Do NOT Become a Christian

Are looking for something to fulfill your life?  Need a list of laws to follow?  Are you a good person?  Are you rich?  Is your life put together and you want a church?  

Let me be the first to assure you, Christianity is NOT for you. 

Are you outcast because your sins are much too many?  Do you want to be dead of this life you live?  Sick?  Find this world meaningless?  You don’t fit in?

Then, for you, I may have the answer. But I will be the last to try to persuade you. In fact, I will do the opposite. Consider the cost carefully. 

Jesus himself turned away the crowd. To the rich young ruler that he loved, he looked straight to his heart and saw the one thing he could not give up, “Go and sell all you have and give it to the poor.”  There was no hug and welcome and let me lead you to the sinner’s prayer. No!  To follow Jesus, to be like him, he will have no competition!  The Lord must be loved with ALL your heart. 

This is no plan of your own. You do not approach your Maker and ask him to bless your plans. Oh!  How many curse God because He does not answer their requests!  

First, you must die. All your comfort, your identity, riches, and beauty are dead and buried. Meaningless. Rags to be offered. But you will walk in danger and not be afraid. And it will be so very dangerous. You will be mocked and count it as blessings. Monies only purpose is to be given away. Prayers are to be reserved for miracles. The miracle to accomplish a part of God’s big huge plan. 

And ladies and gentlemen, the very miracle is that God himself reaches out his hand and extends an invitation. And the church of religion kindly declines, “No thank you.  I’m doing just fine on my own.”

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I know God’s Calling for My Life

“God did not call me to do that.”

“Not everyone is called to be missionaries, so give some money and help these people tell the world about God.”

The only problem?  Jesus did not make distinctions when He said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel.”  It’s not just for a certain group of people. 

He never said, “If you feel called” He said “Go.”  That applies to everyone. 

Don’t feel the calling?  I bet Shadrach didn’t feel like being thrown into a fire. I bet Corrie Ten Boom didn’t feel like spreading the love of Jesus in a concentration camp. I bet martyrs didn’t feel like being tortured. JESUS DIDNT FEEL LIKE DYING ON THE CROSS!

Are you a Mom?  Be so wildly in love with Jesus that your children see Him as the very air you breathe!  Be so beyond patient that others notice something different about you and have to comment. And then answer!  

Are you a husband?  Love you wife like Christ loves the church. Daily die to her!

Do you drive?  Forget about road rage. Do you buy coffee?  Grab a cup for someone else. Invite a homeless person to church. Stop and chat with a lonely person. 

Be so crazy in love with the King of kings that you are a fool in love. Live like this is not your home!

And when you screw up, BECAUSE YOU WILL, the absolute biggest way that you can stand out among the crowd is to ASK FOR FORGIVENESS!  

Ask for forgiveness and FORGIVE, that is what I am called to do. What better way to preach the gospel?

Verge of Tears

College sophomore Caroline Hite pulled my thin jacket around and zipped it up to my chin. I wasn’t quite prepared for the cold this Tennessee Fall was threatening. It was dark and I could not see the green circular lawn as I walked the diameter from the library to my dorm room. 

With a dreary attitude, I slumped up the steps to the third floor. With dramatic disappointment, I flopped down on my simple twin bed and gave a large exhale. 

“What’s the matter?” My roommate and best friend inquired. 

“I miss him!”  I was seriously on the verge of tears. 

“Who?” She asked with a tinge of girly excitement, yet knowing that I told her everything and she knew I did not even have a current crush. 

“One day I am going to love someone so much. One day it will hurt to be separated from him…I don’t know who he is…but I miss him now.”

Obviously, I am a hopeless romantic to the core. Randomly, that vivid memory crosses my mind and I smile. I still feel the cold breeze blow against my cheek and I remember that longing that I had in my heart that has now been filled.  James. James is that man that I was missing. 

And today that longing grabbed my beating heart in a whole new way. Bleeding and still pumping, the Holy Spirit grabbed my heart and tenderly yet firmly looked me square in the eyes and said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Did God long for me?!  Like that!  In a perfect, complete way know that he had created me and I was yet to be born?  Does he look at me now, at every detail of my little life and know that he made me to love coffee, know that he made me to crave the words of CS Lewis and while I read “Surprised By Joy” it was an event created to be at the beginning of the world?  Did he long for the day when I would have my own daughter and cry tears of love and joy at the realization that this is just a glimpse of the love the Father has for me?

And I am humbled. How?  HOW!  How can GOD love me?!  Want me?!  Wait for me?!  And I realize, he made me for Him. He has a purpose for me!  Oh God!  Grab me!  Kicking and screaming, wholly addicted to myself, and lazy out of selfishness and begin your work in me.

My toes are wading in the water, but I want to dive in!  

And I walk the diameter of this world. It is dark with arrogance. My heart is not in the right place. But I miss someone. Someone I will be with for eternity. One day I will sing HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. And one day I will be complete and whole and all my questions will be answered and all my hurts will be undone. Dear Jesus, my heart aches for that day I will be with YOU!  And the Good News is that You want to be with me too!

Your Children

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.” Ronald Reagan

For such a time as the this. I no longer have the benefit of raising my daughter to value her freedom. I do not teach her the history of her founding fathers and tell her to appreciate this great nation that she was born in to. No. I am raising a fighter, a Noah in this land that is handing over her freedom one entitlement at a time. I am raising her to stand against the tyrants that would come and abolish any signs of free America. 

Our nation is looking upon an upcoming election. It used to be that when people were called socialists, it was meant to be an insult. Now we see two candidates step up to the podium. They are two of the frontrunners of the election:  

Bernie Sanders, who claims with his own words to be a Democratic Socialist. Let me remind you that our country is NOT a democracy. We live in a democratic republic. Our founding fathers knew too well not to leave the country to the whims of a mob, therefore setting up a democratic republic, where our representatives were held responsible to the people but the people could not control with their emotional whims of the masses. 

The opposition to Bernie Sanders (one of them. The one I am writing about) is Dr. Benjamin Carson. This man is the epitome of the American Dream. Raised in poverty, he embraced education and hard work, becoming the leading pediatric neurosurgeon in the world. Dr. Carson has a testimony that is held against him. He claims the name of the Lord Jesus Christ boldly, despite the media attacks and attacks from fellow candidates for his past. (That is his message!  That is the power of grace!  Look how God can change a man!). Dr. Carson published a book, A More Perfect Union, in which he prints the Constitution in its entirety. He states its history and he challenges us to hold our representatives, including himself, to the supreme law of the land in the words that gave America her freedom and prosperity for so many years.

I do not hold our government accountable. I do not even hold the Obama administration accountable. I hold families, I hold parents accountable. 

In the last few decades, we have seen a trend of entitlement in our parenting styles. Children are raised being told they are perfect little angels that are entitled to whatever their little hearts desire. NO!

Coming from a mother that adores her daughter, I love her much too much to raise her to be an entitled spoiled brat. I love her much too much to neglect to tell her that powerful word: no.  Though she is still young, I am proud that she is such a hard worker. That is because she is required to do chores around the house she is required to do her best at the sports she chooses to play. She is required to practice piano. She has no option but to read at least 20 minutes every single day.  Never neglecting GRACE!  In this family, we all make mistakes. We forgive. We learn. 

Do you know what has happened?  SHE LOVES WORK!  My girl is the one that always has her nose in a book, she stays up late reading until I force her to turn off her light. Because she does not have the option to turn on the tv. She chooses veggies on her own at a restraunt because she is taught to make wise decisions and given limits where she lacks maturity. My girl complains that her Scienec lab is so short because she loves to learn about Creation. 

I get it!  Parenting is hard!  It is hard every day!  But I love my girl too much not to train her to be the intelligent, strong, kind girl that Christ intends her to be. I love her too much to take the easy route!

Do you feel lost?  Trust me, if you are a parent that is a daily experience.  (For me at least)  Can I recommend two books that have helped me immensely:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

And 

12 Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore 

READ!  Read to your child. Put down the phone. Turn off the tv. Daily, open the Bible and read. Let your children see you read. Require them to read. And learn. Why do you believe what you believe? 

Honestly, I believe this is not the fault of government. Government does what the people want. It is the fault of parents not teaching their children to work, teaching children that they are perfect little angels entitled to whatever they want, neglecting to teach them the word of God. Change occurs in the family, in the home, and sadly we have seen the erosion of the American Christian family. Dare not to fit in. Dare to be the change. Be the answer. 

Again I quote Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.”   

And I will stand and proclaim, “It will not be lost on my watch.”

Talitha Koum

Trees walking around. Her ears seemed to protrude and I noticed them like I had not before. I lost the focus of her beauty and despite my efforts to concentrate, her whole body seemed a jumble of pieces that no longer fit.

The spectacles of which through I saw this world had been removed, or I put on the spectacles, I’m not sure which, but I no longer saw people as I had before.

I had gone through my days with a need to impress others around me. I chose the finest clothes my money could buy, hours upon hours seeking not to be healthy but to have a thin appearance (I know this for sure because I cheated in such an unhealthy way), more hours of application to make my cheeks pink, my eyes colorful, and my lips protrude. My conversation was centered around the appraisal of me. Entertainment, career, family, even my place of religion was centered around my god:  me.

I did not see him coming, there was no reason to even notice that man. I was blindly rushing about my stress. I do not know why, but he ran after me. He grabbed me by the collar, I fought and I struggled and I yelled at him to release me. He did. And I fell upon the ground. Cursing, I complained and was insulted at his presence. There was complete hate in my heart and pulsing throughout my body.

Then two words he said to me, “Talitha koum.” (“Little girl, I say to you, get up”)

I don’t know how it happened, but I was upon my feet. The makeup was removed, I was bare naked but more fully clothed than I had ever been.

For I saw that I was just born. I had walked from death to life. He was all that pursued me and I turned and saw him everywhere. No longer was I a mere body, I had been born a soul.

The lostness of the human race struck me. The beauty of symmetrical bodies, youth, and wealth, all but filthy rags. Useless.

Then I saw her approaching. Her soul a glowing spirit. She smiled of joy and she loved with service. Her humility found herself when she gave herself away. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I saw but an elderly woman. Poor. Aged. Sick. And at the end of her life on this earth. A mortal useless tragedy. But I saw, as I had never seen before:  the soul is where we find beauty.

Pornographic Love

As a young girl, Christmas was sheer magic.  One year, a very long time ago, a few months before the holidays, I saw a commercial.  We did not have a television in our home.  I must have been at a relative or a friend’s house, but I vividly remember seeing a commercial of the very thing that would fill the hole in my heart and that would make me forever happy and perfect.  A Poppel.  A plush little toy that would instantly transform into a ball…or so they did on the commercial.  With a fun little song, this thing transformed from a stuffed animal into a plush ball back and forth, back and forth and the world was just as it should be.  And I wanted one.

I dreamed of it day after day and I counted down the days until Christmas…until it was Christmas morning and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.  My life was about to be completely meaningful and perfect and I would never want anything else ever again.

Well, something happened that was not a habit growing up in a household with eight children.  I FINALLY opened a package that contained all my hopes and my dreams in that one Christmas present.  Not only did I get one Poppel, I GOT TWO!

But because you have a very similar story to mine, you already know the ending.  That thing just didn’t work like it had on the commercial.  It took every muscle in my little girl body to transform that animal into a plush ball …and it was still never perfectly round.  And it just didn’t pop out quite like it had on the television to that fun little song.  And I never told my parents (until they are probably reading it here) but that thing just did not fulfill me like it had promised to.

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist.  A baby feels hunger.   Well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim.  Well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desire.  Well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably, earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”  – CS Lewis

Daily, hourly, by the minute, I have these desires.  I want my world to be perfectly clean.  I want my husband to walk through the door with fresh flowers and a surprise date.  I long to look strikingly gorgeous every single time I peek into the mirror.  I want my daughter to always be polite and over succeed at every single thing she attempts.  I want to turn on the nightly news and hear the report that ISIS is forever gone and there are too many wonderful things happening to ever report.  I WANT ME AND ALL THINGS AROUND ME TO BE PERFECT!

Here.  It never can be.  But I do believe that perfect does exist.

According to covenanteyes.com, 68% of men view porn at least once a week.  A desire being fed by an empty substitute with detrimental consequences.  There is a real body to love.  Caroline, there is a place that is perfect.  We were not made for this world.  It is a desperate and empty search to try and find that completeness here on earth.  We were made with desires and longings that only a perfect God can fill and one day, those that turn to him, will experience all our desires met in complete perfection.

Writers are Readers

  
 I turn in my bed, open my eyes, and lay on my pillow for another minute. There is no beeping alarm and I smile at the thought. (I do not usually smile in the morning). I grab my phone off my night stand and take a quick look at the clock. Just after 8. Fall break is great for sleeping in. 

I stretch open my eyes and pop in my contacts, fill a glass with water and quickly swallow my morning medication. I head straight to one of the most important things in life:  coffee. I grab my extra large homemade coffee mug and sort of smile when I remember that I paid ridiculously too much to paint this mug one day on a play date with my girl and some friends. But the mug says, “Caroline’s Coffee” and I like that.  Fall breaks are the best for drinking coffee. 

The house is quiet. James has already left for work. (He does not get to observe Fall break with us). Conner has already left for college. (My niece lives with us and I love her to pieces!  Her college break is not even as long as my third grader’s). And Madison is still asleep. I will let her sleep just a little bit longer and give myself a little time to read. Fall break is made to have a little extra time to read. 

Over Fall Break, I completed Ben Carson’s “One Nation” (AMAZINGLY INSPIRATIONAL), started “Teresa of Calcutta” by D. Jeanene Watson (wow!  I want to be this woman!), and read a few more chapters of “12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid” by Tim Elmore.

I am a parent. I make mistakes. I want to avoid mistakes. This is the book for me. My daughter is eight years old. This is a great time to read this book. He says things like “let your kids fail” and my heart has this little battle with Tim and I say, “WHAT?!” And he says “yes” and I scream “no” and he says “It is the best thing for Madison” and I say “ouch!” And grab my heart and I don’t want my little girl to hurt but he walks through the benefits of letting our children fail and learn from their mistakes and what unbeneficial adults our kids will grow up to be if Momma is always coming to the rescue. And I want my daughter to be an aide to society, so I read on. 

I do want what is best for my girl, even if it is hard for me to loosen my grip and let go of one, maybe two fingers.  But as I do this, something absolutely spiritual happens.  Every finger that I release is replaced by one of God’s fingers!

Ya see, I am not throwing my eight year old into the hands of this world. Hell no!  I am releasing her into the hands of loving God, that believe it or not, loves her even more than I do!  He has plans for her, plans to prosper her!

So, this book has helped me with some very practical ways of knowing how to appropriately give an eight year old independence and what are some ways that I can let an eight year old take responsibility and feel some natural consequences and some natural benefits!  

And do you know what, she amazes me!  And when that girl works hard and gets things accomplished and when she is not entitled to sweets and playing and when she earns a trip out to get frozen yogurt with her cousin and a family night of Uno, she loves me all the more for it and I see that, as Tim Elmore says it, that “I am not raising a child. I am raising an adult.”  And Fall Break is the best time to raise my future adult.