Monday, September 16, 2013

He Comes Like The Rain

My first memory of drowning in my reality still stings as much today as it did all those years ago.  It’s crazy how our memory recalls events but even crazier that the emotions attached to them don’t ever go away.  I was called to the office and told I wasn’t supposed to walk home from school that day.  My mother called and she was going to pick me up from school.  I was so excited.  My mom worked quite a bit trying to provide for my sister and I so the thought of spending a whole afternoon with her gave me something to look forward to.  That afternoon I waited and waited and waited and she never showed up.  Once the school secretary called her we figured out she never called that day.  Either it was a cruel joke played by someone else or a mistake by the school office staff.  Either way, the hour I spent waiting on my mom that afternoon felt like an eternity.  Feelings of abandonment and fear flooded my mind.  I was only in the third grade.  You know, the truth is, I have struggled with those feelings for most of my life.  You see, I am a fatherless daughter.  My dad abandoned us when I was 8.     

The enemy tends to creep in on the weak, doesn’t he? He’s whispered lies telling me I’m not good enough and I don’t measure up to others for what seems like my whole life.  For a long time I believed every single lie I was told.  You can’t quite imagine the fallout of a fatherless daughter unless you’ve been one.  Emotional shrapnel spread far and wide, closets full of skeleton bones, and a boat load of shame to go with them.  How heavy the burden has been. 

Almost a year ago, my earthly father died.  I had spent years of my life being angry at him and at his wife.  I found out a month after he passed through an internet search of his name.  So I was furious with her and angry with him all over again for not loving me.  I thought I had dealt with the past and put my abandonment issues to bed.  Especially since I surrendered my life to Christ.  Yet I found the enemy whispering those same lies in my ear and because I was so distraught, my armor of God was penetrated and I was that little girl all over again.  My defenses were down and I felt alone.  The enemy was on the prowl and once he got me down, he would leave me, broken, and move on to his next prey.  Not this girl… Not again. 

There is something about walking into the sanctuary of my Church that just feels like home.  It’s as if I am crawling up into Jesus’s lap and resting my head on Him.  The next Sunday when I walked into church, tears flooded my eyes and I was unable to hold them in.  As our Praise and Worship team began to sing, “Your Presence is Heaven to Me” I began to weep openly and although I could not sing with my mouth, I was singing with my soul and I felt Jesus take all the anger and pain from my body and replace it with a peace like I have never felt before.  My darling husband, Bo, didn’t even have to ask me what was happening.  He just knew and as I was weeping and singing with my heart, he reached over and grabbed my hand and lifted it up with his, in Praise.  Claiming victory right along with me.  I will never know how he knew but he did.  After the service I started to tell him what I felt in that moment and he just looked at me and said, “I already know, angel.”  This occasion marked one of those moments right along with marrying him, the birth of my children, and asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. 

I’ve had moments and days since then that my abandonment issues come rearing their ugly head again but each and every time Jesus has a way of running in and rescuing me from my pain.  Like clockwork, He is always on time.  I don’t have to be afraid of being abandoned ever again because He is my true constant.  He is ALWAYS there for me.  Hosea 6:3 reminds us of this…”He will come to us like the rain.” Isn’t that GREAT news?  Every single time we feel alone, scared, angry, abandoned, hurt, grief stricken, or just far away from Him… “He will come to us like the rain.”  Like the dew that falls every single night, like the rain that falls on dry ground and answers the call of thirst, and like our spirits when we are empty and need refueling… “He will come to us like the rain.” 

I don’t stop and say thank you enough for His consistency when my faith is inconsistent.  I wake up every day with the best of intentions and go to bed failing.  Our God, my real Father, is always there and forgives me for it ALL… as much as I don’t deserve it, He is always there.  I am the daughter of a King and I am so grateful. 

You can have this, too.  He loves you so very much and His love is unfailing.  All you have to do is ask Him.  He is dying to rescue you and heal your wounds.  To scoop you up and tell you, “Everything is going to be okay.” 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for always being there for me.  Thank you for lifting my head when I let it fall.  Thank you for reminding me that I am your daughter and being the daughter of a King makes me royalty.  Thank you for coming to me like the rain and quenching my thirst when my spirit is bled dry.  Thank you for saving me.  In Jesus name, Amen.


“28 Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Killing Myself With Kindness

I've always loved Oprah.  I would watch her shows religiously and was so thankful when the DVR was invented.  I am the only one in our family who can lose her keys EVERY SINGLE DAY and not remember to put them on the several key holders I have been given since I have been driving.  So trying to remember to set the timer on a VCR (back when the dinosaurs roamed) was equally as frustrating for this chick right here.  Anyhow, I particularly loved watching the dynamic between her and Gayle, her best friend.  I have always longed for that type of relationship.  One that almost seemed like your soul's counterpart in female form.  Someone who would never betray you and someone who, when you left their presence, left you with your bucket filled. 

I am certain we have all had our share of bucket emptiers throughout our lives.  Those people that we spend time with and leave us feeling wounded after every visit.  Not the kind of wounds from arguments or fights, but the kind of wounds that we only get when someone constantly takes from our buckets and never puts anything back in.  The kind of wounds that leave us feeling empty. 

I am not sure when I realized I was a HUGE part of my own problem.  I can hear Dr. Phil now, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."  I was allowing myself to be used, abused, and taken advantage of by a few people.  I knew what was happening and time after time I said to myself, "It's okay" or "It's fine" just trying to be a good Christian girl.  I was trying to give grace.  In the process of being so nice, I was killing myself with kindness.  I was dying inside, little by little.  Eventually I was quite literally ready to blow several gaskets.  My "give a care" meter was dead.  I had been running on empty for so long and withdrawing from my "friend" bank account until it was overdrawn.  That is what happens when there are no deposits and constant withdrawals. 

We cannot change other people or want the friendship enough for them.  I was far more invested in these friends than they ever were in me.  I'm fairly sure they knew it and used it to their benefit.  I even addressed it a few times and forgave just as Jesus would have me do.  What I wasn't getting and I needed desperately was respect.  As Jesus was healing my big ole broken heart... He was showing me that I WAS WORTHY OF RESPECT.  I WAS WORTHY OF FRIENDSHIPS THAT WOULD LIFT ME UP.  I WAS WORTHY!  My Lord is so loving and so kind.  He broke the chains of bondage that held me in these relationships that told me I didn't deserve to be treated better and I didn't deserve what I gave. His word tells us to forgive others lest we be forgiven.  So I took that to mean I had to turn my cheek and take the abuse.  He loves us so much he would never want us to endure that kind of treatment.  We aren't called to stay in the union but we are called to forgive, love, and pray for them.   I think so many times we get confused, as Christians, wanting to please our Father, that we don't pray over the word and really try to understand it's meaning.  That is what happened to me.  I took scripture at face value and didn't ask Him what he would have me take from it concerning my problems.  I was so worried about being nice, I wasn't being nice to myself.  I was literally killing myself with kindness. 

Maybe you have a friend you are struggling with like I did.  I encourage you to take a knee in prayer and ask God how He might have you handle your situation.  I can promise you He loves you so much and would NEVER want you to suffer a minutes worth of abuse.  Be kind to yourself.  Allow our Father in Heaven to break those chains and heal you up, too.  YOU ARE WORTHY.

I can tell you that I have since found my Oprah and Gayle friendship I was longing for.  I think God was just waiting for the perfect time to give her to me.  I have also found several AMAZING Christian friendships I don't know what I would do without.  I leave every one of them feeling so blessed and full of light. That is what He intended for us.  Thank you, Thank you, Jesus.   

"There are many virtuous and capable women in the world but you surpass them all! Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.  Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise." Proverbs 31:29-31

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Paula Deen

You know that saying, "It takes a village to raise a child"?  Well, I am still being raised up and depend on the wisdom of so many.  God has blessed me with many mothers in my life.  I have my momma, my mother-in-law, my spiritual mother, and my culinary mother.  They are all beloved and cherished and all know how much I love them, with exception of one... my culinary momma.  She is Paula Deen.  Let's just say the timing has not been right for the proper introduction. ;)

I started cooking by watching my momma cook and she learned by watching my Granny.  I come from a deeply southern family so we are no strangers to butter, bacon grease, and cast iron.  We love a fresh biscuit to sop our gravy and wouldn't think of throwing a ham hock away.  So when I started watching the Food Network, I recognized a Southern sister by the way she said, "Ya'll" and put butter in nearly every dish she cooked.  There's also something else about us Southern girls... We show our love by feeding others... which SHE DID.  Then one day I saw her on some talk show.  She was on her front porch in her rocking chair petting a chicken that was in her lap.  A CHICKEN.  She told the story of how she got her chickens from a rescue and how they used to be mistreated.  She just loved sitting in her chair rocking her chickens.  I wanted so badly to drive to her house in Savannah and rock chickens with her.  I have since made it a life goal to have a hen house one day.  You've read my blogs... I may get clawed to death or end up an "ALMOST chicken rocker" but I will die trying to rock my chickens!  Now, maybe, you understand how my love for Paula Deen began. 

Okay... It's confession time.  US Weekly is my Den of Iniquity. Well... it's one of them.  I don't know how I am so against gossip but I exclude the "stars" from the term "gossip".  (Talk about an "AHA" moment.)  Anyway, I clicked on my daily US Weekly update and I saw Paula's name and "RACIST" beside it! She's one of my mothers so I had to read, and read, and read.  The more I read, the angrier I became.  I was furious at her.  I called Bo and told him I would not be buying anymore of her things and I would not be watching her shows because she was a RACIST!  How could she??  I continued to tell him how disgusted I was and went on to point out that Jesus was not Caucasian. He was of Middle Eastern descent.  I mean, did she hate Arabs, too?  I even told him she needed a real life "come to Jesus" meeting. Oh man, I was so mad at her! I could not believe she said such ugly things and believe me,  Bo wasn't the only one I spoke to about it.  Nope.  I ended up calling a few of my friends and family members and let them know EXACTLY how I felt.

I sat in my anger for a few days until it hit me.  I was using Jesus... MY LORD AND SAVIOR'S NAME... to cut down Paula Deen and to justify my sanctimonious and self- righteous behavior.  OUCH.  Who am I to judge her? I am called to be a living well to pour out onto others and to show people what Jesus looks like by my actions and my words.  How often have I been standing in my anger, my bitterness, or my hurt in Jesus' name in the past? Oh how my feelings are so hurt that I have misrepresented my precious Father in this way. As I type this, the tears are wetting my cheeks. He has forgiven me countless times of so many things and has washed me clean each and every time I have asked.  Yet, I was not forgiving Paula of something she said.  Truthfully, whatever she said, was none of my business in the first place.  I'm still so sick over it.    

I watched her on the Today's Show when Matt Lauer interviewed her last Thursday.  I had already realized what a heel I had been when it aired.  She said something that literally made my guts hurt.  Through tears she uttered, "If anyone has never said anything they've regretted, I wish they would throw a stone at my head so hard it kills me."  Wasn't I just doing that very thing? I owe Paula an apology and it's one she will never see, I'm sure.  I judged her and for that I am so sorry.  Jesus is very clear where He stands on judging others:

"31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

I want to leave you with a song that changed my life.  It is called Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns.  You would think I wouldn't have acted so ugly if this song really did affect me like it did, but I am still a work in progress and I fail every day.  I hope these words bless you as they have blessed me.  If you are not on a computer, the video may not load.  If it doesn't , I encourage you to YouTube it.

 "She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What If She's An Angel?

We had been driving for hours.  It was the black of night and the rain began to fall so hard my husband slowed the car so he could see.  He's a car man, in the car business, so being in the presence of such an expert driver should tell you how hard it was raining.  Ahem.  As a rule of thumb, I don't stop in the dead of night for people who are broken down on the side of the road.  Hannibal Lecter  and Freddie Krueger immediately come to mind when I think of doing such a thing.  There was something about this car, though.  The driver had all the interior lights on, children in the back, and he was frantically waving down cars.  "STOP THE CAR!" I yelled.  I knew in my gut these people needed help.  We argued about face eating psychopaths for a second and then I said, "What if he's an angel?"  (I knew I loved that song for a reason.) My darling husband, Bo, immediately pulled over.  After stern directions to stay in the car, he got out into the driving rain to see what was going on.  Their car had broken down on the way to the hospital, his wife was in HARD labor, and they forgot their cell phone at home.  When Bo told me, I immediately said, "Oh my gosh!  I can help!  I'M ALMOST A NURSE."  You see, I went to nursing school and completed all my prerequisite classes.  I did not, however, complete ANY clinicals. So, I took a deep breath, formed plan in my head of how I was going to deliver a baby in these conditions.  I walked straight over to the driver's  side of the car.  "Ma'am, I can help you.   How far apart are your contractions?" Oh man I was doing so good!  She says to me, "They are right on top of each other and I can feel the head crowning."  MY RESPONSE? "  Are you hungry? I have granola bars and sandwiches. Would you like some water or soda?  I have a blanket if you are cold."  Just like that I went from being almost a nurse to full blown hostess.  Maybe even a flight attendant in training.  We loaned them our phone, they called an ambulance, and we later found out she had her baby in the elevator of the hospital.  I will never forget what Bo said to me after that, "Whew, I sure am glad you're almost a nurse.  If I ever have a heart attack, at least I will be warm with a full belly."  I can take that right off of my resume. 

That day I began to listen more carefully to the voice within.  The overwhelming urge I felt to stop on the side of the road was the Holy Spirit. My flesh was the one telling me I was a delivery nurse.  There's a huge difference.  I often wonder how many times I've ignored the Holy Spirit and missed a huge blessing along the way.  My pride has stopped me several times from answering that call.  Like the time I passed a woman in the grocery and she was really upset.  She was talking about how Christians pass around the offering plate and behave one way in church but when people like her can't afford groceries, we are nothing but hypocrites.  I literally stood behind her, frozen, knowing I needed to say something or pray with her, or even offer to buy part of her groceries that day.  I was too afraid and I was also afraid of how I might look.  I regret leaving the store and I now know that it doesn't matter what I looked like, what she could have said to me, or how she would've taken any gesture I offered.  I had the opportunity to show her a glimpse of Jesus' love and I didn't.

There is a quote I would like to share with you.  "It is becoming less and less important of what people think of me.  It is of utmost importance, however,  what people think of Jesus, because of me."

I wish I could say I have made huge strides in this area of my walk.  Although I am working very hard to be obedient, my flesh still gets in the way.  When it comes to random strangers, it has helped to ask myself, "What if she/he's an angel?" I am not so presumptuous to unequivocally say God places angels in our path to test us.  I am not a biblical scholar.  I am just sharing my experience with you as I lived it.  Do you have any encounters with "angels" you'd like to share? What are some ways you have learned to obey the Holy Spirit?  I have included the YouTube video of the song that has touched my life in such a profound way.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

"What If She's An Angel" by Brad Paisley.

What if she's an angel sent here from Heaven
And she's making certain that you're doing your best
To take the time to help one another
Brother are you going to pass that test
You can go on with your day to day
Trying to forget what you saw in her face
Knowing deep down it could have been her saving grace
What if she's an angel

"13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known you." John 16:13-14 NIV
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20 NIV

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orphaned Hobos

My sweet husband called and he won the prize he worked so hard for.  An all inclusive trip to Jamaica for 4 days.  Why was my heart pounding so hard?  Why was I so full of angst? I was thrilled for him but my guts were inside out.  We had not been away from our children in 7 years.  Was it separation anxiety?  I could already see the headlines, "Delta Airlines Flight 555 bound for Jamaica crashes into the Atlantic." What would my children do without me? We aren't prepared for this! I said countless prayers but they didn't seem to help.  We were doomed.  A mother's intuition is spot on, isn't it?  I knew in my gut that I was orphaning my children the minute I stepped on that plane.  What a position I was in.  My husband, of course, didn't understand.  He's not a mother.  How could he?  He didn't carry two children for nine months.  He didn't wake up countless nights on just a hunch they needed me to find they were running high temps.  He does not know what this feels like.  What does a girl do in this position?  Refuse to go and look like a selfish cow?  It WASN'T an option so I was going to have to be selfless and MARTYR myself. I had to orphan my children and pray that they didn't become hobos on the side of the road.  If they did, I prayed they at least bathed.  As we kissed our orphan hobos goodbye that morning, the tears wet my cheeks.  I was kissing them goodbye for the last time.  Sigh.  A few hours later,  I walked onto the plane and sat in my seat and begin to pray, and pray, and pray, and pray.  Again it wasn't working.  We started to take off and it hit me like a Mack truck... it was as if God himself spoke to me.  I was praying, alright, but I wasn't trusting Him.  I was just hoping He would get us there safely.  So I closed my eyes and said, "Dear Heavenly Father, I TRUST YOU. I TRUST YOU TO CARRY THIS PLANE TO JAMAICA SAFELY. In Jesus Name, Amen."  And just like that, every ounce of anxiety and fear I had left my body.  What a moment that was for me.  I don't know why it is that we pray for things and then we sit and hope God answers our prayers. 

