Monday, August 17, 2015

Hide and Seek


There are some advantages to being in a wheelchair.  One is not having to stand in long lines.  My shoes don't get dirty too often.  I sometimes get a perk here and there.  Children like to ride with  me, so I often get cool points with them.    On the flip side, skipping school wasn't really possible.  I mean it isn't if teachers or principal would just suddenly notice that girl in wheelchair suddenly exited the class room.The same was true for hide and seek as a child. A relative decided hiding my chair under a sheet might me feel a little better about my disadvantage in the game.  As I think about it now, it makes me laugh at the kind gesture.  As you can imagine, the sheet trick didn't work so well.  It just drew attention to the very place where I was attempting to hide.  
Sunday, I attended church with my friend,  The message was on a psalm 23.  I've read it, and heard it many times but really just tend to pass over it.

   'The Lord is my shepherd;    I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1

   It is not the only time in scripture talks about a shepherd "If  a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!' Mathew 18:12-13.  Shepherds and sheep aren't topics which comes up in common conversations in our culture.    As we get older it becomes easier to hide ourselves.  It reminds me of the sheet I put over my chair foolishly thinking as a kid that the sheet would help increase my chances of winning at hide and seek.  As a Christian I sometimes deceive myself  into thinking figuratively I can run and hide myself from God.  I can hide the pain and sin with the sheet of busyness or numbness food, or TV.  If I make excuses for not picking up that Bible, then I won't have to say what is really on mind or heart.  I can just go through the motions at times and mostly no one can really see the inside.  The reality that I was reminded of Sunday as a guest at my friend's church was that no matter how far I wander like  sheep, Christ still follows and pursues me.  We all wander in different ways, some wander through addiction, a past abortion, an extramarital affair, you might find yourself wandering in a pool of bitterness. Like me you might be wandering in sea of questions, fearing that if anyone knew, they might think you are not who you thought you were. We fail to see that we need is not the sheet we hide under, but the Shepherd to hide in.   You think if you wear a "sheet" you can hide from God and others.  Others are easier to hide from, but God sees you in your game of hiding.  He sees you and He loves you.  He invites you and me to lay down our sheets we are attempting to hide under.  It might take a prayer your weren't expecting like it did for me, on Sunday or a moment of stillness where you have to stop.  Stop hiding.   Christ is a Hiding Place, which actually means that the one place we can go where we can be totally free is in the presence of Christ.  What we really want is a safe place where we can stop hiding and rest.  That  place is Christ Alone  If you are wandering or hiding from God you are not really hiding at all. He is still seeking you because He either wants to be YOUR Shepherd  or He already is.  Will you join me as we stop hiding from, and start hiding IN Our Shepherd?  

If you want to know more about Two Rivers Church which is actually located in Ooltewah TN Go To The message at this church is a big part of what inspired this post. You will find a caring place that's foundation is The Gospel.  


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Does God Give the Silent Treatment?

Few things rattle my more than someone giving me silent treatment or worse trying to silence me.  While I don't like yelling, I would rather someone yell at me than stop speaking to me.  That might be why the last 2 months or so of God being seemingly silent have been rough for me...  Do you know that feeling?  You read the Bible, but nothing seems to speak to your situation, so you tell yourself eventually God will speak to you and just have to keep pressing on.  When God is silent, it is sometimes because we are refusing to be quiet and listen to His voice.  We are so ,busy trying to fix things or control things that it rarely occurs to us to listen instead of speak.  Other times I believe He is silent because God is waiting for us to respond to something He has already revealed.  I've been there.  Have you experienced this?  Other times, we may not be aware of the reason God chooses to be silent, but we still can choose our response to that perceived or actual silence.
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  In human relationships we don't end a friendship, because one goes months without talking, we often pick up where we leave off.  I've experienced God's silence in  an area for ten plus years, but his timing has been perfect in when and how he has worked in the situations.
There are times when if we are not careful we might be tempted to believe Gods silence is a lack of care or concern for us, this is untrue and a misunderstanding regarding God's nature.  While Scripture is a primary way God speaks, I've discovered he speaks through music, the  beauty of nature, other people, and many others forms.  While God will not contract his word ever in any way, we should never limit ourselves to thinking God can or  will only speak to us during a 30 minute quiet time.  I am encouraged by this.  God often speaks to me through sunsets, or a kind word from someone who crosses my path.  When God seems to be silent toward us, we need to ask God to help us look around, and be open to hearing and seeing him, in ways that might be unexpected.  There are times when God may be actually silent, because  of unrepentant sins in our lives.  Ps. 51, and we must look within through confession.  If you have experienced a time or season where God seems silent, you never know how sharing your story may encourage someone.  You and I might be  one instrument He desires to use to speak into someone else's life.  Let's not give up on hearing and seeing God speak but keep a watchful eye, and open ears- knowing He promises to be found by those who seek Him!  Jer. 29:13.  He is worthy of our praise, even when He chooses to exercise his rightful silence in our lives.   



