Friday, June 13, 2014

Even in Dark Places

Depression is real. 

Depression can swallow a person whole and when it finally spits them out - they aren't the same.

Being sad is just a part of life. An emotion we all deal with - but when sadness turns to darkness - it's extremely hard to get out. No one choses to be depressed, it like a tunnel you start to walk down and before you know it the light behind you is very dim. The longer you are in the dark - the more adjusted your eyes get too - and then it doesn't seem so bad, silence becomes your friend, and that cold feeling you once had - you've now acclimated to. 

Depression is lonely, but then there comes a point where being alone makes sense. You tell yourself that no one else should have to suffer through your misery - no one else should have to be burdened with your pain. You convince yourself that where you are, is best for everyone. 

Depression is exhausting. Depression sucks the very life out of you. Everything is hard, it all takes so much effort. Getting up, getting dressed, eating, going somewhere - even talking becomes a chore. It's if the world has become so heavy, and you just don't have the strength to even try. 


The bible reminds us time and time again that you are never too far from Jesus. That He is as close as the mention of His name. That even in the dark places He is there. Even at your weakest He is strong. And no matter how different you feel - the transforming power of Jesus - can help you. 

Yes, you may still battle hard days, but you are never alone. 

Even if I am afraid and think to myself, 
“There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, 
the light around me will soon be turned to night,” 
You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
 For You the night is just as bright as the day.
 Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.
Psalm 139:11-12

*If you feel this way, there are professional people to help you. Your pastor, your doctor, or even a friend. Asking for help is not easy (no one wants to admit they have a kryptonite) - but let me tell you friend - it is worth it! Getting help doesn't make you weak - getting help makes you strong! 

*If I can pray for you - please let me know! It is my privilege to hold you up in prayer! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I am a mess

And I am a mom

I am selfish

And I am a mom

I fail daily

And I'm a mom

I drop the ball, let people down, and disappoint

And I'm a mom

I honestly have the best of intentions everyday - and rarely does it turn out that way

And I'm a mom

I yell, and get angry, and say things I shouldn't

And I'm a mom

I give in, give up, and wanna quit too many times that I can count

And I'm a mom

I get tired and I get worn out

And I'm a mom

I make lots of mistakes, mishaps, and messes

And I am a mom

Being the first child, overachiever that I am Mother's Day has become a day I make a mental list of all the ways I am failing this "high calling" that God has given me for three amazing, impressionable souls. I look around and see strong, powerful, beautiful women with clean, sparkling, well behaved kids by their sides - and I'm trying to spit wash yesterdays dirt off one kid's face while squeezing the other's hand tightly as he wiggles out. By the time we've celebrated the mother with 15 kids at church (who by the way smiles and speaks sweetly to everyone) I'm on a downward low. After the crowded lunch at a restaurant where I've stopped 2 food fights, and made 6 trips to the bathroom - I'm ready to take my cold lunch in a to-go box and just go home.

I look at these sweet faces and wonder why God would think I would be any good at this. I am beyond thankful and grateful for each of them, and could not imagine a moment of life without them - but sometimes I truly believe they teach me more than I ever teach them. I wonder if I should be saving for their college or just for therapy. I often pray "Lord, do you know what a mess I'm making?" - And every time - God says "Yes, but I called you - and I got this - cause I got you."

God's word is full of unqualified, messed up people - who keep making mistakes and wrong choices - and yet God called them, he used them, and he never gave up on them.

I don't have to have it altogether - I just have to have God

I don't have to know it all - I just have to have God

I don't have to be it all - I just have to have God

I am a mom - but I am also a child of God - and that is enough

Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. 2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm Mad

I'm mad. 

I'm mad at sin.

I'm mad at what sin does to people. 

I'm mad at what it does to families, to friends, to churches, to communities. 

I'm mad at what sin has done to this world.

I'm mad at what sin has done to me.

I'm mad.

Because of sin we have distrust, destruction, disgust, divorce, disease, and death.

Because of sin we have pain, we have loss, we have grief.

Sin separates us from love.

It takes us away from those we love. 

Sin brings suffering, sadness, and sorrow. 

I hate sin.

And I'm mad.

BUT then I am reminded that...

