{Testimony Tuesday} An Extraordinary Call

The day seemed so ordinary when it began.

Cold and dark. Misty and gray.

Staying home curled up with a book was dreamt about, but the reality was quite the opposite. I had stuff to do. TODAY.

As my morning trudged on with the monotonous driving from errand to errand, I felt a strong, unknown pull in my heart. The pull grew stronger and stronger as I moved closer and closer to a familiar area in which I frequent often, but I was oblivious to where my heart was so intensely leading me.

I pulled out of the parking lot, and nearly unconsciously turned straight into the cemetery in which my grandmother is buried. Despite not have visiting her years, I pulled right up to the garden in which she was buried amongst thousands of other loved ones. I got out of my car and began pleading to the Lord to lead me to her. It was cold. Wet. And slightly miserable.

Before I knew it, I had stumbled upon her gravesite.

Guilt first. Why didn't I bring flowers? Why has it taken me so long to visit her? Then tears. Hot, steamy, uncontrollable tears.

Oh, how I missed this strong, vivacious woman. Taken unexpectedly, two weeks after my first daughter was born.

The Circle of Life.

I prayed.  I talked.  I reminisced.  I missed.  Just the two of us for a few short minutes. 

Leaving her stung, but I knew exactly where I needed to go next. She loved, and I mean loved, taking me to Braums. There isn't a time I don't eat Braums without thinking of her. So naturally, my errands were scratched for a little date by myself to Braums.

The thing about Braums is that it is right by the car dealership in which I have a salesman, turned friend, over the last 14 years of working with him.

And the thing about Mimi is that she LOVED cars. L O V E D. When she could no longer drive, she would pull a lawn chair up in her garage and stair at her car. She loved them that much.

So after Braums, to visit the car dealership it was.

And oddly and somewhat unexpectedly, I drove off that lot with a new car a few hours later.  
A car Mimi would have persuaded my to get. 

While I am a strong Believer, I am not one who frequently intercepts spiritual feelings of someone who has passed. But that day, I knew Mimi was with me all. day. long.

I thought that was the end of our day together, but soon I would learn, that was just the beginning of what she really needed from me.

It wasn't to eat at Braums or get a new car. 

It was my heart. My soul. My service.

One week later, I received a phone call from an unknown number. Laying on the couch not feeling 100%, I answered.  It was a local volunteer for Meals on Wheels. 

Three years prior, I had filled out an application and gone through all of the steps to become a Meals on Wheels delivery volunteer.  Mimi was so gracious of her Meals on Wheels meals and I really wanted to not only give back to an organization in which she loved and benefitted from, but also one in which my children could partake. Not to mention, the growth of personal relationships that we could grow with our recipients. Unfortunately, Meals on Wheels did not have route that we could pick up.  Slowly, over time, the desire faded and we went on with our lives. 

But this call.  This call was out-of-the-ordinary.  

The woman on the other line introduced herself and said that she was charged with cleaning out the database of volunteers, throwing away inactive applications, etc.  She found mine and her heart was pricked.  She could not figure out why, but she flagged me.  Then she found my hard copy application and just could not stop thinking about me. 

Why, she did not know.  

She asked me if I would be interested in taking a local route, just one day a month.  I needed it to be a Monday so that Blakely could join and sure enough, it was.  A bit further into the conversation, she told me she hoped that I didn't mind, but she felt something so divine about what her heart was feeling.  

So I asked her what day all of this occurred.  

Last Tuesday. 

Last Tuesday was her answer. 

Last Tuesday was the day I made an impromptu visit to my grand mother's grave. 

Last Tuesday, I knew she was with me.  

Last Tuesday, I think she was with the volunteer at Meals on Wheels, too. 

Last Tuesday, Mimi was preparing for a divine encounter with an organization that needs my help. 

Last Tuesday, God was with us too. 

And really, friends, there is no moment in one's life more moving than knowing that you were walking with God and walking with the Spirit of someone whom influenced you so greatly 

I hung up the phone and sat quietly for minute.  Stunned.  Awestruck.  Moved. And then emotional.  

Words can't really describe a moment like that.  

The only thing to do is to thank Jesus for this intimate moment with my grandmother.  Thank the Holy Spirit for His guidance and thank God for mercy.  

