Saturday, October 07, 2006


For those of you that did not read this, you may not know that my blog has moved and also changed! I have a new title, a new theme, a new everything!

So hop on over and check it out!

Something Beautiful

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Something! Part II

(Be sure to read to the very end of this blog!)

A few months ago I met Susie. Many of you have seen her incredible blog designs and have decided that you are not quite content with the boring templates offered by Blogger. Seeing her work got me thinking about my life, my blog and my purpose. Yes, all of that from just browsing Susie's work. My friends and family know that I am a gal that prays about everything! And I do mean everything! Well, as I began to see Susie's incredible blog designs, I began to pray about changing mine. Was it necessary? Was it worth spending money on? Should I just be content with the choices given by blogger or should I make a bold move? Since I was not sure, I prayed. I do consider my blog to be an online journal, a record of my spiritual journey but even more, a ministry. Every single day I have emails come to my inbox from women all over the world. The fact that women want to write me and share their own life, thrills me. I take it seriously and I praise God daily for the women in my life that have come through this thing I do called "blogging." So praying about changing my blog was big and for a while I wasn't sure if it was something I really needed to do.

Then back in August, the Lord began to really show me some new things He was doing in my life. I knew He was up to "something" but I wasn't sure what it was! There was something I experienced that ushered in this new "something" He was doing. It was like all of the sudden, my outlook changed, my desires changed and the way I looked at myself changed. Last year I experienced a lot of pain in relationships. I hurt in a way I had never hurt before. The intensity lasted much longer than I expected because I just wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with the pain. In many ways I did give it up to HIM. I prayed God would allow me to forgive and move on, I prayed that others would forgive me and I wept daily for several months. A lot of cleansing comes from crying! Every single day I would ask the Lord to reveal to me what I needed to do in order to find freedom. The pain I was carrying was toxic and it was preventing me from wanting to be intimate with everyone I knew. When I would try to make new friends, it never went well. So I continued praying for God to heal my heart. Finally somewhere along the way, I began to feel that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about this pain. Over and over again, I heard in my spirit one particular thing. "I am doing something. Your time was not wasted. This pain is a part of my plan and something is going to come from this."

We all know that time is one of the greatest healers when it comes to pain. Time gives us clarity, time gives us strength and time allows us to see the TRUTH. We can't always see the TRUTH when we are in the midst of the pain so we have to wait for that precious gift called time. Time granted me peace in many ways and as that process took place, I began to hear God's voice on the situation again. In the book of Jeremiah, there is a scripture that I love. Jeremiah 33:3 Ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets about what is going to happen here. (NLT) And that's what He did! The Lord began to unveil a whole new thing in my life for my ministry, my marriage and my role as a mother. He whispered secrets in my ear! I realized that I was created for something pretty great, but I had not positioned myself for that to be revealed. I truly was missing out! I had to let him USE my pain for something! So I repositioned and the Lord revealed an amazing thing to me. He clearly showed me that all the pain from my childhood was being carried over into every other heartache I had ever had. Healing was a must, it had to take place! Otherwise, every single time I was hurt or experienced disappointment, I would go back to feeling like that unwanted little girl. There was a yoke that had to be broken! My time with the Lord became a time where I truly listened for His voice and by doing that, I discovered that all of the pain, everything on my own personal timeline was there for a a particular reason. It was being used for "something"!

During this reflective time, I continued to really pray about my blog, Far More Than Rubies. As I saw the beautiful blog templates Susie was creating, I began to see a theme in my own life. I had gotten use to my blog template, I did not want to change it. Far More Than Rubies was something the Lord gave me, I couldn't change it! Since I was a little girl, He has been showing me that my worth is far more than rubies. When people hurt and disappoint me, he continues to show me that my worth is far more than rubies. When I disappoint myself or replay old tapes in my head from long ago, the Holy Spirit always whispers "My child, you are worth far more than rubies." But I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the new revelation God had given me. I kept thinking about my passion to lead women to Christ and to show them how to find true freedom from their past. I kept thinking that maybe God was doing something completely brand new. In fact, I knew He was. There were things I had talked about in Far More Than Rubies that I did not care to re-visit or or go back to. I started realizing that it was the first chapter to many more to come, it was time to move on. While I had gotten used to my boring blog template, I had also gotten used to all of the pain and dissapointment I had carried around for so long. God had clearly spoken to me about so many things in my life that He was changing and there was a common theme I couldn't shake. So I continued to pray that the Lord would give me a new chapter for my blog, with a new title to go along with it.

