Blog

Love is the greatest

loveI love love! I love romantic love in Hallmark movies. I love mama love. I love hearts and flowers and all things associated with love, so naturally 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite chapters to read.

I have read this passage so many times. I have heard preachers dissect 1-12 many times. They have explained it as a way to strive to live, a way to act in marriage, and even a way to act toward others.

Recently, I went to a bible journaling class. It was my niece’s birthday, so I took her and her friend. We settled in with all of our supplies which included new colored pencils AND a mechanical pencil. I was happy girl and so was Lilly and her friend! We colored and laughed. We drew hearts and squiggles to get the feel for the artwork. Before we left, we were instructed to go home, meditate on I Corinthians 13:13, and then draw or paint or whatever. I thought, “easy peasy.” I knew the verse. I knew love.

I took Lilly off to her next leg of the birthday celebration day, returned her friend safely home, and then I went home. I pulled out all of my art supplies, extra paper,  and pens. I sat at the table and read I Corinthians 13:13 over and over again. I began to draw and then write. I wondered why these three things. Why faith, hope, and love? What made love the greatest? What insight could I gain into this chapter that I had never heard before today? I prayed. I continued to write and then it hit me.

Faith and hope are what we need in this world, but love is what will carry us to the next. My mind was blown. There is was as plain as day. Love was the only one that was necessary, is necessary, and will be necessary. Love is the only one that we must keep and give away. We must have it and share it. Love is of God. Love is God. Faith and hope are important for us now. We need faith in God and hope in God, but without the love of God we are stuck here. Love is Jesus on the cross. Love is God sending Jesus. Love is resurrection. Love IS the greatest.

I have always considered my love(feelings) for others in this passage. I have considered God’s love(feelings) for us in this passage. I have considered God’s love(feelings) for others in this passage. I have never considered love=God in this passage. It was there all along. Combined with many other New Testament passages it is plain as day. I’m sure this is not a revelation for theologians or maybe even you, but for me it was real today. It was a reminder that there are no simple easy verses in the bible. No matter how many times you have read a passage, there is still more to learn. Never stop reading, friends. Never stop studying. Never underestimate the power of scripture.

Much LOVE, Peeps!

p.s.- This is my artwork in response to his word. What do ya think?

Bad Guys Beware

In December, I was completing my final two courses for my M.Div. I was stressed, tired, and home alone, so I decided to use the time wisely and study for my final exam.

I was laser focused on my notes. I had taken some on the computer, so I decided to print my notes. As I was clicking through the pages of my notes and printing, I heard noises in the back of the house.

It was like someone had bumped into something and there were papers rustling. As I was beginning to panic, I grabbed my trifle bowl. It made sense at the time though looking back and considering the fully stocked gun case only a few steps away it was perhaps less the than sensible weapon of choice at the time.

As I crept down the hall way sporting my leggings and oversized shirt, monogrammed hat on just right, and trifle bowl in hand, the noise was getting louder. My heart was racing. I was quite sure this is the end of life as I know it.

I flung open the door and there it was … my printer … printing my notes …

Fear is a liar. When we are afraid, we decide that the printer we instructed to print 20 pages of notes is a dangerous intruder wishing to take our life in exchange for the books, pens, and goldfish in the extra bedroom. When we are afraid, we react to those crazy thoughts by grabbing a trifle bowl over a gun. When we are afraid, we do things that are not rational.

Bottom line: Don’t make decisions out of fear. Make decisions based on facts and faith.

James 1:9 says that we can ask for wisdom and he will give it to us.

Philippians 4:13 says that we can face any situation with the power of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says pray without ceasing.

God’s word is encouraging us to pray, ask for wisdom, and strength from him. We shouldn’t make snap decisions, but rather spend time in his word and prayer asking him to direct our paths.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Make sure what you think is what you know. Don’t lean on your thoughts, but trust the Lord in everything … even creepy sounding printer situations. 

And never sneak up on this trifle-wielding-axe-throwing ninja … you never know what might happen!

Much Love Ninjas!

