Jesus Loves the Little Chidren...

When you are little they make church a fun place.  Jesus is this guy in the clouds with sunshine rays all around him welcoming all the children, red, brown, yellow, black, and white, though as a child I had no clue what those colors referred to and why should I?

They had fun activities, VBS, camp, children's choir, motions to the songs we sang, crafts, all things to make church a fun filled place...

I was a product of divorce.  Even as a child I knew I was treated differently then... Jesus loves the little children? Did that apply to me? If so, why didn't it feel like it?  But, I kept believing...because my heart told me to.  Red, brown, yellow, scarred and white...

So, then comes Jr. High and High School, the differences more obvious now that ever, I was never invited to birthday parties or other fun things that happened outside of church, but if it was at church or sponsored by church I was there.  Going through the motions, not making any major mistakes...I found acceptance from a handful of people but I often felt shunned, not good enough to be in the inner circle.   Jesus?  Do you love me still?  Red, shunned, yellow, scarred, and white...

College came and I had the best time.  I honestly found lifelong friendships and learned a host about myself and my God.  I learned how to relate to people better even though nobody had ever taken the time to relate to me... It was a happy time and I learned how much I love people on the outside when I went on my first mission trips.  It was then that I devoted my life and study to those who are different than me.  Different in more ways than their upbringing but also in their language and income bracket and what they valued and spent their time and money on. Before this I had no exposure to those less fortunate than myself...

Jesus loves me this I know...and I love him too.

Life went well for a bit...I went through the motions, living and loving others.  Moved to Arizona and loved me some Native kids.  (I still miss those kiddos!)  Came back and things went differently than I would have ever planned.  My dad was sick from the alcohol he consumed my whole life.  He passed away and rather than use all of that experience for good I had a break down.  Made mistakes and sinned in ways I promised God and myself I never would.  I was ashamed.  Red, shunned, ashamed, black, and scarred...

I tried to move forward in a direction I thought I was supposed to go.  Loving the thought of being in ministry with someone else...loving on children of another culture.  When things weren't going well I moved back home and made a similar mistake to the ones of my past and got pregnant.  I felt like I would never get out of that pit and break free.  Stuck.  Red, shunned, ashamed, stuck, and scarred...

Not only was I stuck...but being pregnant makes your sin visible. You can't hide behind a facade or mask.  You are marked.  Marked, shunned, ashamed, stuck, and scarred...

In a moment when I was working on some landscaping I had a moment of redemption and accepted grace from the ONLY one worthy to offer it.  I knew to turn away from His offer of grace would be to discount the sacrifice He made and that was much more of a tragedy then the alternative.  From that point on I was brought into another level in my relationship with Him.  Before there was a self righteousness that I had in my heart that I couldn't have any longer. I could meet and understand others in their need where I hadn't before.

I thank God for the insight of both sides of this story.  The person who has the facade that all is perfect and looks good on the outside as well as the person in the depths of a pit who can't see out. I know without a doubt that I am loved by a majestic God...

I want to be a person that encourages and loves others within the church as well as outside of the church so that they can come to know and love Him too.  I do not want to be one of the people who turned their back on me...I pray that the church would love others as well.  Not make them feel as if they are less than what God made them. 


Love Wins

For the past 3 days I have been amongst some amazing women of God.  I was blessed to attend Lifeway's YOU Lead conference with some ladies from my church in Mason, OH on Thursday and Friday and then Friday evening and Saturday morning I attended Beth Moore's Living Proof Live event at the US Bank Arena.  I have been up, down, and all around the Scriptures in that time. Some things were affirming, some things were GREAT reminders, and other things were straight up convictions.  

On Friday afternoon, as I was waiting in line with my friend Jen to get into the Living Proof event, a lady stepped out and mentioned that they needed additional volunteers.  I was so excited to be spontaneous and step into that role!  When they sorted us into different groups Jen and I volunteered to help those with special needs find seats. Helping in this way added a little something special to the whole experience.

The conference was certainly Spirit led.  After the break on Saturday morning, Beth said that normally she does one thing after the break, but she felt "A Word" and was going to do things differently.  She mentioned that she had spoken to her husband after the conference on Friday night and simply mentioned to him that she felt something over the crowd.  She wasn't sure what it was but she knew something was in the air.  He said,"Well I can tell you...they are conflicted."


Let that settle.

I know in my own life I have been worried, fearful, and have felt a general unease about the world situation right now.  There are SO many things I don't have to mention just one.  When she said the word conflicted...I felt it click. That is the exact word to sum up ALL of the feelings I have regarding the world.

A couple of days ago the Supreme Court made the decision that anywhere in the United States, gay marriages are legal.

Let me make my stance clear...I believe the Bible is clear and that a gay lifestyle is sinful.

You are reading this from a single mom who had sex outside of marriage.  Also a sin.  I will own that for the rest of my life.

The difference for Christians is not that we claim perfection...we claim the blood of Christ covers our sins and that LOVE WINS.

I want to love others as Christ loves me.  I DO love others.  I can't say my love is always perfect but I know one thing from today...

As I walked out from a Christian conference in which the Word of God was alive...I walked out to the Gay Pride march.  It was directly on the street below me.

As I watched the march I was feeling so many things that I don't know how to put into words, but I do know that not one iota of what I felt was hate or judgment.

I can't rejoice with them because it is not in line with my particular line of belief.  I can however relate to the feeling of victory...

Victory in Jesus is something that I was literally swept up in moments before and my heart was so full for the promises I have in Him.  I want this for everyone.  I want this victory for Jewell and for all of my friends and family.  It is indescribable and unobtainable joy that until you accept Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, you cannot understand.

I don't know what to say about the next thing I saw except for I was embarrassed and saddened at their representation of Jesus.  It is distasteful, hateful, and not at all an accurate representation of the Jesus I serve.  It broke my heart to see Him displayed in such a manner and I hope and pray that all people could have an accurate view of who Jesus is at some point in their life because that is not it.

"I give you a new command: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
                                                                                                              --John 13:34-35 (HCSB)


Mother of Samson

 I love how God can surprise us with a tidbit of information that clicks and brings forth a flood of truth and awe inspiring thought and insight into something you have never considered before.

Tonight I was just "done".  I was tired from work and from being at Jewell's beckon call.  The volume of life was way too loud and I thought I might have to scream to block out the "noise" that was grinding on my last nerve.

Alas, I literally threw my hands up in the air in defeat, took Jewell to bed, whispered a prayer, kissed her, turned out the light as I told her, "I love you, goodnight."  I ran from the room as fast as I could searching for the relief of knowing my mind could rest.

Typically I will try to fill silence with episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix or something on the DVR.  Tonight I literally wanted silence.  I turned off the TV and got online and began watching You Tube videos.  Seems like I was adding more noise, however the You Tube videos I began watching were ALL worship.  It was relief to my soul.  As I listened I began thinking about Jesus, Mary, mothers...my blog.

I opened the Word and began reading about Biblical moms that came to my mind and I wanted to know more about...I went through Rachel, Rebekah, and then I came to somebody whose name is not mentioned.  I am not sure why it was left out of the Bible, but her impression as a mother is certainly IN the Bible and I want to highlight it here.

She was a wife to Manoah.  They were Israelites being oppressed by the Phillistines.  I can't imagine her plight.  Not only were they being oppressed but she may have been broken down by the fact that there was not yet a child to provide her and her husband with hopes and dreams for their family moving forward.  She also could have been a very optimistic person who was content in their daily task of caring for the man she dedicated her life to, until death do they part...resigned to the fact that she may never have a child.

Whoever she was, news was coming that would change her forever.

I must say that her discovery of pregnancy went down much differently than my discovery of pregnancy.  An ANGEL APPEARED to her and told her she would be having a baby (and I thought I was surprised when a blue line appeared).  Not only was she having a baby but there were MANY specifications as to how to care for this coming baby because he was ALREADY set apart for God and had dietary restrictions and of course the hair thing...

She was not allowed to cut his hair because he would be dedicated to God.

This may not seem like a big deal...but think about how hard we make things on ourselves because we are afraid that we won't fit in.  We are afraid if we don't have the right car, shoes, house, etc. then we won't fit in.  What if we don't go to the right salon and have the right hair??? What then?

What if you, as a parent, were told that your kid must have a mullet and never change that hairstyle?

How difficult would that be?  At some point I am sure Samson, being rebellious, or just plain tired of combing through his long mane of knots without any detangler, just wanted to throw in the towel and cut it all off...

What do you do as the mother?

She stuck to what God asked.  She followed through because God had honored her and blessed her with a child.  She knew the plans He had for Samson ahead of time.  Maybe not detailed plans, but she trusted that God was in control and would honor her and her child throughout Samson's life.

I want to trust God with Jewell as much as she trusted Him with Samson.

When things in this world seem tempting to me or to my daughter I want to have the wisdom and strength to say no.  Even if it isn't what fits into the status quo and even if it means we are different or weird...the One we need to accept us did accept us and love us, long before we existed.

My main resource for this was Judges 13


Biblical Mommyhood

I have been moved.  Since having Jewell I view so many things in the pages of God's word differently.  Specifically, I have been inspired by the mothers within those pages.  I am in awe right now of Jochebed, Hannah, and Naomi...and have been so much more in awe of Mary especially.  How my heart breaks with the loss she suffered in her son while He handed her the world in that same moment.  How did she DO that?

I want to dive in a little deeper in studying mothers of the Bible.  I will plan on writing a few blogs throughout the Christmas season.  I am not sure if this will be a study about individual mothers or if it will be in regards to the qualities that many of these moms have in common, or differences between the moms.  Regardless of how it turns out I am excited to learn how to be a better mommy to Jewell through this time.  Pray for the time to be able to do this and that it glorifies God.  Also, if you have any resources that jump out at you please share them.  I miss writing and I love this new inspiration.

Blessings to you throughout the season...whether there is one person reading, 6 people, or 400 million (ha!).


I Respectfully Disagree.

When I think of the story of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice I am often confused.

One think I absolutely HATE is manipulating others feelings or actions.  What was the point? I mean I know that God was testing Abraham but really did he have to go THERE?

Step away from this story for a moment.

Think about leadership.  In every single position I have had, the leaders, management, trainers, etc. that I respect and look up to the most are those that are willing to do ANYTHING they ask you to do.
Take Starbucks.  I worked there for over 5 years.  There were times I was asked to do things that I did not want to do.  Clean up vomit in the bathroom?  No thanks.  Scrape gum off the menu board?  Next please.  Clean the drains that reek of curdled milk.  Seriously?

I have actually told people no.  My views may have changed since then, because I was convicted another time about the whole "working as if for the Lord" Scripture.  However, there have been times, not just at Starbucks, that I have straight up refused to do something.  I mean, unless you want a double dose of vomit to clean up, I may not be the particular person for that job.

Through the years I have begun to notice that, even when it is a job I am not inclined to be enthusiastic about completing, if I know the person asking me to do it would do it, then I am so much more willing to finish it due to the example they have set.  They have led the way.

Back to Abraham.  Did he know that God himself would one day give up His innocent son as a sacrifice?  I don't know.  I think that Abraham knew God well enough to know His character.  He knew that God wouldn't ask him to do something that He Himself was not willing to do.  So that added to the trust he had when he raised that dagger above his only Son's body.

Was it a test?  Yes.  Greg Marksberry said something in the sermon today that hit home.  He said, "If Abraham was to become the Father of our faith, then God wants to know he trusts Him."  At first I thought YES!  This makes GREAT sense.  Then I gnawed on it a bit more and I am sorry Greg but I respectfully disagree.

God knows us.  He knows how much faith we have.

When I am employed and I see someone gain favor, if I have seen their exemplary behavior I do not question the decision for their favor, may it be a promotion or award.  If I see someone receive favor without that visible example of hard work, faith, etc.  I may question their position.

God knew this would be a Bible story.  He knew Abraham would have many sons and that his sons (and daughters) would talk about this story, well, forever.  The test wasn't for God to see his faith.  The test was for US to see it.  To know that GOD chose someone who would follow Him unconditionally. 

God is an amazing leader.  Perfect in fact.


A Worthy Walk

I am guilty.

I judge people when they walk past, yes just by looking at them.  I judge the things they say and I judge the motivation behind their actions.

We are all guilty.

I am trying to improve this part of me and my tendency to judge has greatly lessened, especially with the happenings in the past 3 years.

Recently I took a big step (for me at least).  I felt God telling me that the new church campus we were launching needed a Wednesday night Bible study.  He told me it needed to be Wednesday, that I needed to teach/facilitate, and he told me who I should ask to help with the class I would be in.  I have been so confident in these things.

God has been clear.

This other part of me has been more self conscious than I have ever been in my life.  Satan has been throwing things at me and quite frankly I just wanted to throw the towel in.

"How can YOU lead a class when you are a single mom?  YOU don't have time!"
"Nobody is going to relate to you as a single mom."
"What happens if they don't like you?"
"What if you are late all of the time?"
"What if you don't live up to what HE wants?"

These are all things satan was telling me.  I felt unworthy.

"We encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own Kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12

Thankfully I did not give up.  I pressed on, fought back the way I needed to and began the study.  I was trying to walk worthy of the one who so clearly called me to this place.

The thing about this process is that for the first time in over 2 years I feel like myself.  I feel like behind the shame of my sin which was so evident when I first became pregnant and revealed it, along with the shock of becoming a parent and focusing all of my energy on this little Jewell, I lost who I am in Him.  I wouldn't trade being a parent for anything, however I feel more balanced in this calling.

He is bringing me out of this cloud I didn't know I was living in and I am so relieved and beyond thrilled.

I say all of this to say I have not been the same since I had my child.  It has been a difficult load to bear and I could not have made it without my God and friends.  I have judged people too often and I know that if people have judged me in the past 2 years I do not blame them.  God is being glorified and I am working harder to "walk worthy of God, who called ME into His own Kingdom and glory."


I love who I am.

I am not saying this to be narcissistic.

It is just that God has brought me so far.

Several years ago I loathed who I wasn't AND who I was all at the same time.  I have tried to be somebody I am not and all the while could feel my heart and soul stretching and tearing because it was going ways my heart didn't want to go. 

Without going into detail the past few weeks I was confronted with something.  Something that could have been wonderful and amazing or it could have been a repeat experience from my past. 

I walked away.

I haven't walked THAT far away yet but knowing that God has strengthened me to make a decision He wanted me to and knowing the satisfaction that comes from glorifying Him with my actions is the best satisfaction I know of.

I am thankful.

Thankful for His Word that has spoken loudly into my heart and mind. 

Thankful for friends who encourage.

I am thankful He has molded me into who I am through my experiences.  No matter how difficult they were to go through at the time.

I imagine that He is chiseling me during the difficult times...literally hammering at me to knock off some of my sharp edges.  This is not a painless process but necessary for growth and becoming more of who He wants me to be.

Other times I can feel Him more gently molding me in more of a comforting and loving fashion.

I love who I am.