Thursday, January 31, 2013

Let. It. Go.

I'm a control freak.  I'll freely admit it.  Some of my earliest memories are of my with my hands on my hips, bossing Holly or Glenn or Brandon around (or trying to, anyway.) I've always thought that I get it from my Dad and my Grand-dad, who are super-organized and super-OCD...

The trouble is, a lot of times I feel OUT of control.  Overwhelmed. Trying to do to much at once.  I'm betting you do, too.  And trying to control other people, or things that I'm not meant to control, just leaves me exhausted.  Frustrated. A lot of times, other people get mad at me... feelings get hurt.  I end up being the loser, which then just starts a cycle... of trying to be more in control.

Wallace has often told me, "You don't have to be in control of everything."  And he's right, but I still try. I've gotten better, but there's always room for improvement.

Sunday, on the Melissa Taylor Online Bible Study page, we'll be starting Karen Ehman's book Let. It. Go.  I've started reading, because for the first time I'll be leading a small study group on Facebook.  I'm a little nervous, but excited, too.  If you've never done an online Bible Study, join us at All you have to have is the book (can be purchased for Kindle as well), a Bible, and a journal.  There's a wait list for the facebook groups, but you can access the study on the blog, which is the primary site.  Over 8000 women strong =)

One of my goals for 2013 is to grow as an individual. I'm thinking that learning how to control my control issues is a good place to start... and His grace is sufficient to help me do just that!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Check the Barn Door

I've learned a lot in the ten plus years of being a coach's wife.  I've learned a little bit about different defenses, and I've learned just enough about fouling to be dangerous as I yell at the refs.  I've learned that teams on both sides of the court want to win, and that while God does listen to my prayers, He may not really care if my team gets the "W" or not.  Or maybe there's just someone on the other side of the bleachers praying just a little harder.

Tonight, though, I learned a little bit about losing your focus... or rather, being too focused.  Y'all that know Caleb will really get a kick out of this one.

Much to mine and Wallace's chagrin, Caleb is his own kid. He has a unique personality.  He's not really into basketball, although I've tried to convince him that with his size he'd make an awesome center.  He goes to basketball games because they are social occasions.  He can hang out with his friends, talk to people he knows, get the basketball girls to give him the answers to his homework, and steal a few hugs and kisses (Yes, he's a ladies man).  He doesn't get too stressed out about wins and losses... although he is really proud when we win. But anyway, I digress...

Wallace has not adopted Caleb's laissez faire attitude toward basketball games.  He is very... uhm... passionate about his games.  Tonight was no different.  We were at Owsley.  We've spent many nights in that gym.  I might have accidentally yelled out the wrong team name at a game last year, because I've cheered for them so much... but I plead the fifth on that one.  He. was.  intense.

With about 17 or 18 seconds to go before half-time, a time-out was called. Caleb was sitting behind the bench.  He jumped up and grabbed Wallace's arm as Wallace reached for the clipboard.  Caleb was trying to tell him something... and then Wallace tells him to sit down.  And be quiet.

Caleb is mad.  Steaming. He's embarrassed.  I remind him how crazy his Daddy is during games and tell him not to worry about it.  "Mom, I'm not worried.  I was just trying to tell the idiot that he was pacing and jumping up and down on the sideline with his pants unzipped for all the world to see.  If he wants to be stupid enough not to listen, well, so be it."

Ok... I know it isn't right for Caleb to call Wallace an idiot or stupid... but I lost it.  I lost my breath I was laughing so hard.  And then I got serious... because how many times have I been so intent on winning, or on completing a project, or on doing what I thought needed to be done, that I haven't seen the egg on my face?  Or realized that, figuratively speaking, my barn door was open?

It's good to be passionate about something.  It's good to want to focus... but we need to be open to others.  And we need to realize that life isn't so serious. 

And maybe it's a good idea to check your zipper every now and again.  =)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Donut Holes

My kid amazes me.  Seriously, he does.  He can be lazy sometimes, and not want to do his homework.  He can be irresponsible sometimes, and not bring his homework home or lose it.  (Are you noticing a pattern here?) He can be stubborn and make me as mad as fire... but he's one cool kid.

What really amazes me is how his mind thinks. Tonight, we were sitting in the living room, and he was reading out of a book, and it talked about old donuts. "Hey," he said mid-sentence. "That reminds me. Don't we  have some donut holes here?  Better go grab some to snack on while I'm reading." So up he went to the kitchen table,and got the box of donut holes. 

As he's munching them, he picks up one and looks at it. "Mom, do you think that somewhere, someone is eating the donut that this donut hole came from?" I just looked at him... in amazement. Because how would he even think of that?  I mean, it's not really a genius question, but I've never thought of it, and I've eaten plenty donut holes...

He finished eating his donut holes, and finished reading the chapter in his book. "I'm going to go outside to enjoy this beautiful weather..." which is completely out of character. "You want to go for a walk with me?" I ask.  He starts out with those earbuds in his ears, but then takes them out as he sees that I've not got mine in. We walk up the hill by the house, looking at the mud puddles and over the hillside and pausing to take pictures of all of the houses on Twin Cedar Road.  The road is kind of uneven, and at one point, he's standing to the left of me and he's taller than me.

My boy... not so much a little boy any more.  I'm so blessed to be Caleb's Mama...and God's grace is sufficient to help me in my more difficult moments =)

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Child-like Faith

It's Monday.  And it's raining... has been almost all day.  So I'm pretty brain dead as I type this out at almost 11 PM.  No walking today, but I did get my Bible reading in this morning.  And had a good day at work.  And watched my Lady Tigers get a W... so it's been a good day.

But I don't feel good and I've been just a little whiny.  Just a little grouchy.  Had just a little bit of a bad attitude... and don't you know that a little bit of a bad attitude adds up to a whole lot? (You've heard of one bad apple ruining the whole bunch?)

And then I'm checked... isn't that just how God is? When you feel down in the dumps, He brings to mind something to make you see that maybe it isn't as bad as you think?  Tonight, it came in the form of a little girl in a hospital in Lexington. Savannah is a true miracle.  I can remember when Robert and Jeannie went to get her.  Caleb was in love with her when she was little because  he loved Dora the Explorer.  She's always been so smart and sweet and funny... and brave.

Savannah has faced numerous surgeries in the last few years.  Always, she has trusted in God and shown a child-like faith, one that any of us would be fortunate to demonstrate.  Today, she had surgery to lengthen her leg and faces an extensive rehab process... but I'm sure she faced it head on.  I'm reminded how much I need to grow.

Please join me in praying for Savannah, her sis Emi, and her parents Robert and Jeannie. Jeannie and I have bonded some over Beth Moore and then even more when we endured the cold for Tough Mudder (ok... maybe we didn't have it as bad as Robert and Wallace...) I love this couple, love this family,and know that God is going to do what He does best... show out with a great big miracle.  Cause His grace is sufficient.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What's Your Issue? Lessen it with Gratitude

They are crammed into the back pew, five grown boys and one little boy and their favorite aunt.  Their Papaw is up front in his suit and he clears his throat. The song is 276 and I smile in memory.

We sing about Prayer Bells of Heaven and Paul and Silas and the boys in the fiery furnace, of Jesus in the garden sweating bullets of blood as he prays for God to remove this cup. The boys are standing, but I'm not sure how much singing they're doing.

Seniority wins and he moves up to sit next to his Mama.  As we stand for the reading of the scripture, I notice once again how with his hair spiked up, he is almost taller than me. Those four guys sitting behind me, I love them so...

And we're reading about the issue of blood and Caleb leans into me and I think about how everything can change in just a minute.  She was immediately healed and Jesus immediately knew it... and how sometimes I know things but I don't, so I have to just keep trusting.

