Posts filed under ‘Self-evaluation’

Fact vs. Opinion

I have about forty-seven other things to be doing right now, but I have thoughts that need to get out. Most likely I will never publish this, but writing makes me feel better.

Everybody has their frustrations with social media. We either hate the political posts, or we love them. We hate pictures of plates of food, or we love them. We hate and we love…and we tell people what we hate or love, quite often. Without jumping on the extreme feelings bandwagon, may I share a few thoughts? Thanks.

In my perfect social media world, people would write funny stories about things that happen at work, or at home, or at the grocery store or the gas station. There would be no “shares” or “likes”. The only option would be comments, and that option would have an on/off switch. We would only post original pictures that we took ourselves, and there would be NO contests to win cowboy boots. Snarky comments disguised as funny pictures would not exist, because people would realize they could be taken the wrong way and wouldn’t post them.

Yes, I realize I want to live in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. It’s happier there.

I do not understand the idea of adding a comment box at the bottom of every single post, whether on social media or on the news. I just don’t know why opinions are as valuable as we make them to be. I mean, I have lots of opinions. I share them with the ones I love who will understand me and where I’m coming from. I just don’t assume that the rest of the world needs or wants to read what I think about politics, celebrity gossip, sports, human behavior, etc. I was taught that my thoughts were valuable, but that thinking before you speak (or write) is a social skill that will take you far in life. I was also taught to be kind.

Yes, I realize the irony of this post. It is my opinion. I get it. But might I, from the standpoint of someone who has used social media for a long time (and made a lot of mistakes in the process), offer this gentle advice? Consider what you say, and who will be reading it. Is it necessary? Will others benefit from it at all? Will they think more highly of you for saying it? If the answer to any of these is no…then I wouldn’t say it. It’s important in many cases to speak up, but not in every case.

My mom is really good at knowing when to share her thoughts and when to keep them to herself. She has navigated the waters of being a minister’s wife with so much grace and social-savviness. I admire this about her. My pastor’s wife is the same way. She’s one of my heroes in knowing how to relate to others. Every single time I talk to her, I walk away happier. That’s a skill, y’all. She doesn’t drag down the conversation with her own opinions, and even when I get carried away with mine, she steers our words back to what is positive. Everybody loves her, and this is largely the reason why.

So, as far as our opinions go, Jesus is our model. He knew when to speak, and when to be quiet. He knows your opinion. If you disagree with something, tell him. Face your problems, don’t Facebook them.

To the many of you who make me laugh, encourage and uplift me on a regular basis through social media…many, many thanks. You are “liked”.


June 14, 2013 at 2:57 am 1 comment

He Loves Us.

Music is always playing in my home, car, head…anywhere I can hear it. I’m not a music aficionado. I don’t listen to new, unheard of bands so I can impress my friends. I usually learn to like an artist way after everyone else does. I stick to my favorites, and play them over and over and over…and over.

Lately, I’ve had The David Crowder band on constant play. That is, when I’m not listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack or the Showtunes Pandora station. Not long ago, I didn’t care for Crowder, for no particular reason. I just didn’t dig him. That changed for me last year, when Michael and I watched the Passion conference online and we saw the band perform together for the last time at Passion. It was mesmerizing, because it was so obvious that the men on the stage LOVED making music. Yes, they loved worshipping, that was obvious, but they seemed to really have fun playing instruments and singing and the way the notes and the words came together to glorify God. It was inspiring to me to watch them. I began to think about whether I was really enjoying the process of making music when I sang, or if I was just singing. I don’t play an instrument. I mean, I know how to read music, and I can pick out a tune on the piano, but practice really does make perfect and that was my downfall. So I just use my voice, such that it is, and while I’m just a church singer at best, I want to make sure that I’m truly loving the process of singing and conveying the message through the song.

Of course, David Crowder’s best known song is “How He Loves”. If you’ve listened to Christian radio at all in the last several years you’ve heard it. The chorus says, “He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves.” I didn’t want to like that. It was too repetitive. But then you listen to the verse and the bridge and they’re filled with beautiful language that form a love poem about how much we are adored by our Father. The simple chorus is a great contrast to phrases like, “We are His portion, and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” Those words give me chills.

Now I know I’m late to the party on writing praise for this song. I know it’s been out for several years. I know everyone is kind of over it by now. But here’s the thing: although I’ve known it for years, it has recently become new to me. Our choir is learning an arrangement of it, and I’ve been asked to sing the solo. When I was asked to sing it, I wanted to jump up and down and fist pump the air, but I didn’t. I stayed cool and said, “Oh yeah, I know that song.” I was excited because in January, when Crowder sang it at Passion 2013, I heard sixty thousand voices singing those beginning lyrics, “He is jealous for me…” and it shook me. Everybody knew it, and everybody was so completely aware in that very moment how much we are loved by God. It was a moment I’ll never get over.

So fast forward to this week: Wednesday night, we were singing it in choir practice and I was cruising along through the first verse and I sang these words, “All of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory”. Just typing that right now makes me stop. ALL OF  A SUDDEN. When I think of that phrase, I think of someone jumping out at me. Boo! All of a sudden. Or if my hand slips and I drop something. All of a sudden. The phrase evokes an instant reaction. It makes me think about being startled, or even scared. Maybe shock is a good word. You get the idea. So when I think of things that happen all of a sudden, they’re actions. But this says that all of a sudden, I’m no longer aware of the things that are wrong with me, or the circumstances that I don’t like, or the things in my life that I let bring me down. My AFFLICTIONS.

I think sometimes we love our afflictions. We don’t LIKE them, but we secretly love them, because if we didn’t have them, we’d have nothing to talk about to our friends and family. I know I’m guilty of this. I have heard myself say, “Well I….” and then share about how hard things are for me right then. I always leave those conversations disgusted with myself for doing that, because I don’t like it when others do that to me. Yes, I know this is really honest, but I know you all know what I mean. I think we identify ourselves with our afflictions and we get so distracted from knowing who we are in Christ and forget that our identity is in Him, because wearing our afflictions means that we can have conversations and get attention. (I might as well just show you my journal, because I’m writing to myself here.)

Wednesday night, when I was singing those words about being instantly so aware of God’s glory that I was completely unaware of my own problems and pain, I found myself filled with a huge longing for that very thing. My heart was screaming out, “YES! That’s what I want! I don’t want to wear my afflictions anymore like an ugly dress. I want to see nothing but His glory!”

Then the next part brings me great comfort and dazzles me at the same time: “And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.”

When I’m stunned by His glory, and made completely ignorant of my own issues, I can see how beautiful He is. When I’m focused on my junk, I see parts of Him when He allows me to see. I miss the whole picture of how beautiful He truly is. And then how GREAT HIS AFFECTIONS are for me. Affections, with an S! He has multiple affections for me! I’d be thrilled with just one! I love the word affection. I feel affectionate toward my children. I show affection to my husband. It’s a sweet, loving, giddy feeling sort of word, that we use when we are just over the moon about someone. To know that God not only loves me, but feels loving toward me, takes my breath away.

I don’t deserve it. I know I don’t. But if I dwell on all the reasons why, I begin to focus on those afflictions again. So I choose to focus on His beauty. I read somewhere that yes, we are sinners, but God sees us as saints. So, if we continue to refer to ourselves as sinners (although we are), if we associate ourselves with that title, we will continue to sin. If we change how we think of ourselves, if we associate ourselves with saints, then our focus in on how He sees us, which changes our thought life, which changes our behavior. I know that’s kind of chasing a rabbit, but I’ve always liked that reasoning.

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.

I’m changed by that very thought today. I pray it will continue to change me, comfort me, and become my identity. I want to wear His love like a beautiful garment. I want my praise to be what I put on every day because I am living and breathing worship to Him. I want everything to be eclipsed by His glory.

I pray you know how much He loves you too.

March 9, 2013 at 4:28 am 1 comment


Once again, life has gotten in the way of writing about life. My mom asked me for pictures of my kids the other day. She said, “You know, since we all use digital cameras, I don’t get pictures from y’all anymore.” I told her that I actually have fewer pictures this year that I’ve taken myself. When I’m in the moment, I forget to capture it for posterity. I try to be “all there” with whatever I’m doing, and the result is much fewer pictures! It’s been the same with writing. When I’m fully involved in what I’m doing, then I write a post in my head, but once the moment is over, the post has lost the luster and it ends up in my mental draft folder, where all good stories go to die.

