Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ch 8 -- We are completely loved and accepted completely

God's timing is perfect. The timing of this chapter in my life is perfect.

I was raised in a very conservative, Southern Baptist home, and my parents took me to church every time the doors were open whether I thought I needed it or not (Thank you Lord for godly parents). I also attended a Christian school from kindergarten through high school. It was at school that I felt that God was all about discipline and damnation. I learned of God's harshness and how everything is either right or wrong. The results, a lot of kids rebelled and were turned off from the church rarely to darken the door even now. Some kids like me lived in fear of failure and condemnation. I have to admit it made me stronger because I bucked up to it and towed the line, but it hasn't been until recently that I have been willing to accept God's love unconditionally. I have had an amazing walk with God with peaks and valleys, and He has proved Himself over and over again to me throughout my whole life. He took me and my husband through such a journey just to become parents and has restored my marriage on more than one occasion. And yet, here I am at 38 really feeling, learning, and accepting His love. It started when I read The Shack by William Young, and when the main character returned to the shack and met God. It was such a healing book, and I didn't know that I needed healing.

The Bible said there's no greater love than this that a man should lay down his life for his friends. If God, knowing that I was going to royally screw up in my life from time-to-time and that I was going to need redeeming, decided to sacrifice His son for me before I was even created and yet He created me anyway, does that not speak volumes as to His love? His love cannot be measured. It's incomprehensible to me at times. "I could sing of your love forever. I could sing of your love forever."

I have been loved by my wonderful godly parents, and I love my husband and children dearly, but in my life next to God's demonstration of love, there are two women who have shown what sacrificial love truly is. These women are the birth mothers to my beautiful children. One I've never even met, and the other allowed me in the delivery room when our daughter was born. It was the most gut-wrenching event when she had to place Erin in Patrick's arms and leave the agency without her. People tell me that they could never place their child for adoption, and yet, birth moms and dads make the choice to give life to their children and bravely, boldly, and lovingly choose a better life for their child. That sacrificial love is rare, and I am doubly blessed as are my children for the selfless act. God made that same choice for His Son. The only difference is God knew in advance His Son would pay the highest price in order to show us His love, His sacrificial and redeeming love. Birth parents place their children for adoption to give those children hope and the possibility at a better future, but God gave His Son to Joseph and Mary and all humanity knowing -- HE KNEW -- He would be brutally sacrificed so we would KNOW -- not hope for a better future, we would KNOW that He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Plans that include hope and a future in Him the One who loves us without strings or conditions or limitations. He loves us despite of ourselves, and there is great freedom in that.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Lisa wrote, "God's love is without pretense, without conditions, and without limits. His love feels good the night before, the morning after, and every time in between. It is like water to a thirsty soul, food to a hungry heart, and freedom to a confined prisoner. It is nothing short of amazing, and I am constantly amazed by it. I cannot believe He loves me like He does..." This is what I have been learning this whole year. Could not have said it better myself. You know, I looked to my husband for love, and while he loves me, it isn't always the way I want to be loved, and to be honest, he's human. He's going to screw up like I do. I cannot expect him to fill the need only God can fill.

Acceptance -- here is another area this chapter has had perfect timing in my life. Since being off from work for 6 weeks recovering from a partial hysterectomy God has been laying some things on my heart that requires action. One of them is, for lack of a better term, a charm school for girls in the 3rd through the 5th grade. Keep reading. I'm not talking southern belle stuff. If you knew me, I'm more of the Steele Magnolia sort. It is my sincere desire to find a curriculum or create a curriculum that focuses on manners, physical changes and acceptance, and spiritual. I want these girls to know their value comes from God. Lisa sited Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb I KNEW you, before you were born I set you apart." THANK YOU, JESUS! Psalms 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I pray you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." God does not consider a life a choice, nor does He consider the work He is doing in a woman's womb, a choice. For those who have struggled with fertility issues, we may be keenly more aware or more sensitive to how miraculous pregnancy and the creation of a life is. Your life is. You are precious in His sight. The creation of a human being and a healthy delivery is truly a miracle. If a baby makes it through delivery, they are already over-comers.

I want these girls to not only accept themselves but to accept others the way God made them. He takes His time to knit them together -- do you realize knitting requires hands? God's hands? Do you realize that knitting takes time, patience, and He uses those terms only when talking about the human race. I haven't found in the Bible where He does that with any other living thing on this planet. I want these girls to know how precious they are to God and to not believe what the world and Satan are selling which is women have to be toothpicks to be beautiful; to be popular is the goal and will make you happy; to have the designer toy, etc, will make you fit in and belong. HOGWASH! I have a 7 year-old, little girl named Erin, and Wednesday night on the way home from church after having some special mommy-daughter time before, I told her I was so thankful that God created her so wonderfully. She told me she didn't think so. She told me she wanted to be thinner! SHE IS 7! And Satan has already started feeding her the lie.

We don't have to do one thing to be accepted or loved by God. He loves us despite ourselves. We just have to be willing to allow Him into our hearts to work.

One more thing before I close. Last year when my mom was going through a grueling round of chemo to fight Stage 3 breast cancer, my worship pastor went to visit her. He asked her if there was anything, anything at all he could do for her. My mom said that there really wasn't. She said, "It's enough to know that Jesus loves me." Why would God send His Son to the cross all those years ago just to harm my mom now? He wouldn't. He's not cruel. One of the most valuable lessons my family learned last year was the love of God and how He uses other Christians to do His loving for Him.

I hope the little girl in you will sing: Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones (God's children) to Him belong. They (we) are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

My prayer is that we have the courage to leave our fear and insecurities and jealousies at the feet of Jesus and that we willingly accept the loving arms of God around us and the Spirit's gentle hands around are hearts. And then, my prayer is that we emanate God's love to those around us, accept them as they are, and lead them to the One who loves like no one else every can.

