Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas from a new perspective

Sweet Wheeler just a few days old.

So I've been thinking a lot about Christmas, and what it really means. And then about what it really means---to me.  Sometimes I bypass the behind the scenes stuff that was going on and just focus on the fact that Jesus was born as a baby and the humble beginnings he had and then think of what he grew into.  This year, I feel like the Lord has really been putting on display for me, the fathers heart.  In terms of my own son, to think about taking this sweet baby that in a sense (not really bc he is God's) is mine. Taking this baby and willingly giving my son to another tribe who I know will raise him and then brutally murder him.  What mother would give her son to that group of people knowing he would be torn to shreds, mounted with nails on a tree and left there to suffocate and bleed to death. God knew full well what was coming. He allowed Jesus to grow up here on earth, in our tribe. He gave him to us without hesitation or reservation.  He put his sweet little baby into the hands of men that would tear his flesh off his body.  There was a lot going on behind the scenes in the manger that I hadn't been thinking about.  God wanted us so badly to know him that he would give his sweet perfect son into the hands of murderers. If I was forced to give my child into the hands of people I knew would eventually torture him beyond recognition, even knowing my son would do amazing things for those people, I can't imagine making that choice.  God's decision to send Jesus at Christmas was more than just a sweet silent night. From a father's heart it had to be filled with emotion, seeing his son born into new form, knowing he would redeem so many, yet also the agony of knowing the torture that would come for him at the cross.  This was the ultimate gift coinciding with the ultimate sacrifice.  Jesus taking on flesh, meant he would take on pain, take on our sin. Christmas was God's decision to send his son to this tribe, the cross was Jesus' submission to his fathers will to ransom many. It means something differently after holding your sweet child in your arms. I am beyond speechless and awed and grateful for God's sacrifice in giving us his child. 
Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

what a fun thanksgiving weekend!

We had such a great weekend for thanksgiving. My parents came up tuesday night and we ended up eating wednesday bevause we got impatient! The meal was delicious!! Then it made for a really long weekend bc we had already done all of the cooking! Friday John put up a tire swing and the kids LOVED riding on it! Wheeler of course was a little more timid then the daredevil reese, but with a fake "seatbelt" he was happy to ride and loves it! Saturday my parents left after an AWESOME auburn alabama game!! What a come back! Sunday we went to church and headed out to maple view farms to see where our milk comes from! (They sell milk in our grocery stores here). Reese was so excited to see the cows out in the fields.  We took the kids to the country store to get ice cream and reese soon asked how they squeezed this ice cream out of his udders? HA. It was a fun and beautiful weekend! So relaxing! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the forgotten halloween post

Oops. i think i forgot to post halloween pictures! We had a quick change at the last minute because the ladybug said her wings hurt her, so we went with an Auburn cheerleader then figured I would dress brother in a matching outfit. Plus the fleece shark outfit would be a little hot since it was 70 something degrees! So we made it a family affair and went all Auburn-ed out! We trick or treated in our old neighborhood, so that was a lot of fun seeing friends!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wisdom, pride and trust: a life lesson from a 4 year old....

The interchange:
Reese: Mom, i know how to spell cat, C-A-S-T. 
Me: Wow, reese, thats really great. Close though, its C A T.
Reese: No mom, its CAST, i know it is.
Me: actually reese, its CAT because (enter explanation of the phonics of the word cat minus the s sound). But you are doing a great job spelling for sure!
Reese: No mom,(hands on hips) its actually CAST. I know it is because I am 4 years old. (Proceeds to write CAST next to the cat drawing on her page.)

My response:

Wow, for some weird reason it frustrated me so much. I was having to really use self-control to not take her pencil out of her hand and not say "are you kidding me? I'm a good two decades ahead of you with a degree and I think I ACTUALLY KNOW how to spell cat. For some reason i got angry inside far beyond what the situation deserved.  In one of my better parenting moment, I pulled myself aside let it go, and let the child write cast on her paper. 

Reflecting back:
As i sat there trying to calm myself, i was disgusted by how angry I got inside and glad I didnt squash her little dream of knowing how to spell a word. But as I thought, i realized... I am that girl. I am that 4 year old, know it all, looking up at my father in heaven and unconsciously saying.. "no actually I know".  I do it in the subtlest of ways, but i do it a lot. When I dont seek God's wisdom first, I am really just saying, No god, actually I know how to do this-- finance thing, parenting deal, marriage, purpose finding journey, navigation of relationships.  To think how silly reese is to think that she would know how to spell something better than me... Ive been spelling for 25 years. I even won the 7th grade spelling be for the city of Tampa. It was crazy for her not to even ask, but yet to instead insist that her little meager way of spelling it was the way to do it instead of tapping into my wisdom. As silly as that is...its just what I do with the Lord. I don't do it out loud. Never would I say that in my prayers to the Lord. Actually the opposite, ill ask for wisdom then go do my own thing assuming he is leading. Majority of the time i am not asking for wisdom, praying over it for a few days/weeks, digging into the word on the issue, and listening more than talking in my prayer life.  That is me quietly saying, no God, actually I know how to do this thing of life. 
Silly enough, that interchange was a huge teaching moment for me. It really made me look at my approach to these huge blessings I am stewarding and really dig into God's wisdom on stewarding them. After all they're his and he knows best how to use them for Glory instead of waste. I have the priviledge of tapping into the ultimate source of knowledge... So a lot of times i need to get my "hands off my hips" and stop doing it my own way. Then I need to trust that he will answer, guide and give me the wisdom I have asked for. 
Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Random thoughts on Submission

Submit- yield to oneself to the authority or will of another, to defer or consent to  abide by the opinion or authority of another, to place oneself under or behind.

Six years ago I didnt really understand what submission meant in a marriage. I understood in a general sense.  I knew I was to submit to John's leadership and I even understood it in a decision making context and applied it mostly.  But really the definition and illustration of what Biblical submission looks like has fleshed out for me over the last six years and will continue to for the next several decades.  Ephesians says not only to submit to your husband as to the Lord but also to submit to one another out of reverance to Christ. This means John is first, just as i place the Lord first above my desires and priorities, John is my earthly first.  This is easy to apply for me in big decisions or stressful situations. Submitting is even often comforting to me. I am glad that God gave me a wise, strong steady man to tuck myself behind in hard times or big choices.  Where i fail daily is submitting in the small things. Submitting to what time he walks in the door, submitting to how he raises the kids, submitting to how he loves me.  These are things that i often want to control, or "share my feelings" with so much that I am really trying to change the outcome of how he would normally do things.  Now don't get me wrong. I fully agree that wives should be sharing their opinions and feelings. I feel that is definitely part of our help mate role.  But i need to share and then leave it in his hands.  If he is the spiritual leader and authority for our household, i do not need to put my expectations on him and then get disappointed when it doesnt go my way. I often forget I am not first.  We have struggled in this mostly in regards to the work week.  I think one of the hardest things about being a business owner's wife is rarely can he turn his job off.  Even when he is home, he is responsible for that store and 50 employees and thousands of customer experiences there.  He loves it and so often he just enjoys thinking about it at home, new ideas, different ways to do something, whatever.  Also, it is no 9-5.  The beauty and burden of the job is that the hours are always changing.  He can go in at 5am one day and 11 the next. Which is hard for me since i am such a planner. Sometimes i think a predictable 9-5 would be easier.  Because even if he says he will be home at 5, something can always happen. An employee doesnt show up, health inspector arrives, rush hits, an employee pulls him aside to talk, he gets a phone call he has to deal with.  This is where my failure blows up and submission usually fades.... Of course I want him home so i can spend time with him, have help with dinner and the kids, whatever. But it is not in my control and it shouldnt be.  If i was fully finding my strength and enjoyment in the Lord then I could really be more flexible and understanding on this.  Its not all about me, my struggles and how hard my day was. But that is when I need to really submit most. In the small, everyday. It is a physical and mental battle to really submit at those times.  Not to push away my hurt or disappointment, but also not to let it rule my attitude and drop it on him the second he comes home.  He is worth too much to me for that.  Even more, God is worth too much to me to continually butcher his design for submission. Expectations can destroy a marriage. Luckily, I heard that Andy Stanley message before we got too far into marriage (iMarriage series I highly reccomend!). But it is something that continually needs to be at the forefront of my mind!
John heads out of town this week twice, and coming off of his trip to brazil a few weeks ago I have been feeling anxious about him going again. I really want to try this week to lean hard into the Lord, find my strength and satisfaction and value in Him and let John off the hook a little bit. I really want to free him up to just do what he does best and enjoy work, life and recreation. I really want to submit as I would if Jesus were in my house and getting home at 530 instead of 5. I know that God chose me to give his tangible love to John, and I need to continually remind myself of that.

Friday, July 30, 2010


This last week or two was quite a spiritual journey for me! I can't imagine what it was like for my dear friend who was actually in the middle of it.  It was such a hard but awesome journey for me to experience God in a different way as I prayed more deeply than ever before. I have never felt emotionally exhausted after praying and it gave me a small glimmer into what gethsemane was like for Jesus. I can't remember i time being so involved (mind, body, heart, soul, emotions) in prayer and petitioning God, begging God, screaming at God, crying to God for Him to hear and change a situation.  What am amazing illustration God gave me this week watching this unfold. What an example about fighting for the redemption of his child and longing to adopt us into his family just as this couple has fought for an opportunity to bring this child into their family to buy her at a high price (not just financially) and to journey with her because she is worth adopting into an amazing family far greater than she was given or could have chosen on her own. What a beautiful redemption story. I am so so thankful for a God who longs to adopt us, who longs for us to choose Him back, who longs for the day when we are finally his and then finally face to face with Him. Not because he lacks anything without us, but just because he is Love.  What a picture of what God did at the cross too. Not only does he love his children beyond any love we could experience in the smallest fraction, but his prize, his son, he watched tortured for a people who didn't love him, but He longed to adopt. That is a high price to pay for our adoption.  So through this process, i have really grasped my own adoption into Christ and as well as the ransom paid for me, the earnest love he pours over me, and the urgency to tell others about the amazing family that awaits them. I need to live in that reality a little bit deeper so I can really grasp the pure blessing God has given me in just giving me himself. Blessings or not, He has already given me all i need in Him. I need nothing else than the Father who has fought for me, waited for me, pursued me, and bought me at the highest price, then rejoiced when I chose Him back. I want nothing more than Him, and I may need him to remind me of that, but what a beautiful fulfillment of scripture in 1Pet 3 that glory WILL be revealed in suffering. And perseverance produces growth and revelation. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

this boy...

he makes my heart smile! we have enjoyed our days while reese has been at church camp- just me and him. If it were up to him we would read the same 3 books over and over. One about Dinosaurs, one about trains and jets and one peekaboo book. Both of us have memorized them. I have enjoyed some time with just him and seeing his little personality come out more and more. He is so servant hearted! Anything i ask him to do---rephrase, most of the time if he isnt right in the middle of something he is loving--- he will do it with a smile on and say "my cleasure" when he returns. He likes to be silly, make up words, jump on you if you are on the floor, snuggle up with his blanky. Not a big TV watcher like his sis..  he is much more a book, ball or car man.The bottom picture is what you get if you ask for a smile. The top picture is us playing at UNC campus and he was chasing birds and squirrels and watching them run off and fly away. What fun we are having!

Monday, July 19, 2010


The last few days the lord has really humbled me. Over the course of a series of events, God has really spoken to me about how loosely i use and understand the term blessing.
First, A friend of a friend (also a person on staff at the church we go to) his wife went into preterm labor with their first child (they have 2 adopted) and he only lived 24 hours.  They had already picked out his name (Chai hebrew for "alive") and i just received updates as things were happening and had such a burden on my heart to pray for them. I prayed a lot of that day and when i heard that Chai died, i was sadder than I thought I would be over a baby of a couple i didn't even know.  But God really used that to draw me to himself and reveal a little more of his character.  One of the things the dad said was that they hoped his name had meaning to pull him through this hard time, that he could stay alive and push through, but after he passed he realized God cared more about him being fully alive in him instead of on this earth.  The faith of this couple throughout this process has been incredible. I have enjoyed following their blog lately and just hearing the father speak to these hurting people.  God is truly close to the broken hearted because if ever a time to turn and doubt, they are running that much harder to God.
Next, I was really emotionally effected all week by my dear friend who has been in the adoption process almost 2 years now.  They finally got selected for a baby and then a few days out from the due date heard that paperwork stuff was falling through.  It really got me down and i just felt in a funk for a few days. (I know that sounds selfish because i can't imagine what she was going through if it was effecting me like this!).
Then sunday at church, the pastor said something about how flippantly we use the name of God. How we don't understand the power it holds when we throw it around without tagging along the weight and glory that come with it. Then it was like God was tapping on my shoulder... You do the same thing about my blessing. Now going back a few months, God has really been teaching me a lot about blessings and really getting my heart prepared for what he has to reveal. I have never felt at a place so content, so "not-wanting" for much other than him before yet in my faith. But even still, I just began to realize this weekend how flippantly i have said Thanks for our blessings and taught our kids to say "thank you God for all our blessings... Jesus, family, friends, house," the list goes on and on. For me this weekend I have just thought about the blessing God has given me in our marriage and our kids. The way i live my life and speak some times, i am basically just treating those blessings as if they don't have the weight they do. I do not understand why God blessed us with 2 healthy wonderful kids. Neither of which we struggled to conceive (just the opposite actually) nor struggled with health issues (i don't really even count wheeler's ear issues when i think about the struggles others have). Yet i totally complained through pregnancy, felt like i wouldnt survive some days with two babies at home, and even still, nitpick over how hard my day was with two kids in the throngs of toddlerhood. How humbling to think about God looking at me wondering is this what you have to say about my blessing? Now granted, life isnt rosy rosy and the kids will always test my patience and it will be a challenge raising them until they are out of the house and beyond, but my perspective needs to continually shift.  With a heart that understands the weightiness of the blessing i have been giving, there is less room for petty complaining... when i really grasp what the Lord has given and can take away at any moment, it dissipates the frustration over the silly stuff i am dealing with. I look back over my life and i can't really find huge problems or major disasters or trauma or devastation.  The closest i have come to that is losing Drew. And i ask God, why me? Why so many blessings. I empathize with these other people who are going through this heavy stuff and leaning on the Lord so strongly.  But yet, I don't grasp the full weigh of what God has done in my life. I know this is all rambling and it is just where i am right now as i process, but all this to say.. I want to really understand each day the blessing God has put in my life, and not treat it flippantly or with entitlement or just a "that's the way it is" attitude.  I have no no idea the scale God loves me. I feel very small and I like being in that place with God. I pray he reminds me of it minute by minute and prepares me to love on others as they walk their journey. I know there will be a place in mine where I will be at a crossroads and will need that person to lean on. Sorry for all the ramblings... I'll continue to flesh out what the Lord is teaching me over time.  I am thankful that he speaks.
In following up, i am praying hard has my dear friend got an amazing God moment call that the paperwork went through and heard this right before the baby was being delivered so she is out in las vegas now picking up a baby hopefully in the next few hours. I am praying hard that details line up smoothly, for the health of the baby and the mothers substance abuse not to have hurt the child. I am praying for their hearts as parents that God is preparing them to take on his child and bring her into their family just as God has adopted us into his. Praise Jesus!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A year of hurt and growth

