Thursday, July 30, 2015

Encouraged and Inspired

It is  faith and brokenness that encourages and inspires us to draw closer to Christ.
We think that it is our strength that encourages those who watch us and listen to us. We think that "having it all together" is what inspires. Even though I know that I personally am much more likely to become more critical of myself and discouraged when I compare myself to someone who is strong and courageous and has it "all together", I find myself striving to present an "all together" image so I can encourage others. Ironic, huh?
If you visit often, you know that I have been struggling lately. Been hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that has me all sideways, but I received a message today that was like salve for my soul. It was today's devotion on (in)courage. (click to follow link to the devotion) This sweet woman was brutally honest and real and transparent and her words washed over me a healing vapor. It was as though I breathed them in and they calmed my heart.  
It wasn't her "togetherness" that soothed me. She didn't encourage me with strength and self- confidence. I was encouraged by her faith in the middle of her weakness and brokenness and by her confidence in her Savior to sustain her. I was inspired by her courage to be real and raw and completely imperfect before me and everyone else who reads her words. I was inspired by her trust in our Father to use her words and her brokenness for His glory...a trust that outweighed her fear of  judgment by her peers and readers.
I am encouraged and inspired because I am not alone.
I am encouraged because I am not alone in my unraveling. I am not alone in my brokenness. I am not alone in my failures. I am not alone in my regrets. I am not alone in my insecurity.
And neither are you alone.
We do each other a grave injustice when we "put on a brave face" and hide our brokenness. It takes tremendous courage to be raw and real and transparent. It takes courage to reveal our weakness. It makes us vulnerable. It also makes us dependent on Christ and available to be used by Him.
Yes, we should go to Christ with all our cares and worries. Yes, we should trust God to heal, sustain, and restore us. Yes, we need to be pictures of faith in the Jesus. No, we should NOT wallow in our sorrows or be a constant source of gloom and doom. We are to be characterized by Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness Gentleness and Self-Control. Even so, we are not perfect; our days are not perfect; our families, jobs, friends, and churches are not perfect...and they never will be. It's okay to be broken from time to time. It's okay to have a bad day. It's okay to not be okay sometimes.
Sometimes "life" sucks the life out of me. I know that time with my Savior is the cure for that unraveling, broken, beaten down feeling I sometimes find myself in. I know that He will sustain me until I am restored. No person will ever take His place to save me.
Even so, it is a precious and cherished moment when He sends someone with words to speak to my heart and encourage me. I am so thankful that she followed His prompting to be transparent. I hope that you are able to give someone the same gift she gave me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I’m still trying to make this work. I am having a difficult time moving back to writing from my heart, you know…what’s on my mind. I’m having a hard time letting the words go. I’m having a hard time being transparent…and I think I know why…
I don’t like myself much right now. I am riddled with anxiety over things I’ve long given over to Christ. I made an appointment to see Doc for my yearly throat check and now I am hoarse. People are telling me “wow, you sound terrible” again. I KNOW I am fine. Really. I know I am. There is absolutely no reason on earth for me to be freaking out over this. Still, I feel like my chest is in a bear trap. It’s hard to breathe and I feel like my chest and arms go numb when I stop and consider how much anxiety I have over this. Don’t even get me started on the “What ifs”.
I know what you’re going to say. It’s the same thing I’d tell you…
 “Cast all your cares on the Lord”
I know. I am. I do. Still…my body betrays me. I can talk myself back to reality…nothing is wrong; you are fine; your family is fine; there is money in the bank; your job is fine; the church is fine; there is no reason for you to be so anxious. Still…my pulse races, my chest is tight, my stomach aches. I feel like something absolutely terrible and nameless is barreling toward me and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
Nothing encouraging or uplifting in that, huh? Nothing here that’s going to make you share this with all your friends. Just me being…me….
While God is just being God.  
In the middle of my multiple near meltdowns each day over the past few weeks, I am reminded that “God’s got this.” If I said that once, I said it a thousand times while I had cancer. “He’s got a plan and a purpose.” I don’t have to understand what is going on in my head, my heart, or my body to know that God is in control. Just as I trusted Him when I was sick with cancer and cancer treatments, I can trust Him now. To think that He is any less concerned with my anxiety today than he was with my anxiety when I was sick is to underestimate His love for me.
When I say that God knows every detail of every day of my life, it includes completely irrational bouts with anxiety. God knows why I am struggling. Maybe I need to be reminded to trust Him more fully. Maybe He is preparing me for something looming in the distance. Maybe He just wants me to run back to him. Maybe I am too much like PK #2 when she thinks she is cool with sleeping in her own bed at night. Everything gets dark and quiet and, even though she KNOWS there is nothing in her closet, she calls out for me and wants to be close to me…just in case. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve gotten a bit too brave. Maybe I’ve gotten a little too confident in my own strength and abilities. Maybe this anxiety I feel is nothing more than something to make me cry out for my Father…to run to Him. Maybe He wanted to stir my desire to be close to Him. That would all make sense and I’m not about to try and determine what God will or won’t do to draw His children to Himself.
That’s what this period of anxiety is doing, I mean, aside from making me feel like I am losing my mind and having a heart attack. It is causing me to seek the safety of my Father’s embrace, because I know that no one else can fix this. It is causing me to long for the comfort He gives my soul.
Whatever the reasons behind all this anxiety, I realize that I am thankful for it. It will pass. It always does. Until then, I am thankful for the very physical reminder that I don’t have it all together and I am not so “grown” that I don’t need my Father. “I need thee every hour.” Not just when I’m sick or when someone I love dies.  Not just when I have monumental decisions to make or when I am in desperate need of forgiveness. I need Thee EVERY hour.
Father God,
I need you. All day. Every day. I need you to be a very present help in my life. Continue to draw me to your side. As much as I dislike pain, I am thankful for the pain in this life that makes me long for more of you. Thank you for always drawing me back to you when I think I can make it on my own. Soothe my heart Lord. Please take this anxiety from me. And if you choose not to, please grow my faith as I battle it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Writer on Internet Cafe - All things work together...