Suffering can be for a season or it can be for a few days or it can be for a few years, and sometimes we think we will never get through it.  We try everything within our power, running here and there, spending our money and trying to buy our healing or our happiness or our acceptance.  We're kind of like that woman, who went to many doctors and went through many things and spent all she had... but didn't get better. Instead, she got worse.  And isn't that how we are, in times of difficulty? Exhausted, we're physically and emotionally and financially spent?  And the attacks just keep coming harder and harder, and we wonder how we will ever survive...

And then He passes by. It may be through His Word or a sunset or a friend's kind word... but He is there and we recognize it.  We look the answer to our problem in the face, opening our eyes to His presence through gratitude... and by giving thanks and counting these gifts, we know He has made us whole.

Counting gifts through the Joy Dare, and extra ones, too... things like Diet Coke and the pictures and magnets on my fridge and my Bybee pottery collection, and sound sleep and a win for my girls and Psalm 42, Laughter, Him knowing my name, my Papaw up there leading the songs, familiar from when I was young, my grandma playing the piano, my husband and my 3 cousins crowding Aunt Lisa out of the back pew, Mom's cake pop and food from her kitchen and a Christian legacy of love from my parents and grandparents...

These gifts... we'll keep counting.  And suddenly, our issues don't seem so big at all.  Join me in the Joy Dare at

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What is Sacrifice?

"If there's no sacrifice involved, if you're not at least a little uncomfortable, there there is a good chance that you aren't carrying a cross."- Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman

Right now I'm sitting in my bed.  The door is shut and the heater is full blast because it is cold outside.  I've got a Diet Coke on my table, not just one Bible but two laying next to me (I read out of my King James for Bible studies, and read my Chronological one each morning...  or most mornings).  I've also got a Kindle laying by my side with a whole assortment of books on it to choose from.

I've not gone hungry much lately.  Most days, I get in my car, with less than 100,000 miles on it (though really dirty...), and drive a short drive to town, where I go to work at a community college.  I know most people there... and even if I don't know the students, it's a small town, so I generally smile at them and speak as we walk across campus. 

Most nights, I'm in a gym cheering on a group of pretty awesome girls.  At halftime, I read. The other nights, I fight with Caleb about doing homework and fight with myself about getting on the treadmill and fight with Wallace... just because. 

Where is the sacrifice?  As I read this chapter in Not a Fan, a kind of sick feeling crept into my stomach.  It's all about taking up your cross and denying yourself, following Him... Jesus... into death. Death of self. Death of pride.  Death... sacrifice. And to be honest, that's not something I'm good at. It's not something any of us is good at.  We were meant for self-preservation.  I teach it a lot, that fight or flight syndrome, where when we are threatened we kick into survival mode. 

Idleman points out that the death Christ speaks of is a daily decision, and it is intentional.  It must be if we are to go against human nature, and stop protecting ourselves.  Intentionality... commitment. Daily.

When I compare my comfortable life here in poverty-stricken Eastern Kentucky, to those in other parts of the world, there is no sacrifice.  I think of Katie in Uganda.  I've yet to read her book, but she's a young woman who up and moved to Uganda and adopted a bunch of orphans... who were essentially her age, or even older.  She sacrificed.  I think of others who have gone on mission trips... sacrificing their time and comfort to serve others.  I think of our soldiers overseas... fighting a battle that perhaps isn't even ours, because they believe in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Now that's sacrifice. 

And how do I compare to that? 

As I sat and pondered that question, the question of whether I've ever been uncomfortable, I wrote in the margin.  Maybe you need this, too. "What does this look like in our comfortable world? Perhaps it is being uncomfortable in relationships- giving in when we don't want to. In our selfish society, this may be the most difficult thing to do... to put others first." Sometimes, sacrifice is seen in letting others be right.  That's uncomfortable, right? In giving into the preference of others... when we know it is not something we want to do. 

In not complaining when someone comes in and turns on the TV and starts playing games when you are trying to process your quiet time.  In turning the other cheek and forgiving. 

The next question that is posed is about daily actions to take up your cross.  And I thought... what will this look like in my life? In a day where I'll spend most of the time on a bus or in a gym, watching ballgames.  My answer to this? Be Christ.  Radiate Christ.  Love those I come in contact with. Look for ways to make them smile or to encourage them.  Show them Christ's love.  It may not be a sacrifice today, but some days it is.  Somedays, we just don't feel like being Christ-like.  That's when sacrifice comes in.

It may not be me giving up things financially... I may need to do that some other time.  It may not be me being physically uncomfortable, and there may be times when I'm called to do that, too.  However, it's putting Christ at the center of my daily life, and making a daily, intentional decision to die to Him... so that I can live.  And hopefully, so that others will want to live like me... like Him. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Isaiah 30:15-18

I'm a tad bit of a nerd.  I actually like studying and homework if it's something I'm interested in.  So I was all in when I read Beth Moore's blog today and saw a homework assignment. 

This morning, she had tweeted a picture of a Bible verse written on a sticky note.  It was from The Message Translation, and basically said "Settle down".  How many times have you needed to be told to settle down? If you're anything like me, a lot.  The verse was one she had read in her quiet time, and her homework was for anyone who wanted to to read three different translations of the verses, and discuss what they meant personally.  The verses were Isaiah 30:15-18.  I read in the King James Version, the HCSB translation, and the NLT. This is a beautiful passage, and really spoke to my heart this icy morning.
15- This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: (I'm so glad He speaks to us.  I'm so glad He calls us out.)
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

(Returning... that means we left.  Isn't it good news that He will allow us to return? That He woos us?  That He wants us back?  And in this passage, He's talking about salvation.  I don't know about you, but when I feel threatened, the last thing I want to do is rest... but He's saying that resting is the only thing.  Going back to Him, and finding our rest in Him. Letting Him fight our battles.  And quietness?  When we are weak, do we not tend to be the loudest?  Ever heard of the quote, I think he protests too much? Too many times we try to distract others from our weakness by loudly discussing our strengths... and it's true, in confidence, we tend to be quieter.  Here, though, it is not confidence in ourselves, rather, confidence in God. And here's the kicker. He's basically telling us how to be saved... but says we'll have none of it.  This is that old, "I'll do it myself" adage.  Stubborness.  Pride.  No matter what the costs...)

16 You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!

We turn to ourselves... and say, my money will save me.  My husband will save me. My job will save me. My children will save me.  My... you fill in the blank.  But they can't. And it's not fair to ask them to.  The only person we can truly count on to save us has already done the job... we just have to ask Him to save us...and set aside our own wants.  Because whatever we put our faith in other than Jesus will be temporary, and we'll soon be tucking our tails between our legs and running...

17 One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.”
When we rely on something other than Jesus, how easy is it to give up hope?  To become scared? And when that person we just know we can rely on doesn't come through... how lonely are we?  I don't want to be that only flagpole or banner standing, tattered and torn from a battle I was never meant to fight.

18So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

God's a gentleman.  He doesn't want to fight our battles for us unless we want to. So He sits back, waiting for us to humble ourselves.  He wants to show us His love and compassion.  And how faithful He is!  Blessed...happy... are those that wait... that allow Him to work and do His job and be the Savior.

We can't always see what God's up to... but know He's up to something.  He wants us to stand firm and be still, waiting on Him.  Humble ourselves and not give into self-sacrifice and self-salvation... and when we do this, our enemies (the devil) will flee, rather than us fleeing from them. 

And sometimes, we don't even have to pick up the sword... He's good like that. 



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dynamite in Small Packages

Today is my Grandma Na's birthday, and I really want to write a blog about her, being as she is so tech savvy and I'm sure she'd get right on here and read it... but I'm sitting here and nothing sounds right.  I've typed three paragraphs and erased all three... and just can't get it.  Don't you love it when that happens? 

