True Freedom

Happy Independence Day, Dear Ones!

Tomorrow, we celebrate the birth of our country. I always get giddy when I imagine beginnings. If you’ve ever been in the planning stages of something wonderful, you understand. There are all of those dreams– unrealized, imagined– to look forward to and occupy one’s mind. There is the excitement of likemindedness; the comraderie of working side by side towards one goal. Frequently, there is also fear involved, as I can imagine our founding fathersfelt very intently on that fourth of July so long ago. Our Pastor told us on Sunday that the signers of the Declaration of Independence penned their names on the fourth of July, and then quickly left town. He said that they made sure the document was not published until the fifth of July, knowing that their very lives were at risk in partaking of such a daring declaration.

Wow! Doesn’t it thrill you to imagine how they felt on that very first Independence Day? This new thing; this Independence they were willing to die for, how it must have filled up thier hearts for them to take such a risk! Can you imagine letting something take hold of you like that? To make you set out on an untrodden path, perilous at that?

Every morning I feel a small piece of what they must have felt. Every morning I meet with my Lord, and He fills me with excitement at the new thing he has done in me. He tells me of the adventures we will face together, and I feel my heart fill up. There are days when I let the fear of the new thing reign. These are not good days. But always, always He comes to comfort me. He reminds me that He leads me through the unknown to bless me, not stress me. To set me free, as He tells me in 2 Cor. 3:17 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (Niv)

Or perhaps the version from the Message will make it more clear: 2 Cor. 3:16-18 “Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”

Is that an amazing scripture, or what?! We should not be afraid to show God’s glory, Dear Ones. Our faces are unveiled. Our lives are a beautiful picture of the freedom that living for Him brings.

This Independence Day I not only celebrate the birth of our country. I not only laud the great men and women who fought for the freedoms that I so wantonly partake. I celebrate the freedom that is mine in living for Jesus.

This liberty cannot be taken by man. That, Dear Ones, is true freedom.

Grace, grace, grace.

What an amazing weekend. I have just returned from the Proverbs 31 Ministries SheSpeaks conference. Since I went there on a prayer, I had no expectations. God took care of me. He placed me with a group of women who nurtured me and celebrated me all weekend long. We celebrated one another. I was so blessed by every woman I met and interacted with.

The theme of the weekend was: grace, grace, grace. When I told my husband this, he jokingly said, “What does she have to do with anything?” Everything. The Proverbs 31 team taught me so much about grace. My speaking group leader, Van Walton, said that SheSpeaks is the only place 420 women could come together “declawed”. It’s so true, isn’t it? We can be so critical of one another at times. But not at SheSpeaks. Speaker Micca Campbell said she couldn’t believe that all these women were in love with the same man, and were willing to share him! We were able to show one another grace, because the ministry leaders gave us such an awesome example. They were available and interacted with us on many different levels. When I approached the director of the writing track, Glynnis Whitwer, in the hallway, she graciously welcomed me into her conversation. Lovely, lovely women, who are so willing to share their knowledge to further the kingdom.

The ladies from Proverbs 31 are real. This point was beautifully illustrated Saturday night, when ministry executive director, Lysa Tyrkerst, approached the podium for the final session that day. She was in her pajamas, hair in ponytail, no makeup (well “just a tiny bit of concealer to cover one zit…and a little bit of mascara because my eyelashes are blond and I don’t want to scare anyone”). She gave her testimony then, with tears and humility. She held her heart out to us with both hands, and I felt in her words her fear that anyone would exalt her over our Lord and Savior. She said it so poignantly when she stated, “I’m just an ordinary woman, who chose to say yes to an extraordinary God.” As she recounted her history of pain and loss, her vulnerability touched my heart. I’ve been there, dear ones; it’s not an easy place to leave behind. As she stood there in her PJs, crying out from her heart, she revealed more beauty than the most finely dressed lady.

I met beautiful women from all over the country this weekend. Every single one of these ladies was on fire for the Lord! And each one had a different way of expressing it. It reminds me of Revelation 4:3, where John is describing the Throne in Heaven. He tells us that a rainbow, resembling an emerald, surrounded the throne. I wonder if we are the rainbow, dear ones? Our many differences reflect all the different colors of the rainbow. Isn’t God amazing? He created each of us so unique, so precious, that we reflect his many different character traits. This weekend I met gentle women, vivacious and energetic women, funny women, smart women, kind women, self-sacrificing women, creative women, organized women…beautiful women, all. All masterpieces of the Master. Amazing.

And so…I’m back into the ho-hum of everyday. No mountaintop here. No masses of sisters to lift me up and raise their hands beside me. But I’ve found that the message of the weekend is buried ever deeper in my heart. Grace, grace, grace. She has everything to do with everything.

Hello, Dear Ones! I have been absent from the blog scene for a while, and with good reason. I’ve been preparing for my oral exams in the psychology licensure process. I sat before a board of eight individuals yesterday afternoon and was interviewed for about forty minutes. It was a bit intimidating, but everyone was very nice and treated me fairly.
Soooo…I am now licensed psychologist #954, in the state of WV! Isn’t that tremendous? I have felt such a sense of relief, I cannot explain. This has been 15 years in the making. I just missed my supervision requirements by six months when I had my first child. And now, ten years later I’m finally getting caught up. You can imagine the content of my prayers in the past several days, but mostly, I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude. A year ago, I never dreamed that I would be in the position of being licensed, but God so lovingly has taken me there–one little tiny baby step at a time.
On the drive home from Charleston, a thunderstorm threatened. Before the rain came, some of the most amazing bolts of lightening lit up the evening sky. It was so gorgeous and exhilarating, and; as I sang some praise and worship with Jeremy Riddle (at the top of my lungs), I couldn’t help marveling at the congratulatory fireworks show that my heavenly Father was putting on for me. The thought made my soul sing.
Aren’t we blessed? Don’t we just have an amazing God?
So now it is time to get back into the routine. I want to update you on my first book. The Wings of Klaio is in the final editing stages. I don’t have a release date, but I am getting very excited. This is a book that is written for tweens and early teens. I incorporated much of my own personal experiences into the story, but there are a lot of differences between my life growing up and the life of the heroine. It’s the story of a young girl named Brody Whittaker, whose parents are going through a divorce. The book chronicles the many ways that Brody’s life changes with the breakup of her family. The story’s book series title (The Wings of Klaio) refers to a tiny bird sculpture that Brody treasures. Unbeknownst to Brody, this little bird is her guardian angel. Klaio was in the Garden of Eden when Satan deceived Eve, and as she flew to tell the Lord, the serpent’s eyes met her own and she was turned to stone. When Eve found the bird, she was greatly grieved; and so she named the stone creature Klaio, which is the greek word that means, “every outward expression of sorrow”. Klaio has been handed down from generation to generation, and was given to Brody by her late grandmother. Klaio works in covert ways to help Brody through this difficult time in her life.
This story is very special to me. When I look back on my life, I can clearly see how God protected me and guided me. That’s what the Klaio series is about. The books also have discussion questions at the end and would make and excellent book club selection with this age group. Email me if you’re interested in doing something like this with the young girls at your church. I would love to come and visit and talk about the book with you, if possible.
I’m currently working on the second book in the Klaio series. I’ll keep you posted on the details of both.
Keep praying for me, dear ones! You keep me going!


My Dears,

I’ve been wrestling with the “if onlys” for the last couple of days. Does that ever happen to you, and does it catch you by surprise? Do you ever find that, when you least expect it, ghosts that you believed long exorcised pop their heads out of some dusty corner and whisper “boo” at you? And not only do you jump, but you let a little bit of something else creep back into your consciousness? Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s anger, maybe it’s regret. And if you’re like me, you let that little bit of creepiness control you for a while. Sigh.

You see, I have this amazing group of young girls that I teach on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. In these young faces, I see so much promise. I want to take all that I’ve learned in life and open their heads and just pour it in. I want to tell them about the hard stuff, the mistakes I’ve made, and all of my regrets. I want to warn them to guard their hearts above all, to stay true to their beliefs and stand firm. But I know that it doesn’t work that way. I never had someone to tell me those things, but, chances are, if I did, I wouldn’t have listened anyway. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. So I have restrained myself. Instead of telling the girls the history of my world, I buy curriculum.

Yesterday, I went out looking for curriculum. We needed a new direction. I found this lovely series on inner beauty. It was about how we are all beautiful in God’s eyes. I got so excited just reading the lesson plans. I imagined us doing our nails and discussing Jesus (humor me, I have two sons). I so want for these girls to have an intimate relationship with our Lord. So, in the first lesson, I’m supposed to take a Polaroid of each girl, and we do a little craft with the photo. I thought it would be fun to share a preteen picture of myself with my girls. After much scavenging, I stumbled upon a small snapshot of me at the tender age of twelve.

I was not prepared for the emotions stirred within me at that image of the little girl I used to be. The picture was taken at a very difficult time in my life. I was trying to make sense of some excruciatingly painful things with the wisdom of a twelve year old. I was not a pretty pre-teen. Skinny, with long stringy hair, freckled pale skin, and big teeth. Yet, I had these eyes. Big and blue. And in those eyes, this old version of me saw the same promise reflected; the same promise that I see in the eyes of the girls that I teach. But I knew that little girl’s future. I knew of all the mistakes she would make, all the wrong choices and concessions. And I let that grief and that regret creep in.

I needed to live with it for a little while, I guess. The Lord tells us that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Tonight, when I was tucking my youngest son in, he asked me a peculiar question: If there was never a you, would there have ever been a me? Carefully, we traced all the requirements that came into play for my little man to be born, just the wonderful way that he is. In the quiet of my mind, I remembered many more variables. Every wrong choice made, every missed opportunity, every hurtful rejection; all of these things have brought me to where I am today: tucking in my beautiful boy.

If I could tell my girls one thing, it would be this: You are loved with a love that is greater than anything in this world.

If we know this with every ounce of our being, we act accordingly. When we are assured of our value, we act as one who is valuable.

I’m holding that picture of the blue-eyed girl close to my heart. She is beautiful. And in her eyes, I see so much promise.

True Love

Hello, Dears,

This is a crazy time of year! We have been busy with field trips and field days, WESTEST prep. and Mother’s Day, and yesterday was my wedding anniversary! Even though life has been busy, I’ve been trying to make a deliberate effort to slow down and keep my priorities. Sometimes I do better than others. Yesterday, when I got up in the morning for my prayer time, I was surprised to find a little anniversary token left for me on our kitchen table. I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t made an effort to do the same for my beloved. Starting my day off with such a special gesture from my husband turned my day in a new direction. All day long my thoughts were on him. I let my mind turn to our courtship and all of the wonderful things about him that I fell in love with in the beginning. So much of our relationship has changed over the years, but the amazing thing is, that after all of this time, the things that I first fell in love with in him remain.

Last night we watched Pride and Prejudice together. I just adore Jane Austin. Is there anything better than a story about true love? I lay my head on my pillow prepared to dream about the great passion of Miss Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. A funny thing happened instead. I began to think of my own love story once again. It struck me how the love between a man and a woman reflects the love that God has for us. And how true love glorifies Him in so many ways. The truth of the gift of love began to fill me up inside. I was overwhelmed with God’s kindness. He didn’t have to give us such depth of emotion. He doesn’t need us to swoon with passion for one another. But He so wisely illustrates His own love through our love for one another. And we are but a reflection. Wow!

Dedicate you day to love, Dear One. To the love of your life, our Lord and Savior.