Hurricane: Blossom & Flourish

Well, hello from North Carolina! Yep! I’m in the Queen City {Charlotte}. We’ve had our share of wind, rain, power outages, downed trees and flooding during the historic Florence’s stay. Needless to say, however, we have not been hit with such the force that our Eastern NC cities were by this lady. A little power-outage and a little rain–absolutely nothing to complain about here. Yes, I know there are still severe repercussions in the surrounding areas which are not child’s play. I know that. But…in comparison to the big picture here? Exactly. Nothing ‘but a thing’. (Compared to the Eastern parts of the state, that is). Read on.

She started out like all of them do: off of Africa’s coast. And little-by-little she made her trek eastward. She shifted a little here and there, but not by much. It was a historic route, really. She didn’t veer too much towards the Caribbean or southward–she stayed steady. East. She knew what she wanted: straight to the Carolina’s east coast and then inward-westward, upward. North and South Carolina were in the same boat that floated with the wave of the unknown. This hurricane simply had us guessing which of the Carolina’s she wanted the most. It was a crap-show come landfall anyways, so…yeah. Who cares which of the North or the South it was. It was something else!! If you view any kind of news/media coverage at all: You’ve seen. You’ve heard about it. Maybe–you’re even living it.

I have family on the East coast. My mom was raised in Columbus Co., NC. I have cousins, an aunt, a late-uncle. His name was Eddie. My mom’s only sibling. He LOVED hurricanes, and embraced their natural power. He had a terminal illness with his kidneys that started when he was 13 years old. He passed away in 2001. But BOY did he live for these incredible storms when they came! He, as his norm, would travel to Wilmington, NC 3 times a week for dialysis for decades. I remember him as being the most cohesive part of fun and livelihood but pure understanding of mortality that I’ve ever met. He was the person you’d interview if you were doing a piece on “living on the edge” but yet “responsibility” AND “fun”. Marry those together and you’d have an Eddie Lennon. My mom is his female clone. If you’ve met her, you know this! Her name is Kim Lennon Abernethy.

I have a ton of extended family on the East coast. My DNA is in part the exact same as their’s. And may I add that I love the hashtag #EasternNCStrong? IT’S GREAT! You should use it whenever you post about #whatsnext for our NC Coasts and if you’re a praying person: How are you praying for NC? {Literally: Our state?} If you’re in NC, this is YOUR state? How are you praying? Are you praying like you believe it makes a difference?

Last week, way before Florence made landfall–I was praying for what was to come. Who ever knows? Our technology is incredible these days and with weather–we were darn near close. I saw somewhere that our models showed a landfall that was just 20 miles away from where the eye of the hurricane landed. INCREDIBLE! Almost unprecedented. And even after it made it’s landfall and made it’s way near inland–where we are are in Charlotte–we saw relief fleet after relief fleet driving on our highways and byways to the aid of others. AMAZING. Some not even from our state! Some from states FAR, far away. Someone was driving those trucks in that fleet. Someone with a family and friends from another state–yet here they are driving a truck with a trailer carrying lifesaving “stuff” for the one in need RIGHT here in NC. To say my heart swelled with gratitude and thankfulness is a sad understatement. It was something else! They were (and are) here to HELP. It wasn’t their state that got hammered. It wasn’t their need. But yet, here they came (and come). And that goes for the Coast Guard and ALL the local first responders. I was (and am) HUMBLED to see it all, and beyond thankful for it in regards to my state–North Carolina.

But, what the heck with the title of this post? What does blossoming and flourishing have to do with hell-on-earth and devastation? It’s all in the name. Why Florence? Why now? Why NC? (and SC?) She could’ve hit Santo Domingo. Which, would’ve been sad had we seen it on a pretty and cleaned up headline (but not too close). I also saw a report that folks are saying they literally just finished cleaning up Hurricane Matthew back in 2016 and here comes Florence in 2018. What the SAM HILL?!

I looked up the meanings of names, just because. “Matthew” means ‘a gift from God.’ “Florence” means ‘to bloom and flourish.’

We see something from far away and think “Gosh. That’s so very unfortunate. Lemme pray.” {Not to say we don’t pray. I know I do.} HOWEVER! This rotating thing of furry and destruction is in our own backyards, per se. What in the world? You mean, Santo Domingo isn’t the one getting the direct hit? You mean, Bermuda isn’t getting cozy and going “EYE”-to-eye” with this rotating storm of devastation? You mean…IT’S US here in the United States? YEP. That would be correct. Storms are no respecter of countries or persons. And Florence has said her piece and put the fish in different rivers and ponds than before. She’s shut down major highways and roads. She’s dislodged the family from their home. She’s taken lives. Heartbreaking. But…what next? Do we stay flooded in our tears? Yes. For a time. Grieve. Be mad. Hurt. Open that stinky fridge that’s been without power and smell it. It stinks. Those family photos. They are ruined. That furniture–it’s gone. Those “things” are swept away within a matter of days…

Here’s where the title of this post comes into view. We will not be shaken. We trust in our God. I don’t know the state of each and every person affected–but I do know this: There is NO Higher name to be called, but to the God of our universe and to each and every one of our souls. He hears and He knows. He is not taken by surprise. There is not ONE day that God is not true to His faithfulness. He WILL make something gorgeous here. It may look different, but what doesn’t have to be different is the way we praise Him through this storm. Our praises will be our new floors and will turn into our new ceilings for generations to come. There will not be a day through this re-build that He won’t be with us. Pray THAT in.