But today, right now, I need to speak my mind on 2011.

It will go down as one of my least favorite years, ever.

It has been pockmarked with grief, of which I had experienced very little of in my 34 years. Losing my Papaw in April made the reality of losing my Mamaw more acute and for months, and even still now, I find myself feeling covered in a sadness that I cannot explain. My tears fall more frequently, and for no reason. There were many, many days that I found it hard to breathe. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I used to be skeptical of girls in junior high who would hear something sad and try to get attention by saying, “Y’all! I just can’t breathe right now!” and I was afraid I was being trivial. The truth is that grief is a weird process. It affects everyone differently. It can bring about physical problems. It hurts. It takes a long time to deal with.

I had no idea about any of that.

This year has also been littered with disappointment. We have been waiting for a change in our circumstances for years. We’ve prayed for God to change our lives, for God to change us, for God to change our perspective, for God to change whatever He wants to change…and things are still the same. Because I’m a pleaser, and I try so hard to always do the right thing, I keep feeling like there is some sort of puzzle piece I’m not finding. I feel like there’s something I’m missing with God, that maybe He’s waiting on me to do something or say something that will cause Him to say, “You got it! Now I’ll answer your prayers!”

That is so far from how the sovereignty of God plays out in our lives. Following Jesus is not a game show. I heard a sermon a few months ago that talked about this time of waiting. The preacher spoke about a time when God is not speaking or seems to not be working. He said the greatest time of testing was also the greatest time of trusting. It’s ironic, one of my strongest spiritual gifts is Faith, yet I’ve had the biggest crisis of belief during this time than I’ve ever had. I’ve had moments of asking my heavenly Father if He cares about us at all. I’ve wondered if He was too busy bringing about good things to other people that He has overlooked us. I’ve found myself overcommitting, hoping that my actions will please Him enough to get His attention and help us out.

What I was NOT doing was trusting.

This year has also been full of my own personal growth, which we all know is painful. I struggle terribly with comparing myself to others, and I’m learning that doing that will kill me on the inside if it doesn’t stop. I struggle with confidence in my abilities. I have a fear of working hard on something that matters to me, and finding out that it wasn’t good enough. As a result of this fear, I don’t try. I don’t work hard on things that I could excel at if I put forth the effort. I paralyze myself with untrue thoughts that people with my gifts are a dime a dozen and anyone else could do what I do. It’s a debilitating process, and my creativity is slowly getting buried under a mountain of self-doubt, comparison and insecurity. I settle for mediocre, when I know God has created me for extraordinary. I read the words of others, hear the songs of others, see the influence of others, and assume there is no room for me. I tell myself that God has used all the people He can use right now, and I just need to keep doing my everyday life.

But God’s word tells me that His plan for me is for a future. A hope. An abundant life. A life beyond what I could ever imagine.

If I believe that, I have to believe there is room for me there.

So it’s been a rough year. I’m ready for bedtime on Saturday night. I actually think I might feel relieved to see the calendar change.

I have big hopes for 2012. I have goals. I have things on my calendar that I’ve looked forward to for years. I also have prayers that need to be answered. I have talents that need to be honed. I have words that need to be said. I have lessons that need to be learned. I have pounds that need to be lost. (It IS New Year’s, after all.)

Before I hit “publish” on this personal confession of my weaknesses, let me say that there are things from this year that do stand out as some of the brightest moments, not only of 2011, but of my whole life.

Like when my friend in England got on her knees and prayed the most heartfelt prayer asking Jesus to take control of her life. I was with her and held her hands. I’ll never forget it.

Also, while in England, Michael and I ate dinner with some of the best families I know. We ate a Jamaican meal at the home of Tony and Audrey and I will never forget the love and laughter at the table. All because of Jesus. We ate at with Andrew and Wendie, and their boys and I saw a family who is striving to live like Jesus in a community that is not. They are beautiful people and I am encouraged even today by their faith. Every night, at my friends Bethan and David’s house, we would sit at the kitchen table and eat a late snack and share our thoughts about life with one another. My friend Michelle, who made the trip with me the year before, would sit there in her sweatshirt and pajama pants, looking all of 16 years old and make us laugh. Those pictures in my mind, as well as so many others from that week, are more precious to me than gold.

