12.28.2012

Here's Where I Talk About the Thing I Haven't Been Talking About

We are moving.

To Kansas City.

Many of you know that already because you've heard it from me or Dave or my parents. Or by word of mouth. I've heard some comical inaccuracies and concerns from those who've heard it from the rumor mill instead of from us directly. But that's okay.

I've put off talking about it here because there are people I need to talk to in person. Since I've had a lot of people ask me about it, I decided to go ahead. Forgive me if you're in the "I deserve a face-to-face conversation" category. I'm running out of time!

The short and sweet of it is, Dave will be transferring to another Walmart pharmacy and we are moving to Kansas City sometime in late January. We feel that this is what we are supposed to do at this time in our lives. We may not be there forever, but we don't know. Honestly, I envision it as a temporary thing, but, again, we'll see.

We've known it was coming for several months, but with everything going on with our friend, Summer, we decided to put it off for a little while. It was important to me to be here. I haven't talked about the move much, outside of a few people, because it's been a lot to process mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Now I'm at a place where I feel like it's going to be a fun adventure!

And it's approaching fast! My friend, Lori, and I went for a visit a couple of weeks ago (and had so much fun) and I think we have found a great house to rent while we decide where exactly we want to purchase and where we want the kids to go to school.

I'll probably talk about some specifics later and as we get there and get settled. I believe God is going to use this time in our lives in a big way.

That's the gist of the situation. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer on an individual basis, as I have time. I'm currently knee-deep in kids and boxes, so bear with me if I am slow :)


11.27.2012

Don't. Drop. The. Baton.

I've been thinking about Summer all day and didn't realize what today's date was until Lori reminded me. The holidays always throw me out of whack. It's funny, because I woke up feeling sad and drove through the cemetery this morning. Something drew me. I guess in the back of my mind I must have known it was the one month mark since she went home to Heaven.

I miss her, miss knowing she's there to talk life with. Often I will pick up my phone to text her about something Pastor Chris said, or a song or something funny I think would make her laugh. But then I catch myself. I can't imagine what it feels like for those that were with her every day.

So, what now?

This might sound strange to some of you, but...

Since her passing the imagery of a relay race has been in my mind. Specifically the passing of the baton. There were things she talked about doing; ministry she wanted to do. Things I shared her passion for. She talked about having a "healing place," where broken people could come and find hope, acceptance, love and wholeness through Jesus.

She never had a Place, but she carried it with her wherever she went, especially over this last year. I've heard stories from people she came into contact with at the hospital. When she felt bad she would still stop to pray for other people or share her testimony or speak words of encouragement. Even the parking attendants knew her and asked about her often. Said they missed seeing her when she stopped coming for treatments.

A couple of weeks ago I had a flashback. Picture this: a scrawny, yet tomboy-ish, 7th grade girl. At Georgia Washington Jr. High School, P.E. class, in a pair of ugly purple gym shorts, no shoes, only socks. I guess it was the track-and-field portion of the curriculum, because it was relay race day. I was the last leg for our team and the girl passing me the baton was...slow. The other team passed off the baton for the last time while I waited. Finally, I took the baton, but my opponent was a good third of the way around, ahead of me.

But...I ran like the wind. I ran like the wind in my white socks and caught up with her. Not only did I catch up, but in my white socks, no shoes, on a track formed by traffic cones in a grassy field, I overtook my opponent and won the relay race. Yes I did. Then I fell over wheezing and coughing and feeling like jelly. I remember it well. My P.E. coach was shocked. And can you believe she did not offer me a spot on the track team? But I digress.

The point is when that memory came back to me, I felt the Lord tell me that's what I am to do now. Summer has passed the baton to me and I am to take it and run like the wind. I am to run my race with endurance and perseverance, run to win, and when I get to the end I will pass my baton off to someone else and they will run. And on and on it will go until the Final Finish Line is set and we don't have to run any more. I'm not the only one this is true for, though.

If you knew Summer and God used her to touch your life, then there is a sense in which she has passed a baton to you as well. Did she change the way you parent your kids? Then keep loving your kids and then teach someone else what she taught you. Did she help you get rid of baggage and hurt in your life? Then continue walking in freedom and help someone else find it. Did she introduce you to Jesus or teach you something about how to know Him in a new way? Then introduce someone else.

If anyone has made a spiritual deposit in your life, take their baton and run with it. Steward well what you've been given. There's a verse in 2 Timothy where Paul tells Timothy to, "entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others...to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well." We all have a baton to run with and, in a way, we can carry on, or finish, what someone else has started. This is God's way.

