Confidence in things unseen.

Complete trust or confidence in something or someone. – Faith

I recently attended a girls night with some of my close friends. Nothing crazy, just a night away from the kiddos where we could relax and unwind and catch up with each other a little bit. Interestingly enough we got on the topic of faith and different passages in the Bible amongst other things. Since that night and thoughts coupled over the past couple of weeks I have had the topic of faith running through my mind. Hearing people say, it’s so hard to believe in something that I cannot see or understand or I’m a very literal person who has to see it to believe it, anything outside of that just doesn’t make sense to me.

As I was driving down the road the other day I thought to myself, each day that I get in my car I am trusting the other drivers on the road to follow the rules and stay in their lane and drive according to all that they learned in order to receive their driver’s license. I am putting faith in the fact that if they get behind the wheel, I am going to make it to my destination in one piece, as will they.

Just like when a light turns green, as much as everyone should, how often do we look both ways before automatically pressing the gas pedal and moving forward into the intersection? If I had to bet on it, most people are simply having faith in the fact that their light turned green and everyone else’s light turned red so that means they can move forward and they will be safe and not get hit.

How about when you go to a restaurant and your order your food from a complete stranger. You go there doing so with faith that you will look at the menu and order your food and that the person will get your order right. You have faith that the kitchen is clean, the people that are cooking your food know what they are doing and have clean hands too, that the food is not expired and has been stored properly and will be cooked according to how it should, the dishes being used have been cleaned properly and no longer have the germs from the person before you, as well that when you eat it’ll not only taste delicious but won’t make you sick either when it is all said and done.

You also have faith in the people that are taking care of your children for eight hours a day, whether this is at the public school that they attend to get an education or the day care that they go to because you have to go to work and are unable to stay at home with them. You trust that they will get fed, be kept clean (for the most part), not get any injuries, and be treated with love and admiration in the same that you would if you were with them too.

Don’t forget about your doctors and the hospitals, when you are sick and in need of some sort of medical advice, these are the people that you turn to for help. These are the people that you put your faith in to keep you alive and help you get well when you are ill. These are the people that when something terrible is wrong and you’ve looked up every symptom you can think of, you turn to them for guidance and understanding to save you because you cannot do it on your own.

Just to make sure I am covering my bases here because I know everyone lives a different life. Maybe you do not own a car or have never driven one, so this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you do not eat our at restaurants because you prefer home cooked meals or simply cannot afford them. Maybe you are a stay at home mom and you homeschool your children and never let them out of your sight. Maybe you do not go to the doctors and have found out how to naturally take care of yourself and none of these examples apply to you.

But what about when you wake up in the morning and you go outside. Without even thinking twice about it, I bet you have faith the sun will rise. I bet you know that the moon will be in the sky as will the stars when the sun goes down. In the same place, in the same way, never changing, every single day. I bet that when you breathe in deep you expect your lungs to fill with air and send oxygen throughout your body and to your brain. I bet that as you are reading this now and you put your hand across your heart, you are expecting to feel it beat and pumping blood throughout veins keeping you alive.

With all the examples given above, down to your breath and your beating heart, they all can fail you. In some form or fashion the things that you easily have faith in each and every day without question, can let you down.

A person driving a car could decide not to stay in their lane and in return drive into yours. A person that is going through an intersection and sees a yellow light could easily decide to go faster rather than slow down and in return go through the light after it’s turned red, and you could meet them in the middle. You could go to that restaurant and order your food and have it come out wrong and end up with food poisoning. You could drop your kid off at school or daycare and pick them up and find a bruise on them. You could go to the doctor and get sent home because they couldn’t find anything wrong with you, only to find out you had an illness the whole time and now it’s progressed and will be harder to treat. You could even take a deep breath right now and your lung collapse and you not be able to take another. Just the same as you could put your hand over your heart and not feel a beat and keel over dead right now.

All of that sounds terrible I know because it is. But we put our faith in all of these things every single day without question, and for good reason. 9 times out 10 these things do not fail us and go according to how we believe that they should.

So here’s my question…

If you can have faith in all of these things; people you do not know and have never met and probably never will or things that you literally cannot see or have no control over. Why is that so hard to do with Jesus? Why is it so hard to believe in God? Why is it so hard to believe that there is a creator of this earth that loves you beyond human imagination or belief and that wants you to love Him back and spend eternity with Him in paradise?

Sure, as a human the latter is a much bigger pill to swallow especially because you cannot see it or begin to fully fathom it to understand it and you have to completely put your trust in it. But what makes that any different than the former?

Now faith is the confidence of things that are hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 1:1-3

It blows my mind all of the things that we will put our trust in confidence in and walk around with faith in, even when we have seen these things fail us. But have such a hard time in putting our faith in something good. Something wonderful. Someone that created you simply to be loved by you. The most beautiful love story that there every was and you are one of the main characters and you do not want to be a part of it. It seriously blows my mind.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Some call it limbo..

Lately, I have found myself in this weird sort of limbo. I’m not exceedingly happy and I am not sad or angry, mostly just confused and a little out of sorts. There have been a lot of changes going on in my life in the recent weeks along with life feeling busier than ever. We are coming to the end of a lot of different seasons all at once in our household and I am ready for the fog to clear, but mostly a little excited to see what is on the other side.

18403413_873949399411839_8545694382446794468_nMy son graduates from Kindergarten on Thursday. I’m not sure what more there is to say about that. He’s now experienced a full year in school away from home and outside of the world that I built for him and into the world that I know I cannot save him from. I realize he is only going into the first grade, but it is still a huge milestone. Not to mention how much he grew in one year, mentally and physically, it’s almost mind blowing. I am hoping to really soak up the days I have with him this summer, outside of me going to work of course and strengthen the bond we have because he is such a momma’s boy and he’s really my best friend.

