Archive | August 2012

I’m Not Ashamed (or am I?)

It is no secret that I am a believer in God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that Christ walked the earth and that He died for you and me. I believe that He lives today and I believe He speaks to me, through His word, His followers, and in my heart. Most people I associate with know this, even if we don’t agree or believe the same thing.

It might surprise some people to know that I was not raised in the church. My faith came after my marriage (we even requested that the minister who married us NOT pray during our wedding). (and God joined us together anyway. Yikes!) My faith has only strengthened and felt real in the past few years. We started attending the church we attend nine years ago. Even with regular attendance, I still struggled because other believers spoke about how God talked to them. I couldn’t understand why He wasn’t talking to me or how I could get Him to speak to me.

Then it happened. I started hearing his voice. I started to feel His presence. I began to feel truly led by Him. What’s more is I started to truly follow Him. I let Him lead me where He was calling me to go. He never forced me to follow or obey, I did it by my own choosing.

This is something I am not very forthcoming with. The truth. If someone says “why did you do that?” or “wow! How could you?”, I kind of, sort of skirt the real reason. I can come up with a lot of glib excuses. It hurts just to admit that.

Why though? When it is pretty much common knowledge what I believe, why would I not just say “I feel that this is what God wants me to do?”.

Um, because I don’t want to appear crazy. It’s one thing to say I believe, but to actually BELIEVE that the “invisible man in the sky” (said in a sarcastic tone, as I have heard it) talks to me or tells me what to do? Yeah, that makes me look a bit insane. The last thing I want people to think is that I have lost my marbles. Many times what God leads me to do makes sense in His kingdom, but is off the beaten path on Earth. As different as I want to be, I don’t want to be any different! I want to hold my belief close to my heart, never sharing it and never publicly professing it, because I don’t want people to think I am weird.

I typically don’t share these things with believers OR non-believers. So it’s not that I just don’t want to share with people who don’t share my beliefs and don’t understand, I don’t want to even share with people who share my beliefs and SHOULD understand. There have been times I have discovered that even believers hold a worldly view about certain things and raise an eyebrow at you if you attribute something in your life to God or your faith in Him.

I have ONE person I feel safe sharing these stories with. ONE. Really, I should be sharing these stories with everyone, whether I feel safe or not. I have learned that faith is not safe and nothing worthwhile happens as long as we remain “safe”.

I have been feeling strongly convicted in this area of my belief over the past few weeks. God has been saying to me “why aren’t you sharing MY story?”. He is holding my hand and saying “you have nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what anyone else thinks”. I hate to make promises and not follow through, but with God by my side, it’s time to start sharing these stories. Am I prepared to be called an idiot? No. Do I want people to raise their eyebrows at me and think I am crazy? Of course not. In faith, I will do it regardless of the risk or how unsafe I feel.

Stay tuned. Until then….

Luke 9:26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

And the song that plays in my head a lot:

I’m not Ashamed – Newsboys

Repost: Love Letter

Jessica’s post today at Bohemian Bowmans reminded me of this post I wrote when I still used blogger. It was originally published 6/6/11. Sometimes I still need to hear it.

I received a card and a letter over the weekend that said what I most needed to hear, from the person I most needed to hear it from.

The card says:

Because you refuse to give up when times are tough or follow the easier path…….
Because you stand up for what you believe in and aren’t afraid of what people think……..
Because you’re brave even when you’re unsure of what will happen next and you learn from your mistakes….
Because of all this and more, you’re an inspiration and I know in my heart you can do anything you want to

The letter included is 3 pages long, handwritten:

“Dear Amy, I saw this card and it made me think of you….all day long I have been thinking about the words I want to say. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are giving. You are a great mother. You are a great wife. I watch you and I can see that you don’t always believe these things yourself…..I want you to know you are not a failure. I have seen you succeed, when other people said you wouldn’t…..You have a heart for people that are hurting. If I had one wish for you, it would be that you have that same heart for yourself….. Recently I have watched as self doubt and fear has stopped you from doing things you want to do….. You have an amazing faith in God. Lean on Him. Then put one foot forward. You can do this. You are inspiring and a leader. You show people that you believe in them.

I want you to believe in yourself.

I’m sorry for all the times I was hard on you. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t believe in you. I’m sorry that I missed so many opportunities to be your biggest cheerleader…I love you”.
I quoted a lot from the letter, but I did not quote it all. There is no need to. All of the above is very important, very uplifting and very encouraging, however I think the most important part is who signed the card and the letter:


Yes, me.

I was waiting for my husband’s prescriptions to be filled on Friday. I had already perused the shoes and the clothes and the make up and yeah, you get the idea. I checked back in at the pharmacy and had to wait another 10 minutes. I walked over to the card department. I am always looking for another card to send to my Compassion kids, give to my husband, send to my mom, etc. I picked up this card and I. liked. it. I said “I wish someone would see this card and buy it for me. It makes me feel good”. I put it back, hoping. This voice inside whispered “Buy it for yourself”. At first thought, it was kind of a crazy idea, but I picked it up and put it in my basket.

The more I thought about it, the more crazy it didn’t seem. I am harder on myself than I am on any other person. I doubt, I self criticize and I don’t believe in myself. I do not see what other people tell me they see. I don’t love myself the way other people love me.

All the people in the world can love me, but it doesn’t mean a thing unless I love myself.

What do you need to tell yourself? I want to challenge you to write yourself a letter. See in yourself what other people see in you. Write it and believe it. It will make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself.

I pick up the card and I start to cry. I can’t help it.

I didn’t even know I liked myself until I told me.

Blogs I Follow

As a treat, I thought I would give you a list of links to blogs I usually check daily. If I don’t mention yours, please no hurt feelings. This is in NO way a complete list. I need to keep links back to share in the future. I’m only listing those that are updated regularly, and those that are “public” type blogs. There are some I read that are more private. 🙂

Here they are:

Kennedy and Drake I started following this journey shortly after they were born. At one point, Drake had 24 hours to improve and thank God, he did! I am amazed at the difference in their pictures from when they were first born to now!

Jones Family Blog there are five of them! Five! I am just fascinated by these little babies, their parents and older brother. Carrie was given shots to increase egg production after 5 years of difficulty conceiving. She did NOT have IVF. Apparently, even with the shot, it is extremely rare to have this many multiples. (and I feel like I have to say it, because I have read some criticism of them, regarding their use of these shots)

A Miniature Clay Pot Marie and two of her daughters were in the middle of the massacre in the Colorado movie theater. She has such a way with words and I love the way she conveys her thoughts.

The Path Less Taken Jennifer has made me change the way I parent Piper. When the world is following their own path, she makes her own. I don’t agree with everything she thinks or says, but she is open and not offended when you state your disagreement or offer another view point (RESPECTFULLY!)

Minivans are Hot Kelli is hilarious. She makes me laugh. She got to go on a Compassion bloggers trip and now she and her family are adopting from Russia. She is more than just a mom blogger. She might even have some decorating ideas for you. Oh, wait, no, those are flops.

Well, there are five for you. What blogs do you read on a regular basis? I would love to check them out!

14 Things in 14 Years

I am sure you are tired of hearing me shouting from the mountain tops “I’ve been married 14 years!!!”. Can you stand it just one more time? I mean, now I have been married 14 years and one day, after all. 🙂

It’s almost impossible to be married this long without learning a few things. Marriage has taught me much more than patience and grace (kidding honey!). (having kids teaches you that). Here are 14 things I have learned about marriage, in honor of 14 years of marriage!

1. I’m not always right. I’m just not. This is where my husband learns patience and grace. It can’t be easy being married to someone who thinks she can’t ever be wrong.

2. If my husband looks at what I’m buying and says “maybe you should try it on” or “I think you would get the bigger one”, LISTEN! I should not drive home 2 ours and realize it is a bit too small for my growing belly. It automatically becomes your Pre-teen’s, then.

3. When he says the speed limit on that road is 35, it really is. You don’t need to “prove” it because you will look like a fool.

4. Pregnancy after 14 years of marriage is much different than at one year of marriage. It doesn’t come with the same drama. Patience and grace have been accumulated and are much easier to give.

5. If there is something he doesn’t like to do (change diapers), I just do it. It’s not a big deal, even if everyone around tells me “don’t let him get away with that”. I’m thankful that I just do it, especially when one of the kids throws up all over and he cleans it up without hesitation, because he knows I hate it. (or will cry and throw up too)

6. Saying “I’m sorry” will not kill me. It makes me a bit humble too.

7. Marriages can be saved. It started when I took that advice and prayed for God to change ME.

8. The habits I think are “bad” are a part of him. Nobody is perfect and I have a few bad habits of my own.

9. It’s easier for him to be honest with me when I LET him. If he knows I am going to freak out over what he tells me, he is less likely to be forthcoming with the truth.

10. He is not a typical guy. He chose me.

11. When I changed how I talked about him to others, it changed how I felt about him.

12. Respecting him really does make him love me the way I want to be loved.

13. When he brought home flowers at the beginning of our marriage, I shouldn’t have worried about the cost. I also should not have said anything. It was a long, long time before he did it again… And it was my fault.

14. I would do this all again. Every single part of it. The good, the not so good. It’s worth it.

are you married? What has marriage taught you?

A Moment of Clarity

I have no problem admitting that I am a bit of a procrastinator. I think my aunt had a little bit of heart failure and learned a whole lot of patience and grace when we threw my parents a 25th wedding anniversary party. I see nothing wrong with waiting until the last minute to send out invitations. Apparently this is not the norm? I might even be the exact same way with birthday parties. Just the other day, I was at the store 10 minutes before my son’s birthday party to buy the cookies he requested.

Just roll with it! It turned out fine.

So, it should come as no surprise that there are unfinished projects around my house. Sometimes it takes me forever to get around to them. After our dishwasher incident, it took a year to get flooring in. It honestly didn’t bother me.

Procrastination can rear its ugly head in the form of beating myself up though. It’s hard not to worry what people are going to think if they come over and see that I STILL haven’t put the trim back up. Or that the kitchen cabinets still haven’t been painted. (I’ve about given up and started putting the doors back on)

This is where I was at yesterday. Beating myself up for everything that wasn’t getting done and everything else I had been putting off. As I walked down the hallway and took note (again!) of unfinished projects, I had one of those aha moments. A moment of clarity. There are some things I never put off. Spending time with my family. Loving on my kids. Playing with and talking to my kids. Doing a last minute favor for a friend. I instantly felt better.

Honestly, when my kids are grown, when I am old, none of us are going to look back and think I should have gotten that trim up. The trim will remain the same…. ALWAYS. But in another year, my kids are going to be different, older, changed. I don’t want to waste time missing the here and now with them. My husband and I aren’t going to treasure all of our home improving memories. We are going to be thinking about how we took the family camping or about our first ever vacation as a family of 6.

As long as we continue to value what is important (family, kids, relationships,memories) I am going to quit beating myself up over stuff that’s not. (trim, cabinet doors, washing the car) I’ll have plenty of time to work on that to do list someday, I may never have another opportunity to work on what’s important.

So, if you come over and see all I haven’t done, smile, because now you know what I have been doing instead. 🙂

In love, in friendship, in Him,

Dear God

Dear God,

I… feel like a failure. Sad, isn’t it? I know you tell me I’m not. I know how valuable I am to you, but honestly, sometimes I don’t think it’s enough.

I hate balancing the checkbook. We have minimalized so much and it doesn’t seem like it’s helping. Oh, I know, it’s only by your grace that we have even made it through the last 4 months. There is absolutely no other way to explain it. But there is still some stuff I’ve had to let go. Some medical bills. Not too big of a deal, right? They usually wait. Usually. I hate that it’s come to this though. After Chad’s last job, we were doing well, now it seems we are right back where we were before then.

I know that this isn’t even the hardest times we will go through. Our house isn’t much. It’s small. Much too small by American standards for a family of 7, yet I do fear that we won’t be able to keep up and we will lose it. Sometimes, by faith, I want to finish our “renovations”. Put the trim up, repaint, replace the flooring where needed, but then I think “what’s the point, if we just lose it later?”.

Then let’s get to that whole family of 7 thing. Really? Why now? When I should be rejoicing over new life, I am gripped by the fear of “how?”, “why?” and “what do people think of me? Us?”. Sometimes I am so ashamed of my pregnancy. I truly want people to think my weight gain is from a bad diet. I see and hear what people say about people like us, not realizing they are talking about us too. It hurts. A lot. It causes me to retreat in my shame. Even when people are positive and excited, my insecurities wonder if they are saying one thing to me, and whispering behind their hands when I am not looking. I am having a hard time believing in the sincerity of people right now.

And, God, sometimes I hear you. Yep, I hear the whispers, I feel the nudge… And I flat out ignore you. “Pray for her”, “ask him if you can pray for him”, “step forward, ask for prayer”, “call her, tell her you need to talk”. I don’t do it. I hear it all, and I just turn my back. I say no.

I feel like I should be doing something. I know you told me to serve my family, but I wonder if it’s enough. Should I be doing more? Is this really where you want me? My service to my family, sponsoring Compasson kids… Is that what you want from me right now? I want to help bring in a income, but do people hire pregnant ladies? Am I worrying about things that aren’t supposed to be MY worries?

I feel like I am skating through life right now. I don’t know WHAT to do. I want things to be easy (hey, I’m being honest), but I also want things to be blessed. Like Laura Story sings:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I’m thankful, so thankful, for so much. We have had a good summer. We have been blessed enough to go to the beach (came back to no job), go camping, spend time together as a family… And during those days I felt so sick from pregnancy, I could barely function, I was grateful that my husband WAS here to help.

Sometimes blessings come at a great great cost. And it’s not the blessings I am worried about, I know those will come. It’s the cost that causes me to sleep restlessly, wake too early, nap too much, and grump at people.

I know in my head that you are there, but sometimes I feel in my heart, that I am gone. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Just being honest.


P.S. I’m sure I have forgotten a lot of things in my heart and on my mind. Can I reserve the right to come back and talk about it some more?

P.P.S. I am going to hit publish before I doubt myself. Sometimes people think I have it all together and I surely don’t.

P.P.P.S. thank you for listening, God. I love you.

Love and Marriage

We met in 1995. We dated for three years. We married in 1998. We moved in together one week after we married. Well, we did have a honeymoon to go on. 😉 In two weeks, we will have been married for 14 years. 14. YEARS. Let that sink in, because I certainly have to shake my head sometimes and say “when did that happen? How did that happen?”. Yet, I’m glad it did.

Our oldest daughter has a fairy tale view of marriage. She seriously thinks it’s all romance, love chocolate, roses, dancing and smooching. It never seems to dawn on her that her dad and I are NOT like that. I honestly think that she must think we are doing it wrong. One day I said “you know, I love your dad. I’m glad I married him, but there are days I look at him and I think ‘what the hell?”.

Just keeping it real here. I do love him, but our marriage ebbs and flows. There are days I am over the moon in love with him. He is my best friend and there is no one else I would rather spend my days with. I can not get enough of him. Then there are days I think “What. The. Hell?”. What was I thinking? How did I get in this mess? How much longer is forever?

We have had our share of really good times, good times, okay times, and um, this really sucks times. Always, always, always we have the “we are in this for life” times and “I’m not going anywhere”. (and if you think you are going somewhere, you take the kids. Cheers!) 14 years ago, we promised, PROMISED, him, me, forever. No matter what. No matter how bad things get, we remember that promise. No matter what, we remember our marriage prayer:

Lord, help us to remember when we first met, and the strong love that grew between us… To work that love into practical things, so nothing can divide us. We ask for words, both kind and loving and hearts always ready to ask forgiveness, as well as forgive. Into your hands, we commit our marriage.

There is no one I would rather be with. There is no one I would rather wake up to. If there are days I am going to think “what the hell?”, I want it to be him I think it with. In the good times, and the bad… Together, always.


I Choose

Life hasn’t gone according to (my) plans this year.

Chad lost his job. Twice. In 6 weeks.

I’m pregnant. 16 weeks.

Our dishwasher started leaking all over.

My computer up and died.

Our house is too small. (according to some people)

There’s too much month at the end of our money.

And on and on and on. Nobody chooses this kind of life, right?

I’ve been angry, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, sad, jealous, envious and on and on and on.

I could be choosing joy, but I’m not. I’m choosing to respond to life with every negative emotion you can imagine. I may not choose what happens in life, but I sure as heck have been choosing how I respond.

This realization hit me square in the heart today. It was an email that a friend forwarded to me. A blog post from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience. I only made it halfway through her post when I noticed her name. Sara. And I remembered her. I only discovered her blog shortly before she passed away, but I saw the indelible impression she left on many people. I read through many of her blog posts. I was mesmerized with her story. With her. Because in the midst of pain, in the moments of death… She chose joy. Always. It’s what people remember her for. Her joy. Her ability to love, to serve and to give, in the midst of an illness that she did. not. choose. She couldn’t choose her circumstances, but she chose how she would respond. Over and over, SHE CHOSE JOY.

I can too. Even when life is not going my way. Especially when life is not going my way.

Chad and I sat and watched a video about Sara, made for InCourage’s Irl conference. Afterwards, I said “wow. I feel like a whiner”. He said “you too, huh?”. Even after death, she is touching the hearts of people. I want to be like Sara.

Grab your tissues, and friends, choose joy. I’m going to.

Sara’s Story Final on YouTube

Giving Thanks… Or Not

When Gabby Douglas, 16 years old, won a gold medal in the Olympics, she made the sweetest comment. “It is everything I thought it would be; being the Olympic champion, it definitely is an amazing feeling. And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me“. Bold is my emphasis. HuffPost Religion posted her comment on FB and asked “what do you think about athletes publicly praising God?”. I am assuming that her comment either pulled some heart strings, or struck some nerves, because as of this morning, there were over 20,000 replies to that question. I am paraphrasing here, but one of those replies was “why would your God care about a girl in the Olympics when there are kids dying in other countries from lack of food, water and health care?”

And when Marie from A Miniature Clay Pot wrote So You Still Think God is a Merciful God? after the movie theater shooting in Colorado, the responses were overwhelmingly positive. (it appears that the comments have all been removed, probably because she has been inundated with responses) The comments that stand out most in my mind though, were the comments of criticism. Some people couldn’t believe that in the aftermath of tragedy that she would or SHOULD be thankful to God. “Why don’t you ask the families of the dead how thankful they are?” was just ONE of the comments I saw.

I am thankful for everything in my life. I am thankful that we don’t lack food, water or nutrition, but my heart breaks, because there are people that do. I am thankful that so many people survived the Colorado shooting, but my heart grieves for the 12 that didn’t. My heart is big enough to contain both emotions. I can give thanks for all I have and I can grieve for all the things others don’t have. However, I do not feel guilty for my blessings. I do not feel guilty for the gifts that God has instilled in me. I may doubt those gifts or blessings sometimes. I may not use them as intended, but I do not feel guilt. I have said for a long time that blessings flow through me. When I am using my blessings or gifts for the glory of God, He is pleased.

Here’s the thing, God is big enough for all of it. I think He is big enough to care about it ALL. He cares about Gabby and her accomplishments, and He also cares about the starving kids in the world. That’s why He put people like us in the world! Not so we could shake our fist and say “where are you, God? Why are you letting this happen?”. Not at all. We should be saying “Lord, I’ve been blessed, use me to help others. I’m here”. And we should allow Him to use us!

Marie has every reason to be thankful that her life was spared. It certainly doesn’t mean that she isn’t grieved for the lives that were lost. In the midst of tragedy, one of MY greatest coping skills is thankfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. There are those of us who believe it and live it.

There should be no condemnation when thanks is given. How does criticizing a thankful person bring a dead person back to life (it doesn’t) or bring food, water and nutrition to starving people (it also doesn’t)? Being thankful for what we have and allowing God to use us and our blessings is what brings change to the world. I have absolutely never regretted having a thankful heart. There have been times I have wondered “why me? Why, God, have you blessed me so much, when there is so much suffering in the world?”. I think Ann Voskamp said it best when after a Compassion bloggers trip she said “God gives the world enough of what it needs. He just doesn’t distribute it”. This is where we come in.

Gabby and Marie are not wrong for being thankful. We should all strive to live with thankful hearts. None of us should feel guilt for what we have. (haven’t you ever heard that guilt doesn’t come from God?!) There will always be tragedy and sadness in our broken world, but there will always be praise and thankfulness in my heart. I pray the same for all of us.

You Have (no) Right

About a year ago, I posted something on Facebook that hurt a friend. It wasn’t intentional. I thought it was witty and true, but with her life experiences, she saw it differently. She contacted me privately, brought it to my attention and explained why it hurt her. She also said “I know your heart and I know it wasn’t intentional. I just wanted to give you another way to think about this”.

She could have handled this differently. She could have criticized me In a public forum. She could have stewed in her hurt until it turned to anger, written off the friendship, or just unfriended me. She chose not to do any of these things, because she had earned a place in my life where we both felt comfortable with her coming to me and addressing it. I was not angry with her for doing so. I saw it through her eyes, apologized and removed the post.

There was another situation this past year with a casual acquaintance that did not go as well. Like my above friend, she did not like something I posted. Instead of contacting me privately or saying nothing and moving on, she chose to tell me that I was rude and disrespectful, among a few other things.

There were a few problems with this. She doesn’t know my heart and doesn’t know that I would never intentionally hurt anyone. She chose to criticize ME, not my action, which put me on the defensive. Instead of explaining her position on it or why it bothered her, she insulted me. In that moment, I lost respect for someone that was a potential friend.

I have many people in my life – friends, family, acquaintances. I enjoy my relationship with most of them. Some of them have earned the “right” to speak into my life and they do this out of respect for our relationship and love for me. They KNOW me. They KNOW my intentions. They also know the best way to approach me. They speak love into my life, not condemnation. These are the people I welcome feedback from, because it doesn’t feel like criticism.

I will be honest, in the reverse situation, I don’t always handle this the way I should. I am trying to stop and ask myself:

1. Do I know this person’s heart or intentions?
2. Have I earned a “right” to give feedback in their life?
3. Will they (or I) benefit from giving feedback?
4. Does this person already know how much I love and care for them?

If my answer to any of the above questions is no, I don’t proceed. I haven’t earned the right.

Have you ever been involved in a similar situation?