10 Years Sober!! A decade of blessings and restoration!

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 freshman 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 ever 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 fallen 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. 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 (I’m sure there were bigger, but you get my drift). 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 had 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 was 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 eighteenth birthday, I was on meth (it was literally a birthday gift to me). This started the downhill spiral that led me to my bottom, which I would discover 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 hole 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 the point of 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. 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. I have later learned that it is just a twist on His truth, but it has definitely got me through some hard times over the years.

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 it didn’t hurt that 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 that. 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 badly 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 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.

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A year ago today I celebrated 9 years sober at a women’s retreat watching God perform miracles on other women while being blessed and in awe of who He is and all that He has done in my life.

In the last ten years, He hasn’t disappointed. Each day as I have continued to grow closer to Him and form a more intimate relationship with Him, He has revealed Himself to me in was that I would have never thought possible. He has set me up for blessings and opened up doors for me that I would have never even asked for, or thought to ask for, in my own understanding. He has truly taken a broken woman who less than a decade ago was one high away from leaving this earth, and instead molded me into this beautiful creation that is only able to have the life that I have now, because of Him.

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A life that includes waking up every day and living for Him, sharing my testimony with others’s and helping them find hope through the story of what Jesus did for me. A life that He set up for me which allows me to stay at home with my two children, and homeschool them, while my husband is able to provide for us more than what we could ever need and enough where we are able to do for others who are in need. A life where a little over a year and a half ago, He called me to be the Preschool Pastor in our church home, doing life with families from all over our community and walking alongside them as they go through all the ups and downs in their life.

 

In ten years, I’ve managed to receive three college degrees and believe it or not I am working on my fourth! My husband and I were able to buy our first home and God willing in the next 5 years will be able to build our forever home! We own two cars and a super amazing dog named Hannah, a very feisty cat named Lincoln, and He has blessed us with friendships abounding in love galore! I get to co-lead a women’s bible study group at church with my fellow children’s pastor and when time allows go on mission trips and women retreats where God just showers me with all the amazing parts of who He is and the plans He has for this world!

I really struggled this year with wanting to rewrite my testimony and really go deeper into my life and what God has done through me, but I am still on a journey of figuring that out for myself and sharing it with you the right way. I wouldn’t do it justice if I didn’t do it the right way and authentically express all that He has done for me. So for this year, I will add on to it with this;

In the last year of my life, I have done some amazing soul searching that I didn’t even realize I needed or that was possible. I’ve gone to some deep dark corners of myself and found healing in places I didn’t even realize needed healing. The truth is we go through our entire lives picking up baggage that we carry around and that weighs on us in ways we sometimes never even realize or uncover as truth for ourselves. For me, I’ve tried really hard to run from a lot of that baggage and especially the years during my addiction where I am fully aware of the things that happened to me and the things that I went through and the things that I put myself through. It is hard to come face to face with at times, but it’s a beautiful thing when you do and you give it to God and He frees you from it. I have a lot of work to do and I am not running anymore. I am a definite work in progress and I have so much more ahead of me. Today I celebrate 10 years from a life that tried to kill me but only actually made me stronger and the beast of a woman I am today! I am looking forward to the day that I get to lay my whole story down and I don’t struggle to find words through the pain. Today I am sober, today I am the healthiest I have ever been in my whole life, today, even in quarantine which is a rough place for an addict to be in, I find joy in all that God has done for me and is doing through me.

I seriously could go on and on and on with what God has done to an ADDICT and how I have been redeemed!

But for now, I will leave you with this:

God is so good, and He loves YOU so. There is truly nothing in this world or in your life that you will ever be able to do or have done to you, to take that truth away. Romans 8:31-39

From the darkest deepest corners and depths of the earth, He is there. In the most dangerous and crazy and just wordless moments of your life that you think you could never possibly come back from or be forgiven for, you can.

