Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Safe in His Arms

Today was one of those days... you know, a day where your life turns upside down and God then has to turn in right side up again. I cried and threw a pity party for a good 20 minutes, but then I got off the emotional train and started reminding myself of TRUTH. You see, I have this amazing love letter, written to me from the Lover of my soul, the One who made me, my Creator. I can share all the dramatic details, but I have already been asked to write a book by many friends, but not by a publisher, so instead I will just share the most important part - what I have learned....

1. RUN to God! (don't walk or crawl - run)
- After I got this most disturbing phone call, I hung up and literally burst into tears. My next normal step would have been to phone a friend, but I didn't. I cried out to God. Although the comfort of friends is amazing (and I'll get to that), nothing beats the whisper "I'm right here" from the One who knows the beginning to the end and is in control of all things.

2. Emotion is okay, but don't stay there
- When I say cry, I mean weep. I know when God made me, He didn't mess up when He gave me tear ducts or emotions, so it was okay to feel sad and angry and scared and frustrated. But once I started to breathe, I realized that I needed to RESPOND. I refused to stay angry and scared and frustrated and decided to lead my heart to truth. God's Word. I started to quote scripture and slowly, very slowly, the truth set me free. His Word is the ultimate truth that we can choose to believe or we can believe the whispering of the enemy. I chose truth... eventually my heart and emotions followed.

3. Relinquish Control... and leave it there
- Me and control - a constant battle. I'll conquer for a moment or for a specific area of my life, but I am quickly learning that I need to do this daily in all areas. I may think I'm in control of some situations, but I'm really not anyway. So easy to say, so hard to do... but so necessary, and freeing. I know the God of the universe has got it. He promises He has great plans for me and for all those who love Him. He promises to work all things out for good. I kept reminding myself that I cannot see all and know all, but HE can. I just need to trust.

4. God's Love is Poured Out Through People
- When I finally made a call, it was to Mark. I left a message on His vm, but due to the crying he couldn't understand it. So, our already planned lunch date (thank you Jesus for knowing I would need my husband at exactly 1 pm today and already settting aside time for us). He just sat there and listened and prayed. I then talked to two of the amazing Women's Pastors at Seacoast, and they, too, listened and prayed. Then, several awesome family/friends in my life just happened by in person and via the phone. Again, more love and prayers. It was amazing that I ran to God and He sent people... People to point me right back to Him. Ahhhh, such assurance. I do appreciate any person in my life who tells me it's going to be okay, but often people that don't truly know the amazing God that runs the universe say that with empty hope, versus knowing that they can have true hope in the Word of the One who loves us more than we'll ever know.

5. GRACE for the Moment
- My "through the Bible in a year" Bible is by Max Lucado and entitled "Grace for the Moment Bible." That is exactly how I felt today. At some point in my day I got the picture of a storm, a down pour, a hurricane, a miserable storm. When it's dark and raining that hard you cannot see far ahead or move fast or barely breathe, but if you take it step by step, breath by breath, moment by moment, you make it through the storm. Today, grace was given to me moment by moment. I felt the prayers of the few family and friends that "happened" to call or that I specifically went to for prayer. That peace that doesn't make sense was on me and still is. I feel great.

6. Do Good
- As the day went on I started to feel better and better mostly because I stood on the truth that God loves me and has totally got this as a part of His plan. I don't need to understand "Why." I just need to trust and respond as He calls me to. So, with this news I've decided to do good to the one who is causing harm in my life right now. I've been thinking up gifts all evening and am actually smiling and getting excited about it.

Long story short - I'd rather be in GOD's will than resisting it, so if this is part of God's plan and I really do trust Him, I want to be IN IT! So, here I am... broken, hurt, running to God, trusting, forgiving, praying, relinquishing myself and jumping into His plan. Here I am Lord, use me!

Philippians 1:21 - "...To live is Christ..."

Don't Just Pass By

Over the past 2 years I have been faced with the reality that our plates are all very full and time is a true commodity. As much as that is a good thing it can also be a bad thing. During this two year stretch I have reached out to several leaders to either get a very very delayed response or no response at all. I understand that we are all very busy people and have too much to do in too little time, but this raised a question in my heart. I have gone straight to the Lord on this topic and He reminded me of a story.... The Good Samaritan.

