Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I've learned that water is essential, that goodbyes are hard in English or in Spanish. I've learned that God's hands reach from highways to dirt roads and hold us all when we need it most. I've learned that smiles and hugs bridge language barriers and that when God nudges you to go, you should always, always, always listen.
 I've held hands and heard giggles from little girls not my own. I've missed my Madison and wondered what she would think about these girls, beautiful and happy. My heart doesn't ache as I thought it would, but rejoices in seeing God remain God in the Dominican as well as in the U.S. My faith has been strengthened, in our Lord, in His ways, in His grace.
 I've formed friendships that were divinely put together. We traveled together over the ocean and experienced a country, a bus ride and a batey that few will ever encounter. I've felt God's hand. I've seen compassion bloom and faith meet actions. That is a beautiful thing to see. 

I would wonder why God would call me...and felt assured when we spoke about Jonah at our CrossTalks. That everyone had a Jonah moment coming there, a reason to not be there, a reason to not be adequate for the calling. I've lived the saying 'God doesn't call the qualified, but qualifies the called.' I've lived it. And I've seen it breathed to life through other team members.

I've felt encouragement from our church family, their prayers and their hopes back home that we would do something good to further the Kingdom of God. The whole church went, you know. The prayers gave flight and off we went. He said to go, and so we went. Some stayed home so others could go. Some worshipped the King of Kings and prayers so strongly that we knew this trip would be blessed. We showed God's love through our actions--through building bridges, breaking ground, snuggling sweet babies.  We hoped to be great ambassadors for His Kingdom.
I've seen mothers love their children and been blessed with the site of this. I saw a parallel between my role back home and their role there...loving, raising, hoping for these babies. Beautiful, beautiful babies. One God Himself breathed life into, just like my own baby back home.
I witnessed children want love, need love, strive for love and affection, nothing abnormal from children back home. I witnessed different personality types...the strong ones, the shy ones, the maternal ones that would have a different baby on her hip everytime I'd see her despite her age of 9, the loud ones, the funny ones, the happy ones...The happy ones make your heart want to burst at the seams. Their smiles so white and so beautiful. They smile fully, not hiding a single tooth it seems. Some of my heart is still there...entangled in those smiles and those big brown eyes...
We fed over nine thousand people, with rice and beans.  We scooped carefully to not waste a single serving, we heard thank you's in English and in Spanish. We saw God's work and His promises fulfilled. Such a small meal to us is everything to them. 

I met a woman named Alexandria. My broken Spanish coupled with her broken English managed a conversation that claimed us both as Christians, what a miraculous thing. Her name. My name. Her age. My age. Christiano? Jesus Christo?? Si. Yes. Glory to God, Glory to God. That's what its all about...
I read a letter written by Eledena, age 11, beautiful girl. Thanking us for loving her. For..loving...her. And my eyes flooded with tears of happiness and heartbreak. And when thinking about it more my eyes fill with tears to know His grace is sufficient for her, too. He has His hands on her, just as He does on me. How thankful I am for this...
Thank you to everyone who prayed for this trip, for our team and for the people we were touching as we traveled. Your prayers have reached farther than you will ever know. 

Gloria a Dios
Glory to God


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Due process...

Application. Committee votes. 50 Hours. Home Visit. Board Approval Required. Classes to Start. 200 Hours to Log. Down Payment Required. Moving From Here to a Temporary There. Then There to Another There. A Final There.

So long weekends, hello hardhat.
Bye bye lunchbreak, hello filing.

Right now, we're living for a prayer....
Please pray for us? :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What I would say to her...

"I know you love him. I know, really. I really, really know. And I understand that, I do. But, will you love him when you're twenty four and divorced? Will you love him when he hurts you? Will you love him enough to become that girl, you know the one. The one you've always read about, did papers about, advocated for. You'll become her. You'll be scared of him. You'll love him with a white-hot fire and give up so much just to take his hand. And it'll be you and him against the world...until its not anymore.

These feelings, this ache inside, that tell you how you need him. How you can't live without him...they're deceiving you, young girl. They're tricking your head who knows better to follow your heart who yearns for love, acceptance.

He's not your one. And everyone has a one. And no matter how hard you try, you can't make him your one. It doesn't work like that. God doesn't appoint him to be that for you...you did..and you'll see the consequences of your actions soon enough.

You'll have bruises, on your arms and on your heart. And you'll carry around this baggage that no one sees for years. You'll make excuses for him. You'll call yourself clumsy. You'll fall apart and see the people you love a different way after watching them help piece you back together. They were never against you, they were against your self-destruction by adding him into your life.

There were good qualities, I know. But love like that doesn't last without a foundation to stand on, without God holding you up together. And you will break. And you will cry. And you will feel pain like you've never felt before.

You'll say to yourself if you leave him that you're scared for his safety; that you don't know if he'd hurt himself. You have a kind heart, but those thoughts aren't normal. They don't belong to normal sixteen year old girls. They belong to girls that are getting into years worth of abuse and that's a trick he's played. And in this game of making you lose yourself, he won.

There are going to be so many bad days. Days full of tears and self-loathing. There are days you want to move on, to see there is hope in something else but he'll pull you back in with those green eyes. He'll tell you you are the only one he'll ever love.

You'll believe him and you'll be involved in adult situations with him without thinking there might be adult consequences. You know its wrong, but you won't care. It will eat away at your soul. You'll feel worthless. Its all a trap. Get out!

But you'll stay.

You'll make a promise to God to never do it again, because you know its wrong.
But you will. Tomorrow night. When you see him again. You'll fall again.
And its a tailspin downward...
please stop losing yourself to gain him.
love doesn't have to be like that.

And then you'll discover what love unconditionally really feels like..
when you feel a little one kick inside your tummy for the first time.
And it delivers you from this.
Every reason to stay has become a reason to go.
Your safety, her safety.
You name your baby, he detaches.
You make a vow before God to love each other forever. He laughs in his heart knowing this means nothing. He'll seek other women. You'll know you have a greater purpose. He'll lose himself to drugs, to late nights with friends, to drinking, to sex...
God's delivering you. When you think you're alone, youll feel another kick. When you cry because he hasn't come home all night, your tears will start drying faster.

You know you're made for more of this.
You fall in love with your family when they hold you until your sobs slow and your breathing becomes steady again. They'll promise you better days although you won't see them for a while.
You'll realize they've loved you all along. You've meant something all along.

You'll change diapers, you'll stare into her eyes, you'll be up all night for feedings and you'll be exhausted.

He'll leave.
You'll leave.
He'll come back and try to hang on..
He'll hurt you.
He'll threaten you.
Damage is done. Police come out.
Its too late.
And in your heart you just want a family.
Then you realize you have your family in your arms.
And you run.
Your family comes to your rescue with a truck and hauls away belongings.
Bouncy seats, pink blankets and cribs blow in the air as you'll stare out the window wondering how this ever happened.
You feel an ache to the core of your being hurting you, ripping away at your heart.
But you'll keep running.
You'll run far away from him and his devastating words and his anger that becomes black-blue on your skin.
You'll do anything to protect your reason for living, a living legacy of your father by name-sake whose blue eyes can make everything seem alright, if only for a minute.
You're a mother at age nineteen.

Years go by. Nothing changes. He has a new girlfriend before the divorce is even official. The pain stings and you feel hot tears on your face and you'll call yourself stupid for caring. You know this is better. You know he won't change.
You'll still prayer in silence for his salvation, for God to deliver him and heal him.

It'll be a year since you've even seen him soon...
And while you wouldn't change it, you now know why God warns against this.

You'll know why God all along has said to have your foundation in Him, not someone else.
And you'll see that All things DO work for the good of those who love HIM.

Your life won't be easy. But its exactly where you need to be.
And sometimes you'll still feel those hot tears streaming down your face for no reason at all because honestly, he damaged you. But know that God's repairing you, little by little you'll get better. And it will get easier.

But, guard your heart, girl. Guard it with all your might.
Because you know all too well how deceiving it can be..."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We're Going to the Dominican...


*check it out! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

15 Things I Don't Do Anymore...

  1. Think everything is about me. (its not, and it never has been.)
  2. Throw tantrums to get my way. (this only made me look childish)
  3. Put my friends before my family. (family is very sacred to me.)
  4. Question God's plan for my life. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. Have 'friends' that bring me down and only bring negative into my life. (they were never friends anyway.)
  6. Think clothing labels define me as a person. (if I shop, its yardsales, goodwill and ross.)
  7. Compromise my morals and what I know is right for "love" (song of solomon 8:5.)
  8. Never apologize when I'm wrong. (I hurt when I know I've hurt people.)
  9. Listen to music that glorifies things of this world. (positive, uplifting music changes your attitude.)
  10. Depend on money for my happiness. (a garden hose is just as much fun on a hot summer day as shopping.)
  11. Think the dishes are more important than storytime. (they can wait.)
  12. Think that manual, hard work is beneath me. (having no husband, I do things myself or they aren't done at all.)
  13. Hate cats. (I love Chloe.)
  14. Think any situation is hopeless. (With God, all things are possible.)
  15. Hold onto a grudge. (Let it fly, release, and forgive.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We're not so different after all...

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

The way it should be.

But the way it is leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A bitter taste. Metallic like rust, stinging like venom entering my bloodstream. Why does so much discourse exist within the realm of Christians when there is spiritual warfare raging all around us? Are there not enough weapons being aimed at us without being hit by 'friendly fire'?

Do you realize the potential here, my brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you realize the potential to make a city for our God, our Redeemer? To be the hands of feet of the One, Alpha and Omega? Matthew 5:14 tells us, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." 'You' doesn't mean me. 'You' doesn't mean you. You, in context, means us. We people, mighty and brave for God's Word, His truth. God's people, the Grace-granters, the Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We people, us people.

Me and you, and him and her. And them, there. All of us. Across the street in a mighty brick building, across the street in a rental property. With ties and suits, with jeans with mud. Arriving on a motorcycles, arriving in a Lexus. On a pulpit, on Welfare. We are called to be the people of God, united.

I pray, the enemy doesn't find place in our discriminations, our comforts of our four walls held together by cement or brick and mortar. I pray, the enemy doesn't find place in judgments over electric guitars versus organs. I pray, we never dare to give the enemy place to let us judge a body of Christ without sitting in the seats, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit running throughout. We may not look alike, but don't we seek the same?

Why are your hands clinched tight into fists?

I think, God has given us each a spiritually fingerprint. I am different from you. Our pasts don't match. My testimony includes storms God has blessed me with. Your testimony includes battles that I may never have fought. But the end of our stories are the same, Christ redeemed us. We came to Him dirty, ragged messes of people and He has made us new and beautiful in His sight. He loves us!
 And these fingerprints are no mistake. Because as our identities and stories will never match completely, there are parts that will correlate with other lost people, and they will see how God has redeemed even us, the sinners that we are. And there is the relationship. The bridge that crosses boundaries to start a conversation about the Grace of God, the gift we've never deserved.
I'm a single mother with a heart desperate for God. A hard road to travel. And this storm God has given me allows me to reach others, to help when I can because we've been in similar places. We've asked God why and held babies alone crying in the dead of night. And that makes us kindred spirits. And there's the stepping stone that God's placed between us.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God has given us preferences for the Glory of His Kingdom, to unite these bonds between Grace-filled and the world. Use these gifts for good! Do not let the Devil use them for his purposes.  An internet broadcast of a sermon reaches people that a Sunday morning message may not. A man dressed in Goodwill donations may solicit more trust from the homeless than a man in a freshly dry-cleaned suit. What I am saying is these preferences, these things that we prefer, are gifts and you can either use them as a tool to serve God with or you can let them break this bond that we should have as believers. Its our choice, brothers and sisters. Our choice.

Let's unite and look Satan in the face for our Lord. 
Let's bring a revolution to this city for His Glory, in His name. 
We can start this one by one, but oh, how much stronger we will be standing together.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I've come into habit to expect the stones that make me stumble while walking my path of faith. I've come to expect targets being drawn on my back as I worship the one Creator of the Universe. I've come to expect the world to be cruel because this is not my home.

Because not all enemies carry swords and arrows, some just carry a grudge.

Romans tells us, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;"...

Think about that with your Americanized mind for a moment, rejoice in sufferings??? Really, God? Seriously? You have got to be kidding me...

My reaction was just that a few years ago as I felt persecution, as I felt the Devil having a field-day with my family, my life. He was celebrating our misery. Celebrating our shortcomings. And I knelt over and let him dance right upon my back, pushing my face further into the mud of this world.

And suffering has come knocking again. The shortcomings have come calling.
Financial burdens, friendships put under stress, work related agonies all here. Building an army to destroy my castle in the sand.
But, I think the Devil missed the memo that I've been made new...I have the King of Kings on my side, the Rock of Ages standing strong.

Take the castle in the sand, Satan. 

"Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you 'Don't panic, I'm right here to help you.'" Isaiah 41:13 (The Message)

 God has GREAT things in store for my life for His glory, not my own. 
And I will REJOICE in these shortcomings. I will REJOICE in these burdens. I will REJOICE in the Lord, our God, who loves me at my lowest of lows and my highest of highs. I am a child of the KING and no target on my back can ever take that away from me!
So if you're feeling the troubles that come along with this life, know you aren't alone. God is for you! He delights in making us new,  restoring us for His glory. Don't believe the lie the enemy whispers in your ear. You are NOT alone. You have brothers and sisters here on this earth willing to pray for you, to lift you up. And you are in God's hands. He is faithful. He is good. And He will never abandon you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Porch times...

