Thursday, December 28, 2006
Just a picture for now, but it's a cute one!
I have so much to blog about right now. Really, I do! But right now I am having MAJOR problems with my sciatica nerve so I am going to rest on the couch and play my hand held yahtzee game that Jeremy got me for Christmas. Then I will be back later to update the world on my life! :) I have something to tell you about a pair of $798.00 jeans that came to my house. Funny story! And how my house is TOTALLY spotless and my laundry is completely DONE!

But just to hold you over, here is a picture of Ava Beth. This was her Birthday present from us. She loves Dora! Oh and I bought her some hot pink crocs and she loves them! And I love that fact that she can put them on herself so easily. Her T-Shirt is from her aunt and uncle and the ball cap was Josiah's but his head is too big and Ava Beth claimed it as her hat right way! She wears the hat everywhere we go! Everyone thought she was pretty cute at the OB today when I went for my checkup. She is definitely cute and definitely FULL of personality!

  posted at 12:18 PM

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
And here's to honesty!
(Thank you Jenn for leading the way. In the midst of YOUR blizzard, you helped me share today. Thank you my friend.)

I have always had problems with expectations. I build things up in my mind and when they don't turn out exactly how I am imagined, I am depressed. With that being said, this makes me very sad to say. Something I never thought I would EVER say but this is how I feel. I am glad Christmas is over! And right about now, my friend Kelly Ann has fallen out of her chair!

When I was pregnant with Josiah, I could not wait to have that little boy. The entire pregnancy I was consumed with my imagination. No one told me how hard it would be. No one shared that breastfeeding can turn out to be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life! No one prepared me for a surgery he would have to have at two weeks old and no one mentioned the word colic! A few days after he was born, I was standing in the shower with breasts that felt like they were on fire (I was struck with THRUSH), my new baby boy was screaming and the postpartum blues were more than I could bare. As I stood in the shower under the hot water, I cried like I had never cried before. The feelings I felt were very confusing. This was a time I was supposed to be happy. This was a time I was supposed to be jumping for joy! This is what I had waited for! This is what I had dreamt about when I was single! Yet I am miserable and wishing that it was back to just me and Jeremy. I felt like I was never meant to be a mother. The emotions, the hormones being out of whack and the pain I was in AND the fact that my newborn was colic made me feel like a total failure. These were not things I dreamt about.

Needless to say, the surgery fixed the pyloric stenosis, God healed him of colic, my breasts finally healed (I still have scars from that infection), my hormones leveled out and by three months, we had our groove on! But I will say that my introduction to motherhood was very difficult. I am so grateful though. So many days I spent at home crying out to Jesus to help me and He did. It was another great spiritual marker in my life. If you have a crying baby that won't stop, call me or have me come over and hold him. I truly feel like an expert when it comes to colic. Although, don't think I didn't pray my guts out that Ava Beth would not be colic. She wasn't! And you better believe I have prayed over my belly many times in the past nine months with this pregnancy. Lord, please don't let Ezekiel be colic!

This Christmas was one filled with expectations, just like every other year. Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, shopping, a visit to see Santa, new traditions, old traditions, and so much more. While much of our time was spent fulfilling those things, there was other times spent running to have Christmas here, then across town to have it somewhere else, then rushing to get home so my Dad could come over and have Christmas with us. My husband does not get hardly any time off of work during Christmas so in order to make everyone happy and make sure all the grandparents get to see the grandkids, it's hard on us. We made a rule early on in our marriage that when we had kids we would not go ANYWHERE on Christmas day. We broke that rule this year but have already decided that it won't ever be broken again. Christmas Eve had to be arranged around EVERYONE'S schedule. That won't happen again either. We have decided we have to do what's best for our family, meaning the soon to be five of us. My husband had to work on Saturday so he only had Sunday and Monday off. It wouldn't be so bad if he did not have a physically demanding job, but he does (he never sits at a desk, never!). He told me Monday night that he did not enjoy Christmas this year because he was not able to really rest and enjoy the kids.

This Christmas there was confusion over gift buying within both of our families, how much we were supposed to spend and many more "little" things. So on Christmas night as I laid in bed trying to sleep, I felt a little sad. This is where Christmas gets out of control. This is when it looses all focus and meaning. This is when I bow out and do everything I can to make sure next Christmas is nothing like it was this year. Jeremy said next year we are taking our kids and going to Hawaii for Christmas next year. Ha! The food was good, the presents were nice but I felt a huge lack of "Christmas" and what that truly means. There was no connection between families. It was fast, it was over. Christmas will be done totally different next year. Not everyone will be happy with our decisions but the five of us will spend much more time together and as the heart of my home, I will make sure I do everything possible to make it much more peaceful and much more fun AND much more relaxing (Okay Jeremy?).

Expectations. It will get you every time!

Thank you Lord so much for my children and husband. Thank you for their hugs and kisses and words of affirmation. I know through them, that I am good Mom, a good wife and someone they adore. Help me to protect my home from "busyness" and strife. Help me to give them a better picture of what Christmas is all about. The baking business made it very hard this year Lord and if it is something you don't want me to do next year, please show Jeremy and I BOTH. I pray that you will give Jeremy some much needed rest this coming weekend. I pray that we can enjoy one another and our children before this third baby comes. Our little family needs some quality time together without interruptions. And Lord please help us next year to show our kids that Christmas is all about JESUS.

  posted at 10:50 AM

Sunday, December 24, 2006
Merry Christmas

The first thing out of Josiah's mouth this morning was pretty cute! "Did Santa come yet or is he still at the mall?"

I pray that all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your families. We are off for the 1st round of Christmas with my family today!

  posted at 8:20 AM

Friday, December 22, 2006
Ava Beth is two years old today!
I know it is confusing but her name really is AVA BETH. She has a two name first name. She also has a middle name, Renee.
looking back...

And sometime tonight I will tell you the story of our little Ava Beth.

Happy Birthday angel. I love you.

  posted at 9:10 AM

Thursday, December 21, 2006
WOW, I am so tired!
Wow! I am so tired, yet so relieved. 36 Cheeseballs, 14 Rum Cakes 22 tins of fudge later, my feet are swollen and aching like NEVER before. I thought about posting a picture of my feet but my mother would have a fit because my toes need some serious attention. But for some reason I lack energy in polishing toes that look like Vienna sausages (swollen toes). I would treat myself to a pedicure but tomorrow I am getting a massage. I can only indulge so much! I can't believe I did all this at 34 weeks pregnant. I am usually such a cry baby and wimp around this time.

Anyway, I feel so happy right now just knowing that I am done. Tomorrow I will deliver and collect money! Yippee! So here are a few pictures of what I have been doing the past two days. Well actually I started Sunday because Minnie's sweet mother-in-law placed a $100 order and picked some of her stuff up Sunday night and the rest tonight. Thank you Minnie!

Oh and a special thanks to my BEST FRIEND, Rebecca! She came over tonight and wrapped ALL of the cheeseballs, most of the Rum Cakes and tied pretty, perfect little bows around all of them. She only drove 40 miles to do so. :) Just being with her tonight sure made me miss living across the street from her for three years. Building a house across the street from your best friend is the greatest thing ever. But when one of you decides to move, it sucks! I love you Rebecca.

Thank you Lord for blessing me through this little business and thank you for giving me strength, cooperative children and help from my husband and Rebecca. Thank you Lord!

