About Me

My photo
Stockbridge, Ga, United States
I am married to the love of my life and blessed to be the mom of 6 amazing kids, 5 here on earth and one I long to see again in heaven. We are entering our third decade of parenting together, and love all the blessings along this journey. I am a homeschool mom,a writer, a trainer, and a speaker, but mostly I am a sinner saved by grace who desperately desires to encourage others on this path and to live a life that brings Glory to the One who saved me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


If I were to ask my Christian friends what they saw in this picture, I would imagine I would get various answers all centered around their faith. Some would talk about Jesus on the cross, others maybe would tell about the thief on the cross who hung beside Him. Some might tell about God's grace, or His redemption or how He has changed their lives. All of those are good things to see in this picture.

But I see all those things and so much more.

When I look at this picture, I see home.

When I was a teenager, my parents ran a Methodist children's camp in Central Florida. I grew up on an 18 acre property surrounded by two lakes and 8 cabins where a hundred different fifth and sixth graders filled the property all summer long. There was swimming and fun-yacking (our version of canoes!) and crafts and chapel and four-square. During the summer it was loud and crazy and I loved every moment.

During the other months we often had weekend adult groups who filled the cabins, but the camp was a pretty serene place the rest of the time.

Every Easter morning the entire Brandon Community would bring their lawn chairs in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate our Risen Savior facing the most spectacular sunrise. I mean really, when the crosses looked this beautiful during an ordinary day, can you imagine what they would look like when God showed up and showed out on a celebration of His Son?

Well, sort of like this.

Pretty amazing, right?

So when I see these amazing crosses, I see home.

My mind goes to the place where I found lifetime friendships and lifetime experiences; the place where I had my first kiss and the place where I married the love of my life in a gazebo built in my favorite spot by my father and brother for this very purpose.

And the place where I knelt down at an altar on a hard concrete floor during a Friday night chapel service and I knew without question that my life would never be the same.

And now, nearly (dare I say it?) 31 years later, the same emotion rises in my spirit when I think about that camp and those crosses.

Since those summers so many years ago, I have found a home in many cities and many places. Job opportunities led us across the state, and ultimately to Georgia.

But no matter where I have lived, I love that my home will always be centered around one amazing image, three crosses.

Because wherever life takes me and whatever path God asks me to walk, home will always be the knowing that once I committed my life to His work, He set my life on a course designed for my good and for His Glory.

And there is nothing greater in the world than knowing that the Creator of the universe chooses to find a home in my heart and in my life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Finding our Identity

I feel just like this bird sometimes.

He seems a bit confused, yet strangely secure and confident in his confusion.

I have no idea what kind of bird it is, though if you asked him, I doubt he would know either. We snapped this pic at the zoo a few years back because he just seems so different, so bizarre.

If you were to find one of his feathers around, you really wouldn't have any idea what he is either, especially if you found one with only one color. The yellow might be a canary, the red a cardinal, but how could all these colors fit into one bird?

I do feel like this bird sometimes.

Sometimes I am so busy trying to figure out who I am that even I don't really know the answer. For this moment should I play the part of the mom, or the wife, or the daughter, sister or friend? Am I what my job description says I am?

For a long time I saw myself as my profession. I was a trainer and a speaker and a curriculum designer. I was an expert in whatever I taught for the day. I was confident in that title and in that ability.

But as that title shifted I found that confidence wavering again.

Then I pursued my ministerial credentials and wondered should I try to be known as a pastor, or a missionary, or an evangelist or an author?

For many seasons, I have been the mom to infants, and some toddlers, and to school age kids, and to adults and now all of those combined. I have been the home school mom which makes me the teacher, and the hospital mom which made me the caretaker. I have been the sports mom for a few brief seasons but the music mom for many more.

So for a while I saw myself as my role in our family.

But when we are self-employed, those roles merge quite frequently and it's tough to know which ones to prioritize first.

Isn't it simply amazing to know that when our identity is found in Christ, it keeps our lives from being cluttered by all of the shadowing identities that the world tries to force on us?

See, I don't have to be known by my political stance, my denominational beliefs, my family roles, my income or any of the other outrageous expectations that me and the world tend to throw at me.

Because I am simply a sinner who is saved by grace and loved by the Creator of the Universe who wants all things for my good and His glory.

My identity is secure without having to search and without having to label and without having to wonder.

I am simply His. And this is really all I need to be anyway.

Everything else is just the colors of my feathers that make me uniquely His.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Restoring Life to the Broken Places

I originally wrote this several years ago, but I needed to hear it again today and thought perhaps someone else did too. 

As I look out my bedroom window, I see the broken tree that once was a source of irritation now as a source of life. 

It was struck by lightning several years before we moved here and was slowly dying inside as the years passed. We didn’t know this until the inside of the tree revealed the truth about its history and trauma. One afternoon while eating lunch, my husband and I heard a loud boom as the top of the massive tree tumbled into the barn that we had hoped to someday turn into a mother-in-law suite. The tree crashed through the top floor of the barn and destroyed most of the furnishings we had there. The tree that looked so healthy on the outside was nothing but a hollowed, decaying mess on the inside. The insurance surveyor showed us a dark line around the middle of the trunk where the lightning once struck. Everything above that line was broken and lifeless, only we didn’t know it until the heavy winds proved it to be true. 

