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Order of Operations: God's Process

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When my kitchen is a MESS, I mean REALLY A MESS. Like every last dish in the kitchen is dirty, there's not a square centimeter of counter space that's not congested with dishes or covered in flour or jelly, and the trash is overflowing. When my kitchen is THAT dirty...I have a process.

I don't go in and start doing the dishes. I start with the easiest tasks. The tasks that can be done quickly but that make a big difference quickly. First, I take out the trash. Second, I put away the things on the counters that are ready to be put away, consolidate the dishes into one space, and wipe down the counters. Then I unload the dishwasher, reload it, and fill the dirtiest dishes to be hand washed with warm water, a bit of Dawn and set them aside. Finally, I wash the dishes.
When the dishes are all clean, I set about detailing the counters - making sure there is no trace of jelly or flour in the nooks and crannys - and any other organizational tasks that need to be completed.

Lastl…

What I haven't told you about our house. . .

I clicked on a Facebook ad.

Facebook ads are mostly a source of merriment for me. A while back all of the ads were for toilets. Apparently SOMEONE had been shopping for toilets online.

Anyway, I clicked on the ad. It was from a mortgage lender boasting that they could give us a mortgage that would be cheaper than renting. I honestly don't know why it caught my eye. It did, I clicked it and filled out the form. I was brutally honest about our financial situation. I didn't want to get halfway through the process, fall in love with a house and then be told we didn't actually qualify.

I expected them to either respond with a checklist of things we needed to do to qualify, or not at all. I never in a million years thought they would tell us that we qualify. (Michael was actually really annoyed that I did this. He had no confidence in this at all.)

To be honest, we had given up hope of being homeowners the spring before.

So I was shocked when they responded pretty quickly assuri…

Getting to Know the Shepherd of My Soul

As the deer pants for water so my soul longs to know God. To drink Him in.

I grasp for Him with each breath as my spirit cries “more of you God, less of me”.
I search for Him in the pages of the Old. In the relationships vividly depicted there.


Israel asked for a king. God gave them one. He warned them, and then He gave them one.  

I used to think God chose Saul to be the first king because he was such a great guy. But I’ve changed my mind. I think God may have chosen him because He knew Saul would go down in flames. To contrast our foolish and shallow view of humanity in thinking we know what's best for us, with His all wise and all knowing perspective.

Saul was the exact kind of person to catch a human eye. The one we would all choose to be king. From my point of view, he seemed the right choice. But he quickly became cocky, unwilling to submit to God and in deep denial about his attitude and sin. He ended up chasing David around the country-side in very real 'Roadrunner and C…

Window Shopping: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Cold and dark. Crisp. Leaves rain from sky, settle on sidewalk and my steps choke a satisfying crunch from their lifeless leafy body.

Breath catches. I peer into the window of a home as I pass. The light from within penetrates the darkness outside. Warmth, laughter and love spills into the night.

The coziness of the scene sucker punches me. Loneliness envelopes me. 
Longing fills my gut.
Craving . . . 
to be included. invited in. loved. accepted. 
to understand the meaning behind the knowing glances and secret language that evokes mirth, but only to those who know it well.

to be completely and utterly known. And to know. 
I know this aching well. 
I've walked through life looking in windows at every opportunity to socialize.
Longing.
Wishing. 
Manipulating.
Blaming.
Harming. Me
If I could be funnier. If I were prettier, thinner, nicer, more easygoing, more hardcore. If I liked different things, if my goals were different. If I were someone else. Anyone else
Like a science ficti…

Had it Not Been the Lord Who Was on My Side . . .

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3 years ago today, the kids and I carried all of our earthly possessions and set them in our driveway for Michael to pack into the trailer we would haul behind our van. We had planned and schemed for over a year and those plans and schemes were coming to fruition.

Somehow we had the money and the time just seemed right.

We moved to CA when our kids were 5, 4, 3, 15 months and 15 months. I was 25 and . . . barely alive. Physically and mentally.

We needed to get away. A fresh start. And that’s what California gave us. We stayed there 6 years and 10 months.

I think the most significant thing that happened while we lived there is that I really and truly gave my life to Jesus. I stepped out of my denial and admitted how messed up I was and how I had completely messed up my life. I realized that my brokenness was all I had to offer and I gave it to Him to deal with. And I learned that He wanted that all along.