Just to seal this in my heart, last week I went to meet Sandy Brunson at the cemetery to show her where Summer's plot is. Through a series of events I ended up driving her to her house, and as we drove down the street a young girl came running out of her house to get something from her car. Sandy said, "That girl was in the Olympics." I said, "Really? Wow." She said, "Yeah. Her event was the relay. {Pause} She dropped the baton." I said what a shame that was, but still, even that she got there was amazing. That's a lot more than I could do. I thought what are the odds that this series of events would take place, to get me on Sandy's street at that exact moment, for this girl to come outside, and...

Then it hit me. "Ashley. Don't drop the baton!"

Whoa. I'm listening.

I believe I will be in Heaven one day, and that will be amazing in and of itself, but I don't just want to get there. I want to have run my race, "in such a way as to get the prize." (1 Cor. 9:24) I want to have done everything God had for me to do, love the people He called me to love, serve where He wants me to serve, keep the faith and bring glory to His name. I want to leave nothing undone.

And within that I believe there are some things that Summer dreamed about doing that I need to live out. I have no idea what that looks like, but I do know that I can't get caught up in regrets, and wishing I had said this, or done that, or whatever, which I find myself doing sometimes. I have to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. And RUN.



11.10.2012

Is God Good Enough...

A few days ago Riley and I went to run some errands after school. She asked if we could get some ice cream at Chik Fil A, so, because I'm such a fabulous mom, I said yes. She had hardly gotten started, when out of nowhere she started asking me these deep theological questions.

For instance, how could God really lose His life, if He knew He was just going to come right back alive? If God is in Heaven and He lives inside of us, does that mean Heaven is inside of us? How is God three?

See? Deep questions for a 6 year old. Those were just the warm-up questions to the one that leaves me wondering if God was really the one doing the asking. That question she had a little trouble formulating, but finally she asked,

"Is God good enough that He does what everybody asks Him to? Is He that good"

Immediately, the answer that came out of my mouth was, "Actually God is good enough, He is so good, that He doesn't give us everything we ask for. God knows what's best for us, for other people, for the world, so sometimes He has to say no to things that we think would be really good. He knows things we don't know and sees things we don't see."

It hit me right upside the head.

Is that what He wanted it to do?

I know that truth, in my head, but somehow it wiggled its way further into my heart. Sometimes what we want is good. But what He wants to do is far beyond anything we could ask or imagine. In the moment of a "No," it can feel like a hard pill to swallow, but if we could get an eternal perspective, I believe we would come into agreement with His will and allow His power to work within us.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,  to Him  be  the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NASB)


11.05.2012

What I Would've Said (Part 2)

This is Part 2 (If you missed part 1, and you care to read it, click here)

This is where I probably would have gotten fired up and long-winded ;)

The last thing I would have told you was this: No matter what this circumstance looks or feels like from our perspective, SHE WON! Don't you ever think otherwise. Not for one split second. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and as much as I miss her, I wouldn't bring her back from His presence. It's where she longed to be.

If you didn't know her well, you need to know that Summer had the heart of a worshipper - full-on, didn't care what anybody thought, worshipper. And she loved Jesus. Like, really loved Him. Psalm 16:11 says, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." She's home now and she's experiencing the fullness of Joy, pleasures forever. Selah...pause and think on that for a minute!

Winning...overcoming...has nothing to do with our circumstances changing. It has nothing to do with getting our way. Our hope isn't in any earthly answers, but, rather, it's in a future place. Victory doesn't lie in a cured illness. Victory is found in the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts. Summer's real victory on earth was that she never wavered in her testimony of who God is.

She and I talked several times about the fact that if she were to die from cancer, the thing people would probably question most is God's goodness. You need to know that God is always good. If you could have had a conversation with Summer at the end of her life, she still would have said, "God is good." Cancer is bad, but God is good. She never questioned His goodness or His love and that is what carried her. She had an intimate relationship with Him, long before she ever had cancer, and that's why she wasn't shaken.

What she would want most for you, whoever you are, is that same intimate friendship with God. You can have it and it's where the power to make it through this life comes from. Don't wait for life to get hard or for a scary diagnosis, seek Him now.

She lived a life fully surrendered to whatever God would have her walk through, and she was willing to do it - for you. For the opportunity to point you to the Hope of this world. To take advantage of the spotlight to share her testimony, so that you might come to know Jesus, for the first time or in a deeper way. Hear me, loud and clear - I do not believe that God gave her cancer, but He did allow her to take that journey. And she did it with dignity and with confidence that no matter what, He would never let go of her, or her family. I hope you have that same confidence.

