Sunday, November 16, 2014

Unbelievable FREEDOM

Do you want to know how many "drafts" I have sitting in my blog dashboard right now?
11. ELEVEN y'all!

Do you want to know why?

Because so often, at least 11 times apparently, I sit down to write a post, full of words spilling out of me that must be shared with the world- whether or not anyone is actually going to read them- because if I don't I'll bust. But then? Something causes me to hit the "Save" button instead of "Publish".

It's that small voice whispering lies...

"No one cares what you have to say."

"WHO is going to take precious time from their day to read anything YOU have written?!"

"If you post this, people will lash out at you!!"

and so on.....


But today, I realized, something- or Someone- prompted me to write those words to begin with. And by never finishing it, I've failed the mission those words had been given. Someone DID need to read them. Even if it was just me.

     -SO-

Over the next few days I will be publishing all those posts and then some. If any of them offend you, I'm sorry. If they move you, hurrah! But I have words spilling out of my words here. A heart about to burst wide open with unshared sentiments and lessons learned yearning to be shared out loud, if only as a confirmation to myself that they exist. And then, IF someone happens to read them and be encouraged, inspired or enveloped in that UNCONDITIONAL LOVE that provides a PEACE THAT SURPASSES UNDERSTANDING... then A-M-E-N! Because God is So Good. He has been SUPER patient with me, as well as Incredibly Merciful and Abundantly Gracious to me. And I can keep quiet no longer. So forgive me for the mysterious silence so far. And forgive me for the cascade of emotional shrapnel about to start flying from this blog.

What, you may ask, prompted this Revelation? (ha! that's funny right there because we just began a study of the book of Revelation at CBS last week! I didn't realize I used that word until I went back and reread this.)

THESE. WORDS.:

"If you want to discover what happens when parents and children alike learn to live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly and unconditionally loved (and liked!) by God, you’ve found the right place. I hope you’ll stay a while and share your journey with me."

From the blog by the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child, Jeannie Cunnion.  She has no idea I wrote this. She has no idea the impact her blog, book, and posts have had on my life. She probably has no idea who I am; but that doesn't matter. GOD. DOES. And He sent me to her blog to read that. perfect. little. description: "what happens when.... (we) learn to live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly and unconditionally loved (and liked!) by God."

Y'all. I fell OVER. Flat on my face when I read those words. THAT'S IT. That's all there is to it. Do you want to know what life is all about? THAT'S IT. Do you want to know how to fix the problems in this world? THAT'S IT. Do you want to know how to find peace in YOUR life? THAT'S. IT. 

It sounds over simplistic, but I'm telling you, it's not. It is both utterly PROFOUND and SIMPLE at the same time. She can probably explain it all way better than I can. BUT, I'm realizing God has led us each down different paths, with different life experiences for a reason... they all reach the same conclusion, FREEDOM IN HIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, but her story is not my story. It is a part of my story now, yes. Each is a story of how God brought a broken girl through to His Truth. And each story is a powerful testimony of God's mercy, grace and love that needs to be shared, if only to being Glory to the one who loves us. Unconditionally, y'all. Messy and all. I've had that Freedom and I've squandered it. No More, my friend, no more.

So, I must write. I must share what I've learned: all about the Scripture He's captured my heart with and the fire He's used to refine me and the Love He's showered upon me. Because, I know, someone is out there hurting and broken. Desperate and lonely. Wondering and questioning. And somehow, these words might find you and be the stepping stone that begins YOUR path to Freedom. Oh what an honor that would be.

Truly. That is my greatest desire. For everyone to find this Freedom.


Unbelievable Freedom. In Christ.


And if this reaches 1. Only One.
It will be totally worth it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A FROZEN Prescription

I'm not a doctor of any kind, but I do have a diagnosis: there is an epidemic of fear infecting the population worldwide:
  • Fear that causes people to act upon terrifying assumptions, or equally causes non-action out of concern for retribution. 
  • Fear of the unknown, or anything different that causes hate speech, hypocrisy and doubt. 
  • Fear that hinders real communication, harms relationships and prevents Truth from being heard.
And though this may sound over simplistic, I believe the newest Disney Movie, Frozen, reveals the answer. The prescription, if you will, to eradicate this fear epidemic: Love.

Now of course, Disney is hardly the first one to proclaim this truth. But more on that later. For now, I'd like to examine how beautifully this movie demonstrates that Love can cure fear.


*** SPOILER ALERT ***

If you have not seen the movie and plan to, be aware that if you read on a major plot line will be revealed!!  I will be careful not to reveal too much, so it will still be fun and surprising to see the movie if you choose to read on. But know that some of the surprises are discussed below.

