Thursday, November 15, 2012

I know it's been forever...but this is important!


I have nothing to say.  It's the truth.  I know everyone is busy and sidetracked, but we have had some of the hardest months ever recently, and quite honestly, I over-analyze it so much in my head that I don't feel like typing it all out.  Blah.  Just know that even if I don't divulge everything now, things are looking up, so that's good.

Okay then.

Now onto the super awesome and important part of this post - a review/promo/you-should-buy-all-your-gifts-here recommendation for one of the best sites (in my humble opinion) to help support sustainable income for people in Africa.  If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge proponent of this site, and have purchased and promoted items from them over the last few years.  They are Light Gives Heat, and they are doing some amazing things for people (especially women) in Uganda.

One of the pieces I own personally is the Spring Pearl - it's the perfect length and the colors are fantastic! 
Spring Pearl

Click here to see all products on sale!

You can also watch their full-length film, Moving On, here.  I dare you to watch it and NOT cry.

I have nothing but compliments for what they do, who they are, their commitment to their artisans and their customer service.  Go buy Christmas presents!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


'“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him [Mephibosheth], “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table. ”' (2 Samuel 9:7) 

So...this post has been in the making for a while, and the main idea is: we are officially church-less.  We had a celebration service for our pastor and his wife on Sunday, May 20th and we had our last meeting with the remaining families this past Friday.  We still have a little bit of closing stuff to do, but other than that, it's over.  It's bittersweet.  It's hard.  It's not something I ever expected to go through, and yet I'm not surprised.  It's surreal.  And it's a lot to process.  We loved our church and poured so much of our lives, our resources, our passions and our hopes into Safe Harbor.  We find ourselves in a brand new place, which is not rare, considering the last couple years, but is still so strange.  Can we be done with new places for a while, Lord? Oy. 

Needless to say, we're trying to find a new church home.  I feel weird even typing that!  We know so many people who have had multiple church homes for many different reasons, and yet, none of those reasons apply to our situation, so we find ourselves in limbo.  That's not all bad - we can actually take a little bit of a break - but we are in the midst of re-learning everything.  We're in the midst of tearing down the life we've built because the foundation is faulty.  We have been so focused on "ministry", and on what more we could do for Jesus that we've completely neglected who we are in Jesus.  This includes who we are in our marriage, as parents, as church members, as leaders, etc.  We've built up this facade, all with the best intentions possible, only to see it as a hollow shell of what it once was.  I believe our hearts were right, but that started to not matter at some point, and now we feel a bit lost.  The map we were following has disappeared, and we're left disillusioned.  We're making our way through the ebb and flow of bitterness and resentment, anger and frustration, sadness and confusion.  Notice I said "making our way through" much as I want to sit and wallow in this at times, my ever-faithful husband is trying his best not to let us, for which I'm extremely thankful.  We have our moments (or hours, or days...), but they don't last.  We know beyond anything else that God is good and He has a plan, even if we can't understand what the heck is going on right now. 

That's where Mephibosheth comes in.  Mep (as we'll call him from here on out because I don't want to type his name out every time) was Johnathan's son, King Saul's grandson.  He had crippled feet, according to 2 Samuel 4 (and other places), which I'm sure caused him grief.  However, he hadn't known grief until both Saul and Jonathan were killed.  We know that his nurse fled with him when they heard that news, and in her haste, he became lame (2 Samuel 4:4).  We don't hear anything else about Mep until 2 Samuel 9, when David, after being anointed as King, wants to show kindness to anyone left from Saul's household on Jonathan's behalf.  Mep was living in the house of Machir, son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.  That didn't mean anything to me until I did a bit of research (and could stand to do more).  Lo-debar in the Hebrew literally means "no word", "no pasture" or "no communication".  Can you imagine?  Mep was the (former) king's grandson, and ended up in the land of nothing.  He was crippled physically, essentially homeless, and emotionally scarred.  Then, out of nowhere, the new King summons him to the palace, and not only honors him by bringing him into his home, but promises that he and his family will eat at the king's table for the rest of his life. 

Paul (my husband) had received this word about eating at the king's table while he was recovering from brain surgery last year.  He felt like God has told him that there's a time to work in His fields and a time to eat at His table, and although God Almighty was inviting us to eat and rest, we didn't really listen.  Sure, we took a break (for about 2-3 weeks), but we continued to work, to labor.  No one called us on it because we were doing what we had always done.  We didn't challenge each other to do what we felt God was calling us to do because we were continually consumed with the idea of working for the Kingdom.  We were too wrapped up in establishing community that we didn't take advantage of resting within community we had established.  I don't think what we're going through now is solely a consequence of that time, but I do think these seasons are connected.  Now, we have to listen and rest - we don't have another option that feels right. 

So if you read this and you're the praying kind, please pray for us.  We want to be led by God in this, even though it feels crazy.  We want to find ourselves in the King's presence.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


And sad.

Is that combination possible?  I guess so.

After reading a lot of really good stuff from a new friend this morning, (read: languishing over the fact that I haven't read this stuff sooner, and I could have been better to this person), I'm inspired to write more.  I rarely (well, not rarely...but randomly) find people who truly inspire me when it comes to writing, editing, blogging, etc.  But Sam Smith, if you read this, count yourself as part of this small but mighty crowd of people.

And at the same time, I'm sad.  I see so much of who I could have been when reading Sam's stuff.  Beyond the want to have regrets, I have this dull, aching pain in my gut, wishing I had done so much more with my life at her age and before.  I do wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to college, majored in English and/or Psychology, been part of an on-campus ministry (not helping to lead one), learned and read and had roommates.  When I was her age, I was getting married, helping Paul with Chi Alpha.  When I was her age, I had this delusional dream of being in 'full-time ministry', and that 'calling' would cause life's problems to wane.  When I was her age, I thought I had plans and dreams, but those plans and dreams were drowned in the trivial and rudimentary parts of "ministry".


I'm not her age anymore, and I have lived through parts of life that usually cause people to shrivel up in fear.  And although we're on the other side, so to speak, there are always going to be other parts to push through.  And I'm never too old to try.

Paul and I are in such a place of disillusion that it's hard to see past the proverbial house of mirrors.  I've never wanted to submerge myself in any specific point of view, trying to remain objective because I thought that was the best way to go.  But now I wonder if I missed out on some form of safety by picking a side, by being more opinionated or educated.  As I sigh in resignation, I can't help but feel a small prick of hope, of excitement, for the future.  Who knows, people?  Maybe all this meandering and muttering will take shape and turn into something inspirational for others.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A month?

Wow - it's been almost a month since I've posted anything.  Needless to say, beyond excuse, this month has been hellish.  More than any other reason, I haven't blogged because I couldn't.  I couldn't allow the possibility of sharing or venting about certain things going on in our life and in our church.  For those who don't know, Paul is the volunteer associate pastor at a small church here in good ole' Alabama.  Our small church has 6 families currently, and about a month ago, we found out that our pastor and his wife are resigning from their position.  This announcement came just two days after finding out that our best friends in the church had decided it was time for them to move on to a new ministry.  As the "second in command", Paul has been put in a complicated position with the decisions to be made about our church, and in turn, that has put us in a hard place.  If you read previous blog posts, we were already in a hard place, but in light of the past month, that old hard place seems soft in comparison.  I struggle with depression somewhat regularly, but this past month, I've been beyond depression...the term "depression" would invoke some sort of emotional response to life, but I have been to the point of being so numb, I barely realize how I get from one place to another, and I have missed out on relational necessities within my family, my friendships, etc.  It's almost's very strange. 

I have moments where light breaks through.  I have been able to laugh at my ever-changing son.  I haven't fully given in to the desires of my sinful nature.  I haven't run away, even though every rarely used muscle in my body is screaming for the door.  I didn't know how to describe it fully until this morning.  I was randomly led to a batch of sermons from the Together for the Gospel conference that happened a couple weeks ago.  I'm hearing C.J. Mahaney preach about losing heart as a pastor while I'm writing this, and I've had to pause the writing because I'm astounded at the parallels between what I'm writing and what he's saying.  The scripture passage he's speaking from is in 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul is talking about his call, his struggle and his "but not" moments.  The pathetic struggle for me is whether or not to allow God to give me a "but not" moment.  This has been an ongoing struggle for me since I gave my life to Jesus when I was 18.  It's so easy for me to let the enemy block me from allowing God to handle my crap.  I feel like I need to fight this fight for myself.  I've gotten better over the years at seeing and grasping perspective, but that has pushed me into a different part of the struggle - of not letting myself process what I'm going through.  So now I'm trying to wade through the waters of processing vs. fighting, of fighting vs. trust.  That's what this all comes down to, and what I feel like God spoke to me yesterday as I was finally giving Him some of my time, rather than the TV or food.  It comes down to trust and surrender.  Am I going to surrender myself, our family, the decisions that have to be made, and the future to God, and trust that He has it all in His hands?  Am I going to allow the Holy Spirit to imprint upon my heart the "but not" truths that Paul talks about in his letter?  Am I going to hold fast to the principles He has already taught me, and allow God to remove the barriers that need to be removed from my heart?

My answer is...I don't know.  I feel like I have to let the breath out of my lungs and let my head fall below the surface of this fight.  We've been treading water for so long, fighting in our own power to gulp down air...and I'm exhausted. 

Okay, God...okay.  You can make even this dust beautiful.  I can be somewhat settled in the fact that You and your plans are a mystery right now.  Help me.  Be my strength.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Dear baby boy,

You're about to turn a year old.  One year.  Good lord, how much can happen in a year?!  I'm writing this now because this weekend will be CRAZY, and I don't want it to be late.  More than anything else, love, I want you to know that you are by far the best thing to ever happen to your Daddy and me.  You have made this year hard - there's no question.  Your bouts with teething, your curiosity (read: your desire to get into EVERYTHING), your transitions between being needy and independent, and your ardent refusal to stay in one place for an elongated amount of time have all been trying for Daddy and me, to say the least. 


Your inexpressible joy, amidst ear/sinus infections, stomach troubles, and trying for FOREVER to cut teeth, is contagious.  Infectious, even.  Your presence affects people around you - no one can come into our apartment, see you smile at them and continue to be sad or stressed out.  I'm not just saying that as a biased mom, either - people have told us that you bring joy into their joyless days.  You are your namesake - you are God's gift of joy to everyone around you.  You are also very smart.  I don't know what will happen in the future, and as I fight the worry that longs to sink me, I know God has given you an appetite for the, reading, detailed learning, etc.  You can find and pick up the smallest, tiniest piece of whatever off the floor (and subsequently attempt to eat it, even when you look at us first and we're looking back at your disapprovingly. Ahem.)  You love to 'play' with books, turning the pages, throwing them, laughing at them - my hope is that this morphs into a love of reading eventually.  If it doesn't, your daddy and I will be very sad, but it will be okay.  Most of all, you adore anything musical - your face lights up when there's music on the TV, whether it's in a commercial, a music video, or a cartoon.  You can already sense changes in the mood of a show by the changes in the music.  We bought you a Baby Einstein music player toy, and you were overjoyed.  You love to bang on things, and have played drums on your toy box, the table, the chairs, the walls, your crib, etc.  You've started dancing, which consists of bending down and coming back up, tapping your foot, and bopping to the beat.  You love to clap and make fun noises, which, unfortunately for our ears, includes a LOT of screaming at very high pitches.  Your mommy hopes this will develop into an awesome singing range at some point...I want to sing with you, to you and for you.

At this stage in life, you are ALMOST walking - you're so close, it's scary.  My heart soars and breaks every time you take a step by yourself, but you are very determined (in everything) to do it at your pace and in your time.  You are teaching your parents so much in that.  So often, we want to rush through things because they need to get done, essentially valuing the urgent over the important, but we're trying to learn otherwise.  Your joy in the smallest things added to your very serious work ethic (i.e. play) is teaching us to slow down and be present.  I'm dumbfounded at the amount you're teaching us, baby.  I pray it continues to be that way - that we can learn from each other for the rest of our life together.

You are definitely an independent first born - I already miss cuddles and sleeping with you, but I'm thoroughly enjoying each new stage.  You definitely have your parents' stubborn streaks.  (Yes, your daddy has one, even if he won't admit it.  To anyone.)  I can already foresee struggles in this area, so we're starting to pray about it now.  We also want to cultivate your sweet heart, and by the grace of God, keep you as innocent as we can in this strange world we live in.  Part of me wants to apologize for bringing you up in such crazy times, but I'm reminded that I'm a control freak, and can do nothing about these crazy times.  All I can do as your mom is to trust that God has you in his hands, he has an awesome plan for you, and I am privileged to be a part of it all.  Your daddy and I have been through some really hard times in this first year of life for you, but if you remember anything, I hope and pray you remember the good times, the humility we're both trying to use with each other, and that no matter what, you are loved and we love each other.

I don't feel like this letter can be long enough, so I'll stop it here.  I'm so thankful to God for giving you to us - you make this life worth it, Isaac.  Happy birthday.


Thursday, March 1, 2012


One of the hindrances of being involved in ministry of any kind is the consistent struggle with wanting what we once had.  This struggle has reared its ugly head in my heart and mind on a daily basis over the last few months.  That's another way to label what and how I've been feeling.  I've spent a good amount of time in the hopeless feelings of the Divide (between spirit and flesh), but the Divide has a friend - his name is Egypt. 

The Israelites, God's chosen people, were delivered from Egypt - the place where they were made to be slaves.  God, through Moses, brought them out, but because of sin, they were placed in the desert for 40 years.  Throughout the whole time we read about the Israelites, they are found complaining, grumbling, and wanting to go back.  To go back to slavery.  To go back to the place God took them out of.  Sounds stupid, right?  Oh how much I am like the Israelites!  Egypt wants to steal away any good thing we may have going on in our lives currently; to force us to peek back at our past in hopes that we might be able to regain who we were, where we were, etc.  This is fruitless, and, I believe, a tool of the enemy.  I mean, he's not called "the enemy" for no reason - he has weapons.  I know "no weapon formed against us will prosper", but sometimes we allow them to, whether out of self-pity, or pride, or simply because we're tired and don't want to fight anymore.  I'm dealing with all three.

My eyes have been fleeting as of late...they've been wandering...I've desired to catch a glimpse of my Egypt.  I think back to the ministry we have been involved in - how good it felt to see people being reached for Christ.  How fulfilling it was to be involved in true discipleship, to see fellow believers grow in their faith and wisdom.  To have other people pouring into us.  And although those were good things, that's not where God kept us.  That's not where He has us now.  And that makes me mad, frustrated and leaves me wanting.  We are in what seems like the hardest season of our lives thus the Sahara of deserts.  We don't have any direction, God is seemingly silent, our marriage is parched, and my heart looks like the plants I've attempted to keep alive (let's put it this way - no plant I have ever owned has made it).  I struggle with blaming others, beating myself up, and bluffing in my faith.  I have days where things look up - I feel a bit of strength in my heart, and although I'm not ready to push myself, I have a sliver of hope.  Then there are days where I have NONE of that.  Egypt is calling my name, you guys.

I do claim some comfort from reading the story of the Israelites - if God's chosen people, who saw miracles, pillars of fire and clouds of smoke can be dumb, I guess my struggles aren't totally asinine.  In listening to and soaking in Sara Groves today, I heard this song, and it sums up my heart right now:

Painting Pictures of Egypt

I don't want to leave here
I don't want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I've been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It's not about losing faith
It's not about trust
It's all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn't perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn't milk or honey
But then neither is this

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
I've been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
I've been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

If it comes to quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all
this time and sand?
And if it comes to quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all
this time and sand?   

Whether in my silence or my abundance of meaningless words, O God, please stop me long enough to hear your still, small voice.  You're the only hope we have.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Breaking down

I broke down tonight.  I didn't want to - we were already in bed, I was/am super tired, and it's been a long enough day, even after reminiscing about yesterday.  This isn't the first time I've broken down in the last couple years...I'm an emotional basket case pretty regularly, so this isn't an odd occurrence.  This won't be the last time, either.  But tonight...tonight was different somehow.  I'm still weary.  I'm still crying out to God about the same stuff.  I'm still broken.  But I got on my knees, and actually felt a little bit of surrender take place in my heart and in my spirit.  I can physically feel a little bit of peace.  I didn't even really pray that long or use any eloquent words.  I mainly said Jesus' name over and over, somehow knowing that although I know He hears me whenever I pray, He was expectant tonight...waiting and ready to hear me and do something about it.  God has felt so distant lately...that's how the break down started out.  Paul and I were talking about the place we're in - emotionally, physically, spiritually.  I just got to the point where I kept asking..."How did we get here?"

I didn't have the answer.  Neither did he.  So for once, I actually went to the One who does have the answers.  Not in an uber-spiritual way, either.  I'm usually too angry - I deal with anger a lot - but the brokenness outweighed the angry tonight.  The raw shards of my emotions were laid bare next to crumpled up wads of tissue and tear stains, twitching mercilessly to be taken up and put away again.  But I didn't take them up.  I didn't put them away, at least for a minute.  And I came to the computer to write about it before the experience melted away amidst the seemingly short amount of sleep I'll get tonight.

I've not processed it all yet, but I don't think I need to.  In response to all of this, I grabbed a poem I wrote in 2010 (not sure when...I didn't date it).  It doesn't have a name, but doesn't need to...

I who speak to you am He.
And I am speaking
and will speak
and have spoken.
I am
the future
the past
the present
and the Gift.
I see the depths
and the shallows.
I see the spirit
and the marrow. 
The physical,
the unseen.
All of the things that make you,
were created by Me.
I am the vine
and you are My fruit.
You need the faith
and you need to choose.
Do you trust?
Can you see?
You may know it all,
but then you don't know Me.
The tears, the peace
the anger, the relief -
I see it all.
But be warned and believe -
the humble will win and the proud will fall.
Be hungry for Me,
not the counterfeits.
Because I am, My love...
I am it.