Friday, January 28, 2022

From Strong-Will to God's Will

From Strong- Will to God’s Will- 

Lessons from my Littlest Boy 💙

“No, don’t want it!” Four words that are bringing much defeat to my Momma heart, lately. My sweet baby boy has quickly grown into a very strong-willed, determined two year old. Mealtimes are a struggle, potty training is HARD, getting dressed, putting on a get the picture. All are just a few of the tasks each day that make it a bit challenging lately. Coupled with a Momma who is much older this go around and you have quite the recipe for a defeating day. I keep telling myself that it shouldn’t be this hard. I have raised 3 other humans, and they turned out healthy and ok…what is wrong with me?

I am the Mom who has been quick to tell other Moms, “This too will pass – don’t worry!”

And yet…I do worry.

Lately, I’ve found myself unpacking parenting books that I boxed away many years ago. Starting back through them again, trying to refresh my Momma brain for a few helpful ideas.

One morning, on the way to daycare, I looked at my little determined boy in the car seat behind me. So cute. So innocent to all that’s going on inside my heart. Oh how I love this boy of mine! Oh how I want him to understand I really do want to help him, despite his refusal.

“God, I prayed…I literally cannot do this.”

I feel like such a cry baby- especially with much bigger issues surrounding others. Why is it sometimes easier for me to surrender the big problems to an almighty God while holding tightly to the control of the little things, which eventually build into BIG things in my heart?

If God can part waters – He most certainly can help my toddler with potty- training obstacles.

If God can feed over 5000 with one boy’s small lunch- He most certainly can deal with my mealtime dilemmas.

If God can handle all the big struggles in my life, He will not fail when it comes to the little ones. But I must stop fighting so hard to make things happen my way. In my time. Because, like so many other issues in life, this really is not about me. It is about surrender of my ways to God’s ways.

When we find ourselves at our wits end, it is usually because we have exhausted all human effort and we are left completely bewildered and out of ideas. This is exactly where God needs us to be in order for Him to take over. His strength begins where our strength ends.

And, despite our determination of “No, don’t want it!” Our Father knows best and He loves us too much to leave us desperate. He gently guides us to the place of surrendering our strong-will to His perfect will.

Now..come on, Momma. God says - You can do this!


Friday, January 21, 2022

Divine Interruption = The Rest of the Story


CREATE in me a clean heart, Oh God. And RENEW a steadfast spirit within me.”

~Psalm 51:10


Renew: Resume (an activity) after an interruption, Re-establish relationship, Give fresh life or strength to; Revive


Last week, we unpacked the beginning of this verse together – the beautiful gift God offers to create a NEW heart each and every day. As I ended last week’s post, I shared a glimpse into this week. The second part of this verse; the RENEWAL.

As I shared last week, the second part of the verse holds so much relevance to me, I wanted to dedicate an entire Blog post to it. As I researched and read the definition of the word Renew, it took my breath away. Scripture has a way of doing that. Sometimes, a struggle is so fresh that when a verse relates this closely, it brings to surface many emotions. If the circumstance is a hard one, it stings a little. If we are moving into more of a healing season, the verse acts as a salve to our wounded hearts, bringing fresh hope. This is where I find myself on this one.

Interruptions…as a trendy quote from a few years ago so clearly says, “Ain’t nobody got time for this!” I don’t know about you, but I do not particularly enjoy interruption. I prefer my nicely planned out schedule (predictable and comfortable) to work out exactly as I have it detailed in my cute planner; complete with fun stickers and quotes. I was once voted the most likely to be robbed at a bank I worked for, because of my predictability and routine nature! How ironic that God would choose to partner me with a minister for my soul mate, and a spontaneous soul. Just when I am settling into a little normal, up we go- following God into a new calling, a new place and new home. It has been a part of our story for the past 27 years of marriage, and a part of my life story as a preacher’s kid. I remember making a very bold statement to my Dad as a young pre-teen. “One thing I know for sure, when I grow up I will NEVER marry a preacher. I am going to live a normal life.” And God smiled really big at the sound of those words.

Why on earth would God place me smack into a life of change and unpredictability, when all my heart really wants is the normal, routine and expected? Why does God invite each of us to embrace interruption and trust His plan, even when it is more than we can possibly fathom? For me, it is because God is ever teaching me the gift and lesson of His all-sufficient Grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9). My life verse. In my weakest moments, God’s grace is the all sufficient source of strength I find I cannot possibly live without.

Our most recent life interruption came in the form of health and sickness. The call to leave our 5 ½ year church plant and life I honestly thought would be forever left me a little puzzled. After our move back home to Arkansas, I found myself confused and to be truthful, lost. Navigating the loss of a Church we watched literally sprout from a seed, struggling with the ache of hard goodbyes, carrying the difficulty of helping our four children (all at very different seasons in life) adjust to a move over state lines, one of which was a high school senior. The struggle to make sense of the sudden life change all the while knowing in my heart we made the right decision to help bring health and life back to my Mom, who had suffered a completely unexpected stroke. She too was struggling to find answers to her own questions of why.

This interruption was not an easy one, for any of us. When we were first faced with the decision to move back home, I was right in the middle of a Bible Study written by Teresa Swanstrom, “Beautifully Interrupted: When God Holds the Pen that Writes Your Story”.

Isn’t God’s timing stunning? I randomly discovered this study, having no earthly idea why it appealed to me so much. Coincidence? I do not think so.

I knew in my heart, this unexpected change was my own interruption, although in the nitty gritty of the details, it did not necessarily feel beautiful. As a daughter of the King, I had to remind myself, Trust what you KNOW, not what you FEEL. On the hardest days. Days with the most questions. Days with the most tears and anger over the loss of relationships and even my worst fear of all, letting people down. On those days, God held my head to His chest and reminded me; our stories do not end with an interruption. The interruption is the doorway to the next step in the journey God has for us.

It has now been 1 year and 2 months since our move. In that year, I have spent much time in prayer, in the quiet, in worship. Just being with Jesus. Remember our definition of renew? I could not find a better definition for my story this past year. I have spent much time re-establishing my purest relationship with Jesus, after 5 years of Church planting and ministry. I have experienced Revival – fresh life and strength in my soul. Now, my resume of activity looks much different, carefully thought out and prayed over. I am trusting God with the new activity He brings into my life. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time pouring into my children’s spiritual walk and sweet friends God has brought into my life, one by one. I have also nearly completed my certification as a Christian Life Coach and I am working on my Mental Health Coach Certification. I want to be intentional and recognize the new opportunity God places in front of me. Above all, I have hope. I am learning, after the interruption comes the new life, the new blessing and the new opportunity. I am reminded, the rest of our stories follow the interruption.

Maybe your interruption looks completely different than mine. Our stories need not look the same to connect or understand one another. Your interruption may be job related, family related or health related. It could include a relationship ending, or beginning. I do not believe God led you to read this today on accident. Maybe, for the very life of you, you need a reminder at this moment that God alone WILL renew a steadfast spirit within you again. You need to know, there is hope to resume again after an interruption. Your resume might look completely different than your life before the interruption. And, sweet friend, that is ok. Just dare to raise your head. Stand up. Take hold of Jesus hand today and lean on His all sufficient Grace to give you the strength to step into the rest of your story.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

A New Heart


CREATE in me a clean heart, Oh God. And RENEW a steadfast spirit within me.”

~Psalm 51:10

Merriam-Webster defines the word CREATE as: causing something new to exist

I love words. I enjoy every opportunity to engage in conversations or read what someone has penned on a page. I delight in looking deeper into why we choose certain words to share our thoughts. I am often guilty of “reading too much” into why someone responds the way they do or why certain words are used. However, there is one author I believe carefully selects every word for a specific purpose. The words within the sacred scriptures are not half-heartedly selected, I am convinced of this. Thus the reason we could spend a life-time studying scripture; always finding something new, a deeper meaning. Surface reading scripture deprives us of the in-depth love and purpose hidden within every word, verse and chapter of God’s Word.

Psalm 51:10 is one of the verses that I find most beautiful. So much so, I have literally written this verse on every type of paper; index cards, notebooks, sticky notes (hung on my mirror or computer screens) just to name a few. I have texted, emailed and typed it. Above all, I have prayed this verse more times than I could possibly even remember. It is the prayer of my heart every single morning. Why?

For me, this verse is the very key to opening the door to each new day with a heart at peace.

You see, like so many, I know the pain of past disappointments, misunderstandings, unmet expectations, fear of failure. I know what it is to harbor regret and unkind comments. Over time, layers of negativity form, overshadowing the person we truly are created to be.

This verse, prayed each and every morning, clears the heart of yesterday’s ugly layers. It creates a brand new heart, filled with opportunity to love and share our lives freely with those around us.

Only God is capable of creating a pure heart and then re-creating it each morning. He alone is able to shape it with His mercies which are NEW every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). All we need to do is ask Him. He is ready to create this heart within us every single day.

I love the thought of having a new heart each morning.

As if the creating part isn’t enough, the second half of this verse holds the promise of a RENEWED spirit. I dearly love the dictionary definition – to resume activity after an interruption. More to come on this with the next BLOG post. There is far too much to share. Let’s just say, I know a thing or two about life interruptions. We will unpack this together, next time.

Until then, take a moment to invite God to create a new heart within you today. Clear out the clutter. Unlock the door to a new day with a new heart. Oh…and let me say. God replaces the unpleasant clutter with beauty.

Your best days are ahead.

Saturday, January 8, 2022



A new year for me brings fresh anticipation. Yes, I admit, I usually spend a few moments lamenting and sometimes even grieving pieces of the past. I usually do a thorough self-examination of all the areas needing more attention in the new year. Resolutions and I do not agree. I tend to steer away from them. However, many years ago, I adopted the idea of choosing one word for my year. I begin praying and contemplating my word well before the Thanksgiving leftovers are cleared. For me, this word bears much meaning. It sets my focus for the year. I am always amazed how often God brings this word into my view throughout the year. It makes my heart smile.

For 2022, my word is RELEASE. I love researching the dictionary meaning of my word each year. Of course, I did my research for this one and discovered a beautiful meaning:

 allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.”

Now, at first glance, we might be hesitant. Is this relevant? Do we dare admit the relevancy? As Christians, we often say we have been set free. Yet, sometimes we are fearful or too prideful to admit there are areas of bondage with which we struggle to fully break free. Past hurts, relationships, mistakes, regrets, fears…just to name a few.

 Release also brings to mind a picture of letting something go; possibly releasing control. After honest examination, we will most likely identify areas we try desperately to control. We also might find the need to release ourselves from unattainable expectations, which quickly usher in bondage over our hearts and minds. No matter which form of release is most relevant, one truth is certain for me..

 There is an unrivaled freedom that sings over my heart with the thought of full release.

I tend to think in pictures or illustrations. The word release immediately brings to mind a butterfly, held  in its cocoon for a designated period of time. The cocoon is a safe place, a protected place. It is a place of growth and certainly serves a purpose. Then, one day, the time comes to break out of the cocoon and fly. The butterfly has no idea the brilliant colors crafted within its very own wings. The hidden beauty countless others will gaze over, once it is out in the open, doing what it is created to do. God strategically paints each and every color, unique and glorious. I wonder… is God sitting on the edge of His seat waiting for the first time the wings are spread and the colors are visible? I choose to believe time stands still each time a butterfly is released to fly.

Do you see yourself in this illustration? I do. We are uniquely crafted by our almighty creator with individual beauty beyond anything we could possibly imagine. We were not created to remain trapped in the cocoon. We are made to fly and share our incredible gifts with those around us. We were not created to remain hidden in all the things that hold us hostage. Oh no…life is far too important for this. Just as seeing a butterfly quickly changes my attitude and perspective, our lives are a gift to others; changing and interrupting the sometimes ordinary day. Our lives are a gift to enjoy and share with others. The beauty within us is beyond compare. God sits on the edge of His seat waiting for us to finally trust Him and fly. I like to think He calls the angels around and says, “look right there..this is my child who is about to do what I created them to do and it is going to be the most stunning sight.”

God is personally inviting you to live a life of release. He offers grace and forgiveness, which are the ultimate gifts of release. Go ahead, my friend…spread your lovely wings.


Monday, January 3, 2022

Full House and Polaroid Moments


Full-House and Polaroid Moments


One by one…they made their way “home” for Christmas. As parents of children in literally every stage, I am learning many lessons, every day. My husband and I are blessed with four, remarkable, unique children. Our oldest son, Trice, will turn 24 years old this March. Our youngest, Chace, is an energetic, literally bouncing 2 year old boy. Our 12 year old Garyn is making his way through pre-teen adolescent years. And, our only girl, Lillian, will celebrate her 19th Birthday this month; navigating through her freshman year of college.

Yes. You read this correctly. The numbers 24, 19, 12, 2 represent the vastly different ages of our offspring. This Christmas, we also added a beautiful young lady to our family traditions. Trice’s girlfriend, Sam. We live in a small home, which was running over with activity and memory making this year. I learned a valuable lesson, closed doors work as beautiful concealers of a host of outfit changes and new toys. For the Mom who enjoys order, Christmas always ushers in the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and choose to ponder the “moments” over the “mess”. Cooking, baking, lots of family traditions and togetherness filled our days. Add to this a toddler on a sugar high, and you have our own version of the 1980’s-1990’s sitcom, Full House. 

Recently, our Lillian received the gift of a Polaroid camera. I love how certain fashions and trends make their way back around. Digital photos are quickly being replaced by memorable Polaroid snapshots. Physical photos, printed instantly and developed over the course of a few minutes. To be held in our hands and hung with the best DIY Pintrest has to offer! The opportunity to freeze moments in time, and instantly see them, hold them, and ponder them. I found myself living many of those moments over the past week. I couldn’t help but wonder, what polaroid moments would Mary have captured on the first Christmas? What are the moments that make us stop everything to notice? The moments worth printing and hanging in our hearts forever.

Just as with my very full house, life can quickly become very busy. Sometimes chaotic, cluttered and filled to the brim with the things that need done. We must make a conscious decision to look past the clutter and see the person. To look past the mess and see the gift of relationships and family and even different personalities. Each one of my children are uniquely different. Each one brings my heart a different type of joy. I am often tested and asked, “Mom, which one of us is your favorite?” I honestly answer, each one is my favorite for different reasons. Reasons I choose to celebrate, to ponder and to capture.

Like Mary, I want to choose to ponder the Polaroid moments and the Full House over to host of other distractions that hold no true value.

Whether within the walls of our own homes or within the course of our days. There is a very full house of people who need us to look past the clutter and notice them. To cherish them, to celebrate them. And if the opportunity arises, take a Polaroid snapshot of a memory or two along the way!