Sin doesn't win!

Love does!

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16 (Amplified Bible)

Love brings hope.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] John 16:33 (Amplified Bible)

Love brings life.

Jesus told him, “I am the Way—yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of me. John 14:6

Love brings joy.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Love brings peace.

Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. Psalm 46:10 
(Amplified Bible)

Love brings a future.

Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. John 14:1-3 (The Voice)

I'm still mad at sin.

But I'm thankful for LOVE.

I'm thankful for GOD.

I'm thankful for HOPE.

I'm thankful for a FUTURE. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that. Jeremiah 29:11 (The Voice)

And I am most thankful for an ETERNAL FUTURE where there is no sin!

He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (The Living Bible)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Driving Lesson

After reading the article "Dear Religion, I Quit You!" by Bart Millard - it got me thinking about my  driving lesson:

When I was probably about 10 yrs old we had a stick shift car, and dad use to let me help switch gears when it was just me and him in the car (this was back when you could sit in the front seat as kid). Dad had to make a quick trip up to the Coast Guard Station and I got to go with him, as he switched gears in the old Toyota my hand was on top of his and I did it too. He parked in front of the office right outside the main gate, and left me in the car. I couldn't take my eyes off the gear shift. My curiosity got the best of me and I tried shifting the gear all by myself. What I didn't realize was that even though the car wasn't running, it could still move. I shifted the gear into reverse and the car, with me in it, started quickly rolling backwards to the main road of traffic. I was panicked and screaming, scared to death. I had no idea how to make it stop. Luckily a guy dad worked with came running out and jumped in and pulled the emergency brake in just seconds before we hit oncoming traffic. I was sobbing and shaking and thankful. I can't remember what my dad said to me on the way home, but I know it had to be one of the biggest lectures of my life. My dad doesn't loose his cool often, but when he does - you listen. I remember vaguely being told the dangers of cars, people, and the power a car has. Whatever was said that day - it stuck. That fear and experience stuck so well that it wasn't until I was 26 yrs old that I got my driver's license. 

Now, I had gotten my permit a few times - 3 in fact, but I could never get enough courage to really learn how to drive (or go over 15 miles an hour). I was so afraid of making a mistake, of doing the wrong thing - that I did nothing. Not until a friend of mine showed me unconditional grace. I had had many teachers, many people who tried to help me - but I either scared them to death, or frustrated them even more. I don't blame them - I was a pretty scary driver. After many tries and failures with others, a friend of mine said she could help. I warned her, I think even Edwin probably warned her, but she assured me it would be OK. I learned to drive in her green van. I remember giving her a very good reason why this was a bad idea, how I could dent her vehicle, or scratch it - to which she said it had so many dents one more wouldn't matter, or even a scratch. She was patient, and kind. She was really patient. We laughed a lot, I cried through every step - and she never gave me a hard time about it. 

As the weeks went by, my confidence began to grow, and I became a lot more comfortable behind the wheel. I was able to drive faster than 15 miles an hour, switch lanes (if I had to), and even back up (which I still hate doing). Though I was doing so much better, I was still freaking out about taking the test. I had studied the book, I had spent many evenings practicing the dreaded parallel parking, but the idea of the test still made my stomach churn in knots. One night while I was practicing my friend asked me what about the test scared me so much. I took a minute to think about it (and check my mirrors) and I said "What if I fail?". I didn't realize until that moment that the very idea of failing was stopping me from even trying. She said "If you fail it, you wait a day and take it again." What!? Take it again? You mean I get another chance? I had no idea that was possible. I guess in my mind - a "do-over" was never even an option. What an incredible sense of relief and peace overwhelmed me when I finally accepted the idea of a second chance. I was finally able to relax behind that wheel and finish my practicing knowing I didn't have to be perfect, I just had to do my best, and if I messed up - I could try again.

