Thursday, June 22, 2017

Amazon Giftcard {Giveaway}

Hey Readers! Just as a "thank you" and because I so appreciate you, here is the chance for you to win a little Amazon happy: Enter to win a $10 Gift Card to Amazon below. There are multiple ways to enter. Thanks for entering!

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*This giveaway is in no way associated with any social media platform. Giveaway winner will be contacted via the email provided in the widget and must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Finding Grace in Chocolate Cake



I love when God sends me reminders of His beautiful grace. It usually happens when I least expect it, but it always happens right when I need it. Tonight, it was in a piece of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

I had about thirty minutes in my car this evening without any kiddos in the backseat fighting and I spent some time reflecting on how different my life is now from two years ago. I thought about how I was happily heading to a get together where food would be involved when two years ago I would have come up with every excuse in the book to not attend so that I wouldn't have to answer questions about why I wasn't eating. 

Instead I probably would have been keeping myself busy to avoid eating or forcing myself to run ridiculous amounts to make sure I hit an insane number of steps on my FitBit. I would've been weighing myself for the fifth or sixth time.

And as the song "Chain Breaker" by Zach Williams came on the radio, my heart was full of gratitude that that cycle is no longer what my life looks like. Praise God that He rescues. Praise God for His mercy and transforming power.

Transformed. That's the word that popped into my head when I sat looking at an empty plate earlier tonight. To be able to sit and eat a meal with precious friends and then to follow that meal with chocolate cake and ice cream may not seem like a big deal to many, but for me, it's something that I didn't think I would ever do two years ago. 

But before I ate that cake, I had a moment where the beauty of His grace overwhelmed me. Grace that has allowed me to be here. Grace that has taught me to grant myself grace to enjoy life and those precious moments. Grace that has taught me to appreciate life and the gift that it is. Grace that has taught me to cherish the people God places in my life and to see them for the treasure that they are. Grace that has taught me who I am in Christ and through that, defeated the eating disorder that ravaged so much of my life. 

Because without that grace, I wouldn't have eaten that chocolate cake. Without that grace I don't even know if I would be alive. But grace broke the chains that held me trapped in a dark corner for so long. Grace says, you were meant for so much more than this. Grace says, you never have to go back to that place. Grace says, you can't even imagine the beautiful things that are in store. Grace says, you are so much more than what has happened to you; you are more than any mistakes you've made. Grace says, you don't have to be perfect because you serve the One who is. Grace says, come as you are.

Friend, if you are stuck in your own struggle, no matter what it may be, grace says: Come to the table. Come just as you are

Let His grace rescue you; let it break those chains holding you down. Let grace allow you to run unashamedly to the cross with those broken chains lifted high. Let His grace transform you.

Because His grace, sets people free. It transforms people. It means that you never have to walk back to that storm you're in. It means that the only time you have to look back, is to marvel at how far He has brought you. 

His grace is all around me. And tonight, He reminded me of its beauty in a piece of chocolate cake.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
~Psalm 34:8
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Hosting an Event {Tips & Tricks}



There is something so exciting about the thought of hosting a party or other event. I think that usually it's because when I am hosting, there is something to be celebrated. Whether it be a new baby on the way, an upcoming wedding, or someone's birthday, it's always exciting to gather with friends and family to celebrate.

But these events don't just happen on their own. There is quite a bit of planning and effort that go into them and if you're getting ready to host an event, I hope that you will find this post to be helpful in your efforts. 

I'm a checklist kind of girl so it's always good to start off with a checklist. Checklists are a great way to help you stay organized and to help make sure that you don't forget anything for the big event. Your checklist will probably vary depending on what kind of event you have, but there are some things they all have in common such as: a location, date & time, food, guest list, invitations, decorations, etc.

Deciding on a location is obviously a pretty big decision. You'll need to decide whether you want to host the party in a home or at another location. Wherever you decide to throw your party, you'll need to make sure that there is adequate space for the number of guests you are inviting.

I have to sit down and make a guest list and I am really not sure how you can throw a party without one. I would be the one who left somebody off if I didn't do this every time. If you're throwing a party such as a wedding shower or baby shower, you will of course have the honoree create a guest list of the people that they would like to be invited. Create a list that has the names and addresses of each person being invited that will allow you to check them off as you go when preparing invites.

Once you have a completed guest list and have an idea of how many people may be coming (oh, RSVP's are a lifesaver!), you can begin to plan the food. If there are multiple hostesses, this is a good thing for you all to sit down together to plan. The time of day that you are having the event can affect your menu. If it's during a meal time, you will want more filling food versus an event that occurs during brunch or mid-afternoon in which you would probably have more finger foods and snacks. Either way, try to work together to plan a menu that has foods that compliment each other but also provide enough variety that there is something for everyone. I always like to make sure that ice water or bottled water is available as a drink for anyone who may not enjoy the other options. It's a pretty safe option to have! Once you have a menu in place, you'll need to decide who will bring what items and make sure everyone is on the same page (have a designated person send out an email to all of the hostesses recapping what you decided on).

Now it's time to pick some invitations. For the most part I have always been a paper invitation girl, until I had two kids. Then it just seemed like I never had time to sit down and write out invitations and instead resorted to just creating an event on Facebook and inviting via that or through a text which I never really felt great about doing. This is why I am super excited to try out Paperless Post for my next event. Paperless Post has so many designs for you to choose from for every occasion. You can choose to send cards via email or send actually paper invitations. But here's the best part if you're like me and you spend all of your time chasing kiddos: you can upload an address book and have your invitation sent to each contact that you choose. So whether you want to send an electronic invite or stick to a traditional paper invite, you can do so in a few quick and easy steps without a huge time investment. Plus the designs are trendy and unique and available in a variety of styles to catch your guests' eyes. They also have photo card options which I love (I love photo invites that also create a keepsake!). 

