Empowering Questions – Journey to Greater Intimacy – Week 2

What larger entity am I a part of?

I thought long and hard on this one and was a little stumped, to say the least. I immediately thought, well I am a part of God, but that thought seemed too simple. These are empowering questions that need strong answers and I had a lot more thinking to do before I just settled on the obvious. But I was having a hard time in general with defining entity for myself, past God, so I decided to look it up.

If you google the definition of entity you are going to get a ton of business jargon on what type of entity to put down for your business and what all that means. I tried to reword it a million different ways and still, all of the results were business-related, so I just settled with the Webster dictionary definition of entity and synonyms associated. This is what I got;

Definition of entity – a thing with distinct and independent existence: organization, institution, establishment, body, operation, structure, system, unit, whole, setup or outfit. As well as being, commodity, existent, individual, individuality, integer, object, reality, substance, or thing.

Okay, well, that changes things then.

My mind started going in a lot of different directions and so I decided to make a list. I listed out all of the entities that I belonged to according to the definition of what an entity is and I came up with fifty different answers.

Fifty.

I was overwhelmed by that list and started to wonder if these answers fit into the overall question, what larger entity am I a part of?

Then I started to wonder, what defines a larger entity? Like does it have to have two or more people in it? Or fifty or one hundred? Does it have to be well known or cover a large area? Does it have to have great importance or be of great importance to people who think about it? Who decides that it is large and how do I measure it?

I automatically knew that google was going to be of no help. The last time I typed in the word entity I got a whole bunch of results for business-related information, so I was pretty sure if I asked google what a large entity was then I would just get a whole bunch of new results about major corporations or something along those lines, so I decided that the judge would have to be me. I would have to decide how to measure what I believed to be a larger entity or how I was going to measure this list in front of me.

Maybe I don’t measure it at all, maybe I just condense it. Maybe I don’t condense it and I leave it as it is, but I instead put it into categories or in order of importance to me. Maybe I don’t do any of those things and I just stick with my first answer and call it a day because this is all starting to overwhelm me a little bit and I feel like I am losing the picture of what the question is that I am trying to answer. So, I decide to walk away. I decide to walk away and leave the list alone and let it steep for a while and see what God says.

Maybe I don’t do any of those things and I just stick with my first answer and call it a day because this is all starting to overwhelm me a little bit and I feel like I am losing the picture of what the questions is that I am trying to answer.

This morning when I was reading my bible, I came across a verse in Romans 1:13 that said, I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.* I saw that the verse had an intext citation and looked to see what it was about. The reference read: The Greek word for brothers or sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men, and women, as part of God’s family. I read that and thought, wow, I am a part of God’s family, so I feel like Paul is talking to me right now. Then I thought, God’s family is large, like really really large and that is definitely something I am a part of, so I am going to write that down.

Later on, I came back to my list and read over it again. Everything on it was true, everything on it is something that I am a part of an entity that I belong to and I do not want to take any of it off. But this list, with fifty items, is still really long and I need to make sense of it so I am going to put it into categories and go from there. This is what I came up with;

Out of the fifty different items on my list, I could easily break these up into major and minor. Right off the bat, I see ten that would fit into the major list and forty that I could easily put into the minor list, so I separated them. Then I looked again and thought, all of these items more or less fall into the categories of organizations, people, places or things. So, I divided them up and was able to really start to see this list in a whole new way. The major entities are like an umbrella, or even a succession of umbrellas, that hold the minor entities, but when it is all said and done, they are all larger entities that I am a part of and that I belong to. When you look at it from a bird’s eye view you can see that all of this is what makes me, me.

Broken down for you it looks like this:

Major Entities

  1. The Kingdom of God
  2. My relationship with God – The Lord of my life, His child, brothers and sisters in Christ (adelphoi)
  3. My marriage – people who are married
  4. My children – being a parent
  5. My family – mom, dad, brother, and sister, nieces and nephews, grandparents, cousins
  6. My friends – collectively, separately, in the past, today
  7. My church – Summit Heights as a member, of staff. Bible study group, CR, women’s
  8. The Church – an individual body that is in the body
  9. Soul work – Women Revealed and The Crucible
  10. The human race

Minor Entities

Organizations

  1. Grand Canyon University – College of Theology
  2. The Gladewater Class of 2008
  3. The National Honor Society of Collegiate Scholars
  4. 4-H Family
  5. Homeschooling Family
  6. Gym 101
  7. Gilmer Public Library
  8. East Texas Professional Credit Union
  9. Aflac and Cigna
  10. Customer of AT&T

People

  1. Women
  2. Caucasian
  3. Millennial 25-30
  4. Economy – Middle Class
  5. English
  6. Missionary
  7. Pastors
  8. Addicts – Recovered
  9. Sexually Abused
  10. Mental Health Issues
  11. Glasses
  12. Non-Political
  13. Southerner
  14. Tattoos and Piercings
  15. Animal Owner
  16. Home Owner
  17. Car Owner
  18. Licensed Driver

Places

  1. The Universe
  2. The World
  3. America
  4. Texas
  5. Upshur County
  6. Pritchett

Things

  1. GED holder
  2. Degrees
  3. Notary
  4. Social Media
  5. Internet (email, blogs, etc.)
  6. Entertainment (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)

I kind of feel like someone could steal my identity or something, now that I have put it all out there. But honestly, that information is already out there and exists and really just answers the question for me; What larger entity am I a part of?

It is very interesting when you take a step back and look at it all. When I think about if other people were to answer this question and write their own list, I wonder what it would look like for them and I wonder how surprised I would be to see all that they belong to or maybe even the opposite. I look at this list for myself and think, wow. I could have just stopped with number one and that been enough, like seriously, more than enough. But to sit back and look at all of the organizations, people, places and things that I belong to I can’t help but feel, special. Almost as like, if I ever thought at any moment in this life like I were alone or didn’t fit in or somehow there wasn’t a place for me here or that there were people who cared about me. I could look at this list and find fifty different reasons why all of that is not true. I could find fifty different reasons to feel loved, to feel important, to feel valued, to feel needed, to feel wanted, to feel enough to feel not alone.

I look at this list for myself and think, wow. I could have just stopped with number one and that been enough, like seriously, more than enough.

But more than anything, I could look at the top of this list and know that if every other thing were gone and passed away or no longer existed, the first thing would be enough. The first thing is enough. My first answer trumps all other answers and is the largest entity I will ever be a part of and is what matters most. I am a part of the Kingdom of God.

Wow.


Week 3’s Questions: 83401996_598110010746122_369147087561949184_n

What is my life like when it is in balance?

Woah, this one is going to be a doozy. I’d like to say that I look forward to journaling and praying about it, but I am a little worried to see what this answer will be. I think it will be a tough one.

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Keep up with these questions and my journey on Facebook and join in on the conversation, as well as checking back each week to see what I post here.

Empowering Questions- Journey to Greater Intimacy: Week 1

What kind of feelings am I feeling right now?

What kinds of metaphors can I find to describe my feelings?

I’ve been thinking about these questions on and off all week long and what my answers to them should be. Wondering if I should just answer it simply or the only way I know how, with length and details. I am just not one for short and sweet and I feel like I am doing myself a disservice to my truths whenever I try to be. When I think about these questions a lot of different answers come to my mind, like what I am feeling right this very second, what I have been feeling over the last couple of weeks, and then the lingering thoughts of do I even really know what it is that I am feeling at all?

Over the last year I started on a journey of self-awareness, self-healing, self-discovery, and just a general desire to have answers to a lot of questions that honestly, I haven’t even asked yet, but others that have been popping up over the last few years and some over the course of my life. A big journey that I have come to the realization will be a life-long one that will change and evolve over time. On this journey so far, I have learned quite a bit about myself, something of great significance to me is having a better insight into my personality type and how it plays a huge role in all areas of my life, including my feelings (that is a loaded statement).

A big journey that I have come to the realization will be a life-long one that will change and evolve over time.

I learned that I am a type two on the enneagram system and we twos are jam-packed with all sorts of feelings, so much so that we closely resemble the likeness of an empath. An empath being someone who is highly aware of the emotions of those around them, to the point of feeling those emotions themselves. For a two, that looks like being keenly aware of the emotions of everyone else around you and so in tune with others emotions that we ultimately fall out of practice with being able to recognize our own or run from the reality of our own emotions by focusing on everyone else’s around us and busying ourselves with their needs and neglecting to take care of our own. Tomato tomato, I digress.

Simply put (ha), I have become, over the course of a year, aware of the fact that I really do not know what it is that I am feeling. Like really really feeling. Sure, in the flight of a moment I can tell you I am happy or sad or mad, like in that exact moment. But the reality of it is, if I am anything less than happy, you probably are not going to know about it and I am going to keep it to myself until I can get to the point where I can look you in the eye and say, I am happy. That’s another interesting thing about twos, we just don’t like to do icky feelings. We can do them with other people all day long and even sympathize or empathize alongside them with genuine affections. But when it comes to our own feelings of really, anything less than positive, we ignore them. We hide them, we sweep them under the rug, we put it in a box on a shelf and do well to never open it again, we put it on the back burner with intentions of coming back to it and dealing with it, but then we find ourselves distracted and we do not.

That I something that I have become good at, distracting myself. Diverting feelings that really need to be dealt with, in an attempt to be happy as soon as possible. Deflecting. Oh, I am really good at deflecting. I am so good at it that I have gotten really bad at recognizing my own feelings. Or just straight-up ignoring them, like giving myself the silent treatment and knowing that if I wait long enough, I’ll eventually forget about it, for a while anyway.

Here’s the crazy thing. Until this year, seriously, like 12 short months ago. I didn’t even know I was doing this, I was completely unaware of it. I was so far rowing down denial, the river of fake happiness, that if it wasn’t for God using my own self against me, then I might still be there, rowing away. You are probably wondering what I mean by that. I just snickered. But, seriously, I signed up to attend a Women’s Retreat through an organization called Women Revealed (if the name doesn’t say enough about it I don’t know what will) to attend a weekend called Release Your Burdens. I signed up under the thought process that I wanted to go see what the hype was about, I wanted to go see what everyone else was going to go do (I had some real FOMO going on) and I didn’t even think I had any burdens that I needed to release. I honestly had no other intentions of going other than to see what it is that I didn’t know (another really funny “two” thing) and like I do with all things in life, see what God had for me. So, you can imagine my surprise whenever He slapped me upside the head with some truth and then led me down the road that brought me here. It was on that weekend that I discovered, I’ve been doing it wrong, I don’t have faint clue about what is going on inside me and now that I am aware of this sad truth, I have a long way to go to figure out what it is that I don’t know, about myself. If you are scratching your head right now with it cocked to the side and wondering what in the world is this girl talking about, that’s how I felt when I received this truth.

I was so far rowing down denial, the river of fake happiness, that if it wasn’t for God using my own self against me, then I might still be there, rowing away.

I have spent the last twelve months trying to unravel that truth and only be left with a slew of new questions that I didn’t even know I had before then. The biggest one that I have been working on, like diligently trying to uncover, is the golden question. What kind of feelings am I feeling right now? See the irony in that? During my search for that answer, I have found some other answers that are like tiny little clues leading up to the big reveal. One of which is my general apprehension towards intimacy and simple vulnerability. I touched on that in my post where I first posted this question and when God gave me this fun little assignment to work on throughout the year. I believe that through my journey of answering questions over the next 52 weeks I am going to uncover a whole lot more answers to the questions I have been asking over the last year and the new ones that I get as each day passes, as God helps me to be seen in my vulnerability.

I want so badly to have real intimacy in my relationships, to be authentic in all that I do, and to not be afraid of vulnerability but instead see it as a strength that can be used for my good and the good of others. I feel like when I shy away from vulnerability, I am actually doing more harm to myself than good, setting myself up for deception, strongholds, and windows of opportunity of attacks from the enemy, as well as robbing myself all of the beauty that comes from the intimacy that is found through being vulnerable. I’ve lived a life-time of being closed off from others in an effort to protect myself that I have missed out on the healing that comes from others when we let them in. So again, I digress.

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I’ve put off answering these questions long enough and it is time to empower myself by revealing what lies within, my feelings. I learned a cool tool to naming my feelings over the last year in a process called a check-in, where you use a chart of feelings (or wheel) to help you pinpoint what they are and then “check-in” with yourself, which all stem from the root feelings of; Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, Tender (SASHET).

Today, in this moment, I am checking-in Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, and Tender. I am full SASHET. I am sad because I found out this morning after reading my bible and journaling that I have been grieving the Holy Spirit, both intentionally, and unintentionally and I was lying to myself about it. I am also sad because I have a very close friend of mine that I have not spoken to for a little while that I am unsure of what is going on within our friendship and what to expect for our future. I am sad because I haven’t seen my husband in a week, and I miss him. I am sad because I have some unspoken feelings about some other important relationships in my life that I am earnestly praying for God to mend and bring healing to. I am sad because there were some things that I was looking forward to in the next few weeks and months ahead and I feel like God is leading me in a different direction and I wasn’t prepared for it and I guess you could say I am mourning the truth in all that.

I am angry because there are some things in my life that I have no control over and that I cannot fix, but that is like a thorn in my side that I cannot get rid of. Another thing that I am trusting in God to fix in His good timing, but while my boundaries are being crossed and I am pushed against a wall, it leaves me angry. I am mad because there are some things in my past that I really thought I had found healing in and could move past from, but God has shown me that is not the case and that in fact will be “dealing” with it very soon, but in the meantime, I am dealing with PTSD from it and unwarranted and unexpected bouts of anxiety as a result of it. PTSD and anxiety that pours over into my closest relationships and steals very precious moments from my day and it is infuriating.

I am scared because my husband is on his way home from traveling all week long and there are some very bad storms happening today and I just want him to be home, safe and sound, and not spending the next few hours waiting and wondering when he will get here and if he will be okay. I am scared because in a little over two months I will be going on another women’s retreat, this time through the Women’s Crucible, and I will be coming face to face with some strong demons that I personally do not think I am ready for (don’t’ ask me how I know, it’s just a feeling). I am scared because I told God a couple of months back that I was going to quick trying to control everything in my life and since I have been keeping up my end of the deal (for the most part anyway) I am walking every day in the unknown and even though I know He has nothing but great plans for me and works His will in my life for my good, it still scares me. I am also scared because I live a very fortunate, blessed, and highly favored life that I feel like with my good graces I will mess up at any moment by standing in my own way and just making the dumbest decisions that leave me sitting in the floor with a bucket over my head (I don’t honestly think that will happen, but I don’t trust me).

I am happy because my husband is on his way home and I haven’t seen him in a week and he is my best friend and his presence makes me so very happy. I am happy because homeschooling your kids is really hard, but even on the rough days, I get to see some amazing things that I never would get to experience otherwise and I am constantly reminded that this is the right choice for our lives and I am so expectant at what God has for us in the future. I am happy because lately I have been trying really hard to put God first and allow Him to direct my life and I am doing a really great job of it, for the first time ever. I am happy because God is so incredibly patient with me and has allowed me to be stubborn and hard-headed, while He has led me to where I am today. I am happy because I have been working really hard on trying to heal myself mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in every way possible known to man, and it’s working.

I am excited because when I think about the upcoming year and I see what God is already put into place I just want to scream and shout for joy and do a little happy dance in anticipation for all that is to come. I am excited because I am turning 30 this year and I welcome it and look forward to what this decade will hold for my life. I am excited because I have been losing the equivalent of 2lbs a week and I am stronger and more flexible and more determined than ever to see where this will all go. I am excited about the upcoming Women’s Crucible weekend that I will be participating in. I am also very excited about my husband moving on into more Crucible work and all the insanely amazing things that God is doing in his life. So excited.

I am tender because God asked me to reach out my friend today and be vulnerable and I am attempting to leave all other feelings at His feet and bask in the trust I have for Him in this situation, that no matter what happens, He is in control and through my obedience will come great things, whatever that may be. I am tender because I am now being vulnerable with all of you and I am not quite sure how else I feel about that, but tender is definitely part of it. I am tender because so many of my friends and loved ones have been going through some major trials and tribulations and loss of loved ones and my heart just breaks for them and their sorrows.

I feel like I have so many more feelings boiling inside of me, but these are the ones that I was able to pinpoint, right now in this moment.

The second part of the question was what kind of metaphors can I find to describe my feelings? I snickered again, I almost feel like this question is as hard or harder than the first. But I’ll try to answer it.

Right now, since I am full SASHET but with various forms of the words, metaphors of my feels;

Sadness is a bittersweet friend.

Anger is like an alarm for the fences around my heart.

Fear is a friend of mine.

Happiness is a common familiarity that I am often in search of.

Excitement is my favorite distraction.

Tenderness engulfs me most of the time.

Wooooooo. I never thought I would make it through the first week and this first question, but here I am.

I hope that by me answering this question in length and my desire to embark on this journey, that God will inspire you to either join me and answer the questions along with me, or in your own way, or at the very least you follow me over the next 52 weeks as I pull a new question from the box and I become closer in discovering what true intimacy is and as I learn to be vulnerable with myself and others on a whole new level.

Week 2’s Question: 82975432_565251114321763_5809495033698582528_n

What larger entity am I a part of?

I look forward to praying and journaling about this one and seeing how I answer it.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

 

Keep up with these questions and my journey on Facebook and join in on the conversation. My first post on the topic on Facebook.

For more information over the enneagram and finding out your own personality type, I recommend checking out the Enneagram Institute and taking a test to get you started. The Enneagram Institute

For more information over Women Revealed and attending a Release Your Burdens Weekend, check out their website or feel free to message me on Facebook. Women Revealed

For more information about The Women’s (or Men’s Crucible) Project and attending one of their weekends, check out their website or feel free to message me on Facebook. The Crucible Project

The need for compassion

Honduras changed me.

I’m sure it will be quite some time before I truly figure out all the ways in which it did, but I’ve been home for two days and my heart is so torn. Full, broken, confused, angry, excited, unsure, overwhelmed, indifferent…

My four-year-old son got in bed with me this morning, happy that I am home and there to cuddle with. He stroked my face as he always does and said, “momma, I hope your tummy feels better today, I don’t want you to feel bad anymore”. I turned to him sweetly and said, “I do too baby, I don’t know what’s causing it to hurt…but I hope it’s better today so I can play with you because I missed you so much”. He exclaimed, “it’s probably the food you ate”. “The food I ate”, I said? “Yeah mom, the food you ate while you were gone last week…it’s probably why your tummy has been hurting”. “Oh, yeah, that could be it. You are so smart”! He said, “Yeah, well, I’m losing my smartness because I don’t get to watch YouTube anymore. YouTube is what gave me my smartness, and now since I can’t watch it, I’m losing my smartness”.

This kid…if he only knew!

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Honduras countryside

I haven’t felt well since I got home. I’ve been tired, having zero desire to do anything, and pretty much have been trying to distract myself with Netflix and Facebook to keep my mind off…well, being back home. I’ve been here before. I’ve come home from a mission trip and been in a daze and it’s taken time to get back into the swing of things. I realize it’s only been 48 hours. But this time it’s different.

Every time my stomach starts to hurt, I think of Honduras. I wonder if it was the food. I wonder if my body is simply trying to adjust back to American food. I wonder if my emotions are so overwhelming that I’m subconsciously making myself ill. I wonder if I just picked up a small bug on the way home from my travels. Who knows.

Every time my kids come up to me, I get excited because I’ve missed them so much, but then suddenly so very sad, because I miss the kids in Honduras. My heart aches that I am not there to hug them and love on them and be even a fraction to them what I am to my boys a 1000 times a day.

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Some of the little ones in the children’s village

When I scroll through Facebook and see all the hate and filth and greed, it makes me sick. When I scroll and see the war going on in politics and how much hate the media has stirred up for those in Honduras, I want to scream at each person and their ignorance in what is truly going on. I want to tell them about the families I met while I was there and their loved ones who joined the caravan out of desperation to simply feed themselves. I want to tell them about the mother who was eight months pregnant and starving, who left three children behind to join the caravan and have her child on the road and who may not even be alive today, because she was desperate and searching for anything that could save her family and pull them out of the hell that they have been living in.

Honduras is so broken. The country is so corrupt. The people who live there were born into a broken system that they can’t escape and it’s not their fault. Of the 9.4 million people who live there over 66% live in poverty, that’s over 6 million human beings who are suffering on a day to day basis. That’s 1 in 5 human beings that are potentially starving, homeless, sick, being abused, neglected, and that feel hopeless.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye, to ignore it, to simply say “not my country, not my problem”. It’s easy to look at a caravan of 7000 and pictures and videos from the media and stamp “criminals” all over it and forget about the nearly 5000 in the crowd who are simply seeking refuge, food, anything…and harden your heart to human beings that are suffering.

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
— Zechariah 7:9-10

The reality of it is, you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s hard not to base your feelings off of human emotion and the ability to only make an opinion off what you see (through the media). I did it too.

Here’s the kicker.

When I was eating lunch with an 11-year-old last week whose father is in jail for drug trafficking and mother is MIA; I tried my best to answer his questions about America, the caravan, our government, and why the only hope he’s ever known is not the shining star he thought he could always count on (America).

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Dunia, one of the 100 who has been saved. She is 3 years old and was completely malnourished just 1 year ago. 

He didn’t understand why 7000 people trying to come through a border to seek refuge, to find food, to find a job, to find hope for their families…would just be turned away…or worse. I tried to make him understand that there is a right way and a wrong way and it’s when one is done over the other, then that’s where the problems arise. But all he could see was that someone was hungry and needed to be fed.

I couldn’t argue with him.

I still stand behind what’s right and what’s wrong. I still stand behind walking through the doors and not violently knocking down walls to get in. I still stand behind protecting our home and protecting our borders, because America wouldn’t be this place of saving grace if we didn’t.

But I can’t stand behind turning a blind eye to the hungry, turning a blind eye to the poor, turning a blind eye to an entire country that is suffering and living in a continuous cycle of defeat. I know it’s not our country’s fault, I know it’s not our President’s. I blame it on the broken system in Honduras. I blame it on the prince of darkness and his desire to steal, kill, and destroy…an entire nation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us all in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

My hurt is hearting so badly for so many and all I can do is pray, keep loving, spread awareness, and continue to develop a relationship with those who live there. God is alive and well in Honduras and even though there is a spirit of brokenness and poverty in that nation, He will prevail, and He is the ultimate victor!

Honduras is just 1 of 195 countries in the entire world.

Just one country, with over 6 million human beings who are suffering in our world today.

I met a little over 100 beautiful souls this past week who were saved from that suffering. Who were given clothes to wear, food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in, an education, and the hope of Jesus.

That’s 5,999,899 souls that are still suffering.

In just one country.

There are 7.5 billion people in the world.

Over 3 billion who live in poverty. Even in America.

However, the homeless in America are wealthy in comparison to those in other countries with access to clean drinking water, food, and shelters.

What can we do to change it?

What can we do to even put a dent in these facts and make it better?

What can we do to bring awareness to other’s who simply don’t know?

What can we do?

Have compassion.

It’s like I said, Honduras changed me. I’m still processing. I’m still praying. I’m trying so very hard to be still and see what God has in store. For me, for those in Honduras, for those in my community, for those in the church, for those in America, for those around the world.

I encourage you, to step outside yourself. Step outside your pride and your opinions and your comfort zone. Show compassion, to just one person. Then do it again, and again, and again.

If you are unsure what that looks like, I can show you. You can look Him up in the Bible, His name is Jesus.

Oh, my heart.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

 

“My Mama Said”

Have you ever been in the kitchen preparing dinner, just slicing stuff up and thinking about random things that have happened in the last 24 hours and God just hits you with some knowledge? No? Well, that’s what happened to me earlier!

I was thinking about something my sister said to me yesterday and she used the phrase, well mama said…and then validated whatever she was talking about off of what mama said. Which made me chuckle because she’s 32 years old and even though she’s fully capable of making her own opinions on a subject, she still is quick to side with or go off of what mama said and not think twice about it.

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“my mama said, not to be taking rides from strangers”

How often do we do things like this in our life? From the time we are really little and even as adults when in a discussion on any given subject, when we want it to hold value or prove where our help comes from, we say things like, “well my mama said this so it must be true!” or my “daddy said this and that’s the way it is” or “well my grandma always told me and she would never lie to me!” and we exclaim these things without a second thought and trust it with all of our beings. Straight up! Mama said it, daddy said it, granny said it, I trust them and love them and respect them, so that’s good enough for me.

It got me thinking…

Why do we not have that same trust with God?

Why do we not have that same unwavering faith when He tells us something, about

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“my mama said that Jesus died for me on the cross because I’m special”

really anything at all, and we don’t just believe Him and spit it out as truth at the first sign of needing back up in an argument or something to add value to the conversations we have or as an answer for a friend when they are struggling with something in their own lives and we don’t necessarily know the answer’s ourselves, but we know what mama said…

With God’s promises, all of His truths, what He says about who you are and how He feels about you, what’s good and true and right. Why don’t we treat Him the same way?

The Bible tells us that God is our Father and we can come to Him like little children. But I think we somehow get caught up on this idea of this big guy in the sky, rather than a daddy that we can have a relationship with. Then because of this, we allow ourselves to not fully trust Him in all things… or at least our behaviours show otherwise.

Like when things are getting kind of rough and maybe your funds are low and you have no idea what you are going to do or how you are going to take care of it? Where does your help come from? Your father. He promised He would supply every need of ours according to HIS riches – Philippians 4:19. Or that even when things are crazy, and you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. He tells us “For I know the plans I have for you, for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope” – Jeremiah 29:11

Or how about when you’ve made a series of bad choices, like hundreds of them, and you feel like with everything that you have done or that you’ve put yourself through that there is no way that God could possibly still love you or forgive you? But He tells us, no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it 1 Corinthians 10:13

…and then goes on to tell us, He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not grow faint Isaiah 40:29-31

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Which leads you to my most favorite of His promises.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or cause calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the scripture say, For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep) No, despite all of these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us!

AND I AM CONVINCED that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow. Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below, indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

God our Father

These are God’s promises, these are the truths that were God-breathed and given to us in the Bible so that we can live a life walking in His truth and His promises and His love.

Yet, somehow, we allow ourselves to forget it. We allow ourselves to believe it when things are good and then completely deny it when things are bad. It’s like we have a daddy that is teaching us all the important things in life and constantly telling us how much He loves us and everything He can, will, and has done for us, and yet we just dismiss it.

You wanna know how I know?

Because instead of puffing your chest out when things go wrong and declaring, it’s okay my daddy will fix it! We run and hide and worry and stress and stuff ourselves with so many negative emotions of hurt and anger and despair, when all we have to do is say, “But my daddy said” and then believe it and then go to Him.

Trust Him.

Have Faith.

Turn to your daddy.

He’s waiting, He’s ready with arms wide open and man, He has so much love to give you it’s unfathomable. He loves you so much and you are so special, there’s nothing in this entire universe that He wouldn’t do for you. He’s better than Superman. He’s the one true king!

…and He chose you!

At least, that’s what MY daddy said.

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

Dear America,

I want to know…

Why?

What’s the point? What are you truly trying to accomplish? What are you fighting for? If you could hand someone a list of demands, wants, needs or what have you. What would be on it? In all your anger, anguish, persecution, oppression, being misunderstood, undervalued, belittled, mistreated, misused, abused, neglected, ridiculed, and shamed, what are you trying to achieve? What is the outcome of all your pain, hours of fighting, arguments, and unending division in your hearts and communities?

Do you want to change history, the history of today or tomorrow or from the past? Would taking down a monument, changing the name of a school, changing facts in a history book, or how things are addressed make you feel better? Would rewriting history as a whole do it or just certain parts?

If your list of demands was met 100% with no questions asked, no push back of any kind, just checking the boxes and making the changes, would you then be happy?

I truly want to know what the ultimate end goal is here, because I am failing to understand.

Is your identity found in the words of another human being or even the actions? Does your joy come from what someone has said or done to you? Do the actions or words of another human being play a part in your eternity?

What type of mark are you leaving on this world?

What are you doing to change it or make it better?

All that I know is this.

We live in the top 1% of the world. Yes, all Americans do. We have a longer life expectancy rate. We have reasonable access to safe drinking water. We consume more calories than any other nation. We have some of the most stable soil in the world. Even the homeless, having just one dollar and access to shelters that can feed them and cloth them and give them a place to sleep, are richer than those in many other countries. If you are unsure of what I am talking about, visit another country outside of the United States, it doesn’t even have to be a third world country, and you will see that American’s got it good, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, or gender.

So still I ask, why?

I by no means live a perfect life or walk a blameless path, not even remotely. But I do choose to attempt to in the only way that I know how and that’s through Jesus.

Where does your identitycome from-My identity is not found in the words or actions of a stranger. It is not found through my husband or my beautiful boys. It is not found in the accomplishments I have made in my life or even the mistakes. It is not found in my work or my friends or my neighbor down the street. It is not found through the color of my skin. It is not found through the clothes that I wear or the car that I drive. It is not found through the place of my birth. It is not found in my parents or my ancestors. But it is found in what Jesus says about me and who I am because of Him.

I am chosen. I am worthy. I am loved. I am cherished. I am beautiful. I am free. I am forgiven. I am justified. I am redeemed. I am accepted. I am unique. I am righteous. I am holy. I am a child of God. I am a citizen of Heaven. I am the salt of the earth. I am the light of the world. I am made perfect in Christ, by Him and through Him.

That is the greatest truth I know and the only truth that I want to spend my life fighting for and fighting for others.

The word says, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

I recently had an amazing conversation with a new friend I met while I was in Jamaica. I told Him that I couldn’t wait to go to Heaven and that I would be happy if Jesus took me from this world right now. He looked at me very seriously and then asked me the following questions;

Are you sure you are going to Heaven? I said, yes. He asked again, are you sure? I said, yes, without a shadow of a doubt. I know Heaven is my home! He then said, then how can you say that you are ready to leave this earth? I stood there puzzled for a second, but shot back with, because this world is an awful place and I am so ready to be gone from it and not have to deal with all the hate, pain and suffering anymore. He then said, but that’s not what you were called to do. If Jesus took you home today, then you wouldn’t be here to share the good news to others. He will call you when it is your time, but until then, your greatest mission in life should be in helping others to get there too. You were called to be the light of the world which means God needs your light here on earth to shine through all of the darkness.

Talk about a reality check.

I was not lying when I said that I was ready to go to Heaven because of how awful the world we live in is, but I was wrong for wanting to leave it this way. Not just wrong, but selfish.

Colossians 3:2-4 says to set your mind on things above, not on things of this earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

I could focus on all of the bad things going on in this world. I could get really mad and show my anger through arguments with others who do not agree with me, sharing memes of hate that make me feel better about my position in the argument, I could protest and riot, or demean others for how they think or feel. But if I did any of those things, then I would not be doing a very good job at furthering the kingdom and instead would be doing the exact opposite of what I have been called to do.

This is not me ignoring the things going on in this country. This is not me ignoring the way that you feel about those things. This is me saying that the only way I can truly fight back is on my knees through prayer and by shining my light for all of those around me to see.

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The battle we fight is not with each other. It is a much greater one that we cannot even physically see. The war that is raging should not be between our brothers and our sisters, but against the enemy that is hiding in the darkness waiting to steal, kill and destroy anything that you give him the option to. It is up to you, to stand your ground, to fight back with good and note evil and to be the beacon on a hill shining your light in this world of darkness.

You can so choose to be a part of the problem or do something to change it by being better and doing better. Not just for yourself, but for those around you who are watching you and do not know any better themselves. But this cannot happen if you choose to walk in your selfishness, your pity, your need to be fulfilled or heard. It isn’t about you and it isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, but do what it says.  James 1:22

So with that;

I am calling you to stand up with me, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness and then forgive those around you, to fight the good fight and to shine. That is the only real way you are ever going to see the change that you want to see.

Stay blessed America,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Jesus loves all the little children

I remember being about three or four when I met my first friend. Sure, I probably had many other friends before then in some form or fashion, through play dates with my mother’s friends or kids I met at church and of course the greatest friends I’ll ever have, my cousins. But this was the first friend that I made that was a complete stranger to me and that I came to know and love all on my own. Our brothers played little league football together and we found each other at one of their many practices or Saturday morning games. Frank and I end up finding that we would soon have many more play dates like this to come for years as our brothers were the same age and played sports together all throughout grade school. We too were in the same grade and ended up going to school together when we were of age and he not only became my best friend, but a brother to me, and as a result of our friendship, we both gained an extended family.

It wasn’t until we were a little older that I found out that there were some people in this world who didn’t like other people because of the color of their skin. This was a shock to me because at this point in my life and for as long as I could remember I had many friends who were black or brown and I had never thought twice about it. The very first friend I ever had was black. His mom was black. His brother and his sisters and his father were all black. His cousins and their wives and children were black too. As far as I could tell, relatively speaking, their skin color was a different pigment than mine and through their family tree, they resembled one another, which is why they were black. Just as I did my family and just as everyone else in the world does with theirs. So when I saw that someone didn’t like my friend, my best friend, because he was black; I was not only angered, because how in the world could someone not like someone for the color of their skin something that they have no control over, but, I was insanely confused, baffled, and just completely flabbergasted in every way.

Frank, my sweet friend, has always had a thing for white girls. Call it what you want, but it’s no different than being attracted to a red head, a country girl, someone who is voluptuous, or short. He likes what he likes and for him, it was a girl with white skin, and to this day, still is. In a really unfortunate way, I learned about racism through his attraction to white girls. The first time I saw the ugly face of racism was through a father of a friend who Frank liked. I can still remember to this day going home and asking my mom what was wrong with Frank liking her and why her father was so upset. As much as my mom tried to explain racism to me, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and decided I was going to be someone who defied racism and it would not exist in my world.

As the years went by racism was a distant thing for me, meaning I only encountered it occasionally and when I did I fumed at the idea that someone could be so ignorant and hateful. Over half of my friends were African American, Hispanic, or some other version of not white and diversity was not only a huge part of my life but something I longed to be a part of and still do to this day. That’s why the thought of living in a world where diversity is divided saddens me.

If you haven’t caught on yet, racism was not a known subject in my family. It took encountering it in the world to not only discover it but learn what it was and the awful truth of why it even exists; hate. Pure hate and cruelty to no end. No just reasoning or idealsy or logic to it at all, just sheer hate.

Growing up in the church and coming to know God from a very early age, you may laugh at me, but I have always thought this to be one of the greatest truths there ever was;

Jesus loves the little children. All the little children of the world. Black and yellow, red and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

We were made to love and be loved, by Jesus, and each other. We do so by treating others the way that we too wish to be treated. By letting our light shine in a world full of darkness. By realizing that God made each and every one of us unique in His image and that He did not make a mistake when he formed you in your mother’s womb. We are all perfect in His eyes, and yes, He loves all of His children.

It is that simple you guys.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The problem with missionaries

Last year I was blessed to go on a mission trip to Harmons Jamaica with my local church and a group of 9 others. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. That’s why this year whenever the opportunity presented itself to not only go on another mission trip but go back to the place where my heart was truly transformed, just a short year before, it was a no brainer for me. I leave in just under two weeks to go back and every day that we get closer to boarding that plane, the anticipation is growing inside me like a deep hunger that before last year, I never knew existed.

Before going on a mission trip last year, I have always wanted to do so and even started to join a group a time or two but never followed through for one reason or another. As the years have gone by I have looked at mission trips as a distant desire that maybe one day would be a reality for me, but I honestly didn’t see it happening and was growing more comfortable with the idea that it never would.

It wasn’t until last year when I started preparing to go to Harmons that I started to see how the world, not as a whole, but on a much larger scale than I realized, viewed mission trips overseas. I’ve read some articles that quite frankly missed the entire point altogether and really made missionaries look like bad people. Can you believe that? A person traveling to any location, whether it be local or in another country, to help others, is seen as a bad person. Totally blew my mind and flabbergasted me. Not only did I find articles on the matter, but the more I shared my upcoming journey with others that I know and love, I too found out that they felt the same way.

Why would you go to another country to help others and share your love for Jesus when there are plenty of people in your own back yard who need help and need to hear about Jesus?

I’m not going to support you going out of the country to “serve” God when you can do it in your own back yard, you can leave me out of it.

You need help raising funds to go on a mission trip to another country, well raise it yourself, you made a choice to go then you should make the money to support it.

I’m not going to lie. Hearing stuff like this come out of the mouths of people that care about you and that you care about most, hurts. Mostly because I feel that someone should know my heart and me as a person to know why I would want to go do something like this and even at the end of the day if they don’t entirely believe in it, support me simply out of love and their trust that if it is something I feel strongly about then nothing else should matter.

Here’s the thing. I think we should be missional in every area of our lives. In our homes, in our back yards, throughout our communities, across our country and overseas. I do not think there is a boundary, time or a place that it is not okay to be missional and ultimately further the kingdom of God. I fully believe in; if there is a need to be met and I can meet it, then I should. I would want the same done for me. I do want the same done for me. I pray that God uses me as His vessel every day and that I have the courage and heart to answer Him when He calls.

As I stated before, God has been tugging on my heart for years to go on missions and to do so overseas. I’ve pushed that away and ignored it for a long time simply because I did not think that I could. But last year, sitting in church that December morning when our pastor announced the trip to Harmons and the need for a team. The Holy Spirit told me, go. After the service was over, I looked at my husband and said, I am going, God told me to. He looked back at me and said, go for it, it’s about time…and I did.

The mission trip itself was a week long, eight days if you include traveling, Sunday to Sunday, a small blimp of my life in comparison to anything else. From the moment I signed up until the day that I boarded the plane for the first time was six months, equivalently 182 days. Day 1, the moment I put my name on that list and I said yes to the Holy Spirit, God started working in me in a way that I never knew was possible. Some days were more profound than others, some days were full of battles and attacks from Satan that would be enough to make any person run in the opposite direction. But on day 182, when I stood in that circle with my team praying before we left the church, and then for the next 7 days to follow, God was opening my heart to secrets that I never knew. I walked hand in hand with Jesus for 7 days with no distractions, basking in perfect love and that is something that I would never trade for the world (or anyone in it telling me that I should).

You go on a mission trip to help others and to share your love for God and His love for the world with anyone who is willing to listen if the moment presents itself. But what I have learned is that God did more for me, changed more in me, taught me more about my heart and who I am because of Him in that week and all the months leading up to it, than I ever thought was possible in my journey to “help someone else”. He taught me more about my life, my behaviors, the world we are living in and what I can do to make a difference in those short seven days than He or anyone else did on building houses or standing in a line handing out food.

I won’t pretend that going to Jamaica is filled with a week worth of saving souls and giving back to the poor through some great need that we can fill that would completely go unnoticed if we didn’t because it’s not. It’s filled with a week of building relationships with strangers and falling in love with them over a course of 7 days. It’s building two houses for said strangers while getting to know them and their family and their culture and their love for God. It’s taking a ton of donations with us to attempt to stock a store that caters to the community with normal items like clothes, shoes, and toiletries and barely making a dent in their needs, but doing the best we can with what we can and knowing that God is going to multiply in tenfold. It’s spending a day with the lost and forgotten in a place where the sick or homeless go to die, and putting a smile on their face by just simply loving them in the moment for who they are and everything that you have that is inside you. It’s leaving my home, my children, my job, and all my comforts to attempt to be a good steward for our Lord and allow Him to use me as a vessel in whatever way that He sees fit, and if at the end of the week I do not see an ounce of evidence of a job well done, I will still be satisfied in knowing that I am just a seed planter and God is the ultimate harvester and what seeds I plant for His good, He will grow. It may not manifest itself today, it may not manifest itself for ten more years, but it is all a part of His plan and I am just thankful to be used in it.

 

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Photo Creds: Tony

 

As I sat down this morning to do my morning devotional out of the book Jesus Calling He affirmed this for me.

Seek My face and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know because I designed you to desire me. Do not feel guilty about taking the time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness. Longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me whole heartedly you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
—Psalm 42:1–2

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
—Psalm 34:5

So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
—Philippians 2:15

My desire to be intimate with God is greater than anything in this world and if I can find that intimacy with Him in a week in Jamaica, you better believe I am going to take it!

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

Learning to Let Go

If there is one thing that I have struggled with more than others on a day to day basis, it is the need to be in control. For many years I let this have great power over me, so much so, that I was simply not happy if I was not in control and bad things happened when I did not get my way. Not an easy thing to admit, especially when this is still something I struggle with today. But through the grace of God, I am getting better and learning how to relinquish that control one day at a time.

The problem with wanting to be in control is that you inevitably do not let anyone else have any control or help you with whatever it is that you may be doing or going through. I have always had this unhealthy fear that if I did not do something myself, then it would not get done right and something really important would go unnoticed or not get done and everything would be terrible in the end. It is hard to put your trust in others to “do the right thing” in any given situation, but more so in a situation where something is so important to you and you just cannot stand the idea of letting anything bad happen or go wrong.

COPENHAGEN

It sucks for a lot of reasons, living life this way. One is that you hurt others around you in the process. With my need to be in control, I do not allow others to flourish in areas where they might shine had I not held them back. There have been times when I have not given someone the admiration, credit or thanks for their efforts and instead criticized them for what they could have or should have done differently. I have found myself totally dismissing the abilities of others and just bypassing the whole situation altogether and ultimately isolating myself in the process and becoming burnt out because I had to do it all on my own. The worst part about this character trait is when I have refused to let go of control over my life and let God have the wheel, thus bringing myself back to step one and having to cope with the fact that my life has once again has become unmanageable.

I would love to tell you that I no longer do any of those things and that I, in fact, have found the root of what drives me in this way, therefore, freeing me from this flaw altogether. But that would not be true and I would not be able to share with you where I am today in spite of it because I am still working on it and I still have my good days and my bad days and thankfully God is not done with me yet!

Surrender

The good news is through my recovery I have learned that I do have a problem. I have learned what the problem is and what I can do to change it. For me, that is making a conscious decision every day to cast my worries and anxieties on the Lord, to trust that He knows what is best for me and His plan for my life far outweighs anything of my own. That if I wake up each morning and allow God to direct my path then I will have an amazing day and it will be full of surprises and blessings beyond my wildest dreams that I would never get to experience if I continue to hold onto the reigns.

2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

I will give you no hopes in telling you that in doing these things it will be easy because it won’t. Learning to let go of control over things in my life has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, which is why I still struggle with it so much.  Even when I am not thinking about it, I do it. Even when I do not try to take the reigns, it naturally just happens. But like anything else that is a bad habit, it must be broken through diligently trying to overcome it and I now know that the only way I can do that is through Jesus! I kid you not, if I am having a hard time trying to do something or find myself getting stressed of flustered during the day, I am totally the one to blame and I have to throw my hands up and say “it is yours God, I am stepping away”. Once I do, I usually kick myself for trying to do it on my own, laugh, and then smile because I know that God’s got this! True Story. You should try it 🙂

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 2 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and Part 1 you can find them here.

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.