Jeremy bought me this fridge before Thanksgiving to put in the garage for all of those cheeseballs!

Just a few of the Rum Cakes!

  posted at 11:07 PM

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
JEREMY, my husband
Okay when you are stuck in the kitchen all day assembling cheeseballs, you have lots of time to think and ponder on many, many things. And since I am going to make my husband get on here tonight and read a week's worth of blogs, I thought I would write about him for a moment.

Even though he is the busiest UPS man in Dallas/Highland Park area this Christmas, he took the time to chop EVERYTHING for all of my 36 cheeseballs. Yes, I have an electric chopper but you still have to chop some before putting it in the chopper. He knew it would be easier on me today if he helped so he went back to being my sous chef so I could spend the day being the executive chef. I would probably have already been done, but I have to take breaks because my back starts hurting and my feet and my ribs, etc. (reminder-34 weeks pregnant!) I have a right to take breaks! :) Anyway, as I was assembling the 26th cheeseball (10 more to go), a song starting playing on my iPod that almost made me start crying.

We have always been country music fans. Before we met, we loved and when we met and realized we had similar taste in music, the icing was on the cake! Both of us adore George Strait and Alan Jackson. So one night I was getting ready for a date we were going on (this was about two months ago) and I noticed he was on iTunes. It's become our favorite website for sure! Anyway, he downloaded an Alan Jackson song and said, "Babe, I want you to hear this song. It's my song to you." Even though Jeremy is a sensitive, very loving man towards His wife, I was kind of shocked that he had found a song that described how he felt about me. It was totally a moment for us and I cried. I think he did too, but he won't admit it. Just like he won't admit he was crying like a baby at our wedding. Needless to say, the song is on my iPod and I listen to it ALL THE TIME.

He makes my life so much easier. He helps me so much with the kids and helps me with everything else. He is my biggest fan and he makes me so happy. I never knew it was possible to have a husband that loves me like he does. I am so blessed.

I love you Jeremy. You are my best friend.

Like Red on a Rose- by Alan Jackson

Like red on a rose
When your lips first smiled at me
I was captured instantly
To each his own

Like blue in the sky
The gaze of your willing eyes
Touched something deep inside
The truth be known

That I love you
like all little children love pennies
And I love you cause
I know that I can't do anything wrong
You're where I belong
Like red on a rose

And I love you like
all little children love pennies
And I love you like
good times of which I've known many
And I love you cause
I know you give me a heart of my own
You make my blood flow
Like red on a rose

  posted at 5:14 PM

My husband thinks it's funny how I know so many Christmas songs. But when you grow up singing in church, then sing in choirs at school and then in High School your life becomes Show Choir, you learn a lot of Christmas music! In fact this time of year I really miss "Bell System"! This was the name of our show choir at my High School. We sang and danced just about all over the Metroplex and even traveled for competitions in different states. But this time of year, as I pass nursing homes all over town, I remember all the songs we used to sing and dance to in order to entertain the older folks. They loved it! I don't miss the show choir dress and character shoes, but I miss how much fun we used to have.

I have taken a break for a few minutes from "cheeseballing" (as Kelly Ann calls it) to put more Christmas music on my favorite new toy, the iPod Shuffle! My friend Kelly Ann knows how much I love Christmas music so she gave me THIS several weeks ago (before Thanksgiving I think. I start listening to Christmas music in November, early November)! It has become my favorite Christmas CD so I put it on my iPod and today I have really had a chance to listen to the lyrics I have sang many times before but never really paid attention to. This CD is wonderful and my favorite song on the CD right now is In The Bleak Mid Winter. Beautiful, so beautiful! Sarah leaves out a verse or two. I wish she wouldn't have. It's a powerful song. Anyway, if you are looking for some good Christmas music, this is a great cd to buy or download off of iTunes.

Also I wanted to share a picture with you that makes me smile. We get so many Christmas cards that I decided last year to just tape them to the coat closet door. It works great! The kids love looking at the pictures too. When I pass by this door, I smile. I love it! I love checking the mail this time of year. I just checked it and two more to add. They just keep on coming! I ran out of the ones I ordered from the place I had the kid's pictures made so I had to take a picture of the kids in their Christmas p's and I am sending out the rest today.

Okay, enough of random thoughts! Back to "cheeseballing" while the kids sleep! Merry Christmas!

  posted at 2:13 PM

I am a friend of God!
Good morning friends!

It's a cheeseball day over at my house. Only 36 of them to make! Should be pretty easy with two kids running around. Ha! Tomorrow is an all day Rum Cake and Fudge day and then Friday I will deliver everything and treat myself to a massage. Once I get on that table for a massage, I will feel so much better. I will finally be able to enjoy Christmas and look forward to the birth of this baby (one month away at the latest). I made it to 37 weeks with AB so I am kind of hoping that this guy comes then too! But trying not too hard to wish for that or I will be disappointed and counting days. I don't want to count days!

For the past 24 hrs, I have really been talking to God a lot. I am thankful that I can pull up a chair so to speak and talk to Him whenever I need to about whatever I want. I've also been wearing my little ipod shuffle pretty much non-stop and listening to lots of music. As I cheeseball through the day, the ipod will be on a lot. Don't worry I will hear the kids! Maybe. Anyway, one of the songs I have on my ipod shuffle is FRIEND OF GOD. At my last church, I had an amazing worship leader who truly taught me about worshipping instead of just singing up on a big stage with bright lights. One of the songs he loved to do was FRIEND OF GOD. It quickly became my favorite song. I remember one Sunday in particular when I felt like so much of who I was, was being questioned and judged. Everyone likes to feel like they have a friend and lots of them. On this day, I really felt alone. My husband was discouraged, we were BOTH feeling very confused and not sure about what God was doing. We knew HE had showed us that it was time to leave our church but we were not sure if we could do it. I remember looking out as I sang on the stage and seeing him with head phones on as he tried his best to work the sound board. We made eye contact and it was like we both knew that the song meant something very special. We knew that the biggest reason we did not want to leave the church was the thought of loosing friends. But as we sang that song, it was like Jeremy and I BOTH knew that it didn't matter because we had a friend that would not turn His back on us. And soon after, we were obedient and left.

At times when I get down or question what God may be doing in our lives, I sing this song and it gives me so much joy. In fact, I cannot listen to it or sing it without crying. Not possible! Sometimes I like to chew on this song and get it in my spirit. To think that I AM A FRIEND OF GOD, blows my mind. I pray that God can use my husband and I BOTH to show others how much Jesus really loves them. It's not my job to push them away because of their sin or not be friends with them because of who they are. It's my job to show them the face of Jesus and when I do, that sin will fall off. We will always struggle with sin, always. But, I feel like people are not being shown the TRUE face, the REAL face of God anymore.

It's no accident where God has placed my family. My cul-de-sac is the perfect example. My next door neighbor is a widow and has never remarried. My husband and I have been to her house many times for parties, etc. I don't sense that she has experienced God in the way I have. I don't know if she has a relationship with Jesus or not. Her daughter is home from college for the next three weeks and I have been praying that God will give me some time with her. Not so I can try to get her in church, not so I can try to do anything else but to just get to know her and love her. Then we have two other homes on the cul-de-sac that most Christians would not consider ever going into. We have an actual married couple who are lesbians and another one across the street from them. I don't want to be one of those Christians that talk about their homosexual friends like it's a badge of honor. I hear that sometimes and it makes me sick. But I am making Rum Cakes for most of my neighbors and I want to take my children and walk them to each neighbor and allow them to say Merry Christmas and show them how to be friendly and loving to everyone. And if they invite us in, we will go in and visit. I will do everything I can possibly do with the power of the Holy Spirit to show others that I am different. In fact, that is what I crave. This is what I lay in bed at night and think about. I am praying that God will give me opportunities with those that most Christians would turn away from.

It's not that I want to be praised for being different. It's not that I am doing something so crazy that I should be applauded. I am only trying to do what we SHOULD ALL be doing! There are so many people out there hurting so many people out there that just want to be loved. And with all of my heart, with every fiber of my being, that is my task, that is what my Lord has called me to do. I am a friend of God, He calls me His friend. That's what I pray I can show those that come into my life.

Friend Of God

Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me it's amazing

I am a friend of god
I am a friend of god
I am a friend of god
He calls me friend

God almighty, lord of glory
You have called me friend

(Repeat chorus)

He calls me friend
He calls me friend..

I love this! Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

  posted at 11:19 AM

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
just thought I would share (revised-see bottom of post)
Below you will find a COMMENT sent to me anonymously. I decided to look on my site meter and see the location of this person. Not very hard to figure out. No one is ever anonymous. Makes me sad, especially because I am a human being and I even offer my email address and to think someone has to send this anonymously confuses me a lot.

I am so thankful for the relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. I could not make it one day without Jesus. And after reading this comment, I am especially thankful for this present season. It is a sweet time, for sure. I am not sure where I ever wrote that homosexuality is not a sin. I do believe that it is wrong, just as I believe adultery, fornication and murder are wrong.

People can choose to read my thoughts or not. I don't buy books that are authored by people I don't agree with or really care for. So why do people keep coming here? Interesting thought.

I am on the right track, I am asking questions. I don't doubt scripture, I don't twist or change it. My problem is not with the Bible or JESUS or GOD. I have NEVER twisted scripture on this blog, NEVER. But the thing that scares me about this comment is the anger behind it. It proves so much of my point.

If any of you want to send stuff like this, please don't do it the cowardly way. Attach your name to it. Your IP address says a lot.

I will pray for you. We are to be IN the world, not OF it! What you are encouraging are mixed messages to those poor people around you that you can be all holy in your thinking, but not in your practical life. This is, unfortunately, a lie that the devil has led you into believing. When is the last time you really searched for truth in the Bible - without any prejudices toward believing one way or another? I know you know what truth is; you know that it is far, far worse for someone who has known truth and rejected it, than someone who will never experience it. The post-modernist relativism you ascribe to will not matter one bit when you are standing in judgment. Please remember that Christ's followers are not to change ideas and beliefs like the changing of the wind. Are you truly ready to raise your children to believe that the homosexual man sitting next to them can be just as eager for God as them, while still saying it's okay for the homosexual to practice what they believe? I hope you and your husband are prepared for what you are doing to your beautiful children; your decisions WILL affect generations of your family after you. Put it this way - since your soul and the souls of your husband and family are truly riding on the beliefs you hold dear, and since you still believe in the Bible and it's message, why not believe in all of what the Bible has to offer? I for one would not put the eternal souls of those I love in danger by ordering what I would like off the Bible and neglecting the rest

I must answer this question.
Are you truly ready to raise your children to believe that the homosexual man sitting next to them can be just as eager for God as them, while still saying it's okay for the homosexual to practice what they believe?

I have never written that homosexuality is okay, never. HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG! So this person has put words in my mouth or has decided to not really read my writing.

Will I raise my children to believe that the homosexual man OR woman sitting next to them can be just as eager for God as them? YES. I could write so much just for that question but I don't feel it is necessary.

Thank you friends and family that know my heart. I think the saddest part about this comment is where it came from.

***One of my sweet friends just called to tell me something about Jay Bakker. He is the one that I mentioned in the post called Punk Pastor. I made a horrible mistake and did not read something that he had said. The only thing I knew about Jay was what I heard him say in an interview on GMA. I should have done more homework before applauding him so much. I do feel that Jay is chasing after Jesus but I also feel that based on a RELIGIOUS past that he has tried so hard to get away from, his view has become extremely distorted. Here is a quote from Jay. "The more I follow grace, the more I'm drawn to him [God], the more I'm willing to stand up for people being persecuted," said Bakker. "It sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said '[homosexuality] is not a sin.'" Okay folks, I do not agree with this and I apologize if anyone was confused based on my mentioning of his name. Maybe this is where the homosexual comment came from. Not sure. So please know you can always email me to ask what I meant by something or to enlighten me on something. Thank you Wendy for calling me on the phone and telling me about this. However, if this is the cause behind the comment I received, I do not believe the comment is justified. It was wrong and there was a lot of anger behind it, I could feel it.***

  posted at 1:35 PM

Monday, December 18, 2006
A Family picture
It's hard to get a picture of all four of us. It seems we can never make it happen and when it does, it's even more difficult to get all four faces looking in the same direction AND smiling! I love this picture and I love the fact that Josiah isn't smiling. Instead he is trying to hide his gum like MiMi told him before she snapped the shot. That's a real picture! Ava Beth is hiding my almost nine month belly and I have to use the bathroom really bad and my back and feet hurt worst than ever. That's a real picture! Oh and the picture is out of focus! But, it's our little family of four and soon it will be a family of five. Right now we can't imagine what life will be like with three kids but next year I am sure we will look back at this picture and not be able to remember what it was like with just two.

I was thinking about next year's Christmas card and having all those names to put on it. Jeremy, Amanda, Josiah, Ava Beth and Ezekiel!

Wow! We are so blessed. This picture just reminds me of all that I prayed for in that lonely, one bedroom apartment in Las Colinas/Irving, Texas when I was a single girl waiting to find the love of my life. Thank you Lord for answering my prayers and giving me so much more than I ever imagined.

Below is a picture of grandparents that will soon be babysitting THREE at a time. In this picture, they aren't thinking about that! Can you tell? Oh they think OUR life is going to change, but HA! I got news for them! GET SOME REST!

So I am posting this for MiMi and PawPaw! (And Mom did you notice our outfits yesterday? I wore black jeans with a black and white shirt and RED shoes. And look at YOU! You are so stylish Mom!)

  posted at 9:17 AM

Friday, December 15, 2006
Approved to God
My husband and I have now been on two cruises. After going twice, I think it is safe to say we know what we are doing. The first time you go on a cruise, you feel pretty clueless. What to pack, what to wear, what shore tours to take, etc. The second time we went, we planned the trip with two good friends who had never been before. It was great knowing the ropes! My friend Laura would call me and ask me a million questions about the cruise and what to expect. So I had lots of fun preparing her and telling her what she needed to bring. The first cruise my husband and I went on was with my parents. All four of us were first time cruisers. My mom and I would be walking somewhere on the ship and see passengers talking on walkie talkies. They had obviously been on a cruise before because if you happen to cruise with a group, it's hard to find one another at times. Walkie Talkies are a great thing to have on a cruise! Except Mom and I soon learned that our men could always be found on the lido deck eating ice cream. ALWAYS.

The point is, it's nice having a friend tell you what to expect. If you are traveling somewhere for the first time, it is great to have someone tell you where to eat, where to shop and all those little things we travelers like to know.