The wonderful folks at Internet Café Devotions allowed me to be a guest writer today.
So very thankful for the opportunity!

We all have people in our lives that antagonize us. Maybe it’s a boss, a parent, or coworker. Maybe they give you a hard time, or belittle you. Maybe someone in your life is never satisfied with what you do. They seem to draw attention to anything that you do wrong. I have a distant relative who was this person for me. I didn’t see him often, but when I did, he crushed my heart. He was critical of my faith, of my family, of my career choice, and of anything else he could find fault with. I felt utterly helpless to defend myself against his harsh assessment of me and my life. Perhaps you can relate. Before you completely write your antagonist off, may offer up something to consider? Perhaps there is a reason that this person is in your life. I know that has been the case for me.

Continue reading....

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Far From Home

I am often challenged to prove that Church attendance is important.  I once heard the following and have found it to be true…

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, but I don’t know any sold out - on fire - evangelicals who don’t desire to attend church regularly.

It’s been said that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to Mc Donald’s makes you a Big Mac. I agree with that. There are lots of people who go to church for all sorts of reasons that have little or nothing to do with being a Christian. BUT, if you are truly seeking a deeper, more mature relationship with Christ, you are not going to find it outside of church. That’s like thinking that you will find a Big Mac at Taco Bell.

If you follow the blog, you know that I spent a week in the mountains with a bunch of teenagers the first of this month. We chose to include “little ones” on this trip. These are kiddos who are entering 6th grade in the fall and moving into the youth group. At least 2 of the mamas were concerned about their little ones going off with the “big kids” for a week. It wasn’t like they could run home in the middle of the night if they got homesick. We were about 10 hours away from home.

I admit, I was a tiny bit concerned, but quickly learned that I had no need to be. Here’s why….

These kids showed me what church should be like. The “big kids” made sure that the “little ones” were taken care of. Being far from home wasn’t so hard because the “little ones” had “big kids” to help them through the week. They had people they could trust to help them through the obstacle course, navigate the waterfalls, or find the courage to ride a really big horse through the mountains. Were they perfect? Absolutely not. They teased each other and gave each other nicknames. The older boys took a group snipe hunting and played all manner of pranks. That’s what you get when you take a bunch of teenagers off to the mountains for a week.