God can take all your ugly, all your hurt, all your broken and make a beautiful masterpiece, that is priceless to this earth and most precious in His eyes. Ephesians 2:10

You are valuable, you are worthy, you are loved, you are chosen, you are wanted, you are everything and more. God loves you, I love you, and my greatest prayer for you is that you will one day know that as truth and accept it. Ephesians 1:4-6

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

When God says be still, you listen…

It’s been three months since I sat down to write. After coming back from Jamaica my head has been in a whirl spin and I’d like to say that it’s stopped, but I can say that it’s getting better. Let me bring you up to speed and share with you my amazing God story of my time while I was gone.

Let’s back it all the way up to the end of July when I left for Jamaica, my second home!

If you have followed my blog or know me at all you know that I went to Jamaica a year before on my first mission trip and truly had the best time of my life. I got to spend a week with Jesus like I had never experienced before and it truly changed me. When the opportunity to go back this past summer came up, I didn’t even hesitate and began the journey of preparing myself to go back to the place that holds a special piece of my heart.

The months leading up to this trip were different. My expectations were different. The team that I would be going with was different. I was different, and I had no idea what God had in store for me.

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Me, John and Kimberly

I remember clearly sitting on the plane next to my friend John (our team leader) and his wife Kimberly talking about my feelings surrounding the week ahead of us. I told them that the year before when we had all gone, it was an adventure of firsts for me. The first time I was going on a mission trip, the first time I was flying on a plane, the first time I was leaving the country, the first time I was going to get to see the ocean and so much more. It was exciting in ways that I will never truly be able to explain and I knew that I had already experienced all of that, so what was going to happen this time?

I am a very observant person and like to tap into everything going on around me, especially the hearts and minds of those on the team that was going with us this year. I spent months watching them all prepare for this trip and got to see the many different areas that God was already stretching them and growing them, I could see the areas that they were struggling with and what God was probably going to teach to them while they were there. My excitement for them was over the moon and I could not wait to experience it all alongside them, the only problem was that I could not see what God had in store for me too. I told John that I was going into it with completely different expectations than the year before because I already “knew” what to expect. Of course, I knew it would be different and I knew it would be amazing, but I still just could not wrap my head around my purpose this time and I was eager to find out what it was, and God did not disappoint but instead, had a hilarious way of showing me.

As we started the trip I was pretty much just going through the motions and thriving off the excitement of all the first-timers that were with us. When we got into Harmons, I was so happy to be back home and crazy excited to see all my friends that I had missed terribly over the last year. In my journal after the first night I wrote:

Jesus, I am back in Harmons! I feel like I am home in a lot of ways, but I am so physically uncomfortable that I cannot seem to let go and just be here…I am having a hard time clearing my head, but I am looking forward to tomorrow.

I won’t go into details, but from the moment I got off the bus and stepped back into the Harmons house after a day of traveling, I just did not feel good and it was wearing me down, so I was ready to go to sleep and wake up with a fresh attitude and be ready to take on the world. But little did I know…

While in Harmons you get to immerse yourself in the community and create a community in the house for the week that you are there with the other missionaries that are there too. During the week, we spend different moments of the day in devotional and there is usually a “theme” for the week if you will and for this week the theme was; being still. Ironically enough, if you know me even just a little bit, you know this is something I struggle with on many different levels, so I just knew this week was going to be challenging for me and I was a mix between excited and not so excited to find out how.

Monday morning, I wake up and I roll over to get out of bed and as I go to stand up, I can barely move. My back decided that it did not want to let me bend and if I forced it to, then I was going to be in a world of pain. If you have gone through any kind of back pain at all, I know you are feeling sorry for me right now. But if you have not, at the very least you can imagine how upset I was, not just because I was in pain but also, because we were about to start our first day of hard labor and I could barely walk. We were literally about to go on a two-mile hike up and down steep hills to see the community and putting one foot in front of the other was miserable for me, sending a sharp pain through my spine with each step that I took.

