Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Inadequacy, meet your match!

I know this may come as a newsflash to some of you, but life can be crazy.

Obligations pile up.

Kids get sick.

Money doesn't come through.

Plans change.

And you know what?  I'm powerless to fix any of it.

The last few weeks have sought to knock me down and highlight my inadequacy, and it's taken all I've had just to keep my head above the water.  In just about every area of my life, I've been reminded that I'm not strong enough... not smart enough... and just plain ol' not good enough.

But do you know what else I've been reminded of?

I'm never going to be enough, and that's okay.

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.  With him is only the army of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and fight our battles."  And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.  2 Chronicles 32:7-8

All we see is what's right in front of us.  The fears.  The doubts.  The dashed hopes and shattered dreams.  And we see the army charging toward us, closing in with every failed attempt to make things right.  And while it's natural to want to cling to what we can see and hear and touch, it's the unseen that counts.  It's the power of the Spirit within us that heals and strengthens and overcomes.  Not us.

We are but flesh; He is Almighty.

Recognizing our humanity, knowing that we don't have to carry the burdens of life alone, is when freedom starts. So what if I don't know what I'm doing?  So what if I don't have all the answers?  So what if this is all too hard for me to do on my own?  I don't have to fight this battle.

And the good news is that I was never meant to.

God knew the things this world would throw at me, and yet He chose to make me with weaknesses and inadequacies because He knew that those things would be what would save me from myself.  If He'd given me power and knowledge and answers, I'd rush head first into every plan my brain could conjure up, and I'd end up so far off the path He wants to me walk that there'd be no way of getting back.  As it is, I'm afraid to take a step without asking Him first because I know darn good and well that I don't know where I'm going.  It's great!  It's freeing! It's what saves me when things get crazy.

So while the last few weeks have reminded me that I'm not good enough to succeed on my own, I have an undeniable peace resonating through my soul.  Every inadequacy I face is met with His power.  And in light of Him, the One who is my Everything, my nothingness becomes just that...


Whatever battles you're facing, whatever fights you're trying to win on your own... won't you let Him take over?  You'll never be enough to conquer it, but never forget that there's One who is.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mandalas in Color (and a giveaway!)

Think of the last time you talked to God.

And now think of five adjectives to describe the time you spent with Him.

If you're anything like me, you likely have at least a couple of words like these: hurried, distracted, bored, disjointed....

In a world of technology-obsessed, multi-tasking overachievers, it's sometimes hard to put our screens and to-do lists to the side in order to just be.  Reflection, meditation, Bible study, prayer... heck, even sleep can leave us feeling guilty for not getting enough done in our day.  But at the end of that day, when every chore has been completed and every Facebook post has been read, we know that those quiet moments between us and God are the ones that keep us going.  Without Him, we lack the strength or motivation to fight our way through tomorrow.

Over the years, I've tried numerous things to make my prayer time more fruitful.  I've tried taking a walk and kneeling beside my bed.  I've written in a journal and had reminders pop up on my phone.  I've prayed outloud and in small, dark closets.  Each of these methods have their merits, of course, but none of them seemed to work for me.  What has worked is coloring my way through my God time.

Yep.  You heard me right.  Coloring... as in colored pencils and a coloring book.

I'm not sure if it's my creative nature or just my inner preschool teacher, but coloring is one of my favorite past times.  There are few things more relaxing than turning a black and white page into something beautiful.  Needless to say, I was all over it when my pastor encouraged our small group to color a prayer mandala as "homework" for our class one week.

I knew that coloring could be therapeutic, but what I hadn't noticed before was the way that keeping my hands in motion freed my mind from it's constant running.  When I'm focused on the color patterns and the physical act of staying inside the lines, my mind doesn't have time to wander.  Each time I put down a pencil, pick up a new color, and start on the next section of the picture, my thoughts are brought back to the task at hand.  Combining this exercise with prayer has allowed my time with God to be focused as well.  Suddenly the prayer and meditation time I struggled to hold together for 10 minutes before my mind raced down any number of rabbit trails can now go on for nearly an hour before my ADD kicks in and I have to get up and start doing something.   Unfortunately, I don't have time to color every day, but it's become my go-to activity when there's something God and I need to talk out or when I just want to take time to listen.

Because I love my prayer mandalas so much, I want to give YOU a chance to discover them, too!  If you'd like to win a copy of Mandalas in Color * (pictured above), simply comment here or retweet my post on Twitter- or both!  Entries will be accepted through midnight on Thursday, and the winner will be announced Friday morning. Good luck, and happy coloring!  :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Can't live with it... Can't live without it!

My friend Jodie is hosting an Advent series over on her blog, and today's devotion comes from Exodus 3:1-20. She asked everyone to share about a time when God asked us to do something that maybe we weren't crazy about, and for me, that something was writing. The following is a post I wrote a year or so ago, prior to the recent smack upside the head that told me to get serious. This has obviously been an ongoing process and to be honest, it's something God and I are still working out....

I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

Up until four years ago, I wrote when I had to. Period. I didn't mind doing it for school (and in fact, I typically did very well on writing assignments), but never in a million years would I consider it a hobby. It just wasn't what I did. I was not a writer. Or so I thought.

If you know my story, you know that God had other plans. He decided to prove to me that, yes, I was a writer whether I wanted to be one or not. In the beginning, He literally had to pull the words out of me, and it wasn't uncommon to hear me pounding my fists on the desk and crying I don't wanna do this!

I got over it, though. Eventually. And now I'm pretty willing to admit that I was wrong.

Over the years, I've decided I'm fine having writing as a hobby. If I happen to find myself with nothing else to do, then by all means, you can most certainly find me in a cozy coffee shop with my Bible and notebooks strewn about, happily tapping away at the keyboard. Those are the times I love it.  But the thing is, those coffee shop moments are rare. It's not very often that I have that time. And I'm totally okay with that. I love my job and the ministries I'm involved in, and I don't mind staying busy.

But every now and then, I get restless. I start feeling like there's this huge part of me that's missing. Like life isn't going the way God wants it to. Every time that happens, I pray for direction. And every time, God reminds me of those early days, the days when I wrote purely for Him, not because it was fun. The days when I was knee-deep in blogging and pursuing publication. The days when I relied on Him for each and every sentence that came from my hands. 

It was glorious.

Time and again, I try to tell myself that it was my walk with God that fulfilled me, not the act of putting words on a page. And while I know He absolutely comes first, I simply cannot escape the idea of writing.

I've tried. Over and over I've tried. I kicked and screamed. I gave in and gave it my all. I ignored the longing. But every time, He says This is what I want you to do. And it's not enough to make it your hobby.


It's nice, in a way, to know what your calling involves. But when it's something you have to work really, really hard at and whose business side kills your creativity.... it's much more fun to keep it at arm's length. Writing for fun doesn't come with the pressure or responsibility or expectations that writing “for real” does.

And I'm not sure yet how I feel about going down that road again. If I'm being honest, those are the times I hate it. As much as I want to do God's will and be faithful to the gifts He's given me, part of me simply wants to keep it as a hobby, something I can enjoy on my terms.

 It's safer that way.

Still, there are times when I come across something I've written in the past, words that hit me as though I've never heard them before, and I know I can't play it safe. God had something to say back then, and somehow, He managed to say it through little ol' me.

What if He wants to do that again? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five things I want my teenagers to know about being a disciple of Jesus

I read an article by Stephen Ingram last week that challenged youth ministries to look at whether they were equipping their students to be disciples or simply trying to convert them to Christianity.  Good question, right? While he quoted Luke 14:25-33, I was curious about the Bible's distinction between being a believer and being a disciple, so I did a little more research.  I ended up taking a handful of Scriptures with me to Sunday school this morning and we spent some time looking at them and talking about what it actually means to be a disciple versus someone who believes in God.