I could not be more proud of my friend. She did it. She finished strong. Cancer did not overtake her. She overcame cancer by the blood of the Lamb and by holding fast to her testimony about Jesus. And I cannot wait to see her again!

SHE WON!








What I Would've Said (Part 1)

I didn't speak at the celebration service for Summer due to my propensity to collapse in a heap in emotional situations. That's probably exactly what would have happened. Either that or I would have gone waaaaaay over my two minute allowance and gotten in trouble :) I thought Elizabeth, Lori and Chris Spradlin spoke beautifully, as did Pastor Chris. The service was exactly as it should have been. This blog is really where my voice is, for now, so I thought I'd tell you what I would have said, had I been able to stand before you on Tuesday.

First, I would have told you that she was the most amazing mom I've ever seen. My first indication of that was not long after I met her, with the end of the school year approaching. She talked about how excited she was to have her kids home from school all summer long. I thought, whaaaat?!?! That's just weird, right? Honestly, most moms I know sort of dread those summer months, because after the first two weeks the kids are bored, arguing and driving them crazy. That's why Staples has that back-to-school commercial where they sing, "It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the year!" But, she loved every minute with her babies and always had positive things to say about them. It was her influence that began to change my heart toward my kids. I'm a better mother because of her. I've got a long way to go, but I'm not where I was. There's no telling how many other people can say the same thing.

Second, I would have told you what a great friend she was to me. This is where I would have fallen apart. She knew everything about me - my past, my fears, my successes, my dreams - everything. She always encouraged me and spoke words of life over me. In fact, there were times she would say things about me that I knew weren't true at the moment, but she was speaking to my potential. That's just what she did. She believed that if she said it enough, I (or whoever she was talking to) would begin to believe it and then become it.

Summer was also my PR person, at times, when others couldn't see past my awkwardness. If you have spent any amount of time around me, you know what I'm talking about. She'd say I was awesome, whether I was or not. Unfortunately, she put up with a lot from me, too. I had lots of insecurities and quirks, but she just kept on being a friend, spoke truth when needed and prayed faithfully for me. In fact, she prayed for me whether I had asked her to, or not. It always struck me when she would say, "I was praying for you this morning, and..."

The most precious moment in our friendship came at a time that God was showing me some things from my past that were holding me back. Some things I believed about myself that weren't true. I sat at the bar in her kitchen, covered my face and confessed things that I was ashamed of. She didn't even flinch, but said, "Ashley, uncover your face and look at me." She looked me right in the eyes and redefined me with her words..."That's not who you are. That's not true." Then she said, "Do you want me to tell you something I've never told anybody?" And she told me something I didn't know about her. There is nothing like being fully known, yet fully loved and accepted. That was Jesus in her, reaching to me. I'll never forget it. We had a lot of moments like that and it went both ways. Sometimes I was in need and sometimes she was. That's why God tells us to confess our sins to one another - that we may be healed!

Her friendship healed a lot of things in me. She was a gift and I'm so thankful I had the privilege of knowing her and calling her friend.

(Part 2 may show up tomorrow...I told you I would have gone over my 2 minutes!)






11.02.2012

Being Still...

As the swirl of activity has died down over the last couple of days, I have found that my awareness of my emotions has only increased. I keep looking for something else to do, some other way to serve, some way to keep busy. But I know that what I need to do is be still. Or as still as I can be and carry out my responsibilities (and, obviously, still serve). It makes me wonder how much of the busy-ness of our lives, in general, serves to avoid feeling something or dealing with problems and hurts. We are not helped by not feeling the feelings, whatever they are. I tend to stuff much of what I feel, but there's no stuffing this grief.

Understand this, though: my faith is not shaken. I trust God as much today as I did a month ago, and maybe more than I did a year ago. He is good. At all times. As I blog through this, however, I won't be fake. I don't do fake. So, when I say God is good, I really believe it. When I say I'd like to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head, that's true, too. Those two things can coexist and I think it's okay. For now. If I'm still saying that in two years, we can talk :)


11.01.2012

Sweetness

This is what I saw when I looked up at the sky after the service for Summer. I turned to Lori and pointed out the huge cross shape to her. She reminded me that Summer's friend Elliot, who died of ovarian cancer in May, used to always take pictures of crosses in the sky. It was her "thing." You better believe I think God put that there for us. Or maybe Summer and Elliot did. Who knows ;)

10.03.2012

Come to Me

There are several situations going on right now that have the potential to take me to a not-so-great place, mentally and emotionally. That's why I love this song. If you're a follower of Christ and you need some encouragement and assurance, press play.