That's where sweet Susie comes in! We exchanged emails, she endured my two months or more of indecisiveness and then she created my new blog. I knew that the Lord was showing me so many new things that I had to change the title of my blog. But I kept going back and forth. At one point I said, "No, I am not changing it. I have not heard from the Lord yet. I guess I am supposed to leave the title and enjoy my gorgeous new template!" Finally I decided to leave it and just use the old blog for now. I knew Susie would help me when I was ready. After all, the new design was finished, it just needed a new title!

Finally, this Monday afternoon I was spending some time with the Lord and my new title hit me! It was "something" that came directly from the Lord and my time with Him. The amazing thing is, the title is EXACTLY what the Lord has been trying to show me for the past full year. First it was Him showing me that my WORTH is far more than rubies and now it was something new! God was showing me that I was created for something! So, here it is! My new blog site, my new chapter. I pray that you will be blessed as you read a brand new chapter of my journey. What is that something? Well, you will have to visit the new site to find out!

Click here to be taken to the new site!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


(For those of you that have me in your bloglines, thank you. But, I apologize to you for my post appearing so many times. Blogger is on the blink! Big shocker!)

We all do it, don't we? Some of us worry about bills, worry about our kids, worry about our husbands, worry about our health, worry about things that we cannot control. Then, we worry about how we look, what we said, what we did, what we are going to do. We constantly second guess ourselves as women! I know I am using the word WE a lot but it's true, WE ALL DO THIS! No one has a magic potion that keeps them free of worry or self doubt. There is no magic age we someday reach that completely frees us! That is why we can all learn from each other. I really frown upon comments like, "Well, I am much older than you." Or "When you get to be my age you will quit caring what everyone else thinks!" Bologna! Not possible! I do think as women get older, we understand who we are a little more. While I don't look down at someone being twenty-five years old, I do know that I have changed so much since that age. In fact, I wouldn't want to go back to that age for even a day. And women that are now thirty-five years old and past the age of thirty (I am thirty), probably have a much clearer picture of some things than I do. They are probably a tad more comfortable in their own skin at thirty-five then they were at thirty. That's the gift of age! But, it turns into bologna when someone thinks they will have it all together when they reach a certain age, especially when they try to portray that to everyone. We all have different timelines, different stories to tell, different journeys to travel, so that makes us ALL extremely valuable women.

Each of us lay our heads on different pillows each night. The pillow is truly what defines us. The pillow is where it all comes to surface. Whatever is bothering us, whatever we are worried about, whatever we are struggling with, whatever we are happy about, it all goes down on the pillow. When I see a beautiful woman, with her beautiful children, get into her beautiful SUV to drive home to her beautiful home, I may be tempted to look at her as someone that has it all together. But the truth is, she has a pillow too. Her pillow may be full of self doubt, fear, worry, insecurity, jealousy and so much more. In fact, I know that no matter how beautiful she seems or how perfect her life appears, her pillow has a story to tell. You see, no one is exempt. No one is free from self doubt, no one is free of struggles.

I read an email this morning that said something that really struck a chord with me. "I am just trying to learn how to be okay with me." Well, aren't we all? Oprah would not be making the money she makes if it weren't for a world full of people trying to be OKAY. So why is it that we want everyone to think we are okay? Why do we want others to think our lives are perfect? Why do we want others to think we have beaten struggles, never to deal with them again? Women do this! It drives me insane! It's something I can see coming from miles away. I recognize it so quickly because I do the same exact thing. But, I try really hard not to. Here's the deal. God cannot use someone trying to be perfect. He can't! He won't! We were created to be ourselves and when we can't be honest with those around us or even honest with ourselves, we are useless. It's a harsh reality but it's true. Useless!

