Unforeseen Turn of Events

There are a few reasons why I want to share an experience I had yesterday, so bear with me.

Around noon I arrived home with my youngest. As I was getting her out of the car, I noticed an older gentlemen standing in the middle of my street looking at me. Unfortunately, I’m very skeptical and leery of most people. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but that’s just the world we live in today. So with my eyes peeled I watched as I continued to unload the car. A few minutes passed and he was still standing in the same place. He appeared to be very cold, and his demeanor was very none threatening. Honestly, he looked like a little boy who was lost. I began to pray, “Lord, I’m about to make a decision here, help me to be wise and careful.” I never want to do anything that puts myself in danger, but more importantly, I now have a one year old in my house sleeping that I would do anything to protect. At this point I’m on very high alert. I approached him and asked him if there was anything I could help him with. Immediately, I had peace. The man was clearly ill, and couldn’t give me any information about himself. No id, he couldn’t give me any phone numbers, nothing. He said, “I’m so sorry, I’m lost and I can’t remember how I got here. Where am I?” I told him, “You’re in Katy Texas, where do you live?” “McClellan. They just dropped me off. I don’t know why I’m here.” Oh heavens, I thought! What am I supposed to do with this man? So, I loaded him up and drove him to the local police department. The entire time praying “Lord, I have absolutely no clue how to help this person, please help.” We arrived at the police station and I gave them all the information I had. His name was Armondo, and he was seventy-four years old, and he lived in McClellan Texas. That was it. We sat with the deputy for quite some time trying to pull all the information out of him that we could together. As this was happening his son called the police department looking for him! What a relief. We learned that Armondo has Dementia and is, in fact, from McClellan. He is here visiting his son only two doors down from me. I also learned that he doesn’t sleep at night. He paces and talks. His sweet wife stays up with him most nights, and when she went in to take a short nap yesterday, he got out of the house. I don’t know a lot about Dementia, but for a small part of my day yesterday, I got a front row seat. I waited with Armondo for his son and wife to come pick him up. When I got in my car to head home, I lost it. It absolutely broke my heart. Here is the reason I’m even sharing this. Not to say look how nice I am because any of you would’ve done the exact same thing, so don’t let me fool you, I’m not that nice of a person. My point is, this happened two doors from my house. A mere fifty yards from my front door. We can’t fathom the things that people are going through all around us, right in our back yards! People’s realities even just a house over could potentially be very grim day in and day out. There is potential EVERYWHERE to reach out and love on someone. This was an eye opener for me. Armando needed my help yesterday, but he helped me in a way I didn’t even realize I needed. I want to be more aware of those around me, especially in my neighborhood. Same could go for you. Be aware and intentional about getting to know those around you, and allow the Lord to use you to really bless some people by just being a smiling face or a listening ear!

 

In another spin off of this happening, I was able to talk to Ayler for a long time this morning about our law enforcement, what they do, and why we need them. (As he heard us talking about being at the police department yesterday.) We talked about respecting their authority and knowing that they are always here to help. How to contact them and why we would contact them. I love all his questions and his curiosity. It’s never too early to start teaching out kiddos about respecting all authority!  image1

Outsiders, take heart. 

This blog post has been stirring in my heart for a very long time. It hasn’t been until recently though, that I’ve been able to get it all down in writing. I thought I might share my thoughts, as this seems to be ever present even still today at my ripe old age of (almost) thirty-two.

If ever there was anything that made someone feel unimportant, being excluded from a group of girls would be at the top of the list, wouldn’t it? No matter our age, nothing really communicates you’re not valuable quite like the feeling of being left out. I have so many witty, sarcastic remarks flashing through my mind when I think about cliques and how outrageously ridiculous they are to me, HOWEVER, that isn’t productive and it takes away from my ultimate point. It’s hurtful to many, I see that often and that really irks me. I want to give voice to that. That’s what stirs my frustration and the prompting to write about it. Now that that’s out of the way, I have a few personal thoughts to share with those who have ever felt the sting of being brushed aside.

Outsiders, take heart. Here are some things to consider.

Consider the history of where others came from. When I see these sorts of things play out, I always try to give those involved the benefit of the doubt. When we lack the capacity to look outside ourselves and involve others, there’s something below the surface that’s happening. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of what’s important. So instead of getting mad (most of the time) I sorta just feel bad for these types of situations. There’s a really good chance that those who are very exclusive have experienced disappointment, and hurt in other relationships and this is the default. Having control of a friend group is a safety net. Not always, but a lot of times, it’s insecurities fleshed out in friendships that tend to typically be only skin deep, rarely penetrating any real substance. Like most things in life, it’s hardly ever what it seems on the outside. So be encouraged, you’re probably not missing out on much anyways.

The best response? Continue to love on them. Don’t be weird, just be kind. Be the example you’d like to see.

And remember. Being uninvited is okay! In fact, it can really serve as a spring board to challenge yourself. Celebrate your strengths and use that to make people feel included. Not being included in the “cool group” doesn’t mean a thing in the real world. People, especially women, crave authenticity. When we’re authentic, we can’t lose. It brings stability and longevity to our relationships. If we want to build a solid group of friends who operate in the mindset of reaching out and welcoming others, authenticity is the place to start.

Counter act the dreaded clique. Find women who seem to be vulnerable, or by themselves a lot. Women who seem to be spread thin and could really use some encouragement. Be intentional about noticing others and making them feel important. Tell them you’re glad to see them or high five them for a job well done. Look for opportunties to pull others in and let them know they matter.

Talk to your daughters about this. Teach them at a young age that others are important. Make sure they understand that they aren’t better or more important than anyone, that everyone’s feelings are important and everyone deserves our respect. And as a necessary after thought to that, for the love of all things, PLEASE DON’T RAISE ENTITLED CHILDREN. We do our children such a disservice when we teach them that the world revolves around them. We combat entitlement with putting others ahead of ourselves (easier said than done, right?) and learning empathy at a young age. Our children are going to model after our behavior. We can talk to them all day long, but what matters is what they’re seeing manifested in our lives. If we’re aware of our surroundings and those we encounter, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up on that and model it as well.

Lastly, I write these things not because I have it all figured out or because I’m raising perfect children. PLEASE. I write these things because these are things the Lord has taught me or is continuing to teach me. We’re all selfish and self centered by nature, and I’m no exception. It takes work and commitment to not be a jerk. It takes being aware, and being intentional. I stumble through this every day. My prayer as always would be that we all get a little better each day at loving others and reflecting The Light of Jesus in our lives. We can’t do that when our lives revolve around ourselves. Get out toady and make someone feel included!

“Instead of becoming bitter and resentful about how you’ve been mistreated, choose to do for another what you wish someone had done for you.” –Christine Caine

Living out our faith 

​ Link: Living Out Our Faith

A couple of afterthoughts. This is something new I’m trying. As God puts things on my heart to share, I’m going to do just that. If what He’s showing me impacts even just one life, it’s well worth it. That’s my prayer. I’m no one special. I don’t have any special, cool talents. I have the Lord, and what He teaches me. I can write and I can talk. So, this is me allowing Him to use that.

I also forced myself to do this without any makeup and without brushing my hair. It’s a tangible reminder to myself that this isn’t about me and I want to communicate that there is freedom here to be exactly who we are. You included. Please add to the conversation if you feel led to do so. Keep it nice though, I’d really hate to have to go pre-Jesus Erika on you, she was pretty unpleasant. 😉

(And ps. My husband watched this and tried to fire me for all my “um’s”. I had to nicely remind him I don’t work for him. I said I’m new! Cut me some slack😁)

Friendship 

“It’s impossible to live the right life when you have the wrong friends.” Craig Groeschel

Friendships are always evolving, wouldn’t you agree? And not only are the relationships themselves evolving, our definition of what we would consider to be a friend evolves as well.

I can recall the types of “friends” I had during my teens and into my early twenties. Good heavens, can somebody feel me? Makes me grateful for that evolution I mentioned. Isn’t that season necessary though? It’s impossible to really appreciate a good friendship if you haven’t had a few shallow, one sided, selfish friendships to grow from. I feel like the Lord has taught me a lot in this area over the last six or seven years. Here’s where I’ve landed and the guidelines I try to stick to when it comes to my friendships.

It starts with you. The day I began looking inward, I was on my way to better friendships. Instead of approaching a friendship wondering what I could get out of it, I began looking for ways that I could contribute to the relationship. I began working toward being the type of friend I wanted in another person.

There is a necessary season of cutting ties to experience growth. This was painful for me. This was also the same time that the Lord was really working in my life in lots of areas. Pruning, if you will. It hurt. It was lonely. But oh, sister. How beautiful the growth it brought into my life. Growth and relationships I still benefit from today. There hasn’t been one thing that the Lord has asked me to lay down that I have looked back on and wished I hadn’t. NOT ONE.

Not everyone gets the free pass to be your friend. This is what you didn’t hear me say. I didn’t say not everyone deserves your respect or your kindness. And I didn’t say don’t be friendly. What I’m getting at here is filtering those that have access to your most precious, private spaces. Guarding your heart and using great wisdom and discernment when it comes to the people you allow in. I wholeheartedly believe that those we surround ourselves with are essential to the story we want to tell with our lives. Friendships are such a sweet, sweet, wonderful blessing. They possess the power to make or break us. Know your worth. For this reason I say, not everyone gets a free pass.

Not all friendships are created equal. What do I mean? There are different, but necessary, levels of friendships. Be ok with that. From your acquaintances, to your play-date park moms, women at the gym, women in your church, people you see daily, to narrowing the funnel down to the closest relationships you have. Your bestie for the restie! Yeah I said it. Different levels of friendships are ok, and in my opinion, very natural and healthy.  You don’t have to divulge all to everyone. This is also a great place to practice wisdom when sharing your life.

Are you the problem? Is your life a revolving door of friends? Are you constantly “on the outs” with someone? Are you always, or frequently the victim? Does drama seem to follow you wherever you go? Do you always talk about yourself, rarely pausing to consider others? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I’m gonna break it to you gently. There’s about a 100% chance that you’re the problem. Begin to ask yourself what you can do to contribute to others lives instead of taking from it. A life lived all about ourselves isn’t much of a life at all. It takes some effort to learn how to give instead of always take. Be intentional.

Here’s what this all boils down to. You can have a lifetime of shallow friendships that come and go with the wind, or you can get vulnerable, do some self reflection and soul searching and gain real, deep, true friendships that will alter your definition of what a friend truly is. What story are you telling from the friends you choose? Might be time to make some hard decisions. Do it. You won’t be sorry.

The Fear of The Lord

The phrase “the fear of the Lord” involves:

  • Trusting in God’s commands and goodness.
  • A willingness to accept His higher understanding.
  • Surrendering to His will.
  • It is underscored by a genuine love and affection.
  • Tempered by awe and reverence.

Sometimes there are sermons that I didn’t know my heart needed. Today was one of those days. Gary Thomas brought THE NOISE this morning with a wonderful  word on what exactly “fearing” the Lord means. While I had some understanding of the word, as always, there is more to know. It was such a great reminder of the incredible God I live to know.

Now, most of us attribute the word fear to being frightened, or scared. This is NOT the case when we see it used in reference to the Lord. Pretty awesome! Check the scriptures below.

Psalm 33:18: God protects those who fear Him. We all have desires that can be destructive to our lives. Sometimes we act on those desires. However, when we grow in our fear of the Lord, we better understand how these decisions hurt and hinder us. We can’t trust ourselves. CONTRARY TO WHAT OUR CULTURE WILL TELL YOU. “Just follow your heart! Just do what makes you happy!” (Insert eye rolling emoji here.) We need the Bible, the wisdom it brings, and God’s guidance to protect us.

Psalm 25:12: He directs those who fear Him.

Psalm 25:12-13: Those who fear the Lord and their children will live in prosperity. THIS IS NOT A PLUG FOR THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL, THAT’S TRASH. This is real, Biblical truth on how trusting Lord establishes our paths for His glory. Not only for what we can get from Him.

Psalm 25:14: He calls those who fear him friends.

Psalm 103:17-18: God shows mercy to those who fear Him.

Psalm 145:19: God grants the desires of those who fear Him.

Psalm 115:13: No matter your social status, He will  bless those that fear Him.

 

Now look at these fresh flowers and be happy.

 

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A note to my daughter.

The last four and a half years have not only been four of the best years of my life, they’ve also served as a foundation on which I’ve learned so much about myself, the good and the bad, as well as what loving another person really means and the kind of sacrifice it really takes to love well. I have a few things I want to share with you.

First. Beauty is a state of mind. NOT a state of body.

I’m on your side; especially on the days it doesn’t feel like it. I will be your best friend, but I’ll be your mother more.

Inevitably, I will disappoint you. The ultimate safe place in your heart belongs to the Lord.

Be the friend you wish you had. Good friends love at all times. Period.

Prince charming isn’t a fairytale. He’s a myth. If you’re waiting for the “perfect” one, you’re wasting your time.

Bad hair days are inevitable.

I’m more interested in your growth than your happiness.

Be brave enough to do what’s right, despite the culture.

Challenge yourself.

You’re the most brave when you’re the most scared. Keep going anyways.

A good mascara is worth the investment.

Wash your face every night. It’s the best kind of beauty routine.

Protect your heart. But don’t be afraid of a broken heart. You’ll love again.

You won’t always be able to control what others think of you. Move on.

Always fight fair. But don’t be afraid to fight.

Husbands need a wife. Not another mom.

Good girls aren’t boring.

Jesus died a gruesome death on our behalf. So that we wouldn’t only live, but live abundantly and victoriously. Walk in that Truth.

The world needs your point of view.

They say history repeats itself, and so does fashion. Don’t wear Jnco’s. Ever.

It’s true what they say about childbirth. And then some.

Don’t be afraid of conflict. If you have a problem with someone, lovingly approach them. You’re responsible for the way you conduct yourself, not for their response.

Your body is not just yours. It’s a gift for your husband.

Sex for the first time will require a beautiful sense of humor and a partner that’s in it for life.

A good cry is great therapy. Just don’t watch yourself in the mirror. It gets weird.

You can always come home.

Taylor Swift is tha bomb. Haters gonna hate.

Encouraging and building up your husband will go farther than you’ll ever know.

Womanhood is a gift.

Value your friendships. Quality, not quantity.

Always hear both sides of the story first.

We teach others how to treat us. Humility and kindness always, but don’t hesitate for second to stand up for yourself.

Mean girls turn into mean women. Love them. They need it most.

Don’t be deceived. Being the most popular, the life of the party, or the prettiest aren’t bad things, but they don’t mean a thing.

Don’t ever miss a good chance to shut up.

All productive members of society change the toilet paper roll when it’s out. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The way we see ourselves has an enormous impact on how we see and treat others.

God has gifted you uniquely. Not to keep them to yourself, but to grow and multiply and be fruitful and faithful with them.

And lastly, you’ll always, always be my baby girl Emersyn Lynne! I love you more than you know.

 

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The Day I Had to Start Caring What Everyone Thinks

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” Philippians 1:27

It was sort of an alternate universe to me. Not only had I prided myself for years for not giving a rip what anyone else thought about me or the things I did, sadly, it wasn’t even an act. It was as genuine and as real as I sit here today. I had no qualms about writing you off and not ever giving it another thought. Your opinion mattered little to me and I had no hesitation about telling you where you could put it. Unfortunately, that mindset followed me into my relationship with the Lord. Only I got a little bit better about hiding it, or at least gained a little tack about it anyways. Instead of saying anything, I began to only think it. I would listen. Smile. Totally make fun of you in my head, and silently decide you were an idiot. So rude, right?

One day, I felt the Lord nudging me. As if to say, “I don’t care what these people think of you, but I do care what they think of Me. This isn’t about you.” It was sort of like God had begun a softening process on my heart and life. One that has proved to be a very loooong, sometimes painful, process. It continues to be something I have to work through daily. Taking others opinions, thoughts and criticisms on my life doesn’t come natural to me. I wholeheartedly believe it’s due to being in a state of defense my entire life. When I accepted Christ, He took on all the things I had to be defensive about and He continues to show me that I don’t have to live my life on the defense… I have the freedom in Him to love without reservation and to allow others into my life. Even into the not-so-pretty parts of my life. I have the freedom to listen and not get defensive. To consider other’s thoughts, and to filter them through scripture, prayer and my own personal outlook. I have the freedom to disagree respectfully but to allow others to be heard. If we call ourselves Christians, we have an obligation to point our lives towards Christ. ALL aspects of it. Not just the ones that are comfortable for us. Philippians 1:27 says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” God is saying this. This isn’t about you. Regardless of what you think, or what you’ve been taught your entire life, this is all about Me. I have a plan. I’m sitting on the throne. I am King. I am in control. Conduct yourself in such a way that acknowledges that and points others to me. I have a plan for each of you that your minds can’t even fully comprehend. Come be a part of My story. Come let Me love you and set you free. I’m waiting.

Don’t delay. May we all walk in His freedom this day.