Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Veil Was Torn

Not measuring up.

Feelings of failure.

Not feeling worthy.

Feeling like God just really is out of reach. 

Feeling as if God just can't possibly use you to do anything worthwhile for Him.

Ever have those feelings?

Suffer from negative thinking? 

Oh yes.  This mom does!

Between the time I've spent digging deep through "No More Perfect Moms" by Jill Savage this last month, interaction with both her and the other incredible group of ladies that are part of the launch team and then last night's live webcast with Lysa TerKeurst and Sheila Walsh....God has had a chance to really make some changes in my heart.  It's been a priceless ongoing journey that is just beginning and I can't wait to see where it leads.

Though I've learned MANY things lately, I have to share something that REALLY broke down some walls in my heart and thick head last night.

Lysa did a phenomenal job talking about the "veil" being torn and what that means.  Her passion as she spoke truly just grabbed me in a way like never before. 

My own negative chatter in my head/heart tend to drown out the truth of what God and His word tell me. 

I can be my own worst enemy.  I know I'm NOT the only one that feels this way.

Ever feel like your mistakes are too big, your failures are too large, or that your sin is just too visible and you just don't feel like you are good enough?

God surely can't love us unless we are perfect and spotless enough, right?

Of course, we KNOW that answer is false.  Yet, being honest and vulnerable, sometimes don't you feel like you just aren't worthy enough? 

We know the right Bible school answers, but yet sometimes can't we all admit that our heads just don't always feel what our hearts know is true.

"The Veil was Torn"

Many times I've read about the veil of the temple being torn.  I knew that before then that only the holiest of holy, cleansed priests could step inside and converse with God.  I knew the basics and the importance of the veil being torn (referring to Matthew 27:51 specifically).

Yet, I missed something VERY important.  Every single time I read it.

It was torn from top to bottom.

So what?  What does that "minor" detail mean?

Thanks to Lysa's webcast teaching last night, I finally understand it's VERY important.

Top to Bottom.

From God's position, straight down to where we are. 

By God's hand.

It wasn't just a little rip. It wasn't just a tiny tear that would allow it to be put back up. 

It was TORN.  Obliterated.  No longer functional. 

Because of that veil being torn, we now have access to God by the blood of Jesus Christ.  (Hebrews 10). 

I don't have to be spotless. 

It wasn't just a tiny tear---one that lets just a few people walk through.  (You know, ones with just a "little" sin.)  It's not reserved just for the holiest of holy.

It's for us. 

The gap was made and each and every one of us that has professed Jesus as our Lord are able to walk through it.

I love how part of verse 22 in Hebrews 10 is worded in the NLT ....

"let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him."

As Lysa said, we can quiet the negative inside chatter in our heads that cripple us by realizing that the veil was ripped to give ME (and YOU!) direct access to Him.

That says we are loved.  We are His.  We are part of His family and belong.  We have access to Him. 

We can fully walk through---all of our sin and imperfections included. 

Because they have been cleansed by Christ's sacrifice. 

We don't have to get all "prettied" up to go before God, we can go JUST as we ARE.  Smack dab in the middle of our filth. 

With that said, with that truth fully etched in our hearts, the negative self chatter has to stop. 

We have to finally believe we have value because we are His.  We are whole.  We are beautiful.  We are accepted.  Our identity is in Him.  Not from anything or anyone else!  No matter where we may try to find our identity---no matter which wrong places we try to find it (our children, our marriages, our jobs, our skills, etc...) the only true identity we have comes from Him.

Soaking that truth in today as I tell those negative thoughts and emotions to take a hike because I AM HIS and the VEIL was TORN! Repeating it over and over until FINALLY it is etched so deeply that I can never doubt it again.

The Utter Relief of Holiness (and a Give-a-Way!)

If you ever read any John Eldredge books you know they aren't a little light reading.  You don't just pick it up and expect to finish it in an hour.  You most definitely don't expect to walk away from it when you are finished unchanged.  Yes, you expect something in your heart or spirit to be different after reading his books (or the ones with his wife Stasi).

"The Utter Relief of Holiness: How God's Goodness Frees Us from Everything that Plagues Us" is no exception!

Another fantastic, deep read by New York Times Bestselling Author, John Eldredge!


The author says: "Holiness may seem an unattainable goal, a perfection we humans can’t quite reach, or it may seem boring—the spiritual equivalent of flossing. What it proves to be is a relief. If we could recover a vision of what holiness is, we would be absolutely captured by it." 
What a book!  Not at all what I expected and EXACTLY what I expected at the same time!
  • He tackles the question:  "What is Christianity supposed to DO to a person?"
  • He shows us that we ache to be whole AND holy.  How both of these are our destiny.
  • He shows us what it would be like to live life if we never struggled with our "hard" things again.
  • He tackles forgiveness.  Describing how Jesus forgave his executors even BEFORE there was a hint of remorse on their part.  What if we learned to live like that?
  • He reminds us, through scripture, how we can learn to live life like Jesus.  In his words, "The way he does this is to give us HIS goodness, impart it to us, almost like a blood transfusion or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
  • He explains the difference in condemnation and conviction.
  • He invites us to pray a simple but incredibly powerful prayer from the heart: "Jesus, give me your holiness."  A power packed five words.
For me, the most powerful part of the book is detailed instructions on how to break strongholds and be released from "stubborn places".  He teaches us how to invite healing into our deepest wounds. 

This book is powerful.  This book will change how you look at things.  It will convict, but not condemn.  It's not always an easy read if you read it with your heart open! But the changes that come will be so worth it.

"The hope of Christianity is that we get to live the life of Jesus. His beautiful goodness can be ours. Jesus can heal what has gone wrong inside each and every one of us. He does this by giving us HIS goodness; he imparts it to us. We get to live HIS life---that is, live each day by the power of his life within us.  That's the hope: you get to live his beautiful life."

I'm excited to be able to offer one reader a copy of this book!  Simply just leave a comment that you'd like to be entered.  One winner will be chosen at random on February 6! Make sure and leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's time! Time for No More Perfect Moms!

****It's time!  It's time to start preparing to purchase "No More Perfect Moms"!  Next week is THE week!  This is THE book that has changed my heart in so many ways.  THE book that has changed the way I allow so much pressure to build on my shoulders.  THE book that has forced me to remove my masks and get REAL!  The book that I get more and more out of each time I read it.  I jokingly say I'd be better off highlighting what isn't applicable or not important....instead of highlighting what is!  It's amazing.  For those of you that have already been blessed by Jill's books---you will NOT be disappointed.  For those of you that are new to this fantastic author and speaker, don't wait any longer! Her transparency, REAL vulnerability, and honesty is a breath of fresh air.  That kind of fresh air that we all need in the trenches of motherhood.  No super capes here----just real honesty and imperfection!

Finally able to share with you the list of bonuses that come with purchasing the book between Feb 3 and Feb 9th!***

Everyone loves a good investment…especially one that comes with a big bonus!

 This is one of those investments that you don’t want to miss! Purchase Jill Savage’s new book No More Perfect Moms anytime between February 3-9 (online or at a store…and yes, electronic versions such as Kindle and Nook count too!) Send a copy of your receipt to Scan it, take a picture of it - just be sure to send it to the email! You'll be given access to well over $100 worth of resources that will help you on your mothering journey - absolutely free! What will you receive?   6 Sixty Minute Audio Workshops (MP3 format) from Hearts at Home
  • Desperate for Wisdom - Dr. Juli Slattery
  • How to Fight for Your Marriage - Dr. Juli Slattery
  • It is Well with Your Soul - Jennifer Rothschild
  • Multiple Intelligences - Dr. Kathy Koch
  • Ten Stress Strategies Every Mom Needs - Jill Savage
  • The God Who Sees You- Tammy Maltby
4 Printables from Hearts at Home
  • 10 Stress Strategies Every Mom Needs
  • “Love Is”--I Corinthians 13 for Parents
  • Mom Rules
  • How to Fight Fair In Marriage
3 Free E-book’s (including PDF, Kindle, iPad, and Nook editions!) from Moody Publishers
1 Contest Entry You will be entered in a drawing to win hotel accommodations and two Hearts at Home Mom Conference registrations for you and a friend at a conference of your choice! (If unable to attend a conference, a Hearts at Home Conference To-Go will be substituted for the winner and a friend.) This offer is available for this week only (Feb 3-9)! Grab a copy of No More Perfect Moms, scan your receipt, email it, and start enjoying your new book PLUS all of the extra bonuses you’ll receive! It’s “mom university” delivered right to your computer!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Abel's Field (and Give-A-Way!)

It's never been a secret that we are VERY picky about our media choices.  Not only do we seek to maintain a high level of integrity in what we choice to allow our children to watch, we also apply high standards to what we watch (or read) as a couple.  Simply put:  we believe whole-heartedly that good stuff goes in, good stuff comes out.  We make our choices based on the principle of Phil. 4:8.

It is getting harder and harder to find movies and TV shows that we feel are appropriate for our family.  Even as a couple that LOVES to spend all night watching movies on Friday nights, we've felt like we've hit a wall.  We've had to give up one of our favorite nights of the week because there just hasn't been enough available to choose from!  When we check, it's unreal just how packed full of garbage media has become.  In the last two weeks, we've checked numerous "popular" movies and found that they are averaging 80 f-bombs! thank you!

When a movie comes along that we can truly sit down and watch as a couple or as a family, it's like GOLD to us!

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to watch a movie that left my chin on the ground.

In a good way!

Thank you Covenant Road Entertainment/AFFIRM films/Provident films for Abel's Field!  If I could give it higher than two thumbs up, I most definitely would!


About Abel's Field  (from the cover)


Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER’S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.
MY take:
It's a  story of redemption.  This isn't a cheesy little movie with all things perfect and smiles.  It's a raw, emotional drama that is gripping.  It shows the reality of alcoholism, bullying, huge mistakes and consequences and difficult decisions in the face of adversity.
Yet, it also shows how when we reach out for help and cry out to God in our desperation, He meets us where we are and provides our needs.  Even the deepest needs that we try to deny needing.
This is a family movie, though I don't fit it suitable for young children just due to the intensity of emotions, as well as the fact that alcoholism and bullying are visually a major portion of the story.  These type movies are ones that I love to share with my family because it presents real world problems and provides a spring board for discussion.   FANTASTIC movie to share with tweens and older. 
Also a great movie for teen boys and Dads since the central base of the movie is football! :) Great way to get a faith based movie in their hearts without being so boring and cheesy!
LOVE the opportunity to get this movie into the hands of one of you!  Simply leave a comment on this post letting me know you'd like to enter to win.  Be sure to leave an email address for a way to contact you if you are the winner.  Winner will be chosen at Random on Februrary 1!
Don't miss out on entering to win this AMAZING movie, an emotional story of redemption!
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Looking Back to Look Ahead

Today, we are celebrating the 100th day of school milestone.  I surprised the kids with a banner that says, "You're no dummy. You're not an airhead.  You ARE 100 days smarter!" It was covered in airheads, dum-dum suckers, and smarties.  (The picture isn't so good since I took it in the dark as we put it out for the kids to see this morning.) Today we are also doing activities that highlight 100 and having 100 themed treats (100% juice, 100 calorie snack packs, 100 m&ms, etc...).  To be honest, this is the first year that we all actually knew when 100 days would come and go.  We've just not been as on track or organized in previous years.  :(

My thoughtful husband sent me a couple of messages of encouragement this morning and something he said got deep in my heart.

He reminded me of the original time we made the decision to home school.  We were living in Paragould, Arkansas and facing some difficulties that were weighing heavy on us.  (I've almost lost count, but I think we've moved 13 times in 17 years of marriage!).  He thanked me for committing my heart to home education WAY back then. Even though I didn't have full understanding of what that commitment meant.

It wasn't something I expected to EVER choose.  It most definitely wasn't something I expected to continue doing once we were able to provide other options or when we were in other school districts.  It WAS DEFINITELY not something I expected to do from beginning to end and with multiple children.


God knew. 

He placed that desire in our hearts and allowed it to passionately grow. He equipped when I didn't feel capable.  He allowed me to be knocked down a few notches when I thought I was "good" enough to operate under my own strengths.

That thought reminded me of how MANY times we struggle through things and have no idea what God is doing.  His timing doesn't always seem to match ours.  We sometimes go through trials that we don't understand.  Sometimes we go through strange circumstances that are out of our comfort zone or not what we expected. 

We just can't always see what He is doing in our lives. 

We may feel abandoned.  Though we aren't.
We may feel He is out of reach. Though He isn't.
We may not feel that His path is what we need.  Though it always is.

We had no idea what God had in store for us that first time we thought of home education 11 years ago. 

There have been difficulties we've faced that at the time we didn't understand and years down the road we saw reasons or saw what we gained.

There are things that we've never found answers for.  We will. 

There are things we are currently facing that make NO sense, but we can have confidence that it is in HIS plan.  There is a purpose.

We've learned enough about His faithfulness to know to hang on.  To walk in faith of our hearts even when circumstances don't make sense.  Definitely easier said than done at times, but possible because of the things He has already taught us. 

Today while looking at circumstances and obstacles that are overwhelming, we are hanging on to faith that is stronger. 

Just as Kevin's statement this morning made me look back and see how one commitment changed so much, God is soothing my heart and reminding me that He is still in control and holding us tight through some other circumstances that we don't understand.

He is also reminding me that we made a commitment all those years ago that required steps of faith.  Stepping out of our comfort zone and going against what most considered normal. It was new territory.  Yet, there was an extreme calling and leading in that direction.  It was in our hearts and grew into a passion.  We are in that stage again knowing He's placing a call on our lives to step out in faith in a different area.  Right now is just a waiting game---waiting for the details.  Where? When? How? What?  Many questions of:

Can we do this?
Are we ready?
How will it affect us or change us?
What will we have to sacrifice?
What do we need to learn to do the job ahead of us?

We asked those same questions before and He eventually made his paths known.  Today reminded me that He WILL do so again.  In His time! Our God is way bigger and WAY more powerful than the little box we wrongly put Him in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Basket Case

I have a confession to make.

I'm a basket case.

This normally highly emotional, extremely sappy and tender-hearted woman is...

Well beyond emotional these days.

Oh, I'm not depressed (though I definitely could use some more sunshine and warmer temps!).

God is just at work. 

Sometimes, that can leave you a bit weepy and overwhelmed. 

When He enters into some hidden parts of the heart and begins breaking down walls, healing wounds, and encouraging change----it can leave you a bit drained and energized at the same time.

But it's good. 

His chipping away, reshaping, and filling with more of Him is ALWAYS good.  Even if the process is a bit painful.

Between some things I've been learning during our time of fasting and by being part of the launch team for Jill Savages upcoming book release of "No More Perfect Moms" I'm just.....


Yet, it's a GOOD broken.

I'm overwhelmed.

In a good way.

So much to absorb.  So much I'm ready to change.  So much I'm learning about myself---some things good and some things not so good.

However, isn't that what we should be striving for?

Allowing God to enhance the good and chip away the bad.

Most specifically, I'm learning how much I have to learn.  I'm having to make peace with the past.  I'm having to look forward to the future with a new set of eyes.

Moms----seriously----this book is life-changing! 

I took on this task of being part of this team because I thought I could help spread the word about an amazing book.  I WILL be doing that.  However, it has become so much more than that. 

It's changing me.  In ways I never dreamed. 

I hoped to use this platform as a way to bless others through something I knew would be phenomenal.  What I didn't expect was how much it would bless me.

God is at work. 

Nothing beats that. 

So thankful for the journey. 

Just look past the swollen eyes and deer in headlights look on my face if you see my walking by.  It's all good! :)

Etched...Upon My Heart (and Give-a-way!)

I enjoy reviewing Christian books, both fiction and non-fiction. Since I'm such an avid reader, I typically have at least heard of the book and have a general feel of what it is about. 

However, this one took my surprise. 

And oh my goodness---what a GREAT surprise it was!

"Etched...Upon My Heart (What We Learn and Why We Never Forget)" by Jill Kelly is absolutely incredible! 

It definitely left some etching on my heart!

For starters, the book itself is just adorable!  Don't you agree!? Oh how I'd love to scoop up this little princess and dance around with her little hearts! :)

Etched...Upon My Heart: What We Learn and Why We Never Forget
Written by Jill Kelly
Releasing on January 22, 2013
Jill Kelly is a New York Times Bestselling Author (Without a Word) and is the wife of NFL legend Jim Kelly.
"Etched...Upon My Heart" is beautiful and a deeply personal story of how God worked in her heart through unimaginably difficult situations. 
It's raw.  It's honest.  It's real. Expect to need some tissues. 
But above all else:  expect to find God right there in those pages. 
It's a book of hope. Inspiration. Encouragement.
From the cover:  Our lives are made up of moments. Some we hope to remember forever and some we long to forget. But it's the tapestry of these moments that come together to write the story God is telling through each of our lives.......God will break our hearts, but He will hold the pieces.  He will cradle us and redeem every tear we cry."
But it's not just a personal story.
It's a book of great depth.
Each chapter on different topics (love, significance, forgiveness, suffering, giving, prayer, faithfulness, and death) conclude with a section of "What to Remember and Never Forget", a prayer, and scripture TRUTHS about each topic. 
God found me in so many of those chapters.  It was as if He was saying, Tracye, stop right here and soak this TRUTH in.  Learn from what she has already learned and apply it to your own life. 
I also loved reading how God truly transformed her life and the lives of her family members.  Having been raised in church from the point of birth, it's hard for me to realize how it is to TRULY not know Christ at all and it amazes me to see transformations that take place for someone that has not had a background of knowing Him. 
I was tempted to rush through this book to just check it off my list of things to do because things were a bit busier the last couple of weeks than I expected.  But I couldn't....
It gripped me nearly from the first few pages. 
I even tried not to invest "too" much of myself in the reading, but it grabbed me and wouldn't let go.  So much truth I needed to be reminded of.  So many scripture references that I wanted to remember.  So many remarkable quotes needing to be highlighted. 
This book is a treasure.  It left such an etching on my own heart that I'm planning to go back and re-read it again and soak in more of the treasure it is!
Here's the giveaway part:  one reader can receive a copy of this precious book!  Simply leave a comment on this post.  Just be sure to leave your email address so I can contact the winner.  One reader will be chosen at random.  Give-a-way ends on January 29th!

About the Author: Jill Kelly is the wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. In September 1997, months after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease called Krabbe Leukodustrophy, Jim and Jill founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. As chairman of the board of Hunter’s Hope, Jill helps children suffering from Leukodystrophy, and their families by raising awareness and research funds to fight this devastating disease. She and Jim live in Buffalo, NY, with their two daughters and three dogs. Hunter’s Hope Foundation can be found online at Jill is also the author of Without A Word. 

Required fine print:
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Monday, January 21, 2013

The Burn

I have an addiction.  It's that liquid substance that fuels me: diet coke.  Specifically, a Polar Pop from a very specific local gas station is my passion.  I don't like them from a can or a bottle.  It has to be from a fountain and I'm very picky about which places make them taste "just" right.  I could even tell you which location one was purchased from just be taste. Yes, addicted.

That little 79 cents treasure restores my sanity. 

I've kicked the habit a couple of times.  Yet, I always tend to go back.

I don't even want to admit how many I can down on a "rough" day or weekend day in the summer. 

It's alarming.

I know it's bad.  I know it's wrong to be addicted to something.  I know it's HORRIBLE for my body.  I even know the pitfalls of the aspartame ingredient and it's effect on my lupus. 

I know. 

Yet, I stay stuck in my own addiction.

Even though I physically know the benefits that come from breaking the habit, I easily go back.

Since this new year started, we've been encouraged to participate at some level in a fast/prayer focus at church.  One of the things I immediately knew would be on my list of things to sustain from was going to be my diet coke. 

Though I've not been "perfect" in abstaining 100% (I've had about half of  3 in the last three weeks), I've definitely done amazingly well and my family survived those first few days without!

However, I did make it almost two weeks without any and I noticed something that first time. 

Drinking it BURNED.  It burned my throat and it burned my nose.

As Kevin and were driving down the road from getting that drink and I was attempting to enjoy it, I thought of how I never noticed that "burn" anymore.

I'd had so many that I had become accustomed to it to the point that I didn't even notice it.  The acidic nature didn't even phase me.  I'd been addicted for so long that I don't even remember how long it took that burning to go away in the beginning.  My body and mind just no longer processed it.  Perhaps, even my physical make up had changed in a not good way in attempts to protect itself.

I think that is where we can easily find ourselves in other areas.  Just like putting a frog in a pain of water.  It will stay there and let you gradually turn up the heat, not realizing what is happening.

Are we doing that with sin or with the things we surround ourselves with?

In my opinion, yes!

Kevin and I often talk about movies and the things that we can no longer subject ourselves to watching.  Many times, I think people truly don't see what is in them.  They no longer "hear" the language or realize how often the words are being said.  Inappropriate sex scenes, violence, etc... just don't really register in the brain as they once did. 

When we stopped watching TV, we were shocked to see how much more acutely aware our senses were when did watch something.  Just like we tend to tune out commercials, we had been doing that with what we were seeing and hearing.

What about other areas?

I wonder where else we are no longer aware of the "burn"? 

How are we spending our time? What is the condition of our heart? Where do we carry bitterness and unforgiveness?

Where else have we let sin creep in to the point that we don't even recognize it anymore?

Unfortunately, if we take a REAL look at ourselves I'm certain there are many areas.  Areas that we've become calloused.  Areas that we just don't even pay attention to anymore because it just feels so normal or accepted.

I don't want to be a frog in a pan of hot water, just adjusting to the temperature as it gets hotter and hotter.  Maybe just like with the TV or the diet coke, I need to step away from some things just to clear it from my system so I can see if after sometime away it leaves that nasty burn.  That reminder that I need to know that something isn't good for me and for my heart.  It isn't beneficial for my well being.  Or to see if it is separating me from God instead of drawing me closer. 

That burn is a good thing.  A reminder that something might be dangerous or not the best for my well-being.  Time to step away.  Don't let myself get so used to something that I no longer TRULY see what it is doing negatively.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been waiting...

For a long time. 

Six years to be exact. 

For something that really wasn't very costly, but just something we couldn't justify spending the money on when there were much greater pressing needs.  However, the day FINALLY came today.  As a result of being almost debt free at this point and having extra income coming in from the "littles" I provide childcare for, we FINALLY did it.  Since I "earn" that money (hard to say that since I LOVE it) I finally feel a little more justified when we do things that aren't of extreme necessity.

We tuned my precious piano. 

To many, it doesn't seem like much. 

Yet, for me, every time my fingers touched those keys, my ears ached and I longed for having the day come to have it tuned.  With time, it has become even more difficult to deal with and I had a frequently needed key begin to stick. 

I just kept playing and waiting.

Until I couldn't stand it any longer.

I admit I was quite embarrassed when the nice man sat down to play my "precious" possession. I knew it was bad and I was embarrassed that I had continued to play all of this time.  I just didn't want to give up something I enjoyed even though the sound wasn't what it should have been. 

He just smiled and said, "Well, as I mentioned to your husband on the phone, I might have to charge extra if it were off very much."  I just laughed and gave him the go ahead.  I already knew that it was going to be that double charge!  Off he went to work with all of his gadgets and gizmos...

And two hours later....(and more than a week of my pay!)

It sounds heavenly!  Oh goodness, does it ever. 

These same fingers, playing the same songs, the same way....don't even sound as if they are the same person. 

However, as soon as I sat down and really got to play some songs from a Hillsong Worship book, God began dealing with my heart, yet again.

I began to think about how I had settled all of these years.  Good was good enough.  OK was good enough.  Eventually, bad was still good enough.

I learned to compensate.  A little pedal work here and maybe changing the key I was playing in would make things a bit better.

I also was in denial.  It really didn't sound that bad did it? (Though I KNEW it did!)

God reminded me that I'm a little bit like that piano.

I'm not as polished as I once was.  Life has worn me down and I don't sound quite the same as I did.  Like a penny losing its sheen or colors fading from a once brightly colored garment through multiple washings. 

I've also settled.  I've settled for good enough.  I'm a good enough wife.  I'm a good enough mother.  My faith is good enough.  I serve God good enough. 

Oh, how I'm deceiving myself.  I'm in denial and settling.

Just as the line in "Courageous".  I don't want to be "just" good enough.

It's easy to compromise. 
It's easy for faith to get stale. 
It's easy to let the world slip in so much or even "just" enough to make my focus on God slip. 
It's easy to let failures and disappointments create walls. 
It's easy to become reluctant to serve.
It's easy to settle for just "getting" by instead of living in abundant joy.
It's easy to let bitterness, anger, judgment, unforgiveness, sin, comparison,etc.. slip in with time.

I'm in need of a tune-up and repair. 

The good news is that I don't have to wait for six years or save up to have someone come in and readjust all of my keys to make beautiful music.

It has already been done.  Over 2000 years ago on a cross, at great sacrifice.

I just have to go to Him and ask.  Ask Him to tune up my heart and faith.  Fix the broken places and make music from me again. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keep Calm and Trust

Whether on facebook, pinterest, out shopping, and many other places....I think most of us have seen the "Keep Calm and...." pictures/shirts/ sayings.

Keep Calm and Trust God
Keep Calm and Drink Coffee
Keep Calm and Teach On

Insert just about any favorite hobby, profession, team or inspirational word.

I bought one in t-shirt form a couple of months ago that has special meaning for me.

(They also sell the My husband/Wife Rocks Shirts)
I admit....the sayings and shirts/prints are a bit cheesy. OK, sometimes VERY cheesy.
However, I love the reminders that come from just a quick glance at them.
This one happens to have deep meaning.
Trust in your husband.
I like the visual reminder that I need to:
  1. Keep CALM
  2. TRUST in your husband.
In a healthy Christian marriage, trust is crucial.  Letting our husbands LEAD isn't always the easiest because we have to willingly, at times, give up control and say "YOUR way."  OH how many times do we as women feel justified in thinking that OUR way is the best way or even that OUR way is the only way.  Guilty! 
Here is the truth I've learned and it didn't come by an easy path. 
  • A man of God is trust-worthy.  A man that takes covenant marriage vows seriously IS worthy of trust.  For he realizes that the verses that talk about a woman being submissive to him, first realizes that he is to treat her as Christ loves the church.  That's not just "a little " bit of love!  That's complete and thorough love.  When he is putting Christ first in his life, submission (by CHOICE) becomes easier because you know that God is leading him.
  • TRUST once lost IS very hard to regain.  Yet, it IS possible.  It can happen.  When it does, it becomes something so valuable that you BOTH will work hard to never lose it again.  It is far from an easy path, but don't ever give up hope that it can't happen. We've been at the bottom of the pit, hopeless that our marriage could be restored and because we were faithful and didn't quit, we've seen the other, beautiful side. The shirt reminds me that when I feel the doubts or struggles from the past come back or today's "view" soiled because of the stop and TRUST.  It's been redeemed. 
  • TRUST because God made him differently.  Our husbands have a unique make-up that allows them to see things in a different way.  They tend to find it easier to step away from the overly emotional decisions and listen to what the know to be true. My husband is tender-hearted and introspective, but he is MUCH more able to make decisions that are hard.
  • TRUST because he REALLY does have my best interest at heart.  He loves our family.  His greatest drive is to provide for us and lead us to greater good.  THAT makes him worthy of trust.
  • TRUST even though he makes mistakes.  I'm not perfect and I mess up daily.  Allow him the same grace.  It's too much pressure on my own shoulders to be perfect and it's too much weight for him as well. 
  • TRUST him even with those things that I try to hide from everyone else. Allow him to see the real me because that vulnerability is what makes marriage thrive and grow. It's what connects us to each other and creates a safe-haven. It's what creates a bond between the two of us that isn't shared with the world.
I like the visual reminder because sometimes I just need to remember that my husband is there for me.  With many responsibilities and being pulled in countless directions on any given day, it's priceless to know that someone loves me completely and is on MY team as my greatest cheerleader and supporter! It reminds me that I'm not alone.  Knowing that he is seeking God's will and seeking to grow spiritually means above all else: he's trustworthy.  My heart is safe.  Because we are trusting together.  That is biblical marriage, submission, and marriage as God designed.  Pointing each other to the One that matters most. 
Keeping calm and trusting in my husband because together we are trusting in Him as our top priority. Even through the days of failure and struggles.  Even through the days that are valleys instead of mountains. 


Monday, January 14, 2013

Still AND Listening

When I'm stressed, I dream of places I would love to go.  Those places that we've been, might some day go, or will most likely never go. 

I think of some very special, very peaceful moments from our lighthouse tour of Michigan several months ago.  There is so much about that trip that will forever be etched in all of our hearts. 

I pray.  I turn on some praise and worship music.  I read scripture.  I get lost in a good book or devotional. 


There is one more place I go.

It's a place that brings me peace.  Calms my anxious heart.  It remind me of all I have. 

His heart. My beloved's heart.

For me, there is nothing like snuggling up so close with my head on his chest, just listening to the steady, calming rhythm of his heartbeat.  It's MY place. 

Many times he doesn't even know that I'm there because I often find that perfect place while he's sleeping (and IF he ISN'T snoring!). 

Often times I can snuggle and LOVE that embrace, but to truly calm my anxious heart and release so much tension I have to be purposeful.  To hear that steady beat and connect, I have to be:


I have to be perfectly still and intently focused.  Outside noise blocks the sound.  Moving, wiggling, and tossing and turning keep me from hearing it.

Last night, I had to find that place.  This weekend I found myself so anxious, stressed, and just "out of sync" that I had to find my calm by being still and listening. 

Listening to his heart. 

But it wasn't JUST by his heart that I was finding my peace. 

I was connecting to His heart as well.

As I was still and listening, He was also speaking to my heart. 

Reminding me of something important. 


To Him.

Just as much as I can't hear Kevin's heartbeat unless I'm still and listening, neither can I hear his. 

I've recently got caught up in the "doing" and "being" of so many things, taking care of so many people.  Yes, I've been in communication with God:  constantly praying, in worship mode, cultivating a heart of thanksgiving and praise, etc..  BUT I had been doing and going.

I hadn't been stopping.

Sitting still or listening.

That is where the answers come.  Communication can't be one sided to be effective.

As a found my calm amongst his embrace, I found some answers by listening to Him.

It's so easy to get caught up in doing.  I'm so good at multi-tasking that it's VERY hard to just purposeful stop.

Yet, I know that is what my heart and soul needs.

To be still AND listen. 

Just as I can't hear Kev's heartbeat if there is background noise or if  I'm talking, I can't hear Him if I don't silence the outside world.  Even just temporarily. 

Just as I can't hear Kev's heartbeat if I'm wiggling, busy, or tossing and turning, I can't hear Him often enough if I'm not purposefully seeking Him.

Today, I choose to find ways to be STILL and LISTEN.  Even though my "schedule" says it isn't possible.  Even though my "need" to-do list says there isn't time.  Even if my personality is hard-wired to do multiple things at once.

Being still and listening.

God speak, because I'm ready to listen.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Box Tops for Education Give-a-way

It's Friday!

Let's celebrate the weekend ahead with a great give-a-way!

Though this is a bit different than the direction my blog usually goes and my typically give-a-way, I'm excited about this one.


Because it's a gift card!  I don't know about you, but I LOVE having a gift card in my wallet!

A $25 gift card to: Sam's Club in celebration of Box Top$ for Education!

I'm a big saver of those little tabs on General Mills products!  Don't get between me and the trashcan or recycle bin if I see one of those little pink logos! Though as a home-school family they don't benefit our children, we can still save them and pass them along to a local school!  A little container on the side of the fridge holds these little treasures. 
However, I so OFTEN forget about the box tops on BULK items I purchase from Sam's Club!
In celebration of Box Tops for Education, in partnership with General Mills and Sam's Club, one reader will receive a $25 gift card (remember that you must already be a member of Sam's Club or purchase a membership if you aren't a member to be able to use the card!) to be used however you choose.  I'm certainly considering it a blessing to have one in my pocket to use on our next trip! The kids have already been making their "wish list" known! 
To enter:  just comment with your favorite General Mill's product!  One reader will be chosen at random on Friday the 18th!  Be sure to leave your name and active email address in your comment or I won't have a way to contact you if you are chosen as the lucky reader! 
*“Disclosure:  The gift card, information, and additional sample have been provided by Sam’s Club and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.”*

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tree Climbing

Sometimes words can unintentionally lose their meaning.

Even "I love you" can become just a greeting or a farewell when we stop really paying attention to the words.  I know that we say it as we are walking in or out the door, when closing a phone conversation, etc...  If we aren't purposeful with our words and how we intend them to be heard, we can easily just brush those words off. 

We don't intend for them to mean less or have less impact, but when we aren't careful, they unfortunately do. 

We have to stop, look the other person in the eye and make sure they are seeing heart-to-heart when we say the words.  Don't let it be just a greeting.

It's the same way with worship.

It's the same with attending church.

We can get into such a habit that going to church can begin to feel like we are just checking something off of our to-do list. Getting up on Sunday morning can feel no different than getting up to go to work.  It's something you "have" to do or something you've become so accustomed to doing that you really just don't think about it. 

Unfortunately, I think we can all admit to being "there". 

We can look at "worship" as just singing a song.  Just going through the motions.  We can even be "present" enough to let the words have meaning, but STILL not be present in worship.

Worship is more than just *that* portion of a service set aside to sing praises to God.

Worship is a lifestyle. 

I love how our Pastor presented worship in his message this past week.  Worship is an attitude of surrender, devotion, and obedience. A continuous offering.  Worship is "MY response to God's love."

I've often heard or read the verse that says "offer your bodies as living sacrifices as holy and pleasing to God." (Romans 12:1) But for some reason, I've failed to "catch" the last part of the verse:  "This is your spiritual act of worship."

It comes back down to choices again.  (See, that word of the year is REALLY starting to sink in). 

I must choose to have my heart open to Him ALWAYS.  I must give Him more of me with every day that I am breathing.  Actually, He needs to be as close as breathing itself.

Yet, it has to stay fresh and not just out of habit. 

Each day, I must CHOOSE to earnestly seek Him. 

These last couple of weeks, we've even made it more purposeful in regards to attending church.  It's easy to just get up on Sunday morning out of habit.  To set our hearts more in focus before then, we've started on Saturday night by getting out everyone's clothes, writing our check, gathering up anything the kids need, and having our Bibles out ready to go.  Sure, this DOES make Sunday morning run more smoothly, but it's more than's preparing.  It's turning our hearts with anticipation and expectation of the day ahead. 

I want my faith to be fresh each day.  As I've said before, I don't want to live on yesterday's manna.  Yet, it's so easy to fall into that trap. 

I want to be in His presence.  Purposefully.

I read a blog earlier today that talked about being like Zacchaeus.

"What I love about Zacchaeus, and always have, is that he wasn't willing to let Jesus walk by without making an  effort to see him. Not just a glance from the crowd, but the best view he could find.

What about me? I have a choice. Certainly I could let Jesus walk by, with the occasional glance at my Bible, or I could eagerly pursue Him to be a part of our family. I choose to pursue

That is how I want to be.  I want to climb that tree and not miss a single thing.  He put effort and was purposeful in making sure that he saw Jesus.  He wasn't content with just letting Him walk by. 

I want to climb that tree and lean far out as I can on that branch.  To get as close as I can! 

Tree Climbing.  Purposefully.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

She Gave All

I have SO many posts that I want to write and many that I need to write, but time hasn't been as free the last week or so. I'm finally feeling better than I've felt in a VERY long time, but the days have been so packed full with school starting back that by the time the kids are in bed, I've crashed.  My "night owl"  writing/reading hasn't happened!  Though I won't complain because I've never been more content or more excited about life. 

I'm very thrilled about some upcoming posts.  Let's just say that it's going to be a whirlwind of giveaways later this month!  God has also been laying some deep, introspective writings on my heart and I can't wait to move them from my heart to the computer!

Actually, tonight I was preparing for one of these upcoming giveaways that involves a book review.  In trying to keep on track with things and not get overwhelmed with deadlines, I had intended to read a few chapters and get a "feel" of the book.  Before I realized it, I was well over half-way finished.  Though I will save the bulk of my thoughts on the book (which is INCREDIBLE by the way!) for my review and giveaway post on the 22nd of this month (requested date by the PR company), something very deep jumped out while I was reading and it got the thoughts running in my head faster than a mile a minute.  Though I can still type about 90wpm (Thanks Mrs. Wynn and Mrs. Reece you WHS friends!), I don't think my fingers can keep up with my brainwaves tonight!

It seems as if every time we start a new year, resolutions start flying every direction.  I didn't actually make resolutions this year, but I have been trying to live in spirit with my word of the year "choose".  By constantly keeping that in mind, I've been making choices that bring me closer to what I know God intends for me.  Many of those choices have been for my physical well-being and others have been for my spiritual well-being.  However, I didn't just start this when the calendar changed from 2012 to 2013.  It's been a process that's been in my heart much longer.

So much of the last half of the year has been a struggle----trying to rediscover priorities and making sure that I'm in step with God's will for my life.  In many ways, I'm on track and unfortunately many ways I've not been.  I had started "settling" for just ok.  For just good enough.  For just getting by.  Specifically, in spiritual matters.   

Kevin and I knew we needed to make some changes that God has put in our hearts for a VERY long time, but no matter how CLEAR He made the request, we would NOT step in obedience.  The inner turmoil this disobedience was causing was CONSIDERABLE.  So many battles and struggles within our hearts could have been avoided had we just STEPPED out in FAITH and followed the lead He had put in our hearts for a reason.  Now that we have walked in obedience, though we admittedly should have listened and responded immediately, we have such a peace and joy that can't be described.  Though the decision was hard to follow through with because it caused us to have to leave behind something we loved and start over, the rewards have been immeasurable.  The weight had become so heavy, that I literally couldn't wade through the muddle in my heart to make any decisions of any kind.  By not being obedient, a wall was being built between God and myself and it was trickling down into so many other things.  Unfortunately, He had to send some pretty powerful wake up calls for us to FINALLY listen to Him instead of our own desires and opinions.

Now that we are where He has called us to be, our hearts are back open and walls are coming down.  I can feel Him closer than ever (and as a result, Kevin and I are as well).  I most markedly can feel true contentment like I've not known in so long.  It's as if I can finally breathe again and let Him guide (oh, if we'd only acted sooner!). 

All of that said, brings me to this.....

When I was reading tonight, I feel Him stir in me so strongly.  He came more alive in the author's words on each page.  Then I came to a page that really was "minor" in regards to the book as a whole...

And it made me think:

What do I want my headstone to say or what do I want someone's last words about me to be? 

Now, before you get totally turned off and think it's morbid, think about it.  When you are at the end of your life, what is it that you want to stand out?  We often talk about how Christianity requires us to live with the "end" in mind.  The fact that nothing on this earth compares to what heaven will be like.  How we have to live differently on this earth in our short capacity so that we can live eternally with God himself. 

With the end in mind, what is it that you want to be said about you?

I found my words.  Nestled in the pages of a book.  Minor words in comparison to the incredible message of the book itself. 

She got it.
She gave.
And all she was.
She  had a generous heart that beat to encourage people and gave in abundance.
Her heart reflected the character and life of Jesus.
I'm not there yet.  So far from it.  Yet, I see the direction I want to go.  I want those words to be my story.  I want those words to reflect the life I lived.  Living with the end in mind, I'm ready to give.  I want to reflect the character of Jesus.