Saturday, June 25, 2011

*She Speaks* Candidly


Please take a seat and get comfy. I'm going to tell you some things that no one knows about my adventure at She Speaks last year. What I have told you is that it was like church camp for women. I felt God's presence like I hadn't in sometime. He spoke. That's why I was there. Well, ONE of the reasons anyway. I have so enjoyed our She Speaks chat group on facebook. All the questions, answers, and excitement have blessed me. Some of the anxiousness reminded me of some funny things that happened to me last year. 

I went to She Speaks a very sick girl. I had never flown alone and that made me really nervous. I am also going to be really candid on the WWW and tell you that I had to stop 3 times in a 45 minute trip to use some of the most horrid, stinky gas station restrooms along the way to the airport.  Yeah, remember me? I'm the girl whose is allergic to food, the girl whose food flies as fast as a jet plane through her system.  Remember, I said candid.  So, I was embarrassed and thinking things were not going to go well before I had even arrived at the airport.  
So, there I was. The truck that brought me had one of those covered beds that locked. Well, the key was suddenly missing with my luggage locked in the back. Note to self: do not put luggage in a truck with a lockable bed cover.  There I was, needing another restroom, sweating in the Texas heat, with no way to get my luggage out. Cars zoomed around us probably wondering why this lady and her big white truck wouldn't get out of the way. I threw up a real quick "Satan get away from my luggage in Jesus name!" and we found the key.  
I sauntered, like a lost puppy, through the airport asking what seemed like the dumbest questions for an adult in her twenties. I managed to find the right line only after I had found the wrong one. I prayed my way through security with a "Lord, please don't let me go the bathroom on myself and please take away the feeling that my insides are falling out." And I did. I made it through. I found my gate and quickly found my seat. Then, I saw this "lady."  She screamed "writer."  She had a sweater tied around her neck and a cute tote. I questioned myself again. Was I suppose to be here?  I was emotionally exhausted and physically a wreck. And I totally didn't look the part. 

Then, God reminded me; He had already gone before me. Months earlier, I had felt the nudge to attend. I had no money to do such a thing and my health was bad. The ladies in my Bible study prayed with me about it. I told God, "God, I don't have the money for that and my health is bad, but if you want me to go your going to have to find the money for me - cause I can barely pay my bills." My courage was hiding in a dark closet with the door locked, and she had even swallowed the key. I tried to get scholarships and didn't. Then, suddenly, three people offered me money to go- it was just enough to cover the cost of the entire conference. 
I bought my plane ticket. 
My seatbelt was fastened and my stomach had calmed. And then... there was turbulence. I'd never experienced turbulence. Turbulence + me = No bueno. I prayed it would stop and it didn't. So, I asked Jesus if he planned on taking me home like this. I mumbled another "Satan get away from this plane in Jesus name" under my breath so my seat-mate didn't think I was nuts. The turbulence stopped. Two hours later, I had arrived.  

I hurredly followed the crowd cause I still had no idea where I was going (even with signs)  down to Baggage Claim. Then, the unthinkable happened. 
I waited. 
And waited some more. 
I looked and strained my eyes for the fluorescent luggage tag I had put on my red Wal-Mart suitcase. I stood nervously until only one other red, Wal-Mart suitcase remained. But, alas, it was NOT MINE!  My suitcase was gone. Not only did I not have clothes, but I had at least $100 dollars of gluten free food inside of it (in case the food wasn't gluten free and I had to resort to granola bars and rice bowls the whole weekend). 
 I began to hyperventilate. 
And I found the nearest bench and sat. I was tempted to cry. Okay, there was this one tear that made a lovely path through my blush. I had never flown alone. I didn't even know where to go or what to do.  So, I said outloud, "Lord, send me someone."  
And then....someone...sat down beside me.  I didn't even notice her official airline uniform or her tag that read "Baggage Claim" when I mumbled with a cracking voice: "And what do you do if your bag doesn't come out?"  She said, "Honey, there is one bag still on the belt, is it not yours?"  And I told her that my bag was red, but had fluoresecent tags. That bag was red, but had old tags. 

She was my baggage angel. She truly worked in baggage and had left her little baggage claim office and 'happened' to have a seat next to me. Immediately she sprung into action and told me that someone must have mistakenly grabbed my bag and I now had theirs. We called the number on the suitcase. The number belonged to a family member of a teenager on my flight- his step mom's. However, the kids biological mom had picked him up from the airport. The step-mom called the biological mom and within 20 minutes they turned around and brought me back my bag.  
Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that my MAC computer was also in that suitcase why I had packed it instead of put it in my carry on bag I will never be able to answer.  
In the nick of time, I caught the shuttle. 

Things had settled down. I had even scored a 15-minute slot to have The Writing Spa review one of my articles. I happened to have an hour window before the appointment, so I scheduled a massage at the Hotel Spa. When I got out of my massage, my locker wouldn't open. I went to the front desk and asked for help. The girl couldn't get it open either.  I had 15 minutes to get my locker open, change my clothes, and get my article out of the locker. After ten minutes of trying, it was apparent that I was going to miss my 15-minute appointment. 
 There I stood:
Spa robe and three-sizes-too small, rubber sandals with my room key, article, and clothes all locked in my locker. 
I prayed again - at this point the no clothes standing in a robe type of point  it wasn't funny! After several tries, the girl got a special tool and....open sesame. I had 2 minutes.  Sweating, I sprinted up the stairs and  had my article critiqued.  
So, what's my point?  My point is- you can do it! Everything that could have gone wrong in my trip, did in a way. But, at the same time, everything still went right. At every turn it seemed like Satan had me pinned. Yet, in the NAME OF JESUS, he must flee. Our God is big. He can unlock bed-covers, calm turbulence, give us back our misplaced baggage, and get our clothes out of a jammed locker.  In the midst of all Satan's tactics, God was there. He renewed me, blessed me, connected me with awesome women of God, and clarified my purpose as a writer.  Just remember, if Satan is on you like white on rice in these coming weeks, take heart and know that you must be on to something profound or you wouldn't be worth his time.  

Psalm 31:24: "Put away fear and let your heart be strong, all you whose hope is in the Lord." 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Part 2 Series: Proving that He's Different

"Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." Ephesians 3:20
Yesterday, I told you a story. Today, I want to fill in the blanks. See, I had gone into Wal-Mart that day looking like I was all put together. In actuality, I was on the tail end of what had been a very frustrating work day. For those of you new to my blog, you might not know that I have struggled with my health greatly for a decade. Rounds of doctor visits and negative tests have led me down many dead end streets as far as answers are concerned. Each time I would think I had a breakthrough, I would have another health breakdown. When I first started having problems, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. When I found hope in that diagnosis, I continued to struggle. Next, I began to have adverse reactions to foods I once enjoyed and was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity.
 Feeling a bit like Humpty Dumpty, the pieces have come slowly into view over a period of ten years: 
Endometriosis
Gluten Sensitivity
A bad Gallbladder
Painful abdominal adhesions
Hernias
Pregnancy-induced congestive heart failure
Hypothyroidism
Adrenal Fatigue
Adenomyosis leading to a hysterectomy
Additional Food allergies
Hollow organ seizures/nerve dysfunction
Needless to say, these health problems and raising triplets have put a large strain on our finances. This particular day I had gone around the three counties calling on people for my business. I had to stop a million times along the way to be sick in gas station bathrooms around the Beaumont area if you ever need a map of clean bathrooms, ladies, I've got most of Texas mapped out :). 
So, I go into Wal-Mart and then I get in line and see the girl I spoke about yesterday. I was tired- physically and emotionally. My brain was swirling. All I could think about was the $800 deficit I needed to simply scrape by for the month.  
But, God. 
 Not only did He want me to turn on a smile for this girl, He wanted me to give her money that I didn't have. I knew He wanted me to do it and although I despised how embarrassing it felt to be obedient; I wanted to give her the money. It just didn't make sense to give her $60 that I didn't really have to give.  At first, when the screen came up I pondered punching $20, but I felt like God wanted me to give more. My hand lingered over $40 and finally I just pushed it. I pulsed out the $60 and thought "What does it matter at this point? Now, I'll just be $860 in the hole instead of an even $800." 
As I said yesterday, I hurredly pushed my rickety cart, half-tear-filled, half-curious, and half-exhausted from the strain of the day on to my car. I piled my groceries in the car and just leaned against the steering wheel. I thought about the girl and wondered why in the world God had me do that for her.  
Was it for her? Was it for me? Was it for both of us?  
I started the engine and noticed a voicemail on my phone no it wasn't God Himself calling although that would make things so much easier sometime wouldn't it? It was a number that was vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn't place it in my head. As I listened to the voicemail, the tears began to spill onto my lap. It was a customer that hadn't called me in a very long time and they needed to place an order. In that moment, the $60 that I gave up became so insignificant. The customer's order more than doubled what I needed to pay my bills for the month.  
Sometimes when we prove that we are different in the name of Jesus, He shows us that He is different too. When we show others the love of Christ, God often shows up in ways we never expect.
For her...
 He pours out His love and grace --infinitely more than we ask or can imagine.
For us...
...and for you. 
 He turns water into wine. He takes a few fish and five loaves and feeds thousands. That is the God that I serve. He is why I write. He is why I live. No human can claim that kind of different. 
What about you?  How has God blessed your obedience? How has He shown you that He's different? 
I'd love for you to share with me tonight.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Series: Proving That We're Different

Mis-matched work-out clothes and a sagging pony tail is how I like to roll.  You might see me running errands in my regular Wal-Mart attire: purple athletic shorts and a pink Disciple Now t-shirt yes I'm that woman.  Although, I haven't been brave or insane enough  to wear the pig-tails that Baby A likes to fix my hair in. 
But, then there was this one day....

...one day when I wasn't in my usual frumpy lounge clothes. I happened to be dressed up in my preppy GAP clothes when I ran into Wal-Mart for a few items. I hurredly threw my stuff up onto the conveyor and glanced at the checker.  
She seemed college age. She wore all black other than her blue Wal-Mart vest. Her hair was short and spiked. Her eye make-up black to match her clothes. 
She was making a statement. 

I immediately got insecure. I was over-dressed for any Wal-Mart run and I started to think: "This girl probably thinks I'm some snob that runs around town in full make-up and never ditches her heels."  There I was making an assumption, and judgement, about her judgement-- about me. 
I know...right? 
Then, I heard Him whisper like a faint breeze. 
Immediately I got insecure again. My face grew hot and I didn't like what I might have heard Him say. 
"You want me to do what?" I pleaded. 
And then again. 
"Prove to her you're not who she thinks you are." 

Now if you know me well, you know that I would take a beating over being embarrassed. 
I've been that way since childhood. I don't like to be embarrassed, but I also didn't want to disobey God 
So......
I began to quickly question God.
"What am I suppose to do?"
Hug her?
 I was 99% certain this girl already hated me just because of how I looked 
and God wanted me to witness to her??!?!?! 

Compliment her?
Two people got in line behind me and they were definitely in earshot!
"Earshot! Did you hear me God, someone might hear me?" 
But, again...
"Prove to her you're not who she thinks you are."
So.....
I tried to start a conversation.
"Hi, how are you today?" 
She just kept on scanning.
"Have you been pretty busy today?"
And then I got this...
So, I threw up a quick prayer that went something like this:
"Help me God RIGHT NOW and show me what to do if that is really you talking to me."
About that time, without looking at me, she asked me if I needed cash back
and I realized...I could give her a gift. 
So, I pulsed out some cash. 
And the man behind me was so close I could feel his breath on me which was adding to this already highly embarrassing situation God wanted me in for some uknown reason and I debated for a few split seconds just how in the WORLD I was going to give her the cash without being so INCREDIBLY awkward. I hate being embarrassed did I mention that?
Right then, she threw the cash up on the check-out counter. 
I grabbed it, feeling so very embarrassed, and started to push my cart on to the comfort of my vehicle.
But, God. 
He just. Wouldn't. Let me. Go.
I paused at the end of her station. 
Breathed in deep and handed the cash out to her.
She finally looked me in the eye. 
"Ma'am is something wrong, you did want that amount didn't you?"
"Yes, you gave me the right amount."
Shifting my weight, I looked her in the eye and said,
"Would you get in trouble if I gave you a gift?"
She stared at me as her powder skin turned red.

"I mean, I don't really need the cash back. It's for you. 
Actually. I mean..umm..just take it, I'm sure you could buy something cool with it." 
The two people behind me were now seriously staring.
"Why would you give me money?" 
"I just felt like God wanted me to give you a gift today. That's all."
Then I saw it. 
Warmth filled her face and she seemed to relax. 
She had been cold and unresponsive when I tried to talk with her before.
Yet, in that moment, I could see the tough facade melt away. 

I don't know what her life was like. She might not have needed the money. 
She could have begrudged me for holding up her line.
I may never know if it meant anything to her. 
But, maybe, she was down on her luck.
Maybe she had spent her last paycheck on car repairs and had no money to eat.
Maybe she dressed like that for attention because no one in her family cared what she did.
Or maybe, the call to be obedient had nothing to do with her, but was a test of obedience for me.
Maybe God wanted to see if I would forfeit my comfort to meet a need. 
Maybe He wanted to know if I would react to a whisper or if He still needed His megaphone to get me to move. 

Has obedience ever been uncomfortable for you?
What has God asked you to do to prove that you were different?

Tell me about it and come back tomorrow for another piece of the story.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

How To Gain from Loss


Tonight, I would like to introduce to you a very dear friend of mine, Angela Mackey. If you ever struggle to make sense of the ups and downs of life, then you have found a friend in my friend Angela. I hope you enjoy her heart tonight in this post as much as I did. She's authentic and real and has abundant love for us moms especially. 

How to Gain from Loss 
by Angela Mackey

Some questions do not have simple answers.

I had to ask her again. My brain didn’t absorb her question the first time. When I realized what she asked, I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

She doesn’t know. Sometimes I forget my wounds are not perceptible with human eyes.

I imagined I would overcome and the wounds would heal, be part of my past. Instead the wounds still hurt even as I turn the page.

She just wanted to know if I hoped to have a fourth child.

How do I tell her I have 22 babies in heaven?
I am unable to bear children on my own - that my last embryo transfer failed and I long for more children?

Only a miracle could bring me more - in my womb or on my doorstep.

The wound of longing lingers and stings and burns. It frames my life - my life before infertility and my life after infertility. Life after is much different than life before. In many ways it is harder and darker, but it is also infinitely richer.
 
I felt God’s presence with me in the darkness. I know He is good all the time instead of being told He is good all the time. I know His comfort and peace through the confusing and difficult questions of life. My faith is stronger, my joy more sure, my hope found in Him.

Jesus talked about this dying to self and allowing the dark times to matter. He said,“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24

Just as a seed remains a seed, unless it is buried and dies to what it knows, we will not grow in Him or produce fruit for Him without dying to ourselves.

We all experience dark times - times that test and try and stretch our faith. Times when we learn to die to ourselves so we can live for Christ. Weeks, months, years that seem like one difficult situation after another. We can choose how those dark times shape us. Will they bring us closer to God or will they shatter our faith? What will you choose?

Have you gained something from walking through dark times with God? Join in and share.

Angela Mackey lives in the Arkansas River Valley with her husband and three children. She desires to honor God in all she does and says. She writes about faith, learning to let God’s word transform your thinking, parenting, infertility, and anything else that comes to mind. You can connect with her on her blog at www.rethinkingmythinking.com. She is also on twitter @Rethinkingme and on facebook at www.facebook.com/RethinkingMyThinking.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When You Want Your Money Back

"Mom, I think we need to go back in there and get our money BACK!"
Baby C.
 He is one of a kind.
Those were his two cents after we visited a new church last weekend.  
He didn't dig it. 

However, his remark got me to thinking about all the people we try to reach for Jesus.  I am on the Outreach Team at our church and we plan ministry events to hopefully 
point the people in our church family and community to Jesus. 
Pointing. 

As Christians we hope to point people to the forgiveness and love that we have found in Jesus. 
 But, we are imperfect. 
And sadly...
I think sometimes people come into the doors of the church and they leave with the same sentiments of Baby C:
"We need our money back!"
Many years ago, and churches past, I had been praying really hard to get a certain someone into church. I had prayed for this person for years when one day, he agreed to come. It was Easter and I was beyond excited. As we walked through the front door the pastor chuckled and said "It's good to see you,  I guess I won't see you again until next Easter." 
Floored. 
It had taken so much discussion, so much prayer, so much effort and convincing to get him to enter once.  Yet, I knew in one swipe, the opportunity to witness to this man had passed with an insult from the pastor himself. 
How sad?  
Sometimes we get only one chance to witness to someone. 
What if my friend would have died that day right after the pastor insulted him? What if that was the one opportunity he had to hear God's word preached? 
I write this post tonight as a reminder to me and to you: 
People watch what you do, they listen to your words, they gauge your reactions, they chronicle your responses.
And the one question I leave with you tonight is this...
Does your life reflect the love of Christ or do people simply want their money back?


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Holding On

We emptied a garage today and 1/2 of a bedroom. It's amazing how much stuff can collect in 4 years. I packed preemie clothes from the days of 3.2, 3.4, and 3.8.  
I threw away garbage bags full of knick-knacks and McDonald toys. 
 Oh the things we hang on to!
This opportunity came unexpectedly to our family, but I have such great peace about the situation.  I wish I could tell you every detail about the movement of God in our lives.
 I wish you could know or have lived in my prayer life for the last year to understand what I mean. 

God is moving us forward. 

This move is not just physical for me, it's symbolic of a chapter of life closed.
  I wander back five years and remember a similar place.  
Pregnant with quads.
Fearful of the unknown.
Wandering how we could afford these children.
Buying a house.
Selling a house.
Losing a baby.
Almost losing myself.
Changing jobs.
Changing towns.
Changing houses.

But, God was with us. 
In Romans 8:31 the Bible says:
"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
So many times over the last few years, I wondered about all the circumstances stacked "against us."  The likelihood of delivering healthy babies, the ability to provide for them financially, the strain that multiples can bring to a marriage (the stats are stacked against a family like ours)...the list could go on for miles. 

But, God was with us.
He was and He is with my family and yours. 
God wants to move us both forward. Maybe it means letting go or stepping out. Maybe it means changing your habits or changing careers. 
Don't linger.  
Think about it. 

As children of God, we can know with certainty that when we 
1. Confess with our mouths Jesus as Lord,
2. Believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead
3. We shall be saved. 

Salvation through Christ is the only move that you need to make.  
Because when God is for you, who dare stand against you?
His power is great. His love is even greater. 

Tonight, I hold onto but one thing: gratefulness.