Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Few Favorite Things

Don't really feel like writing anything heavy tonight, so thought I'd just tell you five things that I'm really liking right now. 

1. Sharpie ink pens.  My friend Jenna got me a couple for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I've been hooked every since.  They make even my messy handwriting look nice... well, ok, we won't go that far. But they make me happy when I write =)

2. My Kindle paperwhite.  I've had a Kindle, and a Kindle fire.  I used the regular one outside, and the fire inside at night when I slept, so I could read in bed and not keep Wallace up.  I was very sad when the regular one died, but figured I'd used it enough that I had truly worn it out.  So I was very pleasantly surprised when we went to Lexington and Wallace went behind my back and bought a Paperwhite for me. Now, I can read it outside and in the dark. 

3. Pink lemonade sugar cookies.  My Mom made this a few weeks ago, and they were delicious.  I'm anxiously awaiting tomorrow so I can have some more... and some strawberry cake pops, which I might have sampled today, but I won't tell.

4. The song Scandal of Grace by Hillsong United.  And Lord I Need You by Matt Mauer.  And a bunch more, but I said only five things.

5. My Dad being on Facebook.  He finally broke down and started a page, and he makes me smile.  He's been commenting on people's walls and having a good ol' time.  I love that guy.  He's the best.

Ok, there you go.  My top 5 "things" right now.  Have a wonderful Easter Sunday. Remember the true reason, not the Easter Bunny, but Jesus Christ, who came and died so that we could have life, and have it more abundantly.  God bless!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Scandal of Grace

Last night Caleb stood up on the bed and chanted, "TGIF. TGIF."

It's been a long week.  In fact, it's been a long  nearly three weeks, and I know that the next 50 days will probably drag by, too...

except April will be here, and then May, and I'll be asking myself in August where in the world the summer went.

Time is relative based on what you're doing, what you're going through.

And so today, as I drove down the road, I weeped as Tenth Avenue North's song Worn played.  As Scandal of Grace played, by United.  " Grace, what have you done?  Murdered for me on the cross.  Accused in abscence of wrong. My sin washed away in Your blood.  Too much to make sense of it all.  I know that Your love breaks my fall. A scandal of grace, You died in my place, so my soul will live."

And then sat in my driveway as I listened to My Redeemer Lives.

Today is Good Friday.  Thankful that it is Friday, but it's dark.  As I picture images from The Passion Of Christ, I  know that it was not pretty, far from it.  I don't know that I would have been able to have watched...

When I was younger, I disliked songs about the blood of Jesus and the cross.  I thought it too heavy.  I know now it was because of my guilt, my sin, sin that maybe I didn't even mean to commit.  His blood, spilled out, for me...

"Oh to be like You, Give all I have just to know You.  Jesus there's noone besides You, forever the hope in my heart."

No hope on this Friday... darkness covered the earth and I couldn't help but think this morning as I got out of the car... how different. 

This morning, the sun was out and the sky was blue and the birds were chirping... but surely in that darkness, there was silence... except for His voice.  And perhaps those mourning?  Surely the mockers had been quieted.  The sound of the nails being driven in.. wouldn't that have quieted them all? 

And He hung His head and said, "It is finished." The veil in the temple tore in two, the separation of God and mankind no more. 

So that I can sit  in my car, weeping, and saying, "Thank You, Jesus, and forgive me, Lord,"  and approach Him.

A scandal of grace, this Good Friday. 

And all of the hope of my heart... I know Sunday will be here, resurrection Sunday, not just on Sunday but resurrection and renewal of my life and an eventual resurrection for all of eternity, where I can rejoice forever in this scandal of grace.

He was bruised.  Pierced.  Punished.  He, who had no sin, took on sin.  He wore it like a coat and carried it up a hill called Golgatha, the Skull, so that I could be blameless.

Oh, to be like You... to give all I have just to know You...

This scandal of grace, grace that is sufficient for all the sins of the world.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

But God...


I used to say but a lot. 

"But, Mom..."

"I would have, but..."

"I wanted to, but..."

But always used to be negative.  It usually came before the excuse of why I couldn't lose weight, or why I didn't clean my room as a teenager, or why I hadn't started on a homework assignment. 

But... "unless, yet, to the contrary." Nothing but an excuse.  And we keep making excuses.  And we keep doing things our way, until we realize it.  just. isn't. working.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

While we were yet sinners.  I was born unjustified, in sin, before I could walk or talk, separated from God.  Oh, He loved me.  He had big plans for me.  But I wasn't completely His.

And I walked the walk and talked the talk.  I did all the right things.  But... I was still a sinner. 

I was covered by the blood, and hadn't accepted it.  He had paid it all, without me asking... while I was still separated from Him.  I can't imagine it. Can't comprehend it. 

Tonight, the eve of Good Friday.  Jesus knelt before His disciples and washed their feet.  This was the lowest thing that anyone could do... but God.  He did it.  He leaned over and washed their feet, even him that would betray Him.

And He broke the bread, His body broken for me.  He offered the wine, His blood, His sacrifice...

And I kept on saying my buts.  "But I'm too young." "But people will think differently of me." "But I can't do it.  I just can't do it."

And I still can't... But God. 

 " But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"- Ephesians 2:4
 Rich in mercy.  Full of love.  He loved us, and even though I was dead in my sins, He brought me to life.  By grace, something that I could never earn or never buy, I am saved. 

And it's that easy.  Confess Him as Lord.  Ask for forgiveness for your sins.  Give Him your life.  He's standing there, arms wide open. He's got a plan for you.  There's no more perfect time than this, the eve of Good Friday, which should have nothing good but is really the best because without it I am nothing. 

His grace is sufficient... I am weak... But God. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grateful for Spring... Waiting

As I pull on the sweatshirt I can't help but take a deep breath and get a whiff of cologne, barely there.  It's snowing outside, big fluffy flakes that aren't sticking to the ground, but are covering the redbuds and the other trees that are fighting to see spring. The calendar says that it is spring, but it's not manifested yet. 

