Tuesday, October 2

Irony...

Happy FALL Tuesday morning, all! Don't you just love this season? I think it's my favorite, and I get a boost of energy this time of year. This morning, I've already taught spinning, jogged, fixed breakfast, done a few loads of laundry and enjoyed a sermon on my iPod. AND... I still have to get ready to teach two TOT classes yet I've decided I have time to blog. Hmmmm.... This may not be the best decision.

A few days ago, I posted a status update on Facebook which revealed my disgust with pastors/people/teachers/etc. that lead others to believe that salvation and freedom are found in keeping the Law. These kinds of teachers usually introduce the Bible as a "guide for how we should live".

This type of teaching frustrates me, because I believe that it is only part of the story. I think it shares only a PIECE of the gospel, and it's not a very good piece if nothing else is shared. But, I also understand that in sharing my thoughts/feelings, some might think that I don't see a place for the teaching of law, like I'm AGAINST rule following.

There's really nothing that could be further from the truth. But, when I hear someone share Christianity in a way that leads others to DO better rather than to REST in the ONE who has done it all PERFECTLY, I know something is missing. Let me try to explain myself.

The sermon series that I am currently listening to is on Hebrews. It is taught by Matt Chandler at The Village Church, and it is from 2006. Hebrews is FILLED with references to the law and the Old Testament priests. In essence, the author of Hebrews says that the former way (Old Testament keeping of the law) didn't work. God established the law. Humanity demonstrated that it could not keep the law. Therefore, the system of priesthood had to be established SO THAT we could continue on in relationship with God. And, honestly, when you read through the sacrifices and feasts and routines that had to be followed, it's exhausting! So, Christ came as THE High Priest. He lived the perfect life, and He died. HIS death and life restore us with God. In fact, Hebrews states many times that Jesus is the BETTER way. He is the guarantee of a BETTER covenant.

So if Jesus is THE way and the gospels tell us that His work is finished... COMPLETE, why do we keep running back to the law? It so confuses me, because I believe that the law was established to bring us to the END of ourselves. Actually, following laws establishes some safety and provides some order for society. But, in the end, Christ points out that if following the law is our means to salvation, we must follow it PERFECTLY... ALL OF IT... in word, in deed, and in our thoughts. If  I allow the Law to do it's job, I realize after only seconds have passed that I need HELP. I  need a Savior!

So, I get frustrated with teachers pushing the law OVER relationship with a gracious and merciful Jesus, because when life gets hard and circumstances seem unbearable, following a list of do's and don'ts has NO POWER to provide life. For those people in this world that are CAUGHT in addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, whatever.... bearing down and DOING the right thing will work only for a while. But, we don't have the POWER to overcome them in ourselves. We need a Savior!

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God DID by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. Romans 8:3

Hallelujah! He DID it. That's past tense. It really is finished. He's overcome it all and my only job now is to REST in Him.

Here's the ironic part of my story. While my listening has been in Hebrews, my quiet time reading has been in Psalm 119! The WHOLE Psalm speaks of the  psalmist,s LOVE for the law. :).

I will never forget your precepts.

I love your commands.

Your commands are my delight.

With each of my readings, I'm in agreement with the psalmist. I also believe the law is important. And, I love reading and studying the Word. But, it was never meant to be my salvation. It was never meant to be my focus.

It DEMONSTRATES that I need a Savior, and then it points me to that Savior. When I truly found Christ (not just for salvation and the assurance of heaven but as healer, friend and Redeemer) and learned to REST in His care and His provision, the Law (His Word) became my delight. I trust the Word of God, because I KNOW the Son of God. I desire to follow in His ways, because I believe that He is THE Way.

Here's my fear.... Are we dressing up, playing the part, following the rules and NEVER being honest about the darkness within us? It's there! The struggles are real for everyone. If following rules has become our salvation SO THAT no one ever knows the darkness within us, then the Law hasn't served it's purpose in us. There IS struggle. There IS weakness. Because we ARE human. God's Word points that out clearly. Then, it shows me the One who fulfilled that Law FOR us. That's why I love the Word. That's why I cling to His laws and decrees.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. Psalm 119:92

Sunday, September 9

Update...

Wow! What a crazy, hectic, unbelievably busy time of year. For me, it's always been that way. The life of a school teacher is chaotic during the late summer and early fall months. I gave that life up to be Mom, and now school beginning is crazy again because all three have their own school schedule.

But, this year we added a few extras. :). Moving! Unpacking! Settling in! Registering for NEW everything! Oh yeah... and starting a new business!

Yep! The last few months are a FOG! They are almost as foggy as the newborn months for each of the 3 C's. I'm not sure I'll remember ANY of it. But, we survived.

The kids are settled in, and they ABSOLUTELY love New Albany. I knew they'd adjust, because they're kids. But, I had NO idea they would fall in love with this place and these people as quickly as they have. And, I NEVER dreamed that the children in their schools would be so eager to include them.

Scotty and I are settled in. This small town already feels like home to us, and we've met some great people who have helped to make this transition an easy one. God has continued to provide for us exactly what we need when we need it and has confirmed OVER AND OVER that THIS is where we belong.

Starting a TOT business here has been CRAZY since I AM NOT a salesperson. Man! Have I had to step out of my comfort zone big time! And, what I discovered... again... is that blessings abound outside of the comfort zone. There's NOWHERE that is outside of God's comfort zone. So, He has been ready and willing to take over when I was faced with a job that I felt I COULD NOT do.

I wish I could load lots and lots of pictures to "show" pieces of our new life. I'd love to retell all of the stories that demonstrate how perfectly planned this move was for us. I just don't have the time and you wouldn't read all of it anyway. :)

What I do want to say is that while confirmation has been given time and time again that the Rogers belong in New Albany, MS, there have still been countless times that we've started to do something only to have it not work out "correctly".

Registering the kids for school did not go as smoothly as we would have hoped it would go.

Setting up "home" is having to be done in pieces, although I'd really like for every picture, every wall and every room to be perfect NOW.

We still have not come to a conclusion as to which church will be best for us.

Finding schools to allow me to do TOT proved to be harder than I had though it would be.

This list could really go on forever. But, it would be pointless. Because in every instance, I could then tell you how and why it worked BETTER the way it happened. Everything has taken place exactly as it should, because I've (we all have) been called into greater dependence on Him. In every example that I've given, just as I've started to fret and worry, God has come through in such a mighty way. I never had to guess WHO was at work. He has been showing me that He is working on behalf of me and my family in ways that I can't even imagine.

So, there is a verse that is now taped to the wall in my office. It's the verse that I speak in my head each morning. And, it's the reason that I voice my hopes and my desires to the Lord but then desperately plead for His way and not my way. He's proven that He knows so much more than I do. (big smile) And, He's shown me HOW MUCH I would have missed out on had we refused to follow His lead even though we couldn't see how it would/could work.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

God's sovereign will is something I've grown to love, seek and TRUST! There's absolutely nothing that can derail His plan for my life. And, life is much more peaceful for me when I wake up in the morning asking the Lord to show me the steps He's determined for me.

Thursday, August 16

The Fighter

So... I'm a runner! Truthfully, I'm a jogger. But, no one ever says, "I'm going for a jog." We say we're going running. And, it sounds really good. So I'm o.k. with that.

Running is something I've always wanted to be able to do. And, until 3 years ago, I COULD NOT! I've always been in pretty good shape. I love the gym and have usually done classes. But, when I'd try running, my lungs would fail me. I could run! Or, I could breathe! But, I couldn't manage both at the same time.

So, it's empowering for me to get out there and run 2, 3, 5 miles and not collapse. And, the secret to my being able to run in the beginning was the music! Carefully planned playlists were loaded to my iPod for each run, and when there was no more music, there was not more running.

My playlists are a mixture. There's definitely some praise and worship. But, I have some popular and rock music as well. The other day I downloaded a song currently being played on the radio called, The Fighter. It's a GREAT song for a running playlist. But, let me just go ahead and warn you that there are a couple of not so good words. I'm sorry if you think less of me now.

Moving on... I was listening to the words, and I began to have some real spiritual thoughts associated with the lyrics. It's basically talking about pressing on in uncertain times. The artist is urging others to FIGHT regardless of what your situation looks like or what others expect from your life.

In this day and time, "FIGHT" isn't a word we like to use. In recent years, devastating acts have led to things like "zero tolerance" in schools and in homes. "PEACE" is a much more socially accepted term. And, we've almost moved into a "peace at all cost" mentality. As believers, we've lost too many battles searching for peace regardless of the cost.

However, that's not at all the kind of life that Jesus led. I think He was a fighter. I don't believe He just started fights for no reason. I also don't think He fought like the religious expected Him to fight. But, Jesus knew what His purpose in life was. And, when something or someone came against that purpose, He fought against it. And, when the opposition was a bunch of Pharisees trying to exalt the law... rules that THEY had established as the way, the truth and the life, Jesus fought against THEM! Praise God for that. Praise Him that even though this world is STILL full of Pharisee that will take rules over relationship as a way of life, He has given us His Word that shows us He has a better way. Jesus is the ONLY way.