How do you process 33 years of memories of a little lady that is just like the saying "Dynamite comes in small packages?" She's done a lot of living in her 82 years, that's for sure.  Wonder how many hymns she's played on the piano? How many puppies and kitty cats she's fed, and how many times she's said, "Don't take your shoes off.  There's too much dog hair on the carpet?"

How many times she's rocked with grandkids on the swing, counting the cars that went by?  How many loads of laundry she's packed up and down those basement stairs?  How many fried apple pies and homemade biscuits and gravy she's made?

How many switches she's cut... and threats she's made?  How many times she's leaned up into grandsons taller than her to get hugs?  How many graduations and weddings she's attended for her 6 kids and 10 grandkids, with more to come? 

Picnics at Natural Bridge, and trips to Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee with youth groups... lunches at Pizza Hut with the whole crew or breakfast at McDonalds with Landry?

I've sat on her couch when I've been mean, slept on her couch and drank Sprite or 7-Up when I've been sick.  I've worn her high heels and hid in her closet and rolled out those pies at her table when I was stressed out in nursing school.

How many prayers she's offered up, for me, for Wallace (her favorite for sure), for people I don't even know... my Grandma is a saint.  Most of the time.  She's also spunky. She and my grandpa have shown me that love really can last and that it can be good and great... if God is in the center of it.  63 years does something...

Over the years, we've grown..a  wall had to be knocked down... the piano moved.  Pugsley and Butch and Ralphie died, but Jill gets fried bologna for lunch just like a grandchild, and the same pictures are up in the hallway now as when I was little.

And that small package still gives pretty good hugs, even if she lets Caleb and Dylan and Mason and Landry by with more than me and Jen and Glenn ever imagined. Happy Birthday, Mamaw Na!  And as you said today, "Hope this one does you for at least 10 more years."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blessed Are Those That...

I went to bed mad last night.  Ok, maybe not mad... but pouting for sure. For some reason, I'm just really emotional right now... and every little thing hurts my feelings.  Even things that others have no control over, which I know is just plain crazy... but welcome to my mind.

So as I lay there in the dark, squeezing my eyes shut so I wouldn't really be crying, I thought about grace and how I am unable to give it.  Grace, how I open my arms wide to accept it, but don't allow it to permeate into me.  How it's crazy to think that I will ever be able to get it right. 

As many of you know, I'm a faithful follower of Ann Voskamp's blog A Holy Experience.  She speaks the truth and more than once she's had a word for my soul... the kind that makes you breathe deep and draw it into  your very essence.  Last  year, she memorized the Sermon on the Mount, and was challenging others to do some memory work this year, either the Romans project she's participating in (if you've never read Romans... it's good stuff.) or something else that spoke to them.  I thought about it, and prayed about it... and decided that this year I wanted to memorize the Sermon on the Mount... Matthew 5-7.  If I'm ever going to get this grace thing right, I've got to get more Jesus in me, and here it is, in red letters in my Bible.

So back to last night... I'm laying there, eyes squeezed shut, curled up into a ball because you know when you're pouting you have to pretend you only have an inch of bed space, and those words started running through my head.

"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set there, his disciples came up unto him..." Jesus got a little tired of people, too.  Sometimes,  He just wanted to be with his main peeps. Maybe that will always be part of my conflict with Wallace... he's just so much an extrovert, and I'm not.  Jesus was an extrovert, too... but sometimes he just wanted to be alone. Deep breath... fighting back the tears...

"And opening his mouth, he began to teach, saying..." Most of the time when my mouth is opened, it's not for teaching. It's for screaming, or griping, or attacking. So maybe some of this is my fault after all... another deep breath... the tears run down just a little...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed is the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

Blessed... happy... blessed.  It just kept running through my mind... kind of like big neon lights flashing.   Merciful. Meek.  Pure in heart.  Add in mine... those who forgive.  Those who bite their tongue.  Those who give in...

So I roll over.  The tears are still gathered up in the corner of my eyes, but I'm ready to give grace.  Just a little, and maybe not for long... but isn't it better to be blessed than not?  Oh, Lord, help me.  Your grace is sufficient.

And if the scriptures aren't exactly right, please give grace.  They're from my memory... and now I have to head to class ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Don't Leave God out of It

Disclaimer: I feel led to post this.  I'm not being judgmental.  I'm not pointing fingers.  I just think that prayer is our best answer. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."- The Declaration of Independence

I've grown up in a society with television. Major events happened live.  I can remember when the Challenger exploded on National TV.  I can remember seeing footage of the Berlin Wall falling.  Images of airplanes flying into buildings are imprinted in my head. 

Add in the social media, and you often feel like you're right at an event, even watching from home.  How accurate our news coverage is, that's at times debatable.  Even when trying to be objective, it's hard...

Today, I sat in my Mom's living room and watched the Presidential Inaugurational Ceremony.  I'm ashamed to say that even though I was raised in a society of television, it's the first one I ever watched.  I am humbled by our freedom, by the opportunites available, but I am also adult enough to understand that America is far from perfect.

An invocation by Myrlie Evers-Williams, wife of Medgar Evers, seemed fitting... as a widow, she knows the price paid for freedom and equality.  However, I held my breath as she repeated words familiar to all Americans, memorized at a young age and said with one hand over my heart.  "One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all..." Anybody catch what was missing?  As she closed, in Jesus's name, I breathed again... because I feel how close we are as a nation to tipping over the edge.  We NEED God.  We NEED Jesus's name. 

I am no politician.  I don't even follow politics.  I'm not interested in it at all.  I'm one of those  bury your head in the sand type of people.  Regardless of whether you support the candidate or not, he's still our President.  And he needs our prayers. 

Fitting that today's ceremony was held on Martin Luther King Day.  If anyone believed those words in the Declaration of Independence, it was him.  He believed it through his words.  He believed it through his actions.  I believe that all men are created equal as well.  I believe that in the words of our forefathers, it is self-evident.  You can look at us and see we are made in a common image, regardless of whether we are black or white or male or female or rich or poor.  We are all made in one image... the image of our Creator. ALL are created equal.  We all have unalienable rights.... life.  Liberty.  The Pursuit of Happiness. 

and that includes Christians.  Sometimes, I feel under attack in my own country... but maybe that's a sign that I'm doing things right?  That if I'm showing Jesus, then what He said was true, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it has hated me first." John 15:18

Yet Jesus died for the world... showing love at the last. And as a Christian, that's our job, too.

Confusing? Yes.  Difficult?  Absolutely.  But if America is going to continue to be who She has been in the past, it is imperative that we bind together.  I've heard people say when arguments, "Leave so and so out of this... that has nothing to do with it."  I'm begging you today... Let's not leave God out of it.  Because we need Him... and His grace is sufficient even when our world seems topsy-turvy. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Giving Grace

Three weeks into the year already... over halfway through January.  Grace is a common word in my vocabulary, but sometimes I forget until it's too late.  Until I've already blasted Wallace or quarreled at Caleb... and then that little voice whispers, "Grace".

Yesterday we went to Lexington.  We took advantage of a long weekend without a ballgame and loaded into the truck and just went... we braved Fayette Mall (and for Wallace that is true love).  We ate at Logan's.  Our waitress was young, blonde, a little ditzy... but you could tell she  had good intentions.  We're a pretty easy bunch.  We eat there enough to know what we want without a menu.  The food was good... until the marinara sauce ended up in my lap. Or rather, on my sleeve.  The waitress was mortified.  I could have gotten mad... but I remembered.  "Grace" I whispered.  I smiled, took the napkins, and wiped off the marinara sauce.  No speaking to the manager... no insisting that I be reimbursed for my meal. Just grace... because have I not done much worse?