In addition to Kindergarten graduation, baseball season ends on Thursday too. We wait for it all year and then it finally comes and it sucks the life out of you for a couple of months until you cannot wait for it to be over, and then you are sad because you cannot wait for it to start again. He was so much fun to watch this year, again, amazing to see how much he’s changed between last year and now and how he’s not afraid of the ball anymore and is actually a pretty great batter. It gets me all in my feels when I think about it.

Then there is my youngest son. My sweet baby Kory, that is not a baby anymore. Just a couple more weeks of us being cautious with night time undies and then he is potty trained for good. Completely independent of any need for me anymore, not that he needs me for that now anyhow, but whatever denial I am living in now will no long exist and the last thing that made him a baby will disappear with it. It is heartbreaking, to say the least, but so incredibly overwhelming to watch the little man he is turning into and him finally starting to grow out of this terrible stage that he’s been in for the past two years. He took terrible two’s and terrifying three’s to a whole new level. But he wouldn’t be who he is if he had not. I love every part of who he is and cannot wait to see what that means later on down the road.

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Amongst the swirl of feelings surrounding my children, I have been working on myself a lot lately. Both physically and emotionally and as always, spiritually. I was driving to work this morning and realized that I haven’t taken any anxiety medication (both prescribed and natural) in over a month. I have probably only used oils to combat what felt like the onset of something a handful of times and without realizing it, have been walking around completely anxiety free. I should be jumping up and down and be doing cartwheels and screaming from the top of a mountain, but I am mostly shocked by this realization. I have had to deal with it for so long it doesn’t seem real that it is gone, but I am thankful. I have a few more tests in my near future to see how ‘real’ it is ( but I’ll share that with you anther time).

18527989_877764272363685_3621081005866937708_nI’ve also adamantly been losing weight. Most people gawk when I tell them this and then drop their jaw when I tell them how much I’ve weighed for the last year, because I somehow carry it well, but let’s just say that I am obese according to medical charts and not the healthy weight for my height. I have lost 10lbs so far and more inches than that, I feel pretty good about myself and the effort that I have put forth, but I know I have a long way to go. The real test will come in July when I am back in Jamaica and climbing that mountain at the end of the week…

I’m not sure what the immediate future holds or how I will feel in the next few weeks to come, but I am truly excited to see what God has in store for me and my little family. I have never liked change very much, but the older I get it grows on me and I sort of look forward to it. Until next time…

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

via Daily Prompt: Adrift

The difference between judging someone and holding them accountable.

It is amazing what we can do and think in this world based off of what we have been told from a lie. It is even more amazing how much of us are walking around in denial believing that the lie is the truth and refusing to see anything else for what it truly is. This is the reality we live in today, and it’s sad. I am no exception to this, as much as I would love to say otherwise.

I have been talking back and forth with different people about this subject and decided it was time to touch on it from my view and what I perceive to be the truth. If what’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me, what if one of my truth says your truth is a lie? Would it still be true?

Think about it.

If you live in the same world that I do, whether you are a Christian or unbeliever, you have at some point been in the argument or read one regarding opposing views on just about anything that someone can come up with to oppose someone else on. Some of the more popular arguments surround religion, race, politics, and health. In any case, a large majority of our population cannot disagree with someone in a calm cool and collected way without ultimately ending up with hate in their heart or a burnt bridge, all because of a matter of difference in opinion.d80125d67887cf6531dda39f4864b568

When arguments like this ensue, they might not start around religion, but almost certainly always end in it and the end result is usually that Christians are too judging and are not loving the way they are supposed to if they can’t accept the way someone else is living or behaving. I am here today to put an end to this argument and settle this once and for all, if you will let me.

My mom and I were recently discussing the difference in judging someone and holding someone accountable for their actions. The line between the two often gets blurred when someone is doing something they do not want to do and need an excuse to keep doing it and ultimately make them feel better about the choices they are making. But here is the thing that most Christians do not tell you or often leave out in the heat of the moment.

We sin too, no differently than you do. There is no greater sin than another and we all fall short of the glory of God, and that’s okay,. No matter how hard you try you are going to continue to sin because you are human and sin is in the world and we are in the world with it. The good news is; Jesus came to save us from that sin so that we do not have to be condemned by it and if we so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. What once used to separate us from God, sin, no longer does because He sent His son to die for our sins and because of His blood that was spilled, we are no longer bound by it. Pretty amazing right?

8735fdedffc50f86276711edfaa114e0With all of that in mind, here is where the tricky part comes into play. As a Christian, you, simply put, deny yourself and choose to believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins. In believing this you are choosing to start a relationship with Him and follow the rules and instructions that He has laid out for you. This does not mean that everything you have ever done has instantly been erased. That does not mean that you are now a perfect human being with the inability to sin or do no harm. That does not mean that the you who once was will automatically become someone different.

It does, however, mean that everything you have ever done in your past has been forgiven. It does mean that you are accepting the fact that you are a broken sinner who needs a savior and will continue to sin but live your life in a way that pleases God and in doing so will over time start to sin less and less out of love and obedience for Him. It also means that although you are still who you are; through the reading of His word, prayer and beginning to walk in a close and personal relationship with Him, you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind and in that, become a reflection of Christ Himself. It also means that this is something that you have to choose every single day to do over and over again because if you do not, then your flesh will win and the picture that people have in their heads when they hear the word Christianity or Jesus will remain to be what it is today.

So what is my point? Where am I going in this “argument”?