The porch at my mother and father's house has for years been a place of comfort, solace, support. Words are said, embraced, untangled and left honest and open for our loved one's discretion. We laugh so hard and learn so much. We love so hard and our loyalty knows no boundaries here. The breeze whips through the trees and makes them whisper secrets of their own. Sticks crack in the woods and we know we're not alone there in the dark with our solitary porch light shining much more than just on our flesh, but down on our souls. All is exposed here. There are no secrets, there are no pasts that we don't know about. This tie that bonds grows stronger as each evening passes that we sit in the plastic chairs painted red and remember our old times and talk about our new times. Words leave our lips and find ears willing to listen, console, help. I always leave a piece of my heart there on that porch when I leave. Its never a scheduled activity, youll never find it on my planner. But, these times are worth it all. In the daytime hours we slap mosquitoes, watch kids run around in the yard growing before our very eyes, and smell hotdogs cooking on the grille. We wipe sweat from our brows and sometimes a bottle of water is poured on a poor unsuspecting soul. We love this. We love our family. In the nighttime hours, we drink coffee, smell the fresh air and exhale knowing we're blessed. We're blessed with this family, with these friends. We're blessed to know these good times, to call them our own. Every time the chairs are pulled out and the crickets chirp we all know summer has come and the porch times have started again. The treefrog lurches towards his moth dinner and the kids sit amazed, and sometimes the adults also. Its simple times, its the best of times. Its a gift thats always there year after year and welcomes back another summer of ninety degree weather, sweat, and smiles. I think we're all better for being a part of this, a club with no name, a family thats bound.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


There are millions of people in this world. Millions, wait, billions. Trillions? Bazillions? I'm not sure the exact figure and honestly, when I finally figured out the actual figure it would've already changed, again. So, lets just go with there are a whole heck of a lot of people in this world.

You're welcome for that. You didn't even know, huh?

Point being, I read the obituaries the other day. I don't do this often because it makes me quite sad and mortal feeling. I think about death and losing my pyramid of family that holds me up. Death makes me uncomfortable and probably rightly so. I haven't experienced it lately, in a hit-home-hard sort of way. The last time I had death strike me was in high school and I've tied that memory up in such a way that even a Boy Scout couldn't untangle it. I feel like since I haven't experienced it lately, that its my turn to? I guess that sounds odd, because that's not how God works and in my heart of hearts I know this. But still, it looms in the back of my mind.

Back to the obituary reading...

I was reading because on Monday of this week I experienced death. I was bustling on my way to work. Loaded up the kid, piled in the car, we were late. (when are we not late, really?) It was about ten til 8 in the morning and I drive like a grandma on a normal basis. I was going fifty in a fifty-five in the fast lane (don't you hate people like me doing that?). People were annoyed, and proceeded to get in the slow lane to pass me. That's alright. I'm not mad about that. I looked down at my speedometer and thought maybe that wasn't ok and decided I needed to get over. Then it happened...
On this four lane (it had a turning lane also, does that make it a five lane?) highway, my eyes locked on a car in the lane parallel to mine. Silver car hit its brakes, and red car was speeding towards it...red car never saw the brakes. And then the collision. The red car crumpled like a soda can being stepped on. The impact pushed the silver car into my lane and there I was, looking at an over-sized speeding bullet barreling into my lane. I remember yelling "No, no, no!" My brakes screamed and I went into the turn lane. God's hands were on my wheel. How do I know this, you ask? Because I've never been good at defensive driving. My response time is about 2 minutes, and as we all know that isn't the time that's allotted in a motor vehicle accident about to take place...

God delivered us.
But the man in the red car, I don't think had another chance.
And it all happened in the blink of an eye.

So what's the point in all this rambling?

Its this: People die daily, thousands of people die. Never getting another chance to accepts Christ's sacrifice as their own, never gaining salvation. And they're going to Hell. Not for a week, not until they do better, but forever. FOREVER. Why are we immune to this? Why do these figures not kill us inside as Christians? Why are we not doing everything we can to help? Why do we chase the American dream instead of lost souls for God? Its shaken me. And honestly, it should shake you. I don't know where to begin, its such a massive problem. And I feel like a lot of Christians have, helpless. But we're not...the revolution for God starts with one step, one decision, one commitment. You don't have to sell your house and move to Ethiopia, but if God calls you to do that, cool. If not, He might call you to talk to the struggling elderly couple you see walking down the road or the child without a father. He calls each of us to something specific for us because he knows us better than we know ourselves. So next time your stomach goes in knots for the orphan in Guatamala on the tv screen or hear about the the tornado victims on the radio, pray. Pray for God's guidance because that knot is there for a reason and I believe its God telling us something. Let's help, lets help just one soul feel the joy of God's love, lets share of passion of our salvation with a friend, lets do what we can while we can here...