Monday, May 18, 2015

The Power of a Journal!


Why after so many months would I write now?  Perhaps I've forgotten how.  Who is reading now any way says the chatterbox inside my head.  Some people only enjoy reading funny stories, others only like thrillers or sappy, or positive things Some refuse to read anything with the slightest sadness. Be aware this post may contain all of the above..  There are some things I want to say about my mom.  I wish to write only from my own prospective, as that is the only one I can speak from. Please feel no pressure to read this as for some it might be too close for comfort right now.  Mom will be mentioned all through this post, and so if you choose to read it, please do go into reading it blindly.  On April 24th, my mom entered heaven.  I recognize this isn't just my loss, but my family and friends loss too.  I do not feel it is fair to speak for them in this post so I will speak for me.  Thank you all the love and support you have shown for so long!

A few nights ago, I began reading my mom's prayer journal which stays next to a bible she wanted me to have.Mom was never one for  

journaling, until the year 2012, when a friend from church gave her this journal in the middle of her cancer journey.  This was a gift not only to her, but now to me and will be to our family.   I won't share any entries as my family has not be able to read it yet, and plus in some ways to share something so sacred takes the beauty away.    Here are some things I learned. and some I already knew.  I learned there is power in journaling, and if it is a journal to God is never time wasted.

I learned I should attempt to journal more instead of less, because you never how much a journal might impact someone one day.
I learned mom had great strength, but she had that strength because she depended upon God for  her strength.
I learned she loved people and prayed often for so many who never knew they were on her radar.
I learned she was not perfect, but she never let that stop her from being better.
I learned she struggled though she never complained.
I learned how much she loved my brother and me and her prayers showed it well.
I learned she trusted God even when life didn't go her way.
I learned she showed bravery that comes from God.
I relearned how deeply she loved her family.
I learned her faith never wavered.
I learned she got her Miracle, it just came in the form of heaven instead of earth.
I learned that I want to be more like her as I grow up.  Yesterday our pastor talked about thorns in the flesh.  We all have them, and I believe mom's greatest thorn for the past eight years has been cancer.  I rejoice because in heaven, I know that the thorn that she pleaded with God to take away is now gone from her forever!  What does any of this have to do with you?  Well you see I know there are those out there struggling with death whether it be the loss of mom or someone else in your life.  God's ways are not  ours but this does not mean he loves any less or his presence is any less near to us. Isa. 55:9 Romans 8:38-39.  If you trust Jesus with your life and your eternity, you can know the God my mom knew, and the God I know will allow me to see her again.    Time is priceless...  Live  with joy. As the saying says:  Live laugh, and love!  There was honestly nothing about my mom that was bitter about anything she faced in life, so if we want to honor her whether you knew or not, LIVE AND LET GO of whatever makes you bitter!  laugh with me and live with joy in full!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

What's the Big deal about New Year's? 2014 recap

My first and best trip to Cheddar:s with a great Friend was in 2014....  Interesting....   
Summer 2014 Faulkner Family Reunion 
Baby Shower for Kim and Cameron!
Jennifer Hand's book signing.Me stamping my name, as Jenn featured a few of my devotionals in her book.

Most people who interact with me on Facebook and in real life know my mom had very serious surgery on November 22nd 2014.  She is recovering, and the surgery went as well as could be expected.  Praise The Lord!  She has had many ups and downs in recent months.  Life has been somewhat chaotic since November.  As a result, I have not blogged or written in any public forum other than my mom's caringbridge page since October.  I cannot relive such events, except to shout from the roof tops, God is who He promises to be!  Before I move on to the reason for my post, I want to thank you for your ongoing prayers for mom and the family.  To follow mom's  journey you can visit:  Mom's journey

As we are now into the year 2015, I want to recall some of the blessed moments of last year, and share a word regarding this New Year...

