Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not Another Fairy Tale...

I want to tell y'all a story. If I had to title it I would call it…The Little Boy Who Struggled to Read and the Mama Who Almost Despaired.

As you know, we homeschool and I am currently in my 20th year. I had successfully taught 4 children to read proficiently and was pretty confident in my abilities. Then along came #5 who struggled from Day 1 to even remember the alphabet and I suddenly found myself feeling like an unsuccessful newbie. What began when he was 4 would prove to be a long, frustrating, discouraging journey with not many glimpses of hope that we would ever have victory in this area.

My friend who homeschooled all of her children helped tutor him, but the struggle was still very real. There were numerous times, in order to preserve our relationship, that I would put it away and purpose in my heart to wait till both of us were a little more mentally and emotionally prepared. As each new year rolled around I would pull the reading books out with hopeful anticipation, only to find those hopes quickly buried amid a sea of still unrecognizable words. 

How could a boy who was so smart (he is a grade ahead in math and could probably do his sister's math if he had to) have such a difficult time remembering even the 5 simple vowel sounds that he had been attempting to remember starting so many years before? What was I missing? How many different reading curriculums would we try before something clicked?

Fast forward to this school year. A year that again found me cautiously hopeful that my sweet boy, who feared being called on in small group because of his inability to read, would finally find himself able to decode the maze of jumbled letters. We started out a little slow, but there were definite signs of improvement. Then one day, all on his own, he brought me his Bible and started to read. It wasn't a fluid movement from word-to-word, but there he was…haltingly stringing word after word and verse after verse together until he had navigated a whole passage all on his own. 

To say that there was great rejoicing would be an understatement!! The resulting celebration seemed to give my boy a bolstered confidence and he began to get excited about this whole new world that was opening up before him. He requested and received a new youth Bible and a devotional he could do on his own. We found him in various places in the house, head bowed and eyes focused while he gained momentum as well as skill. 

That was a few weeks ago and he has improved in leaps and bounds. He offers to help read our lessons now, whether they be science, history or a word problem in math. He brought his Bible to me today and started reading in 1 John 2 and before he was done he had read the first 17 verses with only the need for help with a couple of fairly difficult words. Then his brother came home and he read the rest of the chapter to him. It did my heart such good to look at my big boy and my little boy, huddled together on the couch reading His words to us. 

I wish I could say that this story wasn't fraught with many tears, angry words and insecurities on both our parts. I guess that's what keeps it from being a fairy tale. Fairy tales rarely paint a realistic picture of life, though. What I do know is that this story was filled with lots of love and second chances…for both of us. So head up weary Mama and listen to my who have your own seemingly insurmountable mountain you've been circling for a long time... 

It will get better!!!

We've all probably heard, many times over, that life is a marathon and not a sprint. There's so much truth in that, but it's hard to remember it on those days when a padded cell seems like our best option. Don't despair, though!! God knew what He was doing when He gave us these babies to raise. Trust me when I tell you that those days that seem to crawl along at a snail's pace pass really, really quickly when you string them all together!! 

So let the little boy who struggled to read and the Mama who almost despaired encourage you with this…

What you're doing really matters!!!!

Galations 6:9 ~ "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Not?

(Note: This is a repost from 2013, but something I have been thinking about lately. I decided it might bear repeating!)

I sometimes wonder about the random thoughts that rumble around in my brain, but here goes one of them...

It seems within the church that people have a mindset that church folk should be above reproach and that we should never be hurt by others within the church. I think this must be the mindset anyway because I have encountered many people who were shocked that someone didn't meet their expectations or that someone had hurt their feelings. It was almost a, "How dare they treat me like that?", way of thinking.

The question I have been pondering this morning is actually, "Why not? Why shouldn't I expect to be hurt by church people?" The reality is that they are just people...infallible, human, sometimes self-protecting, jacked up (to quote my husband), apt to make mistakes kind of people. I should never expect perfection in someone else when I can't live up to that standard myself.

I do realize there is the odd person who is just way out there and is totally self-consumed. They give little thought for others and trample people wherever they go. People like this, in my experience, are rare, though. Most of us really do want to honour the Lord, but we will make mistakes.

One of my favourite quotes is, "Expectations are premeditated resentments of the heart." The first time I heard it it stopped me in my tracks. Let's break it down...

Expectations ~ the act or state of looking forward to or anticipating something

Premeditated ~ characterized by fully conscious willful intent and a measure of forethought and planning

Resentments ~ a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult or injury

So if we put it all together now it looks something like this...

When I look forward to or anticipate that someone is going to willfully and with a measure of forethought and planning do something that I do not like or agree with then I am going to feel indignant displeasure or persistent ill will toward what I see as an insult or wrong committed against me. 


You know what's crazy about all this? Often times the offender has no clue and is rather oblivious to the fact that anything has even happened. The only indication is a cold shoulder or hearing that we have taken our toys and gone to another playground. And we wonder why people look at the church and want no part of it!!!

When are we going to grow up and realize it's not all about us? When are we going to extend grace as an overflow of the overwhelming grace that has been extended to us through a Savior? When are we going to learn to give others the benefit of the doubt or at least have the decency to talk to them and hear their heart? Instead, in this day of social media insanity, we de-friend or block someone on FB and think, "Good riddance!"Instead of practicing the act of forgiveness, we make people pay by dirtying their reputation and seeing how many people we can take to the new playground with us. People are dying and going to hell and we are spending all our time trying to find as many people as we can to be sympathetic to our cause which is essentially...ourselves.

What would happen if we grew up? What would happen if we realized the Body is just that...a living organism made up of many parts with different roles and giftings. What would happen if we viewed other churches as partners instead of the competition? When a friend of ours was killed (a year ago yesterday, in fact), our church went and ministered to the body of believers which our friend had been a part of. We fixed food and fed family members, we parked cars and prayed for the grieving. One of the men from the funeral home stopped my husband and asked him if our 2 churches had a "partnership" because he had never seen anything quite like what he had seen that day. 

Isn't that a crazy question? Isn't the fact that it had to be asked even crazier? Why does that have to be so unusual? Why don't we see ourselves as a huge body of believers who minister to each other anywhere and everywhere instead of our own little entities, as if we are the only ones who have figured out how to get it right? You know what I know? I know if we ever have a crisis in our church family that this church will be by our side. 

Let's keep our eye on the goal and not allow the enemy to trip us up as we near the finish line. Let's extend grace and forgiveness and actually live out what we are called to do. Let's quit trying to insulate ourselves and protect ourselves so we can't possibly be wounded by anyone. Let's get out there and remember that Jesus CHOSE Judas as a disciple even though He knew how it would all end up!!  Let's be intentional and inclusive and let's just learn to grow up and quit acting like 3yo children instead of people maturing because of the work of Christ going on inside us.

Lord, may we be a pleasing fragrance to You as we go about our days. May we learn to look to You and obey You instead of looking to our own self-interests and needs. Please help us view the Body as as an inclusive fellowship, not an exclusive club,  full of people who are "for" us and aren't "against" us. Lord, would we talk to You and listen to You and then be willing to do whatever it is You show us out of a heart of love and devotion to You! Amen!

P.S. I do want to add that this is in no way an area in which I think I have "arrived"!!! I am "preaching" to myself more than anything because choosing not to be offended is a discipline I still have to work at every single day!!!  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Be Kind

I have seen a quote that said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." It may be a bit of a generalization, but there is more truth to it sometimes than we would like to admit. I saw a powerful example of this recently and I haven't been able to get it off my mind.

I have a sweet friend who I am quite close to who called me a couple of weeks ago to ask me to pray with her. She was on her way to her OBGYN because she was pretty sure she was miscarrying her baby. I prayed with her and found out when and where her appt was and asked her to call me as soon as she was done. We hung up and I sprung into action. You see, my friend's husband was out of town on business and she was going to the Dr by herself. I imagined how difficult it would be to probably find out she was, in fact, losing her baby with no one there for moral support. I couldn't let that happen so I headed out to meet her. Fortunately I made it to the Dr and walked in just as she was being called back. As she said later, the timing was so perfect it almost felt like a movie.

At some point during our time together in the office I asked her if today was a day she was supposed to work. She said it had been and she had had to reschedule her clients. My friend is a hair dresser and, as women, we know how important those hair appts can be. She said unfortunately she had a couple of more difficult clients who were scheduled that day and one of them had not received it very well when she found out her salon color wasn't going to happen. Her response was, "Well that's great! I guess I'll just have to go buy boxed color!!"

Now I realize this woman had no clue why my friend had to cancel, but...she had no clue why she had to cancel!!! Do you see what I am saying? In the absence of information, she chose to see that her hair stylist was bailing on her...period. Did it ever occur to her that this stylist doesn't normally cancel her appts? Did it ever occur to her that she may have a really good reason for canceling? Like losing a baby!!!

