Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our War

Do you ever looked around your life and the lives of those you love and just get tired? Tired of all the hurt, the pain, the struggle? Tired of all the gossip and small fights and irritations? Tired of trying to serve God and follow him yet stumbling every step?

Yeah, I have my hand raised, even if I'm the only one.

This past week, though, God has been impressing something on my heart.

All these things in life that feel so frustrating and tend to bog me down are not the problems. I tend to tackle them trying to fix them, but I'm realizing they are just symptoms of something much bigger and much deeper.

And treating the symptom is like popping some pain killers and putting a Band-aid over a festering, infected wound. You might kill the pain and stop the bleeding for a moment, but until you uncover the real problem and treat THAT, you will never win.

Marriages are struggling, Faith is wavering, Physical and mental pain is crushing. People are being held in bondage by their past and not able to live in God's fullness. Financial ruin is real and trusting God with money you don't even have seems impossible. As I think about these things, there is a deep awareness of war.

Not man against man, because that is another symptom.

No, it's a spiritual war and the prize to the victor is the souls of man.

As I pray, there is a very real sense of a battle going on. I know there is ALWAYS a battle, but life and war ebbs and flows, and right now the guns are blazing and the swords are clashing with a feverish pace and heart-wrenching results.

What we see with our eyes are the results of that war.

Marriages lie in ruin in defeat. Faith is discarded as the devil cheers. Children are starving, both for food and for love, as demons dance. It is so easy to see these sickening victories as we look at destruction, both on a big scale like sex trafficking and homelessness, and on a more personal scale like divorce and bankruptcy.

Yet I know we serve a God who WINS. A God who is the ultimate leader into battle. I also see victories daily when marriages are restored, someone gives their lives to God, and a host of other victorious wins.

But these things we struggle with in the mean time? Feelings that make no sense, that we don't want to feel? I know for me personally, I've been going through a time when things easily irritate me, even when I have no desire for them to. When I don't show the love I long to give. When I yell when I should be whispering. When I cry instead of laugh. When I tear down instead of lift up. Those are all symptoms of the battle going on around.

I feel God calling me to stop focusing on those little things, and to recognize the greater war being waged.

It's a war for the souls of man. A war of good verses evil. And it's a war that we've been called to fight with LOVE, not with hatred. With PEACE, not with weapons of meanness. With GOD, not selfish desires.

I'm so glad I'm not fighting alone. I'm SO glad I have my family, my friends, and YOU to fight along side me. And I'm so glad I serve a God who is VICTORIOUS and who equips and leads His people with his steady, unfailing love.

So I encourage you, the next time you get overwhelmed with life and the problems that seem so steep, step back and recognize the symptoms of battle. Take up you armor of God, choose LOVE and FORGIVENESS, both things the devil HATES, and press on in battle, knowing that victory is GODS!

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Beauty in our Brokenness

My hubby and I are starting to try and commit to walking/working out at least once a week together. We both have our individual time, but doing it together once a week has super helped our commitment to getting a bit healthier in 2015, as well as made the process much funner!

We were on the track and I was walking in front of him and he texted me, "Hey, this lady in front of me has a really cute butt" and I replied back something like, "Not yet, but she's working on it!"

TMI, I know, but it was fun.

Anyway, while we were walking, I was listening to Pandora and a song came on that I'd never heard before by Casting Crowns. I listen to Christian radio a LOT so not sure why I've never heard this before, but someone needs to play this song more often because it was AWESOME.

It was called Broken Together.

The chorus sings,

"Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and Ill bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we'll last forever is broken together"

Seriously?

BEST MARITAL ADVICE EVER!

We always use the cliche "you complete me" but ya know? No we don't.

Two imperfect people coming together do not equal perfection. Marriage is addition, not multiplication. Two negatives do NOT equal a positive, but just means there is even more faults in the whole.

I know, real encouraging there, Krista!

But I look back on my 15+ years of marriage and think of how many times I lamented this. We should complete each other! Ying to my Yang. Peanut Butter to my Jelly. Milk to my chocolate chip cookies. (dad gum diet...)

The reality ends up being that sometimes you're broccoli and he's chocolate chips. Or water and oil or whatever opposite, conflicting analogy you want to use.

If you're looking for perfection in your marriage, you won't find it. You might have an illusion of it at first, a pretty presentation. But when the newness wears off and the tough stuff comes, it rarely if ever stays that pretty.

I look at my hubby and see... a very imperfect man. I could give you a long list of his imperfections and things that annoy the DAYLIGHTS out of me, and he could do the same about me. (His list for me would probably deservingly much longer!)

But he's MY imperfect man. I love him, brokenness and all. The moment when I demand his perfection is the moment that my marriage turns toward a destination of failure.

This doesn't mean that we don't try to get better. It doesn't mean we accept certain things that are NEVER acceptable like abuse. But it does mean we love even when it isn't easy. We help glue each other back together and smile at the cracks in our pots. Because those cracks are part of the beauty. Those broken bits make us unique, and make them ours.

Another great line in the song...

"It's going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds"


Let's Chat!  Have you ever thought of a marriage as two broken people? Any struggles you've overcome and want to share?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

CHD Awareness Week 2015

This week has snuck up on me... I usually put some effort and thought into preparing for CHD awareness week but this year, I opened my eyes and saw a deluge of red on my Facebook newsfeed and was like, OH MY GOODNESS! It's this week!!

This actually makes me smile a bit.

No, I haven't forgotten about it. NO, I don't think it is unimportant. I think it is really important to spread awareness and help other kids/parents who are or will be going through what Annabelle and our family went through.

But I feel like we're finally reaching the other side of it a bit. That our day-to-day lives aren't consumed by her condition. That her heart defect no longer defines our days but it is just one of the many things that makes up the uniqueness of our family. Appointments are one every 2 months vs weekly or bi-weekly (or sometimes twice a week...) We're just finally starting to settle into a semi-normal pattern. It's a much needed one, let me tell you!

Another thing I'm contemplating this week...

I don't want my days consumed by heart defects. I want my days to be consumed by JESUS.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't do my part. That doesn't mean that we don't raise money for research and for families who are currently in the trenches, fighting for their child's life as we were not too many years ago.

It does mean, though, that we can rise above. That we can look beyond. That when people see me, they don't just see a heart momma. That when people see Annabelle, they don't just see a heart warrior.

I want people to look at me and see Jesus. It is my heart's desire. I want people to look at my sweet daughter and not see her weaknesses, but see her God who has brought her through SO much.

So this week, please pray for those families who are fighting for the lives of their heart warrior. For those parents who are weeping for the loss of their heart hero. For the doctors and nurses who are battling red tape and lack of research money to help the little ones God has entrusted into their care.

And pray for the families on the other side, that we can embrace the LIFE God has given us, even if it doesn't look exactly like we thought it would. That we can look FORWARD to Jesus and not backward on sorrow.


In honor of Annabelle and the journey God's taken her on, we have signed up, for the first time, as TEAM PRINCESS ANNABELLE for a congential heart defect awareness walk here in Nashville. I believe this is the first time this has been in Nashville, and I'm SO excited to be able to honor Annabelle's journey this way and have an opportunity to give back and help those who come after us.

If you're local, we'd LOVE for you to join our team if you're able!

If you aren't local, or aren't able to join, we'd consider it an incredible honor for you to donate on Annabelle's behalf to help fund research to help other little kiddos like her.

You can view her team page at http://events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/kristaforannabelle.

And if you can't do either, your continued prayers are ALWAYS appreciated.

To GOD be the glory, amen and amen!

2010...

2015....



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Big, Giant, Princess Steps

Silly Smiles and AWESOME circle drawing!
It's been a bit since I've done an Annabelle post, but she MORE than deserves her own post today!

At the beginning of the year, my "word" I felt called to grab a hold of for 2015 was HOPE.

And let's just say... God's proved that was the right word and it's only February!

Some new things?

The princess is now 99% FEEDING TUBE FREE. Besides a little water everyday since she doesn't quite drink enough water on her own, she is EATING ALL of her nutrients! We are working on big girl things like drinking from an open cup and drinking out of a straw in feeding therapy, but once we have a handle on those. we'll most likely be able to check that therapy off our list... the princess has been in feeding therapy since she was a year and a half (and only then because she wasn't allowed to eat by mouth before that)

The princess is now taking ALL her medications by mouth! We've been working really hard in feeding therapy to transition, and I'll be honest. I was petrified of this. Some of her medications are very dose-specific down to a 10th of an ML so it was imperative that she gets ever drop she needs. We started giving her water in her syringes, then tried one of her not-as-important meds, and just 2 days ago, I started with her important ones just a little bit and she did GREAT. She's now getting them all by mouth! She doesn't love them... she scrunches up her nose at them and it's a chore if she's tired at night. But when she sees her syringes, she says, "Very, very important!" She's so smart!!

We're making POTTY PROGRESS!!! I don't put potty-talk in my blog often---but this is an exception! I've been beating my head against the wall regarding potty training. But the princess is FINALLY starting to get it! She still has a ways to go, but she's gone in the potty at least once a day for the last week, sometimes 2 or 3 times, so we're definitely on our way!!

Planning for the K word! I've been having fun chats (and lots of prayers) about the next school year, because as of right now, the plan is for our princess to *sniffle* go to Kindergarten. She'll have lots of extra help, but we all feel she needs to be in an environment to practice her social and communication skills with other kiddos. I'd appreciate prayers about this, that we come up with the right plan for Annabelle and that we give her the best foundation for SUCCESS for her future education.

And may I also add?

This is gonna be a tear-ridden word.

My oldest will be starting High School.

My next oldest will be starting Middle School.

And Annabelle will be starting Kindergarten.

That is a LOT of transitions and firsts in one school year, y'all!

Thankfully Gabby is just going to a "normal" 4th grade!!!

So, that's my Annabelle update. I'm just so proud of my sweet girl and all her progress!! Remember you can always follow her prayer page on Facebook where I'll post any urgent prayer requests - Prayers for Princess Annabelle.




Having fun at the park with big sister!

Ring around the Rosie with cousins!!

HAIRCUT time!!! Still trying to get the front of her hair to grow some... but the back was getting REALLY long!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Theory of Love


Some friends and I went and saw the movie, The Theory of Everything, based on the life of the well-known Cosmologist and Atheist, Stephen Hawking.

I'll be honest. I think we all felt a bit odd, six Christian church-going women throwing down some popcorn while listening to a movie about a guy whose sole purpose in life seems to be to deny the God whom we serve.

It wasn't a normal movie that I would have watched. I prefer some fluffy, non-smutty chick-flick, if I'm gonna be honest. (which has been SORELY lacking out of Hollywood lately, but I digress...)

But I actually found the movie really interesting. I learned a lot, even though I vehemently disagree with Stephen's viewpoint on the origin of time. It was a mine-stirring movie, I will give it that.

It also made me wonder...

Why are we so afraid of atheists? Why are we offended by their disbelief of God?

Oh, maybe not ALL of us, but go to any online forum of mixed religions and you have atheists or agnostics railing against God and Christians blasting them for their blasphemy.

I propose this.

The disbelief of God should break our heart, not offend us.

It should make us sad, not mad.

It should make us pray, not fear.

If we're going around the world being offended by unbelievers, something needs to change. Isn't compassion what we should feel? Isn't showing God's love to those who need it most what we are called to do?


I don't think we do this to be mean. On the contrary, I'm very sure that our instinct comes out of a love for our Saviour and a desire to "stick up" for Him because of all He's done for us.

But good motives doesn't always = good actions.


God doesn't need our wrath or righteous anger. He doesn't call us to berate those who don't believe in Him. He does, however, call us to love them. To show them GOD'S love.

Let's Chat.

Have you seen The Theory of Everything movie? Do you find it difficult to talk with those who don't share your faith? And lest I assume that everyone who reads this believes in Jesus, feel free to add into the discussion as well from that point of view as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dreamers vs. Settlers

My Lacy and I were talking about dreams the other day.

We were talking about houses, actually, as she complained a bit at the "small" size of our home. I love our house and am so thankful God has blessed us with a safe roof over our head to raise our family in.

But I won't lie. It's on the small side given the size of our family. I have dreams of a little more space to spread out. A non-galley kitchen with an actual *swoon* island in the middle that more than two people can fit in. Bedrooms for the kids that aren't cramped. A real bonus room that doesn't have to house 2 kids bedrooms in it. A backyard that doesn't back up to a busy road (that is going to be under construction in a year or two and take a chunk of our previously good-sized backyard... OYE)

Looking at our finances, the *dream* of upgrading is pretty laughable and seemingly far-fetched.

Lacy and I had a fun chat about the balance between being content where God has put you but still having dreams, hopes and goals. About the balance between never being satisfied and always wanting "more"-- and being lazy and settling for less than God has for you because you don't want to put the effort into achieving it.

A house is minor on the scale of importance in that lessen, but I think it's a great example of the tug-a-war between the two extremes.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as my hubby and are VERY opposite when it comes to this.

I am the dreamer.

He is the settler.

I was raised by parents who moved a lot, who always had big dreams, and taught me to reach for the stars, that NOTHING was out of my reach if I put my heart into it and trusted God to get me there. They worked various jobs, started businesses, and were the epitome of "dreamers." We had times of plenty and times where we barely scraped up enough money for groceries. It rarely felt like there was a middle ground.

This mindset is why I've done crazy things like move halfway across the US to marry a man I'd only met twice at the young age of 18. It's why I always had big career goals and allowed me to be promoted to a Corporate manager at the age of 26 with no college degree. It's why I was able to let go of a stable, good paying job to stay home with my daughter, trusting that God would figure out the rest. It's why I started this crazy writing career.

Scott, on the other hand, was raised by parents who lived in the same house his whole life, went to the same church, had a father who worked at the same place since before Scott was born. They gradually made  improvements to the house. Made upward job movements as available. They were savers and not spenders. Frugal and steady. They didn't have a lot, but they were stable.

It's why my sweet hubby is always calm during crisis. It's why he was content with staying home with our kiddos while I built my career, letting his dream of working with his music go to the wayside. It's why he all his bosses have always remarked that they can always depend on Scott. He's dependable and always calms me when I am going to pull out my hair. He would probably be perfectly happy to retire in 30 years from his current job, living our current house, being exactly how we are now.

Which would be fine, except our house would be full of giant holes from me beating my head against the walls in frustration at having my dreams couped up for that many years. And those holes would still be gaping and unpatched because Scott is too steady and content to patch them.

See how this works?!? :-) :-)

The one thing that was very similar about our families and prevents that last scene is that through it all, we were taught that none of those things mattered without JESUS being your center.

JESUS being our center has saved our marriage many a times when our conflicting lifestyles of upbringing didn't mesh well, and will continue to in the future, I am very sure!

So where IS the balance?

The older I get, the more I realize--

There isn't one. 

Not really anyway. This is not black and white, with a simple solution. I'm a fan of simple solutions. *sigh*

But the kingdom of God is filled with many different personalities, INCLUDING dreamers and settlers. The key is to not let our personality be an excuse to not follow Jesus.


Are you a dreamer? Fabulous! 
 

God has made you that way, DREAM ON, my friend. Reach for those stars, because God wants to use you there! But--if God whispers and tells you to sit tight for a little while... you need to sit tight and be content with that. If your dreaming is making you discontent with where you are, then take a step back and reevaluate. Are your dreams JESUS focused, or are they YOU focused? Press into Jesus and make sure they are the former.

Are you a settler? Do you like things steady and even and safe? Fabulous! 


God has blessed you with a content spirit that is easily pleased and easily happy. He has planted you and wants you to bloom where you are, my friend. BUT--if God calls you to dig up your roots and move over to new soil--you need to suck it up, get out the shovel, and get on it. It may be hard, out of your comfort zone, and scary. But you do not want to bloom in a spot God isn't going to water and spread his sunshine. Don't let fear or laziness prevent you from going after God's heart.

As for me and my house?

We will serve and love Jesus, big or small. I'll still probably do spreadsheets and budgets of what things would need to look like to get there. I'll still probably peruse the Internet every once in a while to drool over a house that feels perfect. But doing those things won't prevent me from serving Jesus right here where he's put me. And if they do? Someone come delete my spreadsheets for me, okay?!?

Let's Chat!

Which are you? Are you a dreamer or a Settler? Do you feel like you've found a balance or do you still need to work at it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A SIDE OF HOPE - COVER REVEAL!

My timeline has been greatly adjusted, but I finally have the final cover to share with you for my next novella, A Side of Hope that will be releasing next month! (Final release date to come in the next few weeks...as well as a potential teaser chapter!!)




Sometimes birthday presents come in strange packages...

Tilly Davis was meeting her forties head on. Happy and healthy, she didn't need a man to complete her. But as she blew out her candles, she made a halfhearted wish for maybe just a little excitement to spice up her life.
God must have misunderstood her wish, though, because moments later, He brought her the one person she never wanted to see again.

Her husband.

I'm SO excited to share this next book about HOPE and SECOND CHANCES and give you a glimpse into Tilly's life!