 


 

 

The Magic Coffee Cup

 

 

This morning as I was drinking my coffee,  I sat my cup down  and noticed there was a faint dark line that would rise as my cup was jostled about.

When I drink coffee, I like a little coffee with my ever-so-fabulous caramel macchiato creamer. My black-coffee-drinking husband, Jamey, calls it sissy coffee.

Anyway, the dark line made me think. There it was, a hint of how this cup of coffee started. It kept coming up as the cup was tossed about in an effort to drain the cup.

It reminded me of how hints of who I used to be will rise up when I am tossed about. If I am not careful, I will believe that things will never change. If I am not careful, I can convince myself that “they” deserve my sharp tongue and stinky attitude. If I am not careful, that thin dark line sneaks up in my life.

“You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round”~ Andra Day, Rise Up

When we get tired of riding the merry-go-round, we can start to believe that we “deserve’ better. An attitude based on perceived deserving instead of blessing receiving can lead us to respond in a way unbecoming of a Christian. 

In Philippians 1:27, Paul is encouraging the people to behave in such a way that the gospel of Christ would be spread. He is reminding them of the most important thing even in times of turmoil. Even when we are tossed around, we should maintain our position to spread the gospel.

I Peter 5:6-10 “6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

.Whatever you are suffering through today is temporary. He will restore you. Whatever wrong has been done to you, He will fight for you. Whatever has tossed you about, he will be your peace. He will be handling your battles today. Give it to him.
Thank God I am not who I once was and that I am not who I am going to be… yet.

Much Love peeps!

Be Like Patrick

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland20170520_105125About 2 years ago, I was taking two classes at Luther Rice Seminary that forever changed my life. One class was Personal and Church Evangelism and the other was Church History. This was a strategic pairing on my part.

History is not my jam, so I knew that I had to choose my companion class wisely. The other class had to be something that I felt confident about.

As I perused the class schedule, I noticed the class on evangelism. Growing up Southern Baptist, I felt this was the best class for me.

As we began the evangelism class, I began to realize that I did know the content of the class, but where was my application? This question hung over me and I began to pray asking God to open doors for me.

At the same time, my history professor instructed us to choose a person to research. I looked over the list and there he was … Patrick of Ireland. My family had come over during the potato famine. They landed in Pennsylvania and I had heard stories about Ireland several times over the years. I immediately sent my choice and was approved to begin my research.

Patrick was so much more than four leaf clovers and rainbows.  Article after article, I began to realize that Patrick was not at all who I thought. I had an image in my head of a kind, jolly guy that was loved by all of the Irish people.

I found out that was not the case at all. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates, sold to Druids in Ireland as a slave, and lived as such for 6 years. He turned to God and escaped his captors. After his escape from Ireland, he returned to his family to pursue the priesthood.

The most shocking part was when he returned to Ireland, where he had been held captive and escaped, to share the Gospel with the pagans that tortured him. He used the clover to explain the trinity. He had intimate knowledge of how the clans worked and used this knowledge to win the leader in order to reach the entire group.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was like a Christian version of James Bond or something of the like. He became my newfound hero! I wanted to be like Patrick!

As God placed a burden in my heart for Ireland, I began to research mission trips to Ireland. Ireland was the land I dreamed to visit and the people I truly wanted to know. As I continued my research, my heart was broken for the people. They were turning away from the church. There were images of abandoned churches and statistics on increased suicide rates. The most powerful statistic I found was that Ireland was the most unreached English speaking people group in the world. How could this be?

I knew I had to go. With only 3 weeks to raise over $3000, I knew it was something only God could do.

Part of St. Patrick’s Prayer

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day peeps!

ps- Stay tuned for more of this story!

She Calls Her, “Doll”

20190203_171300This picture owns me! It is a 5 generation span of love captured in a brief visit to my most spectacular Granny.

This is my precious grandmother and my sweet granddaughter. Avery loves Granny. When Granny talks to her, her whole face lights up and she immediately responds with her own version of chatter and giggles. It absolutely fills my heart with such joy that sometimes it leaks out my eyes.

While it is a precious sight for me that brings tears almost every time they are together, there is a part of me that is sad. That sadness comes from realizing that Avery will never fully know my Granny like I do. She probably will never appreciate and treasure this moment the way I do. She can’t fully understand the magnitude of being held by her great-great grandmother. Yet she is enjoying the moment with this silly white haired lady that calls her “doll”. I love when Granny calls her “doll”. It is her word for us, the grandkids and great grands and now great-great grands. We are all “dolls”, but above all we are her dolls.

As I think about these special moments with Avery and Granny, I find myself wondering if I had these moments with my great grandmothers. Did they hold me all fresh and new and talk gibberish to make me smile? Did they kiss my forehead and tell me they loved me? Did they call me “doll” or something as equally charming?

Oh how I wish I knew. Oh I would surely treasure those stories and/or pictures. or would I? Am I treasuring the times I have now with the people that are nearest and dearest now? Ouch! That self-reflection hurt.

I hope I do. I hope I don’t get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and miss opportunities to sit and soak in the love of those that mean the most. I hope that I don’t trade busyness for precious moments.

Yesterday my niece asked to come hang out with me. As Leigh and I were watching Disney’s Christopher Robin, Pooh said something that resonated with my soul. He said, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best something.” And as Leigh and I continued watching the movie snuggled on the couch in the most fabulous red blanket giggling about that silly ole bear, I realized that Pooh was absolutely right.

Can I encourage you sweet friend to go do nothing with someone that you care about and discover that “very best something”?

1 John 4:19 – “We love because he first loved us.”

Much Love, Dolls!

 

Margie Mays

American Idol season started last Sunday night. I have always loved AI. The excitement of average Joe or Jane making a life changing move to superstar not only makes for good tv, but it inspires hope of achieving your dreams.

As I sat watching and waiting for the next tear jerking story to hit me right in the feels, an adorable young lady bounces into the judging room. Margie Mays debuted on American Idol last week. Though it wasn’t the emotional story that I had been waiting for, it was exactly what I needed to see.

She was so nervous and adorably awkward AND she can sang! I loved her!! I loved that she was on the outside how I am on the inside. I love that she was not afraid to show her excitement and fear. She absolutely could not contain herself.

I totally get her. Oh, I will 100 percent look like I have it all together when I am about to speak, teach or whatever, but inside I look just like Margie Mays: a big bag of jittery nervous laughter and completely silly movements yet incredibly entertaining.

She displayed what I feel like on the inside way more than I’d care to admit. When I saw her, I immediately thought, “Why can’t she hold it in?”  And herein lies the problem …

We hold it in. The rest of America knows exactly how Margie feels. We have all felt that exact way more than once in our lives and still we sit on our comfy couch with our condescending comments about how she should have control in this situation.

After the show ended, she was the one contestant that I could not get out of my head. This quirky, adorable and completely excited young woman had been totally transparent in front of America. I dare say that I am not the only older-than-millennial aged woman that was a bit judgy as Margie was displaying every emotion she was experiencing in the moment.

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all wore our real self on the outside instead of keeping her locked up in the “normal” place?

Let’s all try to be a little more like Margie Mays. Let’s share our fears and emotions freely, so that others may understand they are not alone and in the end, perhaps, we will discover that we are not alone as well.

Much Love Peeps!

The Birthday Card

I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo lately. She is inspiring me to clear my space. I am not getting crazy with the clean up, but taking my time. I am cleaning out one space at a time following her method.

In the KonMari method, you sort through papers. The ultimate goal is to only keep those things that spark joy as you move through each category. Books and paper have been the hardest for me.

I keep all my cards. Yes. ALL of them! You never waste your 5 bucks on me.

As I began to sort through my cards, I came across cards from people that I haven’t seen in a while. I came across cards from my children, my Granny, and my husband. At the bottom of the box, was a card that read Happy Birthday to a wonderful daughter, with love. 

As soon as I saw it, I knew the giver of this heart covered treasure at the bottom of this box. It was from my daddy. He is the most spectacularly gifted card giver ever. He is also a man of few words particularly about feelings, so these cards are treasured.

The card is the most perfect shade of purple with funky red hearts sparingly dispersed on the cover and the back. Inside the card, there are rainbows also sparingly used. It is very 70’s looking which is very fitting as I am a child of the 70’s.

When you open the card, a series of flaps unfold with the complete message. “Wherever you go … whoever you meet … Whatever you dream … You’re going to be great … Because you already are.” When you get to the middle, an excerpt from the Bruno Mars song, Just the Way You Are, plays.

“When I see your face not a thing that I would change because your amazing just the way you are when you smile the whole world stops”

Can I share with you that I have never needed to read those words and hear that song more than I needed to read this card and hear this song right then? I was having a rather terrible day. I was feeling like a failure. I was engulfed in fear. I had cried more than I smiled that day and as I opened the card the tears began to fill my eyes once again, but this time I was glad to shed those tears. 

Let me go against everything Marie Kondo stands for just for one brief moment on one subject. Keep the cards and letters and treasured words on sticky notes. Put them in a box and on those particularly hard days when that voice in your head is telling you that no one likes you and you will never be or do anything worth a dime, pull the box down out of the closet and read every single one. You’ll thank me for it! I promise.

Much Love Peeps!

ps- Marie, I will be keeping this whole box.

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Moon: An Original International Women’s Day Hero

Lottie Moon by Louise BarbourToday is International Women’s Day. The theme this year is #BalanceForBetter. The idea behind the theme is a gender-balance world is a better world.

The first person I thought of for my blog post today was Lottie Moon. She was blazing trails for gender-balance before it was cool. She wasn’t even doing it for the sake of the greater good, but rather for the calling God had placed on her life.

I began to read articles and books about Lottie Moon about a year ago. I was taking Church History and chose to research someone that I felt I probably knew all about. Boy, was I wrong!

Lottie Moon has to be one of the most recognized names in Southern Baptist churches today. Every year there is a big push to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that supports the International Mission Board.

I knew she was a missionary to China, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. So let’s play Did you know? 

  • Did you know that her given name was Charlotte?
  • Did you know that she and I share the same birthday? It’s kismet, don’t you think?
  • Did you know that her mother went against her father by becoming a Baptist?
  • Did you know that Lottie Moon rebelled against Christianity in her teen years?
  • Did you know she was one of the first women in the South to receive a Master’s degree?
  • Did you know she taught school in Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia?
  • Did you know that she turned down a marriage proposal to become a missionary in China?
  • Did you know the female missionaries in the 1800’s were not allowed to share the gospel?
  • Did you know that women missionaries were only allowed to teach children?
  • Did you know that when the war began to rage and all other missionaries left China, Lottie stayed?
  • Did you know that she sent letters home asking for permission to share the gospel?
  • Did you know that when the other missionaries left, she continued to teach the children AND run the local church they had planted?
  • Did you know that she wrote letters home urging the Baptist women to get organized like the Methodist women in order to send more missionaries around the world?
  • Did you know that she served for 40 years with only 2 brief furloughs?
  • Did you know that she gave her rations to starving women and children during the famine causing her to waste away to a mere 50 pounds?
  • Did you know they finally talked her into returning to America and she only made it to Japan before succumbing to the full body shut down from starvation on Christmas Eve at the age of 72?
  • Did you know the Lottie Moon offering has been the largest source of support for IMB with over 3 billion dollars raised since 1888?
  • Did you know that her letters have been published in a book titled Send the Light?

Lottie Moon had a servant’s heart, but also a touch of rebel in there. She overcame many obstacles in order to share the gospel message. Her story is one of perseverance and determination that can encourage and inspire women to pursue their calling with reckless abandon much like Lottie Moon.

She’s just one of my heroes of the faith and she is a perfect International Women’s Day icon.

Much Love peeps!

** Photo found on WMU page

What is the cost of a gold tooth?

lillyMy brother and his little girl lived with us for a brief period of time. His little girl, Lilly, is my mini-me. She has lots of sass, a tiny filter, and her face can say more than her mouth which is a whole lot!

One afternoon, she and I were sitting on the couch coloring. I am not sure what we were coloring, but I am sure it was Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty or the like. Out of the clear blue, she looks at me and declares, “I have always wondered what it was like to have a gold tooth.”

I immediately begin to snicker, but as I have learned over the years there is no time for snickering when Lilly is sharing. I was busting at the seams trying to control my laughter as she continued to explain herself.

“If I had a gold tooth, I’d have to have an eye patch and a big hat with a giant feather AND a puffy shirt with a sword. I don’t really want to be a pirate, so I guess I will never know what it is like to have a gold tooth.”

And just like that, her wonder was over. She had calculated the cost and she wasn’t willing to become a pirate, so she didn’t get a gold tooth. I chuckle as I type, because this conversation still tickles me.

As I recall this seemingly innocent comment, I think about the wisdom in this silly story which was not silly at all to her. I think about her counting the cost of the gold tooth at merely four years old. She learned that there is a cost associated with the things that we want.

I also thought about her perception of a gold tooth and how she counted costs that weren’t really associated with having a gold tooth. As adults, we understand there is a monetary cost for gold, but there is no expectation of becoming a pirate associated with a gold tooth. I , however, very much understand counting costs that aren’t necessarily 100% real.

Have you ever been counting the cost and it got out of hand? Like, were you thinking, “I’d like to go on that short term mission trip to Africa this year.” Then you began to think,  ” I am not sure if I should go on a short term mission trip or not.” Shortly after watching a few YouTube videos about Africa, you decide that there are deadly critters that could bite you or even eat you and no one would ever know what happened to you. Your parents and children would spend all of their time and money looking for you with hopes of finding you in some remote cave still clinging to life. They would all be broke and homeless and still empty from not knowing the specifics of your demise.  THEN … you quickly decide that Africa is just not for you. After all, you wouldn’t want your entire family to become homeless, right?

How quickly our minds can get out of hand if they are left to their own devices. The Bible talks about counting the cost in Luke 14, but I don’t think this is what He had in mind. Counting costs of our actions is normal. Evaluating the pros and cons of any decision is just good stewardship. Its when we let our minds wonder through the endless “what ifs” we become paralyzed by fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 is one of my favorite verses. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” KJV 

If the fear is not from God, then neither are the “what ifs” that led us into the fear place. Fill your mind, heart, and spirit with truth and love from the Word. Step away from the “what ifs” of Satan (death, destruction, mayhem) and into the “what ifs” of God (salvation, heaven, peace).

And for that pressing question from the beginning …

What is the cost of a gold tooth? About $500. No pirate crew needed.

Much Love Peeps!

I lost my dreams

52486578_10156502674883822_8446383019597496320_nAbout a year ago, I created a writer’s notebook. It contained all of my blog ideas, book ideas, to-do lists, etc. I called it my dream binder.

It was exciting to have a place to write down my dreams. I worked extra hard making it cute, designing the cover, filling the pages, and putting my hopes down on paper. I had all of the matching paper-binder essentials: page protectors, section dividers, sticky notes, paper clips, and cute pens.

In the beginning, I kept it with me everywhere I went. It was in my teacher tote bag or on my desk. I would think of something fabulous and write it down. It was tucked away and safe in that binder.

Over time, it began spending more time on the shelf and less time with me.

Recently, I went to a writer’s boot camp. It was inspiring and refreshing to be around others with the same aspirations. After this weekend, I realized I needed to take my dreams off the shelf.

This morning, I went on a search for my dreams. I was frantic. It couldn’t be far. It felt as though I just put those dreams on the shelf yesterday. Truth was that I could not remember the last time I saw the notebook and wasn’t even 100% sure what it looked like exactly.

No matter. I knew I would know it as soon as I saw it. As I was searching for my dream binder, I realized the irony that I had tucked my dreams so far away that I almost couldn’t find them.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you had a dream that was so amazing when you first dreamed it, but the idea of it actually happening seemed so foreign that you tucked it away for later and then it almost disappeared?

Dear Friends, God wants us to dream big! He created us and planted those dreams inside of us. I pray Ephesians 3:14-21 for you today as you seek God’s big dreams for your life. Much Love Peeps!