That eventually brought our family to Texas. Irving. Older women. Spiritual couns…

Judging Peter

I've judged Peter before. But not today.I imagine the wind sweeping through his hair, blowing into his face as he calls out to Jesus.Words come out of nowhere, "Bid me to come to you on the water!"Peter steps out onto the water and. . . things change. The impossibility of walking on water and virility of the wind just gets to him.Talk is cheap. It's the doing that costs.I feel called. I dream and scheme. I make a plan.But the moment I take a step toward actually DOING the plan . . . a big step that could be life changing and devastating if I heard God wrong.I can't catch my breath.Panic.Can I undo this? This is crazy! Why did I think this was a good idea?!I think of Peter. And I don't judge his fear of the wind.My plans are God's. He can do with them what He will.I am not looking at that wind.I am not questioning the mechanics of the impossible. That's not my job.It's my job to put one foot in front of the other . . .and to keep my eyes on Jesus w…

Battlefield of Another Kind

Air stale. Putrid.Thick.
Gunpowder. Rotting flesh.
Graveyard of unburied bodies. Flies.
Explosions, gunfire fly like cars on the Autobahn in heavy traffic. Body no longer reacts to the sounds.
Weapon hugged to chest.
Eyes meet. Recognize.
Dirt and soot and sweat cling to skin like mask.
Those eyes . . . a respite from the battle. For a split second, we are not on the battlefield, not in war...home. And I know, the ugliness won't consume me.
We didn't know each other before our world became life and death. Miles apart. Contrasting sides of "the tracks". Interests, viewpoints, life goals separated us like roaches when you turn on the light.
But here.
Here.
In the trenches. Through the battle.
Brothers. More than blood. Soul-mates.
Reason to keep walking.
Sustainer through bitter cold and deep weariness when feet refuse to carry on.
Doctor wounds, tell stories, live our faith that someday this will be over. Carry each other through gun fire, darkness and despair.
N…

Parenting: Ambassador to My Son's Heart

Eyes filled to brim.
Body shaken and tense.
Confusion, disappointment contort the face of child at jagged edge of manhood.
He didn't get in.
Questions, tears escape together.
"Why is he luckier than me?"
Spiritual warfare wages. This boy formed in my womb, knows of God. But doesn't know the Father who can only be known through time and trial and...seeking.
Teeth clenched, heart aching. Determined. Satan will not win. Not this battle. Not. this. boy.
"Satan, get away!"
Words come. God's ambassador to this boys heart. I tell him about the Father I know.
Higher ways. Wiser thoughts.
Good. My good. The good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Faith. Without knowing. Without seeing. Abiding.
And . . .
It's okay to be angry. But tell Him. It's okay for the words to be raw. He'll hear your heart.
Tell Him. Ask Him. Trust Him. Thank Him.
Decide.
Lies seem true. But they are lies construed to deceive. To trap. To kill.
Seek God. W…

What Freedom Feels Like

The patchwork quilt lays quietly in ripples across the sea of grass growing wildly and abundantly into the sky.The breeze swirls and dances through the peach fuzz on my arms.Sunshine seeps into my soul and feels like being baptized in God's love.I breathe in the honeysuckle sweetness and breath out the toxicity poisoning my spirit. The heaviness that bearing the weights of my world impales into my heart.This world is beautiful. But broken.I am broken. By my own sin. By others' sin.In my brokenness, I pick up the pieces and clumsily tape them back together. Like trying to mend the pieces of remaining flesh after a lion has feasted on his prey.Believing that it must be done before it can be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Before the spiritual act of worship.But duct tape and clumsy hands cannot repair. The heart is too complex, too essential, too. . .Broken. Shattered. Incinerated. Obliterated.Pieces too small for human eyes and hands to maneuver.It is God's wo…

How to Distinguish Truth From Lies

I cower like a whipped puppy. When accusations are hurled at me or someone disagrees with me. I cower. But I am learning that just because someone else sees me and things a certain way, doesn't mean they are that way. So I am learning to sift for truth. Here's what I am learning... 1. Pray. Tell God explicitly that I am confused. Ask Him to reveal the Truth to me. Even if that means convicting me of sin. I ask Him to reveal any area of denial that I am in and any lies that I am believing. 2. Seek wise counsel. 3. Check my heart, admit and repent of any pride or defensiveness or other sin. And make sure that I am open to being wrong. 4. Trust God to give me the answers I need and to direct my steps. Because He will. Jesus said that if I continue in His word, then I will be His disciple and I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. 5. Seek God with all my heart. Worship Him. In song and in life. And in His word. 6. Give it time. It doesn't always happen ov…

A Reason to Give Up

I could live in the shame of my past. I could accept the judgments of others.
I could. Because I have committed heinous acts. Against God and other people. Very public things that most people who have known me for a few years know about. And others who haven't that I openly confess to.
But I don't live in shame. Because that isn't what God has for me. Or you. I won't live in character defects. I don't have to.
I do not delight in them. I rejoice because Jesus plucked me out of the clutches of Satan.
But because I remember where He's brought me from, I love Him even more. I am deeply and profoundly grateful. I am keenly aware of what God has done for me.
So while people may turn their backs on me, I will not cower. I will boldly declare God's goodness and allow the Spirit to mold me to be different in the future.
My God is amazing. He has done marvelous things for me. It's difficult to draw a deep breath when I try to meditate on it all. Everytime…

What the Cross Means to Me

I would probably be dead.No exaggeration. No dramatics. Without the cross of Jesus Christ I would probably be dead.I would have given in to the darkness. "The anger of the enemy would have swallowed"...me..."alive".The lies of Satan would have consumed me like a python consuming a baby piglet.I believed I wasn't good enough. I believed that there was something inherently wrong with me. I believed that I was a garbage person with a Judas heart. That for whatever reason, I was born evil.I lied, cheated and stole. I gossiped, and wore pride like a Bubble Boy wears his bubble. I sought attention through negative behaviors.And I self harmed. All while going to church 3 times a week and checking off the to-do list. I was "raised in the church".But then Jesus plucked me out of the clutches of Satan. I haven't had suicidal thoughts in years. I'm open and honest about who I am. Regardless of what anyone says to me or about me or thinks of me, I know wh…

The Story of Our House

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Neither of us had a job when we got married. And yet, nearly two weeks ago, Michael carried (er...hoisted seems like a better word) me over the threshold of the home God has given us.

For the first few years of our marriage, jobs came and went. And we had baby after baby. We depended heavily on our parents for financial support.

When we finally had some consistency in the job department, we still didn't live within our means. At one point we took out payday loan after payday loan, getting further and further behind.

We would not pay our bills for months and get our electricity cut off.

All of our cars were given to us or bought for us. We went through several cars in the first ten years of our marriage.

To be honest, I can't believe we ever even TRIED to live on what we lived on. But we were not responsible with what we did have.

When I gave my life truly and fully over to Christ, things started to get better. We gradually began paying our bills consistently. We stopped asking…

What She Said

In love she said "you know I don't agree with the way you worship...you are leading your kids astray, take care, Hannah, take care".
I called her to tell her that we bought a house. A nice one. Much nicer and bigger than we ever dreamed we would have. God has been good. Much kinder and more gracious than I deserve or even knew to hope for.
But she stopped short of rejoicing, because she believes I have left "the faith" and when my soul is at stake...what's a new house?! 
I wasn't angry. I was sad. And grateful. And full of love. I appreciate her caring for me enough to talk to me about it. Instead of just halting all interactions without explanation.
I know it was motivated by love. I know it hurt her to say. Because I know she loves me.
I took her seriously. I considered her words.
I searched my soul.
I do not believe I am infallible, that I have access to something that other people don't. At some point in the future, we may realize that we …

The Parenting Advice that I Have Never Read in a Parenting Book

I have a lot of regrets as a mom. There's not a single moment as a mom that I can point to and say "this is the ONE moment I would do differently". Because there are a million moments I would take back and do differently. If I HAD to pinpoint something, I would say that I wish I had stepped out of denial sooner. Which translates to...I wish I had known Jesus sooner. Because Jesus is the one thing that has changed everything. The thing is, I read tons of parenting books. I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted to nurture and be a safe haven for my kids...but I wasn't. And no amount of "how to be a good parent" books made a difference -- except to increase my self loathing, condemnation and hopelessness.The biggest change for me began the day I truly surrendered to God. Don't get me wrong, I didn't become June Cleaver overnight. But a healing process began. My eyes were opened to the pain and anger I had been denying. And as I allowed God to peel back the…

The Catch

Sometimes  I feel like a fraud. Sometimes when I want to express my love to God, the words catch in my throat because my actions aren't always aligned with those words. Peter comes to mind in those moments.He was quick to declare his love, faith and loyalty. But his actions were not always as bold or in agreement in their declarations. And sometimes, he completely missed the point. And yet, even when he denied knowing Jesus, Jesus never denied knowing him. And when He missed the point or got it wrong, Jesus didn't tell him to go away. Or render him useless and relegate him to being a silent observer. He invited him out onto the water. He ate dinner with him. Included him in private, intimate moments. Appeared to him and taught him after the resurrection and then filled him with His Spirit and used him to implement and teach and govern His Kingdom on Earth.My deficiencies do not render me useless to God. They render me humble and reliant on Him. They embody opportunities for Go…