Simple version of it that can apply to any century or time period - There was a guy who was who was hurting and had a need. He was put in the path of three men. The first two passer bys where the religious leaders. They did nothing. Then there was a Good Samaritan. He saw the need that was right in front of his face and he STOPPED. Yes, he stopped. He then helped. In fact, he went above and beyond in the helping.

As I was reminded of this story I had to look introspectively. Have I always stopped? No, I have failed. I can share the time that I was driving out of JFK airport in NY the night after Christmas and a car overturned in front of me. I raced to pull 1 Mom and two baby girls out of the upside down, smoking car. Covered in blood, I took them into the warmth of my car, comforted them, and tried to stop the bleeding while we waiting for the FDNY to respond. So, should I consider myself the Good Samaritan and call it quits? No way!

Every day I am presented with people who need help. It may be a car accident, or it may be an email or phone call. This is where I need to just keep my eyes open. I am so so thankful for all these serving opportunities presented before me, but what about the person with the need that God put in my path? I am sure those two religious leaders in the story of the Good Samaritan where on their way to some great church function, but they missed it! They missed the need God put right in their path because it wasn't on their agenda. So, with that, if YOU have ever crossed my path with a need and I didn't stop, I ask right now - please forgive me??

Let's lay aside OUR agenda, our full plates, our time and keep our eyes open to what GOD puts in our path. Let's replace the "our" with "HIS." Glory to God!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do and Teach, Hand in Hand

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."                              Matthew 5:19

Just read Matthew 5 today and two words connected by the word "and" stuck out to me...


You can't have one without the other.Obey God and teach obedience.

Lead by example.

Share by lifestyle and by word.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Married the Author 3 Years Later

Three years ago today I received an email that would change my life forever. It simply said, "Is Charleston too far?" Yup, that's how he won me over. Today I am married to the author - my sweet husband, Mark. He is definitely not a charmer, but an honest, sincere man of integrity that I am more in love with today... and with each passing day. I had dated enough to have poems and song, flowers and gifts, romantic and creative dates... but this one was different. He was a man who loved God, served God, and lived his life in such a way that it was evident to me. Single Ladies - avoid the charmers! Sure it's nice to hear you are adored, but you won't be so adoring 9 months pregnant, the size of an elephant, a swollen face, house a mess, dinner not made and so on - you need a guy who goes beyond that! Look for the honest man of integrity, whose reputation proceeds him.

Here I am, three years later, and life is great! By this time in my first marriage, I was drowning with a husband who was addicted to porn, had already kissed another woman, was working 80 hours a week, and so on. So, what's the difference? I could write a book on this, but they say blogs are supposed to be short and sweet so I'll just give 3 things that I believe are strengthening our marriage.

Mark and I are consistent in not only our prayers for each other, but with each other. I always heard the saying, "Families that pray together, stay together," and thought it was cute, but it's so much more than cute - it's true! There's no better feeling than waking up, having Mark spoon with me, and ask if he can pray over me and my day. I get to wake up feeling not only loved, but protected personally and with all the day has in store. This protection in not only in the fact that I know Mark cares because he is praying for me, but because we have placed my life and it's craziness in the hands of the Creator - the One who holds the whole world in His hands. I love returning the favor and praying over Mark and his day - his concerns, his job, his relationships, life. There's something so honest, so transparent, so intimate about this time together.
In addition to our morning prayers, each night, a part of our family bedtime routine is for all of us to crawl onto our couch in a cuddly fashion and pray as an entire family, each getting our turn. Our prayers cover anything, everyone, and all things in between. We all love this time together, and I am so confident it makes us stronger.

In a world where "You're way, right away" has become the motto, when things don't go exactly the way we picture and expect, it is very easy to focus on the bad stuff. It is so hard, but necessary that we change our way of thinking to the positive. Marriage is a sinner committing to another sinner. Sin definitely needs to be addressed, however, the focus needs to be on the good in your spouse. I pride myself in the fact that Mark calls me his biggest cheerleader. I purpose ( it won't happen on accident) to find things to build him up. My dear friend Ruth Clow once gave me the BEST marriage advice that I try to share with all, "Before saying or doing something in relation to your spouse, ask yourself, 'Is what I am going to do/say going to build my spouse up or tear him down?' Act accordingly."
There are two things I think about this. First, the world does an awfully good job and tearing people down. According to everything we see and hear we are not good enough, skinny enough, fast enough, perfect enough. So after the wear of the day, who is going to remind your spouse that they are created by God with purpose in life? Second, with the fully co-ed offices around town, I can almost guarantee someone is pouring life into your spouse... just a little innocent flirting here or there? Hmmmm... Not a good start if you are tearing down and someone else is building up. I love to flirt with Mark. Texting is my favorite form and occasionally email. Stuff that is immoral outside of marriage is totally kosher within those bonds of commitment - go for it! I also have these little coupon books that I occasionally pack in his lunch- HOT! If anyone in Hollywood ever got a hold of Mark's phone, email, or even lunch box they would have more than enough material for an R-rated movie... that and our time in the woods ;-)

Marriage is tough. There will be days where it is hard - so hard you will want to yell, shout, scream, run, cry, pout, and make them pay. CHOOSE to love. Don't trust your heart, don't trust your feelings. They will lead your astray. Don't even put all your trust and hope in your spouse - they are human, and they will fail you. But you CAN trust the God of this universe who put you together to see you through and give you the strength to do what is right. Have an over abundance of forgiveness and have an over abundance of selfless love... you know, the unconditional type. It's not based on them - just your choice to love no matter what... to forgive no matter what. The type God has for us!

Three years later I am SO happy! Not because Mark is perfect or because my marriage is perfect, but because I make choices to love him through the good and and bad, sickness and health, till death. My happiness comes from the joy of pouring out the love that GOD has put into me. It's a never ending waterfall if I continue to allow HIM to pour in and me to pour out.

Our 1st Date

P.S. - Oh - and for more great info on marriage, my pastor Greg Surratt of Seacoast church happens to be in the middle of an awesome series called "Love Songs." Come to church the next few weeks to check it out or keep checking here: http://www.seacoast.org/messagearchive and it will be posted shortly.

All smiles


Mark always says He should have proposed this night because it was perfect - but who needs perfect?
We've got each other!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Be Sure to Read All the Fine Print... If There is Any

Those of you that know me, know I am always up for a good deal. I don't like cheap things... but I like getting nice things for cheapER! One thing that I find frustrating when finding a deal is all that fine print... you know the itty bitty words at the bottom with all the exclusions and rules that are added? However, it's there so I must read it and follow it.

I once heard a dear friend of mine talking about his marriage. At the time, it was a mess - a horrible situation. And let me tell you, it wasn't him. I truly believe in most cases it takes two to tango, and although he was not perfect, this time it was her! Well, his attitude was amazing. He simply stated that no matter what his marriage was like, God called him to love his wife. He also shared that there was no "fine print" that made exceptions or exclusion or placed anything to what God was calling him to do. No excuses.

There are so many times we, as Christians, add this "fine print" to scripture. We will see something and then say "But..." and give ourselves exclusions and exceptions to what God is calling us to do. Can I challenge you along with myself - NO MORE EXCUSES! Let's step it up a notch and do what God is calling us to. Let's not look at others, but just ourselves and see where we need to improve or keep pressing on. Let's not add any fine print - if God wanted it there, He would have put it there Himself.

2 Tim 3:16-17
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

John 13:34
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is Someone Behind You?

Driving home from church tonight there was one topic on my heart - leadership! One thing I have learned from my home church, Seacoast, is that everyone is a leader - whether your leading a corporation or your family - someone is following your example. After all, that is leadership, right? If someone is leading, someone must be following. If there is no one following then you are not really leading, are you?

There are two examples of leadership that I was thinking about tonight. First was Peter. He was quite the disciple. He was the go getter, the all or nothing, the pedal to the metal kind guy. Christ told Peter that on him, he would build the church. That is quite the calling. God has amazing plans for Peter and gave him the personality for it. However, when God gives us talents and we run with them, it doesn't always go so smoothly. In the four gospels, there are many objects lessons that revolve around this same disciple, Peter. He was always getting himself into trouble. He jumped out on water (Matt 14:22-33) but then almost drowned, he said he would never deny Christ yet it happened thrice before that crow of the cock (Mark 14:66-72), and the guy even cut off a soldier's ear (Matt 26:47-56). He seemed to have the best intentions, but lacked self control and most importantly, humility. It was his way or the highway and nothing was going to stop him. Every one these stories has happy ending as Jesus steps in.