But I feel it today, on this Monday. Even in the dark gloom of yesterday, I'm reminded of Holy Week.  Of what that means for me, for us, for Jesus.  And like those redbuds fighting to bloom, I can feel it in my spirit, too, fighting to be reborn.

Hope.  Joy.  Peace. 

Grateful for another spring. Grateful for this night, together.  For Caleb clap, clap, clapping on the floor and for him making birthday cards and for him typing on his ipad. 

And the days count down and soon it will be summer, and that will fly by, too.

Gratitude makes the days, though long and dark, fly, and even when they drag by, finding that one thing to be thankful for props us up.

Rebirth, just like spring.  Like Jesus coming out of the tomb, shedding His graveclothes.  Hope, alive.

And I'm counting... thankful for 10,000 Reasons sung yesterday in church and the message that we all have a place on God's team, for blogs like www.aholyexperience, written just for girls like me, for women aching and celebrating all at once.  I'm grateful for When Mercy Found Me sung on the radio and for Facetime and a good night's rest and feeling peace, for treadmill time even when I don't like it and for March Madness with my grandparents, for the beauty of snow yet the roads are clear, for lunches with good friends, for good co-workers and Deuteronomy 31:14, banana pudding and papers turned in.  And for Caleb. Always for Caleb, my best boy in the world.

Counting to 1000 gifts and then some... on number 561.  Join me in this Joy Dare?  It will change your life, for sure. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The End of an Era

Yesterday Coach Holcomb held his last football banquet at the Breathitt High School Cafeteria, as he will be moving to Letcher Central effective April 1.  I hate to see this era end, and wish him much luck as he continues on with his career, one which holds three state football championships.  I was blessed to be a cheerleader for two of those teams, and Coach feels like a part of my family.  Thanks for all the memories, Coach Holcomb!


I would start this out with dear, but you always scared me just a tad when I was little, and I thought you far too gruff to call Dear.

Mom gave me this assignment to write you a note. How do I cram thirty years into one small letter? I'm glad Mom has her Kleenex out as she reads these, because I know she'll need them. You'll probably just smile and shrug, because you never really liked the attention. And Deb, she'll have her camera out...

As long as I can remember, I've spent Friday nights in the stands or on the football field, except for a couple of years after I graduated, because it hurt too much. So many memories took place on that field, or around it. As a little girl, crouched in the gravel underneath the bleachers and kicking the metal during close games, of "Who are we? Breathitt" echoing across the dying grass. Of the old den and the Lift a Thon and you crouching on the sideline, hat on your head, hands clasped in front of you as you called whatever play you were calling.

I was a student of the game before I even knew it. I had no choice. It's what my Mom raised me to be.

Billy packing up nasty shoulder pads in the van. Sitting through rain and snow. Trodding in mud across football fields on away games. Sitting in Wendy's and throwing yellow napkins when you and the team walked in because of all the flags the refs through. You using some colorful language to make your point. Me yelling at refs... and I still yell at refs.

Of trips to Death Valley and getting bus sick, and of catching a ride back with the team when someone dropped whatever they dropped on the pep bus and cracked a windshield on the way home from Leslie County.

Of starving to death in Montgomery County and you not realizing the cheerleaders hadn't eaten, and you buying us pizza the next day because we were all mad at you. You making us a part of that first championship team. Those were the days. Biting my fingernails during those games and just knowing... knowing that we'd pull it off. My sweet 16 birthday party was spent on that sideline, in the rain, and we pulled off a big win against Powell County.

Of practice, only on the sideline, because the grass was new, but it was so hot in July. "Let's go run through the sprinklers," someone said. "He'll never know. He won't be in the den on a Sunday evening."

But you were. We had no more stepped on the field than around the corner you came. "Girls, get off that field!"

Of hanging signs and putting cups in the fence, and feeding ravenous teenage boys. And you there, loving those boys.

Oh, sure, you were gruff... but you had to be. I also saw you love on the unloveable, and believe in guys who had never had anyone believe in them. I saw how you and Deb loved your boys, and when I married a coach, I knew I wanted to be a Coach's Wife... just like Deb.

I still can't process that next year you won't be on that sideline. You've been there as long as I can remember. You will be missed. I know I don't have the same type of memories as your guys... and that's ok, too. You'll never know what you mean to so many of us. We love you, Coach. Best wishes and God bless!


Sunday, March 24, 2013


The days go on, long and long and longer...

and the sun is shining through the window but it is still chilly and the inside of this house is killing me.

I need to feel the warmth of sunshine on my skin.  I need to smell sunshine... you know the smell, the smell of summertime?

Winter is long and hard, even as it stretches into spring.

My head tells me that it's all ok, but my heart hurts.

and I know that it's crazy, because there are so many worse off than I am.  But that's all relative to a broken heart.

Joy is a funny thing.  We can be joyful, happy, and then all of the sudden get the wind knocked out of our sails.  Maybe just from a spoken word, or a whisper, or a thought that goes through our head, and the doubts they start and we become unsure and tentative.

Close to this day, thousands of years ago (well, maybe not this exact day, but you get the point), Jesus was traveling with His disciples. On Palm Sunday,  He made His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, and they sang Hallelujah and rejoiced and waved palm fronds.  The next week, He hung on a cross, betrayed by one of His own, separated from His Father as He took on the sin of the World.

What a difference a week made.  What a difference a day can make.

And He broke bread and worshipped and loved... even as He knew He'd be betrayed. Even as He knew the hardship would come, He accepted it.  Dare I say He embraced it, as He is embracing me now? My name... engraved on His Hand.

And He sang the Hallel... including the verse that we cling to even as we don't feel like being joyful.  "This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it."  This day.. the day of hardship. The day of separation. He rejoiced and was glad.

And while my heart hurts and I am far from rejoicing, I know that I can.  I can choose, just as He did, because He strenghtens me.  You can, too.

Rejoice, always, and again  I say rejoice. 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

And the sun is still shining and while all may not be right with the world at this moment, I know that it is well with my soul, even as my heart hurts. 