Monday, May 23, 2011

These Quiet Hours

We turn off the television.

What's that sound in the Carolina sky? Crickets and frogs. Cicades and cars rushing past. 
Its comforting, really. It sounds like home. 

I'm in an interesting point in my life right now. I feel like I'm waiting. I'm waiting on God.

I'm waiting on God to point me in the direction He seems fit, and it seems like I keep trying to jump ship. That's not what He's called me to do. So I'm sitting here listening to the summer's anthem chirping and croaking, singing and buzzing outside. But there's a fire that's starting within me...

There's a missions trip this October with my church [won't you please pray for us?] and I've signed up to go. I don't know how, but I know if its God's will I will be helping to build a warehouse in the Dominican Republic in the fall this year. So this summer is about change.

Change in direction, change in attitude, change in habits. 

Change. He is redirecting my eyes. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

never forget moments like these.

The heat of summer burning my skin while fishing with my dad.

The smell of pecan pie coming from my mother's oven at Christmas.

The truth behind the peace you will find with God, in His time...not your own.

The belly laugh coming from a ticklish toddler who has so much love in her eyes for you.

The mixed scent of chewing tobacco and manual labor from my grandpa.

Olive green kitchen appliances at my Mawmaw's, with a couch so comfortable I could sleep for days.

My uncle Tim's steady helping hand, a ride to the beach together revealing much more about him as a person.

Feeling safe, feeling loved.

Sweat dripping from my brow, running down my face while listening to a concerts in a 90 degree North Carolina summer.

Sitting on my mom and dads from porch talking to friends, sharing laughter, sharing pain.

Hardships, they let you see how far you've come.

My birthday with my old high school friends, feeling included, so young.

Beholding beauty in my newborn baby. How beautifully God crafted her in me...

Holding hands and feeling my heart beat faster for the first time.

Feeling conviction in my heart during church services or through God's word, breaking down in tears.

Catching a big fish. I mean, a very, very big fish with my Mom and Uncle and Sister.

My sister waking me up first thing in the morning to take me to breakfast. It meant so much more than she knew.

Freedom, a heart free of pain and sadness and regret. God makes no mistakes.

Eating tomatoes off the vine with my Dad...

rest in these memories in troubled times for they will see you through to happier times...

Friday, April 1, 2011

On tea kettles and trust...

The thing is not only do I own a tea kettle, but I also really love hot tea. Now, please don't confuse my love for hot tea with a dislike of sweet tea, but as we all know you cannot be from the South and dislike sweet tea. Its in a rulebook written somewhere.
Really, it is.
Despite my love for hot tea, I haven't had it in years. Yes, even though I own a kettle. I've decided there's a couple reasons for this.
1.) It requires patience for the water to be hot enough...
2.) Its a hot drink and I really enjoy instant gratification thirst-wise.

My patience hasn't ever been my strongest characteristic. Is it your's? If so, nice to meet you; you're my new hero. If not, welcome to the club.

I usually want things right now and despite really wanting some hot tea, I have figured out that I haven't had any in about two years now. Two years. Thats a long time to go without something that you actually enjoy. There's just something about the smell of hot tea, so calming.
I think I also relate hot tea with time to relax, which I haven't had much of that in the past two years.

Life has sort of flew off the handle in the past few years. Its feels like I'm sort of stuck in a story that I'd gossip about back in high school..
that poor girl, she should've known, I'm sorry to hear that, hopefully it gets better for her...

But the thing is, its not promised to get better right now, is it? God delights in seeing us through these troubled times, these storms. That's when the attention and need for Him is the greatest.
I've recently discovered that trusting Him daily is a choice.
Isn't that a simple statement? So simple, yet so very true. I've recently went through some hard times, well lots of hard times. And there were times I would cry, I would ask God why these things have happened...

Its like with the tea, I really loved God but I didn't want to wait for His answers...I'd rather just make my own. And He would whisper ever so gently in my ear, "Wait, child."
Thats really hard to hear though time and time again.
I'm human, and we all want it...this instant gratification that the world has afflicted us by needing. This world has made us think that we need our situations date stamped with expiration dates, but honestly there is no date stamp with God. We have been given a promise that 'all things work for the good of those who love God." and it is a daily choice to trust His promise, to trust His love for us. 

Things will work for the good of His children for the glory of our gracious Heavenly Father.
 And I have truly experienced this in the past week.
I feel like God has taken my hand and lead me through some very hot waters...and right now, its time to relax and enjoy a cup of tea...

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