "babe." That's what he has ALWAYS called me.
27. He reads his Bible every single day, without fail! He is always in the Word! He reads the Bible to the kids.
28. He is a country boy that loves sushi! Thank you Lord! That's what he gets for marrying a city girl!
29. He cleans! He is VERY clean! You should see his side of the closet! When he was a bachelor I discovered right away how clean he was. He wipes down the sink. No water drops in the sink!
30. He is an amazing Father! Amazing! He loves our babies with everything he has.
They adore him! When they hear that garage door go up every afternoon, they run to him! I mean RUN!
31. My husband loves the Lord. He is a Godly man. He prays for me and for our kids. I find so much strength in that.
Okay, this is hard because I have to stop. There is so much more I could write about my husband. Soooooo much more! I think we should all do this sometimes with our spouses. When you start writing all these things out, you realize how blessed you are. Our marriage is not perfect and I do get mad sometimes and want to ring his neck but Jeremy is my safe place. I know I am loved by him. I know I can trust him. I know that he will always protect me and take care of me. He works so hard to take care of his family and provide for us. There is NO ONE more blessed than me! :) That's how all wives should feel about their husbands. It's a journey at times but I am so, so, so thankful that God chose me to be Jeremy's wife.
Babe, I love you. You are truly my best friend. You are the most incredible father to our children. Your character has made me a better person. I am truly a better person because of you. I am so proud of you my love. Happy 31st Birthday!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I am prayerful, I am hopeful. We need a home, we need a place our family can grow. Last time we were there, we were newlyweds. Now we have two kids and one on the way! A lot happens in five years! I have been up since early morning praying about today, praying that God would show us the way. Praying that my husband will have an open mind and heart. So if you are reading this before you head out for worship, pray for us.
Lord, we need your guidance. Shout in our ears, let your answer be clear! Thank you Lord for all that you are doing in our lives. We need you.
Friday, August 18, 2006
When my husband was saved almost eight years ago, a Bible was given to him that I love to look at sometimes when I am studying specific things. I enjoy looking at different translations and study notes. This Bible is an Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado. Max Lucado helped me through some difficult years as a teenager. His books gave me so much hope in my walk with the Lord and I learned so many things about God's love for me. I enjoy his writing, it's easy to read, easy to understand and speaks to the heart. So this Bible I will go to from time to time because of the incredible descriptions he writes about each book in the Bible. What he says about Ezekiel really got me interested in reading the story.
"Out of the ruins of Jerusalem came a gutsy preacher named Ezekiel. He was among the Jews taken to Babylon after the fall of his country. He left behind his city. He left behind his temple. He left behind his home. But he didn't leave his faith. He announced it to everyone who would listen. For twenty-two years he paced the streets proclaiming both sides of the faith. The bad side? Turn or burn. Forgive me for being so direct but Ezekiel was direct. The good side? Turn and learn. God has a great plan for His people. A great city. Justice will reign and worship will be restored. Unlike Jerusalem. God's city is eternal. Who will be in God's city? Ezekiel answers that with the final words of the book-THE LORD IS THERE. Out of the ruins came Ezekiel. Out of the ruins came a promise. Out of the ruins came a new hope. Is your life in ruins? Look ahead to God's city: THE LORD IS THERE." -Max Lucado
There was a point in my life when I felt like my life was in ruins. I did not feel like there was any hope. How would I be able to grow up and have a normal life? How would I ever be a wife or a mother? If I did become a wife and mother, how would I be a good one? All I had ever known was pain, dysfunction, chaos, tragedy. Was it possible to have peace? Was it possible to live a normal life? For so long I heard the spirit of the Lord telling me he would bring me to the other side. I heard Him telling me that my childhood and my teenage years was NOT the final word. So I began to have hope. I began to feel and see that there was hope for my life! Today I am thirty years old. I am married and I have children. I am a wife and mom! And today I know that the Lord was there. THE LORD IS THERE. He brought me out of the ruins. When I felt like I was nothing but dried up bones, he gave me new life!