Right now I am traveling down a road I have never traveled and the hard part is, I don't know anyone that has traveled to this place and come home the exact same way. Instead, they have changed, wrestled and struggled a lot to figure out what this foreign soil is all about. Today I am on foreign soil. I am asking God questions I have never asked or even thought about asking. I don't have anyone telling me exactly what this place looks like or what to expect. That makes it kind of hard. Instead I have a lot of people questioning how I traveled here. And the more I travel, the more I feel sorry for those that are not on this road with me. It's tough though, I must admit. I have to stop and ask a lot of questions. I have to look at my map constantly and pray for my tour guide to lead the way. And He does.

The road I am on is exactly where the Lord put me. In fact, I feel honored to be here. Yesterday someone said something to me that I must share. I was told to be careful that Satan is not weasling his way into my life trying to get me off course. Today I laugh about that. Isn't that what Satan tries to do to ALL OF US? But, guess what? Satan hates this place I am at. He hates the road I am traveling because it makes his puny job a lot more difficult. The longer I am on this road the more people I begin to see here. Hey, I am not alone! That is comforting to say the least. Along the way I have began to journey with others and we search together. We pull out our walkie talkies and chat and we find that our God is so much more loving, so much more powerful than we ever imagined.

This morning my friend Vivian in Canada sent me today's devotion from Oswald Chambers. I feel as if He wrote this for me all those years ago.

Approved To God

If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don't, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God's winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God's truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God's wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, "I'm not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I'll just borrow my words from someone else," then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.

Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn't know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

Wow. Not much else to say after that.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth-2 Timothy 2:15

  posted at 10:05 AM

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Punk Pastor and so much more
(And I think I will turn the comments off for this one.)

Do you remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker? Their story was all over the news. Sketches on Saturday NIght Live mocked them and every paper and magazine known to man, plastered them on their front pages.

When I was about nineteen years old, I began working in a Christian Bookstore. On slow days, I would find a book and stand at the counter and read. That's when I decided to read Jim Bakker's Book, I WAS WRONG. It's a long book but an interesting read. For some reason I was fascinated by the story of this fallen preacher. This morning I watched a few clips of their old Christian cable TV show, PTL (Praise The Lord). Based on the place I am at now, the shows are pretty hysterical. It's not the clothes or the crazy hair, it's the message.

I actually grew up in an Assemblies of God Church and NEVER got the "Holy Ghost", meaning I never spoke in tongues, I was never slain in the spirit, I never fell out when someone was praying for me. It just didn't happen. As a child I would sit back and watch all of the above happen and it confused me in a big way. As a teenager, family members (not my Mom, Step-Dad or Dad) questioned me. I was even told that if I did not have the Holy Ghost, then I wasn't truly saved. That is not an Assemblies of God belief,however I will never forget a college application I filled out for an Assemblies of God School. One of the questions on the application asked if I spoke in tongues and if not, was I seeking after that gift in my prayer time. My answer was NO. I was not seeking the gift of tongues. At the same time I was visiting an AG church with a friend of mine and one night I asked a pastor to pray for me during the "Alter Call". As he prayed for me, he pushed me. He literally tried to push me down as he was praying for me. Instantly I knew what he was doing and this stubborn gal was not budging. He quickly ended his prayer with me and then asked if I had the "HOLY GHOST". I could tell he was frustrated. My answer frustrated him even more. But I was prepared. After all, this question had been asked by family members, church members and even a few of my friends. "The Bible says in Romans 9 that if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. So, yes I believe I have the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost because when I was saved, I got the total package! I hear God speaking to me, I see evidence of Him working in my life and I know I will go to Heaven." And then he began to tell me how I was lacking power in my life because I did not have the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST.

This is where I pause to take a HEAVY SIGH.

A few months ago, I decided to take a chance and share something with a family member that I am not real close to but I know we both care about one another a lot. This person brought up the tongue speaking thing. But how she worded it really frustrated me. "Maybe you need to pray that you will receive the Holy Spirit." She didn't say HOLY GHOST, she said HOLY SPIRIT. So in my mind I am thinking, "Does she really think I don't have the Holy Spirit??? SAY WHAT?" I knew she would not budge and I knew I was not about to either so I quoted the verse in Romans 10, explained my relationship with the Lord but then soon realized that she too felt I was missing "POWER".

It gets better folks.

I met my husband at a full blown Pentecostal church, however they wear makeup, jeans, etc. He was actually saved through this church and so was my Mother and MANY family members. I had just finished reading this and heard that the author had spoken at this church many times and it was also the church my mom grew up in. So, I decided to visit. Of course the visit paid off. I met my husband there! My first visit to the church was difficult. I was broken during that time, really seeking God in a new way. I was open. I thought I would test out some things I had been studying and praying about. My first time down to the alter to pray I was asked whether or not I had the HOLY GHOST! (This is a long story so I will save it for another blog) For a while it was good but a lot of things happened there that made me even more confused than I already was. After getting married, my husband and I BOTH were uncomfortable with the lack of order in the church during worship. It got CRAZY and it was not always a God thing or even a GOOD thing. It was total CHAOS and the Bible speaks clearly about the church having order. No order there.

Many times in my life I have heard my mother describe her children. The one thing I have heard her say about me was that I was non-compliant from the get go. "Mandi was the most obstinate child you have ever seen." I used to hate hearing her say that. She said my brother was a go with the flow, compliant child. I always felt that something was wrong with me when I heard that. I hate following a crowd, I hate being out of control, I hate being told what to do, BUT I can respect my authority as long as I am able to ask questions. Sometimes I just want to know WHY they have chosen to do something a particular way. This has gotten me in trouble in the past. I have been accused of not respecting leaders and questioning too many things. I am not dumb, I am not unaware, I know I have to keep this in check and I constantly have to pray about being submissive to my leaders. I felt controlled for many years by fear and even the fear of my own Dad. I think that has manifested itself these days by struggling with someone trying to manipulate me or control me. Even now I can feel the Lord wanting me to submit to some of those people that do that in my life. Control? Always an issue for me. Always. But I believe the Lord is going to deliver me from that. BUT, I have to be willing. It's not about me, it's not about me! A daily reminder!

All of that brings me to this GUY! I listened to his interview this morning on GMA and wanted to give him a standing ovation in my own living room. He's a guy thinking for himself, repainting his Christian Faith. His church even meets in a bar AND he smokes. He is covered in tattoos, his wife is too. It's not the fact that he meets in a bar, that's been done before. It's not that he has tattoos, Christ followers have tattoos (Right Kelly Ann?), and it's not that he smokes. None of the above is shocking to me . Instead, it's his heart. It's his past. It's the fact that he is Jay Bakker, Jim and Tammy's son and he has come out on the other side of a whole lot of crap. You can say or believe what you want but these are the kind of people that will make a difference in the WORLD. Jay's voice will be heard above the others. He may not have a mega church, he may not have a church building, he may not even have church on Sunday's or Saturday's but he's doing things differently. He's not copying other churches. He's not trying to impress "UNCHURCHED" people by using secular music, showing video clips or trying to impress you with multi media that will blow your socks off. Even though all of that works and people are getting saved by it, there are some of us that feel comfortable in saying that we no longer want that type of church. Unfortunately, most churches out there are trying to do that. Or you have the church that is doing the total opposite and they all feel that they are doing things differently too. The truth is everybody is following somebody. Even though I am not in a "CHURCH" doesn't mean I am not following anyone. I am. I listen to Rob Bell online and enjoy his messages. I am a follower.

