The Family of God is Amazing

The family of God is amazing… Here it is the second to last day of the VBS (vacation bible school) and the feelings of love and gratitude are overwhelming.

Anytime you serve God with a group, that group grows together and the kingdom of God is reinforced that much more. The bond grows stronger and the family unit grows that much more in unity.

It doesn’t matter where we go or what God calls us to or even how much we don’t agree on a certain topic… We are all brought together for one purpose and that is to give God glory by sharing the gospel with those around us.

The fact that I absolutely have gained five new sisters in Christ that I plan on visiting and staying in contact with is just how God shows up sometimes and that right there is what makes being apart of His family so worth it.

Chew On This: Jeremiah 33:3

Tonight I was with the team of wonderful people who came down from Jacksonville to lead a vacation bible school and during an outreach moment one person used this verse!

She said that she usually tells little ones that this verse is like God’s phone number… And I liked the thought of that so much that I decided it would be a good verse to memorize… So here it is; Jeremiah 33:3 says,

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

It just confirms to me that God truly does hear our prayers and is ready to not only answer them but tell us more than what we even asked for!! So be encouraged and as you memorize this verse keep praying.

A Jesus Moment

This morning during my Jesus Time I realized that the very thing that I was praying about was exactly what my morning devotional was talking about… and I was just amazed and in awe of how God hears me.

For a little while now I have really started to look outside the home for employment opportunities. However what I end up doing is thinking about what my life will be like with a particular job and what my life will look like six months to a year from now with that same job, how my children will be affected by that said job (mind you  there are no children) and so on and so forth. I tend to start planning my future around a job that I haven’t even secured yet… well today I was praying that I wouldn’t do that. That instead I would be exactly where God wants me in the job He wants me when He wants me there. I stopped thinking about the future and just focused on God.

The scripture that I ended up reading over and thinking about during my devotional was from James 4:13-15 and it says this,

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

All I could do after I read those words was praise Jesus! I had just given Him the two specific jobs that I was thinking about and saying they are yours God and I am yours and I only want to do your will… and then I read this and realize that He really is right there with me listening to everything that I am saying and watching everything that I am doing and He knows exactly what it is that I need and when I need it and that there is no reason for me to get frantic or frazzled because He knows what’s best for me.

So here I am writing to you full of His joy and His peace to let you know that God hears absolutely everything you speak to Him even the things deep down inside that you only let come up when you’re all alone… continue to give it to Him and you’ll never regret it!

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the great hands on fathers out there… I recently found this blog post from a hands free mama (she’s just talking about technology not parenting) and it touched my heart so much I wanted to share it… I hope you enjoy it…

Living Life With Open Hands

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” ~author unknown

I recently took a weeklong trip in celebration of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  The excursion was perfect except for the fact that work commitments prevented my husband from joining us. Perhaps it was because my daughters mentioned daily how much they missed their daddy that I began noticing many attentive fathers along our travels.

One particular night, we found ourselves on the outskirts of a dance floor. As the talented musicians played the first notes to “Cupid Shuffle,” children flocked to the center and began moving excitedly to the beat.

I marveled at the one lone father who scooped up his youngest daughter, held the hand of his other child, and summoned his lovely wife out to the dance floor. Praying I did not look like a stalker, I stole glances at this loving father who so clearly was a constant source of laughter, fun, and spontaneity in his family.

I had to smile to myself as I watched the children delight in their dad’s silly antics because I knew if my husband were with us he would be engaging our family the same way.

And while experiencing this tangible longing for presence of my own lively husband, I came to a conclusion.

There’s something special about the way dads live life.

And this space (which happens to be called “Hands Free Mama”) seems like the perfect place to explain what that something special is.

 

Most dads are instinctively “Hands Free” parents—meaning that “grasping the moments that matter” comes naturally to them.

Let me explain.

Speaking from experience here, “letting go to grasp what really matters” is something I have to work at, to strive for—whether it is letting go of distraction, perfection, or unnecessary pressure on myself, I have to make a conscious choice to do so. And I’ll admit, some days I struggle to let go.

Where I have the tendency to over think things, the man in my life shrugs and says, “We’ll work out the details later.”

Where I have the tendency to make a 25-step plan, my husband says, “Let’s just wing it.”

Where I have the tendency to sweat about the small stuff, my spouse reminds me, “It’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of life.”

A few weeks ago, our children asked, “Can we have a lemonade stand?”

While my overactive mind was considering sticky kitchen counters, pop-up thunderstorms, and a severe shortage of customers, my husband piped up, “Sure. Let me help you set up.”

I’ve noticed that my daughter, who recently learned to skate, asks her dad (rather than me) if he wants to join her for a glide around the block after dinner.

Maybe it’s because she knows that while I am thinking about her getting sweaty, overly excited, or injured right before bedtime, her dad quickly replies with, “Sure. Let’s do a lap.”

So it made perfect sense that one day, out the blue, my older daughter said, “You know what I love about Daddy? I love that when I ask him to do something with me, he always says YES.”

Yes.

Yes to reading a few more pages before lights out.

Yes to making homemade ice cream and getting adventurous with the flavoring.

Yes to hitting golf balls into the ravine behind our house.

Yes to grabbing some crickets and a fishing pole and heading down to the lake.

And as I reflect on my childhood, I think about my dad saying YES an awful lot.

And when I think about my own wonderful uncles and the uncles of my children, I think of the many, many times they have said, “Sure. Why not?”

A reader of my blog recently paid me the ultimate compliment. She said I have given a name to the best kind of parenting: “Hands Free.” Although I would love nothing more than to take the credit, I simply can’t. If I am being honest, I must give credit to the source of much of my “Hands Free” inspiration.

My dad

My husband

And the many remarkable guys I have been blessed to meet in my life and through this blog.

And chances are, whether you realized it or not, there is probably a “Hands Free” guy in your life.

Perhaps today is the day you give him a name for the kind of parenting he does. Perhaps today is the day he becomes aware that someone has noticed all the times he opened his hands and said YES to what really matters.

A “Hands Free” Dad …

-makes pancakes on Saturday morning and allows his miniature baking assistants to stir and flip despite the mess and giggly mayhem that erupts.

-has laugh lines around his eyes from manual labor under the hot sun, memorable days spent on the beach, and the ability to laugh at himself.

-doesn’t expect perfection from his kids—in fact, he understands better than anyone that mistakes don’t define you; they are just part of growing up.

A “Hands Free” Dad …

-builds self-confidence as he patiently teaches his brand new driver how to check the oil, change a tire, and make cautious left turns.

-openly shows affection for the mother of his children—delighting in the way her eyes twinkle when he unexpectedly kisses her in front of the kids.

-sits on uncomfortable small chairs, hard bleachers in the pouring rain, and at the homework table for countless hours so he can be a part of his child’s world and memory bank.

A “Hands Free” Dad …

-demonstrates kindness through action, rather than words—mowing his elderly neighbor’s yard, spending his weekend building someone else a home, and buying a hot meal for a man whose hope is as thin as his threadbare pants.

-quietly creeps in to watch the angelic faces of his children as they sleep, feeling overwhelming gratitude that they are his to love.

-defines a perfect day as one with a blue sky, cold beverages, and the love of his family by his side.

A “Hands Free” Dad …

-feels an emotional rush when he sees that little face light up simply because he walked in the door.

-tells his love she is more beautiful than she was on their wedding day at precisely the moment she needs to hear it.

-endures piercing screams as he steadies the back of a wobbly bike until terror turns to triumph, and he hears a jubilant voice exclaim, “Look Daddy! I’m pedaling! I’m pedaling!”

A “Hands Free” Dad …

-scoops up the early morning visitor who arrives at his bedside in pajamas-clad feet even though he knows this cuddling session will be the end of his peaceful slumber.

-gets choked up simply by hearing the words, “I love you, Daddy.”

-prays every single night that they will never be too big for him to hold.

See, there’s this thing about dads and the way they live life. Granted, it’s not perfect, and it may be messy at times; it may not be the way I do it, and perhaps it’s not the way you do it, but there is value in it; I am talking about life-changing, soul-touching value. And if you look closely you can see it.

It’s in the piggy back ride.

It’s in the hammering project the two of them have in the garage.

It’s in the whiskers that gently rub against her face and the “Daddy smell” she breaths in as she smiles.

It’s in the arm around the shoulder after a tough game.

It’s in their noisy jam session.

It’s in that jubilant sound of joyous laughter that only their daddy can produce.

It’s in their faces … oh yes, the way their daddy makes life worth living radiates in their precious faces.

If the man in your life knows how to “let go to grasp what really matters,” step back, admire him, celebrate him, learn from him, and be sure to say “Thank you.”

Recognize him for the way he lives his life: with open hands—which just happens to be the most nurturing and wonderful place for a child to grow.

***********************************************

To the guys who read “Hands Free Mama,” leave heartfelt comments on the blog and in my inbox, and diligently attempt “Hands Free” tactics at home …

To the guy who received this from someone who loves him …

To the guys who have been parenting “Hands Free” before I even created this blog …

And to anyone whose life circumstances require him or her to play the role of “dad” which you have graciously accepted  … 

THANK YOU.

Thank you for being the parent that you are. Thank you for living life with open hands. 

Happy Father’s Day.

Consequences Of Sin: My Testimony

I have so many different parts of my testimony but this particular part has never really been shared with anyone other than my husband and a dear friend who was going through something similar… Last night I was trying to sleep and I kept hearing the song “Healer” by Kari Jobe and you will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony!! Earlier in the day I heard the song “Overcome” by Desperation Band and it truly ministered to me…  so when I couldn’t sleep last night I knew that the only way I was going to be completely healed and restored was to finally share my testimony… so here it goes…

Although I didn’t grow up in church my mother always talked about how we shouldn’t have sex with anyone until we were married (there was four of us kids)… and growing up all throughout middle school and even high school I believed that…  Unfortunately I only believed it because my mother said so… not because of a relationship I had with Jesus. Looking back I am sure that if I would have had some foundations to go along with those words my mother told me I would have remained a virgin until I married my husband…

However, I did not and somewhere along the way between hooking up and having unprotected sex with numerous partners I contracted a sexually transmitted infection. It’s not life threatening thank God but it is life altering and the emotional damage it’s caused is something I’m still trying to get over. Thankfully my husband doesn’t treat me any differently and didn’t think any less of me when I told him (before we got married of course) about my condition.

For everything you do there is always an outcome whether good or bad… in my case having sex before I was married was bad and the consequence of that sin was the infection. There have been times where I’ve wondered how could I have been so stupid… but when you are in the heat of the moment you never think about how your future will be altered because of that one moment; all you want is what you want and nothing else matters. It’s the same way with any sin… because sin will always take you further than you want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay…

I have repented and been forgiven of my sin and today was the day that I decided (with the help of Jesus of course) to share my testimony with other people so that I could stop living with the fear, guilt, and shame that comes with this secret of mine and be healed! Today during my Jesus time I took a stand and declared that by His stripes I am healed once and for all!!! I have prayed for healing before but today was the first time that I prayed without doubt and I said enough was enough I cannot hold onto this thing any longer and in the name of Jesus I broke every chain of fear, guilt, shame and every infirmity off of my body!!! I am free and my body is restored and belongs to Jesus. I believe it and know it to be true because nothing is impossible for God!!

There you have it… the part of my testimony that is no longer hidden… AMEN!

Rejoice with me and enjoy the songs! I hope they minister to you as much as they did to me!

This is such a great word!!!

The Only Option

The funny thing about knowing that your child will be heading off to college in a few short months is that there is a sense of urgency that overtakes you to wrap up every loose end that you’ve put off until now. The wisdom teeth that should’ve been taken care of a year ago, the allergy shots that should have been started 2 years ago and sorting through clothes to donate to Goodwill have all suddenly made their way to the top of the “To Do” list. I am the quintessential procrastinator and I am sorely paying for it right now as we madly dash around town to various doctor and dentist appointments.

One of our first stops was a follow up visit to our favorite allergy doctor. We talked about symptoms and specifically we discussed nightime congestion and the use of over-the-counter medication for relief. The doctor explained how the medications…

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