Wednesday, January 25, 2017


My heart has been so burdened lately by the thought of being a lukewarm Christ follower.  Just for fun, let's take a look at Google's definition of lukewarm:

adjective: lukewarm
1. (of liquid or food that should be hot) only moderately warm; tepid.
2. (of a person, attitude, or action) unenthusiastic.

I don't know about you, but when I read that, I can conclude that lukewarm is not a very pleasant thing.  No one likes their coffee lukewarm.  Starbucks sells it hot or cold.  No one likes a lukewarm bath - Unless you have a fever....and then that's just a miserable experience all around.  Trust me, we experienced that last week with Emmy during a nasty sickness.

But the words that really grip me in the definition above are "unenthusiastic, tepid".  Yikes.  Do I want those words to describe me in any aspect of my life?  Absolutely not.

Jesus has a strong word for people who are lukewarm for Him.  In Revelation 3:16 He says, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."

I recently saw another quote that read, "The single greatest cause of Atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny Him by their lifestyle."

The single greatest cause.  Let that soak in awhile.

With the explosion on social media of everyone's thoughts and opinions on every topic under the sun, my spirit can easily get sucked in.  And not just that.  Friends and family can have influence over my life too and it's not always positive.  Gossip and rumors seep in to conversations, discontention arises, so on and so forth.  And while I always try to rise above, I confess that sometimes I really struggle. If we're honest, all of us do.  If you don't think so, you may want to ask God to examine your heart.

I write all of this to say that I've been heavily burdened by this lately and I recently had a breakthrough.  In reading 2 Corinthians 6:17a, the apostle Paul writes, ""Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord."  What a healing word this was to my soul.  I do not have to conform to what anyone thinks I should conform to.  God says I am to be separate and He will welcome me (v.17b).  He calls me His daughter and He tells me that He will cleanse me from every burden I carry if I will only come to Him and talk to Him about it (2 Cor 7:1, 1 John 1:9).  What a loving Father.  He always knows just how to light my fire.

 Image result for he restores my soul'

My soul feels refreshed.  He always provides light and a way.  He reminds me that it's good to be different because that's who He called me to be.  I don't need to worry about acceptance because I am acceptable to Him.  Maybe you needed this word too.  Maybe you feel rejected or burdened because you sometimes don't know where you fit in or are welcome.  And maybe it's all made you feel a little lukewarm.  Good news!  God always has His arms open to us, ready to welcome and receive us no matter how far we've strayed or what we've done.  And it's a warm, rich embrace.  Amen and amen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sweet Sufferings

I have so many posts that have been in my head (and I've been HORRIBLE about posting), but this is one that keeps pressing me with urgency.  Maybe it's because of all the heartache all around me.  Whether it be breakups, loneliness, divorce, miscarriage, infertility, death, any kind of heartache - I want to encourage you that you are not alone and you are loved.  You are loved more than you can imagine.  I was gifted with a glimpse of this love and my mind can't comprehend it.

After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen & establish you. 1 Peter 5:10:

If you belong to Jesus, your suffering is never in vain.  He showed me that through my years of infertility struggles.  Our suffering will never be greater than God's comfort.  He is the Father of compassion. 

Rest assured, your pain is for a purpose.  According to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "...the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  This means suffering connects us to other people in a way no other experience can.  No one gets it quite like someone who has been there.  The purpose for your pain may be that you are supposed to walk through it in order to help someone else who will be going through it later. 

Suffering also creates in us a patient endurance that might not have been there prior.  In fact, I'm 99.9% sure that it wasn't.  Patience is born out of waiting.  And sometimes that waiting is painful.  I love Romans 5:3-5 where Paul says, "And not only this, but we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Tribulations -> Perseverance -> Proven Character -> Hope -> God's Love
You like my little illustration there?  The end result in God's love.  He loves you through it all, but I don't think you can clearly see it when you're in the depths of it.  Hold tight,  When you make it to the other side...ahh, what a glorious view!  He loves us SO MUCH.  He loves us so much, in fact, that He often times saves us from what we think we want because He has something better.  