The Valley of Dry Bones 1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." 4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath [a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' " 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' " 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.' "
As I read that passage, I can't help but to get chill bumps and tears in my eyes. What a mighty God we serve!! I can't help but to shout hallelujah for bringing me out of such a dry and hopeless land! For God spoke to MY bones and He has given me a brand new life. Through the pain, I found my strength! The pain enabled me to become so much stronger than I ever was! And what does the name Ezekiel mean? Ezekiel is Hebrew, "Whom God makes strong." What a name!
So today I would like to introduce you to my Ezekiel, our third child and second boy. Today we officially found out that we are having another boy! Ezekiel Walter. We have been praying that the Lord would give us the perfect name for our son or daughter and we knew that Ezekiel was the perfect choice for a boy. Actually we were never able to agree on a girl name, now I know why. Walter was my grandfather's name, my Mom's Dad. He died many years ago but he was a strong and loving man. I am so happy my son will carry his name on. But we will call our son Ezekiel and probably Zeke. Josiah ( aka Si Si or Siah), our oldest, has already been calling this baby, "baby Zeke". It's perfect! Today as I was reading about Ezekiel, I read the most incredible thing. "Ezekiel was born exactly at the time of the reform in the ritual introduced by Josiah." How perfect is that?! These brothers were meant to be!
I can't believe it! I am a mother of two boys and a girl! Ava Beth will be the reigning princess, no one can take her place. We will be officially out numbered by the males in this house! I think Ava Beth is going to love being in the middle of those brothers. Josiah and Ezekiel will take care of her and she will probably drive them crazy!
Here's a picture of me today. This is for you Barb!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I hear screaming in Ava Beth's bedroom. Both of my kids are now crying, screaming and mad at each other. I knew that Josiah would soon run my way and tell me that his little sister had taken his train, his truck or something away from him. "Mommy, sissy just hit me and it hurt!" I looked at him and asked, "Josiah did you hit her first?" He answers, "Yes I did because she took my truck away." By this time Ava Beth has run in crying too. Well she didn't have tears in her eyes at all. I think she was just trying to get in on the action and play on my emotion a little. She put her arms around me and started hugging me and wouldn't let go. She KNEW she was in trouble! It was a moment all of us mothers have. It's the moment you want to laugh as you look at their cute little faces and say something close to this. "Josiah, Ava Beth, we do not hit when we are mad. We do not hit! Ava Beth, do not take your bothers toys away. Josiah you are old enough to come and tell me when she does something to be mean. You don't hit her and you especially do not come in her whining. I cannot hear you when you whine. Both of you change your attitude. Go play. This was your warning. Next time you will both go to timeout." Ava Beth is one and a half years old. Does she understand what I am saying? Well, I think she knows I mean business. But this little girl is always up to something. Josiah runs off and begins to play with his trains but Ava Beth stays behind. So I took this picture of her about one minute after she got in trouble. Sometimes I don't think she cares if she gets into trouble, I think she likes it. What is timeout for someone her age? Well since she is still in a crib, I put her in her crib for a couple of minutes and then go back and explain why she is in timeout. She may not understand everything I am saying, but soon she will.
This was not meant to be a parenting blog post. I am learning everyday how to be a parent. But, it was a moment for me that I realized how I have to parent and discipline consistently almost all day long, especially when they are so close in age. I get tired of being a referee. Sometimes I feel like I am going to loose my mind! But when they have faces like this, it's hard to stay frustrated. That was my blogging point. It's another fun day of parenting! :) Consistency, it's key to my parenting success! Oh and of course PRAYER too. "Lord, please don't let me lose my mind today."
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
It's now about 12:45pm and I feel like I did when I was a teenager after attending an all night "Lock In" with my youth group. I hate this feeling! My kids finished lunch, now they are sleeping. It's my time to sleep too. But when I laid down, I could not rest. It's like my adrenaline is pumping or something. So since I like to ask God questions, I decided to ask him these! "Why am I feeling this way? What is wrong with me Lord? Is there someone I am supposed to be interceding for? Am I supposed to be praying?" I instantly felt like the Lord wanted me to open up His Word and read. So I did. This is what I read.
