Friday, October 9, 2009

My Floor is Crunchy...

Since my children were born, I have experienced a lot of "Mommy Guilt". The reasons for the guilt has changed as they have gotten older, but the guilt trip has remained. For all the rest of you the have "Mommy Guilt", I read this great article today on another blog and had to share it with you to help us throw off our shackles. Enjoy....

Mommy Guilt

If your floor is crunchy and you yell sometimes - you're not alone.

Pssst. I'm going to share my secret with you.

A secret of dark shame.

The floor of my home is crunchy.

As a mother of three children ages 4, 2 and 3 months, I assure you: my floor is actually crunchy. Five years ago, had you suggested to me I would be shuffling through Cheerios and Goldfish and peeling my elbows off the grape-jelly and apple-juice epoxy on my dining room table, I would have scoffed. I was a much better mother, as they say, before I had children.

It's the secret that dare not say its name: Mommy Guilt. As a licensed professional counselor specializing in wives and mommies, I've heard hundreds of women confess this to me, eyes cast to the floor: I'm a terrible mother, and it's so easy for everyone else.

These women are working both in and out of the home, but we all share the same terrifying feeling that we will be found out. We yell! We (gasp!) microwave bottles! We feed our children Cocoa Puffs, and they've refused to eat a vegetable since we spooned them into them at age six months! We've used a combination of a towel, duct tape and a maxipad swaddled on our toddler because we forgot to buy diapers! The horror! The horror!

I'm here to tell you: I'm not alone, and neither are you. The mother you see every morning at school drop-off whose children are in matching, crisply ironed Ralph Lauren shirts, the mother who is in heels and makeup at 6:30 a.m., the mother who somehow shows up to every freakin' PTA meeting with a smile on her face and a homemade brownie platter in her hand – all these women share the Dark Secret.

We're wearing maternity underwear, and our youngest is 6.

All kidding aside, it has been amazing to hear my clients struggling with depression and despair over the gap between what they think other mothers pull off effortlessly and what happens in their own homes.

If she didn't have money to buy athletic supplies for her son, said one client through her tears, she would be depriving her child of enrichment, exercise and all the opportunities she thinks every other child has. Another is convinced she is the only mother who raises her voice to her children.

Yet another is certain she's a horrible parent because she dreads dealing with her mercurial toddler. And they have no idea that mother after mother who sits on my office couch claims that all other women are great parents, while they are not. They would not dare to share with these other mommies what they see as their shortcomings.

Stop the mommy guilt.

Not everyone will agree with your parenting. Revisit your values and priorities. Allow for imperfections.

If you're worried about your quality of parenting, I've discovered, chances are you're doing fine.

Most important, research shows that women who report the most happiness have a solid network of other females. When you're losing it, hearing another mom admit to the same feelings is so powerful. When my friend with two small children told me her cleanliness goal really only entailed raking a path clear enough the toys that EMT workers could make it to her if she ended up running amok and breaking a limb, I felt so much better. "Lousy" mothers – unite!

Choose your battles. Apologize when you make mistakes. And should you find that stress is overwhelming, get support through your network or friends...or access a professional counselor like me who can help you take care of you so you can take better care of them.

Throw off your shackles, Mom. Know that whether they admit it or not, every mom is imperfect just like you and me. Say it loud: My floor is crunchy, my elbows are sticky and I'm proud!

Eliska Counce lives in McKinney and is the mother of three. She is the clinical director of counseling services for The Samaritan Inn and the founder and director of Transforming Tomorrows Counseling Center in McKinney.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It is hard to put the Ecuador mission trip into words.

O.K., I have to confess that I have been procrastinating. I have been putting off blogging about my mission trip to Ecuador. I have sat down about 49 times and tried to blog about this trip, but I just couldn’t do it. Anything that I started to write about the trip did not do it justice. There really are no words to express the things that I have seen on this trip.

My dilemma has been how to use words to describe the amazing godly people that I have met. How can I express in words the love for the Lord and sacrifice that I saw this week? How can I describe to you how I met people who really had nothing but at the same time had everything? How can I express the sadness that I felt for the people of Ventanas when I saw the poverty in their city but then realized that the sadness should also be for our own city at our spiritual poverty due to our material possessions?

I have finally realized that some things can never be confined to words and I might as well quit procrastinating. In my next few blog entries, I will try my best to tell you all about this truly life changing trip.

The second day of our trip was an amazing day. Each team left the hotel to go their separate ways to attend a church service with their appointed mother church. The pastor had told us that we would be attending a river baptism. I had never been to a river baptism before and was really excited. We were very surprised when we arrived at the river for the baptism and saw Samantha and Zack standing on the river bank. It turned out that the pastor that Tabitha and I were working with was helping with the baptism of the church that Samantha and Zack were working with. It was one of those “funny running into you here” moments.

It was a beautiful morning and the view of the river was breathtaking. As all the people who were to be baptized lined up on the bank, each person was to have a witness stand with them. One young lady did not have a family member or friend to stand with her. She asked Samantha if she would be her witness. I really do not think it was a coincidence that Tabitha (Samantha’s mother) was able to witness this special moment for her daughter. Sam was so excited. Can’t you just see it all over her face?

I never want to say something was a “God thing” when it really wasn’t but at the same time I don’t want to dismiss something as being nothing when it really was a “God thing.” Because of this, I will just tell you what happened next and you can be the judge of whether or not it was a “God thing.” I know what I believe, but you can make your own opinion…

During the entire baptism there was such electricity in the air. It is one of those things that I just can’t put into words. I kept thinking that I really was not worthy to be witnessing such an event. Each person was asked to give a testimony of their changed life as the baptism began. I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying, but you really didn’t have too—it was written all over their faces. My team’s pastor and Sam/Zack’s pastor went out into the water first to pray. Then, one by one, each person walked out into the water to be baptized.

As the last person was baptized, the pastor walked up to the edge of the water to speak to the crowd. Right as the last baptism ended and he walked to the edge, a solid white kite starting flying directly behind the pastor. It made a figure eight pattern directly behind the pastor for several minutes as he spoke. Then as soon as he stopped talking, it gently landed in the water. I looked around trying to figure out how someone was able to get the kite to fly directly behind the pastor over the water. I looked and there was no one on the shore with us flying a kite. I assumed that flying a white kite after a baptism was something tradionally done in Ecuador to signify the white dove that descended when Jesus was baptized. I just couldn’t figure out how they were able to center the kite behind the pastor so perfectly without there being someone on the shore flying it and I was amazed at how they were able to perfectly time the flying of the kite. As soon as the baptism ended I asked the pastor if they usually flew a white kite at the end of a baptism. He said no. He had never seen a kite at a baptism until today. He said everyone had been trying to figure out who was flying the kite but saw no one.

Here is a picture that I made of the kite as it was landing into the water.

As we got into the car to leave, I was thinking how exciting this day had been. I looked at my watch and it was just 10:00 am. The day was still just starting and the Lord had a lot more exciting things in store for us that day. To be continued…

Blessings to you,


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God Is Not Late

Our "offical" Tuesday Together in the Word reading group is taking a summer break and will be starting back in September. Please contine reading and be ready to start back the first week in September.

Matthew 9:36-38, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”

The day after we arrived in Ecuador, we gathered on the hotel roof at 2pm to meet all the pastors who would be working with our teams. I was already a little nervous because I did not have a translator. The person who was to be my translator was running late to the meeting. At the meeting, Brother Sam discussed the upcoming events of the week and reviewed with the pastors the things for which they would be responsible, for example, providing our transportation and food for the week. At the very end of the meeting, I noticed a pastor running in the door holding a motorcycle helmet. I prayed, “Please Lord, don’t let that be the pastor that I am assigned to.” He had missed the entire meeting and obviously was not that interested in working with a team because at that point he was two hours late. Can you guess which pastor I was assigned to? Yep, you guessed it!

One of my fears going into this trip was that I would be matched with a pastor who was not truly interested in working with our team. Looking at the circumstances surrounding the day, it appeared that this was going to be the case. All the other teams started leaving to do prayer walking in the village to which they were assigned. At that point, my translator still had not arrived, and I could not communicate with the pastor. I was getting that “freaked out” feeling again. One bright spot was that Tabitha Hyde and I were assigned to the same team. I used her translator to ask the pastor how we were going to travel to our assigned village. He said that he did not know because all he had was a motorcycle. He asked if Tabitha and I could ride on his dirt bike. This was a problem because Tabitha’s translator also needed to go with us. We started to try to find a second motorcycle. Luckily, my translator arrived and came to our rescue, and we were able to use his car. I discovered that my translator had been late because he had seminary classes that morning, and he was working with Child Evangelism Fellowship in the afternoon. Tabitha was disappointed about not getting to ride the motorcycle. I think the Lord knew of her disappointment and “blessed” her with another motorcycle ride later in the week (I will save that wild story for another blog).

I can honestly say that God totally took care of every worry that I had about this trip. Not one concern that I had came to be, including my concern with the pastor. I thought his two-hour lateness was because he was not interested in working with us. I found out that he was late because he was one of the three pastors that had asked for a team but had been turned down. In a previous blog, I mentioned that three pastors had to be turned away because we did not have enough team members. I asked you to pray for the teams that would be put together. Thank you for your prayers! God answered them in amazing ways.

My pastor was named Pastor Omar. He had been contacted the previous week and told that a team would not be able to work with his church because there were only enough workers for 10 other teams. His church desperately wanted a team to help them start a church in an area with no church. His church began a weeklong time of fasting and praying. Pastor Omar said he begged and cried out to God to send workers. He then received a phone call at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon telling him that there was a change in plans (one of the ten pastors had not shown up to the meeting). He was told that if he could get from his church to the city of Ventanas in about 15 minutes, he might be able to have a team working with his church. He said that he jumped on his motorcycle and made the normally 30-minute drive in about 15 minutes. Thus, that is why he ran into the meeting at the last minute.

Thank you God for not answering my prayer of “please don’t let that be the pastor.” If that prayer had been answered, I would have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life. Pastor Omar is a wonderful man of God. It was an honor to work with him. He and his church of about 30 members have such a passion for the lost and a deep concern for areas that do not have churches. Most people do not have cars, and in remote villages, walking is their only means of getting to church. If a church is not within walking distance, people cannot go. Pastor Omar and his church wanted to start a church in a remote village about 45 minutes away.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Omar shared that his church had been praying for several years for a missionary to come to their church. He said that no one had ever come. As he was telling Tabitha and me this, I decided that I would begin praying for a missionary to visit his church one day. I could see how desperately they wanted this. Tabitha said she was thinking the same thing. But then, he started telling us how thankful he was that God had answered their prayers and sent us. I had never felt more unworthy and undeserving than I did at that moment. I really do not deserve to be the answer to anyone’s prayers, especially for the prayer of a missionary coming to their church. Why God chose to use me in this way, I really do not understand. I am just very thankful that He did.

Thank you for all your prayers!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Amazing Day

Events of Saturday:
We travel by bus two hours today to Ventanas Ecuador. It gave everyone a good chance to talk with their translator. I showed Stephen’s translator (who is from Ecaudor) a picture of my family. She said, “Your husband look like Stone Cold Steve Austin”. Several others have said the same thing when seeing the picture. I don’t know how they know who “Stone Cold” is in Ecuador.

Today after getting settled into the hotel in Ventanas, we were to travel to the village that we would be working in and doing prayer walking (walking through the village and praying the Lord would open the heaven, their hearts, their home, the highways and our hands). Tabitha and I were placed on the same team. We meet our pastor and he explained to us that the only form of transportation that he had was a dirt bike. He asked if we were ok with traveling an hour to our village on the back of his dirt bike. I had prayed and told the Lord to make me willing to do whatever He asked. I did not have a dirt bike in mind but I was willing. Luckily, my translator came up with a car. Andy Gill was glad to hear that we scratched the dirt bike idea. He said my husband would have killed him because Steve put Andy in charge of watching out for me and Stephen.

We literally traveled an hour into a banana field to get to the village where Pastor Omar would like to start a church. There are 200 people in the village and only four Christians. Pastor Omar said he does not think an American has ever been into their village. The following is from Tabitha's blog about Anita:

This afternoon, we were prayer walking, and Sam had recommended that we pray for a person of peace. God showed up 4 years ago in the life of Anita (that is as close as I can get to her spanish name.) Anita was sent to Ventanas to develop and build a Catholic Church. As Anita built the church and searched the sciptures, God told her to stop worshipping idols. The next day she cleared out the church of all forms of Catholisism. When the priest found out that Anita had accepted Christ, he came and removed all the children from her care. Therefore, we have a catholic church turned Christian, and a community of 200 where there are only 4 Christians in which to present the gospel. We are in the country, on a bannana farm, but we expect to reap a more spiritual harvest. May God prepare their hearts! Please pray for Kelly and I as we teach the mother church how to disciple, because discipleship is their heart. The church is not confined to 4 walls and a roof. Praise God!!!
Tabatha Hyde

Amazing-they already have a building and a person willing to lead the church.

We had a great time of prayer walking. Only one minor problem: I am only afraid of one type of dog- a routwiller. A friend in high school was attacked by a routwillier and they have scared me ever since. Do you want to guess what type of dog followed us while we were praying walking and circle around while we walked? You guessed it- a routwiller. He circled around us for about half of a mile.

At the end of our visit with Anita, we went into the church building to pray. She has a son name Clever that has Down’s Syndrome. Anita has put him in charge of keeping up with the keys to the church. They call him guardian of church. He was so proud to unlock and open the church doors for us. We went inside the church and prayed. Inside the church was an old guitar hanging on the wall. Tabitha’s translator is a guitar player. He took down the guitar and played/sang the 23rd Psalm. We all sang and worshipped together as Anita’s 1 year old granddaughter danced in the middle of us. I loved hearing Clever singing praises.

The road into the village are too rough to travel by car. For the next week, Tabitha and I will be traveling each day standing up on the back of a bananna truck. We are going to wear bandannas to keep the dust out of our face and the bugs out of our teeth.

I believe it is going to be an amazing week. God has already provided the building and a leader for the church. We just need for the people to be drawn to the church. I know that the Lord is going to do a mighty work. Please be praying.

Hello from Ecuador

Holah! We had a great flight to Ecuador yesterday. We left Atlanta at 5:15 and landed in Ecuador at 10:15. Can you believe it only took five hours to get here? Going 2500 miles in 5 hours is pretty good time.

When we arrived at the Guayaquil Airport, we were required to wear face masks the entire time we were at the airport. I was concerned that there was a Swine Flu outbreak in Ecuador. Turns out it was just the opposite. They were worried about us bringing in the Swin Flu.

Today we are leaving Guayaquil and traveling by bus to Ventanas. We will be staying and working in villages around Ventanas all week. We will meet our translators in Ventanas. We will also be meeting the pastors that we will be working with. Bro. Sam said that 13 pastors are supposed to be coming today who are wanting us to work with them to start churches. We only have enough on our American team to work with ten pastors. We are going to have to turn 3 pastors away. That makes me sad.

