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Monday, July 18, 2016

Moving To Stars Hollow.




Out of all the articles that could have caught my attention today, the one that stuck out to me this morning was a sponsored post titled "5 Real-Life Towns Like Stars Hollow that Gilmore Girls Fans would love." Ahhhh..... You can thank me later. Small towns. As a kid, I used to live in a small town. I don't remember having any problem with it, but as I got older and we moved to the city, I remember thinking I'm glad I'm in the city. I could never live in a small town.

But now... Now, It feels like a good place to shuck responsibilities and hide out. Not that if you live in a small town, you are irresponsible. But a quiet life sounds more and more appealing every day. Stars Hollow. Some days, I wish God would speak to us and tell us that's where we belong. Just a small town girl and guy attending a small town church where her kids could grow up, get married, have grandkids and then they could grow up. Far away from the banter of the city life and the ruckus of people and opinions. 

In case you haven't noticed, the momentum of sin and chaos in this world is growing. It's not slowing down and I don't think it will. What was once nearly unheard of, is now becoming ordinary. And for the record, instigating chaos never brings peace, comfort, justice or any such thing. No matter which way you spin it. Yet, people seem willing to settle up and get cozy with it. But seeing it all, hearing it all, reading it all overwhelms my soul some days. I don't know what to say or what to think. And aside from all the opinions being spewed forth all over social media, I think a lot of us really don't know. What do we do? All I know is to pray and to listen for His voice...

We're spinning in a pandemonium of fast paced, lit up, hyper active, uber-cool, politically correct, over-opinionated, superstar, morally decaying, self absorbed, agenda pushing, dehumanizing, non-submissive, extremist activity and rhetoric all throughout the world. And, I for one, would be totally OK, if I lived in a different time. In a galaxy far, far away. 

If opening up my Facebook news feed each and every day wasn't heavy enough, with all the stories and shootings and demonic activity in this world staring me right in the face, what is even more disheartening is watching Satan play on the minds of Christians. And them not have enough sense to take authority over his lies, his deception and his obvious mission to divide their marriages, their families, their churches and ultimately the body of Christ. 

We need to start learning to really know God's voice and start discerning what is an attack or lineup of the devil.

1. Stop Dreaming About Stars Hollow.
This isn't a time where we should run from our foundations. I know I know. I said I wanted to hide out in Stars Hollow. And I'm not saying I still don't or wouldn't. But it's not time to hide. Our families, our spouses, and our churches are the people we should stand and fight with, not against-- lifting up one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We need to put on the armor of God and fight against the attacks the devil has placed on each of these unions and relationships God has entrusted us with. If God put a relationship in your life, He is trusting you to tend that garden. If Satan can destroy our unity in our families and marriages, He can weaken the body of Christ on much larger scale. If he can break apart our churches or Godly connections, we can be left standing alone with no one to hold us up. Recognize when the devil is at work. Don't abandon your foundations in faith. And Fight!.

2. Don't Get Your Knickers In A Twist. 
The things happening in our nation and in this world are bigger than your issue with dot dot dot...While we are busy daydreaming about greener grass, the devil is busy using that open time slot to run his dirty little agenda. While we get negligent, it opens the door for him to get busy. It's not the time to become selfish. It's not the time be needy. It's not time to run to something bigger, brighter or flashier just because you have issues. It's not even the time to run to something or somewhere smaller because you have issues (Ahem...Stars Hollow), for that matter. Suck it up, buttercup, and let's stop getting our knickers in a twist. We've got bigger (but actually smaller) fish to fry. I'm just saying. Let's not let our issue carry so much weight that it hinders the plan of God for our lives or our churches. This world needs us now more than ever. And it needs the message of strength and hope in Jesus, not division and bitterness.

3. Crawling out of the Depths of Despair.
One of my favorite movies is Anne of Green Gables. One of the best quotes is Anne, over dramatizing as usual, as she says "I'm in the depths of despair." Then she asks Morilla, her adoptive parent, "Are you ever in the depths of despair?" Morilla is point blank. "No!" 
Every now and then, I feel myself start to sink into the depths of despair. I hear something or read something or come face to face with something in life or family or ministry and my feet start sinking in. I want to give in. I want to feel sorry for myself. 
But I've already been there. I've done that. I've had bad stuff happen. I've had issues with him and her and you and them and myself. I've made bad decisions. I've wallowed a bit. Then more. And where did it land me? The depths of despair. I've been through depression. It sucked. I refuse to allow myself to sink into that crumminess again. If you are feeling discouraged, overcome with depression or perhaps in the depths of despair, the Bible says to give all your worries and cares to God. (1 Peter 5:7) Worry or anxiety will do you no good and won't better the situation. It just won't help. I understand depression is real. I know all too well. And thank God for doctors, and even better-prayer and His word to speak over our lives. But if you are just starting to sink, crawl on out before you begin to even start feeling stuck. His Grace is your Strength, friend. 
.
4. Say No to Sweet Nothings.
There is a lot really cool sounding, new things being said these days. New priorities (us). New Agendas (us). It sounds enticing. New doctrines. New churches. New ideology. And guess what, a lot of it is centered around us. What we need, our human rights, our claim to fame, our need to justified, validated, loved and accepted. No matter what we do, it's still about us. It all sounds really romantic. Because of course, God loves us. But when do we start loving Him in return? When do we start making his heart for this lost world our priority? When do we start really helping and loving people by speaking the truth, instead of just validating everyone and everything that comes along? Not everything that is being said is of God. And not everyone that speaks using scripture is God ordained. Use discretion. Know God's Word. Listen for His voice above all others.
 And in all your ways, acknowledge HIM... not them.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5. Stay In Character.
I've had a lot of discussions recently about staying in character. What I mean by that is knowing who you are and not letting the junk in life derail you. And not letting the world around you have it's influence on who you know you really are called to be. Have you felt bored, had a let down, set back, run in, been down played? Have you heard the gossip, read the stories, tasted pain, felt the fear rampant in this world? We all have. But where did it take you? Did you cling to the Lord? Or did it change you? Did it take you down a path further away from His heart or did you draw closer, clinging to His every word? We may have all had different experiences. But we have all known trouble. Living in this world, we are not exempt from these experiences. But in the end, we know we are victorious. Jesus said, "In this world there will be troubles, but I have overcome this world."- John 16:33. We know who has the victory. So don't let troubles change who you once were. Don't let whispers of the world and agendas of the enemy disrupt God's call on your life. Don't become desensitized to God's sweet presence. 

Don't allow yourself to be influenced by it all. YOU be the influence!



Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Being Known Vs Being Loved


We have the same discussion over and over again. My son and I. He's a gamer. He's a youtuber.
That's a thing now. Being a youtuber. I used to be a youtuber several years ago. After a few random and brief episodes, I saw no future in it for myself. But it's hard to explain to an adolescent boy the concept of hard work and sometimes the stroke of luck. Because he doesn't just admire youtubers. Nor does he just intermittently create videos. He has a goal in mind. His goal: being famous. Eventually he wants a full time job of youtubing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Oddly, people make a living off it. And I'm not saying he lacks the skills. He's pretty bright when it comes to this big world of technology we live in. But I don't want him basing his self worth on how many people are subscribed to his channel. Because there have been tears over this. 
He says, "I'm never going to be famous" with that look of defeat on his face.

Most of us have had our "I'm never going to be famous" moment of defeat, in our own way...
As immature as it may sound, (because we all know better), it's all to familiar in our current world. 

When I was a kid, you measured your self worth based on how popular were in school. Lucky for me, I could have cared less. I'm a quiet, keep to myself, kind of person to this day. I don't think it was until I reached the thick of adulthood that I even cared for the approval of others. And it wasn't until the invention of social media that I saw the desperate and silent cry of way too many adults needing to be known. And that look of failure when not everyone on myspace liked your music. 
Suddenly self worth went beyond the high school walls and reached out to win the admiration of not just our peers, but of the entire world . So crazy. But we remain hopeful.