1Keep me safe, O God,for I have come to you for refuge. 2I said to the LORD, "You are my Master! All the good things I have are from you." 3The godly people in the land are my true heroes!I take pleasure in them! 4Those who chase after other gods will be filled with sorrow.I will not take part in their sacrifices or even speak the names of their gods. 5LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.You guard all that is mine. 6The land you have given me is a pleasant land.What a wonderful inheritance! 7 I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 9No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth[a] shouts his praises!My body rests in safety. 10For you will not leave my soul among the dead[b]or allow your godly one[c] to rot in the grave. 11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
While Psalms brought me comfort today and reminded me of God's love, Proverbs reminded me of how much I need His instruction and counsel. This passage was exactly what I needed to read. So I pray that as I curl up in my bed and try to sleep that the Lord will allow this to truly penetrate my heart. I want to "get" what He is trying to show me. Oh how I need my sleep but I need to hear His voice even more.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
When my parents divorced, I lived with my Dad for a couple of years. From the time I was born and somewhat still today, my Dad has always been an injured man. Many of us are injured but many of us also seek rehabilitation. He has not. While he has changed and become more tolerable and normal, he is still at times the very same Dad I have always had. Today I love him. I care for him deeply and I cannot imagine my life without him. My children adore him and he adores them. My Dad would give us everything if he could. He gives us money almost every week, not because we ask but because he loves us and he wants to give. Next year when I put Ava Beth in a combo dance class at a Dance studio down the street, he will pay for it. When Josiah plays soccer, he will pay for it. That's what he wants to do and we let him. We don't mind the help! At one time in my life he never kept his word. I can remember at least a hundred times he said he would do something and didn't do it. That particular bad trait has now changed. He follows through and keeps his word. I never thought I would see the day but I have. Even though he has done so many things to redeem himself for all the years he hurt me, it is still very hard. Just this past weekend I was angry with him. I did not want to talk to him, see him or have anything to do with him. He hurt me. It wasn't intentional, it was just his old behavior coming back and showing it's ugly face. I can't help but to remember the past when this happens. I can't help but think of Mandi, the sad little girl that longed to have a Daddy. The little girl that dreamt of having a Daddy to hold her, protect her and love her. A Daddy she could trust, a Daddy she could count on. Some days I grieve for Mandi. Now as a woman, as I refer to myself as Amanda, I sometimes wish I could be Mandi all over again. Maybe if I had the eyes of Amanda and the body and mind of Mandi, everything would change. Mandi would know she is loved. She would know her true value. But then I am reminded of the precious testimony Amanda has! God can use the pain and heartache of Mandi to show this woman Amanda, how she has been loved and treasured her whole life.
I was twelve years old living with my Dad who was also a severe alcoholic. If you know anything about alcoholism then you know there is a term called "Functioning Alcoholic." Well my Dad was not a functioning alcoholic. His alcoholism kept him from having a job so we had nothing. Since he was unable to keep a job, he was unable to pay monthly bills. As a result, our electricity was cut off and stayed off for three months. I didn't tell anyone, especially not my mom. In fact, I hated my Mom. I blamed her for everything. I was so wrapped up in taking care of my Dad and feeling sorry for my Dad that I blamed her. It wasn't her fault, I know that now. But I did everything I could to hide things from her in fear of being taken away from him. My Dad told me just about every single night that if I did not live with him, he would kill himself. He was so out of his mind that I believed him. During all of this, I learned to be a fighter. I am still a fighter. If you hurt me, I will fight every ounce of my being to not hurt you back. That sounds harsh but I had to protect myself daily and when I feel like someone is trying to hurt me, my first instinct is to hurt them first. But the awesome thing about Jesus is how he changes us. I may struggle with wanting to fight or wanting to hurt someone before they hurt me, but the Lord keeps me from doing it. That bad behavior has been rebuked so many times that I know what to do when I see it coming! Praise the Lord! But the point is this, I had to fight for myself constantly. My Dad would come home drunk every single night. Since I did not have electricity, I was scared of the dark a lot. I was also very scared of loosing my Dad. What if he died in a car wreck, what if he did not come home that night? But somehow he always made it home and always made my life a living hell until finally he would pass out and sleep.