Needless to say, I will be starting my new route with Meals on Wheels in the coming weeks.  

Parenting Revolution: A Small Solution to a Deafening Epidemic


The buzz going around the parenting scene about one tangible way we can begin to actually be a small part of a solution to Parkland type tragedies is to really take an intrinsic look into our parenting.

After reading this article about one teacher's efforts to catch kids falling through the cracks, my wheels began turning.

We all know that there are so many factors to blame in how someone gets to the mental state in which it takes to follow through with a mass shooting. We also know the factors and debates in which go into actually executing that atrocity.

The talking points are endless, but one repeated theme I have seen this time around that is different than others starts with our own eyes, parents. And it starts when our children are little.

Before you go any further, I want to say it right HERE. If you EVER witness either one of my children repeatedly leaving others out, spewing hurtful words, or displaying unkind actions, TELL ME. I will LISTEN. I will NOT IGNORE you. And if I do, show me this exact post.

This isn't about BULLYing. This is about LOVE. Call it what you want, but if my child is showing a pattern of actions that don't define LOVE, I want to know.

I want to be part of the kindness initiative and solution, not part of the blind revolution.

I cannot preach kindness and love, then turn my cheek when my child is not being kind or loving.

The teeniest part of change starts with us being ACTIVE parents, INVOLVED parents, KNOWING parents, and ACCEPTING parents. This means when a mother or teacher or child comes to us and says that our child has been repeatedly {keyword} unkind, we listen, even if we don't believe it.

When we see a pattern {keyword} of a trail of hurt feelings stemming from a particular child's surroundings, we take note and we do not ignore it.

Cultural change will happen when:

We OPEN our eyes to our children's faults.
We SEEK ways to SHOW them OPPORTUNITIES for kindness.
We STOP DEFENDING their bad behavior.
We COACH them through mistakes.
We KNOW that girls, especially, display MEAN behavior when no one is watching.
We DON'T provide a child an EXCUSE when they are HURTFUL to others.
We ACCEPT that no matter how many times we teach kindness and how many Bible verses our children cite, our kids won't always make the right decision.

If we want to live in a VILLAGE, we have to LISTEN to that village when they tell us stuff we don't want to hear.

Why is this important? Because it only takes ONE child to hurt another enough to send them into a dark and lonely place.

Only. One.

It's not just about handling our children when their hearts aren't in the right place...

We have to be ACTIVE when our child expresses deep emotions.
We cannot IGNORE their cries, even if we don't always get it.
We have to be AWARE of our children's feelings and emotions and struggles and TEACH them how to COPE.

Furthermore,

We have to be PRESENT when we are with them.
We have to WATCH what they are watching. 
We have to LISTEN to what they are listening to.
We can't TRUST them to always make the right decision.
We can't TRUST them to always tell the truth.
We have to WORK to get them involved in SERVING others.
We have to TEACH them to have face-to-face relationships versus social media obsessions.
We have to be INVOLVED checking our kids whereabouts, their bedrooms, who they hang out with, what they are doing in their idle time.

We have to INSERT ourselves into their lives as PARENTS, not friends.
We have to TELL THEM NO.
We have to LOVE them when they make a mistake.
We have to GUIDE them on the right path.
We have to FORGIVE them when they hurt.
We have to APOLOGIZE to them when we hurt them.
We have to MODEL love and respect TO them.

In short, we have to get back to PARENTING.

Whether it's a suicide or a school shooting, our blindness to our children's treatment of others and the treatment they receive is detrimental to their mental health.

We have to BE BETTER about our level of ACTION in our children's lives.

While we should always be our child's biggest advocate in life, we cannot put on blinders to their decisions when we aren't present. By not trusting them, I mean we need to be very aware of our children's flaws and work to help them strengthen versus accept those flaws and defend them. 

I certainly do not excel at all of these points.

But I will be trying harder and harder each day, not because of Parkland, but because it is my job as a PARENT and situations like Parkland and the rising teenage suicide rate around us reminds me of the seriousness of my job as a parent.