I am the Lord your God,
I go before you now
I stand beside you,
I'm all around you

Though you feel I'm far away,
I'm closer than your breath
I am with you, more than you know

I am the Lord your peace,
no evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind,
come into My rest

Oh, let your faith arise,
lift up your weary head
I am with you wherever you go

Come to Me, I'm all you need.
Come to Me, I'm everything
Come to Me, I'm all you need.
Come to Me, I'm your everything

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
I am your steadfast, so don't be afraid

Though your heart and flesh may fail you,
I'm your faithful strength
I am with you wherever you go

9.28.2012

Glory of a Woman

I was just thinking about Summer. I'm stuck in bed today - had a hysterectomy yesterday (yay) - wishing I could be at the hospital in Birmingham. I'd just like to see her face. Anyway, I don't think my brain is functioning at full capacity, so I will get to it. As I was laying here I remembered that I wrote a "poem" about Summer* (in quotes because I don't know that it really qualifies as poetry), shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. Just thought I'd repost it. And remember, I'm not a poet ;). Please continue praying for her and her family!!

The Glory of a Woman

The glory of a woman isn't her hair
It's not the way she adorns her body
It isn't seen in the way she keeps her home
Thank God
Or in her perfection
For even the best-intentioned fall short

It isn't defined by what she has
Not husband, not children, not career

The glory of a woman is in something not seen
It's a peaceful and quiet soul
It's a heart awakened to her purpose
A heart unafraid to feel
Unafraid to give and receive
Who accepts the way she's been made
And who loves freely

It's most clearly seen
In the faces of the ones she loves
And believes in
As their smiles reflect she's been there

Her heart reflects the One she serves
The One who created her
The One who loves her
And called her
And fills her.

God, make me a woman like this.

8.27.2012

Faith and Tears...Again

I thought of the following passage of scripture earlier today, in an emotional moment thinking about Summer. For anyone reading this who may not know her, she is one of my closest friends and is undergoing surgery right now to remove cancer from several places in her body.

After a CT scan last night they discovered "something" in her lungs. Two weeks ago when they did a scan her lungs were clear. That disturbed me, to say the least, and I can only imagine the mental/spiritual battle she and Jeremy were in after that news.

Anyway, I was at a low point this morning emotionally, and I wondered what happened to my faith. Then this story came to mind:

Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, friend of Jesus had just died. This is what took place when Jesus arrived:

"Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus therefore saw her weeping...He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see." JESUS WEPT. So the Jews were saying, "See how He loved him!'"

I am struck by the fact that Jesus, knowing He was going to heal Lazarus, raise him from the dead, WEPT. He was moved with compassion by the sorrow of his friends and by the death of Larazus and He cried.

I've talked to a few people today who said they've been a mess all day and they wondered why. Why would we wonder such a thing? Why would we feel guilty for crying?

Our friend is suffering, in a battle for her life, and her husband is, too.

Notice the Jews standing near said, "How He loved him [Lazarus]," because they saw Jesus weeping, visibly troubled.

I think this is a beautiful part of the Lazarus story. I think it's beautiful to weep with those who weep and to feel compassion for our friends. I think it's beautiful to have loved, and been loved by, a friend such that you don't want to lose her.

None of that means we don't have faith. Faith isn't lack of human emotions, it's trust despite emotions. In the presence of them. Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus moments later and, yet, He wept.

There is no shame in tears. The presence of tears isn't a lack of faith, it's the presence of love.

8.18.2012

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 58

6 Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free

7 And break every yoke? "Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,

10 And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom  will become  like midday.

11 And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. "Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;  You will raise up the age-old foundations; 
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell. (Isaiah 58:6-12 NASB)

Please do not quote and claim verses 8 - 9, without verses 6 & 7. They are void without the context.

Thank you.

Carry on. As you were.

8.14.2012

ITRSTGD

Can I be honest for a minute?

Great. Thanks.

Last night I, and several other people, decided to pray for Summer, for relief from pain and for much needed rest. The reason we did that is because we believe that prayer works.

Well, first thing this morning I see where Summer was awake in the wee hours of morning posting on Facebook that she was in pain. Later she posted this to Caring Bridge:

 " I have been up all night with the worst pain since this last pregnancy."

Here's the honesty part - I thought, what the heck? We pray, specifically, for relief and it gets worse. Worse than its been in almost a year. Hmmmmmm...