Know what else we got? A week’s worth of memories of kayaking, waterfall climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and a feeling that, when it comes down to it, there is someone there to help when you get homesick…or stuck. When you have an obstacle in front of you that you can’t get over or when you are rafting down the river and you get stuck on the rocks, there are people who will help you get going again. When you have a choice to make, there are people there to help you make the right one.  

That’s what Church is like. The people aren’t perfect. They aren’t supposed to be. They don’t all get along and they aren’t all best friends and that is really okay. Church helps us when we get homesick for heaven. Church helps us when we have obstacles we can’t conquer on our own. Church helps us know the right choices. Being part of a church means knowing that, when it comes down to it, there is someone there to help you through the rough spots.  As we go thru life together, we grow. We look for those who are homesick and offer them hope. We look for those who are struggling with an obstacle and we offer a helping hand. We look for those who are stuck and help them get moving again.

I’ll close with this. The kids who didn’t go on the trip don’t share the deep growth in friendship that the kids who went have. Not anyone’s fault. They just weren’t there to experience it. Same goes with church. You won't feel part of it if you aren’t there to experience it.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Happy Place

I spent the first week of this month in the mountains with a bunch of teenagers. We had no cell service, no internet, and no TV…and no one complained. As a matter of fact, I am almost certain that everyone who went on the trip wants to go back.  I’ve spent the week since I’ve been home trying to decide what I want to record about that week.  I’ve decided to start light. The trip was fun and refreshing.

I live in the city. Not big enough to be considered the “big city”, but big enough. While I do enjoy having seemingly unlimited choices of places to eat, places to shop, and options for where to buy my gas, I don’t enjoy the pace of it all. I don’t enjoy the limitless opportunities to “go do something”. It was nice to go for walks while on our trip. It was nice to be physically exhausted and mentally refreshed rather than the other way around…if only for a week.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains. I don’t want to just see them, I want to feel them, touch them, and breathe them in. I love the sound of the wind rustling through the trees so dense that raindrops don’t reach the ground. I love watching the sunlight dance down through the dense green foliage. I am fascinated by fallen rocks that are taller than any man, and find myself wondering how they came to rest in their current location. I love the carpet-y feel of the moss that seems to cover every possible surface. I love the utter green-ness of it all.  I love the smell of black soil rich with decades of decayed leaves. I love the sound of the birds. I could sit on a rock for hours and just look and listen and try to soak in as much of all this as possible. This is my happy place... where everything is right and good and peaceful and beautiful.

My very favorite parts of visiting the mountains are the waterfalls. They amaze me…consume me. Their beauty and raw power are more than I can put to words. I can't accurately describe the joy I feel sitting at the bottom of one, or the thrill of climbing a path that leads to the top. Hiking up a mountain, following the sound of water crashing over rock, and then stepping out to a grand fall is wonderful to me.


I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to spend time away from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. I want to somehow claim a tiny bit of that peacefulness here. I want to create a "Happy Place" here at home.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Blessing of the Valley

This was submitted to an online devotional site last month. They didn't choose it and, though I am disappointed,  I am thankful that they didn't. See, this is what happens when I try to write what I think others want to read instead of allowing the words to just flow from my heart. The message is true, honest, and heartfelt...the delivery is...lacking.  Still, after being in the mountains with our Youth Group last week, I am behind in my writing, so, I'll just share this. Guess God knew I'd need it.
The Blessing of the Valley

“Oh God, I don’t want this. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m confused and frustrated. I don’t understand why I am on this road. I want you to fix this mess. Get me out of this nightmare.”

This was my prayer. After 2 years of being “cancer free”, my cancer returned. I tried to put on a brave face for family and friends, but I was shattered.  I was in a deep dark valley, and there was no way out.

Maybe you’ve been in the valley. Maybe you’re there now. You might have cancer…or not. You might have lost a job, a child, a spouse. Maybe your marriage is falling apart or you have a child who seems determined to self-destruct.  Perhaps there are more bills than money again this month. Maybe the love of your life decided that they love someone else…or that they just don’t love you. Perhaps life simply hasn’t turned out like you thought it would. Maybe you looked in the mirror this morning and fell to pieces because you never imagined you’d end up where you are today. You feel pressed, crushed, shattered. Your chest hurts. It’s hard to think. It’s hard to breathe. The one question that screams from your soul is “Why?”

I don’t know the answer to your specific “why”, but I do know that when we are helpless God does his best work. We can go to Him weak and weary and broken and bruised and completely falling apart. We can express the fear, uncertainty, and even anger in our hearts.  Go to Him. Be transparent, honest, and open. Dig deep and get it all out…He can take it.

As I poured my heart out to Him and was completely honest about the fear and anger in my heart over my diagnosis, calm washed over me. In the middle of my brokenness, the following promises from His Word came to mind:

God will never leave me or forsake me.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

God will fight for me. (Exodus 14:14)

God watches over me and never sleeps. (Psalm 121:3)

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... (Psalm 23:4)


Though my circumstances were exactly the same, the cry of my heart changed from “WHY?!?!” to something more along the lines of…

“I don’t want this. I hate it and I want you to fix it. I know you make all this go away if you choose. BUT if you choose not to, and this is the road I have to travel, please go with me. Don’t make me go alone.”


God did not choose to miraculously heal me. I earnestly sought His will and His presence as I underwent surgeries and radiation. He did not deliver me from the valley, but carried me through. He never left my side. The promise of His presence is true for you too. He may not change your circumstances, but he WILL give you:

peace in the middle of your storm.

comfort as you grieve.

hope in your loss.


He may not restore your marriage or heal your body. He may not answer your prayers the way you think He should. He may not give you what you want, but He will give you what you need to take the next breath and, if you trust Him, He will heal you in ways you’ve not dreamed possible. He will make you whole. 


Looking back over my time in the valley, I am amazed at the work God did in me. In the valley, I found comfort in the arms of my Savior and felt the peace that comes from trusting Him in the darkest of nights. In the valley, I learned that sometimes God’s plan is painful. Sometimes He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want. Sometimes I can’t see what He is doing while I am suffering. I also learned that His plan is perfect, even when I don’t understand it. Today, I count my time in the valley as one of my greatest blessings.


God revealed Himself to me in the valley.


It is my prayer that you will find Him there too.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Freedom to choose

So, It's almost the 4th of July. IT's a time to celebrate our freedom. I am thankful to live in America. I am thankful to have the freedoms that we have and I don't want anyone to take the freedoms I have away from me. I want to worship as I please, where I please, with whom I please. I want to read my Bible when and where I want. I am thankful that I was able to choose who I wanted to marry. I am thankful that my government does not dictate whether or not I can have children, or how many I can have. I am thankful that we have the freedom to purchase a home with a yard in the neighborhood we could afford. I am thankful that I was able to go to college (and drop out) and go to barber school and do hair and then change careers at 30. I haven't always made the best choices, but I have always had the freedom to make choices. I want my children to have these same rights.

Recently, our Judicial System ruled that same sex marriage is legal in America. Many of my friends celebrated, many more "flipped out" over the "wrongness" of it all. (Sorry, I'm struggling with words today I guess.) I vowed not to get into the Social Media war about it all, but I am going to record my thoughts here.

I believe God's Word. His word tells me the things that God considers sin and it tells me that sin separates me from Him. God's word says that immoral sex is a sin. It says that immoral sex is sex outside of marriage. It says that God created woman and man to be married. That being said, God's word also says that gossip is a sin, that God hates pride and arrogance and that vanity and gluttony are sins. This is only the beginning...

And from the very beginning, God gave us a choice to obey Him or not.

I think it is easier to blame our government for the sin so easily accepted in our culture. It's not our government's job to legislate morality. I still want the freedom to make those choices on my own. I want my kids to choose to follow and obey Jesus because they love Him, not because our government says they have to. That's a little harder though, because we have to teach them "Just because it's legal doesn't make it right."

God gives us the freedom to choose to follow Him and obey Him or not. HE is not threatened or thwarted by our judicial system's decisions.