My parents took my family and my brother’s family to the mountains for the Fourth of July weekend. We made a trip with two vehicles, six adults and six kids. It was monumental…and so much fun. We laughed at the kids the entire time, and they were wonderful.

My kids have grown. They are best of friends and truly love each other. They are bright, funny, creative, and have a keen sense of right and wrong. They are exactly what I prayed for, and I love being their mom.

My marriage has grown. Dealing with grief and disappointment has taken a toll. Thankfully, I’m married to one who doesn’t give up. His faith in God is unshakeable. He is such a gift to me.

2012, I’m ready for you. I’m ready to see what God is going to do this year. My expectations are high, and I’m trusting. Yes, I’m trusting and I know He’s working. And we will go where He says go, and do what He tells us to do.

December 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm 1 comment

Some Thoughts on Some Things

Let’s just get straight to it:

1. The Personhood Amendment that the State of Mississippi votes on next week is totally ruining my Facebook time. Everybody has an opinion and feels like the internet is their personal platform, and the world is waiting to hear what they have to say about it. I will not talk about how I feel about the amendment, but I will say that calling people stupid because they don’t think like you do is immature. The comments I’ve read in the last twenty-four hours would border on bullying. Every person can and should make up their own mind. I no longer hope for world peace. I just would love some social media peace.

2. I heard a sermon that shook me up last night. The third point of the sermon (the other three points were great, but point three got to me) was about when God is silent. When you beg and beg and hope and pray for God to give you a ministry, or just show that He’s hearing and working, and you don’t hear anything…what do you do? If you’ve read this blog in the last week or so, I’ve had those questions. I’m contemplating writing a series on waiting. Waiting on an answered prayer is hard. Waiting when you know you’ve been called but hear nothing, is almost impossible. Only by the grace of God can you go each day with no answer, and still have hope.

3. October was a bad month. Pretty much every day stunk. It’s now November. My dad, Michael and Molly all have birthdays this month. Plus, I get to deliberately be thankful every day. I also get to cook my special cranberry sauce. Oh, and pumpkin spice cake and if Michael is nice to me, chocolate chip pecan pie. I’m really happy November is here.

4. I have about 6 loads of laundry piled on my bed, unfolded. It’s frightening. I’m about to go find a movie to watch and get to foldin’.

5. In the last week, I’ve heard about several people I know and love battling cancer. I’m watching my community grieve over the loss of three young men who were very well loved. I read about a precious little boy who was hit by a car, and the elderly man that now faces charges for hitting him. All of these things seem so big, and certainly worth more of a mention than being #5 on a list on a blog…but it’s on my mind and I need to talk about it. People are hurting. Pain and sickness and anger and hurt and loss is lying on our hearts like a wet blanket. More than ever, we have to be salt and light to a world that is suffering. We have to love our neighbors. We have to extend kindness and forgiveness. We have to treat others better than ourselves. We have to speak the gospel, so that we will have done everything we can to make sure we and everyone we love is ready when it’s time. We are not promised happiness and a long life on earth. We are promised hope, and peace and joy and a relationship with a perfect Father who will never leave us or forsake us. Knowing Christ is not about getting to go to heaven. It’s about giving up yourself and following Him and letting Him change you and make you like Him. If it was only about heaven, then we’d die the minute we were saved because the only way to know Him is to be with Him. But we don’t die, we are here on earth, and we must know Him by knowing who He is and what He wants us to do.

6. I have a tendency to go on and on when it’s something I care about.

7. I care a lot about people knowing Jesus.

8. My mom and I are working on a song to sing in church that is Ah-Maze-Ing. We’re fired up.

9. I feel better now that I’ve said what’s on my mind. I promise, I want to be lighthearted and funny, but I haven’t had much of that lately.

10. Except my kids. They’re funny all the time. I’ll leave you with a picture of my baby. We were passing the time in the dentist waiting room…

This is her excited face.

I have no idea what this face is.

Yes, we wear sequins to the dentist. You don’t?

And here are my two Princess Leias. One is wearing a pair of Chuck Taylors. They both are armed with Nerf guns. The white dresses were “borrowed” from the angel costume supply at church. (Don’t worry, church people. I’m washing them, and will have them back in the closet ASAP).

When you don’t make up your mind until 3pm on October 31, you take what you get.

November 3, 2011 at 3:59 am Leave a comment

Maybe I Should Be a Deacon

I’m not a girly girl.

I love being female. I love a lot of female things, like shopping, pedicures (I’ve had three in my whole life), Pride and Prejudice, and the color pink.

I struggle, however, with a lot of things identified with being female. For example, the Twilight series. Seriously? Vampires in love? It’s all just weird to me. Another thing that gets my goat is when a type of jewelry becomes trendy and “everyone” has to have it. Hand stamped necklaces? Trees of life? I can’t think of any others off the top of my head, simply because I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THE EVER CHANGING JEWELRY TRENDS.

But my biggest, and most personal issue with women deals with the church. Women’s ministry. It’s not my thing, and here’s why:

1. I feel really uncomfortable in big groups of women. I feel very un-cute. I feel like I’m supposed to be wearing my finest frock, and be cute and witty. I’m not. Small talk is not something I’m good at. I don’t like saying, “I’m fine, how are you?” forty-seven times, especially when I’m not fine. But I also don’t like saying, “Things are not good for us right now. We’re struggling with some stuff” and have someone give me a smile that doesn’t reach their eyes and say, “Oh, girl. I’ll be praying for you”, when I know they won’t. What their tone and body language tell me is that she’s thinking, “this girl has issues, I need to get over to those cute girls who are having much more fun.”

2. Most women speakers just talk about how to be a godly wife and mother. I’ve heard it all. But you know what? There’s more to me. I struggle with reading blogs and books written by Christian women and they all say the same thing: “I have all these dreams and callings, and now my days are filled with diapers, and God has changed my heart and I will glorify Him in the poop.” That’s very noble and all, but when I’m dealing with poop, I just don’t see the glory of God. Some might say I’m unspiritual when I say that. I do think God is glorified in our homes every day, and being a wife and mom is the highest calling, but at what point did God stop dealing with us personally and give us over to our husbands and kids and their desires? My understanding of submission is to respond to being loved “as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her”. It’s a response, not a relinquishment of all of our goals and dreams.

3. My life is messy. I have three kids that are creative and fun. We are on the tightest budget we’ve been on in years. Times are tough right now. The impression I get from women’s blogs is “have a beautiful home”, “make pretty clothes if you can’t afford them”, “entertain friends, make cute food, and don’t worry if your dishes came from Walmart”. Women take time to go paint pictures together, get their nails done together, meet at Starbucks or go shopping. Right now, in my life, I can’t do any of those. Our schedule and budget don’t allow it. But the “cool girls” in women’s ministry give the impression that you should find a way to make your home pretty with a can of spray paint and a glue gun, and have a party with friends and a DIY coffee bar while you do it! I have great friends, but none of us can do that right now. So where is the voice of the messy? Who speaks for those of us who have are trying to put thoughts together on a blog while two of our children are sword fighting right next to our head? I know nobody expects me to be perfect, but I do sense an expectation to be attractive, all the time. I’m not. My life is not. And I have a great life. It’s just not what the influencers in women’s ministry today would expect.

So what would women’s ministry look like to me? I don’t know! So I probably shouldn’t complain, should I? Some of the finest, most precious women I know are leaders in women’s ministry. The issue is mine, not theirs. No ministry, no matter how well done, will work perfectly. I just wish women actually ministered to one another, and went beyond the hair discussions. I would love to know that my not-new clothes and toys on the floor were okay. I don’t live in a gated neighborhood with covenants and a pool. I don’t drop my youngest child at mother’s day out and head to Starbucks. We live within our means, and that means I don’t participate in the “ministry opportunities” that involve writing a check to every cause. But I love my life. I’m deeply loved by my family, and they understand me and accept me. They minister to me, and offer me real relationships. I am loved by my friends. They make me laugh, and don’t ask more of me than I can give. They teach me to love those who aren’t exactly like me, and I’m honored to know them.

In a sense, as a woman, I am ministered to by my family and friends. Maybe I feel uncomfortable in groups of women because I don’t have a need to be ministered to by them. I hope that the women who DO have that need can find a group of women who will truly do just that.

Or we’ll just have to petition to become deacons and hang out with the guys.

(That wouldn’t go over well in my world.)

October 24, 2011 at 2:16 am 3 comments

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