A chronicle of our lives. One day, maybe a book...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mashed Potatoes

I’ve heard a saying that says something to the effect of “the same boiling water that hardens the egg softens the potato.” It’s not the boiling water—the situation you are in—but rather what you’re made of that determines the outcome of that adversity. So when adversity comes, which will you be? An hardened egg or a softened potato?

Hopefully, we can all be potatoes. Imagine if you were that potato being boiled, though. You went through the pain of boiling water, and you’re now softened. But you’re still not ready to be eaten. So the Lord starts mashing you. It seems like it’s the worst pain in the world, and why would this happen after being redeemed from the boiling water? Getting mashed doesn’t sound like much fun at all. But He’s molding you into what He wants—a delectable culinary delight. He adds the milk and the butter, the salt and the pepper. He is creating something way better than what that potato was prior to the boiling—or even after the boiling. The key is to know that you’re being made into mashed potatoes and not sulk and cry, “Why?!?” when He’s mashing or adding a little texture and flavor to you. You just have to trust in Him that He knows what He’s cooking.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fleeting Feelings

In our postmodernist society, we are inundated with media that tells us, "If it feels good, do it." We are told to indulge in whatever vices we desire--sex, drugs, alcohol, gluttony, whatever it may be. What's right for you may not be right for me. The only caveat we are given is to do no harm to others. Postmodernists believe that definite terms, boundaries, and absolute truth do not exist. They believe that truth is relative and truth is up to each individual to determine for him or herself. Therefore, postmodernists believe that no one has the authority to define truth or impose upon others his or her idea of moral right and wrong. Their self-rationalization of society and life then, becomes a moral relativism versus divine revelation. There can be no latter if there is only the former. This pervasive, persuasive, and perverse thinking can be seen in our movies, TV shows, news media, education system, government, and even our children.

This kind of relative morality directly contradicts the Bible. The Bible and God's truth is not relative—it is absolute, and it is never-changing. Malachi 3: 6 says, "I, the Lord, do not change." That puts it pretty plainly. But if that's not enough for you, Jesus also says in John 14:6 "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." So if we use a little logic here, Jesus, the Lord, does not change, and neither does the Way, the Truth or the Life. None of it changes. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He is the steadfast rock that is unwavering.

Feelings and emotions waver--they wax and wane; they are red-hot with passion one day, and cold as ice the next. Juliet had it right when she told Romeo, "O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon/That monthly changes in her circle orb/Lest that thy love prove likewise variable." She knew that feelings and emotions can be fleeting. As Christians, we don't get to rely on our feelings for our truth, but rather we must fully rely on God's Word and God's truth. We don't get to pick and choose which scriptures we "feel like" following.

So are we to ignore our feelings? Of course not. But we are to submit those feelings to the Holy Spirit prior to acting on them. The Bible tells us that our soul (mind, will, and emotions) is to be submitted to the Holy Spirit. So if we are Christians who submit our souls (including our feelings) to the Lord, then we must always look at our emotions in light of the Lord, the Truth and the Bible, and it isn't easy.

Even David, a man after God's own heart, had trouble submitting his soul to the Spirit. Psalm 103:1 says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!" This is the Psalmist speaking to his soul--to his mind, his will and his emotions--telling them to bless the Lord. He is submitting his soul to his spirit--His Spirit.

The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter how you feel. Feelings lie, and Satan can give you those feelings anyway. What matters is the Word of God, because in the Word of God is all Truth. When we use the Word of God as our yardstick to measure our lives, it is far more secure than using our ephemeral, ever-changing feelings.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Put in the Work

Several years ago, after my divorce, God promised me a home (as in one I could purchase for myself and my girls). So I started working my butt off to save money; I drove the bus whenever I could, and I started coaching to earn extra cash. We scrimped and saved. I did massive amounts of credit repair. Then I had to go house hunting. I had to write a $1,000 earnest money check. I had to put in a mortgage application. I had to sign the documents. I had to go get a really big cashier's check with all the money I had in the entire world. And in August, I bought my first new home as a single mom. God was the only way it could happen.

With this being said, God made me a promise of a home. But I had to do the work on myself first, then I had to actually put myself out there and go through the process of purchasing the home. God was with me every step of the way, guiding me, teaching me and showing me what to do. But He did not just drop a house in my lap. I didn't just keep praying more or harder for a house. I had to do WORK.

The same principle applies to relationships. So many times, we think that God will just drop a man in our laps. We think that God will just bring that person to us without us having to *do* a thing. It doesn't work that way. We have to prepare ourselves (credit repair), we have to look for Godly people to befriend (house-hunting) and put ourselves out there (apply for that mortgage—we could get denied!), and actually go through the process (which is scary!) in order to have that Godly relationship (home) we desire.

So stop thinking that a house or a mate will just arrive one day just because God gave you a promise. WORK the promise!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Satan's Attacks

Growing up, the adults in my life would tell me that I was a leader. Being young and naive, I would try to be a leader--I ran for class office, I tried to step up into other leadership roles at school, and I never won. Not once. My senior year, I was captain of the basketball team, but that was mainly because I was the best one on the team--not because of stellar leadership skills. I left high school thinking that the adults in my life were severely mislead about my abilities, and that I was most definitely not a leader. So that's how I led my life--that is until a couple years ago.

One of the singles pastors at church decided that I needed to lead a group. Obviously, I did not concur, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway. After that season, I was asked again to be a leader, then again. In May 2016, I got a call from my singles pastor. She asked me to lead the Single Parent Family Mission Trip to Mexico. I had not even really planned on going on that trip. I had been praying about whether to sign up or not, but I still wasn't sure that's what God wanted me to do. She told me that she wasn't able to go on the trip because of a scheduling conflict. She said that she was told to choose one man and one woman to lead the trip in her stead. My gut reaction was to say no. I am not anywhere near qualified to lead a group of people on a mission trip. I hesitated, then I heard myself say, "yes" to her. Over the next few months, I spent more time in prayer than I ever had in my life. I carefully sought the Lord in every plan that I made. My co-leader was the perfect person for me to lead with. He is a big-picture person, and I'm a details person. We worked perfectly together, and my confidence in my leadership abilities was feebly growing.

There were numerous setbacks and rough patches in the missions team as we prepared for the trip. I had to handle situations I had never had to handle before. I realized that dealing with people is messy business. I was in uncharted territory. My faith in my abilities was shaky at best, and I truly had to learn to lean on the Lord in every step I took. The mission trip itself was one of the most trying weeks of my life. Not only was is physically draining (hard work, heat and humidity, and I was suffering from altitude sickness), but it was spiritually draining. We were in an area of Mexico that was dark and Satan's handiwork was evident everywhere we turned. It was emotionally draining to be away from my children, and it took a toll on my emotions that I was the leader. In the midst of dealing with my own struggles, everyone turned to me with their issues as well. The last evening we were there, things were not going as planned. As is common with leading groups, some things were said about the trip and the activities that were quite hurtful to me. Those words shot through me like a dagger, and the meager confidence I had was shattered. I had to excuse myself, and I went to my room and cried. Not small tears streaming down my face crying, but boo-hooing ugly crying. I was hurt. I was mad. I was mad at God. I was mad at all the people who ever wanted to put me in a leadership role. I was mad that I was there. I was mad that I was supposed to be this leader that I was most decidedly not. I just knew that I knew it was another mistake, and that I was not supposed to be a leader.

That's when my roommate came in. She prayed with me and said these words to me, "Satan always attacks where your giftings are." It was a revelation to me, and it was God speaking through her. God showed me that Satan doesn't want me to be a leader. He came to kill, steal, and destroy. Why would Satan leave alone our gifts from God? It's a brilliant plan! If Satan can get us to believe that the gifts God gave us are indeed a curse, or that we (or God) is wrong about those gifts, then Satan wins. And he doesn't care how old we are. He starts in on those promises and gifts incredibly early.

When each of the girls were born, I asked the Lord for a word for each of them. For Mikayla, He told me that she has the mantle of leadership upon her, and for Macey, she is made to go beyond our borders and change the world with her hands. I don't know what that means exactly, but I know her hands are so important to her future. And I've always loved her hands--I've always admired them, and thought the way she moved them and her mannerisms were just so cute. However, Macey has always been a colossal klutz. She knocks over everything she touches; she spills every drink. The floor underneath where she eats is covered with little tidbits of food. She gets food all over herself: in her hair, on her clothes, in her shoes. She spills everything in the car. She will absent-mindedly tear up paper into little pieces and strew them across the floor. She breaks almost every toy she plays with, or at least ruins it beyond use. She's broken my iPad screen three times, and my iPhone screen twice. To put it succinctly: she's a destructive little tornado. As I was talking to my dad about it the other day, the Lord reminded me of my experience in Mexico and how Satan will always attack us where we are gifted. Then He plainly asked me, "Where are Macey's giftings?" And that was it--it's her hands. Satan has been attacking her to destroy her confidence in her hands. If she believes that she destroys everything she touches, she will never be able to fulfill her destiny and the promise God gave me for her.

So we lay in bed and talked about it. I told her that Satan will always attack us where we are gifted. I told her about God's promise to me about her. She cried, "But I'm so destructive!" I cried, too. She's already believing Satan's lie, and I have to make sure God's truth prevails. We kept talking about it for several more minutes, and I prayed over her. The tears dried, and we hugged and kissed. Macey goes in the kitchen, and Mikayla immediately gets on to her for something she had destroyed earlier in the day. Macey holds her hands out and responds with, "Why would you say that, Mikayla? I'm going to change the world with my hands, and I just found out!"

It will take a long time to undo just the seven years of damage Satan has done to Macey and her confidence in her abilities and her hands. I will have to change the way I talk to her, and I will have to speak life into her every day in regards to her gifts. But I have confidence and faith that God will prevail, and that Satan will never win. He will always attack us exactly where our giftings are, and he will make us feel as if our giftings are not real, or that God was wrong. We must always be alert to that, speak against it, and cover ourselves in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 11, 2017

God is Not in Control

A psycho unleashed terror in Las Vegas, Nevada the beginning of October. He murdered 58 people and injured 546 people who were all at a country music concert. Even several months later, there are many questions unanswered. When mass murders like this occur, or even when smaller tragedies hit us, we want so desperately to make the pain a little more bearable. The range of emotions from rage and anger to anguish and melancholy leave us crying out, "Dear God, Why?" We comfort those who are hurting with our words, especially our "Christian" words. The two most common phrases we hear when the incomprehensible happen are, "God is in control," or "Everything happens for a reason." People post memes with these phrases, inspirational quotes and send cards with these words. While these two phrases may give some momentary comfort in times of confusion and hurt, what they say about God is unbiblical and untrue.

We indeed need to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." God does "'know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" God knows everything that will happen, but that doesn't mean He is controlling us, the universe, or the earth. God is not a puppet master, and we are not his marionettes. We have been given free-will, and we can choose our own path. We get to make every choice every day. We get to choose whether or not we follow God. He tells us what He wishes for us-that to be His disciple, we must "take up their cross daily and follow me." But He never forces our hand, because He can't, and therein lies the paradox. How can an omnipotent God not do something, yet still be limited in what He can do? It doesn't make sense to our human (and very limited) brains.

When God created the universe, He created laws of physics and thermodynamics. He created gravity, friction, transference of energy, and all other scientific laws. We know that these rules cannot be broken--what goes up must come down; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We know through scientific observation that these are laws--they cannot be broken. If God wanted to, He could thump the moon to the Horsehead Nebula, but He won't. Because it violates the laws in which He set up the universe. In the same way He set up the laws of the physical world, He also set up the laws of humanity. God could intervene and stop every evil thing from happening, but he won't. It violates the laws of humanity.

When God sent up the laws of humanity, first of all, He gave us free will. He gave us the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Precisely because He is a loving God, He had to give us a choice to love Him, honor Him, and be faithful to Him. If He didn't give us a choice, it wouldn't be true love. He also gave man dominion over the earth. Genesis 1 tells us that God made the animals, then He made man "so that they may rule over" the animals and all the earth. The Psalmist in Psalm 8:6 praises His name, saying "You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet." Just as the laws of physics cannot be altered, neither can the laws of His character.

God gave us control over the earth. That's why Satan was able to deceive Adam and Eve in the garden. That's why there is sin in this world. Because God is not in control. If He were in control, there would be no sin, therefore no earth. A sinless world can only happen once this earth passes away, and there is a new heaven and a new earth. That time has not yet come, but it will happen. God promises it in Revelation 21.

Even though God isn't in control, He can still perform miraculous wonders. He is still capable of signs and wonders. He is still omnipotent. He is still the author and finisher of our faith. While we are living here on this earth, God will not intervene unless we give him permission. God cannot do anything on this earth unless He has a body to work through. The same things goes for Satan. Satan and his legions must have a body to work their evil plans, because God gave mankind dominion over the earth.

I Peter 3:9-16 says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It is so important for us to realize that when someone dies here on earth, they are receiving their inheritance in heaven. We are to rejoice that they are rejoicing on streets of gold. They are free from sin and every ugly thing here on earth. They are only separated from us but for a fleeting moment here on earth. So many times we question God asking, "Why?" when the actual question we should be asking is "Why not?" Why should God not take His children out of poverty, destruction, sin and tragedy and draw them next to Him? Why should He not seat them on His throne of glory? Why should God not use tragedy to teach those of us who remain more about Who He is and to show us His infinite love? But He never lets bad things happen just so He can be glorified. That's absurd. He doesn't work that way--but Satan does. Satan is sneaky, and he will get us to believe that bad things happen to us because of God. He is the ultimate blame-shifter.