Please pray as we match our teams with the pastors and the translators that we will have matches that can only be "made in Heaven" and the Lord will be glorified in all that we do and say.
Keep pryaing!
Blessing to you,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Realize That "Freaked Out" Is Not The Most Spiritual Phrase

In three days, I will be going with my 14-year-old son and 18 other people from various Calera and out-of-state churches to Ventanas, Ecuador on an E3 mission trip. Our group of 20 will be divided into groups of two (one group leader and one children’s worker) and will go into ten different villages that do not have churches with the purpose to start a church in each village. If this sounds like a God-sized task to you, you are right!

One of the many things that I love about the E3 Partner’s ministry is that our group will be partnering with established Ecuador churches. Ten Ecuador pastors and a few people from each of their churches will travel from other areas in Ecuador to work with us. Through the partnership with the ten established Ecuador churches, the new churches will each have a “mother church” in Ecuador.

On Saturday, one other person from our team and I will meet the group that we will be working with all week and then go to our assigned village. My group includes myself, one other person from the American team, our two interpreters, an Ecuador pastor from one mother church, and a few people from his congregation. On Sunday, I will be going to the pastor’s church for the morning service. That afternoon, we will train the pastor and his volunteers in evangelism, discipleship, and church growth. From Monday to Thursday, we will go into the village to share our testimonies and the gospel. We will invite everyone to come to a “cell group” each afternoon to study God’s word further. This cell group will be the first church service ever held in many of these villages.

Last week, I found out that since one of the leaders is not able to go on the trip, I am now a team leader. I will be training the pastor and his volunteers and leading the door-to-door visits and the cell group meetings for the first few days. After the first few days, the nationals from the mother churches to take the lead.

For lack of a more spiritual phrase, I was “totally freaked out” to find out that I would be leading a team. Hundreds of reasons why I should not lead a team ran through my head.

Seeing how freaked out I was, my son reacted very sweetly. He said, “Mom, would it make you feel better if I helped you? Let’s get all your leader information out and work on what you are most worried about. What are you most worried about?”

I answered, “Everything.”

He said, “Let’s start with the sermon that you might have to preach on Sunday.”
Yes, you read that right; one of the E3 staff told me that I need to have a sermon prepared in case they ask me to preach on Sunday since I am leading a team—talk about being way outside my comfort zone!

Stephen helped me organize all my information and then proceeded to make suggestions for my sermon, “Mom, why don’t you preach something simple like John 3:16 and then go into John 3:18.” He then told me how lucky he thought I was and how he wishes that he could lead a team. I offered to trade with him.

I later talked to Brother Sam, and he said that women usually did not preach in the churches, and I would probably not be asked to do so. One of my friends suggested that if I do need to get up and speak that I should just share some of my blogs. She suggested I share the bird attack story. I don’t know. I do not think that is what they have in mind, and I am not sure how well that story would translate.

To sum up this whole blog, please pray for me!

I am asking for you to pray for me, Stephen, and our whole team. Stephen will be on another team in a completely different area and village. As a mom, it bothers me that I will not be in the same area as Stephen. He will be the children’s leader in another village. We could have been on the same team but Stephen would rather be on a different team. That is a subject for another blog. I do agree that it could be a potential witness hurter if we had a mom/teenage son argument at the first cell group meeting.

When I think about this trip from a human perspective and what we are attempting to do (start 10 churches), I am just overwhelmed. There is no way that I can do this! I can’t do it, and thankfully, I don’t have to! The Psalms reading from our Tuesday Together in the Word has really helped me this week:

Psalm 65:5: “By awesome deeds of righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth.”

I don’t have to have the confidence that I can do it because He is THE CONFIDENCE of all the ends of the earth.

Psalm 63:7-8: “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

I will be protected under His wings; He will hold me up and He will lead the way. I just need to follow close behind HIM!

I am claiming Psalm 67 as my passage for this trip. Please join with me this week in praying these words for our trip.

Psalm 67: “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the people praise You, O God; let all the people praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Let the people praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”

I hope to post updates to my blog from Ecuador. We also have a team blog at go to If you would like to be a prayer partner for us, please comment and give me your email address and I will email you a prayer calendar. Thank you for praying!

Also, please be praying for me to feel better. I have been sick with a kidney infection for almost two weeks. I just finished a round of antibiotics but I am not any better. I am still running a fever and I went back to the doctor today. I really feel rotten. Please pray that I will feel better very soon.

Blessing to you,


Thursday, July 2, 2009

How did a big pizza stain get 6 foot high on my living room wall?

Welcome to Tuesday Together in the Word (two days late). We are a group of ladies reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs together in 2009, and sharing what we are learning along the way. Visit DeeDee to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" posts.

Last week, the boys went to the University of Alabama Basketball camp. Steve and the boys stayed at my niece’s Tuscaloosa condo during the camp. This meant that I had several nights home alone. One thing that was nice about the testosterone break was that I was able to clean my house on Monday and it was still clean on Wednesday! It was a great feeling walking in the door from work on Wednesday and everything still being clean. Everything was exactly how I left it. There were no basketballs in my living room, no wrappers on the end tables, no socks scattered all over the floor from sock wars, no half empty cups in their rooms and no pizza stains on the wall over my fireplace (I still have not gotten to the bottom of how that happened). I breathed in all the glory of a clean house and then the thought occurred to me that in just six years I can come home EVERYDAY to a clean house when the boys graduate from high school. Then it hit me- in just six years there will be no basketballs in my living room, no wrappers on the end tables, no sock wars, no half empty cups and no mystery stains. All of the sudden, a clean house did not seem so great. All of the sudden, I was very sad.

During this week, I have thought a lot about our previous week’s Tuesday Together in the Word verse:

Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

One of my many flaws is that I just can’t seem to disconnect myself from my house. Meaning, I have the hardest time relaxing if things are all out of place in my house. I find it near impossible to sit down, relax and just ignore a messy house. The verse from Proverbs has caused me to ask myself if wanting a perfectly clean house is building up my house or tearing it down? Is it promoting peace and disrupting peace in my home? Obviously, expecting a constantly clean house while living in a house with three guys does not produce a lot of peace.

Since my Globetrotters have returned from camp, I am really trying to make an effort to choose my battles and let the little things go. I am trying to remind myself that my time with them is limited and I need to focus on much more important things. For instance, I resisted the urge to post a picture of the big pizza stain that mysteriously appeared 6 foot high on my wall and instead posted this picture that I believe is much more important:

Blessings to you,

Please join us this week as we read Psalms 62-67, Proverbs 15 and Matthew 1-3.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tear Bottle

Psalm 56:8
"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"

I think this verse has to be one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. The creator of the universe takes notice of all our tears. Even when we feel like no one knows our hurts and our pain, He does and keeps record.

I did not realize until I did a little research on this verse that throughout history people have used “tear bottles” to capture and keep their tears? I just looked and you can even purchase tear bottles on Ebay (is there nothing that you can’t find on EBay?) Also, is an interesting website that detail the history of the tear bottle. The following is from this website:

Tear bottles were fairly common in Roman times, around the time of Christ, when mourners filled small glass bottles or cups with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of respect. Sometimes women were even paid to cry into these vessels, as they walked along the mourning procession. Those crying the loudest and producing the most tears received the most compensation, or so the legend goes. The more anguish and tears produced, the more important and valued the deceased person was perceived to be.

Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles with special stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate. When the tears had evaporated, the mourning period would end.

In some American Civil War stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned from battle. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were adored and missed.

All this leads me to a question. If you had carried a tear bottle with you for your entire life, how deep would the collection of your tears be? At this point in your life, would your tears be too heavy to even carry. To me, one of the beautiful points to Psalms 56:8 is that He puts your tears in HIS bottle. We don’t have to lug our tears throughout this life- He takes them!
And one glorious day, there will never be a tear shed again:

Revelation 7:17
For the lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Join us for more “Tuesday Together in the Word” posts at DeeDee’s site. Please join us this week as we read and discuss Hebrews 7-12, Proverbs 14 and Psalms 58-59.

Blessings to You,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Running Away From Home

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

This “Tuesday Together in the Word” verse reminded me of a conversation between my son and me that happened when he was only three years old after he received a spanking:

Him (standing in my hallway with his hand on his hip and looking me square in the eyes): I know why I receive so many spankings.

Me (hopeful that he was finally learning): Why is that?

Him: Because I need better parents.

Then, he announced he was running away from home to find better parents.

I cried.

I have no idea where he gets his hard headedness - maybe from his Mom. That conversation really reminds me of how I have been with the Lord at times. He has brought things into my life for my own good but instead of learning from the situations I have doubted His love for me at times and tried to run away.

Years ago I heard the following illustration by James Dobson of the Lord’s great love for us during trials. It has really spoken to me at low times in my life and I just had to share it with you today:

A Father’s Love

An incident occurred during our son’s early childhood that illustrated for me this profound love of the heavenly Father. Ryan had a terrible ear infection when he was three years old that kept him (and us) awake most of the night. Shirley bundled up the toddler the next morning and took him to see the pediatrician. This doctor was an older man with very little patience for squirming kids. He wasn’t overly fond of parents, either.

After examining Ryan, the doctor told Shirley that the infection had adhered itself to the eardrum and could only be treated by pulling the scab loose with a wicked little instrument. He warned that the procedure would hurt and instructed Shirley to hold her son tightly on the table. Not only did this news alarm her, but enough of it was understood by Ryan to send him into orbit. (It didn’t take much to do that in those days.) Shirley did the best she could. She put Ryan on the examining table and attempted to hold him down. But he would have none of it. When the doctor inserted the pick-like instrument in his ear, the child broke loose and screamed to high heaven. The pediatrician then became angry at Shirley and told her if she couldn’t follow instructions she’d have to go get her husband. I was in the neighborhood and quickly came to the examining room. After hearing what was needed, I swallowed hard and wrapped my 200-pound, six-foot-two-inch frame around the toddler.
It was one of the toughest moments in my career as a parent.

What made it so emotional was the long mirror Ryan was facing as he lay on the examining table. This made it possible for him to look directly at me as he screamed for mercy. I really believe I was in greater agony in that moment than my terrified little boy. It was too much. I turned him loose—and got a beefed-up version of the same bawling-out Shirley had received a few minutes earlier.

Finally, however, the grouchy pediatrician and I finished the task.

I reflected later on what I was feeling when Ryan was going through so much suffering.

What hurt me was the look on his face. Though he was screaming and couldn’t speak, he was “talking” to me with those big blue eyes. He was saying, “Daddy! Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me. I never thought you would do anything like this! How could you? Please, please! Stop hurting me!” It was impossible to explain to Ryan that his suffering was necessary for his own good—that I was trying help him—that it was love that required me to hold him on the table. How could I tell him of my compassion in that moment? I would gladly have taken his place on the table, if possible. But in his immature mind, I was a traitor who had callously abandoned him.

Then I realized there must be times when God also feels our intense pain and suffers along with us. Wouldn’t that be characteristic of a Father whose love is infinite? How He must hurt when we say in confusion,“How could You do this terrible thing, Lord? Why me? I thought I could trust You!I thought You were my friend!” How can He make us understand, with our human limitations,that our agony is necessary—
that it does have a purpose—that there are answers to the tragedies of life? I wonder if He anticipates the day when He can make us understand what was occurring in our time of trial. I wonder if He broods over our sorrows.

Some readers might doubt that an omnipotent God with no weaknesses and no needs is vulnerable to this kind of vicarious suffering. No one can be certain. We do know that Jesus experienced the broad range of human emotions and that He told Philip, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Remember that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” when Mary wept over Lazarus. He also wept as He looked over the city of Jerusalem and spoke of the sorrow that would soon come upon the Jewish people. It seems logical to assume,therefore, that God the Father is passionately concerned about His human “family” and shares our grief in those unspeakable moments “when sorrows like sea billows roll.” I believe He does.

Please visit DeeDee to read more “Tuesday Together in the Word”. Join us next week as we read through Hebrews 1-7 and Psalms 56-57.

Blessings to You!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Don't Mess With My Baby!

Last week when I was jogging, I stopped just in time to keep from stepping on a baby bird that was sitting in the middle of the road. The tiny baby bird looked like he had just attempted his first flight from the nest and crash landed in the middle of the road. I couldn’t leave him in the road. The next passing car would definety run him over and it was obvious that he was not interested in attempting to fly again.

I tried to shoo him out of the road. As I bent down to gently guide him off the road, something hit me in the back of the head. It was MAMA bird. She started attacking me for getting too close to her baby. Then, Daddy bird joined it. It really did look like a bad Alfred Hitchcock movie. I was screaming, wings were flailing but baby bird did not budge out of the road. I again attempted to move him but Mom and Dad did not want me anywhere near Jr. and flew at me again.

What was I supposed to do? I was about ¼ mile from home. If I left to get reinforcement, a car would squish Jr. in the middle of the road. If I stayed and tried to move him, I might get my eyes pecked out. Not knowing what to do I just stood in the middle of the road. As cars came by, I directed traffic around the bird. No one could see the baby bird from their car because he was so tiny and was the same color as the road. I know I looked like a crazy woman.

I finally came up with a plan. I flagged down a passing car and asked her to stop by my house and tell my family that I was stuck in the road guarding a baby bird whose parents were trying to attack me. Somewhere in her telling my children to tell their dad about my situation, there was a translation problem. All that was told to Steve was that he needed to come quick; I was in the middle of the road and needed help. I think Steve assumed that I had passed out from running. He quickly came to my aid and was a little upset to learn that he had run down the road not because I was lying unconscious in the road but was trying to rescue a baby bird.

By the time he got to me and the bird family, Mom and Dad bird had disappeared. When I tried to explain the bird attack to him, the culprits were nowhere to be seen. He gave me a BIG eye roll as to say “give me a break- a bird attack????” and bent down to pick up the baby. Then from out of nowhere, Mom and Dad appeared.

Steve picked up the baby and mom and dad were having none of it. All I could see after that point was Steve running and wings flying everywhere. Each bird kept dive bombing the top of his head. Even after Steve rescued Jr. and took him to safety, mom and dad bird were still intent on punishing Steve for touching their baby and kept attacking him. I don’t know what really happened next because I was laughing so hard I could not see.

My boys started down the street to see what was going on. They had seen everything from a distance. They could not tell what Steve was running from. One of my boys said he thought he was being attacked by a swarm of bees, the other one thought it was a bat attack (he must have watched too much Animal Planet) and a friend that was with them said he thought it was a bad case of diarrhea (he must have seen some bad cases of diarrhea in his life to think that running from a bird attack is what the symptoms of diarrhea look like). But anyway……

I do have a point to this story that I can relate to our Tuesday Together in the Word reading.

Think about these birds; they were willing to go up against Steve to defend their baby. They did not care about how much bigger he was than them. They were readily willing to give up their life for their baby.

In our reading this past week in 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul says:

But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

John MacArthur says in his commentary on this verse that Paul’s affection for the Thessalonians was like that felt by a mother willing to sacrifice her life for her child as was Christ who was willing to give up His own life for us.

What would you be willing to defend even if it meant going against a giant? What would you be willing to lay down your life for?

Please go to Dee Dee’s site to join us for more Tuesday Together in the Word blogs. This week, our reading will be 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5, 2 Thessalonians 1-3, Psalms 44 & 45, and Proverbs 11.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The S word- Submission

Welcome to “Tuesday Together in the Word.” We are a group of ladies reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs together in 2009, and sharing what we are learning along the way. Visit DeeDee to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" posts.

This week our reading was from I Peter 2-5; Psalm 38; 2 Peter 1.

1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

I have been part of a wonderful class the last few weeks where we have been reading through a book called the Strong-Willed Wife by Dr. Debbie Cherry. After taking the “Are you a Strong-Willed Wife?” test in the front of the book, the good news is that according to the test I “think and act fast, have strong and passionate opinions, tackle several things at once, and I am a take-charge woman.” The bad news is that it sure makes submission hard!!

This past class we read the following passage from the Strong-Willed Wife book that really hit me square between the eyes:

As much as we strong-willed wives struggle in the very depths of who we are with this submission thing, it all boils down to this: The way we treat our husbands here on earth is a direct reflection of how we are doing spiritually. It is the one and only relationship we have that God is looking at as a mirror image of how we would treat Him if He were standing among us. Each of us knows in our hearts that if Christ were sitting in our living room in the flesh, we would treat Him like the King He is.
But would we?
God has given us the perfect opportunity to show Him how much we love Him. He gave us a husband to love, respect, and submit to just as we would submit to Him if He were sitting beside us. He wants to see our love for Him through the way we love and treat our husbands each day of our lies. He’s using our relationship with our
husband as a measuring stick as to how much we really, truly love Him. Do you love your Savior? Do you really love Him? Do you love Him enough to obey all of His commands to you? Do you love Him enough to be submissive to your husband?

Wow- I have never thought of submission as a way to show my love for the Lord. I pray that I will remember on those days that "I really don't feel like being submissive" it is another way to show love to the Lord. Also, it is helpful to remember that submission is not the dirty word that many women's libbers make it out to be. God has given each of us a unique personality. Submission does not mean denying who you are but it is about using your unique personality that God has given you to honor both your husband and your Lord.

Please join us in our “Tuesday Together in the Word” reading for next week: 2 Peter 3, Psalm 39-41, Proverbs 10, and Galatians 1-3.

Blessing to You,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are you changed?

I recently chatted with a non-Christian who said that Christians did not really lead changed lives. He said that, while it may seem like their lives are changed on the surface, this is just a mask put on at church. His comments sadden me for many reasons. One reason is the realization that, when we live defeated lives, there are lost souls who are watching and interpreting that as Jesus being powerless to change lives.

Jesus does change lives. I have seen it with my own eyes. We had many walking testimonies on Sunday morning during our cardboard testimony time. If you have not already seen it, please watch the following video from the cardboard testimonies on Sunday. I have watched this video from our church service about 10 times, and every time I see it I cry. I just can’t help it. They are not tears of sadness, but tears of happiness. I am happy and so blessed to be a child of a God who changes lives, answers prayers, and enables us to overcome.

This week our ‘Tuesday Together in the Word’ reading from 1 Peter 1 really grabbed my attention. Over the next week we will continue reading through 1st and 2nd Peter. Please join us as we read the words from a life that was truly changed.

Peter’s cardboard testimony might look something like this:

Side 1: Denied Christ 3 Times.
Side 2: Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ 1 Peter 1:19a.

He denied Christ three times, but after Christ’s death on the cross we truly see a changed person. Once he was afraid to stand up for Christ out of fear, but it is a totally different man who wrote the following words:

1 Peter 1:6-7 ‘ In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be, you have been grieved by various trials that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ’.

John MacArthur wrote in his bible commentary that, according to tradition, Peter had to watch as his wife was crucified, but he encouraged her with the words, “Remember the Lord.” When it came time for him to be crucified, he reportedly pled that he was not worthy to be crucified like his Lord, but rather should be crucified upside down, which tradition says he was.

From denying Jesus to totally devoted to Jesus, Peter was transformed.

Jesus does change lives.

Please allow your life to be a walking testimony of the freedom that there is in Christ, and show a dying world that He does change lives.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Milo's and Dirty Laundry

I am really enjoying today. After surviving another tax season, I am back to working four days a week and being off on Fridays. I have big plans for today: don’t put on makeup, wear sweat pants all day and try to do nothing. I love it! I am sitting here blogging right now with a big smile on my face as I finish off the last carton of chocolate marshmallow eggs. Life is good!

I am trying to catch up on all my favorite blogs. I have come to the conclusion that it is near impossible for me to blog during tax season. For the obvious reason, extra time is very limited during tax season (I worked around 130 overtime hour this tax season). I was doing good to just have dinner fixed and clean clothes for everyone in the house. Actually, we eat a lot drive-thru meals during tax season. I guarantee we hold the record for eating at the new Calera Milo’s more than any other family. Milo’s should give us a golden hamburger plaque in appreciation of our family paying their light bill for the last three months. As far as keeping the laundry done, I put my boys in charge of washing all our clothes when it's tax season. After some bribing and threatening, they really do a good job at washing the clothes most of the time except for when they got the clean clothes basket confused with the dirty clothes basket and put dirty underwear in everyone’s drawers!?!. Luckily, we quickly discovered the mistake.

I am really looking forward to getting back to blogging more. I am very excited about blogging with you about our upcoming mission’s trip to Ecuador. At our last Ecuador training class, we were told to plan on blogging everyday while in Ecuador to keep everyone at home updated on the amazing things that we will see the Lord doing! I can’t wait to have you on that blogging journey with me!

Blessings to you,

Friday, March 6, 2009

I am running in a race?

I have never been good at running. I have never been fast. I have never been able to run very far without gasping for air. I was always the slowest kid in my class in school. I always came in last. My kids have been able to outrun me since they were five. That is probably the reason that I received laughs and eye rolls when I announced to my family that I am going to run in the Calera High PTA 5k/10k race through our city on April 25th. Here is the link to the website if you want more information on this race:

My training did not start out well. I tried to train for some time with very little progress. I would usually run in my neighborhood and try to tackle the run at full speed but the first big hill would wipe me out. I usually ended up turning around and going home to collapse in front of the TV.

Then, I found a really neat training tool. At, you can download a “Couch to 5K” podcast for your MP3 player that helps you train for a race. There are nine weeks of podcasts. The first week starts out slowly by having you run for 60 seconds and walk for 90 second intervals. The really neat thing is that all of the training is set to Christian music. As you listen to the songs, the podcast guy tells you when to run and when to walk.

This training has been good for me. It emphasizes the importance of consistent training to build up enough strength to finish a race. Also, when I focus on the music instead of the pain in my leg, side, knee, etc., I am able to finish my run. When I focus on the pain, a tired muscle or my lack of oxygen, I just can’t make it. Wow, there is a lot of spiritual application there.

This week when I was reading through our Together in the Word reading, Paul’s words about finishing his race really jumped out at me:

Acts 20:22

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that
will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city,
saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me;
nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy,
and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel
of the grace of God.