That was the day I was introduced to Grace. Grace was something I didn't have a lot of experience with. Being the oldest child, the first born, I was always hard on myself, overachiever, big goals, bigger dreams - and when I didn't meet those high standards I felt like a failure. I also considered myself pretty self-sufficient "I'll do it myself" - was a common phrase of mine. So being at a place of vulnerability, with this great fear of driving and failing - was a scary place to be for me. I expected no mercy, but that was not what I received. Spiritually I have to admit it broke me. Once Grace is introduced into your life, it begins to seep down to the deepest parts of your heart, reaching dark places that hadn't seen the light in a very long time. Though I had accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 8, I had never accepted the Grace that came along with it. My walk as a Christian was exhausting, and fearful - I worried much, and rested little. Scared someone would see that I wasn't this "Super Christian", afraid I would fail at the next "test" I was given in life - and expose the true failure that I felt I was. 

Once I realized that God was not looking over the clouds of Heaven waiting for me to mess up so He could bonk me on my head with a giant mallet and use his giant pink eraser to permanently remove my name from the "Book of Life" - everything changed. Even though I had read my Bible, done the Sunday School lessons, and listened to the sermons - it took a vulnerable moment, and a loving friend to show me the beautiful, amazing, incredible Grace of God. I walked lighter, I held my head up higher, and I rested in God's love - not running from His Wrath. Something funny happens when you embrace the Grace of God, all the sudden you are able to give the Grace of God as well. Sin was still sin, and right was still right but covered in the Grace of God anything was possible and everyone had a second chance. 

By the way, I took my test on July 3rd, and passed by the skin of teeth (I sped up on a yellow light instead of slowing down). On July 4th I celebrated a new "Independence Day"- the freedom to drive - all by myself, and the freedom to walk in the Grace of God. Sure, I still get scared, and I am still my worst critic - but I am daily reminded of the amazing Grace of God and I am thankful His mercies are new every morning!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Knows

This Easter season I wanted to share with you a song I wrote many years ago called, "He Knows".

I can't help but think that every person Jesus passed on that road to Golgotha he knew them. He didn't just know their name, or just their birthday, but he really, truly knew them. Every person he touched, every person he came in contact with. He saw their pain, their struggle, their hurt, their dark secrets. He saw them, and yet he loved them. He loved them all the way to the cross. He knows us too - and he loves us.

Below are the lyrics and the MP3 of this song. I hope that it speaks to you, and is a precious reminder that you are not alone.

He Knows Song - click here  

He Knows 
Andrea C. Parker 

He knows the pain you feel inside 
The loneliness you hide 
The tears you cried last night 
He knows the emptiness and shame 
The heartache, hurt, and pain 
He knows, He knows 

And though it seems you’re all alone 
Your cries heard at the throne 
Oh, He knows 

Verse 2 
He knows that you think you cannot win 
That you’re overwhelmed with sin 
That you’re messing up, again 
He knows the bitterness you hold 
That you heart is feeling cold 
He knows, He knows 

And though it seems you’re all alone 
Your cries heard at the throne 
Oh, He knows 

When you call upon His name 
He’ll take away your shame 
Even carry all your pain 
Oh, fall upon your knees 
Call his name and you will see 
That you can be set free 
And when you call upon His name 
He’ll take away your shame 
Even carry all pain 
Oh, fall upon your knees 
Call his name and you will see 
That you can be set free 
He knows 
He knows 
He knows

Monday, March 31, 2014

2 years Later

Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One 
who saves me and is my life

Psalm 42:5

Today is a hard day. 

I won't lie. 

Emotions get the best of me at the oddest moments. 

Looking back I have learned some hard lessons, and some good ones too.

I have experienced heart-wrenching pain that made me want to throw up and give up. 

Moments of such anger I could have punched a hole through a wall.  

Such sadness I never thought I would be able to cry again. 

The people I thought would be there - weren't. 

The people I never imagined would be - were. 

I had no idea how much I was loved by those around me - til then.

And I had no idea how selfish people could be when you are grieving, until then. 

I saw some of the most beautiful moments of God's love, grace, peace, and kindness. 

I also saw some of the most ugly, hurtful, and painful moments of humanity. 

Death doesn't always make sense.

And neither does the way we deal with it.  

One day I hope to look back on this tragedy and remember only the sweet moments.

The amazing people that held me up, that held my family up. 

People that reached out far and near. 

People that held my hand.

Hugged my neck.

Sent a card.

Made a phone call. 

People who expected nothing from me but grief.