            The leftover stump of this tree is about 15 feet high. Finances didn’t allow us to actually remove the stump at the time, and we were assured that all of the dangerous parts fell off in the crash. So each time I look out my window at our beautiful wooded backyard, I see this strange, curved, broken, dead tree stump in the midst of all of the other healthy trees and become irritated that we never had the ability to just remove this old, worthless tree. 

Two years after that happened we made a discovery that has changed my whole perspective of that tree. In the middle of suburban Georgia with a major road only half a mile from our home, a couple of Barred Owls have decided to use our old tree as the spot to raise their new family. The male and a female, both of whom we have only seen once or twice a year prior to this, have found  a safe place to keep their eggs, a place high enough up that predators can’t reach it and man can’t explore it. These massive, beautiful birds now live in our backyard among the squirrels, chipmunks and other birds. A few days ago, two new little birds emerged from that old stump and new life began where once was only death. Each evening we watch as the little ones poke their head from the top of that tree and look around their new world as they wait for Mom and Dad to deliver the food they will need until they are strong enough to get it on their own. They are fuzzy and have no feathers, but over the next few weeks they will not look very different from the majestic parents who have cared for them up to this point.

I feel like that broken tree sometimes. I have had times where God has used me and I felt alive and useful and that somehow I could give back to the One who has given so much to me. There have been times when I could bless others with the shade from my branches and the rest in my counsel and wisdom for others. But then there are broken moments when I feel as useless as that old tree. How can I give when the life has been sucked out of me? How can I bless others financially when every bill collector threatens to cut off our very existence? How can I share the message of Life when things are decaying around me? 

Perhaps you feel like that tree too. Has lightning struck you in places where you doubt you will ever see life again? Maybe the lightning came from broken relationships, or broken dreams. Maybe yours was all at once through a divorce, or miscarriage or diagnosis, or maybe you have been dying a little at a time and have no idea how to reverse this trend. You are very much like that old tree if you feel useless in your calling; that God is either finished using you or has no intention to ever start. Do you want desperately to see fruits in your life but know that fruit can’t grow from a dead place so you have given up trying? Do you struggle to keep things looking green and healthy on the outside but know that it’s only a matter of time before the winds come and the world sees that everything is just empty inside?  Don’t despair. The Giver of Life can use you and restore you to a place where life springs forth and fruits come in abundance. 

With our old tree, there was a time of waiting. It took time for the tree to be weathered away and just the right fit for our family of owls to nest there. It took the sun and the cold and the wind and the storms over the last few years to make that trunk ready for the life to come out it. So it is with our lives. In the midst of it all, there are winds we must face that make us stronger, and storms that make us know who our Redeemer truly is. And sometimes worse than the storms is the time of calmness in between the trials. It is these times that the tree must have felt ready to burst forth in life, but for whatever reason it was not the right timing. Oh how difficult those times of waiting are in our lives! 

Before the mother owl was able to build her nest in that old trunk, she must have had a number of things to remove first in order to make room for her eggs. Fallen leaves may have made a soft nest for her little ones, but old branches and other trash had to go before she knew that it was the right place to start her family. Sometimes it hurts when God removes those painful, distracting parts of our lives, but it is always, ultimately to prepare a heart that’s soft and compassionate, and a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell. 

So if you are broken and feeling empty and not sure if there is any life left in you, rest in the assurance that God can use any heart that is fully surrendered to Him. Ask Him to heal the place where the lightning struck and where the death began to creep into your world. Give Him the hard, rough parts that are holding you back and let Him remove them and replace them with the foundation for fruit to grow and flourish. Surrender the broken feelings and trust that He will never deny a broken and contrite heart. The Author of Life can restore life back into your broken places when your heart finds repentance and your life is surrendered to all that He has for you. 

There is life waiting to burst forth in you. How glorious this life will be when the waiting is over and your faithfulness is honored. Let nothing stand in the way of letting Him fill you with a new life in Him. What He says He will do, He will do.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Of Workshop and Sawdust

    I am the daughter of a woodworker. Now, if you asked my father, he would probably deny that saying that woodworking was simply something that he toyed with, but I always knew the truth. Some of my fondest memories of my teenage years involved being in my dad’s workshop helping him create the latest masterpiece. In all fairness, he did the work and I did a lot of the talking, but still being there with him helped me feel like I was actually doing some of the work. The projects ranged from gingerbread men and elves in massive quantities for the church fair to special surprise furnishings for my mom for holidays to a steamboat costume for me for a state parade where I was Mississippi. We talked a lot and we laughed a lot amidst the sawdust and machines, and that workshop became a haven for me as I awkwardly paced my way through adolescence. 