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At the end of our walk ’bout the community – The Harmons sign

I was furious, to say the least, but, I could not let this consume me and I knew I had to keep pushing forward and set the pain aside so I could see what God had in store for me. I just had to.

On day two we had our first large group devotional and the word of the day was; still. At this point, nearly twenty four hours in to being in Harmons, between my back and the theme of the week, hearing the words be still just sort of made me a little angrier than I already was, however, I knew there was a reason for it and I knew God was up to something big and I was honestly trying to just be still and listen. That morning we learned;

We were made to be human-beings not human – doings. We learned this through the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42

Psalms 46:10 teaches us to “Be still and know that I am God”.

In my journal later that day I wrote:

So, I’ve been still today God! But I have tried with everything I have, to push it out of my mind, and focus on you and all the wonderful people around me. I’m still trying to figure out what is going on here. Maybe I’m not supposed to know, but for now, I am going to continue focusing on being still and see what it is that you have in store for me.

In this humorous event, I was finding myself in, God and the forces of the universe thought it would be just a little bit funnier if they put me on maul haul for two days in a row, with a back that was out of commission. You probably guessed that this just fueled my anger, and you are right it so did, but the beauty in these two days was getting to meet my very special friend Dean and how God used him to change my heart.

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Dean and I

I’ll have to tell you about Dean another time when I have his permission to do so, but for now, just know that I am so very thankful for his friendship and that God chose to use him to get through to me. What is hilarious about this choice is that Dean and I did very little talking over those two days, I ended up giving him the nickname “Mean Dean” because of how little he liked to talk to me, yet he was anything but mean, and instead of talking I fell in love with his heart and his love for God through his writing. He taught me so much about simplicity and just having a relationship with God and the wonders of His love and it is something I will always look back on and cherish.

Later that evening when we got back from working and going to the infirmary I wrote this in my journal:

Today was a much better day Jesus. Today was also a much harder day, emotionally. I’ve been trying really hard to be still and see what it is that you have for me. I feel so out of place being still, it is definitely not something that comes naturally to me. But in the midst of it all, you have shown me so many beautiful things…I feel like there is a big shift going on inside of me and I am really nervous to find out what it is…

Oh yeah, on day three of our large group devotional our word of the day was; simplicity. We were asked, “what types of things do you do to busy yourself”?

God really has a way of showing up and showing out when He wants to.

Day four was when things got serious. Our word of the day was; contentment. We studied these verses very closely: Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last, you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Then we were asked: How can we become content?

It was in that moment that God told me, that I can have all of the desires of my heart and He knows exactly what they are and when I am still and listen to Him, that is when He can reveal them to me. My contentment comes from Jesus, being at home with my boys, being a good wife to my husband and just living my life abundantly for the Lord. But there I sat confused. I asked Him how? I have an amazing job that I cannot leave, working for people that I love and that have been so good to me. I have bills that have to be paid and unless we got rid of a lot of things in our lives, we would not be able to meet those needs if I left my job. I do not understand. But then he said, yes you can because you can do all things through me.

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What it looks like to just be still, you miss the small stuff when you are moving too fast.

Later that day we went to work and I honestly don’t remember everything that happened that day now, because my head was spinning from this revelation that God had given me. When we got in from our worksites and went to clean up I bent down to pick something up and stood back up in astonishment. I ran out into the room with the other girls in our dorm and started bending down to touch my toes and popping back up. Just like that, my back was healed. All of the pain was gone and I could bend and jump and twist and do anything I wanted to like nothing had ever happened.

Message received.

Later that evening in my journal I wrote:

It hit me like a ton of bricks today! I almost don’t want to write it down for fear of all that it entails, but I am so excited! I am most looking forward to being with my children again, changing our household in ways that I have only dreamed of before. I’m truly at a loss for words, so for now, I am going to continue to be still and listen, because a lot is going to go into me quitting my job and going back to being a stay at home mom!

Did you just read the same thing I did?