His grace is sufficient to give me joy. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Musings on Love

This morning on a cousin's facebook status, she wrote, "Today I'm marrying my best friend."  She seems deliriously happy, floating on air and love.  Her wedding shower was beautiful, and I'm sure this weather will be wonderful, as well.  Love is a beautiful thing.

Marriage is hard.  We live in hard times.  Money is tight.  Life is stressful... but there is an answer. 

And even though the Hollywood happily ever after may just be a fairy tale, our God is the author of Happily ever afters

So on this day, remember:

Love is an action.  It is more than words muttered.  You have to back those words up. 

Love like 1 Corinthians.  Love  is patient, and you must be patient.  Your spouse will not always appreciate you.  He/she won't always want to do what you want to do.  There will be hours spent somewhere you don't want to be, decisions you wish he/she would just go ahead and make, and bad attitudes, but we are to patiently love.  Love is kind.  It looks to others before self.  It is soft-spoken and seeking good. Love does not envy.  It is not jealous.  It wants the best for the other person.  It trusts.  Oh, my... trust.

Love is not self-seeking.  It is is actually self-sparing, loving the other more than one itself.  Looking for ways to put the other first.  It can be something simple as eating at a place you don't really like, or as sacrificial as moving so the other can take the job of a lifetime.

Love is not angry, and does not hold grudges.  Forgiveness is key.  Oh, you'll get mad, but count to ten before you say anything, because once words are flung out, they can't be taken back.  Don't drag up old wrongs that were done ten years early.  The other person has probably forgot all about them.  You should, too.

Love long.  Kiss each other good night.  Go on dates.  Enjoy time together. Laugh.  Laugh so hard that your belly hurts. Keep in mind those examples of true love that lasted for years and years, and cling to those when you think you can't make it.  Never stop enjoying your time together.  Listen.  Really listen. 

Above all, love God.  If you love God, and put Him in the center of it, He'll see you through. 

Best wishes, Jessica and Nate!  May you be blessed with many years of happiness. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Good Boy

He's sitting next to me, binder in hand, painstakingly placing the post it note in the front cover.  From here, I can't see what it says, but his glasses are sliding down on his nose just a little as he concentrated as he wrote. He's working on his binder for our Bible study that we're going to start.  He reaches for another orange slice, and lays his head on my shoulder.

He's the best kid in the world, most days.  And some days he's just a kid, and I'm the worst parent ever.  It usually doesn't have much to do with his behavior.. it's usually because of me, the kind of day I've had, how I respond to things. 

And on the days when I'm the greatest Mom, he's the better son, because he feeds off of me.

Others buy into your negativity.  They also buy into your positive attitude.  They learn from how you act, how you react.  And I see it every day when he raises his voice when he gets mad.  Learned from a Mama who raises her voice.

He's inherited my love for notebooks and ink pens and post it notes.  I'm afraid he's also inherited my temperament.  But just as we can learn to rein that in, I'm hoping that he can learn other things from me. 

That God is good.  That He is faithful.  That His Word is true.

So we pull out His Word, and dig in.  This is what makes a Mom better.  It' s the only thing that makes this Mom any good.. that I want him to love Jesus. 

And His grace is sufficient to step in when I'm not very Christlike.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SSMT 2013 #6 James 4:6- Hello My Name is...

Saturday at Winter Jam Matthew West sang his new song, Hello My Name Is...

He talked about how we each have our stories, and we can write it ourself, making endless mistakes, or give up and let God write it. 

I've always loved that analogy, because I fancy myself a writer.  I want to write a life story that is worth reading.  I want to write a romance, loving God  with all I've got.  And while it may be a mystery to me, this story doesn't have a mysterious ending to God.  While I may be writing my own story, He is the one with the pen.  He is the author and perfector of my faith...

And His stories are good. 

We have the option to choose what we call ourself.  Hello, my name is...

God's chosen one. Beautiful.  Loved. Redeemed.  Protected.  Sheltered. 

The next day, I read a facebook status by My One Word.
“The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.”  – Joel Brown

Well, that and a lack of focus. So focus and believe today with your one word.

As I was thinking of Matthew's song, I thought to myself... believe today that you ARE that one word.

Hello, my name is... Grace personified.  Grace, living.  Grace...  I give grace.  I have received grace.  I know grace.  I embrace grace.  I am grace...

And I want to live it so that others can see it. To do this, I must humble myself.  Turn the other cheek. Smile when I don't feel like doing so.  Bite my tongue, even if it bleeds.  And the good thing is, for all the grace I give, it can never amount to what He has given.  And He keeps giving.

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." James 4:6
Hello my name is... Follow the link before for the song. And remember, you can choose what you answer to.

Monday, March 18, 2013

He's Here Through His Gifts

Across the country it's in the 90s and I'm trying really hard not to be jealous.  I'm staring out my office window and it is rain, rain, and more rain.  Cold rain... that chills you to the bone when you go out in it.

The bracelet around my wrist clinks as I type and I look down, a reminder of some of the things I hold dear to my heart.  The heart with the little boy in it... I smile as I think of him bravely pulling the backpack out of the car this morning.  The lightning was bright and the thunder was loud but probably not as loud as the storm in his heart.  It came crashing out last night as he buried his head in my shoulder to hide the tears streaking down his cheeks.  A phone call at just the right time made the crying a little worse, but brave boys fight back the tears and push down the sob in the voice. 

And daddies sometimes cry, too.  Even if they don't admit it.

That same little boy smiled as I said, "Remember, Deuteronomy 31:6."

"I know, Mom.  Be strong.  Be courageous.  God is with me."

Yes, He is. He's with me in this office as the rain pours down and He's with Caleb on the top of the hill as he goes through schoolwork, and He's with Wallace in Texas in the heat.

He's with you, too, wherever you are... taking a test, or cleaning your house, or doing laundry.  He's always here.

"How can that be possible? That God is with us no matter where we are?" One little girl asked me yesterday in Children's Church. And I tried to explain to a 9 year old that even as a grown adult, there are things that I don't understand... and maybe it is the fact that I am grown that causes me not to understand these things. 

As adults, we complicate things.  We listen to the inner voice that has grown stronger and stronger as we age, and hear doubts and unbelief and cynacism. 

And thanklessness... entitlement...expectation.

To be as a young child is to accept what is given, and delight in the gifts.  Ever seen a toddler open presents? They don't even care what is in the wrapping paper... they delight in the wrapping.

So today, I'm thankful for gifts of beautiful red sunrises and my red sign on my wall with Jeremiah 29:11, handcrafted by Holly and Caleb.  I'm thankful for K-love on the radio and for a rubric for my paper that is due in less than 10 hours.  I'm thankful for a text from Caleb telling me that he's having a good day.  I'm thankful for wind chimes and Psalm 46 and messages from friends and families, for kind words and long hugs and smiles.  For Kami and Holly and my family, for Hebrews 11 reminding me Wednesday night that faith is walking, everyday, even when I feel like I can't. I'm thankful for good books and Facetime and March Madness.  I'm thankful for Winter Jam and worship with over 17,000 people.  I'm thankful for late night talks with my mother in law and for Deuteronomy 31:14 this morning... He is not just here, but His Word is for the here and now.

And these gifts, as they add up, how can we doubt that He. Is. Here.?

Counting my 1000 gifts... up to 517.  Join me? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bracketology by Caleb

For the last few years, we've had a major competition in the Bates's household.  Basketball is pretty important in our lives, so our friendly competition is to fill out brackets. There's always a small monetary prize, but I'm not really sure why, because Caleb has never won but he always gets some money out of it =)

One of my favorite parts is watching Selection Sunday and seeing who will be playing and where.  This year, UK didn't make the cut. No surprise, they've been playing mediocre all year.  When Noel went down with a knee injury, it took the wind out of UK's sails, and while they did manage to get some pretty good wins, they struggled throughout the season.

So tonight we watched and saw UK not make the cut.  Caleb got down on his knees and prayed for the last bracket, but to no avail.  So we saw Louisville and Miami and Western Kentucky take their spots.  We printed off brackets and sat down and filled them out. 

And this is my other favorite thing.  Hearing why Caleb picks his teams.  Colorado State because his favorite show Good Luck Charlie takes place in Colorado.  Memphis because he likes the song, "Walking in Memphis." Duke... because even though we don't like Duke, it has "UK" in it.  Pittsburgh because we like the Steelers.  Ole Miss because that's where Michael Orr went to school.  Kansas State, because that's where twisters happen, and "I've always felt sorry for people who have twisters." Western, because "of good old Kendall Marie." 

And somehow, he got two number 8 seeds in the Championship game, with Pittsburgh taking it all.  I only hope they don't play like our Steelers.

Mine calls for Louisville winning it all, beating Miami.  I'm thinking it will be a close game. 

Wallace is supposed to send us his tomorrow. Caleb is convinced he's going to copy off of his. 

Tonight I'm thankful for March Madness... =)

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Hot Date

There are some movies that are classics, and you can watch again and again.  Gone with the Wind.  The Lion King.  Pretty in Pink.  Grease.  Sound of Music.  The Christmas Story.

And the Wizard of Oz.  That magical movie, where the black and white turns color and Dorothy is whisked off to a land of fantasy.  The Munchkins and Glenda the Good Witch, and those ugly monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Tonight, I watched Oz the Great and Powerful.  Not quite up to the original Wizard of Oz, but it was still good.  Scary witches, the poppy fields, the Emerald City.  Throw in a little romance (I'll not say between who because I don't want to give anything away...)

What was even better than the movie was the company.  Me and Caleb and Jenna and Chez.  Caleb's getting too big for hugs and handholding, but we shared a popcorn.  Sometimes, it's enough just to have them next to you.

We've had a good spring break.  Tried to stay busy. Had time together, laughed, and pretty much gotten along, which is a miracle.  We've stayed up late, read the Bible together, taken a million pictures, and made some good memories, and we've still got two days of Spring Break left.

My boy is growing up.  As he was getting his haircut, the ladies in the shop were talking about how mature he was.  I couldn't help but agree, even though he still has his moments.  Sitting in that theatre today, I thought of how he wouldn't sit still during his first movie and Wallace had to chase him around the theatre.  I thought of movies where he's held my hand, and movies where he threatened not to go with me anymore because I couldn't keep crying.  And I think of movies where I won't be... because he'll have some cute girl and will be sharing popcorn and holding her hand...

But he's mine now.  Thank God for this boy... and for choosing me, this imperfect Mom, to be his Mama.  I love you, Caleb Bates!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When Words are Too Much

The cursor is just blinking because I have writer's block.  I didn't write anything yesterday so I really want to write something, but sometimes words won't come.

Sometimes, there aren't words to express.

Sometimes, not even our thoughts are adequate.

And sometimes words are too much, and our thoughts exaggerate.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

Our heart lies to us and convinces us of untruths. It causes doubt.  It shakes us, and pulls us apart, and makes us weak. We tremble when we listen to what it says, because it is deceitful.  It is beyond cure...

But as I've written before, God is a healer of the heart.  Just like a heart surgeon who goes in and replaces those diseased valves and arteries, God scrapes clean the vessels of our heart.  By His wounds, we are healed... physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. So even though the heart can't be cured, He gives us a heart transplant. He searches our heart,and helps  us see the dark spots.  He purifies, and cleans, and makes it a dwelling place for Him.

And as we draw closer to Him, he fills it.  He takes up the empty space.  Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks... so if it is full of Him, we speak of Him, like Him.  With love. Kindness. Goodness.  Grace.

And if we've allowed it to become hard, and rooted Him out, that will be obvious.  Our words will once again be sharp and hard and disheartening.  And out of this hard heart, the lies will again start, an overabundance of words and an exaggeration of thoughts...

Think on Him.  Seek Him, and you will find Him. He wants to dwell with you.