Imagine attending a Bible Study with women where everyone walks in wearing no makeup, no jewelry, no cute shoes, cute clothes, or anything else used to accessorize like we do! Instead you are told that the only thing you can wear is sweats and socks. And it can't be cute hooded sweats with flared legs. I am talking old fashion Hanes sweats and Hanes socks! That's it! Your hair isn't fixed, your makeup isn't on, it's just YOU. Then you are told that you can't talk about all the things you do. You can't talk about how YOU homeschool your children or how YOU sing at church or how YOU scrapbook or how YOU are the best cook ever born or how YOU have the best marriage in the whole world. The only thing you can talk about is your guts. You know, the stuff you don't want anyone to know about! Can you see it? Can you just imagine for one moment what that would look like? I know it would be hard for me. I love fashion, I love having funky hair, I love letting everyone know what I can do and I have some pretty bad acne scars that I cover up with makeup. My pores are big, and I look like I have no eyelashes because they are so blonde. I would feel pretty plain on the outside. How about you?

But that is who I really am! Underneath the cute clothes, the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the accessories, there is something! There is something more. My pain, my journey, my struggles, my flaws, that is who I am. THOSE are my pearls! And if we could all embrace THIS, we could all learn a lot from one another. Forget pride, forget everyone thinking you have it all together because we all know you don't! Some of us have experienced victory in areas that others haven't, some of us have conquered things through age, but no matter what, we ALL have things we have to work on daily.

Don't be so afraid to be YOU. Don't be so afraid to take that makeup off and show the world who you really are. Be who God created you to be!

He created us for something! Something pretty amazing, something pretty awesome! It's for something! Do you know what?? I do! And I am going to share it for the next couple of days! God has been showing me some pretty amazing stuff that I know is going to speak to some of you. Thanks for reading my sermonette, I am honored to have so many incredible women in my life through this blog. You bless me so much!

God is up to SOMETHING!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If I ever loose my faith in you

If you did not read my last post, this won't make much sense to you. But if you did, then you may understand a little better. You see my precious friend, Tiffany, called me a few minutes ago and said, "I know you have heard many Christian artists sing cover songs. But, you need to listen to Jill Parr sing Sting's song, If I ever loose my faith in you. Listen to the lyrics and think about all that you have been going through, all that you have written about and you will see that this is your song during this time in your life."

Music has always been the biggest thing God has used to speak to me and reach me. It reaches me in ways I can't explain. I think it's part of me being a singer because when I find songs that mean so much to me, I always envision myself singing them. So I went to Itunes and listened to the song. In fact, I purchased it for 99cents! I have heard Jill Parr sing it, I have heard Sting sing it but until today it never really meant anything. I have lost a lot of faith in church right now, I have lost a lot of faith in people but I haven't lost my faith in HIM. Someday I will sit at His feet and talk to him about this exact time in my life. I pray that I am "getting" all that He wants me to get.

Lord, if I ever loose my faith in you, there'd be nothing left for me to do. Nothing. Thank you Lord for being my constant companion and the lover of my soul. Thank you!

"If I Ever Lose My Faith In You"- Jill Parr version
You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but
If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do
Some would say I was a lost girl in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I'd lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me
If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do
I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face
I never saw no miracle of science
That didn't go from a blessing to a curse
I never saw no military solution
That didn't always end up as something worse but
Let me say this first
If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do

It's kind of like spinach

(It's hard to tell someone's tone on a blog. Just so you know, I am not sad or mad today. I am just thinking. This blog has OFTEN been used as a journal for me. Some of you have proven you can handle my thoughts and opinions while some of you are offended so in order to protect myself and protect my online JOURNAL, I have turned the comments off on this post. My friends understand. My friends know that I am okay. The people that truly KNOW Amanda, know my heart. So please respect me enough to not send emails with advice. DON'T DO IT! THIS POST IS VERY LONG, it's a blovel!)