I just love what Paul is saying in these verses. The Holy Spirit has revealed to him that once he reaches Jerusalem, he will suffer unbelievable persecution. If the Lord revealed to you that once you reach a certain destination, chains and tribulations would await you, would you turn back? Would you be so concerned about yourself and your life that you would be like Jonah and get on the first boat in the other direction? Paul steadily remains on his path to Jerusalem because he knows that is what the Lord has called him to do. He says that he does not consider his life precious, so that “I may finish my race with joy”. Maybe the reason a lot of us are not experiencing joy in our daily run is that we consider our life too precious. Maybe we are too concerned about things being uncomfortable and hard and not concerned enough about what God has called us to do. This verse says to me that we shouldn’t focus on ourselves and the inconveniences of this life but keep our eyes on the Lord and what He has called us to do. Only then will we finish the race with joy.

I don’t want to finish my race feeling miserable, out of shape and barely making it over the finish line. I really want to finish my race with joy, don’t you? Let’s both pray this week that He will help us to remove our focus from ourselves and place our eyes on Him and the ministry that He has called us each to do.

For more Tuesday (I know this is Friday but better late than never) Together in the Word, go to DeeDee's site.

Please join us as we finish reading through Acts.

Tuesday 3/3/09: Acts 23; Wednesday 3/4/09: Psalm 13-15; Thursday 3/5/09: Acts 24; Friday 3/6/09: Acts 25; Saturday 3/7/09: Acts 26; Sunday 3/8/09: Acts 27; Monday 3/9/07: Acts 28

Blessing to you,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why do we doubt Him?

I am sorry that I have been missing in action for the last few weeks. I have had a computer virus for the last month that was harder to shake than the flu. Whenever I would get on the internet, I could only click one or two times before my entire computer would lock up. Thankfully, a computer repair service was able to fix most of my computer issues and I am back!

I have missed our “Tuesday Together in the Word” blog. Boy, the Lord has been using Acts to speak to me. In Acts 12, Peter is in prison, about to be executed, “but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Their prayers were answered and Peter was miraculously delivered from prison as an angel led him to freedom. Upon being freed, Peter went to the very house where people were praying for him, but no one believed that Peter was at the door except for a servant girl.

Acts 12: 12-16
And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the
mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and
were praying. When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant girl named
Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she
did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front
of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept
insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” But Peter
continued knocking, and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were

They had been praying for Peter to be freed from prison, but when he was actually freed they couldn’t believe it. They did not even have enough faith to open the door to let Peter inside. Their prayers had been mixed with doubt. They prayed but really did not expect the Lord to answer. Is this a picture of your prayer life? I know it is mine at times. Sometimes, I look back at the things that the Lord has done in my life and I can’t believe that I ever doubted. But, then I turn right around and doubt again. The great thing about this illustration in Acts 12 is that the Lord knew their weaknesses and doubts and answered their prayers anyway. I am so thankful that we serve a gracious Lord.

Here is a very recently example of my doubting the Lord and his answer to me:

Our church has been planning to go on a Mission Trip to Ecuador this summer. The group will be going into an area of Ecuador that was devastated by floods last year to share hope to a people that have lost everything and desperately need to hear about Jesus. We decided that our family would not be going on the trip this summer. Due to the cost of the trip, the state of the economy, and the fact that we have gone on a foreign mission trip the last two summers, we decided not to go this summer. But the Lord just wouldn’t let us say “No.”

The biggest reasons that we had decided not to go was because we really did not want to ask people for money to go on this trip right now. The cost for all four of us to go is expensive and times are really tough for a lot of people. So many people are out of work. I was doubting that the Lord could provide the funds for this trip. Then, the Lord gave me an idea!

As most of you know, I am a CPA. I do personal, partnership, and corporation tax returns. The owner of my company has generously agreed that if anyone comes to our office to support this mission trip as a new client to have me do your tax return, 100% of what you pay to have your taxes done will go directly to the mission trip. You will even make your check out to the mission trip (which will be 100% tax deductible to you as a donation). Also, the suggested donation that I am asking for doing your taxes is what you paid last year to have your taxes done, minus 20%. In other words, you will save money and 100% of what you give will go to support the spreading of God’s word in the foreign mission field. Can it get any better than that?

Currently, we are committing for one member of my family to go to Ecuador (either Steve or me); however, based on how much I am able to raise, I am hoping that all four of us can go. If you are interested, please e-mail me at or call me at 205-668-1910 ext. 104. If you do not live close to Calera, I can meet with you at our Birmingham office or you can send me your information by mail or e-mail. Please mention this to other people that you may know, including the company that you work for. I would love to do individual, partnership, S Corporation or C Corporation returns for you.

Also, I look forward to blogging with you about what the Lord does on this mission trip.

Blessings to you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Run

In the spring, I was driving through Montevallo when the car in front of me swerved to avoid running over something in the middle of the road. I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting a tiny puppy lying in the middle of busy Hwy 1-19. Another driver scrambled out of his truck and placed the puppy on the side of the road, but the little puppy waddled back into the middle of 1-19 and collapsed in front of my front tire. What would you have done? If you would have placed the puppy in your car and brought her home, my husband would not agree with your answer, but that is exactly what I did.

She was in terrible shape, scraped up and missing the hair on her tail and legs. I took her to my vet, where the receptionist said I was a “hero” for rescuing her and that she would be the best dog because she would be so appreciative for me saving her life. That has not turned out to be the case. She destroys anything in her path. Just last week, she destroyed my blinds and chewed up a bag of 500 BRIGHT orange paint balls. You can only imagine the mess that made. I could go on and on about all the things she has destroyed, but I will spare you the details. Did I mention the fact that she grew from 5 lbs to 80 lbs in just 9 months? Long story short- Steve does not share the receptionist’s view that I am a “hero” for bringing her home.

The destruction is not her worst flaw. The main problem is that she keeps getting out of our fence and running off. I have lost count of the number of times that I have chased her through the neighborhood. One day last week when it was very cold, she escaped while I was getting ready to go to work. I had just gotten out of the shower when I realized she was on the run. On this freezing cold morning, I had to chase her down the street in my robe with wet hair. The more I called the further she ran. Just as I would get close enough to grab her, she would take off again. I called and called her name, but she would not listen. I was so mad. I even received a scrap on my neck trying to tackler her. Finally, I caught her and dragged her back home. As I was pulling her home, I fussed at her the whole time, saying “Is this the thanks I get for saving your life?” and other things that I won’t repeat.

Now let’s contrast that ugly visual with a parable Jesus told in Luke 15:3-7 that I read last week in our weekly reading:

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!"

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Notice the tenderness as the Shepherd places the sheep on his shoulders and carries it back home. The Shepherd is not frustrated that he had to go looking for the sheep. He does not focus on the fact that the sheep wandered off or the inconvenience of having to leave the other 99 just to look for the one. The Shepherd is not concerned about the past but is overjoyed that the sheep was found. Instead of anger, there is rejoicing.

He did the same thing for me. When I was lost in my sin and had run away from Him, He lovingly found me, placed me on His shoulders, and carried me home. He did not scold me for straying but rejoiced that I was found. What a great and loving God we serve!