Lord, You know my doubts and fears and the lies my heart tries to tell me.  Search my heart, Lord, and help me remember Your good and perfect way.  In Jesus's name, Amen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Psalm 91

Where's your safe place?  Where do you retreat when you feel all alone in the world?  Mine would have to be the bathroom.  I draw a hot tub of water (ok, I don't draw the water.  I turn on the faucet and wait for it to fill up).  I pour lots of bubble bath in, and soak until my skin shrivels up.  Most days, I read a good book, but when trouble comes my way, I just soak.  And soak.  And soak.

This world is not a safe place.  If you turn on the TV, you see that on the evening news.  So much sadness, so much darkness... but we have hope.

Psalm 91 tells us of this hope.  "The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

The one who lives under the protection of the Most High.  Who might that be?  It can be me and you... and it's not like it's some big security company we have to pay big money for.  He willingly protects us, because He loves us. 

And we dwell in the shadow of the Almighty.  Often, when I think of shadows, I think of darkness, of things lurking, of frightening bump-in-the-night things... but this shadow isn't like that at all. This shadow is a place of comfort.  He's big enough for all of us to fit in His shadow.  Stop and take that in.  Big enough for everyone... that means that His shadow would cover all.  And keep in mind that He is not darkness, He is light... so we really aren't in dark shadows when we are under His cover.

He is my fortress.  My strongtower.  This is a place of protection.  He is my refuge... shelter, safety, relief.  He is all those things. 

And He's trustworthy. We know that what He says He will do, He will. 

This morning, I'm needing some shelter.  I'm needing some protection.  I'm needing some relief. 
Think I'll just rest a while.  He's got this covered.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Multitudes on Monday- Joy in the Rain

The peanut butter is extra thick as I spread it on nearly burnt toast. There are crumbs all over the counter and sticky strawberry jelly but I leave it as I finish making the sandwiches. The boxes are piled up at the end of the kitchen table and I take a deep breath and open the fridge door back up.

And the deep breathing continues, as if the deep breaths could somehow fill my heart and stop time, just for a few.  more.  minutes. It's recognizing that six months can go by in a flash and the calendar pages keep turning and now here I am.  And the miles will pass and time will keep ticking and I'll work and Caleb will go to school and we'll just keep on living, because that's what we do.  We live to fill the time and to fill the calendar and to fill ourselves, forgetting sometimes about a well that never goes dry and bread that is always enough and how to truly be filled we must recognize that our emptiness is not earthly.

The heart aches and sometimes there's no way to patch it.

It's Monday again after a beautiful weekend, perfect temps.  I enjoyed a nice walk.  Time with friends and family.  Laughter from Will and sunshine and happiness...

but the gloomy cloud still hung over my head.  Today, it has appeared outside.  Rain is forecasted, and I'm reminded that without the rain, the flowers will never bloom and the trees will never bud and the grass will stay dry and brown.

Without sacrifice, we are unable to blossom ourselves.  Without dedication, we become mediocre, and if there is anything I've learned from this world, mediocrity is unacceptable... unless, of course, you've learned not to care what this world thinks.

Still, we press on. 

And as I sit here, he naps and Caleb is at Papaw William's posting pics of him and his girls, a kiss on each cheek, a reminder that family is family even if there is no blood involved and that life.  keeps.  living.

And I take another deep breath and remember that weeping endures for only a night, for only a short time, and then there is joy.  Joy unspeakable and full of grace... and even in the weeping we can find joy. 

We find joy when we stop focusing on the rainclouds and start looking for the rainbows... for the peeks of the sunshine through the darkness, for the very mediocre things in our life that makes that next deep breath possible.

Thanking God this week for family and friends who are like family, for good food and laughter and Karaoke machines, for phones that take videos and for teenage girls and 10 year old boys that are so rotten it isn't funny.  I'm thankful for sunshine and loud music in my ears as I walk. I'm thankful for no condemnation and shame in Christ, for mercy and grace and unconditional love. I'm thankful for Job 42, and the promise that what He's got in store for us is so much more than we could ever imagine.  I'm thankful for purple ink pens and tulips on my kitchen table and Online Bible study and new friends and sunsets and Pink Lemonade sugar cookies and french vanilla cake pops.

I'm thankful that time keeps on ticking and that even though we've not been promised tomorrow, we know if it comes He holds it, and that His presence is in Kentucky and in Texas and all along the way... and in your neighborhood, too.

I'm thankful that prayer works... and send one up for everyone reading today, hoping you'll say a little prayer for me and mine, too?

Because I know that I know in my head that His grace is sufficient... and I'm so very, very thankful that if I keep repeating it, my heart will know it, too...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Better than One

"Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up."- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

We're around a table... different table, different nights.  Sometimes it's plates on our laps or we're piled up in the floor.  The food is always good, but the friendship is better.  And as we bond over laughter, I'm reminded of the meaning of this verse.

Life is hard.  It's even harder when you try to live it alone.  This comes from an admitted introvert.  I may not always contribute to the loud conversations.  I usually leave that up to my husband, who has no shame.  However, I'm still a part of this community. A community that I know has my back.  And friends who I hope know that I've got theirs, too.

Over the past couple of years, I've become receptive to get-togethers.  Tonight, I'm thankful for them, because it means I'm not alone.  It means that we're loved.  These get-togethers are good for my soul.

God is good, even if life is hard. Sometimes He holds us up Himself. Sometimes, He uses the arms of others to support us. 

Two are better than one.  And seven or ten or twelve, regardless of age, are even better.  Thank You, Lord. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Basketball, anyone?

Can I just say I love March Madness?  It's not in full swing yet, but there's nothing like watching teams you know nothing about on the TV and cheering.

Like tonight.  I'm watching the Murray State Racers against Belmont in the OVC Championship game.  The winner punches a ticket to the Big Dance, and of course I'm all for another Kentucky team.  I've actually watched Murray a couple of times this year as I walked and they seem to be a solid team.

And then there's the UK Women's team, headed to the SEC Championship game tomorrow.  I've watched UK a couple of times on TV, and they are so fun to watch.  Real in your  face defense.

Today, I sat in Logan's in Lexington as UK came dug in and got a 7 point lead on the #11 ranked Florida Gators.  Florida had beaten them pretty handily earlier in the season.  Claps and cheers echoed through the restaurant.  Gotta love Big Blue nation... or hate them, depending on if you are a U of L fan. 

Speaking of U of L, I really believe they have a chance to win it all. 

One more week until Selection Sunday.  I'm feeling pretty good about our bracket challenge this year.  After all, I am the reigning champion in the Bates house =)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ephesians 6:24 SSMT #5

Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.- Ephesians 6:24

Grace be with all.  Even those that maybe I don't care much for.  As a Christian, I'm called to love everybody, and all Christians are in the body of Christ together.  That doesn't mean that we don't have a hangnail or too that we'd like to snip off... grin.

But honestly, sometimes people just don't gel.  We have different personalities.  Some people may come off as being pushy. Some people may come off as being too kind.  Some people don't know when to hush, and others don't know when to speak up. 

Regardless of our flaws, we are chosen. And we are brothers (or sisters).  In Luke 8, Jesus says that His family are those who obey the Father's commandments.  His commandments focus on love.  And loving each other means giving grace.  Even when we don't want to.

Grace be with all... every last member.  Beginning with me, but extended to everyone.  Everyone that loves Jesus, even if sometimes they don't act like they love Jesus.  Because Jesus loves us even when we aren't loveable.

Caleb asked me the other night, "Mom, sometimes I'm just not sure that I love God, or that He could love me."  I had just read a blog about nightmares parents have for their kids to talk about.  With our world as crazy as it is, I'm really trying to be a light. Sometimes I'm a huge mess, but I want Caleb to realize that God loves us even in our messes.  Sometimes, especially in our messes, because it is then that we are fragile and see just how much He loves us. So I took a deep breath and said, "Now what makes  you say that?"

Without hesitating, he said, "Because I don't always obey Him."

Oh, sweet baby.  Your mama doesn't always obey Him, either.  It's hard for me to understand unconditional love.  How can I explain that to a 10 year old?

"Caleb, you love me, right???" Because I know he does.  Oh, we fight, and he gets mad at me, but he is quick to forgive and offer hugs and snuggles. 

"Yes, Mom...and I see where you're going."

Because Caleb doesn't always obey me.  But even when he is disobedient, he still loves me.  And because I have unconditional love for him, because he is my baby, I forgive him.  And God's forgiveness is so much more.

This love that is talked about here?  In sincerity?  It's a love born out of forgiveness, but also out of repentance.  Confession.  Being honest about the fact that we are all big messes in need of a great big God.  And in this realization, we are to give grace to others... realizing that they are in need of forgiveness just like us.

Thank you, Lord.  Help me be graceful. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Selah- Quiet Time

This week's assignment in Let. It. Go. by Karen Ehman really hit me close to home.  Chapter 9 was all about soul control vs. sole control, about allowing God to have control and surrendering sole control to Him.  Too often, I don't practice soul control, and don't hand sole control over to God, but instead try to maintain control myself.  Soul control is speaking truth to ourselves, recognizing that there is going to be things in life that we don't like, and stopping to remember Who is in control.  It is only God who is in control. Chapter 10 talks about comparing ourselves with others, and allowing comparisons to steal our contentment.  I'm guilty of this, too, and as Karen addresses, "Comparisons always deal an arresting deathblow to your contentment." I look around sometimes, comparing  my "reality with the perception of someone else's perfection."

The part that really hit home, though, was in Chapter 9.  Sunday morning, I sat and listened to my preacher talk about Psalm 62, and then as I swiped the page on my Kindle that evening, Psalm 62 was written out.  I love it when God wants me to get something, and gives it to me a couple of different ways to confirm. 

Psalm 62:1-2 "Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved."
I'm in a period of waiting right now, or getting ready to be.  I'm really believing that God has a plan and that at the end of this time, everything will be for the better.  He is my salvation. He is my rock, my firm place, my foundation.  He is my defense.  I'll be shaky, but not greatly moved... hesitant, but resolved.
Verses 5-7: " My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.   He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."

My soul waits.  My expecations are in Him.  I'm expecting good things... growth.  Restoration.  Strength.  I expect these things because God has promised good things.  He is my rock, my salvation, my defense... and as the psalmist thinks on it, He becomes determined.  I shall not be moved.  I will not be moved.  I will stand firm. 

My refuge is in Him.  I will trust in Him. God is a refuge.  Selah: Think on this.  Pause.

Selah means to take a breath, to think, to pause, to reflect, to soak it in (my definition).

In order to think and pause and reflect, we must exit the chaos surrounding us and have quiet time.

Most times, my quiet time is in the morning.  It's pretty structured. I read whatever devotion I'm reading for Good Morning Girls and Hello Mornings, and then read my Chronological Bible for 15 minutes.  If I have time, I read some blogs or do some work in a workbook, like a Beth Moore book. 

Reading... journaling some.  But never really reflection time.

Other "quiet times" include when I'm on the treadmill or walking outside. I crank up my worship music, music by guys like Chris Tomlin or Toby Mac, girls like Mandisa or Kari Jobe, bands like Casting Crowns. 

I do think I need to focus on listening more.. so maybe adding in some journaling.  I think that will be really beneficial in this time of waiting.  Trusting in Him.  Selah. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What I'm Reading March edition

My boys had a snow day today.  The college was on a delay, but since I didn't have any students I took a vacation day so I wouldn't have to cross Shoulderblade Hill.  I could use today to catch up on homework or housework, but I'm thinking I have a much better way to spend it... with my nose in a book.  Or in my Kindle.  So I thought I'd write my favorite kind of post- what I'm reading! 

If you read my February addition of what I'm reading, I'm still reading The Great Influenza.  I've still got a way to go with that one, but it's really good.  I love books about medical things, and history, so this is a good combination.  I'm glad my epidemiology teacher recommended it.

I'm also still reading Let. It. Go.  I only have one chapter left, and one more week left in the online Bible study.  We're reading Stressed Less Living next, starting April 7th, so I'll probably start that one in a week or so because I like to keep ahead.  I need this book.  If you're interested in joining, visit  The study takes place on her blog, but there are also small groups on Facebook (one of which I lead!)

I mentioned Prayer, the book I'm reading for the Bloom book club. I've fallen a little behind on this one.  What I do like about bloom is it is archived, so you can watch the videos when you want to. This is good for me because they usually read 2 chapters every other day, so you're reading 4-5 chapters a week, which is hard for me.  (Maybe if I was just reading one book... but I can't bring myself to that!) This book about prayer is really good.  It talks about the different ways we approach God.  I've been thinking a lot about how I don't want to just bring Him a grocery list of needs, but want it to be true communication between me and God.

I'm on Chapter 3 of John Maxwell's 15 Laws of Growth, reading one chapter most months.  Last months chapter talked about knowing yourself so you can grow yourself.  I'm slowly figuring out who I am.  It's taken me a long time to realize that.  He then gives you questions to help you figure out direction.  I'm going to go back and look over those... I'm pretty satisfied professionally, but know that there are things I need to change within.  I'm working on it.  I'm getting better.

I'm reading The Mayne Attraction, which was a free book for Kindle.  It's a juvenile fiction book, which I didn't realize when I downloaded it and started it, but it's ok.  Good for just a "You don't have to think about what is going on so you can mindlessly empty your mind" type read.

The paperbacks I'm reading are The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg and Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich.  Berg's novel is about a woman going to her 40 year reunion.  I'm just on page 28, but it seems like it is going to be funny.  Wicked Appetite is about cupcake queen Lizzie and Unmentionable Diesel, who appears in her between the number series with Stephanie Plum.  Pure fantasy, can't really happen stuff, but good for a quick, easy to read while I'm sitting in the drivethru read. (Yes, I keep a book in my car so I read while I sit in the drive-thru.  Makes me a much more patient person.  Sometimes I even wish the line was a little longer.)

Then, there's always War and Peace.  I'm no farther in that one than I was a month ago but I.  will.  read.  it.  Eventually. 

And Daniel by Beth Moore Bible study... I'm on Week 3.  Hoping to maybe get into week 4 today, since I'm doing so much reading =)

Some more books on my list? The Kite Runner.  Redeeming Love. The Chance.  Auschwitz. Crazy Love.

Feel free to comment with what you're reading.  I always love suggestions.  And I highly recommend Calling Me Home, which I mentioned last month.  Just finished it this morning and it is really good.  Takes place in Newport in the 1930s and 40s.  Not sure how accurate it is about that particular area, but a good read.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Perfect Peace

I'm not a morning person.  I usually don't function well until at least 830 or 9, and that's with a large Diet Coke from McDonalds providing me with caffeine.  I'm okay with that, too... because I'm more of a night person.  I like to think I get my best sleeping on the weekends when I can sleep until 930 or so, after about 4 or 5 in the morning.

This morning, I woke up at 6.  I'd like to say I hopped up and opened my Bible and spent some time with God, but instead I just burrowed under the cover and drifted back to sleep.  I had stayed up a little late reading the night before, and didn't really sleep good.  I've not been sleeping well... I know it's because I'm worried about stuff that's coming up.  That's why I'm so happy God gave me a 6 AM wakeup call this morning, even though I hit snooze =)

I'm not sure what I was dreaming about, but when I woke up, the first thing that drifted in my mind was "He will keep you in perfect peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He will give you peace that you can't understand."

Peace helped me drift back off to sleep until the alarm clock sounded at 7.  As soon as I got up, I looked up that phrase to see where it was, because I knew it was a verse in the Bible. 

Isaiah 26:3, HCSB: "You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You."

Perfect peace... can only come when we are dependent on Him. That makes not trying to figure it all out for ourselves.  Not going through scenarios in our minds over and over again, and thinking of all the coulds, shoulds, and mights.  Trusting Him to know best, and to figure it out.

The writer goes on to declare that God is a rock.  I learned this Sunday and Monday through Psalm 62, and here it is again.  A rock... a large stone mass.  Something hard.  But then if you think about it, rock can also be a verb.  When a baby cries, we rock that baby to soothe it, and sometimes God rocks me in His arms.  Other times, He is more like an explosion: "to affect deeply; stun; move or sway powerfully, as with emotion; to shake or disturb violently" (

He can be both... soothing, but then explosive.  Sometimes I need Him to rock me gently. Sometimes, I need Him to shake me up and deeply affect me.  He knows what I need.

In Isaiah, it goes on to say, "Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our work for us." (verse 12).  What's that?  You've done all the work?  Meaning I don't have to work it out?  I don't have to figure it out?  I can quit striving and fighting... and just accept it?

And be in peace... perfect peace... through You. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gifts When I'm Worn

Monday again... how is it that the weekend just flies by?  And time marches on... and on... and on.

This morning, I read in Deuteronomy about the 10 commandments and loving the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and I teared up a little on the way to work listening to Worn by Tenth Avenue North, because I am worn.  Things can be good, but I still can get worn. 

Worn from the stress of school and work and the gloom of winter and just worrying... even when He says not to.  Worrying about what might be or what could be or how things will happen and turn out... worrying about the next few weeks when I don't even have the promise of tomorrow.  Worn from all of these assignments I have to do, worn because I don't understand them. 

"I'm tired, I'm worn My heart is heavy From the work it takes to keep on breathing...
And my prayers are wearing thin I'm worn even before the day begins"

And then I'm reminded of Him speaking to us.  Come ye, all who are heavy laden and burdened. Take my yoke upon you, for it is light. 

He has a rest for the worn.  As Tenth Avenue North sings, Redemption wins.  The struggle ends.  He can take a heart thats frail and torn and repair it.

Our God is a heart surgeon.  He's in to cardiac rehab.

I need that on this Monday.