If I could share five things I hope my girls remember about being a disciple of Jesus, it would be these:

1) Belief is in your head.  Discipleship is in your hands and feet.  Believing in God is great, but it's what you do with that belief that counts.  Being a disciple requires you to move, to act, to follow wherever Christ leads.  (Matthew 7:21)

2) Discipleship begins with a choice.  In some denominations, that choice is made when a person professes their faith and chooses to be baptized.  In others, the choice is made at the time of confirmation.  For people like me (who never truly had a choice about baptism as an infant or confirmation as a teenager), the choice might be made later in life.  But no matter when the choice is made, becoming a disciple means making a conscious decision at a specific point in time to follow Jesus no matter the cost. (Matthew 28:19-20)

3) Discipleship will cost you something.  It's impossible to follow Jesus and continue living your old life at the same time.  Maybe He'll ask you to re-prioritize your time or relationships, or perhaps say goodbye to habits, pride, or possessions.  Regardless of what the cost is for you, it will require you to turn from your old ways and embrace a new life.  (Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 14:26-27)

4) Discipleship produces fruit.  While it's possible to believe in God and keep your former lifestyle, people will start to notice a change when you decide to really, truly follow Him.  The fruits of the Spirit will flourish, love will guide your actions, and God will be glorified.  (Matthew 7:15-23, John 13:35)

5) Discipleship isn't easy, but it's worth it.  Leaving your comfort zone is scary.  Sacrificing your plans and sense of identity can be painful.  It's often hard and isolating and uncomfortable, but if you're willing to let go of the life you have, you'll find a life greater than any you could have imagined.  (Mark 8:34-35, John 8:31-32)

Although the requirements to be a disciple are fairly simple and straightforward (follow Christ and obey His commands), living them out and doing it well is something very few of us master. The important thing is to keep trying.  Make the choice every single day to follow Him.  Live in a state of humility and repentance.  Place loving God and loving others above all else.  If you do that, you'll find that as you grow in your relationship with Him, you'll also grow as a disciple. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rachel Held Evans, live and in person!

Sometimes God answers a prayer by giving you exactly what you asked for, and sometimes He answers it by giving you so much more.

I was first introduced to Rachel Held Evans about a year and a half ago when the women from my small group decided to read her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood * over the course of a summer.  I was immediately drawn to her writing because she had me reaching for my dictionary in one sentence and laughing so hard I cried in the next.  The book made such a strong impact on me that I then spent 13 months studying it with my high school girls' Sunday school class.  Between our book club, prepping for Sunday mornings, and writing/editing the study guide I created, the book hasn't left my night stand since the day I brought it home.

If you know my story, you know that God recently lit a fire under me and told me it was time to start getting serious about my writing.  Although I have a handful of curriculum resources in the works, it was the Biblical Womanhood study guide that He first urged me to finish. And when I hit a dead end because I didn't know where I could go with it, He made it possible for me to ask Rachel herself. Face-to-face.

Only God, y'all.... Only God could have orchestrated this weekend.

After learning that Rachel would be speaking at a church in Birmingham, I jumped at the chance to take my girls on a road trip.  Literally jumped. Up, down, and squealing inside because it felt like everything was about to come full circle. We made plans and loaded up the cars, excited for a chance to meet the author we'd spoken of on a first name basis for nearly two years.  Oh my goodness, Rachel just wrote about that on her blog!  Did you see what Rachel posted on Facebook yesterday? You know how Rachel would feel about that...

I think that deep down, we were all hoping for a chance to say hi and maybe get a group picture. Really, I just wanted the girls to meet her, and if the opportunity arose, to ask about the study guide. That's the part in my prayer when God started laughing. It might just be me, but He seems to be doing that a lot lately!  I have no idea how the entire room wasn't swarming around her, but after a few minutes of mingling with everyone else, she made her way over to us and just... settled in.  Each person in our group got to connect with her individually, and our conversations totaled nearly an hour. We laughed, we exchanged email and blog addresses, and as all good Southern friends do, we talked college football.

I admired Rachel Held Evans the writer before Sunday, but now I can honestly say I admire Rachel the person.  She spent so much time talking with the girls, affirming their passions and taking a genuine interest in their stories that I was truly blown away.  Watching her with them meant far more to me than getting to meet one of my favorite authors.  It meant far more than walking away with photos and signed copies of her book.  It meant far more than her encouragement regarding my own writing projects (although I'm super excited about those opportunities, too!). 

As I said, this was a weekend only God could have pulled together. Thank you, Rachel, for using your gifts to make an impact in the world- through both your written words and the ones ones you chose to speak even when you didn't have to. Your "groupies from Columbus" had so much fun visiting with you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Jodie Bailey's Quilted by Christmas

Failing to recognize our own worth impacts us far more than we realize.  For Taryn McKenna, it meant keeping people at a distance, harboring a secret for more than a decade, and failing to trust in God's love.

In her October release for Abingdon's Quilts of Love series, Jodie Bailey weaves a tale of forgiveness, redemption, and relentless love.  When an 18-year-old Taryn finds herself on the receiving end of accusations that she's needy and manipulative, she vows to keep to herself and no longer bother those she loves.  She slowly builds a wall around her heart, and aside from her grandmother Jemma and cousin Rachel, refuses to let people in.  It's safer that way.  Her secret is safe, she's safe, and most importantly, other people are safe-- from her.

But when her high school love, Justin, comes back to town and Jemma lands in the hospital, Taryn has a hard time keeping up her strong front.  Suddenly she finds herself in need of security, and the only person around to offer it is the last one she wants to find it in.  By surrendering herself to Justin's renewed desire for friendship, Taryn learns that she really is worth loving after all.  And by opening herself to the love of those around her, she also learns to accept the One who loved her first and loves her best.

Jodie Bailey consistently creates characters who are multi-faceted and believable, and Taryn, Justin, and Jemma are no exception.  Even if we don't carry a secret as big as Taryn's, all of us feel as if we don't measure up in some way.  God's unconditional love is big enough to reach all of us, no matter what our past may hold.  Justin is the friend (and boyfriend!) we'd all like to have.  He's always there, but never pushy; always lightening the mood, but loving with sincerity.  And Jemma?  Oh, Jemma... Modeled after Jodie's own grandmothers, Jemma is bold and feisty, always telling it how it is.  These characters will warm your heart, and their story will keep you reading late into the night. Quilted by Christmas* is a delightful book that will get you in the holiday spirit quicker than Jemma can whip up her famous caramel cake!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Five things I want my teenagers to know about prayer

Aside from Scripture reading, prayer is one of the most fundamental spiritual disciplines.  Without it, a true relationship with Christ is all but impossible, yet an active prayer life is something many Christians struggle with, myself included.  What is it exactly that makes us struggle with something so simple?  Is it the feeling that we have nothing to say, or no time with which to say it?  Is it the feeling that it doesn't matter if we do or don't say anything?  Is it a fear of doing it wrong?  Each of these excuses are just that- excuses- and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can begin to tap into the abundant life God has for us.

If I could share five things I wish my girls knew about prayer, it would be these:

1) Prayer is nothing more than a conversation.  We've all heard this before, but what does it tell us about how and when we pray?  Think about your best friend and all the ways and reasons you talk to her.  There are quick texts sent when you don't have a lot of time.  There are gab sessions over coffee when you need to vent or get advice.  There are late night, how-would-I-ever-survive-without-you, heart to hearts.  And just as there are lots of ways to communicate with your best friend, there are lots of ways to communicate with your Savior.  You don't always have to talk to Him on your knees at the altar, but you also can't maintain a relationship with one-liners.  Balance is key.

2) There's no such thing as a bad prayer.  I think this is where many of us get stuck because we listen to the "professionals" on Sunday and know that our eloquence will never measure up.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone asks for a volunteer to pray out loud at a gathering, and after the prayer is said, someone says "Good job" or "That was great."  This implies that there are less-than-great prayers and nothing scares us away from something more than a fear of failure.

3) God's big enough to handle your honesty.  Sometimes we avoid praying because we think we've got to be in a good place spiritually- full of faith and joy and ready to praise.  And while God enjoys our good moods, He can hang with the bad ones, too.  If we're hurt, angry, confused, or worried, He already knows, which means we might as well talk to Him in the midst of our frustration.  Any relationship worth having is grounded in honesty, so don't try to hide from Him when you're feeling less than your best.  Lay it all out there and know He'll handle it with grace.

4) Prayer isn't a selfish act, but we gain more than we think when we do it.  Praying to thank God for all He's given you?  You'll start to notice how very blessed you are.  Praying to praise God for who He is?  He'll reveal even more of Himself to you.  Praying to ask for help?  You'll begin to see His hand in so many ways, regardless of how things turn out.  Praying on someone else's behalf? You'll find it easier to trust them into His care, and strengthen the bond between you to boot.  Prayer opens you up to the work of the Holy Spirit, and changes you from the inside out.

5) Just because you don't hear a response doesn't mean you haven't been heard.  I'm pretty sure all bloggers everywhere have the same secret.  We love getting comments on our posts.  Even though we aren't doing this for fame, we do like knowing that people are reading our words.  And when we write and write and write with nary a comment, it can get a little discouraging.  Prayer can be the same way.  If we feel as if we're doing nothing more than talking to the ceiling, it's easy to ask ourselves why we bother doing it in the first place.  Paul, however, writes in Ephesians 3:12 that because of Jesus, we can approach God with confidence.  We don't have to wonder if He hears, or cares, or even wants to listen.  He wouldn't have given us His Son if His plan was to ignore us.  He did it to make a relationship possible.

Prayer isn't something that's meant only for the spiritually mature.  There's no right or wrong way to do it, and you don't have to get up before dawn.  Just say what's on your heart, and watch how He responds.  Come confidently, and know that He's waiting with open arms.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


In the nearly two decades since I made the decision to one day adopt children, I've come across hundreds of stories of families who have done just that. Blogs, websites, books, TV shows, YouTube videos... our media-saturated society is certainly not lacking in its ability to advocate for, well, just about anything. But aside from a former student whose mom adopted a baby girl from Russia, I've never been on the inside of one of those stories until recently.

Some very close friends of mine made the decision back in the spring to become foster parents, and have been blessed to care for a 3-month-old baby boy since the day he came home from the hospital. And although I've learned a whole host of things from walking their journey along side of them, what God's really pressing on me involves a story parallel to theirs, yet divinely intertwined.

The precious baby who entered our hearts and lives with a mere five hours' notice also has two older brothers who had been in a different placement up until two weeks ago. When their last foster family could no longer care for them, the boys were placed with a couple who just happens to be friends with many in our church community, including the family caring for their brother. Since we'd already fallen in love with the youngest of these boys, the opportunity to meet the older two was highly anticipated to say the least.

Unlike the arrival of their brother, we knew the older boys were coming for a full week before the transition occurred.  This is nothing at all compared to the years-long wait involved with international adoptions, but God had a lot to teach me even in such a short span of time.  From the moment we heard the news, there were text messages exchanged, prayers said, hugs given, and help offered.  It wasn't just a young couple waiting anxiously; it was an entire community.  And throughout that week, one thought kept running through my mind.... If only those boys could know how much we long for them to be a part of our lives.

It's an easy parallel to make, and one that might seem cliche' to some, but have you ever thought about how much God longs for YOU?  If you grew up in church or have been attending for any length of time, you've heard how He loves you and longs to be in a relationship with you.  There's a big difference, though, in knowing something and living like you believe it.  What would it be like if we lived into the love He offers?  What would we do if we truly believed that His love was without limits?  How would we respond if we knew the love came, not because of anything we did or might do, but simply because we're His?

The day those boys entered their new family was a day to celebrate.  We cried at the sight of their pictures, and we eagerly looked forward to the day we could hold them in our arms.  They were surrounded by love and prayers and support before they ever saw our faces.  They were wanted for no other reason than because they were children of God.

And we, also being His children, are wanted as well... wanted, and longed for, and loved more than we could ever know.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Be careful what you pray for...

Aside from the first few posts explaining my reappearance into the writing world, I really wanted to refrain from making this blog a personal journal.  My goal is to give God glory and teach others about Him, not share the details of my everyday life.  But good gracious.... when He decides to move like He did this week, I can't resist the urge to share!

The whole reason I'm not a foster parent yet is because I can't do so in my current living situation.  I love living where I do, but financially, a change just hasn't been possible.  So while fostering and adoption are my long-term goals, the first thing to happen has to be my moving out.  Insert frugality, side jobs, and a hope of getting published here.  My plan (which you know is always exactly how things go) was to save like mad and move out some time in the next one to two years.

Annnd this is where God decided to laugh hysterically.

I received news this week that the people I live with need to sell their house.  In other words, I'm gonna be moving out a whole lot sooner than planned!  At first glance, this seemed to derail my plans in a big way, but after a very anxious 24 hours and numerous talks with God-fearing friends, I came to realize what a huge answer to prayer this is.

  • I get to move out.  As scary as this week has been, that IS what I wanted.
  • Doors have been opened for financial provision, possibly in more ways than one.
  • I got to avoid two very awkward conversations that would have had to take place in the future.
  • I also get to avoid two situations that would have been guilt-inducing even though I wasn't doing anything wrong.
  • If all goes, ahem, according to plan, I could be caring for a foster child by this time next year.
What's funny is that just two posts ago, I ended by saying something along the lines of "Knowing God, the path won't be that straight.  I'm pretty sure He'll take this small act of obedience and use it to open a door I never saw coming."  And y'all, let me tell you..... I never saw this coming.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Five things I want my teenagers to know about the Bible

My Sunday school class has spent the last two months competing in a Bible-reading challenge.  By finding Scriptures that spoke to them throughout the week and sharing them with us on Sunday, they earned points and had an opportunity to win a handful of gift cards.  But in the end, the point of our contest wasn't for them to take trip to Starbucks on me.  It was about laying a foundation, and I hope they haven't missed the point.

If I could share five things I wish my girls knew about the Bible, it would be these:

1) It's okay if you don't always understand it. God is so much bigger than anything we can comprehend, and the same goes for His Word. It's deep. It's complicated. It's seemingly contradictory at times. But it's also revealing, enlightening, and incredibly beautiful. Don't let a fear of failure get in your way of experiencing it. Even if nothing makes sense at first glance, the time hasn't been wasted. And on that note...

2) The Bible is something to be experienced, not mastered. We can study the history, the geography, and the people to our heart's content, but if we're coming to it from a purely intellectual standpoint, we're going to miss out on all that it has to offer. Learn to just "be" with your Bible. Read without expectation. Soak it up. Enjoy it.

3) Luke 6:45 says that our heart brings forth our words, and it's the same with God. If you want to get to know His heart, who He is at His very core, get to know His words. You'll learn what His passions are, what hurts Him, what brings Him joy. Don't listen to who others say He is- read it for yourself!

4) The Bible might be an ancient book, but it's alive and relevant even today.  No two people will read a passage the exact same way.  We'll notice different things, have different questions, learn from different situations.  That's because God meets us where we are, and no two people are in the same place.  And no one person stays in the same place forever.  What God spoke to you through a particular story last year or last month might be totally different than what He has for you today. You've grown since then, and there will always be something new for you to discover.

5) Context is everything.  Some instructions in the Bible are meant for all people at all times; others aren't.  Some visions are warnings, while others are true prophecies.  Without knowing the time and place a particular passage was written, it's impossible to know the difference.  So while there is a time to read for no other reason than to experience God's presence, there is also a time to study.  Find a commentary or other book that will give you some insight to the context, or simply use Google. However you learn, looking at the whole picture versus just a single verse will open you you up to so much more than meets the eye.

The Bible can be incredibly intimidating when you first start to get into it.  For people who don't like to read, it contains a whole lot o' words.  But with only a few minutes and an open heart, those words can change your life.  So be brave.  Open it up, and go exploring.  There's a good chance God has an adventure waiting for you!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Connecting the dots

In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to return to blogging right before a busy week full of commitments.  There's nothing like saying I'm back! and then disappearing... again.

But anyway, I'm here now. :)

I shared in my last post that I have a dream of adopting children and what I believe is a calling to write.  In my mind, the two were never really connected; adoption is what I wanted to do, and writing is what God made me do.  One I've wanted almost my entire life; the other I've had to wrestle with and grow to love.  The way I saw it, mother and writer were simply two of the many roles I felt led to play in this thing called life.

Last spring, however, as I was grappling with the reality that my current situation makes adoption all but impossible, God kept nudging me to, you guessed it...write.  Unfortunately, it's been my habit to do so only when I feel inspired, need to process something, or have an upcoming Sunday school class to prepare for, but this time He wouldn't let it go. In an effort to be obedient and seek direction, I blogged (on a separate site) every day during Lent.  39 posts later, I was still just as clueless as I was when I started.

Fast forward six months to our current small-group study.  We're studying Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker* and talking a lot about our dreams. Once again, I sat there praying God, what do I need to be doing to make this happen?  Wouldn't you know that one word kept popping into my head, the same quiet whisper no matter how many times I asked...

Write.  Write.  Write.

Two days later I sat down for some serious God time.  And in no uncertain terms, He let me know that it was time to get my butt in gear, specifically regarding a discussion guide for A Year of Biblical Womanhood* that I'd started writing for my high school girls, but never got around to finishing.  Let me tell you, I've done more work on that in the last five weeks than I had in the last five months!  I've had people tell me numerous times that I needed to think about publishing my Sunday school curriculum units, and now that God's lit a fire under me, I'm beginning to pursue that as best I can, although at this point it's only involving a lot of editing.

Do I have any idea how writing curriculums relates to adoption?  Nope.  Not a one.  There are some obvious possibilities like publishing and making money and building a side business that could support a family... but knowing God, the path probably won't be that straight.  It's more likely that He'll take this small act of obedience and use it to open a door I've never even considered.  All I know is that I've been given a task, an opportunity.  And even if I don't see a relationship between these two very different things in my heart, it's time to let Him connect the dots. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Dream vs. His

As Walt Disney so eloquently put it, A dream is a wish your heart makes.  It begins with a spark in the deepest part of our selves. Some of our dreams begin as we develop certain talents or hobbies- being a famous football player or musician, for example. Other dreams, like that of flying, may simply be the result of our imagination.  Still others are planted early on in our lives and continue to grow until we can't remember a time without such a desire in our hearts.  That's the case with my dream of adopting children.

A calling, on the other hand, doesn't begin with us.  It's like a dream, but it's God's dream. It's picked out specifically by Him, tailored to who He's made us to be, and often times, it'll be something we never expected.  In fact, there's a good chance we'll fight it in the beginning.  We'll think about how unqualified we are, how impossible it will be, and how we just aren't cut out for it.  And that, my friends, is the beauty of a calling.  We aren't qualified, and we aren't cut out for it.  But if we choose obedience in the midst of our fear and doubt, God has an opportunity to receive glory.  

Both dreams and callings are unique to who we are.  I love kids, have a ton of experience with them, and even went to college to learn how to handle them.  My dream of being an adoptive parent surprises absolutely no one; kids are just... what I do.  But I'm more than just a teacher or a soccer-mom-in-training, as someone once called me.  I'm also an incredibly deep thinker.  I'm an avid reader.  I'm passionate about the Bible and love connecting Scripture to everyday life.  Those were the things that led to my call to write.  Was it something I ever wanted to do?  Absolutely not.  But no matter how hard I tried to escape it, I couldn't.  No amount of kicking, screaming, pounding my fists on the desk, and telling God I don't wanna do this! made Him take it back.  

And now... well, now my calling is just as much a part of me as my dreams.  I'll be sharing later in the week how the two are connected, but in the meantime, leave a comment and let us know what your dream or calling is!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Dream is Born

I can remember the moment like it happened just last week. 

I was roughly 12 years old, and had gone with my mom to visit a neighbor who'd just had a baby. While I cuddled the newborn in a recliner, they sat across the room doing what all moms do when a child comes into the world: they shared their labor stories.  And as a preteen who had only recently learned how babies were made, I sat there intrigued, horrified, and disgusted.  I made a vow right then and there that I was never ever going to put myself through that.  Adoption was always a possibility, and as far as I could tell, it was going to be the only possibility for me.

And although it started out as a silly reaction to a major OMG!!! moment in my young life, the idea of adoption never left my mind.  As I got older and learned about God's heart for orphans, as I witnessed the terrible home lives of some of my students, and as I researched and learned about the great need for foster parents, my resolve was strengthened until I knew without a doubt that this is what I was made for.  Married or single, able to conceive or not... none of that mattered.  I longed to be a mother, and I longed to create a family through the miracle of adoption.

As I entered adulthood, every decision was made with that goal in mind. I read anything I could find on the topic from personal stories to books full of practical advice to state and country laws. I set career goals based on the requirements for single adoptive mothers. I had a plan, and I was well on my way to fulfilling that dream when God threw me a curveball. 

In 2010, He asked me to leave my teaching job- and the paycheck, benefits, and stability that came with it. Everything I'd worked so hard for was gone. Suddenly I found myself wondering where the next rent check was coming from, where I was going to live, and what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. It was a great soul-searching experience, but it put quite a halt to my almighty Five Year Plan.

The years since have been full of wonder, as in I wonder if I'm still supposed to do this... I wonder if God really is going to make a way... and I wonder if this is in fact His plan. I'm grateful for confirmation that tells me the answer is YES. The many, many details are still unknown to me at this point, but He's let me know that I can't let those things stop me. And I'm finally, slowly, working up the courage to be okay with that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


This place has been rather quiet for the last few years.  Not completely ignored, but pretty close.  And yet, when God says it's time to get packed for a road trip, there's nothing I reach for first.  Something about this blog, something about the meaning of GPS, something about the journey that led me here, reminds me that God is in control.  That promise is something I'm clinging to as I embark on this new journey He's set before me.

Life has been fairly stagnant lately, and I've loved every minute of it.  Things are more or less predictable, I'm comfortable and happy, and my biggest struggle has been waiting on God's timing.  At least I thought that was a struggle.  It's not exactly any easier when He up and says It's time! without filling you in on the details.  Now I know there's something new on the horizon, but I have no idea how or when we'll get there.

I guess that's why I need my trusty GPS, huh?  When I felt the need to blog about this next chapter of life, I thought it would be best if I started from scratch.  A new chapter, a new site, a new theme, new topics.  Makes sense, right?  Except God kept bringing me right back here where it all began five years ago.  No other title so easily sums up my journey, and nowhere else feels like home.

So here I am, with new batteries and a fully-charged Navigator ready to go.  I've received some much-needed direction for my writing, have some opportunities I'm excited to explore, and am even looking forward to making a life-long dream a reality sometime in the not-too-too-distance future. Stay tuned throughout the rest of the week to hear about everything going on.  It should be a fun ride, and as always, I'd love to have you tag along!