I have seen more than ever with anything–even Hurricane Matthew most recently–people coming together like a matched up Rubik’s Cube. Fellow humans {and States} with resources coming together to patch the holes that were made by nature. This storm has mobilized folks from states away to come to the rescue and the substantiation of those affected. It’s so humbling and incredible to watch.

Florence means: “to bloom, flourish”. Imagine the most beautiful flower you’ve ever seen. See in your mind’s eye: A rose bush. Nothing on it yet but green leaves. It looks like any other bush or shrub. It looks like a well-rounded area covering. But then, a bud. A little bud that is opening oh-so-slowly. Florence took her time. She was (and is) in NO rush to leave her dumping grounds. She took her time, and to be honest as I’m writing this–she’s still taking her time. There’s outer-bands of rain fall to to be seen and river-rising to be risen. Florence is larger lady, and the ‘fat lady hasn’t finished singing yet.’

I believe there’ll be a newness and a freshness that has been unprecedented in this area. Something that is historically new. For those of you ‘researching’ folk: What does ‘historically new’ mean? In our life time or record–it’s not been done yet.

It’s here. And I believe it will be beautiful. It’s something that hasn’t been done yet, and that’s 100% true. I don’t know what it will look like, and I don’t know what it will entail. BUT, I do know that it will be perfectly fitting for what the future is supposed to hold. Even for where I live (Charlotte), there are areas that don’t typically flood that are flooded. What does flooding do? Provides LOTS of water, right? What does water do? It provides many opportunities for growth! It’s the opposite of a drought. If you pray, pray that every single person involved would channel this opportunity of water to where it needs to go to make something new and beautiful. For the ‘insured’ person, it means new stuff. For the ‘uninsured’, it means a new beginning. For the person with both insurance and incredible sadness: A LIGHT and a new beginning that can be seen. A new beginning and a “new normal” that can be walked towards. (or swam towards).

Pray for the most beautiful beginning or re-beginnings. There’s a flourishing-something here with this storm, and God wants to re-configure something here. It’s hard. It SUCKS. It is absolutely awful. It’s horrific. It’s hellish in nature, but God will take this and make something gorgeous out of our ashes. Beauty for ashes, right? Or…in this case, beauty for excessive water. Beauty from a hurricane, from a storm, from “stuff” in life.

I believe a flourishing rose will be found, and it may be found through YOUR prayers. Thank you for petitioning the Lord like you believe it makes a difference!!

God’s Fun Blessings

God is a God of infinite things, because…well, He’s GOD! One of those infinite things is fun. He cares about fun, and He takes great joy in seeing moments of pure elation on His kid’s faces. Like when we’re on roller coasters, for example! (Minus the moments of terror…haha.)

A little backstory here. We home school our girls. When our oldest daughter, now 9 years old, “graduated” from Kindergarten, I took her to Carowinds for a Mommy/Daughter date. Just us. We had a blast! We were given tickets that someone had won on a radio station that they couldn’t use. We gladly got the good out of those things!

Our middle daughter, who’s 6, just graduated from Kindergarten. I wanted to take her to Carowinds as well, just like I did with our oldest student as a gift of fun and time for their hard work. I gave her a couple of different options if she wanted to do something different, but of course she wanted to be just like her big sister. These one-on-one dates are so sweetly important. Especially when you have multiple kids!

I started looking at our calendar for dates and ticket prices and all that jazz. It’s no secret that Carowinds tickets aren’t cheap. I picked a couple of dates for potential times I could take her, but something kept holding me back from purchasing tickets.

I heard the Lord say He wanted me ask Him for the tickets versus just buying them. I started praying for them and asking Him to provide them. I had no leads or any idea where they’d come from…no “radio station” drawings coming up or anything of the like.

I saw a post that a non-profit called Hopematch posted on Facebook. We have known the founders of Hopematch for almost 18 years now! They are very dear friends to us. We have served on the board before and have helped with operations. (Hopematch is an incredible organization for the Charlotte area! Look them up sometime.) Anyways, the post was for a drawing for SIX Carowinds tickets: To enter, I had to post “Back to School” pictures of our kids! I posted the picture of them at our first day back to our weekly co-op. I thought to myself: “Ok, God! Thank you–this is perfect. This must be how You’re going to provide the tickets you told me ask for! Yay!”

The day of the drawing, I watched the video of the founder draw the name from the pile. She looked at the paper and read a name other than my own. I was happy for the family! But I felt back to square one with what God had asked me to do. I was so close to just purchasing the tickets, because the park was about to close for the season and we were running out of time.

Isn’t that often how life works? When we walk with the Lord and hear His voice (withOUT a shadow of a doubt!) and things still don’t seem to be working out in the natural–it’s so easy to get frustrated and think: “WHAT GIVES, God?! You do see the timing on this, right?” Well, I got a text not even two days after this drawing from my dear friend, the founder of Hopematch, that said something like this:

“Hey! So the Carowinds tickets drawing. The family who won said they felt they needed to give these up to someone else. I did another drawing and it was your name!”

I was astounded and immediately humbled for my doubt. I mean, God only is the Creator of the INFINITE universe and all that is in it, including heaven…did I not think He could handle silly tickets to an amusement park? (We were also able to borrow a friend’s seasons pass and got free parking!) I think my heart knew it would all shake out, but getting my head to cooperate with my heart was another ‘nother. Anyone else relate?

So, my two take-aways from this amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness are these:

1) Make myself available to hear the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” on a second-by-second basis in my day. Be sensitive to His words and His thoughts towards me and mine. Make sure that I am hearing Him correctly and clearly. He’s always speaking!

2) Have some faith, woman! 🙂

My little girl and I had an INCREDIBLE day at Carowinds! We were there for nearly 8 glorious hours. Our conversations about people and life and everything else in between were perfect. (And yes, there were SIX tickets total: We were able to pass the blessing on to one of my sisters and her little family and a couple of friends as well! The blessing kept pouring over–isn’t that just like God?)

Naturally, we spent most of the day in Camp Snoopy, because…height on a 6-year-old. Haha! She wanted desperately to ride the “big roller coasters”, but I explained it’s just not time yet. She’s got to grow! That was an awesome segue way into all kinds of revelations we talked about with growing up and how God makes our time on earth perfectly timed to heaven’s watch.

Also, people watching. Always a pleasure of mine. I can’t write a blog post about going to an amusement park and not talk about the amazingly stellar people watching opportunities! There were so many incredible sights…it’s truly hard to whittle it down. My favorite was The Wedgie Picker. I mean like, truly one. You know how you stand in line for what seems like a short eternity for certain rides, and I guess wedgies can also get impatient. There was one individual who was fighting that thing for the duration of the time we stood in line together. She’d shake a leg, full-on yank it out, and even try the less obvious by pretending to shift side to side. For a good 30 minutes this went on. That was one stubborn wedgie, I tell ya! Not long after this, we were standing in line with another family. A very Southern-accented family. Someone in the nearby proximity had gas, and it wasn’t me. Wasn’t my daughter, either. (I asked). But GOOD-NESS. Whatever they ate could’ve given Pompeii a run for it’s money! Finally, this family’s little boy who just couldn’t take it any longer {in the most awesome Southern-accent ever} yelled: “Mama!!! I smell POOT. Somebody pooted! You smell that POOT?” Haha!!!

Back to the basics. Let’s quickly get off that rabbit trail! So, God is a God of fun. He delights in our delight. He desires for one of the many aspects of our life to enjoy good fun, and sometimes–like in this case–to trust Him for it. Listen to that still small voice and be patient! I am so very grateful for the family who originally donated these tickets to Hopematch and for the family who listened to God in passing on the blessing. Let’s be like these families, too! Let’s listen and obey and that can sometimes mean passing on the fun!


Nice vs. Kind

This has been a post growing and sunning in my seed garden. It’s been gaining nutrients and growing deep roots and growing into a full grown plant in the sun of my heart and in my blog ‘garden’.

So. Nice versus kind. Real quick, let’s take a look at the nitty gritty and dictionary definitions of both of these words. Let’s dissect them for a quick minute!

I will warn you that “nice” is a short and sweet line. However, “kind” delves pretty deep. Look it up! For the sake of this post, however, let’s keep her short ‘n sweet. (Interesting that two words seen by our culture as close synonyms aren’t really close at all.)

Nice: pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.

Kind: having or showing a friendly, generous, considerate nature. Affectionate, loving. Used in a polite request. (But also stuff like this: ‘a group of people or things having similar characteristics’…and etc!)

AMAZING to me! I have never compared these two side-by-side like this. Why do we see them as equals when they are not? Nice is more of a surface word and easily comes off the tongue (especially when we’re talking to our kids or other folks who are bad-mouthing someone else…”HEY. Be NICE.”)

Nice. It’s a nice word. Isn’t it? It’s a surface word. Rainbows and frolicking ponies come to mind. It’s a word that easily says something, but not quite all we mean. It’s just a word to try to steer a conversation or a mindset, but not quite committed enough to think deeper or to feel deeper. Or to do anything about something.

Kind. It’s a…complex word. Not from just hearing the word roll off your tongue, but when you really think of what you’re saying. “Be kind.” I think that even if one didn’t know the complete definition of this word, it still invokes some kind of thought process. It does for me, anyway.

Here’s my take on these two word-cousins.

Nice keeps you popular and liked without diving in to things you don’t want to stir up or be spotted out for. Nice is a “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” word. Nothing deep, nothing noteworthy. It’s nice, but it isn’t sustainable nor does it actually grow you or the person you’re being nice to. It doesn’t actually change anything, it keeps it the same. In life, we have a village of people to uplift and grow us. But, in that, we don’t want to be “that” one person to call out something dangerous or harmful or embarrassing in someone else’s life that we see very plainly. Often times, this is due to people wanting to be liked. When we’re that person to call out something, we stand the chance to be ousted from the person’s life or group and don’t care enough about them or the group to say something–because, we want to be popular or liked. So, we care more about ourselves then? Right? Only a small percentage of people, statistically speaking, don’t care who likes them. Most of us do. That’s why nice is kinda sorta dangerous.

Kind is a whole other ball game. In another league. Kind is loving and caring. You know why? Because when we’re kind, we put our own popularity or position in jeopardy for a hot minute. Think of it! If you’ve got the intestinal fortitude to call out something, who KNOWS how it will be received? You could be the outsider in .2 seconds–where just a .2 seconds ago, you were ‘in’.

Wisdom this THIS though. Never coupling kindness without love. Most of the readers of this blog know this (but not all, and please look this up!) know what 1 Corinthians 13:1 says in the Bible, the Word of God: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Meaning, if something is said out of kindness because you care, make sure to marry it with love. Because without love, it will come off as pride that ‘you know better’ and you’re better and you’re the savior because you see something that person or group doesn’t. And it’s a noisy and note-less gong or cymbal. It’s not music, it’s just ugly noise. That’s not how true kindness works! True kindness is always meant and said in love. Because the love you have for the person or group makes you want to help grow them and nurture them.

Even in silly, every day things…

Like today! For me, actually. I was grocery shopping with my 3 little girls. My oldest, who is currently 9, has the eyes of a hawk and doesn’t miss anything. Which, can sometimes come as an annoyance to me (truthfully). She was too irritated with her 6 year old sister who was making the grocery cart she was pushing tip over. Middle sis was hanging on it like a howler monkey and playing with the littlest sister, and the biggest sister–trying to be a big girl and push the cart for me–was at her wit’s end with her. (Mom confession: I was inwardly laughing!) It was very amusing.

We quickly ran to the restroom before tackling our shopping list, and I guess I had tucked my underwear over my shirt. Sooo….yeah. Totally showing off my undergarments to the world of retail. GREAT. We shopped for 30 minutes, and not one soul in that busy store had said: “Hey…your underwear is showing.” Not even my ultra-observant 9 year old who would have normally said something like: *whispered voice* “Mommy…your underwear is hanging out!!!”

Nice was trying to keep me from being embarrassed. Or, them being embarrassed to say something? (You KNOW at least 90% of my fellow shoppers got to see my underwear selection for the day!) Kindness would have called it out and corrected the exposure for my own good. See the difference? A moment of uncomfort would have led to a moment of correction. Even with silly underwear. LOL!

I am so guilty myself of being too concerned with “nice” sometimes. I pray we, as fellow humans, can show others true kindness. True kindness=LOVE+TRUTH.

Broccoli in teeth? Underwear over your shirt? Toxic relationship? Pride? The list goes on…let’s show TRUE kindness!



When You Follow Your Knows

Caution: Parenting post ahead! If you don’t have a sense of humor or an understanding of bodily functions: Do not read!

I debated on titling this post something like this: “When You Follow Your Nose”. It may have been too literal and obvious. But I think this title suits it well, too!

If you’re a parent, or you’ve been placed in the guardianship or caretaker-ship of a wee one any amount of time–you can {probably} relate. If you’ve never been around kids and you’re reading this: stick with me. You may get a laugh?

I remember when I was a kid and my parents always seemed to KNOW stuff. Like, I felt like I could never get by with even something like being gassy without them knowing it was me. Same holds true today. Haha!

Anyways, now that I am a parent, I totally get this. There are things that some kids just have a certain signature for, you know? Just like adults, they have habits and actions that carry their signatures. When they get a little older, they start realizing they can deny certain actions/habits they carry out. Which, is lying. It’s the early form of it–and something to definitely hone in on as a parent or child caretaker. It’s exhausting sometimes to stay on top of it, but even in the little things: IT WILL BE SO WORTH IT in the long run! Stay the course, my fellow warriors!! {cue the “strong arm” emoji}

So, I will not name names in this post–just because. But it does involve one of our girls. They are each so beautifully made. So unique to their cores and essences. I love the way they see life, and I love being their mom. To have the honor of raising these arrows–wow! God is GOOD! I love seeing the Lord coming real to them in their lives as they grow.

Sometimes, though, there are times when the going gets a little tough in raising arrows. It’s hard work! I love the mental picture of working with the bowstring on a bow. It’s hard to pull it back sometimes and exhausting sometimes to aim properly time after time. We as parents will miss the target sometimes. We just will! We will also hit the target straight in the bullseye, too. Celebrate the victories and learn from the losses!

So the other day we were sitting as a family in church. We were about to have communion. One of my girls was sitting right next to me and snuggling with me as I was explaining {again} what communion was about in little whispers. She’s getting there in her understanding of it all!

The tray passed and her hand went up to get a cup from the silver communion tray. I got a waft of something as her hand grazed up my face to touch my cheek after she excitedly got her own cup from the tray. The waft I got was one of…well, backside. A backside that had been itchy and therefore was scratched. Leaving an aftermath of…backside wafts.

I leaned down to whisper in her ear: “Hey…did you…scratch your crack?”

She looks up at me solemnly (because we have talked about this countless times before when she’s had an itchy crack and the fact there are other ways to scratch the itch) and says: “No.”

{Meanwhile, there was a message about communion going on during the service…everyone else listened intently…}

Of course, I immediately knew she was not telling the truth. There was no denying the waft-of-crack. Plus, I can read her like a book. So, I leaned back down and whispered to her: “Hey…I know you’re not telling me the truth. That makes my heart sad–please always tell the truth, because it makes for happy hearts! And happy bottoms. So…did you…?”

She looked back up at me with those beautiful eyes shining with her spirit and whispers: “Well……yes, but…” *sighs* “Yes, mommy, I really scratched that itch good!” {I could tell!}

I almost lost it laughing. Right as we took the cup and bread of communion. I thanked her for telling me the truth, and whispered to her the truths about taking communion and what it represents. I used her lie-turned-truth and it was a great teaching moment.

I would not normally (ever!) choose that particular time and place, but the opportunity presented itself in grand fashion, and she “got” it.

Doesn’t always turn out this way though, and sometimes being a parent can be SO frustrating. When the truth is blatantly obvious about something {or the smell is undeniable} but your little one is still not being 100% truthful. It is sad when kids tell lies. But loving them is correcting it now! As exhausting and frustrating as it is for you now, it’s that much more worth it when they’re grown.

Bon courage, fellow parents/caretakers!! Much love.





But First…


Haha! Well yes, there’s coffee. Let’s all take a moment and THANK GOD for coffee.

However, that’s not what this heart ramble is about. {Don’t get me wrong! I have LOTS of heart feels towards this amazing little bean and all it can do!}

Being aware that there are many different folks who read this blog, I will go ahead and tell you that this post is about knowing Christ. If you don’t, I hope you will find Him. {He’s ready when you are.} If you do claim to walk with Jesus and say you’re a Christian, this is about you.

But first, you are a Christian. A Christ-follower. But first, before being a ________ in your job or profession, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a parent, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a family member, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a friend, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a you-name-it {choose your hat}, you’re  a Christian.

To be completely honest, I kinda hesitated with using the term “You’re a Christian” simply because of what our culture has done to this term. Christians can, unfortunately, be seen as some of the most judgmental and unapproachable folks of all time. I am not sure when it happened, but it happened. Some Christians who followed Christ {the very definition of being a Christian} started to become something that Jesus just is not. This is by no means a ‘blanket statement’, and I am most certainly not saying all Christians fall into this. In fact, most of the fellow believers I am honored to know are very much just like Jesus. There are those, however, that say things sometimes about others that make me inwardly cringe. I don’t get it right all the time, either, and have said stuff that I am sure made others cringe. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to merge in the “Lane of Judgement” while judging them for judging! What the SAM! It’s true though, is it not?

A wee little side note about the judgmental piece though: I think a lot of times this isn’t done out of malice. I think it’s done in a similar thought process to this: “THIS IS WRONG! It’s not of God. I don’t know how else to tell this person that this is just YUCK & WRONG and against everything I was taught and know is right from the Word of God, so I’m going to go with my nose up and out and hopefully I won’t be tainted and made into one of them.” I guess you could kind of say it’s like a self-protection mechanism in some cases. It’s absolutely of God and His Word to not be “of”, but “in” the World. Yep! However, sometimes we’re so stuck in our fear-based mindset of “GET AWAY FROM ME, YUCK!” that we fail to reach those who carry it. We’re busy judging and calling out and seeing all the wrong and yuck. When we could be praying and interceding and asking God to change hearts.

Back to But First

I started thinking about this when I was doing something with one of the many irons we have in the fire. One of our many ‘hustles’. Haha! I was moving mountains and getting stuff done. I saw a way that I could shortcut something, but it wouldn’t have been 100% truthful. I mean, I could have sugar-coated it and justified the heck out of it and it would probably would have been fine. But first

“Would the people who see me as a Jesus-follower (aka Christian) still have a good taste in their mouth about Christians if I did _____ this way?” BOOM. That one got me. Those ‘random’ thoughts, I tell you! Especially dealing in a professional environment. Would your co-workers or your supervisor or manager or clients or {you name it} be moved to believe that following Jesus is something real by your actions and behavior? Do you carry heaven in your presence and your actions? So many times, I see this: Folks who are PRAAAIIISING the Lord all day long on a Sunday (seen on social media especially) and then go to work and post stuff about being on their phones at work or doing “anything” but actually working. While on the clock. But….FIRST. If you truly follow Jesus, you cannot separate your relationship with God with ANYTHING else you do. It all goes hand-in-hand. Your relationship with Him will help you do the other stuff well: with integrity and excellence. (If you’re OK with being a crappy employee or stealing time, I’d seriously question why. Why is that ok?)

There’s many other examples we could use here and examine. Family feuds, maybe? {Like real ones}. YEESH! All of it takes second row to what you are and Who’s you are. If you truly do follow Christ, there are many things that will not rest in your spirit, because they are contrary to His will and His way and His Word. But…FIRST.

With every action you take in the world, it’s always in one of two directions. It’s the 1) Yes, I am a Christ-follower and have the integrity of heaven and true righteousness and sometimes hard decisions that comes with that. Or the 2) I’ll do what serves me best and what’s easiest to deal with and has the fastest results.

If only I could {truthfully} say I never lose sight of my But…FIRST and I always go with option 1. Nope. However, the Holy Spirit (which is almost like God’s earthly ‘muscle’) will wrangle me down and that conviction comes like a hurricane. I pray it always does. The goal, as Jesus-followers, is to walk with Him so much and know His voice so well that our “default” will be of God’s kingdom. Our modus operandi {M.O.’s} would be to look more like Jesus than ourselves.