People who listened to me cry.  

Who gave me permission to not smile.

People who didn't walk away from me - but towards me.

Even when they didn't know what to say or do. 

I ask God everyday to heal my heart. 

I ask God to help me forgive myself.

I ask God to help me forgive others. 

2 years later - I still don't understand.

2 years later and I still miss Ashley. 

2 years later and I still have lots of regrets. 

2 years later and I still grieve. 

2 years later and God is still God.

2 years later and the sun still shines.

2 years later and the rain still falls.

2 years later and my faith is strong.

Because God is still God. 

And in the end that is all that matters. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Robin Williams Taught Me About Faith

When my oldest daughter was 4 and 5 years old Peter Pan was her hero. We probably watched Peter Pan at least 100 times in that time, back when videos were still the "in" thing. She never tired of watching Peter, and Wendy, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook over and over again. We went to Disney World when she was 4 yrs old and she finally got to me Peter Pan in person. She was excited, and nervous, and thrilled, and embarrassed (especially when he kissed her on the cheek). It was a very special moment for this little girl who did "believe in fairies" and Neverland. I sometimes envied that child-like-faith. Camille is now almost 14 yrs old, and she still likes the story of Peter Pan and is now sharing that with our youngest Liam who is just about to turn 3 yrs old. But that innocent mesmerized magic of the Disney animated story, has now been replaced with a more realistic, practical understanding of just a sweet story.

We recently watched the movie "Hooked" - a more grown-up tale of Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell. Peter Pan is all grown up, and he's gotten married, has two kids of his own, and a very stressful job. He also has all the cares and burdens of a forty year old father, and husband. When Captain Hook kidnaps Peter's kids Peter has to go back to Neverland and get them. The problem is Peter has forgotten about Neverland, about Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, Fairy Dust, and "Happy Thoughts". He is the "lost man" in Neverland. The Lost Boys and Tinker Bell work tirerlessly to teach him how to believe again, to help him believe again - but they knew that unless Peter chooses to believe - he will never be able to fight Captain Hook and get his children.

There's a scene in the movie where the Lost Boys and Peter Pan are sitting down to a giant table to eat. Everyone is starved and the Lost Boys are making comments about how great everything looks and smells. But all Peter sees is an empty table. The Boys start digging, reaching over each other, filling their plates, chomping down. But all Peter sees are empty plates, empty hands, and nothing to eat. It becomes quickly apparent that because Peter doesn't "believe" - he can't eat. He can't see the bounty of overflowing foods, or smell the aromas of pies and desserts. Peter becomes quickly frustrated and even more hungry. The new Lost Boys' leader (Rufio) starts a "war of words", (pretty much a 10 year old's name calling battle) - and Peter Pan was losing. Finally out of desperation, frustration, and the encouragement of the Boys around him - Peter finds his "inner child". He wins the name calling battle, bringing the whole group to laughter - including Peter Pan. At that moment Peter looks around and sees a table covered in brightly colored foods, satisfying smells, the world of Neverland has come alive once again to Peter Pan - he finally believed. He had let go of the practical, of all he thought he knew - and just believed. 

As I sat there watching this scene with my kids I was struck by my Bible study earlier that day. I'm not sure I have ever had such a spiritual experience with a television show. God was speaking to my very soul - "See that table, my table is bigger, and my blessings overflow. See the bounty before them - mine is greater, and more beautiful. But without faith, as a child, you can't see it. Instead you hunger and you thirst, and go away hungry and frustrated. If you would only just trust, and believe - your eyes would be open to all I have set before you. I love you, and have only the best for you - good gifts, but you have to let go of the practical, and believe in the miracle. Faith to see the unseen." Tears fell from eyes, as Robin Williams had a food fight with a bunch of children. Wow God! Wow. Scripture came alive off the page as it flooded back to mind:

This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, 
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 18:3

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, 
the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. 
Hebrews 11:1

Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. 
Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. 
All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. 
And he who knocks, will have the door opened.
 Think of it this way: if your son asked you for bread, would you give him a stone? 
Of course not—you would give him a loaf of bread. 
If your son asked for a fish, would you give him a snake? 
No, to be sure, you would give him a fish—the best fish you could find. 
So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, 
how much more so does your Father in heaven, 
who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children! 
Matthew 7:7-11

My faith was challenged, my heart convicted, and my soul overwhelmed with the love of God - there in my living room watching "Hook" with my kids. I wondered what I had been missing, what joy and peace I had pushed away trying to be the "grownup". Oh God, what bounty you have for those who just trust and believe - our tables are not empty - we just can't see. I don't want to sit at an empty table, I don't want to be so right - that I'm wrong. God give me eyes of a child, and faith to believe. Replace my worry with joy, and my fear with faith. Give me "happy thoughts" so I can soar on wings of eagles - and never be lost again. 

I tell you this: if you had even a faint spark of faith
even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 
“Move from here to there,” and because of your faith, the mountain would move. 
If you had just a sliver of faith, you would find nothing impossible. 
Matthew 17:20

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March - my least favorite month of the year

Ugh! I watched the calendar and I knew that it was coming, I tried to prepare myself - thinking it wouldn't be so hard this time… and yet - it is.

Years ago, I never looked at the calendar with dislike - not even when my birthday came around. I looked forward to each new day, and new month, like a new challenge ahead. Now, that's all changed.    
March has become quite the dreaded month, in fact you could say it is my absolute least favorite month of all year. On March 31st, it will be 2 years - 2 years since my brother, Ashley, died. Two years of heartache, loss, pain, grief and despair. Two years of watching my family fall apart, my parents age overnight, and for me a battle of fear, anxiety, and depression. March 31st is a day I don't want to face, and yet internally it counts down inside my heart.

Unexpected death rocks your world, it shatters everything you thought you knew - and requires you to pick it up and figure out how it all fits together again. When your kid brother, who is 29 yrs old, passes away you just don't know how to process that. This baby of the family, who you thought you would see again - talk to again - is gone…. it's just something too hard to comprehend. Grief is a process, you don't get over it overnight, or even in 2 years, or even 20 years - you learn how to live through it - not get over it.

For me, March has now become a month of regret. I wish I had called Ashley more, made a trip down to Florida to see him - hugged his neck a thousand more times. I look at the 30 days before his death and see all the missed opportunities to just let him know how much I loved him. I struggle hard to remember his laugh, his smile, his jesters and phrases. I think about all the things I put between us, reasons why we couldn't get together and things I thought were so important at the time - and now see how worthless it all was - compared to one more time to see him. I kick myself a million times for not picking up the phone and calling him more - all I have left is a text. Why wasn't he worth a phone call that day?

Oh, I could wade in the waters of regret until I drown. I could keep walking into the sea of sorrow until I'm completely under - but I can't. I can't live in the past of "What if's" and "Whys?" I can't go deep in the dark murkiness of "words not said" and "things not done". I can't stop living because my brother is gone. Because - my purpose here on earth is not finished, even though Ashely's is. Wow, that hurt to say that - brings tears to my eyes, but I know it is true. For some reason unknown to me, one I may never understand - my brother's time here on earth is over. His life began on May 14, 1982 and ended on March 31, 2012. Ashley lived 29 years, 10 months, and 18 days, a total of 10,915 days.

Only God knows why his days were shorter than mine, and though I wish they were 10 thousand more - there aren't. I can't change that, and I can't change what happened 30 days before he died, 30 hours, or 30 minutes. What I can change is the way I live however, the days I have left. Though this world is not my home, it is where I am now - and my purpose is not finished here. As I trusted God with my pain and sorrow those first moments of finding out, and those first hours, and days, I still must trust God with everyday. As hard as some days are to face, it is one more day God has given me with my family, and loved ones around. There is still a purpose for me here - and I must not waste that - especially now, seeing how precious time is.

March is still hard. I will admit it. I am not Superwoman or Super-saint. I struggle, I cry. Grief is tough. Loss is tough. I envy those who handle it better than me. I wish I could be stronger some days. I feel like I should apologize ahead of time, in case my demeanor isn't quite up to par. But I have learned that weakness is not shame - it's surrender to the ONE who is stronger. I am not sure I would be able to function at all if not for God and the way He has carried me through these last few years.