There are many things, that we as Christians, are called to do as we follow Christ and the example He set before us. One of which is to hold others accountable for their sin so that they can to be saved from it. Not judge them for their sins so that you can feel better about yourself because you can’t and you won’t.

ef64a817b5d4d01bbf30b273a695e7dbMatthew 7:1-5 says, “Do not judge others, or you too will be judged. For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why would you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that speck out of your eye’ when all of the time there is a plank in your own? If you do this, you are a hypocrite, and you should first take the plank out of your own eye so you then will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brothers”.

That is pretty straight forward if you ask me. This passage simply states, that we are all sinners and my sin should not go unnoticed simply because someone else’s sin is apparent and out in the open. I should work on my own sins and pray for and be an example to my brother so that he can work on his too. If I do not do this and instead judge him for his sins, then I will reap what I sow and it will not be pretty.

We are also called to restore our brothers and sisters gently. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers and sisters if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves when you do, because you may also be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Again, a pretty straightforward request that gets skewed time and time again. This passage says to me if someone you know is doing something they should not be doing, as a loving friend, tell them what they are doing that is wrong. But watch out, because it is easy to get caught in the same sin with them. Regardless, we should carry each other’s burdens and support one another and in doing so we will be doing as Christ has asked us to do.

7fe53896390fe213704b7d0d50cdfa4dThe last one I am going to share with you, which is pretty stinking important, and is the one that gets messed up the most. Matthew 18:15-17 which says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won the over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.

God intended for us to look out for one another and to help each other when we lose our way. This passage tells us to go to our friend if they are doing something that is harming themselves and to tell them what is going on, just to them and not to someone else. If they do not want to listen to you, then try it again in front of two or more people so that the effort does not go unnoticed and you have witnesses to strengthen the argument. If they still will not listen, take the matter to the church so they can handle it there and if even then they will still not listen, then walk away because there is nothing you can do about it and you cannot let them bring you down and brought into their sin with them.

This is the moment you have all been waiting for, my point.

When someone is trying to live their life, holy and pleasing to God and they find fault with a choice that you are making in yours, it is not because they want to judge you or condemn you for what you do. They first, don’t have the power to and they know that they don’t. But more than anything, are just trying to hold you accountable for something that has been made clear to them that is not right and that is displeasing to God. If Christians watched their family and loved ones make decisions that they know are against Gods will and say nothing about it, they are no better than the person that is committing the sin. If Christians just kept their mouths shut and never told you that something you are doing is wrong and that there is a better way to live your life, the world that they too live in would soon become hell on earth, but worse, you would never get to know about Jesus.

Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of your brother. – Romans 14:13

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  – James 5:20

Here is the thing y’all. God put us on this earth to love and be loved because He is love. There is not one single individual on this planet that God does not love and that He would not want to spend eternity with Him. But the cool thing is that He gave you the ability to choose, free will. He is not going to force you to love Him.  He is not going to force us to all get along or to do the right thing and because I know that, I want you to know it too. I want you to feel the same love and peace and hope and joy and blessings that I feel every single day. I want when I go to Heaven, to see you there too. But I cannot do it on my own and neither can you. Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17), I need you to tell me when I am in the wrong so that I can tell you when you are in the wrong and no matter what love each other through it, deal?

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Mother’s Day Thoughts. Share yours!

Mother’s Day is soon approaching and I want to be excited about it, but at the same time, I don’t really want to get my hopes up, because it could be just like any other day. Writing that down for all to read makes me feel silly, but I am sure I am not the only mom to have that thought cross their mind as this day approaches each year.

As a child, I looked forward to Mother’s Day! I know that may sound weird because it did not benefit me in any sort of way. But I loved making my mom feel special and trying to figure out how I could do it without her ever knowing or without help from someone else in the process. When you are a child, your options at this point are limited but when you use your imagination and search all over your house, you can usually come up with something good. My surprises were never unique. They usually consisted of breakfast in bed, a clean house when she came home from work (deep clean, dusted shelves and all), whatever flowers I could find near our home and a homemade card that would probably have a coupon or two for hugs and kisses or back massages inside. You know the typical gifts that a kid can give. Regardless, I always felt like I was winning when I gave them to her and I loved seeing how happy she was when I would.x17927

As you can see, I set the bar high for those to follow when I became a mom and I could not wait for the day that I would once get to experience the same love from my children and my bonus, my spouse.

Now that I am a mother, I get to experience the joys of being on the receiving end as well as continue to give to my own mom and now my mother in law. But the crazy part is that it is not all that it is cracked up to be and the things I want the most are usually the last thing that I receive. Sure, who doesn’t love to be showered with gifts and told “Happy Mother’s Day!” a billion times from every passing human being simply because you are a woman and they assume you must be a mom (which lucky for them I am, but it must be really weird for all the ladies who aren’t and get told so anyway). I really do not care about all of that stuff. I just want my love language to be met by those closest to me, with sincerity and what looks like little effort applied.images (1)What is my love language you ask? Do you know yours? You should look it up, and then think about if applied, how your mother’s day could be the best one ever. My love language is easy, acts of service coupled with quality time.  These two are literally tied for the two most important things to me in any given relationship. I don’t need words of affirmation, even though they are nice to hear from time to time. I don’t need physical touch to tell me that you love me, even though I love hugs and will gladly take them and give them out. I could care less about being given a gift, although I will take them happily and not complain one bit because who doesn’t love presents!

My perfect mother’s day consist of getting to be as lazy as I want, while those around me do all of the heavy lifting, all of the cleaning, all of the cooking, and any other normal mommy chores while I get to be in their presence and soak up every ounce of who they are, because that is what makes me the happiest girl in the world. Being with my boys.