My Daughter

My sister says that my daughter was prayed into existence (Erin's story can be found in my first blog -- A Little History) which means I have a huge job on my hands, and so often I feel that I fail or I'm not doing what needs to be done by her. God has given her such a precious, compassionate heart for all living things all the way down to the crickets (she released my husband's bait on a camping trip after she saw what he was using them for). She has a heart to share with others the love of Jesus, but for all the outgoing and bubbliness of the little girl who is my daughter, I'm seeing now she through her drama, through her words, and through her actions she doesn't value herself the way God does. I'm taking her to see a Christian counselor tonight so she can talk about her bad dreams, her nightmares, and now, I'm going to bring up her self-image.

Yesterday, I picked Erin up after school for an afternoon of just her and me to celebrate her "anniversary" until church began. Erin's adoption was finalized on October 26, 2001. Patrick and I had bought a special outfit for her earlier in the day to commemorate. Erin and I went shopping for her fall shoes and we visited my grandmother and another elderly lady at a nursing home. Erin was expressive and energetic and excited. She had a wonderful time at church and Awana's. It was on the ride home when I was past the point of exhaustion that I said, "Erin, I am so glad that God made you the way you are. He made you perfectly the way He designed you to be you." My seven year old daughter told me she didn't think her body was all that perfect. She said she wanted to be skinnier! SHE IS 7! Broke my heart that Satan had already wormed his way into this part of her life.

My conversation with her that followed was about how we are all made differently but made in God's image. "Look at the Cheetah Girls," I said, "they don't all look alike. They are all built differently." I explained that God made Erin's body the way it is for a reason. We just have to figure out what that reason is. I also told her that come high school she is going to have curves and the boys are going to be calling and I'm going to have to knock some heads of those boys too. I said she is still growing. God is still making her into the one He wants her to be.

I believe Erin's love language is Words of Affirmation. I have to step up my A game because Satan is doing better, but I refuse to allow this little girl to think less of who she is. God has big plans for Erin. It would not surprise me if she was called to be a missionairy. It would not surprise me if God used her ability to entertain and make people laugh to draw them closer to Him. She has a calling for her life.

For several weeks God has been placing on my heart a strong desire to set up a "charm" school of sorts at our Christian school in Shreveport, but unlike "charm" schools as in years past, there would be a time to learn about manners, a time to learn about their bodies and behavior, and a time to learn where they get their values from. I had already talked to the children's pastor and several moms who are more than eager to get this off the ground. My goal is to find or develop a program and have it implemented by Spring 2010. The future of our little girls are at stake, and if we can raise a group of girls who will back each other up, who will encourage one another even though they are different, who can accept each other's differences, and who know not only where their value comes from but Whose they are, maybe just maybe some things in our society will change.

My daughter wears anywhere from a size 12 to 14 in children's clothes, and do you know that it is hard to find little girl clothes that don't look like "hoochie momma" (as my 4 year old son would say). Modesty and self-respect go a long way with little girls who mature into young ladies and who develop into virtuous women. Lord knows, our homes, our churches and our society need for us to raise them up right.

It's time to fight! Fight for our daughters.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Forgotten Joys Renewed

Do you remember riding your bicycle without a helmet?

Do you remember standing up in the back floorboard of your parent's car?

Do you remember riding with the windows down on the car and sticking your head or hands out the window?

Do you remember sleeping with your windows open?

Do you remember visiting your grandparents as a small child?

Do you remember going to Vacation Bible School as a small child and the joy it brought you?

Do you remember shelling peas till your fingers turned purple?

Do you remember shucking corn till your hands were so tired you couldn't grip?

Do you remember feeling the cool dirt as you walked barefooted down trails or played outside?

Do you remember dancing in the rain and making mud pies?

I remember my mom cleaning the 12 by 60 trailer we live in for about 10 years. When the weather was cool, she'd raise the windows, turn on her favorite Christian record that included "The Doxology" and some other songs. She'd have on a duster and this brown thing on her head. The house smelled of cleaning fluids and sounded of Christian anthems. That is a warm fuzzy for me.

I remember the four of us, my mom, dad, sister and myself, sitting around the kitchen table playing a game called Paddle Ball, and laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face.

Oh, and I remember during the summer, my parents would invite some of their friends to our house for cake and coffee after evening worship. Lori, my sister and I, could sit and listen to my dad tell his stories that had our guests gasping for air, and even though we had heard them so many times we could recite them in our sleep, we too were laughing heartily.

I get so busy and so stressed with work and life that sometimes I miss those little joys. This is my last week off work, and I was reminded today of the joys of my childhood through the eyes of my children. I am so thankful for this time. Thank you Lord Jesus for precious memories.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


One of the things I have missed over the past few weeks since my surgery is the boy, MY boy. I haven't been able to rough-house with him like I normally would. He is a riot. (He is currently pusing the buttons on my laptop with his face. I've had to retype a few sentences.) He is full of life and energy, and when he laughs it is contagious! And I know I'm a bit partial, but he is JUST BEAUTIFUL! We are in the process of teaching him the manners of a gentleman...he opens the car door for me this morning, he opens the doors at school for the teachers and girls (even though his girl cousins like to hold the door open because it's considered a priviledge to get that assignment in class). You know, there are things you don't have to teach a boy however -- how to burp, how to aggravate another sibling, especially a sister, how to maximize the most out of a mud puddle, how to take apart things, how to make car noises, or how to use other toys as weapons, or how to love on their momma (even though Pearce is definitely not a momma's boy).

He just came over to me and raised his shirt, I get to have a big, fat zerber with the bonus of his belly laugh.