One year and 5 days ago I got a call from drew that he was headed to the hospital to be seen if he could test this drug they are seeing if it cures Cystic Fibrosis::  Drew and i had been friends for 12 years. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, but unless you knew drew really well, or asked why he coughs all the time, you would have never known he had it.  He just lived almost as if it didn't affect him even if you knew it really did.  Drew and I went to high school and youth group/church together.  Drew taught me to play the guitar (although i was a slow learner) we sang together, worshipped the Lord together, ate lunch together at the cafeteria table, and hung out on many a weekend playing hide and seek in the car with walkie talkies or discussing theology at waffle house.  Drew was a dear dear friend::
So drew calls and asks if i can come get his car from the UNC hospital parking lot. I brought him the usual... a chick-fil-a dinner and chocolate milkshake, his unsaid request whenever he was pent up at UNC getting tests run or in for a procedure for his lungs. I sat in his room that tuesday night and we chatted about marriage, family, sex trafficking, God, this potential cure for CF, Piper (our great dane that is now Drew and Cheryl's), etc.  Drew was seemingly 100% normal drew.  I told him i'd take the car and he laughed about how there were oxygen tanks in the front seat and i was asking if i was going to blow his car up if i parked it in the 90 degree heat we were having in may. We laughed, I showed him some good movies to watch on netflix and left him my computer for the next few supposedly boring days in the hospital for testing to see if he could get on the list for this test drug. Then I left, said i loved him and I'd come by in a day or two.
I got the call that wednesday night that my sister had gone by to see him and while she was there he had started coughing up blood and they were going to go in and cauterize some vessels in his lungs to stop the bleeding. He had this procedure done before so I was a little worried but not terrible. Then i got another call wednesday night that felt very different. They hadnt gotten all the bleeding and had taken him back again for another surgery to stop it.  I can't recall all the details but either the 2nd or third cauterization he did not wake up from. They put him on a ventilator that night and we never met eyes again.  The next few days were a blur of hospital visits, holding his hand, praying over him, reading him scripture, and just sitting with friends in the waiting room talking about how he was going to pull through this.  Things got progressively worse, his body became septic, the did dialysis, then the neurologist gave the news that he had had several strokes, and if he woke up quality of life was uncertain. This was the moment that the air went out of me. Hope had left, miracle was the only thing that couldve happened, but the doctors assured this was not probable.  I remember vividly the saturday that all the news really hit and decisions were having to be made, Drew had not wanted to live this was and we all knew.  John and I headed to the hospital saturday, the 18th of May, and the waiting room was very quiet. I would say 20 or so people had gathered and come and gone over the last 5 days. I remember Mitch, a mutual friend and drew's best friend, coming down the hall with tears in his eyes, saying "you might want to come back".  About 8 of us stood in the room and held onto drew and watched as his heart monitor dropped, plateaued, and dropped again until he left his body to be with the Lord.
It is the most surreal moment as a Christian I have yet had. The intense sadness and grief that struck as his wife of almost 4 years hugged her husband and cried over him, as his dad and mom laid on the side of his bed kissing him and saying No, No. I held drew as he gave up his body and went to see Jesus' face.  Drew was a modern day paul.  I know many of conversations we had where drew would laugh about how dying is gain and he was going to have an awesome glorified body in heaven with no coughing and huge muscles (CF prevents weight gain to a certain extent). I was overjoyed and crushed to the core in the same moment.
I can't believe it has been a year since Drew went to be with the Lord. He was 26 years old and died a few days before his 4 year wedding anniversary. He was one of the most passionate people chasing after truth and selfless people i have known.  He never acted as a victim of CF even though his treatments had increased to several hours a day and frequent hospital visits.  You would have never known he had a terminal illness. The only time i learned it was terminal was in AP Biology class when he wouldnt help me with our class project and I was all stressed and I kept asking if he even cared about his grade and he laughed and joked that his life expectancy was 27, an AP bio grade probably didn't matter. I had no idea, we had been friends for 2 years by then and he had never said CF was terminal. He thought this was funny, but was convinced without a doubt he would beat this thing and they'd find a cure.
Over the last year I have had a hard hard journey of hurt, confusion, struggle, grief, anger and peace.  God has taught me several things through losing drew.  My biggest lessons have been God is sovereign and his timing is perfect. This was a hard lesson to come to. God works for the good who love him. I had to cling to this one because it is hard to see in the midst of this. I learned that sometimes glory is at stake... 1 peter 4  says “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead be very glad= for these trials make you partners with Christ, in his suffering so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. Glory will be revealed in suffering. Ecclesiastes 3: 11 says He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”   I dont fully understand why drew had CF, why he died right before he was beginning seminary, why i lost a dear dear friend. All i can do is trust that I serve a big God, a tender father who would want the best for his child. Drew is where he wants to be. Today I am thankful for being a part of drew's life and having him in mine. He taught me innumerable lessons about the Lord, his lavish love, and who i am in Christ. I pray God brings glory after glory still through Drew's death. I know Drew is enjoying himself with his big muscles and no more pills and vest to wear to shake mucous out of his lungs. I miss him deeply still. Going home doesn't really feel like going home, our old church still feels empty to me, and holidays without meeting at the waffle house are hard. I miss his witty comments, his "ladies man" interpretation, and just the fun he brought to the group. I still hurt for his wife, I still think about him several times a week. I wouldnt trade the time I had with him and I thank God that He drew me close in this time of pain instead of turned his face and stayed quiet. I have found contentment I thought i'd never have, i have found enjoyment in Him i never thought i'd have, and worshipping is a whole new experience as I picture drew singing his new lungs out at the foot of Jesus. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

My poor Reese these days... She is on a Jesus and Satan kick and it is challenging! The present argument:

R: Mom, you know who we don't love?
M: Who reese?
R: Satan. But mommy, does Jesus love satan?
M: Hmm i don't know Reese, I don't think so.
R: (starts to cry) yes he does mommy, Jesus loves everyone!
M:: then i scramble in my mind to explain how satan isnt a person to a 3 year old and how we are to love everyone but satan is not everyone. Quite a challenge.
:::: time passes:::::::::
R: (playing with two figurines) Mom, im just pretending...
M: Oh that is fun Reese.
R: Ya i am just pretending that Jesus and satan are friends... its ok.

Oh my goodness! She has asked every babysitter in the last few weeks about it and brings it up at least every few days! Quite theologic discussions we get into and it is really challenging for me to get back to the basics and try to explain what little I understand to someone who comprehends even less. Ha.
But i love her heart behind it. Not wanting mean old satan to be left out. We will keep working on the details but the heart is there!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wheeler's birthday...

Well we pulled off a casual party... I think I guilted myself over my decision not to do anything for his birthday but regardless, the party was fun. He had a blast and maybe even enjoyed his cake as much as  I did (each year growing up I got a cookie cake and bless my mom she still gets me one each year :). We just had a really small party but he had lots of fun.
I can hardly believe he is two (until he is laying out on the floor in full trantrum- that jogs the memory). But overall, Wheeler is quiet, mischevious, but a talker once you get him one on one, compassionate, loves to share, concerned, silly, loves to laugh and tickle, loves anything with Wheels, balls, and loves to be outside. He is such a joy and I can't wait to see the man God shapes him into!

What's in the name?

Matthew 5:16 (message translation)
Now that I have put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep an open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven...
This verse is really speaking to a lot going on in my life right now. First off, we are in transition, living in a two bedroom apartment while our "house on a hilltop" is being built.  I am so so blessed and beyond full of gratitude for the blessing of this house.  In another way, I have felt God saying to me, look at all I have given you, a platform of influence, dozens of employees in our care, a small group we lead, and limitless impact I can have if i just Shine! Staying generous and being open with our lives.  This is an area John and I have been praying through for over a year now. So the blog is another way to be open with my life and I pray God will speak to you with what he speaks to me or stories from our life. I am imperfect at best, but I have a perfect Savior who lives in me, so there are moments of Glory in my life that I want to grab a hold of. So that is what the name is about...  as well as what I am learning these days...