Dave and I talked about it for a few minutes, and he reminded me that it isn't circumstances that we look to in prayer. It's God. If you'll read my last post, you'll see that God has been showing me that. But still...it got worse?

The kids were very restless this morning so I decided to throw them in the car. We drove to Jack's in Opelika to get Caeley a biscuit for breakfast. I was still thinking about prayer, and it's effectiveness and wondering if God's "No," last night meant He was just saying no in general and I should change the way I am praying.


I was thinking on all of this in the drive-thru and after I got our food, I went to pull out of the parking lot. The license plate on the car right in front of me said, 

ITRSTGD

I thought okay, I hear you. He has been saying that to me lately from every place imaginable. I just keep seeing that message written different places, and it's because I really need to hear it.

A couple of minutes later I took this side street that I never take, and drove past a little church. The sign out front said,

PRAY UNTIL 

SOMETHING HAPPENS

As Madea says, "Hellerrr." That's "Hellooo" for those of you that don't speak Madea. I'm going to just go with what the sign said. I'm going to trust God, that He is good, that He knows what He is doing and that He is full of compassion. And I'm just going to pray until...

Something happens.

Summer, Lori and I are going to Birmingham tonight because Summer has a CT scan in the morning at 7:15. She has been experiencing a lot of pain and Dr. Straughn wants to see what's going on in there.

I am asking you to do two things:

1. Trust God.

2. Pray until something happens. 

Pray for rest, relief, peace of mind and healing. I am going to forego the whole "give the doctor's wisdom" prayer and ask God to do something that would baffle the doctors and go way beyond their wisdom.

Will you join me?


8.12.2012

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

I grew up singing this at church. I always liked the song but never really understood it. Short and sweet, what God is teaching me is that my hope cannot be in anything other than Him and the promise of heaven. 

We can hope for things, for circumstances to change, for healing. 

We don't ever hope in things, in changed circumstances, in healing.

It's a small difference in a sentence, but a huge difference in the way we live, think, feel, pray and believe. If our faith is in a particular outcome or answer, then what happens when it doesn't happen? Sometimes we get exactly what we pray and believe for, but other times we don't. 

If things don't go our way, then we are likely to cast aside the only solid One there is, the only Constant we have, if we have rested our hope anywhere else. As Paul showed us in Romans 5, the hope that doesn't disappoint is in eternal life through Jesus Christ.

"and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us...so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:5, 21 NASB)

And as for getting through today, while we still see dimly (I love this line in the song),

My anchor holds within the veil

Within the veil...within His presence. That's where my anchor holds, that's where I won't be tossed by waves, capsized, overtaken. Within the trustworthy embrace of God the Father. It's not just a good song, it's the truth. 

8.08.2012

None But Jesus



This song is one of my all-time favorites and there are a couple of situations in my world that have brought it back to mind. One situation is mine (ours) and the other is mine by association. The lyrics are powerful and at times I don't feel I can even sing it honestly, but I want to. The lines that get me every time are,

"When you call I won't refuse, each new day again I choose" 
and
"When you call I won't delay, this my song through all my days"

That's hard to sing honestly when your personal desires don't line up with what He asks you to do. For me anyway, you might be really awesome and never struggle with that. But the other line that I love is this one...and this is whats important to remember,

"In the moment of my weakness you give me grace to do your will."

He is familiar with our weaknesses, He is mindful that we are but dust, and yet He calls us anyway to do hard, but amazing, things. The beautiful thing is that if we will choose to, at minimum, ask Him to change our desires to match His, then He is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. He gives us the grace (which here means empowerment) to do His will - which is why we can say, 

"When You call I won't refuse"





7.16.2012

Discipleship Tested

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

Clearly, He isn't calling us to literally hate our families and friends. It's hyperbole, to go back to junior high grammar. Basically, he is using exaggeration to drive home the point. Clearly, he doesn't promote the dishonoring of parents or neglect of children.

It's so much easier to quote this, and discuss it, than to be asked to live it. This section in my Bible is called "Discipleship Tested." This would probably be one of the easiest tests to fail, because we're such relational creatures, don't you think?

An eternal perspective is essential. What we see and know here isn't all there is. And the end is not the end.

Rinse, lather and repeat.

6.01.2012

You Revive Me

You revive me
You revive me Lord
And all my deserts are rivers of joy
You are the treasure I could not afford
So I'll spend myself til I'm empty and poor
All for You
You revive me, Lord


These are lines from a fabulous song by Christy Nockels, called, appropriately, "You Revive Me."

Raise your hand if you've ever felt like you needed to be revived.  I think all of us at one point or another, feel worn out, run down, beat up - by life, by people, by circumstances. I love that God can take what feels like a desert and turn it into a river of joy.

