Wednesday, November 20, 2013


So... This one has been bubbling up for a while and I am still not quite sure how to get it out.  We will see if I make any sense at all.  I have been longing for fellowship. Not meaning just hanging out with people I like. There are a lot of people I like to be around, that I have a lot of fun with, that I even have good conversation with. But something has been missing. Not in the person in me.  I am no good for this person is usually what goes through my head. Key word being good. I struggle with several idols- one I have been smacked in the face with recently is wanting to be "good" longing to be "liked." What does that even mean? In my heart I know my intentions are pure. In my mind that is the right thing to long for. Better to long for that right? WRONG guess what sister it's just as bad as longing to be bad. It's still an idol. It's still the wrong motive. I have missed so badly being in a Bible study. Where I am right now it's nearly impossible. I feel "bad" for not being in one- shame on me. I want to learn, I long to learn. When one longs to learn God makes a way: A few weeks ago, nearing the end of a sermon on Samson my pastor said (in a nutshell don't quote me because this is what I gathered from it) wanting to be good and do good is not the right outlook/answer. You shouldn't want to "be good" you should want to do and be good so you can have an avenue to look up and say use me. How are you going to use me while I do this. This study, this conversation with a friend or my child. How will you utilize me, and please God do it. Wait..... No,no,no says my mind, being good and doing, this work should benefit me not you. I'm so very very selfish. If I started to do things with simply the motive to please Him and be a vessel. It would benefit me greatly. Not only me, but the ones I am doing good with, for and around. OUCH. Going a bit further than that- our pastor also said you need to Die to the way you live. One of my favorite songs ever is an old Ed Cash song and there is a line in it that says " if your destiny is to be carved into a perfect thing, life cannot begin until you die to the way you live." Whoa... That sounds... Drastic. It's not as simple as doing things to make this God sitting on a cloud happy. It's truly a death to how I am currently living in a very selfish bubble. 

I went to a beautiful memorial service on Sunday. For a beautiful woman. She was amazing. To me she was a sparkle, a glimpse of true beauty. I did not know her very well. What I did know I adored. I tell you what though. Nothing is more inspirational and God breathed than a woman who truly fears The Lord. Who fights a brain tumor for 12 years and does it well. While loving her husband, 4 children and 13 grandchildren well AND rejoicing. To hear the way they all spoke of her was so so so inspiring. It made me want to be JUST like her. For the first time I had pure, true, from The Lord motives. I want to be like her not because she was loved by many, beautiful, inspiring, had wonderful relationships etc... But because everyone who spoke of her spoke of God. Jimmy our pastor at the church Jeffery grew up at who spoke at the service challenged us to not forgot why Jeanne was who she was. Who was the master and maker of her beautiful soul. And why she was loved by many. It was because HE was flowing from her at all times. 

There was another woman, Suzi, at the funeral. She was one of Jeanne's best friends. She is one of my best friends mother. She is beautiful, a Pastors wife, a woman who can walk into a room of strangers and know just what to say. She is funny, witty, a great public speaker. Another woman to be like. I adore her. I kept looking across the isle at her waiting for the flood to come. For her to weap. Instead she looked BEAUTIFUL, calm, composed. I was truly mesmorized, I felt a little creepy for staring sorry Suz. I felt like The Lord had me looking at her for a reason and He told me the word "pillar" she looked like a pillar. Her silhouette was beautiful and powerful. I wanted to be like that. Not because Suzi is Suzi (even though that is reason enough). But because I saw the Holy Spirit, and heard the spirit in her words as she spoke about her friend.  Because she was and is a pillar and vessel, like her precious one Jeanne. 

These women were and are "good" but The Lord makes them mesmorizing, fantastic and He has utilized them in my life in a way I will not soon forget. Jeanne seemed like a woman who did not waste a moment. I have caught myself so many times this week seeking while doing something thinking "what is this going to do for Him" instead of "for me" and what is this going to do for my children? My husband, my friend? How on earth am I being a vessel for them?" I stink at it truly I do, but I promise I'm working on it. I am aware of it. That's the first step right? I am so thankful this is just the beginning of our story. That I get so much more of a book after this life. One of Jeanne's sons posted the last bit of "the Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis on Facebook. 
"And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all live happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the GREAT story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than before." 
I am amazed that God has gifted me with the gift of a larger, greater story. Praying that my cover and title page can be as much of a vessel as Jeanne's and that I start thinking of being good not to just be good but to be useful...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin at all...