One particular night he had been out drinking and came home very angry. When he was angry he would talk bad about my mother. He would tell me that she did not love me and that she hated me. It hurt me, it hurt me a lot. Finally I got tired of hearing him say that so much, I decided to stick up for my Mom. "I know why she left you Dad! You are mean, you are crazy! Why would anyone want to be with you?" At that point he threw me into a wall by grabbing one of my hands. The ring finger on my right hand was broken. I have a very bad habit of popping my knuckles and that is the one finger I am unable to pop without experiencing pain. So when I do pop it, I am instantly reminded of that night. After throwing me into the wall, he then opened the sliding glass door in our apartment and shoved me outside. He closed the sliding glass door, locked it and did not return for several hours. The only thing I was wearing was a underwear and a long t-shirt of his. I never had pajamas. It's funny because I am obsessed with my children having pajamas. This has a lot to do with why. I guess I feel like my kids having pajamas makes me normal today. I never had Pajamas but I always wanted them. The night I spent on the patio was difficult. It was thirty degrees that night. I remember how cold it was because I remember being inside the apartment without electricity and freezing underneath blankets. Now I was outside with nothing but a t-shirt. I don't think that there was a time in my life that I cried harder than the night I spent on that patio. A while back I took my husband to those apartments, I showed him the patio I sat on. It was hard to do but it was something that needed to be done. I can't say I found any healing or comfort by going back but I did find joy in knowing how much I survived as a child. So maybe I did find healing. That night in the cold, sitting on the patio, all curled up in the t-shirt, I talked to God a lot. I told him how this wasn't fair. I learned early on that it was okay for me to be mad at God. I could say whatever I wanted, He was still there. During that horrible night, I learned how to hear the voice of God. I learned how to experience His comfort. It was then I learned that I was a fighter and that God was going to use me someday to help others that had been hurt. So I thank Him for that night. I truly thank Him!
There were many more nights to come. None seem to effect me as much as that night but many more events took place that brought deep fear and pain into my life. My Dad locked me out again and threw my Bible down the stairs outside our apartment. He also got a butcher knife out and made me watch him cut into his arm. When I see him, I try to never look at his forearms. I don't want to see those scars. I know that he must live in horrible guilt every time he sees the scars on his arm so I never mention it. He has paid for his sin, I think he pays for it daily. Who am I to bring it up? We have had many conversations about the past. He knows the pain he has caused. He lives with it. A few months ago he told me that the night he threw my bible down the stairs was haunting him. The Lord gave me an awesome moment with my Dad. "Dad, let it go. Don't carry those thoughts with you anymore. Satan wants to remind you. I have forgiven you. It's gone! Forget it!" My Dad cried when I said that. It was a moment God gave me to truly show God's love to my Dad. My Dad is saved, I am so grateful for that. He doesn't always live a life of joy, he's usually upset about something. But he loves God, I know he does.
Since having children I have grieved my childhood a lot. As I read other women's blogs and I learn about their childhoods and the loving homes they lived in, I hurt. At times I even get a little mad but then God reminds me that all of the pain I endured was for a purpose. The pain has become my pearls! This is what God has used to show me how much He loves me. Friends, let me tell you something, God has got big plans for my life. I am not being boastful or proud, I am just telling you that He is going to use this. My dreams of standing before women and speaking about what God has done and what He can do for them, my dreams of standing before thousands of women and sharing with them how they can find freedom in JESUS, it will come true. The Lord will use this for HIS kingdom! I wouldn't trade that pain for anything in this world! Mandi isn't just a little girl named after a Barry Manilow song (yes, it's true!), she's girl that had purpose and now God has freed her up to show others how to be free themselves.
Mandi has a story to tell and now I am privileged, honored and blessed to be the one chosen to share it.
(Click here. On the first page you will see a list of films/videos at the bottom. Choose RAIN. Watch the the film, not the clip. It's only 11minutes. Someone showed this video to me about a year ago and it changed my life. Today as I wrote this blog entry, I watched this video again. It is powerful and it reminded me of how precious my pain is.)
So there you have it! It's now 4pm and my husband will not be home until 7pm. I am making one of his favorite recipes tonight, homemade fettuccine alfredo and chicken, caesar salad, homemade caesar salad dressing and my own mozzarella/garlic bread. I just realized that I am out of fettuccine noodles. A lot of times I will have Jeremy stop on his way home or I will call and ask my dad to bring me something I need from the store but wait a minute! I don't have kids! I can leisurely, quickly, run up to the store and get what I need! Wow. I think I need a day like this at LEAST once a week. I think I will start dropping hints now to my mother-in-law! Oh did I mention I am pregnant with my THIRD!? Yes and I am thinking I will need TWO days a week when the third child is born at the beginning of the year! Don't be hatin' but my in-laws live two miles away. Yes, I am blessed. So blessed!
Okay so don't get tired of reading yet! This post is ending but I have a whole other one to write. When kids are with grandparents, I am quite capable of writing two posts in one day. So here I go! Stay tuned for another!
Monday, August 14, 2006
Okay, so this is not a Bible lesson. There is no spiritual knowledge I have to give you today. Well so far. The say is still young. This is just me revealing my favorite show for Fall's lineup. Dancing With The Stars! September 12th can't be here soon enough! So incase you haven't heard, here are the new celebrities for this season's Dancing With The Stars!
TUCKER CARLSON- He used to have a show on CNN, now he is on MSNBC. I don't like him. I am a Fox News girl anyway.
MONIQUE COLEMAN- She is famous for the movie High School Musical. I had to sit through this movie while babysitting. I will NEVER sit through it again.
SARA EVANS- Now this is my favorite female on the show this season. If you don't like Country music, you would hate riding in my car because that's what I love. And I love Sara Evans. She is a real woman, with a real body. Plus she is beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside. She's a girl's girl. She's a MOM! GO SARA!
WILLA FORD- She is a pop star. Actually she is referred to as the bad girl of pop. Guess what? I have never heard of her!
VIVICA A. FOX- No description needed. You know who she is.
HARRY HAMLIN- Remember Lisa Rinna from last year? Well, Harry is her husband.
JOE LAWRENCE- Remember little Joey? He was in the show called Blossom and he was in some other stuff but he is most famous for saying, "Whoa." He's not really famous anymore. Maybe this will help him.
MARIO LOPEZ- Okay, don't say you did not watch Saved By The Bell because you KNOW you did! Well maybe you did. Remember Slater? Well, that's Mario. I don't really care for Mario after hearing that he cheated on his wife after a week of marriage. Yikes!
SHANNA MOAKLER- Beauty queen that I have never heard of.
EMMITT SMITH - I have to say that he is #1 on my list! OF COURSE, he was a Dallas Cowboy! After playing for the Dallas Cowboys for thirteen years, he then played for Arizona one year but signed a one day, no pay contract with the Dallas Cowboys so he could retire as a Cowboy. Now that instantly will make me call in and vote for Emmitt! Oh and he is the NFL's all time leading rusher! I think he will be good on his feet. Jerry Rice was a receiver and he did good but Emmitt will be one to watch! Look out!
JERRY SPRINGER - I have NOTHING to say about him. Perish the thought!
So there you have it! September 12th is less than a month away and I got my dancing shoes on!
Friday, August 11, 2006
Yesterday afternoon I had my part II to yesterday's post completed. That way I could get on the computer first thing this morning and post it. But in the middle of saving it, blogger went down and I lost it. So I think the Lord wanted me to work through some things before posting the second half of "Cravings". Part II is all about something I am facing right now, a change taking place. It's nothing bad or earth shattering, just something that is weighing very heavy on my heart. With that comes my feelings and my own opinions. Now if you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I like to really pray about what I write when it comes to my relationship with Christ and the things He is showing me. As a woman trying to pursue holiness, I don't want to put anything out there that would confuse anyone or cause anyone to stumble. Right now my view on church is really at a difficult place. I need some help with all that I am feeling. I need some help working through all the opinions I have formed in my head when it comes to church. Tonight I am going to buy Rob Bell's book called Velvet Elvis. A friend of mine recommended this book and she knows I am a huge fan of Rob Bell. His sermons are wonderful to listen to. In fact, I would love it if his church was HERE. That may solve our church dilemma.
Since the post I had planned for today was lost in space, I think the Holy Spirit had some time to work on me and soften me a little bit. Once again He is doing something new in my life, brand new. Actually, I have never been at this place before or even tasted anything like it. It's scary, but also exciting because I know God is about to reveal himself in a way I have never experienced. A few days ago I read something that someone had written about church. This woman writing is a GODLY woman. But guess what? She does not attend church. I was kind of surprised but at the same time I was proud of her for writing about it. She explained that she was feeling like she may be ready to be a part of a church. So many Christians spend so much time talking about their church that I never hear the word JESUS come out of their mouth. I know a lot of church people that don't seem very different from the non church people.
I hear church people freak out when they find out you like Red Wine or a Margarita with your Mexican Food! I know church people that drink but hide it. I know church people that are afraid of being seen at Super Target buying a bottle of wine. Well send me, I will buy it for you!
The truth is, I am done. I am over the whole churchy church kind of talk. It's not genuine, it's not real life, it's totally and completely fake. Now don't get me wrong. There are things as Christian Leaders or people in ministry that have to show boundaries. If I am on staff at a church, I don't know if I would go to the Target down the street and buy Yellow Tail Shiraz! If you don't know what that is, it's wine. Good wine! That would be something I would have to really, really pray about. I don't want to ruin my witness or my ministry. There are two sides to that scenario and both have good points. Christians debate this constantly so I am not going to. But if you think that me having a glass of wine makes me a woman that is unable to minister to women, then obviously I will never be able to speak into your life because I enjoy a glass of red wine! Getting drunk, I have a problem with. The Bible is crystal clear about being drunk. So why is that some have a problem with drinking wine but they don't have a problem with watching Grey's Anatomy, Boston Legal, Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men and Friends reruns. Now let me go on the record here. I LOVE the show Boston Legal, LOVE it! But when people are having sex in a coat closet, sex in their office and it's not with their spouse, I do feel convicted. The enemy is sneaky. As Christians we say we don't agree with it and just because we watch shows that support affairs and sexual relationships doesn't mean we will do it! Right?! Again, the enemy is sneaky. Some choose not to drink because of family alcoholism, etc. That's totally understandable. But I have heard a lot of talk lately among friends of mine that have been judged because they like to have a beer or Margarita or wine. I have not faced this kind of judgment before.
So we all have different convictions, yes. But people in the church, including MYSELF, like to put sin in a pretty box and tie a big, fat, bow around it. We judge, oh how we judge! Several years ago I went through a Life Management Program called Pathways. This was something that Dr. Phil McGraw created. Pathways is a four month program. It's secular, not a Christian program but it's operated by many Christians. While I was in Pathways I had several classmates that were homosexual. One of them I became pretty close to. I had energy for him, I really loved him as a person. When he would speak in front of the group, my heart would break for him as he shared his troubles as a child. This guy who was gay believed in God. He believed that he knew God. He believed God loved him. Before Pathways I would have thought he was crazy but I saw his heart. Whether or not he was saved? I was unable to make that call. Some Christians would say there is no way a gay man or woman could possibly be saved. That's another thing like drinking and TV watching that I don't care to debate. Sin is sin! During one of the sessions, I noticed this particular guy crying. After the session ended it was time to go to our rooms for the night and work on homework. Yes, we had homework. But first I grabbed my buddy (a buddy was your person that was assigned to you and worked on your training together through out the whole four months) and asked my gay friend if I could pray for him. After I finished praying, he asked if he could pray. Yep, a gay guy praying! Perish the thought! Right? No, it was a prayer I will never forget. A true sinner, asking God to help him.
A few months ago when I visited my grandmother in Beaumont, Texas, we all went out to eat. On our way we saw a man, his wife and young child standing on the corner holding up signs that said, "God hates fags!" I shouldn't have, but I looked out the window while we were stopped at the light and shook my head in disbelief to the man shouting things in his battery operated megaphone. I looked in his eyes and showed him how much I disapproved. I could have been shot but my heart hurt so bad when I saw that. I was mad that someone could portray God in that way! When the man saw that I disapproved of his behavior, he shouted something horrible. I still can't believe he had his little boy out there with him. What a sad, sad world we live in.
At the end of my cul-de-sac, there are two lesbians that live in a house together. Obviously they are a couple. Across the street from them is another lesbian that lives alone. I see all of them outside every single day talking as they walk their little dogs. They know me by name. They know my children by name. They have seen us leave for church on Sunday mornings. Actually I had a conversation with one of the sweet ladies and told her we were still looking for a church. She KNOWS we are Christians. I make it a point to let her know through my verbiage that I am a Christ follower. I make it a point with my smile and my actions to let her know that I am a person that loves her.
So this is what I crave. This is what I have a taste for. This is what I am praying about. This is why I am tired of church, tired of looking for a church, tired of talking church. I don't want an EMERGENT church! I don't want a SEEKER church! I don't want a church that thinks that are not seeker but really are! I don't want a church that is trying to be like every other church! I WANT TO BE THE CHURCH! No, I don't want to start a cult. I don't want to be a Pastor. I don't want to FORSAKE the church. I need it, my kids need it. But, I don't want what I have always had. My taste buds have changed and I can't handle the status quo anymore. I crave authenticity. I want to go somewhere that is not worried with how many people are there that day or focused on how they are going to get more people to come the next Sunday. I don't need a fancy name tag or a pretty bulletin. Just put me in with sinners! Sinners that are really desperate for CHRIST. A place that has an alter flooded with men that are addicted to pornography, men and women trying to come out of homosexuality, men and women needing a Savior instead of needing a church. You see all of those people are in our churches but no one wants to be real. No one wants to expose their sin. We all want to have Bible Study but we don't want anyone to piss us off.
I have thought about inviting my cul-de-sac over for breakfast on a Sunday morning. I just want to get to know them. Find out what they do, what they like and who they love. Do they have kids? Do they have grandkids? Maybe that would start a spark. Maybe that would show others the love of Jesus. Who cares if I ever stand on a church stage and sing again! Who cares if I ever get to be on staff somewhere again! Who cares if anyone knows that I can lead a Bible Study, speak or write a drama! What if I am supposed to focus on love? Loving my neighbors, loving those I come in contact with. What if that's how I am supposed to minister to women?
We have not been to church in two weeks. We read our Bible, we study His word daily, we pray, we worship, but we have not been to church in to weeks. One of my very best friends, Tiffany, asked me yesterday if we were going to church on Sunday. My answer was simple. "I don't know." Where else can we visit? Where else can we put our kids in the nursery while we try to figure out whether or not this a place we should come to again? It's grueling, it's painful, it's the most horrible process ever. We will go to church again. We will not forsake the body. But, we are waiting on God for a crystal clear answer. The hunger has changed. The craving is strong and so far it has not been satisfied. What is God doing? What is he trying to show us? That's what I pray He will reveal to my husband and when He does, I know He will reveal the same to me too. Each Sunday we both know what we want. We have been thinking and praying about it daily. But it seems that we get the total opposite. I know that my Husband hears the voice of God, I know that I hear it too. My prayer is that we will hear from Him soon regarding our church home and our place of ministry. Our vision has changed, we have changed, our relationship with Christ has grown and we want more of Him. But we don't want what we have had in the past.
I am not against church. I am not putting down anyone else's church. Understand that I am in the middle of a process. I am not trying to start any debates or offend anyone. I am just being real, completely real. Please allow me to do that. I love God, I am a Christ follower and I need him to RULE my life! Oh how I need Him!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Sonic is one of my least favorite fast food places. When we built our first house four years ago, we lived in a town that was not developed. There was nothing! The only thing we had was a Sonic. So now I have to be pretty desperate to crave Sonic! My Mom loves Sonic. Last week my Mom came over so we could take the kids to the water park. But first we had to eat and the only thing we could agree on was Sonic because I knew I could get the kids grilled cheese. As I looked at the menu, I was stumped. There was nothing I saw that looked good. My mom said she was getting the Frito Pie Wrap. It sounded disgusting but she urged me to give a try. I did. I loved it! Loved it, loved it, loved it! Well this past Monday I woke up with a Frito Pie wrap at the forefront of my mind. No Taco Bell, no hamburgers, no Arby's please! Just give this girl a Frito Pie wrap and I will be good to go. The day was still young, way too young for a Frito Pie Wrap so the kids and I head out for a few errands. Daddy needed new shoes so we head to the Nike store. After that, the time was right, off to Sonic we go! I order what we need. The grilled cheese, the Sprites for the kids, the Dr. Pepper for me and the Frito Pie wrap that I have been thinking about half the day. Home is just a couple of miles away, I hate eating in the car! Especially with kids, especially when the "new" has not worn off the SUV I got in January and especially when it's 102 degrees outside! No matter how hungry I am, we are NOT eating in MY car!
Finally we are home! I've got the kids at the table all set up. I have my food in front of me. It's time to eat! I couldn't wait! As I unwrap that shiny, silver wrapping, I see it! My Frito Pie Wrap! I think I even sounded a bit like Rachel Ray for a moment. The excitement I was having over this food was a bit ridiculous. Rachel Ray goes nuts over her food! As a Mom you know the feeling of hunger that overwhelms you while you are trying to make sure the kids are set up with their food. It seems like it takes forever before you can finally sit down and enjoy. The moment had arrived. I bit into my wrap and instantly realized I was biting into scrambled eggs! I HATE SCRAMBLED EGGS with a passion. I can handle pretty much anything when it comes to eating but scrambled eggs is something I can't do. I adore Sushi while most people hate it. Yes, I love sushi but I hate scrambled eggs. Instead of a Frito Pie wrap, I am served a breakfast burrito. Since Sonic serves breakfast food all day long, it did not matter that I ordered at 12:30pm! Someone else ordered breakfast, someone else got my Frito Pie wrap and probably loved every bite of it. This was not something I could let slide. My kids were busy eating and right after that I would put them down for their three hour nap. There is no way I can load them back up in this awful, Texas heat, drive to Sonic and explain my situation to a teenage girl taking orders at Sonic! I decided to call and ask for the manager. The manager actually answered the phone. I was very nice. Maybe if I killed him with kindness , he would offer free delivery and bring my Frito Pie Wrap! This is what he tells me. "Oh we realized we made a mistake a few minutes after we gave you your order. The person that ordered the breakfast burrito hit the call button and told us about our mistake. We tried to find you but you had already left. Why don't you drive back up here and we will give you your Frito Pie Wrap?!" Despite how upset I was feeling, I remained calm and friendly. I explained that my kids were eating and that it would be a lot of trouble for me to load up my kids and come back. He took my name, wrote it in a book and told me that whenever I was ready I could come back and get my Frito Pie Wrap free of charge. When I hung up the phone, I was sad, disappointed and still very hungry. No, I did not eat the breakfast burrito! No, no, no, no, no! No scrambled eggs! That will never be a craving of mine.
All I wanted was my Frito Pie Wrap. I had a craving for it, I had a taste for it, that's what I wanted. Instead I got something unexpected, totally different than what I wanted. That my friends, is frustrating, disappointing and totally unsatisfying. Next time I will unwrap the shiny, silver, wrapping, then unwrap the wrap to make sure it is a Frito Pie Wrap and not a Breakfast Burrito wrap!
Can you guess what I will be eating for lunch today?
(This will all make sense tomorrow. That's why I have a part II!)