And speaking of leadership - I would say the King of Kings is a good example to follow. Jesus was an amazing leader. He started his ministry by reaching out to 12. Yup, just 12. He befriended them and established a relationship with each them. At some point Jesus spoke to a crowd of 5k, but most often you find him gathered in a house reaching out relationally.

This evening God put three traits of Jesus on my heart in regards to leadership. The first is that Jesus was a servant. He was selfless, changing lives one at a time. The other trait is meekness. I once heard meekness defined as "strength and power under control." Jesus is a true example of that. The God of the universe and all the power that be, contained in a man that was nailed to a cross. Wow! Lastly, but just as important, Jesus led by example. He didn't stand on a stage and/or organize others to do - He did. He poured out - no task too great or too small. He got his hands dirty!

A few lessons I learned through  this...
1. Thank God for the personality He gave me - He has great plans for me and will use me
2. Be meek! Get some self control and under control. I need to not jump on my own, in my own power, at my own time, in my own strength, in my own way - The theme word here is "MY," but I want the theme to be "HIS." If I do things my way instead of HIS way, I may personally wind up as the object lesson. :-(
3. Lead relationally - I may one day get to speak to a crowd, but miracles really happen one-on-one
4. Be a servant - that is true leadership!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wanting All the Answers

Today was the second day of torture - for the both of us. Yes, folks... school's back in session down here in the South and where there's school, there's homework. I remember back in my teaching days I did give some, but barely... because I completely understood who really did the homework - the parents! Well, not in this household. I know as a parents we must choose our battles and to me, this one is worth it - or so I thought.

So, it all started great today. Question 1 on his ditto - "What is your favorite subject?" Caleb asks, "Mommy, how do you spell Science?" Well, this is where the torture... I mean fun begins. My response, "Caleb, SSSSScience - what is that first sound?" And it was all down hill from there. Long story short and an hour and half later, we finished the homework. Throughout this hour and a half Caleb kept saying, "Mommy if you loved me you would just give me the answer," and I would keep responding, "Buddy, it's because I love you that I'm not just giving you the answer, but I'm here to help you every step of the way."

Dinner tonight was a special treat. My dear Aunt Linda is visiting us down here in SC, so we went to one of my favorite restaurants, Queen Anne's Revenge. Between, my aunt, that restaurant, and my Daddy treating it was great! During dinner our homework adventure came up and my parents tried to explain to Caleb that it would have been easier for me to just tell him the answers, but I didn't because I love him.

Well, this evening I had the opportunity to share this story with someone I love so dearly and felt prompted to share it with all my blogging friends as well. Life is not always easy - and God does not promise for it to be easy - but he does promise to be with us every step of the way.
Deut 31:6 - "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
As I shared with Caleb how I was allowing him to struggle because it was what was best for him I can't help but relate that back to our loving Heavenly Father sharing that with us. He doesn't want us to struggle, but He allows it because it is what is best for us. Would it really be love to just give Caleb all the answers and be done with homework in 10 minutes? Or is it better I work with him every step of the way teaching him to do it on his own? God could zap all our trials away - and sometimes He does - but only if it is best for us. If he allows us to go through something, there is a purpose there and we need to trust him. Caleb's 7 year old mind could not grasp that I was doing what was best and that he could trust me, just as our minds cannot grasp the mind of GOD - we just need to trust that He is doing what is BEST for us. It was so easy for my parents to see this as it sometimes is for outsiders in life, but when you are in the midst of the storm, it's not so easy to see... or to trust. That's where FAITH come in. We cannot always get all of our "why's" answered. We just need to have faith in the God of this universe, who knit us together, knows our comings and our goings, and has a plan for our lives. We may not have all the answers handed to us (especially the "why's"), but we can trust that He IS there with us every step of the way!

Trust Him!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Christie in the Kitchen

In addition to this blog I have started another one. Check it out and let me know what you think...

Now there are two blogs from me to read... just depends on if you want food for your tummy or food for your soul as which page to check that day. ;-)