I agree with one of my blogging friends and a comment she put on my last post. "There is no perfect church." So true! Even if I were to start one in my home with my husband, it would not be perfect. Never! I realize that. But I like people like Jay Bakker and my friends Alf and Kelly who have a wakeboard church out at a popular lake in the metroplex. While they take prayer requests, some guys are guzzling down beers. Or there's another friend of mine who is going to be a part of a ministry where women go into Strip Clubs and minister to topless dancers and cocktail waitresses. These people don't want to just hear themselves talk, they want to share Jesus!

Holiness starts from the inside. We don't teach the stripper to quit her strip job, THEN become a believer. We don't teach the wakeboarder to put his beer down BEFORE he prays. Pray with the beer in your hand, take a drink if you want, take a guzzle! We don't tell homosexuals to dump their partner, THEN come to church. The message of Jesus is not being conveyed properly. We have to show people that they can come to JESUS, JUST AS THEY ARE!


Now for some housework regarding this blog.

In most of the comments, I see that some of the stuff I write has been misunderstood a little or I have not communicated very well. We aren't taking a break from church and I don't even think this is a sabbatical, although that definition does describe our season. We don't hate church, we don't hate people that are different from us. Some feel the need to defend the fact that the don't do Santa or they don't celebrate Halloween or whatever else I have mentioned in previous posts. I am not against you. I do not feel you are doing something bad or wrong. I have read over my previous posts to try to see where I might have caused some to think that my message is judgmental. I don't believe it is. My best friend does not do Santa. She knows I don't agree and we are okay. I don't disagree with her for her choice but I disagree with her on her reasoning. I have another friend that is a church planter with her husband. I don't agree with ALL of the methods of church planting but I believe they are doing an amazing thing and I absolutely love talking with her about it. We both know that we won't see eye to eye on everything. But I know she knows my heart and I know her heart as well. I will often refer to things ad being fundamental beliefs, I won't stop referring to it that way either. I see that my generation often has a difficult time thinking for themselves. We think we are being different, we think we are being trendsetters but we're not. We jump from bandwagon to bandwagon and if you don't do Santa or you do Santa, if you homeschool or you don't (still don't know what I am doing), it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what the Holy Spirit reveals to you. The problem is when one group of Christians will speak for all of us and ridicule the other for not doing what they do. I write about these things because it has happen to me.

In the new book I am reading Blue Like Jazz, the author Donald Miller says something that really makes me think. "I felt so far from my upbringing, from my narrow former self, the me who was taught that Republicans give a crap about the cause of Christ. I felt a long way from the pre-me , the pawn Christian who was a Republican because my family was a Republican, not because I had prayed and asked God to enlighten me about the issues concerning the entire world rather than just America."

And for me, that's what it boils down to. I don't meet very many people that really pray about what they believe or what they stand for. Instead, the JUMP on and never let go and ridicule those that want to think a little more or study a little more or pray a little more before jumping on the bandwagon.

I love this place I am at with the Lord. I love it. So far, this has been my most favorite part of my journey. I love digging and asking the Holy Spirit for Revelation. I love how He has me uncomfortable right now and I love the fact that I know He has something new, something fresh, something so different from everyone else. He is going to use me, use my husband, use my family. That is exciting! Honestly, I do not know if we will ever "go back" to church as we have known it. Maybe. Some days like last week, I thought maybe I wanted to but that feeling never lasts. In a few weeks I will have a new baby boy and I won't have meals brought to me for two weeks because I am not in church. I don't have any group of women planning to help me clean or planning to help take care of the kids or planning who will bring food on a particular night. That I will miss, but I don't miss anything else about it. And that is a result of pain experienced through church relationships and so much more but that is not the reason for this season I am in now. I am where I am because this is where God wants me. Sitting out? No. Sabbatical? Not really. I am doing what I have always done, I am just learning to be comfortable with how different it is and how it does not meet the expectations of other's. But since I am such a non-compliant gal, you know I am okay with that. :)

My husband is not a Punk Pastor and neither am I. I don't think we will be starting a church in a bar or anything like that. I can't see myself going to strip clubs to minister and I even though I love to wakeboard, I don't feel that's my place. But I do think we are on to something and I don't see God forgetting about us or letting us sit for very much longer. So we wait. ANXIOUSLY.

  posted at 10:47 AM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sorry, not quite done for the day yet!
I received and email a few days ago regarding inappropriate TV shows. It asks Christians to sign a petition or mail in letters to certain networks explaining how they do not support shows that support homosexual lifestyles. There were many shows listed all because of the issue of a homosexual character or story line or even a homosexual host. I also got one of these emails when the show Will & Grace first aired back in September of 1998. This email/petition threatens networks by saying they will not watch anything on their particular network and encourages them to remove the show from the lineup permanently in order to keep the support of Christians. (Do people really think that this works?)

So this afternoon I was trying to take a nap but I kept thinking about that email. I began to realize that I have never been sent an email of that sort regarding the show Oprah. Oprah will refer to God on her show but you will never hear her say the word JESUS. Oprah also openly talks about her take on marriage, which is, she does not believe in marriage. She also has a companion that lives with her and since they are not married, I think that would qualify her as a sinner. I could go on and on and on about Oprah and how she does not match up to the Christian community standards. It's funny because I have never been told or encouraged to NOT watch her but when it comes to the show Ellen, that's a different story. I have never watched Ellen, usually I am napping during that time with my kids. Actually I have never been emailed anything about boycotting shows that have premarital sex, fornication, people living together or even shows that involve stories with violent crimes. What about the show Friends?? Back in the day of friends, everyone I knew watched Friends and still do on syndication.

Let's think about the shows we love. How about the shows we all adore and become addicted to? The Office, Lost, Survivor (always has a homosexual), Grey's Anatomy (must I even explain that one? And I really like this show a little too much!), Boston Legal, 24, OPRAH, CSI, Prison Break, Brother's and Sisters (another one I like), The Nine, Six Degrees, and soooooooo many more. Never have I ever received a petition via email to sign because of their story line or characters. Although brother's and Sisters does have a homosexual character so one may be coming soon.

Funny how we categorize sin. It's easy to do and very convenient too. Let's put OUR sin in a pretty box so know one will see how bad it really is.

I'm gonna talk about this stuff over and over again. I am sure I will annoy someone or tick someone off by bringing these things up ALL THE TIME. But, I just ain't gonna stop. This world is a messed up place and we all need to start thinking a little harder about what we stand for and how much we are really willing to walk the talk. My blog is about to loose any popularity it ever had, not that it did. But you know what I mean! :)Sorry people, but my spirit is so uncomfortable right now and I gotta share in hopes of making someone, anyone out there think a little smarter.