Mom-I-Love-You-to-Pieces-600x401Breakfast in bed, I’d love that. A clean house from top to bottom, my favorite thing ever. Handmade cards with fun little coupons inside, what could be cuter than that? Handpicked flowers from all around our home, one of my favorite things from my boys. Spending the entire day with my boys doing nothing and not having to worry about a thing, my jackpot.

It is funny when I look back and think about it. All of the things I used to do for my mom are all of the things I want most now that I am a mother. I don’t know if this is coincidence or if it means me and my mom are a lot alike or that she hated everything I ever gave to her because it was my love language and not hers (I’m sure she didn’t hate it either way).However, it’s interesting to think about, and I suppose I will have to ask her what her favorite Mother’s Day ever was and see if any of my gifts hit the mark.

What are your thoughts on Mother’s Day? Do you have any great stories from when you were a child and what you did for your own mom? Or do you have any stories as a mother and how amazing the day has been for you in years past? What would your perfect mother’s day consist of? I want to hear them!

Either way, it’s all just temporary. Mother’s Day is every day of the year when you are a mom.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

via Daily Prompt: Temporary

7 Years and Counting…Sobriety Wins.

I was raised in the church, from the womb to the crib at the church nursery, and from then on out. The church was all that I had ever known and understood as the way of life for everyone, and because of this, I came to know Jesus from a very young age. I believe I was seven years old the first time I asked Jesus into my heart and then about eight the first time I was Baptized. I was a young girl that was ignorant in so many ways, truly naïve to the world and all that it had to offer, and blind to deceit or the reality and the weight that I would soon learn that it held.

In a nutshell, I was a very happy-go-lucky kind of girl! Trusting to everyone and knew no stranger. I had a huge heart that wanted to help anyone in any way that I could, you know, a save the world kind of girl! That was me, the best friend, the teacher’s pet, the girl who wanted to do anything and everything as long as it put a smile on her face and everyone else’s around her.  I continued to attend church regularly with my family and then with my friends as I got into middle school. Then before I knew it I was thirteen, and that’s when everything started to change for me.

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This was my freshmen year, Queen’s ball, RIGHT before my life started to change..

I guess you could say I became your “typical teenager” with a few quirks here and there. I was involved in sports and was on our high school drill team. I had a ton of friends and was in most of the advanced classes, as well as the top 10% of our class. I was super active in the youth group at the local church in our town and until then, I was just living life and enjoying being a kid. You could say it all changed when I fell in love with a boy, although, the changes had already started happening to me before then and I just hadn’t noticed it yet. A year before this time, my sister got married and had a baby. This, in most people’s worlds, is a huge blessing and a happy time in life. But for me, it felt like I was being left behind, that my sister was being taken away from me, and that no one really cared about what I had going on anymore. Silly to think about now, but it was a harsh reality for me then.

So here I am, thirteen and deeply in love with this boy, like head over hills crazy in love, do stupid stuff with a boy in love. That’s right, at the very young age of fifteen I lost my virginity. Instead of living my life for Christ like I was born and raised to, I started living my life for a boy and pretty much worshiped the ground that he walked on. I would have done anything for him, seriously, anything. Anything at all that I felt would make him happy or have him love me the way that I loved him. I went as far as to give my body to him, something I said I would never do until I was married. I completely blew off anyone and anything that had every mattered to me so I could devote myself to him, and before I knew it, I wasn’t just in love with a boy anymore, I was on drugs and had fell in love with them too.

The drugs were my choice. I want to make that abundantly clear for anyone who may every think or feel otherwise. He hated the fact that I did drugs or that I changed an ounce of who I was as time went on and our relationship grew. But it didn’t matter, I was going to do what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it no matter what it cost me. I lost all of my friends, I dropped out of school. Not once, but three times, before never going back at all. Then, once it was too late and I had dug the hole so deep that I could no longer see the light anymore, I turned back and he was gone too. All that I had then was the drugs and the friends that I found through doing the drugs and all of the people and places that came with it. When he was no longer there to devote myself to, I just found something new or someone new to devote myself to and every single time, it turned out to be a huge lie and a waste of my time.

I had this way of finding “new projects” if you will, something that I could devote all of my time and pour all of my energy and focus into.  These projects usually consisted of the new boyfriend who I loved so much and that was so amazing and had every problem under the sun. But I never let that get me down because I was there to save him! I was going to make it all better. I was going to fix him. I was going to make all of his problems going away. Or a friend, that was worse off than I was and that too needed to be saved. This was a constant in my life. No matter what I did or all of the crazy that I put myself through I did not see how badly I was hurting myself in an effort to save someone else, or how bad I was hurting those who truly loved me and cared for me instead. Regardless, I continued down this path and no matter what had happened with the other people before them I kept pushing thinking it would be different this time. I could never understand why it always ended in defeat and why no matter how hard I tried, I could never save them, it never worked. It would be a long time before I learned the powerful lesson as to why.

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One of the many pictures of myself back then..high..but smiling.

This went on for years. I found myself constantly complaining and whining about how all I ever did was give of myself and I would never expect anything in return, yet I was continuously getting stomped on and let down by everyone and all I could scream was why?! Sure, my family was always there to tell me exactly why, but I never wanted to hear it, they were the last people I wanted to listen to because I didn’t think they would understand and there was no way I was about to admit to them that what they were saying was true and that I was wrong. At this point, I was in a continuous cycle of deceit. All of which I had brought upon myself and as far as I was concerned there was no way of coming back from it, plus I didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong anyways. Even though I was lying to my family, my friends, to myself, and most importantly to God. Even though I was having sex,  and doing drugs like there was no tomorrow, had dropped out of school, and everything stupid I could think of in between. I was only doing it for a good cause! I was trying to help people here. What was wrong with that? I never went out of my way to hurt anybody and in the times that I did, I never meant to do it. The only person I truly ever thought I was hurting was myself, and that didn’t bother me because I was strong and kind and I had God on my side! I could handle everything, right? Give me a cape and call me superwoman! That was what I thought. But I was wrong, so so very wrong.

Fast forward six years down the road, I had now been to jail and was put on probation for a year, a year that would soon become one of the worst years of my life. What once had started out with me being young and in love and on a mission to save the world, ended up with me being promiscuous and having sex out of wedlock, smoking pot every day all day and living life as one of the biggest potheads in Gladewater, Texas. On top of that, I had spent the last six years in what seemed like a continuous party, sleeping on whoever’s couch would have me and coming home after being gone for days at a time. I’d eventually tried every drug in the book at least once, if not a couple of times, and had lied to every single person that I had known in some way or another. In my drunken stooper, I had been raped, twice. I put myself in the most dangerous situations that one could imagine. I was stealing, cheating, lying, abusing others, and being abused, I was prideful, stubborn, conceited, unemployed, and I had eventually lost my car. I was slowly losing my family, on top everyone else in my life that I had already pushed away. I didn’t care if I was alive or dead. I attempted suicide once, or twice, gosh I lost count, but at that point, I just didn’t care anymore. Before I knew it I was eighteen years old, and before the clock had struck twelve on my birthday, I was on meth. This started the downhill spiral that led me to my bottom over the next two years.

I sounded like a trooper if you ask me. All the crap I put myself through and I was still here. Never once forgetting who Jesus was or where I was headed if I kept up that life.

Honestly, I cannot say that the life I was living didn’t bother me because that would be a lie. All of it did. No matter how far I took it or how much time had passed or how much I said or showed differently, I cared. But I was lost. I was so far beyond being buried in deceit, I had dug a whole so deep and ran from God for so long that I truly believed there was no turning back, that I could not be saved.

Looking back, I cannot tell you the first thing that sparked my mind or heart to want to change and just take that first step. I give credit to a lot of different things and some very important people in my life that were a part of this time and a part of what got me to that point. The reality is, I was tired. I was past giving up, and in my experience, I had discovered giving up had gotten me nowhere, because after I had given up I was still here. I was still alive, and I knew there had to be a good reason why and so, I finally decided the bad was bad. No, it was horrible beyond words or human belief. It was the bottom of all existence and everything I ever was or thought I could be. I was done.

Growing up in the church I had always heard that God would never allow me to go through more than I could handle, even if I dragged myself through it, He was still in control.

The following summer I decided to visit my sister in St. Louis, at the time her living so far away was a sweet escape for me when life was kicking me down. I could always count on her to take me in and love me exactly the way that I was, plus I had a key. On this trip, I got the chance to take myself out of “my world” and be in a completely different environment. This, of course, was not the first time I had done this, but this time I had a completely different motive in mind. I attended church with her each Sunday while I was visiting and her church was doing this mini-series on super sizing your life. I cannot remember the significance of the lesson now, what was said in which moment or why, but I do remember everything just starting to click for me.

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This was the same week I sat in my sister’s church. Just a couple of days before this picture my hair was down to my butt (a normal for me), I decided to cut it all off to symbolize that the old me was dead and gone. This was a new girl 🙂

Through all the insanely horrible things that I had put myself through, God kept showing me mercy, time and time again. He was always there, watching over me and keeping me safe. No matter what new dark place I could find to try and run and hide too, He was there. I was running from Him and He was chasing me, wanting so bad for me to come back to Him, just waiting for me, patiently. It didn’t matter how badly I had stomped on Him or how many times I had rejected Him or how long that it took for me to come home. He was still there. Ready and waiting, with arms wide open, just waiting for me to accept.

All of the years that I had spent hurting myself, I had blamed the devil. I blamed everybody and everything for what was going on around me for where I was at in life. Then that day, in my sister’s church, it all made sense to me. Are you ready for it? In order to be changed and to leave it all behind and to be happy and peaceful and full of life, with Jesus Christ himself, to love Him and to have a beautiful relationship with Him, I had to let go of me.

and I did y’all. That same day and I have never been the same again.

Today marks seven years of my sobriety.

They say that after seven years that every cell in your body has died at some point and regenerated, so to me that means I am a brand new person today, just like I was seven years ago when I decide to stop running and give it all to God. Seven years later I am happily married with two gorgeous boys that I am so very much in love with, and our family dog Charlie. I have graduated from college twice now and am now working on my third degree, my masters! We bought our own home a few years back, we own two cars, and we are still in debt, but it’s just a footprint from the life we are living. We attend church regularly as a family and are all very involved in our community. Every year God continues to mold me and grow me into this beautiful human being that I never thought I could be and the best part about it is; I am human. I am not perfect. I stumble, like every day y’all. I fall. I make plenty of mistakes and yet, every time I do, my God is there to forgive me. He is there to dust me off and pick me back up again and that is something that will never change!

This morning I woke up late because I had a bad dream, it was a dream about my husband doing horrible things to me and my world crumbling back down to what it was before, it was a nightmare and it woke me up in bad mood. After I got up one thing after another kept happening to me to make me upset. My son peeing all over the middle of the floor, my water bottle spilling all over the counter because I forgot to put the cap back on, it was pay day and my check had not come in yet, and from where I was standing my day was going to suck.

My husband urged me to let it go and not let it ruin my day, he’s a smart man.

But then God reminded me. You have a son! You have a job! You have a counter and water to spill on that sucker. You are blessed beyond belief and today you are a new woman! Hallelujah!

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child; now that I am a woman, I am done with my childish ways and I have put them behind me! 1 Corinthians 13:11

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Burning from the waist up and from the waist down.

“Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezek. 1:26-28)

I read past this the other day with much difficulty. I reread it a time or two, but endeavored to move on in reading Ezekiel. Instead, though, I kept turning back to it. It was like the Lord was beckoning me to really consider what the Word was saying here. So I turned it over in my head, taking it apart word by word until the full meaning of it sunk in. You see, Genesis 1:26, 27 says this: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness … So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Always questioning my own understanding, I pressed in. “Teach me, Father, what you want me to know in this.”

Here it is: We were created in the image and likeness of God, and created to bear His glory out into a lost and dying world. We should be that rainbow on a cloudy, rainy day. We should be aglow with the radiance of God all over us. On fire from the waist up and on fire from the waist down. Surrounded by brilliant light. Sadly, I have to admit that I am often blowing on dying embers instead. I asked, “God, what will it take to be on fire like that?”

He told me … it’s not an easy thing for anyone. One must be willing to be set on fire. And when the fire of the glory of God comes on a person, it burns up everything that is not of God until that person is walking in a supernatural, consuming blaze in the likeness of God on his throne.

Many of us are willing to pay somewhat of a cost. Many of us will submit to God on one level or another. Some of us will go further than others, willingly taking on the pain of burning a little for a flame.  But very few of us are willing be completely consumed because that means complete destruction to the fleshly nature and we tend to love her … a lot. Especially in these days, because we have been led to believe that our feelings are gods. We worship so much of ourselves without even realizing it. We harbor the flesh when we should be allowing the Holy Spirit’s fire to burn it up ‘til there is no more of us left and we say, as Paul did, “Not I but Christ lives in me.”

God told Moses at the burning bush that no flesh can see him and live. The glory of God is not a trifle. It’s dangerous. You must be willing to be consumed, or not approach at all. Sadly, many of us reach a point in our pursuit where we know it’s safer to turn around than to continue forward and we turn around without hesitation, though God is beckoning us to come nearer still. He knows the cost. He ordained it. But still, He beckons us because he also knows what he can do in  and through one soul that is willing to submit in all things, walk into the blaze of glory and come out on fire from the waist up and from the waist down.

Will you be one? After all, friend, we were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to operate in that glory. We were made to be consumed by it. Scared as you may be, don’t let fear keep you from your rightful position next to the heart of God, walking about in a radiant light in a world otherwise steeped in darkness. Cast everything else aside that has been distracting you from this one thing and kneel before the Father in complete submission. Let him rid you of yourself so you can be his hands and feet. After all, this is what we are called to. This is what we were made for. On fire from the waist up, on fire from the waist down. Ready and equipped to be the likeness of God in a lost and dying world.

This is a repost from a fellow blogger, via In the Likeness of the Glory of the Lord — Dawn, It was too good not to share with you all. God spoke to me on this very subject this morning. He is on the move!

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Things that make me chuckle, being hangry.

Hangry: bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.

I have been feeling this way a lot lately. It is quite irritating when it happens, especially for weeks at a time. As I am writing you this my mind is spinning with all that I could be or should be doing differently to keep this from happening. But all I can think about is that I do not have enough time, especially after being sick last week and in bed for nearly four days. I literally feel like I am behind in life because during those four days I was not able to do anything and now that I am trying to catch up, I do not have time to do it. So, I am falling in an endless cycle of feeling behind and like there is not enough time in the day to do whatever it is that I need to do, which leaves me feeling tired and hangry.il_fullxfull.279321995

Baseball season is without a doubt my most favorite time of the year. As long as I can stay organized and ahead of things, the busyness of it all does not even faze me. The part that knocks me down is that for two months my schedule has to change and it takes away from my personal extra-curricular activities, like bible study and my recovery group, or having any time for myself. During this time I try to supplement those things with digging deeper into the word on my own, but without the fellowship and accountability, it is not an easy task. This is where being hangry comes into play.

It always sneaks up on me, until I am snapping at someone over something I normally would let roll off my back and then I feel embarrassed that I allowed myself to react in such a way. You see, the first week or so of missing a bible study or not getting to attend my recovery group is not so bad because I am still pretty full and charged from the last week and just like anything else, skipping one meal isn’t so bad when you are busy. It is when it’s time for the next meal to come along and you have not eaten yet that things get bad, and the hangriness starts to slowly creep up on you.

921af01a2cad204d2ebbe1fc9299e0fc1 Peter 2:2 tells us that we ought to be like newborn babies longing for spiritual milk so that we can be satisfied. Being spiritually fed is vital for all that we are and all that we are going to become. Yes, you can do it on your own and without attending church, it is possible. But man is it hard and even the “best of Christians” end up hangry in the end.

Once again, I am admitting something to you that I am not proud of and wish I could say were not true. But life happens and baseball season comes and the devil knows just where to attack you at and try to tear you down. The good thing, neigh, the absolutely beautiful thing about it all; is that God is there to pick me back up again and carry me through the next few months. He is doing so right this very minute through me sharing this with you. Before I started writing all I could think about was how bad my mood sucked, how tired I was, or how I was going to complete everything I need to do before the day is over before tomorrow is over, and why was I having such a hard time just feeling like myself. Then Jesus stepped in, my savior!

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if one of them falls, the other will be there to lift up his friend. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another there to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, then they can keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him because a cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

il_340x270.813029680_74yqWe were not made to do things alone, as much as we certainly can and I certainly do try. We were meant to help bear the weight of one another and lift each other up when they are down, and help where when and how we are able. I do not have to do it all on my own. I can set my stubbornness aside and simply ask. God keeps telling me to sit, be still, I think it is time that I stopped and listened. I think it’s time that even when I am busy with baseball that I go out of my way to make sure that I am spiritually fed and getting the fellowship that my body needs and my heart deserve.