Children's Church today... 5 rowdy boys.  We talked about Jacob and Joseph and God bringing good when others mean evil.  Is that not the very definition of grace?  Good... when we don't deserve it.  Or rather, the taking away of punishment when we do.  Those boys are rowdy.  They run. They are loud. They talk out of turn, about things that have nothing to do with the lesson.  Sometimes I can't take it.  Sometimes, my need for order almost overwhelms me.  Today, I sat at the table as they talked, and inside my head heard one word, "Grace". 

Caleb spilled all of my french fries from Mcdonalds. I did almost lose it, but "grace" hit me right in the face.  We laughed... "You're not mad, are you, Mama?" And I pause... "Well, only a little.  Because I really like my McDonalds french fries."

Wallace is running on the treadmill right now. I'm watching the AFC championship.  He's watching some movie.  He's working on sprinting, so the house is shaking slightly because he's going so fast, and the TV is up full blast.  I start to get hateful.  I even post something on Facebook, because I know people will agree with me.  But then there's that grace... so I delete the post, and instead click on all of these blogs to read from my email.  Messages of hope... growth... improvement... leaning on Jesus... and grace. 

It's funny about grace.  When you give it, when you focus on it, it comes back to you.  Peace.  Joy.  Fullness of heart.  Because His grace is more than sufficient.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

When My Heart is Overwhelmed

"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

My heart gets overwhelmed sometimes.  Too much bad news, too much chaos in the world. Uncertainty looms on every side.  My heart gets heavy with all I feel like I need to do, or want to do, or should be doing... and then I turn on the news to hear about school shootings and domestic violence and people getting sick and people losing jobs and families being torn apart.  Sometimes, I just want Heaven. 

The psalmist felt this, too.  He is writing from that place where he feels as if he's got one foot on the ground and one foot dangling off of a cliff, ready to fall.  I've been in that place before. You might be there now. 

He writes "from the ends of the earth..." What's at the ends of the earth? The end of life as we know it.  The space where we don't know where we are, we don't know how we got there, and we have no clue how to get back. 

Except we do.  When we are at the ends of the earth, or our wit's end, we have one we can call out to. Cry out to.  If we don't know how to pray, our spirit groans within us and does the praying for us.... because He knows.  And He hears, even when we feel our cries are falling on deaf ears. "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. "- Jeremiah 29:12-13.  Note that these verses come right after God is promising us a future, of hope and promise, not of destruction.  Even when our future is bleak, He knows...He sees... and He cares.

When we cry out, it's often because we are on shaky ground. We aren't stable.  We feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath us.  However, when we seek Him, we are led to the rock. THE rock... that can't be moved.  THE rock... that holds all power.  THE rock... our foundation.  He is our rock in uncertain times.  He will be steady and unmoveable, even when we are not.

I don't know your situation.  It may be your job, your community, your family causing you uncertainty.  Right now, I know people that are experiencing all of these. We all face difficulties, but He will see us through. 

In Christ alone... He is the Solid Rock.  And His grace is sufficient.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gifts in the Word and SSMT #2

Counting gifts... I've been going by the Joy Dare and have also been adding some of my own.  I'm up to 123, after my latest three today.  Today's were gifts from His Word, and this one is relatively easy, because it is ALL good. 

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses.  To think that God has a plan, a hope, for my future... it reminds me of a song that is out right now by Casting Crowns, that says, "When I'm lost in the mystery, to you my future is a memory, because You're already there..." What a gift to know that I don't have to worry about my future. 

Today, I read in Luke Chapter 1, and I have to share two sections of verses.  Earlier this week, I read Luke 1:37-38, and they jumped back off the page at me tonight.  "For with God nothing shall be impossible."  Nothing.  Not anything that we come against, not anything that we dream about... if we believe.  Mary accepted what should have been impossible and said, "Be it unto me according to thy word." May I be so willing.

The second section of the chapter that I wrote as one of my gifts was Luke 1:77-79.  In these verses, we are given the knowledge of salvation, tender mercy that brought us out of darkness into the light of the Dayspring, and peace.  Salvation... mercy... light and peace.  Does it get any better than that?

And the last gift I jotted down was Romans 3:23-24. This was the second verse I chose for the Siesta Scripture Memory team, and I'm going to try to get it from memory. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being freely justified by the grace..." ok, I don't have it down yet.  "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

All.  We have all sinned.  We are all on an even playing field.  We are all just trying to make it... but we have all been freely justified if we are willing to accept it.  Justified by grace... that gift that we don't deserve.  Grace provided by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus... for me and you.

God's Word... 1,000 gifts in itself

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Wallace Bates Show

Sometimes I don't think I even know Wallace Bates.  We've struggled, fought, fell back in love, fought some more over the sixteen years we've been together.  People change, grow up... and if you don't try really hard in a marriage, you can wake up and find that the person next to you is someone you know nothing about, and you have no idea how they've gotten there.

The past few months, I've really been trying... and so has Wallace.  We've been talking more.  I've been trying to learn his likes and dislikes... and I'd like to say he knows me pretty well, too.  Tonight, on WYMT, they aired a video with some of Wallace's favorites and I'm happy to say I knew the answer to every one of them.  Well, except for the where would you go if you could go anywhere... and I'm not thinking it's really McDonalds.  The real answer to that is The Alamo. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's Next From Here?

One chapter to go in Greater; as soon as I get off this blog I'll go finish it up and make my last notes on it in my journal. This is one I'll be thinking on for a while, though, even after my ink pen makes that final stroke.

Chapter 11 was all about God opening our eyes.  I've always liked the story of Elisha's servant. When surrounded, he was full of panic. He thought they were goners, but then Elisha prayed for God to open his eyes so he could see... and he saw they were surrounded by an awesome army of angels and chariots.  I think one of the reasons I've always liked this story is because when I was four, I rolled a car over a cliff.  I should have been hurt seriously... should have died, if the truth was told.  I know that I didn't because I had angel wings covering me...

And I know that God has a greater purpose for me.  I've learned through this book, though, that my greater may not be some bold act or something that changes the world.  It may just be a matter of making a change in those in my sphere of influence, of raising a Godly manchild who will go on to love and serve God.  (Lord, help me...) As one of the moms on Dance Moms said (I know, probably  not the best influence, but who am I to judge?  and on a side note, Dance Moms totally gets me through 45 minutes on the treadmill... so don't judge me), "It's not up to me to just raise a child that I love... it's up to me to raise a child that I like, too."  If that's my greater... or if my greater is to influence my students positively, or make someone's day a little brighter... well, I'll just have to settle for that.  And it's not really settling...

I wrote in my journal after chapter 11, "Lord, open my eyes so that I may see.  That I may see me as you do, beautiful and unique and chosen and worthy. That I may see all the blessings You have given me and all of the opportunities in front of me.  That I may remember all the times You've rescued me. That I may see Your protection around me.  Open my eyes so that I can know Your purpose for me."... so that I can become greater.

What's next?  Tonight, finish the book.  Finish Not a Fan... another excellent read.  I'm looking forward to Let It Go.  I'm going to keep in the Word and keeping pursuing greater, one day at a time, being intentional about my decision making one day at a time, every day, moment by moment.  And that's how I'm going to become Greater ;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Too Close to Home

I'm sitting in the gym at a ballgame. Story of my life, right? Caleb is sitting with Kathy at the video camera and Wallace is pacing at the sideline, watching the girls warm up. It's All A time, and this. is. business.

