“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

Smorgasbord

The past two weeks have been hard for me and the past two days have been the worst. I have been trying to pinpoint the reason for my frustration and anger and although I can come up with many different reasons, I know none of them are THE reason. Interestingly enough during this time of blah, I have had much time to reflect on a lot of things and today God sort of connected all the dots for me.

You see, a couple of weeks ago maybe even three, I somehow in some crazy way hurt my thumb. At first, it didn’t bother me so much and it was more just annoying really. I thought I had just jammed it and within a day or so it would work itself out and inevitably be a faint memory in my past. But that didn’t happen and a week went by and I was still in pain. Things were really starting to get hard for me, I couldn’t even open bottles or turn a doorknob without crying out in pain and at this point I was over-it. I turned to google as I do anytime I can’t figure out what ails me and I refuse to go to the doctor for something that will likely work itself out or that can be dealt with at home. I put in my symptoms and read through quite a few articles to come to the conclusion that I have sprained my thumb. Who does that? How does it even happen? I’m beyond annoyed and become even more annoyed when I find out that there is nothing you can do about it and treatment consist of; trying to keep your thumb immobilized and to take anti-inflammatory and acetaminophen for pain, oh and just my luck it can take anywhere between 2-6 weeks to heal (that’s if you are doing the best you can to help it out and it is NOT on your dominant hand).

It is on my dominant hand.

Yep, I feel like I can do nothing. It’s hard to cook, it’s hard to eat, it’s hard to hold a pen in my hand. It’s hard to wash dishes or change the channel on the remote or use my phone for anything (which I am not too bummed out about the last one). Driving is hard, picking things up, absolutely any type of housework is hard. To make matters worse, I started working out earnestly a little over a month ago and have big goals and have already seen amazing results, but now, I don’t feel like I can go to the gym at all. Over one little digit on my hand. My friggin thumb.

Who knew your thumb had so much power? I ask that question and decide to google it only to find, everyone. That’s what makes humans special from other species. We have opposable thumbs that allow us to grasp things. Which I no longer can do with my right hand! Rant over.

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So how has God used this to my advantage? Yeah, you heard me right, my advantage.

He has reminded me who He is and who I am through Him and as a member of the body of Christ.

I woke up this morning less than thrilled to go to the gym to meet my trainer. I haven’t been since last Thursday when I saw her last. I honestly don’t know if I would have gone today if I didn’t have an appointment with her. But I did, so I went. Reluctantly. In just a matter of days, I had convinced myself that I am useless because of this injury. That there is no way I can work out without having leg days for the next six weeks and looking like some undeveloped version of the hulk, which I have no desire to do. I should have known better though. I should have known that my sweet trainer would find some way to prove me wrong and make me hate life (in a good way) during our session and ultimately prove me wrong by showing me that I can do so much more than I give myself credit for and although annoying, my thumb can only hold me back so much. Mind over matter. Yet today, she did so much more than that.

At the start of the year, my husband and I decided to get gym memberships. A couple of months later I still hadn’t gone and after another story for another day, we decided it would be best for me to get a trainer. Within a week I was signed up and started the journey that I have loved so much and am so excited to see through as a lifelong change. When I signed up I specifically was looking for someone to challenge me, hold me accountable, show me things I really didn’t know when it comes to nutrition and fitness, as well as someone to do life with (not on a day to day basis really, but that I could eventually have a relationship with and could lift me up and help me along when I need it and if God willing, I could do the same for them). After getting started I realized that I might have been asking for too much when it came to a personal trainer, but today God showed me otherwise. Today, when I really need it the most. He showed up right one time, as He has a habit of doing.

As I said before, I was not looking forward to going to the gym today, but when I left the gym my spirit was happy. My cup had been filled and God has spent every moment since then speaking to me and connecting the dots of my anguish over the last few weeks, and He did it through her. Through her own love for God and her willingness to be obedient in His love and His desire for all to know it, she took the time to encourage me on a completely unrelated subject, but to look to Jesus none the less. She simply said, to ask Jesus for help and He will give it to me and if asking doesn’t seem like enough, look in His word to see what He has to say and in doing so, that will help me. Simple and sweet.

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After I got off the treadmill and my mood hand changed. I could barely hold the phone up because I was weak after working out. ha!

After our session ended I went to the treadmill to put in some cardio before leaving for the day, which gave me twenty minutes to talk to God and see what He had to say. This is what He reminded me…

He loves me so much and I am so important. Choosing to be filled with His spirit every day and not giving into my flesh is one of the most important choices I must make, every single day. If I am walking in the flesh, He cannot use me and if He cannot use me, then I am not doing my part in the body of Christ. Every single member of the body of Christ has a purpose and is so significant. Without certain parts the body is weak and although still able to thrive, has a hard time doing so and misses the part that is gone. In that same light, even though I am broken, I am still a member of the body and through time and healing, the body is waiting and ready for me to be whole again. It needs me to be whole again.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (ESV) talks about the body and its members.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Just as I am a part of the body of Christ, so is my trainer. I still have so much to learn about her, but I do know she is significantly great and God is using her for beautiful wonderful things, as long as she is willing. Although it may seem like she only works in a gym and “just helps people work out”, God has given her this platform with hundreds of individuals that she comes across on a daily basis that she has the ability to encourage or plants seeds in. But He is only able to do so if she is willing and walking in His spirit, and I am so thankful that today she was, and I realize how crucial it is that I am, every day.

You never know when God will choose to use you or how He will use you or if you are even aware that you are being used. Which is why it is important to be ready at all times to be used by Him and do so by being filled with His spirit. Romans 8:5-6 tells us that 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

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I have been so unsettled over the past couple of weeks and I always seem surprised when I come to the same conclusion that I am not spending enough time with Jesus and my spirit is weak and not at peace because of it. What’s worse is how completely selfish it is to walk in the flesh. For every day that I have chosen the flesh over the spirit, I have passed up opportunities to be used by Him and share His love with others. I think as Christians we get complacent from time to time and caught up in the world and allow ourselves to be “comforted” by the fact we know Jesus and He loves us and through a relationship with Him we will get to spend eternity with Him, yet forget that there is a world out there that needs to know it too, deserves to know it too and will only be able to do so by us sharing that love with others.

Sharing that love with friends by bearing each other’s burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ Galatians 6:2, as well as strangers and those we have yet to meet through going out into the world and preaching the gospel to all creations Mark 16:15.

My thumb has been a burden to me over the past couple of weeks, to say the least, but I have come to understand the importance and value of my thumb and am quite appreciative that I have one and even though it is out of commission for a little while, it’s value has not diminished and I still have one. A true blessing. Just the same as the knowledge of the purpose and importance of who I am in the body of Christ and as a lover of Jesus. How important it is me to walk in the spirit every day so that I will not only be at peace but so that I can bring peace to others through sharing the love of Jesus wherever I go and in whatever I do.

Romans 5:3-5 tells us to rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Thank you, God, for sending your son Jesus to die on the cross for us and to save us from our sins so that we may have a relationship with Him instead of a life and eternity of living in the flesh and being away from you. Thank you for leaving us your Holy Spirit so that you are with us always and you continuously are there to bring us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thank you for not giving up on me in the times when I choose my flesh and forgiving me when I do. Thank you for all of my brothers and sisters who make of the body of Christ and for perfectly orchestrating my relationship with my trainer who can help remind me of your love and the peace that it brings in the moments that I forget. I love you so much and am sorry for every moment that I am apart from you through my own fleshly desires. Continue to work on me and create a new heart in me and to eliminate anything unclean in me. Help me when I look in the mirror to see you looking back at me and that when other’s see me they see you too. I love you so much! Amen.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

My Father’s Heart

It’s been three months since my last blog, four months since I quit my job and six months since I came home from Jamaica for the second time. Yet somehow, it all seems like it was yesterday.

I recently made a post on my Facebook page reaching out for prayers and some general support for all that I’ve been going through in this time and what lies before me that I want to be strong for when the time comes.

My father called me a few days after I made this post to sort of follow up with my thoughts and feelings and to do what he’s been best at for the last decade, being my biggest accountability partner. You see, before this last decade, I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my father. He was very much a part of my life and someone who has always been kind to me and loved me more than I’ll ever know or understand. But for the better half of my childhood, he was missing, and although I don’t resent it or wish it had been different. I am thankful for the lessons I learned as an individual about who I did and did not want to be, and what I think a daddy should look like, and what I have learned that a father is.

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My daddy and I at the zoo when I was a little girl

It was towards the end of the years in my addictions that I really started to bond with my dad or even truly have a relationship with him at all. I was very young when he and my mother divorced and although I would see him growing up, we didn’t really have time to get to know each other like one would when you see them day in and day out. Because of his past and what was then my present state of mind, we were able to relate to each other in a way that I am now very grateful for, and that played such a big part in my becoming sober and maintaining my sobriety over the last 8 years. My dad, even as a “stranger”, has always been my biggest fan. I can literally walk into a room and hear him say, “whoop whoop, that’s my daughter, go Kristen go Kristen go”. As silly as that may be, he is always rooting for me and has always been there to tell me how much he loves me and how special I am, and how proud he is of me (even on my worst days). Which is why, even though I only saw him sparingly throughout my childhood, I always felt like I had the greatest daddy in the world and I was proud of that. I was his princess, and I still am, and I always will be.

It wasn’t until I was on the brink of becoming an adult that, I met my father.

My addiction got really bad around my eighteenth birthday, so much so that I was hanging by a thread in the relationship department with most of my family and really anyone who knew me if they hadn’t cut me out of their lives entirely at this point. It was hard to physically be around me, from just how unhealthy I looked, and how insanely terrible my behavior was at this point. I was truly past the point of giving a damn about anyone else other than myself and my need to get high that day.

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My dad and I after my college graduation

But this didn’t stop my dad, this didn’t deter him away from me, and this didn’t make him for even one second of one day give up on me or my potential to “come back home” and be the person God created me to be. No, instead, he just acted as if everything was normal every time he saw me, he acted as if I was his same special princess that had never done anything wrong as he always had, he continued to speak life and love into me even if I didn’t want to hear it, or in doing so, just pushed me away further through the disappointment in myself and feeling as if I wasn’t capable of being all of those things that he thought about me, ever again. At my lowest, when it felt like the entire world had turned it’s back on me, my daddy chose to love me just the way I was and never for one second turned his back on me or made me feel less than.

It would be years before I fully understood this love or where it stemmed from, and truly be able to appreciate it, for all that it was and all that it still means to me to this day.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

Fast forward to today, the present, and the last eight years.

My father is not a blameless man. He too has a past that would probably haunt most, but by the grace of God, has made him into the man that he is today, the man that continues to walk a walk that I can look up to and that has helped me become the godly woman that I am today.

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My dad and I dancing at my wedding ❤

Even though my father didn’t raise me and wasn’t there to tuck me in bed at night or sit around the kitchen table with me each evening or help me to do my homework or teach me about relationships. When he was there, he showed me what a father should look like, and he strived to be the daddy that our father in heaven has always been to him. My daddy has never raised a hand to me in anger, has never punished me with spankings or harsh words (even though I probably deserved it a time or two). He’s never raised his voice to me or spoke low to me in any way. My daddy has always opened up the door for me, never let me talk to him with anything less than respect, and he’s tried in every way to protect me when he could and to teach me about the Lord, and to love me the best that he could like Jesus does, even when he couldn’t love himself. My daddy has prayed for me every day and has always been the first to let me know that my flesh is showing (when I am not walking right with the Lord). He doesn’t lie to me or pretend to be perfect, and when he’s having a hard time in life, he never makes his burdens my burdens, even when I want to be there for him in the same way that he’s been there for me. He will give me his last dollar if it means putting food on my table, or gas in my car, or a smile on my children’s faces. But the greatest thing he’s ever done and continues to do is in teaching me about the Lord.

Father’s, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. – Psalms 103:13 (ESV)

When my dad called me the other day to check up on me and just talk to me on his way home, he took my feelings of doubt and confusion and encouraged me with the truth.

You see, coming back from a mission trip can be tough. Really tough. Not only are you reeling from one of the greatest high’s you could ever have, after spending a week with Jesus. But you are working through and trying to understand all of the things that God taught you while you were there, and what He’s trying to show you after you come home.

It can take months before you feel “normal” again and you begin to truly see the changes that God has made in your life and the path that He has laid out for you. But, when you have great accountability partners, like my dad, it’s much easier to stay on track and gain perspective when things don’t seem to make sense anymore.

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Dad and I during Easter this past year

When I talked to my dad that day, we talked about how nothing was really “wrong” with me and that I instead was just feeling off and I didn’t know why. After coming home from Jamaica and quitting my job, and becoming a stay at home mom again, I couldn’t find the peace that I once had and with all the changes going on around me. I didn’t know why or what had changed. But he showed me that, I have changed. I allowed myself to become distracted by all the changes going on in my home, that the routines I once had in my day and my walk with Jesus, had changed because of me. That in fact, nothing was truly wrong, and I just needed to give it to God and allow my thoughts to line up with His will. I needed to ask the spirit to make my ways, His ways, and for my heat to bear His fruits.

He always has the funniest metaphors for everything, but they really help to make things stick when I’m just not getting it. Things really are simple with God, but we are always trying to complicate it and that’s where my dad comes in to help me, when I am not getting it.

My daddy said you know when you go shopping for something that you need? You will go to the store that has exactly whatever it is that you are looking for. Well, it works the same way with the Holy Spirit. When you need fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, you have to go to the Spirit for it and He will supply all of your needs.

DUH DAD.

He left me with this.

It’s important every day that we guard our hearts because everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

And when things aren’t making much sense and you feel like you have lost your way, just remember…

His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our paths…in all our ways if we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths to line up with the accordance of His will. Psalm 119:105 & Proverbs 3:6

My dad has mimicked those verses to me over and over again in my life, and somehow, I still forget. But that’s okay, because we have a good good father that shows no condemnation and forgives us of our sins and is always, always there waiting for us to get back on the straight and narrow path that leads us back to Him.

I am thankful, and so very blessed that I not only have a Heavenly Father that has chosen me to spend all eternity with Him, but I have an earthly father that resembles Him and is making sure that no matter what happens in this life, that I will get there too.

Sorry I made you cry dad, I love you, Happy Birthday – your princess.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

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

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.

Admitting you are powerless

In April of 2010, I quit using meth and other illegal narcotics cold turkey. I did not go to a rehab or slowly cut back, I decided that I did not want to live my life like that anymore and I was so very tired of going through what I was going through and that I had enough. I got to the point where I wasn’t using recreationally anymore, but I was waking up wondering how I was going to get high and spending the day making sure that I did.

I was no longer working, my car had gotten repossessed, I was less than 100lbs and I was burning bridges left and right to the point where my friends were getting tired of me too. I had been arrested and just spent the last year on probation, where my drug use got heavier as I became depressed and felt like my future had been ruined. I had spurts of positivity where I would do something really amazing to try and make others around me proud of me, which was always just a cover up for what I was really doing. One of which was me starting college (during the heaviest time of my using) and never attending any of my classes because I was too high or asleep from being up for days.

The whole year of 2009 was jam packed full of insanity for me. My life had completely become unmanageable and it was time for a change. The options before me were going to jail, die or start over and change.

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My road to sobriety was unconventional, to say the least. I have always been stubborn and strong willed, so if I was going to get my life back on track I was going to do it my way and on my own terms. I knew that I needed to get out of the environment that I was in and ultimately cut off everyone that I knew or had been around for the last couple of years. I did not want to escape reality and instead wanted to face it head on with my family by my side and clinging to Jesus. I chose to go spend the next month in St. Louis with my sister and her family. Over 9 hours away, with no vehicle to escape in if I could not handle the pressure and disconnected from all the people and things that would normally suck me back into the lifestyle I had become a pro at living.

While I was at my sister’s I tried to engage myself in activities that would not only distract me from the desire to go home and use again. But that would better me as an individual and put me on the right path to staying clean long term. I did this through starting to exercise, something I had not done in years and my body needed desperately, attending church regularly with my sister and her family, as well as attending a small group with her a couple times a week. I read my Bible daily, started a devotional that would help me to grow in the Lord and just poured my heart and soul into becoming the person who I knew God created me to be. I started to gain weight, I cut all of my hair off and I was finally becoming happy with the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror. I now had hope, goals, wants, desires and was content with doing whatever it was that God wanted me to do. I was on fire in every sense of the word and a force to be reckoned with!

The FirstStepIs AlwaysThe Hardest (1)I know I make getting clean sound easy, but it is actually one of the hardest things that I have ever done. Not even from the physical aspects of it, but everything tied into using mentally and emotionally. In order for me to truly change and move forward I had to come to terms with where my life was at and who I was in that moment; an addict. Labeling yourself an addict is not an easy thing to do and it is not something that makes you feel good on the inside. However, doing so gives you a sense of empowerment of your life and the will to move forward. I say this because, if you do not know what the problem is then you do not know what to fix, but once you found what the problem is you can start working on getting it done.

No matter what type of recovery group you attend whether it be AA, NA, CA, SA, HA, SAA, WA, CR or the alike the first step is always going to be the same;

  1. Admitting that your life has become unmanageable and that you do not have power of your addiction, hurt, habit or hang-up. i.e. Coming out of denial.

For me, however, I found myself (which I would not know until much later) following the 8 Recovery Principles that are based on the Beatitudes and my step one was more like this;

  1. Realizing that I am not God; admitting that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life had become unmanageable.

I knew that in order to truly change that I was going to have to let God do the changing in me. I needed to let go of myself and relinquish the control of my life over to Him. This was something that I would need to do every day, for the rest of my life if I wanted to make sure that I never used again. It would be years before I discovered a Christ-centered recovery group that would help me to dig deeper into my issues and continue to better myself for the long-run, but I will talk about that another time…

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 1 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and the rest of the series 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.

Confidence in things unseen

Complete trust or confidence in something or someone. – Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s my question…

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

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

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

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

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The difference between judging someone and holding them accountable

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

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

Think about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart