Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guacamole....and the church....

So, if you pay any attention to me at all on Facebook, you will notice that I have had guacamole on the brain today. alllll came together. Sort of.

The last several months God has been doing some amazing things with my life. Using the last year and a half to develop me into yet another level to serve and worship. Does that mean I am perfect? Of course not....but I am always striving to be the best I can be. I get tired, frustrated, angry and I just have to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit in my pushing me through.

In search for some fellowship, I began attending a small group with some friends of mine that love Jesus. It was time I received some spiritual nourishment, and because I have mostly been in a leadership and serving role, I rarely took the time other than for a sermon on Sunday to really have someone pour into me. I have so so so loved the frienships that have come out of that decision. Amazing is not even close to desribing it. But in May, the Lord spoke loud and clear to me that it was time to get back into leading a small group again, and I began praying about that. Among a million other things the Lord has done in the past few months, He answered my prayers for a small group of women who began meeting on this past Monday night at my home. Within an hour, Jesus was quite clearly present and He moved in a mighty way that brought chills, shock, utter disbelief and rejoicing among us all. I am so thankful for each of these ladies.

It made me think of the recent people I have been placed in the path of that push back against corporate worship. Church. Groups. Christians. Do you really blame them? The judgement that has been placed on them, the hypocracy...why not just believe in God, say a prayer every now and then and leave it at that? BECAUSE IT IS UNBIBLICAL TO DO THAT!!!!! we are having to defend church....not God....but people...and that makes me sad. If God is love, then why are they not feeling loved in a place where God is supposed to be? A song by Casting Crowns called "Stained Glass Masqerade" ripped my heart out the other day. It is about the fascade played out by Christians and who they want everyone to think they are. You should listen to it.

I am broken for these people that are convinced that believing is enough. (And now....comes the guacamole.....) Avacados are good. But guacamole is amazing. When you add lime juice, garlic salt, a few tomatoes maybe, and avacado goes to an entirely different level!!! with me here...if you hate guacamole, use your imagination!!!! Being a Christian...believing in wonderful!!! And should be celebrated! But when you add in serving, obedience, blessing others, fellowship and community with other believers...or those that need can not ever be the same!!! The Bible instructs this....always taking it to the next level...because in Christ there is no limit to that level!!!

In Ephesians 2...Pauls speaks of community in the church.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household,20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Reach out to those who have stopped believing in the blessings of corporate fellowship and worship. If that person is you...please let me know. I would love to show you another side to Christianity that you have been missing out on..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Evaluation Time

Yesterday as I checked my mailbox at work, I saw a packet with a note on it. It was hard to believe a year has gone by since I came to work there permanently, and it is already time for my annual evaluation. I flipped through my blank "self eval" and read all of the questions as well as the scoring system. As with most evaluations I will fill out how I think I have done in these areas, then my manager will fill out how she thinks I have done, and where I need improvement, and so on and so forth. I have a great boss, and it's not this evaluation that bothers me at all. As a matter of fact I slipped off into a trance as my mind took me back to other evaluations in my past.

Have you ever thought you were doing an awesome job? Coming in early, staying late, offering to help with things, mentoring some, etc, etc.? I remember in so many situations during my days in the hospital in Texas-every time someone called in, I would go in and cover, I always finished my work on time, then would go help someone else who was not done with theirs, did not call in sick for over three years...I was doing my very best. Then when I sat down for my eval I was told of a time when I said something that offended someone. I was shown a charting sheet where I missed writing the date on something. Two or three other things out of an entire year of working so hard that were very insignificant and petty kept me from getting a good evaluation. I deserved better!

Another time when I was in management the same thing happened. I worked the job that now at least two people are doing with limited training. I worked so hard. It took away from my family, my life, my volunteering. I worked at home late into the night and on the weekends. I don't know if I have ever tried so hard in my life. Evaluation time. Epic fail. I was devastated. Hurt. Angry. Then when it was my turn to evaluate the staff that I managed, I, by nature, wanted to see all of the good in them. To encourage them. I realize everyone needs improvement and constructive criticism, however I looked at their overall performance. Not just a bad day here and there. When I sent them for approval, I would always get them back to re-do. "I made it too fluffy" Then, with all of the "mud" I was instructed to put on there, my staff would walk away from their evals feeling the same way I had felt.

Do you see a pattern here?

All of those years, trying to please man. I will never be good enough for man. Disappointed when I did not receive the approval and encouragement from those I sought to impress and have MY name recognized, and not the name of Jesus. I left those jobs for one reason or the other, but I got smart. I didn't stop caring if I did a great job...I will always put forth my best effort. I will always respect my leaders, even if I disagree with them. But what I do does NOT rely on their approval, and for that change in my attitude, I am being blessed.

"But as for You, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good." 2Thes 3:13 NKJV

I will never stop doing good. I am so far from perfect, however my priorities are ohhhh so different now. My great. My God is greater. I will continue to serve Him above man. Always. If this story is the same for you....then "Evaluate Yourself" and see exactly who you are trying to please. God will show you what He has in store for you.

"May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose." Psalm 20:4

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why NOT Me?

" God is after your heart...not your behavior." These words have been hounding me for over 48 hours. Have you ever faked anything? Have you ever wanted everyone else to believe you were okay, or good, or pure or anything else to the point that you thought you could convince yourself, the ones who know you the best, or even God of it?
I used to love to play dress-up. To pretend that I was something or someone that I wasn't. I loved watching my daughter pick out clothes at yard sales...old prom dresses and gaudy she could dress up like a princess. Our son spent ages 3 through 9 donning a cape every day of his life. We picked up used costumes so he could be a different superhero every day. I used to love to watch him put the large cape on Tim, as he hopped on the back of the wheelchair and they would go as fast as they could so the capes would fly in the wind. As the children have grown, they are realizing that the world is not a fairy tale. They see the world they are growing up in, and as much as I want to protect them and save them from everything that will bring them harm, I am learning to step back and let them learn lessons that are sometime hard to swallow. I know them too well. They cannot hide their pain from me. Anymore than you or I can hide our pain from our Father.
So why do we try? It's usually to make everyone else feel better. Or to pretend you are invincilble. Thinking at some point it will all go away. Personally I pour myself into serving and accomplishments, somehow thinking that by helping others my own pain will be disguised. And it works.
Most of the time.
We will always struggle. If we didn't struggle over one thing it would be another. If we didn't struggle then we would have no reason to seek God. Why do we have to have the answers to all of the questions? Why can't we just trust Him? It's like learning the consequences of not wearing sunscreen. I don't feel like it's hot....I'm in the water! Your children learn after the first sunburn that just because they don't see it taking place, the consequences that come that evening and the next day all point to the signs that they should have trusted you! It's no different for us....we have to trust God that He's got it.
We have to let Him be who He is. And trust that His word is truth. We have to.
God is moving in me to begin a discipleship ministry, to enable believers to be obedient by reaching out to others, mentoring them, and preparing them to do the same. Why me? Why not me? And why not you? I would love for you to pray about being a part of "Awaken." And I welcome the opportunity to come speak to your church or group about discipleship, or a number of other things. I am keeping the speaking events to one or two a month, so if you are interested, you are welcome to email me @
Give others the same grace that you have received. Whether they deserve it or not. Let God be God, and you be obedient. I promise. He will not let you down.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It's so easy to get caught in the routine of day to day life. I do it. You do it. And before you know it we are looking back on our life trying to get back time that we will never be able to get. The kids grow up. One gray hair appears, then another. The "somedays" in our lives become "I wish I hads." Then one day you wake up. Everyone has that moment that they actually wake up and all of those things you swore you would do become a priortity. Does it come as the result of a loss? Or a birthday? There are so many things that can spawn that final desire to "just do it."
God has been wrecking me to do more than just participate. I love the level I am blessed to serve in the capacities that I do as a part of NewSpring Church. I am blessed to see and be a part of salvations each and every week. If you have never prayed with someone else to receive Christ, then you have missed out on a pure and deep joy. In the past few months I have found myself feeling like there was even more God wanted from me. I haven't been able to put a finger on it, until I realized...why does that discipleship have to be on just Sundays? Why should it be only within the walls of that building? It's easy to sit back and say, "New Spring should get a _______ ministry." Why is it their responsibility? Why is it any church's responsibility to reach the children, youth, adults, wrecked marriages and every other walk of life that either needs to meet Jesus or needs to realize that simply accepting Christ is NOT enough. If Jesus is in your heart, you should be serving, witnessing, praying, and living out the new life you have been given in Christ.
The vision I believe God has bestowed upon me is for disciples to become on fire for building an army of other disciples to build an army of other disciples to build an army....and so on. People need to be empowerd by the Holy Spirit to use their gifts to serve and to be bold in their pursuit of people that need to know Jesus. To awaken from a life of routine and serving ourselves and this world, to serve each other and a mighty God.
What is stopping you? I would love for you to be a part of it. Each one of us reaching one person a week for Christ. Can you even imagine? God has given you the tools. Let us help empower you to use them for His glory.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Is YOUR Legacy?

My sleep patterns have been messed up....again. Running on about 3-4 hours a night and crashing during the day. Monday night was July the 4th, and as customary several people were over for a cookout and late fireworks. No sleep again Tuesday night and Wednesday made the two and a half hour haul with my daughter to take Tim's new wheelchair to Atlanta to begin the process of getting him ready to drive again. I was home by 2:30 and grateful for a couple of hours to nap before time to go get my son.
It took approximately 2.6 seconds for me to go unconscious. I always turn my phone on vibrate to not be awakened, however, at about 3:15 the constant and repetitive vibrations got my attention. One eye opened, I tried to read all of the messages coming through my phone. All of them saying the same thing...."Did you hear about Tori?" "What happened to Tori?" "When did you talk to Tori last?" I know more than one Tori. But had only one of them in common with the people blowing up my cell phone.
The immediate conversations confirmed it. She was gone. All I could do was sit in disbelief. My childhood friend. Who lived around the corner from me. Who sat behind me in many classes. Whose smile lit up anyone and everyone who came into contact with her. My mind flashed back to high school. Cheerleading tryouts were coming up. I didn't believe in myself at all. She practiced with me, she believed in me, she encouraged me. And the day before tryouts the only thing that consumed me was rejection from everyone else. I didn't try out.
A few years after we graduated we began working in the same hospital taking care of the same patients in the ICU. We got to know each other all over adults, not children. The night shifts we worked were so much fun. I missed her so much when I moved away. Before the internet. Before Facebook.
About a year and a half ago we many laughs. So many nights of helping each other through rough times. Her new teenage girl...mine who had just graduated. Encouraging each other and praying for each other. When I discovered I had multiple tumors and had a massive surgery last summer she stayed in touch constantly. Through Tim's last year and a half she encouraged me. And with last minute planning last summer, I was able to reunite with her and a couple of other high school friends for an afternoon of fun and laughter. She radiated. As if we were all 16 again. Her love for her family and the Lord was beaming. Her happiness that we had all reconnected was uplifting. I was so glad too. What an impact she had on my life. And she never even knew it. I am just one of so many.
I posted the picture of the three of us in her memory. I tagged her facebook page with it. Moments later her name popped up with an entry. Her 13 year old daughter was writing on her wall...I miss you and love you so much Mommy! Love, Natalie. I have never met Nat, although I know her quite well through her mother. I encouraged her as best I continue her mother's legacy. Moments later, Tori's FB wall photo the picture of the three of us on that day last summer. Bright eyes, big smiles, arms wrapped around each other. That is how I choose to remember her.
Losing someone close to you far too early always throws a different perspective on things. They buried her today. Across the country. So many shedding tears for an angel that is in Heaven with her beloved sister and mother that she has mourned over so much. What legacy will I leave behind? I hope it comes close to hers. How about you? What is your legacy?
I miss you, my friend. I will never ever stop praying for your husband and children. I look forward to our final reunion.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Do You Pray Big Enough?

Moving into a new direction with my blog...might even change the name. Historically it has been used to update on Tim's medical status during his last two surgeries..laying out my encounters with a faithful God. The miracles that took place were huge. But what about when we are not in crisis? What happens when the dust settles? Well, welcome to my new direction. Taking hold of my newfound strength and using this page as the beginning of what I have asked God to allow me to be. His disciple. I am preparing to do just that. Speaking, writing, and reaching out to those who are too weak and broken to pick themselves up. Please pray with me as I begin to pursue what I have always wanted to do.

Last week I chauferred my mom, aunt and grandmother to see an evangelist named Perry Stone. He is well known and I was happy to get to take my family to hear him. Little did I (we) know that we were embarking on a Church of God Camp meeting. If you don't know what that is, I will have to explain another time! It was so awesome! The message was one of truth and greatness...however...there was one part that stood out to me. I am a huge prayer warrior. I have spent much time in the Bible learning how to pray and much time in silence learning how to hear God speak to me. I have had two true, real, personal encounters with the Holy Spirit. I will share them with you sometime...but not today. It occurred to me during his message that as hard as I pray, I still put limits on God. I pray open-ended. I pray with hope rather than expectation. I pray casually and not with awe of coming before a mighty and powerful God. Why should He answer anything I pray for? Why should He not be insulted? It's because He knows I am a work in progress. He is so proud of how far I have come that He knows there will always be a next level for me. This is my next level.

So, I gave it a try. Almost an hour in prayer. In silence. Arms lifted high. Praying for so many that have asked me to, and others who would surely have a stroke if they knew not only that I was praying for them, but what it was I was praying for. I saved me til last. And then I begged, I claimed, I believed, I trusted, I expected that what I asked for would be done with His blessing and my hard work. The following morning....just the opposite of what I asked for happened.

I was angry, sad, and all other negative things combined. I felt surely Satan was attacking me. I turned to people I thought would say what I wanted to hear. And I was, of course, disappointed when they provided no comfort at all. My questions resonated to God. Was it Satan? Was it God telling me no? So, I spent some time in the Word, and this was the end result:

When you are making a decision, look at the following:
1) Will the course considered lead a fellow Christian to sin by your example? (1 Cor 8:13)
2) Will the action provide strength and encouragement to your own life? (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23)
3) Will the action ultimately glorify God? (1 Cor 10:31)

I had originally turned to my husband for support. Since the last surgery, I have to choose the times I seek his guidance carefully because of the medication he is still on. I chose the wrong time, and became resentful. I waited until I had his full attention, and no television or other distractions. And he said exactly what I needed him to. The same words I had been preaching to him for years as he pursued his dream. " Sometimes God says yes, sometimes God says no, and sometimes God says -not yet." It all sank in. This decision is for the good of my family, and it will set me up for preparing for success to do His work later on. Just not yet...not in the way I wanted.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

God's Timing is Perfect

I have learned over the past few years that no matter what is going on in my life, God is always waiting on the other side. When I am worried and try to fix things myself I end up in a total tailspin. What I came up with earlier this year when faced with some tough stressers in my life some might call denial. Call it what you want...I basically just checked out. Checked out of social networking, checked out of being involved with friends, checked out of everything but breathing in and breathing out. Doing whatever I could to function as a parent and work. Trying to be strong enough in our marriage for the both of us. I basically got sick of being sick and tired from all of the worry. What I did not do what stop serving the Lord. And on the other side of things...he was there with a big smile. It taught me so many lessons. That I can surely and faithfully lay my burdens down. I refuse to worry. It wastes my valuable time. Does that mean I am not concerned or fearful in a tight situation? No...I just have to pray harder. But I suppose I can refer to it in a new terminology....denial by faith. Because of my faith I will deny myself the turmoil that is associated with worry. God always has me in His arms and at my darkest moments he is the only thing that can give me the peace I need. He speaks to me...when I am willing to hear Him. This is just one of the ways I know..

Several weeks ago I was at one of my lowest points of the journey at Shepherd Center. It was the first time I had been able to physically attend church in weeks because of being on call for work and being in Atlanta with Tim. It was for the Christmas service at NewSpring. Before I even entered the building I was met with hugs and love from so many, however our youth pastor, Brad, embraced me and told me as he kept up with my email updates and blog posts God really layed Ephesians 3 on his heart for me. It was so sweet...and I thought to myself, "I need to read that when I get home." After the service I had several people offer to pray with me. As they did, from two seperate people the words "Ephesians 3" left their mouths. They never knew, of course, that it had already been spoken to me once that evening. Of course as soon as I got home I dove right in. It was amazing. It filled me with such peace to read of the mystery that surrounds a God who is capable of things beyond our wildest imagination.

I arrived in Atlanta later that week. I read the scripture over and over to my husband strung out on so much medication and dozing from exhaustion. I read it from three different translations. I filled him with it. He paid me no attention. The next morning with a little more life in him, he asked that I read it again. As I did he tried desperately to break it down sentence by sentence. My husband, the Bible genius, was asking me to explain what it was I saw in that chapter. I told him in every way I knew how. The next week, I had been home again and returned to his side for a four day period. He had asked me for a particular page -a-day calendar for Christmas that I got for him and he asked me to read it for him. I took it out of the box, and on the cover was the following:
God knows how to multiply your influence, multiply your strength, multiply your talent, and your income. All you have to do is believe. If you will release your faith for a supernatural year-get up each day expecting God's far and beyond favor, then you will see God show up and do amazing things in your life.
"Now all the glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask of Him. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen" Ephesians 3:20

Yes. I laughed.

This past Sunday was our first Sunday in church together in almost three months due to his health issues. I was on call for work so I had to watch from the outside atrium in case I received a call. It was an amazing message. And then...the following scripture reference was made...Ephesians 3:20.

Yes. I laughed.

I know God has got this. As He has everything. What I do know is that my sole purpose in life is to serve my God, to blog, tweet, post, pray, speak to masses, write and whatever else I can do to tell everyone I can how to get to the place that God wants them to be. God wants so much for your life. Don't waste another second. He is always at work within us.