The girls go into the locker room at 9 minutes to go... it's like clockwork, and after 10 years of it I've got the routine down pat. I glance up at Caleb to make sure he's not aggravating Kathy too bad, pull out my book, and click on my phone to check my email. It's the second day of classes, after all, and there's a couple I've been messaging back and forth with.

And there it is... an HCTC Safety Alert. We get them sometimes, but to be honest I usually don't pay much attention. It's usually just a drill... but then I see Susan coming with her cell phone and there's a tweet from WYMT... HCTC is on lockdown mode because of an active shooter. And suddenly the All A doesn't seem quite so important, as I think of where it could be at and who could be involved. Was it a coworker? A student? Anyone I knew? I come back into the gym after getting off the phone with a coworker and there's Wallace on the other team's bench and he must see how upset I am... tears fill my eyes as he hugs me and I know that it's ok for now...

The next two hours of the game were spent with me watching... I'd lose myself in the close game and then as soon as the ball was dead my thoughts were racing. Social media is great, even if you can't believe everything you read, and soon enough it came out that it wasn't really a "school" shooting but a domestic dispute that just ended up at the school...

but it could have been. We do mock shooting drills and have been through professional development about what to do in the case of an active shooter. We've been told to lock our doors and make sure we know the exits of where we're located. We've heard about disgruntled students and how you never know how situations can escalate... but it never really sunk in. Until tonight.

The game goes on and the girls start fighting back from a 18 point deficit. Yet as I cheer, as I clap, as I watch Wallace rub his head in frustration, I whisper, "Lord help us, Jesus." And I think...

of how we never know what tomorrow holds and we never know when it could be our time and how when we walk into our jobs we just don't know... but He does and He has a plan and He's in control even when we question. Especially when we question. And it's a crazy world, and there's six degrees of separation and everyone knows someone related to someone else and before you know it trouble hits close, too close to home. A loss doesn't seem so important...

But He's still God. And I'm holding Him to it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Finding Grace

He sits next to me, clipboard in lap, homework positioned so that he has to unclip it every couple of seconds to read the problem and change  the page.  There's a clasp on the clipboard, and he clicks, clicks, clicks it.  The clicking feels like it's imploding in my brain.

This is it, my year of grace... and only two weeks in I've forgotten what grace and being gracious and giving grace means. 

He sits and pretends to read, or I'm hoping maybe he is actually reading.  The washer is loud and the treadmill is pounding out a rhythm and I feel like it is an internal pulse.  And it's only Monday and I said I was going to be more positive, more forgiving, more gracious. 

Gracious- pleasantly kind, benevolent.  Compassionate and full of mercy. All these words that are so far away from where my heart is tonight.

And then I hear a prayer from the treadmill.  "Mom, he sounds like one of those preachers that's been going for a very long time." Yes, my husband prays while he runs.  And while he drives, and while he sits in bed watching TV.  Prays out loud.  I can only hope he also prays during ballgames, as he paces the sideline... but that is a tale for a different night.

And I open up my phone to my Kindle app and read out loud, and remembering my Good Morning Girls study, I open The Dig up.  We find Luke in the Bible and read the intro out loud, the treadmill still humming in the background.

"Mom, I'm looking forward to studying Luke with you.  I like spending time with you, when you aren't all crazy over a clipboard."

Grace, offered to me... in that small voice, as he leans over and kisses my cheek.

Thanking God for startling graces of being a Mommy and of forgiveness and His Spirit, of access to the Father and knowing that a quick heavenward prayer really does make all the difference.  Of clothes to wash and a washing machine to throw them in... of my Kindle and God's Word.  Blessings, each of them... of grace and mercy and compassion because I can sit and breathe and know that no matter how many times I get mad about clipboards and pretending to read and endless questions, His grace is still sufficient.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A God of Miracles

"There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."- Albert Einstein

I've spent the Sabbath just as I said I would.  I've read my Bible, read in my Malachi study, watched a video session.  Finished one book, and watched two football games.  Talked with Wallace.  Journaled some.  And read in another book... a "self-help" book, if you will.  One of those free books on kindle, called Life is a Verb...and isn't that title true?

The above quote was in that book and I had to pause reading to write this blog. You see, I'm a firm believer in miracles.  And today in church, I had this very thought. 

Today, the back couple rows in church where we usually sit were pretty crowded.  My in-laws came because Greg and Regina were dedicating Will back to the Lord.  Regina's dad came.  The last two pews filled up.  I slipped out of my seat as everyone else was getting settled in and went up and sat behind my Grandpa. I was fine sitting by myself.  I stood up for the singing and Wallace came up and sat with me. "I didn't know where you went to, " He said.

We sang and then Pastor Kemper performed the dedication ceremony.  Baby Will was so well behaved, sucking on his fist the whole time.  My sweet baby was sitting with his Nana Helen in the back.  I slipped my arm through Wallace's as the message started.  Centered in Mark 10, "Suffer the little children to come unto me."  The message was good, talking about how we all have to be like children, and how children were dependent and trusting and forgiving and innocent.  Especially poignant in light of Will, and also because Pastor Kemper's daughter Lindsey had been in a car accident Friday night.  She's got a pretty bad concussion, and has some scrapes and knots and is pretty sore and shaken up, but it could have been so much worse.

Dana and Lisa sang about How Great our God is... and He is that.  And I was thinking of miracles, miracles like Will and Lindsey and Wallace after his wreck.  How very thankful I was that I was sitting right there next to him, holding his hand during that church service.  Of Caleb and how wonderful he is even in his meannes.  Of sweet baby Jaycee, so small and tiny, at UK hospital, born so very early yet overcoming every obstacle in her way.  Of Savannah and Robert and Jeannie and Emmy... living, breathing miracles.  Wallace fingered my wedding band as he held my hand, and I was reminded again of how everything can change in an instant. 

God is good... miracles happen.  Because His grace is MORE than sufficient.  And special prayers for continued recovery for Lindsey, for continued strength for Jaycee (and for her to maintain her oxygen levels and keep growing), and for Savannah and family as she prepares for upcoming surgery for her leg.  He's still a God of miracles!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Space

The cursor is blinking and there's a lot of white space. I've been thinking about white space a lot today, what with the new semester starting Monday.  Yesterday, I filled in my calendar for the month of January.  Lecture, and ballgames.  It's pretty full, and I've not added in stuff from my classes at WKU.  Still, at the start of the new year, or even at the beginning of a new month (I usually do my hand-held planner a month at a time, from my phone calendar), there is always hope of some rest.  Some white space.

We need white space, time to think, time to collect our thoughts and figure out where to go next.  God gave us a whole day of white space, yet we often neglect that day and turn it into another day for accomplishments.  I'm bad for filling my Sundays with doing some laundry, and working a lot on lecture and homework assignments.  One of my unwritten goals for the New Year, though, was to have more of a Sabbath rest.  I did it last week because I had no choice; I had gone to Louisville with Wallace so I pretty much read and hung out at the mall (not much of an actual Sabbath day devoted to God, but I did read my Bible... and indulge in a piece of heavenly cheesecake...and spend three hours in the next best thing to heaven, a bookstore). 

We need rest.  I need rest, physically and emotionally, and mentally.  Sometimes it is good just to sit back and do nothing... so that's what I'm going to do tomorrow.  Church, treadmill (if it is raining), and then reading.  I've got a video session to watch for my Bible study on Malachi.  I'm going to read some with Caleb, and read some on my own.  There's a couple of books I'm pretty close to finishing, and I'd like to get them wrapped up before Monday and the craziness starts (so I can start new ones).

And above all, a little praise and worship... reflecting in my heart about God and His presence.  That's where we get our true rest, our true white space.... when we allow God to fill that God-sized space in our hearts and make Him the focus.... Cause His grace is sufficient, even in my busyness.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Laughter is Good...

