Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Seasons

Currently, I am in a season of blessing. I kind of despise that word 'season'. It's sort of a Christian catch phrase right now. I use it all of the time because well, seasons are guaranteed to change - bringing new, perhaps unexpected twists and turns.

Right now, I am celebrating blessings abounding.

Our oldest little is thriving and healthy for the first time in 4 years (she's only 4).

Our two youngest littles are growing stronger and staying healthy.

All of our littles are showing signs of intelligence beyond their years - impressing us at every turn.

Our ministry is thriving and God is sending many sheep our way to disciple.

We see growth all around us - through students who walk through the doors of our church and also in others we've known for years - who have suddenly come to life in Christ.

It is a beautiful "season". One where I could dance in the street if it wouldn't be so embarrassing.

Today, I am linking up with the voice bloggers over at JoAnnFore.com, focusing on the book When A Woman Finds Her Voice, where we are sharing out stories in an attempt to bring others to the foot of the cross.



I have shared pieces of my story over the past few months. You can read about those here and here - oh and here. ;)

In marriage and motherhood, I have made one solid discovery that I can count on being true all of the time.

I can do nothing in my own strength.

I cannot even enjoy this 'season' in my own strength without acknowledging the ONE who gave it to me - the One who gives and takes away, because after all, blessed be HIS name.

I haven't always felt like dancing in the street. I have raged in the unimaginable and weathered too many storms in my short 31 years. I spent many of these years running from my creator.

I convinced myself that God would never want me or could never love me. Why? Fear. I Feared becoming someone who was weak or reliant. I didn't need anyone helping me get through hard spots - especially the Almighty who I perceived had allowed all of the terror to ravage my heart in the first place.

I remember hearing Christians say, "In the good book, God says everything happens for a reason," and I would wonder if something so feeling-less was really in the bible. To be completely honest, I was afraid to open a book that would confirm that the nightmarish events of my childhood happened because some great OZ was sitting on the clouds orchestrating events that wrapped icy cold fingers around my heart. From this very statement, I could not fathom serving a God who would create devastation in my life for a reason only He could know.

How in the world could I surrender my life to someone - an additional someone - who would leave me breathlessly searching for a love I still hadn't found?

How could I give love to one more person, to only wait in the wings for the trick - the lesson?

I don't remember the exact moment where grace flooded my heart. I wish I could recall a time where the realization that noone was on a cloud in the sky, putting things in my path frogger style.

A woman who I admire greatly spoke into my life once and said that things happen because we live in a broken world. It is up to you to let God use those terrible things for good. A more accurate description of everything happens for a reason, is God weaves good together from even the worst of circumstances. Everything that happens - even the really terrifying stuff - God can use to His glory. That's why He is God. That is why He is so cool.

Selfishly, I want the ability to take my bad and make good, but all I can do with my serving of bad is make it worse. God can take all the nightmares and hurt and pain and weave it for the good of those who love Him. 

The realization that God could take the ashes and the wreckage and make it beautiful and use it for good gave me hope. It gives me daily doses of hope. When the world crashes in around me and threatens to take everything I have gained, I give it over to God. Giving my pain and inability to create anything worthwhile from the bad doesn't make me weak, but somehow gives me the realization that I am much stronger than I could have ever realized - even when I'm all wrapped up in the storm clouds.

You see, a thick fog means the road is gone as much as a rainy day means the sun won't ever shine again. My anger at the things that had happened to the little girl who lived a not-so-charmed life never meant God was responsible for all of the pain. Sometimes bad things happen. The coolest thing about God is that He takes the force of the pain for us - He did on that cross and still does in our lives.

Sharing my story is all part of the path to allowing God to weave good from the ashes. When we can share what God did in our hearts, we get to see a glimpse of just how awesome God is.

Who do you know that will humble themselves to the point of humiliation to right your wrongs?

Are you ready to dance in the street and enjoy your blessings, even when life doesn't feel so blessed?

Head on over to JoAnnFore.com and check out the new book study that is happening. You won't want to miss it.









Thursday, October 31, 2013

My path to knowing I'm beloved--When A Woman Finds Her Voice

I love words. I love everything about them. I love how they can fail you but also tell of everything in your heart. I love how the littles use them (completely wrong in context and usually without all of their consonants or vowels). I love how they tell the listener exactly how you are feeling. I love how they avenge you or make you look silly. I love that some people know more words than others. Most of all - above all else - I love that words help us to understand what Jesus did for us...why He came. That within the Word of God - the bible - we can find all of the promises, truths and hope that will sustain us from one disaster to the next.

After spending time leading worship over the weekend, I began thinking about words from the songs we sang. One in particular, "Not For A Moment" by Meridith Andrews. I love the words within the verses and chorus of this song...
After All, you are constant.
After All, You are only good.
After All, you are sovereign.
Not for a moment, will you forsake me. 
Sovereign. Such a powerful word. It elicits feelings for me because of my belief in an all-knowing King. I am a Christian. I serve a God who is in fact, sovereign. But what does that mean?

The official definition of a sovereighn God is a God who is in complete control. A god who has complete power over all of the earth and everyone in it. Sovereignty could be a stumbling block to an atheist or unbeliever because of inner turmoil that if God is in control of everything, why would he allow us to suffer so much here on this planet? If our sovereighn God is so in love with us, why all the pain and destruction?

As described within the pages of Jo Ann Fore's new book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice, 
" Short of heaven, I can't find anywhere God promised a pain-free zone. But He does have good things in store for us. He promises. And He keeps His promises. Anytime we're tempted to doubt God's hand in the circumstances of our lives, we need to meditate of Psalm 103. Here we are reminded (promised) that God not only forgives our sins, redeems us, saves our lives, crowns us with love and mercy, but He wraps us in goodness and, "makes everything come out right"
The yucky truth is that sinful human beings deserve nothing from a Holy God. We cannot manipulate God in prayer. We cannot expect a rich, pain-free life, as expressed by a man made false gospel that speaks nothing but prosperity. Neither can we expect to reach heaven because we are a "good person." Jesus Christ has been provided to us as the way to heaven. (John 14:6)

Part of God's sovereignty is that despite our unworthiness, he chooses to love and save us anyway. He gives everyone the freedom to accept or reject his love.

Bad stuff happens. Really terrible things occur in this life - entering our hearts and threatening to take from us, sometimes threatening to take everything from us. "At a time when hope threatens to never rise again, the power in the simple truth of God's word can call one's spirit to attention, can transform lives." (Jo Ann Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice 

For me, the pain of this world came fast and hard. Very early on, the family life I called home threatened my very sense of security. I remember walks home from school, wishing I could manufacture the environment I would walk into. I knew that what the afternoon held could only be determined by the one who was governing our home- Satan. I didn't know it then, but Satan was the responsible party for the elimination of my carefree childhood, and I can imagine he was thrilled about that unfortunate truth. I had the weight of the world presiding on my shoulders. I worked hard to fix - always trying to fix things enough to make everyone happy. I thought if I cared hard enough, loved everyone enough, cleaned the house enough, succeeded in school enough, succeeded in sports enough and just flat out pretended enough, that my home would be a normal healthy place. The problem was, I was never enough. I was never good enough or pretty enough or smart enough and Satan had his way in fooling me into finally convincing my tired soul into believing that my inadequacies as a young child were the reason my family life was a disaster. Do you have any idea what that does to the heart of a little girl? Always feeling, no always knowing, that whatever I did was never going to be good enough? I was exhausted and sad and feeling worthless before I was even 15 years old, and this was just the beginning.

I would do anything for attention, and I got plenty of it, but the quick realization flooded my soul that attention and admiration for my pretender self was never going to be good enough either. My heart was so lonely and no one ever knew. The pain of never being accepted or loved or cared for crashed around my heart and thoughts of the false reality that I was unlovable were sometimes too much to bear.

It wasn't until I allowed words - words given to me in the form of forever promises - to penetrate my heart that I was able to begin to fully realize how lovely I am, and that all the ugly realities of a young girl being swept aside were not God's plan for my life.

There is something my friend Jo Ann says in her book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice. Something that even after all the healing I have allowed God to orchestrate in my heart, brings me to my knees. She's speaking of full healing - the kind that only a sovereign God can bring.

"When she learned how much God loved her, 
how much he valued her, 
the soul-corroding shame lost its power." 
Jo Ann Fore When A Woman Finds Her Voice

To me, the truth that I was so very loved by a God who holds my tomorrows was the golden nugget that I needed to begin to heal from living a life of 'not good enough'. Reading this very quote reminds me of a time when crawling out from under an unimaginable pain of 'why did all of that happen' into the loving arms of a savior and the truth that I could trust in the promises of One who loved me so much that His 'mercies are new every morning' was the exact transformation I needed to become the whole version of myself that God had intended me to be.

I wasn't enough by myself, but I was always enough for Him. Satan had convinced me I could never be worth anything to anyone, but God has promised that I am worth far more than any riches here on earth, and tat there is no flaw in me. 

I spent my childhood and most of my adolescence just wishing someone would hold me and tell me it was all somehow going to be OK. I found that - but not the way I had searched for. In my searching for all of the wrong things  the temporary fixes, I found a God who is enthralled by my beauty. He makes nothing that is not worthy of love - I believe that is why we are in 'His image' so there could be no mistake of that. 

Another song - one that slays me every time has truths directly from the word from which I  was saved:

Under my mercy come and wait
Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you my child

You're beautiful to me
So beautiful to me

I sing over you my song of peace
Cast all your care down at my feet
Come and find your rest in me

I'll breathe my life inside of you
I'll bear you up on eagle's wings
And hide you in the shadow of my strength

I'll take you to my quiet waters
I'll restore your soul
Come rest in me and be made whole

You're my beloved, you're my bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love

 Yes, it's all going to be OK. More than OK. Find your voice. God has a magnificent plan to use you for the glory of His kingdom. I can't promise you it's is all going to feel good or that it is always going to be easy, but I can promise you that it is - without a shadow of a doubt - going to be OK in every sense of the word.

Do you want to find your voice?  
Find out how important your voice is to the God I speak of. 
Read more below.

This week we are celebrating the official release of When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a Difference. Join us? Leave a comment over at Jo Ann's post and be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy. Meanwhile be sure to head over to http://joannfore.com/find-your-voice/ and sign up for a FREE Bible Study. And if you can’t wait and want to go ahead and pick up the book, Jo Ann is offering some awesome FREE gifts for you this week only with your purchase.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Purpose For the Pain

As I sat listening to the chorus while those young men sang, face stained with tears, I struggled with the purpose of the pain. I was weeping, almost sobbing as I watched those 17 year old boys struggle through a song they wrote together and performed minus 1.  There is something so real - so raw - about 17 year old young men crying real tears, desperate to understand, with tear stained faces and broken hearts.

It was a night to say goodbye a boy who lost a battle but won a victory.  Jesus was holding him now and he felt more loved than he could have ever imagined feeling here on this planet. He feels more complete then he would have ever felt here on this Earth.

All that was left - A family a week into life as they now know it, mourning the loss of their dear son...their little boy...brother.....friend. A gathering of broken people, hearts searching - struggling to find understanding in the midst of the un-thinkable. Broken vessels who are determined to see beauty from these ashes. Desperate to find treasure in this wreckage and a meaning to the words so perfectly placed in the bibles they are holding on to with all they have left.

Admitting that there were and are no words for what happened the night their precious boy left this sin stained world and arrived into the glory of His savior's. They must ask why, or perhaps that was my voice in my head; Bouncing back and forth from my heart 2 very real - very painful thoughts - One, we cannot protect our babies from any level of horrendous pain and two, there is no assurance here on Earth that I won't face this very same reality.

I have 2 boys of my own. My heart upon hearing that threadbare momma weep, told my legs to run to her - tell her it is all a bad dream.

Satan tiptoeing around my thoughts, screaming that there is no way they will ever get through this pain - this unimaginable pain - Working vehemently to convince me our fibers threaded with the glory of a God who would lay His son's life is just not good enough - that God is just not strong enough - that God has left us lonely and confused and forever that is the way we shall remain.  

That's. Just. Not. True. Those terrible lies that tell us to give up and succumb to this pain - they're simply not true. Satan is a liar, a deceiver....a jerk.

As I watched a family with more Grace than I have ever seen, glorify a God who would certainly carry them through this - somehow, some way - I saw some purpose in this pain.  That a God who keeps all His promises could be glorified in the midst of unimaginable torment through His people who refuse to allow Satan any foothold within their heart. A family that could stand before the people who gathered and declare for an audience of ONE that Jesus is the the victor - the King - the author of tomorrow despite the misery of today.  Satan would not did not win because this boy lost an earthly battle. Satan lost - again - because this boy won a heavenly victory and is whole and healed and full of life.

There is a purpose laced within this pain.  We lay at His feet the burden too heavy to carry and He slings it on His back and us in His arms and He carries us to a higher place - a place that shines with peace - peace that surpasses any earthly way of thinking, any earthly way of understanding.

"Jesus didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it.  Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us.  God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next." (from Romans 15 . . . The Message)

"Sometimes a stronger, more realistic faith is birthed in the darkest of pits," (Jo Ann Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice), because when we are at the end of what we can do, God is up to something bigger, doing what only HE can do. And born this night was hope in the truth that God has this all in the palm of His hand. One truth was obvious for all hearts t hear - that although the misery of today is too much to bear, it has nothing on the promise that tomorrow will come and God will prevail over this sorrow. "There is a powerful shifting that takes place as we abandon the right to understand and we yield to God's working in our lives," (Jo Ann Fore When a Woman Finds Her Voice).



Also, check out the “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” Pledge. Newly released, this free pledge is for any woman who is working to find her own God given voice and willing to use it. Click on the Link to read and sign the pledge. When you do you will receive a beautiful free copy of the pledge that will serve to remind you how valuable your voice is. I signed it and commit to using my voice for His continued glory. I hope you will join me!


If you haven’t checked out the information on ”When A Woman Finds Her Voice” be sure to check out the links here or click on the photo to see an introduction to the book and the latest Amazon reviews.

31 Days - Praying with my husband

Today, I am contributing to my 31 day challenge.  (I'm failing my 31 day challenge, by the way - crashing and burning). But, none-the-less, I will continue to appreciate my pastor husband in honor of Pastor Appreciation month when I am able to get something written down, or in this case, typed out  Today, with the house silent, while littles sleep, I will write about the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I CAN DO FOR MY HUSBAND - really, it's the most important thing we can ALL do for our husbands -

PRAY.



Pray for your husbands, because men are called to be someone they could never have the strength to be on their own.  They need our prayer - covet our prayers.  Today, this is my prayer for my husband......

Jesus, I thank You for the way you've shaped and gifted my husband for the work he is able to do. Help me to support his work and praise him specifically for what he does. Plant in him a vision for how his gifts will build Your Kingdom and serve others. Impress upon him the desire to be faithful with his gifts, using them fully. Protect him from discouragement, stress, dishonesty, and sluggishness so that all he does might bring praise to Your name....

Protect him from anyone who wants to do evil against him and the ministry he has been called to. Protect him from those who want to see him fail. Protect the ministry of this church against those who speak negatively and also speak untruth.  Lord, I pray for the truth of your word to cover any ugliness happening behind the scenes.  Help him focus on the good you are doing rather than the work Satan is getting away with in the hearts of those who want destruction and not new life. Allow the flock he is shepherding to learn from him and continue to grow and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Give my husband strength for the super task he has ahead of him.  He has been called by you into this ministry, he has been obedient with his calling, and he is wants what you want for your church. Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

31 Days: Letter from your oldest little

Hi daddy,

I just wanted to take the time to say how much you mean to me.  I don't know it yet, but your love for me in these first 5 years is so much a part of who I will be.

Thank you or smiling every time you see me.

Thank you for missing me when I am not around.

Thank you for trying so hard to FaceTime with me when you are away.

Thank you for always going to work, even if no one would notice if you didn't. You are a man of integrity.

Thank you for always giving mommy your paycheck so she can pay the bills and buy us food.

...and in the same way, thank you for believing that it is good for my mommy to stay home with me.  I love these years we are getting to spend together - even if it means sacrifice.

Thank you for working so hard so we can have a warm/cool house and food to eat.

Thank you for praying for me.

Thank you for making me feel cherished and adored.

Thank you for being my hero.

Thank you for loving just mommy.  I will grow to have a trust in men because my mommy can always trust you. 

Thank you for sometimes being a softy.  Your vulnerability helps me to see that you are human.

Thank you or being an authentic version of yourself.  This helps me see that God makes us to be exactly who He wants us to be and that we don't have to pretend to be anyone else.

Thank you for forgiving mommy when she is a little mean.  This shows me how to forgive others and will be very valuable as I grow in a world with people that will positively let me down.

Thank you for kissing mommy and holding her hand. In a world where marriage is always failing, this shows me that it is OK to love your spouse and show it!

Thank you for caring about your marriage and bringing mommy on dates. This shows me that I should wait for a man who cares enough about my heart to nurture our relationship throughout marriage.

Thank you for being gentle with me. This shows me that I am delicate and should be handled with care. 

Thank you for helping mommy with the chores. This helps me see that marriage is a partnership. 

Thank you also for leading our family. This helps me to see God's design played out authentically.

Thank you for admitting when you have made a mistake. This helps me to see that people are not perfect and God always gives mercy. 

Thank you for praying with me and teaching me how to talk to God.

Thank you for bringing me on little dates. This models how I should be treated by future boyfriends (if you and mommy ever let me date. ;)

Thank you for making me feel more special than any other little girl.

Thank you for answering God's call to be a pastor even though it is hard and challenging. This shows me that God's calling on my life is good and will prevail if I trust Him.

Thank you for being kind to those who are not kind to you. This shows me that God's calling on my life is bigger than people who behave poorly.  

Thank you for allowing God to fight your battles. This helps me see how God carries us.

Thank you for teaching me things before I know I will need them.

and.....

Above all things, thank you for saying yes to Jesus.  This means more to me than I'll ever know.

Love,

Your oldest little.



;)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

31 Days: Annoyance and Gratitude


I have pet peeves. More than I willing to admit. God has been - well, I am finally allowing God to speak into my heart. Especially when it comes to my marriage.  The truth that I am currently being beat over the head with -

Annoyance and gratitude cannot fill the same space. 

I do this thing where I DO something for my husband, and then wait for him to appreciate it.  I didn't even realize I was doing it, until I finally allowed God to stir my heart.

My husband is my best friend.  I have other friends, girls that serve as 'girl' best friends, but my husband, he is MY best friend.

Showing gratitude to my husband should not be a give and take thing. It should be a give and give thing.  I want live liked a blessed woman.

I don't want to wait for the kick back of my doing nice things - that's God's job.

I want to do marriage without complaining about it (even if it is in my head) - “Do everything without grumbling.” (Philippians 2:14 NIV)

My husband, always, without fail, brings home a paycheck, takes out the trash (even the diapers), hugs our little girl and tells her she's beautiful, wrestles with our sons, builds immaculate train track structures, makes our home a fun place to be, brings out the light side of everything, and smiles when I need him to.

He does so many wonderful things without being asked, without complaining, and without ever pointing out that he sometimes is picking up my slack.

We are a team.

I cannot show gratitude to my husband and be annoyed with him within the same heartbeat. I want to serve him through gratitude. I want to serve him because I love him.  I want to serve him because I love God and want to honor Him with or marriage.

I am praying today and throughout this challenge that I can serve my husband without silent expectations and without grumbling.









Saturday, October 5, 2013

31 Days: Words

The threads from growing up are weaved within us - good AND bad.  We carry into our marriage things that are lovely and things that are love-less. Things that are honoring and things that damage. Actions that we want our children to model and actions we wish they'd forget.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my marriage is that what we carry with us, comes, whether we invite it or not.

I entered this marriage carried by Jesus and although I force Him to put me down so I can run every now and then, He governs my days, and I allow Him to lead. He is always there when I crawl back into His arms. He always takes me back, sin stains and all - reassuring me that His mercies are new every morning. And - oh - how I love that truth. To my core, I feel that mercy is so very necessary glue for the pieces of my heart. I am desperate for it - and fortunate for me - He gives it to me - over and over again - for free.

My story is sorted. My past messy. I lived solely on Michelle power for way too long. When I think of my choices, my destructive behavior, I imagine Jesus cringing, wishing I wouldn't go there. I think of my marriage in this respect with choices I've made in discussion with my husband. When I just bring the conversation to a place it shouldn't go and use words that are meant to hurt, not heal or foster growth.  I use these words because in the moment they give me a false sense of power, like I've won, but in hindsight I find myself saying almost out loud, "I've won what?" The words always leave our marriage wounded and me, more broken then before.

The amazing part about loving Jesus, about allowing Him to correct us - 

I feel Him calling to me in moments of becoming unglued. I hear Him calling to me 'Be Still, Daughter."  And when I listen - when I obey - He stills my heart and stops damaging words - and protects me from damaging the man that is MY biggest fan.  

I am becoming better at being still.  Better every day. It is beautiful when I listen. It is a strange baggage I have brought into this relationship - thinking that if I just keep rambling on about my point, my husband will hear me and see it my way.  If I just keep speaking - my husband will surely see it my way.

'Be still, Daughter.....he cannot hear my voice over the sounds of your yelling.' 

You see, my point when I'm wronged, no matter how good a defense I posses, never goes anywhere without the power of Christ in me. My words are like sand on the boardwalk - lost and blowing around aimlessly. Learning to allow God to do what ONLY He can do is a humbling experience. 

Learning to trust Him when you could easily defend yourself is nearly impossible in your own strength.   

Gaining a temporary power that feels so good, lasts like a vapor - realizing what your power move has damaged. 

If I could Be Still, God will always silence Satan all by Himself.  

He is cool like that.    





31 Days:: Remembering the Best Day

I don't have a lot of time today, but I don't want to miss a day on the whole write for 31 days thing. 



I found this picture. We were so young and beautiful. It was only 5 short years ago, but it feels like a lifetime has passed.

I love that man in that picture so much.  So much more than that day. - although I didn't think it was possible to love him any more than the moment this picture was taken.

Since this picture was taken, we have moved twice, had 3 children, changed jobs, cried, laughed, disappointed each other, disappointed ourselves, gained weight, lost weight, cut our hair and grew it back, fallen, got back up, carried each other, failed and succeeded, defined and re-defined our roles in the marriage, grew and killed each others' dreams, and so. much. more.

We have survived these short years and have gone from knowing it all to understanding we. know. nothing. Nothing at all.

We're always exhausted, and sometimes overwhelmed, but in 5 years, I have learned that my Pastor husband is my biggest fan and strongest advocate.  He is the best father 3 crazy kids could have and I wouldn't change this break-neck speed life for all the 'tea in China'.......

....or, in my case, 'coffee in ?'.

Where is there a lot of coffee?     ...because that is what I wouldn't change it for.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Attitude

Attitude. 

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when here the word -  Attitude?

Say it out loud.........I'll wait.

Stop talking to yourself...people will think you're crazy. ;)

Kidding....so what did you come up with?

I looked up the definition because I was curious to know exactly what it meant.

at·ti·tude - noun - a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior.

The phrase that gets me is 'settled way of thinking'. When I think of the word attitude, I instantly think - 'bad attitude'. When I think of it negatively.  I think of people with a bad attitude. I think of my children when they're exhibiting a bad attitude. I think of my behavior when I've had enough of antics of others, and in light of this 31 day challenge I have given myself, I think of my behavior in relation to my marriage.

For the month of October, in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, I am writing every day (trying to at least) on topics related to my marriage. You can read about the challenge here. If you have missed some posts and you are just landing on this one, you can go back to the main page here.

My goal this month is to improve my marriage through appreciation of my husband. So, in relation to my attitude, what can I learn?

Here are some facts about attitude in accordance with the definition:

1. The way I am thinking can be read in the way I'm behaving.

If I am thinking that my husband should have done something that he didn't do, even if I am trying to pretend I don't care, my attitude or behavior with reflect what is in my heart.  Check out Proverbs 4:23. Working to guard my heart so that I don't have secret expectations that he isn't meeting because he can't read my mind will improve my attitude. I have learned in our marriage that just simply saying out loud what I would like him to help me with, creates a more happy environment.

2. My attitude governs the day.

I am a control freak. It is bad. Like, really bad. When things don't go my way, I have a bad attitude. This, unfortunately does not exclude my home. Ugh, I get upset even thinking about how unglued I become at times.  The bible speaks on this when the apostle Paul says, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). God does not care if the trains are in the train bucket and if the shoes are in the shoe closet. He cares as to how I controlled my attitude in instructing my children so the whole house didn't become a hotbed of controversy.  My yelling and carrying on does not create a happy environment, and in the end, it's just not worth it!

3. My words have an ENORMOUS impact on my husband's ability to have a god day or a bad day. 

The power of what I say to my husband before he leaves for work, before he goes about his day or before he embarks on a new challenge carry tremendous impact.  I hate this truth, really, I do.The bible says so much on this on this. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (NASB).
This verse provides three characteristics of wholesome speech: Wholesome words build people up. This is the meaning of the word “edification.” It’s the same word from which we get “edifice” or building. Other people, the Bible tells us, are temples (see 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19).  I have the privilege of co-laboring with God to build these living cathedrals. Wholesome words are timely. The right words at the wrong time can be just as damaging as the wrong words. Words left unsaid can also be hurtful. It takes discernment to know when and if to speak. The right word spoken at the right time can make all the difference for my husband. Wholesome words provide grace. I take this as more than merely being generous or accommodating - though those are both important. I see grace as also the power of God to do His will (see Philippians 2:13). My words can either empower my husband and make him want to press on or diminish him and make him want to quit.

Improve my attitude will build my husband up, instead of break him down. I have noticed in my own life, that when my husband and I are not meshing well in the morning, my whole day feels sad. I go from thinking of him admirably to saying out loud what I am mad about. Manic! My attitude shows my children how I honor or dishonor my husband, their father, and changes my ability to impact the Kingdom for good.

Every day, I am shaping my reality of my husband by the attitude I exhibit in my home. The choice is mine. How will my attitude impact my husband?

Some humor to send you off.
.....sometimes, I guess my attitude could send me to the yard. ;)



















Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eve really did all that?

"The wounds we received and the messages they brought formed a sort of unholy alliance with our fallen nature as women.  From Eve we received a deep mistrust in the heart of God towards us.  We'll just have to arrange for the life we want.  We will control our world.  But there is also an ache deep within, an ache for intimacy and life.  We'll have to find a way to fill it.  A way that does not require us to trust anyone, especially God.  A way that will not require vulnerability."  Stacy Eldredge "Captivating"
I had someone tell me once that if I haven't forgotten the wrongs then that meant I have not forgiven the person who did them.  I left this conversation feeling a sense of hopelessness. How in the world could I forget?  How could I forget the feelings and the emotions and the pain? How could I? It was clearly hopeless. I was a lost cause with pain that would never halt, because I knew I wouldn't forget, so clearly I couldn't forgive.

It was later in my walk with Christ that I realized this person's theology was incorrect, but this false truth that I was given caused me to mistrust God in a way that felt lonely.  At that time, I had fallen in love with Jesus, and thought I was on a new and beautiful path just to be told that I would never go anywhere - that my heart would always remain broken.

It was after this untruth that I began to create a life around the lie that although I was now in the arms of Jesus, I could never fully be free this side of heaven.  That the terrible dysfunction that governed my youth would always stay with me, like chains on my ankles. I began to control my world. I excelled at everything and achieved great things and smiled and waved and mostly - hid. I hid behind this pain - this lie - that knowing I could never forget what had happened made me too broken for Jesus - too much of a job for Him.  Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, "The Hiding Place":

It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there - the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
The story says they she then took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Corrie Ten Boom is someone that truly inspires me.  Her story, her faith, her tenacity is something I aspire to attain. Through this story and many others, I was able to unload this lie that had become my reality.  I could indeed forgive people who have hurt me without needing to forget in order for it to truly be an authentic forgiveness.  I have forgiven in the precious name of Jesus, and I am free from guilt now that I can walk in the freedom of that truth.

What is amazing to me is that I am able to have a relationship with some of the people who have hurt me the most.  God has commanded us to forgive - not forget, and because we are unable to forget, He sends love strong enough to carry us through hard places - places where we must face accusers and abusers.

God will never leave me or forsake me - He is with me, and giving me the strength to forgive even the unforgivable. "This intentional choice to share our pain requires us to forgive those who have hurt us; the doubts and insecurities a finery of hope," (Jo Ann Fore When A Woman Finds Her Voice)


I've taken  pledge. You can click the link below and take it too.

Directions for pledge:

1. Click on the picture below.
2. Follow the prompts on the pledge page.
3. Submit.
4. Go to your e-mail and confirm.
5. Go back to page and see your name! (You must 'confirm' on the e-mail if you want your name to show up)


Every woman has a story, and far too many of those stories have left scars. When A Woman Finds Her Voice guides readers on a journey to a stronger, more realistic faith, encouraging women to use their stories, their brokenness, as motivation to serve others.

Broken dreams and unmet expectations leave invisible wounds, ones that linger, confuse, and overwhelm. Secret or unresolved hurts leak into our everyday lives, filtering into everything we think we know about who we are. We tend to question our value and meaning. We feel unimportant, ”less-than” or ”not good enough.” And we fall silent.

Jo Ann Fore has lived this—walked this habit of silence. Sharing her own personal story as well as the inspiring stories of others, Jo Ann guides you on a journey that leads to freedom and purpose.

The book releases October 8th and is available at Family, Lifeway, Mardel, Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, all major distributors, and independent Christian bookstores around the country. You can find our more or pre-order here.


Gratitude for my pastor husband

I saw a video made by "Soulpancake" recently that scientifically proved that people who express gratitude were all around happier people. You can check out that video by clicking the link, but  to sum it up, the people who agreed to the study were asked to think about a person they admired/appreciated the most and write a description as to why they thought that person rocked. After they were finished, the scientist brought in a phone and asked the subjects to call the person they wrote about on the spot. There were tears and laughter and a general warm and fuzzy feeling.  The scientific part was included by testing their "happiness" level before and after the call.  ALL of the subjects increased their levels of happiness.  So, they proved gratitude increases happiness.  You can't argue with science, ya'll!


In honor of Pastor Appreciation month, I chose to do my 31 day blogging challenge for my pastor, who also happens to be my favorite man on this planet and the guy God chose for me to spend the rest of my life with.  Lucky gal right here. :)

So, today I will flat out, unashamedly, embarrassingly, appreciate my pastor husband, who, BTW, rocks! And, 31 reasons sounds good, because this is, after all, a challenge with the number 31 showcased.

I appreciate him because........

1. he takes his pastor job VERY seriously.
2. he truly loves what he does, even if it is 'hair pull out now' frustrating at times.
3. he loves people....a lot.
4. his children see how much he loves his job and how IMPORTANT it is to, as a man, provide for his family....even if it means sacrifice.
5. he trusts God....he trusts God will provide and provide big...
6. and because he trusts God, he calm me (at times - non-trusting wife).
7. he plays trains with Middle Little even if he is all dressed up, ready to walk out of the door.
8. he tells our daughter she's beautiful, and she knows he means it.
9. he will leave in the middle of the night to be with a congregation member in need if he has to.
10. he prays for me.
11. he changed our devotion time to the morning because he knows I could slip into a coma any time after 8.....and he's not a morning person (yes, I noticed you did this for me). ;)
12. He cleans the WHOLE downstairs when I am putting the kids to bed.
13. and even does the dishes.
14. he takes care of the yard so our house doesn't look condemned.
15. he loves and cares about teaching people.
16. he is continually expanding his vision re-casting it.
17. he dresses great.
18. he understands the importance of ironing, and matching, and why a person shouldn't wear vertical and horizontal stripes at the same time.
19. he is loyal.
20. he's totally hot. ;)
21. he still asks me on dates.
22. he isn't afraid to try new things.....like square dancing....yeah, he's that cool.
23. he tells me exactly what he's thinking....even if he knows I don't want to hear it.
24. he dances with our daughter and cares about her heart.
25. he wants our boys to know what it is to take care of a family.
26. he taught himself how to play the piano and acts like it is no big deal.
27. he forgives me so incredibly easy.
28. he won't let me stay mad at him, even if I am still being mean.
29. he always challenges those around him.
30. he is authentic and real and focuses solely on the Holy Spirit to lead him.
31. he doesn't let petty rumors and mean people affect him....I could learn a lot from this.


32. Oh, yeah....one more....he is flat out the best pastor around. FACT. :)

Day 2 done.






Over at The Nester there is this blog world 31 day thing happening. I have been wanting to challenge myself lately with the whole writing for fun thing, so - I'm doing it. After mulling over my choice as to what to write to all of you for the next 31 days, I have landed on a topic that will surely stretch me and grow me and hopefully honor God. For the next 31 days (supposed to start Oct. 1st, but ya know - I plead 3 kids.) I will strive to become the best wifey version of myself I can be - the best version that God can help me to become. I want to honor my pastor - who also happens to be MY husband. I will need God sized strength and constant communion with Him, but I am determined


















Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days of Appreciating my Pastor ;)

As a self proclaimed perfectionist, I often am my own worst enemy, forcing and expecting something from myself that is not emotionally or physically possible. I try and try and try on my own before I actually give up and give it over to God. You would think I would learn - you would think we all would - but I (we) don't. Every set of challenges are often are mulled over, dissected, worked on, cried over, and tantrum-ed on before my empty hands are handing the One who can do ALL things the mess I've made.

Living life with the man I love the most is no exception. One of my biggest passions in life is my marriage. I am not always happy in it or respectful of it, but I committed to it. I sometimes take it for granted like a child and his toy. There are boring days, and fun days, and 'my heart could not be more full' days. There are sad days, frustrating days, and 'where is my suitcase' days. (<----me being transparently honest here.) Life is hard - marriage is harder. Merging two people, adding living expenses, personalities, in-laws ;), and maybe some kids is recipe for disaster. But this is life - and we can choose to do with it what we want. In life, I choose to desire to become the best version of myself I am called to be.  I owe this to my savior, and I owe this to my husband. I want to grow daily, even when it hurts, because God's blessings in light of our willingness to grow are true and real and He always keeps His promises.  



Over at The Nester there is this blog world 31 day thing happening. I have been wanting to challenge myself lately with the whole writing for fun thing, so - I'm doing it. After mulling over my choice as to what to write to all of you for the next 31 days, I have landed on a topic that will surely stretch me and grow me and hopefully honor God. For the next 31 days (supposed to start Oct. 1st, but ya know - I plead 3 kids.) I will strive to become the best wifey version of myself I can be - the best version that God can help me to become. I want to honor my pastor - who also happens to be MY husband. I will need God sized strength and constant communion with Him, but I am determined.

This is also "Pastor Appreciation Month", which I find amusing, because this is how I will also honor my pastor - I'm the only gal that gets to call Him honey! ;)  

I want to serve my husband the way God has intended, even if it's hard - I'm sure dying on that cross for the forgiveness of my sins was hard too - but He did it - just sayin'.    

You can come back to this page any time or after the 31 days to browse through all the posts by topic or read them in order from beginning to end (the links to the posts below will be live after the day they post). I hope you will join me in striving to be the best wife (or maybe future wife!) you can be!

Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a post!

Click this link to Like my FaceBook page too. It will help you follow - if you want to - which I know you do. ;)

Day 1 Oct 1st: Introduction to my 31 day challenge

Day 2 Oct 2nd: Gratitude for my Pastor Husband

Day 3 Oct 3rd: Attitude

Day 4 Oct 4th: Remembering the Best Day

Day 5 Oct 5th: Words

Day 6 Oct 6th: Annoyance and Gratitude

Day 7 Oct 7th: Fail

Day 8 Oct 8th: Letter from your oldest little

Day 9:  Oct 9th: Praying with my husband

Day 10:

Day 11:

Day 12:

Day 13:

Day 14:

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Day 17:

Day 18:

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Day 31:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Size 6 Fancy Shoes

I have this one pair of shoes.  They are brown with a pretty gold buckle type think on the front.  They have this little kitten heel on them and make my legs look really long. I love them. They match with anything (I suppose anything but a black dress - being brown and all). They are a perfect size 6 shoe that I bought on clearance at some department store for I think 5 dollars.  They are even more perfect now, huh?

I am a size 8.  Yes, I slip my too big, three babies later size 8 feet into these tiny little shoes and to the naked eye, I am pulling it off. If someone comments on these shoes - someone always does - I say "and I got them on clearance," proudly.

Truth?  Yeah...I can barely feel my toes, sister!  They are not a "little uncomfortable". They are "someone could chop off my toe with a machete they are so numb" uncomfortable. They hurt my feet so much, but I wear them a lot.  No. One. Ever. Knows.

I walk around in these shoes, looking fabulous, hurting so badly I need frequent secret breaks.

This is funny to me.  I'm giggling in the quiet of my living room while I write this, because this Sunday I am planning to wear this brown skirt that I have been waiting all summer to wear, and NOW people may ask about those shoes because - yeah, I'm wearing them again.

This shoe dilemma has made me consider the condition of my threadbare heart.

How often do I walk around with my heart raw in my chest, aching all over, beating loudly to be heard, or crying out for Jesus to intervene?

How often do I stomp around with pretty feet and a smiling face with an aching secret place that has become so painful I wince in secret?

How often, sweet sisters, do we walk around in our own personal communities nervous that at any moment our aching heart is going to burst right out of our chests, bare for all to see?

What if, dear ones, we - for once -  let that happen?


Jo Ann Fore


Today, I'm linking up at Jo Ann Fore's site in promotion of her new book, "When A Woman Finds her Voice". This masterpiece is really speaking to me. Jo Ann Fore is a gifted life coach and author who, within this book, has incorporated stories from women who have found their voices through the redeeming love of Christ Jesus and also shared tried and true methods of healing from the heart out.  Join me?  Join us?  Link up or come on over just to hang and delve into the beautiful stories of these gifted women.  Stories that express how they lost their voices or found their voices in the realms of community

Community for me is a difficult topic to discuss. I have a wonderful church family, an amazing group of friends and a family that really IS the coolest group of 5 people on the planet. ;) I know I am loved - loved by - above all - my God, and also my family, friends, neighbors, and the like.  However, something within screams disconnectedness. My heart (a lot like my feet in those brown fancy shoes) is crying out for mercy. There is a constant ache in my heart to feel fully connected. I am hungry for authentic relationships. Relationships that go beyond 'Hi, I like your shoes'. Relationships where I can bare my aching heart and just receive a hug.  Relationships where silent moments in the same room don't feel uncomfortable. Relationships where I feel wanted, not needed. Relationships that give, not just take.  

Community is tough for the pastor's wife.  Because I AM human. Because I HAVE feelings. Because I would easily lay my life down for my family - a lot like YOU. Attacks on my husband's spirituality, ability, and behavior feel like a daggers in my heart.  There really isn't a lot of time that flows by where someone in my beloved community is not upset about something or with the man I love the most. In my community, the soul deep connection I made with someone could be challenged by the color of the carpet or the lack of an available program to meet a need within minutes. Getting too close with a fellow momma who I have everything in common with creates feelings for others of unfairness. In my community, my reality is that if someone gets upset, they may not say hello when I so desperately need a smile on a morning where I had to fight with every one of my children and wield them across the ally to church while sweating profusely in the dead of winter without the help of my husband. A vote swayed in an undesirable direction may mean that I need to tread a bit more lightly with someone I felt was really beginning to connect with me.  I rarely know what to expect and always feel overwhelmed by my Pastor's wife calling.  I am an introvert. I could collapse on Sunday afternoon from exhaustion and from trying to be social...or trying to pull it off, at least.  

I have been caught off guard in my early thirties at how much like high school adult life feels like at times.  I think of 16 year old me, always on the outskirts of that crowd everyone wanted to be a part of. I think back to people within the surrounding community that stole my voice through power moves and revenge - Theater directors, coaches, teachers, and family that felt it necessary to abuse the heart of a young girl by 'keeping her out' - convincing her vulnerable heart that she was never or never will be 'good enough'. 

These are reflections, but how often are we confronted with these same negative feelings? It is frightening how close they actually are.  High school is over, but the sin that entangles us as young girls - as young immature torturers of each other - is still very much a part of community now.   

Gossiping mean girls, judgmental glances and jealousy plague our adult communities and send us reeling back to the 16 year old versions of ourselves - threatening to take all of what God has restored. 

For me, these feelings surface so easily. Too easily.  Simple things send me back to 'you will never be good enough'.  It is so much easier in my role as a pastor's wife to continue to serve others without trying to find those meaningful connections.  So much easier to paint on the smile and stand tall, in those fancy brown shoes of course, knowing in solitude that I can fall apart with no one knowing.  But, God does not want this from me. When I retreat to solitude, I hear Him calling to me - come to ME, daughter, heal in ME, daughter, grow in ME, daughter.  "When we stifle the need for connection, we sacrifice a healing intimacy and companionship, forfeiting the opportunity to unfold that which cannot be discovered in solitude" (Jo Ann Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice).  

Truth is, my fear of connecting because I will get hurt again cannot keep me or us from the very important practice of connecting.  The truth that I will never meet everyone's needs and meet everyone's expectations, and will always make someone mad and hurt someone's feelings unknowingly should not keep me from seeking genuine community with those around me. 

The enemy would have me believe that what God has restored in my heart these past 15 years is a lie.  The enemy wants me to stay in solitude and keep my heart pain as a secret. Satan would have me focus on the pain that community has caused my heart pain, and stay away....and I could. I actually think it's easier to hide - to try to forget.  Thinking about piling on more hurt, more reasons to distrust, make me afraid to join, but hiding is an illusion.  Hiding won't heal us - it hurts us more.   

As I try to navigate through the pain of being hurt, I am using Jo Ann's new book as a tool in my healing. I took a pledge with my fellow launch team members, and REALLY, REALLY want you to take it too. Together we can create authentic communities where genuine connections are made and kept and satan is sent away as the deceptive force he is. 

Directions for pledge:

1. Click on the picture below.
2. Follow the prompts on the pledge page.
3. Submit.
4. Go to your e-mail and confirm.
5. Go back to page and see your name! (You must 'confirm' on the e-mail if you want your name to show up)








     














       

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When A Woman Finds Her Voice - Behind the Mask

Jo Ann Fore
    
Today I am linking up over at Jo Ann Fore’s site with some other really awesome women. There, we are sharing a true prayer from the depths of our souls that God would unveil our masks. Many of us have stories that exemplify how God was able to lift our masks, allowing us to be more authentic followers of Him. I hope you will join us and through their words gain hope and encouragement. If you're a blogger, link up as well.  If not, write your thoughts in the comment section below or on Jo Ann's page.  

While you are there be sure to check out the information on Jo Ann’s new book titled “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” – soon to be released.


Being real. Authentic. What does it mean. Webster describes this word as "something that is not imitation or artificial. Genuine." Genuine. Bona fide. True. Proper. Palpable. Am I these? Am I who I say I am behind the doors of the home I reside? An even more sobering question haunts....Am I who I am on Facebook, or other social media?  Are you?

Very sobering indeed. Jo Ann Fore's book - When A Woman Finds Her Voice has really begun to shape the places of my heart that I have allowed to become complacent. The places where I don't want anyone to see. The places that if they were to be exposed for the world to see, I would hide, too shamed to show my eyes.

Why do we pretend? Why do we hide who we really are?  Better question yet, why do we feel the need to become someone we were never meant to be?

Why do we wear masks that hide our true selves?
   
For me, not very long ago, my true self was something that I wanted to hide. I had a few masks I would use to hide behind. I had one foot in church and one foot in my world.  I would go to church every Sunday, sing on the praise and worship team, pray, listen and leave, knowing thinking that I had restored myself - filled a reserve perhaps that would get me through to the following Sunday - until I put my mask on again.  Upon leaving I would reassure myself, knowing I had, once again, given my life to Christ like I had maybe 30 times before. My drive to go to church was to relieve my quilt for the destructive lifestyle I was living. To feel better about the choices I was making - and for awhile - it worked. However, the more that I allowed God's truths to penetrate my heart, the less room there was for the destruction, toxicity, and bad choices. The emptiness I began to feel was heavy and painful and something I couldn't contend with. I cried without tears and longed for peace - Peace that extended beyond Sunday morning. Peace that could only come from hanging up my pretender self and finally being who God was calling me to be.

My question - the one that created a longing to hang up the masks - the one that called me two feet in with reckless abandonment:

"God, there has to be more to this life then broken hearts and an empty soul - something beyond broken promises and unrequited love that leaves me feeling powerful but oh so lonely. So - what is it?" This time in my life, I was desperate for an answer. I cried out to Him and He answered me.  In an audible way,  all He said was, "Be still, Daughter." To me this meant stop trying to look the part and be the part.

For me, I was at the end of a very long, exhausting road when I handed in my masks.  Salvation for me came rushing in like a true promise - Loving a Father who would love me back. This picture was hard for me to grasp. "Girls who need their daddy are weak, girls who need men to support them are pathetic." This mask I wore - this lie - it didn't protect me from being hurt, it kept me away from a Father figure I sorely missed.  A Father that would fight for me. A Father that didn't need me, but wanted me anyway - and that, my friends - was something I so desperately wanted, and because I was ready, and His promises are true (Jeremiah 29:13), my God rushed in and restored my broken heart, assuring me I didn't need to hide behind my pain of not being loved, because I am loved.

When I revisit this time in my life, I think of a sweet friend of mine. I am always indebted to her. Although distance has separated us, she is still so very special to me because this sweet sister in Christ gave me friendship that served as the first positive role model for me. This positive relationship gave me the strength I needed to leave the things of this world behind - the things hindering from grabbing a hold of the relationship God had promised me long ago - the things that held me back from truly experiencing the love of a Father. I always think Satan must have been furious during this time, because the removal of that mask has spiraled into so many beautiful life blessings - ones I would have missed if it hadn't been for her example and her love.

In Jo Ann's book, she speaks of beautiful friends like these.  She says, "Those times we can't believe in ourselves, those are the times we have to hold onto what others believe for us," (Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice). I wish everyone had a friend like the one I speak of.  She believed I could heal and loved me through a lot of really hard stuff, and I will always be grateful.  

I still hide - still occasionally retreat to a pretender version of who God has designed me to be.  I imagine Satan thinks it as a great victory for himself when a woman forgets who God has created her to be, and takes off on a path where she thinks she won't be uncovered.  Hiding feels safe because it gives us the illusion that we are going to be ok as long as no one around us uncovers what we are hiding.  Truth is, "Hiding won't protect our hearts forever. No matter how high our walls, someone will eventually find us," (Fore, When A Woman Finds Her Voice). For me, that someone was God and because God is so, so good, He also gave me beautiful friends, who wanted better for me.

Hiding is no longer easy for me, and although at times I wish it was, God's design and plan for my life compels me to be honest with those around me when my heart isn't where it should be. God's plan for you, sweet sisters, is to take off your mask and share your struggle.  This design uncovers the lies of Satan in a way that strips him of his power. When we strip him of his power, we begin to heal, when we begin to heal, God is glorified!

What masks are YOU wearing today?  Are you the pretender version of the mom you want to be? Are you struggling with a gossip problem that prohibits you from having authentic relationships? Are you a flatterer? Are you a "perfect homemaker" to everyone else, but a disaster emotionally - working to keep up with the image you are trying to portray?

God wants to heal your heart of your need to hide behind your mask of choice, and I want to hear about what God is doing in your life!

As Jo Ann so eloquently illuminates - derived from her own personal story of God's redeeming love,

"We intend to hide our shortcomings, and the fear inside our heart, but instead we hide our beauty, our true selves." - Jo Ann Fore)

What Beauty of self are you hiding today? 



When A Woman Finds Her Voice 
Life coach and Author - Jo Ann Fore







 







 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday Link-up-Mercy

Directions from Link-up:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. (On your blog or in the comments).

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}.

3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you. - See more at: Lisa Jo's Five Minute Friday Page


I'm doing this link-up because I suppose I want to torture myself. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, it often takes me some time before I press publish on a post, but this unedited stuff is made of vulnerability and truth and freedom.  So, here. we. go.

Today's prompt - Mercy.

8:43 GO.

Today may have been a rough day. It blurred by like a memory before my tired eyes. My head aching most of the day.

I sometimes sit at the end of a long day such as this one and have silent dialogue with myself when I should be discussing my day with the one who could right my wrongs and reassure this tired mamma that mercies are new every morning.  

I think of my littles and how I was just a bit too angry with my Nora when she smeared her nail polish all over the carpet in her brother's room, when I asked her 10 million times to stay still. As if a small excited child should ever HAVE to sit still.  Especially while looking at something as magical as pink painted nails. 

Or I think of how I was screaming at a little boy who was dancing to the music of the worship DVD I had on so excitedly, that he ignored me. 

Or getting angry with an infant for not staying still during a diaper change. Sigh.....   

Moments after my dialogue I spend some more time going back upstairs staring at their sweet faces and praying over their still bodies.  I can smell the nail polish and it reminds me of something she said, "I can't wait to show daddy." As I sit on her bed, I see one foot out because, "Daddy will want to see without waking me up."  I see the imperfect smears and her toes look honestly frightening, but she only sees beauty and I want to be more like a child.

Mercy - God showing this tired mama glimpses of what a child sees. An innocent, unscathed, joyous little girl with heart whole, untouched by the harsh world. Seeing only beauty in the mess.  And I see Mercy.  A God who sees this mama - this woman who had her heart torn to pieces long ago - who is a bit too quick to judge something as unlovely - as a beautiful masterpiece.  Lovely, with no flaw.  

A God who allows me a glimpse into the imperfect job I am doing with these precious babies - and reassures me tomorrow is a new day.  

A God who allows someone who spent most of her life running away from Him an opportunity to grow and learn in a home where Christ is the center. Married to a man who worships God and loves me - loves me so, so much. Raising children together that have a real shot at falling in love with Jesus.

Mercy - Giving me as many chances to get it right as I'll ever need, and holding me up and pushing me on the whole time.  

8:48 STOP

Go link-up too!  If you don't have a blog, I encourage you to try this too.  Leave your 5 minute Friday dialogue in the comment section below! Remember the rules and happy writing. 

  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When a Woman Finds her Voice - A Cursed Princess

A voice. You hear it often.  She has a pretty voice.  He has a squeaky voice.  She has such a peppy tone in her voice.  He has such a deep voice.  He has a radio voice.  She has a mothering voice.  She sounds like such a teacher when she talks.  She talks too much.  He talks so little.  Children talk...a lot.  I hate my voice on the phone.  My recorded voice sounds weird.  I can always recognize that singers voice on the radio.  I could decipher my mom's voice from rooms away.  I lost my voice.  My voice is scratchy.

A voice.  A way to tell people how you're feeling.  A way to express love, hate, happiness, sadness, anger, pretense, joy, worship, a cry for help, a plea for prayer, a warning,

For many reasons, our voices have impact.  Impact for good and impact for bad. Impact for hurt or impact for healing.

But what if your voice has been stolen?  Stolen like a scene from little mermaid, where that princess is rendered unrecognizable because she lost her ability to speak?  Who took your voice? What or who is your Ursela? And how far off is your happy ending?

A cursed princess.....how easily we relate?

I grew up in a home that was less than loving; my father, an alcoholic, who found it difficult to keep money coming in to pay the bills, and my mother, who worked her fingers to the bone and made sure everyone knew how much she resented it. I have a brother and a twin sister who comfortably, along with I, fell into the roles children play in a family suffering from someone who is dependent on drugs and alcohol. I was the "hero". I took care of everyone, I cleaned for everyone, I loved everyone, I solved problems, I held hands, fed the baby, and wiped scraped knees. I spent my carefree days doing everything but being free. Although no one on the outside could see, we were a wounded family, dysfunction with a capital "D".

The problem with this particular role is that the child playing it never develops emotionally. This child is unable to understand who s/he is because they are too busy taking care of everyone else. It is a sad state of affairs for this child because NO ONE knows how badly they are damaged, because they look, from the outside, that they have it all together.

I was as insecure as I could possibly be, but on the outside, I had it all together. I went onto to college, graduated, and started a teaching career...all while participating in a barrage of toxic relationships. I bought into what the world had told me would fill this emptiness, but all it did was leave me lonely, feeling confused at the emotional baggage and physical consequences I never expected. 

When a Woman Finds Her Voice - Jo Ann Fore
After my millionth heartbreak, sparing many intricate and beautiful details, I found Jesus. He filled the void, and at long last, I wasn't empty anymore. I didn't need a man to love me, and was completely fine without one!

As I healed from the pain of my past, I felt a small pull to tell my story - to use my voice....but I couldn't. Satan lied to me, and much like Eve, I listened.  I fell silent...I was ashamed...I was just so afraid. I was content to hide in the shadow of my salvation. Content to remain silent, knowing now I would spend eternity with Jesus.

God is a redeemer...and He wanted my story - my voice. This girl, looking for love in all the wrong places, came to know Jesus, fell in love with Jesus, and was going to marry a PASTOR....was going to be a pastor's wife...and was going to look in the eyes of women for the rest of my life and tell them how I found my voice - and God wanted no "ifs ands or buts" about it!!

We were married and began our lives.  Still silent, my sins began to haunt me because of my inability to overcome Satan's lies.....lies like:
"You are damaged goods"

"A man that has stayed sexually pure deserves better than you!"


"If anyone in the congregation finds out, they will hate you."


"You will have kids who think you are disgusting."

I was being tortured emotionally, and no one, not even my husband knew. I hated myself for what I had done, and I spent countless hours tearing myself to pieces because I knew I was worthless. I didn't know how to fix myself and our marriage was being threatened by it.  Behind the scenes; blame, accusations, and undeserved arrows from my past pain threatened to ruin what God so masterfully put together.

When a Woman Finds her Voice - Jo Ann Fore
After our daughter was born, I endured a mean case of postpartum depression, which I also convinced myself was a punishment from God for my sin. Looking into the eyes of my baby girl, I was determined to be healed. I didn't want her to grow up with these unrecognizable wounds. I was desperate. So very very desperate.

I began to read...Scripture verses about marriage, Bible studies about marriage, verses about redemption, books about girls who weren't loved as children, books about damaged but redeemed girls. I finally gained some perspective and began to let go of some of the chains. Right around this time, my husband asked me to share my testimony in front of the WHOLE church, and then a friend asked me to share my testimony in front of our WHOLE MOPS group. Terrified doesn't sum it up, but I knew it was God leading me further to a place of freedom for the sake of my family. I shared, and I felt God enter into the pain. I released the secrets, I released the suppression, and because of this, I began to feel freedom from something that had been a governing force in my everyday thought life - shame. 
I found my voice.....and as I spoke, I saw in the eyes of the women around me, a whisper, "me too". 

The more I read and talked, the more freedom I felt. It became easier to love my husband the way he deserved to be loved, and I felt more lovable myself.

As a matter of fact, I felt like a lovely, beautiful, redeemed daughter of a  King 
who used my lost and found voice for good...
for the good of this King 
and His kingdom!


I am linking up over at Write Where it Hurts today, and every Wednesday. Jo Ann Fore, a woman I have never officially met and perhaps never will has written a book that has made its' way into my heart. I have had a unique privilege of being a part of a launch team to help her spread the news about this wonderful book. 
Jo Ann Fore

Can I be honest? I am changed because of this experience. Often times we use good intentions to help those around us, lending a hand to bless one another, all the while experiencing God's love in ways only He can manifest. I have been blessed. Abundantly blessed. 
Frankly, I can't wait for you to read this book too! 
I want you to find your voice, and I want it to sing!

Coming October 8th Pre-Order Now.