This song touches me on many different levels right now, but when I was listening to it this morning, the line that really jumped out at me was:

So I'll spend myself til I'm empty and poor, All for You, You revive me, Lord.

After getting home late last night and then getting to bed even later, all three of my kids ended up awake before 6:00 this morning. Not the way I prefer my day to begin. I pray for the grace to get through the day, with potentially irritable kids and a potentially irritable mommy.

But, guess what. That's part of mommy life. Mommy life is, things not going as planned sometimes. Kids arguing and fighting. Kids whining. Kids that get hungry (really, you need to eat? Again?). Kids whining. There are plenty of wonderful things about mommy life, too, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is that I think there's a mindset in our culture that can totally steal the joy from us, and that is this:

I DESERVE "ME" TIME!

It has certainly caused me a lot of frustration and anger, at times. I'm not saying we don't need rest. We have to rest and a break now and then is a good thing. No doubt.

But, am I called to go to bed well-rested at night? Am I called to die well-rested? I don't think so. There are kids that need me, a husband that needs me. There are relationships to build. Memories to make. Friends to serve and care for. Families in need.

There are other people in this world besides me. Shocking revelation, I know. People that really matter to God. That should really matter to me. And that means I should spend my energy and time on them. I should "spend myself til I'm empty and poor," because, "You revive me, Lord."

This is a long-overdue, huge, shift in thinking for me. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some amazing friends that live their lives for others. For a wife and/or mom it has to start at home. I'm thankful for friends who have taught me so much, who have lived beautiful lives in front of me. I'm not the same.

If we do what we are called to do, I know we can trust Him to revive our tired souls and tired bodies. All of us - mommies, daddies, wives, husbands, friends. We all have a call that sometimes feels like a burden. But, He breathes life back into us and makes us feel alive again. He's pretty good at that.







5.03.2012

Secret Admirerer

Neat title huh? Well that's me! I am Ashley's super secret admirerer! She is like omg super dooper oober amazing and a great person! She loves everybody she meets, amnd loves Jesus. She has an awesome sense of style (I mustve rubbed off on her) and shares all her stuff with me! You should totes tell her how amazing she is next time you see her cause its sooooooooooo true! I dont even know why on earth she deals with me, but she still does! The Urchin Chronicles are a cool story anbout a certain little urchins life, and, if i do say so myself, is a hawwwtt name for a blog! Soo yeah. Cool story bro. ttyl dudes(and dudettes) <3 :) ;) :D :P :*

4.13.2012

How I Really Feel

The next time someone implies that my being "just a mom," i.e. not working outside the home, is no big deal or not real work, I think I might slap them. In love, of course. Being "just a mom," is the hardest thing I have ever done.

This sums up the way I feel this morning.

Notwithstanding, I know God has given me everything I need for life and godliness. I'm trusting Him to keep me within the bounds of love today.

4.04.2012

Feeling Average

This morning I came to the realization that I am not really great at anything right now. I'm okay at a few things, and really bad at some, but not over-the-top in any of the roles I play. I'm not a great housekeeper or cook or organizer and I don't feel like a fabulous mother lately. This isn't a pity party, I'm just wondering if this is just how it is during a season of life when I'm wearing lots of hats and have three little kids. Maybe I don't have time to be excellent :) Can that be my excuse?

Anybody relate?

4.03.2012

**This is me processing through something. If you're not into the Bible, or studying the Bible, you may not find this subject to matter at all. From the outset let me say I am not, nor do I claim to be, a Bible scholar, or expert. So, if you disagree feel free to comment.**

For whatever reason it bothers me when I hear people talk about how we are no longer under the Old Testament Law (or they may call it "works") and how we are under grace now, as if there wasn't grace before. As if God used to be a mean guy, but then He sent Jesus to be nice to us. Good cop/bad cop at the highest level.

The Old Covenant was never a covenant of works, because no man's works have ever been enough to save him. The works were supposed to be an outward expression of an inward reality - the heart devoted to the Lord. Always. That's the way it was and that's the way it is. He has always looked at the heart.

"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3 NIV84)

It goes on to say that Abraham was considered righteous before he was circumcised - before he had any works. It was faith that made him righteous; however, faith requires action, so he followed through with circumcision. He obeyed as a result of his faith. Faith without works is dead and works without faith are dead. They go hand in hand.