Oh and if you are looking for a great read, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller is awesome! Thank you Kelly Ann for giving it to me for Christmas! I love it!

  posted at 4:37 PM

no title (revised)
It seems that most everyone we know is trying to get us in church, in their church or just back in church. When I explain why we are not attending one right now, I get nothing but silence. This morning I am told how much I need to homeschool my children and if you know me, that makes me want to do the total opposite. I hate to be TOLD to do something or told that I SHOULD do something. Every part of me NOW wants to do the opposite. What a rebellious spirit I have! Something else I need to work on. Today I just feel overwhelmed and down a little. I woke up feeling pretty good but after having this conversation with a family member, I feel defeated. I don't want fundamentalism! I don't want someone else's Christianity. I want to repaint my OWN Christian faith. I don't want to go to YOUR church! I want to go where God leads us and right now I don't feel He is leading us back to the same old crap. And yes, that is how I feel. I feel it is a bunch of crap. I am not content with how things are anymore. I am tired of the word Christian. I am tired of the crap that goes on with Santa, Christmas, Halloween, drinking, movies and so much more. I don't want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of a people that truly get it. I want to talk to people that need healing, deliverance and a SAVIOR! I feel like things are so difficult for us right now but at the same time I am loving this break. Our families are involved in their church. My husband's family all goes to the same church and mentions on occasion how we should come there too. They are even in Bible School. But since we are not in church, it seems that we are forgotten. No one asks me about the ministry I feel called to do. How many times do I have to explain to my friends and family that we are OKAY? We are growing. We are seeking HIM, maybe more than you!

My friend told me yesterday that you can hardly find books like Velvet Elvis or Blue Like Jazz in Christian Bookstores. No. You have to get those at Barnes and Noble. Some stores don't even carry the books. Instead you walk into bookstores and you are surrounded by book titles like YOUR BEST LIFE NOW and other INSPIRATIONAL books. I got news for everyone, we were not put on this earth to ONLY be blessed and naming it and claiming it is a dangerous faith to live by. I don't want that anymore!

Today I am hurting. I am frustrated. I want to talk to someone that understands. I want the Lord to show us what we are supposed to do. If it's CHURCH in the church building every Sunday sense, then show us. But I don't feel that, I just don't. I want to be the church and if that means starting one in our home, then let's do it. But we still don't know. We still don't know what it is God has for us but we KNOW it's not anything like what we came from. NOTHING like it at all.

Lord, please show our family that we are okay and that we are serving you or maybe help me to NOT CARE what they think about me. I really need your help today Lord. Please bring confirmation Lord. Please put someone in our path to give us direction. Thank you for all that you are teaching me Lord. Thank you.

***There is a very good reason why I have my comment moderation turned on. I can reject comments. The reason why I do reject some comments is because sometimes the comments put words in my mouth. Sometimes they are accusatory or sometimes they just have nothing to do with anything I have said in my post. I read posts A LOT that I do not agree with and sometimes I challenge the writer by sending my thoughts but that is rare. Most of the time, I do nothing and if it bothers me really bad, I will pray about it. I don't write things to please everyone else. In fact, I am almost always going to go against what most people think. But, that's my right. I think I have said this many, many, many times on my blog and I think I need to say it again in the most loving way possible. This is my blog and I write about my journey. It's not your journey, or anyone else's, just mine. Please don't take it personal. Please don't think I am a church hater. But I do hate what is going on. I have experienced things and I have been going through changes lately regarding my faith and my walk with Christ that not everyone will understand. This blog is not for you if you struggle with my thoughts and my writing. This is for those that are struggling with some of the same things as me. I read comments a lot that take my words and make them into something else. That is the problem with email and writing online. You don't know me. You don't see my face as I type. You don't know my heart because if you did, you would KNOW that I am not talking bad about YOU or what you choose to do or not do. So please give me a little more credit. I am not an ugly woman. I am a loving woman that is trying to serve Jesus just like you.

  posted at 1:52 PM

My Mom's blog
If you want to hear about my parents day with ALL of their grandkids, check out my Mom's Blog. It's a cute story of their "Magic" Train ride (Josiah called it that because of Polar Express).

You should have seen my Mom's face after the day was over. She was pooped, NO DOUBT!

Mom's Blog

  posted at 1:34 PM

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Got a limp?
For some reason, studying God's Word is a struggle for me at times. Usually it's when things get busy or when I am not feeling well, etc. Lately I haven't felt that great physically and even emotionally. Tomorrow I will be 33 weeks pregnant but I feel like I will be 36 instead. There is something about physical pain and feeling uncomfortable that makes your spirit feel very discouraged. It takes everything I've got to get out of bed each morning and get going. I'm not sleeping well, the kids have been sick and Jeremy's work schedule is crazy right now with the Holidays (He works for UPS, need I say more?). I have just felt yucky and I am waiting for the last spurt of energy to kick in where I start cleaning everything. It will happen, it always does but for now, I am lacking energy in every way imaginable. Unfortunately I have allowed this time to interrupt my routine with God and spending time in His Word. This morning I woke up and thought I would try to jump back in despite my physical exhaustion.

It wasn't easy. I struggled. I got online to look up some verses I had read in different translations. I began to think about how much I need to hunger and thirst for God and for His word. So once again I thought of something Rob Bell said in Velvet Elvis. His words make me want to dig deeper and really study the text. Sometimes scripture confuses me or leaves me with a lot of questions. I don't always feel like I understand the text and when I don't, I don't try to understand it. But I need to. I want my Bible to be so worn out from turning pages that I have to tape it together or I have to buy a new one. I don't want to just READ the text, I want to WRESTLE with it.

Here is an excerpt from Velvet Elvis.
Binding and loosing can only be done if communities are willing to wrestle. The ultimate display of our respect for the scared words of God is that we are willing to wade in and struggle with the text-the good parts, the hard to understand parts, the parts we wish weren't there.

The Rabbis even say a specific blessing when they don't understand a portion of the text. When it eludes them, when it makes no sense, they say a word of thanks to God because of the blessing that will be theirs someday. "Thank you God, that at some point in the future, the lights are going to come on for me."

The rabbis have a metaphor for the wrestling with the text: The story of Jacob wrestling the angel in Genesis32. He struggles, and it is exhausting and tiring, and in the end his hip is injured. It hurts. And he walks away limping.

Because when you wrestle with the text, you walk away limping.

And some people have no limp, because they haven't wrestled. But the ones limping have had an experience with the living God.

I think God does know what He is doing with the Bible. But a better question is, do we know what we're doing with the Bible?

And I say, yes, we are binding and loosing and wrestling and limping.

Because God has spoken.

So I wonder, do I walk with a limp? Have I surrounded myself with others that walk with a limp? Do I have a pastor that has a limp? Do I know my Bible well enough to not understand some things or to question God?

You see, we are all allowed to ask "why". Have you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty? There is a part where God (Morgan Freeman) is explaining things to Bruce (Jim Carrey). God is giving him instructions and Bruce stops him and says, "Can I ask why?" God says, "YES. That's the beauty of it. You can ask why!" Sometimes I find myself not even asking God why. I just accept. But sometimes I believe the limp I can receive by asking WHY could bring me to a deeper understanding.

Recently I have not allowed myself to be in situations where I may get hurt. I've pretty much cut myself off from trying to make new friends. I haven't wanted a limp. I haven't wanted to wrestle. Instead I have chosen to just protect myself. It's no fun being confused and wondering why God allowed you to go through something. But I am realizing that those times that have brought so much pain, have also brought a limp which brought me closer to Jesus.