My family would appreciate your prayers - this month weights heavy on all our hearts, and prayer lifts up that cloud of pain.

Let me also say - that you don't upset someone when you mention their loss. Sometimes when you are in a tunnel of grief it feels like everyone around you has forgotten and moved on. So it's OK to mention the name of their loved one gone, it's OK to send them a card, it's OK to give them a call. Just grab their hand and say - I know this month is hard for you - and I'm praying for you. You don't have to act like you understand all they are going through - but just letting them know they are not ALONE - makes a HUGE difference. Be the hands and feet of Jesus - don't wait for someone else to be.

 Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; 
help us to spend them as we should. 
Psalm 90:12 TLB

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Soooo It's Time to be Honest

For awhile now I have felt like God has been really quiet. I was praying, I was reading but I wasn't really hearing much of anything. I don't like a lot of silence, especially from my creator. So I felt like I needed to change things up a little - and see if I could get a "better connection". So I started drinking coffee. Not because I actually like coffee (or that was the key to Jesus), but because I am getting up at 5am and need the coffee so that I can stay up and awake at that hour. I've been trying to condition myself to become a "morning person" - which is not an easy task - but I knew it was important. So, I've been setting the alarm and forcing myself up just to spend about 30-45 mins alone - just me, and Jesus, and a cup of coffee (with a lot of flavored creamer). 

The Bible says "if you seek me you will find me", and that is true - but be careful what you ask for. As I've started this new routine, it's been a challenge on my physically but more on me spiritually. God started really shining some bright spotlights on some dark places, I have to say I didn't like it. But friends, we don't always have to like it - especially if we need it. 

Soooooo - it's time to be honest. I have been chewing and stewing on a few things lately - wounds of the heart.  I put my heart out there for the world to stomp on, my feelings were hurt, my spirit crushed. I felt stupid, and angry, and foolish - wondering how I could let it happen, again. What I should have done was take to the feet of Jesus and leave it there. But, I didn't. What I did was cried about it to Jesus, I whined about to Jesus - and I let him know just how I felt about it - but then I picked it all back up and kept stewing. 

See, I felt very justified in my hurt, and frustration - very justified in my pain. I was the victim, and I wasn't ready to let it go. I wanted justice, restitution, the right to be wronged, I wanted the truth to be told! In my great and mighty wisdom I felt I needed to hold onto to it - to make sure it was taken care of. I mean if I leave it with Jesus - all he's going to want me to do is forgive and move on - and where's the justice in that? (told you I was going to be honest here)

The problem with holding onto pain, and hurt, and injustice is that it just turns to bitterness. It's not like you want it to, or you even know it is. It's like a weed that starts to grow and then take over, a vine that wraps itself around your very heart and turns it cold. As my heart grew colder, I did what anyone does - I bundled up - protecting myself with layers, and creating more and more distance from the people around me. It's a lonely place to be and it's exhausting. 

As God exposed my heart, He also showed me how my wounded heart, was hurting others too. I was so defensive, my words were sharp and quick. My reactions had become defensive, so worried about being hurt again - I would try to shut down or shut people out. I was making assumptions and questioning everyone's motives. My poor family was receiving the brunt of it all, hurting the ones I loved the most. 

God started bringing me to some scriptures like these one:

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. James 1:26

But the things that come out of your mouthyour curses, your fears, your denunciations—these come from your heart, and it is the stirrings of your heart that can make you unclean. Matthew 15:18

I was now hearing from God loud and clear at our 5am coffee meetings, but now I just wanted to turn down the volume. One particular day, I heard Matthew 15:18 from two different radio programs that I just tuned into for a min, it was in my reading for the morning, and later from a conversation. I wanted to scream up to heaven "OK! OK! I GOT IT!" 

The great thing about God is that he doesn't just expose things and walk away for you to figure out how to handle them, He stays right there - from the pre-op, to surgery, to recovery, and even the physical therapy afterwards. He NEVER leaves us alone to deal with things - even things we got ourselves into. As I started truly laying down my hurts at His feet, he replaced those hurts with His word. With new eyes, and a melted heart - I was able to see scripture in new way. He has changed my mourning into dancing - the weeping night is gone and the joyous morning has come.