Psalms 37:4 tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The best has yet to come.

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The face of a happy girl, a content girl.

Now that I am on this insane high from this crazy week of God physically sitting me down and forcing me to be still and then telling me that I could have the desires of my heart if I would just trust Him, I am kind of freaking out. I have to go home and tell my husband that while I was gone for a week, God told me to come home and quit my job, although I do not have a clue how that is supposed to work out for us or what that will look like, I have to listen to Him because He’s my daddy and He said to do so.

I decided that I was going to wait until I was in person to tell him because it was only right to lay something that big on him face to face. But God had other plans…

Saturday evening when we got to Mobay, I called my husband and spoke to him for the first time in a week, so I’ll save you the sappy I love you and I miss you and get to the good part.

He says: So, guess what happened this week while you were gone?
I say: I have no idea, what is it?
He says: Oh, nothing. My boss got offered a new job and will be leaving in a few weeks.
I say: Oh yeah, that’s nice. Is this a good thing?
He says: Yeah, and you know what that means right?
I say: No, what?
He says: That I am getting a promotion.
Wait, what?
Hold the phone.
Did he just say what I think he said?
I say: Well, in that case, I have some news for you too.
He says: Oh yeah, what’s that.
I say: God told me to quit my job this week. It’s a long story, but I am supposed to go back to being a stay at home mom and it looks like you are getting a promotion so it’s all good baby. Ha!
He says: Haha alright, we will have to talk about this a little bit more but I’m okay with that, I trust you…

You guys! If this week wasn’t already enough of God doing big God things and I had not already seen and experienced all that I can handle, He goes and does this.

The entire week that I was away, He was working everything out for my good.

Speechless.

Hillary Scott said it best in her song, still.

I believe that you are God alone, but sometimes I still try to take control. Cause I get scared when I can’t see the end and all you want for me is to let go. You’re parting waters, making a way for me. You’re moving mountains that I can’t even see. You’ve answered my prayers before I even speak. All you need for me to be is, still.

Going back to work the following Tuesday was hard for me. I had to sit my boss down, this woman that I love and care for deeply and that has been such a huge part of my life for the last three years and that has stood by my side through some really hard times and some really great times, and tell her this crazy amazing, but so difficult thing. That God had asked me to go be home with my babies and that in the months to come I was going to transition out of the workplace and back into my home and I had no idea what to expect or what He has in store for me, but that I know in my heart that it is what I am supposed to do and that if I obey Him, crazy beautiful things are going to happen to me and for me. I also knew that in the same way, He has prepared this for me, that He wouldn’t leave her without something else beautiful to replace me and I fully believed that He did. Which is another story for a different day…

Today, I have been back home for nearly a month.

The past couple of months, transitioning out of my job and back home have not been the easiest and quite honestly have not been full of sunshine and rainbows. However, I know that I am in the center of God’s will for me and that as long as I continue to trust Him and listen to the plans that He has for me that He will continue to work everything out for my good.

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them – Romans 8:28 NLT

I still feel crazy, not knowing what the future holds. But I know that I am exactly where I need to be and that God has something huge in store for my family. All it is going to take is for me to be still.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Speaking From His Heart

Last night at church I was sitting in the large group listening to our preacher teach his sermon. All of the sudden he asks, “Who here wants to see God face to face”, of course, everyone in the room raised their hand. He then said, “Now to turn to the person next to you and take a look at them”. As we all turned to look at our neighbors he then said, “There He is”. My sister bent over next to me and whispered, I told you to look at my toes wiggling them joyfully (to remind me when I saw Jesus in a stranger recently when I had my toes done).

On the way home after church later that evening, it was just me and my oldest son in the car listening to the radio and then I hear;

Michael: Momma?
Me: Yes, baby?
Michael: If I ever wondered off away from home and got separated from you and daddy, I wouldn’t be lost and I would know how to find my way back home.
Me: Oh really? What makes you say that?
Michael: Well, I would never be lost because Jesus is with me. He is always with me momma.
Me: Yes baby, he sure is.
Michael: He is with me right now, sitting right beside me.
Me: Yes He is, He is with you wherever you go, He will never leave you.
Michael: I know that momma. I just wish I could see God and hear Him. I know He is sitting right beside me and with me always, but I want to see Him like really see Him and talk to Him.
Me: Well babe, you can see Him and hear Him, it’ll just take time to before you are able to recognize it as such. The more time you spend with Him and the closer you get to Him…
Michael: …Oh, I already know mom. The closer I get to God the brighter it will be!
Me: It will? That’s an interesting theory…what makes you say that?
Michael: Because! The closer I get to God, the closer I get to Jesus, and Jesus is His right-hand man, the sun. The sun is the brightest star there is, you know that!
Me: Chuckling, you are so right hun, but I think you are a little confused on the meaning of “son” in reference to Jesus.
Michael: What is confusing about the sun, I get it?!
Me: He’s not the sun, he’s the son. Like you are your father’s son. Jesus is the son of God and God is his father.
Michael: Oooooh. That makes much more sense now.
Me: But don’t forget, that He is the son of God, but also one with God and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, before He went back to Heaven, He left the Holy Spirit here with us to guide us…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I know that mom. Jesus is living inside of my heart! When He died and went to Heaven he built a home in my heart and that is where He is now.
Me: Yes, baby, I suppose that is true. I have never thought about Heaven being in my heart, only that God is with me and in me.
Michael: Yeah mom, He lives inside your heart! That’s why we celebrate His birthday on Easter!
Me: No, Easter is about His death…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I got that wrong. Easter is about Jesus dying for us on the cross and Christmas is His birthday! Yeah, mom, Easter ain’t about no bunny and no candy. Neither is Christmas, that’s not what you are supposed to think about. We aren’t supposed to be worried about presents or Santa or food or trees! It’s about Jesus!!
Me: Beaming on the inside. You are so right, baby! Did you learn about this stuff at church tonight? (wondering where all of this information is suddenly coming from)
Michael: No mom, I am just telling you what’s in my heart.
Me: Oh, well! That’s so amazing baby. Do you want to be a preacher when you grow up like Edward?
Michael: Hahaha Nooooo mom. I could never do that.
Me: Why not? That’s what you are doing right now. You are sharing the gospel and not even skipping a beat!
Michael: What’s the gospel, mom?
Me: Everything you just told me, son. The gospel is the story of Jesus and how He came to save us from our sins and how much He loves us and everything in between!
Michael: Oh yeah, I can do that!
Me: I am honestly so surprised to hear such wisdom coming from a five-year-old. But you could share this with anyone, anywhere and that would be preaching!
Michael: Oh yeah mom, I don’t think I know any other kindergarteners who do that.
Me: Me either, but there could be more! That’s why it’s important to share Jesus with others.

MOMMASMichael then fell silent and I turned the radio back up, I am sure he was thinking about everything we just discussed, that was a pretty amazing conversation in such a short amount of time if you ask me. Then, over the sound of the music I hear him say, “hey stars, talk to me, I want to hear you sing!”.

I’ve always said that my most favorite learning moments about Jesus come from my children, this night was no different. Jesus is truly with us wherever we go. Whether we can see Him or hear Him, He is there. Like my pastor pointed out tonight if you are looking for God just take a look around you. There is evidence of Him everywhere. Through all of His creations of the earth and in His children that you speak to every day, God is with us. You just need to pay attention.

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

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

Baseball Season, the most wonderful time of the year

It’s spring time! You know what that means?! Baseball Season!! The most wonderful time of the year; when you are a baseball mom of course! For all you moms out there that are starting your first week of practices or already got a game or two under your belt, this is for you.

I am a second-year veteran tee-ball mom. I know you 10 – 12 moms are rolling your eyes right now because two years is nothing compared to the 5+ that you have under your belt. But before I was a tee-ball mom, I was a baseball and softball aunt. I did my fair share of running kids to practices multiple days a week and running between two games that are at the same time (sometimes in completely different locations) trying to cheer for both kids, staying as long as you can until one bats and then run back as fast as you can to the other game before the other one is on deck.

Baseball season can be grueling y’all.

Game on Monday, practice on Tuesday, church on Wednesday, game on Thursday, practice on Friday, Tournament on the weekend, all weekend.

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You can forget about eating decent meals for the next three months (six if you make it to all-stars). Concession stand foods, take-out, sandwiches in the car or frozen meals in the microwave/oven minutes before it is time to hit the hay and do it all over again.

Let us not forget about uniforms. What are your team colors this year? Black and some other dark color, like royal blue or forest green? We got gray this year which is the ugly first cousin to white, which means that we will be washing those bad boys every day. Do not even get me started on white and the stains…oh, the stains…you might as well get you two or three pairs if you want to make it through the season.

Oh yeah word to the wise, all the other moms out there hate you this year. Keep that in mind when you get a crazy look from another mom right after a game that both of your kids just played in. You didn’t do anything wrong, she’s just thinking about how she is going to stay up all night making sure she gets the fresh grass stains our of what started out as pearly white pants (for the umpteenth time) while you get to go home and pop yours in the washer without a second thought and then go straight to bed, it’s not personal, but you suck.

It is super fun if you have children who are not even playing that year. Oh, you forgot you had other children? Yeah, the ones that you have to try to entertain and keep an eye on while simultaneously cheering on the one in the game. The one who is constantly asking you for one more dollar because the snow cone man is there. Sure, you feel lucky when they have other friends at the game that they can play with and thus be entertained without your help. Except, when you look up and notice how filthy they are because they just spent the last thirty minutes rolling down a dirt hill (that last inning was too intense to look away from, I know). Doesn’t make it suck any less when you are forced to give them a bath before they go to bed.

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You have to give it to them, though. They are either not old enough to play yet or completely uninterested in doing so, but still tag along to every game excited as can be and usually without much trouble, eat crap for dinner for three months, getting less sleep at night, doing homework in a camping chair, lugging around chairs and bags and snacks for the team or simply sitting outside for hours on end in the blistering heat without any other choice and deciding to make the most of it. Well-deserved recognition for their efforts I’d say, be sure to thank them for it the next time you see them.

But somehow, through all the insanity, it truly is a wonderful time of the year.

There is nothing in the world like it. I know, it is little league baseball. But it is so dang exciting and so much fun to watch. The tee-ball years are the best and comical, to say the least. Digging holes in the outfield, chasing each other around to get the ball, dancing to the music in their head, trying to catch the pretty butterfly, hey look, mom, a plane! Then they move up to coach pitch and you really get to see their talents unfold, they are starting to get the hang of just how the game works, and by this time you are pretty clear on the type of player they will be in years to come and exactly what they need to work on in the off season to impress their coaches next year.

Once they move into kid pitch they have become “pros”, truly, experts on the way a season goes. Ready for their practices, the many different coaching styles, which players to look out for on other teams, what to expect day to day in the months to come, and when they play they come ready for whatever position they excel in most ready to hit the ball out of the park (because it’s going to happen this year).

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Each year really does get a little bit sweeter and a little more exciting and a little closer to them growing up and playing in the “big leagues”.

There is nothing quite like being a baseball mom. It takes a lot of talent, yes talent, to get through the season with your sanity still intact. You are the chauffeur. The dry cleaner. The fast food girl. The teacher. The scorekeeper. The team mom. The friend. Heck, sometimes even the doctor. But most important you are their biggest fan, they know it, and they love you for it. When the season is over, a party is definitely needed to celebrate being alive and getting your life back. But you are also sad because you know there will be seven months separating you from the next game, the next practice, the next all weekend baseball tourney and all the crazy in between…and you will miss it.

Baseball really is the best time of the year, if you are a fellow baseball mom you know what I am talking about. Good luck, I’ll see you out there. Let’s play ball!

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Dear Women, this is for you

Today is International Women’s Day 2017. I am going to be honest with you I did not even know this day was a day, until today. But because it is and women everywhere are longing to feel appreciated, I just wanted to share some gems with you, to show you that you are and it should not take a day in March to show you that.

Every day that I am alive I feel special, I feel wanted, and I feel loved. Simply because I am a daughter of the One True King and He has chosen me to be His, for all eternity, and He has chosen you too.  I know this because;

I am a child of God.

As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.

I have been accepted by Christ.

I have been called to be a Saint.

I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

I am no long a slave, but a child and heir.

I have been predestined by God to obtain an inheritance.

God loves me and has chosen me.

It is because of those things that I rejoice, daily. No matter what is going on in my life, where I am, what someone said to me, what someone has done to me, what I have done, or what I am going to do, Jesus loves me. Today, yesterday and forever! I am His daughter, His beloved, and am more precious to Him than a pearl. Nothing can beat that, ever.

Because God loves me so much and because I am His, I want to live my life in a way that honors Him and brings glory to His name! Which is why I strive daily to be a woman of virtue.

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies and pearls? The heart of her husband safely trusts in her and will have no lack of gain. She comforts him and encourages him and will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands in delight. She is like a merchants ship, abounding with treasures, where she brings food from far away.

She comforts him and encourages him and will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She rises while it is night and gives meat to her house and portions to her maids. She considers a field before she buys it, then with the fruit of the profits she plants a vineyard with her hands. She equips herself with strength and she makes her arms strong. She sees that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out but burns continuously through the night (prepared for whatever lies ahead). She lays her hands to the spindle and her hands to hold the distaff. A woman's hand is touching the crop in  a field

 

She opens and extends her hands to the poor, and she reaches out to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow, for her household is clothed in warm wool. She makes herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is linen, pure and fine, and purple. Her husband is known in the city gates and sits with the elders of the land. She makes fine linens to sell and delivers it to merchants.

shelaughsStrength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure, she smiles at the future knowing that she and her family are prepared. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to how things go in her household and does not stay idle. Her children rise up and call her blessed, and her husband praises her saying, “Many daughters have done nobly, and well, but you exceed them all!” Charm and grace are deceptive and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Give her the products of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates of the city!

 

A virtuous woman encompasses;

  • Faith
  • Marriage
  • Mothering
  • Health
  • Service
  • Finances
  • Industry
  • Homemaking
  • Time
  • Beauty

The Bible is full of many great women that can teach you so much about God, who He is, and what He can and will do for YOU if you let him! Check them out;

Mary of Nazareth: Mother of Jesus – (Luke, John  & Acts)

Ruth – The book of Ruth

Esther – The book of Esther

Eve – Genesis

Elizabeth: Mother of John the Baptist – (John & Matthew)

Rachel – Genesis

Hagar: An Abused Woman – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Mary Magdalene – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Martha: Mary’s Sister – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Rebekah: Isaac’s Wife – Genesis

I do not know where you are today or what your life is like or how you feel about yourself or how you think others feel about you. But I do know this; there is a man that wants so badly to love you and you love Him back and give you the world if you would just accept Him and allow Him to; His name is Jesus. He can take away all of your pain, all of your tears, and give you healing, hope, joy, and a love like you have never known before! My hope is found in Him. My worth is found in Him. All that I am and ever want to be comes from Him. I love Him so!

Today is International Women’s Day for the world, but every day is women’s day when you belong to Jesus!

You are beautiful.

You are worthy.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Through Their Eyes

When is the last time you looked at your kids like really looked at them? If you are like me you are probably thinking, I look at my kids every day! But if you are also like me you know what I am saying when I ask you the question, when is the last time you looked at your kids, really looked at them?

I have had the opportunity to really look at my kids quite a few times in the last week or so, the first being when my oldest and I went out to eat after his baseball practice last Thursday, just him and me. He sat across the table from me, so little yet so much older than I remember him being, beautiful in every way, talking to me like a normal adult sitting across from me on a dinner date, except instead of an adult it was my five-year-old son.  I honestly do not remember anything that he said to me during that dinner as horrible as that may sound, except for random chatter about how much he was starving as he shoved another chip into his mouth and how cold he was (because he left his jacket in the car even though I told him to bring it inside), all I could do was stare at him and admire him and think about how much I love him, so much.

He sat across the table from me, so little yet so much older than I remember him being, beautiful in every way, talking to me like a normal adult sitting across from me on a dinner date, except instead of an adult it was my five-year-old son.

The second opportunity was yesterday, I had to take my car to the shop to get new tires put on it because we were lucky enough to get a flat after driving through construction work on the railroad near our house. As sucky as that may have been, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some more one on one time with my oldest in the waiting room as we waited for the car to be fixed. There was a pile of toys and books in the corner, and he chose to play with the toys first of course, so incredibly happy that he found the coolest toys ever (which I am sure were from McDonald’s) that were so entertaining to him because it was something he had never played with before and he was not having to share it with anyone else, especially his little brother.

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I love watching his imagination, the silly things he comes up with as he plays, but mostly how his eyes sparkle while he does it and then how he looks at me to find enjoyment on my face from all the fun that he is having. After a couple of minutes, he picked up a book and decided he wanted to read to me. Side note; he just learned how to read this year and somewhere in the last month he went from struggling with sight words to reading 60 page Dr. Seuss books without a skip in his step. I enjoy listening to him read. But again, more than the words that he was reading to me, I noticed how magnificently beautiful he is, how long his eyelashes are, how he has little freckles all over his cheeks, his big beautiful blue eyes and how he has the cutest little smile that he will flash at me when I least expect it. This time I decided I had to take a picture and savor him, in that moment, forever.

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The most recent opportunity that I was so incredibly blessed to have although I fought not to, was with my youngest son, last night as he lay in bed next to me as I was struggling to get him to go to bed. He was not supposed to be in bed with me, I originally put him to bed in his own room but fifteen minutes later it was extremely quiet in the house and I knew that he had not fallen asleep that fast so, I sent my husband to check on him and low and behold he had my brand new stick of deodorant in his bed and had smeared it all over himself, thus destroying the entire stick and making a terrible mess in his bed that he now could not sleep in. Perfect.

He smelt lovely, but I was less than thrilled. However, he won the battle and was now lying next to me smelling fresher than ever and so incredibly happy to be next to his momma in her bed where he wanted to be in the first place. I turned to look at him as I told him what a huge turd he was for doing that, and he proceeded to stroke my face and tell me how much he loved me. My heart melted right there. He pulls that card often, doing something that will get him in trouble, usually when he knows better not to and then pouring his love on me just when I am most upset with him. I would like to say that I am strong enough to resist him and continue to be mad at him in those moments. But I am not, and I do not stay that way. Instead, I just lay there while he strokes my face and gazes at me with so much love and admiration, just loving on me his favorite person in the world.

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As I drove to work this morning, I was ruminating on these moments. Thanking God for blessing me and choosing me to be these two amazing little boys mama.  Wondering how I got so lucky and then realizing God feels the same way about me, the exact same way, if not so much more than that. He is constantly in admiration for me and just looking down on me smiling no matter what it is I am doing, and in those moments where I mess up, which is often, he allows me to come to Him and say I am sorry and love on Him and He just soaks it up and loves me back with a love greater than anything I will ever know. He uses my boys more than anything to show me that, He is my daddy and I am His daughter and there is nothing I can ever do to change that.

 

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

This song says it all.

via Daily Prompt: Ruminate