The other day right after my kids finished their tennis lesson. A woman came up to me and said something that has stuck with me. She said "everyone needs to hear good things about themselves..." And then she went on to very sweetly say that my blog had actually inspired her. Instead of feeling "successful" I was humbled, flattered and her first words have stuck with me.  I don't do that enough, say something nice TO someone's face. I can do it all day "about" them. But I was so touched that someone I don't know very well would do that. So I decided I'm going to do it via my blog tonight. There is a woman I know that I truly ADORE. I need to tell her because I feel like she needs to hear it and I thought this May honor her.

Elizabeth Tracy and I met maybe 5 years ago? I had her youngest son Peter in my preschool class he is the same age as Tripp. She is a delight. She is beautiful, kind, funny, smart.... I could go on and on. But really the main thing is her spirit. Or maybe the Holy Spirit around her. I went running today and I ran into her (no pun intended) about 20 yards in. As soon as I am in her presence I do feel the spirit. I consider myself to really honestly feel spirit led a lot. I don't mean that in a bragging sense, I think it's because I am constantly begging him to guide me but I do think I feel things about people. Elizabeth has like a bubble of Holy Spirit you walk into and you feel it. There have been very few women in my life that I like to call my comfort blanket, my mom being one and a few others. Elizabeth is most definitely one of them. I am at home around her and love talking to her love being around her.  This may embarrass her but when our sons were probably 4? She came rushing into my classroom one morning just devastated because Peter had spit on Tripp. Tripp has probably spat on a few kids, Ava my "Angel" spit lemonade and lasagna in her friends face this weekend- so pretty much all kids have done it. But Elizabeth was crushed. That's how passionate I see her and well she loves others. She use to drop Peter off in my class and come and sit for a few minutes, ask us how we were and tell us how she was. She is truly strong to have had a toddler at home and take care of her ill mother, lose her mother and still love her family truly well. Most moms just drop the kids off (some we kick out), we almost always say "your child will be better off if you just go" but I never said that to her. She is one of those women I would love to sit with and just listen... I am thankful for her presence in my life even though brief encounters have been the extent of our friendship I'll take it! 

I am praying as I write this she doesn't think I am some creep.... But I do love her and her heart and spirit and wanted to "tell" her that. This is not as "brave" as telling her to her face but I'd like to start telling people really how I feel about them- it's a new "thing" for me and I want to do it more.  Go find someone and tell them how they have inspired you, how much you admire them or love what they share or how they talk. They need to hear it

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day Whatever... #31daychallenge #failed

I so failed at this challenge, so I am beginning the "blog whenever you can challenge". That I can do!

I have had a few things on my mind and I am pretty sure the Lord put them all together for me today, but it may or may not come out right...

Sunday morning I was irritated. I don't even remember what started it, but I do remember making a list in my head of all of the things "I was doing" and how tired I was of doing EVERYTHING. Getting breakfast, getting the kids ready, getting myself ready... Let me add a disclaimer, Jeffery is typically very helpful with the kids. This day, however, either in reality or in my head he was not. The kids were bugging me, I felt irritated at everyone. Then comes church... And I was expecting greatness (which I ultimately did receive). If I had a bad morning and didn't want to do anything or be anywhere surely that mean Satan was trying to get at me and church would be spectacular. On the cover of the bulletin read a Tim Keller quote "There is a terrible spiritual danger involved in the receiving of any blessing. Success can easily cause us to forget God's grace, because our hearts are desperate to believe that we can save ourselves." Well, that is a great quote, one that you highlight in a book, write in a journal or blog, but nah, doesn't really apply to me. Then Paul (the pastor) started talking about the dangers of "success" and you know what my immediate thought was? "This sermon totally doesn't apply to me, I am not successful in any way." Talk about Debbie Downer... So I listened, enjoyed the first few minutes- Paul is the best story teller I know. But again, ehhhh not really for me. Then he said a few things that I was like- huh, ok maybe.

So side note/ ADD then I will go back to the sermon. After Sunday, and thinking I am a totally unsuccessful person, I decided to think about what I thought success was. I could totally lie to you and say "success to me is reading my Bible, doing daily devotions, memorizing scripture, blessing everyone I see..." WRONG, I am totally more messed up than that. I realized "success" to me was being liked, being the "perfect" mom and wife, being organized and clean... if any of you know me, you will laugh because I FAIL miserably at those things EVERY day, hence the reason I am unsuccessful. I also think of Money or a career when I hear the word success ( just in general).

OK, back to the sermon, one note I wrote down was "Success- Because I am loved, not because I am needed." WOW after making my list of what I consider success - ouch. That is like... IT, I want to be needed by everyone, my friends, husband, children, coworkers, family... and what? That is not success? You mean to tell me that just because I am loved by my heavenly father, THAT is success? Well, that's easy. I also wrote down notes like "leaning against success not the Lord." I totally do that, I thrive on being needed. "Any idol cannot stand up on its own, it must be propped up." So this is where it all started tying together for me. I think a few posts ago I mentioned my children being an idol of mine. I have always in my head pictured an idol as maybe a stack of money, or a gold statue, standing on a hill alone and light shining from it ( I know weird)... I have never pictured an idol me, standing holding my family together piece by piece, member by member. OUCH again.

So, we have been planning on getting a labradoodle. Had a deposit down, were picking out names, we were going to pick her out this weekend. Jeffery, I could tell was struggling even beginning on Sunday morning, and he basically said he really felt like it was a bad idea, to much work, too much stress, too much money. All of these things I know to be very very true. But I want my dang puppy. I tried telling him- the kids will be crushed, yeah for like a split second then they were like OK, no problem. I still want my dang puppy. All this time, I was not only putting them on this pedestal and wanting to give them everything, I was being so selfish too- it ultimately was about me, not them... How many times in my life have I done that? Or am I doing it? It is not that I was deviously doing it, I really truly wanted it for them, but it was more important to me.

Success, I can say is really to benefit those around me, to be the best mom, to be a good fried, to be the best wife. But really, and it makes me feel slimy just typing it, it is all about me. Making myself feel good. None of that glorifies my Father. It should all be about the fact that I am so so so blessed to be loved by Him. I so relate to the verse in Judges where Gideon tells his men to call out "A Sword for the Lord, AND FOR GIDEON." It should have just been a sword for the Lord. PERIOD. I do this every day, BE a great friend, make me look good while doing it. Be the best wife, and make people think it is all me... NONE of that, again, glorifies the Lord. Not only that, it is not SUCCESS to Him! He doesn't even demand we be "successful" good jobs, good behavior, good Christian... nope just let me love you and know it, that is success. IT IS SO STINKING EASY.

So not only did I have a horrible definition of success, I realized that my idols, that I was holding on to and up for dear life were the things I based that "success" on, all the while not even thinking about what my success needed to be, and how easy it is.

Let go of "success," being the best, idols, even your labradoodles and let the Lord love you and know it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Smarts... #31daychallenge #days9&10

Day 9: blah blah blah I'm tired and have nothing to say blah blah blah...

Day 10
Going through this stage with Lily Grace of figuring out what is best for her and her "ADD" (even though I don't do labels I have to call it something) has made me look back a lot on my "ADD tendencies." I'll just be real honest here... There is a reason I teach two year olds... I am not smart. This is not a pity party I'm actually almost,barely, pretty comfortable in my own skin.  I am just aware and in no denial I am not smart. Through high school, I really wanted to be one of those girls who had really neat handwriting, took really good notes, got straight A's and I just wasn't... I didn't care too much. In college I worked really really hard because I actually loved political science (mostly because it made me feel smart) and I struggled to make high B's... And I cared a little bit more.  Now, it takes me awhile to work through a book, and that's if I can commit to a book for more than a chapter, I forget everything I read and it pisses me off. I want to be one of those people who reads a lot and enjoys it... I usually have to read a paragraph a couple times to get it. And the worst part is I tend to forget it shortly after I read it... I am for the most part organized but it my own chaotic way... Again, not a pity party, oh whoa is me... Just facts I'm throwing out here. 

So, with Lily Grace, I am so thankful (except for the fact she probably got the gene from me) that I have struggled, so I know how to support her. How to constantly encourage how to help her with homework, encourage her with friendships (which I am realizing is an "add" struggle). And truly come alongside her. Anyways, backs to smarts. I just lack a lot of them. I lack efficiency as well. Jeffery has nicknamed me efficient Elizabeth (smart ass). I go from one task to the next with occasional completion I go from point "a" to point "b" but stop at "s,q,y,m,o, and x" on the way... (Thanks Brooke for the great example). It's how God made me, I can laugh at it, shake it off. But when it comes to my girl it's a lot harder. I hate to see her struggle, to see the words "lonely, left out, not finishing tasks, lack of confidence, sad" associated with her.  But, I'm so glad made me not smart. I can be pretty creative (not that smart people can't be), I can be pretty spontaneously creative-"wing it" as they say. I love kids, two year olds in particular ( you realize that is a rare gift). I can paint furniture and have eye for color that's a plus... All this to say I'm pretty ok with being not so smart. It would be pretty exhausting and even though sometimes I long for smarts, I really do feel like there is more room for the Holy Spirit in my head and heart. 

Today I was thankful that I was taking my daughter to the doctor for something that made her special, unique, artistic,brilliant. Not for something disabling. Whether you are super smart (jerk), artistic, efficient (punk), inefficient, outgoing, introverted... I pray you are able to find your gifts. I pray that you can be almost, barely, pretty comfortable in your own skin. It's fun. I still get frustrated but ultimately I am trying to see my gifts... I pray you do too.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Slow down...soak it in... 31daychallenge #day8

This will be short and sweet I'm tired! 
Tonight we had the privilege to attend the Catawba valley YoungLife banquet. I LOVE it. As soon as my kids get a little bit older I'm jumping on that bandwagon. The way these people invest in lives is amazing and all with and through Jesus. I love hearing testimonies from the kids, they are so real so honest. It is also terrifying. They give you scary statistics that really we already know but hearing them... Uh. I'm not ready for middle or high school. Lately I have been hearing The Lord tell me to slow down. 

Don't get excited I don't think he means for me to stop doing what I do or my jobs, hobbies ect.... But with my kids. I decided the last two days to TRY to treat the kids 1) like they were a gift 2) they are not mine and they are a privilege and 3) like any minute could be my last. I have not done the best job, I still get irritated but it has slowed me down. I want to watch them, listen to them, answer their questions, talk to them about Jesus, about school. I have noticed especially with Ava and Max how much life comes out of such little beings. They make people laugh and smile, they are so approachable to others. People love to stop and talk to them and I have loved watching it. I decided to slow down with Tripp, even though he can be relentless with asking for new toys or asking for play dates or what can we do today that is "fun" I have loved watching him play, loved him showing me his Legos saying "mommy aren't you so proud of me?" And me taking the time to answer. Lily Grace is already entering the "attitude" phase. She has really given it to me and I have been at a loss on how to communicate. It's so hard with her because there are three others running around 90 miles an hour to give her what she needs. So, she and I decided tonight we would have a secret journal that we would write to one another in. She LOVED the idea. Something for just us. I was so much better at communicating with letters and notes, written word (hmmmmm) than I was in conversation, I'm thinking she is the same way so I am praying this works! I sat down to write my first "letter" to her and I felt this sudden pressure. Oh my gosh, I have to make this really meaningful, really important and I have to give her really good advice, and I have to leave it at a second grade reading level... Crap. Bad idea. Then, again I heard it, slow down, soak in, simplify. Really all she needs to hear from me is I love you, Jesus loves you and I am here. I wrote a little bit more than that but that was about it... Even in Young Life tonight the two kids that shared really shared it all just boils down to people who pour into them that love Jesus. And that's like the easiest thing for me to do, love him...

Slow down, soak it up, love Jesus

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fear... #31daychallenge #days6&7

So, I rested on the sabbath. Here are days 6&7 in one.

As an adult I have been very into Halloween. Not the horror movie, gory, voodoo lover halloween but the pumpkin loving, vintage halloween decor lover. I have no clue what brought it out in me. We were not huge on it growing up. I'm pretty sure we didn't "do" halloween for a few years growing up, maybe I'm just going overboard to make up for it? Never did I feel like I was missing out on anything but candy, and my oldest brother still thinks I'm walking on the dark side because I believe in Santa as well.... But it's fun, and my house looks pretty darn cute, and most importantly my kids love it. It is interesting to me what brings out the fear in them. They can watch the nightmare before Christmas ( I'm not a Tim Burton fan but for some reason I'm ok with this one) and not be afraid, watch most of Jurassic park and not be afraid, skeletons-check, ghosts-check, jack the pumpkin head-check... But you bust about the cute ghost that laughs and it makes Ava nervous, the orange halloween lights took both Ava and Max some time to warm up to, bugs, spiders... Heck no there is just no space for those in my house. It is a "scary" time if year. For some reason it has been very fear filled for me. 

I love some of random (sometimes cheesy) Facebook posts on God or scripture. Because 9 times out of ten I needed to read them. The latest one I came across was a small list, two columns, one column was things of God and one was things not of God. It irritates me that I cannot remember the entire list but I remember being surprised. Not because I didn't know that fear was not of God, but I was surprised at what a comfort the list was and how easy it has become for me to forget what is NOT of Him. So, I have been realizing two things during this spooky time of year. 1) I have been fear filled and that is not of God and 2) the fear has been geared toward my children- and they have become an idol. Which  is hard for me to even say because we make idol such a bad word- it's associated with horrible things but idols CAN be good things but those things can bred fear and other items off that list that are not from The Lord. Lily Grace's "ADD" ( I don't do labels but you know what I mean), Ava has had a bump on her head now for 10 days and you know where that takes my mind... Sometimes I think webMd,  as useful as it can be, I think it's satan. I love our pediatrician - she is constantly saying don't google, don't web md- I could diagnose my entire family with a fatal disease with no severe symptoms in minutes. FEAR. It occupies so much of my day to. One look at Lily Grace and I hate that she struggles, one brush of Ava's hair and I feel the bump, one cough from Max and I think he will never outgrow this asthma... Liz... FEAR it's not of The Lord! I think God gave this verse to me through my mom for so many reasons I quoted in day 1 I'll quote it again!  " God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and a sound mind." Fear gives you no power, no love and for SURE not a sound mind. It makes you crazy. 

I had a sweet friend tell me today she had a panic attack while away from her children- we probably all have at one point. Especially that first time you leave your newborn baby to go on a date.... Uhhhh ecstatic and terrified all rolled into one. As my friend was telling me this I just felt so sad for her, For us, we miss out on so much because of fear. Our kids need daddy time, they need grandparent time it is actually good for them  to be away from you every once in a while! This mom in particular I know is crazy in love with her kids! She probably has the same problem I do, they have become idols, and instead of handing our children over to the master, we put the death grip on them, and what does that do? Chokes them and makes your hands tired. It is exhausting.... Worrying= not from The Lord either, and it can wear you out... We are so tired because we are so worried about our parents, friendships, children... Lily Grace tonight was worried on how to handle a situation at school and I threw the classic WWJD at her, but it's so true. Panic about the kids? WWJD? Panic about health? WWJD? I need to bring those bracelets back- they made the saying so cheese but it is so true! God did make a spirit of fear innate in us! 

Not really sure where all of this goes but it is where I have been stuck, and had I had more time with my friend I would have shared that, I'm there, a lot of us are fearful for different reason, but it's not from God. I read somewhere that "do not fear" is written 365 times in the Bible (I have not counted I do not know it to be true) but if it it is, that is a every day in a year reminder.... DO NOT FEAR. I am with you. 
I heard a song we sang in our high school youth group the other day on the radio and hit me now just like it did then 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
And the waves, they shall not, overcome you
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are mine
For I am The Lord your God,
I am The Lord your God
I am the Holy one of Israel
Your savior

When you pass through the fire, you'll not be hurt
And the flames will not consume you
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are mine..."

Love it, love how God reminds me even in song. Do not fear...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Roots #31daychallenge #day5

I have been completely dried up today. I am not used to this blogging thing and have been feeling a bit fried. I do not typically write unless I hear from the Lord and this challenge has been wonderful because I am actively listening. I just received an email from one of the most wonderful women in my life that was encouraging me to write and attached were a few beautiful pictures Ill share of roots that she had come across today in the mountains and it inspired day 5! Thank you Sandy!

I use to be a children's director. When I was hired for the privilege, the ministry really needed a name and direction. The name I decided on was "Rooted" and the verse we used was of course: Ephesians 3:16-18 "(16) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, (18) may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (19) and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." I chose it for obvious reasons. 1- we all want our children to be rooted, grounded in Christ, and 2- I believe childhood is obviously the foundation of ones life, where your roots begin. All this time I had been thinking really the cliché that rooted just meant a foundation, ummmmm standing firm in Christ etc... I still believe that but I am beginning to think it means a lot more. The definition of the word "root" is three fold "1)the part of a plant that grows underground, gets water from the ground, and holds the plant in place 2)the part of a tooth, hair, fingernail, etc., that is attached to the body; 3)the cause or source of something." Webster goes on to use phrases like "an underlying support, close relationship with an environment, something that is an origin or source, the essential core..." Whoa, it is way more than what I was thinking. I was thinking a little bit on the lighter side like, the beginning of something. It is so much more than that, it is literally life-giving. Roots do not just support and keep something upright they give life, water, they are essential, they have a close relationship with the environment around them.

I named my blog rooted mom because that is what I long for. Little did I know what I was asking for, or even praying for my children. I had this pretty little picture in my head but in reality roots are strong, messy, complex. Roots can even cause some serious damage to homes, plumbing and other trees. They really are not to be messed with. This is some info I found while reading about roots "Tree roots serve two VITAL functions; they gather nutrients from the soil and they support the weight of the top growth of the tree. Like an iceberg, a large tree requires a large substructure..." So, they are Vital, necessary and if you want to be "big" or influential, strong, stand out, set apart... you have to have a large substructure. And not only do you need the substructure, it needs to be functioning constantly. Roots would be useless if they were not functioning correct? If they were not doing their job, the tree dies, rots, becomes top heavy and collapses. So not only do we need to be rooted, we need to have roots that are WORKING...constantly. Boom, my tree just fell...YIKES my roots are totally wimpy I will admit.

Never before have I put this much thought into this bible verse and it is SO important and has been so important in my life. We dedicated my oldest daughter with this verse and it has been VITAL to my walk with the Lord. It is amazing what going deeper can do, and how one verse can mean so much and yet when you dig in it can mean even more. I am being called to be rooted but it means so much more now, strong, vital, established, life giving, getting along with the environment around me, supportive and FUNCTIONING... all of these things I am called to be. That is a lot, and seems so daunting to me. Luckily we are well equipped roots. It is not like God just stuck a seed in the ground and said go for it. We are fortunate enough He has given us the tools to cultivate, grow, stand firm and most importantly to FUNCTION. I am so thankful for eyes to see and ears to hear. I pray only that I can function as I am called to...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Label Makers #31daychallenge #day4

Let me preface this one by saying... I am incredibly, terribly, horribly guilty of this. It is an ongoing struggle for me that the Lord has just recently within the last year opened my eyes to truly something I am BAD about and need to fix pronto. But it is like the wiring in my brain (or satan) just will not allow it. Or I guess I should give myself some grace and say I am better, more aware, but not healed. OK drum roll please... I am a label maker. I admit it. I label everything. I am not talking about the white ones that spit out of a machine (although I am guilty of those as well) I am talking about the ones in my head. I label people and usually pretty quickly within meeting them. Some are great and I feel really spirit led. Some are horrible. You have got to pardon the language on this but it is so so true (but on a much more G rated scale for me) I pinned something on Pinterest the other day because it made me laugh so hard and it is so so true. It was one of those ecards, it read, "once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive. 'Look at this bitch eating those crackers like she owns the place." OH my gosh! You are guilty of it, admit it, you label someone you do not like and then EVERYTHING they do makes you furious...

What if your labels popped up like those little thought bubbles they use in comics? Can you imagine? "snob, cheater, liar, alcoholic, chain smoker, perfectionist, super fit ho..." you get the idea. My labels have changed lately because God has graciously opened my eyes to the fact that I have no clue what I am talking about or whom I am labeling. Super fit ho, could be broken inside and the only outlet, happy place or ease of her pain could be the gym. Snob could be hiding her tremendous self hatred by lashing out or showing off to others. Cheater could be making his or her way back the Lord and their family slowly but surely and we leave no room forgiveness and grace. We let our kids label other kids- bully (and sometimes rightly so), mean girl, poor, nerd, weird. Instead of teaching them that though some labels may be accurate, especially in one instance or circumstance, but it most definitely does not define the person.

There was a country song when I was in college called "You can't hide beautiful" it was totally cheesy (there you go, a label for you) but true. You also, can't hide ugly. I am well aware of it. My best friend Celia reminded me today of this as I regurgitated some frustrations onto her. She also gave me a quote by Maya Angelo that says "when people show you who they are, believe them." When you can rightly label someone I say go ahead file it away. No need to make it public, no need to ruin your day with it, walk on, let them be. But I strongly urge you and myself do not become a label maker. Take baby steps, at first make NO labels. Then when you get the hang of it ask God to show you how to make good labels. God has given me this new sixth sense that has just made me so sensitive and aware of myself creating labels and when others tell me the labels they have made on others (intentionally or unintentionally).

I was reading my pastors blog a few weeks ago and it was on the top reasons for divorce. One of the top reasons was "failure to realize that I am married to a sinner" WHAT THE WHAT??? He is human? Wait? He sins?? I sin? I was BLOWN away. All this time my expectations of my husband were near perfection. That is EXACTLY what I am doing to others. Failing to realize we are all the same. Every label is exchangeable in some form another. OUCH. I am a super fit ho (minus the fit part), a cheater, liar, perfectionistic sinner plus a million other labels all rolled into one. Luckily one of my labels as I discussed on day one is I am a child of God as well. Shown grace every day and so underserving of everything my God gives me. So before you have to go to rehab with God like me, quit making those labels. Walk around for a few days and just imagine those bubbles and instead of labeling pray that you would be given the opportunity to meet the real label that person should have. I told you on day one we don't do labels in my home- that means we don't label ourselves and we do not label others. Again, guilty, working progress here don't label me a label maker.

Restoration in Distress #31daychallenge #day3

OK, you knew it was coming at some point.... the furniture analogy... Those of you who know me, know I operate a very little business called Gussied UP. Painting furniture, distressing it making it look "new." You knew at some point I would have to throw it in here. But the good news is it really is from the Lord so it has to be for someone out there!

The last few years we have had some "distress" in our lives... to some they may be minor, to me catastrophic to some degree. We lost a baby, daddy missed the birth of our last baby by 47 minutes, we have had bumps along the way with family, marriage etc... all of these you can relate to I know it. All of these have been "restored" to me over time. Gussied UP has been active for 9 months. The Lord has chosen to bless it and make it thrive (well, thrive in my eyes - basically I have been busy up to what I can handle every month, I am not striving for greatness, although I would love my own HGTV show!). Back to my point, that is the ADD kicking in you will get use to it. My point is God restored them one at time and through "distress" in my life I have seen his hand at work. When I started Gussied up, the very first time I used a piece of sand paper I heard Him very clearly, I will restore you, I'll rub the heck out of you for a while but just wait. The first time I put the wax on a piece it was like a band-aide but way better got to see the open wound transform in seconds, and all the beautiful colors came out of the distressed areas and even the color that was there was better... brighter.. richer... beautiful.

I am well aware of the cheese in this post, but I was given a very clear picture from the Lord of what distress and the rubbing and the scratching that the world and Satan will mean for harm but God will mean for good looks like. And not just for good, but for beauty and for GLORY. The loss of a child stretched my heart to an extent I didn't even know was there- only to have more space for God to fill. The birth of my son Max was a miracle I got to experience with my best friend and something God restores daily just by looking at her and Him. I saw Christ in my best friend that day, literally, like He was the one rubbing my head and whispering in my ear and kissing me. A miracle not a lot of people get to receive. I marriage restored or relationships restored are the best kind. Making up is fun...

So basically that is why I LOVE what I do. I get to be reminded with every stroke, of His restoration. I get to pray for the people who's piece I am painting or the one who gave it to me (so my Dad gets some extra love because he finds all the fantastic stuff...) or who it is going to. I receive His gifts while using mine. I am so thankful for the gift He gave me. I am so thankful for restoration in distress... twofold.

I love the beginning of "The Jesus Storybook Bible" by Sally Llyod- Jones (ADD sorry- I think every adult should read this book, we all have child-like hearts, we are all children of God, it will speak to you I promise.. Get it). It reads: "God wrote, "I love you" - he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror- to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing..."

We are all so gifted, look around you, through and under and after the distress, there is restoration.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tight Squeeze... #31daychallenge #day2

When we moved to Hickory 5 years ago, it felt like we looked at houses FOREVER. They were either over our budget, or under our budget and SCARY. We accidentally drove by our current home and I made Jeffery stop the car and... I knew. I knew I wanted it, didn't care what the inside looked like (if you saw my kitchen you would say "obviously"). I could see my babies in the yard, I could see us growing old there, met the neighbors- loved them. SOLD. We went to one more house after we saw it and I SOBBED (which if you know me is totally out of character). So God gifted us this home and we still love it, it is us. It is old, quirky, backwards and lovely to us. So when we bought, we had two kids and now we have four. Unexpected gifts. So, Jeffery and I have had an ongoing dialogue about our home situation. We have officially outgrown our butler's pantry and our bathrooms, and the kitchen is about as big as our master bath. So... do we move or renovate? Our kids will only get bigger... I have said, heck no, from the beginning. No way am I leaving this house. Jeffery is pretty open to either idea but I believe favors the move and really thinks we need more space. We have looked at a few houses in the last two years and every time we have come home and looked at each other and said 'what the heck were we thinking??' We were watching HGTV a few weeks ago and a husband said to his wife "you know how I feel about space, smaller home, closer family" BAM, HA, In your face Jeffery Wayne I am right! The kids have never complained about sharing rooms, the kitchen is pretty horrible but completely functional, we are good!

Well, we were good until we saw dream house #2. Not a TON bigger, and still an old quirky home, BUT everything has been UPDATED, we wouldn't have to do a thing to it.... And it is about a boat load of $$ OUT of our price range. Darn you Dave freaking Ramsey. We should bend over backwards, get this house and be house poor and stressed and miserable, yep lets. Then reality and the Lord hit. Look around you at the gift I already gave you. You begged me, stretched yourself and received it and now you have found greener grass... I feel like I do that all the time with God. PLEASE keep my children healthy... oh and make them perfect, smart, popular and "normal" (whatever that means). PLEASE give me a husband... Oh, and make him sinless, perfect and make him wait on me hand and foot. PLEASE let me be more like you... but make it easy, natural and comfortable. I ask for so much and He gives so freely and then I ask for more or for ease. All this to say I pray I can be a little more narrow minded. In the way that a smaller house, tight squeeze, means closer family. I healthy child means a full life, full of mistakes and miracles. A husband, that is perfectly imperfect and a mess right alongside his even more imperfect wife. A God-like me, but one step at a time and room for grace. He gave me my dream home, He could take it away just as easily or give me my next one but I will be happy in my tight squeeze for as long as He has me here...

1 Timothy 6:6 "But Godliness with contentment is great gain"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Labels... #31daywritingchallenge #day1

My oldest daughter Lily Grace is seven now and in second grade.  After only a couple weeks of school I have now had two conversations with her teacher about her progress this year.  Had you asked me a few months ago how I would feel about our discussions I probably would have given you a very different answer than now.  Most parents do not want to hear the acronym ADD. I know, nails on a chalkboard, gasp, sigh.... I really in my heart new it was coming because of the struggles I have had, but if you are a parent you know, you want everything to be easy for your child. I am so thankful for the gift of a wonderful teacher who loves my daughter and knows her heart already.  In the midst of my "dreaded discussion" I was overwhelmed with peace. Yes, things were about to get challenging, frustrating, long, hard... But, it's a label and I have decided we don't do labels in this family...there is really only one label I'd like to give myself, Lily Grace or any other family member and that is Child. Galatians 3:26-28 " So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ."

There is no ADD, ADHD, popular, unpopular, beautiful, ugly, smart, dumb... Just child. My prayer is that I can pound that in all four of their little heads... You are a child of God, any other label doesn't count, good or bad. Yes, I'll do everything in my power to come along side Lily Grace and give her tools to help with school. But I'll also praise her for her heart, her creativity, her beautiful mind. And I'll thank God for health and this small minor bump in the road that terrifies everyone. 2Timothy 1:7 " For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND." I will not allow Satan to make my daughter fear ADD but I'll show her to embrace it and I'll continually ask The Lord to help me to not fear it as well and to help me cultivate in her a spirit of Power over it.  So many parents have had these discussions and so many immediately get consumed and fearful. Please please remember there are no labels that matter ultimately, except one... CHILD