My words have become His words. I feel like my conversations are sweeter, and not so rough around the edges. The stressful mornings of getting kids out the door for school, have become easier. There's laughter in the house before 9am, instead of tears. Instead of giving my not so great wisdom or advice with the kids I find myself sharing scripture, or an example from the Bible. Those 5am mornings have become easier to get up to (some days are still hard), but now 30-45mins doesn't seem like enough time with the Lord. I am thankful He didn't give up on me, and I am so thankful for His life changing word! 

Is life still unfair? YOU BET! Do I still want justice? Or even an apology? Sure! Who doesn't? But is it worth my heart? Is it worth my relationships with family and friends? Is holding onto things I couldn't control worth God's silence? NO! 
*Let me say that God had never stop talking - I had just built such a big wall of hurt, and pain, and disappointment that I couldn't hear Him. 

This scripture has become my daily prayer - (OK - sometimes my hourly prayer) 

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval, O Eternal, my Rock, O Eternal, my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Is everyday perfect? OH MY GOODNESS NO WAY! Not even on a good day, are all the moments right. I still have so much to learn, and so much to keep working on - it's a life in progress (THANK YOU GOD!). I will say I try to shut up faster, and apologize quicker, and let it go more often.

This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! Deuteronomy 30:14 (The Message Bible)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Facebook Friend

Dear Facebook Friend,

I saw your post again today. It made me sad. I know we haven't spoken in years, and not really much at all online. The last time we saw each other we thought we knew it all. Young adults with only dreams in front of us, and lots of time. But the years have gone by, and though I don't know all you've been through - and I can't imagine to pretend I understand - I see that more than time has changed you.

I remember when we would sing together, lifting our voices in praise to God. Many tears we shared, and prayers. I watched you, so many times envious of your strength and your faith. Together we saw lives changed, we saw God move. I know you remember - those things you can't forget. So when I see your pictures of your nights on the town, drinks in hand, eyes glazed over, and tired. I wonder what happened in those years since then. What changed, that now you are chasing a different plan.

Please don't get me wrong I don't look at you with pity, or shake my head in judgement. Oh, Friend, life is hard. These years in between have not been easy. Though our lives have taken different paths - my road is littered with regrets, and mistakes. I carry the bruises of the many slips and falls along the way. Even as I write this my life is not perfect! Honestly, I'm a mess most days - sometimes before my feet even hit the floor. But somehow, for some reason, God's grace and His mercy keep bringing me back, and I'm thankful.

I look back on those years we knew each other, life, and ministry, and church - and I am ashamed. Ashamed for being so "super spiritual", for not being real. I struggled then with things, inner battles, and pain - that I felt I couldn't share, even with friends. Because I thought if I was weak it meant I didn't know Jesus enough. But in all truth - when I am weak, that is when I know Jesus the most. Friend, I was wrong - and I'm sorry. I can only hope and pray that someday you will forgive me for my arrogance, and selfishness, and pride. What a fool I was to waste such a precious time more concerned about what people thought of me!

When someone's life is falling a part - there are some people who stand around and watch it burn. These people stand there and pass judgement, speculate why this happened, or take credit for knowing it was going to happen. Then there are people who walk away, it's too hard for them - they don't want to get involved, they don't know what to do - so they do nothing. And then there are the people that go running into the burning building - willing to get dirty, willing to get burned themselves, because their concern for that friend is greater than their concern for themselves, or others. I use to be the spectator, or even the one who walked away… but NO MORE!

Friend, I want you to know that I running in for you. Every time I see a post from you on my newsfeed I pray. I count it a privilege, an honor, that I have another chance to be the kind of friend I should have been so many years ago. I don't want to preach to you - you know the truth. My prayer for you is peace, abundant life - and joy that fills up the empty places. I pray that God protects you, and blesses you - shows you every day just how much He loves and cares for you. I want you to know you are not alone! And in those moments of dark doubt, when sleep won't come and too many thoughts do - that God brings light to your darkness and mercy to your pain.

Friend, I love you. I'm so glad that we could find each other on Facebook. I selfishly pray that we get to meet again in person, and I can tell you, in person, just how much you mean to me!

Your Facebook Friend,


The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows. John 10:10