When I was a kid I attended a day care/day camp in the Summers that I absolutely loved. We did all sorts of fun activities which left me with great memories of roller skating, swimming and bowling. While the day to day field trips were fun, there was something even better, the food! Usually a Day Care is not known for good food but this one was. They had their very own chef who we called Ms. Hansered. I can still remember the weekly menus, which varied from week to week except on Tuesday's and Friday's. Friday's were sloppy joes, always. As a woman that loves to cook, I have tried to make sloppy joes like Ms. Hansered but I have yet to be successful. Her sloppy Joes had potato chips on them and I have tried to recreate the taste over and over again but I can't. Even with the potato chips, I am unable to create her magnificent sloppy joe taste! So usually I refrain from making Sloppy joes. Tuesdays meal was kind of a strange combo but now it makes perfect sense I feed two toddlers every single day. I understand why she served spaghetti, Macaroni and Spinach. As adults we would probably never want all three of those things together but we all know how picky children can be when it comes to eating so choices are good. Most of my classmates would eat one or two things on their plate, usually leaving the spinach all by it's lonesome. But I always, always, always ate all three things. And my favorite thing on that plate wasn't macaroni, it wasn't even spaghetti, it was SPINACH. My Mother can vouch, I love spinach. I even remember saying that I loved spinach one day when I was about six years old. It was the usual Tuesday meal at the Day Care and while the plates were being served, I joyfully exclaimed, "I love spinach!" All of the sudden a little classmate of mine said, "Why don't you marry it?" But I paid no attention to him. After all, he cried at school anytime it rained. He was afraid of thunderstorms! So by now, you get the point. My love for spinach is real. Spinach salads, canned spinach, spinach pizza, spinach enchiladas, spinach souffle, spinach quiche, spinach dip! Remember Popeye and his love for spinach? Well, my biceps are pretty big too and it's not from carrying kids around all day, it's from spinach!

Despite the years of major dysfunction in my home life, I always attended church. Even though I lived with an alcoholic father who was abusive and often insane, I accepted Christ when I was five years old. Thinking about my childhood now reminds me so much of how amazing God's hand in my life truly is. While I lived in a pretty harsh home environment, I still had a Savior and I knew it. My Dad was usually hungover or sick or just sleeping but Mom still got us up to go to church no matter what. I was there for Sunday School, Christmas musicals, Easter Eggs Hunts, Vacation Bible School, all of it. Now I realize that if it wasn't for the church always being a part of my life, I may not have turned out as good as I have. Statistics would for sure say that a child like me would not have any hope in sight. Society would say that I would have been a pregnant teenager, divorced later on, an alcoholic and totally incapable of being a mother. But thank God that Society did not have the final word because God always, always, always had his hand on my life. He taught me so much through my church family. I am so grateful for the families He often sent my way to teach me about marriage, parenting and so much more. The church truly saved me from the statistics. I learned how to use my gifts and talents in church, I learned how to have relationships and I have met some of my very best friends in life just by going to church. My Summers spent at youth camps, weekends spent at retreats, Sunday mornings spent at early morning rehearsals for praise team, youth events, singles events, married events, children's church, ladies nights, dinners, fundraisers, baby dedications, Christmas and Easter musicals and so on. Church has allowed me to thrive socially and has given me some of the best times in life. I love it! I love what it has taught me, what it has done for me socially and spiritually and how it has shaped much of who I am in Christ. So, for me, it's kind of like spinach. Love it, gotta have it.

Over the past several weeks we have all been informed that spinach is not so good right now. I remember the first time I heard something in the news about bagged spinach. I did not think much about it. That night after hearing the news report, I went to eat at my favorite Mexican good restaurant with my husband. I am a gal that orders "the usual" so of course I ordered my spinach enchiladas! The waiter didn't miss a beat, "Sorry we are not serving that right now due to a spinach crisis." My husband had not heard the news, I had forgotten about the news so the waiter calling it a "spinach crisis" really threw us off. Obviously I was forced to order something else. From that moment on, the news, the papers, the newspapers, were all talking about SPINACH! Reports of people even DYING from spinach! E.Coli is not something I care to experience so I decided that spinach was not worth the risk! As much as I love Spinach pizza, spinach dip, spinach quiche, spinach enchiladas and even canned spinach, I am not about to eat spinach at this moment in time and I am not sure when I will feel safe in eating it again. Really, it's just not worth the risk. Those that ate spinach, enjoyed every bite of their spinach but woke up the next morning being rushed to the hospital, probably don't care how good the spinach tasted at this point. Right?