I'm about to walk you through a brief summary of the movie along with my observations:

In the movie, Princess Elsa accidentally hurts her sister, Princess Anna, with her icy magic while playing together in the snow she created. The only way to heal her was for the trolls to take away the memory of the magic. The parents' solution? Conceal, control and contain it. So they shut the gates to the kingdom, separated the sisters and tried to teach Elsa to conceal, control and contain her magic. Here little sister Anna, never knew why her sister "shut her out." Only that she wanted to play and Elsa never came out of her room again. Then several years later, their parents died at sea and the sisters were left alone. Still, Elsa never emerged, out of FEAR of hurting her sister again. So they drifted apart as they grew up. 

Three years later, it was Coronation Day. Elsa was to be crowned Queen of Arrendale and for the first time in forever (wink wink!), the gates would be opened and the kingdom allowed in. Not only that... Anna would see her sister again.

When the sisters are finally together again at the ball, Anna is awkward. She doesn't know how to talk to her sister or even approach her. Elsa tries to make conversation, and the girls start laughing and enjoying themselves, but when Anna comments that she wishes it could always be like that, the memories start flowing and Elsa remembers the FEAR, then she shuts down and runs away.

Anna decides to go after her, and a wonderfully fun and musical adventure begins. When Anna finds her, however, out of fear of hurting Anna again, Elsa loses control and hits Anna with another icy blast, this time deadly. The cure? An act of true love.

Here's where it gets interesting. Without revealing too much more of the movie, in the end, Anna has a choice to make. Get her cure or save her sister. She chooses her sister.


Did you hear that? She chooses to save her sister instead of saving herself!! 

WHO DOES THAT?!

Oh yeah. JESUS DID. 


So now Elsa stands in shock of what her sister just did, and hugs her, then Anna's icy cast begins to melt away. Elsa asks her, why did you do that? And Anna simply replies:

"Because I love you."

To which Elsa replies, suddenly understanding:

"Love? Of course! Love can thaw a frozen heart!"

So simple yet quite profound. You see, Elsa would uncontrollably create this snow storm when she was afraid. And she did not know how to unfreeze it, leaving the whole town in danger. Until she realizes that "Love can thaw a frozen heart." Then suddenly, she magically begins to thaw the entire kingdom. Why? Because Love not only cured Anna's frozen heart, it also CURED THE FEAR INSIDE OF ELSA.

Now of course, Disney is hardly the first one to proclaim this truth. The Bible actually states it quite clearly: 


There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


And this truth is declared astoundingly clear in Disney's Frozen.

So my prescription to the world: Watch Frozen!! And let the truth that LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR sink in!! 

I wish it were possible for everyone to watch this movie, but I know it is not. So I just hope this little synopsis helps spread the message even if in some little way. Also, it is so wonderful to find such a high quality family movie with such a beautiful message to enjoy with the kids. Let's encourage them to make more like this!!  Movies are powerful!

I'm not even kidding... I literally felt fear melting off my heart as I watch this movie. So much so that I had to return from a writing hiatus to share about it. I haven't written any posts in quite a while for a variety of reasons. I will confess, however, that one reason is because of fear. Fear of rejection that what I have to say won't matter to anyone, or worse, that it would be criticized. However, over the past several weeks God has been revealing to me exactly what his Peace that Surpasses Understanding entails. As silly as it sounds, He used Frozen to drive some of that message home to me during this time! I am so excited by what I am learning that I can't hold it back anymore (another song wink!) and let fear win. Hopefully this will be a step towards consistency in writing again because I love it. If nothing else, it's therapy for me ;)  But I do hope you enjoy it and glean something from it as well.

Like always, feel free to ask questions or make comments below!! I enjoy the interaction!! In the mean time, check out just what Jesus did:

    
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.    1 John 4:10-11

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Free Family Film Festival October 2013

As with most families, finding free entertainment is the jackpot!!!  Our family loves movies. Safe, fun, clean movies. But affording the theater experience is tough.

Here is a little freebie we just discovered, though a little late:  NCG Theaters are hosting their fall Free Family Film Festival again!! It started last weekend and runs Friday, Saturdays and Sundays through the rest of October.

Check out the flyer for details:




Wish we'd found it sooner, but there's still 3 weekends left to enjoy it! Free movies at the theater are always a super fun treat for us since we hardly ever see movies in the theater. Hope you enjoy this free film festival, too!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thrive or Survive?

This little question has been on my heart and mind for several months now. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing an incredibly encouraging speaker at a mom's meeting: Frances Worthington. She talked about how she would live from one exciting, life changing conference to another. She would hear a message from God and get all hyped up to implement it in her own life, but then Monday would come and she would be back in survival mode.

That's me. Sundays are my favorite because I always get inspired and encouraged and hear from God through my pastor's sermons. I vigorously take notes and commit to make changes, but by Monday, it's like I get amnesia. I forget everything I learned and I'm back in survival mode as well.

I hate survival mode. Don't you?

Survival mode makes me focus on just getting through the day and not enjoying it. I miss those incredible details that make life so precious. What did my kids learn today? What special memory will stick with them from our time together today? What memory will stick with me? Nothing. It's all a blur. I HATE THAT!!

I don't want to live in survival mode anymore. I want to thrive. I want to enjoy each and every second I have with these babies, whether 2 or 9 years old. I want to remember those cute things they say, or those amazing facts they just shared with me.

Frances says when God finally got through to her, He told her the only way to thrive and not just survive is to daily fill your cup with His spirit, because ours is too weak to handle life on our own. (So true.) Only when we fill our cup with Him, will we have enough left over to pour into the lives of those around us: our spouse, kids, family, friends and the world around us. She even showed us how this looks using this profound visual aid:

(You can't see the water falling from one
level to the next bc my camera phone is
soooo slooooow. But you get the picture ;)


I so want this. I want His love, His patience, His grace, His compassion to overflow from me to my hubby and kids, my mom and brother and sister and dad and aunt, my friends who feel neglected by me and to the world who desperately need to hear of my Source of Hope of Love and sheer Power to go on.

How about you? Do you want this, too?

Let's commit to spend time with Him daily, so He can fill our cups and we in turn can overflow into theirs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Encounter



Encounter is a class held by FaithBridge Foster Care to introduce prospective families to foster care.



For a while, we've been feeling like God might be calling us to become a foster family. We've been praying and researching for a while. But with finances a challenge, my work situation a challenge, it seemed like a far off goal. Something we can consider when I am able to quit work or when hubby finds a better job. So we just kept praying waiting for God to say go.

Then we heard about FaithBridge and their Encounter class. We figured it couldn't help to go to that class and just get more information. The class wasn't a commitment to begin Fostering, it was simply informational. So we signed up.

Then, the day of the class, hubby got sick. Really sick. We were not going to be able to go, so I called the office to cancel our reservation. The lady who answered was so kind and helpful! She asked if I had any questions I wanted to ask her since we weren't going to be able to go to the class. (Of course I did!!) She stayed on the phone with me for over half an hour! I know God knew we would not be able to go to the class, and He provided a way for us to get just a little more information on that piece of the puzzle He may have for us. As I look back at other times in my life when I was unsure but I trused God and plowed through, I can see evidence of His work all over it. It's hard to see it when you are in the middle of it, but hind sight is, as they say, 20/20. One day, I know I will look back on our foster care/adoption journey and see His work all over it. I believe this lady will be part of that.

Though we didn't get to go to the class and we haven't taken any other steps towards fostering yet, that kind lady's helpfulness gave us full confidence that we had at least found the organization that would help us find our place in this calling. Can't wait to see what God has in store for our little family.

If you are considering or even wondering about foster care, check them out. They have developed a foster care model that will enable more families to help because they have put support methods in place so that foster families are not alone in the journey. It is brilliant, Biblical and necessary. So many kids need love and support and through FaithBridge and Christ-centered families like yours and (hopefully) mine, we can change their world!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Random Thoughts to try and Catch Up

Life is truly full of interesting twists and turns! Of all the things I have written about here, longings and dreams and prayers of my heart, one thing I never wrote about was Homeschooling, because I never thought it would be a possibility for me.

Now, here we are, THREE MONTHS into our homeschool journey! And BOY! Have I learned a lot! And I still have SO MUCH to learn!

I look forward to catching up on my blog posts several drafts I jotted down but never fully finished, and well as writing some new ones to fill in the gaps. I can't wait to share with you how this journey began for us, how it is working in our home with my two jobs and 4 kids (LOL!!!) It is crazy to say the least. But it is also. Amazing!! 

I will share with you our curriculum meltdowns and thrills, as well as our favorite resources and our day to day schedule. All this I'm still learning about but eager to share because I have learned so much by reading ideas from others! 

There is so much catching up to do... posts about the kids, photography, our adoption plans, and now homeschool! So please stay tuned! And ask any questions you may have! I'd love to help you along your journey as well :)  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Little Photobook Update

So, I've gotten behind on my blogging again, but only because we have been super busy!! Lot's of exciting changes to update you on! Can't wait to catch you up on all the details, but for now, hope you enjoy this little photobook update...



Create your own custom photo books at Shutterfly.com.





Just made this book as a thank you for a sweet family friend who helped us so very much when I was pregnant with Baby S and since then as well. All she asked for in return was "a few pictures"! So when I got an offer from Shutterfly for a free 8x8 photobook, I knew I had to make it for her! 

Have fun looking through it, and look for posts to come for details on all we've been up to!