What got me on this tear to begin with was Pearce playing on his hand-me-down, pink and purple Leapster (he is very sure of his manhood. He's the only 4 year-old I know with a moustache!). He explained to me that should I need to talk to him, I'd have to ask him first. I asked how should I do that if I'm not allowed to talk to him? He chuckled and said, "Just ask." "But then I'll be speaking to you," and it just went downhill from there. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had been tackled.

There are days that Pearce is more than a handful. He's strong-willed and energetic (the answer to my mother's prayers), and he is just over-flowing the cup with himself. These are the days I refer to him as THE BOY. When I receive a call from preschool about Pearce hitting someone or something, there is a principal over the high school who is family. I call, leave a message that goes something like this, "Mr. Rodney, would you please go see THE BOY. He's done (fill in the blank), and I think he really needs a man to speak to him." I don't even have to tell him who I am or who THE BOY is!

Before adopting MY BOY, I never knew how that three-letter word was so expansive as to cover such a vast amount of information, material and action, but there is nothing like the presence of a little boy in your life to infuse it with energy and excitement and adventure.

Thank God for little boys. Amen and amen.

PS I'll have do a blog on little girls another time, but this time was about the one who currently calls me "big momma" (for what reason, I don't know, but then again, he doesn't have to have a reason.). ;>

Friday, October 24, 2008

Big Momma is Cleaning House

Many have heard of spring cleaning, but at my house we have spring and fall cleaning, and it was this weekend. I have recovered from my surgery to a certain degree and with frequent rests I was ready to tackle it. I had cleaned out my closet -- not to the extent I would have liked, but I tried it a couple of weekends ago. The cleansing for this weekend started yesterday with stripping down the beds, and as I was bending over and the waist putting the sheets on my four year old son's bed, he walks in and says, "Watcha doin' big momma?" Yes, I thought it was funny. He's also been known to ask me if a woman he sees in public is a "hoochie momma." A sense of humor is a must when raising kids because it wasn't long after the big momma remark that Pearce had one of his meltdowns.

At any rate, the house for the most part has been cleaned, and this evening's agenda? The daunting task of cleaning out the kids rooms. I clean out summer clothes, put them in tubs to be used for hand-me-downs, supply the closet with fall and winter clothes, inventory what is needed, and then I clean their closets out of the ridiculous toys from Sonic, trivial toys of no value, or toys that Pearce has taken apart. I don't know how he can dismantle little cars, toys, books, and flashlights which are his specialty. Right up until the last hurricane, we didn't have one working flashlight in the house. We found one that was missing the springs that held the batteries, one was missing the bulb, one was missing the back that held the batteries in place, and yet another was missing the batteries and the lens. We have now hidden a cache of flashlights and pray he can't manipulate the chairs to get to them. In Pearce's room, I also found a transformer that had been taken apart, tires removed from the wheels of cars, and puzzle pieces that had been used for other things.

In Erin's closet I found a stack of papers plates and some unused q-tips. She keeps the most minute items and covets them as being precious belongings. We lightened her load by taking 1/2 of her stuffed animals to take to church to donate to an orphanage in Guatemala. By the time, I got threw there were 2 garbage bags of what I considered trash.

They are so creative to use toys they have and make them into something altogether different. Granted, when we want to complete a puzzle we are inevitably missing at least 1 piece. But all the toys have been put in their proper home. We have collected toys that haven't been played with in order to donate. I take Erin to the Shreveport Rescue Mission to deliver the toys. I want her to know there are people with so much less and we need to be careful to be grateful for what we have.

One of Erin's new (hand-me-down) nightgowns is a pink, satin, dreamy gown. She has been floating around the house claiming to be a fairy blowing us kisses as she says good-night. She informed me that fairy's don't sleep with nightlights or with their doors open, so she does not need me to do those for her tonight nor does she need me to check on her. I assure her that I would not leave her door open or turn on her nightlight, but it was my prerogative to check on her as I am her mother. What a riot!

Oh, the joys of parenting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chapter 6 - 7 Behind Those Eyes

We make judgments about people every day based on what we see and hear. It's part of what I do for a living. I'm trained to look at people, cut through what they want me to see, and to get down to the meat of the matter, but when it comes to the spirituality of someone else, PLEASE! If we focused on our own relationship during that time wasted pondering someone else's appearance, how much further would we be? This means it would give more time for the reflection to turn on ourselves, cut through what I was putting up for others to see and get down to the meat of the matter.

Did you know that when a person lies the body has an automatic adverse reaction? I know this because I look for these when I'm interviewing someone at work and sometimes with people in general. The pulse quickens. There is the fight or flight syndrome -- do I flee from the source of my stress or do I fight it? The stomach tightens. Maintaining this lifestyle leads to digestive issues and ulcers and worry. Is it any wonder the Bible refers to the Belt of Truth? It girds our waist and stomach area that becomes bloated by our consistent swallowing and telling of lies. It can also be cinched back when we take an honest look and be truthful...but it's not necessarily easy, pleasant, or comfortable. Especially when we've swallowed so many of Satan's lies.

Why are we so willing to swallow Satan's lies? What are we wanting to cover up? Why are we so eager to accept lies as truth? Lack of depth? Lack of faith? Lack of enough faith? There can be such liberation and sweet freedom in living in the truth, but getting to that point is a painful journey.

Lisa Whittle talks about the Cover up:

Insecurity -- masked as drama at my house. My husband and daughter are the drama people, and typically, the drama is taken to a new level the higher the insecurity. I'm just now figuring this out. DUH! Now I just have to figure out the best way to cut through the drama to address the insecurity and encourage and strengthen the best way I can, and pray for them in a different way. This is not to say that I don't have insecurities it's just that is what was revealed to me during this quiet time. After all, I am considering a drastic career change in the next year or so...who wouldn't be insecure about that?