This is mostly just rambling, so excuse me, please. 

Today I had lunch with two of my favorite people in the world.  I have lots of favorite people, but these two have consistently ranked up there for the past few years.  One of them shares a brain with me. The other has served as a mentor since I started at the college, really since I was in nursing school.

Jenna and I get to see each other fairly regularly as we make the trek across the Commonwealth to WKU every month, but I don't think I've seen Shirley in six months.  Over Applebees, we talked about our kids and work and life in general... and it was just good to listen to her talk.  She's the kind of person that makes you better just by being in the same room with her. 

Laughter really is good for the soul, and I am blessed to be surrounded with good friends.  Following lunch, I attended a faculty council meeting and then headed home to go to a ballgame in Lee County with some more of my favorite people.  Our girls fought hard, coming back from a 17 point deficit to win by 12.  Needless to say, the bus ride home was lighthearted.  I'm so blessed to have a "family" of girls and their parents.  We have a good time, most of the time =)

So, tonight, I'm laying my head on the pillow a blessed girl.  Ballgame tomorrow, then a concert with my best boy. Church Sunday, and rest.  And then Monday, the real fun begins.  Be blessed =)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not Proud

I'm not prideful.  When I'm reading my Bible, I skim over the verses that warn the proud and think about how they don't apply to me... 

Until I read Chapter 9 of Greater by Steven Furtick.  Girlfriends, this chapter hit home.  See, I'm not proud.  I'm often the opposite of proud... and that in itself is pride.  Because I make it all about me.  I worry about what others think about me.  I worry about looking stupid.  I worry about not being able to do something.  I.  I.  I.  Get the picture?

Furtick talks about how Jesus wasn't about Jesus.  He was about those around Him... the people He was ministering to, the people He was loving, His followers.  He was a servant, and we are called to serve.  How hard that it is sometimes, to put down our pride and humble ourselves... to stop worrying about what others think and humble ourselves.  To stop worrying about looking stupid and reach out to  help someone in need.  To shake off our cares about our own "needs" and look to the needs of others. 

How does God do that?  How does He get us to trust Him?  Baby steps for sure... but sometimes He asks us to go all out.  Chapter 9 talked about Naaman, dipping in the Jordan.  He expected, wanted, something huge to be required for healing.  Don't we all want to be a part of something huge?  Miraculous?  Something that people will know has God written all over it?

Sometimes, God doesn't work in the big.  Sometimes, He works through small, irrelevant things that shouldn't have any impact, but they do, and that's how we know they are God. 

And sometimes He works through the thing that we don't want to do. The thing that we never thought we'd do.  The thing we never thought we'd survive.  See, God listens.  He knows what will make us grow.  And if He hears us say, "Well, I'd never do that... that just might be the very thing that He'll call you to do the next time.  He likes to test sometimes.  Think about Job. Think about Abraham and Isaac.  He wants to know we are all in it for Him.

Never say never... or at least be willing to rely on Him to get you through the Never.  Because He can... and He will.  His grace is sufficient.  Even for all of us "unproud" people. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Streams in the Barren

In the barren places.  Barren... what comes to mind?  To me, dry, empty... I imagine a place like the desert, only without any cacti or sandstorms, just dirt.  Kind of like a person without God is here in this world...

This morning I read about how Isaac's mother died.  Sarah had been barren, had known the grief and loneliness of an empty womb.  She had wanted a heir for Abram so bad that she talked him into sleeping with her  handmaiden... then treated Hagar awful for her own actions.  Sarah had laughed when God told her that in her old age, she'd have a baby... and somehow, I don't think it was laughter in joy.  I think it was probably a bitter laugh, like, "Yeah, right.  Whatever you say, big guy." (And these are all my projections on the story.  Totally unbiblical, but how a woman pictures it in her mind.)

Fast forward a few years, and she's got Isaac, her promise child.  Can you imagine how spoiled he was? What a Mama's boy?  He might have hidden behind her skirt tails. I'm sure she kissed his booboos and scooped him up for good night kisses.  She'd want the best for her boy... but she grew old, and she died.

And Isaac got married. To Rebekkah, who it turns out was barren, too.  Rebekkah comforted Isaac in his grief over his mother, and Isaac prayed to God to open her womb.  And He did.  He gave them Esau and Jacob.  Jacob, father of the Israelites... who had 12 sons.  Jacob, from a barren womb.

God promised Abraham he would make his descendants outnumber the stars in the sky.  He also told him he'd be the Father of many nations...and he is.  Abraham didn't always go by God's plan, nor did his descendants, so not all of his descendants were legitimate heirs, because God only has one way.  However, because of Jesus, we have been grafted into that family tree, and Abraham is our father. 

Barren doesn't have to be empty.  I think God hangs out in the barren, looking for ways to make streams in the desert.  He's promised it to us.  Isaiah 43:19, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

His grace is sufficient, even in the most barren places. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Busy Day

How is it already 9 PM?  Time for bed yet I've not read my Bible today.  Got up, went to work, got a lot done, came home, worked with Caleb on fractions and language arts and spelling and reading and reading some more, walked on the treadmill, took a bubble bath (today was National Bubble Bath day- who knew?), ironed Wallace's clothes... you get the picture.

I'm sure you understand.  You might have had a day just like this. I'm tired, and I need God's Word, but I really wanted to try to write a blog every night, so this is my effort.  And it's for the glory of God, because I couldn't have done any of the above without Him. Especially not fractions =)

Short post tonight... might have something more meaningful tomorrow. Now, I'm going to sign off and go read Caleb some out of Genesis and then probably a chapter of Bridge to Terabithia...because out of all of my jobs, that's the most important one.  And His grace is sufficient enough for me to do it for His glory, even when I make a mess of it =)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Provision for our Problem

Today I'm at home sick with Caleb.  Well, he's sick, and I've been chatting on-line with Arzella and Jenna and Andrea and Ludrenia trying to get stuff ready for next Monday.  I think we're in pretty good shape... I got a lot accomplished.  My door schedule has been submitted, my course assessment form has been submitted, Blackboard shell has been worked on some (though it still needs some work), syllabus is ready for copying, and the calendar is almost ready.  Pretty good for a sick day, right?

But back to my boy.  He's got strep, and right now is sitting on the couch playing with his Ipad.  He actually took a nap today, and I laid down with him.  I thought he was asleep, and raised up to get my computer so I could get started on some work (let me just say I don't know what got into me.  I'm a procrastinator by nature, so the fact that I was actually willing to do some work means that maybe I might need to go to the doctor.) "Where do you think you're going, Mom?  It's time to snuggle.  That's why you took OFF."  So snuggle I did. And there might have been a nap.  Like a 2 hour one.  But we won't draw attention to that.

He's still a little pale and his throat hurts, and he's still running a low-grade fever (ok, it was 101 at 12.  But it's back down now.)  And I'm sitting here looking at him, at his wonderfulness (is that a word), and thinking about the part of scripture I read today, from Genesis.  It's the part about Abraham and Isaac.  A familiar story, for sure, and one I was sure I had written a blog about last year, but I didn't see it.  If I have, forgive me. 

There's that whole suspense thing as they approach the mountain.  Abraham demonstrates his faith when he tells the servants they leave behind, "Wait here.  We'll be back." Emphasis on We, because he knew what God was asking.  "Your son.  Your only son, whom you love..." does that sound familiar?  A prototype of Jesus, God offering His Son, His only Son, whom He loved...

So they make the trek up the mountain.  We don't know how old Isaac was, but some of the commentaries I've read said in his late teens.  Could you imagine asking a teenage boy to walk up the hill carrying a stack of wood?  When I read this, I had him pictured as a young boy, about Caleb 's age.  I think of how Caleb asks questions constantly. A teenager might not have done this, but Isaac does ask "Where is the lamb?" I'm also thinking of how when I am worried about something, Caleb's constant questioning can make me nervous.  Frustrated.  Impatient.  I wonder if Abraham was any of these things with Isaac, or if he just enjoyed his journey up the mountain with him?

Then the height of the story.  Isaac is bound to the altar... Did he struggle? Did he say, "You crazy old man (and Abraham was old. After all, he was 100 when Isaac was born) what do you think you are doing?" Surely his youth and age would have made him a victor, and he could have darted down the mountain on the other side. What kind of trust does it take for a young man to allow his father to bind him on an altar?

The same kind of faith it took Abraham to do the binding. To raise the knife. Oh, can't you just hear the exhale of breath?  "Stop, Abraham. I know you trust me." 

And Abraham looked up, and saw the provision. I wonder how long the ram had been in the thicket.  Had Abraham just been looking at his son, the situation at hand, and failed to see the provision?  Because isn't that just how we are sometimes?

God will provide... because His grace is sufficient.  Even when we can't see the provision for our problem. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not a Fan

They are called bandwagoners.  You know the type.  They are always cheering for the winning team.  You never know what colors they will be wearing or who they'll be yelling for.  I'm typically not a bandwagoner... I just cheer for many teams.  But on Saturday during football season, you'll find me cheering on the Blue and white for UK, and any SEC team that is playing a non-conference team.  I'm particularly partial to Alabama, but not because they've been winning the past few years.  I mean, really, who doesn't want to cheer for a team whose mascot is an elephant, for crying out loud?

And on Sundays, you'll find me in Black and Yellow waving my terrible towel. Except today... because our Steelers didn't make the playoffs... so I'm going to have to pick a team to cheer on.  I don't think it classifies you as a bandwagoner as long as you don't go to the extremes. 

Now if you've read this blog at all you know what a fan I am of sports. I was raised on it... literally.  Basketball and football, mainly, though over the past few years I've grown to love volleyball as well.  I'm a pretty passionate fan.  I'm a pretty vocal fan... sometimes a little too vocal.  I yell at the refs even when I don't know what I'm talking about.  I get upset... way too easily. Sometimes I forget that it's a bunch of high schoolers and that it really doesn't matter, and that I'm supposed to be an adult.  Emphasis on the supposed to be. 

Friday night I got really upset at a game.  There was a boy/girl doubleheader, and I got started off on the wrong foot when the ref gave Landry a technical.  Now Landry can mouth with the best of them, but all I saw him do was roll the ref the ball.  I've seen far worse behavior from kids that didn't get a T thrown at them.  So let's just say I was primed with sour grapes from the get-go.

I would not want to be a ref.  Let me just make that disclaimer.  And our girls struggled the whole game.  Wallace quoted the stats the whole way to Louisville for me... free throws missed, layups missed.  I countered that the refs were never consistent and refused to call it both ways and missed calls and that it was an emotional night with a fight from one of our players that noone would have bet would have ever fought.  Yeah, I acted ugly during that game, and I was still pretty revved up about it.  It made me even madder that he could be so daggone rationale about the whole thing... And I was still convicted Saturday morning.

Could you say I was a follower of JCS girls basketball? Absolutely.  I love those girls.  I'm not just a fan. 

So this morning as I was reading "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman I got a big ol' kick in the gut.  The chapter was on how you know you're a follower and not just a fan of Jesus.  "What disappoints you or frustrates you the most?... It may be the loss of a job or something as insignificant as the loss of a ballgame. When we find that those things have the power to determine who we are and what kind of day we have, it very well may be evidence that something is more important than it should be." Wow!  That loss... and the environment and the emotions of the game... totally determined my night. And it goes on to talk about what most excites you.  Have I ever got as excited at church as I have at a ballgame?

I think we all have our own way to worship.  I'm not nearly as loud in worship as I am in a gym, and that's a good thing because the church is a place of order.  However, I often get much more emotional about things of this world than I do Jesus... and He is my all in all.  To say that my eyes have been open...

Oh, Jesus... I want to be a follower of you, not some crazed out bandwagoner fan.  I want to be in it for the long haul. And may I realize that my heart longs for the eternal, and that events down here on earth are just temporary?  I'm a witness for You... help me, Lord.  And could you please forgive me for my behaviors at ballgames?  Can I say it is temporary insanity?  Help me give grace... and get up and walk out when it gets too tough.  Your grace is sufficient.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Book List

Not a whole lot on my mind tonight, so I thought I'd talk a little about some of the stuff I'm reading.  I've read several book posts recently on blogs I've subscribed to, talking about some of the books they want to read in 2013, so I thought it'd be nice for me to think on that. 

Currently, I'm reading a lot of books.  I mentioned on Facebook that Caleb and I are having a "book club" since he is behind on AR points and has no motivation to read on his own, so we are reading Bridge to Terabithia.  I'm sure I've read it before, but really don't remember it, and I am enjoying it so far.  I'm reading Sizzling Sixteen, a Stephanie Plum novel.  I hope to finish that series off this year (still have 17, 18, & 19 to go).  I'm reading Stand by Me by Neta Jackson.  Jackson wrote a series called The Yada Yada Prayer Group that I absolutely loved, and this is kind of a spin off of that, with some of the same characters.  It's pretty good.

On my Kindle, I'm reading Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise.  It's one of a series by author Joyce Magnin (I recently read the first book, a free read, and had to buy the others.)  Very lighthearted and an easy read.  I'm also reading The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook, which reminds me of a Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keys book from a guy's point of view.

Then there are my Bible study books.  I'm reading Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman and I really love it.  I'm also reading Steven Furtick's Greater, and then my study on Malachi by Lisa Harper.

I've got a huge to read list... mainly because I am slightly addicted to books and also because I am a compulsory buyer of free books from  Some of the books on my radar, though, include The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brent Manning, Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu, Stedman's The Light Between Oceans, Water for Elephants, and I'd also like to reread Les Miserables.  Some of the Bible studies I'd like to work through include Priscilla Shirer's new one on Gideon (which doesn't release until May), Beth Moore's study on Deuteronomy and David ( I think it's called A Heart Like His?), and also one by Jennifer Rothschild (perhaps Missing Pieces?) There are so many good books out there... and so little time.  Then there's always War and Peace...

So I think I'll quit typing and start reading. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Acts 20:32- SSMT #1

I've spent the past couple of days doing laundry and watching the stream from Passion 2013.  I've enjoyed watching Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, and of course Beth Moore, as well as worship music from Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kristian Standfill, and Jesus Culture.  Just one way to get my heart ready to return back to work. 

I know if my heart should stay ready, this semester will go much better.  That's one way that I've decided to participate in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.  One verse every two weeks or so... for a total of 24 verses memorized over the year.  Because this is my self-proclaimed year of grace, my verses will contain the word grace.

There are several verses in the Bible about grace... and then there are several giving grace.  Peace and grace unto you was a popular salutation in the New Testament... I really wanted a verse that spoke something (not that all of them don't say something) so for my first verse I chose Acts 20:32, HCSB. 

Here goes, "Now I commit you to God and to His message of grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified."

Missed and at the beginning.... and it should be to the message of His grace, and there is no those.  Pretty good just four days in =)

Now... today.  This moment.  Every moment... I commit.  Give it up to you.  Here, I'm sure it was the church or some missionary being given up to God, but I'm using it as my verse to say this life of mine, the day to day, I'm committing to God. To His Message of grace... because that is the whole gospel... grace and redemption and mercy. Grace that I didn't deserve, mercy that Jesus took the punishment that I did deserve, and redemption so that I can be justified. 