The point I am making is this: the Law itself wasn't an agent of salvation; therefore, no man could ever be saved by just keeping the rules. No person who ever entered heaven got there by his own merit or by his own goodness. Every person who has ever entered heaven got there by faith in God and His provision. Since all men have fallen short, and all struggle with the internal filth we call sin, they all entered because God was gracious. Grace is not new. It has been ever-present throughout history. I do not believe that God had a personality overhaul 2,000 years ago. It has always been and always will be about grace.

That is all. And down off my soapbox I go.

4.01.2012

Changing it up a little...

So...I changed the name of my blog.

2.21.2012

All I Need

I heard this song for the first time the other day (because I'm always behind) and loved it immediately. If you've never heard it, take a listen. Mat Kearney wrote it about friends who went through Hurricane Katrina, but I think we can all insert ourselves into it in this: when everything else we have is threatened or blown away, we stand firm when our roots run deep in love. When events come along that shake away the temporal things that are shakeable, love remains. Love is unshakeable. Love never fails.



2.07.2012

A Very Uplifting Thought for the Day ;)

Okay, I lied. You might not really find this uplifting, but...

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24, 25 NASB)

This morning this verse really messed with me. His was a cross of shame, disgrace, rejection and physical pain. What does it mean to take up my cross? To follow Him?

After the resurrection, Jesus said to Peter:

I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18, 19 NIV84)

For Peter it meant a literal cross-bearing, a literal following in Jesus' footsteps. He was led to a place He did not want to go, but by choice. Not that he chose it specifically, but he chose to fulfill his calling, knowing the risks, thereby choosing to take up his cross.

For us it's much less literal, at least here in America. When I was thinking about what it means to take up my cross, this is what came to mind: there are times in life that we will be taken to places we do not want to go - painful, uncomfortable, disgraceful places - in order that God be glorified in our lives and/or that we be sanctified.

Sometimes it isn't us at all, but people we love that are taken to places we don't want them to have to go. Jesus took our eternal suffering, but not our temporal suffering on Earth...much as I wish He had. We might stomp our feet and say "No!" like Peter did when Jesus told them about His impending death, but His plan won't be thwarted.

What does it look like to bear a cross?

Sometimes it's rejection. Be willing to be disgraced for Him.

Sometimes it's sickness. Be willing to hold fast to your testimony that He is good, no matter what.

Sometimes it's letting go of reputation and posturing and looking "good," so that He can have a chance, for once, to really change you. Be willing to look foolish.

Sometimes it's letting go of a relationship that isn't leading us toward Life. Be willing to be lonely.

Sometimes it's choosing to live life in a way completely different than the world around you does. Be willing to be called "weird."

Sometimes it's moving out into unfamiliar territory, so that He can love people through you. Wash feet. Serve a cup of water. Wipe a tear. Be willing to help carry a cross that isn't yours.

Sometimes it's death. Be willing to lay down your life for the sake of another.

Cross-bearing can take any number of forms, but one thing is necessary no matter the hardship. We have got to be willing to lose our lives (or the things we think bring life), in order to gain real Life. It's very simple but so hard to do. We must hold all things loosely. ALL things. Family, friends, money, reputation, children.

Even as I say that I cringe. That's why He said it's a cross we must bear. There is a cost to be counted. It's not a game. But His glory is so worth it and His goodness deserves it.

I really can't even do this subject matter justice. I can't say anything more than, Lord, strengthen my weak knees.

2.03.2012

House Rules

I finally finished a project I've been working on for a while. Well, not actually working on, but thinking about working on. I got a big picture frame (really big) for free (from the side of the road) and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. It only took about 3 months to follow through, but...




We have a lot of rules ;) They are all important...I couldn't ditch any of them.



Thank you Pinterest for the inspiration. One project down, about 100 more to go.

1.11.2012

C25K, Supermom and a Crash

Well, it's been an interesting day.

For starters, I decided to start Couch to 5k this morning. Why? I have no idea. If you know me well, you might find this funny. I've always joked that I don't run unless I'm being chased. What's not funny is how out of shape I am. Don't let the skinny legs fool you - skinny does NOT equal healthy, or in shape.

You start with a 5 minute walk, then do a 60 second run, followed by another minute and a half walk, etc. I was so nervous while I was walking because I was literally scared that I had forgotten how to run. I kept checking the clock and looking around for cars. Turns out I remembered how to do it, but it felt awkward.

During the first 60-second run, I was having chest pains and I thought, there is no way I will live through this. Could I have a heart attack? Should I have had a physical first? Not to mention the damp, cold, 17 mile per hour wind that was blowing and setting my lungs on fire. The second run felt the same way, but after that it got easier. I guess my body accepted the fact that I was going to continue and it stopped having a fit. I survived and was planning to do day 2 tomorrow; however, the forecast is calling for chilly 22 mile per hour winds. I'm not digging that, so we'll see if I make it or not.