Jealousy -- I am very much like one of the authors Lisa Whittle quoted and talked about. I work in a male-dominated field, and have preferred it to working with women because of the trivial, non-sense some women put out there. But God has blessed me with some truly wonderful girlfriends, and now He has put a passion on my heart for women's ministry. It has to be from Him because this isn't something I would have volunteered for. I believed God has used my girlfriends to show me how relationships with other women can be. It doesn't have to be petty. It can be complementary like Lisa's relationship with Colleen. I am so thankful for my girlfriends who compliment my life, and I pray that I compliment there's as well.

Loneliness -- There is a difference between loneliness and being alone. Loneliness sounds to me like someone is craving contact, wanting to be seen, heard, and held but not succeeding in having those needs met. While I have been lonely even in my marriage at times because I was looking to my spouse to fill a need that was meant for God to fill, it's those who live in loneliness that scare me, like I'm going to be sucked into the vacuum of their life. It has happened to me before, and I got hurt badly by her. I feel for those who are stuck in loneliness.

Being alone, for me, is more of a choice. I have to admit I have gone to the woods in a travel trailer for several days by myself to be alone, to be without children, husband, work, responsibility -- it was the most rejuvenating and life-giving time for me. I loved it, and I am thankful I was allowed that luxury.

Fear -- Some people think the opposite of peace is chaos, but in reality, it's fear. Fear and peace cannot coexist happily together like childhood chums.

I am claustrophobic, and in March of this year, a girlfriend invited me to go to Italy to see a friend. While there, we ventured to several other cities in Italy. It was while we were in Rome that my girlfriend got to see my claustrophobia in full swing. We got into an elevator the size of a coffin in order to go up to our flat. Truly there was only room for 2 people if they were standing in line like school children. My girlfriend was in front and when we got to our floor in my heart I was praising God I had survived and could finally exhale, but after sliding back the first door, she began to try to open the second which would let us out of our coffin. The second door would not open. I tried. We banged on it. We pushed the second floor button again, but there was nothing. Then we heard a rather large, loud Italian man on the other side of the door yelling in Italian at us. He wasn't angry but seemed to become more passionate about what he was saying as my panic went off the charts. We called the host who said he was on his way. Then Cheri, my girlfriend, pushed the button for the first floor. When we got down there the door opened and I was free. Free from my fear, my panic and the coffin! I never took that elevator again. It was the only time Cheri has ever seen me wig-out. There was no peace for me in that elevator only fear -- no matter how unrealistic my fear was, it was real to me. When fear gets a grip on us, no matter what that fear may be, it affects our thinking. It prevents us from thinking accurately and clearly. Had we just pushed the first floor button after realizing the door wouldn't open, I would have been out of that contraption, that predicament in a minute, but instead, I was in that elevator for what seemed to be a minimum of 15 minutes! Fear can be paralyzing and prevent us from doing what we need or should be doing.

I am so grateful that our loving Lord and Savior sees through our defenses, scams, and lies to see the heart of the matter and loves us regardless. He's willing to lovingly remove these "barnacles" as a friend of mine has called them, and heal us completely without guilt and shame. As a matter of fact, God knew what we were going to do before we were conceived and He created us anyway. He knew before we were conceived that we were going to need redemption causing His only Son to have to shed His own blood, and He created us anyway. And not only did He create us despite all that, He loves us in all our humanity. He loves us. Hallelujah, Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chapter 5 Ms Spirituality

I have an uncle who said he use to not go to church because of all the hypocrits. My daddy's response was church is where hypocrits belong along with sinners of all other sorts. I think sometimes we get distracted and make calls about someone else and their behaviors when in reality their actions and attitudes really aren't any of my business. As I tell my girlfriend, "If it aint' yo' baby to rock, then don't rock it," and someone else's intimacy with God ain't my baby to rock, that is God's and that persons. When I go to church, when I go to worship, when I go to lead, I am responsible for me and what is in my heart and what my life is reflecting. Am I responsible for encouraging others in their Christian walk? Am I responsible for sharing God's love to others? Am I responsible for inviting others to church or lead them to God? Of course. But it is not my responsibility to judge whether or not they are where they are suppose to be spiritually.

I have to have faith that God is on His throne and is in control. Currently, there is a lady I know who is preventing the work of God being done even though she tries to appear righteous and spiritual. To the contrary, she's divisive and manipulative. Those who put on a spiritual cloak appear to be hiding things, and it my nature and what I do for a living (to investigate) to see to the heart of a matter. But this isn't my baby to rock. It's God's. My responsibility -- pray. Pray for her. Pray for her pastor.

For me this chapter is more about self-reflection, what are my motives for doing, for serving? It's about what I can testify to in my life showing that God is actively participating in it. It's about the depth of my faith and the roots or source of it. If I can't say that God has done something recently in my life and what I learned from it or how I grew from it, I need to ask myself "Why?" I feel my first place of service and ministry is in my home, and I have to say I struggle. There are just times I want to commence with the "laying on of the hands" :> when I'm dealing with my children as opposed to doing what is best for them in the long haul and parenting creatively. (My sister and I also use the "Rapture and Transformation" form of discipline when we are out in public. Our children are raptured to another room for the transformation of their behavior!) I'm not always the supportive and encouraging spouse. I know I'm not anywhere close to perfect and this is where my flaws are most evident. Thankfully, my heavenly Father is patient and kind and forgiving, and my family knows that I make mistakes and that I can apologize and learn from mistakes.

Ministry outside my home is easy for me -- I know my motives are right and it is truly with a servant heart that I do them, but the ministry in my home can be quite tedious and tiresome. I don't want to have the appearance of Ms. Spirituality. I want my children and husband to see my depth, my love, my devotion on a daily basis.

But the bottom line for spirituality is the relationship. How is my relationship with Jesus? Mine is a work in progress. I'm thankful He's patient and consistent and faithful -- all things I struggle with in my relationship with Him.

In my prior blog titled "Be" talks a lot more about the different faces and the art of just being. Being who God wants us to be day in and day out...and more than appearing spiritual, this is who I want to be.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Victorious Secret

Since I have been off work for four weeks recovering, I have learned a few things. I learned how to manipulate through Facebook, started blogging, participated in a Bible study/book study online, created a website for my husband's business, prepared thank you notes for flowers sent to my Grandmother's funeral, and have started driving. These four have been rejunivating. I think everyone should have a sebatical periodically. My goal is to work on the house a little so I can scrapbook a little next week without guilt. I still have to pace myself and rest during frequent breaks, but being at home during the day by myself has been quite a mini-vacation.

I also started working on material for a women's ministry weekend called Victorious Secret based on women putting on the armor of God. As of right now, I have nine possible groups for women to rotate between. They are the following based on Ephesians 6:10-18:

1. Strengthening the Core -- Spanx and Girdles. Some women choose to exercise their faith and find their source of strength in God while others would rather play the tug-of-war with a Spanx or Girdle in order to contain the excess and smoothe out the areas we don't want others to see. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 is totally opposite of what women are told to do in order to be strong.
2. Gravity Issues -- Grave issues affecting our lives and families -- Cross Your Heart Bra. There are things entering into our homes and workplaces that we have allowed and they are straight from the devil. For we fight against many of us have dealt with or know someone who has dealt with infidelity, poor self-esteem, pornography, financial difficulties, complacency in our spiritual growth or lack there of, dysfunctional relationships. So, where do we find the support we need? How do we fight against these things?
3. Weathering the Storms -- Standing your Ground -- Trench Coat and Umbrella. Endurance. What battles do we choose to fight? It's okay to say "no." Steele Magnolias come to mind. And we have to do all of this while under God's umbrella protection.
4. Belt of Truth -- Accessories -- I may use the Behind Those Eyes book as the background for this room.
5. Breastplate of Righteousness -- Bras -- coverage, sizes, fitting, etc. Afterall, what does the breastplate do? Protects the heart. So how do you protect the heart every day? Quiet time. This will be a "How To" class.
6. Shoes -- Gospel of Peace -- stilettos, combat boots, house slippers, sneakers. Nothing sounds like peace like a warm, fuzzy pair of slippers.
7. Shield of faith to extinguish the flames -- What can a woman protect herself with? A bag of course. What's in your bag? Is your faith the size of a clutch or one of those big-momma bags? It only take the size of a mustard size to move mountains.
8. Helmet of salvation -- Different Hats -- What's its purpose? Fire insurance only -- then any old hat will do? Salvation is the beginning of the relationship with Christ Jesus. The helmet is to protect the head where our thought-life occurs.
9. Knee pads -- prayer. Like compression hose, knee pads just are not fashionable. But knee pads aren't meant to be fashionable, they are meant to be worn as protection.

I have an outline of two skits. One to kick off the weekend, and one for the Sunday morning Sunday school class of all women in the church. Just a hint on this one, I'll have someone dressed incorrectly -- a rather large bra on backwards under clothes, maybe some underwear on the outside of the pants, spanx around the knees. A sales person makes a fuss of the mess this woman is and issues her into the changing closet while the sales person reviews the lessons learned. When the woman reappears correctly dressed, she will talk Victorious Secret -- are you wearing your faith for others to see or underneath? Are you improperly wearing your armor? After all armor is worn on the outside one's clothing and God is to be our armor. This speaker will talk about applying these lessons to victorious living -- peace, strength, prayer, faith, righteousness.

This is just a touch of what I have laid out. I still have to clean up the class concepts before I present my proposal to my worship pastor. I want this to be a fun time for women with laughter and fellowship, so some of it may be very tongue-in-cheek, but I also want it to be well-worth their time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Thief of Joy

Yesterday, I finished my blog about joy among other topics, and Satan didn't wait long to try to take my focus of the source of joy. My husband had a friend who told him he could have some product at his camp house, and my husband and his partner went down to pick it up. As they were picking up the sample, the deputies arrived and said they were arresting them for theft and the my husband's "friend" was going to press charges for the misdemeanor. The "friend" of numerous years whom we helped get on his feet after a devestating fire and no insurance, the "friend" who was in our wedding 14 years ago, and Patrick was in the "friend's" wedding a few years ago really has a beef with Patrick's brother but instead of dealing with Phillip has continually put my husband in the middle of it. My husband felt he could still be friends with him even though the "friend" was having difficulties with Phillip. It broke my husband's heart, a sucker punch to the gut. The "friend's" wife is also our 4 year-old's teacher at school.

But God's timing is perfect as always. The quiet time today was about God being our defender and forgiving. My husband was raised to be vendictive and to hold onto grudges. This is going to be a big step for him to allow God to handle the situation instead of taking revenge himself. I have assured his the God's vengence and discipline is better than anything that Patrick could dole out.

It was a stressful night around here, but the light of day brings a new perspective, and while things didn't get better overnight, I reminded him that God's timing is perfect. We are to conduct ourselves in a godly fashion regardless of how others behave. I have no doubt it will all get straightened out and the misdemeanor will be dismissed.

Satan will use anything he can to distract us from seeking God and having joy.

Words are easy to say. Like I said the book is very simply stated and easy to read and understand, it's the living it, the applying it that is the difficult part.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chapter 4 Ms Happiness in Behind Those Eyes

My friend Lee read my blog titled "BE," and suggested I join a book group/Bible study group that met online. Since I'm off work recovering from a partial hysterectomy and am not suppose to be doing a lot which goes against the very grain of who I am, I thought this was a wise suggestion. The book is Behind Those Eye. As I began reading the book, I was struck by its simplicity and lack of depth, but knew it would hit a lot of women between the eyes. It's in the simpleness and keeping things straightforward that people can relate on whatever level they need to. Chapter 2 on perfection is something I had to deal with a while back. My mother was and is a perfectionist. You can look at her and see it. Every hair beautifully laid in place. Her clothes always tasteful. Her makeup becoming, and she always looked calm, cool and collected on the outside. My daddy describes his mother in a similar fashion. He said my grandmother looked smoothe and calm on the surface, but she was paddling like the dickens below. As for me, I didn't get that gene. I can't even appear to be perfect or to be in control. I was diagnosed as being ADHD in junior high before it was the thing to diagnose a kid with and since then trying to control an imperfect, impetuous body was more than a full-time job. My body didn't cooperate when my husband and I wanted to start a family, and if I can't control the internal workings of my own body, I am under no illusion that I could be controlled enough to even strive for perfection. SO, I strive to do my best for His good and His gain, and that has made all the difference in the world.

Chapter 3 is titled Ms Confidence. I really enjoyed page 52 showing the difference between a strong woman and a woman of strength. Since I was in high school, maybe even junior high, I chose Phillipians 4:13, as my life verse. I have always been confident -- consider it part of my personality, my upbringing where my parents encouraged me and praised me when I tried my best, my temperament, etc. I know where my strength comes from and where my value comes from thanks to my godly upbringing. I didn't seek nor needed the approval of my peers as much as others. If a group of kids were doing things I didn't like, I'd go find another group to join. Both of my parents gave me attention and showed me God's love. I was and am very blessed.

Chapter 4 is title Ms Happiness. When my husband and I were filling out paperwork and completing our Dear Birth Parent letters during the adoption processes to adopt our two children, I put that my favorite sound is the sound of laughter. And when my kids get to belly laughing, it is infectious, and I can't help but smile and laugh too. But it never fails before it's all said and done and the evening is over someone has hit someone or there's been an accident and the laughter has turned to tears. Happiness is fleeting and it's circumstantial. Joy, on the other hand, has depth and longevity because its source never changes and never fails.

When I see a Ms Happiness, the cynic in me wonders, "What kind of drugs is she on? It must be the good stuff." hee,hee,hee. I was glad to read the author dispelling society's lies such as, "You can make yourself happy," "someone you love can make you happy," and "something you have or do can make you happy." In all honesty, I am typically a happy, joyful, optimistic person who can find humor in most things. Finding humor is something I learned from my family, and it has served me well. But there was a time I battled depression.

After six months of failed fertility treatments, a failed adoption, and constantly searching for what God had been promising me, I felt like God wasn't listening. Have you ever heard the saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees"? That is where I was. In March of 2000, I went to a women's retreat and listened to Debby Stuart say, "If you are grasping so hard to the things that you think are good, then you can't have your hands open palms up in order to receive God's best."

Shortly after that weekend, my mom was led to have 7 godly women praying for me and my husband, the baby we were to adopt and the birth family. From March on, the Holy Spirit would lay things on my heart to pray for, and I would tell my mom, and she would send letters to the Praying 7 (we kept a set of those letters for my daughter). We were all praying very specifically, and God was working, but I just couldn't see it because I was in the middle of it. In August of 2000, my company moved me three hours away to do some training for about three months, so I was removed from my husband, friends and church, and that is when I hit rock bottom. I remember calling my mom at 10 PM and because she is a night owl, I knew she would be awake. I was bawling, crying, weeping, angry, mad, etc. "How can He expect me to call Him Father when He won't even answer my prayers. He knows that I want to be in His will, but He isn't showing me. I feel like I'm standing in the pitch dark on top of a post, and He's telling me to move to the next post, but I can't see it. He's telling me to take the next step and the post will be there and that if I don't move from the post on which I stand it will fall into the abyss. I throw a rock and never hear it hit bottom, so I put one foot out and feel nothing, but when I put my weight down, the next post appears." My mom, ever the calm one, listened to me rant and rave about how angry I was at God, and then she asked, "Kristy, are you having your quiet time?"

My mom tends to get to the heart of the matter. I asked her if she hadn't been listening. I wasn't talking to God. She informed me that a quiet time is when God talks to me. I knew that, but at that point I didn't care. I told her I hadn't brought my Bible. She assured me the good Gideons had left a Bible in my night stand. She instructed me to get up in the morning and have a quiet time, eat a good breakfast and healthy lunch and supper, take a vitamin and go work out at the gym. One thing I have learned is to listen to my parents, so the next morning, I begrudgingly opened the Gideon Bible to the Proverbs of the day and the first verse I read hit me between the eyes. It was Proverbs 29:1 talking about a stiff-necked fool...real subtle God, real subtle. I did what my momma told me to do, and I began feeling better, and began looking forward to the future which included going to an adoption agency orientation at the end of September of 2000. We were matched in four weeks, met the birth parents two weeks after that, and Erin was due at the end of December 2000, but wasn't born until January 5, 2001. To show you how awesome God is, my daughter was conceived and the Praying 7 began praying for her the week she was conceived. My sister says Erin was prayed into life.

Bottom line, I was so deep in the forest trying to find God's will for my life, searching for the baby He had chosen for us that I had taken my eyes off God himself. Depression is often spoken of as darkness. Could it be that when we allow anything to eclipse our vision of the Son the shadow that is cast takes away the joy we can feel when we are in the Light? You turn my wailing to dancing. Trading ashes for beauty.

Last year, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation, and to say that last year was a tough year would be a gross understatement. There were times when each of us would hit the wall and cry. It's okay to be sad, to grieve, to cry. It's healthy. It's cleansing. It's purifying. Fortunately, when one of use hit the wall, the others were able to keep going and encouraging. During each of my mom's chemo treatments, we planned a surprise. She finally caught on by the third go around. We wanted to give her something to anticipate to offset the dread. We had a tea party, one of her prior students read a poem I wrote about defeating round one of chemo, my sister made her a quilt with the grandkids pictures on it, etc. The very last chemo treatment, we were looking for a singing quartet to go and sing "Victory in Jesus" or something along those lines, but I couldn't find one we could afford. I called my worship pastor and he said he could get it lined up. My sister and I had never asked for permission to do any of the other things we had done, but we had gotten permission for the quartet. The night before my worship pastor calls saying it may be a little bigger than a quartet...there was enough for three quartets who showed up. He had put together a chorus book, scriptures to be read, and a CD of music for us to sing with. My mom finished her chemo when we were singing the words, "I sing for joy of the at the work of your hands, forever I love you, forever I stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you."

At the end of our singing, nurses had come up to join, patients, patients' family members were all singing about the joy at the work of God's hand. People, patients who were fighting for their lives. Nurses who saw death on a regular basis. Family members who dreaded the future may include the death of their loved one. All were singing and praising God. Putting their eyes on God and finding the joy.


PS I promise my next blog will not be this long. I'm just catching up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Preparing for the future

Preparing for the future in today's financial market is like gambling and throwing good money after bad. The best we can do is to live debt free as much as possible. But the future I'm referring to is the one God has given to me. I first became aware of it in 2005 when I was having lunch with someone who was miserable in her job, and He impressed upon my heart what He had in store for me. Since that time He has been making a way. Since that time He has been preparing me. He led me to my mentor, Julie, and my Father knew best when He paired me with her. I, not only endured but thrived last year 2007, when my mom was fighting Stage 3 breast cancer, and He changed my heart regarding the future He has for me. I wasn't exactly excited about it, but now I have a passion for it, but it still isn't time. I have to wait. Sometimes I don't like to wait (oh, who am I kidding?) -- I don't like to wait, but what I have discovered during this period of time is when He is making the way. He's clearing the way. Less work for me to do. Less hassle to deal with. Right now, He's making a way to my future. I've never written it down. I've never told anyone what God has impressed on my heart as to my future. Part of it has been out of fear, and the other part is because had I written it down before now or said it out loud I would be stepping on some one's toes. I don't believe the latter is the case now. Now it's just out of fear, but I feel I need to claim it in His name and start doing what I can to prepare myself for that future. This morning I called New Orleans Theological Seminary and requested them to send information regarding Women's Ministry Certificate and information regarding their Master's. I believe God is preparing a way for me to be Women's Ministry Leader at my church. My heart says as a full-time position, but that is just another facet I'll have to wait on the Lord. So there. There it is.

I'm use to God giving me messages for others. He has given me the gift of discernment and has on many occasions given me words and directions to others when they made no sense to me at all, but the recipient of the message understood fully. This time the message was for me. It's been for me, and it scares me. That's probably another reason my "professional BE" lost control during my meeting with my pastor regarding women's ministry (see prior blog).

What I can honestly say is that God will be the one opening the doors. He's the one who has made a way. I'm just to be prepared. He put a lot of ideas and concepts on my heart in the early morning hours many months ago. I gave them to my worship pastor, and I have kept a copy of the things He put on my heart. God's timing is perfect. His plan is perfect even when we aren't. And I am going to be ready.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Since I have had a lot of time on my hands recently, and have not been allowed to do very much, I've had the opportunity to "be." Shakespeare said, "To be or not to be that is the question." For women in this day in time, the question is more like, "Who will I 'BE' today or at this moment? -- the managing mom, the consummate professional, the stable wife, the friend to many, a leader in the church, the faithful volunteer, and the list goes on. In Exodus, the Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." Not "BE" the managing mom and know that I am God because when we try to manage things it gives us the illusion that we have power over control. Not "BE" the consummate professional and know that I am God, because when we are always professional we bind our hearts and prohibit ourselves from being God's hands and feet. Not "BE" the stable wife and know that I am God or any of the other labels we wear. He just wants us to "BE."

Before my surgery, I visited with my pastor about our lack of having a women's ministry because while I thoroughly love and enjoy and have fun at what I do for a living, God has put women's ministry as my passion. It has to be from God because it is not something I would have chosen for myself, I assure you. It was during this appointment that my "professional BE" was mowed down with the "BE." You see, when we can just "BE" and let God. Our transparency allows others to see what they need to see in us from God. I admit I cried in my pastor's office, and I admit it ticked me off. If I were to have a tear in my eye when I'm around the law enforcement guys, they would freak out. (Might be a funny experiment...but back on task.) My pastor saw my tears as tears of frustration (which that was part of it), and he also saw the passion that not only I have for women's ministry, but God's passion for women.

It's hard to live a transparent life. It's scary to live a transparent life because it requires us to be constantly vulnerable and we learn early on it's not good to be vulnerable because people will hurt you and use you. But it's in living the transparent life and the art of "BE" that others can see what God is wanting them to see of Himself. It reminds me of an e-mail I read recently. It talked about a person who was standing before Jesus, and the angels were bringing out quilts to represent each person's life. The person to one side had a beautiful patchwork with a few holes throughout it. The person to the other side had a few more holes and the fabric wasn't as vivid. Then the angel began to pull out the quilt that represented her life and she dropped her head. She had struggled in life with so many issues. She had failed and got back up again. She kept repenting and making herself anew, and the quilt reflected it. It had more holes than a fishnet. She was embarrassed and ashamed. Jesus came to stand before the quilt. His brilliance showed through and exposed every hole no matter how large or small, and He smiled at the woman. He said to her that during all those rough experiences when she leaned on Him, thought she failed, repented and got backup, it created a hole in the patchwork of her life which allowed the light of Christ to come through so all may see it. Now I'm paraphrasing the e-mail, but it really impacted me, and it goes back to the ability to just "BE."

I pray that you will be able to just "BE," and that your quilts will be holey.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A LIfe Worth Living

When I was in the eighth grade my family changed churches which was not my idea nor my vote. But it was my parents and God was in it. From this change, I became involved in a very active youth group at church. They kept us so busy we didn't have much time to find trouble. While at church I made several good friends, two of which were adopted. Their friendship was no accident. I believe God used them to prepare me and what He had predestined me to be...the mother of two adopted children.

One of those friends was in my wedding and we are still in touch today. As long as I can remember, she has been very affectionate and attentive. She and I use to do a lot together when we were in high school, and while I didn't cry a lot compared to her I cried buckets and streams full of tears. It hasn't been until recently that she finally has found her release valve. After trying to hold it all together using tape, glue, and the staples of life to cope, she finally broke. Everyone has their own issue or weakness. Mine is a mixture of failure and not being accepted. I've done a lot of work with God's direction and help, and even still, they can still raise their ugly heads. I'm so proud of her for going to get help. Too many people in my family choose to self-medicate and attempt to find things that will fix it or fill whatever void there is. The only answer to fixing the problem is to deal with it no matter how painful or unsettling the realities may be, and even then those who may have caused hurt may never take responsibility, and then we have to accept what has been dealt to us and choose how we will live the rest of our lives. For me, I choose to live in the here and now while preparing for the future. No matter how good our life looks from the outside the only one who know what is really going on inside is you and God and only He can heal.

I'm so thankful that He can heal and even more grateful the He wants to heal, so I can choose to live the life worth living in Him. To God be the glory.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vesta Lorraine Golden Timmons

Yesterday, I attended my grandmother's funeral, and while it was a celebration of her coronation in meeting her Savior in heaven it was still sad. I heard stories about my grandparents I hadn't heard before.

I had heard how my grandma, great aunt and great grandma were abandoned by my great grandfather to fend for themselves in a little house in the woods of Logansport, how my great grandma tried to bring in a harvest and couldn't make a go of it, how the three of them hiked through the woods and along the road until a family member picked them up and took them into Shreveport where they used newspapers to cover up and slept in vacant buildings. One thing I hadn't heard is how when my grandparents were first married my grandparents were first married, he left to go down South looking for a job and there were times when he couldn't find work, but wash dishes just to get something to eat. My grandparents knew what it meant to be hungry, they knew what it meant to be in want. After my grandather became a conductor on the train, the hobos who would jump off the trains and found their way to my grandparents' back door asking for food, were given whatever my grandmother had. It didn't matter how early my grandfather got up to go to work or to go hunting, grandma got up and made a breakfast for them all. And when my uncle Harold was fighting in Vientam, she was became overwhelmed and didn't want grandaddy to see her cry, so she went to the boys' room opened the closet and stared while crying. She said God gave her the song "God is Faithful," and it gave her such peace that she could go on.

I have been blessed to have such a lady as a role model in my life. She always said, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." If everyone in the world could embrace that and incorporated into their every day life the world would be a much better life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Holy Spirit -- The Comforter

Tuesday night, my dad's mother passed away. She was 90 and was put in the hospital shortly after I got out. She was admitted with bronchitis. My grandmother lived with congestive heart failure. Only 10% of her heart worked over the past 10 years. Daddy said no one asked about donating her organs because she had worn them out to the point they had tread marks on them.

The next morning I made my second outing after my surgery. It was to go with my family back to Live Oak to tell my Mammaw and Ms Barkley, my grandma's dearest friend. Mammaw took it well. She is one who takes it in and processes it. I'll check on her in a couple of days, but when my daddy, Lori and I arrived at Ms Barkley's door, she knew immediately and began sobbing. I had my arm around her waist as Lori said the words, as if I had the strength to catch her if she fell. Thankfully, we got her back to her bed where she continued to sob. This 96 year-old woman who rarely let's anyone behind her wall had allowed my meek grandmother in, and now Ms Barkley's heart was breaking. When she composed herself some, she said the night before Grandma came to her and gave her a hug and just held her. Ms Barkley said she knew then that she had died.

This happens a lot with older folks especially husband and wives who have been married forever it seems. My grandma use to say she would see Dan (my grandfather) sometimes right before bed and would kiss him goodnight. She would say that it seemed so real.

I think sometimes we quickly dismiss these statements due to the age of the party which spoke them because we think they must not be all there. Let me assure you, Ms Barkley even at 96 is more acutely aware and cognizant than I am most days, and her vision came to her before anyone had even told her. Instead of thinking these people are delusional or that their minds are playing tricks on them in some instances I'd like to think it's the Holy Spirit taking on the role as Comforter. And why isn't that possible? Isn't anything possible with God? Do you think that a God who loved us so much to send His only Son to die for us would love us enough to send the Comforter in whatever fashion or form is required? Keep in mind, I'm not saying every instance is a sign of the Comforter because hallucinations and dementia exists, but what I am saying is the next time someone tells you they were visited, had a vision, had a dream that a loved one visited them, why can't you praise God for sending the Comforter, the Holy Spirit?

It's just a thought. It's something that has been laid on my heart.