So on this mulitude Monday, even though I'm worn and tired and scared and unsure, I'm thankful.

Cause the sun is shining in my window. Diet Coke gives me a little energy. I finally find the right key to my office door, instead of my house key, and I've got time to work on a test and notes and other stuff. 

This counting of these gifts, it repairs my heart a little. Renews me, even as I'm worn.  Up to 417.  Thankful for hugs and naps and my warm Northface Jacket, for safe travels home in the rain and snow, for Gigis cupcakes and good friends and laughter.  Thankful for answered prayers and God's Word and my parents and grandparents and a legacy of love and being raised in church.  Thankful for Psalm 62 and Psalm 31:14-15 and Job... yes, even hard Job, which shows hope to the hopeless.  I'm thankful for Caleb's reflection in the window as he comes home from Mamaw's, for hearing Wallace praying traveling mercies on us the other morning, for knowing that God has a plan, and it's a good plan, and that all things work together for good even though sometimes I might not like how they work. 

He's good. His grace is sufficient, especially when I'm worn...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February Review

Wow!  Already March.  I'm so ready for summer!  This dreary, cold weather really gets to me. 

Her'e's my monthly accountability post for my resolutions.  I understand if you just check out right now... but this is something that helps me know how I've done.  Thank You, Lord, for imperfect progress...

Not lost much weight, but I have been exercising at least 30 minutes 3 days a week. Not done much better in February, but I've been trying to increase my speed on the treadmill and actually jog a little.  I'm getting there...

Behind on my Bible reading.  I'm in Deuteronomy, about a week behind, but I'm thinking I'll have some extra time next week to double up.  I'm in amazement about the trek of the Israelites through the wilderness.  Can you imagine, all those people and providing food and water and being in camp with them.  What a big God we serve!

I'm memorizing Matthew 5, 6, & 7 this year. Pretty lofty goal, but I'm on verse 19-20 and I've done pretty good. I've also memorized four verses for Beth Moore's SSMT, and am working on Ephesians 6:24.  These verses focus on grace.

I've not taken a pic every day; I've kind of slacked off in February. And some days I've taken more than one, so it has evened out =) I've blogged almost every day.... I think I've missed one, or maybe two.

I've worked through Lisa Harper's Malachi and am on week 3 of Beth Moore's Daniel (again) with a group of friends on Facebook (goal of 4 in depth Bible studies).  I hope to finish Chapters 9 and 10 in Let. It. Go.  We have two weeks left in that study.

I read 7 books in February, for a total of 17 out of my 80 books; 63 to go. This is probably my favorite goal because I enjoy it so much! I wish I could make a living by reading!!

Participating in the Joy Dare and counting 1000 gifts... counted a total of 392 through February.  He is so good!

Getting more sleep... not 8 hours a night, but going to bed at a decent hour most nights, and feeling more rested in the morning.

I think I've been laughing, and living, and positive. I'm trying to make every moment count. Been trying to connect with others and get out of my shell.

I was reminded of my motto yesterday: "Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth. Give Thanks. Love well. Become the gift." - Ann Voskamp. I'm trying to do this.  And so far this year, His grace is sufficient... and I have no doubt it will continue to be. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Word Through a Song

It's been a long day.  Class all day, which is exhausting even though I am just sitting there.  My head spins with all the talk of evidence-based practice and sample size and sample power and odds ratios. 

Jenna and I have enjoyed conversation and laughter but for several minutes we are quiet as the snow drifts down.  Nothing on the road, and we are thankful it is snow and not rain.  It gets dark soon and the miles between Bowling Green and Somerset seem to last... and last.

A stop in London to stretch our legs, then back to the road and we find ourselves laughing so hard that I almost lose my breath.  And the snow comes down...

And down...

The roads stay pretty clear until I hit the Perry County line, and I'm by myself.  Worry starts to creep in and I find myself holding my breath.  I turn up KLove, loud, knowing that the roads really aren't THAT bad, that I'm just being a big chicken. 

And I drive and think about the lesson about Daniel and the 3 Hebrew boys, how Daniel had been their stronghold, their leader, and then they find themselves standing in front of the fire with no leader to be found.  How they had to choose to step up to the plate and stand up for God or bow down to fear and that golden statue.

And the music plays on and I sing along... Live Like That and You Are More and I Need You.

And I think of how I've depended on others and I'm never really the strong one, and drive towards Shoulderblade Hill.  Mom says it is clear, and I'm thinking of how as I read that lesson on Daniel I thought to myself how this is my chance, it's time for me to be strong and brave even when I really don't want to.

And as I start up the hill, Jeremy Camp is singing, "Help me to win my endless fears You've been so faithful for all my years With one breath You make me new Your grace covers all I do... Well You've spoken, pouring Your words of grace."

His grace covers.  His grace smothers the fear and breathes new life into me.  He's spoken... He's said it.  His grace is sufficient.  Thank You, Lord, for safe trips home and Words spoken through song and big bear hugs when I come through the door... You are too good.

My Thoughts on Cupcakes, Milk, and Diet Coke

It's Friday night and I've spent the evening reading research articles and watching short clips on ethical principles and basically trying to wake myself up from the denial that I am actually in school.

Before that, it was Siesta Memory verse time (more on that later) and a trip through the hail and snow and rainy mix across Kentucky, a bloomin' onion at Outback, and a visit to the mall, complete with American Eagle to get my best boy a shirt (which he had to approve by looking it up on his A & E app, that is). 

And then came the articles and looking through modules and trying to figure out what we are supposed to do for this discussion board due Monday and what we need to do to prepare for tomorrow.

 In between, there has been lots of laughter over milk being a colloid of butterfat, pictures on the Internet, and strawberry shortcake cupcakes from Gigis. 

I'm reminded of why I'm doing this doctorate with a friend, because life is always better with a friend.

And a cupcake. 

And a big ol' glass of emulsified colloid of liquid butterfat globules dispersed within a water based solution. Although I'll have to settle for a Diet Coke, which is probably full of embalming fluid...

But it tastes so good.  =)