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the image of gold King Nebuchadnezzar set up, he threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace.  The men responded, Daniel 3:17 "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand."  They were bound up and thrown in.  When the King looked inside, he didn't see 3 men, he saw 4 and they were walking around.  In the Bible, the fourth man was said to be a "son of God."  None of them were  hurt!  When the King ordered the men to come out, only three men walked out, unbound, and didn't even smell like smoke!  They trusted God and He delivered them.  Just like he delivered me on that plane. 

We all have fiery furnaces we walk through and we cannot escape them.  In our furnaces, though, the fourth man, is not "a son of God," it is ourselves.  The other three are the trinity.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  We must start trusting God to get us through our trials instead of hoping he will.  He allows us to walk through them for a reason.  He wants to break the chains that keep us in bondage just like he broke them off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  When I did a personal inventory of my heart, I realized I smelled like smoke more than I cared to admit.  I have some resentment, anger, and hurt feelings I would like to be set free from.  I'm tired of feeling so wounded about certain things.  Do you ever feel that way?   Are there areas in your life you might be feeling a little smoky? When we come through a trial, God wants us to come through it victoriously and unscathed with no scars!  I encourage you to pray and TRUST our Father to make your heart a smoke free establishment.  He loves you so much.  While you are at it, could you pray for my husband?  Only that man could love me like he does.  Crazy cakes and all... 

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fear the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Proverbs girfriend

I must have started this blog ten times already.  It is my first post so it is a big deal.  The Scrabble nerd in me keeps writing articulate entries that might impress some folks but I want what I write to be exactly what would come from my mouth.  Not a research paper I was writing in college.  In saying that, if you are the grammar police or find yourself needing to correct my errors then this may not be the blog for you.  I am imperfectly perfect and I want my little corner of the universe to be just that.  Imperfectly perfect. 

A dear friend of mine sent me a link to a blog the other night that really spoke to my heart.  It was about girlfriends. Women gathered together and wrote things on stones that were keeping them from friendship with other women. Things that were building walls around their hearts. Words.  One woman simply wrote "Not Enough" and reading those words shook me to my core. That was just one stone.  I've not stopped thinking about that one stone since.  I imagine if we all stopped and made a list of hurts that were holding us back, we could have a backpack full of stones, couldn't we? Isn't that what we do anyway?  We carry that backpack of "Not Enoughs" around with us and use it as walls around our hearts so no one can get near us.  If they dare get too close, we reach back into our pack, grab one of our stones, and hurl it at them.  Maybe it is a stone that says "anger" or "resentment" or even "jealousy", but we pull from our own arsenal and project it back on others.  Hurt people, hurt people.  I have done it so many times in the past that I literally isolated myself.  I was sick of myself and sick of women. I was broken and found myself placing my shards into other people. It took some time but with God's grace, I am back among the living and now have a few friendships I absolutely cannot picture my life without. We are sisters at heart and our bond has been built by defeating despair, stitching broken hearts, walking hand in hand through the weeds of life, and helping each other get rid of some stones along the way. Absolutely knowing we are not in this alone, we lift each other up and encourage one another. We rejoice in each other's success and fill each other's cups.  It's the kind of friendship I always dreamt of but never knew existed.   It's time to lay down the swords, tear down the walls, and open our hearts to one another. We aren't the only ones that knows what this feels like even though, at times, we feel alone.  Our sister is hurting, too.  Our girlfriend is hurting.  Our neighbor is hurting.  The lady who asked us to lunch and we are unsure about is hurting.  Pain is not prejudice.  It hits every home and it does not care how much money we make or what kind of car we drive.  Human suffering is the same across the board.  The real healing begins when we move outside of our comfort zone and become vulnerable to others. That is where real friendships begin, too.  I don't know your story or where your road has taken you.  My road to healing started with some apologies.  They were long overdue and I had to humble myself but I absolutely owed it to a few people and I was met with love in return.  I had a truck load of stones to contend with and I still have some miles to travel but everyday the distance gets shorter and shorter.  Maybe your road to healing begins by offering an ear to someone you know is going through a hard time.  Maybe your road is simply refusing to participate in gossip from this day forward. I encourage you to map out your road and start your journey.  We are daughters of a King! Let's make our Father in Heaven proud. Let's aim to be a Proverbs girlfriend. 

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness." Proverbs 31:26 NLT