They also have some "Just Because" cards that are super cute. I sent some of these out to try out Paperless Post for myself to see if it really is as easy as it seems. I was able to completely customize my cards with fonts and colors, right down to the pattern on the inside of the envelope. It was so easy to upload an address book and send them out and the site even offers a status in the "Post Box" that shows when recipients open their digital card. I LOVE sending cards so I will definitely be using this site for more than just invitations. 

When your event gets close, it's time to decorate. I love to browse Pinterest for different ideas for decorations and I'm usually not disappointed by the variety of ideas that are available there.

The most important part of any event is to enjoy the time with those that come to share in the gathering. Time is precious and these will be cherished memories. Enjoy some small talk over some good food, celebrate, take some photos, and don't stress if everything doesn't go exactly 100% like you planned (it rarely does but you will probably be the only one to notice). 

What advice would you add that has helped you throw a successful party?

*I received a promotional product in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest opinions of the writer. This post is in no way associated with any social media platform. 
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The Shack: Coming Soon + {Giveaway}

Coming soon to Blu-Ray and DVD on May 30 is The Shack, based on the worldwide best-selling novel by William P. Young. An inspiring story, The Shack has over 22 million copies in print. 

This film brought to you by Lionsgate and starring Sam Worthington (Avatar, Hacksaw Ridge), Octavia Spencer (Academy Award Winner of Best Supporting Actress for The Help, 2011), and Tim McGraw (country music superstar, The Blind Side) is a story that follows a father's story through the loss of a child. The film follows the experience of this father through love, loss, forgiveness, and faith. 

This film as been awarded the Dove Faith Friendly Seal of Approval and has been labeled as "powerful and gripping" by The Dove Foundation.

After a family tragedy, the father, Mack (Sam Worthington), sets out on a transformative spiritual journey that begins with a crisis of faith in which he questions God's existence and the purpose of life. When Mack is unable to move past this family tragedy, he receives a mysterious invitation to an abandoned shack where God reveals Himself in the form of three strangers. This story of Mack's spiritual journey is sure to have viewers wanting to press play over and over again. 

Check out the official trailer below:


Be sure to check out The Shack on Social Media:
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Website

You can enter to win a copy of #TheShack on Blu-Ray/DVD ($39.99 value) in the giveaway widget below:
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*Giveaway is in no way associated with any social media platform. Open to residents of the US. Shipping of giveaway item may take up to 4-6 weeks. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win again. Winner will be contacted via email and must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. 
*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for Lionsgate. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Beyond Borders



Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

I need to write about something I encountered a few months ago. I was so taken aback at the time that it happened that I really didn't have words to write.

Anyone that is friends with me on social media is most likely accustomed to me sharing articles and posts about sexual assault and human trafficking advocacy and a few months ago was no different when I shared a post of a celebrity who plays a big part of working in the world of rescuing children from human trafficking. You may know the celebrity I'm referring to but I don't even want to get into that. You may or may not like them, and again, I don't want to get into that. Because, quite frankly, it really doesn't matter.

Whatever anyone's opinion of the person, the words he spoke in the video I shared about the huge problem of human trafficking were very true. But then came some comments from someone that when you summed them all up (and subtracted the personal opinions about the celebrity because again that's not important), the comments basically said that we should only worry about taking care of American children and not worry about children anywhere else.

I was completely shocked. I'm pretty sure I had to scoop my jaw up off of the floor. Y'all I love my country. No it's not perfect and I will advocate for change where I think it is needed, but at the end of the day, I do love my country. But I also love people. I love children. And I love Jesus. And I can't fathom someone not caring about a child just because they aren't in America. 

My love for Jesus has to come first. And because my love for Jesus has to come first, my love for people has to come next. All people. I struggled and struggled with a heart that felt that any child is any less worthy of life and love than my own girls simply because of where they were born. Y'all it broke me. Because you hear about these things but to actually see someone's heart convicted with those beliefs broke my heart.

All I could think about were the precious Haitian children that I was so blessed to spend time with for a week a few months before and that my husband and I are preparing to go back to. 

"A worldview bound by borders is outdated."

I saw this quote on Pinterest last night and it got my heart stirring again about this encounter from months ago. Not only is a worldview bound by borders outdated, but it's not Biblical. 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...
~Matthew 28:19

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
~Acts 1:8

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation."
~Mark 16:15

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
~Romans 10:13-14

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
~John 3:16

For God so loved the world. He didn't just love the country you live in. He didn't just command us to love and take care of those in our country or our state or our neighborhood. Everyone. 

This isn't a political discussion. This isn't a post about what our country should do with finances. This is a post about me; a post about you; a post about any individual who claims to follow Christ and what that means.

Nowhere in the Bible are we bound by borders. Rather, we are charged to cross borders. Whether its a border of race, religion, socioeconomic status, a country border, an ocean, and on and on and on. If you and I claim to love and follow Jesus, we are called to carry that love and that passion and that purpose beyond any border. 

"Don't settle for the American Dream when God is offering you the Great Commission."
~Eric Simmons

I'm not saying every single person is called to get on an airplane and go overseas. What I am saying, is that no matter where God calls you to go, you are to go. What I am saying is that we are called to love one another as Christ loved us. We are called to recognize that when we are commanded to "love our neighbors as ourself" the word "neighbor" is not limited to those who live next door, or in our town, or our state, or our country. The word "neighbor" is not bound only to those who share our values and beliefs. It has no boundaries. When we put boundaries on our love for other people we are trying to put boundaries on a limitless love by a God who gave everything for every single person. Every. Single. One. We are called to love when others would understand if we didn't. We are called to forgive when no one expects us to. We are called to give beyond human expectations. We are called to go beyond any border. We are called to serve the least of these. 

"We have taken the command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and mutated it into a comfortable call to come, be baptized, and sit in one location."
~David Platt

I used the example of the human trafficking post above not because I want to go on the attack against anyone who feels that way, but because I want to challenge you and challenge myself. I'm not perfect. I wish I could tell you that I had never tried to put limits on where I would be willing to go for the sake of Christ. So this is a challenge and a reminder to myself as well. But friend, let's you and I look deep in our hearts and see where we are placing limits, intentionally or not, on the limitless love of a God who isn't bound my any borders or limits.

