Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Preparing to Plunge

I am not under any allusions that the new year holds some magical ability to help strengthen peoples resolve to fulfill commitments and new goals that they set out for themselves to accomplish. Still, there is something so fresh and exciting about a new year, that it still makes me want to try new and exciting things.

So here I am. About to start a 40 day fast.

"Uh, so when was the last time you fasted Katrina?"

Well, if we don't count the forced fast from eggs and beans, part of my gallbladder episode that lasted over a year, then it would be about 3 years since I can remember trying to fast anything in a serious sort of way.

Yet my desire for more of the Lord is there, and physically there is nothing that says I can't (nursing/pregnancy/etc).

So here I go, plunging into purposeful poverty. I am choosing voluntary weakness as a means to seek more of the Lord. It is the way of the Kingdom of God.

Misty Edwards even sings a song about such things, the words go something like this:

The way of God is the wilderness, it's always been the wilderness,
The way of God is weakness, it is voluntary weakness.

I choose voluntary weakness in this season, because I want the best that God has for me in this next season.

My theology for why I fast is a little fuzzy. I don't have great principles to expound on here, I just know from history and my own past that fasting works to draw my heart nearer to the Lord's heart. For that, it is worth it.

Am I very intimidated by this fast?

Absolutely.

Will I fail and slip up?

Maybe, but perfection is not the point.

Even if I do it completely perfect, that may not be any better than a flawed attempt. In fact, knowing how the Lord works, I may not get as close to the Lord if I do it 100% perfect, because then at the end of it I might say in my heart "look Lord, I did it" and He will be like, "Great, you think you earn something now."

Where as, if I do slip up a few times, or wallow in some pathetic moments along the way, then it just might show that I truly am weak and broken and I need the Lord's strength. Then, whatever is gained from the fast will be grace and a gift to me, and I will know it in my heart.

So then, should I set out to fail, so that grace may abound?

Certainly not - says Paul (Romans 6:1-2).

I will do my best to stick to what I am committing to do, while at the same time, understanding the grace and love of the Lord.


With that said, here is the fast I am preparing to start tomorrow.

I will be fasting social media (which for me just means facebook), sweets and treats, and movies.

I will be blogging every day to chronicle the journey.

I will fast one meal a day the final 7 days of the fast.

I will be happy sounding some days and pathetic the next, so be prepared if you plan to read about me during the next 40 days.


I hope you enjoy my honesty during this journey, and that it inspires you to try it some time.


Stay tuned for more.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Making Me Believe pt5

During the "Compassion training" step of the journey I had several dreams that highlighted my need for compassion and true discernment. (Read about the Compassion training part of the story here.)

For example. In one dream there was a demonic cat that kept showing up in my house. I kicked the crap out of that cat and kept throwing it out of my house, but then an authority figure came to me and simply rebuked the demonic spirit in the cat. Then the cat was tame, and we kept it as a pet. The lesson was that the problem was not the cat, it was the spirit behind it. I had been focused on the wrong thing.

This happened several times in a couple different dreams, and always the key was that I was not fighting against flesh and blood. I was to have compassion for the people in these situations, even those the enemy was using against me. To wield my sword effectively, I had to be accurate in my knowledge of who the enemy was, and then to separate the enemy from his weapon of choice (another person) not only in my mind, but to rebuke and bring freedom (if I could) to the person involved. 

Perhaps that is a little heady of an idea to wrap your mind around. It was for me too. I like things simple, but God does not make everything so simple. Here is another example/scenario to explain the picture I am trying to paint.

Imagine a child being used as a suicide bomber against you and your neighborhood. You have a weapon. What do you do?

Is the child the enemy? No.

Can that child still blow me and many others to bits? Yes.

The world would say, "kill the one to save the many", but that is not the way of the Kingdom of God. The Lord desires that not even one should perish.

So how do you do it?

In a perfect situation, you would neutralize the child so that he can not harm himself or others while you disassemble the bomb. It is a messy thing, fraught with danger. Then, in keeping with the Lord's ideas, you would welcome that broken child into your home and offer him food from your own table. 

That is the way of the Kingdom.

It was offensive to my mind, even my Christian mind, the first time the Lord began to show me pictures of this truth. I did not have compassion toward the bombers. I was ready to off them for the greater good to the body of Christ. How wrong my heart motives were? I did not have the things of Christ in mind.

So compassion. I must have compassion (for even the pawns) before I can move forward in spiritual authority.

Oh, and some of you may be thinking, "but how unreal is that example. Who, in your easy suburban life could be equal to a suicide bomber in your midst?" Well, perhaps that was a bit strong of a picture, but the enemy uses even my loved ones to stir up strife in my home. He likes to use those closest to us to try and wound us. Heck, he even uses my own emotions against me! The point is not to lash out at the one who is hurting us, or causing the problem, it is to lash out at the one behind the chaos and the pain. Does that make sense?

I certainly do not react the way I wish to all the time. In a pinch I will still strike at the one who is hurting me. When I am in pain, I am not very logical or compassionate. If I have time to pray though, the Lord will give me direction in the fight, and the outcome is always better when I act on the Lord's wisdom, and not my own. I say again, my fight is not against flesh and blood. Now I just need to train myself to always respond with that motto, even when I'm in pain.
I am still on this leg of the journey, to be sure!

Stay tuned for more.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Garment of Praise

Texas has been our home now for over three months. We like it here, a lot.

In some ways this move was easier than our move from Kansas City to South Carolina, and in other ways, this move was harder and completely different.

One of the ways this move is so different is that once we arrived and got settled in, the Lord began to make it clear to us that the vision for why we moved was not actually what we would be doing. Well, not exactly. Texas was correct. I know that much in my heart. 

The rest......mainly, our involvement in the missions school, seems to not be so certain. I don't have clear direction on what we are suppose to be doing instead, but it seems to me, that the Lord has sealed the door shut on the missions school.....at least for now. Who knows. The peace I feel about that particular subject though speaks enough to me on its own. I'm fine with letting the subject rest.

So what are we here to do then, Lord?

I imagine Him sitting up there with a mischievous smile saying, "wouldn't you like to know..."

Notice I said 'mischievous', which is not 'malicious'. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to bring you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

So we are waiting upon the Lord.......and waiting is hard. Really hard.

"but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they will mount up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint," Isaiah 40:31

My strength IS finally feeling somewhat renewed today, for the first time in weeks. 

See, I had a melt down about 2 weeks ago, where I was filled with despair and doubts and fear. It nearly overwhelmed me and I had an emotional outburst about how I was feeling about our lack of clear direction. It was ugly, and even as I was spewing my emotional turmoil, I knew I was essentially having a spiritual temper tantrum.

Can we say 'pathetic'?

After it was over though, I felt the Lord's gentleness toward me. He wasn't shocked by my lack of faith, or strength, or hope. 

One of the accusations that I flung at the Lord that day was that I was tired of being 'the awesome missionary wife who use to be at IHOP and who walks in so much faith and has it all figured out, and is an awesome mom, wife, friend".

As if people actually hold me at some high, unrealistic standards and judge me silently when they see me struggling in any (or all) of those areas. 

But then the Lord whispered to me in the silence after my storm.
"Who thinks that unrealistic lie about you? Isn't it you?"

Wow....... yes..........me.

I am the one holding myself to that unrealistic standard. 

Since then the Lord has been speaking to me about why I had that standard for myself, and how valuable I am to Him even though I bring nothing to the table in our relationship. I am not lesser in His eyes just because I don't know what we are doing here in Texas. He knows, and when He is ready, He will make it happen and it will bring glory to His name. Not my name. I will not be able to take a bit of the glory, because I won't be making it happen. I will just be walking it out, and even that will require His help.

Sobering, freeing, beautiful, and lovely truth.

I feel as though I have been gliding through the last few days. A great weight has lifted off my shoulders.  Even as I write this I am realizing it is a fulfillment of a prophetic word I received only 3 weeks ago (about a week before the meltdown).

A very dear woman in our church referenced the story where David fasted and prayed for his son to not die, but when the child did die, he got up and washed himself and put on clean clothes. She also mentioned the scripture in Isaiah 61 where it says: "to give unto them beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness".

She asked if that was accurate at all for me. 

I nodded and we talked about the Lord removing that spirit of heaviness, and I confessed, even then that I was feeling heavy with our lack of direction. The fear of not knowing what we should be doing. That same day, another woman who doesn't know either of us gave a prophetic word to us about the Lord's direction for us, that He has a great adventure for us.