O.K., I could write and write on the frustrations of legalism and rule following and how teachers of this practice have led people in NEED of a Savior away, but that's not my point of writing today. So, I'll get back on track.

My question as I listened to this song was, "What's holding us back?"

What do we need to fight against in order to enjoy the FULL, abundant life that God ordained for us in Christ Jesus? Is there anything that hinders us, but we've made peace with it, because fighting against it would just be too hard?

Some of the things that I thought of were...

Our marriages! Obviously, this one is HUGE to Scotty and me. How many of us are going through the motions of life with a partner but NEVER enjoying our spouse intimately as God intended? Maybe, life is good... great kids, community, work, etc. But,  close relationship and real SHARING of life is missing and you've decided that's just how marriage is when you "grow up". NO! Fight against it! God meant for there to more than sharing a home with a mate. If you feel like something is missing, I'd be willing to bet there is. Let the first step in the fight be swallowing pride and asking for help BEFORE it's too late. Determine in your heart that achieving ALL that God wants for your marriage is your goal and settle for nothing less. That's a fight that would be worth it! Peace at all cost in your marriage CAN be devastating.

Our families. Parenting is just hard, right? At every stage, there are challenges. And, at every stage, there are situations that call for a struggle... a fight. And, sometimes, life would be so much easier if we just ignored the struggle. In our family, the days would be so much more pleasant if we NEVER asked our children to do anything or if we NEVER said "no" to one of their requests. If I did all of the housework even though they are old enough to HELP, they would be such happy children. If we would just let Caleb play every game created for the X Box EVEN THOUGH the rating CLEARLY says "MATURE" AND HE'S 9!, he would feel like I was such a great parent. (can you tell that's a big one?) These are only two examples, but they prove my point. I could take on a peace at all cost mentality, but I wouldn't achieve results that I'm looking for. I have seen the adults walking around without ANY sense of work ethic, and that's not really what I want to be looking at in 10 to 12 years in my children, so my struggle over chores is worth it. And, I believe in the words to the long lost song "Be careful little eyes what you see..." As guardian over these precious hearts, protecting what goes into their minds is important to me. So, we we are praying for continued strength to fight for the BEST for our children in a world where even believers are throwing in the towel, because immediate peace is more desirable.

Our churches. Hmmmm.... I'm treading carefully here, because I am in the South. I know. I love "church" too. I grew up in church, I want my children in church, and "church people" are some of the most wonderful people I've ever known. But, churches are flawed, because WE are flawed. Our churches are sitting in the middle of communities where people are bruised, banged up and burned by life and are often too caught up in the routine of CHURCH to actually BE the church to the hurting. I think many times there are people within church bodies that KNOW what needs to be done. But, to actually DO it would cause friction. There may be some uncomfortable conversations to be had and someone might get angry. Now, please understand, I'm not talking about the wacky divisions that happen in churches over paint color and what we name our Bible study hour. I'm talking about making changes that create environments within the church walls where Jesus Christ is preached, experienced and sought after completely. I believe that any time a church determines to pursue Christ above ALL ELSE (including image) they have a fight on their hands, because this world isn't for it. And, the scriptures have warned us that this would be the case, because Jesus had a fight on his hands.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Matthew 10:16

So, what I'm trying to say in this TOO LONG post is that sometimes a fight has to take place in order for the peace to come. We live in a fallen world, so there are ALL sorts of things warring against the life God desires for us to have. The world WON'T back down. Our enemy has no intention of waving a white flag. So, WHY ARE WE? Satan is defeated already! His victories are temporary! He knows it, so he's fighting harder.

Are you feeling defeated in your marriage, your family, your church? Do you feel food, alcohol, drugs, or another person has power over you? Whatever it is that is hindering you from experiencing God's presence in every day and knowing that He is enough must go! Wage an all out war against it and don't settle for less. And, if it means asking for help, get on that TO...DAY!!! What's the worst thing that could happen? Someone might know you have issues?

Well... I speak from experience when I say... I bet they have their own bag of issues too. :)

Peace is important, sure. But, when it comes to the things threatening to destroy our lives, let's have the world say of us... "This one's a fighter."

Tuesday, August 7

To everything, there is a season...

July, 19, 2007 began a season within a season for our family. That is the day that Elizabeth Claire Rogers came into this world. Our season of "married with small children" was already going strong. But, surprisingly, God allowed us to add a baby girl to our VERY boy world.

 We've had a few things going on this summer, and I MISSED writing about Claire Bear on her birthday. But, today, Scotty and I dropped her off at Kindergarten. And, I'm feeling like this day is worthy of a blog post.

First of all, for those of you with small children at home, I KNOW all about the season of life you are in. Your world is completely dictated by other people. You can't do anything without being interrupted. Full conversations are a thing of the past and you find yourself using words like "potty" instead of "restroom" while speaking to adults! If you have a baby in the mix of the small children, focus on fashion has also left the scene. Now, you get dressed and just hope you make it where you need to go without throw up (or worse!) on your clothes.

This season is difficult by any standards. But, when you throw sleepless nights into the mix, sometimes it can seem that your life will ALWAYS be consumed with babies, diapers and clean ups. Yet... people keep saying irritating things like, "Enjoy this time. It will be over before you know it!"


 



It seemed impossible. But, now, I know it's true. It seems like yesterday, Claire was our newborn... just home from the hospital. And, this morning, she hopped out of the car and walked in to her first day of BIG  school.

Claire has added MUCH to our family. Being the only girl obviously adds a lot of elements that we wouldn't have had without her. And, I'm so very grateful that God allowed us to experience life with sons AND a daughter. But, she's added a million other things... smiles, joy, laughter... LOUD laughter, and love. Today, her going to kindergarten, ends a season for me.


Thankfully, a new season begins when an old season ends. I can't wish these giant children back to babies. But, I can look back over the previous years and move on with renewed strength and vision for the future. As many great memories as I have of the past 9 1/2 years as a mom, there are things I would have liked to have done differently.... BETTER!

And, that's the beauty of a fresh start. I can purpose to do the next season better. Maybe you are staring at the end of a season in your life. Whether it's children going off to school, a move, a job change, or.... you fill in the blank, a new season provides opportunities to use the lessons of past experiences to create NEW & BETTER for yourself and for those around you in the season to come. The only other option is to attempt to stand still! And, life is moving on QUICKLY whether we join in or not.

I can think of SO MANY verses I'd like to include in this post. All of them apply to the point I'm trying to make. And, I'm seriously fighting the urge to type each and every one out and say, "Pick the one that most speaks to you..."

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.  Jeremiah 29:11

In every season of my life, this has been a favorite verse. The sovereign LORD of the universe has GREAT plans for me, my family, my children (AND YOU!). AND.... He knows how each and every one of my life's seasons fit together to bring me to HIS exact plans.

So, when I think I'm JUST packing lunches, fussing at quarrelsome children, washing clothes, folding clothes, fixing dinners, etc., I can trust that God is working in me and through me to bring about HIS plans and HIS future. Now, that adds some excitement to life and some importance to my "seasons".

Wednesday, July 25

Remember His Faithfulness

I love Psalms! Well, not really any more than I love all of the scriptures. But, there's something so very real about the writers of Psalms. I can appreciate the sincerity in their words when one minute they are praising God... singing and dancing in His presence. Then, a few lines later, I read sentences describing feelings of loneliness and near bitterness towards God.

In reading, it seems almost like they've FORGOTTEN who God had been to them only a few lines earlier. Also, it's evident in the writing that the focus changes from God to self. And, with the shift in focus, there's an obvious shift in mood. I can also experience MANY of these focus shifts that become noticeable in my mood. In those moments, all that I need, want, or desire become priority. The problem here is that this attitude causes me to focus on all that I'm MISSING rather than on all that I've been GIVEN.

Psalm 77 is a perfect example of this problem. The psalmist begins writing in an attitude of want... He's recounting all that he DOESN'T HAVE..

"I was in distress and I sought the LORD... my soul refused to be comforted... I mused and my spirit grew faint... Will the LORD reject forever?... Has his unfailing love vanished?... Has God forgotten to be merciful?"

It sounds harsh, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure I would NEVER utter these words about God. But, before you think I'm saying that I'm better than this Psalmist, I'm SURE my actions have revealed the same attitude. His attitude and the attitude that I know I've had is...


Because I'm not experiencing the things that I WANT to experience from the LORD, I'm miserable, I'm suffering, I'm .... (you fill in the blank)

Now, let me say that feelings are real! I'm in no way supportive of disregarding feelings or not dealing with how negative circumstances can hurt us. But, when we remain in the attitudes expressed in the beginning of Psalm 77, I believe we/I demonstrate the selective amnesia we have when it comes to the work of the LORD in our lives.


