Saying Yes In My Mess

Today is a BIG day. My friend, Kristen over at We Are THAT Family is launching her new book, Rhinestone Jesus – Saying YES to God when sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough.

“In high school, Kristen wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow: much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true reflection of who she was.

Real life and motherhood catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined. There came a day when she stood in the slums of Africa, poised on the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken. And she knew she didn’t stand a chance – unless she was ready to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing.

Rhinestone Jesus is the spiritual adventure story of one woman who went from living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say YES to a deeper, more authentic way.”

Through stories about life as a high school student, her (sometimes difficult) marriage, the hum-drum mundane days of motherhood, and a blogger, Kristen takes us on her journey. As a Compassion International Blogger, Kristen was invited to travel to Kenya where her heart and life was forever changed. After returning home feeling empty and broken, Kristen woke up from the American Dream, and said YES to an unbelievable God-sized dream called Mercy House.

I love that Kristen keeps it real in Rhinestone Jesus. She is quick to admit that her family is far from perfect – even talking about days filled with puke, poop, drama, and bad attitudes (which makes her seem like my BFF) but even through the crazy – in the middle of her messy life as wife and mother, she slowly discovers that God doesn’t require us to get our act together before revealing His God-sized dream, rather He is just waiting for us to say YES IN OUR MESS, wherever we are. Right now.

As a result of her YES – through obedience and love – her family continually strives to glorify the Lord in all that they do. At the end of each chapter, Welch offers reflections and personal challenges for readers – ideas for nurturing our families, serving as a family, and being centered on Christ in all things. She encourages Christians to seek the Lord, and say YES to whatever He is calling them to do, no matter how big, small or messy it may seem.

Rhinestone Jesus has left me wondering what I should be doing. I’m not sure what my YES looks like, and chances are your YES will look different from my YES. But this I know: One small yes can lead to BIG things. God isn’t waiting on us to get our marriage in order, our kids to be perfect, or to keep a neater house. He is simply waiting for us to say YES to Him, right in the middle of the mound of laundry, the toothpaste covered bathroom sink and the LEGO covered floor.

YES.

In the middle of our mess.

It’s that easy.

——

And speaking of easy… You can win a copy of Rhinestone Jesus by simply leaving a comment on this post. Two winners will be chosen by Random Dot Org on Monday, May 5th at 9:00 PM EST.

About the Author” Kristen Welch writes the parenting blog, We are THAT Family (you know the ones). She is an (in)courage writer, a Compassion International blogger, and a regular featured contributor to LifeWay’s HomeLife and ParentLife magazines. In 2010, Kristen founded Mercy House, a nonprofit maternity home in Kenya, Africa, which rescues young pregnant girls from extreme poverty. Mercy House is almost entirely funded by readers of her blog. Read Kristen’s blot at We Are THAT Family dot com.

In the interest of full disclosure: Tyndale House Publishers provided two copies of Rhinestone Jesus for me to give away to my readers. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

—–

And the winners are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

8

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:49:35 UTC

The first winner is Commenter #8 –  Jennifer S. who commented on May 1, 2014 @ 9:55 am.

 

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

10

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:51:48 UTC

The second winner is Commenter #10 – Traci who commented on May 2, 2014 @ 5:15 pm.

Congratulations, ladies. I’ll be in contact via e-mail.

 

The Other Sky

The splendor of a king
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice


How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end


The Godhead Three in One
Father, Spirit and Son
Lion and the Lamb
Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

Name above all names
You’re worthy of all praise
And my heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God 

How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God 

Name above all names
You’re worthy of all praise
And my heart will sing
How great is our God

 

Rough Waters

As I watched my fellas climb over these rocks,

And watched the river race over these rocks,

A major storm hit our city like a rock dropping on a piece of glass.

Homes were shattered. Trees were uprooted. Many people are without electricity. Some people are without water. Gas is scarce. Hotels are full.

People are discouraged.

And they are scrambling to find shelter, water, and a cool place to sleep.

Another storm is headed that way tonight.

Would you pray with me that peace would be restored soon?

That God would calm the rough waters… and that all of the workers who are working so diligently to restore power, water, and homes would be kept safe throughout the process.

I’d appreciate it and I know the citizens of West Virginia would too!

One Day At A Time

On January 2, 2012, I wrote a blog post titled, Letting Your Life Speak. In that post, I reflected on some changes I wanted to make in my life. Specifically, I want my life to speak this year. And I’m not referring to the wild, loud and crazy words that fly out of this mouth daily.

Surprising, I know.

Basically, letting my life speak – to me – means making a difference when and wherever I can. From the most simplest of tasks to bigger, more important and maybe even life-changing tasks.

Funny thing is, when I sat down at my computer tonight, I had intended to share a story about helping a neighbor unload a chair. Not to brag or boast about helping someone, but because a bulky 138 pound box is no match for three women, a furniture dolly, and a load of motivation.

Instead though, I am typing freely. As the words form from the tips of my fingers onto my keyboard, I am letting my heart do the writing today.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from World Vision about becoming a Child Ambassador. As I read the words on my screen, I felt like God was speaking directly to me. If you haven’t read my World Vision testimony, you can go here to read all about it. And before you go and get all crazy about kids here in the United States starving and why can’t we just feed THEM, believe me when say, I thought AND EVEN SPOKE  those same words. Seriously, you should just go that post before you read any further.

Maybe it’s just me, but when a person runs her mouth and pretty much challenges God, and HE, Himself, shows up ON THE SPOT, in an arena, at 8AM on a Saturday morning, she has no other option than to laugh and tell God that she gets it! answer the call and sponsor a little girl named Mercy with a birthday the exact same day as her son because just minutes before she declared, “Now maybe if God put a kid on my seat with the exact same birthday as one of my boys, I might think differently.”

My. Exact. Words. 

And just because God is God, guess what He did?

He placed a picture folder of a little girl named Mercy in an orange bag on my seat in that arena with a November 1st birthday.

The same birthday as Alex.

And, as you will read in that post, there is A LOT MORE to this story. So much so that I looked up and laughed and said to Him, “YOU. are. so. funny!” 

I HEARD HIM then, and I heard him a few weeks ago. I had no choice but be obedient to His calling.

I now have, in my possession five children currently needing a sponsor. I mean, obviously I don’t HAVE the children, as in have them here, but I have five folders bearing the names and pictures of five precious children.

And if you feel so led, I would love to talk to you about sponsoring one of them.

I thought about taking a picture of the folders and sharing it here on the blog, but I’m just not convinced I am supposed to do that. Just because I have chosen to let my life speak, I would never want you to think that I am hounding, harassing, or begging on my blog.

SO.

With that said, can I ask that you would pray with me for these children.

I will list their names, and their birthdates so that you can call them out by name.

The Bible says where two or three are gathered, HE WILL BE THERE. I am trusting Him to find sponsors for my five children who are really HIS children.

Suprika (g) – birthday: March 19, 2001 – from India
William (b) – birthday: November 13, 2002 – from Burundi
Dancile (g) – birthday: September 5, 2003 – from Burundi
Ashenafi (b) – birthday: June 27, 2002 – from Ethiopia
Martha (g) – birthday: June 19, 2000 – from Ethiopia

Even though He could do all of this on His own, He is allowing me to be a part of it. I think that’s pretty awesome.

I said I wanted to let my life speak, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

One day at a time.

Letting Your Life Speak

My favorite thing about the start of a new year, is a brand spankin’ new, fresh calendar.

A new year also seems like a perfect time to START anew, though, do we really NEED a brand new year to do that? Of course, we don’t NEED a new year to start new, but I suppose a new year is as good a time as any to set some new goals.

I prefer the term goal over the term resolution because the term resolution – to me at least – goes hand in hand with the word bigfatfailure. And I don’t know anyone who likes to fail, so, I’m sticking with goals. While I have a long list of goals that I would LOVE to set and STICK to, I suppose I should pace myself so as not to get too overwhelmed on this second day of 2012.

1. A Closer Relationship With God – In the grand scheme of life, nothing is more important to me than my personal relationship with God, yet, most days it might be difficult to prove that. I mean, sure I want to be an awesome wife, a nurturing mother and a wonderful friend, but WHAT good is ALL of that if my relationship with God suffers? Why is it that our walk with God is often defined by what we are DOING for God instead of our simply BEING with Him? Doing for God (or very often people of God) is probably the greatest weakness in my Christian life. Excessive activities and involvement in ministries very often takes the place of simple prayer and reading our Bible. And believe me, I should know. I want 2012 to be different. I love to talk. So why don’t I talk to Him more?

He is always available. Always listening. AND, He wants to hear from me.

Which is a lot more than I can say for MOST of my friends.

2. Commitment to exercise - I NEED to do this. My main problem with committing to exercise is finding the time. There is always something needing cleaned out, a few hours of PTA work needing done, another blog post to write (ok, so the blog is not HUGELY important), and of course, there is ALWAYS another load of laundry waiting to be done. I have seriously considered doing a weigh-in here on the blog bi-monthly to hold myself accountable. I would start by posting my weight (GASP!) and then possibly asking you, my lovely readers, to join in the fun by sharing healthy recipes, weight-loss tips and workout mixes. And of course rewarding myself along the way would be fun, too!

3. Let Your Life Speak - I just recently bought a sign that now sits in my bathroom. It says, “Let Your Life Speak.” As soon I saw it, it spoke to me and I just knew I needed to buy it. Some very good friends of ours recently became foster parents to raise a nephew. They have rearranged their home, their lives, and their hearts to let their lives speak. Another friend is heading up a consignment sale with all proceeds going to our local YWCA. With the exception of volunteering at my boys’ school (and talking loudly) what am I doing to let my life speak? I want my life to speak, whether it means I will look for opportunities to help others, perform random acts of kindness that no one will ever know about, or simply sending a card of encouragement to someone when the Holy Spirit brings them to my mind. Limitless opportunities await if only we are willing. I want to be willing.

4. Be More Organized - I say it often: I am the most organized, disorganized person I know. I have baskets and notebooks and folders and calendars and lists of stuff that I need to do, phone calls I need to make, things that need to be cleaned out, business that needs tending to, and laundry that needs to be done. YET? YET! I very often miss a deadline, lose paperwork, forget to make a phone call, or have mounds of laundry, simply because I am me and because I typically have nineteen irons in the fire at all times. In a house full of baskets, Sharpies, pocket notepads, and an iPhone, there is absolutely NO excuse for me to be disorganized. It is my goal to change this tendency of mine to be totally disorganized when I try so hard to be organized.

Not it’s your turn! Any new goals for the New Year?

Let’s have some church up in here

It is Sunday morning.

10:14 EST.

I should be in church.

But instead, I am home with a sick boy.

Our little church has been in revival all week. We were blessed with an anointed evangelist who preached God’s word on my level, without all the thees and thous.

It was some good stuff and I was blessed.

  •  Because God is love, there are several things He expects from us. God is love, but he despises when we sin.
  • All sin was nailed to the cross. All sin is wrong. Big sin or little sin. All sin is the same to God.
  • God wants to hear “I’m sorry” from His children.
  • We need to get to the place in our relationship with God where we despise sin as much as He does.
  • You could be sitting in these pews week after week and still be in a backsliding condition.
  • You may be here this evening, refusing to listen to God’s conviction. When you are not listening to the Lord, you are not where you need to be.
  • How do we commit idolatry? How many are guilty of crafting a God in their mind that overlooks the sin and fits the way we want to live.
  • In semiaries across the US, people are being taught there is no hell. My friends, the Bible does not change. God does not change. Hell is just as hot today as it was years ago. In fact, Jesus spoke more on hell than he did Heaven.
  • God is love. But His love is tough love. There are consequences for our sin.
  • What we like to do as people is sow our wild oats and then pray for crop failure. The Bible is full of warnings about sin.
  • Sin is attractive. That’s why Satan dangles it in front of our eyes.
  • If the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, you better listen.
  • If you have a difficult time loving and forgiving, you need some rewiring.
  • We as humans are conditional. In our giving, our relationships and even with the Lord. It’s time that we start loving WITHOUT conditions.
  • God loves you! And why you would turn your back on that love I don’t know.
  • There are some of you who sing in the choir and teach classes and are faithful to the business of the church, but you are disobedient to God’s will.
  • Some choices are a matter of life and death.
  • You should try to live closer to the cross than you did yesterday.
  • Who we are tomorrow, depends on the choices we make today.
  • It is time for us to observe the Ten Commandments and not just read them.
  • If you harbor sin in your heart, you should know that God cannot and will not use a dirty vessel. Nor will he bless you.
  • You walk talks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk.
  • We should be laboring successfully. As God’s children, He expects us to work.
  • If you are a lazy teacher, you’re going to be held accountable for that.
  • You are as close to God as you want to be.
  • Sometimes God says no when we ask for something. We need to understand that sometimes that because He is protecting us.
  • There are things in our life the devil will use to get his foot in the door. He knows what your weaknesses are.
  • If something seems like temptation, guess what? IT IS TEMPTATION!
  • We sing “I Surrender All”, but really, we should sing “I Surrender Some” because that’s what a lot of us do.
  • Many of you are saved, but you’ve lost your joy, and you walk around like you’re sucking on a sour apple.
  • If you are unsaved, Satan has complete control of your life.
  • Just about every sin we commit stems from I — I need, I want, I deserve.
  • We like to go about our own business, but that kind of behavior has consequences. My friends, there are always consequences to evil choices.
  • Satan wants to cripple your witness. He wants to disable us and make us ineffective.

Can I get an Amen?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.  – Psalm 51:10-12

Roaring Waves

For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is His name.

Isaiah 51:15

NEVER EVER say NEVER

Today, like millions of Americans, I am thinking of that day… that fateful day that changed America forever. The day that changed the lives of thousands of Americans everywhere. And, although it wasn’t nearly as dramatic or tragic as the terrorist plot that was taking place, that day was for me, the start of a downward spiral that took several months for me to crawl out of.

On that day, I was at the Jail. I had been off of work for some time because I had pneumonia.If you have never had the misfortune of having pneumonia (a condition that causes the lungs and respiratory system in which the little air-filled sacs of the lungs responsible for absorbing oxygen to become inflamed and flooded with fluid), count your blessings. If you have had pneumonia, you will agree that typical symptoms like chronic coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing can be very scary. On that fateful day, I was having difficulty breathing – or breathing trauma as the paramedics called it. An ambulance was called to the jail. The paramedics arrived quickly and before I knew what was happening they stuffed me into the back of the ambulance. Because McDaddy was working out of town and unreachable, my boss asked my friend Amy to go in the ambulance with me. Once we arrived at the hospital, I was wheeled into the emergency room and immediately placed on oxygen. It was there, in the emergency room that Amy and I sat in horror as we watched the events of September 11th unfold.

That day, was horrible and I will never – as long as I live – forget it.  Forever etched in my memory along with that day are the events that occurred as a result of my hospital visit.

Upon discharge from the ER, I was prescribed a steroid – prednisone. The prednisone would aid in clearing my lungs and allowing me to breathe easier. What I didn’t know was that this medicine would be almost unbearable to my system. Shortly after starting the medicine, I became depressed. Not just the woe-is-me-kind-of-depressed. I’m talking all out depression. I felt like I was in a dark hole and for weeks, I saw no easy way of escape.

And the thing is, I’m not even sure I had it within me to escape.

Prior to this experience, whenever I would hear someone talk about being depressed, I would wonder why in the heck they couldn’t pull themselves out of it. I was convinced that depression could never happen to me because I love to laugh and have fun. Depression doesn’t touch those types of people.  

Now, I know.

I am not writing this post to garner your sympathy. I am writing this because you should never ever say never. I’m not real sure how bad off I really was, I just know I wasn’t my normal, level-headed self. I did not care about bathing, dressing, working, eating, sleeping or any other normal everyday activity that I (or anyone else for that matter) does on a daily basis.

It was horrible.

I did not want to be alone. In fact, I was physically afraid to be alone. More importantly, I was afraid for where I was headed. Every minute of every day felt like I was spinning out of control. The anxiety was more than I could handle. Each day, I felt worse.

After weeks of being in this terrible place, three of my girlfriends contacted McDaddy and asked about coming over for lunch the next day for a short visit. On a typical day, I love entertaining and I love my girlfriends. During this time though, I really had no desire to see my friend and I really didn’t want them to see me in the condition I was in. Aside from a shower, I did nothing to look better or feel better. I changed clothes because I knew I should, not because I wanted to. I didn’t shop. I didn’t clean. I didn’t care. I didn’t do any of the things that I enjoyed doing because none of it mattered.

Thanks to a caring husband, Christian friends, a compassionate Doctor and the mercy and grace of God, I am better. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty,but slowly I began crawling out of the hole I was in. I was prescribed an anti-depressant and though I couldn’t understand how one little pill could make a difference, I quickly realized it didn’t matter how, I was just glad it did.

I often whispered a prayer before taking it because I didn’t want to be dependant on the little pill for the rest of my life. I also didn’t want to continue in the state I was in, either. 

I prayed often.

And waited. 

Slowly… day-by-day…month-by-month, the medication was decreased and I started getting back to my old self.

Ten months later, I was able to stop taking the depression medication completely.

I now know that I went through that terrible experience for a reason. I learned to NEVER EVER say NEVER.

If you’ve never been there, just know that you could be.

And if you’re there right now, you should know there is hope.

——

This post is quite different from what I normally write, but hopefully the words on this page will help somebody. We live in a fast-paced, me-centered society and it is SO easy to get wrapped up in the things of this world. That day changed me in a lot of ways and I am so blessed to be able to write about this – with a clear mind – without the aid of medication and I am thankful to God for pulling me out of that pit.

On this day, ten years after those horrible attacks, I am reminded of the events of that day. The events that shook the nation and the events that shook this girl. I am truly thankful for all of the good in my life.