Later in the day I decided to take the boys to the library, because Corban has been asking to go. They were behaving fairly well, so today was the day to do it. We were playing in the kids area, when another mom came in with her two boys. They looked to be about 4 and 18 months. They looked at a couple of books, then picked up some dinosaurs...this is when I realized she was no ordinary mom. She was an "over-achiever." If you are one, no offense. I'm impressed, I'm just not where you are.

First of all we rarely actually look at books when we go to the library, so she had one up on me already. But then she showed off by calling all the dinosaurs by their proper names. What?! Her 4 year old knew the names, too, and she corrected him when he got them wrong. Some I had never heard of.

They discussed mammals and how they have hair, and that whales are also mammals. When she pretended that the brachiosaurus he was holding ate a dolphin, he said mom, I don't eat meat, I eat plants. How does he know this already? I don't this already. Christopher picked up a whale and said "Nemo." Which sounded like "me-mo," which sounded like "mammal" to supermom. I said, "oh no...we're no that advanced." Uh-uh. We know there was one of these thingys on Finding Nemo.

About that time she saw that she got some food on her pants at lunch...mashed potatoes. So now I'm thinking, the woman cooks at lunch time. I don't even remember what my kids had for lunch today. I'm just happy when they eat something.

In my defense, I will say that my kids eat a lot of natural and organic food...they're just really picky, won't touch vegetables and the only meats they like are bacon and chicken nuggets from Wendy's or Chick-Fil-a.

Anyway, I'm thinking this woman has got it going on. Her little one got antsy so they walked around for a few minutes. While they were gone Christopher wanted to play a game on my iPad and Corban grabbed the iPod that was in my purse to play Angry Birds. When she came back in I was all self-conscious, what with my kids playing games while at the library, when they could be getting educated. Thankfully Christopher and I were playing a matching game. I made sure to say, "Good job Christopher, you made a match! Let's find another match," so she would know we were playing an educational game, not a mindless, fun game that was turning our brains to mush. She scurried back over to the Legos with her kids - I imagined she didn't want them to be tempted by our brain polluting games.

When it was time to leave Corban asked if he could play the iPod some more in the car. I said, in front of her, "I'll have to think about it. It's not good to spend too much time playing games like that." Then as soon as we got to the car I handed it right back to him. (FYI, I really don't let him spend that much time playing because it really isn't a good thing. He has the potential to become an addict.) I don't know why I felt the need to act that way. Isn't that ridiculous? My word.

After they ate lunch and went down for naps, I needed to go pick Riley up from school. I hopped in the van backed out of the driveway and BAM, I hit something. Freaked me out. I never saw it coming, but an Alagasco van was pulling out of the driveway across the street at the exact same time as me. What are the odds? He never saw me either. Thankfully Dave was off today, so he went to get Riley while I stayed to wait for the police to get there.

They determined that we were equally at fault, so hopefully all we will be responsible for is the deductible. And I am loving the Alagasco supervisor that came out. He said he wants to try to get our deductible paid for by the gas company. That says a lot about the company and about him. I hope that works out. I don't even know what our deductible is, but I already got a repair estimate. A little over $4,000. That's a lot of damage for two cars going under 10 miles an hour!

I'm just thankful the kids weren't in the car and that it was minor, with no injuries. My back might need some adjusting, but it already needed that. It was downhill the rest of the day. I mean that in a positive sense...does that expression have negative connotations? It's all downhill from there. Anyway, I'm tired and my body hurts from all the running and crashing and I'm going to bed.

Night night.

1.01.2012

Why Wait??

Today is the beginning of a new year, and with it comes the chance for a fresh start, right? Well, I have a question. Why on earth do we let the calendar dictate when we "get" a fresh start? If there are things in our lives that we want to change, why wait until January 1? Why do we give ourselves permission to go "all out" the last few weeks of the year, knowing January brings a new beginning and new (a.k.a., old) resolutions?

Why live in our mess any longer than we have to, when the book of Lamentations tells us,

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in Him."
(Lamentations 3:22-24 NASB)

Yes, go ahead and make a new start today. And then make another one the next day. And the next. Every day is a new day, a chance to begin again, to make different decisions. If we are going to make resolutions, then let's resolve to remember His mercies are new every morning and that we are dependent on Him to maintain forward progress. Resolve to surrender daily and maybe the rest will fall into place.