Yes, now we have the freedom to marry someone of the same gender....or not.  We still have the freedom to follow and obey Christ. That hasn't been taken away from us.

The preacher once said something along these lines....
If you choose Church when church is the only option, you aren't really choosing church. What really counts is what you choose when there is another option.

I think that the same idea applies to our current state of affairs. Yes, we were once a more moral nation. yes, we were a more conservative culture. But if that is the only acceptable option, were we really CHOOSING to follow God? Were we just doing what was expected?

Now, we have a choice; and with each passing year, we have more choices. We haven't had the freedom to be a Christian taken away from us, we've just been given other options... lots of other options.

Unlike my great grandparents who lived in a culture that expected everyone to follow the teachings of the Bible, NOW I can personally choose to follow and obey Christ....or not.

I choose Christ.

That's the beauty of freedom.

In the Battle : Ephesians 6:12


The title of this blog is “In the Battle”. I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I started writing and spent the following 4 years fighting it. Naturally, the majority of space on the blog has been related to that battle, but cancer is not the battle that the title refers to.

The battle is referenced in Ephesians 6:

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12

This is the battle I fight day in and day out and, whether or not you recognize it, so do you.

Right now, I am battling pride. I want “more”. More readers. More followers. More guest spots on devotional sites.  I adjusted my writing to meet what I believe will earn me these things. Don’t ramble. Leave out extra adjectives. Keep the word limit between 400 and 700. Use proper punctuation and grammar. Close with questions and a prayer. Wrap it all up in a pretty bow and send it out to…where ever.

But all that effort to make my writing “right” gave me writer’s block, because that’s just not me.

I ramble. I repeat things to make my point. I use run-on sentences and sentence fragments because….well,  my thoughts are usually either all running together or are disjointed and fragmented. I use words to paint a picture so that you will feel what I feel and that often requires multiple adjectives, bold type, and exclamation points because I don’t just want you to read something and think “well, that’s nice”. I want you to know my heart. I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggles and I want you to know that the true source of those struggles is Satan. I want you to know that you don’t have to be beaten down by him and his lies. I want you to know that there is freedom in Christ. I want you to know that it’s okay to fall…so long as you dust yourself off and try again tomorrow. I want you to know that Satan slips in on me and I struggle really really hard to fight him back. I want you to know that sometimes I am overcome with anxiety and grief and I wonder how I am going to take the next breath. I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggles, your hurt, your anxiety, your doubt, fear, pain, or uncertainty.

And none of that is neat, or tidy, or tied up with a pretty bow.

My life is messy. Covered in mud. Wrinkled and wadded up. Bruised and scarred. I have a history full of regrets and failures that Satan loves to remind me of.  I try really hard to follow after Christ and I fail every… single… day. I lose my temper. I am prideful. I am selfish and lazy. I let Satan distract me. I don’t always see the best in people or give them the benefit of the doubt. I can judge…harshly. I miss countless opportunities to share the love of Christ with people He places in my path.

And God loves me still.

God sees past all the mess to the heart of me. And my heart loves Him. So much.

So, that’s the battle. Satan on one side trying every moment of every day to remind me of all the reasons God can't, won't, or shouldn't use me. Satan trying to steal my joy, tarnish my witness, quiet my testimony. God on the other side reminding me that He loves me, He has a plan and purpose for my life, He is worthy of my complete and total devotion, that He can use my broken messed up life to lead others to Him because others need to know Him.

Like I said, lately, I’ve been battling a little pride. Thankfully God prompted 2 wonderful ladies to remind me to just write. Just let the words flow. That’s where God has gifted me. I’m supposed to share the battle…with you. So, thank you for stopping by.

Just in case you don’t come back, I want to leave you with this….

Satan will use any little thing to get a foothold. A little vanity. A little pride. A little lust. A little distraction. A little bit of a judgy attitude. A little grudge. A little unforgiveness. A little greed. A little selfishness. Once Satan gets in with a "little" something, he brings in other somethings until we have a big problem. THANKFULLY, the longer we follow Christ, the more obvious Satan's little attacks are to us.

My prayer for you is that you will recognize the battle in your own life and that you will resist Satan’s little attacks before he gets a foothold in your life today.