Please join us this week in our Tuesday Together in the Word by sharing a verse that really spoke to you this week. Please post your verse or comment at DeeDee's site. If you did not start reading with us at the beginning of the year, why not start this week. Here is this weeks reading plan:

Tuesday January 27th- Luke 20
Wednesday January 28th- Luke 21
Thursday Janaury 29th- Luke 22
Friday January 30th- Luke 23
Saturday January 31st- Luke 24
Sunday February 1st- Psalms 16 & 17
Monday February 2nd- Proverbs 3

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Under His Wings

I am really enjoying our "Tuesday Together in the Word" blog. There were several days this week that felt too cold to get out of bed early to do our daily reading. Thanks ladies for your accountibilty- it really helped me stay on track. To read more, go to DeeDee's site.

There were so many great verses this week. The verse that really grabbed me this week was Luke 13:34:

O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

This scirpture reminded me of a story that I read years ago in Beth Moore's study "A Women's Heart":

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

What a beautiful picture of Jesus' love for us! He could have come down off the cross but His love for us kept Him there to die in our place.

In Luke 13:34, why did He not gather Isreal into his arms like a hen gathers her chicks under her wing? Because they were not willing. They choose their own way over the warmth and protection of life beneath His wings. As a result, Isreal was defeated. The same is so true of our lives. Jesus longs to gather us under His wings but we want to live our own lives and make our own discussions. Our lack of obedience cause us to step out of his protective care.

I love the way that Beth Moore puts it:
Christ Jesus longs to draw us under the shelter of His wings- so close to His side that we can hear His tender heartbeat. He yearns to lavish us with His possessive, protective love. To cover us from so many unneccary harms. There is a secret place. Go, beloved and hide.

Please join us this week as we read:
Wenesday-Luke 15
Friday - Luke 17
Saturday-Luke 18
Sunday- Psalm 10-12
Monday- Luke 19
Tuesday- Luke 20

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I have been attempting to read our “Tuesday Together in the Word” reading plan with my boys. I was reading chapter 5 of Luke with them, when one of my sons stopped me after I read the section about Jesus calling Levi the tax collector as a disciple. He said in his most interested voice, “Hey, wait a second. Read that passage again.” I was proud that my son was so interested in the Bible that he had me to read the passage again. After he intently listened to me read the passage again, he asked the following very profound question: “Is Levi’s name spelled the same way that you spell the brand of jeans?” I thought we were about to have a deep spiritual discussion, but instead we discussed whether the blue jean company was named after Levi of the Bible. I quickly realized that I need to lower my expectations with family devotional time.

Nevertheless, I really wanted my sons to be interested in this particular chapter. I had read the chapter that morning, and it really grabbed my attention. The story of Levi (who does not have a blue jean company named after him) was not the section that really affected me that morning; rather, it was the story of Peter following Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret ;
and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake ; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break ;
so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord !"
For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken ;
and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."
In this section, Peter and his partners had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Jesus instructs Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets during broad daylight. This made no sense to Peter. They had just fished all night and caught nothing. Following are a few reasons why Jesus’ instructions seemed so strange to Peter:

1. Normally, fish in that particular lake were caught with nets in shallow water at night because the fish would migrate to deep waters during the daylight hours and were at such low depths that net fishing was nearly impossible.
2. The nets that they used during that time were made of linen, which made them visible to the fish during the day. This type of fishing was only successful at night when the nets were not visible to the fish. During the day, the fish could see the nets and avoid being caught.

Jesus asked Peter to do something that logically made no sense to him. Has Jesus ever asked you to do something that made no sense? I think all of us during our Christian walk will be called to follow the Lord in an area that just does not “make good sense to us.” In these areas that defy our logic, the Lord will truly reveal his himself strong. He wants us to follow Him, not human logic.

However, by nature, I am a very analytical person. This is a good quality to have in the field of accounting, but these qualities sometimes get me in trouble in my Christian walk. I want everything to make sense and be logical. However, God calls us out of our comfort zone. In the past, He has called me to do things that simply did not make sense to me on several occasions. However, in each of those instances, He met our needs in amazing ways.

In 2004, our church planned a mission trip to Mexico to work with Robin and Charlie Janney. I had felt a draw to foreign missions for years. However, looking at our situation at the time it did not seem logical for me to go on the trip. At that time, Steve was in nursing school full-time and I was the only one who was working. Going on the trip would mean missing seven days of work, which would mean missing seven days of pay since I had no paid vacation time. Not only would I have to find the funds to pay for the trip, but my family would miss over a week’s pay. Even though our financial situation did not support this decision, I felt that God was calling me to go. I asked my boss if I could take off for seven days. He also thought that my choice to join the mission trip made no sense. I think his exact words were, “That is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard! You will miss a week and a half of pay to go off to Mexico and probably catch Malaria.”

During that same time, my oldest son came to me and asked if he could go on the mission trip with me. He had already made a list for how he would raise money for the trip. His list included selling all of his toys and his hamster. How could you turn down a boy willing to sell his hamster? We both signed up for the trip even though I had no idea how we would afford it.

Back to Luke 5-How would the account have changed if Peter had caught a boat load of fish the night before? What would Peter’s reaction have been if they had experienced a very successful night of fishing or if Peter could see a large number of fish swimming around the boat at the time of Jesus’ instructions? He would not have had the same reaction to the miracle that Jesus performed. Notice how Jesus used Peter’s failure the night before to reveal His strength. Just as Jesus used an empty boat to show His strength to Peter and the others, he used an empty bank account to show His strength in my life. He allowed us to raise the money in amazing ways to pay for both of our trips. The God’s provision for His people is amazing.

Also, in the months leading up to the mission trip, my boss lost his job and another girl in my office quit; therefore, I had to work a lot of overtime. When I finished working the required overtime, guess how many hours I had worked? I had worked the hourly equivalent of 7 days of pay. I was able to bank my overtime and use it when I was in Mexico!

God’s timing is so perfect. After I worked on this blog last night, Robin Janney called us from Mexico. We are a “second mom and dad” to a precious 15 year old girl who lives in Mexico. Her name is Cinthia, and we met her on our mission trips to Mexico. Robin told her about Steve’s dad passing away, and she asked Robin to call us last night to check on Steve because she has been so worried about him. This really touched us both. The phone call was such a reminder of the beautiful blessings that I would have missed if I would have looked to logic instead of the Lord and missed the opportunity to serve Him in Mexico.

Go to DeeDee's blog to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" blogs. Please join us by either commenting or even starting your own blog. Here is this weeks reading plan:

January 14th: Luke 10
January 15th: Luke 11
January 16th: Luke 12
January 17th: Proverbs 2
January 18th: Luke 13
January 19th: Luke 14
January 20th: Psalms 8-9

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't Leave Jesus Behind

I am excited to be joining in on the first “Tuesday Together in the Word.” We are a group of ladies reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs together in 2009, and sharing what we are learning along the way. Visit DeeDee to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" posts.

As I read through the first few chapters of Luke this week, one event in Luke 2 caused me to think about an event that happened to me that I would just as soon forget:

When Stephen was in Kindergarten and Joshua was in Preschool, I was having one of those afternoons when I did not know how I was going to be able to get everything done. I left work and picked up the boys from school at 3:00. I had 1 ½ hours to go back to the school to do a report that “had to be done” for a PTA meeting, I needed to deliver something to the church, and I had to get 75 baby shower invitations to the post office before closing. Earlier, I had talked to Steve and he was on his way home from his classes. I quickly went into list-making mode and mapped out my plan of action. I would drop the boys off at home with Steve, go back to the school, head to the church and pull into the post office with time to spare before the mail was picked up.

I put my plan into action. I arrived home, unlocked the door for the kids, and quickly got back into my car and headed to the school. I was feeling pretty good as I was driving down the road. Who says you can’t do it all? Then it happened…..

I passed Steve in the car. At first, I happily waved at him and then it hit me. If Steve is in the car that I just passed on the road, then who is at home with my children??!!?? I quickly picked up the cell phone to call home.


Stephen: I am trying to keep Joshua from calling 911. He thinks we should call and let them know that we were left home alone.

Me: NO, DON’T CALL 911! I will be home in a minute. I am so sorry! I did not realize that Daddy had not gotten home yet.

Stephen: You didn’t notice that his car was not in the driveway?

Me: No, I thought he was already at home. When did you realize that he was not home?

Stephen: The minute you drove off. Joshua tried to chase your car through the neighborhood but he couldn’t catch you.

As I type this seven years later, I still feel horrible about it. I imagine that I will be sharing this story from a nursing home 40 years from now, still feeling bad about it. I was so focused on all the little details that I forgot what was REALLY important.

I realize that you may be wondering what this story has to do with Luke 2? Hang in here with me – there is a point.

In Luke 2:41-50, we read about Mary, Joseph and 12-year old Jesus traveling to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. As they were returning home, Mary and Joseph realized after a day’s journey that they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. They had assumed that he was with their caravan but he had been left behind. They anxiously looked for him for three days. They found him in the temple astonishing all those that were listening to him.

The point of my story is NOT to justify my leaving the boys by saying, “At least I wasn’t like Mary and Joseph who lost the son of God for three days.” The point is to realize the number of times we travel along in life and forget that we have left Jesus behind. Mary and Joseph were headed from the Feast of the Passover but they left behind the True Passover Lamb. We just celebrated Christmas, and Jesus was the focus of this holiday for many but how many of us quickly loss focus after the holiday is over? We tend to get caught up in our daily lives and leave Him behind.

The passing of my father-in-law last week has really opened my eyes to how short this life on Earth really is. Over and over this week, I have been feeling the Lord leading me to focus on the important things and let go of the rest. This is not an easy task for me, especially with my “control freak” tendencies.

I want to have a Jesus-filled year. I don’t want to leave Him out. I don’t want to forget Him because I am too focused on other things. My theme for 2009 is going to be “don’t focus on the trivial and miss what is truly important.” I have spent way too much time in my life focusing on things that really don’t matter.

I am excited to be part of “Tuesday Together in the World.” I look forward to growing together as we learn from the Word and from each other. Please join us in our reading for this coming week. Here is the reading plan:

1/6/08- Proverbs 1
1/7/08- Psalms 3-5
1/8/08- Luke 5
1/9/08- Luke 6
1/10/08- Luke 7
1/11/08- Luke 8
1/12/08- Luke 9

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Death of a Great Man

My father-in-law passed away on Sunday, December 28. He truly was a wonderful man who loved and was loved by so many people. Not only has his life impacted so many, but his death has forever changed how I view my life, my family and my savior:

· His love for his wife
He died holding his “sweetheart” as he called her. They were a couple who were still in love after 54 years of marriage. When his breathing became labored, she calmed him by singing Amazing Grace, quoting scripture and talking to him about the home they would have in heaven. He died in the same exact house where he was born. They never owned a mansion, had a vacation home, or took trips around the world; but they had what really mattered- a deep, lasting love.

· An amazing man
I thought that I knew everything about Steve since we have been married almost 16 years. I was wrong. I learned so much about my husband this past week. I have images in my mind that I will never forget of Steve taking care of his dad right before he died. I have pictures in my mind of Steve holding his dad and kissing him on the top of the head while he told him how much he loved him and of him lying in the bed beside his dad closely watching to make sure he did not need anything. Also, I never want to forget the faith he had as he stood over the casket seeing his father’s face one last time and telling our boys that we are not saying goodbye to their PawPaw but “see you later.”

Steve’s mom told me that she hopes I realize what an amazing husband I have. She said the way he nursed and loved his dad at the same time was just amazing. It really was. I knew that God called Steve to be a nurse. We never realized how the Lord would use it to bring such comfort to Steve’s dad. His dad wanted Steve right beside him. The love and compassion that Steve gave was straight from the hand of God. I am so thankful to be married to a man who has such a deep love and devotion to his family.

· The importance of family
When Steve and I first started dating I was a little taken aback by his large family. I come from a small family. The first time I met his family was Christmas, 1991. I am not by nature a “hugger” so I was a little overwhelmed by being hugged by so many people who I did not even know. It did not take long for me to realize that I was marrying into an amazing family. I even got used to the hugging. Having such a large, close family really has given us so much support during this time. The closeness of this family and their love and devotion to each other is truly a wonderful thing to behold.

When we first got married, I wanted to wait several years to have children but Steve said that he wanted to have kids right away while the other cousins were still young so that our kids would have cousins to “hunt Easter eggs with”. I have had the opportunity to see my boys hunt eggs with their other cousins and now that they are older and “too cool to hunt eggs,” I have been able to see them love and support each other through the death of their PawPaw. There are 11 cousins and I was really impressed with all of them this week. They all looked out for each other and took turns taking care of each other.

About 12 hours before Steve’s dad died, a hospice nurse came to examine him and she told us that he may not make it through the night. It surprised me that she felt he only had a few hours to live because he had been alert and up that day on the front porch and sitting in his recliner. After she told us the news, he was sitting in his recliner as grandchildren and children sat on the floor surrounding him; each one telling him how much they loved him and he was able to tell each one that he loved them. Then, we realized that we could not find the younger cousins. Steve found them outside sitting around the corner of the house in a circle crying. They said they were talking about the good memories they had with PawPaw. Steve encouraged them to go inside and tell PawPaw how much they love him. When Stephen came inside, PawPaw was walking from his recliner to his bed. Stephen said, “I love you PawPaw” and Steve’s dad reached out and took his hand and said, “I love you, Buddy.” Right when he got into his bedroom, Joshua was walking into his room to talk to him but everyone started leaving the room to let him sleep. He did not get a chance to tell him that he loved him. A little while later, Brooke was taking the kids to get ice cream to get them out of the house for a little while. As they were leaving, Joshua quickly came back into the house and told me to “please tell PawPaw that I love him.” I told him that I thought he should tell him himself. As we quietly went back into his bedroom, Joshua leaned over him and told him that he loved him. He was able to tell Joshua that he loved him, too. Both of my boys received a wonderful gift: their last memory of their PawPaw is him telling them that he loves them.

The funeral also was such a wonderful testimony of his life. Steve’s oldest brother, Dusty spoke, our nephew sang and my niece read a wonderful paper that she had written about her PawPaw three weeks before he died. As a Human Development class project, she had to interview someone over 65 and record their answers word for word. She read his answers and it brought tears and laughter as she read. I will post this interview on my blog in the near future.

· The importance of faith
Several years ago, Steve went to his dad’s house to talk to him about his faith. Steve wanted to talk to his dad one-on-one about his dad’s belief in Jesus. The conversation they had was a wonderful confirmation to Steve that he knows exactly where his dad is today. His dad was very committed to giving to his church and the Lord. His preacher shared of the commitment Steve’s dad had to Shiloh Methodist. He said even when Steve’s dad was very sick he would come to church meetings even though sometimes he would feel so bad that he would have to lay his head down.

The Lord promises to reward those that love Him. I have seen this week some of the blessings of that reward in the great love of his family and the number of people his life impacted. Just as Steve told our boys, we will see him again. While we are all sad that he is not with us, we are so thankful that we know he is enjoying his savior at this moment.