So the Lord knew my heart was heavy and He tried to tell me to give over my burden to Him, but I was still thinking that if I just fought a little harder, I could show Him what a good 'fighter' I am, what a faithful servant, what a calm and collected daughter I really in, and then the breakthrough would come.

I failed to remember that He sees our hearts, and my heart was exhausted and sad, and full of fear.

So I had my tantrum, the Lord took the opportunity to speak some hard things to me, and now I am lighter, happier, and ready to do some more waiting.

As if that isn't enough to cause me joy upon joy, today was a particularly beautiful day.

Today it was as if I could feel the Lord taking notice of me, from behind me, from across the room, from all around me. I could feel His eyes on me, and I felt so loved and valued. I knew that I wasn't doing anything special, but He lavished His love on me today in more ways than one.

My strength to wait upon the Lord has been renewed. Yet even in my weakness (weak moments) I am strong.

All I have to do is keep saying yes to the Lord. Today I say yes again.....to waiting upon the Lord.

PS. Since I experienced these things (the tantrum and then sweet revelation), I would like to also mention that the Lord has given us some direction and vision for this next season. If you would like to read about it, feel free to visit my husband's blog here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Randomness

I haven't had a randomness post for a while.

These random thoughts were written back in October 2013, but I'm just now getting around to posting them. Still, when I re-read my randomness I found it slightly entertaining. Here is a snapshot of my life and what kinds of things I like, think, experience.

Anyhow - on to the randomness. (btw, randomness posts are just a bunch of random thoughts or snippets of stories that I throw together). Enjoy.


#1 Tonight we had small group, and Keith was already breathing heavy (on the verge of tears) by the time we walked thru the door. He has figured out that mommy leaves him in the back bedroom with the babysitter during small group and although he tolerates it once reality hits, the thought of going back to the bedroom to play hits him the moment we come through the front door and he is not happy with that thought. Poor baby.

#2 Keith is weaned, which means I have no reason why I can't begin fasting once a week again. Uh, this week, I worked on just weaning myself off all my snack times throughout the day. Step one toward fasting again.

#3 My children love bugs. Yesterday Kalei was befriending the fire ants and happily reported to me that she said hello and they didn't bite her and now they are friends. I'm thinking they probably weren't fire ants. Today, Kinsey befriended a couple of slugs, to which Kalei cried in my arms, because she didn't have any slugs and Kinsey had two, that isn't fair. Slugs, I'm not kidding you. Love these girls.

#4 I desire to paint creatively lately, but have no money to invest at the moment. Have been thinking seriously about taking over Kinsey's Christmas present from last year, a whole collection of acrylic paints. I bought it for her, why shouldn't I. Am I a bad mom? (update, I did partially take over the collection of acrylics, but if I use them all, I will buy her more...eventually)

#5 Lately I've been reading a lot about Common Core and I think it has only served to solidify why I choose to homeschool and why I feel it is so important to protect my children in this day and age. Not just from the 'evil', but from the unrealistic standards that the world may try to thrust on them at too early of an age.

#6 People here in Arlington love to fellowship over food. First Sunday at new church, we get invited out to BBQ afterwards. Go to a new prospective friend's house for the first time, and she invites us to stay for lunch. We've had lunch at her house every subsequent visit, and I am visiting a new mom friend tomorrow who has already asked if I like chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. I only usually offer snacks when friends come over to my house to play. Might have to up my game plan a bit, but I think I like the new trend!

#7 Texas can be cold. I was shocked the first morning I woke up and my feet required my slippers to feel comfortable going downstairs. I'm not complaining, just surprised is all.

#8 Growing grass in Texas is a joke. Our backyard looks horrible, and I can't decided if it is worth trying any harder to achieve the goal of grass. Maybe we should just mulch the whole thing.

#9 Lots of huge churches here in Arlington. Some of them look so beautiful on the outside, others are so, so ugly (on the outside). Glad to be going to a smaller church in this season. It is something that I didn't know I wanted until now, but I like being able to be recognized as a new person, since I am, in fact, new.

#10 Visited the Arlington Prayer Room and have fallen in love. At first I was afraid it would not be like the prayer room times I remember in Kansas City. That somehow I had perhaps romanticized the memory of the prayer room, but no, it was awesome! More awesome than I remember! It was like water to my soul and I can't wait to go again.

#11 Reading a book on marriage right now called "Love and War" by the Eldridges. I highly recommend it! Really real about the 'issues' in marriage, also has a lot to entertain. Real life stories are really funny, because, yeah, they're real, and I can relate.

#12 We are celebrating Kalei's birthday Friday, and she is so excited, but yesterday for the first time it hit her how far away we are from all her kid friends. I was asking her if our friends Scott and Kathy could come over, and she said yes, and then I watched as her mind formed the thought of who else to invite, and then she looked at me with a very sad face and said, "my only friend is Selah.......and Amber and Ailsa". It was a very sad moment. She realized they couldn't come and she was so bummed out. Then Kinsey, who is always resourceful, told her we could draw pictures of Selah and Amber and Ailsa and invite the pictures to the party! That cheered Kalei up, and then they went back to coloring. Devastation averted by Kinsey's quick thinking! Sigh.


So, those are my random thoughts and stories. Hope you enjoyed them. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thrifting for Dummies

I'm sure someone, somewhere has come up with a manual on how to thrift store shop in the most efficient way, but here is my take on the subject.

In general, I feel as though I dress decently for my age, but I feel my style has taken a new edge of trendiness ever since the blessed creation of.......Pinterest.

Lets be real. I am not the trend setting type. I like modesty, and I like comfort. Those two details don't mix well in a recipe for the fashion trend setter in the 21st century. Still, to be fair, there are a lot of hip Christian women who pull it off and I like their style.

That is why I follow them on Pinterest. To see what they are pinning on their fashion boards.  Not because I want to look exactly like them, but because I am not creative when it comes to my wardrobe and I feel the need for a visual map. I'm also not brave in mixing colors in my wardrobe. Remember that post way back when? The one where I discussed my inability to make a cottage garden. My wardrobe is a similar garden color/texture mixing challenge.

So I go on Pinterest. I find 'outfits' already put together and then I figure out what I like about the outfit and work on how to recreate something similar. It is like the interior designers who look at a high end inspirational rooms and try to recreate it on a smaller budget.

First I have to figure out what I like about it. The colors? The textures and patterns? The cut of the clothes? A lot of time, I only like the colors. So when I begin to look more closely, the clothes themselves are nothing more than a colored tee shirt with a pair of fitted jeans and a cute pair of shoes and some earrings or a scarf in a contrasting color. That is so easy it is almost laughable, but I still would have never figured it out without the 'map'.

Back to thrifting. Once I figure out what outfits I am trying to recreate, then I go ahead and make a little list of what I'm looking for. The list is key, so when I'm out, I don't get distracted by all the pretty colors. I can just stick to my list.

A typical list might look something like this.....purple tee shirt, shirt with teal accents, grey sweater, buff colored shoes, floral scarf, etc. Vague descriptions are key, so that I can find something similar at the thrift store, not exact. You almost never find exactly the same piece as you saw on Pinterest.

Every once in a while you do.

So if I stick to my list however, I end up with more complete outfits in my closet, rather than a lot of random tops that can only be paired with jeans, jeans, and more jeans, and have no accessories to pair with them.

It also means I spend my money more wisely on the 'big' pieces. Like a few years ago, I dropped $100 (well, actually my mother did) on a sweater that I had fallen in love with on Pinterest, but that I knew I would never find in a thrift store. It was a big splurge, but its versatility and yet uniqueness made it worth it. I have never regretted that purchase. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision, I tried it on, thought about it, and came back the next day (with my mom) to get it.

If you don't have your list with you, don't buy anything, only browse.

So, when it comes to buying, I also never buy anything unless I try it on, even in a thrift store. If this grosses you out, then thrifting may not be for you. I find a lot of things that are sized as xl, but that have shrunk and fit me perfectly. Today I bought a 2x shirt that fit me like a glove, seriously, fitted and wonderfully soft. Glad I tried it on.

It goes the other way too, though. I tried on a large today that I couldn't even get my arms into the sleeve holes. Craziness. Now you know why people thrifted these things. Probably washed it the first time and it shrank like crazy and they couldn't get their arms in either. Or maybe not. Who knows.

Another fun thing about thrifting is that you get such a mix all in one store, and the selection changes as often as they set out new things. The key is to go often when you are looking for something specific, and not settle until you find that 'perfect' piece.

Today I spent less than $40 and got 1 amazing dress, 2 long skirts (my hippy side couldn't resist), and 7 shirts, most of which would be considered pretty hip/in style. Well maybe not the skirts, but that is my own little fettish.

Stay tuned, and I will show you how todays purchases completed some outfits, and what pinterest pins they were based upon.



Making Me Believe pt 4

When I finally counted the cost for the journey I was embarking on with the Lord, and I said a more confident 'yes' to His plans for me, the next step was also surprising to me.

I thought I was ready to start swinging my sword and hacking up the enemy and saving the defenseless and all that hero work. There probably was some of that kind of training in the next step, but I didn't really notice it because the Lord began to greatly emphasize my need for compassion.

Compassion, really?

I was annoyed, to say the least. I was ready to be a warrior. Do warriors have much compassion?

If they are in the Lord of Host's army, then it is a very real requirement. I must admit, my questions to the Lord were not very professional, or mature. 

Here is what I should have prayed: "Lord, how does compassion prepare me for battle and war? Why is this important to Your heart?"

Here is what I actually prayed, "Lord, You're kidding. Compassion! I wanna get to the good stuff, where I'm praying and demons are screaming and fleeing."

Just keeping it real here, folks! It is further proof that I had a lot of work to do before I was ready to be wielding a sword.

It was a huge lesson to me, on why the Church is so full of wounded people. Sometimes there are wounds from legitimate enemy attacks upon the Kingdom, but how much of it is caused by friendly fire instead. How many untrained civilians suddenly feel powerful holding their sword (the Bible in this case) and begin to swing it around in bravado, wounding people around them carelessly, or without even knowing it.

As the Lord highlighted these ideas to me, I became self-conscious of how many times I might have accidentally wounded someone by speaking out at the wrong time or in the wrong spirit. The tongue is likened to a sword (Prov. 12:18) as well as the Word of God (Hebr. 4:12) Both are very sharp and can be dangerous when used improperly. I'm pretty sure I've used both of my swords wrongly and wounded people in the past.

So next came a deep repentance. A very real sorrow as I realized the truth of the consequences of my own immaturity over the years.

Compassion began to become a very real ingredient to me in being able to wield my sword more safely. I could appreciate the wisdom now in this being the next step.

Stay tuned for more on my journey of "Making Me Believe".

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Making Me Believe pt3

I can say now I had no idea what I was really asking for at the time. I was just feeling bold from the prayer meetings and I felt lead to ask for what I thought would help me to be a better wife and mother in my home. Spiritual Authority.

It isn't like the Lord waves a wand and suddenly I know how to fight more effectively. It is training, and it takes time, and it is painful in some ways.
(new to this series, read the first two parts here and here)

Anything worth doing is usually hard and painful to accomplish.

So right away there is a major pause in the journey toward my new goal.

In the Women's Conference at MorningStar in November 2012, one of the speakers was talking about naive Christians who see big name speakers like Joyce Meyers and say things like, "I want to be like her" or "I wish I walked in that kind of authority". The speaker went on to admonish those 'immature' Christians for not knowing what they're asking for. They have no idea the price those speakers have had to pay for the authority they walk in now, or the price some of them are still paying.

Whoa! That caused the pause.

Did I even know what I was asking for? I certainly wasn't asking to be Joyce Meyers, but was I prepared to pay the price to attain what I was asking for. To whom much is given, much is required. Was I willing to pay the price? Did I even know what the price was? It took me two more months to answer that question. Until I could answer that question, my journey was at a standstill.

In that time of pause, I was really thinking hard about whether I had what it took to really go after this thing. Was I prepared to be under greater attack? Was I prepared for increased attack on my family, both near and far? The Lord gave me a picture during that time of a hornets nest being stirred up. As I became an effective tool in the hands of the Lord, the enemy would want to retaliate. Was I prepared for that? Battle is hard, tiresome, and there are casualties. Was I ready for all that?

Thankfully the Lord had already been preparing me, shoring up some of my weak places, through a series of unlikely circumstances (you can read about it here). The Lord had already been changing my appetites to help sanctify me for His further service. As one who wants to fight and be strong in the Lord, it was imperative for me to walk in a fresh level of purity and holiness.  

So, I guess I was more ready than I thought, but I still took a couple of months to really 'count the cost', which is wisdom, even according to scripture: Luke 14:28-35.

It was a very sobering time. The high that I had felt while praying out in the women's prayer meetings had subsided and I truly felt the weight of what I was asking for the Lord to train me in. For two months I played out worse-case scenarios in my mind, and at the end of each one, the Lord would ask me, is it worth that? I am thankful to report that I was able to say yes each time, although not always right away. I also had dreams in that time, and I can see now that they were also prepping me to be able to keep saying yes to the vision.

Finally, in December I was able to say yes in a closing sort of way. One of the things that the Lord pointed out to me that clinched my commitment to the goal, was when He showed me that if I wanted to live any kind of effective Christian life at all, the enemies attacks would come, whether I was properly trained to fight them or not. 

It is always the civilians who take the hardest hit in wars (in the natural), which is mostly women and children, who are left at home, living life as normal while the men are out fighting. The civilians are mostly untrained to be defensive for themselves. They are relying on the war not coming to them, but war is no respecter of persons. The enemy of our souls is the least merciful of all. No one is safe, not even at home.

I am not trying to be a pessimist, or use fear to make you feel the weight of what I am saying, I am trying to be a realist by pointing out that we really are a part of a Spiritual war. In this Spiritual war, there are those who are walking around vulnerable, like civilians. I was one of them for a long time (so no condemnation in my tone, just a sense of urgency), first by denying I was in a war, and then by relegating the fighting only to certain people (men, ministry leaders, pastors, missionaries).

When the Lord pointed that out, it was an eye opener to the obvious. There was no going back. I was living my life for the Lord, therefore attacks were inevitable, and so I had better learn to take the heat and learn to use my weapons of war effectively. We've all been given a sword and armor, but we have got to know how to use it!!!

If we are growing in the Lord, and the Lord is cultivating the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, then we are targets of the enemy. Period.

But again I say, to those much has been given, much is required. If you have never considered these things before now, then you are probably not being required by the Lord to steward them (yet). Until the Lord highlights a Truth to your heart and mind, you can not hope to effectively incorporate it into your life. Once He highlights a Truth to you though, then you are accountable on how you steward that information. Stewardship suggests an action is required.

Does that make sense?

So for me, the Lord highlighted my need for spiritual authority. First, I believe He made me want it. I began to ask for it. Then, He began to prepare me to actually receive training for the gift. Part of the preparation included stopping to count the cost.

Are you asking for something specific from the Lord? Have you considered what it might cost you to obtain the gift?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Keep Believing

In the same theme as the others in this series on "Making Me Believe", I am going to talk about my favorite tool that help me connect with the Lord and His opinions about me. It is no easy thing to begin to believe what the Lord says about you.

For years I had read the scriptures and heard sermons preached on our identity in Christ. I thought I believed it, but in a lot of ways I didn't live like I believed it. So now, is that really belief? If you really believe something, you should have the guts to live like you actually believe it!

That was the Lord's challenge to me! How can you walk in your God-given authority if you don't really know who you are? What if I say I know who I am, but I don't act like it 90% of the time? Do I really understand who I am then?

Read some scriptures that talk about who each of us is in Christ.

Psalm 139:13-16 - the one about being "fearfully and wonderfully made" by the Lord. How many of us actually live like that! Do we really believe it? Or do we constantly criticize the way we look? Do we focus on our weaknesses and failures?

1 Peter 2:9 - the one about being "set apart, a royal priesthood, a holy nation". Do we really live like that? I'm not talking about our nation right now, but do we live this as individuals? Or do we go with the flow of culture and allow our hearts and minds to be defiled by everything around us?

Jeremiah 29:11 - the one about the Lord has "plans to prosper you and not to harm you....". Do we live like that? Do we see the Lord that way? Or do we see Him as an angry God with a big fly swatter just waiting to hit us again if we get out of line?

There are lots and lots more. I pulled these few from this website that lists even more, check it out if you have time. Be honest with yourself too. We've all read these scriptures lots of times, but do we really live like they are true about US!

I include myself in the challenge.  Believing the Lord is more than being able to recite these scriptures by heart, it is about living them with confidence before all men.

One of the ways you take the head knowledge (knowing the scriptures) and get it written on your heart (experiential knowledge?), is to fill your life with the truth that the Lord is highlighting to you right now!