I started this post with that simple song that I used to sing as a child because sometimes going back to the simple songs we sing to our children can remind us that too often we complicate the Great Commission. We add all of these components like politics or personal feelings & opinions that shouldn't be there. Love. Go. Share. Love. 

"The price is certainly high for people who don't know Christ and who live in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the Gospel remain in the dark."
~David Platt
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

He Already Knows



I adore how God always has the perfect way of reminding me that He already knows every single moment of my life. He has known since before He wove me together in my mother's womb and before He breathed air into my lungs. I know this, and yet, still I fret and worry and need His reminders sometimes.

As I have spent the last couple of weeks praying over something, I have waited anxiously to see what the outcome would be. And then today, God orchestrated a sweet divine appointment like only He can, and reminded me that no matter the outcome, He has it all under control.

A woman crossed my path today and in the first moments of our conversation, she revealed to me that she had recently lost a baby to stillbirth. Immediately my heart leapt as we connected through our shared stories and the peace I felt in that moment was indescribable. That little God-ordained appointment was just the peace and reminder that my nervous heart needed. He had that unexpected moment in His hand and He has everything else in His hand right there with it. 

He has already written the years, the days, and the moments. He knows what is to come and He has a perfect plan woven into all of it. Just as He perfectly orchestrated this meeting between this newly bereaved mother and myself, He perfectly orchestrates every moment of our lives and we need only to trust in Him and that perfect plan.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. ~Isaiah 43:2

Friend, I don't know what you are worried about today, but I do know this: God's got it. He's got you. Read those words from Isaiah and remember that He is there with you every single step of the way, whatever you are going through. He is fighting for you and advocating for you. He loves you. He cherishes you. Cling to that truth, friend. Hold on to the promise that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. You are loved.
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hold Your Head High


"Shame has no place here."

Those words penetrated my heart this morning. Over and over God poured them into my soul.

Shame is a destroyer. It detracts from the truth of God's mercy and grace. It causes you to forget your value and worth as a child of the Most High King. 

I know shame well. We are more than acquaintances unfortunately. I first met shame in my own life and got to know it very well. Now, in working with sexual assault survivors, I have continued to encounter shame over and over again. 

The funny thing about shame is that usually you can only see the true identity of shame when it is occupying someone else. It's easy for me to look into the faces of survivors and tell them that they have nothing to be ashamed of. But when shame inhabits your own heart, it is much more difficult to see the truth. When shame is there speaking directly to your own heart, it is hard to silence it.

One thing I see in my work with survivors is that shame is much stronger if it has visited before for the same reasons. These survivors are thrown straight into the pits of shame and despair if this is not the first time they have experienced abuse. Their mind immediately walks with shame into the paths of: "What is wrong with me? There must be something wrong with me that has caused this to happen more than once."

Not only do they walk down that path with shame, but they hold its hand and cling to it because they so desperately want to make sense of their storm that they will cling to this false belief in order to feel some comfort or control.

Friend, I have been there. More than I would like to admit. I have clung to shame. I have worn it like a badge that I worked hard to earn.

But hear me right now, friend: Shame is a liar.

And as a child of God, shame has no place here.

The truth is that we live in a fallen world. We live in a world of fallen people and we will have to walk through some hard, hard things. We will wonder why it's happening and shame will tell us that it is all our fault even when it isn't. Shame does not belong in your heart. It has no place there.

Shame will keep us from confiding in those closest to us. Shame causes us to hide our hurts and our struggles and our fears. But God tells us to share those things. He tells us to bear one another's burdens.

Whatever shame is telling you today, let it go. Call shame the liar that it is. Whatever shame is causing you to hide from the body of believers that God has placed alongside you, break those barriers and speak your heart. If shame is causing you to hang your head, lift your eyes. Hold your head high in the knowledge of your identity as a beloved child of God. He sees your heart. He sees your hurts and your struggles and your fears. Let Him in.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Longer Controlled by Calories

I joined most of the country today and hunted down a Starbucks that was not out of the ingredients for the Unicorn Frappuccino with my oldest daughter. We were ecstatic that the second one we went to had the ingredients as we had been looking forward to trying it all day.

And then I started seeing people sharing things all over social media talking about how bad it was because of the calorie content or the carbohydrate content, etc. I totally get if you can't have something because of a health condition. I totally get if you don't want to try it because you personally don't want to consume the ingredients. But please don't ever caption your photo by saying no one should be drinking it.

You get to make that choice for you and for your kids. But in my house, we don't count calories because for ten years I was a slave to them. Even just two years ago that drink would have terrified me and even trying the smallest sip would have sent me into a drastic tailspin of over exercising to cleanse my body of the calories. I also still have many friends in the trenches of that battle that can see your comments on my page.

I don't want to shame you for not wanting to drink it because of whatever reason, but I also ask that you not shame people who do try it. Because while I'm no longer controlled by calories, you never know who might be in that place. While you're sitting there thinking how bad it is, it's a huge victory for our family that I can happily pick one up and drink it without feeling guilty. 

Here's one thing I know...that drink has more calories than I used to consume in about four days and I enjoyed every sip of it. That's a celebration in our home. So make the choice that's best for you and your family, and we'll keep celebrating victories over here.

Today this drink was another small reminder of God's sovereignty in my life and the beauty of His presence in my eating disorder recovery and I am thankful every day for each of those reminders.
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrating Easter: A Call to Purpose

"Uncomfortable" - it's a word I have used often lately because it is a word that God has deeply pressed upon my heart over the last year or so. Each time He has pulled my heart a certain way and I've responded with, "But God are you sure? That will be hard. People won't understand. There will be adversity," and on and on and on, He has constantly reminded me that not once did He call me to live a comfortable life. I have a quote on my Facebook page that I think perfectly sums up the lesson He has been teaching me for the last year:

"I do not believe Jesus died for us so that we could live comfortable lives behind walls, indifferent to the suffering of others."
-Tim Breene, CEO, World Relief

Oh that hits my heart every single time that I read it because that statement is packed with so much truth. And what better day to remind ourselves of that truth and have our hearts convicted of that truth than on Easter Sunday. Let's talk for a minute, church. Sure, this is a fun day packed with celebration. We are celebrating the risen Savior. But if you are celebrating simply to show off your new clothes at church or have fun with Easter egg hunts or take the staple "family church photo," you're celebrating for the wrong reasons. Don't get me wrong, we bought new dresses and hunted eggs and took photos, and we do every year. They're not bad things to do, but they can't be all there is to this day. There has to be some soul searching.

Jesus died for you because He loves you. He redeemed you because He loved you. But He also died for you and redeemed you so that you could live out a calling to a life of purpose. Now I don't know what that purpose is for your life because that's between you and God, but if you have given your heart and your life over to Him, then He has a higher calling for your life. You have a calling beyond keeping up with the Joneses and simply doing whatever makes you happy. If you claim to be a follower of Christ then you are called to kingdom work. And friend, that often means we will be uncomfortable.

I'd love to tell you that I have this down pat. But I am writing this post today because my own heart was convicted as well. So how do we thank Jesus for the beautiful gift that we celebrate today? We put everything on the table for Him. We bring to Him a willingness to sacrifice anything to live out His purpose for our life. We sacrifice our comfort, our families, ourselves for the sake of the Gospel.

Our family just finished the steps to start doing our part for children in foster care in Alabama because after a year in prayer, we have no doubt that God is calling our family to serve in this way. We are overwhelmed by the support we have received from friends and family. We understand that many don't understand why we would want to do that or question our decision to involve our family in this ministry. But friend, please hear me out on this...what a gift God has given our family in this calling. Our daughters will get to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived out in our living room everyday with the opportunity to love these children and their birth families. They will see what it's like to love someone when it's difficult; to exercise patience when it's the hardest; to serve when it would be easiest to look away and sit in our comfortable lives. And we will have a constant reminder of his goodness and His forgiveness and His grace. What a gift.

I couldn't do that. I would get too attached.

Friend, that was exactly my thought when God started laying this on our hearts. But oh how those children are worthy of that attachment. How worthy these children of God are to have people who love them and believe in them and who love and believe in their birth parents. This is the ministry and the path that God has unquestionably called our family to and He has shattered every obstacle that came along the way.

I don't know what God is calling you to today, but as Easter Sunday draws to a close, I would encourage you to ask Him. Seek His heart and His calling on your life. He died because He loves us and He redeemed us because He loves us. We thank Him with our lives. We thank Him with our "yes." We thank Him with our "I'll go." This Easter, let's lay down the idea of a prosperity Gospel and embrace the message of laying down your life and serving however He calls. Embrace your life of purpose and be willing to lay everything down for the One who gave everything for you. 



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Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Leap of Faith

"Take a Leap of Faith." We've all heard that phrase, but have you ever stopped to actually think about it? What does it mean to "take a leap of faith" or "step out in faith?" What does that actually look like when it's put into practice?

As I really spent time reflecting on that phrase, I realized that it's something that is often much easier to tell other people than it is to tell ourselves, or even tell those that we are closest to such as our children or spouse. Why is that? Because to step out in faith almost always involves sacrifice and discomfort. It's never the easy way out. It's hard to tell ourselves or those we are closest to that they need to make a sacrifice that we may see as unnecessary or to do something that will be uncomfortable at times. 

But here's the thing, friend: God didn't call us to be comfortable and He did call us to sacrifice. He called us to be willing to sacrifice everything for Him. Everything. He's called us to sacrifice our friends, our family, our comfort, control, acceptance; everything. He will call us to do things that will cause difficult times for ourselves, for our family, and for our friends. He will call us to things in life that may mean that we lose popularity or cause us to be outright disliked by some. He will call us to things in life that we have no control over once we enter into the calling. He will call us to things that other people won't understand and may even think we are crazy for doing. But ultimately, He is calling us to choose Him and to choose to glorify Him over everything else.

My family is so often the first thing on my mind. While some might think that's great and exactly how it should be, you're wrong. If Jesus isn't first in my mind, my priorities are off. If He isn't the reason for every decision I make, then I'm wrong. And oh how I hate to admit how often I am wrong. But for me, my family is the one thing that often holds me back from jumping headfirst into whatever God is calling me to because I worry about how my family will be affected or I worry about how extended family will react or judge or that they will disapprove.

But God has been working and wrestling with my heart for weeks now as He calls our family into a ministry that is truly a family ministry that affects all of us drastically. He has confirmed this calling for us over and over again but in the back of my mind I've wondered why He chose our family for a ministry that so many would run from. Yet, over and over again He has answered the why and continually shown us the beauty and the wonderful picture of His grace and redemption that will be played out right before our eyes. And then as clearly as He could, He spoke a harsh but much needed truth to my heart this week.

I'm calling you to put everything on the table. 

That control you cling so tightly to? Lay it down.

Your comfort of living the white picket fence American dream life? Lay it down.

The schedule you're accustomed to? Lay it down.

Your marriage, your kids, your home, your friends, your family, your community, your life...I'm calling you to put all of it on the table for My kingdom.

Y'all that was a hard reality for me to swallow. But when He spoke that truth to my heart and I finally grabbed hold, a peace washed over my heart and the excitement began to overflow. 

You're going to sacrifice. It will be hard. There will be plenty of people who won't understand or won't approve. Some of those closest to you will try to talk you into walking away.

But wait until you see what I am going to do. Wait until you see the love and compassion and understanding that I will grow in your daughter's hearts. Just wait.

Maybe God is calling you to something lately and you're scared. Be brave anyway.

Maybe you don't have the money or the resources and you're having a hard time trusting that He will provide. Trust Him anyway.

Maybe you know that people won't approve or understand what you are doing. Do it anyway and pray that God will change their hearts. But even if He doesn't, keep going anyway.

Maybe you're afraid of the sacrifice or of being uncomfortable. Sacrifice and get uncomfortable anyway.

He has called all of us to be willing to sacrifice everything. That's hard. But remember His promise that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. We just have to trust, put it all on the table, and be willing to say "yes" to whatever He call us to. 


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: It's Ladybug! *Review* and {Giveaway}

Ladybug & Cat Noir are back in this delightful DVD for more action-packed, miraculous adventures that are sure to captivate your little ones. Ladybug and Cat Noir are two heroes who are the only hope in this DVD as Paris is threatened by super villains. 

Marinette and Adrien seemingly lead normal lives as young students trying to balance school, family, friends, and every day life challenges. However, in reality, they are balancing all of these normal kid things with the roles of being superheroes. 

This fantastic DVD will be available on April 11, 2017 from a collaboration between Shot! Kids and ZAG. My girls loved all six episodes on the DVD and I love anytime that they have female superheroes to watch. Your kids are sure to love this DVD that is packed with the following episodes:
  • Princess Fragrance
  • Gamer
  • Reflekta
  • The Puppeteer
  • Antibug
  • Volpina

Official Trailer:

AND a Ladybug paper doll while supplies last. You have the opportunity to win a copy of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: It's Ladybug on the widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Must be 18 years or older to enter and a resident of the United States. This giveaway is in no way associated with any social media platform. Winner will be notified via email and must respond to that email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway winner will be notified within 48 hours of the giveaway close.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Gospel of Mark Review and {Giveaway}

New on DVD today is The Gospel of Mark from Lionsgate, produced by The Lumo Project. With Easter right around the corner, this DVD is the perfect gift. This film presents the book of Mark through a unique, word-for-word narrative as the scenes are played out before you on the screen. You are literally watching the Gospel of Mark unfold before you as it is read aloud which was different from anything I have ever watched (This is the second installment of the Gospel film series so now I have to order The Gospel of John so that I can enjoy it as well). The film was shot on location in Morocco and was given the Dove Family Friendly Seal for 12+. You can also enjoy plenty of entertaining and intriguing bonus features on the DVD.


Brent and I watched this film together and I really loved how straightforward it is with how it presents the scripture. Since it is a straight narrative, there are no added Hollywood embellishments to the script. Instead, the "script" is word-for-word from the Bible with a great cast and scenery. This film offers a depiction of Mark that you won't forget and that you will want to watch again and again. In fact, I think it is probably one of Brent's favorites now.

You have the opportunity to win your own copy of The Gospel of Mark DVD by entering in the giveaway widget below:

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*Giveaway open to US residents only. This giveaway is in no way associated with or sponsored by any social media platform. I received this product in exchange for an honest review.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for The Lumo Project. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.




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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fences Review and {Giveaway}

When Peter Travers with Rolling Stone called Fences "One of the best films of the year," he was spot on. Denzel Washington not only directs the film, but also stars alongside Viola Davis in this story of former baseball player, Troy Maxson, in 1950's Pittsburgh. Nominated for four Academy Awards, Fences tells Maxson's story as he fights to provide for his loved one in a time when the world was working hard against him.

Fences is a must see film and you can own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 14! In addition to this inspiring movie, the Blu-ray combo pack also features 30 minutes of bonus content including interviews from the cast and crew and much more. For a limited time, you will also receive a bonus digital copy of The Manchurian Candidate (2004), also starring Denzel Washington, when you purchase the Blu-ray Combo pack for Fences

This thought provoking films was one of the best I have seen in awhile. The story of Troy Maxson was not one that I was super familiar with and I enjoyed learning more about him and his story. I am a huge Viola Davis fan and, as usual, she puts on a stunning performance and it was no surprise to me that she won the Best Supporting Actress award at the Academy Awards for her role in this film. Davis and Washington are the perfect pair and you do not want to miss this film!


You have the opportunity to win your own copy of Fences by entering in the giveaway widget below!
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*Must be 18 years or older to enter. Open to United States Residents. This giveaway is in no way associated with any social media platform. I received a copy of the film in exchange for this unbiased review.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for Paramount Pictures. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.



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Friday, March 3, 2017

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hey friends! I haven't hosted a giveaway in quite awhile, but I have a few coming up. Just as a quick "thank you" before I kick off more upcoming giveaways, here are a few easy ways to enter to win $10 at Amazon--Good Luck!

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*Must be 18 years or older to enter. This giveaway is in no way associated with or endorsed by any social media platform.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Let's Get Uncomfortable, Church.

I've been called a lot of things in my life, but today I am going to focus on a select few in the same category (or we could be here all night...ha!). Let's go with "obsessive" or "over the top" or "extreme." 

But you see, while those are generally meant in a negative way, I no longer view them that way. You see, I spent 8 months learning to love myself, and, more importantly, learning to see myself as Christ sees me. So instead of clinging to those words that have been said to me in my past, I now know that I am extremely passionate and that is just part of who I am. I cannot do anything half-heartedly. 

Now, I have learned to say "no" when I need to and I have learned my own limitations and how to take that passion and channel it into the avenues that God calls me to. Nevertheless, my personality remains one that is "all-in" and I hold strongly to my convictions. The funny thing is, when I embraced myself as being passionate, I noticed that I started to hear that word more than those previously mentioned. God purposely created a passionate heart within me. It may come off as radical or extreme to some, but I'm okay with that. 

You see, Christ died a horrible death on a cross for me. Despite my countless mistakes and all of the times that hatred, resent, dishonesty, and so many other things have found themselves in my passionate heart, He still gave His life for me. That in and of itself is pretty radical. And I have this radical belief that to give Him anything less than all of my life, my heart, my soul, and my passion would mean that I wasted the time He has graciously given me here on earth. I can think of nothing worse than to one day reach the end of my life and think that I spent my life as an armchair activist who never stood to my feet to go.

Here's the thing, church. It's easy to become an armchair activist in the day and age of social media. It's easy and much more comfortable to sit behind the screen of a computer or phone and say we believe all of these things and say that we care, but if that's all you do, you are wasting your time. I'm sorry to be blunt, but at this point in my life, I've stopped wasting time beating around the bush. I also don't want to reach the end of my life and look back to think "well I had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed my life" and that be the end of it. Because quite frankly, who cares how much fun I had, how great of a mom I was, how much I enjoyed my life if I did not actively work to advance the kingdom of Christ. Those things are great and I am not knocking that at all - we have a lot of fun at our house - but when life revolves around self-gratification for someone who claims to follow Christ, a point has to come where priorities must be evaluated.

Here's the thing...following Christ...truly following Him is going to require sacrifice. It's going to take faith and trust. It means that people will think you are radical or extreme. They will criticize you for various reasons. They'll try to talk you out of the things that Christ has called you to do. One thing I have learned as a momma, is that for our family to follow Christ, our family has to make sacrifices. And let me be honest...it's not easy for me to make a decision that means my daughters will have to sacrifice even when I know God is calling me to it. My natural momma instinct is to give them the world and never make them sacrifice a thing. But that's not Biblical.

The truth is, it's not easy. The truth is that I have thought about calling it quits on some things this week that I knew God was calling me to. But I know it's no coincidence that we had Global Impact Celebration at our church this week where we work to encourage missionaries, but wind up being more encouraged by them. And then on Friday, God blew me away by going above and beyond anything I dreamed of to provide for needs and to confirm some paths for our family.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations."

Let me emphasize that word "go." We hear it a lot, I know, but I want you to really think about that word and what it means. He didn't say to sit around and wait for hurting hearts to come to you. He didn't say to hang out in your recliner behind a screen and hope someone else does the work. He said GO.  That doesn't necessarily mean He has called you to international missions, but maybe He has. But what it definitely means is that if you claim Christ and you claim to know and follow Him, you are absolutely called to actively serve other people somewhere. Whether you go to China or you go to the homeless shelter in your city or wherever God has placed you and burdened your heart, you are called to go. If you don't know where God wants you to serve, get on your knees and ask Him to burden your heart because I promise you He will. But don't take that step unless you are willing to stand to your feet and go where He burdens your heart to go.

Church, we have to stop being lazy. We have to stop waiting and assuming that someone else will do the work. We have to stop looking out only for ourselves because that's less risky. We have to go and serve and tell and that's going to call for sacrifice and vulnerability. Don't think you're too messy. I'm the girl in the Southern Baptist Church covered in tattoos who has quite a messy story to tell. Here's one thing I know for sure: God takes messes and turns them into ministries. You just have to be willing to go.

Let's get uncomfortable, church.
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

So Often I Doubt

Doubt.

That word exists in my life much more than I would like to admit. It constantly finds ways to creep into my existence. Over and over God proves Himself faithful, yet over and over again doubt has me questioning how things will work out.

We are walking a path that has had me questioning how things would work out. I find myself asking, "God if this is what You've called us to, why isn't it easier?"

Seems like a crazy question to ask, I know, when we have example after example of God calling people to hard things in the Bible, in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us. And yet, I found myself asking that exact question quite a bit this week.

And then yesterday happened. God took moment after moment to tell me: "I've got this. Not only will I provide for you, but I'm going to go above and beyond what you need."

Y'all I found myself sitting in my car just weeping yesterday. I doubt and I doubt and instead of getting angry, He wraps His doubting daughter up in His arms with the gentle reminder that He's got all of this in His hands. "I did call you to this journey, My child. I never said it would be easy. It will often be hard. But I've surrounded you with people to be on this journey with you and I will always, always, always go above and beyond to provide for what I have called you to."

This morning I had the privilege of serving our community alongside my beautiful church family and my two beautiful daughters. There was no place I would have rather been after the profound reminders that God sent my way yesterday. On the drive to the location where we were serving, Good, Good Father came on the radio and it spoke straight to my soul.

He is truly a good, good Father. Not only does He provide, but He goes above and beyond. So often I doubt, yet He never fails to send my doubt right back out the door. 



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Sunday, February 19, 2017

This Thing Called "Motherhood"

I can remember being a young girl and dreaming of the day that I would be a momma. Rocking my baby dolls, I imagined how it would feel to one day hold a baby of my own. I had their names all picked out (and, no, I didn't use a single name I had picked in the fourth grade--go figure!).
Point being, as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a momma. I've always dreamed and longed for a house full of kids. The chaos of them fighting or trying to get them out the door in the morning that often has me sighing and testing the limits of my patience is, at the end of the day, more perfect than I ever imagined. We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but the chaos, the imperfections, the love and commitment, the struggles, the days when my patience is shorter than usual...when all of it is wrapped together at the end of the day, it's incredible.

This morning as I jokingly (but completely serious) told others at church that my morning could be described by the fact that "Don't lick that" was a phrase I uttered in the car this morning, I couldn't help but reflect on the morning. I thought of how out of breath I was by the time I finally arrived in my Sunday School room after shuffling them everywhere that they need to go. I thought about the car ride to church and how it was a mix between singing praise and worship songs and breaking up back seat fights. I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with how blessed I am.

This thing called "motherhood" is nothing like I imagined as a young girl. I never thought that my motherhood journey would begin as early as it did. I never imagined that I would bury one of my children a few days after giving birth to him and holding him for the first time. I never imagined that I would completely lose my fertility at 26 when my heart was still longing to be a mom again. 

(Side note: And to be honest, that's not something I share often because I worry about the criticism that will come from those who think "we should be happy with our two" [we are more thankful than you could imagine, especially after burying a baby, but that doesn't change the desires of your heart], or "kids are expensive", or any other reason someone can come up with to make the size of your family their business. But y'all that part of my motherhood journey has been incredibly hard for my heart.)
When I was a young girl, I dreamed of adopting internationally one day, but then God said, "not quite". In my dreams motherhood was always smooth and beautiful and instead it's constant chaos and sometimes after a long day, my parenting isn't always as beautiful as I would like for it to be. And it's in those moments that I have to seek forgiveness from my precious kiddos. But all of that to say that this thing called "motherhood" is hard. It's never like you imagined it would be. It's hectic and you never know what to expect (also, I never know what to expect out of the three year old's mouth so every day is like playing the lottery in public). Motherhood is messy.

But it is an absolutely beautiful, messy, chaotic, masterpiece that I never could have envisioned. I never could have imagined the incredible girls that my daughters have grown into. I never could have imagined the legacy that my son's short life would leave. I never could have imagined all of the children that I didn't give birth to, but that I have had the privilege of pouring my momma heart into their lives. 

I'm sure in a few years I'll be saying this again...that I never imagined it could get better. But I know God has great plans for our family that we can't even imagine. For now we embrace the busy, we embrace the messy, we embrace the crazy. And most of all, I wouldn't change a thing.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When God Hasn't Said "Go" Yet

When God calls you to a specific mission field, whether it be domestic or international, when it's different from what has been your day-to-day mission field, it can bring a range of emotions; excitement, fear, nervousness, anxiety, etc. But I think for me the excitement always won out.

In September I had the extreme privilege of serving in Haiti for a week. When I knew God was calling me to go to Haiti, I felt all of those emotions and more. I travelled solo to a third world country, it was my first time flying in years, and it had been quite some time since I had last left the country. I had fear for sure, but overall, the excitement won out.

Coming home from Haiti was shocking to my body and to my emotions. To go from the life I had grown accustomed to in that short week to being back to the many luxuries I have in America within a matter of hours honestly made me feel like I didn't know what to do. As much as I had missed things like hot showers and ice all week, once I was back here, I desperately wanted to go back. My perfect world in those first few days back would have been to be back in Haiti with  my husband and girls. 

I still have so many days, where my heart breaks to go back and I have begged God to call me back to Haiti, but so far, the answer has just been "not yet". And I need to be real with y'all..that's hard for me. I want to be in charge and make the call and hop on a plane. But He gently and lovingly reminds me of the work He has me doing here in the moment. However, He also continues to heavily burden my heart for Haiti, and as much as it hurts sometimes, it is a comfort to me because it reminds me that He's not closing that door. 

For me, when God hasn't yet said "go" it's a struggle. I don't want to wait. I don't want to be patient. I just want to go. That's my nature. I want to be there holding those precious little children in my arms again. I want to have children climbing all over me for a simple treat like a piece of candy or nail polish that I never thought could bring so much joy. I want to be there untangling goats from the brush or worshipping on a small little rooftop church where language wasn't a barrier. I want to be walking with an amazing team of people praying over those we pass and having children run up to grab my hand. I want to be sweaty and dirty and covered in a greasy combination of sunscreen and bug spray. I want to be sleeping on a concrete rooftop with music in the background and chickens waking me up before the sun. 

But for now, I wait. I work here where He has lovingly placed me and wait for Him to say that precious word, "Go" again. Because when He does I'll be booking a flight faster than anyone you've ever seen. And there are some precious children I will be running to as fast as I can. 

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait.
(Josh Waller, "While I'm Waiting")

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Don't Miss a Haiti

There are few things I love more than hearing God speak to your heart exactly what you needed to hear and I graciously got to experience that tonight.

Y'all I am a people pleaser to a fault. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. Now, I'm not *quite* as bad I used to be in some aspects. I am very opinionated and convicted in my beliefs and for the most part have no trouble sharing them. Actually, at this stage of life, sometimes my struggle is taming my tongue (something that I NEVER thought would have been a struggle of mine). There are times that my mouth opens and words come out before I have even realized that I did more than think them. This is quite the opposite of who I was growing up.

Nevertheless, I am, at heart, a people pleaser. It is a character trait that fed into the struggle of the eating disorder and it fed into my rationale behind hiding my hurts at the root of the eating disorder. And it is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% a spiritual battlefield for me. 

There have been and are times that there is no doubt God is calling me or my family to something that maybe not everyone in our lives understands or is supportive of. That is a phenomenal struggle for me. It is hard for me to do something that people we love and care about aren't supportive of even when I know that the Lord has called me or my family to it. 

One example was Haiti. There were so many people I love and care about who were indescribably supportive of the Lord calling me to Haiti and I cannot ever express my gratitude--including my husband who parented solo all week while I was gone and gave up the opportunity to be with me on my birthday for the second year in a row. But not everyone I love and care about was supportive of the Lord calling me to Haiti. And I struggled with that. I doubted and second guessed. 

I look back at my time in Haiti and I am thankful with every fiber of my being that the Lord's calling won out over the desire to please men, because that week in Haiti was life changing in so, so many ways. Now, Haiti has a huge piece of my heart and I promise you that I will be back because the Lord has kept Haiti on my heart ever since I returned (and side note, my momma heart leaps every time Cathleen tells me she wants to get on an airplane and go to Haiti because bless her little three year old servant heart, when she is old enough, I will gladly serve alongside her in Haiti). 

But I can't help but wonder how many "Haiti's" I have missed out on because my fleshly desire to please people won out. 

Tonight I was reminded of Galatians 1:10. I was reminded that my love for my family should pale in comparison to my love for Christ (and guys I ADORE my children and husband...how much more then should I adore Christ?). I was reminded that answering God's calling as an individual and as a family will always require sacrifice and it will usually be a sacrifice that those closest to us may not understand, and therefore may not support. That's hard and it always will be hard, but that difficulty cannot inhibit God's calling to me as a woman after God's heart or to His calling to my family as a family that seeks to be His hands and feet in a hurting world and a picture of the Gospel to the most vulnerable.

I think that a lack of support can always be redeemed. I saw that some in Haiti...some of those who weren't so supportive saw my heart for Haiti when I returned...a heart for Haiti that could have only been planted by a God who loves the people of Haiti so much that He died for them. Just as Christ has redemptive power in our lives, He has redemptive power to reconcile those relationships that may be cracked because of a lack of understanding. When you follow His calling, there is power for them to see what God is doing through that calling and to switch gears. Does that always happen? No. Unfortunately there will sometimes be cracks that won't be mended. But those potential cracks cannot prevent us from loving Christ with abandon and pursuing His will and calling in our lives without hindrance. That has to come first.

Oh how my people pleasing heart needed this message tonight and to be reminded that this is absolutely a spiritual battle for me. If you needed to hear that too, please know that you are not alone and you are prayed for
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Today We Played

I find it so easy sometimes to get caught up in everything that needs to be done. My to-do list seems never ending and sometimes, if I try to look ahead more than a few days, it feels a tad overwhelming.
Can you relate? Are you right there with me?
We just moved and I've been almost in robotic mode trying to get everything out of boxes and in its place. Today I finally realized that I am exhausted. I came home from church and fell fast asleep before I had even had lunch.
When I woke up to some news about a dear friend that wasn't what I had hoped for and begged God for, perspective kind of hit me. Everything in the house is going to get put away, just maybe not in our first week here. 

So, I went to the kitchen and sat down with my girls and helped them address their Valentine cards for school. We sat in the art room and colored pictures. They got on their bikes and I walked with them while they rode up and down our neighborhood. The soccer ball was kicked up and down our yard. Cathleen took a few rides on my back and we tried to entice a neighbor's cat to come near enough to the fence for us to say "hi". 
Laughs were abundant. Smiles were contagious. Everyone was having fun together.
Not long after we came inside a flood of rain came beating down on the windows and we all said how thankful we were that we were able to enjoy the time outside before it rained. And it hit me, that to-do list will still be here tomorrow. 
But one tomorrow, Cathleen won't want to kick the soccer ball with me anymore. One day a tomorrow will come when Audrey would rather spend time with her friends than in the art room with mom. One day a tomorrow will arrive and neither of them will be fighting for my attention. So today, the to-do list had to wait a few hours. Today, we played.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

May They Always Remember

The word legacy has popped up several times for me this week and I found it penetrating my heart this evening. 

I have about a twenty minute drive from when I get off work until I pick my youngest daughter up from her preschool. It is my twenty minutes to crank up my praise and worship music and wind down my heart.

But today I kept the music low and had some prayer time as I pondered over the word "legacy" and what it means to me. 

We all want to leave a legacy, but the question is: "What kind of legacy do you want to leave?"

How do you want to be remembered?

When my girls bury me, I hope they remember their momma as one fierce lady. 

I hope my daughters look at their momma and can without a doubt say that their momma loved Jesus, she loved people, and she unashamedly pursued the passions that God placed on her heart.

Our time on earth is limited and I don't want to spend mine just passing through and catering to my own selfish desires.

May my daughters always remember a momma who was passionate and never did anything half-heartedly. May they remember a momma who put Jesus first and valued people over anything else that this earth can provide.

May they remember a momma who loved them so much that she fought fiercely to make the world a better place for them, never being content to sit idly by and hope for the best. May they remember a momma who fell on her knees in prayer and then stood to her feet in action.

May they remember a momma whose voice cried out to Jesus in one breath and then in the next spoke up for the oppressed.

May they remember a momma who was nowhere close to perfect...who messed up on a daily basis...but who through those mistakes gained patience with others and learned to grant grace to those around her.

May they remember a momma who cared. May the word passive never be used in the same sentence with their momma's name, but rather, let passionate be used often.

May they remember a momma who taught them that they could be anything they wanted to be in life, but who also taught them the importance of fighting to make sure that every other person in this world was afforded that same privilege. May they remember a momma who taught them to look out for those who are so often overlooked; a momma who taught them that sacrificing for another person is never an inconvenience and it's always worth it.

I don't care if they look back and say "My momma was successful at everything she pursued" because that will never ever happen. As long as they look back and say that they know without a doubt that their momma loved Jesus and that she always pursued justice and compassion with everything that she had, then I will have been as successful as I could ever want to be.

A legacy of loving and sharing Jesus, loving people, passion, compassion, and kindness. That's what I will actively pursue to leave behind me.
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Find You in the Waiting

Waiting is hard to do. In fact, I think waiting seasons, at least for me, are the some of the hardest seasons in life.

With mountains and valleys, you kind of know what to expect; how and when to brace yourself. But what about plateaus? You're waiting to see what comes next and you don't know where to brace yourself for a fall into a valley, or a climb up a mountain, or smooth coasting
God plants a dream in your heart. You pray about it consistently. You seek Him and His direction. And you wait and you trust.

Waiting seasons are vulnerable seasons and that's hard. It's easy to get frustrated or sad or mad or any range of emotions. There are moments where it seems that giving up on the dream that God has planted in your heart may be the easier route.

We live in an age of instant gratification.

That makes seasons of waiting a temptation to plow over God's plans for us with our own plans. It's hard to resist that temptation. I know. I have been there far too many times.
 
Seasons of waiting are not times of complacency. They do not mean that you just sit around and wait to see what happens next. You dive into the Word. You dive into prayer. Talk to Him. Seek Him. 

Sometimes, in the seasons of waiting, we may question His love for us or feel like He has abandoned us. But He is right there, friend. His love for you is indescribable. He has special plans for you in every season, but the waiting is where I find that He teaches me the most.

I know that at times you will want to cry out. Do it. He's listening. I know at times you will want to throw in the towel and think that the journey you are on is pointless.

But then, if you keep seeking Him and trusting Him, you will find Him in the waiting. It is in the seasons of waiting that you see the magnitude of your dependence on Him as you have zero control over what happens. It is in the seasons of waiting where you have to trust and you have to exercise faith. 

It's still hard. It's not in our nature to wait and trust. Our human nature wants control over every moment of life. But that's the beauty of this time. 

When we let go of that need for control...

When we completely abandon it for trust in the God who intricately wove us together...

When we put it behind us with the cross before us...

When we toss it aside and trade it in for radical faith...

We find beauty in the waiting. We find meaning in the waiting. We find value in the waiting. 
We find the cross in the waiting.

We find purpose. 

We find Christ.
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