2014 Vacation to Fort Walton 
My 31st Birthday....


              2014 had some great moments....  It had funny moments, It was happy, silly, crazy, and hard sad moments. As we embrace 2015, none of us can really know what will happen in the coming year.   As a Christian, there are a few things I do know.. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."  ECC. 1:9.  I also know however, that by entrancing the Gospel we can rest assured we have access to God's mercies,not only in light of a new year, but every moment of our lives!  See Lam. 3;23.  While the troubles of 2014 won't just magically be erased, because it is a New Year.,There is a great God who will sustain us and gives us a fresh with every moment.  The truth is some of this year will be the same as last year. Portions of this year will be new, but whatever this year is, or isn't God is already there!!!



Monday, October 20, 2014

Pintrest Christianity...

If you aren't familiar with the website Pinterest I'll try to explain.  Pinterest is a website which allows a person to organize different aspects of their lives on an electronic bulletin boards.  For example, if you want to pin articles for work, then you might pin work related ideas,.  If you want a board that reflects your style or parenting, you would name the electronic board accordingly.  Sometimes I will get busy looking for different concepts and pin the information article book or outfit on the board. If I catch a mistake like this even months later, I am compelled to move the item to its proper board.  I like for a lot of life to fit into compartments or proper places.  As I causally pinned items to my own Pintrest it was if I heard a whisper saying Pinterest Christianity.  Pinterest Christianity I wondered where did that come from?  Days later the phrase entered my mind, prompting me again.  What are you attempting to show me Lord?  It hit me right between the eyes, all of us treat our lives and our faith like it is a pintrest board in some ways.  For example, I may be quick to invite God to have central place in my volunteer work or church activities, and music, but my movie and food choices not so much.  I might choose friends who love God and are devoted to God, but can I say that I am quick to listen and forgive when I'm hurt?  What about those times I promised to fulfill a commitment, and no one knew except God that I actually forgot or did not follow through?  

    I'm an advocate for authentic living.  I'm not the example of what this looks like a lot times, so let me not try to point you to myself as the standard here.   Pinterest gives users the option of having up to three secret boards, which means only the user has ability to see content of such boards. I suppose I understand the need when it comes to planning a party or inside jokes, but I don't have secret board on Pintrest. It's more common though, or should I say tempting to have secret areas in our lives.  Bitterness overeating people pleasing love of another person as much as or more than God.  I have those secrets too.  God knows mine, but you may not see those in me, or even in yourself.Like it or not it is impossible to have secrets from God.  Oh we can have secrets with God, meaning He alone knows us better that we know ourselves or others but there isn't a secret good or bad, we have that He isn't fully aware we have.  What's my point, I doubt as Christians we will reach a place on this earth where we are aware of God in every aspect of our lives.  If you think are one who has, I'd love to see it.  It is certainly something we should ask God for, and be willing to allow him to permeate our lives with more of him!  "In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Prov. 3:5.  AMP  The next time you and I see a Pinterest board or a box or wallet, let’s stop and ask God to help us give him central  place in the areas most challenging.  So that the next time we sing the I give you my life, It will reflect a little more of our reality than It did the time before.


  Do you practice Pinterest Board Christianity too?  What is an aspect of your life, which you desire to invite God to transform?  If you are like me, there may be many.  I am committing these to prayer one at a time.  How about you?  Let's move together from Head knowledge, to heart transformation! 


http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/organizing/diy-drawer-dividers

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Imperfect Perfection


Add caption
My and my cousin Brady @ McGuire's pub in Destin  FL



My mom on the beach!








Thank you to my family

My heart soared at the sight of the palm tree as we were restless to arrive at the condo.  As usual the vision of the ocean  took my breath, and I happily felt free again.  I'm never sure if when we depart from the beach, if  the fourteen of us will be blessed to come back the beach, this is why I savor the breezes and the smell of the salt water air  Have you ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation?  Remember Clark imagined his vacation differently than one which unfolded?  His expectations were unattainable, mostly because he forget to embrace life as it was.  In years passed , I may have been a slight version of Clark Griswald: but not this year...  You see the character Clark had unrealistic expectations for his family vacation, and as result he made his family miserable and himself too.  While viewers of this movie have laughed for years Clark refused to see the humor in such perfect imperfections.  See above clip for a laugh!
The beach to me is the closest experience to heavenly perfection on earth.  Even on the best day at the at the beach though, there are "perfect" Imperfections.  Leaving your custom hair washing board at home, which means you  must improvise by using a water hose or hanging your head upside over the bed. The reality of amazing Aunt who has major back pain on the trip, limiting her enjoyment .  Kids who are tired after long car rides!  Leg problems which hinder long walks on the beach.  All these are small inconveniences that interfere with expectations of perfection.  You know what, I 'I m glad  perfect as the beach is to me, it still has imperfections. .   .   You see for me walking on the beach is a dream, and part of what makes me dream about walking on the beach wonderful for me, is I don't know at all what it is really like.  In my mind it is the perfect experience, and nothing imperfect can touch it.  As those of you who can walk know, it isn't perfect walking on the beach.  Sand I have been told, is hard to walk in, and it is sometimes hot on your feet.  The reality is this earth and the world has imperfections, even in our happy places.  

   9 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;[b] 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 
   Romans 8:9-24.  


   

It is imperfection that often allows kindness  to be seen.  My family was an amazing help to me at the beach.  My uncle Ron brought ramps in his already over packed truck, so I could sit on the balcony and see the ocean which I cannot do without ramps.  It meant the world to me.  My cousin's husband Brad drove us the whole trip both ways.  This was so helpful to us.  Most all my family helped place me in and out of bed every day we were there.  My brother Justin and cousin Bill pushed me up and down the beach ramp.  You see even though, heaven is the only perfect place, we can savor joy through imperfect perfection!  Sometimes its fun when things are less than perfect. I'm so thankful for and to my family for all they do for me, even when it is hard work.  My mom physically cared for me even though it was tiring for her.  My 5 year old cousin Jack brought me a pale of ocean water to put my hand in.  A stranger bought our lunch one day.  It was pretty heavenly!   Memories made, Corn Hole played!


Next time you are tempted to expect perfection look for the "perfect" in  your surroundings, and look for the perfect in imperfection...  Smile wide, laugh hard, and be thankful! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Silencing Our Moster

                               
Image here
                                                              
It was happening again.  A disappointment trigged the What Ifs in my mind.  The lump had already formed in my throat.  The all too familiar what ifs line of questioning soon changed shape into questions of how will I.  Before I knew it, I  wasted energy not on the current disappointment, but future predictions and assumptions based on the present.  The lump in my throat, had now become a puddle off tears.  In that moment, I had two choices.  I could let these emotions come and pass quickly, realizing that what I was thinking and feeling was not reality. My second option, I could continue to exhaust myself with false information, and try to figure out how to solve problems before these existed. Do you have these What if’s and how will I questions too? How will you make ends meet? How will you cope with the loss of your loved ones? How will you raise that child?  How will you balance work and family?  Suddenly, I remembered a list of fifty-two Bible verses I printed a couple weeks before.  I began to read these slowly. Once my mind was refocused on the verses I  was reminded that God gives us daily provision.  Meditation is a biblical concept. It an area where I could be stronger.  It is not simply the practice of mediation, which impacts our minds, as popular culture might suggest, it is willfully choosing to direct our thoughts to God’s word.  In this case, I discovered weapons to conquer “my what if’s and “how will I thoughts.’  A few days later, I knew I would find myself in another difficult situation where I knew I would be tempted. I clutched tightly to the list of verses, and breathed a prayer asking for sustaining grace.  Clinging to scripture enables us to stay in the moment, when we are lured to speculate about our futures or linger in our pasts. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8 NLT
          Once I began to live in the current moment, it became easier to see that as needs arise   God did and would provide whatever the situation required.  God desires that we rely on Him continually for our daily needs. If He met our every need in advance, we would likely cease ongoing fellowship, and abiding in God’s grace.  Even, when Jesus prayed to The Father He asked, not for weekly or monthly provision, instead Jesus requested daily bread.    “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 AMP. The next time we feel as though our “what Ifs” and “how will I’s are closing in on us, let’s focus our attention on God’s secure promises   we can and must come to our Father for today’s specific needs. Tomorrow will become today soon enough, but it isn’t our load to carry.  God’s provisions will be just as sufficient tomorrow as these are today.  


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Life in Photos


New TV for my birthday a couple weeks ago!
Sometimes we must live our life before we can write about it...Here are some pictures of me simply living life!
Bumped into a friend from youth group years ago @ Spring for Life!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Are we Listening?

 Watch this video before you read my post. This humorous YouTube video will serve as an illustration for the topic of this post   Both, parent and child are claiming the other is not listening.   My work, teaches me to actively listen to my clients: using rephrasing and restating.  It helps both me and the client to process responses.  Sometimes we ask or wonder if God is listening to us, when the better question is: Are we listening to God?   People speak in terms we are often familiar with, however we may not be as in tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I am learning a few concepts about listening for God's promptings.     
1. God desires and allows us to know and discover his voice...    “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:" John 10:27.  The sheep represent God’s children.  This verse also states that the sheep know and hear God’s voice,   they are known by God and Christ.  I believe wholeheartedly God is able to speak audibly if He chooses to.  Let’s just be honest I’ve never heard God speak audibly to me.  While I can’t speak for others, I think it would be hard to say others have either, unless of course they lived during the of Jesus’ ministry.  Though not hearing God’s voice does not mean God isn’t speaking, and t we should not listen.  
2. It is impossible to listen to God without spending some form of time in His presence. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:12-13. One reason I changed the name of my blog to: From Head to Heart, is because I know it is possible to know God’s word in my mind, but not n allow those words to affect my life and heart.  Unless I allow God’s words to make the way from head to heart, I’m living purely from a legalistic knowledge, and not intimacy with God. The Bible says God rewards those who seek, listen to, and place their trust in him. Hebrews 11:6
3.  One of the primary ways God speaks is through his promises.  I shall delight[in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.
Psalm 119:15:16.  Sometimes, in my own life, because of doubt, or just simply because I’d like another answer, I fail to listen to the truth God has given clearly in a given situation.  If God has already provided the answer in the Bible, the phrase do what has already been stated applies.
4.  God also speaks through our own past and present experiences.  This might be through an answer to our prayer, or a challenge we face.  We may choose to waste our trials, but God never intended that.  I watch on a weekly basis as God redeems the agony of cancer into ministry.  It is often difficult for me to listen and look for ways to use my life experiences, but when I do listen and respond, God speaks and reveals himself. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in ]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor.1:3-4.   I wonder sometimes if we are not like the child in the video saying Lord you are not listening to us.  I envision the Lord responding graciously yet firmly. No, child You are not listening to me!  God often repeats his message to affirm it to us.  Are we listening? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The News is Out! Big News!

I love when I have big news to share especially when the news is exciting.   If you follow me on Facebook, then this could be old news but will you indulge me briefly.  My dear friend Jennifer Hand has an e-book out with Amazon called 31 Days to Coming Alive devotional  She is passionate about the  the message, and I'm really proud of her!  It has taken me awhile to wrap my brain around the excitement. The truth is my friend Jennifer Hand has always followed her dreams and this book is no exception.  Jenn is brave in ways many of us have never had the courage to be.  Jennifer Hand sincerely loves Christ, and she makes me want to be brave!  Do you want to live a life of fullness?    If you do, Jenn can and will point you to the One who can take you upon this journey!  In the near future I plan to interview Jenn on my blog about the book.  I'm even more humbled and most honored Jenn has graciously allowed me to be a contributor in the book. You  see, my dear friend Jenn knows I have loved writng since childhood.  She knew the joy that would overflow at the thought of sharing what God has given me.  This post is to tell you and Jenn, as she made her own dream come true by committing her dream and vision to God, He has made mine a reality too.  I have tried not to be overly loud about my personal role in the project, one because Jenn has done all the hard work and I'm so proud of her!  The truth is my goal is not to be a NY Times Bestselling author, I simply want to inspire people by the written word pointing them to the One who makes my life make sense.In all honesty though, I can hardly contain my joy excitement, and gratitude to God and Jenn for allowing me to be published in the book, and to be part of this and get my writing into hands and hearts.   All that to say that I'm so thrilled to have a part in the book, and even more thrilled to call Jennifer Hand a friend!  The books will be in print in a few weeks I will let you know when, but for now, it is on Kindle APP for much less than 5 dollars.    Jenn thank you again!  To those looking for renewal, or just want to check it go for it!  Stayed turned for the interview soon.  I have more blessings to share in an upcoming post!  I'm blessed....  Special thanks to Blaine Vandegriff for promoting the book on social media.To all who are reading or have the book  You all won't regret this read Jennifer Hand is funny, charming, and passionate!

Find the Ebook here