I do that with songs.

To sing the truth over myself. It gets in me like nothing else can and touches something deep inside of me, helping me to believe that thing that I want to learn to believe. I can sing it over and over, as many times as I want and as I do it over a period of time, I find it gets easier and easier to believe the thing I've been singing about.

Think about it this way. God is a God who calls those things which do not exist as though they did (Romans 4:17). When the Lord highlights an area of your life and invites you to grow in that area, He already sees the fruit of the journey that you haven't yet begun. He doesn't just see the potential in you, He sees the perfected end product.

We do not see that end product in ourselves, but singing songs about what the Lord sees in you, is very prophetic and an active step of faith in the right direction. We are essentially calling forth those things inside of us that do not yet exist, as though they did. You are partnering with the Lord when you speak/sing over yourself things, qualities, and gifts that you don't feel you yet possess, as if you did possess them.

So ask the Lord for a song to sing to yourself in your current season. My songs in certain seasons change as often as every day, or I will sing 2-3 songs interchangeable for a few weeks, etc. Some of you have probably been experiencing this unconsciously for years.

You are in a hard season maybe? You hear a song that speaks to your heart on the radio, and you find yourself singing it all the time. It is just as powerful when you sing it in the shower, off key, as when you first sang it in the car. It is because the words have life for your current season, and singing them over yourself is a way to connect with the Lord in your current season.

Make sense? I hope so, because this is a powerful tool in changing attitudes, mindsets, or strongholds and also growing fruit and gifts.

Beware however, because songs work in the opposite spirit too. Feeling depressed? Feeling drawn to depressing/moody music? The words you sing have the power to bring both life and death (Proverbs 18:21). What we say and sing has power in the spiritual realm. If you are not singing words that bring life and connection with the Holy spirit, then what spirit are you connecting with, feeding, encouraging, or agreeing with?

I am not exaggerating.

So what you are singing? Sing words over yourself that bring life, but you can also sing words over your family and situations you are encountering. It is all so powerful in the Spirit!

POWERFUL!

What song are you singing in your heart today? Take a look at what song has been on loop/stuck in your head. If you like what you hear yourself singing. Good job! Keep singing it. Don't like what you are singing. Ask the Lord for a new song in your mouth (Psalm 40:3).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Making Me Believe pt 2

In my first post about the Lord Making Me Believe, I talked about how the Lord had begun to give me boldness to speak out in a corporate prayer meeting and how out of that place, I began to have a bit more confidence in my True identity before Him. You can't believe your True identity, until the lies you have been believing about yourself have been exposed.

It was the beginning of a journey with Him to learn how to truly believe what He says about me, and to therefore have confidence in the gifts He has given me. One gift I began to desire in that time was for an increase in boldness and Spiritual authority in my home.

Another way to say that is, I wanted to be a true door keeper in my home. It means I wanted to take active control in what came into my home, both physically and spiritually. As a mother, it was a priority to me to be able to hold the fort down defensively when Ken was out doing ministry. So I knew I needed discernment to see what the threats were, and weapons training so I could defend my home and those in my care.

How many of you know when your husband is in ministry or being effective in his calling, the enemy will often make a counterattack on the home front!?! I don't want to be defenseless when the battle is raging (one of my favorite songs)! I don't want to have to rely on my husband's discernment and spiritual authority alone. I need to be his partner in the battle, an armor bearer, a rear guard to what he is doing, with my own individual discernment and spiritual authority.

You might say I became aware of my lack of training in that time. You can't ask for something you think you already have. Although I believe the Lord does a good deal of protecting us in our immaturity, it is not His desire that we should remain immature forever, or rely always on others for our entire covering.

I will never forget a friend of mine who lived in the MorningStar building who told me that she could tell when there was a conference coming up at MorningStar. She said the chaos and disruption in her home increased on the front end, and during the days, of the conference being put on by MorningStar Ministries. She began to recognize when things seemed to be getting out of hand, she would look at the calendar and see it was a conference week, and begin to pray against the spiritual attack.

Then she would see the tide shift in her favor. Things would calm down and she could see a significant change in the atmosphere of her home just from her prayer. Nothing else had really changed, just her praying against spiritual attack.

That was an eye opening conversation I never forgot. This woman wasn't even going to the conferences, just her proximity to the location of the gathering was enough to make her a target. I was suddenly on alert. My husband was going to most of those conferences, and we are both intercessors. How much of a target were we making of ourselves and how much had I been walking around without my guard up, getting clobbered by, what I thought were, random circumstances?

So I began to desire Spiritual authority. I began to take seriously the idea that I could be as formidable a defense as my husband, and therefore I knew I needed training in my weapons of warfare.

Stay tuned for more of "Making Me Believe".

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Whine is Flowing

In the process of moving, our children handled the stress of it very well this time. I remember very well the crazy that was my life in the months leading up to the move from Kansas City to Charlotte. This move however, from Charlotte to Dallas, was much more tame to be sure.

What was the difference? Well, my oldest was older, and she was able to grasp the move and share in the excitement more. My excitement and her excitement seemed to have a contagious effect on the two younger ones. 

I've also learned a lot more self control in the last year or so. To keep my kids calm and happy I had to find creative ways to keep myself calm and happy in the midst of transition. That is no small thing, people!

Third, we had a lot of notice about this move. Knowing a year in advance that you are going to make a cross country move is great for preparing mentally, physically and emotionally. 

So this time was better in a lot of ways.

One side effect of the move, however, seems to be the letting down of a few of our standards in the time of transition and discovering how hard it has been to re-raise those standards once things have settled down. 

One of our expectations for our children is that they will not harass us with whining.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind them asking me for things, but not continually and not with an obnoxious voice or a negative attitude. Still, who am I kidding. We've never had great adherence to this standard in the past. Never 100% to be sure, or even close to 80%. 

During the move, the percentage of whining skyrocketed, and I tried to have a lot of grace on my kids. They are young, they are in transition, and they just don't know what to do with themselves. So I had grace......during the move.

Now that we have arrived in Texas and settled in though, I realize that the whine is flowing a little too freely still. What I excused for so long as anxiety about the move, well, they just don't have the same excuses now.

So what is the deal?!? What is up with all the whining?!? What do I do now?

I was baffled on what to do, but I've been reading a book about homeschool, and it covers a lot of other great family training ideas not related to formal education. One of the things it strongly suggests (unrelated to the whining issue we are facing) is making your children a part of the chores that go on in the house, and making regular, one on one time with each of your children as individuals.

As a mom I have always heard those things taught as essentials, but never really known how to kick start it in my every day routine. Also, as a child I was never required to do chores, so I feel guilty, for some reason, to expect it from my own children. This book however gives such great practical ideas and makes it seem such a very realistic goal. Now suddenly, I want to start instituting these ideas into our lives. I want to make one-on-one time with my kids, and I want to teach them how to be more involved in the workings of our home.  What I was unsure of how to do with one child, suddenly I am about to attempt with three children? Really, but I felt inspired to at least try it.

Ah, but the power of numbers! With each child I grow more and more confident, as a mother, to step out and try new things, trusting that the Lord has lead me well thus far, and will continue to do so. He gives me the confidence to make the changes that need to be made, and He gives grace to overcome the obstacles I encounter.

So just yesterday He gave me wisdom on how to incorporate both chore training and one-on-one time with my children, all with the goal of quenching the whine. For real, a three for one idea!

The plan. 

Whenever one of my children comes to me with some whininess, I will immediately ask them to help me with whatever I am doing, or I give them something to do. Examples: If I am cooking dinner, suddenly they are helping me cook dinner. If I am sweeping the floor, suddenly they are picking things up for me to sweep under, etc. If I am playing on facebook, suddenly they will be assign a different, constructive task, and then I will help them do it (I can see I will not be on facebook much for a while, they love to whine when I'm on facebook).

At first I was like, "what a second Lord, they are gonna like that idea! They like working with me, so that won't be punishment for whining."

The Lord simply said, "it isn't meant to be a punishment, it is meant to be a redirection, and in the process, perhaps they will stop whining because a deeper need is being met by having that one on one time with you."

"Lord, you mean the whine might be a need for more of my attention in their day."

I felt the Lord smile. Then I realized, not only did the Lord just show me how to meet a deep heart need in my children, but I am training them in chores, and giving them quality one on one time, all while helping to curb the whine. It sounds good, it feels realistic for my schedule. Sure, it might be a pain to give up my facebook to show them how to scrub a toilet. Sure, I could probably cook dinner faster without their help, but building their self-worth and personal sense of responsibility in the family just might be worth the extra effort. A bit of extra investment today will be a big payoff later too. These are life skills, and alas, facebook can wait.

I love the way the Lord brings simple, and yet mind-blowing wisdom into the every day kinds of questions I have about mothering.

Be encouraged, He has an answer for your questions today too!

Side Note: I have only slightly started this new idea. Three days, seriously.  I will post again on this subject in a few weeks. Hopefully to say it is going great and my kids are not whining and we are having lots of quality conversations while they help me around the house....or, I will say I've fallen off the wagon and admit to how things are really going with the plan. Either way, my plan is to be honest, and open about this process. New ideas are always a process, and there is always some tweaking to do. So I'll keep you posted. I am NOT supermom. I have bad days, and a period, and a dirty house, and sometimes I have all three at the same time. Just keeping it real.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making Me Believe

My first 60 degree day here in Arlington Texas. It was a wonderful surprise to wake up to. After a fun morning with the family though, all I wanted to do was come home, curl up and take a nap (after 90's and higher, 60's feel cold). Alas, though, it is a challenging thing to get the whole house quiet on a Saturday afternoon.

So, I heard Ken downstairs making coffee and thought a good cup of tea would do my heart good too.

What goes better with a warm cup of tea than writing a blog where I expose the things that have been burning on my heart to......the world.

Well, at least the small part of the world who reads my blog.

Lately I have been thinking about the transformation that I have been going through in the last year or so. I guess the transformation started somewhere around Harvest Fest (a big conference at MorningStar Ministries) last year, 2012. I had recently had a new baby, and with the burden of pregnancy behind me, I was eager to press into the Lord again. 

So that is just what I did, and I joined a women's intercession group at MorningStar to kick start my personal prayer times again. It was an intercession group of ladies who prayed about the women of MorningStar as well as the world.

In that place of corporate intercession with these ladies, quite quickly in fact, I began to feel stirred up by the Lord to pray out in the meetings. That was huge for me. I DO NOT LIKE praying in groups out loud. Yet, I would feel the Spirit so strongly on me, it was like I felt like I would explode if I didn't pray it out. Lines of a prayer would cycle through my mind over and over until I finally would pray it out loud. When I finally did open my mouth, the Lord would give me more. It would pour forth out of me like a river of thoughts and passionate cries. 

When I would be obedient and pray out, I would tremble and pray and when I finally finished and would sit back down, I would feel the Spirit just wash over and over me again and again, like waves, calming my nerves and soothing my fears. Sometimes I would 'tremble' under the Spirit for the entire meeting. Don't be weirded out by that like I was at first, it really is Biblical. 

Anyhow, I was always afraid to pray out loud. Terrified, in fact. And as soon as I was done, I would second guess everything I had just prayed. In those early months though, the Lord began to do something in my heart. He made me yearn for boldness, for authority, in prayer as well as in the rest of my life.

How many of you know when you feel yourself yearning for something so big, and so strong, and so crazy, and so seemingly far out of your reach (that is also a Biblical desire), it is often an invitation from the Lord to go on a journey with Him to get that thing for yourself?

That was the beginning of the journey. Praying out in the meetings, conquering a fear I had. What was the fear? Fear of man was probably a small part of it. It wasn't really that I was afraid to look stupid, though. 

It was more about not knowing who I was. I did not feel worthy to pray out loud in front of other "more seasoned" intercessors. Who was I to take up their time with my words, with what my heart was feeling. My heart cries were powerful to me, and the Lord, but I didn't think I had anything to offer anyone else. I was convinced that my offerings, in more areas than just this, were far too small and insignificant to offer openly in the corporate body of Christ.

I can see now what a lie that was! 

Learning that I have a voice, and that because I am a child of the Most High God, and He speaks to me, therefore I am qualified to have an opinion and I should have confidence to share that when I feel the Lord leading me to. That is where I started, and what began my journey to seeking out a God-given boldness, so that when I feel the Spirit moving, I can act on it with courage and confidence.

How many of you would like to operate in the body of Christ with some boldness? How many of you would like to believe the words the Lord says about you?

Boldness is a product of True identity.

I can see now, in hindsight, that the journey I have been on, was less about finding boldness in my public speaking skills, and more about learning who I truly am in the Lord. If we really know who we are, then we will move in the gifts that He has given to us with boldness and confidence.

I want to share with you some of those steps in my journey. Not as one who has attained it all and is now showing you the way, but as one who is still in the trenches of learning, but is further along than I was a year ago. I want to share it while it is still fresh, so I can paint as real of a picture as possible.

So stay tuned.....more coming on "Making Me Believe".

Photo by Biography Online 





Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trip to the Beach

My friends were shocked when they heard me tell this story of my trip to the beach last year. Not because of the comical elements but because I admitted that it was only my second time to the beach in my life.

We have lived only about 3 hrs from the beach for over two years now.

In that time, we have only gone to the beach this one time.

Here is the story.


My third child had just been born. My mother and my husband's step son came for a visit. In an attempt to come up with something fun, we decided to go to the beach and back again all in one day.

So we loaded up all the kids and adults and packed towels and all the necessities. Three hours and a bunch of crying/questioning kids later, we arrived at the beach.

The weather was perfect. Warm, but not too warm, with a slight breeze. Sunny sky with just a few clouds. The ocean was warm and the waves were moderate. Sigh. It was beautiful.

Then we realized that the newborn boy was not going in the water. So we took turns going out into the water with the girls, and leaving someone behind to sit with the boy. All was going well thus far.

We were only on the beach for two hours. So we were living it up. The husband and step son were out challenging the waves like men. The little girls were loving the shallows and sand.

In the very middle of that bliss, my newborn baby boy decided to have a bowel movement..... that he had been saving up for over 2 days.

It was an explosion!

He soiled everything. His diapers, clothes, car seat, blanket, etc.

My mother was anxious to help, but was a bit rusty on what to do in a poop explosion. My husband saw the mayhem, and exited the scene quickly. The girls were oblivious to the need.

It was I who attempted to clean the poop and sand out of his newborn cracks and creases. And when it was all cleaned up, I nursed him in the van, to calm him, while we both sweated like pigs.

By the time things were back to calm, it was nearly time to go, and then it struck us.

The only person with a change of clothes was newborn baby boy.

Here we were, all us covered in salt and sand, ready to pile back into the van without even a clean towel to wrap up in.

Ugh. What an oversight. Whoops.

Then, on the way home we suddenly realized we were all ravenous, but in no condition to enter a restaurant. In an act of desperation we pulled through the drive-thru of a Wendy's and had a bite to eat. As much as fast food disgusts me, I think that was the best chicken wrap sandwich I had ever had IN MY LIFE!

By the time we arrived home we were exhausted, but the fun wasn't over. We still had to shower and clean up before bed. The baby girls were bathed first and put to bed, and then the rest of us adults took turns cleaning up and nearly passed out from exhaustion.

That was our trip to the beach. We had a lot of fun.  Learned a lot of things about what not to do when going to the beach, and look forward to doing it again........ someday.


Transition

My first post on the big move to Texas!

You all knew it was coming. I can't be in the midst of tension and turmoil without feeling the need to write about it and the lessons I am learning in it.

Thankfully I have learned a lot of these lessons before, but with every new move, there are additional lessons to learn, and some relearning of old ones.

I found it comforting that when I talk to my mother recently about what I was feeling and doing to cope with the coming transition, she said it sounded an awful lot like what I said and felt right before our move from Kansas City to here.

I say it is comforting because I did that move two years ago, and I survived, but not only survived, I thrived! So if I am doing this again, and experiencing the same sorts of things, then I know I will more than survive this move too!

The Lord is merciful and full of compassion.......toward me and my family.

So what am I going to say. What great wisdom have I gleaned from this move so far. I'm gonna bullet point them for ya!


  • movies are a cope out for me.....not everyone. Just me. Someone said recently, "Katrina you seem to go through phases, you don't watch any movies, and then you start watching them again, and then you are announcing that you aren't watching them again."  It's true, I do go through phases. I cut out movies again whenever I notice I am using them for a coping mechanism. Like now. I was up to watching as many as two movies a day, and watching movies leaves me feeling numb. I am not a good mom when I am numb, and I find it extremely difficult to hear the Lord's voice when I watch a lot of movies. There you have it, it is one of my weaknesses, and therefore I manage it as such, but only for me.