I admit it...I was fighting mad when she told me. The Mama bear in me wanted to call this lady and ask her if she ever considered anyone but herself before she made stupid comments. I wanted to ask her to spend that time she was coloring her own hair to pray for her stylist who was wrestling thru the emotions of surrendering a child she never even had the privilege of meeting. I wanted to tell her how selfish I felt she was for jumping to conclusions? Of course my friend was wise enough to know there was no way she could (or should) relinquish the client's number to this psycho pastor's wife and so I was left to just imagine how that conversation might have gone.

As I said as I begin this post, I have thought about this a lot since it happened. I acknowledge I may have taken up an offense that wasn't mine to carry and my friend probably hasn't thought about it nearly as much as I have. I am struck, though, by how inwardly focused we can be and how careless that can cause us to be with other people's hearts.  I wonder if this client would feel bad if she knew the "why" behind the cancellation. I wonder if she would wish for those words back if she could see how ridiculous her sacrifice of a box of hair color was in relation to a baby's life.

Most of all I wonder if I have ever treated someone as carelessly as this client because I was so consumed with my own little world filled with my own selfish desires.

Lord, please help me to see others thru your eyes. Help me to pause before I speak. Help me to take my eyes off myself and realize others are dealing with real struggles and real heartaches just the way I do myself sometimes. Help me to employ Philippians 2 when I find my selfish desires beginning to override grace and compassion. Lord, help me realize there's always one more thing that I could know about someone that might totally change the way I think about them and respond to them.

Monday, October 19, 2015


I have been debating about writing this post for a few days. I waited because I wanted to make sure I was writing it for the right reasons. I think I'm finally there. While I am a firm believer in taking the high road and not engaging an accuser in public, there comes a time that we must talk about hard stuff and how you handle it because conflict and slander will knock on all of our doors at some point. So here I go...

It has been said that love is doing the most redemptive thing for another. Unfortunately, the most redemptive thing for another is not necessarily the easiest or most enjoyable thing for us. It means sharing in love with a person those blind areas they may have in the hopes that they will recognize their need for healing. It means putting yourself out there with the full realization that it usually goes one of two ways…well or rather disastrously. It means setting aside your own desire for comfort and maintaining the stays quo because, believe me, that would be a lot easier. It means realizing your name may get dragged thru the mud and you will incur the wrath of some who were just looking for a chance to take a free shot. Not a totally welcoming picture, right? Love, true agape, God-fearing love will go there anyway!!

Tim had to do what he, and a number of others, felt was the most redemptive thing for a person last week. He and 3 others sat down with a person they care about and shared some concerns. They didn't do it because they were mad. They didn't do it because things had been going so well that they were looking to stir things up a little. They did it because they knew in their hearts it was the most redemptive thing for this person. It didn't go well. It went rather disastrously actually. It went as expected, but that didn't make the results any easier to deal with when it was all said and done.

A full social media attack was launched at Tim and many lies were presented as truth. As his wife, I wanted to come out with both arms swinging and a sharp tongue ready to set the record straight…but I couldn't. Not because I felt all warm and fuzzy. Not because in and of myself I just have so much restraint and the ability to rise above. Really, the only reason I couldn't respond was because I really do have a healthy fear of God and the consequences for disobeying what He lays out for us in scripture.

There have been a number of times I did what was right ONLY because I feared His consequences. Just as a child must learn to fear parental consequences so they don't put themselves in danger, we must learn to fear His consequences because what He says is ultimately for our protection. I may not like it and I may obey outwardly while inwardly digging in my heels and muttering under my breath, but obeying Him is essential!!

So, instead of taking to social media to answer our accuser, I worked to take my thoughts captive. I worked to remind myself of truth and I tried to keep my focus upward and not outward or inward. I think it shows the Lord's sense of humor that the last time our ladies group met I had facilitated a lesson on forgiveness. As a result of that lesson, all the necessary elements were fresh in my mind and I really did pray blessings on our accuser. My kids and I prayed blessings on our accuser. We got to talk about the fact that hurting people hurt people and God has used it as a valuable teaching tool for our family. And you know what happened? A peace washed over me in the midst of it all. You know that peace that really doesn't make sense. That peace that almost seems surreal because you KNOW it doesn't come from you.

I felt like I could "feel" Zephaniah 3:17 happening in my heart. God was the mighty Warrior fighting my battle and He was rejoicing over me because He hadn't missed my act of worship wrapped up in my gift of obedience. He was cheering me on because He knew it wasn't my first choice. He knew this because He knew I'd been in situations like this before and I had chosen the path of least resistance…revenge. We got to get excited together, God and me, because we were both seeing tangible evidence of my growth and maturation and it felt so good.

"There can be no greater evidence of a renewed heart and mind than a change in the habit and stream of our thoughts." John Owen

Now here's the catch, though. There's going to be more tests. There's going to be many more opportunities for me to deal with a wounded person who wants to wound me and those I love and unless I continue to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, the outcome will look vastly different. Just because I was able to rise above this time doesn't mean I can let my guard down. Life will be filled with endless opportunities to take my thoughts captive and choose to let Him fight my battles and I must be ready.

So today starts a new week. It's a new opportunity to walk obediently with Him knowing I will never experience anything He hasn't experienced and hasn't made provision for in His word. Once again, He has reminded me to "remember Judas", the one He treated exactly the same as the other disciples even though He knew He would be His betrayer. He's whispered softly that we're going to have a good week. It may have trials. It may have angry accusers. It may include lots of things I wouldn't stand in line for, but He'll be right there cheering me on and fighting my battles in ways better than I could ever conjure up. As my friend, Jackie Kendall, always says…

evidence of His redemptive work in my own life is being a good forgiver.

Lord, thank You that you love me so much that You continue to teach and train me as one of Your children. Thank You that You have given us such a powerful example of what being a good forgiver looks like. Thank you for fighting my battles and cheering me on! Thank You for a loving church Body who surrounded us yesterday and prayed for us and reminded us that we're not in this fight alone. May I choose this week to honor You in ALL things and may I continue to see evidence of Your redemptive work in my life. And lastly, Lord, please comfort my friend who is hurting and let her see her desperate need for divine healing. We want to see her healed and able to walk in freedom with You. Amen!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finding My Voice

As you can see, my blog has a new name and an entirely new look. If you're like my mom, you're probably wondering why so I'm going to try and explain, the best I can, about a recent revelation I had that compelled me to action.

If you know me well or have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I love to write. Writing helps me make sense out of all the thoughts that are always swirling around in my head and gives me a place to deposit them to free up space for more and different thoughts. I have had this blog for many years and used to be a prolific writer. Over time, once we came to the church where my husband is now the lead pastor, my writing dwindled and I could never understand why. It certainly wasn't because the thoughts stopped swirling because now they were swirling at warped speed. I recently began some serious introspection and prayer in an effort to understand myself better and understand what led to my slow writing fade. After quite a few weeks of pondering, I felt like I had an epiphany as to why "Everyday Glimpses of an Extraordinary God" was no longer a good fit for me.

When I started writing Everyday Glimpses, I was a ministry wife who homeschooled her 5 children and spent large chunks of time at home cultivating a simple life that sought to find God in the seemingly mundane routines of my life. While we dealt with some heavy situations during our 20 years in baseball ministry, I realize in hindsight that I was still relatively innocent and un-jaded by life. Almost 5 complete years in to being a pastor's wife and I no longer feel like that same person. It's been a long, hard journey at times, fraught with more than my fair share of tears, but it's been an incredibly beautiful journey because I feel I so much better understand who I am in Christ and who I am as a pastor's wife.

I like to think the Lord has helped preserve my innocence in areas because I do still have the ability to be surprised and delighted by the simplest sight, conversation, and revelation from Him. I don't even really consider myself jaded, but I do know I'm not that same girl who sat at a table full of board members and told them that I had no clue how to be a pastor's wife because I had never done it before. I explained to them that I only knew how to be "Barb" and that hopefully, with the Lord's faithful guidance, I would figure out what being a pastor's wife looked like for me.  I still homeschool 2 children, I still spend large chunks of time at home (although not nearly as large as this introvert would like) and I still strive to live a simple life. I've seen and learned so much over the last few years, though, and have experienced things I could never have imagined.

I have spent countless hours listening to women share their deepest pains of being sexually abused as children. I have actively participated in many counseling sessions with husbands and wives who had once pledged their undying love to each other, but now find they really can't stand to be in the same room together. I have stood in a morgue and watched a Mama lying atop her deceased son and felt my heart shatter into a million pieces. I have spoken at the memorial service for a single mom who had become my sweet friend and watched as her teenage son and parents tried to make sense out of the senseless. I have watched as couples grappled with the realities of infertility. I have heard (never usually directly to my face) people, who I once considered friends, slander my husband and his ministry because if they discredit the messenger then they might not have to embrace the message he delivered that had disrupted their complacency with a sin issue. I have cried extensively when administrative decisions had to be made for the health of the church because I knew it meant real people I cared about would be hurt.

I'm sure you might surmise that being a pastor's wife has been an unpleasant experience for me based on what I just shared and that couldn't be further from the truth. Many of those women who were sexually abused have beautiful stories of restoration and healing. I have seen them share their stories and provide hope for others who aren't quite there yet. I have seen parents who lost children use their pain to minister in the midst of another's grief. I have seen single moms find love and get married. I have listened to young women share their past sinful choices with deep fear of rejection only to find themselves embraced and welcomed in in such a way that they now have their own powerful ministries to others. I have held so many sweet new babies, sniffed their heads and rejoiced with their parents over the gift of new life. I have been humbled by the fact that, with Papa's help, I can take the high road and not lash out when I feel backed into a corner or hear slander filter back to me. I have experienced the overwhelming joy of restoration of relationships that once were stretched tight by tension. I have witnessed lives saved and restored and marriages resurrected from the ash heap. I have made some of the dearest friends I have ever had in my entire life and I have linked arms with some of the most amazing women I could ever hope to call my sisters and prayer warriors.

I think one of the greatest things I have learned over the last 5 years is that I don't have to fit in a "pastor's wife mold". I don't have to model myself after a prominent Bible teacher and I don't have to stand in the shadow of anyone except the most high God. I am unashamedly and unapologetically…

Free to be ME!!!!

So there you have it…the very long-winded, but hopefully clearly laid out, version of why I felt the need to revamp my creative space. I can't guarantee this change will ensure I write as much as I once did because I have so many more responsibilities and relationships to maintain these days. I do know, though, that when I sit down to write it's under a banner that more accurately represents who I am now and how I will continue to strive to live. I have a passion to lead women and a passion to see them learn that they are free to be who God created them to be, too.

Will you join me on this journey?

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Hand of God

I spent last week in Charleston, SC with my friend, her children and my two youngest children. Wednesday night we headed out to Sullivan's Island to watch the sun go down.  As an avid amateur photographer, I was armed with my camera and ready to capture God's beauty. We saw many sights that night that pointed to His creation. We were treated to dolphins skimming by in unison, a sea turtle working its way toward calmer waters and pelicans dive-bombing their dinner, but no sight was greater than this...

While some may argue that its merely random clouds slowly swirling their patterned ways across the sky, I clearly saw a hand and excitedly snapped this photo. 

This picture was taken at 8:30pm on Wednesday, June 17…just 30 minutes before a young man, barely older than a boy actually, gunned down 9 vibrant, innocent lives. Based on the reports I have read, 8:30pm would have been when Dylan Roof sat amongst his soon-to-be victims while they shared with him the love of Jesus. One report I read said that Dylan almost aborted his mission because of the loving way he was received by those he apparently held such an intense hatred toward. These 9 precious souls had no idea they were about to meet the One of whom they spoke, but I have no doubt that at the same time there was such agony being experienced here on earth there was great rejoicing beginning in heaven as Jesus welcomed 9 of His beloved home.

But God...

I don't pretend to understand all of God's ways. I don't know why these 9 had to die in such a senseless way, but I am confident that He IS sovereign and that what the enemy intended for evil, He will redeem for good. We are seeing glimpses of that already. I was moved to tears as I heard the families of the victims extend forgiveness to this murderer in as passionate a way as they shared their pain. I had chills run over me as I watched the video of bells from all different denominations ring over Charleston Sunday morning at 10am. I cheered inwardly as I watched people of all color, race and spiritual persuasion link arms and hearts across the Ravenal Bridge as a show of unity for the 9 victims and those who loved them.

But God…

While we mourn for those who were lost and we pray that God will minister to their loved ones as only He can, we acknowledge that His ways are clearly higher than our ways. We look to Him to make sense of the senseless and thank Him that He cared enough to align the clouds as a way of reminding us that…

He was there, He saw and He WILL redeem!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Full Circle...

This may be a rather long post, but it's such a cool God story that I had to share it.

2 weeks ago our son, Benji, had to have his second Tommy John surgery. We were so saddened to find out he had to go thru this unpleasant procedure again and begin the arduous, 18 month rehab just 1 month after completing the first one. While it wasn't what we wanted, we still knew that somehow God would use it for good. We just didn't know that we would be able to see evidence of that good so soon.

I traveled to TN to be with Benji for the surgery and we had a great time the night before having dinner with 2 of his good buddies. When he went into surgery the next day we were unsure if the Tommy John would be needed. They called the waiting room to tell me they were, in fact, going to have to take a tendon from a cadaver and substitute it for a ligament in his elbow and I admit I did shed some tears. I managed to pull it together by the time the trainer got there and we waited to see Benji. As soon as he woke up he asked me what they'd done and it was sad to have to fill in the missing pieces for him. The journey was beginning again.

Benji slept for a couple of hours when we got back to his apartment and then he got up to eat. He hadn't been up long when there was a knock at his door. He opened the door and his friend, Silje, was standing there. He asked her how she was doing and she tearfully said she wasn't doing well and asked if she could come in. He told her of course and in she came, wiping her tears as she did.

Silje was a foreign student from Norway and had been on a soccer scholarship this year as a freshman. Due to some unfortunate developments, though, Silje was being forced to return to Norway in 2 days. While she had been at MTSU she had surrendered her life to the Lord and had started attending FCA with Benji and the others. She had begun to grow and to understand what it meant to walk with Jesus. She started talking about the fact that she was scared to go back to Norway because she doesn't know any other Christians there and her family was very against God. She said she had been so happy to be at MTSU because she had friends who encouraged her in her relationship with the Lord and helped keep her accountable. Benji told her how proud he was of her and how much growth he had seen in her during that year.

Silje wasn't sure where she was going to live when she got back to Norway. She and her mother had a broken relationship and hadn't spoken in quite some time. Her dad was a self-proclaimed atheist and she had no siblings. She said she had always been a good girl, had gotten good grades and was a very good soccer player. She said it had given her parents a false sense that she had not been affected by their selfish choices and ultimate divorce when, in fact, she felt like she had always been overlooked and had fallen thru the cracks of their broken family. She openly wondered if failing school and doing drugs would have garnered her the attention she so desperately wanted from the ones who were supposed to love and advocate for her the most. The more she struggled thru the tears to share her story the harder time I had holding it all together myself. After an hour Silje said goodnight and Benji and I were left to process all she had shared.

I didn't sleep much that night. I'm sure the broken recliner I found myself in was a contributing factor, but really it was Silje's words questioning her worth and how she was going to maneuver these unexpected developments in her school career as she headed back to Norway that kept me up that night. The stress she felt not knowing how her living arrangements would play out had messed with my Mama's heart and I was praying and planning. 

I called Tim the next morning and shared Silje's story. I barely got done relaying the sad details when he asked me if I was planning on bringing her home with me. Ha!! He knows me well. I asked him if he would be opposed to that and he said he trusted me and I could do what I felt was best. That was all I needed. Benji called Silje and told her he and I wanted to talk to her and an hour later we were once again assembled in a dorm room together. I asked her how the process works for her being a foreign student and what hoops she would need to jump thru. I asked her if she had a chance to stay in the States if she would want to and she said she absolutely would.

I looked Silje in the eye and told her I was so sorry she had never felt like she was worth fighting for. I told her I was sorry that those who were entrusted with the most precious privilege of instilling worth and value in her had, for whatever reasons, been unable to rise to the challenge. I told her that Jesus thought she was worth fighting for and we thought she was worth fighting for, too. I didn't know what it would ultimately look like, but I told Silje we would do whatever we could to try and ensure her time here in the States was not coming to a permanent close. We shared with her about a college right near our house, Georgia Gwinnett College, that has a women's soccer team. We agreed she should stick with her plan of flying back to Norway the next day since the plane ticket had been bought, but we trusted that this was not the end of the story. We parted with a heartfelt hug and agreed to be in touch in the next day or two.

As promised, Silje contacted me a couple of days later to ask how I thought she should proceed. I gave her the email for the GGC soccer coach and suggested she initiate with him. She did and he said he would most definitely like to talk to her and she needed to send him a copy of her release from MTSU so he knew he was not committing any NCAA violations. She did that and their dialogue began with her forwarding me all their correspondence. To say that the coach was eager to add her to his team is an understatement and within a couple of days she was offered a FULL RIDE scholarship!!!!!! Tuition, meals, books and out-of-state fees were all being covered!!! She would just need a place to stay and he had a girl on the team who had offered her a room in her apartment for $400 a month. The college is not far from our house, but Silje is not licensed to drive in the States so easy access to the college is necessary. We're still working out the details of providing for the apartment cost, but...

tomorrow Silje will sign a letter of intent to play soccer at Georgia Gwinnett College!!!

Isn't that just like Papa? He saw the tears of a scared 19yo who had no clue what to do and where to go and He pulled her tight and whispered in her ear that she was worth fighting for. Then He quickly and clearly guided her steps and blessed her beyond her wildest dreams. Silje was hoping she could get some financial help if she came here, but never did she imagine she would be offered a full ride.

And now we come full circle in the story. Remember I started with how sad we were about Benji's second Tommy John surgery, but that we trusted Papa to redeem it? Without the surgery I would not have been in TN that night. Without the surgery I would never have met Silje and would never have heard her story directly from her. Without the surgery I would not have had a glimpse into the heart of a little girl who wanted to know if she was worth fighting for.

Without that surgery...

So 2 weeks to the day, our sadness over another setback was turned into rejoicing!!! While starting over isn't at the top of Benji's list of things he wanted to do, he's able to see the big picture. He sees how God's ways are so much higher than our ways and that the life of a Norwegian girl is forever going to be linked to ours in a powerful way. He sees that we now get a front row seat to watch God continue the work He has begun in our friend, Silje, and that none of it may have been possible without his sacrifice.

Redemption is God's specialty!!

I am so thankful He allows us to have glimpses into His sovereign ways. We may never totally know the impact our lives have on others, but how cool for Him to allow a 20 year old young man who trusts Jesus with his life to see some of the pieces come together.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finish Strong

I have felt so heavy-hearted the last few days.  It seems everywhere we turn people who profess to love Christ and profess to have been following Him for a long time are turning away. They are allowing themselves, over time, to make a slow fade into sin and it is truly breaking my heart. Yesterday I could think of little else.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly."

I know He said it would happen, but that doesn't make it any easier.  I know the enemy is always slinking around trying to see how he can get us off track. I can't quite figure out if it's his scheming or if we just get to a certain point in our lives that we let our guard down.  Has walking with Jesus become so mundane and routine that we think we're going thru the motions, but instead we are allowing ourselves to be diluted by the way the world thinks? 

We expect youth or young believers to struggle along and, realistically, we are all going to struggle. We all have to continually work out our own relationship with Jesus. It's crushing, though, to see older believers just seemingly give up and quit struggling…give up and give in to whatever temptation they find themselves up against.

I promise there is no finger pointing going on here. If anything it has made me want to examine myself more and see if there are any areas in which I am blind.  It has made me want to remain more vigilant than ever before because I don't want to walk with Jesus for 30 plus years and then just abandon ship because it's gotten too hard.  Being consistent is hard. Fighting the tide of popular belief is hard. Standing on Jesus and His precepts while others are embracing false doctrines is hard.  We truly don't understand what it means to suffer for our beliefs, but I believe we are in a time where we are about to find out…and it's going to get harder.

A ministry friend and I were talking a few years back about the deep desire we both have to "Finish strong"! We don't want to devote our lives to pointing others to Jesus only to get to the end and start wandering about in the wilderness. The only way that is going to happen, though, is if we continue to drink in Truth, continue to surround ourselves with other believers who aren't willing to compromise and continue to realize the line in following Jesus is one deep and we can't allow ourselves to drift into the line of popular opinion.

Lord, please help me never lose sight of You and the road you have called me to walk. I know the road is narrow and there are going to be points along the way where I will be tempted to branch off and wander, but I beg You to help me stay focused. More than anything I want to stand before You one day and know, while I didn't do it all right, I did struggle well and I did finish strong!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

They Matter

There's a young man in our church who God has given a special place in my heart. I don't even know him that well, but whenever I see him I feel a tug and the Lord brings him to mind often so I can pray for him.  Sunday morning I was praying for him as I was getting ready for church. I was thanking Papa for all He's done in his heart lately and for this young man's choice to go all in. I was asking Him to encourage his heart and let him know that he's special and to keeping wooing him so he continues to make good choices.

I saw this young man after church and asked him if I could talk to him. I hugged him tight and told him I was proud of him…and he teared up. Oh my, I could feel a deluge of my own tears right below the surface as I looked at his sweet eyes brimming with tears. I told him what I had prayed for him and that we were going to continue to believe in him and be his cheerleaders. We hugged again and that was it…but my heart swelled with love for him.

Later that night Tim saw this young man and told him how much our encounter had meant to me. His eyes filled with tears and he told Tim it meant a lot to him because…

he felt like he mattered!!!

Oh how hearing that made me happy and sad all at the same time. It made me realize what a universal cry that is for so many…

tell me that I matter!!!

We each encounter many people during the course of a day and so many of them are hurting. So many of them get beat up by the ones who should be building them up and they simply want to know if anyone cares, if anyone even sees them and if anyone believes they have what it takes to be something special. Let's not waste the opportunities we have to speak life into others. We may never know the impact it can have in their hearts!

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Tattoos...

For the better part of 2 years my son, Benji, has been begging me to get a tattoo with him. I'm not sure how or why it became such an obsession for him, but an obsession it was. It was such an odd request because he knows I'm not typical tattoo material (which I realize sounds very prejudiced, but I digress). You see, I am Canadian born and bred, the daughter of an accountant and a librarian, a homemaker and a homeschool mom. The cherry on top of my "no-tattoo list" was that I'm a pastor's wife and I could very well imagine what some of our sheep might think. So fortified with all these reasons, I weathered the barrage of persistent attempts to sway me and stood my ground for a long time.

I'd like to say I know exactly when I cracked open the door of possibility, but I think the shift happened so slowly and subtly that, before I knew it, I was actually entertaining the idea. Because I am always trying rather unsuccessfully to lose weight, I told him if I could lose 40lbs then I would get a tattoo to celebrate. To say that he finally sniffed hope is an understatement. He coached me from TN via text and phone calls, kept close tabs on my activity level and food choices and became my biggest weight-loss cheerleader. I did actually start to see the # go down, but I was secretly pretty confident that I would probably never meet my goal and would therefore remain ink-free this side of heaven.

During this time, I mentioned what was going on to my friend and explained what had to happen before I would get my tattoo. She didn't say much, but the next day I received a text with a rather urgent plea from her to not make weight the focus and just get the tattoo. I know this girl loves me so I took it all in with an open mind and pondered how often I let weight affect my choices in life…to feel less than, to avoid being caught in pictures and now to keep me from making something, so important to my boy, a most unlikely prospect.

And then it hit me…this wasn't about a number or a tattoo. This was about a relationship. A relationship with my almost 20 year old son who wanted his 50 year old mother to seal our amazing relationship with some ink. He hadn't asked this of one of his buddies, a teammate or another important figure in his life…he'd asked ME and I had the power to make it happen. Since it was only a few weeks away from Christmas, I decided to wait and have his tattoo and mine be the present he opened Christmas morning. I plotted and planned a way to tell him while I frantically searched the internet for every conceivable "script font" you can imagine. I mean, if I was going to have to look at this thing from here to eternity, I was definitely going to make sure I liked the font!!

Since they always say a picture is worth 1,000 words, here is the picture of Benji finding out that his wish had come true and we were tattoo parlor bound…

                        (Sorry for the blurriness, but he was excited.)

Is that pure joy, or what?

So, on the day after Christmas, Benji, our friend Cory and I headed out to get our tattoos. I felt like I might as well have had a spotlight on me and a sign around my neck that said, "One of these things is not like the others", from the moment I walked in the door. I was absolutely the proverbial fish out of water, but inside I was secretly excited that this was really going down!! Here we are, picture of my tattoo in hand...

                               (Again, sorry for the blurriness!)

I should point out at this point that I had spent some time strategically planning the placement of my tattoo and finally decided on the place I felt was least likely to sag as I continued to age…my foot. When the guy who was going to do my tattoo found this out, he told me that this was a highly sensitive area and gave me opportunity to change my mind. I assured him I was good and before I knew it the process had begun and Benji was hovered over me beaming from ear-to-ear. I'm not going to lie and say there was no pain but, after giving birth to 5 huge babies, I have concluded that pain is relative and this wasn't bad. I think the tattoo artist was rather surprised that I was taking it so well because when we were finished he proclaimed I was a "boss" and he couldn't believe how well I had done.

I waited while Benji got the placement of his tattoo done and and they got started but, knowing his was likely to take upward of 3 hours, I left to wait for him at home. I have to admit that his tattoo takes me a little out of my comfort zone because it is big and in color, but y'all look what it says…

How is a Mama supposed to get mad when her baby wants to proclaim for all the world to see that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? He also has 2 big roses he says represent his dad and me because we were the ones who taught him not to be ashamed. *Sniff*Sniff* From now until the day he dies, he will have an instant opportunity to share his faith because he boldly wears its truth as a sleeve.

So there you have it, folks. This introverted housewife-homeschool mom-pastor's wife is sporting her life verse for all to see. I wore my flip-flops (since I'm the Queen of flip-flops) to make sure of the positioning (because my friend pointed out I wanted to make sure I didn't lose some words in a strap) and I also had them write it so it was facing me and I could constantly be reminded…"She senses the worth of her work."

There's a lot of things that fall into that category of "work" in my life on a daily basis, but none is more important to me than the work I put in building relationships with my kids!! 

Don't believe me?

That's okay…I've got a tattoo to prove it!!!