God has been stirring all sorts of stuff up in my heart, and am looking forward to sharing them in the coming weeks. Some funny, some serious, some in-between. Thank you for reading and ‘listening’ to my heart rambles!



Take 5

Get under the bed!! GIRLS–just get under the bed!” is what I remember my mom and another missionary mom yell to us kids as they came into the bedroom we were waiting in as we heard the mob just outside our ‘safe’ walls. There were some angry townspeople surrounding our house that evening, and our parents were trying to figure out how to protect us from rocks that could at any moment be thrown through the windows. Our dads were out in the living room trying to figure out how in the world to protect this man from an ‘enemy’ tribe in the midst of an angry town of people. Not only that, but they were also trying to figure out how to protect their families as well. I cannot imagine what my mom and dad and our co-worker family went through. Cannot!! {And don’t want to!}

For about 6 months, we lived in a pretty secluded little ‘town’ in Ivory Coast, West Africa. There was a situation, and we took in a ‘rival’ tribesman for his protection. Lots of ‘town/tribe’ politics I won’t delve in at the moment, but needless to say: This guy was from an enemy tribe and he was on dangerous grounds. {And this was the early 1990’s!}

But, I knew my parents would always do what was right. This guy loved the Lord, but was from a tribe not from the folks of this little ‘town’, and they wanted him dead. Literally. And…us, as the harboring missionaries–if it came to that. They didn’t care who/what/where/when. They wanted this dude dead. I was about our oldest daughter’s age now (she is almost 10 years old), and I remember it like it was a couple of minutes ago. (Makes me really stop and ponder: Our kids are remembering our ‘now‘. Are we making it something memorable? Substantial? God-Hearty? Faith-filled? Transparent? Here’s a good one: Duplicatable?)

{If you want more details, or the full story, you MUST get the books called In This Place and In Every Place by Kim L. Abernethy. Yep–none other than my mom! She kept GREAT journals and details of the ‘play-by-plays’, and you simply must read them. There’s also an e-book option from Amazon. Look ’em up!}

So finally, my dad and the other dad of our co-worker family decided they’d take this man out of town in our car. It was a very old LADA. French made, I believe? Russian, maybe? Haha! Can’t remember. But, I do remember it was our only mode of transportation at that moment. They went to our car, turned the key in the ignition ready to speed off and get this man to safety! {Que the action movie music!} Dun-dah-dun dun…


Turns the key again…nothing.

{Engine sluggishly attempting to try to sound like it’s trying to try to turn over…}

Defeat. Unbelief. Doubt. Fear.

I remember my dad and our co-worker’s dad coming in with this man they were trying to protect. I don’t think I’ve ever seen defeat like that on my dad’s face or countenance since. He was droopy-shouldered and tight-browed. I can only imagine his thoughts at that moment: “GOD. GOD!!!!!!! Why?!! We had a chance, a small chance to escape and get this man to safety. WHY, GOD? WHY???!!! Why now?

Not long after that, I honestly don’t remember how much time lapsed, but we had some faithful fellow Christian townsfolks who worked with us there BUST in our house.

TEACHA!! TEACHA TEACHA! I SAY…you mah not go on the road!!!!! I say, they have a tree down across the way and they will kill this man and everyone else in the car. I say, you mah NOT GO tonight on the road.

WELL.THEN. And then there was that. To think that if they did go like they planned to get this man out of town, they would have come to this ambush. They would have all died. My dad would have been killed that night on that road in that car…that wouldn’t start.

This vivid memory has stuck with me like Gorilla Glue. All through my life: I remember this. When something deters or delays, I don’t doubt (or if I do start to get that whiny/complaining spirit, I get whiplashed back to the truth). It may be God saving me and my family, and I always want to be found faithful and THANKFUL in all of it. Some may say the enemy stops God’s work and delays good things. While partially true in the fact that the enemy does like to distract and to try to dismantle our efforts, it’s impossible for him to do so. What God wills and says will be done–WILL BE DONE. No matter what in all of the hellish forces there are. God’s will and His plans will always be carried out, and sometimes…it’s in a car that won’t start.

The one true God that I love and serve and know is a God of immaculate details. He’s so perfect. Every last detail from the beginning of this planet to it’s end was and is planned out to the most minute detail. The most amazing thing happens when love meets plans. The power of God’s love for His creation {us} and the power of His flawless planning meets when we go about our lives. AND, may I add, when we walk with Him humbly and in obedience to Him, our lives are able to line up as it was intended with timing and details.

Let Him have it.

A Cardigan Vs. An Afghan

“Good morning! I LOVE your afghan!” I have said at least 6 or 7 times to different folks before regarding their CLOTHING. {I was admiring their cardigan, but for some reason my silly brain always says afghan. LoL!} Mostly, this has happened in our church on a Sunday morning as folks come through the front doors. I am part of the greeting team, and love speaking to people as they come in the door to our church. There are some stylish ladies who walk through those doors, and I mean to tell them so! However…using the correct TERM for the clothing accessory is always a plus, I tell you. Lord, have mercy.

So, by definition an afghan is: a woolen blanket or shawl, usually knitted or crocheted. It is sometimes also called a “throw” of indeterminate size. Afghans are often used as bedspreads, or as a decoration on the back of couches or chairs.

And, by definition a cardigan is: a knitted sweater fastening down the front, typically with long sleeves.

…Just in case anyone was wondering about the difference…

Those are completely different things! Haha! I am probably the only person who has ever gotten them confused, but you know what? The compliment was sincere. I truly did love it if I said I did. (If I could have put it on and rocked it right then–I totally would have.) Who cares if I am by my lonesome on this. I am not competing for God’s spot of perfection in my life–just walking in the “footprints” He already made. I’ll miss the “perfect fit of feet” sometimes. But there will be times I actually fit it just right. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Same for you.

Be sincere when complimenting someone on something. Be real with that! It’s powerful.

Goodness, ya’ll. A compliment can put planets into orbit in someone’s life. I only know because it’s happened to me. Proverbs 25:11 says this: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” The contrast between silver and gold is pretty substantial! And a word that is sincerely spoken will carry the message and purpose it was intended for. Trying to fill in the gaps with our own words of “filler” {or flattery} will only dull the spaces that was intended for good {or GOLD}. Choose words wisely!

But, also, laugh at yourself–will you? I can’t believe I have said afghan vs. cardigan a whopping 6 or 7 times. Thank God {most} of the people have laughed it off with me, but there have been a couple of folks who were like: “Heh.heh.Yeeaaah. Okie. Not quite what I call it, but…ok, yeah.”

And I totally do not blame them. What in the world? They may have {for a split second} thought: “OMGgoodness. Did I seriously wear my couch’s blanket today?!” Haha!! I love that I have laughed with people I have never met before in my life, though. “Yeah, that’s funny, eh? AFGHAN. Ha-ha-ha! Nope. No ‘afghans’ here! THANK YOU, though!”

I think now that I have written a blog post about this: CARDIGAN has bought permanent real estate in my brain. If you ever hear me say “afghan”, please question it!! *wink*

But also, taste your words before they proceed from your lips. Taste ’em before you say ’em. {Compliment or not…}.

THE Two Best Days

Mark Twain said it best: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Holy smokes! Let that soak in for a hot minute. I know that there are other incredible days in one’s life, and maybe some beg to differ on Twain’s quote. If you’re a believer in Christ, you may even say that the day you became a Christian was your best day ever. And maybe, it was. But maybe, it wasn’t. I kinda want to go beyond those walls right now–like, I want to go beyond the expected and comfortable.

Before you were created, whether you believe this or not, God had a master design for your life. It’s like your soul was bottled up on heavenly shelves and before you came to earth in your mother’s womb, you were already you. Your soul was already created, and ready for action. You were woven into your human/Earthly body when God saw fit. You could have been born at any point in history or the future. But you weren’t! You were born and lived on this tick mark on the timeline. Why though?

I always get amused thinking of things like: God, did you not think I could go without modern creature comforts? B.C. Old Testament times would’ve looked good on me! {Or…maybe not. Haha! Maybe that’s a HUGE NO?} Only in the last hundred years from where we are now, 2018, have times really ramped up to what we know as “modern”. But all that aside: Why you & I, why now?

Well, that’s a great question. We all know that the birth of a new baby is a beautiful thing: it’s a new little slimy human catching their first breath of this earthly atmosphere. Even for preemies in the NICU. What’s fed through those tubes/vents is still earthly air. Even for life that wasn’t desired and given straight into the arms of an adoptive family. Or, for the life that would be taken from something like SIDS {ALL too soon}. Or the new life that would be neglected and ‘forgotten’. All life that takes it’s first breath is ordained by it’s Giver–and it’s beautiful. And it’s for a reason. Make no mistake. (In it’s ugliest and prettiest forms.}

So, we covered: “the day you & I were born” from the quote. But, what about the why we were born? WHY? Well, what if it’s a bunch of different WHY’s and made into a beautiful mosaic of a life? Each act of kindness or each loving word. All that’s going to your “WHY-mosaic”. In other words: Because you existed, this piece of the mosaic is complete and in place.

The ultimate reason you and I exist is for relationship though. Beyond any other function or reason. Whether you believe in God or not–He wants relationship with you.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Twain may have been talking about our life’s accomplishments here, or goals or even talents. Like, the Babe Ruth’s of the game of baseball. It would seem he was born for baseball. (But seriously, he was INCREDIBLE. And still holds a WR in 40+ home runs!) One would think: “Eh! For sure his life’s purpose was baseball.”

Well, let me act and sound like a ‘pastor’ real quick and ask you to turn to your Bibles to Ecclesiastes. Pretty much the entire book. (I’d recommend reading it all. Right now.) It’ll bring things to perspective real quick if you have the eyes to see and ears to hear! Kicks me in the pants every.time.

Let me paraphrase especially Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:7– “ALL is vanity. All the streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.” Daaaaaang.

Do not make the mistake of misinterpreting what I am saying here. What you are doing does matter: You are making that beautiful mosaic picture of your life and your purpose here on earth.

HOWEVER! What is all of it without true relationship with God? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Some “feel” better when they’re nice and in the “handing an apple to a cardboard-carrying homeless person” stage or they are helping someone with a bill or buying them clothes. No doubt this is important and meaningful stuff. And doing this with God’s guidance of the who’s/where’s/when’s is imperative. It means you are true relationship and you are listening to that “still small voice”. {Why would such a big God make His voice ‘still small’?} That is a whole ‘nother, ‘nother. He just does. Wheeewww.

If there ever was a boat, a learning boat, I am on it. A boarding pass-carrying member. The boat of relation-over-function. The boat of heart-over-action.

I just want to learn how to put all my life’s actions/ministries UNDER my relationship. Why we were born: Relationship.

Going back to our roots in the Garden of Eden, we see this. Humanity was created just below the angels. Humanity was created for relationship. Relationship that we would choose the one TRUE God over everything else. 

And there’s our answer: WHY were you born? Well, according to the Word in Ecclesiastes, all else is vanity besides one thing: Relationship with our Creator.




The Useful Predicament

I’m writing this now, because I know if I keep putting it off–I won’t! It’s already uncomfortable enough to be putting this into words. But…one of my missions for this blog is to share my experiences, and hey. If I can share and someone gleans something useful, my heart is full! And it wasn’t for nothing. However–a big fat however–vulnerability isn’t one of my strongest suits. So here goes nothing!!

Last Saturday, I woke up ready for the day. Kind of. I’m not a morning person by any stretch, so take “ready” lightly! The girls and I had some errands to run while Frank hustled in his side business: car detailing. I was catering a wedding later that day.

Got in the car, headed to Target. All was well. {Coffee was in hand!}

It started with feeling light-headed. It was like when there’s turbulence while you’re flying in a plane. You go UP and then your gut is in your throat as you come back down

But the coming back down is where I stayed…for at least 8 hours or more. Actually, I kept going. Down, down, down. It was such an unexpected feeling of ALL the things! Terrible, terrible feelings of hopelessness, guilt, sadness. So MANY feelings of desperation. It felt like I was literally crawling out of my skin! Hyperventilating, dizziness, heart racing.

Folks, I don’t deal with anxiety. Not on a physical scale like this. I may have the heart-and-mind stuff like most folks do at some points in their lives for various reasons here and there. But this? A completely different animal all on it’s own! There are no reasons in my life where this kind of attack could take a foothold. There’s just not! I have been so blessed in my life with my family and friends and life. Amazing all in it’s own right! There’s nothing that I can see moving forwards where this can take a foothold in my life: It was simply and LITERALLY out of this world. I NEVER want to go through that again. EVER.

I kept moving, though. I trudged. Every step I took was like pulling through quicksand! My errands took us to a few places, and I did come into contact with a few folks. Some trying to make small talk, and I just wasn’t having it. I normally love small talk and little conversations! I love people. But this day, I felt like my light was gone. Like, GONE. I felt dull and light-less (and lifeless). Smiling actually was pretty hard to do!

Got to my catering job, and starting doing what I do. Talking to other folks helped immensely. I slowly snapped out of it mostly by that night, but the dull throb was still there although the sharpness of this attack had left. It was like getting a deep tissue massage that hurts like the SAM DICKENS while it’s happening, and afterwards you are sore! That’s exactly what it was like.

“Welp. That was completely out of left field,” I thought to myself that night when I got home and got myself ready for bed. Never saw that coming! “And I never want to experience it EVER.AGAIN.”

Let me admit this real quick: I was once (as in just last week before Saturday!) in the camp of various thoughts on panic attacks/anxiety. Stuff like {but not limited to} this:

“Eh. Just focus on other stuff and you’ll be able to snap out of it.”

“I really think that is all in your head.”

“Come on. Can’t you see how your personality is contributing? Loosen up!”

“This isn’t actually real, you know.”

“There’s got to be something you’re doing to cause this.”

“It’s just hormonal.”


And while yes, there may be folks who struggle with anxiety who are doing things {knowingly or unknowingly} that invite a demonic foothold to take place in their lives causing pure hell in their lives–sometimes though, there’s no rhyme or reason or explanation. Perhaps it is something subconscious that’s surfacing or a lack of sleep or…the list could go on. Who knows? I sure don’t claim to.

I just know this: I am 101% more understanding, sympathetic and even empathetic than I was last week. I had a physical shift in my view of this issue. I don’t condone identifying with it or condone the continuation of the foothold allowances. I don’t at all condone that. However, for these seriously debilitating encounters of anxiety and panic–I get it now. I honestly never thought I’d say that, and before now I would have seen this as weakness in another.

Sometimes God allows things to happen because we need to be reminded of how to love others for where they’re at. As constant as their problems/issues may seem: They are real to them. When you get a taste of it for yourself, your entire mindset shifts! I know mine did. I wanted to share this insanely bizarre time with you. I don’t know which camp you’re in. I don’t think I ever thought about it, because I thought I was right about people just needing to get over themselves and their ‘issues’. Boy. Ok.

What’s the solution to all of this? Dunno. Well, I do. But there’s so many types of people and reasons they are struggling. There’s so many folks out there who deal with anxiety and depression and panic attacks and despair and suicide and hopelessness and lifelessness…

JESUS. Coming down from another heaven like a forward moving wind. Go forth. Go lightly.