We have not been to church in a while. Over a year ago we were a part of something pretty great. It was the most incredible social experience we have ever had when it comes to church. We had amazing friends, we were being used for service (sometimes too much), we felt like we belonged to something and as a family it was a perfect fit for all of us. As a stay at home mom, my days were filled with activities. I had many shopping buddies, prayer warriors, and friends I could call to even help me out with the kids. It was fun, it was fulfilling, it was incredible having ALL the women in the church at Ava Beth's baby shower. On a social level, I felt like the homecoming Queen. Everyone likes the homecoming Queen, everyone wants to hang out with the Homecoming Queen and the Homecoming Queen always has the most popular friend, the Prom Queen. Right about now it may sound weird, I may have lost some of you as I try to explain how great we felt our life was at this church. These people were our family. These are the people that we chose over our family many times. These are people we wanted to be with on Holidays and any special occasions. I am not sure what it feels like to be a part of a Sorority in College but I am pretty sure it feels a lot like what I felt like being a part of this church. I was never the most popular girl in school, I wasn't a cheerleader, I wasn't a girl that ever felt like I belonged. But finally at twenty eight and twenty nine years old, I felt that for the first time in my life. Then one day, it all came to a crashing halt and it was over.

The details aren't important anymore. Time is one of the most incredible healers that the Lord gives us and time has healed many of my hurts. Also the Lord has orchestrated some pretty great things that have also helped. A phone call here, an email there, letting me know I am missed, reminding me of how special I was to them. But even though the sting is no longer present, even though I feel safe and free in exchanging emails with those from the past, the memory is still there. I'm no longer on the squad anymore, my phone doesn't ring off the hook like it used to and I lost the best shopping buddy I ever had. That void has not been filled, there hasn't been a church or people to take the place of what once was. My husband and I have NOT connected with any other couples, I haven't laughed so hard that I have almost peed in my pants, I haven't toilet papered anyone's house with my Pastor's wife (who was also my best shopping buddy and friend) while I was 7 months pregnant and I have not sang in church, acted in church or served in a church for over a year now. I haven't had anyone I can call on the phone fifty times a day, I haven't been inspired by a "group" of women and I haven't made a true "connection". While those memories are incredible, while those memories can make me laugh just by thinking of them, those memories leave me with a lot more. I am left with a bit of pessimism, anger, and uncertainty. It's kind of like spinach for me.

No matter how much I love spinach, no matter how great it tastes, no matter how good it is for my body, I am not about to eat it again. Not now! I am just not ready for spinach and I am not sure when and if I ever will be.

Yesterday I got a phone call from one of my best friends. Her and I are in the same place in many ways. She is the one person I can really be honest with spiritually. I can tell her how I feel and she has either already felt the same thing or is feeling it with me. Her phone call was completely God ordained. He knew I needed her yesterday. I can talk to her on the phone and feel so fulfilled in many ways as a woman. Her words reach my soul like no one else's words possibly can. We were at a church together several years ago where our Pastor had an affair on his wife. Lunch after lunch we would sit and cry or talk together about the situation. It had not been made public yet, it had not even been proven, but we both knew in our spirits that it was happening. So our journey together as been pretty hard core. My husband and I left before the situation got any worse, but my friend was the Worship Leader and had to stay. Her journey there was much longer than we expected and while she continued on, my husband and I had an incredible ride at another church. This was the church that gave us more than we ever imagined. The day it all ended, the day I knew I was off the squad, I called my friend. She said something to me I will never, ever forget. "I have learned that until Jesus comes back, we will constantly be disappointed and hurt by people. So as long as we go to church, people will shock us, hurt us and do things we may never be able to get over." Over the last year, my friend and I have been trying to figure out together what we do with that realization, what do we do with that TRUTH? People will hurt us, people will bring about pain, people will disappoint us, people will do things to us that may cause us to never be able to forget. And since we KNOW that it WILL happen, how does one move forward?

All of the wonderful memories I made, all of the great friendships I once had during that time, they are over. Gone! One might say that I walked away with great times, great lessons, and so on. I do have a bunch of great pictures! Pictures of events, pictures of Holidays, pictures of baby showers, but not one person is in my life. Someday my daughter will ask, "Who were all those people at the hospital when I was born? I saw all of those people in the pictures but who are they? Who were all those women that were at my baby shower?"Yes, there is the occasional email but really I have nothing to account for NOW but heartache and pictures. It's kind of like spinach. The person who went into the hospital after eating spinach doesn't care about how great the spinach tasted because all they were left with was E.coli. So here's the question! Why on earth eat spinach ever again? Was the great taste worth it? Was the green, healthy vegetable really good for your bowels in the long run? Maybe. But if you got sick, no. For those that died from eating spinach, hell no!

My husband and I talked about this for the first time in a long time just last night. I wanted to see how he was feeling. I wanted to see where he was at. I wanted to know why he doesn't want to visit yet another church this coming Sunday. He explained it best and he explained it in a way that I could totally identify with. In fact, our feelings were identical. "I can't hear from God in this right now. I spend time with Him. I hear from Him. I love Him, I need Him, I have not forsaken HIM. But, when it comes to us planting our feet in a church again, I don't think it's possible. I know it will happen but I know it is going to be something that he does 100%."

As for me? Well, I am restless. My friend keeps asking me to go to a Bible Stud with her during the week. It's on Tuesday mornings, they have childcare, they have mommies, they have pregnant women, they have all kinds of gals that I am sure I can relate to. I have told her I would go several times, only to cancel the morning of. Today I was supposed to go. But last night I called her and explained that once again I couldn't go. I am always honest, I don't make up excuses. I just tell her the truth. "Kelly, I am not ready. I am not ready to put myself out there with a group of women. My restlessness is not rebellion, I promise. I am just not ready. But please keep asking me. I may say yes next week but this week."

Last Sunday morning I knew we were not going to church. I did not feel guilty, I did not care whether or not my mom asked me, "Did y'all go to church today?" I did not care. It was a quiet morning around the house. The kids were still sleeping so I told Jeremy I was going to the grocery store. The whole way there, I prayed. I told the Lord I wanted to honor him today with my words, my countenance, my body, my everything. I worshipped in the car, Josiah and I worked on some memory verses that I have been teaching him and we painted together. All day long, we worshipped. It wasn't in a church building, it was in our home. Someday I know we will be back in church (I think), I know that we will have friends, play dates, dinners and bible studies. But for now, I am not sure what that picture looks like or when it will happen. Currently people say things to me like, "Oh I have been there." Or "I will be praying for you." Some have even suggested my husband and I going to get counseling over our "Church Crisis." They talk to me like they know or like they understand and it's all while they are RUSHING to get out the door for a church meeting or church function. They understand. Right. They tell me that my marriage will suffer if we are not in church, our finances, and other things will suffer. They say that my children are being cheated by not being in church every single Sunday. Well, I disagree. Why is it that the church has to paint my faith? Why is that I have to do what other Christians EXPECT me to do? Why is that I am said to be in a rebellious stage? Why is it that other CHRISTIANS can't believe that I am closer to the Lord NOW than I have ever been? Is there is litmus test? Does it matter that I have lead someone to the Lord in the past month or that I have shared Christ with my next door neighbor? Does it matter that I have been spending time trying to get to know my neighbors that are also lesbians? Does it matter that my three year old has memorized more scriptures than most Christian adults? Would that help me pass the litmus test or does my butt have to be sitting in a pew or a folded chair every single Sunday?

I am not bitter at CHURCH, I am confused. I am scared and I am unsure about my place of ministry right now. My husband feels the same. For me, it's kind of like spinach. Right now I am staying away from spinach and church. I love them both, I think I need them both. But, I am a little scared to try either one.