Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Christmas Viking

When Bryan was a little boy, he had an obsession with vikings. I mean, we went to Medievil times festivals, read about chain mail and swords, checked viking books out the library. He was all about the vikings. Truth be told, Bryan had MANY obsessions throughout his early years (dinosaurs, spiders, WW2, Star Wars, the digestive system to name a few!). Vikings were just one of many, but it was special because it just so happened to be his obsession during the Christmas season that year.

At church, his precious Sunday School teachers made ornaments for the kids to give to moms and dads. Using the child's thumbprint, they'd make little smiley faces, and the words "I'm thumbody special" were written across the ornament. Sweet, huh? Well, can you imagine our delight when Bryan brought home his ornament to reveal a thumb-viking? It was completed with a viking hat and sword, a true masterpiece of our son's own design. I can almost guarantee that no other child in the history of First Baptist Church, Richmond KY has ever made a viking out of their thumbprint!

Every year, as we pull out the decorations to transform our home into a Christmas land, I cannot wait to see that sweet little ornament. It gets the front of the tree every year, very near eye level for me. It takes me back to a time when there was a sweet innocence in Bryan, a time that I often mistakenly wished away because the days were long and sometimes not easy (has anyone ever told you little boys can be hard???!!) This year was no different. I rummaged through the box of wrapped ornaments, looking for that one, eager to give it its rightful place of honor. And every day, as I've walked past that tree, I find myself looking at that little thumb viking and smiling.

Today, in my quiet time with the Lord, I was reminded that He looks at me the same way.. like that sweet little thumbprint viking. He relishes me, delights in me, places me in a place of honor. The Father of all the universe smiles as He looks at me... not because I'm perfect. Just like Bryan's viking has a wonky hat and oddly-shaped extremities, I'm far from perfect myself. The sins of my life have stained me. But the blood of Jesus has washed me clean. I'm beautiful in His sight. Maybe not by worldy standards am I beautiful. You certainly won't find my face stamped across some beauty magazine, and I'll likely never be given the title "beauty queen". Yet, My Abba Father.. he calls me beautiful. And that's enough for me.

Did you know that the Father delights in you too? That the season of Christmas is proof of His delight? He gave you and me the most incredible gift of his son, God-become-flesh, to dwell among us. He gave us Emmanuel, God WITH US. What a gift that is! His delight was not just in word, but it was carried out in deed through the coming of the Messiah.

And so it is that the sweetest little Thumb viking ornament ever made is still filling my heart with joy. What a wonderful reminder as I look at it hanging there of the wondrous gift of Jesus. I hope you have a Christmas viking of your own to remind you of the same. May your Christmas season be filled with reminders and celebrations of the Messiah, Emmanuel...God with us.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kidneys are good

Some of you may not know, but last week I got to witness a miracle firsthand! How's that, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

I wrote a few weeks ago about my brother and my husband. In that post, I explained that diabetes had taken its toll on my brother's kidneys, and he was in need of a transplant. Well, lo and behold, my husband just happened to be a match for him! (note the sarcasm. I do NOT believe in coincidence or luck).

A week ago today, doctors removed the left kidney from Jeff and placed it into my brother. Immediately, that thing pinked up and began working. Seriously, the nurses were emptying his catheter bag around the clock starting immediately. (Side note: I've never been so excited about pee before!) The next morning, Chris's creatinine level was cut in half (That's a lab value that indicates kidney function, and prior to surgery Chris's was not good at all. In fact, it was consistent with the need for dialysis).

24 hours later, and that Creatinine level was just 0.1 away from the normal range. 48 hours after surgery, and it was 1.1- IN THE NORMAL RANGE. Chris said it was the first time he'd had a normal Creatinine level since he was about 35 years old (11 years ago!).

Yesterday, that Creatinine had dropped to 0.9, almost the same as Jeff's level was prior to surgery! Chris thinks that it was last that low when he was 20-25 years old.


Some people will read this and write it off as nothing more than the wonders of modern medicine. Believe me when I say that I'm grateful for modern medical advances. It blows my mind that they can take an organ out of one person and use it in another.


But I believe that the reason for that is miraculous, God-given. He created our bodies and He imparts knowledge to some to be able to perform such life-saving measures.

A working kidney in my brother isn't the only miracle I've observed though. The willingness of my husband to give that kidney is no less a miracle. This week, I sat by his bedside and watched him in excrutiating pain, all willingly. I even asked him one time when the pain was horrible, "Do you regret it?" He quickly said, "No. Not for one second".

I've watched my husband with new eyes this week. He's always had a servant heart. That's one of the things I fell in love with about him. He's always been willing to give to anyone in need whatever he could. But this... this is real sacrifice folks. This time, it wasn't money or food or clothing or clean water. This time it was literally his body, his comfort!

I've watched as he tears up every time it is mentioned that Chris's kidney is functioning perfectly. I've watched as he hurt but never one time complained. I'm humbled by that.

In the recovery room, Jeff's first questions were "How is Chris? Did it work?". When Chris came out about an hour later, a nurse walked to Jeff's curtained area and said "He wants to know how Jeff is doing". These two men represent the heart of Christianity. In a world where people sometimes look at Christians with disdain and suspicion- sometimes rightfully!), I hope they also see this. Because this... this is what following after Jesus is supposed to look like.

Sunday afternoon, Jeff came home. What a wonderful time that was! But today is likely the first time that he truly rejoices, because today Chris goes home too.

Today is very literally the start of a new life for Chris. But y'all, it's also the start of a new life for Jeff. Because you can't live sacrificially and not be altered. It's just not possible. You can't live fully sold-out to Jesus and not be changed completely inside and out. In fact, I'd bet that if you asked anyone in our immediate family, they'd all tell you that they are changed because of the events of this past week. And change is good, y'all. Change is very good.

In the body, kidneys work to get rid of the waste in our bodies. In our life, Christ works the same. Without Him, we can't be fully effective. We can't filter the junk in this world and come out untainted without Christ. We weren't made to be without him. Without a kidney, our body can't filter the junk. We can't live.

The bible says, "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Jesus is the life-giver, the abundant life-giver, the peanut-butter-oozing-out-the-side-of-the-sandwich- life giver. If you don't know him, I'd love to share about this life-giver. Because y'all, Kidneys are good, but Jesus is even better!

Thanks be to God.

Monday, October 6, 2014

We were next at the checkout line when she told me she needed to spit out her gum. "My teeth are hurting because this is old, momma".