Nothing teaches you obedience quite like waiting.  Isn't that how we train our puppies?  Sit. Stay. Good boy!  Not that God speaks to us like that, by any means.  It's just an illustration of how obeying yields rewards.  I feel like God's talking to us is more like, "Be still.  Calm down.  Don't fight me.  I've got this.  If you would just be quiet, I will fight this for you.  I love you and I'm going to do what's best for you." in the calmest, most assuring, loving voice you've ever heard.  I know I've spoken those words to my precious Emmeline as she's battled me during nap time.  She's flailed and screamed and I knew what was best for her as I tried to gently soothe her and rock her to sleep.  But she could be relentless!  Isn't that just how we are?  Exodus 14:14 and Psalm 46:10 truly came alive to me in the person of my little bity baby.  And I could see clearly how I learned to stop, be still, wait, and listen as I waiting during my trial.

Sufferings can bring us to the end of ourselves.  But it's not THE end...because there's Jesus, arms open wide.  He's waiting this whole time.  Suffering can shift our reliance from being on ourselves to relying on God.  What a sweet release that is when you finally surrender.  Again, I love Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where he says, ""My grace (Jesus' grace) is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."  Powerful.  Weakness is actually a gift from God.  It's His way of reminding us that we don't have to do this alone.  He's got this.  He loves us, listens to us, and will work everything together for the good of those who believe in Him. (Romans 8:28)

 2 Corinthians 12:9. Literally just wrote tho sin my journal this morning.:

Let your heart be encouraged.  You are never alone.  You are loved more than you can imagine and every little thing is going to be okay.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fast Fixins - Shrimp Stir Fry

Happy Sunday!  I hope y'all are enjoying this last day of the weekend.  By this point, the Sunday blues are probably setting in as you get ready for Monday morning.  I know that's especially true for my teacher friends who are heading back to work tomorrow.  This summer FLEW by!  I am praying over all of you and the sweet kiddos that will soon walk through your doors.  I know the Lord has placed them all in your care for a reason.

We had a great morning at church.  We had bagels with the seniors that we teach as we enjoyed our last Sunday school class together before they head off to college, then we heard a good word from Dr. Ben McCarty.  He preached on God's mercy in the middle of our mess.  It was a humbling sermon and a reminder that we all have messes in our lives - some of us bare our messes for the world to see and others have internal messes that we try to mask and hide. If I'm being totally transparent, the latter would be me.  I don't mean to do this.  It's more of a "I don't want people to think I'm a negative person" issue.  I definitely don't have it all together.  Some days it feels like it's hanging by a thread.  BUT The Lord sees, hears, and opens the way for us. He wants us to come to Him so that He can help us deal with our messes.  Praise Jesus!  I need all the help I can get!

With a busy week looming over us, I thought I'd share my first "Fast Fixin" (here in the South, fixing has numerous meanings).

This recipe is so delicious, healthy, and QUICK!  From start to finish it takes about 20 minutes.  Here's what you'll need:

Shrimp Stir Fry (feeds 2-3 people)
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

-1 to 2 lb shrimp frozen or fresh (I buy mine peeled and deveined then quickly remove the tails.  If you buy frozen, make sure you allow about 5 minutes for them to thaw)
-3 fresh zucchini, cut into wedges
-2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped
-1 cup corn (fresh, frozen, or canned - just drain canned)
-2 cloves garlic
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-fresh basil
-salt & pepper to taste
**Disclaimer: I honestly don't measure when I cook.  So, these are my estimates based on what I used.  Feel free to use more or less!

Mince and saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque.  It's usually about 5 minutes.  Remove shrimp and set aside.  Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and saute your zucchini and corn over med/high heat for about 5 minutes and then add in tomatoes, stirring to combine for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the shrimp back to the sauteed veggies and season with basil, salt, and pepper.


This is seriously so easy.  And so healthy.  Shrimp is an excellent source of lean protein and you're getting a good mixture of complex carbohydrates from the vegetables.  I serve this just as it is.  If you want, you can always serve it over rice, but it's honestly not needed.  I hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2016

I'm Baaaaack!

Y''s been quite awhile!  I think my last post was December of 2013.
So much life has happened!
I got a chuckle reading my "About Me" section.  "I'm a twenty something year old..." Ha!  Not anymore!  I need to make some updates.  That one made me laugh, but then the "Featured On" made me sad.  I can't bring myself to take that off.  I miss reading my sweet blogging friend, Leslie's posts.  She went to be with Jesus a year ago.

Where do I even begin?  I will have to go back and blog all about our infertility struggles and ultimately success because J and I are now proud parents to our precious miracle girl!
 Newborn photo courtesy of Patsy Brown

Those big blue eyes melt our hearts.  She brings so much JOY to our lives and she's a constant reminder of God's goodness.  He hears our prayers!  I could never thank Him enough, but I will always try.

So, since I'm a new momma, time is of the essence...meaning, I don't have a whole lot of it.  I'm going to try to blog a couple of times a week.  I thought about bringing back Meal Plan Monday to help motivate folks to try new foods and meal plan too.  I will also try to do a weekly recipe post that I'm going to call "Fast Fixins".  It'll be a healthy recipe that takes 30 minutes or less.  Sound good?  Of course I'll have to post about our precious Emmy girl as well!  I'm excited to start back to blogging.  Here's to my 30s and the adventures life holds!

Image result for psalm 116:2

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: My Ugly Beautiful Year

It's eerily quiet in my house.  Our company left this morning and I have been feeling melancholy over them leaving.  I just cherish our visits so much and I am so thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.  I've been sitting here catching up on my thankful journal and felt the need to write to reflect on 2013.  This year wasn't at all what I expected, but it sure was "ugly beautiful".

I'm reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I've been reading this so slowly because I really just don't want to finish it.  

It is so beautifully and eloquently written.  It breaks me down and builds me up again in such a gracious way.  If you haven't read it, I highly suggest it.  She keeps a thankful journal and was dared to write down 1,000 things she was thankful for.  That's what inspired me for my thankful journal.  I have a ways to go as I'm only on 126.  The part of the book I'm reading right now is all about what she calls "ugly beautiful".  It's those hard times in a day, week, month, whatever season of life, where nothing goes as planned and you feel sadness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, etc.  But practicing the art of thanksgiving means giving thanks in ALL circumstances, regardless of your current situation.  I've been practicing thanksgiving during ugly beautiful.  At first, it was really hard, but as soon as I'd do it, my mood would automatically change and I'd often find myself laughing at the situation.  This year was an interesting year and I plan to recap month by month.

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Ringing in the new year at home
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Our 1st breakfast of 2013. :)
My grandpa turned 91
Some of our best friends got married.
My Aunt Margaret's 65th birthday.  Sadly, it was her last Earthly birthday.
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I played in a kickball tournament for our school.  We won 1st in our division.  Who knew I was actually good at kickball?!
We celebrated Easter.  It was one of the most spiritual Easters I've ever experienced.

We had a shower at my house for our friend, Rilee.
Paisley became a new family member!
Mother's Day with my beautiful, strong momma.
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School year came to an end.  I had such a special, wonderful group of students and parents who I will cherish forever.  They became my family.

Father's Day with my amazing, kind daddy.
The beach was so beautiful the whole month of June.
I celebrated my 27th birthday surrounded by A LOT of family.

My Tink (my niece) turned 4!  This same day, my sweet Aunt Margaret met Jesus.
My Meemaw turned 75!
Leo left us :(
We buried my Aunt Margaret.  We could smile because we knew she was finally at peace and no longer suffering.
I started back to what would be my most trying year of teaching.
We began our anniversary vacation get away in Seaside.  We had quiet, peaceful mornings on our patio reading our Bibles and enjoying God's awesome creation.
My best friend.

Spending all day on the beach without a care.
Mom's surprise 60th birthday party.  So thankful for the years in her life!
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Daddy's 80th birthday celebration.  So thankful for his life!
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Thanksgiving with this handsome dude.
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I finished reading the whole Bible in less than a year...cover to cover in chronological order. What a blessing it was to me.
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Ready for Christmas!
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My daddy and I teaching a lesson together on rocks and minerals in my class.
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Our dear friend Timothy's going away party.  We were so blessed to get to know him!
As I think back on all this year brought and didn't bring, I am overwhelmed with emotions.  God's grace was so evident in each moment and I cherish the time I got to spend with Him as He grew me.  I have been so humbled through each experience and just pray He continues to get glory through my life.  It is well with my soul.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Boast in my Weakness

This is a post that truthfully, I rather not be typing.  I have put it off for months and months, thinking that one day I'd post good, exciting news about a growing family and be able to leave this part of my life behind.  But as fate would have it, that's not how this has played out and frankly, God won't let me run from it anymore.  His prompting for me to write and share is far too strong to ignore.  And something crazy just happened that made me realize I better start.

This all started back in March of 2012 when Jared and I decided we wanted to start a family.  Three weeks later we found out I was pregnant.  9 1/2-10 weeks into the pregnancy, we lost the baby.  If you haven't read that story, you can find it by clicking here.  Honestly, since May 10, 2012, my life has drastically changed.  Never did I think I would have the emotions and feelings that I've had and never did I imagine that my relationship with the Lord could grow SO much.

After the miscarriage in May, I had problems with my hcg levels returning to normal.  That's a whole other story in itself, but in August we were cleared to start trying again.  August, September, October, November, December all passed with big fat negatives.  Now January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November have all passed with the same fate.  I've had numerous tests and procedures run, all coming back perfectly clear and normal.  That in itself is a praise.  A frustrating one, but a praise none the less.  Jared's testing came back perfectly normal as well.  Our doctor told us that he didn't know what was wrong, scientifically it didn't make sense, and referred us to a fertility doctor.  We haven't been yet.  I don't really know what to do, other than pray about moving forward.

We've been patiently and sometimes not so patiently waiting with each passing month to see if the desire of our hearts will be filled, but that's when it started to click that maybe my desire is all wrong.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart."  Yes, He wants to give me the desires of my heart, but it comes from a place of delighting in Him simply because He's Lord and He's good.  He is so good.  He has so much mercy on me and covers me in grace.  He's revealed time and time again why the timing wasn't right with the first baby.  But still, my selfish arms long to hold my baby.

I'm writing this as a piece of my continuously growing testimony.  My heart HAS changed in the last 6 months or so and instead of praying FOR a baby, I find myself praying for God to use me in whichever way He wants.  Help me be okay with who I am and what He's given me.  Help me give Him glory through every tear cried.  Don't let my pain and longing for a child consume me and shape me into someone I'm not.  Make me a parent in the way that gives You the most glory.  Mold me into the woman You want me to be; one that rejoices in the calm and the storm.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has been on my heart so much lately.  It reads, "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness"  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

What a powerful scripture.  And like I said, it's REALLY been on my heart for about 2-3 weeks now.  I mean heavily on my heart.  Today I came home, got the mail like always, and we had a letter from a man my husband is good friends with.  He had handwritten us a letter to let us know the Spirit had placed us on his heart and he was praying for us continually through all of our fertility struggles.  In it, he gave us each scriptures to meditate on that he felt like God was leading him to give us.  Want to guess what the first one was?  Yep, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  That's when I knew I had to write this.

I have to boast in my weaknesses so God can get Glory!  Isn't that amazing?  This same man, having no idea I was about to have an HSG procedure done in October, literally texted Jared the moment we walked into the hospital just to tell him that we were heavy on his heart and he was praying over us at that very moment.  Goosebumps.  Incredible, divine presence and intervention.

Help me to let go of control
Our close family and friends know much of this and have been amazing through everything.  They've prayed over us, sent us notes of encouragement, and told us how our joy, regardless of our situation, has encouraged them.  That is all so wonderful and we are truly grateful.  I don't know what we would've done without them.  But now God has told me that my close friends and family aren't the only ones who need to know.  I need to proclaim His goodness and promises in total faith to the world.  When I am weak, He is strong in me.

If there are any of you out there reading my blog who are going through the same struggles I am right now, please know I am praying for you and please message me if you ever need someone to talk to.  I feel like a weight has been lifted from my back in sharing my struggles and weaknesses with you.  I know that no matter what, God's plan is way better than mine.  I believe it and I trust it.  We always tend to cling to Psalm 37:4, but 5 is what really gets me..."Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."  God has a reason for allowing things to happen.  We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.  Sometimes God doesn't change our situations because He's trying to change our hearts.
We all have struggles and difficulties.  Let's pray for one another and encourage each other to boast in our weakness.  For when we are weak, HE is strong.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lessons on Faith, Trust & Thanksgiving

Warning - this will be a LONG post!