Our parenting culture of allowing our kids to do whatever they please, watch whatever they please, listen to whatever they please, treat other children however they please, all while we as they parents act as their first line of defense (my CHILD WOULD NEVER do xxyy) rather than their first line of REDIRECTION and EDUCATION, is creating monsters that feed this problem rather than help it. We can't do much in these tragic situations, but we can change our parenting. We can toughen up, become involved, not allow our kids to be bullies or in charge of our households.

I don't know much of what I can do, but I know being keenly aware of my children's behaviors and emotional awareness (I have a lover and a fighter) can change not only the course of THEIR lives but can motivate a change for the course of others.

As a former teacher, I applaud this INCREDIBLE teacher for employing this strategy to seek the broken.  Hunt the lonely.  Stop the epidemic of the unseen from falling into the cracks.   

Light Is Greater Than Darkness

The words.

Even for me, a magnet to deep emotion and a lover of words, trying to articulate my thoughts feels impossible.

I cannot imagine being a parent of a child who did not come home last night.

I cannot imagine being a teacher, giving her all to protect every child she can against the spray of gunshots just outside her door. She's praying hard for protection of her family should something happen to her, yet values these students so much more than her own life.

I cannot imagine being a child who witnessed limp bodies of friends, classmates, and teachers, as he ran for his own safety. The trauma. The fear. Or being the parent of that child: oh, the devastation of the things your innocent baby can never unsee.

I cannot imagine being a spouse whose love never made it home for dinner. The searing loss only mildly comforted by heroism.

I cannot imagine being a first responder, resuscitating a child on a sidewalk outside of a school, where no child should even fear the loss of the their own life.

I cannot imagine being a school administrator or grief counselor counseling the hundreds, thousands, of children trying to figure out "why not me."

And the reality is, for all the devastation, mental anguish and heartbreak that America feels today, only that community will continue to grieve that loss for years to come.

We have become numb, America, to this new normal.

As a parent of a young child, I wonder if I should have talked about this with her first before sending her out the door this morning, full of anxiety that another classmate will tell her first. Yet my heart just can't go there. Can't get to the point where I sit down with my seven year old and implant fear within her that bad guys with guns really do enter schools with the goal to have a bloodier bath than the guy before them.

Truth is, I need to prepare her make sure she knows what to do.

But more importantly, I need to make sure she knows Jesus.

Nothing I say or do can alleviate her fear, or my own fear, or prepare her like our Lord.

I can't offer a single solution. I can't hear another debate or political tirade. History has proven these debates get us no where.

We can do everything in our power to stop these school shootings (and we should). We can mandate metal detectors, place armed SRO's at every campus, enforce stricter gun control, reform mental healthcare, and closely monitor broken children, but one thing will still remain:

EVIL.

Evil is not something any law, any reform or any metal detector can end, and as long as there is evil in this world, tragedy will continue.

All I can offer today is the simple hope that more and more people will come to Jesus, seek His shelter, place their faith in Him. Nothing of or in this world can comfort us, but the everlasting salvation that Christ offer can. Knowing that He will one day return and eradicate this evil gives me glimmers of hope when facing the grim and devastating realities of our world.

Someday evil will end and there will be a Light that darkness can no longer hide.

{As originally shared on the Love Filled Way Facebook page.}



Are You Illuminating or Obscuring God with Your Words?


This packs a punch.

How often do we think about how every word that comes out of our mouth does one of two things: illuminates or obscures the character of God?

Let me be honest.

When it comes to adult interactions, I am always aware of this. I try to remember that for every person I encounter throughout the day, I have no idea what they have on their plate, what their morning looked like, or what is looming in their future. I try really hard to give both strangers and friends the benefit of the doubt and watch my words carefully as we speak.

But when it comes to my kids, I completely forget that everything they hear me say to them, every action, is doing exactly the same: illuminating or obscuring the character of God.

That gets me, y'all. Like really, really gets me. They hear me throw verbal fire when everyone is moving too slow to get out of the house, they hear me talk to myself in irritation at the person who just cut me off, they hear me when I am impatient with them as I write and they interrupt.

How many times of day are the words that exit my mouth obscuring God's character in front of them?

At four and seven, there isn't a single person who has a bigger role in illuminating God's character than parents do.

My seven year old thinks creatively, lives her life to role play, and loves storytelling. Often, this means we get exaggerated stories and "high hopes" that may translate into questionable statements. We are constantly telling her to choose her words carefully, aiming to accurately retell the story.

While that is an entirely different context of "watching your words," I need to be asking myself that when it comes to my attitude with them. How often am I stopping to watch my words and their delivery to see how they may reflect the character of God, who is supposed to be in me?

Children can be frustrating. The move slow. They don't always meet our expectations. They don't always obey.

Same can be said for our relationship with Christ as adults.

We are slow to listen to Him when He calls us to action. We don't always meet His expectation. We certainly don't always obey. But the character of God is always illuminated against our mistakes.

Do I illuminate this character for my children? Do you illuminate it for strangers?

Whether your struggle is revealed to your closest loved ones, strangers, acquaintances, colleagues, or children, let's work together and focus on our words. Behind the keyboard of our computers and our phones, in person, and every other way they come, the words we speak have the ability to breathe life or deliver death.

Be wise.

Choose life-breathing, God illuminating words.



Embracing the Challenge within the Burn of Awkward

Sometimes you show up somewhere and barely know a soul. It's strange and it's awkward and you wonder why you committed in the first place.

Last night was one of those nights for me. It was brutally awkward. Ten times more painful than I ever expected.

Here I stood, in a G O R G E O U S home being featured by a real estate partner with the magazine in which was hosting the party, lucky if one person even squeaked out a hello in my direction, totally focused on how out of place I was, how I simply did not fit in.

But then it hit me. This. This is where development begins. This is the moment when growth is born. Will I ever grow if I constantly run from what makes me feel such discomfort? In said discomfort, there is so much challenge. 

So I took the challenge. I stepped out. I didn't run home ten minutes later.  

Instead, I smiled and said to myself...

"Get out there. Stretch yourself. Feel the burn of awkward and do it again and again and again. Life starts when you exit the comfort zone."

Maybe life didn't start with this one challenge, but the more I push myself, the more the growth starts to take root. I feel the root and I am determined to not let insecurities of not being enough, not fitting in, not being like the others, not being "professional" or whatever it is, stop me from being comfortable.

On my way out, I snapped a selfie with the signage out front as a reminder to BE MYSELF wherever I go. A reminder to myself to not count the people whom I had a meaningful conversation with, but count the courage it took to step through those doors in the first place.



Chasing Dreams and Fighting for Glory

My W R I T I N G  is
O F F I C I A L L Y
P U B L I S H E D
in a
M A G A Z I N E!

It all began last fall on a day where I had decided enough is enough with writing. I had written something that so completely accidentally made major waves and I was defeated. Angry at Satan for stealing my purpose, angry at myself for not thinking more clearly, frustrated and beat down, confused at what the limits were to my writing, completely weary. Not only that, finding a platform for my words to actually be seen is much harder than it sounds. And let me be real--making a Facebook page for my blog was super uncomfortable for me. I was feeling vulnerable. Embarrassed. Low.

I leaned H A R D on my tribe {too many of you to tag}, expressing my emotion and they all followed through with top-of-the-line encouragement. Those women, above all, know my passion for writing and were determined to not allow me to give up. I sat on the brink of tears at dance as my friend, Yvette Doonkeen Simpson , poured truth into me. She spoke words over me that I had so easily forgotten and was determined to push me to keep going.

After we parted, I glanced down at my phone and saw an unfamiliar name had sent me a message. Usually, I would ignore this, but something pricked my spirit to go ahead and open it right then. It was a message from the publisher at Southlake Style magazine.

I re-read the message. Then again. And again. And then a fourth time, each time with eyes glistening slightly more.

Mike, the publisher for Southlake Style, had discovered my writing through Fort Worth Moms Blog , noticed we had some mutual friends and that I am a former Southlake grad, now back in the area raising my children as Dragons. He wanted to know if I would ever be interested in writing for his magazine.

Would I be interested? It’s almost comical.
Y E S!!!!! Thrilled, over the moon! When a stranger has faith in you, it changes everything.

I was ready to give up, throw in the towel, and hunt for a new passion. I was ready to shut down that embarrassing little Facebook page that no one even sees and make writing all a distant memory.

Fast forward to two weeks later and Mike and I were chatting over coffee at Buon Giorno, discussing writing, how Southlake Style got started, my passion for the pen and story-telling and their needs at Southlake Style. Writing for Southlake Style became very real.

The Lord was nowhere close to being done with me.

You see, Satan was working. The last thing Satan wants is for God's love to grow and through my blog, His love grows. He had to stop me and he darn well nearly did.

But God.
He is so much bigger. So much greater.
And so much more powerful. 

Not only did He provide an opportunity to remind me that He has given me this talent to use for good, He has given me the chance to meet GREAT, INFLUENTIAL people like Olivia Bennett Teeuws and share THEIR stories of strength, resilience, passion, and philanthropy.

The Lord has made me a story-teller of the goodness that still exists in this world.

So here we are today, February 2, 2018, and my very first published piece {in a magazine} is in my hands, and soon to be in all of Southlake's.

If you've made it this far, you can clearly see that this is so much more about the journey than it is the published piece.

Here is to never stopping the chase of your dreams, even the ones you never really knew you had. Here is trusting when your faith is faded. Here is to believing in yourself when you had begun to forget how.

Whatever you are dreaming of in 2018, friends...

GO GET IT. BECAUSE YOU CAN.


God's Love :: Caring for the Soul Above All Else


Laying in the middle of my youngest daughter's bed, each child cocooning me on either side, I was silent in awe of God's fine handiwork.  We were listening to our nightly devotion, one that I would end up listening to well over ten times in the next few hours, listening closely as the Lord spoke these words into my heart so intentionally, so purposefully.

Podcast Title:  Love Versus Like 
January 31, 2018
Episode 96/62
7 Minutes

Tonight's Kids Bible Minute titled "Love Versus Like" is designed to teach our children that although there are some people who we may find it hard to like, before God, we aren't required to like that said person, but we are called to love them.  

"How does this work, though, mama," my young daughter quizzically questions. 

And she's right to ponder that.  As Landon Rowell says in his podcast, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, no where does Jesus say we must "like" every.single.human, yet clearly, Jesus commands us that we are to love everyone.  But he never says it's going to be easy.  

Let's be really honest:  loving absolutely everyone is challenging.  

Especially the stone-throwers.  the mockers.  the liars.  the deceitful.  the hateful. the friends who know the truth but don't defend the truth.  the ones who didn't like us first.  the ones who make fun of our glasses or our widow's peak.  the ones who tell us we can't run fast enough or that we are ugly.  the ones who talk ill of us when we aren't around but love us to our face.  the ones who use us.  the ones whose aim is to separate and tear down. the ones who make up lies about us because they don't want to see our success.  the one ones who deceive. the ones who aim to strip our happiness.  the ones who intentionally hurt us.  the ones who break our hearts.  ruin our family. break up friendships. take everything we care about away.  the ones who shun us because we love Jesus or we believe something different from them. 

Finding love in our hearts for people who hurt us so deeply, so purposefully, so maliciously serves to be one of the biggest hurdles in most of our lives.  It is our temptation to justify that the hurt they have caused us gives us justification before the Lord to withhold love from them, but that couldn't be further than the truth.  

Do we have to like them, the short answer is no, but stopping there would negate the true meaning and expectation that the Lord has for us.  

In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says, "You have heard it said, 'love your neighbor but hate your enemy.'  But I say to you to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you."  So many of us know this to be true, but do we really live it?

We may not 'like' our enemy, but Jesus is clear that we must continue to love.  

As Landon Rowell says, "Love in the Bible means caring for the soul above all else, which means we love the soul no matter what they do to us, say to us, or how they treat us because we don't want any soul in hell for an eternity." 

Rowell's definition rocked my core and provided me with a foundational truth that I would like my daughters to carry with them forever.  

When we truly, deeply love the way God intends, we care for that soul more than we care for ourselves.  To love like God loves means that our first line of defense mechanism to seek revenge, withhold love, or refuse to forgive has to die with our old self.  

It doesn't mean we have to like the way our wrong-doers treat us. It doesn't mean we have to be pushovers.  It doesn't mean that we cannot defend ourselves.  

It simply means that we should love, above all else, like God. 

As Rowell continues, God is the best example of this.  In 1 John 4:8 it says, "Anyone who does not love, does not know God because God is love."  This poses a question, my fellow brothers and sisters:  if you are withholding love, are you really walking with Christ? 

I know what you are thinking...."Whoa, whoa, whoa.  But my situation is so different.  {insert a horrible tragedy of hate toward you or your family or loved one}. It's impossible for me to express love to him/her." 

I get it.  I truly get it.  To understand this biblical truth, we need to understand that while loving like God loves doesn't happen instantly, it is not God who prevents this instantaneous love.  It's our flesh.  We know that God is good and God is loving.   We also know that he hates sin, but He continues to love the sinner.  So shouldn't we, His followers, be able to imitate this kind of love?

In Proverbs 16, we learn six things that God hates, seven that are detested: 

haughty eyes
a lying tongue 
hands that shed innocent blood
heart that devises wicked plans 
feet that are quick to rush into evil 
a false witness who pours out lies
a person who stirs up conflict in the community 

"Now God is love and therefore LOVES even His enemies, which would include all those that do such things as we just read {Proverbs 16}.  But God also hates or extremely dislikes those enemies for what they are doing to themselves and others spiritually," says Rowell. 

And I repeat. 

"God Dislikes What They Are Doing to Themselves and Others Spiritually."

This is why we should be careful of allowing ourselves to believe that as Christians, we can withhold love.  When we are on the receiving end of the seven things that God detests, we are to cling to knowing that our Lord still loves His own enemies despite their sinfulness.  As does God, so shall we.  

How do we do this? 

Through God himself, reflecting His light of kindness, compassion and prayers for these souls to be saved or if they are a brother or sister in Christ, pray for their repentance.  As his born again children, our old selves have gone away and the Holy Spirit has equipped us with these characteristics.  It's important to note that not every wrong doing against us is a sin, but sin versus wrong doing doesn't change the hurt in our hearts.  For some of us, and depending on the situation, the thought of this is entirely overwhelming and that is okay.  To shine light and love is our goal, not our knee-jerk reaction (although how wonderful would that be) and is only possible through our Lord.  Simply put, our flesh is what struggles with giving this love. 

Now let's be really transparent.  

Are there any ways in your life right now in which you are walking the sinful ways in which God detests? 

are you allowing pride to hurt a relationship?
have you lied to edify yourself or hide your shame?
have you shed innocent blood out of your own insecurity?
is your heart plotting evil from jealously?
have your feet been quick to rush to evil out of hate or dislike?
have you failed to defend the truth, in turn pouring out lies, to protect yourself or someone else's failure?
have you allowed conflict to stir? 
does your heart desire for continued discord among people? are you complacent with discord among friends?

Take a minute and really read through what that lists means.  If you are walking in discord with anyone, and that discord lays on your shoulders, are you really loving? 

Have you considered how your actions, your withholding of love, is effecting others spirituality?  

My actions causing others to become spiritually depressed or sinful is something that strikes a chord with me.  I simply don't want to carry that burden and it is enough for me to choose love, choose compassion, choose kindness, and choose prayers up against persecution.  

Does that mean I don't fight internally, with my flesh, for justification?  Absolutely not, but I can go to bed at night knowing that I have loved like God loves, even when I hurt. 

This podcast, completely intended for my children, was such affirmation and left me awestruck at the ways of the Lord and His constant encouragement.  I can only pray that this solid foundation in my daughter's lives will take root and bring light to the world.  

Shine Your Light

It is my hope that this encourages everyone to dig deeper into our hearts and into our souls to really love like Christ loved.  It is so incredibly hard to do in some of our most challenging, painful life circumstances, but the consequences not only effect our personal relationship with Christ, but also, can be a stumbling block for other's walk with Christ, something that would pain me deeply to be responsible for.

When we respond to the fury of others with kindness, compassion and grace, it gives us the opportunity for others to see Christ in us.  Sometimes, this fuels the fire even more, but other times, it brings these enemies to Christ. 

As I sit here closing this post, I am thinking of those in my life who are in incredibly challenging situations in which pain has caused them to struggle with loving.  I have not always loved in return.  I have been guilty of a sin or two from Proverbs 16, luckily in my old life, and have no room to judge anyone.  I just want to encourage those who are hurting terribly that love truly does conquer all.  Dig deep, pray constantly, and live faithfully.  

With Christ, that love will find it's way to your heart and you won't even be able to explain it's existence.

What Is Your Power Source?


Twenty-Seventeen ended gloriously for me.  I am not going to sugar-coat it.  It was a great year for our family.  Great friendships, incredible memories, thriving children.  We had a lot to celebrate, but we also had a lot of busy-ness.  

Being cozied up in pajamas, book or pen in hand, is my jam and I took full advantage of the freed up time to spend nearly every waking hour during the final two weeks of December just like that. 

But then that laziness continued well beyond "R&R."  I kept thinking to myself, "I'll get back into the swing after the New Year."  Nope.  Then it was, "after school gets going, I will get back at it."  Nope.  The excuses kept coming to miss church {see accountability chart}, my legs forgot what running felt like, and I didn't even want to read or write.  My four favorite passions: the Lord, the Gym, Writing, and Reading were all at a stand-still.  

Something was missing.  If I was using my past history as a gauge, I would immediately begin to realize I had fallen into another depression slump, but that simply wasn't it this time.  

I was full of joy and high spirits yet completely sedentary.  I had become joyfully lazy

We had an insanely busy fall, so at first I granted myself grace and understood that this time of rest was necessary.  As it continued, however, I began to get really frustrated that I was missing my spark.  Initially, the answer was simple:  get back to the gym, your energy will increase, and you will get back at it.  So, I pushed it.  I tried but that energy was still no where to be found.  I wasn't coming home ready to zip around the house cleaning or magically inspired with writing or craving to spend my down time with my nose in a book.  I just wanted to sit. 

Increasingly frustrated, I did what I least wanted to do:  I picked up my Bible. 

Why wasn't I doing this in the first place?  Because I had become bored.  I did a FABULOUS fall study of the Sermon on the Mount which kept me so engaged, but that ended in November.  In addition, as much as well love our church, the sermons have been falling on deaf ears.  I find myself making grocery lists, to-do lists, planning my week, and before I know it, I have no idea what was said and then the motivation to get to church completely disappeared.  

I had lost my desire for the word.  

Late January was now upon us and man....everything had become a struggle.  Everything on my to-do list brought me little excitement.  Excitement was found....in doing wasteful sitting binges.  I found myself looking everywhere for the perfect workout, the perfect book, the perfect blog topic...and now the perfect bible study to embark on to CHANGE THESE WAYS.  

And here is what I discovered:  NONE OF IT EXISTED.  

My power source was not found in any of those resources, friends.  

Perfect didn't exist because my outlet for power was dead. 

Last week, after my "perfect bible study" search ended, I dusted off a bible journal in which my sister gave me TWO years ago and decided to just crack open my Bible.  Throw it all to the wind and do what I know best:  STUDY THE LIVING WORD. 

I chose the book of Galatians and found a SOAP bible study method specifically for Galatians that laid a solid guideline for which verses to focus on.  Instantly, I was hooked. Finishing my verse of the day quickly became my top priority.  Not only that, I was driven to do more than one verse a day.  In fact, I wanted to do it all day while the kids were at school.  

The Lord led me to Galatians and before I had even moved to chapter two, I knew EXACTLY while He led me to that specific book.  While 2018 was wonderful, such is life to have a few curveballs thrown at us.  One of those curveballs sent me on a mission to justify myself against some friends, whom while they are not friends I see or talk to frequently, I hold dear to my heart.  I unexpectedly spoke briefly about this in a live video I did on January 30th, but friends, I just cannot tell you enough about the POWER of HIS LIVING WORD.  How quickly it rejuvenated me in ways having nothing to do with said situation, while at the same time, addressing it and the importance of what my focus should be.

You see, we search everywhere for a source of happiness, a sense of belonging, acceptance, a way to find freedom.  When we can't find our motivation or our path to what we are looking for, we blame everything. 

Look at my own example:  "If only I can get back to the gym, then I will have my energy."  How misplaced was my source or energy? 

My power source is in nothing but the Lord.  

He is my full power.  

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls his disciples to be the light of the world.  

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Not do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." 

The function of light, whether it is a natural source or through electricity is to GIVE LIFE, to rid darkness, to sustain energy.  This is our call, friends.  To expose darkness through our light.  One cannot hide in a lit up room.  

But where does this "light" we are called to live in come from? 

Lightbulbs cannot generate light on their own.  They must be connected to a power source.  We must find our power source.  Even Christians misplace this source, but once it is found, it cannot be denied. 

My light was dimmed.  My power was faded.  My energy was gone.  

My power source is the Lord and I was not allowing Him in.  

In matter of verses, my energy and light had been restored.  I had been reconnected to my power source and now the light cannot be hidden.  

No matter what kind of place you are in today, ask yourself, "What is my power source?"  Who or what am I relying on for my power and how does that motive effect the light that I shine?" 




The {BEST} Turkey Chili Recipe

Adapted from a New York Times recipe, this Turkey Chili is both healthy {sans the garnishes}, spicy, and comforting. 

But what makes it my own exactly?  The secret ingredient: chipotle chili powder.  

Be prepared to crave this, even if you are like me and don't like turkey OR chili! :) 

It makes fabulous leftovers and delicious chili-cheese-burritos for the entire week! 

Enjoy! 


Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey, white
1.5 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 large sweet red pepper, cored, deveined and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, deveined and finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder**
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can Red Gold Chili Ready Diced Tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth, fresh or canned
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream 
fritos 

Directions
Chop all of the vegetables.  

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot and add the turkey meat.  Lightly brown the meat, about 5 minutes, chopping down and stirring as you go along.

Season the meat with the oregano, chipotle chili powder {secret ingredient--do not omit}, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Add the onions, garlic, sweet pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper and oregano.  Blend well and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes {undrained if you want wetter chili, drained if you want drier} and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Serve in bowls with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and fritos. 

Living in the Pursuit of Passion




Passion ignites a beauty that far exceeds what the eye can take in and the heart can feel. It is the spark that ignites life and is the inspiration behind every dream. Chasing every successful brand, company or influential person, there is a fearless heart running with complete abandon for what sets their soul on fire. This passion is how we change the world, our own lives, and each other.

A world without passion is a world without color.

Think about all that we can see, all that we can feel, all of those things that bring such beauty and function to our lives. Aside from creation, every bit of what makes us tick began with a passion burning within someone’s soul.

This passion leads us to create, motivate, change, and use the gifts we were given to make an emboldened mark on this temporary place we call home.

The truth is, what we are passionate about has the ability to affect many, however, we often fail to give credence to its power. Our grand ideas make us second-guess whether our simple passion is all it takes to make something successful bloom. Instead, it is fear that blooms. Fear of failure, fear that we are not talented enough at our passion, fear that we don’t have what it takes to pursue our heart’s desire. But that’s the incredible thing about this emotion called passion.

Passion isn’t about so much more than the details, it is about the love.

For many, like myself, taking our passion to the next level is scary. But don’t you think Steve Jobs found it slightly unnerving when he quit his job and was left wondering what to do next?

He said in his famous June 2005 Stanford speech, "I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.” Jobs added, "I even thought about running away from (Silicon) Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. And so I decided to start over." 

No matter how he felt when he took that risk, there is one thing he had that is undeniable: he had confidence in his passion. Confidence combined with such love is a dangerous thing with cataclysmic results. And in Jobs’ case, now we all live and breathe his passion brought to life in all of Apple’s products.

My love for the written arts and storytelling began at a relatively young age. I had no idea this love was actually a passion building and stirring within me at the time, but as the years passed and I noticed that I always gravitated toward writing in some way, I realized that this was so much more than a love, it was a passion. My passion. It was a way that I could leave my mark on this world. It was the way that I was called to utilize my gifts to encourage others.

Pursuing this passion has not always been easy. I have struggled with confidence. I have given up. But never have I let go. That’s the thing I have learned. Our passion never lets go of us, it is us who let go of it. It is us who believe in quitting rather than pursuing.

It isn’t just what we dream of doing, it’s chasing that dream that sets us apart from the rest. 

Whatever you are dreaming of becoming or creating today, for whatever your heart is beating, don’t give up on it. Follow that heartbeat with confidence, optimism, and dedication. Persevere through the challenges and trust your heart.

What defines your passion isn't your means or your talent:  it is your heart.