The garbage can was just a few feet away from me; she never had to leave my line of vision. She did have to walk in front of the elderly gentleman seated quietly on the bench next to the trash can. It never occurred to me that there would be any problem with that.

I began to unload and scan my groceries as she bounced away, half skipping, half dancing. She was oblivious to anyone else around her really, humming away as usual. I glanced up just as she walked in front of the man, just in time to see him glare at her. What happened next was not anything I would have imagined.

The old man, still glaring at my daughter, pulled his head back and proceeded to spit on my daughter.

Let that sink in.

He spit on my girl.

I saw red.

Ellie skipped back to me, and I turned her around to make sure I had actually seen what I thought I had seen. Sure enough, there was his spit on her t-shirt. I asked her if she had felt it, and she said no.

"Why would he do that, momma?".

That's the same question I had, but I sure didn't want to have to explain it to her. I shouldn't HAVE to explain it to her. No one should. Yet here we were, and she was watching me to see how I was going to react. She was waiting to see if she was worth taking up for.

Let me assure you that she is.

Let me assure you that I did exactly that- take up for her.

I approached the old man and asked him why he had done that. His answer,
"I don't like her kind".

I leaned in really close to him, just inches away from his face and told him exactly what I thought of his actions. I told him in no uncertain terms what I'd do if he so much as looked at her again. 

She reached for my hand as we drove home, and I saw the tears in her eyes as she said "Why doesn't he like me? I wasn't even bothering him". My heart was broken at the idea of even having to have this conversation. But I needed her to hear this, to really let this sink in: "There is NOTHING wrong with you. He is the problem". 

I need for her to understand that his ignorance and hatred toward her is not a cloak she has to button up and wear around. Who she is was determined by her Maker, not by the actions of a nasty old man who thrives off of bitterness. She is love, life, happiness, beauty, courage, strength, and peace. She is a conquerer. She is whole. She is a daughter of the Most High King, a real live princess. He cannot change who she is because who she is was accomplished in Christ. 

I need for her to know that NO ONE has the right to treat her poorly. No one has the right to inflict harm upon her. I need her to know that she has a voice too, and she can speak against injustice. So we practiced shouting "You don't have the right to hurt me. No one does!". And we laughed together at how dumb some people can be. And as I held her, I prayed that her heart is protected against the hurling darts that are bound to come against her again at some point in life. I pray she knows that her home here is a haven against that. Always.

I realize that there are people who believe that prejudice doesn't exist in this world. Well, they are wrong. It DOES exist. And what my daughter experienced today is nothing compared to the atrocities that happen to people all over the world.

I cannot be silent. I cannot sit and allow some idiot to spit at my daughter as if she were an object and not a little girl. I won't stand for it. Because if I do, I'm just as much a part of the problem as that old man. If I sit silently and allow prejudice to go unchecked, refusing to call it what it is, then I'm as disgusting as that sputum hurled across a store on the back of an innocent little girl. I refuse to live like that. 

Our daughters and sons, neighbors, friends, and strangers are watching to see how we will respond to this. If we call ourselves followers of Christ, we best be acting like him. And I know Christ wouldn't stand idly by and watch a grown man hurl a loogie at a little girl because he "doesn't like her kind". 

There are times that anger is called for. I'd go so far as to say that anger is holy at times. And necessary. And quite frankly, I'm angry. 

It's time to take a stand. I'm in; are you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heroes among us

He was my first best friend. I adored him. Still do, if truth be told. He always played with me, included me (albeit sometimes reluctantly) with his friends. As a teenager, he took me to my first concert (Hank Jr! Seriously.). He bought me my first pair of cowgirl boots, and they. were. awesome. He used to pretend there was a monster in the closet and scare the daylights out of me. He infuriated me when he'd talk about a "woman's place is in the kitchen" just to rile me up. One time I literally chased him with a frying pan, swinging with all my might at him and cracked the paneling in the living room. He knew how to push my buttons.

I one time told the (Pretty large really large) guy down the street who was picking on me that "My brother will come down here and kick your butt!". Then I went home to beg him to please do it. Never mind that Chris was a lot smaller than that guy!

He one time burst into the room where my dad was about to give me a spanking to come to my rescue. I was screaming like I was being killed. Truth was that my dad hadn't even touched me, but Chris was going to make sure I was okay. He threw open the door, yelled "Get your hands off my sister!" only to find that my dad was still on the other side of the room giving me the "this is gonna hurt me more than it does you" speech. In a split second, I watched as my dad grabbed Chris, said "You don't tell me what to do" and gave him the spanking I deserved. (Sidenote: My dad was NOT ABUSIVE! Our parents spanked, and we deserved it. We learned right from wrong from their discipline, and all is well in the world)

In all of this, though, Chris was sick. Diagnosed at just 18 months with diabetes, I watched him suffer. A lot. I watched as he received injections of insulin every day, multiple times a day. I watched as his fingers were pricked for blood sugar testing. I watched as he had insulin reactions at times. I watched as he had to limit sugar intake while all the other kids were sucking down Kool-aid and Coca-Cola like crazy. I watched as he struggled with vision loss from retinopathy.I watched as his body took much longer to heal from things that others could heal from because of his disease. I watched.

Once, we were home alone when he had an insulin reaction. It is still vividly stuck in my mind, not the sickness itself, but the feeling of helplessness I felt that day. I remember that day saying to myself, "I never want to not know what to do when someone is sick again". Chris is the reason I'm a nurse today. He was my inspiration through all of those nursing exams and clinical days and studying for Boards.

In the past several years, I've watched as Chris's kidneys have begun to shut down. It's nothing he's done wrong. It's the wear and tear from the disease of Diabetes. We often belittle diabetes to just "cutting out sugar and carbs", but it's deadly folks. There's nothing little about diabetes. And Chris has dealt with it almost his entire life. So his kidneys have suffered a great deal, to the point of needing a transplant. I can't even tell you how hard it is to watch one of your life's biggest heroes struggle like that. The helplessness is painful.

But..oh, there's a great "but" here!
But God knew this day would come.

In 1990, I met a guy flipping hamburgers at the BCM on EKU's campus. He was handsome and eventually we fell in love. He was the first guy that my brother ever said "Don't screw this up, Holly. I like him". The first time I brought that guy home to meet my family, Chris learned that he could juggle. He proceeded to pull things out of the refrigerator and throw them at Jeff to see how much he could handle. He even pulled a ham out! And Jeff juggled it without batting an eye!

Jeff and I married, grew a family, and life went on as it has a way of doing. And all the while, inside of Jeff was a kidney that matched my brother. We didn't know it; I always assumed mine would match as his sibling, but nope. Not mine. Not our parents. Not his wife or daughter. Jeff's. And what's more, Jeff was more than willing to sacrifice that kidney for my brother to have a new lease on life.

How do I even explain how this feels? The love of my life offering a gift that will save the life of my first best friend. I'm not sure there are enough words in the world to adequately explain this. What I do know is this: I am profoundly thankful for this. And I'm profoundly proud of this. I'm proud of how Chris has faced kidney failure, with faith that has never waivered and courage that is humbling. I'm proud of how selflessly Jeff has offered his kidney, never once stopping to think of himself, but saying "I love my brother in law, so why not?"

Folks, this is love. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ, on both ends of the spectrum, as the giver or the recipient. John 15:13 says "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends". Jeff's not gonna die, nope. But he is sacrificing. And Chris has lived a life that is honorable to Christ by never questioning God's sovereignty over him. I've had a front row seat to both sides, and I'll tell ya that it's pretty amazing.

Pray for these two, my brother and my husband. October 16th is the big day. We covet your prayers. Thanks be to God for how he provides. And to Him be all the glory!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Winner!

I failed to announce here the winner of the Jen Hatmaker book. Congrats to Tony Suddath! Hope you are challenged as much as I have been by this book! For the rest of you fine folks, thanks for playing along!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A confession and a FREE giveaway!

Today, I was yelled at over the phone by a client's parent. I wasn't surprised; it certainly wasn't the first time I've been yelled at in my work. In fact, last year I kept what I jokingly referred to as the "B**** Count 2013", and let me tell you that it got up to 95 for the year (one star for every time a client called me a "B")!

When we were in Florida last month, Jeff took me on my VERY FAVORITE dolphin cruise (The Little Toot!) for our anniversary. Seriously people, this is the best dolphin cruise ever, and I've been known to get more than a little giddy when those dolphins jump right out of the water. But last month... no dolphins. Two hours on the water, and not one stinkin' dolphin. Nada. Zilch. I may or may not have pouted a little.

There's a wasp nest roughly the size of Minnesota outside my bathroom window.

My daughter can't seem to grasp the concept of no food in her room, so I found 14 Goldfish under her bed when we were cleaning/redoing her bedroom last weekend. Thankfully, it wasn't sausage like I found in her room last time. Yes, sausage. By the time I found it, it was black and soupy. We need not go there again.

My son's room looks like a tsunami went through, and it smells like the Green Bay Packers rolled around in there after a full day of practice.

I haven't been to Ethiopia in 16 months now. I Miss it. I miss my friends there.

I don't like the way one thing in my closet fits me. Not one. It's because I'm fat, and I'm working on it. But still. not one item.

Our grass got so high last week that I could have mowed the face of Abraham Lincoln as a maze and charged admission for the kids in Richmond to wonder through. I didn't.

Our basement is in shambles because the dang A/C unit leaked water (for the THIRD FREAKIN' TIME) and ruined the floor again. We've been so busy with new semester stuff and life that we haven't even gone to the store to see if the flooring is still in stock or we have to replace the whole kit and kaboodle. For now, a large portion is ripped out and it's an absolute mess.

My left ankle is currently the size of a baby's head. I'm considering drawing a face on it.

I could go on and on with things in my life that I deem "unfair" or "bad". But that would be stupid and fruitless. And 100% selfish.

You see, while I lament about not seeing dolphins and a basement floor that turned to oatmeal, people are suffering without a clean drink of water. While I mope because I haven't gotten to fly to Ethiopia, people are contracting Ebola and dying. While I fret because I got called a name that I don't like at work, people are jobless and homeless. While I am frustrated at the dirty and stinky rooms my kids have, there are those who have lost their children.

I've spent a great deal of time lately praying that God would give me new eyes. I've asked him to bring to mind the things that I used to freak out about and whine about, and then to change how I see them now. And he has done just that.

In the grand scheme of things, who cares if someone calls me names? Does it hurt? Yep, it stings a little because quite frankly, I'm not racist or a b****. But I don't know the situation that person who called me those names is in, and I've asked that God give me a love for her (and all the others!). I am tired of being side-tracked by something as trivial as a name-calling that I forget to love people in my path.

The truth is that I'm not the things she called me, but I AM SELFISH. And chances are that you are too. We all are at times, aren't we? Isn't it easy to get so wrapped up in our every day that we fail to see that people in our communities are dying and suffering and alone? Isn't it easy to forget that some of the day to day "problems" that bind us are really just minor incoveniences when compared to the plight of the homeless and those living in dire poverty all over the world? Isn't it easy to be so focused on #1 that we fail to see true need, true suffering?

I'm not trying to say we never have reason to grieve or that we don't have real problems. Believe me; I have plenty of friends suffering with real life, real hard stuff right now.. cancer, disease, divorce, addiction, abuse, abandonment. I've dealth with real stuff myself...death, infertility, rape, depression, a wandering child, etc, etc.

The difference is that I have hope, the everlasting hope.

I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's "Interrupted", and I have to tell you that once again I'm deeply convicted that the way I live out my faith is often a disservice to God. Hear me out. I read my bible, and I pray, and I know God is pleased with those things because it brings me closer to him. But I also drive by people in need, ignore the plight of those in need in my own community because it's not convenient for me, and make excuses about why I can't go serve overseas right now because I don't have enough time or money or whatever. And sometimes, those things are true. And sometimes, it's nothing but a pack of crap that I tell myself to make me feel better about disobeying God's call on my life to make him famous, to be extravagant for him.

Years ago, after my first trip to Africa (Uganda), I found myself in tears every time I walked into the grocery store because I could envision all of those sweet faces that I'd touched who were going without that day. I've often said that after trips to Ethiopia, I come back in a bit of culture shock at how spoiled we Americans really are in regard to clean water and other basic necessities of life (Not to mention our wants!)And yet, here I am, in some ways back to the mentality I had before my eyes were ever opened, complaining and throwing a tantrum about stupid, unimportant things.

So, this is my confession to you all. I have confessed to God and he has (Once again) faithfully forgiven. But I tell you all to hold me accountable in my attitude. Because my life HAS BEEN INTERRUPTED... and interrupted for good. I don't want to be the same person I was before. I don't want to pretend I don't know the plight of others. I have no idea why God would choose to place me here in my easy world instead of in another country, fighting for justice and enough food to sustain me for the day. But I do know that I can do something extraordinary with this life he has given me.

I can love

And you can too.

Are you in?

I've got a copy of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker that I'd love to give away. Comment here and I'll randomly choose a winner on Friday!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Spiritual warfare

I've heard a lot of people say that they don't believe in Spiritual warfare. The idea that there are forces of another realm out there battling for us- our minds, hearts, spirits, devotion, everything- seems a little "out there" to some. I have to disagree. First, the Bible is clear that this is the case, that we "are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:2)

But y'all, I don't just believe it because the Bible says it (although that is enough reason for me to believe it!). I believe it because I have and AM experiencing it.
Let me explain.

For the past 7 years, my faith in Christ has gone to a new level. It's not a superficial Sunday-only kind of thing. It's my LIFE, my everything. I cannot live without my Jesus, plain and simple. I don't want to live without my husband and family, but I could (that's a hard thought, but I mean it sincerely). Without Christ, I'm just done. I am at a loss for words on how to describe this love I have for One I've never seen with my physical eyes, yet feel so deeply in my soul.

Ever since this deepening, I've noticed a trend. When something big is happening, or God is calling me and my family to something deeper or special, Satan begins to attack. Every. Single. Time. When we go to Ethiopia to serve, something happens here. Our house starts falling apart, cars fail, kids go nuts (literally and figuratively), finances get tighter, jobs feel uncertain, health issues arise. Heck, twice before going to Ethiopia in the past, I've wound up in a cast or a boot just weeks before. Two years ago, I had to have my gallbladder out just before our trip. I could go on.

Some would chalk this up to coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidence.

This morning, my husband and a group of BCM students with Experience 1:8 (along with some folks from Shelbyville First Baptist) left for Guatemala. They've got a busy week ahead of them serving the people there, leading Vacation Bible School with children and serving at local churches. God has great things in store, no doubt. And here's how I know:

Last night, I argued (loudly) with my son. I can't even tell you the last time we did that (Seriously, it's been a long time). It was stupid and a total misunderstanding on both of our sides, but it was ugly and hurtful. And I have to believe that it was just another dagger from Satan to distract Jeff from his purpose while in Guatemala. You see, this is on top of the septic problem we recently had that ruined the bathroom floor in the basement (that stunk, LITERALLY!). It comes after the air conditioner that went out two weeks ago, as part of what we thought was an easy fix, only to go out again, leak gallons and gallons of water all over the basement and destroy the floor there FOR THE THIRD TIME! Third. time. people. As Jeff has prepared to go, I've watched him pull up flooring more times than I care to count. Our basement is in a royal mess as I type, and frankly I do not care. This morning, my son is running a fever, and my daughter was in tears for no apparent reason, even while we were on our way to have her hair done like she has wanted for many months.

Here's the deal. Satan can throw the darts, break the air conditioner, destroy our floors, make us argue amongst ourselves, put roadblocks in our way. But he cannot win.

Psalm 27:2 tells me "When my enemies and my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell". Jesus has our back.

But it gets even better, y'all! In Luke 10:19-20, Jesus tells his disciples (and us!) this:
"And I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don't rejoice just because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered as citizens of heaven"

So, let it come. Whatever Satan has for our family this week, we will stand, not as those who have no hope, not as defeated people. But we will stand firm in the fullness of God's grace, knowing that no matter what comes, we are His and He is ours. We have authority over satan because of Jesus, and I for one, am not taking that lightly. So this week, I will put on my armor and fight the things I cannot see through prayer and worship. I'll praise God for the opportunity Jeff and this team have to serve, and I'll joyfully stand in prayer for them while I'm at home holding down the fort (and hopefully it stays together!).

Pray for the team in Guatemala this week please. And pray for us as we wait patiently for them to come home.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014


My daughter and I have completely different perceptions of the things around us. One that is blatantly obvious lately is how she interprets any discipline or correction. You see, if we look her in the eye and speak sternly or a little louder than normal, she interprets that as yelling. This is usually followed by her lowering her head, tears flowing and some pretty dramatic responses.

I'll be the first to admit that there have been a couple of times when I did actually yell. (me, not Jeff. He's way too nice for that junk. Truly, he is the nice one in this marriage... in most every way!) I'm not proud of those moments at all. I lost my cool, became the child myself, and pitched a good fit for my child to watch. Really, it's embarassing to think that I would let my kids get the best of me and succomb to something like yelling. Heck, I'll go so far as to say on a few occassions with Bryan, I went past yelling into screaming. (I told you, it wasn't pretty).

But with Ellie, I've tried to be incredibly sensitive to her past and the fact that she is wired differently. Raising my voice to Bryan got his attention, made him aware that I meant what I was saying (even if it was the wrong way to go about it). But for Ellie, it just makes everything worse, and I know this, so I'm careful. (It's the same with joking; she just doesn't understand it at times, and her feelings get hurt very easily.)

And here is where last night comes in. As we were going into Ellie's room to put her to bed, I noticed all of her clothes from her dresser were thrown into the floor. She had been in her room before dinner and was to have put those away. She had even told us that she had already done it. This is certainly not the first time we've dealt with this same issue, and I'll admit that I wanted to yell "What the heck is this mess?".

Honestly, I'm not sure why I reacted the way I did. I just said "The clothes on your floor you are not allowed to wear because you haven't taken care of them. Tomorrow, I'll pick out what you wear to school, and it won't be something you love wearing". I picked up some trash on my way out the door and my daughter said to me words that I won't soon forget:

"Goodnight mommy. Thanks for not yelling at me for my room. I love you".

Y'all... this is huge. I was stern with her, no doubt. She has consequences that she's well aware of for not being honest with us. But there was no sadness or fear in her voice at all.

Ellie has been home for almost 5 years. And last night might be the first night ever that I've witnessed her understand that I was just being a mom. She was secure in knowing that I loved her. She didn't exaggerate my actions out of fear. She didn't shut down completely. She just accepted what I said and moved on.

This is progress, my friends. It's taken a long time to get here... longer than I even realized. But it's progress. Adoption is hard. We've been ridiculously spoiled at how easy our adoption and attachment has been. I know the harsh reality of many friends. And as relatively easy as ours has been, there have still been hard times when it seemed that Ellie may never fully realize that she is 100% ours, with all that encompasses.

I'm the same way, you know. I'm 100% God's girl, yet I often run from him instead of to him. I often misunderstand his words. I often assume he's being mean to me by not giving me my way or treating me different than his other children. But the truth is that he is for me, not against me. He is with me, not abandoning me. He is redeeming me, not disregarding me. He's giving me beauty in exchange for my ashes.

He's doing the same for you. Don't miss that. Don't overlook the progress in your life as you let him do his work.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Living out the Resurrection

This past Sunday, Christians all around celebrated Easter, also known as "Resurrection Sunday". We set aside a day to celebrate the miraculous work of Jesus on the cross.

I love Easter. I love the focus on the victory over death. But what about all the other days? How do we celebrate resurrection in our every day lives?

Let me start by saying that the resurrection was not only for Jesus' life. It is for ours as well. It saddens me to see so many Christians walking around with no hope, overcome by the things of this world. We don't have to live like that, friends. Here's what the Bible says, "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives". (Romans 6:4) I really like how another translation puts this, " that we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life".(Amplified bible)

It is time that we really do live and behave in the newness of our life with Christ. It's time to put away worry because He has it all under control. It's time to stop trying to play the role of God and trust the One who is the Great I AM. It's time to stop living as if we have no hope and instead take Him at his word and grab hold of the abundant life He desires for us.

I know there are hurts out there. People are sick. People very dear to me are struggling with major health concerns. It's hard to watch that happen and not be overcome with fear. People all around us are suffering with hunger, oppression, disappointment, depression, selfishness, pride, loneliness, bitterness, and on and on. But friends, hear this: Jesus has overcome that! His work on the cross was enough to overcome every single one of our fears. Every. Single. One.

His work on the cross was for you, my friend.

It's cliche' of Christians to say things like "Just give it to God", I know. But really, give it to him. Whatever it is that you're holding on to, whatever has you bound up in fear and worry, whatever you're holding more firmly than the hand of Jesus... I beg you to give it to him today. I promise that His hands are big enough to hold whatever you will give.

I also promise you that He redeems every single broken thing that we lay before him. My life is living proof of that. I'll end with this example:

Most of you know my story, that I have a history of rape. It was 24 years ago this saturday, April 26th, that I was raped. Some dates you just don't get out of your head. For years, I approached that day with trepidation. Even though I have forgiven and feel "ok", I couldn't help but be reminded of the hurt. Well, this year, on April 26th, I'll have my first book signing for "Colling with Grace" , a book that tells the story of my healing. God is redeeming even that day for His glory. And friends, He LONGS to do the same for you.

The resurrection wasn't just for that day in that time. The Resurrection is for you. Right here. Right now.

What's holding you back from living in the Resurrection power?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The One Thing That Will Remain

I did some shopping alone today, which is a rarity for me these days. I usually have my sidekick along for the ride. But today I stopped to look around on my way home from work, so I had the pleasure of browsing uninterrupted. I'm always amazed at what I see and hear in stores. Today was no different.

A mother and her teenage daughter argued about the price of a dress, the mother not budging despite the daughter's assurance to her that "my life is now over because I'm the only one in the whole freakin' school that won't have a dress like this". (Kudos to mom for not giving in!)

A young wife talked to her husband on the phone, explaining to him that if they could just "get that house then our life would be perfect".

The sales lady was telling her co-worker that "once I get my schooling done, then I'll be ok and life will be better".

We hear it all around us, declarations of this and that which we believe will make us happy, make our life count for something. We buy into the lies that if we don't have that perfect car, house, job, bank account, dress, shoes, children, spouse, Apple gadget, whatever.. that our lives don't matter. We believe the lies that society tells us- that without the latest craze in our lives, we just will never be memorable. We will have nothing that lasts without ___________(fill in the blank).

It's just not true, y'all. You see all of those things will rot away, go away, be taken away. What I kept hearing God whisper in my ear today as I listened to people around me was this, "Only my Church will remain".

The Church, the Body of Christ, is here to stay. When our bank accounts are empty, our houses have fallen down, our clothes have rotted away or no longer fit, when America or the whole world doesn't even exist anymore...The Body of Christ will still remain. God ordained it that way. The Church will still be the radiant Bride of Christ, His creation to spread His good news.

So, what do we do with that? What do we do with this beautiful calling He has given us, to BE THE CHURCH? Well, I believe it starts by loving the church. If we who are the Church can't love one another, then how can we ever love others? I'll be honest, some of the most difficult people in my life to love are among the Church. And if we are painfully honest, some of the Church are the reason that those who are unchurched don't want to be a part. If we love God, we MUST love the church. The Word tells us to" Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) It's hard to bear each other's burdens when we're arguing over petty things like style of worship and what we wear. Let's start loving the Church by loving it's people sincerely with our actions.  

Second, I think we have to love the calling of the Church. We are the Bride of Christ. "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:9-10) And what are those things He planned for us? Well, for starters, it's this: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) It's hard to make disciples when we stay inside the walls of our church buildings and never get to know those around us. Jesus said to "go". Maybe that means go across the street. Maybe it means go across the ocean. Maybe it means go across the living room floor. I don't know what it means for you, but I do know we have to go.

Finally, I think we have to love those who are not a part of the Church. Really, this is a part of loving the calling of the Church. If we are ever to be like Jesus, that HAS to be our goal. And y'all, this doesn't mean just to love those outside the Church that look and act and dress and talk like us. It's not just a call to love all the iPhone users or the "cool" kids. It's not about just loving those who are nice and, quite frankly, easy to love. I'm talking about REAL LOVE... serving those who are our complete opposites, sacrificing for those who don't look or act like us. I'm talking about spending time with people whose lives are nowhere near our own, people who have a different set of standards and different goals in life than us. I'm talking about people who don't live next door, perhaps don't even live in this country. And I'll remind us all that love is an action word, something we DO, not just a word we say. Jesus met the needs of people. Jesus developed meaningful relationships with those who were not a part of the Church. He intentionally went out of His way to do this. And if we really love His Church like we should, we will do that too because those people need the Church too. And shame on us if we aren't taking it to them.

It's fun to get new things. There is nothing wrong with having things, so please don't hear me say that in this post. But we, the Church of Jesus Christ, have to understand that our "things" can never hold a candle to our God. We possess the solution to every need this world will ever have. The Church will remain forevermore. Let's make sure that those around us are a part.
In other words, let's BE the Church today.


Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's hard for me to even say the words. My little boy, that sweet little 7 pound, 2 ounce baby boy is now a man. A real live adult. We did it. We made it.

I say that only in part jest. There were days I wasn't sure we'd make it. There were days that I prayed it would get here faster. But mostly there were days when just the thought of my boy being all grown up brought the sting of tears to my eyes and a burning in the pit of my stomach.

At 3 weeks old, your projectile vomiting landed us in the radiology department, drinking barium from a baby bottle. I still smile at how you vomited all of it back on that nurse who was so rude.

At 3 years old, I nearly died of humiliation as you dropped your pants in the Merle Norman store, announcing "do you see this? It is full of pee! I go now!" and proceeded to pee all over a fake tree in the store. When questioned, your only response was "Papa let me pee on trees!". Yes, son... but you were hiking in the woods!

At 4, you knew the entire digestive system, and you told it to everyone we met. Everyone. You also knew countless species of spiders and read everything you could get your hands on about them. And don't even get me started on your Star Wars or dinosaur obsessions.

In kindergarten, on the first day of school, you were asked to write your name on your paper. But instead of writing "B-R-Y-A-N" like you'd been able to do for two years, you wrote "B-O-R-I-N-G" to announce to your teacher that you were gonna need more than this.

I believe it was the 3rd grade that brought about your obsession for WW2. You researched everything you could- looking at websites we allowed and books in the kid's department of Barnes & Noble, and finally all of that knowledge culminated in your writing a book about Hitler and his cruelty. Imagine my shock as you leaped off the school bus one afternoon waving that book in the air and shouting, "Momma, you gotta see this! I wrote a book about Hitler! It's awesome!". And imagine the shock of our Jewish neighbor as he could see that you designed the cover of that book with a gigantic symbol of the nazi rule, oblivious to the meaning behind it.

There were many MANY days when Jeff and I yelled to each other in the house, not out of anger, but because you were playing your drums. But your passion was infectious, and I couldn't hardly say "no" to your desire to work on your double bass pedal for "just five more minutes".

How many nights did we spend together curled up on a hospital bed at UK Children's during your 6th grade year? There's no telling how many flushes we did together of your tube, how many dressing changes, how many trips back and forth to the doc. How many times did I hear you say "I'm tired of hurting" or "Why is this happening to me?" and want so badly to answer, but the truth was that I was asking the same questions myself.

All of those days when I picked you up from school in high school, knowing that something wasn't quite right, but you refused to talk about it? I don't know if you can imagine how many of those days I prayed all the way home that I'd know what to say and when to say it, just so that you knew we loved you and were there when you were ready to talk. How many of those days did I wish I worked longer and didn't have to pick you up because you were surly and rude and just plain mean? OH, but today... I'd do it all again with a different attitude because I see that the days are long, but the years do fly by.

We watched and prayed and disciplined while you struggled through drugs and alcohol. We did the hard things, pulling you out of school to homeschool so that we had more control of what you were into, even when you didn't want us to do it. We made the hard decision to send you away shortly until you could understand better our rules, and although we knew it was the right decision, I don't think my heart had ever been so crushed as the moment that the door shut and you were gone.

But with those hard decisions came great joy because we also got to watch you develop the understanding that it was because of our love that we gave discipline. And we watched you begin to come back to life- literally and spiritually. We watched and loved and supported as you began to ask the hard questions of God and to wrestle out the emotions of doubt and fear. We watched as you exchanged drugs and alcohol for peace in Him and a love for yourself that we hadn't seen in a long time. I'm not sure I can ever explain the pride that I feel in seeing how you've overcome those things.

Last year, we sat and cried with you and held you as you poured out your heart and the thoughts of suicide you were having. I nearly melted with pride as you made the decision to get help. But that pride didn't even come close to the pride and joy I felt a year later when I watched you write out your own story for everyone to see on Facebook and bare yourself in order to help others in the same place. Men do that, Bryan. And it was in that moment that I saw that my little boy was no longer a little boy. You were- you ARE- a man.

I'm proud of who you are. There isn't one thing that you've done or said that I'm ashamed of. Sure, there are lessons you've learned the hard way, and I wish you'd have learned them differently. But you've learned and are still learning, and for that I'm grateful. I love who you've become. I love your wit, that dry and quick sense of humor that keeps me on my toes (especially when it comes in text during a meeting!). I love your passion for justice that causes you to speak out when you see others being hurt. I love that you are unique and have NEVER desired to be exactly like anyone else.

My prayer today is that your dad and I have done our part the right way. God gave us a tremendous blessing and privilege and responsibility to be able to raise you. We've tried to honor Him in every step. I've screwed up, I know. A lot. But in my heart, I've always just wanted to do what was best, not for me but for you and God's plans for you. And now it's your turn to take the wheel, so to speak. It's your turn to do something with all we've taught.

I believe in you. I believe that you will do great things. I believe that you have within you all that is needed to change the world. I believe you were made for such a time as this- to take on the world and make it a better place. God has given you talents and skills unique to only you. My prayer is that you never waste them.

Since the first day of your 6th grade year, I've prayed this prayer for you. Every. Single. Day. I pray it still.

"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." (Ephesians 3:14-21, the Message)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hello, my name is....

I drive a red Chevy HHR. (Jeff calls it "holly's hotrod", but the truth is that her name is "Gigi, the ghetto-mobile". Now that we have that settled, I'll move on.) If I were to take a pic of a gold bull and the word "lambourghini" and stick it on my car,would I then be actually driving a Lambourghini? Why, no.. of course not! The only one who can legitimately put a Lambourghini label on a car is Lambourghini. They make it, so they can label it.

I've been listening to some podcasts lately on my drive into work, and today I listened to a sermon call "#hashtag" by Perry Noble. He talked about the labels we are given and give to ourselves and how we wear those around. It got me to thinking today.

I've slapped a few labels on myself over the years, and I'm sure you have as well. I was "perfectionist" and "damaged goods" and "victim" and many other labels for many years. Some of you wear the label of "addict" or "divorcee" or "stupid" or "unwanted" or "mistake" because of the circumstances in your life. Some of you have worn those labels for so long that they are ingrained within your very being. Some of you had those labels put there by a parent or a teacher at a very young age, and all of your life you've believed the lie. Some of you have placed the labels there yourself, then refused to forgive yourselves and so you still carry it today.

Let me propose this to you today. You didn't make you, so you don't have the right to label you. Just like slapping a bull on my car doesn't make it a Lambourghini, slapping a label on yourself (or having it slapped there by someone else) doesn't make it true for you either. God made you. He made me too. The bible tells us that he knit us together in our mothers' wombs. He is the designer of all of us, and therefore, only God has the right to label us.

But how does he label us? Well, I'm glad you asked!

If we are followers of Christ, here is what the bible tells us we ARE.

1. friends of God..."I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father" (John 15:15).

2.Justified! "But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).

3.New! "So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away--look, what is new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

4. Righteous. "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

5. FREE "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).

6. Chosen, Holy and Blameless (seriously!) "For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).

7.Redeemed and forgiven. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

8. Alive! "But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you are saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5

9.His workmanship. "For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them" (Ephesians 2:10)

10. Chosen. "We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you" … (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

11.Wonderfully made! "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14)

How about we start seeing ourselves in light of the labels that our Creator has given us, the only one who really has any right to label us at all? So, what have you been calling yourself or believing that others are calling you that you're gonna give up today? I'd love to pray with you as you work to believe His words.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A different kind of anniversary

It's been two years today since this happened. Two years of healing, of talking, of growing. Most importantly, it's been two years of watching life come back into our son. It didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen without hard work, tears, wrestling fears, and lots of prayer. It happened though, and for this healing I am eternally grateful. My son is not alone in this fight. Millions of others suffer depression, yet they never take the step to ask for help. Many give up completely and follow through with a suicide plan. It's hard for me to even write those words, knowing the reality for so many other parents is not as beautiful as ours.

I don't post this for pity or attention. I post this so that others know they are not alone. Bryan has said he is fine with letting people know if it encourages even one to seek help, to speak out. I'm so proud of him. I'm so thankful for his life. I'm so humbled to have been chosen as his mom.

This is a fight that our world must keep fighting. As followers of Christ, we must bring to light the reality of depression and its effects. If you need help, please don't wait too late. If you think your child needs help, please talk to them. You might be surprised at how much they tell you simply because you asked.

Here is our story, as told one year ago today:

One year ago today, I sat in this very chair that I now sit typing. Across from me was our son Bryan. It was a rather typical Tuesday afternoon, and we were going through the day's homeschooling assignments. I asked a simple question while I looked over his workbook, but he never answered me. I looked up to find tears running down his cheeks and a look of defeat on his face. As I reached across the table to touch his hands that were shaking, he said "I cannot do this anymore".

Those words changed the course of not only that day, but the whole year that followed. What I heard next pierced deep into my heart. My son looked down, unable to make eye contact and said, "I want to die. I want to kill myself mom. I'm not safe."

If you've never heard those words from your child or a loved one, you can't understand how I felt. Jeff got home shortly afterward, and he too heard those words.

We were shaken.

For those who may not know me well, let me explain that I am a psychiatric nurse. I do this stuff for a living. I've heard many people, young and old, utter those same words throughout my career. I've hurt with them, rejoiced in healing, grieved when things didn't get better. But never once had I sat in that spot as the mother of a child who was severely depressed. Bryan had dealt with some mild depression and anxiety issues in the past, but it had never gotten to this point. In fact, he had done so well in the year previously  that he had gone off all of his medication.

Yes, there were "signs". He was not sleeping as well. He was a bit more irritable. He was a little more withdrawn from us and from friends. But really, we had no way of knowing it had gotten this bad. You see, Bryan hadn't wanted us to know it was that bad. He had done a fantastic job of making it look like things were okay. I can't tell you how many times I've thanked God that on that Tuesday last January, he decided that he'd had enough.

Because Bryan not only was voicing suicidal thoughts, but he had a plan for harming himself, we had no choice but to hospitalize him for safety. It was excruciating to leave that hospital that night without him. I wanted to scream. I wanted to offer to stay home with him all the time until he felt safe. But in my heart, I knew that he needed to do this. He needed to go and learn that he had a voice and that he could learn to help himself. I still firmly believe that while it seemed that the hospital stay did little more than provide him safety while his feelings were intense, in all actuality it showed Bryan that when he voiced his feelings, he got help. It's important for people to know that they are heard, and Bryan knew it.

In the year that has followed, I've watched my son overcome. He's overcome depression. He's overcome suicidal thoughts. He's overcome stigma. He's overcome the overwhelming anxiety. He's overcome fear.

Is he perfect? Heck no! (are any of us?) But he has a strength that I had not seen before this year.

Today, I asked him what has been the key for his healing. Typical of Bryan, his first response was "I don't know. I got happy.". But when he answered seriously, he said "I started taking my faith seriously. It's not perfect, but I know I have God.". He also made changes in some of the music he had been listening to prior to this time last year, changing from some really dark and sad stuff to more positive music (Yes, screaming music can still be positive). And he's worked hard to be with people. As an introvert, that's not easy, and I've watched with pride as he has come out of his shell more this year and put himself out there to be in relation with people.

I write this today with his permission. I write this because depression is no respecter of persons. It hits the young and old, rich and poor, white collar and blue collar, fat and thin, athletic and non-athletics. It doesn't care if you're from a family of faith and pray every day; it still creeps in, telling you that you're not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not...... Depression sucks the air from your lungs and leaves you gasping. It sharpens its claws on your heart, ripping it to shreds before you know what hit you. It replaces optimism with fear, unbelief, panic and paralysis. 

Depression kills.

Our family is one of the lucky ones. In my heart, and because of conversations with Bryan throughout this year, I believe that had we not sat down together that afternoon, Bryan wouldn't be here today. I believe that had I not listened that day, this would be a whole different kind of anniversary for us. To say that I celebrate this day is an understatement that I cannot begin to explain. Our family can rejoice even while countless other families stare at an empty chair at their tables tonight.

If you're reading this, and you are experiencing any of the things I've written about, please get help. Call 1-800-783-TALK if you don't have anyone you can talk to. Call your best friend. Call your mom or dad. Go to your spouse. Call your doctor. Call your church and talk to a pastor. Talk to someone. And if you suspect that your child (or spouse or friends of whomever) is suffering, don't stop asking questions and telling them you love them. Because let me assure you that it's worth them being aggravated to let them know you are here. Our family can attest to that, and Bryan will assure you that we've never let him rest in that area.

I've witnessed God's healing in many areas of life. This one is extra special because I've watched as God has breathed life into our son again. And y'all, that is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

on Petrino, football and what's getting my feathers ruffled...

If you know me at all, you know I love the Louisville Cardinals (really, throw up your "L's" people!). I don't try to hide it. Heck, if you know who I am married to, you know that I'd have no choice really in rooting for the 'Ville, not that I'm arguing. I bleed red; I just do.

If you've been alive at all in the past week and live in the good ol' state of KY, you know that the Cardinals have been all over the media. Word has it, Bobby Petrino is back in town. I won't discuss here one way or the other how I feel about his return. I will say this: his win ratio in his previous stint here left me less than surprised at his return. But that's not what this post is about.

I'm frustrated at the negativity I see about the whole thing. It's become less about football and more about personal attack. I see bravado on both sides of the arguments from Cardinal fans. And good gravy, don't even get me started on the crap I see from those who aren't even fans at all (ahem, UK peeps).

I get it. We love our football. We love our teams. We love red or blue or whatever other color you want to throw in there. We love our mascots. We love our players when they play well. We love our programs when they win. blah to the stinkin' blah.

I've learned a couple of things in the discussion. I've learned the winning record of Petrino in the past. I've learned the names of assistant coaches. I've learned more about people's moral failures than I ever needed to know (I mean, is it really our business!?). But more than anything, in reading blogs, facebook chats and articles, hearing news stories and talking to people around me, I've learned one truth.

People love to keep others down like a dog loves a bone.

I'm not going to discuss how I feel about moral failures in general or among coaches. I'm not going to discuss sanctions against schools or programs or anything else like that. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW I FEEL.

No matter what the offense, there will always always always, 100% of the time always (did I mention ALWAYS) be those that refuse to let a man get back up. They'll drag what's in the past back to the forefront every single time in order to reopen the wound. Just read anything about Petrino right now if you don't believe me. Some believe he's changed; others are harping on former offenses like a tic on a hairy goat.

I can't stand it anymore. I really don't care what he did or she did or you did. Because quite frankly, I'm too exhausted trying to repent and fix what I did. Give it a rest, people, beacuse you know what? You're not perfect either.

I'm a darn good nurse. Thank goodness that my employer didn't search back to when I was fresh out of nursing school and failed my Boards and made the assumption that I must stink as a professional. Because you know what? I screwed up. But that doesn't mean I'm not a good nurse now.

Let the man do his job. Let the players play. Let the AD be the AD. Let. It. Go.
And if he messes up and repeats the same behaviors on the field and off again, let it go again. (that's not to say, keep him if he does it again. There are consequences for our actions, but I digress) Because guess what? You and I will mess up again too! And again and again and again.

By the way, if you comment on here about your opinion of Petrino, I will delete it beacuse you clearly didn't get the gist of this post.

Go and be peaceful, y'all. Life is too short for this nonsense.
Oh, and GO CARDS. L1C4~

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Count

It all started as a joke back in December of 2012. I made a remark to Jeff that I was tired of being called ugly names by parents of kids that I work with when their demands weren't being met immediately. He jokingly said, "You should keep track of how many times that happens in the new year".

I went with it.

Beginning on January 1, 2013, I kept track of every time someone that I was trying to help at work called me a bad name or said something nasty to me. Now, let me remind you that I work part time, so in 2013, I worked 0approximately 192 days (with time off for vacation accounted for and only working 4 days a week regularly). In those approximately 190 days, I was called names/cursed at 95 times.

Even I was surprised at the number. You see, I expected that if it were that high, I'd be frustrated and ready to quit my job. I expected that I'd feel defeated and angry even. But last week, I worked my last day of 2013 and the count was finished, and all I felt was sadness.

Sadness? Yes.

I spent time this year talking to people who have worked as prostitutes, ladies who dance naked for a living, people who have served prison time for child abuse and drug charges, people who are wealthy, people who are poor, people who are addicted, people who are gay, people who are straight , people who believe in Jesus, people who vehemently deny His existence, and everyone in between.  One of the greatest things about my job is that I'm able to talk with folks of all walks of life. I love that! I love talking and getting to know people who don't think like I do or live like I do. I believe we are supposed to spend time with people who are different than us. But I digress...

Out of all of the people I listed above, do you want to know who it is that spoke the worst to me, and is one of only two or three that I actually remember specifically? It's probably not who some of you would guess. The one person who treated me the worst and sticks out most in my mind is the pastor who is nasty when he calls.

I talk to him regularly. It's never been good. I have never had a conversation  with him that left me smiling. Truth be told, if I were not secure in my faith and my personal relationship with Jesus, I'd never want anything to do with Christ or any of his followers at all after talking with this guy. And so I'm left with overwhelming sadness by this.

Here's the deal. I can't expect those I work with or come across in my day to day life who do not believe in Jesus or have a relationship with him to act like Jesus. None of us can. It's ludicrous to expect that. But if we DO profess to love Jesus and His word, and we say that we want our lives to reflect His, then we better be living like He actually lived.

I'm tired of the arguing, the backbiting, the gossip, the hatred, the plain ol' meanness that I see among believers, myself included. Before you think that I'm getting on a high horse, please hear me say that I am an offender too. I've claimed the name of Jesus while looking down on others. I've hurt people, even if it is unintentional. When we fail to try and get to know the real person and not just what we see on the outside, we aren't acting like Jesus. I don't like it when someone does that to me, and I have no business doing it to others.

One of my goals for this year is to spend more time with people whose lives look differently than mine. I want to really love people, and if that's my goal, well then I have to KNOW them better. I want my life to really look like Jesus' life, and let's be honest, Jesus was constantly offending the religious leaders. I'm not saying that I want to offend people in the church; that's not my goal. But I don't want to keep from really loving people just because I'm afraid of what some in the church might think. I want people to see Jesus in my actions, hear him in my words, and feel him in my touch. It will mean getting out of my comfort zone, getting dirty at times even. But if I really want to be like Jesus, I have to act like Jesus, and when I read the Scriptures, I see Jesus hanging with those who weren't like him and serving them.

John 15:8 records Jesus saying this: "When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father".

Oh, how I want to produce much fruit in 2014!

No more keeping count of the times someone curses me this year. I don't need it. Here's to fresh starts with a God who never leaves me alone. May I bring him much glory this year.