Life at work has been pretty tough lately.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm also not going to go into much detail, but please pray for me and my classroom as we deal with some tough issues this school year.  I am feeling so defeated everyday.  But I keep praying and He keeps providing.  Honestly, The Lord gives me the strength to push through and focus on the good when I just can't. 

With that being said, I've been knocked over the head by lessons of faith, trust and thanksgiving here lately.  I'll start with thanksgiving first.  After a vent session with my momma, she told me to go home and write down three things I'm thankful for.  My cup runneth over.  I have more blessings than I could count, but I will name a few.
1. My awesome, amazing, understanding, hilarious, supportive, best friend of a husband.  Think of every great adjective to describe someone and I could list that for him.  I would be lost without him, plain and simple.
2.  My incredible family, church family, and friends who listen to me, pray for me, love me, and constantly encourage me.  I would be lost without them too.
3.  My stable home.  I know where I'm going to go home to each night - it's clean, comfortable, smells good, fridge is stocked, love abounds within the walls.  It's not a house - it's a home.

I could go on and on, but just focusing on those three made me cry and thank God.  My devotion this morning was all about thankfulness.  I prayed that He would fill my lungs and lips with thanksgiving today.  I feel like I failed miserably.  Today was tough.  Really bad, even.  Tomorrow is a new day and I will keep on keeping on.  Some thoughts that really hit home for me from my devotional were:
*Thankfulness opens the door to God's presence.
*God has empowered us to open and close that door, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective ways to open it.
*Thankfulness is built on a substructure of TRUST.
*I need to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances.

Ahhh...see that scripture at the top of my blog?  Yeah, I need to repeat that over and over.  Practicing thankfulness is hard, but it sure does put life into perspective.  I am so blessed.

The Lord has also been teaching me A LOT about faith and trust over the last year or so.  Hillsong United has a new song out called Oceans.  I really like this cover version though.

And I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace

Really listen to those lyrics.  Powerful.  Something happens to me when I hear this song.  My spirit calms and I just focus and believe the words.  All of them.  He has never failed and He won't start now.  I will continue to call upon His name and keep my eyes above the waves.  I will continue to ask for the Spirit to lead me where my trust is without borders and my faith will be made stronger.  Oh boy, is He teaching me this!
I was doing my quiet time yesterday, reading in Hebrews.  It was time for me to wrap it up and start getting ready for work, but I felt SO compelled to keep going.  I looked at the next chapter I was going to read, which was Hebrews 11, and decided it was too long and I just needed to wait until this morning to read through it and take notes.  But then the little voice, aka the Holy Spirit, told me to read it.  So I listened and did it.  Mumbling and grumbling as I turned to it.

Wow.  What a slap in the face.  The whole chapter is Luke's recount of faithful acts through the times.  By FAITH Abel's sacrifice was better than Cain's, by FAITH Noah built the ark, by FAITH, Abraham offered up Isaac, by FAITH Moses led the people to the Promised Land, by FAITH the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, by FAITH Sarah conceived.  I could go on and on, but just open it and read for yourself.  I just kept circling BY FAITH, BY FAITH, BY FAITH over and over.  It's BY FAITH that all things are made possible.  It's BY FAITH that we gain approval.  It's BY FAITH that God provides far better than what we can imagine.  Guess I needed to hear that message!

I don't know the ways in which He works, for His ways are far greater than me.  But I do know this, I must have FAITH and I must trust Him.  Along the way, I must give thanks for my many blessings to keep my eyes fixed on the good.  Otherwise, I'm totally swallowed up by the bad and defeated.  Do I fail?  YES.  Can I try again?  YES!  That's the good news.

Praise God for all He's done and all He's yet to do!

If you made it to the end of this post, you have to know that my mood when I started this was awful.  I was crying, angry, sad, all those icky emotions.  Now I feel lighthearted, joyful, peaceful.  Have any of my circumstances changed?  Not a one.  But what has changed is my mindset and attitude.  This was therapeutic for me to get these feelings and words out.  God has really been convicting my heart to share this and start posting again.  I will do my very best!