This message of grace is what everything else hinges on.  If it hadn't not been for grace, nothing else would matter.  It was through His grace that Jesus chose to come to heaven and die on a cross.  Grace, grace... marvelous grace.  Because of this great grace, I can be built up.  I'm worthy.  I'm chosen.  I'm loved with an everlasting love.  I am His... and there can be no tearing me down. Because of this great grace, I can receive an inheritance that I don't deserve. I'm an adopted heir, grafted into the generation and receiver of all of His promises.  And He is faithful. 

I can have an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  We are set apart, separate, holy... because of grace. See, grace is offered to everyone.  It just has to be received.

Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing grace.  May I continue to accept it and not let it go to vain.  May I offer it to others.  So thankful Your grace is sufficient...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let's Go to the Movies

I'm usually not a big movie person.  I mean, I like movies, and when Wallace and I were first dating, we'd go to one nearly every week.  I've sat through action movies, and he's sat through his share of chick flicks.  Since basketball came along, though, we usually miss out on new releases, and I rarely find myself having time (or free time, I should say, where I'm not reading) to watch DVDs. 

This Christmas break, though, several new movies were out and for some reason we made it a priority to go to the movies.  I watched 4 movies in this 3 week timespan... and three out of the last five nights I've been at Fugate's Cinema.  I know that's a little extreme, but there were some good movies out there.  My plans for the weekend also include movies...

First there was Lincoln, which both my Mom and I really wanted to see.  It did not disappoint... although if you aren't a history buff, you might not think so.  Wallace fell asleep halfway through... it was very historical and dry in some places, but that's my kind of film.  Some  nights...

Last Sunday we went with Holly and Warren and watched The Hobbit.  I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings films, and knew that The Hobbit would probably be pretty good... even though they aren't my kind of movies.  Caleb went with  us, and while I think he enjoyed the ending of the movie, it was  a little too long for him.  I thought it was a good film and am anxious to see the next part. 

Tuesday I went with Caleb and Mary Lisa to watch Monsters, Inc. in 3D. I had seen it the first time around in theatres, and didn't remember it being the greatest movie, but was surprised.  What is it about Disney movies that make me tear up at the end?

Speaking of tears.... oh, Les Miserables.  A musical.  A criminal changed.  A inspector who would never believe it.  A prostitute supporting her daughter.  The daughter left an orphan.  Love story. War story.  Freedom cry... all of the above.  It.  was.  exceptional.  I have no words... but at one point I was really glad Caleb didn't go with us, because I was literally shaking with sobs (at which point I'm sure he would have leaned over to me and said, "Woman.  Seriously.  Get it together or I'll not come back to another movie with you.") I had read the book many years ago as a high schooler, and really didn't remember much about the actual story line, but the movie brought it all back and then some.  You'll rarely hear me say a movie is as good as the book, but in this case, it couldn't be far off.

So then there's my weekend plans.  I'm planning on renting October Baby, because I've heard it's a really good movie.  And since I've never seen Mean Girls, gonna watch it, too.  After all, I better make the most of it, because come Monday morning reality sets in. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Little Broken

I glanced at it and knew it was teetering too close to the edge. The shelf had too much junk on it, piled high, and it was pushing it a little off balance.  Yet I continued to dust and didn't take the minute, no seconds, it would take to move it to safety.  And then I saw it in slow motion... and it hit the floor and shattered.  Ok, maybe that's a little too dramatic.  It just broke. 
As you can see, the picture is still intact, and for that I am grateful.  See, this is a piece of Bybee pottery, made by the same family for generations in Richmond, Kentucky... until the family became too sick to continue to make it.  Bybee Pottery is one of the only things I collect, and it's because my Mom and I so enjoyed going to the factory (a little shack, really...) sleeping in our cars, breakfast at the gas station across the road, and standing in line from about 530 or so so you could be one of the first ones in the door.  Shelves of pottery lined up, and it was a free for all.  Grab what you want, and set the rest back on the shelf... and it was truly first come first serve.  Cheap stuff... well, cheaper than if you bought it at a retailer.  Kind of made this bull in a china shop girl a little scared, all of that clanging as people put the pottery back on the shelf.

So now, the Bybee factory is shut down, and this is probably the last piece of fishing boy pottery I'll have.  Bought for me by Wallace a couple of years ago as a birthday present at the Honey Festival.  So I'm hoping I can maybe frame that one little piece as a reminder...

A reminder that we can get to close to the edge, and realize it.  Like my shelf, we can pile stuff too tight, pushing the important things in life to the edge and cluttering our lives with stuff that really doesn't matter (like the two $2 candles I had sat in the floor as I dusted, and remained intact.  Why?  Why, Lauren???) When we do get close to the edge and off balance, we better not stay close, because it's really easy to fall off.  And when we're that close to the edge, God may or may not be our safety net... because He sees beauty in the broken.  And that even when I feel broken, I can still be reclaimed to make something beautiful. 

Now guess I better go back to dusting. Somehow, I don't think a little piece of broken pottery is an excuse to give it up, especially when it's admittedly the first time since the summer that I've gave the place a good makeover. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year Of Grace

Seems like everywhere I've looked the past few weeks, I've seen grace.  Bible verses about grace.  Little girls named Grace.  Grace... grace... and more grace... which is just what I need.

The last few years, a movement called My One Word has kicked off each New Year's.  The idea behind it is not to focus so much on resolutions, because they are so easily broken, but rather focus on one word that you plan to allow dictate your year, and by thinking on that one word, you will see change in that area.  While I'm still going to tell you about some goals I've set for 2013 (because every planner has to have goals... and I am a big to do list maker.  Maybe not so much a doer... but I sure like to plan!), I've also picked one word to dictate 2013... and it will also help me work toward some of my goals.  You guessed it. Grace.

Grace means unmerited favor... that means we don't deserve it.  It is also a state of beauty and elegance, which I don't feel describes me at all.  I am often clumsy and and awkward, the opposite of graceful.. yet I am striving to be graceful.  Giving grace to others when they are wrong.  Helping them save face and not calling attention to errors.  Not being so quick to judge.  Being more accepting, and full of goodwill toward others.  Grace to myself... not getting down on myself.  Because God has shown me much grace, I should also show grace...

So my other goals aren't quite as important as this, and is I fall short, I'll give myself grace that I tried. That being said, this year I want to lose weight and exercise on a more consistent basis.  (This is my hardest one... not something I enjoy, but something I know I must do.)  Once again I want to read my Bible all the way through and do at least 4 in-depth Bible studies (I started Malachi by Lisa Harper this morning.  I know nothing about the book of Malachi so it should be interesting).  Memorize 24 scriptures (through SSMT... Acts 20:32 is my first one.  More on that in another post).  Blog every day, take a pic every day, and count over 1,000 gifts by participating in The Joy Dare (I actually want to see how fast I can get to 1,000, so I'm going to use Ann's guide and write down my own).  Read at least 80 books (I posted yesterday I had done 99 in 2012... but I finished Jesus Calling so it was actually 100).  Keep a gratitude jars (using the 1000 gifts) so I can reflect on God's goodness next year.  Cross something off my bucket list.  Write a letter or send a card to someone every week.  Pray more.  Give grace, of course... and continue to improve on the things I did in 2012. Laugh more, and often.  Procrastinate less (unless there is something more important that needs to be done.) Focus on what is most important and let the other stuff go.  No stressing. Become a better wife, Mom, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, teacher, etc.  Be more positive.  Live... every day. 

The last few days Ann Voskamp has closed her blog with this statement, and it really fits me for this season of life. May this be my motto today, and everyday, as I embrace what God has planned for me this year... this Year of Grace... of blessing.

"Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth. Give Thanks. Become the gift."- Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience