Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thoughts on Tuesday ~ God & Country

Continuing the summer message series, we had Military Appreciation Day this past Sunday. Senator Brian Birdwell came to speak regarding God and Country. I'm afraid that I'm going to do him a great disservice as I attempt to summarize his message, because he had such a wealth of information for us. He carefully traced our Country's roots of faith, faith that under-girded and guided our Founding Fathers as they created our great nation. He used factual information regarding the structure of the Declaration of Independence and how it shaped the Constitution, quotes from those such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and George Mason, and Scripture to shape his teaching. I was enraptured the whole time, and though I was taking notes like crazy, I just couldn't keep up with the wealth of information that he shared.

I was encouraged and inspired by his message, and I keep thinking back to a specific quote that he shared from Benjamin Franklin: "I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business...".

Here, Mr. Franklin was reminding the Convention (who had reached a deadlock) that in previous situations of writing treaties, deliberating and carefully constructing a Declaration of Independence, they had prayerfully sought wisdom, and this was a time they should return to doing so.

I seem to do the same thing. I've seen the work that prayer can do. I acknowledge my own limitations. However, I often forget the most fundamental and useful tool - prayer.

I fret. I think. I work. But, I forget to seek Him. I forget, or I willfully neglect, to share my heart and ask humbly of the Lord to guide and direct me and then listen.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Storm

In April we had one of those Texas thunderstorms that grew into much more. It was a situation where, earlier in the evening, Jeremy and I were standing at the barn and facing the storms coming in, but the wind was coming in from behind us as if to take our legs out from under us as it sucked back into the storm. He looked at me and said, "It's going to be a rough evening."

So, we did the prudent thing, and we prepared. Steers were fed and barn was closed. Loose objects around the house were secured. We even backed the vehicles into the carport so that if hail came, the trunk of my car and bed of his truck would take the brunt of it. We opened our 5+ weather apps (I LOVE weather), and then we went on our merry way. As things intensified that night, we ended up with the pets in the house with us while we watched alerts and warnings roll across our screens. You know, tracks and warnings like this:

Now, there was an hour for it to die out and become nothing, so we went along with our evening. Then the hail hit. But it came from the wrong direction; it doesn't hail from the east, it hails from the west. This hail was coming from the east, and it was straightline. This meant that not only was it hitting windows that should be protected by our 9 foot porch cover, but also that the vehicles we had so carefully backed in under the carport were getting hit on the hoods. Jer looked at me and said, "I can do it," and ran out to reposition them.

Shortly after, the alerts for severe weather sounded on our phones, so my sweet husband opened the front windows to watch and listen for the tornado. I know, I know; I was shaking my head, too. Not one to get too worried about these matters, I did decide it was, again, prudent to move the kids out of their beds where they were sleeping into the bathroom which is our shelter for storms (when we built the house, we really didn't think through the interior room, and the only ones we have are our pantry (hello flying canned goods and small appliances) and a small closet in my photography studio (hello small, pointy props and light stands).

I was texting a friend who is 3 miles to the west of us, and things got a little real when she said she felt the suction in her house of the air pressure changing; I've lived in Texas my whole life and know that's a pretty bad sign. Simultaneously Jer's and my phones started lighting up with text messages, "Are you okay?" "Are you in shelter?" "Please let us know you are okay." "We will come help with any repairs you need." "The news just reported a tornado in Nemo." Oh.  Now, I've heard also that pets are great indicators of what is happening, and this was the situation Howdy the weimaraner had taken on the the matter. My friend's response was both humorous and encouraging.

We waited out the craziness as the storm approached from the west, but the hail and rain continued, often in straightline fashion, from the east. The battering of hail on the roof indicated we were under heavy attack. And then it all lightened up, and we came out to look around. Darkness was heavy, so we mopped up the puddles of rain that had seeped through the doors and decided that morning light would give us the best indication of what happened. We weren't leaking through any ceilings, and that was a point for which to be thankful and one which meant I could go to sleep.

The next morning we discovered the outdoor grill to have been tossed into the yard from the porch where it had rested, Jer's tailgate had blown closed (we left it open to avoid hail damage), and some nice divots had appeared on my car. No windows were broken. The wooden trim on the house was dinged in some places, but, overall, we were in good shape. We made the calls to the insurance adjusters and thanked the Lord for protection.

When the storm reports were released, it was fascinating to look at the trail of the tornado (which did some major damage to the east of us after it, according to some of the tracking maps, passed right over us).

I took some thoughts away from that experience. I had the opportunity to serve in Granbury after the tornado that did some major damage in 2013. I will admit that some gruesome images passed through my mind as those texts and alerts started passing over my phone. I realized I have a lot of love for and pride in my home and the contents of my home. But, in those moments of alerts and warnings, my heart and mind started prioritizing the important and the unimportant. To the bathroom, I took my family. I prayed with and encouraged a friend down the road via our phones. I committed to not worrying about the house and vehicles because they were 'just things' that could be repaired and replaced.

As I think back to April and use some lessons from that night to reflect on today, I have to ask myself (as you should maybe ask yourself):
  • Where is my love placed today? 
  • What are my priorities? 
  • What do I need to ask the Lord to shelter me from today?
  • What storm is brewing around you, and how can you have faith in the boat?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thoughts on Tuesday ~ Kingdom Blockers

One of my favorite pastor's wives (which is a confusing thing to write: he has one wife, no matter how that can be misconstrued) used to write a Monday Morning Commentary on her blog each week. I always admired that for several reasons, one being that I saw it as a great way to support and cheer on her husband. I've thought about doing it many times, but it seemed like such a commitment to make to write a blog EVERY week ;). Mine may be more like today and be Thoughts on Tuesday, and other times I might make Monday Morning Commentary status...either way, let's get started.

Using the parable of the sower, Jeremy examined this truth:  There are certain things that block people from pursuing the Kingdom and living a fruitful life for Jesus. 

What’s blocking your pursuit of God and His Kingdom?
  1. Satan (Matt. 13:19)
    • In the passage, Jesus tells about the footpath where the seed falls and birds snatch it and carry it away; he explains that these are those who hear about the kingdom, but do not understand. 
    • In our lives, it is our hard heart, hardened by the enemy, which prevents the Word from permeating and growing. This is often a pride.
  2. A Shallow Commitment (Matt. 13: 20-21)
    •  In the passage, Jesus teaches of the rocky soil. The seed grows quickly and then withers from lack of a deep root. 
    • In our lives, as Jesus explains after his parable, these are hard times that come and take our joy. It may be persecution, suffering, or things just not going our way.
    • To overcome a Shallow Commitment, we need Deep Roots. We develop Deep Roots through:
      • God's Word: Get in God's word - read it, listen to it, memorize it, meditate on it, share it (FB, IG, text encouragement to others)
      • God's People: Resist isolation and build community; allow others to speak Biblical truth and correction in to your life as well as encouragement.
      • God's Spirit: Learn how to listen to and follow His Spirit. The Spirit is a gift the Father gives us when we commit our lives to Jesus. Rely on the Spirit.
  3. Distractions in life (Matt. 13: 22)
    • In the passage, Jesus teaches about the seed that fell among the thorns, and as it grew was choked out by those thorns.
    • In His teaching, the thorns in our life are worries of this life and the lure of wealth (Mark goes on to add the 'desire for other things' to his list). Jeremy pointed out that our culture makes it easy for these very same distractions to lure us away.
The good news is that there is one last type of soil!

Matthew 13:23 (NLT) The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What a joy to know that I am not doomed to suffer a life of the blockers, but that I can live in the fullness of the good soil!

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

Which soil describes the condition of your heart and your life at this time? What can you do to correct that? If your heart is in the 'good soil' category, what can you do to maintain that and share that with others?

I see 'Distractions in life' as my biggest blocker. And, I'm thankful that Mark added the 'desire for other things' to his list. That's me. And, the 'desire for other things' aren't always bad things that I chase; I'm easily distracted by the lure of a clean, orderly home; by meeting deadlines for business; by meeting needs of others. However, if I'm not sitting at the feet of Jesus first and then serving out of His filling, I'm not producing a harvesty of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times more!

If you missed the message and want to hear it, you can find it here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Delayed Obedience

I've heard it said that "delayed obedience is actually disobedience." I believe that's a parenting principle, isn't it? Funny how so many parenting principles apply to our lives as His sons and daughters.

It appears that it's been almost 2 years since I've last written a blog post. While my photography blog isn't so unloved that it's missed 2 years, it feels the pain of neglect, too. I need to get out of "I'm and introvert, and I like it" mode and get into "obedient share" mode.

For the last two years I have enjoyed a plethora of experiences ranging from deep despair (that time I lost my ability to move) to this is cRazY (can you believe someone gave us a top-of-the-line Yukon Denali?!), and, in time, I'll share some of those with you. 

So, what's been keeping me from it? Thoughts like:

"What happens when you run out of things to write?" (as if He can't give me more every day)

"I don't want to seem prideful or like I have it all figured out." (because I don't)

"No one really cares." (selfish much? it's not really about me, is it?)

"Who are YOU to write for other people to read?"

I laugh at that last one because I was just listening to a conference call for She Speaks that I have the honor and privilege of attending next month. She said (I'm going to quote, but there is some paraphrasing happening here, so read the quotations loosely), "Some of you are wondering what you have gotten yourself into not only by signing up for She Speaks, but by signing up to meet with a publisher. You're thinking, 'What was I thinking?!' The lie Satan is whispering in your ear is 'Who do you think you are to write a book and present it to a publisher?' The truth right now: It's not about who you are, because this isn't about you. You are being obedient to God."

So, here I am...being obedient.

For years I've had people speak into my life about the books I'm going to write one day. One went so far as to gift money for me to attend a writing conference. In the last year I've been dipping my toes in the water to get a "feel for things." As I spent a little time writing for StoneWater U, I found it is something I DO love and enjoy the challenge.

The next step seemed to be taking the step to use that gift and register for a conference. When I registered, I clicked the little box that said "I would like to meet with a publisher." I knew I registered later than those who were really "with it," and that the liklihood I would get an appointment would be slim to none. Really, it was a low risk box checking that I did. Earlier this week, I received an email that explained a publisher appointment had opened and asking if I would like to take it. The thought that ran through my brain was, "Really?! Could it be that I might really on the verge of doing this?" I stepped back long enough after typing, "Yes, I would love the opportunity," to say a prayer about my answer, and, feeling confirmed, I hit 'send.'

And then...

then I received the follow up documents. Suddenly I feel like I'm in grad school again with projects to complete that take me all the way back to my English undergrad years of analyzing and deconstructing pieces, except starting from the ground and building up. I have a lot to do, and I have a lot to learn as I go. Grad school was kind of crazy - I was teaching full time, expecting one child (whom I birthed early in one semester, so I went back to class when she was 5 days old...right around feeding time that evening...moms, you get this), and I finished as I juggled teaching and chasing a toddler and being a youth minister's wife.

It's pretty much deja vu: I'm running a business full time, chauffeuring and cleaning up and loving on two kiddos (all of you who stifled your laughs when I lamented how I couldn't wait until my two precious littles could cook and clean for themselves, go ahead, let that laugh out loud and proud ;), being a pastor's wife, women's ministry coordinator, and the other variety life offers.

You know, it may be that nothing comes of this. I go to an awesome conference, I learn a lot, and I sense I've been obedient and move along to His next plan.

You know the best part though, I'm no longer in the "delayed obedience" category...I'm walking in the freedom, purpose, and joy of surrender. This chapter should be titled, "Obedience," and I'm betting that it's going to be exciting.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A sweet Journey

Yesterday I got to my (belated) Bible reading. When I got to the day's scheduled reading, the topical heading was "Psalms of Joy and Praise."

I was really heading to my favorite nature spot at family camp to mourn and pout a little because our sweet pup is missing. I did NOT have joy or praise on my heart and mind. Totally not there. And, I think my response was an audible, "For REAL, God. Today?!"

See, I'm an animal lover. I have potential within to be a radical, fanatical animal lover that does some crazy ninja moves on you if you don't love your animal. It was only the crossroads of choosing between my pets or my children that pushed me more into the world of the human over the animal. I've never watched or read Old Yeller and was despondent for weeks when they showed Where the Red Fern Grows in the 4th grade. I can't tell you how many animals I've brought home in my lifetime.

In November, we added a sweet beagle puppy to our family. We did a lot of research and study on the breed and knew we were up for a challenge. And, it was with a bit of trepidation as I've already learned in a short year of living out here that country life is not pet-friendly. True to the breed description and tales we were told, this little beagle was the MOST hard-headed creature I've met. I commented often that it was a good thing she was cute. We could spend 20 minutes outside, and she would come in and pee in the floor. It would be bed time and and just as I reached down to pick her up and bring her in for the night, she would dart off; and I promise you, she would look over her tail at me as she ran away, and she was smiling and laughing. Little toot. There was the day we came home from Israel, after 36 or 41 or some big number of hours of travel, went to get her, and she jumped out the window of the car and ran into the woods right as we went to leave. Yes.she.did.

We knew she was wayward from her hunts where she would take off and, no matter how much we called her name, all we saw was a little white flagging tail running away from us. We knew she was headstrong and needed protection from herself. We loved her and wanted the best, and we set out to provide that best.

BUT, I REALLY loved her.

So, when the discipline of boundaries seemed unfair, I backed away and let her have her freedom.

When the pain of training seemed cruel, I backed away because it hurt ME, too.

When I received criticism for how I was training her, it hurt me, and I doubted myself and backed off what was actually best for her.

We've been at family camp this week - always a sweet time for our family - and the theme has been 'Our Family FIGHTS' based on Nehemiah 4:14, " Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and FIGHT for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." And in Friday morning's family devo we discussed how we will have to FIGHT our culture.

John 15: 18-19 says 18  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

And THAT is when it hit me, this whole allegory of losing sweet Journey: I have to parent my children better than I parented that little beagle.

So, when the boundaries of discipline seem unfair, I cannot back away.

When the training causes pain that seems cruel, I cannot back away, even when it hurts ME, too.

When I receive criticism for how our family is training for the future, I cannot and will not back off. 

Because, I'm called to FIGHT.

*note the pain spoken of in the blog refers to emotional pain and, in the case of Journey, the pain of a shock collar as she, repeatedly, ran out of her boundary.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Season

Happy New Year!

Can I admit this one's already a weird one for me? I felt the distinct call to NOT make any resolutions (not that I've really gotten into that in the past anyway). But I've known since the middle of 2011 that this year of my life would be different (insert side note, I just started crying tears that I know are joy...where did that come from?!).

2011 was a year of the biggest life changes for me in..., well, perhaps ever. I mean getting married, having children, and following my husband to start a church were pretty big life changes, but in 2011, the Lord asked me to hand over the keys to where I had found my identity. If you've been around much, you saw it happen (painfully at times). My husband and I made the decision for me to leave teaching - a career and way of life and passion for 13 years. We made the decision to build a home on the family ranch (cowgirl/country living hasn't ever really been appealing to me...I like a grocery down the road and convenience all around). My sweet little photography business boomed more than I ever imagined, but even here (gosh, I'm admitting this), I felt the Lord asking for the keys. Fortunately, this time, I once I handed them over, I also felt Him telling me I could have them back - in moderation.

But the biggest calling was this:
"My calling - to help Jeremy be better in God than he is. To walk beside him, to nourish him, to talk deeply and intimately over spiritual matters, to connect with God. To use my gift of discernment, to sharpen him, to be his true help mate - selflessly and graciously and in humility; to cherish him, to encourage. What a high calling!"

Now, if you know me, your jaw just dropped. I'll pause for you to pick it up.

I'm more the "passive-aggressive" submissive wife. That statement up there that poured out at a conference (one where, for the first time, I completely surrendered MY ambitions and goals) from a surrendered heart and onto paper after a sincere prayer for the Lord to show me what I'm supposed to do because I don't know any more. I'm pretty used to being in control and knowing my next move(s) far down the road.

At that same conference, the phrase "be still" began coming to mind. Another "if you know me," you know I'm not still. In college I took 21 to 24 hours many semesters; while I taught full time I went to grad school and had my first baby; while I taught full time I sought my National Certification and started a photography business. I'm an "all in" type of gal; my mom said I started it young. But then, I quit teaching because I knew I was called to be a wife & mother, and what did I do? I crammed as much business and busyness into my life as possible. The call to 'be still' kept coming, however, and after many tears, wading through the mess I had made for myself, I'm on the other side.

I'm a bit lost.

I feel a bit unfocused.

But I know something wonderful is coming...

Monday, May 30, 2011

On wings of eagles

Isaiah 40
29 He gives power to the weak
      and strength to the powerless.
 30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
      and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
      They will soar high on wings like eagles.
   They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.

You know, sometimes we're just so blessed that it wears our earthly bodies out! I'm finding myself in that category.

Last week, as I was finishing up the last week of the school year - listening to projects, packing up 13 years of teaching, shedding some tears over the boxes, keeping the house clean for showings, we got word that we had a contract for a sale! And, a close date of June 9th!. Yep, one of those two week closing deals. FANTASTIC!! I mean, really, this is absolutely perfect on so many playing fields: we just got our first interest payment for the construction loan, and we don't have a house payment to pay in addition. No worries about renting out this house! We'll be about a quarter of a mile from our new construction, so we can check continually. School is out so we don't have to commute.

We immediately began taking action toward the move. We found a storage container (one of those big train cars), looked at it & paid, had it moved to our new home site, moved what we had stored upstairs at my in-law's to the storage container, and moved the attic of our house to storage. The beams started going up for walls, so we went to check it out another night.

From last Tuesday when we got the offer to this Thursday, I will have had ten photography appointments (see, I had it planned out that once school was out I would be more "free" to shoot & edit - HA!). I am 10 sessions behind on editing (and have whittled that down to just 5 in the last 6 days), so I've not been getting a lot of sleep.

It's been a emotional week, busy week, and a little stressful. I am relishing in my Lord and His Spirit because I would normally be a complete basket case at this point - completely stressed about getting it all done. But, you know what, I'm waking each morning and praying that He shows me the "one thing" that He wants of me for the day and walking by faith in the rest.

I can't wait to see how perfectly all the pieces are going to fall into place!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The "All Clear"

Yep, that's all that really has to be said. And I knew it was coming, it was just a matter of how and when.

What a terrific opportunity! Well, several opportunities.

First, trust. The simple trust I was able to give to my Lord that He had a plan. I felt the perfect peace that could come only from Him. In the past I've needed my human "entourage" to give me strength and encouragement. There was simply no reason to have my sweet husband hold my hand through the "safety steps" which would have made him miss a wonderful conference in Florida. I was able to give myself over to my Father. He loves me so much!

Second, my Lord is the Great Physician. No one had to go in after anything! I still have a 1 1/2 by 1/2 inch 'lump' in there, but I have been assured it is nothing more than normal tissue. Because He made it that way.

Third, I don't think women share about these things enough. I think of the two dozen people who knew about all of this, at least a dozen have their own lump. Why don't we talk about such things - share the truth of what's really going on versus the 'soccer mom' stories (and I'm a 'soccer mom,' so get over any offense, please). I've spoken with so many women over the course of my short life who have had PPD, miscarriages, and now lumps, but no one talks about the things that matter. God gives us these things in life to allow us to encourage one another and build one another up. Is it pride? Is it vanity? I don't know.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

We'll call her Laura...

And she looks like this:

You were afraid I was going to show you the other little lady, weren't you. Oh my, no way, Jose. But right after my mammogram, while the technician went to ask the radiologist if I needed an ultrasound (standard procedure on 'a lump'), I snapped a quick picture of "the machine." Forgive the slight blurriness - it was darkish but I didn't want to break out the flash because who takes a picture of a mammogram machine?

I can happily report that all the talk of "squishing" and the discomfort and even pain = none of that. Cold hands, yes. And, when I did dare to look at that part of me all displayed and squished, well, I was quite impressed. (probably more than you ever wanted to know...but there's more!) Interesting tidbit #1: in mammography images, your breasts should be mirror images of one another. Where there is dense matter on one, there should be the same on the opposite. Who knew? But I sure hope I get to see the images, I like "find the differences" games.

The radiologist confirmed we need to follow with an ultrasound, so I sported my gown down a different hallway. Ultrasound has trouble locating lump. Seems 'she' falls between my ribs when lying on my back. Sitting up proved a better viewing. tidbit #2: A cyst is obvious as a dark spot because it's filled with fluid.  I saw my rib, my lung, and some breast tissue, but no dark spot, so, no cyst. Interesting tidbit #3: my breasts are "lumpy, fibrous, and dense" (and now we know each other all the better, but refrain from feeling what 'lumpy, fibrous, and dense' feels like for comparison, please ;) ).

So, while it seems to sound good that she couldn't really find anything, I don't have any answers. I was lead to believe (should have listened better) that the radiologist would come out and talk to me about it, perhaps let me see it, but no such luck. "The doctor should call you tomorrow. But, well, tomorrow is Friday, and many offices close early, so maybe Monday. Don't spend your weekend worrying if you don't hear tomorrow." All I could think was, "Worry? Really? No reason to worry!"

This, by the way, makes me think of a passage:
 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:25-34

Perfectly Perfect

I’ve noticed in just the last few days that a few of the same words keep coming from my heart. Repetition is one of those things that I train my students in my AP Language course to pay attention to, “If it’s repeated, there’s a reason. Figure out the ‘so what? who cares?’ behind the repetition.”

Peace. Perfect. My Lord. Opportunity. Perfectly perfect.

As I read over my little list, I wondered what the bible has for “perfect peace”? And…what do you do when you want to know something? You might call your mom; you might ask a friend, but most likely, you Google it. My first go-to for things Bible is biblegateway.com, so I typed in ‘perfect peace’ in the keyword search. Isaiah 26:3 came up in the New Living Translation:
 3 You will keep in perfect peace
                                  all who trust in you,
                                  all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

I'm looking forward to God's keeping me in his perfect peace today. I can't describe the peace I feel other than "peaceful peace." I know it's redundant, but it's the best description.

My musical gift this morning...Kari Jobe "The More I Seek You":

I wanna sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath,
hear your heart beat

This love is so deep,
it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming

I wanna sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath,
hear your heart beat

This love is so deep,
it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace...

The 'so what? who cares?'? The Lord is my God and he's with me. I believe his promises, and I believe this is nothing.

I have it - perfect peaceful peace - and I want even more!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Sometimes I can be a hypochondriac; you should have known me when I took Abnormal Psyc in college - whoo wee. So, I kept checking each time I went to the restroom this morning (those of you not in the teaching world, that equals every 55 minutes - what can I say, I drink a lot...).

Still today - total and complete peace. Can't even describe it other than "peaceful peace." I'm an English teacher, I know it's redundant, but it's spot on for how I feel. I can literally feel the Spirit as my Counselor and Comfort. It's so exhilarating. Jeremy has phoned to check on me at least 5 times today (he's in Florida at a conference that is SO amazing; he almost stayed home, but I submissively encouraged him to go, go, go!!! I can't wait to see him return renewed, refreshed, and filled!), and all I can tell him is that "I am totally okay."

Here's the wrap up. Doc A and I chatted a bit, we established I don't do routine self checks, and no, I haven't seen another doctor in the last 3 years, it has, in fact, been that long since I had a check up. I'm a bad, bad patient; I only see a doctor when there's something wrong. She did the exam, and about the time she was saying, "I think I might have to have you show me..." her cheerful face dropped (I read body language very carefully), and she said, "nevermind, that is definitely something. It's smooth and seems rounded, those are both good. Yes, it's significant. We'll schedule you for a mammogram and ultrasound. 80% of masses are absolutely fine, remember." Jeremy was hoping for something more, but it's about what I expected.

So, I'm tempted to name it, a her. After all, it has to be a her, right? I mean, she's in my body (female) and in my breast (decidedly feminine), so she's a she. But, if she turns out to be bad, I think I want 'her' to become 'him,' because, well, 'bad girl' has a very different connotation that 'bad guy.' I mean, we all know what a 'bad girl' does, and a 'bad guy;' he's clearly the evil guy, antagonist, dressed in black full of menace and is overcome in the end by a handsome knight on a white horse.

But, I digress, this is really not a post about that, it's about peace.

I've meant to blog about this for, well, right about two weeks now, but 'stuff' keeps getting in the way. It seems it's time to sit still long enough to share some of the overflow of my filling, and it seems all the more special now because I know it's why I'm so filled with peace.

I'm what you could probably label a 'skeptical Christian.' I know God, I trust Jesus, and I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me. So when talk of "baptism of the Holy Spirit" started circling, I got a little cautious. To shorten this story, I felt the urge to branch out a bit and attend a conference at a more "spirit filled" church (which is part of what has always bothered me, we're ALL Spirit filled if we're believers), and my biggest prayer was that I would allow myself to open completely before my God and allow him to transform me and speak to me. I'm also overly critical of speakers, analyzing every piece of body language, how smoothly they speak, what they say, how they say it, and so on. I prayed for that to go away, too.

So, I find myself at the prophesy portion of the conference. I found myself asking God for a word for me as proof, but quickly caught myself and prayed instead for an open heart and anything he would reveal to me. I had to sit down and write what I was hearing, and I am SO excited for where he is taking me as a wife and mother! Then, one of the women had a word for one of my friends, and it was SO spot on for her that it blessed me. I came away significantly changed from the opening of my hard, sinful heart, and I've not been quite the same since :)

 I can sincerely say that I want God's will done, and whatever will bring him the most glory is my desire.

Monday, April 25, 2011


First, can I say that the first thing that comes to mind is The Presidents of the United States, "She's Lump, She's Lump, She's in my head..."? Yeah, I had that CD in high school. Or was it college? Ah, either one, it's on my iPod now - good running song.

I think you know where I'm going from here. My ob/gyn probably wishes I would just come in for a normal appointment (which I have done once in the last 5 years of living here...maybe twice).

I'm not sure how it came about, but some how I found "it." "It" is resting at the bottomish part of Mrs. Right. About an inch in width and thick is how I would describe it. Seems to 'palpitate' which is what I've caught on is a good thing from friends who have walked this road before me.

What's crazy? How peaceful I've felt. I mean, the words of Roman 8:15  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children have never been more full and true. I mean, my normal self would say, "Whoa back a moment. This is a BIG deal." But, really, it's not. I mean, I hesitated, significant hesitation, to let my prayer warriors know. I was reasoning with God in the shower this morning (yep, we have morning chats in the shower, you should try it), and telling Him that I didn't need to bother them with any concern because it's fine. I just know. But he kept pressing on my heart that part of asking for prayer is submission to allow others to do for you. Submitting my inmost requests to him in an act of faith is what he desires of my heart. So I did.

On my drive to school (the whole 2 miles), the song that come on my iPod was by Chris Tomlin, "Our God," and the lyrics of the chorus just overflowed with praise from my Spirit, "And if our God is for us, Then who can ever stop us, And if our God is with us, Then what can stand against?" I wish I could convey to you the immensity of the fullness I felt of my Spirit filling and overflowing. Such.Peace.

It was at that moment I felt the most peace. "God, you know if it is "something," I pray that you use it to your Glory." Right after that came out of my lips (yes, I talk, verbally, to God in my car), I replied (to myself, again), "where did that come from? I should be scared, reasoning how it's all wrong. But, why not me? What an awesome opportunity to glorify him and grow closer to him?"

It's weird, but I'm excited to follow God on this journey. Even now, Tomlin is playing in iTunes, "For You and You alone, Awake my soul, Awake my soul and sing, For the world You love, Your will be done in me," and I don't believe I've ever had a more peaceful and sincere prayer.

I offer this as a challenge to you...what are you holding on to - a fear perhaps - that you need to give to him and allow him to grow your faith and allow him to bless you?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's go time!

My morning was progressively spinning out of control with the details of life swallowing me whole: my computer at work wouldn't log onto my profile (translation - all my links, bookmarks, and emails were gone); a student walked in to tell me he was having surgery tomorrow, and he would like his homework from tomorrow through next week; I hadn't eaten my breakfast; I forgot to send Hudson's milk to school and they were making ice cream; Jeremy wasn't answering his phone; I had a multitude of papers I had put off grading.


In the middle of the chaos I found this email in my inbox (once I got email to work): resignation incentive.

We all know this is where I've been heading. I've been procrastinating, trying to find that fine line between waiting until the last possible minute to really do it and early enough to allow the district the best opportunity to replace me (though I don't think they are, but that's a whole other issue).

Truth be told, although I'm excited about the new opportunities, I'm still scared to let go. I have a hard time letting go.

I emailed Jeremy to MAKE SURE this was the plan. He replied, "Go for it."

So, I sat and typed out my letter. It was a  little anticlimactic. I expected to work on it and revise a zillion times so it was 'just so.' But, I believe that precisely the right words came to me. I cried as I wrote it.

As soon as the bell rang to dismiss 3rd period, my last class of the day, I drove over to HR and handed my letter to Diane in HR. Diane used to be the secretary at the high school when I was first hired. She was one of the first people in the district I met, so I liked that little detail that God gave me. She welcomed me at my interview, and she welcomed me on the day I handed in my letter of resignation. She inquired, with a sad face, why I was leaving. I perkily told her the details of building & moving, of wifing and mothering, and of photography and all the opportunities at my new home. I also included the detail that this was a new season, and perhaps in another new season, God will bring me back. I've learned never to say never.

Can I admit that I was perky until I walked out of the building? The moment I exited the doors, floodgates opened. I avoided openly sobbing until I was in the confines of my car. It was a thunderstorm. I returned to the high school, still crying, and hurried to my room. I sat at my desk for a moment and mourned.

I've always had a definite plan, and this is beyond it. I have to remember this verse in James: 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Anticipations of 2011

I love a new year. New opportunities. It's like a blank slate that I get to fill. Fortunately, I've always had TWO, maybe THREE, new year's in the year - New Year's official, the beginning of summer as the school year ends and our family schedule changes, and the beginning of the school year with return to schedules.

I'm excited about 2011. I think this describes it best: Brooke Snow "Winter." She so eloquently worded what I have been searching for how to describe the season I'm walking into.

#1 We're building our first (and last) home! While there is some pressure knowing that we can't "just sell it" if we don't like it, I'm choosing to look at all the excitement. And, hey, if I don't like something, I just adjust. I mean, we've lived in 5 places since we've been married, and all of them have worked fine. The perks: country, which means I can have a garden, and I think I'll get some chickens - yep, you read right! We're going as basic as we can while still realizing we have the rest of our lives here, so it includes a room for photography! I'll also have a real pantry (right now the food is in a cabinet) AND a laundry room (as opposed to freezing or melting out in the garage).

#2 I will be "just" a wife and mom in just 6 shorts months. And yes, I'm keeping photography (of course, I have a room specifically for it!). Wife and mom will be my primary focus for the first time in, well, ever! The challenge here will be for me to be purposeful with how I fill my time: not using it as a way to take MORE sessions, but to use it so that mommy doesn't work once she picks up the kids (other than the occasional evening session that we line out with the family calendar, not to exceed two per week and likely just one). This has never before been a desire of my heart, but God changes our passions and desires to follow His plan, so I'm eagerly anticipating it!

#3 Running. I'm coming back. This year I will complete the White Rock marathon. Period. I'm taking training partners, so who's in? Right now I'm walking, and in two weeks I start up with two miles, and I'll be going from there. So, you can start with me. You can do it! These verses haunt me (in a good way): "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Cor 9:19-20. There are SO many things that go with that verse, and I'm praying that when I get to heaven, piercing your nose is NOT on the list! More seriously, I have NOT been taking care of my body - no exercise, not eating right, not resting right, too much stress.

#4 Decluttering. Yes, as we move I'll be literally getting rid of "stuff," but that also includes my busyness. I've been SO convicted here. I have too much on my plate. I hate to say "no" to anything or anyone, and as a result I've overcommitted. I don't enjoy most things I'm doing because I'm always worried about how I'll make it to the next thing or how late I'll be up trying to get it all done. It hurts because I know I have to say "no" to someone and will likely (in my view) hurt them as a result. I'm revisiting Can I Have and Do it All, Please and this time I'm not looking for how to HAVE and DO it ALL, but looking for direction on balance. I'm also going to read (slowly and relish it) Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I think my friend loaned me this book 4 years ago because she saw a need in my life. I still have it, but now I'm really going to read more than the first chapter. I'm SOOOO excited, and incredibly apprehensive!

My theme verse for this year is, "But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one this is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 ESV. I'm praying for the wisdom to recognize the things that cause me to be anxious and troubled, cast them off, and cling to 'the good portion.' I'm looking forward to a year of growing closer to God and my family.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reflections on 2010

2010 was a year of growth. I can look back, as I finally emerge out of a life season that has lasted just over a year, and say that it is the most difficult season of life I've experienced to this point. Although it has been tough, I'm thankful for what God has taught me through it, and I think it's important for me to share (as much for the me of the future as for any of you who might wander upon it :) ). I realize, too, that more challenging life periods will come in my life; some with much more seriousness and gravity, some with more sorrow, and, likely, some that include more times of uncertainty. 2010 wasn't the end of my world; I knew it wasn't even in the depths of uncertainty and confusion, but it was hard.

2010 started in a whirlwind: StoneWater was getting ready to move into Texana Plaza, a quick 2 month preparation and move in turnaround. Needless to say, as with many of the staff & volunteers, that was the craziness of life for the first six weeks of the year. At the end of this time, I figured out why I had been so overwhelmingly tired: despite a tubal ligation in 2004, I was pregnant. After about a week of adjusting (read: crying) to the new situation, I began miscarrying, and thus started a whole new period of adjustment both physically and mentally. This same life event sparked renewed questioning of what to do about my teaching career: continue or place on hold for a while. Mingled in, for good measure, Jeremy and I felt the urge to move to the family land, but really struggled with whether it was the right thing to do for the church, for us financially, and for the family. I found myself on my knees crying out to the words of the Third Day song "Revelation," prostrate in prayer for direction, and realizing that I was in the middle of a desert place.

In the middle of all of this, as I continued to teach part time, God blessed my humble photography business in a way I couldn't even dream would happen a year ago. When I registered my business, it was really more because I'm a rule follower, and I knew that it was a rule to have all the papers filed if I accepted a penny. So I did. I hoped that I could see 4 babies a month in a effort to keep my skills growing. In November, I had 24 full sessions. The teach vs. not teach became critical because it was overwhelmingly clear, I could not continue to do everything.

Enter Misti brain: but I've always been able to do everything. I took 21 and 24 hours a semester in college (and worked and kept a 4.0 average). I taught full time, finished graduate school, and had two babies in a two and half year time period. I taught full time, mothered a 1 year old and a 3 year old, was wife to church planter, and co-led the children's ministry while keeping the books for the new church. Why CAN'T I keep all the balls in the air any more?!! And, I've always had a PLAN - A then B then C. Why can't I do it all & what's the plan! I don't have a plan! I can't keep up with everything! HELP! Help! Mayday! Mayday! I'm going down. (enter more melodramatic musings - the feeling of going over the cliff & clawing to keep from going).

As I read & re-read this condensed version of the last year, it doesn't really seem like a big deal. But I can tell you that my perfectionistic, OCD, life-planned-out self has had a bit of a shaking, and there were some dark times in there. That's how God works, I think. He humbles us by shaking us to our very core, and then when He brings us through it, we sometimes wonder, "what was the big deal?"

The number one lesson of 2010 in my life is that God is the God of my life, and I am not. I like to have a plan (you might have gathered from the above). I like to carry out the plan & check the item off of my to-do list. Check. Done. Complete. Success. It's easy to rely on what you know and find comfort in, but that's not always how He works.

Number two lesson of 2010: trust God. Logically, it still doesn't make sense that I'm leaving a part-time teaching job with steady income, the ability to impact lives, and a job that has been my passion for 13 years. In a short 18 years I could retire with full benefits. But, I've asked God to reveal His plan, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that includes leaving teaching. He may lead me back, and He may not. I don't know what all He's going to do: grow photography? give me contentment as a wife & mother? lead me deeper into ministry? I don't know, but I trust Him.

Number three lesson of 2010: I worship the idol of busyness. I like being busy. Busy makes me feel important. Busy makes me feel powerful. I have a hard time understanding and giving grace to those who don't worship the little god of 'busy' like I do. Ouch, I just admitted that. I've heard stories of people who got caught smoking & their parent made them smoke the whole pack to the point of sickness, and they never wanted another. November, with 24 sessions, teaching, a full week away from home, being a wife and mom, and all the other things in life was God's lesson. I broke.

I am so thankful for God's promise in Jer. 29:11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Tomorrow (or soon), I'll have the Anticipations of 2011 :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

God's Provision & Generosity

My parents, even from the youngest times I can remember, have always taught me about money and tithing. I remember the importance they taught me of taking care of my things instead of simply replacing them when I lost or broke them. I remember the lessons of balancing the checkbook and about using credit cards only for what could be paid off. I remember the biggest lesson - the day I saw Dad write & give a tithe check when I knew things were tight. I questioned him, "Dad, why give money to the church when we need it?" I remember him explaining that the Bible said we were to give a portion of what we received back to God through the church - no matter what.

I've followed those lessons to perfection in life (chalk it up to a little perfectionism/OCD tendencies). It could be argued that some of them I've been too good at following. For instance, I internalized the "take care of things" to the point that for many years it was very, very difficult for me to share i.e. let other people borrow or even to take things to functions to share them. One instance specifically comes to mind. Early in our marriage we had just "splurged" on one of those $20 thingies with about 5 old Atari games on it. Jeremy wanted to take it to church for the youth to play some competitions. I had a cow. A large cow. Then, it ended up disappearing. I didn't let him hear the end of it for a while. Then, there's the constant, "Why did you do that? You better make sure we get it back!" every time he would loan "stuff" out, and you can just imagine when he gave something away! And, a few years ago, you better bet that if I bought you a coke, I had a mental tally of how many you 'owed' me. [Not any more for those of you that think I may have a magic number in my head.] God has truly healed me of this stinginess in the past year to the point that I truly don't have a clue what the 'balance' might be, and I like it!

I always rationalized it. In the beginning of our marriage, we were both full time students living on grants, scholarships, and Jer working as a youth intern & substitute. We figured it up once, and we were living on about $500 a month. That was when we started tithing. It was hard. I mean, we did not spend more than we could pay off on credit each month, and to start that $50 tithe...well, it first fell under the "take care of things" category. I mean, I was supposed to take care of what God had given me, and to give it away?

But God used it. That should have sent us into the red. It didn't. Then, when Jer felt convicted to give for other things, I submitted, but with gritted teeth thinking, "this will show him because we won't be able to pay the bills!" We never missed a bill. We never even paid one late. We even had money left to buy our first bicycles - matching green from WalMart!

God's always been faithful to us like that. He's provided for us more than I could ever think to ask for (beyond those super selfish indulgence askings). He provided the camera I began my photography business with through some amazingly generous friends. He's provided for StoneWater through some amazingly generous people. Generosity is contagious. He's transformed my heart from one of cold-hearted hoarding in the guise of "taking care of my stuff" into one that loves to give. I'm still not where I hope to one day be, but giving doesn't make me break out in a panic, and it doesn't make me start thinking of reasons why to not give.

I set the stage for all of this because I'm about to relate a story that's just a tad bit beyond the believable. It really is.

There is a point in photography were a camera upgrade is actually needed. I have loved and adored my camera (the Nikon D200) for 2 1/2 years, and I've learned how to push it to it's max and even work around some things that shouldn't work. But, facing facts, and the fact that technology improves so quickly, it has been time to upgrade. The cameras I had my eye on were $2500. That's a bit of change for a beginning business that's still at hobby level. I've looked at the two cameras for months now, and even met up with two photographers to try their cameras since each owned one of the ones I was looking at. Desire grew as well as the knowledge of how much more I could do artistically and how much time it would save me if I took the plunge.

I made the decision a few months back, and when I got to the site to purchase the camera - out of stock. I chalked it up to God's speaking and moved on. A few sessions later I was in a situation that exceeded the limits of my camera. A bit frustrated and downhearted, I took another approach that worked fine. Not what I wanted, but fine nonetheless. I began praying for discernment between what I wanted and what I needed because it's always easier to covet a desire than uncover a true need. As I processed images from the session, I knew my answer - it was beyond want.

So, I continued to pray, knowing that I didn't have the money in the bank, but also that I was on my way toward having the money. It became an even harder decision when I reflected on what I learned in Crown Financial Bible Studies - "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender" (Pr 22:7), "Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty" (Pr 21:5), "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity...." (Phil 4:11-13), and  "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Luke 16:13). I lived through Luke 16:13 when I registered for the Raver/Ryden/Jansen workshop a few months ago. I knew I would have the money by the time I had to have it to pay in full, but I spent those months taking every single job that came up and just about wore myself out! I was definitely a slave to the workshop that owed money for.

As a caveat, I want to make sure I don't promote going into debt. If you've studied the Scriptures and/or taken Crown Financial or one of the other great financial Bible studies out there, debt is not a favorable situation to be in. I'm not saying it is. There are also caveats in Crown regarding business debt being regarded differently. In all honesty, we had the money to pay for the workshop and the camera from our personal account. But, the business is a separate entity, and I feel strongly that the business should not take away from the family finances. Bottom line, when I refer to 'debt,' I'm referring to Misti White Photography going into debt to the Jeremy White family should I not be able to cover a bill from the business account.

I continued to pray for discernment if the purchase was truly the right decision, and I felt the release from God to purchase the camera on July 18, so I went to the site and put it in my shopping cart. I had a moment of epiphany, though, when I realized I should check the cycle date on my credit card & see when it closed as that could potentially buy me an additional month + time before the due date to earn the money. The statement showed the cycle would close on the 18th, so I waited. I spent the night in prayer with a heavy heart as I churned over the decision. Jeremy was gone, the kids in bed, and I just fell prostrate on the floor in prayer and worship. In the light of the new morning, it was clear and I felt excited and confident in the purchase.

So, I did it.

My email, facebook inbox, and phone began to fill up with requests for sessions in the next weeks. My online ordering system was regularly notifying me of new orders. My faith in God grew as I saw him providing in a most generous way.

I just received the online notice that my business card has a new statement.

I have diligently written down every penny I have taken in since July 19. I sat this morning and totaled it prior to looking up the exact figure of the camera that is on the credit statement. The total? $2414.34.

I knew this was in the neighborhood of the camera purchase, around $2400, so I excitedly went to my statement.

The exact cost of the camera as I see on my credit card statement? $2414.34


I have never made that much in a month. Heck, that's about what I made in the first six months of this year combined together. Luck? No way. That's my God blowing me away with his goodness and mercy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

God's Faithfulness

Deuteronomy 7:8-10 (New International Version)

8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

I've always struggled with the idea of God being faithful. It's not that I think God isn't faithful; I know God IS faithful, but the idea of Him, the Almighty Creator of the universe, to be faithful to ME, a sinful-hearted being of His creation, just blows me away. I'm not worthy of His faithfulness. It just makes me feel so, well, sinful, prideful, arrogant, and unworthy. But the beauty of it is that it also makes me feel humble. Humility is the best feeling there is when it's God centered.

This past week we had the blessing to go to Pine Cove family camp (Bluff, week 7 - woot woot!) and had Bob Kerning as our speaker. Bob focused on the Beatitudes, and one of the ones he focused on was "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."--Matthew v:3.

I don't think I've ever really thought through the meaning of "the poor in spirit." But at Bob explicated, poor in spirit = becoming more attached to God.

1. If I humble myself (poor in spirit), it will reduce my stress because I have nothing to prove and I'm dependent on God and not myself. It's not of my power I'm working, but of His and His alone. I don't have to prove how good I am or worry that I'm not good enough. It's not ME; it's Him.
2. Humility improves my relationships because I have nothing to lose. Humility doesn't mean I think less of myself, but that I think more of other people. I'm more interested in the lives of others than telling others about my life or focusing on my life.
3. Humility releases the power of God.

When I thought through the idea of being poor in spirit, it became apparent to me that then I will rejoice in God's faithfulness because I'm not looking at it from the arrogance of my nature and my desires. I don't how many times I've told myself that God is faithful, but inside I've cringed because it just felt so selfish. It probably was, but now that I have a different perspective, I'm rejoicing in God's faithfulness in my life.

Happiness is a choice, and it begins with humility.

I've been on a bit of a bumpy ride the last few months, and God has given me an incredible peace as he used the bumps and valleys to draw me closer to Him. Closer to Him than I've been in a long, long time, well, maybe ever. The last time I had to hang on to God so tightly and realize and recognize that He was all that could do it was when we moved to Granbury to do this church planting thing. He was faithful in that He did what He promised to do in His Word, and we have seen countless lives changed. Not of anything we did, but of His extraordinary grace.

I think over the course of 5 years and all the extraordinary things He allowed me to do, all the balls he allowed me to keep in in the air so gracefully, and all the amazing experiences, I began to think a little too much of myself. Like, that I could do it all - it was Misti who was all that. While it hurt a bit to learn the lesson that I'm really not Wonder Woman, I'm super thankful that my God is Wonder God and that He has refreshed me and renewed me to a place of humility.

Tonight I'm just overcome with thankfulness and humility for God's faithfulness.

PS - I've been away for so long because I've not felt like I had a post "good enough" to share. When I was pondering my thoughts on God's faithfulness and humility, I felt the Spirit prompting me to get over myself and post.

Friday, March 5, 2010

One Month Later

Well, here it is, one month from the day that my world had a little earthquake of it's own. I didn't officially know as of yet, but I knew, if you know what I mean.

Can I admit that a wide variety of thoughts coursed through my head in the next 5 days?

"God, you're doing this because you're going to take one of my children, and this is a replacement. I don't want it. I just want the two I have."
I've always had this irrational fear of losing one of my children. Abduction. Illness. Drive by shooting (yeah, I told you they're irrational). The places my mind can go when it comes to my children is astonishing and embarrassing.

"God, you've involved me in NILMDTS because this is going to end badly. I'd rather not deal with that, thank you."

"God, this is incredible! I have to count this as a miracle - a true, palpable miracle in my life. Thank you!"

"God, I've been looking for an answer. Thank you for giving me such a clear sign."

"God, this is one of those little reminders that YOU'RE the one in control, huh? I know, I get it, never say never! You're so funny! Thank you for reminding me You are God."

And then, the next few weeks left me just as confused.

"If you were just going to take the baby, why?"

"It was all that caffeine and junk I was eating the whole week before I knew because I was so tired but trying to get everything in my overfilled schedule done. Wow, what a lesson in taking care of your temple."

"I sure have a lot of stuff I do for my family, and not with my family. What a renewed vision for motherhood."

"God, again, you remind me that you are the Almighty. The one in charge. Thank you for reminding me You are God."

This post is prompted by a book I'm reading Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson. A friend, a friend who knows my heart and the struggles of my world, bought me this book. I have to praise God for friendships. You need to know that I also have Sally's book The Mission of Motherhood. It's one of those books that I spiked in the middle of reading after balking over one of her points that then created a deep Biblical study and discussion between Jeremy and I. (I'll spare you the details on that one because, as often happens, I'm re-processing it and plan to re-read the book. But, I'm sure it will make another post in the upcoming months.)

Anyway, I'm on a retreat in Austin with my hubby. Usually I attend all the sessions and socialize and encourage, but I came with one goal (maybe two) - spend as much time in the room alone to read and rest. So, I have! Yes, I feel a little guilty that others are in sessions, I haven't been to work out yet, haven't graded any papers, and I've been on the computer too much, but I want to cherish this book.

The motif of my life is back: open our hands and release what you're holding on to. The first time I read it, I just stopped and stared. I didn't know whether to cry or laugh. I think I've read the same metaphor three times now, and I'm on page 70. Maybe I'm overly sensitive? Yeah, I think so, and I'm supposed to be, clearly.

What just grabbed my attention and made me start typing was this verse:
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

All of my random, misguided, untrusting thoughts from above are summed up in these verses from James. God tested my faith. I don't need to understand the answers, I need to believe that He loves me. And I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


as a noun:
1. supreme excellence or an example of it
2. supreme power especially over a body politic; freedom from external control; controlling influence
3. one that is sovereign (one possessing sovereignty); one that exercises supreme authority

as an adjective:
1. excellent 2. of the most exalted kind 3. having undisputed ascendancy

God is Sovereign.

Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

I have to remind myself of this often - especially during the times of life that I just don't understand. The commentary from christnotes.com explains that these verses come from a time when the prophet looked back upon the history of the church, what God had done, and was filled with holy joy. "He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone." He goes on to say that, "Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world," and we can be comforted by the Spirit through grace.

It's a significant passage to me. Combine it with Jer. 29:11-13 and Ps. 139: 13-16.

See, the story I'm about to share with you doesn't have a happy ending. It leaves me scratching my head and wondering, "why?" But, I can rest with full confidence that my God is a Sovereign God. He knows me and has known me since I was in my mother's womb. His plans for me are for my own good. I know He's drawn me close to my husband, children, and most importantly, Him, in the last 11 days.

See, a little over 5 years ago, I have birth to a bouncing baby boy. Around month 4 of pregnancy, before we even knew we were having a little boy, a complement to our little girl, we knew and had a peace that this would be our final addition to the family. After I had a chance to greet my little boy, nurse, and check to see he was healthy, I was wheeled in for a tubal ligation. Cut, sew, cauterize. Done.

Sitting at Kobeya Hibachi in Southlake 12 days ago with delightful church planter's wives, I found myself beside a woman who is in her 7th month of pregnancy. She asked if we would have any other children, and I gave my whole logical spill about why two were perfect for us and how my tubes had been tied shortly after the birth of our son. In the back of my mind I knew I was probably a little late, but it had been a very stressful, busy week as we finished the final touches of moving into the new church building.

The chef brought out the raw meat to be cooked and the moment I saw the chicken and smelled the chicken, my stomach did that wave, and I knew. It wasn't stress. I put it to the back of my mind, but 1 (sore boobage) + 1 (excessive tiredness) + 1 (when did I have a period last?) + 1 (nausea off and on for a few days) = 4 (pregnant). It was fairly easy to dismiss, after all, the other factor in this mathematical, logical equation was + 1 (tubal ligation) = 5, not 4!

Sunday morning, I woke and my stomach just rolled. I had one test up in the bathroom cabinet from a "scare" back in September/October. I did the thing you do, and, to my astonishment/panic saw the wetness glide across the window and with the wetness glistened a line. It was one of those tests that didn't make a +, so I took it to Jeremy (who was studying for his message that day - not the best timing on my part - but I was in shock). As I presented him with the box and the test, "Am I reading this right?"

Then, I went into, "There's a logical explanation for this, right?" "I mean, how? I mean, I know how, but HOW?" The sweet man just hugged me and reassured me that it was all going to be okay, and we went on with our day. I know our first Sunday at the new building was amazing for StoneWater, but I don't remember much more than that line from 6:15 in the morning.

Because one test isn't enough, by Monday morning, this is what the counter of the bathroom looked like:

I mean, one could have come up negative! All I could think was: post partum depression again, midnight feedings, where do we put him/her, I can't possibly add one more thing to my life - so what's going to go?, can I do this again? God, what is this? I don't wanna. Please, no.

Monday at precisely 8:01am, I phoned the drs. office. "Um, I have my tubes tied but I've had 4 positive pregnancy tests." The reply, "since when?" "Since yesterday morning. I just keep taking them. What do I do?" The answer was a 1:55 appointment.

"Tubals fail 1% of the time. You're one in 100! We just need to figure out how far along you are." I had to ask, "so the test was positive?" All we could do was giggle. I mean, this wasn't our plan, so it had to be God's. What are you going to do? Laugh and love. Now it was just time to figure out where this little peanut was in there.

Meanwhile, I'm given the instructions, "if you feel any pain in your pelvis, call us immediately and go to the ER. An ectopic pregnancy can rupture." (of course, I've been all over the internet and already know all of this) Can I tell you how many odd pangs I had in my pelvis?!

Tuesday morning, after a good 12 hours of sleep - because after you know the facts, why try to push yourself through the tiredness, I drag myself out of bed. After showering, I look myself in the mirror and repeat, out loud I think, "You're pregnant. You're having a baby," because I had to convince myself this was happening. This is also the day I shared with some of my friends the need for prayer - for shock, for excitement, for health.

Wednesday, again, good sleep, drag out of bed - "You are pregnant" in the mirror. Repeat blood work (oh, how I love needles).

Thursday, drag out of bed, repeat my mantra (which has become a multiple-times-a-day thing). At some point I realized I was beginning to bleed. It was a strange rush of emotions, almost as powerful as seeing the positive test (all 4 times I might add). There was relief. There was sadness. There was guilt. I phoned the doctor, again inarticulate with my words, but they got the idea. A few hours later, comparing the hcg levels from Monday to Wednesday, a miscarriage was confirmed.

I know my God is Sovereign. He has a plan and this is part of it. I don't understand it. Why bring me to pregnancy (with my TUBES TIED) to take the baby? I know there are a hundred answers to that question, and I don't really want or need an answer. I know it wasn't anything I did, but the guilt has still been there. The loss is still there, even after a few short days of knowing.

The plan, for those of you who might be wondering, is for the other half (that would be the Mr.) to take his turn at a try of sterilization. Obviously, I have wonder tubes (or floozies, as I've called them) who have a mind of their own.

God is Almighty, and He is Sovereign. He is in control.