I will never believe that God's "divine plan" was for me to be sexually assaulted, contemplate suicide, go through a divorce, or any of the other bad things that have happened to me. There was NO reason for it other than Satan trying to get me to end my life. And I refuse to believe God "let it happen because it's part of His plan." It happened because we live in a fallen world. God has indeed used those things in my life to His Glory. He has turned something tragic and horrific into something beautiful that only He is capable of doing. But to say that everything: tragedy, loss, hurt, pain, destruction, depression, etc. was a part of God's divine plan—-no. It wasn't. That is Satan's plan. He's the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Summer 2017

I glimpse into our summer 2017. Click the link to see the video! It took me a while to get it all put together, but I finally got it! We had a blast this summer--water parks, New Orleans, Destin, Vicksburg, Eustace and lots of time with the cousins! Summer culminated with us finally moving in to our new house! God has blessed our little family more than I could ever imagine. There's a song that says, "Where there is no way, You make a way!" And that's exactly how I feel about our house. God made a way for me to be a homeowner and for me to give my girls a home.

For my 38th birthday, we went to Keller Pointe, which is a local water park. They have an indoor section with a slide and play area, as well as a large outdoor park. It's intimate enough for us to be able to just play and not worry about our stuff.The girls were on the swim team for the Northwest YMCA. They practiced during the week and had meets on Saturdays. Macey went to Gym n' Swim camp at Sokol the first week of the summer. Another reason I love living out here--I used to go to Sokol when I was her age, as well as swim at the YMCA for swim team. Mikayla went back to Leta Andrews' basketball camp at Country Day.

Lauren, Sadie, Titus, Eli and Emmie returned with us to Miramar Beach this year as well. We took an extra day to drive down and stayed for an evening in New Orleans. We stayed at the Hilton, and Mikayla was in awe of the hotel. She mentioned several times that it was the nicest hotel we've ever been to. The next day, we went to Cafe DuMonde and ate beignets for breakfast. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it was a donut with powered sugar. They were good, but I just thought there would be more to it. The cafe doesn't serve anything else, either. After breakfast, we went walking down the French Quarter. We went to St. Louis Cathedral, and it was overwhelming. It was so beautiful. We walked out on Jackson Square, and there were lots of palm readers and voodoo booths. The girls did not like it one bit. They could feel the presence about the place, and it wasn't one of the Holy Spirit. Before we left, I took a picture of myself reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" while standing on the banks of the Mississippi River. I'm sure I'm the only one who would think that's cute.

We stayed in the same condo complex in Miramar Beach that we stayed in last year. It wasn't the same condo, but it was the same floor plan. We were on the 4th floor, and it actually worked out really well. It rained on us a couple times, and a torrential downpour let loose the day we left. We went on a shelling and snorkeling tour this year as well. We saw several dolphins, then went to a shallow coastal area to look for shells. The captain found a blue crab for us to all hold. We found a ton of seashells. When La-La and I got back to the condo, we were cleaning the shells, and two hermit crabs had made it in the shell bags! We took them back to the ocean so they might be able to live. As we were washing the shells, we were talking about how clean they already were, and how it was odd that there were so many shells right where we docked the boat. It then dawned on us that the Destin Snorkel Company planted the shells! They had to go out prior to our boat trip and place all of those shells there. We felt pretty foolish and laughed about it. I guess it's more fun to at least pretend we are finding the shells than just to buy them in a store. Then we wondered where those shells actually came from.

On our way back to Texas, the girls and I stayed in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stayed at a casino hotel on the Mississippi River. The view was breathtaking. There was a pool, so of course the girls jumped right in. We ate dinner in the hotel that night, and it was half price appetizers. We had shrimp and crab claws. The girls were still wet from the pool, and it was so cold in the dining room. We shivered all the way through dinner.

The next morning, I found a Chick=Fil-A, because we all wanted Chicken Minis. When we pulled up, there was a man cutting the grass. When we got out of the car, Macey said, "It smells like grasshole!" We all got a good laugh out of that one. We then went to the National Military Park Museum. I didn't know what it was, but I thought it looked interesting, and it delivered! It's a drive-through park with monuments all throughout it that honor the men who fought in the Civil War. We got out of the car several times and took pictures and read the monuments. There were cannons, and the girls pretended to shoot them. After having read a lot of men's names on the monuments and tombstones, Mikayla said, "Where are all of the women's names?" I explained to her how only men fought back then--not women. She was incredulous. "But why?" she demanded. "Women are just as capable as men to fight in a war." The USS Cairo is also on display in the park, so we got to walk through the warship. Macey was especially interested in the museum artifacts. We had a wonderful time at the beach and our stops along the way.

As soon as we got back to Fort Worth, we spent a couple days at home before heading to the farm. We spent the 4th of July there, and the kids loved it. We went fishing, and there was a giant waterslide for the kids. We shot fireworks, and even started a fire! The fireworks smoldered and caught fire in the middle of the night. Quick thinking Papa Rock saved the farm from going up in flames. Mama Rock had just gotten two barn kittens, and the girls were smitten. The girls caught their first fish, and Mikayla wouldn't even hold the line to take a picture with it.

The cousins came to Fort Worth later in July as well. We went to Burger's Lake with them, as well as Eagle Mountain Lake. Justin rented a boat, and the kids got to wakeboard and tube. The girls had never gotten to do that before, so they had a blast. I'm so thankful for a sister and brother in law who can give my kids these amazing experiences that I can't.

One night, I couldn't sleep, so at about 2:30 in the morning, I pulled Mikayla and Macey out of bed, and we went to Whataburger to eat breakfast. The only reason was just to make a memory. Because sometimes, it's just fun to do wild and crazy things to make memories.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Prodigal

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father represents God the father, while the prodigal son represents those of us who have strayed away from God and come back home. It teaches us that no matter how far away we stray, God will always be there waiting for us to return. It also teaches us the relationship with God is what He longs for.

We know that the prodigal son represents a person who is already a Christian. How do we know that he represents a Christian? Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God "predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ." (NIV) Romans 8:16 says that, "The Spirit himself testifies that we are God's children." (NIV) So when we are His children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17 NIV) This lets us know that the Prodigal Son was indeed representative of a Christian--not someone who doesn't know God.

When the prodigal son went his own way, he broke off the relationship with his father. He did horrible and degrading things. He squandered his entire inheritance. At his lowest point, he ate the food of what was considered one of the most unclean animals. He realized that even the servants (not sons) of his father lived better than he was living. He was so ashamed and distant, he was willing to trade his son-status for that of a servant. He just wanted to be back in the presence of his father, even if that meant he didn't have a relationship with him anymore. He never thought he would be worthy to continue being his father's son or be in relationship with him. He had just done too many horrible things.

At what point did he stop being a son? He never did. He always remained a son. What he lost was relationship. Upon his return to his father, he was greeted with compassion, hugs, kisses, and a feast. He was immediately provided a robe (the father's protection), a ring (the father's authority), and sandals (the ability to go and do the father's work). He never stopped being a son, and he re-gained the relationship when he was able to humble himself and turn away from the pigsty.

So how does this look to us in the 21st Century?

It's the same picture. We fall away, we do degrading horrible things. We sin. We have sex outside of marriage. We drink. We do drugs. We're selfish. We're arrogant and narcissistic. But we never stop being sons or daughters. However, we are out of relationship with the Father. God deeply desires the relationship with his sons and daughters. James 5:8 says, "Come near to God, and he will come near to you." (NIV) We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ to the kingdom of heaven, yes, but God wants the relationship with us, too. We only have to humble ourselves and turn away from the pigsty. That's the key. The son decided to leave the pigsty. He had to leave the sin behind. He had to take action. He didn't know how it would turn out--but we do. When he returned to his father, he knew he couldn't live in both worlds. He had to leave the sin behind to be in his father's presence and to live as his son. Do we? Do we try to live in the pigsty of sin, sex, drugs, selfishness, lust, gluttony--but then turn around on a Sunday and all of a sudden be in His presence? We have to humble ourselves and leave the pigsty behind.

Special Thanks to Greg Jenks for co-writing this one with me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chester

This past week, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide. Unlike other recent celebrity suicides and overdoses, this one has affected me more than any other. Maybe it's because he's so close to my age. Maybe it's because I liked Linkin Park so much. Maybe it's more than any of that.

When I was in college, the band Linkin Park released their first studio album, Hybrid Theory. One of my best friends and I couldn't wait until the band came to Texas so we could see them in concert. We drove two and a half hours to see them, and couldn't stop talking about the concert. We weaseled our way down to as close to the stage as the security guards would let us go without proper tickets. I can still see the sweat dripping down from Chester's frosted-tips to his temple. With their grungy guitar-heavy rock sound combined with Chester's scraggly voice and Mike's near rapping, the band was a perfect combination of all that I loved about 90's music. Most importantly, for the first time, there was a band who played music with lyrics that spoke to my soul. They talked about real-life issues like suicide, depression and rejection. Not thinly veiled allusions and artistic interpretation of lyrics. This wasn't scar tissue that I wish you saw, the world wasn't a vampire, and who really wants to destroy my sweater anyway?

These lyrics were straight-forward. They cut like a knife. "Everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the edge, and I'm about to break." And I was at a time in my life that I was about to break.

I dealt with thoughts of suicide starting in my early teens. And I always thought I was alone. Thoughts of suicide only happened to people who are super screwed up. I wasn't super screwed up--I was only screwed up. I was a Christian, after all. I went to a Christian school. I had good parents. I had a good life. Why would I ever want to commit suicide? But those thoughts entered my mind frequently. Sometimes, I would be driving down the road, and I would think, "What if i just steered the car right over this bridge?" I was convinced I would die before I turned 21. I thought about shooting myself, hanging myself or cutting my wrists? Which would hurt the least? Which would make the least amount of mess? Pills. That's the ticket.

There was no one I could talk to; there was nowhere I could turn. I felt utterly alone, and I suffered in silence. Because no one else would ever understand why this middle class Christian girl would ever think about suicide. I was ugly. I was unloved. I felt like no one truly knew me. No one truly cared. No one would ever understand. It resulted in my drinking (a lot) and doing other things that are unbecoming of a young lady. Then came Linkin Park. All of a sudden, I realized I'm not alone. Chester and the band sang songs about suicide. They sang songs about real life. They sang about all the pressure there is to be perfect. "I kept everything inside, and even though I tried, it all fell apart. What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when I tried so hard." The pressure from society, the pressure from teachers, parents, relatives, everyone in your life. He talked about the walls closing in; he talked about real hurts--my hurts.

I felt like finally, there is someone else who feels the same way. And if the music is that popular, then maybe there are others out there who feel like me. It opened up conversations with friends, and it made me feel not quite so alone. It took much more than Linkin Park to pull me out of the drunken stupor of depression and into God's presence. But it was the first step. That's why Chester's suicide has affected me so greatly. He didn't have to die. There was a Way out of the pain. He believed the lies for one day too long.

No one can walk this journey for you. When you're in the midst of the lies, you can't hear the truth. Nothing anyone says really matters. It's you and your mind, your thoughts and Satan's lies versus God's Word. It's your choice which one you believe. And it is most definitely a choice. By not making a choice, you are choosing the former. To choose the latter, you must consciously say it out loud, "I reject the lies of Satan, I believe God's Word for my life."

In order to make the choice to believe God's Word, you have to know what God's Word says about you. That takes reading the Bible and choosing to take the time to read it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to, "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." That means that EVERY thought that comes into our head must be taken to God's Word and be put to the litmus test of whether it is from God or not.

And this is where Satan is ever so tricky. Satan's lies to us always sound like they are coming from us--from our own mind. Satan's lies are always in first person. "I am ugly." "I am alone." "No one loves me." "I am worthless." Notice that his lies are not in second person saying "You". It would be much easier to identify Satan's lies if they were in second person as if Satan himself was talking to us. But he doesn't work that way. He gives us the lies as if they are coming from our own head (or heart), so they seem real.

God's Words to us are usually in second person. "You are loved." "You are worthy." "You are My child." Because they are coming from God our Father, Jesus our Bridegroom, and Holy Spirit, our Truth and Counselor. It's a lot harder to believe something when it seems to be coming from someone other than ourselves. But it is the Truth. Jesus is the Truth. And the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth (John 16:13 NIV).

Walking through this broken world will never be easy. But it's our choice if we are going to be broken in the broken world. You are not defective because you have suicidal thoughts. There is nothing wrong with you because you feel this way, but you don't have to feel this way. In the end, it DOES even matter. You matter.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Little Comediennes

A couple funny moments from the girls over the past six months or so.

December 18, 2016
Macey says, "I know how to spell Cowboys! C-O-W-M-E-N!"
"Macey, that spells Cowmen!"
"Yeah, because they grew up!"


December 10, 2016
As an ACU guard turns over the ball, Mikayla says with complete disgust, "She just gave it to them. Like, here you go—an early Christmas present!"

Mikayla Quote of the Day #2— In the car, and "Mary Did You Know?" starts playing. After several lines, she says, "Um, it says in the Bible the angles told her, so, Yes. She knew." *throws hands up in exasperation and rolls eyes*

December 16, 2016
I forgot to move the Elf on the Shelf last night, so I told Macey it was just too cold for Peppermint Angel to leave—she wanted to stay warm. Macey pops her hip out, cocks her head and says incredulously, "Mommy, Peppermint Angel lives at the North Pole. Nothing is too cold for her."

December 17. 2016
As we are headed to dinner, Mikayla was just reading a chapter from the Bible aloud to me. She stopped for just a second, and I said, "I'm starving." Then she looked at me pointed to my phone with the Bible app open, and said, "But you're being fed the word of God."

December 23, 2016
After the three of us opened all of our packages to one another on "Christmas Eve," Macey stops me and says, "Ok, so I know like, Santa is you—that you give the presents, but where do you get them?" Confused, I asked what she meant. She pointed under the tree and said, "There's nothing under there. Where do the presents come from?" I told her, "That's part of the magic of Christmas!" as I kissed her on the nose. Then she cocked her head and said, "But Mommy, I need to know, because I'll have kids one day!"

January, 2016
At school, Mikayla was supposed to choose one of the characteristics of God to study. Mikayla chose Prince of Peace. When I asked her why, she said, "It's because God gave me peace when you and Daddy got a divorce."

March 5, 2016
So the girls came home and told me that Adam and Joni were fighting a lot today. Macey said she thinks they are going to break up. She was crying and was asking a lot of questions...who'll she still be my stepmom, will I see her again, etc. Through tears, she said she didn't want them to break up because she would miss Joni. I said, "Oh, honey. Know that you are never alone, even when you feel like you are." Going in a different direction than what I was thinking, she sniffled, "I know, because I have the best mom in the whole wide world!" And she hugged my neck. Touched, I hugged her back tightly and said, "Oh my goodness! I don't know what I did to deserve such a sweet daughter like you, but I am so glad God gave you to me!" Macey pulled back and completely serious, as if she has thought about it a lot, she said, "I think it's because you praise God." 😍😂

May 2017
Mikayla learned about idioms, and I was asking her about what they were and to give me an example. She says, "You're an idiom."

June 13, 2017
Yesterday, we saw a LC student in his Jeep on the road. We waved at each other, and the girls started asking who it was.
I told them, "That was Matthew, and he's going to be in 12th grade."
Macey, gently shaking her head with raised eyebrows says, "They grow up so fast."

June 14, 2017 After sneezing 4 times in a row and then coughing for about a minute straight, I said, "Wow! Something got me today!" Macey said, "Maybe it's your face?"

June 26, 2017
Listening to "The Sound of Music" soundtrack song, "I am 16 going on 17," Mikayla says, "Why is she letting her boyfriend tell her what to do?" 😂

June 30, 2017
We went to the Vicksburg, Mississippi National Military Park today. She's looking at all the names of the soldiers. "Where are all the women fighters?" I had to explain to her that only men fought. "Well, that's not right. Women can fight just as good as men!"

Macey said, "It smells like grasshole out here"


Lindsey Mercer

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Revolving Doctor Door

I have suffered with hypothyroid symptoms now for more than 10 years. It started with a multi-nodular goiter. My general practitioner wasn't even the one who found it. It was my OB/GYN when I was confirming I was pregnant with Mikayla. I had to wait until after I gave birth to her, but as soon as I stopped nursing, we started to work on my thyroid.

In addition to bloodwork, I had sonograms, a thyroid scan, a radioactive iodine thyroid uptake exam and a fine needle biopsy. The fine needle biopsy was one of the worst experiences of my life. In 2009, it was eventually determined that I should have a partial thyroidectomy to remove the goiter and affected tissue. I found no relief from my symptoms following the thyroidectomy. Doctors monitored my thyroid hormone levels, however, and they concluded that my half of a thyroid functioned normally, because the bloodwork said so.

I still felt awful, and eventually grew another goiter. My general practitioner refused to do anything about it—or even believe me. So I went on my own to get a sonogram to prove there was a goiter. When I brought him the results, he still wasn't alarmed. I asked if I could just try a low dose of Synthroid to see if I felt better, and he said he could lose his medical license if he did that.

I switched doctors. Repeatedly. I begged each one to listen to me and my symptoms—not the paperwork from lab results. So more bloodwork, thyroid scans, another radioactive iodine thyroid test. Each new doctor gave me a renewed sense of hope. Maybe this doctor will finally be the one to help me.

All "normal". So again and again, I was told that my headaches were from stress—so reduce my stress. My fatigue is stress, too, obviously. My weight gain was from overeating—so eat better and work out more. My muscle weakness is because I'm not working out enough and my muscles are atrophying—so hit the gym! Not being able to control my body temperature—well that's odd, but probably not related to your thyroid. My elevated LDL cholesterol—I need to eat better (remember, because I'm fat?). My hoarse voice—I talk all day as a teacher. My hair loss—that's stress, too. My plantar fasciitis—not related at all. Maybe it's my hormones—let's put you on birth control to regulate your hormones. Maybe it's my adrenals—so off I go to have an adrenal function tests and cortisol levels checked. Maybe it's my kidneys—so off I go to get those checked out, too. Maybe it's a gluten allergy—stay away from gluten. Eat more iodine; consume less iodine. Eat kelp. Eat this. Avoid this. You'll be fine.

I've also developed tinnitus. I've always had it, and I thought it was normal until someone told me it's not. And I was nearly in my 30's then. Lately, it's getting worse and worse. I'm starting to lose my hearing, and I can't separate sounds when there is background noise. I find myself turning my head and straining to hear. It takes all my mental faculties sometimes to hear someone speaking. The ringing is incessant, and the worst at night. I had no idea tinnitus could even be related. But one night, I was googling, and I found there is a direct correlation to tinnitus and hypothyroid. Again, another symptom I clearly have hypothyroidism.

I've asked a couple doctors to be referred to the Thyroid and Diabetes Center in Fort Worth. One doctor flat refused. Another said he would do it, but not to expect anything, since my labs were all normal. When I hadn't heard from the TDC in more than a month after the referral, I called them myself. They told me that they had received my referral and labs, but there was nothing they could do for me, since all my labs were within range.

I go through periods where I resign myself to always feeling like this. Always being overweight and feeling awful. Losing my hearing and my sanity. Then I'll get determined to find the answer with yet another new doctor.

In all, I had ten doctors —TEN—tell me that I have normal lab results, so I must be normal.

Last month, I went to see Dr. Number 11. As I told her my symptoms, a wave of despair washed over me as she dismissed everyone one of my symptoms as related to something else. Stress, hormones, adrenals.

So here we go with the bloodwork. "Please, God! Let it show *something*!"

I receive the results, and Hallelujah! I finally had abnormal test results! That means I haven't been imagining it! My hypothyroidism is finally bad enough to show up on a lab test!

Then I get the letter from Dr. Number 11 containing all of my results. She says that the thyroid numbers aren't significant enough, and she's not going to treat me. That my TSH level is normal, as is my T4, so my T3 Uptake and T3 Total don't really matter, because it all cancels each other out. I was dumbfounded. I have never felt such despair and hopelessness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our Response to the Broken

I saw a post on Facebook today that went something like this, "My heart is broken in two for my three year old son. Why? Because a teen-aged bully hated his hair. My precious son won't stop asking me why people hate him for his hair color. He's left so confused and upset."

I completely feel for this mom. She had no idea how to answer her son, and she expressed her empathy toward her son. Unfortunately, the mom's broken heart is misplaced. I'm not saying she should not feel empathy for her son. When our children hurt, we hurt. But ultimately, her heart should be broken for the teenager who is so cruel that he would make fun of a three year old little boy's hair. That's what's happening to God's heart. His heart is broken for the teenager. Of course God's heart hurts for us when we are hurt, too. But should we even be hurt by these words? We know that we will hurt in this life, because we live in a sinful world. God never said that we won't feel pain or affliction. John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It's what we choose to do with the pain and affliction that comes our way that makes all the difference. In addition, we have to teach our children the appropriate response to darts that the enemy flings our way.

We have to stop being victims, and we have to stop teaching our children to be victims. By allowing our child to be hurt, frustrated and upset by a stranger's words is unwittingly teaching our children that we should allow other people's negative words to have profound effects on us. And that's not healthy or biblical. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." If someone's words don't encourage me or build me up, then I have the power to reject their words. I don't have to accept those words spoken to me to have power over me. I don't have to choose to be hurt or upset. The old schoolyard retort, "I'm rubber; you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you," is aptly appropriate. Words spoken to me that are unbiblical can bounce right off of me, and never enter my heart. I am who I am because God says that's who I am. If someone tells me I'm anything other than that, then I know it's not from God, and it's not the truth. We should I cry over lies?

When my children overhear others being mean, or others are mean directly to them, we talk about how that person might not have Jesus in his or her heart. We talk about how Jesus can teach him or her to love. We pray for that person instead of turning to ourselves, feeling sorry for ourselves and wondering why someone could be so cruel. We know the answer to why someone can be so cruel--they are missing Jesus. Our response to the broken shouldn't be to be broken ourselves. Our response should be to love and show the broken who Jesus is.

Sometimes, even when people have Jesus, they themselves are still hurting. In our ever-growing, narcissistic, "but first let me take a selfie" world, it is imperative that we teach our children that it's not about me, me, me. People's hurtful words toward us are rarely about us. It's usually more about the person speaking those words.

I'm not saying that parents shouldn't show empathy for their children when confronted with cruelty. What I am saying is that we must measure our response in light of the Truth of God.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

You are a Treasure

My dearest loves, I want you to always know that you are a treasure. You are bought with a price--and that price was the shedding of Jesus' blood at Calvary. Giving up one's life for another's is the ultimate price to pay. People are only willing to pay an ultimate price if they value what they are getting in return.

It really all comes down to value. You have to know how much your value is, and you can never forget it. The value of any item is always dependent on how much someone is willing to pay for that item. If someone is willing to pay $100 for say, a baseball card, then the value of that baseball card is $100. So remember that Jesus paid the ultimate price--his life--for you. That's how much He thinks you are worth.

When I was your age, I knew all of this, as well. I had all the head-knowledge that I could have. I knew scriptures by memory, and everyone always wanted me on their team for Bible trivia. But I didn't understand in my heart what any of it truly meant. I didn't realize my value. I didn't realize that I am an heir to the Throne of Glory. Romans 8:17 says, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." These aren't just words-they are actions. It means you are entitled to and have the right to everything God has if you choose to follow Him.

Following Christ is a daily decision. It takes every single day of your life choosing "to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." We sometimes forget the "daily" part of Luke 9:23. Even when we don't feel like it, even when it hurts--Jesus will be there, and He will love you, because He already does, and He already proved that on the cross.