Merry Christmas!

Nothing more I could want...

Merry Christmas to all!

When We Give

One final thought before I head into my Christmas and New Years sabbatical. (Haha! Are you as amused as me I gave my own self a sabbatical from my own writing?!)

Recently God led Chuck and I to give financially to this campaign at our church. We were asked to commit monthly for three years. I can't say I've been excited about this, but we're moving forward in obedience and faith. Ever since we gave our pledge, God has not only provided, but surprised us with Sweet Things.

When we were traveling over Thanksgiving, we really wanted to eat at one of our favorite spots in VA- Potbelly's! I saved up some grocery money so we could treat ourselves. Instead, God provided when friends of ours treated us to lunch at Potbelly's, and I was able to use that money later for needed groceries!

Then this week, we found out Basye's insurance covers the cost of something we have to spend a lot of money on every month. It took a gazillion phone calls, and several stops at pharmacies, but FINALLY we received these for FREE!

Prescription diapers?! Most pharmacies had never heard of this. I certainly never have. They even put a sticker on the bag saying, "Use up to 6 daily" like a real prescription. Haha! We get to pick up a week's worth of diapers (the NICE diapers, mind you- we NEVER get the nice diapers! Pampers smell so amazing!) once a week until the end of the year. I'm just so excited!!

The other thing I realized is ever since we gave our pledge, I've had grocery money left over each month. That never happens. I usually struggle to stick within our grocery budget, and have been baffled at having extra.

The only explanation I have is when God asks us to give- He gives more. In abundance. That's our good, good God. Our good, good Father. I love Him so.

Blessings on each and every one of you. I have no doubt God is pouring out His Sweet Things on you, as well. Share, if you'd like. It would be a joy to hear your stories.

Merry Christmas all! Love you much.

A Word For Me, Part 2

The first thing Keith did was ask me a question, “Do you feel like you’re in a dry place or wilderness, maybe not fulfilled?” Tears sprang to my eyes instantly over the words not fulfilled. All manner of thoughts raced through my mind.

I’m a mother to two children who I agonized over. I am blessed! All I ever wanted to do with my life was get married and have babies, but now that I’m here I don’t think mothering is what I thought it would be. What was I actually wanting? I feel guilty for being bored, tired, exhausted, and uninterested in mothering at times. Was my life meant to be about diapers, potty training, breaking up fights (constantly!!!!), cleaning up sticky tables, Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and mastering the art oh-so-UNsuccessfully of raising my children to be respectful and obedient? My quick tears verified the guilt drenched truth- I don’t feel fulfilled. Or maybe more accurately, I don’t feel as if I’m fulfilling my calling well.

I was thankful Keith and I were talking on the phone, as I was able to mask my tears. He went on to tell me about two passages of Scripture from Isaiah (Chapters 12 and 35). As he read them aloud, these words raced straight to my heart as a precious gift from God. I wrote them frantically in my journal as he was reading, “Be strong, fear not. Eyes of the blind opened. Refreshing. Redeemed. Everlasting JOY. The Lord is my strength and my song. Draw water from the wells. Proclaim that His name is exalted. The dry land shall be glad and blossom abundantly.”

Hearing and receiving those Scriptures felt like the purest water soaking into my dry spirit. It was almost as if I was kneeling on parched ground, weary and exhausted and all of the sudden I was surrounded by crystal blue, fresh water. It was like I got to cup my hands in it, take a deep breath, and splash myself in the refreshment of it.  I continued to guzzle in everything Keith shared from the glorious Scriptures.

He pointed out the impact of intercessory prayer ministry is not to be understated. Prayers are powerful. This was particularly jolting to me because I have time to pray for others as I’m home raising my kids. When they’re up in the night, I pray. When I can’t fall back asleep, I pray. As I hear those little voices first thing in the morning when it’s still dark out, I pray. When I tuck them in for their naps and bedtime, I pray. When it’s time to eat, I pray. Keith encouraged me to keep looking for opportunities to pray, for there is power in those prayers. James tell us- each and every one of us- that ALL of our prayers are powerful and effective

Keith continued to explain how relational connections are evident in my life, and those are to be celebrated. It’s hard to describe what it was like to receive this affirmation. I guess I can just say it felt like God spoke to an empty part of my heart that had constantly been wondering, “Do I even matter?” I battle this thought often. As I’m raising my kids, do I even matter? In broken family relationships, do I even matter? Working with teenagers, do I even matter? As a writer, do I even matter? In my calling, do I even matter?

Every one of those doubts comes from lies the enemy whispers into my spirit. What God spoke the loudest to me through Keith that night was- I matter. My life matters. Through the blood Jesus shed for me, I am bought back from the lies and am equipped through the Spirit to not just exist, but to thrive.

At the end of our conversation, Keith said one more thing that has stuck with me, almost more than anything else. Three years ago someone told Keith he would be developing a new gifting. In the last couple months, I am the second person to ask Keith if he had a word to share. No one else has ever asked him that question in his life. He was encouraged in the Spirit because I followed the prompting of the Spirit in my own heart. I was so nervous about asking the question, "Do you have a word for me?". But if I hadn't obeyed the voice of God, not only would I have missed out on an incredible gift of refreshment, but Keith would have missed out, too.

Thank you to God for pouring out His word through His children, and through all of our different gifts. Thank you to Keith for taking the time to seek God on my behalf, and to boldly speak into my life.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. 

The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”

 Isaiah 12  

A Word For Me, Part 1

A couple weeks ago, I was leaving Fusion (the High School ministry where I volunteer) and felt a prompting in my spirit to ask a certain person for “a word”. It was the strangest feeling. This idea felt heavy. I knew the guy the Holy Spirit had put on my heart- he regularly speaks at Fusion, his wife had been my teen small group co-leader for two years, and I had been on a mission trip with one of his daughters. Still, I didn’t really know him. I felt fidgety. I was about to leave the building when Keith rounded the corner.

If there were ever a time for the phrase Here goes nothing, that was it. I mustered up the courage to walk up to Keith at the same time a group of students approached him. "Blast. Maybe this was my out. Maybe I had heard wrong", I thought. I decided to put my name tag away in the designated box to kill some time. The group continued to talk. “I’m outta here”, was all I could think. I headed towards the exit again when I realized Keith and his daughter were behind me. I zipped around and blurted out, “Do you have a word for me?” Thinking about that makes me laugh. It felt so silly to me, but I knew it was what God had prompted me to do. Keith replied, “Right now?” I assured him he could take his time and get back to me. He said he would, and I got the heck out of there.

Whew. I was relieved. I (almost) didn’t even care if Keith ever got back to me, I was just happy I had done what God asked. My part was over! I told Chuck about the encounter later that night. He smiled at me and told me that was a great question to ask. I was surprised by his response, and felt encouraged.

A few days later, all the forces of cosmic toddler evil invaded our home. I don’t know what on earth took over our kids, but the day was rotten. They were cranky, clinging, whiny, needy- which turned into fighting, hitting, pushing, crying, and screaming. (Some of the screaming might have been my own.) We were supposed to leave for our Thanksgiving travels the next morning, and I wanted nothing more than to leave the kids in their rooms and head to VA without them. (Not really, but if you're a Mom, you feel me.) I was going NUTS with the mayhem. I can’t even remember specific details, just the craziness that welled up within me.

When Chuck FINALLY arrived home, the nuts became nuttier. Why does that happen?! I ran away to the bathroom so I could get some semblance of peace and quiet. I cried out to God- ahem- demanded God do a miracle because it was going to be impossible to change my mood without one. We somehow survived the arsenic hour of dinner time and headed to do baths. It was right smack in the midst of all this chaos that I received a text from Keith. Chuck suggested I talk to him on the phone right away because I might really need “the word”.

I got really nervous. What in the world would God want to tell me through Keith, who I barely know? I got out my journal and pen, and made the call.