So... what's the answer? How do we get out of the mindset of "I need" and "I want"? Well, the Psalmist says to remember!

"Then I thought, To this I will appeal... I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."

The rest of the Psalm is written by an author with a much different mood. So, what changed his mind? I don't read that the LORD stepped in with a mighty miracle or just the answer the writer was looking for. It appears that a change of focus created a change of heart. Instead of focusing on all that the LORD wasn't doing in his life, the Psalmist began to focus on his list of all that the LORD had done. And, that list was long!

Please go to Psalm 77 and read this list of God's faithfulness for yourself. I've got mine right in front of me, and I can tell you that it's full of many things that I've NOT experienced the LORD doing in my own life. But, I DO have my own list that is FULL of His faithfulness. And, I bet you have yours too. I think we need it in writing... a visual reminder of the faithfulness of God.

And, the next time we wake up to a difficult day, situation, etc, we can look back at the list and trust the fact that He was faithful then, He WILL be faithful again. It's who He is...

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."   Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, June 26

He is ENOUGH!

I'd like to say that I can't believe how LONG it's been since I posted anything on this blog. BUT... I know what the last month has consisted of for us, so I can't say that I'm shocked that I've been unable to blog. I find it interesting, thought, that as life gets hectic and major things are happening all at once, I begin to write them into blog posts in my head even though they never make it here. And, I'm NOT a true writer, so that's something I've never experienced before.

My last post was May, 20th. I would absolutely love to write out everything that's happened since then. There have been anxieties, excitements, answered prayers, frustrations, burdens, JOYS... and the list could go on and on. But, mainly, God has called me into a month of even more introspection and individual time. I am very much a social person. I'm not overly outgoing or dramatic, BUT I've always enjoyed my friendships, my social time... fellowshipping with others is IMPORTANT to me. This year, though, the Lord has said "No!" to alot of that fellowship time. He's called me to devote individual time to Him... not Bible study and not corporate worship.... just me and Him. Aside from the guide that I'm following for quiet times, I've been listening to as many sermons as I can get downloaded to my phone.

I listen to several different pastors from several different churches. But, over the past few weeks, I've been shocked at how many times I've heard the same message in various different ways. JOY! Over and over, these pastors are inserting into their messages (which are all of different titles with different scripture references) that believers should live lives of JOY regardless of our situations. And, each speaker is careful to say that JOY is different from HAPPINESS.

Happiness is VERY dependent on circumstances. And, we definitely have circumstances in life that create happiness within us. But, JOY isn't dependent on what goes on around us. Joy comes from the Spirit living within us. JOY comes from the HOPE within that says (even in the midst of turmoil), "God WILL work this out for my good."

I think you will see why these words from Matt Chandler's sermon speak volumes to me. I had to write them down in my journal. I read them regularly, and I want to share them with you...

"Even if you love Jesus Christ, it is very possible - even probable - there will be days and seasons where your tears and your snot are your only food. Days where you - in a ball on the floor - can't think weekly or monthly or it would CRUSH you. There will be days where the thought of having to endure longer than today feels impossible. And, I'm talking about those that LOVE Jesus Christ.... The beauty of the gospel is NOT that in trusting Christ everything goes like you want it to go. The beauty of the gospel is that we get GOD regardless of our circumstances and HE IS ENOUGH!"

So...

...when you're sitting in an office and hearing your husband's confession of betrayal, HE IS ENOUGH!

"But, I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love, for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

...when situations and poor choices bring you to a place of anxiety over the loss of a job and financial insecurity, HE IS ENOUGH!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19


...when life is uncertain, friends are uncertain, circumstances are uncertain and you just don't know what the outcome to ANYTHING will be.... HE IS ENOUGH! When you are preparing to leave everything you've known for years and move into a new place with a new life and all of it's unknowns, HE IS ENOUGH!!!!!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6


Truth be told, I've had to take a break from many interactions with people and a break from writing in the blog, because I needed to do a self check! I needed to step back and look at the whole of the situation with God and check my motives. As I've looked over the past year and the year ahead that God is preparing for us, it's clear to me that He deserves every bit of the praise, glory and honor that I've attempted to give here. At times, I've held back a little. I've been timid about sharing the extent of my walk with God through the year for fear that someone would feel I was praising ME and my doings.

Now that I've reflected over the year, there's no way that I could praise myself at all! There's nothing good that has come of this situation because of me. I have made myself willing to surrender to the Lord's plans through all of this. But, really, I can't even take credit for THAT. His faithfulness to me in the past is what has caused me to be able to submit to His will time and time again. His way works best, and so HE gets credit for my submission.

This may be the last time that I post from Clinton, MS. So, without apology and without hesitation, I say to anyone who has lived through this year WITH us and around us...  PLEASE get to know this God that I'm speaking of for yourself. And, not just on Sunday mornings in worship, in SS classes or Bible studies. Testify to the ways that He shows up in YOUR life and don't be satisfied with sharing in the stories that others have. Dig DEEPLY into His Word for the purpose of getting to know HIM more and more rather than just to have more knowledge so you sound really good in church settings! And, set aside the need to maintain a certain image. If God calls you (or circumstances force you) to suffer the loss of a certain self image in order to find HIM more valuable than the reputation, go with HIM on the journey. HE is WORTH IT!

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50: 20


"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

It's my deepest desire that my blog or my story has encouraged a few of you to do just that! THAT is the only reason I've spoken openly about a horrible situation! That's the single mission I've had as I've shared things that are extremely uncomfortable! To hear that anyone has come away thinking anything other than, "GOD IS GOOD AND I WANT TO KNOW HIM MORE!" would be extremely disappointing to me.

When life gets tough, believing in Him and trusting Him at the core of your being will make the difference between just surviving the tragedy and thriving in spite of it.

So, I'm not leaving the blog world! But, I believe the posts will begin to have a different angle. Hopefully, I'll have time to post about all of the new adventures our family will experience at home, in school, at work, etc. And, then, the newness will wear off. And, life will carry on as life does until the next difficult time arises. I don't know what it will be, but I DO know that God can be trusted with it.

He is sovereign!

He is faithful!

And, He is so, so GOOD!

Sunday, May 20

Happy Anniversary!

I'm so thankful that God is able to take the absolute worst of situations and turn them into miraculous life events. I'm so grateful that He's not only able.... He's absolutely willing! It's His great pleasure to love on His own during life's toughest moments.

That's what this year has been. It's included some of the worst moments I ever thought I'd have to live through. Life has consisted of a number of events, circumstances and feelings that I wouldn't wish on ANYONE!

But, THROUGH those events and situations, God has blessed me in a variety of ways. I have been very vague about some of those blessings for a couple of reasons. First of all, I didn't want people to think that I am bragging. I know that the positive experiences we are having are the result of a MIGHTY God at work in and around us. But, I have feared that to speak specifically about His work in our life and marriage would cause people to think of me as prideful and arrogant. Over the past couple of days, I've been struck by two lessons.

First, we are called to "boast".

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1: 31

A large part of the way in which we lead others to our gracious Heavenly Father is by showing them WHO He is in our lives. All throughout New Testament scripture, Jesus positively touches the life of an individual and the natural response is that person RUNNING to tell others about HIM.

And, secondly, without going into ANY detail.... there WILL be those that choose to think of me as prideful and arrogant regardless of how careful I attempt to be.

So, it's because of those two reasons that I want to "boast" in an effort to make so much of God that it causes anyone reading this post to rest in the comfort that if God would so abundantly bless Scotty and me in this mess that we created, He would certainly do the same for you. My absolute prayer in choosing to share publicly in this experience has been that our story would mark EVERYONE that hears it in a way that calls them to a more complete trust in a faithful God.

Scotty and I celebrated this faithfulness on Thursday in a small ceremony where we renewed our vows in celebration of 15 years of marriage. There were only 5 people (including us) in attendance. But, it was so very sweet and extremely memorable.

On May 17th, 1997, Scotty and I recited vows to one another that I know we both intended to keep. However, neither one of us kept those vows. Scotty's failures in faithfulness have been recorded for the public. Mine, however, haven't been as publicized. But, I'll assure you, I've failed in this marriage thing as well.  Sometimes, we've known exactly what we were doing as we've made decisions that would hurt the other. On occasion, though, we've made hurtful decisions simply because we are broken people that had NO CLUE how to respond in a healthy marriage.

On May 17th, 2012, I was overcome with awe that God used a tragedy of infidelity to show us what He intended for our marriage. The only thing I ever wanted in a husband was a spiritual leader. I desired to have a husband that would love the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. I KNEW that would be mandatory to him loving me appropriately. It will be hard for many to believe considering Scotty's choices over the past few years (and that is fine). But, I've witnessed God do such a work in his life. And, he is truly on a road that will lead him to be more of a Godly husband and father than I ever dreamed he could be. 

I have no shame, and I don't want to make this road seem more simplistic than it has been, so I'll just confess that we've got a long way to go. We have a therapist! And, we'll continue that journey for a while. We each have mentors and Godly people we lean on for decision making and encouragement. We've got much to overcome, and we are choosing to face the difficulties head on now so that they don't creep back in again later in life. Certainly, God calls us cooperate and participate WITH Him as we journey through life, and we are begging Him daily to show us how to do that.  But, ultimately, He is the author and originator of all good things.

I confessed to Scotty on Thursday that there is the temptation to look back over our 15 years together and grieve a lot of wasted years. But, I can't do that. We've experienced too many great times. But, I know that we can do better. God has shown me that we can do better. And, He's brought about change in each of us personally, in our marriage together, and in the way we relate as a family so quickly that it's allowed us to get a glimpse of how truly wonderful His plans are for us IF we are simply willing to TRUST Him.

In fact, a little later in our 1 Corinthians reading, Paul says...

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart can imagine, what God has prepared for those who love Him."

I'm counting on THAT! I'm hoping in THAT!

The events of the past few years have been used by God to bring us to a place where we can experience life in HIM even more abundantly for the next 15 years of marriage... if He chooses to leave us here that long. And, that's a realization I find worthy of a little boasting. That realization points to a God who's worthy of a LOT of boasting.

Tuesday, May 8

Where You GO, I'll GO...

I'm totally frustrated with myself! It's been entirely too long since my last post. And, not only that, I've written regularly asking you for prayers and encouragement. You've been so faithful! So. Faithful!

Over the past couple of weeks, Scotty and I have received direction as to WHERE we should go and what we should do, and I let the busyness that this revelation has brought keep me from updating the very people that have spurred me on throughout this very long year of waiting.

I'm sorry! And, let me go ahead and apologize ahead of time, because it's going to be very difficult to give the details of our direction succinctly. But, here goes...

Our house has sold! Yippee! We have wonderful buyers wanting our home, and all that is left to complete is the appraisal. The sale of this house has been perfectly orchestrated in timing and in details. The closing date is May 31st. So, by the time we move out of this house, our children will have finished the school year. At the beginning of this year, one of my greatest concerns was that we'd have to uproot them in the middle of a year. I was afraid we wouldn't have an easy transition. I know better than to worry. We will transition out of this house AFTER our school year is over, and it will be the perfect time to transition. Now, a second part of God's graciousness in the matter of our house is that we have just paid our last house note WITHOUT Scotty having a full time job. I can tell you that we have worried along the way that we wouldn't be able to make the note if it didn't sell quickly. God provided EVERY month.

Now, with the sale of the house (and we were THRILLED), we were faced with a little anxiety again. I guess I should really pause and confess the sin of lying, because "a little anxiety" isn't even a little white lie, it is a monumental understatement. On several occasions, I let myself get completely overtaken with worry. At one point, we had 5 weeks before we'd be moving out of our house, and we had NO idea where to go.

Scary! But, one of the verses we've had the children memorize and recite during family times of prayer over our situation is Proverbs 3:5.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding."

I had to keep saying this and other scriptures over and over. I KNEW there was a plan. But, our ability to find it had me anxious.

Out of the blue, a friend of mine called with a job opportunity in the Mobile area. She actually lives in Spanish Fort. But, the job would allow Scotty to work as a therapist within schools. He never went to interview. However, the timing of everything made us think that THIS was God's plan for us. For about a week, it appeared that we were headed to Alabama when the school year ended.

One Friday morning, I was having my quiet time, and I prayed that God would give us ONE answer that day... before the weekend.Within the hour, my friend called and the job wasn't going to work out.

Now, that was disappointing news. Sure! But, honestly, I was so relieved to have an answer. And, I was so grateful that God was, on again, demonstrating GRACE to me IN my anxiety. Let me tell you, my anxiety and lack of faith during the past two months has been used by God to show me how very sinful I am. In my natural state, I'm prone to worry and not trust the God that has demonstrated NOTHING buy trustworthiness to me over and over again. But, He showed me the sin and responded to me in grace and love. Oh, how I wish the WORLD would take a look at the goodness of this God!

Well, that weekend, Scotty and I talked about several different options. We discussed the vision that he has of what he'd like to do with the rest of his life. And, he passionately desires to SOMEDAY enter back into the counseling field and work with couples, families, individuals who are struggling with infidelity and the insecurities that lead to it. At this point, we don't know if that will ever be in a professional setting again or if he will do it as a lay person. But, it's honestly the first time I've listened to him talk about vocational direction with passion and joy.

On Monday morning, Scotty spoke with a friend from the Tupelo area. He and his wife have a counseling/psychiatry clinic and want Scotty to consider moving back into that setting with them. Now, there are things that Scotty will have to do in order to consider doing this again. We want to take all of this slowly, so that he/we can recover and heal completely first. But, as we talked about this option, it was the missing piece of the puzzle. And, we feel very led to make the move and pursue this path.

Many of you know that Scotty spent the fall in Tupelo working with his dad. He will work with him as well once we get moved. And... the BIG news. I am purchasing a TOT franchise so that I can continue teaching AND offer TOT to preschools in North MS.

So, as you can see, BIG things have been going on. As I'm typing this, I am surrounded by boxes! Even with all of the boxes, I'm also surrounded by LOTS of stuff that NEEDS to be in boxes. Time for blogging may continue to be scarce over the next couple of months. But, I wanted to leave you with this little story.

When Chris Tomlin's song, Where You Go, first came out, Claire fell in love with it. She heard it on the radio A LOT. And, we sang it at church A LOT! So, she would sing it ALL of the time. She sang it perfectly... only she always added a line.

Where you go, I'll go.
Where you stay, I'll stay.
When you move, I'll move.
When you STOP, I'll stop.
I will follow you.

When she first began to sing it this way, it would always make me laugh. I'd try to correct her, but she always went back to it. The weekend that the first offer came on the house, we were away on a ball trip. I was sitting in the hotel thinking through all of the possibilities and "what ifs", and Claire began to sing this song. I'm pretty slow, so she sang it SEVERAL times before I realized what I was hearing. I'm sure, now, that was God's way of preparing me for the "GO" that was coming. And, considering the year that we've had, I am very ready for the "go".

 I love Clinton so much, but it is time for us to move on. I truly feel that it is a gift that God is allowing us to move on and start over. We had come to terms with staying here in Clinton if God chose that for us. We were growing more comfortable in this new life and felt good about being a demonstration of God's redeeming power over our failures. So, we can now move on without feeling that we're running away but running towards His plan for us.

As a year that's consisted of lots of waiting comes to an end, though, I'm so glad that Claire rewrote Chris Tomlin's song for me. When He says "STOP", I suggest you stop. There's SO MUCH to gain at life's stop signs. I can't even begin to list all that this waiting (stopping) year has brought for me. God did MUCH business with me. And, as we gently put the vehicle in gear to MOVE forward now, we're just following. It was a hard lesson, but one thing is for sure.... leading isn't for us! HE does a much better job.


Tuesday, April 24

Hope Against Hope

My reading is in Romans these days. That's where the L3 Journal has led us. And, this guide has not led me astray yet. As we plow through the calendar and read the passages that everyone else following the guide is reading, God speaks DIRECTLY to my needs THAT day. That's the absolute beauty of His Word... it's applicable to every situation that life provides.

Today, I was getting caught up and reading through Romans 4. I came across a curious grouping of words in verse 18,

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations."

Have you ever hoped against ALL hope?

Me too! As children, I believe that we all hope for things that we KNOW will NEVER come true. I mean, that's the nature of a fairy tale! Frogs don't REALLY turn into princes, a princess can't REALLY be kissed out of a deep, death-like sleep, and human beings can't REALLY become vampires and live forever with the love of their life. (I couldn't help myself!)

But... there's still the hope!

Well, Abraham didn't JUST hope against all hope. He believed  in that hope. He was OLD; and, yet, he believed that he would be the father of many nations. Why? Because God said it.

The other night, as I was falling asleep, I began to think about all of the uncertainty in my life right now. There are so many questions and so few answers. I was praying and voicing to God that I KNOW that He has all of this under control. I was expressing that I trust Him with the details of our life. I BELIEVE that He will uncover the details of His plan to us when the time is right.

BUT... as I was praying, I had to confess to God that those are the beliefs that I WANT to have. However, my faith, these days, is small. I began to plead with Him that He would take the small amount of faith that I have and multiply it like the bread and fish He multiplied in the New Testament.

I have to believe that THIS is the kind of faith that Abraham had! He had a relationship with God. He knew God to be faithful. But... "father of many nations? Do you know how old I am, God?"

And, then God took whatever small amount of faith that Abraham offered, multiplied it, and "it was credited to him as righteousness".

A few verses later, Paul writes of Abraham, "he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised."

Are you hoping against hope for anything right now? I would venture to guess that the restoration of your seemingly hopeless situation would not require more power than it took to make a really old man the father of many nations. Could you take that situation to the Lord being persuaded that HE has the power to do all that He's promised?

If we can hope with THIS kind of hope, I believe God will multiply it. We will be blessed, because He WILL prove faithful. And, He will be glorified as our faith is credited to us as righteousness, because OUR righteousness ALWAYS points to HIM!

Thursday, April 12

Roller Coasters

I love roller coasters! I haven't always. But, at some point during my older teenage years, I had a great friend that persuaded me to give them a try (thank you, Macy). And, I've been a fan since then.

Don't get me wrong, I still panic each time the coaster makes the first climb. It seems so long and drawn out. But, after the first fall, it's pure enjoyment for me. I love all of the starts and stops, climbs and falls, twists and turns.

But, when LIFE feels like a roller coaster, that's not so much fun! When LIFE provides starts and stops, climbs and falls, twists and turns, I DON'T consider that to be fun. In fact, I consider it annoying. But, life IS a roller coaster. Right?

Life doesn't follow a straight, uneventful path for ANYONE. Our twists and turns are different, but every life has them. And, the falls are only truly experienced because the peaks have been such a blessing. Sometimes, I'm thankful for the starts and stops. While the roller coaster ride can cause some annoyance to our lives, can we admit that the straight, uneventful path would be.... BORING!!!!

However bothersome it may be, it is what it is. This is it! This is the life we've been given. These are the circumstances we've been handed. And, THIS is the situation CHOSEN for us. So, now what?!?!?

That's where I've been for the past week and a half that I haven't been blogging. I've just been thinking. My own personal roller coaster MAY or MAY NOT have plummeted and hung out in the valley for a few days. There just aren't any real answers right now. STILL. My reports to everyone interested are the same each and every time they ask. And, I WANT the next step.

This morning, I read the last chapter of John. What a great book! At the end, Jesus appears to the disciples for the third time, and they are fishing. They come to the shore to eat the fish they've caught for breakfast. Jesus has a little conversation with Peter, because Peter's roller coaster had recently left great heights and fallen to great depths. He'd experienced life with Jesus; but, when it really counted, Peter blew it. So, after it had been re-established that Peter was indeed Christ's disciple, what did Jesus tell Peter to do?

"Follow me."

WAIT!!!! He's already commanded the disciples to do THAT! THAT was the VERY FIRST thing that He asked them to do! Didn't He have something NEW for them to do? Wasn't He supposed to provide them with the next step?

YES! All throughout Acts, they are doing one new thing after another. BUT... first, they are following Christ's lead. I'm sure each and every disciple of Jesus had frustrations and concerns after He left this earth. But, as they thought back, He'd given them one command in the very beginning and He'd given them the exact same command just before He left them. If ever they came to a point where they didn't know what to do next, they could rely on the very first instruction given to them.

"Follow me."

These two words spoke volumes to me this morning. There are still a lot of unknowns! A LOT! But, I can NEVER say that I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm supposed to be following Christ. The roller coaster may climb and fall, start and stop, twist and turn. But, He's leading and I'm following!

It may not be as FUN as those roller coasters in amusement parks. But, this roller coaster has a purpose. This is LIFE! It's short, but it's supposed to have meaning. So, stay the winding course, because...

"He who began a good work in you will continue it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6


Thursday, March 29

Waiting...

Several months ago, I posted a list of prayer concerns. They were pretty general, and you were so faithful to encourage me in those requests.

I've been the recipient of so much encouragement that I haven't wanted to seem to needy in this process. In fact, God has been so good in providing for us that I didn't want my concerns to overshadow what He has already done.

At least, that's what I've been telling myself. Today, I'm concerned that PRIDE is showing its ugly self again. Perhaps I haven't listed some of my concerns, because I want to look like I'm keeping it all together. YUCK! I hate pride, and I truly desire to walk in humility, honesty and truth.

So, truthfully, I've had a difficult week. I have grown weary in waiting for direction. REALLY weary! I'm so ready for Scotty to have a job! I'm so ready to know if we are going to stay in Clinton or move somewhere else. I'm so ready for ANSWERS. And, I'm confessing this to you, because I'd love for you to pray for this area of distrust that I'm experiencing.

Yes, I said it. I'm lacking trust. It sickens me to say it out loud. My God is faithful! He's proven THAT over and over in my life... my WHOLE life, not just the recent months. So, truly, I should trust Him fully even in the waiting time. I can say that I do. But, my thought life screams that I don't.

So, in complete humility (like it almost hurts me to be asking), would you lift up these concerns of mine with me and for me. And ask that the Father would give me MORE trust, MORE belief and MORE faith!

I shared my weariness with a friend earlier this week. The very next morning, I had a text from her with about four scripture passages that spoke of waiting on the LORD. I was so encouraged by them. If you have a minute and know of a scripture that speaks to this state that I find myself in, please post it here on this blog or on my Facebook page. I've got index cards just waiting for new scripture passages!

Thank you!

Thursday, March 22

Calling all Cheerleaders!

We're all looking for a little inspiration. Right? There's a certain part of all of us, I believe, that needs to feel INSPIRED by something or someone in order to get moving, change a lifestyle, or simply make a decision.

The Biggest Loser inspires me! It's had the affect on me since I first began watching. I can honestly say that I've not gotten through a single episode without tears. The #1 reason I love this show is because it restores HOPE to its contestants, their families and really to most who are watching.

Each season begins with a group of people who are EXTREMELY overweight. The producers tell the stories of the contestants and how they wound up in the situations they are in. But, the basis of each story is the same.... Life got hard and they turned to food. And, when food began to control every aspect of life, each person became HOPELESS in their situation.

Now, I understand that the show isn't completely realistic. These contestants are given full time trainers, chefs, and anyone else needed to take care of life's daily hassles. Their number one job is losing weight; and, at some point, they'll have to enter the real world again. But, each week I watch as pounds fall off and HOPE begins to be restored. In the beginning of the story, a lie was believed and contestants felt they were powerless to make a change. As they work hard, eat right and live a healthier lifestyle, they gain the strength to fight and the LIE loses its power.

Well, this week, Bethany Hamilton visited the contestants. They were on vacation in Hawaii, and she showed up to provide surfing lessons. I loved the whole scene prior to them actually getting on boards and learning to surf. There were 8 contestants. And, while they've lost SO MUCH weight, they are still pretty big. So I was looking at this group of people and thinking, "I'm not so sure they are going to be able to surf." Then, I looked at Bethany Hamilton. She'd just glided in on her surfboard.... and she has ONLY ONE ARM!

So, as you can imagine, there were lots of wipeouts! Editors put it all to music and it was so much fun to watch. But, I saw EVERY contestant stand up on their board at least once. Even the ones that were a little afraid to try, eventually set fear aside and rode a few waves.

HOPE! It conquers fear every time!

But, here's what really got my attention. These contestants are like family at this point in the show's progress. They've lived together in shared space for months. But, I feel that what really makes them family is that they share a common struggle. And, not only do they share in the struggle, they've conquered pieces of the struggle together. As they were floundering in the water and trying to lift themselves onto boards and surf the ocean's waves, their fellow contestants (family) were cheering them on!

Each time the cameras panned the shore, contestants taking a break were enthusiastically CHEERING for their friends. Some of their cheers were for contestants visibly struggling and maybe even frustrated. Some of the cheers were for contestants who began to surf with relative ease. In some cases, it was clear that a contestant was being wooed back towards the feelings of hopelessness and the trainers and fellow contestants couldn't allow that to happen. So, their cheers were meant to reignite the feelings of hope.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. There was NO ONE on the shore saying, "You know, you're just not there yet. You probably need to lose a little more weight before we try something this big."

I didn't hear any of the trainers saying, "Good grief! Have I just been wasting my time? All this work, and you can't do better than that?"

And, clearly, there wasn't an editor that said, "O.K. we're just going to show the successful attempts, because the others aren't pretty AT ALL."

Encouragers! Have you ever had someone that spurred you on during one of life's hard "rides"? Do you remember the words that someone spoke to you after one of your most televised "wipeouts"? Can you imagine what it might feel like if someone raved about your less than perfect attempt at life, because they recognized that it signified even better things to come?

I'm so thankful that we've all been able to be the recipients of that kind of encouragement and acceptance. But, why can't it be our default response? And, the 'our' I'm speaking of is the CHURCH. Not my church or your church. But, THE church.... BELIEVERS.

Why is it that one of the most difficult places to hear HOPE being spoken into HOPELESS lives and situations is among a body of believers? Please hear me... I'm not angry! Really. My family has been shown more grace and love over the past months than I ever knew could be given. I'm so grateful. But, as I hear that it may not be the experience of everyone who has recently experienced a 'very televised wipeout', it's caused me to wonder 'WHY'.

For those of us that believe, we are FAMILY! We don't inhabit the same living space, but we DO share the same struggle. It's called sin, and it has a variety of different faces... PRIDE, SELF HATRED, SEXUAL IMMORALITY, GOSSIP, UNFORGIVENESS, JEALOUSY, HATRED, and this list could go on and on and on.

I don't have an answer to the "why" question.  But, I do know this...

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded." Luke 12:48

In my lifetime, I've fallen and blown it. I've messed up more times than I can count. And, I've been given MUCH forgiveness. My mess ups of pride, selfishness and apathy are more acceptable than some of the uglier sins. But, they are sins and this truth remains...

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD." Romans 6:23

So, by my understanding, as believers we all have the same struggle (sin) and the same Savior (Jesus). Wouldn't it be better for us to take off the shoulder pads and pick up the pom poms?!?!? Wouldn't it profit our family (believers) more to cheer the fallen back to their feet rather than tackle them to the ground?

"Let us not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

In God's great plan for redemption, He chose to demonstrate forgiveness, grace and a LOT of mercy. So, why would I choose to live life withholding mercy and nurturing  bitterness and unforgiveness?

I want to see HOPE restored in this world where so many have settled into HOPELESSNESS. But, I believe I'd be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I stepped OVER my fallen brothers and sisters to take the message of grace, mercy, forgiveness and redemption to the unbelieving world.

I'm getting really long winded, but let me say it this way... if God allowed a MAJOR fall to bring one of His children to the point of REALLY experiencing the grace and freedom HE offers, I really don't want to miss out on the gospel at work. This is redemption at its best! Only OUR GOD can pull someone from a pit of sin, turn their world upside down and set them on a path of ABUNDANT, ETERNAL life!

Now, THAT'S something I'd like to cheer FOR not AGAINST!

Tuesday, March 20

From Scotty

I hope this post can be beneficial in some way. God willing it will be, not for my sake, but all those who have been hurt by my choices, my sin, my shame, and my regrets.

One of the darkest hours in our marriage was when I called Amy on Friday, August 26, 2011 around 10:15 am, to tell her I had been unfaithful to her. It was like an earthquake hit our lives, our marriage, our family and even our community. The pain was and is deep. On August 28, 2011, I resigned publicly from the church, and we started the process of sorting through, picking up and repairing the pieces of our broken life. 

The words, "I am sorry" seem so inadequate. The pain I have caused Amy is very real, deep and long term. The extent of my sin and choices even surprised me. I knew I was capable of much sin, but this...this was beyond what I ever imagined. The darkness I had lived in, the shame, the fear, the anger, the regret and the guilt all came out and in the open that day. No more hiding. It was out and there was no denying it, running from it or blaming anyone. I was guilty as charged and had to face it head on.

I want you to know that I have told Amy repeatedly how sorry I am. Not because I got caught. But because of what I have done to her, our marriage, our family, and many others. I can never say that "I have always been faithful to Amy." I can't take it back. That is very difficult to admit and live with. My regrets are many in number.

By the grace of God, Amy and I are still married and actually growing closer as a couple. We have never once said we wanted a divorce. We have never even separated. That fact alone is a testimony of God's grace, her faith in Him, and the result of many prayers being answered. I KNOW that she had (and has) every reason to leave me. Who would have blamed her? I am SO thankful for her sticking with me. I am so grateful that God has enabled us to stay together, and work through this process. Someday by His grace, we will be fully healed, whole and see His amazing plan fulfilled. We never say that God wanted this to happen, but we know He can make something amazing come out of it. That's our prayer for sure.

Since August 26, Amy and I have walked a painful road that has been up and down. We have experienced the presence, peace and grace of God like never before in our lives. There is much baggage to sort through and pain and loss to be faced and grieved; however, God has shown up in so many ways as you have probably read about in Amy's previous blog posts.

God has broken through on so many levels. He has broken me down, humbled me, and forced me to face my sin, shame, and say NO MORE!! I have realized more and more that shame will never set me free; only He can set me free. Trusting Him and surrendering fully to Him is my only chance of healing and restoration.

This coming Friday will be (7) seven months since I told Amy. The emotional turmoil that Amy has to face daily and "take every thought captive unto Christ" reminds me that it is still so early in the process. Pray for her strength to face her thoughts, emotions and feelings, while abiding in Christ. Pray for us to face this head on and fully give it to God. By His grace, we will stay married and even continue to thrive as a couple. We know it is a journey that will take years. We want to honor God for His name sake, our sake, our kids sake, and even for our community and beyond.

Thank you for loving Amy and encouraging her throughout this process. I have seen how her blog speaks words of hope and encouragement to so many, including myself. She is the real deal. May God be glorified through her life, even more than it has already.

Because of Him,
Scotty

Thursday, March 15

It's SPRINGTIME!!!!

When my mom first started using email, every email would come through in ALL CAPS. It was so difficult for me to read, and my sister would always say, "Why are you screaming at me in every email?" Turns out, it was just easier for her to type in all caps rather than to have to find that difficult shift key. ;)

Well, today, I feel as though I should type this post in all caps. Not because I don't want to bother with the shift key, but because I feel like I should be shouting.

I had a rather long and focused time alone with the Lord this morning. You may know that my children are with MeMe and Sassy right now. So, I was ABLE to enjoy a longer quiet time due to the fact that the house is quiet. But, I NEEDED a longer quiet time than normal, because this morning was going to be huge.

I had a scheduled meeting with someone I was once very close friends with at 10:00. (I realize that you all know who I'm speaking of AND that I chose a very silly way to be vague. I just don't want to include names on this blog.) I've shared in previous posts that God has brought me to a place of love and forgiveness that shocks and amazes me, and I needed to share those things with HER! I knew that my motives were pure, but I needed to spend some extra time praying that God would inhabit EVERY bit of our fellowship. I wanted ALL of our "talk" to honor HIM!

During that time, I also felt led to pray over the details of our journey.... WORK, JOB, MOVE, ETC. I haven't spent focused time praying over those issues lately, because God has called me to focus on abiding in Him and trusting that HE will take care of the details. I don't doubt that at all. But, this morning, I felt led to pray over them and confess to God that I am a little weary in the waiting. I'm weary in waiting without any knowing. I prayed specifically that He would give us a small demonstration that there are answers on the horizon.

And, this is where I feel I need to start shouting...

God gave me this sense that He is up to BIG things. I can't describe it perfectly, but I felt an overwhelming sense that some of our waiting may be over, and we are about to be faced with some answers to so many of our questions.

At 9:00, I got a call from Scotty that a verbal offer had been made on our house! It's not a perfect offer. BUT... it's an offer. Twenty minutes later, we got a call that another realtor wanted to show the house. Immediately. We still haven't heard how that showing went, and we are in the process of negotiating the first offer. But, I just got a text from our realtor (who is a believer and is praying through this with us). She said, "The funny thing is that I was going to call Scotty today and speak with him, because your listing is up tomorrow."

God's timing! He's never early, late or absent. I don't know for certain that THESE are our buyers. I still don't really know for certain that we WILL move. But, I know that I asked God to show me that He is working on the details of our life, and.... He did! In a BIG way.

And, now I'm struggling with how much of my meeting I need to share for readers here on this blog. I KNOW that any meeting of any sort with her seems abnormal to people looking on. I understand that, due to the nature of the sin that separated us, most would look at our relationship as unable to be redeemed. In it's previous state, I'd have to agree. It was shattered to pieces for a PURPOSE. And, my heart is OVERJOYED to hear that those purposes are being accomplished. And, if my response to her seems abnormal, I'm so VERY pleased. Because God's response to us is abnormal! His redemptive plan makes absolutely NO worldly sense.

As I sat on my couch and heard from her about what God has taught her, how God has restored and strengthened her marriage and how He is leading her daily, I was overcome, YET AGAIN, with how awesome our God is. And, I was hit with the undeniable truth that NOTHING is impossible with God.

During my run on Monday morning, the sun was shining and the air was warm. It was the perfect weather for the first day of Spring break. I'm full of tears these days, so I was crying as I ran along with my praise music. I was caught up in the beauty of Spring. Winter is so dark and dreary. As Spring blossoms, I always see it as an expression of God making us new.

In many ways, I've been experiencing both a seasonal and personal winter. My personal winter has consisted of heartache, waiting, loss and heaviness of heart. As clearly as nature is ushering in Springtime for us, God is ushering in a new season in my own personal life. The winter has been so necessary, but it makes the spring appear all the more beautiful.

"Forget the former things,
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."  Isaiah 43:18-19

Sunday, March 11

Shared Love

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death." 1 John 3:14

Doesn't this seem simple?

Obviously, we don't want to remain in death. So, the answer is.... love your brothers. But, wait. Sometimes, although it's simple, it's VERY difficult to put into practice! I feel the need to emphasize the "VERY" and the "DIFFICULT".

As I'm reading through 1 John, though, it's the difficulty of the command that I am so grateful for. It's difficult because only God can accomplish it. Throughout the first and second chapters of 1 John, he is pleading with the letter's recipients to come to KNOW Christ. Then, he urges them to OBEY His commands. The next step is ABIDING in Christ. When we abide in Christ, we are completely dependent on Him. He becomes the supplier of ALL that we need. This kind of relationship is what we were designed for in the very beginning. Abiding in Him is God's ultimate goal for mankind.

When we abide in Christ, things that once seemed so difficult (maybe even impossible) to achieve become almost natural. I believe that loving others... truly loving others... is one of those things. It is the natural overflow of a growing relationship with the Father. When I'm abiding in Christ, His goodness, mercy, grace and LOVE are freely given TO others because they are completely experienced FROM Him. If I'm operating in the flesh, my love for others is dictated by THEIR actions, THEIR failures and THEIR behaviors towards me.

Why are we called to LOVE others rather than disciple others? Why must we LOVE rather than just forgive? The answer could be found a couple of books before John's letter when Peter writes that,

"love covers a multitude of sins..." 1 Peter 4:8

True love for others causes us to share the gospel with them, because we want all to experience true life in the One that offers it.

True love for others allows us to forgive them when their behavior seems unforgivable to the world. It allows us to the see that "hurting people hurt others", and that reality causes us to pray for their healing and redemption.

And, true love for others keeps me focused on what I can do for fellow believers rather than what is owed to me.

Last Fall, I knew that I would have to forgive others. I've experienced the Lord enough to know that harboring bitterness and anger for any amount of time was going to bring about a sense of death within me. I knew that it had NO place in the abundant life that God has planned for me. But, LOVE? I can tell you that I didn't have THAT on my agenda.

Thank goodness God had a different agenda. He has given me a love for 2 individuals over the past couple of weeks that shocks and amazes me. In some ways, it is an even deeper love than I experienced prior to our trial, because God has allowed me to see them a little more as He sees them. And, honestly, 'love covers a multitude of sins.'

John is certainly correct. We DO know that we've passed from death into abundant life when we LOVE our brothers. But, maybe our mistake is in our trying too hard. At least for me, my efforts to DO the right thing and forgive my betrayers fell ridiculously short. Therefore, loving them was very much an impossibility. However, when my focus became KNOWING, OBEYING & ABIDING in Christ, the love for others poured out naturally. It's almost as if I was able to give what doesn't even belong to me. God's love bouncing from me to another. That love led to forgiveness. When I found Him to be the perfect Healer of my hurts, forgiveness came quickly.

What an amazing God! He doesn't call us to do ANYTHING that isn't for our best and meant to usher us towards Him. His every work in our lives is meant to draw us into fellowship with Himself. He keeps demonstrating that it's the very safest place for me to be, so WHY would I ever resist?

Friday, March 9

Amazed...

It's really crazy that I'm going to attempt to blog tonight. My heart is so full, and my brain in overwhelmed. It's 10:30 p.m. on the Friday night of a long week. So, I'm giving you fair warning that much of this post may be scattered (at best) and unreadable (at worst). I can't help it. I'm amazed, and I must share it.

God is AWESOME! His work in our lives is breathtaking. And, by 'our lives', I'm not simply referring to the Roger's. He is actively working in EACH of our daily lives! How is that possible? How can He be THAT big?!?!?

I can't even begin to tell you all that has gone on over the past couple of weeks. But, God has been "showing off". I hope that doesn't sound disrespectful to anyone. No! I don't really think God "shows off". He doesn't have to. He's been being Himself! And, thankfully, I haven't missed it. I can't share all of it, because it would take several posts. And, I won't share all of it, because I don't have permission to. But, trust me, He's been working overtime.

You may be thinking that Scotty has been offered a fabulous job. You'd be incorrect. There is still no full time job, and there really isn't the certainty of a promising lead yet. However, we are totally at peace with where we are right now. And, even more amazing than that is the fact that we have all that we need and more financially. Our Provider is taking care of us. WELL!

O.K., so now you're probably assuming that we have sold our house and have direction as to where to go next. Ummm... Wrong again. While visitors have been looking at the house pretty regularly, there hasn't been the first offer made. Nothing. But, we are certain that God will sell this house IF we are supposed to leave it and move on. And, if He is not in control of that move, WE DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT!.

No. None of the things that have been at the top of my prayer list over the past couple of weeks have answers yet other than to keep following the One that knows ALL of the answers even if He's chosen not to share them with me.Yet. :). So, why is my heart so full...

Spiritually and emotionally, He has brought me to a place that I NEVER would have imagined that I could be in only 7 short months after my tragedy. HE has birthed in me a level of forgiveness that I thought I'd never see. And, He did it suddenly.

On top of that, Scotty was pursued by and granted forgiveness from another person involved in our story. The manner in which this took place was unexplainable. So much so that in the beginning stages of communication, Scotty and I felt very uncomfortable with it. I know this doesn't make sense, because I am being so vague. But, I just can't share details. This person has every right to be angry and stay angry forever. However, he understands God's will and God's sovereignty. He sees the bigger picture, and he doesn't want to miss out on the ultimate goal God has in mind for all of this.

As today has progressed, I realized that I have NO IDEA how God intends to use all of this bad for His good which, ultimately, is MY good. I really want to get out of His way. I am so amazed and overwhelmed by Him that I just keep saying, "Show me what you want me to do. I'm in!"

I think it is no coincidence that a crisis of such magnitude happened in such a small community. It wasn't by accident that a small, Baptist church was hit hard by the sin and moral failures of so many. I believe the very public nature might just be the very point. In other words, Could it be that God is about creating change in MORE than only the lives directly affected?

So, while many people who KNOW our story aren't INVOLVED in our story, I just have this feeling that it doesn't matter. He has big things in store for us, and I am looking on with great anticipation. And, if just one person could be changed, matured, renewed or rescued WITHOUT having to go through what we have gone through, I can honestly say, "It was worth it."

I'm ready to move on! It happened. It was gross! I don't ever want to go through it again. But, I want to know what's next. I desire to follow the Spirit's leading and begin using these life lessons for some good.

Now, having said that, let me QUICKLY say that I'm not in favor of sweeping HUGE matters under the rug. I would be totally disgusted with anyone who chose to cover up serious issues and move on as if NOTHING happened. It's not healthy, and I don't believe it's Biblical. That's not at all what we've done or plan to do. There are BIG issues to uncover, learn from and heal from.

So, if you still have questions, confusions, etc. about any part of the story, I'd strongly urge you to go to the Lord with these things. Allow Him to show you how to deal with them through His Word and His Spirit. Maybe there is a work that must be done ONLY between you and Him. Maybe He'd have you reach out and voice these concerns with someone else. NO! I am not asking anyone to mask their feelings. If I've learning anything, I've learned that we've got to start being real. Genuine! Authentic!

And, from there, I invite you to look, with me, in anticipation for all the He is going to do. I'm truly overwhelmed. I've said it before. But, God is at work, and I don't want to miss out on what He's doing. The Bible is very clear... God WILL accomplish His plans! I can either join Him, or I can pout in the corner and forfeit my privilege of joining the party.

The choice is easy for me, because I SURE love a good party!

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in he church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, March 5

Everybody Needs A Collin

I don't like to use this blog to brag on my kids! I know that most people that read my posts have children who are equally as bright, sweet, and precious as mine. But, since it's his birthday, is this the cutest face you've ever seen or what?!?!?


On Caleb's birthday, I posted about all the ways that God had used him to teach me various lessons. So, I'll follow that same plan for Collin. Man! Have I learned a thing or two about life from this lively being.

Collin was due around the 10th of March, 2005. But, on February 28th, I was at Bunko and my water broke. We were finished playing, but my group had surprised me with a shower. I knew that Caleb took a little while getting here after my water broke with him. So... I sat down and opened presents before making the 20 minute trip back to my house to meet Scotty. Needless to say, by the time we pulled in my driveway, I was having full blown contractions. And, by the time we arrived at the hospital, my extremely stretched out maternity jeans were SOAKING wet (sorry, guys!). So much for the magazine cover mom pulling up to the hospital looking like a million bucks. I looked like a giant MESS! And, I felt like one, too. But, the delivery went smoothly, and a beautiful baby boy arrived at 12:01 a.m., March 1st.

 

Fast forward a couple of years. Collin was about 2 years old, and my mom had come for a visit. We drove out to Lakeland to eat lunch at Backyard Burger. I'd recently discovered the playroom with the tree house. Everyone had eaten. We sent Caleb and Collin into the playroom, closed the door and sat down to visit. I was sure that we'd have a nice piece of time to visit, because THIS was a new playroom and it looked so fun. Well, they hadn't been in there long when a woman from the drive through pulled up to the side door, opened it and ushered Collin back in to me. YEP!!! He'd let himself out of the playroom and wound up OUTSIDE of the restaurant IN the drive through driveway. So much for looking like "Mom of the Year". No one in Backyard Burger (and it was packed) thought that I even deserved to have children much less any award. However, no one got hurt and we learned a valuable lesson that Collin was going to require a little more supervision than Caleb had always needed. (Although, this same thing was repeated in two other eating establishments during that year! I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth.)

Now, picture Collin about 4 years old. Our sports fanatic, Caleb, began playing ball that year, and we spent MUCH of our time at the field. Collin loved being there. But, I had many plans about how he would look and what he would wear as we sat at the field watching Caleb play. Well, more times than not, Collin insisted on going to the ball field as, Batman, Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper or any other costumed character! Boy, did we get some looks. Again, so much for looking like a magazine cover! Collin wasn't interested.



And, earlier I posted this story abbreviated on Facebook. But, here's the entire version. Collin had a small run in with fact families in Math a couple of weeks ago. His teacher warned me of the bad papers coming home. And, we worked on everything until he had little to no trouble with them. However, the damage had been done. When progress reports came home, Collin had a C in math. Now, I realize that's not terrible. But, I taught school in Clinton. I know his teacher, and I somewhat know the curriculum. And, for some reason, I have in my mind that my children must do well in school. ALL the time. NO exceptions. Seriously, what would it look like if a previous teacher can't prepare her children to do well in school! I had a small fit when I saw the "C" and tried to explain to Collin why I was so upset. He looked at me VERY seriously and VERY respectfully and said, "Mom, I'm not going to the devil over it!"

You see, this precious child has taught me, on more than one occasion, that IMAGE isn't the most important thing. He's pointed out that, often, I focus on things that are of VERY little importance and miss out on what's truly valuable. In other words, he calls me out when I'm majoring on the minor things of life.

Collin came into this world with such LIFE and LAUGHTER. At the same time, he has one of the SWEETEST spirits. We are so blessed to have him. As my sister often says, "Everybody needs a Collin." I don't know about that.  But, we sure do!




Thursday, March 1

From Strength to Strength

What a week! First let me say that, very soon, I will be posting about our precious Collin who is 7 today! I could write a book just on that sweet child. But, with only a few minutes, I will have to do that later. "Happy Birthday, Collin."

The reason I'm writing is because my emotions have been ALL OVER the place this week. And, Monday, I had a complete break down! I had a headache that I'd had for about 7 days, a project that I am in charge of at Collin's school was looming over me with a few more details to work out, and Collin's birthday and party were coming up. The house was messy, clothes to be put away, TOT supplies to get together, and blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.

On top of all of that, my emotions concerning family and this new life were bottoming out. I could just feel the heaviness of financial, job and house stress, a comfortable friendship lost, and the certainty of routine spinning out of control. Then, my grandmother passed away. This passing is not sad in the least bit, because we had to say "goodbye" to our Mamaw years ago. She is finally free and well today. But, still, there are emotions involved when a loved one leaves.

Well, here's the thing. Keeping it together is "my thing". It's what I do and who I am. Whatever the problem is, I can handle it. And, when I can't, I get completely frustrated with myself which only adds to the stress. So, Monday night, I had a crying session. A big one! It wasn't pretty, but it felt good.

Immediately, my headache began to fade. It was a great reality check needed to remind me that what we have gone through is VERY big. There is no way to minimize it. And, I am operating, DAILY, under a pretty significant stress level. So, when other things -- small things -- pile in, I have to be careful.

But, I came away with some questions. I've been writing here and journaling on my own about where I am in life. I've boasted of the Lord's goodness and the strength that He provides me with daily. I've expressed the fact that He is providing above and beyond what I could have ever hoped or imagined. So, in the middle of my fit, I felt fake. I felt as if I'd just been writing/saying words over the last 6 months; because, when the stress crept it, I fell apart.

This morning, though, I came across a scripture in Psalms that has given me peace.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Who have set their hearts on the pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, 
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, 
till each appear before God in Zion.  Psalm 84: 5-6

What I've experienced with the Lord has been very real. And most days, He has granted me a strength that I can't describe not only to live this life, but to REALLY enjoy it. But, there are days when I can't get past the fleshly person that I am. I bottom out, and I need a break.

The encouragement of this Psalm is that, in my most fragile state, I can look back at the times that God has granted me strength and look with anticipation to the next time that He will do the exact same thing.

From strength to strength.

So, my heart is set on this pilgrimage -- the one that God has chosen for me. And, I know that my strength is in Him. Thank goodness! Because, Monday night is only one indicator that this pilgrimage is headed south if it's my strength we're counting on.

Saturday, February 25

Living Well

After last week's lengthy post, I determined that I WAS NOT going to blog again until I had something light-hearted and FUN to write about. There is plenty of fun to speak of, so I don't know why that decision wouldn't have been an easy one to stick with.

I'm not sure that this is going to feel light or fun by the end. But, I'm going to at least begin that way.




Caleb's team played their first game of 2012 last night. We absolutely love our baseball team, and we LOVE baseball season. So, we were all pretty excited all day yesterday. Caleb was practicing his pitching in the yard. And, although his season hasn't begun yet, Collin wanted some pop flies he could "dive for".

It was really too cold for baseball, and I'll spare you all of the details of the game. But, at the end, Caleb's coach sent him in to pitch. Now, I believe that Moms just know these things... I looked at Caleb on the mound, and I could tell that this was not going to be pretty. If there was one word I could have used to describe him at that moment it would have been DEFEATED! Yet, he hadn't even begun.

Again, I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't even remotely pretty. We ran out of time and lost the game 8 to 5. We got back in the truck and rode home with a teary 9 year old -- the same one who was extremely excited just a couple of hours earlier. Why? Because he had in his mind how things were going to go and he did not live up to those expectations. He began to say one condemning thing about himself after another.

The entire time home, Scotty and I were talking to him. There were many things said. But, the gist of our message to him was that we don't care if he throws 100 balls and 0 strikes, we want him to believe in himself. We were trying to understand why it was he felt defeat before he had ever begun. And, I believe the answer is that Caleb wants do things WELL. He wants to SUCCEED. And, sadly, in the mind of our 9 year, that means PERFECTION! So, Scotty and I have our work cut out for us as we continue teaching him how to do his best without expecting to be perfect.

But, this morning as I was still thinking about our night, I realized that wanting to do well is a desire of mine also. Now, I couldn't care less about throwing balls or strikes in a baseball game. My family and childhood friends will tell you that I never really cared about doing well in my athletic performance on a softball field or any other kind of field. But, at LIFE, I want to do WELL.

For sure I want to be a great wife and mother. I'm so thankful for the jobs that I have that I truly love and enjoy. And, I want to minister where I can with a joyful heart.

But, if I could be even more honest...

I want to completely TRUST when everything around me seems uncertain. When Scotty is still searching for a job, our house hasn't sold, and we still don't have clear direction about staying or moving, I want to demonstrate unwavering TRUST, and I want to do it well.

I want to totally FORGIVE even when the world might say that I have every reason to hold a grudge forever. I believe that God is calling me to a level of forgiveness that will seem almost crazy to the world. I believe that I'm being called not only to forgive but to ask for forgiveness in return. While some may see me as a victim -- and by many standards I guess I am -- God has shown me my sin and lack of awareness. I had some sort of relationship with each person that has hurt me. These were people that I lived with, walked with, studied with, and had fellowship with on a regular basis. So, why did I not recognize the emotional and spiritual state they were in that led to the sins committed against themselves and me? I'm working on an answer to that question. But, for starters, I lived in a bubble and let myself become detached from the spiritual needs of others. I'm called to minister in this world. To do so, I've got to ask God to guide me through all of my relationships. I want to completely FORGIVE and be humble enough to ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, and I want to do this well.

I want to LOVE unconditionally. I'm not just talking about within my family. These people are easy to love. I'm talking about the people who make it so hard to love them. The bitter, the angry, the negative, the mean, the immature, the misguided... I want God to show me how to see them as He sees them. I want to live with understanding that this life is TOUGH, and some people don't deal with that well. I want to be able to LOVE in such a way that these difficult people are driven to the ONE who heals anger, bitterness, negativity... the ONE who gives direction. And, I want to do this well.

God sees the heart, so He knows that sometimes I've done well and many times I've failed miserably. I know that I've got a long way to go in living well!

So, my 9 year old and I aren't much different. And, there's nothing wrong with wanting to do well. We just have to figure out how to turn our 'want to' into an action. I'm going to leave his issues up to his coaches. I'd be absolutely NO help in that area.

But, for me, I've found this scripture in Psalm 25 that has become my daily prayer. If I'm going to do this life well, God's going to have to show me HIS ways.

"Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long."