This morning the Lord answered a huge prayer of mine. I won't share exactly how but He knows how. I talked to a friend of mine that also had a limp. I never knew it. But, the fact that I know she also walks with a limp, helps me to be okay with mine. I'm not quite sure if this is all making sense or if I am connecting the dots very well but today I have decided that I need to thank God for my limp. I need to thank Him for the wrestling that I have been doing. It may not always be the text I wrestle with but maybe His plan or how things have turned out. I've been griping and complaining about my limp for way too long but I need to thank Him for it. For I have truly had an experience with the living God and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

I pray that you will soon have a limp if you don't already. I pray that you won't be afraid to ask God why or that you won't be afraid to ask questions or even get mad. There is so much joy in that journey and I pray that God will surround me with a whole lot of limping men and women. That's what I need!

  posted at 1:58 AM

Monday, December 11, 2006
Our Christmas Card
Merry Christmas

  posted at 9:34 AM

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
32 weeks!
And if you are wondering what MY shirt says, it says HOT MAMA! Every pregnant woman at 32 weeks should be wearing a HOT MAMA shirt! I may not feel too hot but I sure can wear a shirt that says I am!

  posted at 10:03 AM

I'm on a mission (revised)
A couple of Summers ago, my husband and I were a part of a weekly home group Bible Study. Some churches refer to this as a Life Group, Home Team or Small Group. If you have ever been a part of one of these, you are familiar with the format. You may have a small portion of social time with snacks and drinks followed by a Bible Study with a tiny bit of discussion. Then the group time ends by prayer requests and prayer. One night in this home group, I walked away extremely bothered. There was an unsettled feeling I could not shake.

On this particular night the prayer requests were pretty heavy. The first person to share a prayer request was a lady having problems with her three year old son. Everyone in the group knew of this little boy and knew that he had behavior problems. Every Sunday I would see him bolt through the doors of church after he had escaped from children's church. His behavior was extreme and his parents had no idea how to handle him. Actually they lacked skills in a major way and needed to be taught. Whether or not that ever happened, I do not know. As this desperate Mom began to share her request regarding her son, she said something that shocked me. "My son is out of control. I feel like he is going to end up on the news as a serial killer when he grows up. He's just out of control in every way possible." While I was not a seasoned parent at the time, Josiah was only one and a half and I was pregnant with Ava Beth, I felt her desperate cry as a mother. The group as well as the leader just stared at her and said nothing. I could sense that she had just unloaded something big, something that took guts and the fact that the group AND the leader said nothing, made me angry. Quickly, I spoke up and said something. "NO. You can't believe that about your son. God has a plan for you and for Him. Don't speak that over your son! God can bring healing to your son." The group looked at me like I was a wacko but I felt like this poor Mom knew my heart and could see the tears in my eyes and that I truly cared. All of the sudden the leader said, "Anybody else?" Just like that! We were moving on to the next request! Now in a group of twenty, I can understand the time constraint but there were seven people there that night, not twenty.

The next one to speak up with a prayer request told us about a little two year old that was diagnosed with Leukemia. This person had been told about this little boy by someone else. It wasn't anyone that we knew but the fact that there was a little boy struck with such a relentless disease and parents who were fearing the worst for their child, caused my heart to feel heavy. As soon as the person finished giving the request, the leader asked again, "Anybody else?" No one spoke up so the leader told us that his boss' boss lost his two year old over the weekend at a party. There was a pool in the backyard and the baby girl died. The age alone of all the kids mentioned that night was enough to break my heart. But it did not break my heart near as much as what happened next.

All of the requests had been presented so the leader prayed. He was not one to allow others to pray if they felt lead. On occasion but rarely. His prayer lasted less than sixty seconds. It was a blanket prayer asking God to bring healing and comfort to all of the families mentioned but no specifics were prayed. Maybe he didn't know how to pray, maybe he was hurrying, maybe he wasn't bothered by the severity of each one. Or maybe, he and the group just didn't get it.

A few months ago I finished reading Rob Bell's Book, Velvet Elvis. Then I read it again and this week I have just about read it once more. The book is full of pages that I have marked up with a yellow highlighter or pages I have folded so I can go back to and read something that spoke to me. It's a book I highly recommend and I would consider it to be a life changing book when it comes to your spiritual well being. The only problem with the book is the fact that it will make you examine all that is going on inside yourself and all that is going on around you. It could make you uncomfortable with your church, your leaders, your mission and the for sure the status quo. Over the last few weeks I have been waking up all hours of the night. This is what happens when you reach the final weeks of pregnancy. I try hard to go back to sleep only to wake up an hour later for a trip to the bathroom. Needless to say, I have lots of hours in bed in the wee hours of morning where I am wide awake. So I take the opportunity to pray and think about things. This morning about 5am, I thought about this book and all that my husband and I have faced over the last two years regarding church and where we feel God is leading us. I have spent over a year now grieving over church. It's not so much a grieving over people but a grieving over what I once was content with, what I once was okay with. It was much easier when I was okay with how things were. Now, there is no way we could ever go back to where we came from. I am not referring to a particular church, I am referring to a mindset.

Rob Bell sums it up perfectly in Velvet Elvis. Perhaps you have been around Christian Communities enough to want nothing to do with them, and one of the reasons is the talk all seems so shallow. Like no one is talking about what really matters. I think this is a direct effect of the state of the souls of many pastors and leaders. So many leaders in Christian Communities are going so fast and producing so much and accomplishing so much that they become a shell of a person. There is no space to deal honestly with what's going on deep inside them.

Rob goes on to explain how leaders cannot lead others somewhere they are not willing to go themselves. I don't have to have arrived, I don't have to be perfect, but I do need to be on the path. And that's why for so many the church experience has been so shallow-so many leaders have never descended into the depths of their own souls. They haven't done the hard, difficult, gut wrenching work of shining the bright lights on all of the years of baggage and destructive messages. It is so hard to look deep inside yourself. My experience has been that very few people do the long, hard work of the soul. Maybe that's why Jesus said the way is narrow. I am hoping that wherever you are on your journey, you are tracking with me. I beg you to get help wherever you need it. Go to a counselor. Make an appointment. Go on a retreat. Spend a couple of days in silence. Do whatever it takes.

Not long ago, I was chasing a title. I was worried about my name being in a bulletin or being in charge of my ministry. I did not want help, I did not want anything but status. I wanted the title. I wanted the stage. I wanted everyone to know what I could do and how well I could do it. But something began to change. I began to dig. I have always been a digger. I have always been pretty open with my past, my struggles and my shortcomings but I wasn't interested in finding healing from it. I didn't believe I could find healing. When God finally got a hold of me and began to show me some things, I began to feel very uncomfortable with everyone around me. And sometimes I still am. It's hard for me to understand why some don't get it. Why can't we talk about the important stuff and quit wasting time on all the fillers. Too much game playing going on, too much social crap going on, too much forgetting about the main thing. As a result,the last two years, we have sat out. Oh sure we have visited churches, attended for a while and then decided we would much rather sit out. It's been nice. It's been refreshing and I can honestly say with all of my heart that I have grown more during this time than ANY other time in my life. Iron sharpening iron? Yes. I may have been out of church but I can assure you that this gal did not lack for iron. No iron deficiency here! The interesting thing is I have continued to search, continued to ask questions and continued to grow without the body. It's not something I recommend for everyone, we need the body. But in my case, it was a must!

Finally, the time has come to step back in. I'm ready. I am not ready for social games, networking, dinners, Praise Teams and Bible studies. No. But I am ready to be a part of the bride of Christ. I need her in my life.

And once again Rob Bell explains it for me. This is how I feel. This is what we will look for and this is who we want to be. I say the system has to be changed. It has to be destroyed and replaced not with another system but with an entirety new way of life. I see it happening and it gives me great hope. I see leaders getting help and refusing to stuff it anymore. I see communities embracing their brokenness and the brokenness of their leaders, and healing is taking place. I see honesty. I see people who want to be fully alive. I see people who want the life Jesus promises and who are wiling to let go of ego and prestige and titles to get it.

So what about you? Are you allowing Jesus to heal your soul? I am. That's what I want, that's what I need more than anything in this world. And I am on a mission to find others that want the same exact thing.

***I end with this. Something I forgot to put in here the first time. I have come back to finish with this excerpt from Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis. This is something we should all be longing to find in ourselves and in others.

I'm learning that very few people actually live from their heart. Very few live connected with their soul. And those few who do the difficult work, who stare their junk in the face, who get counsel, who let Jesus in to all the rooms in their soul that no one ever goes in, they make a difference. They are so different; they're coming from such a different place that their voices inevitably get heard above the others. They are pursuing wholeness and shalom, and it's contagious. They inspire me to keep going.

  posted at 9:27 AM

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
This has been brewing in me for a while!
Over the past few weeks I have been irritated towards my fellow Christians. I have read about some Christians behaving ridiculously, seen Christians behaving ridiculously and listened to friends who have been ridiculously hurt by Christians. But the one thing that has really, really bothered me is all of the crap I hear Christians saying about Christmas. In fact, the word CHRISTIAN is really beginning to bother me.

At Christmas time I feel a lot of joy and excitement in my life. It's a time in my life where I am able to create tradition and fill my children's lives with memories. It's my favorite time of year. It is about decorating, it is about shopping for my loved ones, it is about baking, it is about singing Christmas carols, it is about taking my kids to the mall to see Santa. And guess what my fellow Christians? I don't feel guilty for it one bit! Christmas is not the only time I celebrate my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you know me, if you have a relationship with me, YOU KNOW that I celebrate him every single day. So if I go bonkers with the decorations and buy too many Christmas time coffee drinks at Starbucks, who cares! God is the one that knows my heart.

Yes, Christmas has been commercialized beyond what I ever expected. Some stores say Merry Christmas, some say Happy Holidays. But I am tired of hearing other Christians say how badly we need to keep it in perspective. Speak for yourselves! Does our world have it a little mixed up and confused? Yes. Does everyone celebrate Christmas for the right reasons? No! But I do. That's who I am accountable for.

Last week my kids sat in Santa's lap and I also had their pictures made for grandparents and for our Christmas cards I will be mailing out soon. My almost four year old has asked me several times when Santa is coming. He's four! And the fact that he is having fun and enjoying the idea of Santa makes it a whole lot of fun for me and Daddy too. He is also aware of baby Jesus and this being the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ. Does he think about the toys a little more? Probably so.

I have come to a point in my life over the past year where I am very careful how I present myself to unbelievers. Instead of using the word CHRISTIAN, I say I am a Christ follower or someone who has a relationship with Jesus. I hear Christians talk about other people being lost and how bad they need to hear the message of Christ. It truly makes me sick! Especially when they talk so much about boycotts and how they hate such and such in Hollywood because they are homosexual. I don't consider myself to be tolerant but I do consider myself to be gracious. The word Christian needs to be redefined in a big way. Just as the republicans need to refocus and come up with a better plan, so do Christians. What we've been doing is NOT working!

Many times we speak with ignorance just so we can make sure everyone else thinks we are smart, holier than thou, or GODLY. Yuck! Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck! Why would ANYONE want to become a "Christian" when we are so busy trying to tell everyone what we DON'T like, what we don't support or what we don't believe. How about telling them what WE DO believe?! Seriously, where is the love? Christians judging other Christians because they happen to LOVE Christmas and all the stuff that comes with it. Christians judging other Christians because they shop at Target! And while I am on the subject of boycotts, let me say that if you are going to boycott Wal-Mart or Target for being a part of a Homosexual Credit Union or not saying Merry Christmas, you better start boycotting everything else. I tried to explain to a boycotting relative the other day that she better not watch ANYTHING on ABC (Owned by Disney who provides benefits for homosexual partners), she better not let her kids be entertained by The Wiggles while she showers and she better buy ALL AMWAY products because it seems that everything else in this world is damned.

There are some things I struggle with often. I question a lot of things that come into my life. I love the show Grey's Anatomy but is it wrong to be addicted to a show? What does the Bible say? So I have written about that on this blog before. Never said I had it beat, but I do sometimes struggle to let go of some things I really enjoy. Do I homeshcool or do I do public? Do I breastfeed or do I do formula? I do not know. Alcohol? No alcohol? Alcohol in public? Alcohol in private? We all have our rules don't we! I mean CONVICTIONS! Right? Movies or no movies? Rated R movies or is PG-13 okay?

How about this? I will let you live your life and allow you to choose where you shop and how excited you get about Christmas and let me do the same. I have been hearing about all of this stuff for weeks and now Christians are in high gear about Christmas and how I choose to celebrate it.

Christmas has always been a time of renewal and healing for me. As I decorate my OWN home, as I create memories with my OWN children, as I bake hundreds of cookies and batches of fudge, parts of me are healed. All of the joy I feel, all of the excitement I receive by looking at Christmas lights with my kids, is a piece heaven to me. And I believe with all of my heart that this is how Christ would want me to feel. The joy, the hope, the love, the peace, this is what He came to this earth for and He wants us to soak it up as much as we can. He longs for us to feel loved, He longs for us to have victory! And Christmas brings me victory! If you know my testimony, you know about my childhood and how Holidays were always very painful. Christmas is a huge gift to me in so many ways. I feel like the Lord has given me creativity in my own family and ways to make this time of year special. It's what I do best! What's painful is when other believers criticize that or question it.

Instead of boycotting, I am going to love and look for opportunities to LOVE those I don't understand. God knows they don't get very much love from the church. Instead of criticizing Christmas and Santa and presents and decorating, I am going to have fun and enjoy this time of year. I know what the true meaning is, do you?

This entry may seem like I have just battled with someone over this issue. I assure you, I haven't. It's the emails I receive, the blogs I read, the online messages I have listened to by pastors and discussion with friends. It's the relatives that tell me "You should NOT be shopping at Target" after I explain a great deal I found on a gift or how I need to pick up my prescriptions at Target. I am tired of Christians thinking they have something to prove and how they have to make the world think they have it all together. It's destructive to everyone, especially to yourself.

Shouldn't this be a big party right now? This is the event of the year so I am going to pull out my BEST recipes, make my home warm and cozy and enjoy this season of Christmas. Our world needs a big reality check but I think all of us CHRISTIANS need to chill out a little and not think so long and hard whether or not we should give to the Salvation Army or not or analyze our motives for doing so. Don't freak out so much that you end up loosing your perspective like the rest of the world! Relax. Enjoy the season and celebrate the Birth of our King, Jesus. AND make some memories while you're at it!

  posted at 6:04 PM


Location: Austin, Texas

Mommy, Mama, Mandi, Amanda, Babe and whatever else you want to call me! How do I have time to blog with three kids under the age of four? I'm up until midnight and usually later!

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