I don’t know about you, but hangry does not look so good on me and bet you could do good to avoid it yourself when you notice the symptoms starting to show. Jesus says, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh Galatians 5:16. You might think I am crazy now, but you will thank me later. Get fed.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Chuckle

Thirteen Reasons Why…and One Reason Why Not.

As I am sure many of you have by now, or soon will if you have yet to discover, binge watched 13 Reasons Why. I came across an article about it and was intrigued by it, this particular subject hits home with me in more ways than one and I was curious to see how someone portrayed the topic through a mini-series.

“Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.” Written by Studio

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After completing 13 emotionally raw episodes as Hannah goes through the events that led up to her death, I was left with an empty feeling and an overwhelming sadness that even though this was just a television show, things like this happen every day. It happened to me. It happened to friends of mine as we were growing up. It has happened to close family and loved ones. It happens every day, all over the world and frankly is not talked about enough.

In case you choose to never read the book that inspired the series or watch it for yourself, I’ll shed some light on the “reasons” why she ultimately took her own life. (Potential spoiler alert)

She was a high school girl that was fairly popular who ended up losing all of her close friends and soon found herself feeling all alone. As a result of bullying through simple “normal” high school antics, it all struck a chord with her that left her feeling worthless. She was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually until she felt like there was nothing left of her. She even tried to seek help, but was made to feel as if she was not worth the help or that there was nothing that she could ultimately do about it, except forget it and move on. Every part of her was broken, lost, confused and she felt hopeless.

I have yet to share my story with you all and plan on doing it soon.. But, I have been there before. High school was not easy for me, as much as I was great at hiding it. I lost friends that had been in my life since kindergarten, which when you are 16 years old feels like your entire life. I was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually. I thought about suicide more times than I would like to admit and even failed at it once or twice. I got to a point in my life where there was nothing left for me and I was completely disgusted with myself and everything about who I was and what I was doing in this world.

and that’s when Jesus stepped in.

I won’t say it happened in one day or even in one moment, it was a collection of days that came to a head to make me decide to push for life, instead of death. No matter how long I had been running or how far I had run, Jesus loved me and He wanted me to live. I could have easily came up with 13 reasons why I did not want to live on this earth anymore, but it took me finding only 1 reason why I should surrender and stay, and that was Jesus.

We are not so different from Jesus in our trials and unfortunate circumstances. Jesus was blameless and yet He was still;

Betrayed

Abandoned

Rejected

Falsely accused

Mocked

Physically Abused

Spit on

Shamed

Crucified

All for us.

He loved us so much that He wanted to bear the weight of the world, the weight of sin, everything terrible thing that you and I have done, or have yet to do, or that has been done to us. He took it all so that we would be forgiven and if so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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It was that truth that saved me. It is that truth that I want to save everyone with. It is that truth that has me sitting here writing to you today asking you;

Please, do not give up. Reach out for help. Even when it is hardest to think about your family and loved ones, especially in the moments when you feel like they could care less, it is not true. They care, they love you so much. He loves you so much. I do not even know you, and I love you so much. You are worth it. You have a purpose. You were chosen for something beautiful and you can only find out what that is if you stay.

For those of you who have never dealt with anything like this before, give thanks to the Lord that you have not had to experience such pain. But more than that, make sure that you are not a part of someone else’s pain. As hard as that might be to hear, everything we do or say impacts the world and those around us. It is our job to be kind to others, to love and be loved in return, to help those who need it, and simply be there for others who need someone. When someone gets to the point in their life that they are even thinking about taking their own, they will not tell you and you will not know, which is why we have to be proactive in making sure it never gets to that point.

If someone you know and love is going through a tough time, take a moment out of your day and reach out. It could possibly mean life or death. If someone you know is going through a hard time and is suddenly happy and content, reach out. Even if someone is not going through a hard time, reach out. If you are that someone, reach out.

Be there for others.

Love and be loved.

Choose Jesus.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Put Together Like Perfect Puzzle Pieces.

Do you want to know what one of my most favorite things in the whole entire world is? It is watching God’s plans unfold right before my eyes, in the smallest of moments to the grandest. It is amazing to see His hand in our lives and watch Him work!

Getting to say; God did that. That was all Him. You can thank God for that. That was totally God. That had Jesus written all over it. That was an answered prayer right there! are truly some of my happiest moments and fill my heart with tremendous joy every single time that it happens. Which is often, and happens more and more every day, the closer I get to Him!

I’m not sure if I have shared this with you before, but one of my biggest struggles has been letting go and letting God. I have an overwhelming need to be in control, at all times, in every situation or I get intense anxiety or frankly just really upset that it’s not “going my way”. That is not an easy thing to admit, but it’s just a part of being human I think, and I have learned to accept it and grow from it and even slowly to relinquish that control, to Him. In doing so, I am seeing God’s hand more in more in my life, because I am stepping out of His way, finallythy-will-graphic

It is incredible what God can and will do for you if you just step out of His way and let Him be God. Being able to step aside and have something amazing happen in your life and know that it was God who did that, is the greatest feeling in the world, and it can only happen if you let Him.

There have been multiple occasions over the past couple of weeks that I have seen his perfect work come together in my life. Every time I experience something like this, I get an overwhelming sense of peace; because I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what God designed me to do, walking in perfect sync with His will just as He would have me do.

download (1)It’s like a puzzle, every time you find that piece that fits, which for me are those moments that I get to say “that was you God”, you are getting closer to finishing it and seeing the beautiful picture that has been created!

It is not always an easy thing to do and it is a choice I have to make daily, to surrender to His will and not my own. Being human, we have this need to know what is going to happen next and what the outcome is going to be before we put our foot in front of the other and take that first step. But with God, you do not know and you cannot see it, until it happens. You have to trust Him and fully rely on Him and His sovereignty, that everything He does in this world He puts together for your good. That even though you cannot see the first step you have to trust that rest of the stairs are there, through blind faith.

It sounds incredibly scary when you think about it and in your case when you read it in black and white, and it can be. But every time you do it, it gets a little bit easier and a little more exciting and a little more real until you aren’t even thinking about whether or not you trust God anymore, but instead are trying to remember to put the car on autopilot and let go of the wheel.good

I have an incredible example that I want to share with you all on this very thing. Yesterday I was the only one in our office holding down the fort because everyone else was out of town or out in the field. Normally this isn’t so bad, but we have a lot going on this week and there were many things that needed to be taken care of and made sure that ran smoothly. Needless to say, I became overwhelmed by mid-day, and by the time I was supposed to take lunch to my sister at her school, I was totally frazzled and unfortunately unable to enjoy my date with her because I was trying to calm my nerves (in a school full of teenage children, ha!).

Before I walked into her school I was sitting in my car and I took a deep breath and said “Jesus, please still my heart. Yes, steal it and still it and help me find peace in this moment”. By the time lunch was over I was much calmer, but still a little frazzled and on edge. When I got back to the office I checked the notifications on my phone to see a woman had commented on an article I wrote a couple of weeks back. She wrote and I quote, “As I was reading I felt God prompting me to tell you that as someone who has made it through your season of life, and has learned from many mistakes, we need to be intentional about making room for margin in our lives so we can have time to just be still, breathe and rest in His presence.” She wrote that at the exact moment that I prayed to God for that very thing! How cool is that?! He not only heard my prayers, but He chose to tell me through someone I do not even know, I hear you baby girl, you can find rest in my arms, just be still.

God is so good y’all. He truly finds you in the darkness and pulls you back together, if you let Him. He’s a loving God, who gave us free will, to choose Him. He is not going to force Himself upon you or force you to love Him because that’s just not nice and it’s not in his character and it’s not who He is. He is a good God, a good father and if you do not know Him, you are missing out.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

If you could see what I see, I know you would believe.

This week was rough on me.

Nothing really crazy happened to make it that way, yet I was dying every single day from not feeling completely like myself and from feeling like I had so much to do and not enough time to do it. It is crazy because I actually got to stay home three nights in a row without running around like a crazy woman going to practices and the grocery store and to bible study and trying to find the time to get my homework turned in somehow. Yet even with my surprise break that never happens, I was exhausted. Granted hormones played a part in it, but the timing had nothing to do with it.

Life was kicking my butt and all I could do was lie down and take it, which was not my finest moment.

Yesterday I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a fellow mom talking about how crazy her life was and how inadequate she felt with all the chaos going on around her. She has six kids who range in ages from three to eighteen and they all are involved in various activities as well as go to school and of course, just kind of exist and need to be taken care of because they are unable to take care of themselves on their own. In addition to motherhood, she runs her own business (two actually) and is the wife to a husband who owns his own as well. They have a beautiful home, their kids are smart and kind and well taken care of, and you can tell that through all the crazy they are pretty happy with their lives and she is doing a great job at simply being a mom and a loving wife.

There was another post that I saw later on from a different mother who was heartbroken over people giving her a hard time over her son’s behavior, who is three, and essentially behaving like any three-year-old boy. Their words were like knives and were ultimately making her feel like she was doing something wrong as a mother. Even though her son is gorgeous and well-mannered and loved so much by her and everyone who has ever met him and is happy and healthy and being raised to love the Lord, which if you asked me, is as good as it gets! She was still made to feel less than, and it hurt.

This morning I was updating my calendar because I signed up to take snacks for my son’s tee-ball team twice this season. I then took that time to add his Easter party at school and the trip I will soon be taking out of state to see my best friend to do a little wedding planning. As I was looking at my calendar I started to get a little bit of anxiety and wondering how in the world I was ever going to be able to do it all. In addition to the items that I added to my calendar, I already had many meetings for our mission trip team scheduled, conference calls at work, baseball games, Easter, birthday parties, assignments due and barely any white space for breathing room in-between.

Right as I was driving into work this morning the song priceless came on the radio. I hadn’t heard it in a while and the lyrics popped out at me. It was God. He was opening my ears to listen because I needed to hear it and because I needed to share it with others who needed to hear it too.

Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall. Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws, this isn’t who you are.

It might be hard to hear, but let me tell you, dear. If you could see what I see, I know you would believe this isn’t who you are, there’s more to who you are.

No matter what you have heard, this is what you are worth, you are more than all the money or diamonds and the pearls. Oh, this is who you are. There’s more to who you are.

I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom, at the sight of you. You are irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable, darling you are beautiful. I see it all in you, oh so priceless.

He’s talking to you moms. God loves you so much and thinks that you are superwoman, truly. He made you to take on the world and whatever life might throw your way. He made you strong and beautiful and brave and worthy. He made you to be gentle and kind. He made you to be the safe place for your children and their bravest fighter from all that is wrong in their world. He made you smart so you could juggle a million things at once without skipping a beat. He made you resilient so you could get back up when life knocks you down. He made you fearless in the face of danger or anything that could harm the ones you love. He made you perfect, in his image. He made you.

For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, in your book, was written every one of the days that were formed for me, before they ever happened. Psalm 139:13-16

You are perfect in every way. God doesn’t make mistakes, only masterpieces.

Just remember, when life gets rough and knocks you down by busy schedules, scary full calendars, or mean words from others. Dust yourself off, get back up again, and remember who you are. You are priceless.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart