Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When You Feel Like You've Been Benched

This is a favorite spot of mine.

A place where I can sit and think and watch my babies run and romp and play.

A place where I can thank Him for so many things and offer up a sacrifice of praise.

Bench number 29 is right in the middle of a forest of beauty and feels like home to me.

A place to sit and soak in His presence when it feels like life has benched you- for the 29th time.

I come here to try and gather myself.

I sit and pour my heart out while my babies play on this bridge.

I sit in the sunshine and sometimes say nothing at all. I know He will be waiting for me there.

And other times,  I sit and spill the heartbreak that life can often bring.

Like when you feel that you have given your absolute best-

And life benches you anyway.

And you have to get up, show up and still practice day after day and you still have to wear the jersey in motherhood and as a wife and a daughter and a sister and friend and the like- but you've been benched.

And so many times life can feel like this as an adult.

As if there is some kind of permanent setback tied to your life.

Obstacles that seem insurmountable.

All the while, watching from the sidelines as person after person continues to hit the mark and win- game after game.

Season after season.

While you are scouring for what feels like the missing pages of your playbook.

Sometimes friendships can leave us feeling as though we've been benched.

Motherhood can leave us feeling as though we've been benched. Oh season after season....

And our role as a wife too.

Where finishing school, studying for professional exams, residency, new jobs and new positions within a demanding career path can take center court while we warm the bench.

Sometimes, it can feel like we are overlooked. Forgotten even.

And sometimes.....

Many times.

It can feel like we have been overlooked by Him.

When sickness and life struggles and job loss and a marriage that sometimes hurts and feels like two ships just passing in the night....

Life can feel like God doesn't see. Doesn't know. Doesn't hear our prayers....

But He specializes in showing up in seasons like this.

He hasn't forgotten you.

He sees.  He absolutely knows. And He most definitely hears your prayers.

He is the God who sees you sweet friend.

He is  EL  ROI-  "You are the God who sees me"- Genesis 16:13

He sees how many times you've been overlooked. Abandoned. Rejected. Cast down. Pushed aside.

He knows every, single hurt and sorrow and heartache you and I have.

I want to encourage you today that if this is the season you are in-

A season of setbacks and mistakes and even a few personal fouls.

Or a season of simply warming the bench....

Many great and remarkable things can happen during this season beautiful friend.

We are being developed and molded and pressed but not crushed, (2 Corinthians 4:8) so that when the full court press comes in like a flood- and it will come. 

We will not collapse.

We will faint not. (Gal. 6:9) 

We will persevere and push through and overcome in ways that eye has not seen, nor ear heard.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

For our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

He is going before you and before me- even right now and making the necessary preparations
for a personal best season that is going to bring you into a place of victory you have never known.

He is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34)

He is a promise keeper. (Numbers 23:19)

So whether you feel benched as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister or person in general....

You serve a God who specializes in doing the impossible and using the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27) 

The last shall be first sweet friend.

I hope you listen to this new song by Mandisa as loud as humanly possible today....


Break the sound barrier. 

You are an overcomer....... 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Because I Love Fall

The weather has barely started to shift here but we have already purchased our first pumpkin.

Because I am that person.

I can't help it. 

I love Fall.

I don't mean to rush from one season to the next, but when you live in the south, Fall comes as a huge relief from the heat and the thick as molasses humidity! 

Fall makes me every shade of happy.

You can follow along on Pinterest as I pin myself silly with all of the gorgeous Autumnal delight.

I'm still trying to bring some kind of order to the boards there, but who has time for that when one can spend every waking moment creating magic in their home with branches and bittersweet, while pretending they are Heather Bullard.

For the one person on earth who may not know about her - google her and thank me later.

Three words.

The chicken coop.

I dream about a citified farmhouse with an HB chicken coop somewhere on the back forty.

And a place for these children to run and play without limits and boundaries and a place for Emma Pearl to finally drive a pink Barbie Jeep. She may be 12 years old by then and have to hang her legs over the side- but one day.... Mama has to keep her word.

I'm planning to get out this weekend with my camera and five babies for apple picking and a trip to the Farmer's Market. 

Have Mercy.

Just rapture me up right now.

I may pass out once we locate the Cinderella Pumpkin display.

Because in this house, we have been known to climb inside the gigantic box of pumpkins to find
one that has the perfect curly stem.

Just ask my oldest child. Who will stand on the sidelines with her eyes rolled and hands on hips while saying something along the lines of ....

"Mom!!!!  Please."

But I cannot hear any such thing, because I'm in my sweet spot and I have a vision.

And I'm on a mission.

Mission Perfect Curly Stem Pumpkin.


Until I have some new pictures of my own to share, I thought I would send you over the edge with some of the fall pretties I've found on Pinterest lately.


Get your apple cinnamon cider ready and enjoy the pictures!

All of these pictures have been pinned from Pinterest and sources are listed there.

These beautiful photographs are not my own.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Photo of my own bible.

I'm sure many of you have personally walked through one thing or another that could be defined as a "crisis of faith."

Where everything that you say you believe, believe that you believe, and sing that you believe and even write that you believe - is put to the test.

And not just any testing mind you, but the kind of testing that can turn your hair grey and seem to take years off of your life. The kind where other people begin to take notice and choose to either walk away or simply stand on the sidelines of your life and judge you for it.

Then there are the chosen few who step in when the rest of the world steps out and we bow our heads and thank God for them.

Sometimes, these "crisis of faith" circumstances and situations can take years to pan out or work out.


Remember Job?

Right. That kind of stuff.

The fire of life.

Where everything gets tested. Hearts. Motives. Friendships. Families. Faith and the like.

If I could describe the last five years for me personally and for our family, I could do it in two words.

The fire.

The turning of the calendar page recently was incredibly emotional for me.

This marks five years of walking through the fire for us.

And when I say the fire, I am not referring to - we had some hard times and things were difficult for us
for a while but it all worked out in the end- kind of fire.

But I am referring to being marked to the point that you will never, ever be the same again in the most profound, humbling and heart changing ways.

I have personally walked through and survived much devastation in my life.

I've been transformed by it.

Completely humbled in every possible way by it.

And heart bent on helping others through it.

Marked from the destruction. Marked from the devastation of it all. Marked by the wounds that other people caused us in the middle of it all.

Marked by the loss and the sorrow and the grief of it all.

Because it is one thing to walk through the fire and have those who love you gather around.

It is another thing entirely to watch them walk away and to stand eyeball deep in a mess, you cannot for the life of you understand - and stand there for so much of it - alone.

The isolation and silence almost deafening.

The years of standing mostly alone, caused me to question God and ultimately chose to lean in to Him through the heartache and suffering.

And I am grateful.

Because the fire is where I learned the most.

The fire is where I learned the key to overcoming.

The fire is where I learned to magnify.

And maybe you are in the fire of your life.

Maybe you have walked through the loss of a job, a marriage, finances, a pregnancy, a child, or maybe a home that you loved.

The enemy wants you to take a magnifying glass and hold it up really close to everyone else you know and then he wants you to hold it closely to your own circumstances.

But the father wants you to take that magnifying glass off of your family and friends and hold it
over His word.

He wants you to magnify the truth.

He wants you to magnify Him.

Not your circumstances.

But how do we magnify when we are knee deep in ashes and the pages of destruction seem to be the end of our story?

How can we magnify a God who says in His word He will never leave us nor forsake us and yet we feel completely alone and abandoned by both God and man?

How can we magnify with songs and words of thanksgiving and praise when it literally hurts to breathe?

Here is my humble opinion.....

This is why it is called a sacrifice of praise beautiful friend.

It wouldn't be a sacrifice if it were easy.

The sacrifice is the pulling down and pouring forth of gratitude in spite of the sorrow.

It is a choice to continue to choose Him- to believe Him, over and above everything else.

The grief.

The sadness.

The suffering.

The sorrow.

Faith becomes a spiritual posture of choosing to worship Him- no matter what.

A choosing to believe that God is still good and that He is still for us and not against us- no matter what it looks like.

And no matter how often the enemy tries to magnify our circumstances.

It is the inner knowing deep down inside that the Maker of all things has purposed us and positioned us for great and beautiful things and that surely, the fire is just part of the plan.

I believe it is part of the great plan- learning how to magnify Him - no matter what.

After all, who are you going to reach out to for wisdom when you or someone you love is walking through devastation?

Someone who has been there.

Someone who knows in a way that only the fire storms of life can teach you.

Someone who knows how to magnify.

So many times,  what we have walked through in life, has very little to do with us.

And usually a lot to do with His purpose. And His purpose is always His people.

From Genesis to Revelation - it's His people and His word and His truth.

The truth that is Jesus.

He is the way, the truth and the life.

He is the lifter of our heads during times of great trouble.

I am so thankful that I clung to Him during the years of firestorms.

By His grace, my faith if real. Proven authentic and genuine.

I do not know of a "Everything in my life is good- gospel."

I only know of a "He is good in all things- gospel."

And so His word teaches us. Instructs us in this way.

Psalm 34:3- Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 69:30-  I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 70:4 - Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; And let those who love your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!"

I wanted to share with you all a very special video, that literally, wrecked me and unraveled me.

John Piper brings the truth and power at 3:24. Brace yourself.

I shared it on Facebook several weeks ago and tagged a few special friends in that post, hoping to encourage them.  Beautiful Emily Ley recently wrote a post about a piece of her story that I think will bless you as well.

This is officially my new favorite song.

I hope it makes your heart burst wide open big time today.....

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Starbucks Revival

It was May of 2011.

Starbucks was crowded that morning. 

I ordered my drink and made my way to the very back of the coffee shop and slid into the long church pew.  I spread out pages of teachings and a laptop and bible across the tiny table like "thanksgiving dinner" as Nana says.

This morning was a rare gift for me.

As a mother of six children, I am never alone at a Starbucks- ever.

My husband had offered me the morning in order to prepare for a women's conference that weekend and I just so happen to have a special affection for drinking coffee while it's still hot and any place of business that is holy enough to offer church pews for seating and sipping.

I mean, how fabulous is that? 

Seriously. You just have to love the South.

I would also like to add that being born and raised in the south and in the heart of the bible belt for that matter, one grows up with phrases and funny sentiments and also, lots of talk about revival. And phrases like, "Revival is coming" or "We are praying for revival" and so on...

If you are the least bit Southern- you are nodding right now, yes?

Which is all wonderful and I adore my southern heritage.

But I want to believe that the gift that is revival is living and breathing inside each and every one of us.

And I also happen to believe that we can't be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.

We can't just pray for revival yet rarely demonstrate it.

I know many of you have experienced how demonstrating God's love in many different ways-
actually brings revival.

By simply being willing and obedient.  Not perfect.

By being willing to get over ourselves.  It's not about us. It's about Him.

By being willing to get out of our comfort zone.  That's where the good stuff happens.

And so that incredible day in May an opportunity to demonstrate just that, showed up in the form of a  gentleman who was incredibly heartbroken.

He walked up and sat down in the pew right beside me and I immediately felt his burden.

My heart raced and I knew the Father was about to speak.

After a few minutes he turned and looked right at me and said this.....

"May I ask you a question?"


"I see that you have a bible."


"Well, I wanted to ask you... do you think a man can still go to
Heaven - even if He takes his own life?"

And then I felt the weight hit me .

The weight of a heart so full of despair and hopelessness and all of the "it's never going to work out for me" torment-  that the thought of ending it all sounded like the best course of action.

There really are places of pain and sorrow that deep inside the human spirit.

And I am not proud to share that I personally know the depth of that type of pain.

But since the God of the universe promises each and every one of us that He will use every, single thing in our lives for our good and His glory....

He saw fit to place this broken heart in my path that morning.

I could have packed up my belongings and my steaming hot coffee to leave the pew immediately.

Or I could have completely ignored him and just kept right on typing and sipping.

Or I could have quietly moved to another table and gone on about my busy life.

Or I could have opened the bible and humbly offered to tell him about how much He is loved....

But God asked me to show him.

And because God is big all by Himself and amazing and even radical.

He asked me to show him in a radical way.

And so I gently asked him to share his heart and to share about what life had done to him and I listened.

Because he didn't need to hear scripture in that moment. And I am very passionate about scripture.

But He really didn't need some blonde headed, southern girl in pearls, wearing pink flower flip- flops, for heavens sake- to just tell Him about the gospel.

He needed to experience it.

And so it went that after he shared his heart and the series of events called devastation that had hit his family, including his plan- that as of 4:00 that afternoon, he would no longer be here....

I quietly moved from my comfort zone of that church pew and took the gospel as I know it, out into the parking lot of Starbucks by way of a cell phone, the number of his landlord and his permission.

With fear and trembling and trust that this was the Father just being radical on a Thursday morning, I called his landlord and asked on His behalf a reduction in his rent, time to find a new job before he had to pay again, time to get his first paycheck before the next month would be due, a reduction on his next months rent, because it takes time to recover from job loss, and the promise - her word- that He and his family would not be evicted at 4:00 that afternoon if he brought her a payment immediately.

I never mentioned his circumstances.

Because I personally know this sorrow first hand,  By His grace,  I then walked the living, breathing, sharper that any two edged sword, good news right back inside and handed him the scriptures brought to life.

The small amount needed and all of the newly negotiated agreements written down on a piece of paper.

And revival showed up inside Starbucks.

Right then and there.

Between two people and two pews.

Between two complete and total strangers, opposites by every definition.

Because God is really amazing like that.

In the midst of fifty other people taking care of business as usual.

God leaned down and kissed His searching son right on the forehead.

He intervened using a very unworthy vessel who stopped typing long enough to listen without judgement.

And with all the good that came from God alone from that encounter.

All the blessing.

All the change for the better.

The life and the marriage and the family that were saved.

And the son who found the Father who has loved him all along.

Nothing could prepare me for the good and the change that happened in my own heart that day.

I learned first hand the truth that is this - revival is actually within each and every one of us.

But it only has power when we give it away.  

Revival comes when we demonstrate His love by doing something radical.

Revival comes when we take the time to see sons and daughters instead of situations and circumstances.

Revival comes when we pray for friends and neighbors who have hurt us deeply- instead of retaliating.

Revival comes when we choose forgiveness. When we choose love instead of hate.

Revival comes when we take the proverbs and the psalms and the promises outside of the church pews.

I am sharing the short version of this God story, because He asked me to and out of a heart of humility, as a way to encourage others with the truth that all He needs is a willing and obedient- yet deeply flawed- vessel and revival can show right up - even in the midst of a Starbucks.

And hearts can be set on fire and souls saved and lives changed and families restored.

Because God is just really amazing like that.....

And because maybe this weekend, while you are meeting with friends and loved ones or sitting solo at a coffee shop, you will hear the Father speak and gently lead you to experience revival in the least likely places with the least likely people.

And be changed forever because of it. 

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth- in Him.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."  - Ephesians 1: 3-12

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Day Of Remembrance

This is a picture of our own personal copy of New York magazine, dated September 24, 2001.

We were living in the area at the time and my husband's office looked right out to the twin towers.

We just so happened to be on the phone together when he literally saw the first plane hit. He would then go on to see things that people should never see. The horror and destruction of 9/11 marked us forever and we would never be the same. 

Our hearts would never be the same as we would learn about the loss of so many and we grieved as a family, as individuals and as a community for their loss and for their deep sorrow and mourning for their precious loved ones.

I remember waiting at the train station for him that day. 

Rows and rows of wives lined up waiting for the train doors to open and praying that their husband would be the next one to step onto the platform.

No one knew.

No one knew anything other than this- there was complete and total mass destruction.

There was no way to contact your loved ones. No cell phone service - nothing.

Just waiting at the train station.

And praying.

We were all praying. For ourselves and for one another.

I was grateful and thankful that my husband eventually stepped onto the platform that day and felt an overwhelming sense of grief for all of those whose loved ones didn't.

I was a wreck. A mess of messages about God's goodness- but then this. And so much more....

I was searching for God in all of this and understood nothing.

But sometimes in the midst of tragedy, I don't know that He wants us to have understanding about our circumstances as much as He wants us to simply have Him. 

To know Him.

To know Him as Healer. Redeemer. Restorer. Comforter. Orchestrater. Provider- IN THE MIDST.

The pain and grief and sorrow can be so great that we want to push everything and everyone away-
including Him.

But God wants to draw us close- even when we don't understand.

During this time of tremendous heartbreak for the country and especially for the Tri-State area, during the time of trying to recover and find our new normal, I saw so many beautiful ways that communities came together for one another.

I also walked into bookstores that were sold out of bibles. Completely sold out.

People were desperate for God. Desperate for understanding. Desperate for comfort.

We were two of those people.

God will use even tragedy to draw us close to Him. 

He will allow things and circumstances and situations to break us down - so that we will be willing to bend our hearts toward Him. 

Through the tragedy of 9/11 we came to know the Lord in a very real and very beautiful way.

We no longer just attended church.

We began to worship.

We began to read His word.

We began to seek Him like never before.

And we began to understand that there was so much MORE to Him than either one of us had ever imagined.....

I am grateful for the beauty He has brought out of the many ashes in this life of mine.

I still do not have understanding about much of it.....

But I have Him. I cling to Him now instead of pushing Him away.

And I am grateful that He continues to draw near to us during our times of sorrow....

No matter how wide or how deep that sorrow may be.

He will use every, single thing in our lives for our good and His glory.

Every, single thing.