Monday, July 28, 2014


Howdy friends!  I hope each one of you is doing well and having a wonderful summer.  I love this time of year...the flashing glow of lightning bugs and fireworks across the night sky; tiny freckles on teensy, sun-kissed noses; croaking frogs and chirping crickets; sweet, plump berries and vibrant red tomatoes picked and eaten straight off the vine; homemade ice cream melting on fresh cobbler warm from the oven; the smell of barbeque, campfires, and cut grass...ah, good ol’ summertime.   

My family and I have been blessed to squeeze in a few trips this summer, and spend time with family and friends we hold dear.   I’ve enjoyed taking snapshots of these moments, and relive the wonderful memories each time I view the photos of our cherished times.  But based on those snapshots, one would never know in the middle of all our travels, adventures, and making of wonderful memories I have been largely miserable and wrestling with angst.  In fact, based on those photos, I can even somewhat fool myself into thinking everything was and is great.  However, if you or I viewed a selfie of my heart we would see something a lot different than what the happy images I’ve shared on Facebook have depicted.

One evening a few weeks ago, I sat on my front porch exhausted and weary and confided in my husband.  

“Something has to change, or I’m going to have a breakdown.”

The words ached and spilled out.  How can one’s mind be so full, but life and heart feel so empty?  I have so much to be thankful for, yet lately I have felt anything but thankful.  The first half of our year has been filled to the brim with transitions and upheavals and I have been so focused on those situations, and on myself, that I have allowed anxiety to replace my joy.  Too focused on the broken pieces… instead of the One who gives the peace.

“Ungratefulness can scrape us raw…deep joy is found only at the table of thanksgiving. 
As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

When we focus on situations and self they consume us. 
When we focus on Christ, He consumes us.


It’s time for me to turn the camera back around…to change my focus from self and situations to Christ, and all the amazing blessings and provisions around me...and to change my “(grr)attitude” to an attitude of gratitude. 

“As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible.”

The daily practice of gratitude is one in which I am training.  Learning to be obedient… thankful…hopeful…faithful.  Training too for combat – because every single day, Satan wages war against me.  Against us.   And, if we are too busy focusing on self and situations, he will gladly scrape us raw of our joy. 

Oh, Lord may my heart be filled with thankfulness for all your mighty works and blessings.  When setbacks come, as they most certainly will and do, may I not forget You.  You are the joy giver.  You are still good.  Still gracious.  Still loving.  And, still present.  You are.  And, I am thankful.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. – Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Long Way Home

 “Every exit is the beginning of a new adventure”

Those words appeared on a greeting card I recently read.  Ah, new chapters.  Sometimes new beginnings can be so appealing and exhilarating.  Sometimes they are just dang scary.  And, sometimes, they are a mixture of all the above.  A new job, a lay-off, graduation, an empty nest, marriage, divorce, birth, death...all chapters in our lives and all new adventures.  Generally speaking, to begin a new adventure, something else in our lives has to end.  For instance, to begin a new job, something has to end – be it your old job, unemployment or laid off status, being a stay at home parent, etc.  Graduation from high school marks the end to being a kid and the beginning of becoming an’s also often the beginning of an empty nest for many parents.  Marriage is clearly the end of being single and the beginning of a new life together with the one you love.  And, so on and so get the drift. To begin, sometimes you have to end.

Joseph, my littlest adventurer.
For the past 8 ½ years, my family and I have been rooted and entrenched in our church.  We have had the blessing of serving in a multitude of ministries, had the joy of seeing our children baptized, made friends with many incredible, wonderful people, and hinged on every word of God taught, spoken, or preached.  In many ways, this body of Christ, has been like oxygen to our lungs.  However, the time has come for us to uproot and set out on a new adventure, and to be totally honest...I’m struggling to turn the page.  The oxygen I once breathed has been shut off and I’m gasping for air.  God is leading our family in a new direction.  And, while I know His ways are good and perfect, this upheaval and leaving behind that and those I love so dear is really painful.  But, if I want to breathe again, I’m going to have to step off the ledge in faith and let the breath of God fill my lungs. 

Sometimes the transition between old and new is a tough one.  Yet once we make the transition and settle in to the new normal, we often look back and wonder what all the fuss and anxiety was about in the first place.  Life is a series of stepping out on ledges and taking risks, writing and living new chapters, making mistakes and learning from them, walking in the well-lit, known places, and sometimes venturing down dark, unknown paths.   With every step, may we walk His ways, inhaling and exhaling the breath of life that comes from our heavenly father.  His oxygen, fuel for the adventure of our long way home....

If you are transitioning to a new chapter or adventure in your life, I would be honored to pray for you.  Perhaps your transition is one you have been planning or saw coming...perhaps not.  Maybe you can hardly wait to dive in, or maybe you feel completely alone, frozen in fear and terrified of what lies ahead.  Regardless of your circumstances, feel free to leave a comment below or private message me at the email address listed to the side of the page. 

And, if I may, might I ask you to pray for me and my family also?  Pray for us as we walk in faith and seek a new body of Christ… Pray as we start new ministries and as we bring our boys up to love the Lord with all their hearts, all their minds, and all their souls.  Christian recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, wrote and composed the song, “The Long Way Home”.  I pray it speaks to your heart.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
 – Revelation 22:13 (NIV)

Oh, Lord may we always seek and find You at the beginning and the end of every adventure as we travel home.

Friday, April 18, 2014

King of the Hill

Large piles of fill dirt were a common site near my home as a child.  As a contractor, my dad would often pile up mounds of soil with his backhoe to ensure he had dirt ready to load and haul the moment a customer was in need.    My brother, Kevin, and I loved to climb the mounds and play, “King of the Hill”.  Only the strong would survive, and usually I was on the losing end of the stick.  After all, Kevin was four years older and much stronger than I was.  So, more often than not, he stood victorious atop the hill while I rose up from the bottom of the dirt pile, brushing soil stains from knees. 

I don’t climb dirt piles much anymore, but there are certainly times I find myself trying to conquer hills – hills such as fear…lies…worry…sorrow…sin.   It’s still a battle in which only the strong can survive, and quite frankly on my own I’m not strong enough to win.  Some days it’s all I can do to even muster up the will to fight much less push back the enemy atop the hill. It’s tough to convince yourself you can win when the enemy screams, “You’re a loser” or “You’re worthless”, but, I refuse to hang my head low, and stand in the shadow of the hill or in the agony of defeat.    I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, pressing on and fighting…reminding myself that I don’t have to win -  because victory is already mine.  Though the enemy may try to convince me otherwise, the battle has already been won. 

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV) 

There will always be hills to face.  And, there will most certainly be dark days in which we struggle to press on.  I know.  I’m right there with you, friend.  In fact, truth be told, I’m pep talking myself as the words flow from my fingertips to this very computer.  I need this reminder, and maybe you do too…there is but One who gets me through…One who will get YOU through too…One who gives us strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other...and His name is Jesus.  We haven’t the strength to face the hills or the enemy, but He does!  And, we can do all things because of Him (Philippians 4:13). 

On a dark day thousands of years ago, He was whipped, beaten, spat on, and ridiculed.   The enemy screamed and shouted at Him, “You’re a loser.  You’re worthless.”  Yet He pressed on.  And as if the beatings and insults weren’t enough, He was nailed to a cross atop a hill and crucified.  It was there, atop the hill, where He died to set us free.  But, hear me on this friends…the hill didn’t win that day, and the hill still doesn’t win today!  Jesus conquered death and the enemy once and for all!  He fought and won the battle through His life, His death and His resurrection.  And, He promises we too can have victory if we put our faith and trust in Him.   

So, when the hills rise before us, and we feel we can’t possibly take another step…may we be found rising up in victory, fresh soil stains on our knees, giving all the praise and all the glory to Him...our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…the “King of the Hill”.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Will We Tell the Children?

My oldest son, Jack, walks the line. Literally. When walking in the hall at school, he walks head down, eyes intently fixed on the straight line of tape marking the path he is to follow. A rule follower extreme, he doesn’t dare deviate. He loves routine; loves to know what lies ahead; and loves to know what is expected of him. He understands rules are meant to protect, and firmly believes as long as everybody plays by the rules, nobody gets hurt. He has great respect for those in authority, is loyal, trustworthy and responsible. Jack is a leader; a guardian and protector of truth, and safeguard of others. I love that about him.

My youngest son, Joseph, dances, skips, weaves, etc., the line. He is more of a fly by the seat of your pants kinda guy. Joe respects routines and rules, but is willing to bend them slightly if he feels the bend may be of benefit to him and/or others. When walking the hall at school, Joseph walks head held high and twisting side to side. He doesn’t want to miss a thing, and doesn’t want anyone else to miss out either. Quite perceptive, he often thinks outside the box and is comfortable in his own skin. Joe is a leader, an encourager, an idea generator, and an advocate for living life to the fullest. I love that about him.

These are my babies. Alike and different in so many ways, but neither of any less worth. I wouldn’t change a thing about them for the world. They have so much to offer and each lead in their own unique style. One is steeped in history, tradition and practice. The other always assessing and revamping. What a blessing it is to be their mom.

I believe leadership comes in many different shapes, forms, and sizes. We may not always identify with those leading or making the rules, but we hope they have our best interests in heart and mind when doing so. Teaching your adult self, much less your children, to submit to and respect authority can be tough. Sometimes we agree wholeheartedly, and have no problem following the leader. Other times, we scratch our heads, question, and wonder if there’s a better or more beneficial way. What’s more, whether we choose to agree or to question, we too are each leaders in our own right. So, how do we even begin to know what’s correct? And, what will we tell the children?

It was a tough decision, but one bathed in prayer, faith and tears. Todd and I had to decide what was agree wholeheartedly, or scratch our heads and question? To walk the line, or to weave? Either way there would be repercussions. And, either way we would lead in our own right. Two months of research and an aching desperation for divine, shouted instruction from above finally gave way to a peaceful, gentle answer. 

Don’t forsake who made you or what and who I’ve called you to be.
For I created your inmost being; and I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made….by Me. (–Psalm 139:13-14)

But Lord, what will we tell the children?

Todd and I repeatedly asked this question...of Him...of ourselves. Do we tell our boys to stand up and challenge authority, or to follow the rules at all times no matter the cost? Does it always have to be one way or another? And, is one any better than the other? Can we teach ourselves (and them) to be submissive without compromise; to live in unity without conformity? How does one learn when to bend, and when to follow? Or know when to hold ‘em? When to fold ‘em? When to walk away, and when to run? (Thank you, Kenny Rogers.) Is it possible to agree to disagree, yet celebrate our differences and unite? The questions rolled over and over in our heads so much we felt like we were on a non-stop Tilt-A-Whirl. And, quite frankly I just wanted to get off before I chucked my dinner.

So, what will we tell the children?

We will tell them that their dad and their mom matter...that they themselves matter...that we all matter. And, that each one of us together and separate, alike and different in many ways, can make a difference for the Kingdom of God if we only choose to do so. For we are all, each one, fearfully and wonderfully made. 

We will tell that life is full of hard decisions and…easy ones. And, that we serve a God who helps us make both. That sometimes submission and respecting the rules looks more like sacrifice than conformity. And, that sacrifice at the feet of Jesus is always more important than forsaking your call. 

We will tell them that division is just as much an option as unity. And, while we may disagree with others, we can do so respectfully and prayerfully...trusting our path to God’s divine leading and healing. 

We will tell them that we don’t know all the answers, but we know the One who does. And, we will tell them that we are not perfect. But, we serve a God who loves and forgives despite our sins, imperfections and missteps. 

What will we tell the children?

We will tell them of Him and His love for us. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, January 17, 2014

Grandma, Goldilocks, and God

When I was a kid, Sunday nights meant a visit to my grandparents’ house.   Grandma and grandpa lived just a few minutes away from my childhood home, so their’s was a convenient stop for my family on our way home from church.   My sweet grandma kept my older brother, Kevin, and me in good supply of her homemade molasses cookies, and allowed us to watch television while the adults visited.  I recall watching many an episode of Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John, M.D. on Sunday nights in the living room of my grandparents’ house.  Good times.  Grandma also kept a stash of toys and books for us in the closet just off the living room.  She had all sorts of goodies in that closet.  A Rubik’s cube, a View-Master, Yahtzee, and books with nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  I must have read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” a thousand times at my grandparents’. 

Despite its many adaptations, most of you are probably familiar with the version of this popular fairy tale in which Goldilocks, a little girl aptly named for her golden locks of hair, stumbles upon a home belonging to a family of bears.  The bears – Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear (creative names, no?)- are out for a stroll while their porridge cools.   In the meantime, Goldilocks takes it upon herself to walk right on into their house like she owns the joint.  In her quest to get all comfy and cozy, she gets all up in their business by sampling each of their bowls of porridge, each of their chairs, and each of their beds.  Awkward.  It’s a wonder little Miss Manners didn’t opt to use each of their toothbrushes too!  Any who…in Goldie the home invader’s opinion, Papa Bear’s stuff is too hot, too big, or too hard.  Mama Bear’s is too cold, too small and too soft.  And, Baby Bear, poor thing, his stuff is always, “just right”.  So, she eats all his porridge, breaks his chair and takes a siesta in his bed.  When the bears return, they find Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear’s bed.  Goldilocks then wakes up and runs out of the house all scared like.  Perhaps next time she won’t be so quick to um, I don’t know… go into a stranger’s house and make herself at home.  Sheesh.  Crazy girl.

Too hot.  Too cold.  Too hard.  Too soft.  Too big.  Too small.  All too often, I find myself thinking those thoughts in regard to God’s word.  Instead of just taking it for what it is, I set off in pursuit of the "just right”.  On the hunt for something more palatable.  Something I can easily digest, settle into, and feel all comfy, cozy about.   But, I gotta tell ya, I have yet to find a copy of the Bible in which the Lord says, “Hey Angela, why don’t you take the liberty of twisting and interpreting my words so they fit your needs and justify your actions”.  

I really didn’t realize how much I do this until recently….You see, about a month ago, I found myself in the middle of a discussion with regard to whether women should be allowed in leadership roles in the church.  Having served in a leadership role in the church in the past, and being in a quasi-leadership role currently, I was very interested in knowing what the Bible says about this particular topic.  Some in the discussion cited scripture references which they felt supported their feeling that women should not be in leadership.  Others felt the scripture was “out of date” so to speak, and “didn’t really apply” to current day.  And, then there were some that felt the case depended upon the woman in question, her spiritual gifts, and her calling from the Lord.  “It really depends on her heart”, they said.    For as many arguments supporting one point of view, I found just as many to support the other.   By the time I absorbed the petitions for each stance, my head was reeling with information…and, I still didn’t know the answer.   I knew where I stood, but I wanted to know the answer.  The just right answer.

I was confused, and to be totally honest, I’m still kind of confused.   It seemed to me everyone engaged in the conversation, including myself, was sampling scripture.  “This one is too hot.  This one is too cold.  This one too hard….”  All of us trying to find what felt or tasted just right and justified our stand on the topic.  The whole stinkin’ discussion took me for a loop.  It challenged me.  I felt I had failed in some way as a Christian….as a woman of God….That somewhere along the way of trying to do what  I felt God had, and has called me to do I failed. 

“Why is this so gray, Lord?  I’ve never questioned my calling before.”
“Have I been irreverent?  Have I disobeyed You?”
“Should I step down, based on the fact that I’m a woman, from the role I feel You called me to?” 
 “Please God, just help me do this right.  Show me the answer.  Cause, I just want to do it…right.”

Now I won’t tell you that I have the answer.  Cause quite frankly friends, I don’t.   Furthermore, there’s a whole lot more answers beyond this one that I don’t know or don’t have.  Sure I can quote scripture and twist it and turn to justify what I want to believe and think, but I don’t consider that to be right either.  While I’ve been wrestling with, and praying for God to tell me what’s right I’ve also started reading the book, Chasing God by Angie Smith.  Here’s what Smith has to say with regard to seeking all the answers…   

I don’t have all the answers.  God does.  But, He gave us some of them.  Those are the ones we need to spend our lives studying.  The rest are for Him to reveal when He chooses, if at all.  But, He has given us what we need to rest, and we should not be nearly as unsettled in the mystery as we are settled in the promises…The gray only hovers in the secondary issues…
what matters is in black and white.” 

Oh the irony.  Thank you, Lord.

Settled in the black and white promises of God.  That, my dear friends is what really matters.  All that other stuff - the stuff that is gray and that which we argue and debate – we may never know the bottom line, or the absolute unmistakable, irrefutable answers to those questions.   When it’s important for us to know, God will reveal them.   For a girl who likes to know the “black and white” about every. stinkin’. thing., this is kind of tough to swallow.  But, I am learning…learning to settle in.  Learning to accept the fact that sometimes I’ll be comfortable in my walk with Christ, and sometimes I won’t.  Sometimes, I’ll be so far outside my comfort zone that I will want to run back to my just right bed, pull the covers over my head and say, “No thanks Lord.  This is too hard…too soft…too cold…too hot.”

But, the end of the day, I don’t want to be too hot or too cold…or too big or small…too hard or too soft….I don’t even want to be just right.  I just want to be… His.  That’s all.  

Just His

*I am not all versed and on the up and up on the proper ways to cite books and television shows and such.  I’ve looked online for the answers, (ahem…) but, it seems there are various ways to cite.  So, please forgive me if I have not done so properly.  That being said, I want to point out that the photo I used in this blog post is from an Etsy vendor, Laura Walls Taylor.  I don’t know her.  I just think the bowls are cute and they lend themselves nicely to my blog topic…so, thank you, Laura.  Your bowls are um, adorable… I should probably also tell you that I don’t know Angie Smith.  I met her once.  I was speechless.  But, I did hug her and try very hard not to act like a crazy stalker lady.  She’s amazing.  And, I absolutely love her books.  If you haven’t read any of them, please do.  I think you’ll love her too.