  • it's okay to be sad - this is one lesson I do remember from moving last time, and I have been so grateful for knowing it this time. I know it is okay to be sad, to miss what I am giving up for my obedience to the Lord. It doesn't change the yes in my heart, it just means that I am aware of what I am sacrificing for the adventure. I once asked the Lord why He keeps moving us, why He doesn't let us settle down for long. I heard Him whisper to me, "because I know you will say yes." In that, I understood it to mean that not everyone who loves Him is willing to be moved and shifted for the sake of His plans as easily as we are (and we aren't always that thrilled, but we do say yes and that apparently counts for something). Yet He knows we will say yes, so He uses us in this way, and moves us where He wants us. It was humbling and encouraging, but with it comes the realization that we may live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, which brings with it some sadness. Again I say, it is okay to be sad.

  • it's not okay to grumble - sad and complaining are two different things. I am allowed to be sad and that is not sin, but grumbling and complaining are what the Israelites did and that is sin. It means I think I know better than God how things should be handled and it means I don't think He is doing a good enough job. He has had to remind me to keep my attitude adjusted accordingly to guard against this. This is really a life lesson, something we should always be on our guard against, but one that steps up to overdrive when there is the tension of transition and so many unknown elements to yet be ordered. I find I do better in this area when I find my daily time to read the Word. It is like a balm to my bad attitude and gives me food to hope beyond what I can see.

  • don't pull back, finish well - this goes for relationships as well as for ministry. My first instinct is to pull back when I feel tension, dissatisfaction, and pain. Moving is painful. It is hard for me to be in company with my friends, and have a wonderful time, with the full knowledge that my time with these precious ones is limited. It is very painful and therefore I want to avoid it. But some of the best and most worthwhile things in life are very painful/costly and they are usually also some of the most rewarding, like childbirth/labor, exercise/running, fighting a battle for freedom, etc. At the end of this transition I want to be able to look back and have no regrets of how I loved my friends. read more about this here.

  • time with Jesus is essential - more so than in any other season of life, Jesus is so real to me in the midst of transition. Not just in moving, but when I am pregnant, when I am changing seasons, starting new jobs, etc. Time spent with Jesus is so necessary, it becomes as needed as breathing. In 20 minutes of quiet time with Jesus my whole day can shift for the better. Hope is restored and built up through reading the Word. Peace is reestablished though a few silently spoken prayers. Comfort comes with the shedding of a few tears. He is so near to me in this time, and I know how necessary He is to me finishing well, that I make sure to find time. Have I done it perfectly? No, not at all. I have horrible days where I avoid Him all day because I know I am coping out and don't want to hear His loving correction. For the most part though, I have embraced the discipline to seek Him daily, knowing it is the food of this season. What will sustain me as I prepare to move across the country and to do it graciously. :-)

  • fear is a nameless, faceless enemy that is easily dealt with by mere recognition - I am plagued by fears some days. Irrational fears mostly, but even some very logical ones, but fear is never from the Lord. Never! When I find myself fretting, worrying, or feeling anxious, I have but to realize it, call it what it is - fear. Then I rebuke it, invite Holy Spirit to reestablish peace, and then the atmosphere around me shifts so that I begin to feel the peace I have invited. I might battle fear again in the next 20 minutes on a different front, but the process to rid myself is always the same: Identify, rebuke, invite Holy Spirit peace, and for good measure, I sometimes pray in the Spirit until I feel the peace settled more firmly. Still, it is powerful to me to finally know what to deal with fear. I would say over half of my other flaws, weaknesses, and sins are easily conquered when fear is being conquered in my life daily.
So that is a taste of the good fruits that are coming through the tension of this momentary light affliction of preparing to move. I hope you have enjoyed, and I promise there will be more writing on this sort of thing as time dwindles on and the pressure of the move increases.

Be blessed today and fight for you peace!




Starting Over

I'm in transition. If you have read any of my previous blog posts over the last few weeks you already know this.

Today we are going to talk about making new mom friends. A subject I have already discussed, but in which I am going to discuss again. It is something I am longing for when we move, something I am grieving having to do all over again, and something I am praying for supernatural provision for.

To unpack what it is like to start over and try to make new mom friends, I am going to link to another brilliant woman's blog. She pretty much says it all.

Her post is titled: Dating for Moms.

Check it out here.

This is what I am going to be doing very soon. Sound like fun?

I love how she writes about the realities of making new mom friends in the most honest and hilarious fashion. I love reading her stories too. Hope you do as well!


UPDATE to this blog post: 9/29/2013

We have been moved for almost a month now, and I am happy to report that just last week I hung out with a mom at her house. We randomly met at church while I was waiting to talk to another mom I had met the previous week. After talking for a bit, we hit it off, and she gave me her email and invited me over later that week. If you've read the Dating for Moms post, then you realize that I just totally skipped first and second base. Our kids did not even know each other before we went to her house to hang out.

Yet that is how it happened in South Carolina with my wonderful friend Bree. She invited me over knowing next to nothing about me. I could have been a psycho for all she knew. I'm thankful she took such a risk, and glad for this new mom friend's risk too.

New mom's name is Andrea, and she gave up a whole morning of her time to host me and my kids. She even had a brunch fixed and ready for us to eat together. I could cry, the sense of friendship offered was so overwhelming, and we really have a ton in common. It was a memorable first playdate. A second playdate is already planned for later this week, and I have a second mom friend that I am planning to get together with soon too!

So I guess you could say the Lord has provided.....and over/above what I could have expected or hoped for. He is such a good good Father.

PS. Look for more updates on our move to Texas coming soon. Now that my house is set up, I feel like writing about all I've been thru. :-)


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why I Like Grace

Not talking about the kind of grace that makes ballerinas look amazingly beautiful and liquid in their movements.

This is the Jesus kinda grace.

It is what sustains me as a mother of three. It is what makes me feel bad for other mothers who don't know Jesus and are trying to raise their kids on their own strength. It is what makes me feel like I am cross country skiing when everyone else is waist deep trying to push their way through the snow covered world.

For those who's lives have been surrendered to Christ, it is available. It is real. It is what makes living a successful Christian life a possible reality for us.

I use to think grace was like this:
I would try my hardest to do something in obedience to Christ, and even though I totally made a flop of it, the Lord would still put an A+ sticker by my project.

It is kinda like that in the beginning, but it can be so much more. See, in that example, I was trying to do the obedience thing mostly in my own strength. If not totally out of a prideful mindset (I will earn His love by showing Him how good I can do it, yeah right), it is at least an immature mindset (I didn't know there was any other way).

NOW I know there is another way. I call it grace mode. I may have written about it before, I can't remember. The thing is, it can actually work something like this:

I agree to do a project for the Lord, knowing I don't have all the tools/strength/knowledge to do it well, I ask the Lord to help me, and then I do as much as I know how. Step by step I find success, and I do better at it than I know I could have ever done on my own. At the end of it people around me are cheering me on, saying, 'whoa, you did it', but I know inside that I didn't have a clue how to accomplish what I just accomplished. So I thank the Lord for His help, His strength, His wisdom, and His grace. Then, at the end, He puts an A+ sticker by my project.

That is how it is suppose to look most of the time. I wish every day looked like that. Yet there is still plenty of my own attempts that look more like the first example.

Let us not dwell on those times though. It is empowering, encouraging, fuel for my fire kind of stuff to look at the times I have done it better. Better than I could have ever done on my own. Those are the times I know that I didn't have what it took, but I succeeded because of the Lord's grace upon me. He heard my cry for help, and gave it freely! Oh how thankful I am for that.

I have become quite sensitive to His grace too.

I can tell when I am operating in it, and when I am not, and when I am not, I know enough now to stop and ask for it.

So here is a fun story to illustrate this lesson on grace.

My husband was going away for two weeks on a trip. I had three littles and I had never been alone with the three on my own before. I was a bit worried and not sure if I could do it, so I prayed a lot about it on the front end.

The trip came and went, and I not only survived without my husbands help, I thrived and enjoyed the experience. My confidence was boosted and my kids and I had a great time.

At the end I asked the Lord, "was that mostly you, or am I just getting better at this mothering thing? I wish I knew what percentage was you and what percentage was my own ability/wisdom."

No answer at that time, but then Ken had to go away unexpectedly for a three day trip. I was still feeling empowered by the success of that two week trip, so I felt confident to do the three days.

They were a disaster. Three days of hard, hard work, and if anything could have gone wrong, it did. By the end I was a wreck. My husband returned, and with him order and calm also returned.

When all was calm again, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "now you know what percentage is your own ability/wisdom." Well, actually, that is not accurate. It was more funny than that. The Lord has a great sense of humor, once you get to know Him.

He whispered to me, in the grand form of that old 'anti-crack' commercial from the 80's (this is your brain *hold up an egg, this is your brain on crack *crack the egg and pour in a hot skillet): this is your life (the three day trip), this is your life on grace ( the two week trip).

I burst out laughing. So now I know. I bring very little if anything to the table. My greatest successes in life are majorly due to the grace of the Lord working in me. I can take very little credit, and yet, I will say this, I am addicted to His kind of success! In that way, I suppose grace is like crack. It is very addicting.

So Lord, I ask for You to always be near me, working in me, through me, around me. With You I am a success. Teach me how to operate in Your grace daily! I want the fruit that is accomplished by Your sure swift hand, not my own! Thank you for grace! Amen.

25 Facts

Saw another blogger that did this..... so now I am too. Sharing twenty five facts about myself on here, that is. She (at Dreaming of the Country) got the idea from somewhere else.

I think it must be a woman thing, but we long to be known for who we really are.

I'm about to move to Texas, so I feel as though I'm about to be 'unknown' again. To off set that feeling, I am making myself more known - at least on my blog.

Ready. Set. Go.

25 Facts

1. I hate to shave my legs.

2. Walking in the deep woods, off the beaten path is one of my favorite adventures. Staying on the walking trails is more boring. 

3. Yellow is my favorite color, but Green is a close second.

4. My mother is one of my best friends in the whole world.

5. I like being really, really honest. 

6. Once I got a whole group of my friends out of a scrape with the police by telling them we were all out in a field trying to view the Aurora borealis in the night sky. 

7. In grade school I got in trouble for spitting in a boy's face. I had been provoked when he had used the Lord's name in vain. Later that same night my youth pastor gave me a high five.

8. I married my husband because I knew he was stronger than me.

9. My first business ever was raising and butchering rabbits for meat.

10. I have a photographic memory.

11. Making things with my hands is one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.

12. My eyes turn green when I cry.

13. I dream a lot at night, and remember a good portion of them.

14. The dinner hour is the craziest hour of my day.

15. Creating new gardens is one of my greatest passions.

16. Having children is the greatest tool the Lord has ever used to rid me of my selfishness.

17. I have never smoked a cigarette, ever.

18. My sense of smell is very powerful to me.

19. I love mushrooms.

20. I don't wear make up.

21. My childhood dream was to go to a foreign country to start an orphanage. 

22. When I played with my barbies as a child the story always went that the woodland creatures would protect and save barbie from the prince, who only wanted to marry her because she was beautiful, not because he knew her at all.

23. Despite being afraid of spiders, I will never back down from a spider if I see it. Instead I kill it so it can never haunt me again.

24. I have never broken a bone.

25. I love Jesus. (it felt like such a cliche to put this first, so for fun I left it for last)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Plants

I'm in South Carolina. Zone 7.

When I pursued my degree in Horticulture, it was in a zone 5. I will say that there is a lot that is the same in a zone 7 and a lot that is different!

Still, in the two years that I have been here, I wish to list a few of my favorite plants from the area.

Kaleidoscope Abelia - Abelias in general are beautiful and do well in South Carolina, but Kaleidoscope has such an amazing color and keeps a very nice form too. Low and mounded, it can also be trimmed and kept tidy. The color is very useful to spruce up a boring bed, and seems to hold it's color even in the heat of summer. Flowers are unimpressive, but flowers are here today and gone tomorrow. The power of this plant is in it's leaves, which are there for the whole growing season. A truly great plant.


Cedar Trees - another favorite and something I did learn about in my Horticulture classes. We were made to appreciate the elegant beauty of these trees, even though they do not grow well in a zone 5. They do however grow well in zone 7 and I have seen many gorgeous examples in the area. As an evergreen they make a great backdrop for any garden. They have a very graceful form, especially as they get older. I like that they are a bit more open looking than the dense upright False Cypress that I see almost everywhere in Charlotte, NC. Looking for a big tree to invest in. This is a wonderful choice, just make sure to give it some space and plenty of sun.


Camellia - these were such a surprise to me. Not only for their striking resemblance to roses, but because they started blooming in December. When almost nothing else is looking well in the garden, that is when these make their debut! Want some winter interest in the garden. Plant some Camelia in amongst your other plants. They will not look like much all year, and then when you are bored of looking out at your pathetic greenery, these beauties will open up their blossoms and make the most beautiful display of color. A true winter gift!


Crepe Myrtle - So common around Charlotte, NC, that the locals probably don't think a thing of it any longer, but I can tell you, it is spectacular! The colors, the form, the long lasting blooms, the easy care, the winter interest of the bark and branches! An all around good choice for any garden. I have thoroughly enjoyed it's presence in so many locations. When I first came here I was shocked by how colorful it was, and I would see it growing in medians and parking lots. Tough and beautiful, what a combination! In the gardening world, that is truly remarkable. Need a medium size tree? Take a look and appreciate the versatility of these.




Holly - sure, we have holly in zone 5, but not like these! The first I have listed is Ilex aquafolium variegata (English Holly with a variegated leaf)! So beautiful and I have seen it growing in some situations that prove that it is truly hardy here, and that the variegated quality is mostly stable. I like the form, I like that is is a broadleaf evergreen, and it isn't the normal green of evergreens. :-) From a distance it looks almost minty, or even like a lime tinted green. Very nice color and can add a bit of interest in the garden where there is sometimes an overabundance of dark greens.


The second Holly I wish to point out is the Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon Holly) which when I first saw it, I thought it was a kind of dense boxwood. It is a holly though, and dense, easily trimmed, and tough! Although there are no amazing color or flower qualities to discuss, it is a great choice for hedges, or background/foundation plantings. For any garden, you can't have all your plants be chiefs, you need some well behaved indians to uphold the chiefs.  For every specialty plant (a chief), like the Kaleidoscope Abelia, it would be nice to have anywhere from 2-3 background, complimentary plants (indians). Make sense? Yaupon Holly is a great little indian plant. :-)



Canna - we had these in zone 5, but you had to dig them up every year and store their bulbs in your basement over the winter. Then replant in the spring and they would take forever to grow up and bloom. Here, they stay in the ground, grow bigger and bloom longer. These are a great thing to tuck in among other new plantings, because they are a bulb and easily moved when the area grows to crowded (as your new plantings fill out). They come in a variety of flower colors and some either come with colored or striped leaves. I like these for color in the heat of summer. When most other things are taking a bit of a break in the heat, these are still doing well. The do need a lot of sun to do well, but are a great choice, especially if you don't want to water a ton!




For now, I think that is all of the plants I will discuss, but just know that there are a lot of other great plants available, these are just a few of my favorites. Things unique to North Carolina, that I didn't get to appreciate in a zone 5! Looking to do something interesting in your garden and need a few ideas. These are all great choices if you are looking for something larger to add in.  Although some of the Canna come in dwarf sizes and the Yaupon Holly can be trimmed quite small, I would consider all of these plants medium to large in size. When planting, plan accordingly so that you don't need to move them later. :-)

Talking plants always leaves me dreaming of my next garden. You too? Well then, happy dreaming.

Emotions pt. 2


So as I started in my previous post on Emotions...... it was my turn to share my testimony of how we had come to live in the local church community, and I started off well enough, I think.

Then I fell apart. I wept openly about moving, and how hard it was, and how sad I was. Thankfully everyone quickly rallied around me and prayed for me. The prayers were touching, but afterwards I felt so stupid.

I was so afraid I had totally overstepped some unspoken rule, like the rule about 'no overwhelming shows of emotion at first home group gatherings'.

That week I fretted, and felt embarrassed, until one day my husband came home and said he had run into one of the home group leaders. They said, "wow, it was great of your wife to be so open, it really broke the ice."

It was the first time I can recall ever being complimented for letting my true emotions come out in a group setting. It was the beginning of a new season where I began to understand more fully the way the Lord had created me to be. And to like myself at a level I had never dared to like before.

Somehow I had always felt so sure that my emotions were a flaw, not a fashioning. But the Lord made me, and my emotions!

I certainly had a thing or two to learn about how to control those emotions, but self control is a fruit of the Spirit, and therefore, can be cultivated with time and effort. Once you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, your ability to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit is assured. It just takes time and effort and allowing the Spirit to work in you.

So the emotions weren't the problem, and that, for me, was a heady revelation! They had purpose, and the Lord could even use them - even to 'break the ice'.

Now, in the handful of years since that time, I have learned more and more about how to use my emotions. How to curb them too, but all for the purpose of loving the Lord more fully. Through my words and actions AND emotions!

With that, has come a tearing down of those previous lies.
Lies that said:
Me and my emotions were too complicated to figure out. 
No one would ever want to be around such a mess of a person. 
No one could handle the real me, if they knew how I really felt, they would reject me. 
I must always seem simple and uncomplicated if I want to have friends.

What lies!!!! The Lord has shown me again and again that the real me is beautiful in His hands. He is using all of me to speak to others. I am not too messy. I am not rejected. I have lots of friends, and I can be the real me in front of them. My emotions are an asset.

And that is a beautiful truth that is worth the journey it took to finally understanding it.

So be blessed. You are beautiful too! You and your emotions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Moving Out

We are moving out. Going to Texas.

However.

That is not what I am writing about today.

This is a story about my oldest daughter. She is so much like me in so many ways.

A few days ago we got in a disagreement over a toy. I said she needed to leave it outside, she insisted she should bring it in. I won, but she was so angry that she told me, "I am so angry with you it makes me not want to live here anymore." (she's 5, going on 15)

I said, "Oh yeah, where would you live?"

"Somewhere else," she states forcefully.

Then to her shock, I said, "okay, you can move out."

Suddenly the information sank in and ideas started firing rapidly in her brain.

"Okay mom, well then I will just go out and find a place and be back in a bit to get my stuff."

"Okay."

Then she walks to the back door, looks out, sees her new playhouse and says with rapid breath and near squealing, "I know mommy, I'll live in my playhouse."

I say okay again and then she is running upstairs to pack.

I sit at the computer looking at recipes for dinner when she comes back down with a small purse with underwear, and a few toys.

Then it dawns on her, where will she sleep?

She bursts into tears and says, "Mommy there is no bed, and where will I sleep?"

"I don't know," I say, but then the wheels are turning again. She will sleep in a chair she decides. So back upstairs to pack some bedding.

In a bit she comes back down with a lot of toys, some clothes, her swim suit, a bit of bedding, and every pair of shoes she owns (a true woman in the making). She begins to make a pile by the back door. Her 3 year old sister is moving in with her at this point. They are going to be 'housemates'.  So they are also packing her bedding and toys. The pile by the back door grows some more.

Then I open the door and she starts putting her stuff in the house. Casually, as I prepare dinner, I wonder aloud, "huh, I wonder what you will eat for dinner?"

She stops and looks at me in horror! The hysterics are on the verge of overflowing, "But mommy I don't have any money to buy food, and I......" the rest is unintelligible crying and blubbering.

I say calmly, "well, I can give you a bag of pretzels to hold you over until you can make it to the store."

She brightens, "thank you mommy" and goes back to moving into her new home.

Then, as I finish up dinner, she comes in crying again.

"Mommy, I just can't do it, everything won't fit and I..................I just really want to live with you again."

"Oh baby girl, I am so happy to hear that. I would love to have you live with me again."

And she melts into my arms weeping in relief.

Then from the back door I hear my younger daughter say, "Well I'm still moving out! I'm gonna live in the house 'S' gave us!"

So I say 'okay' and continue to love on my older girl, who has learned a good lesson about the realities of moving out (if even only on a small scale).

Then I say, "well then, lets have spaghetti" (my kids favorite meal), and suddenly my three year old is begging to move back in too.

Life lessons were learned, I am sure of it, and me? I got to enjoy the live entertainment for free. Kids, they are so much fun!

Some of you may ask how long I would have let the ruse go before insisting she move back in?

I would have let it go as far as it had to, even as far as her sleeping outside in her playhouse (supervised all night from the window of course). If the cramped quarters didn't do the trick, the massive amounts of mosquitos would have. Secretly I was praying it would rain, which would have sped up the process of discovery, but it didn't even take rain to drive her back to my arms. It only took the reality of all her possessions not fitting into her tiny new apartment. Ha! Such a girl.

So why would I let her think that she could move out? Because I believe in letting my kids practice being adults in as many ways as possible. To be sure, she had to think and use her brain a lot in the process of moving out, and realizing what it takes to live on her own, and so forth.

I want my home to be a safe place to practice learning these types of life lessons. It is not my job to control her and do all the thinking for her. She has a brain, and I know she uses it, so I knew in the long run (or short, in this case) that her brain would lead her to the logical conclusion that her plan was maybe not the best plan. I guarantee she is smarter now than when the process first began.

At the end, she was truly repentant for how she had spoken to me, she was suddenly more grateful for being allowed to live in my house and eat my food. It was also a great bonding moment. As I held her in my arms, I was able to tell her how glad I was that she was staying and how much I love living with her.

It was a beautiful/funny adventure.


How about you? Anyone got a funny story about a child who learns the value of a life lesson creatively? 




I have Mercy.

I have never thought of myself as being a overly merciful person. It isn't that I want judgement or death to befall people, not at all.

I had always just thought of myself as one who stood up for Justice more than Mercy.

As a Christian, I had never really made that statement out loud before, always just believing it, never really thinking about it.  Otherwise I would have realized the error in it much sooner.

Those two are not in contradiction to one another. With Justice there can be Mercy, and with Mercy, Justice can still be upheld.

It isn't one or the other, it is both/and.

So, back to my false mindset. By the way, another word for a false mindset is.......stronghold. I discovered this stronghold when I was talking with my husband. I had taken a personality test and it asked a very interesting question. It asked:

Do you tend to lean toward Justice or Mercy?

I know myself to be a rule keeper/rule maker, so I picked Justice, even though I know in my head I love Mercy too.

Then my husband said that you can't have Justice without Mercy - and vice versa. The Lord is a 'Just' God, and He is full of 'Mercy'. The Old Testament is full of examples of these two.

So, it got me to thinking and I asked the Lord. Am I really merciful?

Apparently I didn't think too hard about it though, because I quickly forgot that I had asked the Lord that question. Until He answered my question.

Over three months after taking that first personality test my husband offers for me to take a Spiritual Giftings test. Like a personality test, but focused on what your Spiritual gifts are.

I was shocked to find myself fitting very much into the Mercy gift, as well as the Giver gift. It was a shock because I had already, unconsciously, written myself off as 'not overly merciful'. Remember, strongholds are hard to move because someone strong holds them, I decided that the test must be wrong and that I was really only a Giver.

Then today, as I talked with the Lord randomly about something else before a meeting I was attending, I heard the Lord say, "you have Mercy."

I thought I must have heard wrong.

"You have mercy, why do you doubt it?" I heard the Lord say again.

I threw up several examples of times I had not shown mercy to my children/husband/family.

His response - He reminded me of several examples where I had shown great mercy to complete strangers.

I said, "Well, I am merciful to strangers, but not to my family. The way that I am to my family is really how I am."

I heard the Lord say 'No.'

He showed me that I am capable of great mercy toward people, even going out of my way to extend mercy to friends and people in need. I will share my 'dirty laundry' with almost anyone, if I am able to show them that there is hope for themselves.

So I asked the Lord why I am not always that way with my family. He said, "It is simply an area of weakness and immaturity."

That was profound. It isn't that I lack mercy at all! I have lots of mercy, and I know how to show it, I just struggle sometimes to show it to those nearest to me.

It isn't even that I am terribly unmerciful to my family. I am very merciful, but I had somehow locked in on to the few times that I have been obviously unmerciful and put those memories on repeat, until the point that I believed that I was not a merciful person.

What a lie of the enemy! What a stronghold!

Why is it that we take the 10% of our life experience and let it be the rule instead of the exception.

For example: I once was in a group of women, and one woman out of five didn't like me. I was so rocked by that one woman not liking me. I was so worried for a while that I was not really a likable person. I believed that one lady's opinion of me over the other 4 in the group, and over the opinion of my dozens of other friends.

Why is that? I don't know, but I do know this. It is a lie, and if we choose to believe it, then it can become a stronghold. My stronghold was to the point that I didn't really believe that I was a merciful person. When in fact, that is where I placed highest on the Spiritual gifts test!

Isn't that just like the enemy. Trying to blind me to one of my most natural gifts. Now that I am aware, I have taken it into my head and my hand, that mercy will be a new weapon that I will learn to hone for the Glory of the Lord.

So Lord, teach me to wield it against the lies of the enemy for the sake of those I encounter; not only to strangers, but to those most nearest and dearest to me. Amen!