Last fall, I attended the Influence Conference. The final 'big' one. I had to go. I had gone to the first one and I just really wanted to be a part of the final one. I went knowing just a handful of people via social media and blogging and just a handful of people knew me or had even heard 'of' me via social media. I'm going to be honest, It's not the best feeling going somewhere where you don't really know anyone and the people you do know are known by so many others- If that makes sense. But I like to challenge myself occasionally and like every other person who has had a first time for anything, you work your way through the uncomfortable feeling to put yourself out there. And I did the best I could.

I remember leaving the conference and writing up an Instagram post, saying something to this nature: "I didn't know a lot of people. Not alot of people knew me. But everyone I met was friendly and showed me kindness. One thing it taught me was that being known is not the same thing as being loved." 
And I didn't think too much over it until recently

Because I'm an overgrammer. I insta my kids, my days, my location... sometimes a lot. And I like to use a few hashtags, mainly regarding raising kids, having kids etc or along the lines of being a christian woman, reading devotions, having influence. The main reason I use hashtags  is because I write. I write here if I'm feeling ambitious and I write on Instagram when the mood hits. And if I can write something that someone else relates to and if that something will encourage them, help them in any way...than in my own small way I am making a big difference. I may not always know how I'm making a difference, but I try to be responsible with my words and stay open to the leading to the Holy Spirit in everything I say, so my job is done. So I hashtag (at least for now), to put myself and my words out there. It's a simple and mostly harmless way of being seen and heard.

If it was just about being seen and heard for my own sake, I wouldn't do it. This online world we live in has the ability to affect and reach so many more people than ever before in history. We can scoff at technology or reflect on the good old days, but when it comes to our influence, we have more now than ever. And if we don't use our influence for good, someone else will come along and use theirs for bad. So I say, let's do what we can and use the tools in our hands today for the glory of God.

I'm off topic, but this is where I am going. With hashtags and whatnot, comes along a lot of "likes" and "comments" and "follows" that are false in nature. People follow along with the hope of getting you to see them or follow them. Perhaps they own a shop or are a creative of some kind. They write, they speak, they are a fitness coach, they sell wraps, whatever...and sometimes they just have a really cool Instagram aesthetic (which is it's own awesome kind of creativity, in and of itself)!
So I get it. I get people need to put themselves out there, they need to put forth effort to get people to see what they do and what they have to offer.
But where I've learned to draw the line is lacking integrity in doing so (especially if you proclaim Jesus in your bio). When we gain or seek followers under false pretense and someone responds in kindness by following us and then we unfollow once we get their approval (or if we don't get it), I see and hear junior high & high school all over again. It sounds so super silly even typing this out. But as silly as it sounds, it's a real thing with millions of people online desperately hoping for the approval and distant admiration of others, but lacking the integrity to really earn it. If you have any sort of social media account, you've probably know what I am talking about.

I think the reason this has been on my heart is because I've been there. I have felt like I needed people to like or know me when I first started this journey of blogging and writing online. But little by little, God has shown me to just follow his leading. I will affect and reach the people I am supposed to reach if I always stay obedient to Him. Remember Paul when he said "Follow Me as I follow Christ?" (1 Cor 11:1) It wasn't about Paul. He had already been known and not in the best kind of way. That's not what he wanted any longer. But it was about Paul setting an example so in turn others would follow Christ and find hope. 
Maybe today, I will set the example in my home. Maybe this weekend, it will be at my church. Maybe on Tuesday, it will be on the phone or at the grocery store or mall. Maybe next week it will be online. Maybe he needs me to reach 10,000 women or maybe He already has someone else doing that. Maybe I am supposed to reach 10. Maybe He wants me to fiercely promote what He has laid on my heart, or maybe what he is teaching me is just for my small group.
Maybe it changes from day to day.

The point is it's all about Him. It's about making Him known in a real way to this world. It's not about being known or gaining momentum, just to feel admired by a majority. Whether you are a writer, a church, a worship leader, a parent, a creator, a speaker, a photographer, an entreprenuer, an Instagrammer, a doctor, a computer programmer.

Whatever you do. Whatever hats you wear. Make it about Him. And honor that commitment.




Because, being known doesn't always mean being loved. I think our current politics teach us that. There are a handful of names I could spit out right now and everyone in the world would know those names and thousands of people would respond with sarcasm or fury or annoyance. But true love and acceptance comes from your Heavenly Father, who knows every bit of you and from the people in your real life who love you no matter how many or few people admire you from afar off.

If this is an area you are struggling in or have ever struggled in, my prayer is that the Lord to show you the depth of His love for you. That you would feel brave and confident and beautiful knowing who Christ is in you. And that you would seek His wisdom for your life and in following His leading, you would find true happiness and rest in simply being known by Him and doing what He has called of YOU, and you alone. 

His word says He knows the stars by name and every hair on your head. He knows you. 
He knows when you lay your head down and when you wake up. 
He knows your voice shakes when you speak in front of a crowd, but when you counsel a friend, His wisdom comes pouring out smooth as butter. 
He knows, you might look like a kindergartner when you try to create with your hands, but genius shines through when you create online. 
He knows that you write there instead of their, and loose instead of lose and people make up memes about you, but you have the anointing of God flowing through your words when you speak. 
He knows that you can't sing a single note in key, but can certainly make that musician sound amazing in the studio.

It doesn't matter. Because He knows you. 
He is the one who truly knows you. He is the one who truly loves you.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Change Your Picture



I'm told I don't have a life. I don't know how often I've said that to myself. Or thought it.
But it's been a lot.
And I want to address this subject of 'not having a life' we hear of and speak of so often.

About 3 weeks ago, I was honored with the good ol' parental obligation of taking away privileges. It became a big thing in our home that day. BIG. I won't even go into the original reason, but we took computer privileges away from my oldest, about to be a teenager-but still a child, son. The original sentencing consisted of 2 days or so, but gradually additional days were added per attitude. Somehow, we wound up around the 2 1/2 week mark with no laptop, no phone.

He has only had a phone for a couple of weeks and technically it doesn't have service, but it's my old phone and is still able to connect to WiFi, so we thought we'd let him use it, all the while making it clear that it is still my phone and I am able to let whomever use it of my choosing. But mainly, he's the oldest, so we let him keep tabs on it. It was long awaited and begged for and he loved it from the moment it was handed over. So along with the laptop (his first love), it was the 2nd to go.

When do I get it back?- is always the first question. Usually in disgust.
NOT how can I change my attitude to get it back or what can I do to win your trust again, Mom?
When rolled eyes (by him) and pure frustration (by me) changed to let's sit down and talk, I was finally able to pull together my thoughts on what was happening and why. And then we talked.
"You will get it back when I feel you understand what life is really about and what it's not about."
I know that's big and deep, but it's not really. Life is not about the computer. Life is not about the phone. Or the tablet. Or the Wii U. Or the Xbox One. Or even 'wince'... Netflix. The computer we let you use is not a right. It is a privilege.  And your phone is not real life. When I say "Do your homework" or "It's time for church" or "Get ready for school" or "Come and eat" or "Let's do something as a family" - I am not interrupting your real life with things like family/ God/ responsibility because I loathe you and want to (I quote) ruin your life. Despite what you may feel at that moment.

Life is simple at this point. God. Family. Responsibilities. That's what I told him.
That's what having a life is. For real.
(I will add friendship on as well, because obviously that is important. But if you tell that to a 12 year old in the year 2016, with friendship automatically comes skype and gaming or things of the like, and we aren't going there for now.)

My heart to heart with my son turned into a day date with him with lots of hugs, apologies and him nodding his head in agreement of what I was trying to teach him. We had a fun day. However my words sat with me so much longer than that day.
What is life really about?

Just days later, those very words "you don't have a life" were casually flung in my direction (not by my son, for the record). Whether or not it was intended doesn't matter, because either way it made me think hard about what I do each day, what I want to be doing and who I am doing it for....

I don't currently work outside the home. I had a good 20+ years of work on the outside starting at the age of 14 and will probably get back there someday and will have the rest of my life to do so, but for now I stay home with my little man and of course, my four kids in the summer. I don't really want to miss a moment. (Well, maybe a couple moments wouldn't hurt -hint: free babysitters please) But it's just where I am, personally. And it's where I want to be. Over the course of the ups and downs of my adult life, I've realized what I want out of this life and I am 'going for it."
Going for it sounds small to to others when you are "just sitting around" -at home. But raising a family, being with your children and involved in almost every single moment of every day and experiencing every moment with them is gigantic. And beautiful. And exhausting too, in it's own way. If being a mom and who God called me to be isn't enough, I do also home school my oldest son part time (which even part time feels like a full time job some days- props to you full time home school Mommas!). I watch other peoples kids occasionally so they are able to work. And I volunteer more hours than people realize for our church all week long. Not to mention, I write my heart out when I can squeeze in some midnight moments like tonight.
But primarily in this season of my life, it is my honor to just be Mom. I can't imagine it any other way. When I tickle and snuggle my baby boy after the big kids leave for school in the mornings or when I pick my girls up from school and Leila talks my ear off or when I sit with Jada and we do devotions together or when I sit with Wesley and we go over his home school lessons together and he gets distracted with telling me minecraft stories, I never ever thought of it as not having a life. Every single time, I think to myself, this is what life is all about. Honoring the Lord, by loving my family and training them in the way they should go. This is the desire God has given me. In this particular season, yes, this is what I am designed for. For such a time as this...

All the other things we can desire or strive for on this earth, I wouldn't say they are always distractions from the true abundant life, but they certainly can be if we let real life become more about them and less about what will stick with us...

It makes me ponder all the Mommas out there who have had this very thought or said these very words out loud. I don't have a life.  I don't get any sleep. I can't get a babysitter. I don't ever get a break. I used to love to read. I wish I had time for myself. We say it jokingly in our facebook posts or to the other moms, but half way crying on the inside, wondering where our life went. All this because real life is kicking your tail every single day.
Girl, you DO have a real life... and this is it. The circumstances may have changed (and become better really, I think)...But this is abundance if you know how to really live smack dab in the middle of it.
Be so so thankful and embrace each breath, each giggle, each minute. Work hard and at the same time, just rest. You're doing it. You do have it all. The dream. You just have to change the picture in your head of what life is supposed to be. (Thanks for that, Hart of Dixie!)

To all the Mommas that work so hard outside the home and come home to just a few short hours with their babies each night, to all the Mommas busy creating and writing and designing in between those home school lessons, to all the Mommas who desperately love their children, and are taking care of someone else's children too and never seem to have a kid free moment... I just want you to know, what you are doing is important. This is life. It's not a matter of not having one. It's a matter of what you what you want out of it, make of it, who the grace comes from and all glory goes to.

Change Your Picture.

When our desire and pursuit of God's heart, 
our recognition of the beautiful design of family (and friendship), 
our ambition to take on responsibility genuinely and with integrity, 
and our passion for honoring the Lord by using our talents and chasing those dreams God placed inside of us...
When these things all come together, then we have found a beautiful life and yes, a real life.
We have found the abundant life Jesus wanted for us and gives us. 
It's not about the things, the jobs, the titles, the comparisons...
It's about knowing who you are in Christ and embracing all He's placed around you and on the inside of you. Don't let it sit there. Stand tall in those roles you play in life. Wear all those hats proud. And as you do every moment, do it in honor to the one who gave it all to you.




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