Tuesday, August 27

Repentance

I don't know how I missed Scotty's blog post on Saturday. Actually, I DO know how I missed it. We left our house for the ball fields in Amory at 7:30 a.m. and didn't get home until 11:30 p.m. So, I guess I should say I don't know how there WAS a blog post on Saturday. :)

Anyway, I'm asked A LOT if I have trust issues with Scotty because of our history. When asked this question, my quick answer is always, "NO", because I really don't. Then, being the self proclaimed "stuffer" that I am, I begin to question myself.

SHOULD I have trust issues?

Am I living in denial?

These thoughts are always quick to jump to the surface at those moments. But, I always come back around and realize that I really DON'T have trust issues.... with good reason.

However, I never do a good job of explaining those reasons. Ever. I try! And, then I have to resign myself to the fact that it's just hard to explain.

Scotty's blog post Saturday proves me wrong. Apparently it's NOT so hard to explain, because he said it beautifully. From the first moment Scotty confessed his sin to me, he was truly repentant and FULL of Godly sorrow. For months and months, the reminders of his sin and the possible outcomes would literally bring him to his knees in guilt and gratefulness. To this day, he demonstrates keen awareness that his sin could have done "unfixable" damage to our family.

I took that for granted for a few days... assuming that this was normal behavior for a person, a believer, caught in sin. It didn't take long for me to realize, though, that this attitude of true repentance was actually quite ABnormal. Most people... even believers... want to hide, cover up, fight and make excuses even though they admit what they did was wrong. Most seem to believe that their admission should be enough and everyone else should just move on. I believe repentance only BEGINS at the point of admission. True repentance is what takes place after.

In the time that has followed, I am realizing that many caught in sin need to have an excuse for failure. For me, personally, I want to be able to admit that I've made a mistake WHILE outlining all of the reasons why that mistake was inevitable. That's NOT repentance.

I love the portion of Scotty's blog that says, "Repentance is a beautiful, violent assault against sin." Awesome! And, that's so true. We MUST be violently against sin EVEN WHEN the sin is exposed IN US.

Two years ago, there were times when I wanted Scotty to produce some kind of reason WHY he committed such terrible sin. I would have been happy, at that point, to blame someone else for the sin. He WOULD NOT do it. His standard answer to my questions that really were an attempt to lead him to point a finger was, "that doesn't matter." At the moment of confession, Scotty was violently assaulting the sin. His sin. And, the things that continues to amaze me is this beautiful, violent assault on sin has continued for 2 years now.

Excuses have no place.

Blame has no place.

And, let me just be clear here... I am NOT only talking about the sin of adultery. When I wake up in the morning in a bad mood and choose to let every person in my home know it by my actions and speech, the Spirit within me calls that SIN! I must repent. If that repentance is real, then there will be a marked difference when I wake up in a bad mood the next time.

When I find myself in the middle of a conversation that is in NO way uplifting to the person I am talking about, the Spirit within me AND the Bible call that SIN! I need to repent. And, if it's true, I will respond differently the next time I'm tempted to say something that isn't pure, holy, or uplifting.

I could go on, but I've stepped on my own toes enough with only 2 examples. If each and every one of us could participate in a beautiful, violent assault against sin in OUR OWN lives, we could absolutely change our hearts, our homes, and communities and the world.

I urge you to read Scotty's post called Truly Repentant? and ask for the courage to call your sin what it is. SIN! And, then be bold enough to ask God to call you to an all out assault against it. That will lead to a change. You'll see it, and so will everyone else.

Sunday, August 25

Two Years Ago....

Well, it's extremely late. And, this weekend has been such a tiring one. We've been in the hot sun for most of the past two days. I really should be going to bed. But, I NEED to record this very significant day.

Two years ago, I was wrapping up a different kind of exhausting weekend. It was 2011. Scotty had confessed his adultery to me on Friday morning, we met with our pastor late Friday evening, and we spent all of Saturday in emotional dialogue. Then, Sunday morning, we went to church so that Scotty could resign from his ministry there and life changed forever.

But, not exactly like one might have thought it would change. And, certainly not in all the ways I thought it could change.

The reason that I simply can't go to bed until I document my thoughts and feelings this day is because I've actually experienced a celebration of sorts in my spirit while thinking back to that dark Sunday. Two years after THE hardest day of my life, I can look back with JOY. And, I think that's crazy absurd! But....

  • 2 years ago today, Scotty began a road towards freedom that has invaded every, single area of our lives. My home is a very different place, and my family is a much stronger family due to Scotty's journey towards freedom.
  • 2 years ago today, God began to work in me in a way that has drawn me closer to Him.... closer than I ever would have become had my life remained as neat and tidy as I'd always kept it.
  • 2 years ago today, my eyes were opened to grossness of lukewarm living... to the hypocrisy of SAYING that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life but not allowing Him to completely dictate every, single area, every single decision.
  • 2 years ago today, I was taking my first steps towards the pursuit of a life I never even knew could exist this side of heaven. I'd always expressed a desire to know Jesus fully, and He began to show me how.... by chasing HARD after Him which meant many, many other priorities would be proven useless and wastes of time. 
  • 2 years ago today, the "chord" binding me to the world and the world to me was weakened. I won't say that it was cut, because I'm not totally healed from my concern with the world and what it thinks. But, I care less than I did prior to August of 2011.
And, that's where my joy comes from today. Prior to this weekend, 2 years ago, I was MISSING OUT! I was living life safely... in my own box, dictated by my own thoughts and desires.God may have been calling me to deeper living with Him. But, I couldn't hear him.... until I HAD to hear Him. When I couldn't manage on my own anymore, I was forced to look to Him. And, what I saw was a glorious Heavenly Father whose way for me is far better than anything that I could plan for myself.

I pray daily that we NEVER forget this day 2 years ago. Our pain was the direct result of NEGLECTING the Lord's complete control over our lives. So, remembering gives me the courage to follow hard after Him even if it means making decisions that make me appear "weird" to those around me. As long as I don't forget, I'll live daily in pursuit of HIM and ONLY HIM.... which IS the only pursuit that I should have.

Thank you, God, for rescuing us from mediocrity 2 years ago. Thank you for looking at the life we were so comfortable living and insisting that we do better. I pray that we spend the rest of our days in complete and total obedience, because YOUR way leads to life... our way leads to destruction! Please, don't ever let me forget the TRUTH that knowing YOU and following hard after YOU are THE purposes for my life.

Sunday, August 18

Negativity! It's NOT For Me.

Caleb's baseball team began their Fall season this weekend. We took a whole 6 weeks or so off. :) That may not seem like a lot. But, it's just long enough to be READY for baseball again. And, the weather was cooler, so we had a great weekend of ball.

I really didn't play any sort of ball growing up...  1 year of basketball (and I hid behind the person I was guarding) and 2 years of softball (I can vividly remember praying for a walk at EVERY bat). But, with the boys, I've loved that there are so many lessons to be learned on the ball field.

They are both very gifted athletes. But, they both struggle with the need to be perfect. Caleb is the one that really seems to struggle with perfectionist tendencies. I just know that if we keep working through his difficulties, he WILL overcome. However, we've been dealing with these difficulties since he was 18 months old. Scotty and I can see improvement, but he's got a long way to go.

For a ball player, Caleb has way too much emotion. And, he can NOT seem to hide it. His emotions really began to be publicly evident the year he moved from coach pitch to kid pitch baseball. Honestly, I was sure that he'd never be a pitcher, because he didn't have the nerves for it. Well, he IS a pitcher. And, he's a good one. His only problem is his thinking. For a pitcher, this is a BIG problem.

Friday night, Caleb's coach called him in to pitch late in the game. We were losing TERRIBLY already. On top of that, we were playing a team that we KNOW. That seems to add pressure. I could tell Caleb was struggling mentally from the start. He was having trouble throwing a strike. So, there, on the mound and for all to see, he's huffing, he's teary, and his dropping his shoulders after every pitch. Normally, this is the time that I have to pace, walk away, look at my phone... SOMETHING besides watch him fall apart at center stage.

But, during this game, I felt such a peace in knowing that THIS is how Caleb overcomes. If we were playing for the state championship in the summer, he couldn't have stayed in. The coach would have been forced to find a player more mentally ready. But, this game didn't REALLY matter. So... Caleb's coach left him in. He stood exactly horizontally to Caleb. And, after EVERY SINGLE pitch (good and bad) he called out to Caleb, "That pitch is over. Now, focus on the next one."

"That one is over. Now, focus on this one."

Over. And, over. And, over.

Eventually, I saw Caleb take deeper breaths. He found his strikes. And, we got out of the inning. We lost the game by A LOT. But, this was a win for Caleb as far as I'm concerned.

I'm very grateful that our boys have coaches who encourage, build up and teach. I realized that you never really grow out of needing that in life. Even as an adult, I need to surround myself with people who are encouraging.... people who will call out the mistakes but then say... "That one is over. Now focus on the next..."

The world is full of people ready to tear down. In life, we will always face people who are eager to point out our shortcomings with the desire of causing us to lose hope and quit. Let's love those people from a distance. Let's protect our children from them. There's enough negativity in our lives that we have NO control over. So, when the negativity can be removed, I think it's important we do it. And, do it quickly. Negativity is contagious! So, we must watch our exposure to it.

"Don’t let anyone fool you. 'Bad companions make a good person bad.'" 1 Corinthians 15:33

Saturday, August 17

A $5 Bill.... Or NOT!

My husband, Scotty, has always been such a hard "read". He's never been one to really open up and share freely.... especially not publicly. The biggest shock of his recovery process is how open and honest he has been in sharing his emotions, failures and struggles. And, my second shock has been that this openness has continued.

The past few months, he's been keeping somewhat of a journal on his blog. It's been amazing to see his fearlessness in posting deep, deep emotions. I've been very proud of him for writing so honestly; and I've been thankful. I believe his sharing is extremely helpful in his healing.

But, sometimes, he's shared things, and I've thought to myself.... "Oh, I don't know that everyone needs to know THAT." Even though our situation has served to humble us in many ways, I guess I'm still holding on to a little bit of pride and wanting to keep some difficulties to ourselves. Today, Scotty shared one of those stories on his blog. I saw him writing it. I knew where it was going. And, I thought... "Man! Can some things just be a secret?!?!"

Well, they could! But, this story doesn't define us. This small piece of our story speaks volumes about where we've been and what we've overcome. So... instead of sharing a story of my own today, I'm going to send you over to The Invisible A. Read our story about our $5 bill. As difficult as that day was, it will always serve to remind us how far the Lord has brought us. And, since I don't think we'll ever forget it, I hope it always motivates us to remain sensitive to the needs of others.

I hope you're having a fabulous weekend....

Wednesday, August 14

Debunked....

Prior to actually doing this homeschool thing, I had some real ideas (I was sure they were facts) about the process. Granted, we are only 2 weeks in. Some of these could still prove to be true. But, for the most part, I was pretty much WRONG! Man, I've never enjoyed saying that.

So, here are just a few of the myths I've always had and how they've been debunked in this adventure we are facing.

1. Being with my children all day every day is something I CAN NOT do. 
  •  O.K., so I'm really embarrassed to admit that. It sounds SO terrible. I mean, they're MY children. If I can't spend a day with them, why would I expect someone else could. Also, there are countless parents that would absolutely love to have a child they could spend each and every day with. How insensitive of me! And, as it turns out.... my children are a whole lot of fun to be with when we aren't constantly on MY schedule. The time that is scheduled as "school time" is time focused on THEM. And guess what, they are funny, pleasant, enjoyable company. It seems that my 3 C's respond positively to having me focused on them. Go figure!
2. Keeping the children home for school will make us too inwardly focused. Our "world" will get REALLY small. 
  • This one probably should have been first, because it really is the biggest shocker. Socialization has been the issue for homeschooled kids forever. And, for a time, I guess I had my own concerns. In the past 2 weeks, I've noticed that there are aspects of socialization that are brand new to my children even though they have been in traditional schools. They are having to learn independence. There isn't a crowd to follow. They are having to learn time management, because they have assignments to do and no one telling them what to do and when. If they manage their time well, they'll get to move on more quickly. If they do not use time wisely, they're stuck when the others have moved on. This list could go on and on. But, you get the picture. Yes, they were being socialized before. But, I haven't removed all opportunity for socialization by changing their environment. At times, they may be getting more.
  • Here's the amazing thing, though. Our world has not gotten smaller. It's gotten HUGE. I truly was NOT ready for this. Most curriculum guides for school at home are Bible centered. The subject where this fact makes the biggest difference in is History. We've begun in Genesis, because that is the beginning of history whether our country wants to agree or not. The book we are using takes a look at Ancient Egypt along with our Bible lessons. As we look at the maps of Bible times, we also get to see maps of that area TODAY. And, I promise we already have a MUCH bigger view of our world. I'm afraid I'd let our lives be too much about our small community/life. The world is huge! And, understanding that fact allows me to look beyond myself (which should really be done occasionally) and calls me to marvel at our Creator frequently. The amount of space, time, and people He controls is astounding.
3. I don't think I can handle the restrictions that homeschool would require. 
  •   Oh... I'm just laughing at myself. Restriction? I've never had more freedom in August before. We haven't had to brave a crazy Walmart chasing down a RED 3 pronged folder with pockets! Scotty and I haven't had a single night where we needed to be in three different classrooms at once. We made it through Thursday, August 8th, without needing to take out a small loan to pay fees for 3 children. Now... seriously, I'm laughing! I'm honestly NOT making fun. I'm just trying to make a point. And, here it is... Yesterday (Tuesday) at 3:00 p.m., the five of us were sitting in a movie theater watching Smurfs 2. Last year, at this time, I would have been in a very long car rider line or on my way home to break out folders to sign, write more checks and make another list of supplies to go to Walmart and get. Restricted? I've found FREEDOM! (By the way, we also got a WHOLE lot of school done by 1:00. My insecurities about the judgement of others make it impossible for me not to say that.)
If any non homeschooling adults are still reading, let me just say that THIS has not been a post to say, "You must teach your own children." I'm also NOT expressing criticism on any one who has made a different choice than me. But, I am reflecting on the fact that I KNEW last spring God was calling us to make a change in our kids' education. I KNEW He was saying that it would be the best thing for US. And, yet, I still had the above myths ruling my thought life. Regularly, I would pray that God would allow me to overcome them and see me through those challenges. The reality of the situation is that following the Lord's leading and saying, "yes", was going to offer so many blessings that the challenges would be difficult to focus on.

And, that's how this post applies to all of us in all situations. When God calls us to make a change, why are we so quick to focus on the things we THINK we will miss out on? Why?!?!?!

 Am I saying that there aren't challenges to following the Lord's leading? NO! But... we live in the world, the fallen world. There are challenges to every decision. And, we are so fallible that our challenges usually aren't even what we expected they would be. We have no idea, yet we hang on for dear life to what we know and fear everything about the unknown. And, I'm saying they're myths.

If God is calling you to make a change (ANY kind of change) that you are fighting, I'd be willing to bet you have your list of reasons why it will be the hardest thing you've EVER done before. And, I'm urging you to pray through it and confirm that the Lord is in fact leading you to make this change. Then, step out into the deep with Him and watch Him prove every fear false!

DEBUNKED -- "Expose the falseness or hollowness of"

Tuesday, August 13

Live Like A CHAMPION!

Scotty and I had the opportunity this weekend to attend Success School with AdvoCare. (Do NOT stop reading now.) This was our second trip to Dallas for this event. Both times, we've spent the car ride home talking about the fact we felt we were returning from a marriage retreat rather than training sessions.

Why is that? How could this be? 

Anyone whose ever taken the products for a period of time would agree that AdvoCare produces some GREAT products. (As you'll see on ESPN soon... "Even the Pros agree!") I've been annoyed by direct sales forever. So, it took me quite some time to agree to try any products. But, sure enough, with some effort on my part, these products did exactly what they said they'd do and MORE!

OK... But, can I be honest with you? Even if AdvoCare had created a product that could ensure I'd NEVER get a major, life threatening disease I couldn't get overly passionate about that. I really couldn't! Before the foundation of the world, I believe God knew the day I would be born and the day that I will die. And, He knows everything in between. I don't know HOW He knows, but I believe He does. Therefore, while I'm an advocate for exercise, vitamins, and things that promote wellness, I also know that I could manage those things superbly and still have no control over the length of my life.

Here's what I CAN get passionate about.... Helping people do the most with the time they DO have from birth to death. And, what I realized this weekend is that's what AdvoCare is about. That's why their slogan is, "We Build Champions". Champions make the MOST of every circumstance. I know that I will lose so many of you because you feel like I did years ago. I'm praying the message I've preached here for years will allow you to trust that THIS is not a ploy to build a business but IS another honest post about my life and what I'm learning.

Over the past 2 years, Scotty and I have been working hard and living a champion lifestyle in a LOT of ways. But, when we attended Success School in February, Scotty was living a defeated lifestyle in one area.... career/finances. We watched and listened to MANY couples share how AdvoCare had been the vehicle for them to achieve goals TOGETHER as a couple! Some goals were physical goals for a healthier lifestyle. Some were financial goals to create more income and freedom in their lives. Either way, though, the initial changes had to be made internally. Through the testimonies of others, Scotty was ushered into a spiritual marker with the Lord. It was time to break fear and bondage.

Since then, he's had the COURAGE to make changes in career that he never would have made before. He's had the COURAGE to share his weaknesses for all to see on his blog. Since he spent 36 years fighting desperately to HIDE his true self, this is a HUGE accomplishment. Therefore, when AdvoCare claims to "build champions", I believe it. God is using them in a big way to create a CHAMPION within my husband. And, THAT creates positive change for my family.

Last November, I started a 24 Day Challenge with a group of about 10. One of the 10 was my dad who had gradually been putting on weight for years. His weight had grown and caused him to live life in somewhat of a prison. He worked hard those 24 days and hasn't stopped. God is using AdvoCare again to build a champion within my dad.



We have been challenged again this weekend to LIVE as champions! Too many are living a life of defeat, and they need a message of hope. I have that message of hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, that hope is intensified when I surround myself with other champions who see their business as ONLY A TOOL to create more champions and change the WORLD.

See, I'm convinced the body of believers doesn't have a big enough vision. We are anxiously trying to work our way into a comfortable lifestyle... to settle in. Why? Should we ever settle in? I don't think so, because this is not our home. We are here temporarily to participate in the sanctification process and to impact as many lives as we can. When I attend weekends like this one, I realize that the VERY best thing I can EVER do to ensure I live each and every moment of this life to its fullest is to completely SURROUND myself with others trying to do the same.

I couldn't be happier about my choice to do that through the vehicle of AdvoCare. I'm ashamed that I've been fearful to come out and give this part of my life the promotion that it deserves. I've been so afraid that my friends would see it as a sneaky method of growing MY business and MY pocketbook. And, I don't know why I thought that. One of the dearest people I have ever met shared AdvoCare with me and has NEVER "used" me to get something for herself. She has been and encourager, supporter and builder of the champion within me. And, it is the greatest delight of my life to be able to do that for someone else. Thank you, Julie Welch. :)

Please notice that I have an earring in one ear and not the other. When I discovered this embarrassment, I was so upset that I'd lost ANOTHER earring. However, we got back to the hotel and there was an earring on the sink. :(. I'm not old enough to be doing things like that!

So..... are YOU living the life of a champion? Really! Living! I'd ask that you really think about that. Is there an area that is governed by "I can't"? It MUST go. It's not for you. Christ IN you says, "You can". Now, let's all choose daily to live that way and surround ourselves with people and groups that encourage that growth within.


Thursday, August 8

Long Enough...

I've started reading in Deuteronomy during my morning quiet times. And, it's dawned on me that my excitement over this book is probably a little abnormal. I mean, it IS the Law. But, I just love the tone of Deuteronomy. I admire the determination of Moses to SAY everything he could possibly say to the Israelites before his death. And, I even get a little misty eyed when his death occurs BEFORE entrance into the Promised Land. Moses gets to SEE the land, but he doesn't get to enter. Even though, he earned this consequence AND I know it's coming, my heart gets heavy and my eyes "water" every. single. time!

Well, yesterday, I stumbled across a verse that I've obviously read before. But, I've never seen it like I do now.

“You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."  (2:3)

I'm on my way out the door, but I just HAD to write about my thoughts as I read. I feel like my life (prior to 2 years ago) was a carousel of sorts. It was good! It was eventful! It was controlled! And, there weren't really aspects of my life that could be characterized as bad.... from the outside. But, round and round we went. Moving, but not getting anywhere. 

Internally, there were things I knew I wanted to be different; in my family, in my marriage, in my personal life, and in my spiritual life. In many ways, we were running the rat race. My major concerns were for things like; our financial situation, our boys' ball teams, and my social life. Now, none of these things are terrible things. But.... they were my BIGGEST concerns. 

In other words, I'd left no room for God's guidance in every situation. If He'd asked me to interrupt our schedules in order to slow down and really FIND Him, I know I wouldn't have heard it. 

If He'd wanted me to be still and evaluate each of my relationships and determine if they were healthy, encouraging and uplifting, I couldn't have understood the purpose.

And, if He'd demonstrated that our life and our pace were shoving Him out of our lives in every way that mattered, I would have argued and made my list of WHY that couldn't be so.

In hindsight, I believe that August of 2011 was God's way of saying to me... "You have made your way around this hill long enough..." And, the events that have followed that life changing day have shown me ALL that I missed out on, because my priorities were not God's. 

I wish I could say more and more about this topic. I believe that our packed schedules (sometimes packed with "good" things) are causing us to miss out on GOD. In the midst of our Bible studies, church services, kids' engagements, etc., it seems we are missing the deep experiences that I know God desires for us to have. 

I wish it hadn't taken a crisis for me to realize I'd been 'circling' long enough. I'd have preferred to have had the courage to step out into the deep with the Lord simply because He asked me to. But... my lifestyle didn't leave room for simple nudges. It took an earthquake of sorts. Still... the Lord said "long enough". And, I'm grateful He did. 

I pray every day that I don't ever go back to THAT kind of normal. I want my kids to be involved in SOME things. I want to enjoy friendship. I want to spend time volunteering and serving. But, never again do I want those things to take over and cause me to miss out on His direction. His desire is to lead us carefully along a path towards HIS promised land. We've done it our own way LONG ENOUGH!