    Now fast forward (dare I say it?) almost 30 years later, and I wish I would have spent more time actually paying attention to the skills Dad wanted to teach me instead of doing all of the talking. Over the years I have found myself fairly helpless around some pretty basic household wood projects, and I realize that I missed a beautiful opportunity to learn a skill I didn’t know then how much I would love to have now. With retirement and health issues, the tools have all moved from his workshop, and that season for hands-on learning from him has passed me by. I missed it.
But there are some things I didn’t miss in that Camp workshop, lessons I have carried and used again and again throughout my life. 

·         You have to make mistakes in order to get to the finished product. In the workshop, mistakes were called “firewood”. Over the years there was always plenty of firewood to fuel our ac-induced Florida fireplace for an entire winter. But they were never a big deal. Frustrating at times? Yes. But I watched time and again how Dad pulled out another piece of wood and started again. Firewood was never good enough for the vision of a finished product that his mind had already seen. Several of those projects are still in my home today.

·         If it’s worth doing at all, it is worth doing WELL. Among the piles of firewood and sawdust were a host of beautiful pieces that my Dad could take pride in completing because he knew he had followed through to the end, even when the path to get there was tough at times. 

·         Learning is important in all areas. You never know when learning in other areas will apply to the area you need now. I will never forget the box with the perfectly curved cover that my dad had envisioned for my mom. No project ever earned more firewood, more frustration, more select words and more determination than that box. It was probably even more frustrating when he finally asked me how to figure out the angle of all those boards and I scribbled out the geometric equation that solved it perfectly. Geometry and hobbies…who knew? 

And my favorite…

·         If someone else has ever done this task, you can learn from them and do it yourself. My Dad has always loved books and how-to manuals have become his lifeline to learning things he never dreamed he could do. If he sees something he likes, he figures out how to build it.  My favorite memory here is visiting a craft and furniture store that had a model of a cabinet my dad intended to build for my mom. He needed measurements, so he took this daughter along with a tape measure so I could get under the cabinet and get all the measurements while he distracted the clerk.  After several visits and a probably very suspicious clerk, he finally fessed up and told him what we were doing. The clerk laughed and assured us that he was a woodworker who often did the same thing. And over the years there have been more items than I care to count that I have measured, looked for patterns in books and on-line, and figured out how to replicate, a skill I am certain began in that furniture store.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Failed idol auditions

It’s Idol season again.

    I’ve watched nearly every season since it showed up 12 years ago.
It’s not that I am a big pop music fan. Most of the songs they sing on the show I have never even heard of, except when they do Elvis week, or music from the 50’s and 60’s that I heard growing up with my parents oldies stations. It’s really not about the music for me.
Let’s be honest. The reason my family loves to sit around the TV during this show is not about the great talent, or the music or even the drama from the judges. The real draw of this show is the auditions. The REALLY BAD auditions.

   If you have somehow lived in a bubble for the last 12 years and haven’t actually caught an episode of American Idol, it goes something like this. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country fill huge auditoriums and wait in day long lines to get their chance to have one minute to sing in front of a panel of judges. Each one believes with all their heart that they are the next music star, and many cross through obstacle after obstacle to have their chance to show the world their talent and win the million dollar contract.
But only one person gets to win.

    That leads to weeks and weeks of auditions to narrow the field and bring the best to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. And weeks and weeks of terrible auditions to choose the few talented enough to actually make it through. And that is our favorite part.

   Some of these make us laugh so hard our sides hurt. Person after person walks to the stage in ridiculous outfits with some of the worst singing we have ever heard and dance moves to match. And most of them have no idea how truly bad they are. They are simply shocked at the judges’ responses.
And that brings me to a question. Don’t they have anyone in their lives who was willing to be honest enough to spare them from this embarrassment? Why didn’t anyone ever tell them that maybe a career in music was simply not their calling? It seems a lot of tears could have been spared and a lot of energy could have been put into better things. Or worse, maybe someone did tell them and they didn’t listen? Maybe they decided to pursue their dreams in spite of the naysayers; which, I suppose is good IF you actually have the talent needed to make the dream happen… which of course, they don’t.

I wonder how many of us are auditioning for the judge in very much the same way.

   Maybe we don’t wear flashy costumes or try to move our feet to some catchy rhythm, but I wonder how many of us think we are really great at something but are really only deceiving ourselves.

   Maybe we are living our lives to hear our Ultimate Judge say, “Well done good and faithful servant”, only to Hear Him say that He never really knew us and that our walk was more of a bad audition than a life lived honestly.
What if we have convinced ourselves that we are sharing the Gospel ENOUGH, giving to the poor ENOUGH, moving in the fruits of the Spirit ENOUGH? What if we should have been walking out our salvation more to do better at living a life with all that God has for us instead of adding a bit more flash and trying to make ourselves look better for the Judge?

   What if others have tried to tell us that what they hear from us is different from what they see acted out in our lives? What if instead of getting defensive about being called a hypocrite we actually took steps to change our hearts and actually line up our words to our actions?

   So it comes down to this. Each of us will have to face our Judge one day, and it won’t be Randy or Simon making jokes about whether or not we measured up. There will only be one time to show Him that we have been faithful to all that He has asked us to do.
But will He find us faithful or will our lives be shown to be a mirage of the real thing?