Hiding Place

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Do you ever feel like you need a hiding place? A temporary escape from the word? Let’s face it, at some point in our lives (maybe several points), we may find the refrain from Ray Price’s “Make the World go Away” playing through our heads.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I need a hiding place. Often times I will just get in the car and drive to no place in particular, tears streaking my face, asking God questions I need answers to. Yesterday was one of those days. It was my “first” Mother’s Day, as I am carrying life in my womb at 27 weeks and 4 days, yet it was the first day fear began to grip hold of me. Will I be a good mom? Will I have meltdowns in front of my child? Will I have the help I need raising this child with Casey’s work schedule and family relationships that aren’t as close as they once were? What about mom’s care and all I do for her?

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The truth of the matter is that yes, I have my faith, but none of us have “arrived” yet. I am a lot better than I once was, but there is always progress to be made. I understand that being human isn’t an excuse to act fleshly, but it takes the pressure off of expectations that we so often place on ourselves. Do I trust the Lord, yes. Am I constantly being given more opportunities to trust Him, you bet.

During my devotional time this morning I was reading Psalm 32 and verse 7 stopped me in my tracks:

“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

My eyes scanned the verse several more times. Hiding place. Protection. Songs of deliverance. The Free Dictionary defines deliverance as “rescue from bondage or danger.” So first the Lord will be a hiding place for us. I think back to when he hid Moses in the cleft of the rock with His hand. In Him we will find protection, and He will proceed to sing songs of freedom over us. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from depression. Freedom from fear. Freedom from guilt and shame. Freedom from whatever it is that is keeping us in bondage. The song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music comes to mind. I know I have shared it in the past (It’s one of my FAVES), but I feel like it needs to be shared again.

“I am surrounded, by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded, with songs of deliverance. We’ve been liberated from our bondage. We’re the sons and the daughters. Let us sing our freedom.”

We have a Father. We have a hiding place. We have FREEDOM. Thank you Jesus. And thank you Mical for sharing this song with me way back when. ❤

Take Courage

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Photo I took Wednesday at Pass-a-Grille beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. The water was so still, so calm . . .

It’s been about and hour and half since my phone rang at 4:20am. Since I have it set to “do not disturb” where only certain numbers come through, I knew who it was: Mom’s nurse at her assisted living facility. She went to the hospital last week after laying on the floor most of the night after a fall. This morning the nurse said she had a laceration on her arm and her knee but was confused and didn’t recall falling. She also told me there was blood in her room on one of her figurines . . . (Mom had called the nurse from the bathroom).

She asked mom if she wanted to go to the hospital and she said no. So, she asked what I wanted to do. I advised her to keep an eye on her and I’d call in the morning (later on in the morning) to check in. I had just talked to mom last night and while she has been having issues remembering little things and I knew she is still sick and weak, she seemed “okay”.

I laid there in bed attempting to fall back asleep, holding my belly, feeling Little One move about, and my mind started going a million miles a minute. I thought about mom and all that is going on with her. I thought about my ankle and the pain I have been experiencing from day-to-day activities. I thought about my baby and the troubles he or she would experience in this life.

Then the Lord took hold of me. (Really, He never let me go.) I kept hearing the chorus of a Bethel Music song run through my mind, “Take courage my soul. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting.”

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I began to recite Psalm 23 in my mind. I began to meditate on the hope believers have in Him. Life is but a test for what is to come in eternity and how we navigate through this life will determine how eternity is spent even as believers, as we will stand before the judgement seat and give account for all we did good and bad (1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 22:12). Oh how I long to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

But I must take courage. You must take courage. Mom must take courage. We ALL must take courage in this life.

And with that, I hear the first bird singing morning salutations. It’s as if he or she is shouting, “Take courage!” May you find the courage you need in the One who is above all things and worthy to be trusted. Enjoy this song, and this day!

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Promise After the Storm

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Rainbow over my neighbors house. She recently lost her husband and I texted this to her.

“Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” -Genesis 9:14-15

It’s been awhile! I thought I should pop on for a quick post to update my follower’s on what is going on with me. I am back in school another semester but this will be my last . . .

My promise after the storm is on its way . . . I am 14 weeks pregnant! Casey and I saw the heartbeat at 7 weeks on December 22nd, and at 11 weeks and 2 days I heard baby’s heartbeat through a fetal Doppler! We are super excited and trusting the Lord completely as we know that we aren’t in the “clear” until that baby is in our arms.

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Our announcement on New Year’s Eve!

The Lord has really been working on me lately as I did a 23 day fast from FB and have been practicing spiritual disciplines from classes I am taking in school (Old Testament Survey, Theology 2, Evangelism & Mission, Christian Spirituality, and Isaiah). I’ve had so many “God moments” that it’s overwhelming at times. I want those moments to become so commonplace for me that to not have them is cause for concern.

God is good. And He is faithful.

No matter where you find yourself, no matter what storm you are going through right now, don’t forget the promises of God. He loves you. He is for you. Keep your eyes to the sky and watch for the slightest glimpse of your rainbow. It’s there just beyond the clouds. I’m looking to the sky intently until my rainbow appears (around) August 10th. Be blessed! ❤

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Lizard Shenanigans

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Photo credit to http://www.wdw360.com

These little (sometimes big) guys are everywhere. If I let Dallas out on the back porch before going out and scaring them off, he’s sure to catch and kill one . . .

Yesterday I spotted a little guy (not THAT little) on the wall in our bedroom . . . I went to the kitchen, got a Tupperware bowl and a thin magazine in hopes of trapping it and sliding the magazine between the wall and bowl to contain it in order to release it outside.

I had no such luck.

The thing was so fast and I was afraid of squishing its fragile body with the rim of the bowl. It disappeared behind the wardrobe closet . . .

Once Casey came home he tried to find it with no luck. Bummer.

There have been many times over the years that I have found a dried up lizard around the house while cleaning. I know. It’s just a lizard. But it still stings a little. I think about the suffering it endured. The pain and fear of not knowing where to go, or how to get food or water. It is a slow death for the lizard.

This morning while getting ready my thoughts returned to the lizard. Where was he know? Did Dallas find him in the night and eat him? Is he still cowering in fear somewhere?

If only he would have trusted me to catch him so I could return him to his home.

I know what’s best for him. He needs to return to the great outdoors so he can be among other lizards and have food to eat.

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

But he thought he knew better, and in running from me, was running to his death.

This hit me hard this morning. How many times has the Father tried to gently, carefully, capture our hearts—our attention— to bring us home to our identity in Him, but we run in the opposite direction out of fear and misunderstanding? We run to that which won’t bring life, but instead will bring death, either physical or spiritual (or both)?

We compromise our faith by moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage in order to save money. We stop attending church because we feel too convicted and aren’t quite ready to take up our cross. We don’t tithe out of fear of not having enough in the future. All the while Papa is saying, “Come to me, I want to help you have life and have it more abundantly.”

I can relate to all of the above examples I gave. But I can attest to a life changed when I finally decided to let God capture me and to live a life obedient to His word. Casey and I didn’t move in together until after our wedding day. Our wedding night was our first night in the same bed. I used to avoid church because I knew I wasn’t living a lifestyle that brought honor or glory to God. Now I want to be in church because if there is anything in me that isn’t bringing Him glory, I want it to be brought to light so I can deal with it. I used to not tithe because I feared not having enough. Ha! Let me tell you . . . that’s a whole testimony in and of itself, but ever since I started tithing faithfully I have never been without. I’ve heard it said that tithing isn’t giving, it’s simply not stealing (10%). God has given us all that we have, and the only time He says to test Him in the Bible is with tithing. Casey and I are stepping out in faith and deciding to give more beyond the 10% God asks for. He is faithful. It all belongs to him anyway, and we can’t take it with us! 😉

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I’m not perfect. Trust me. However, I am constantly examining my life, my motives, my words, and my actions so that I can be more like my Savior, my Lord. I want nothing more than to reflect His love to the broken world around me. I want to remain captured by His love, and I have found that a life lived in obedience to the Father is a life full of peace, joy, and blessings. Do I still mess up? You bet, but my identity is not in my current circumstances, but who God says I am. I repent, pick myself back up, and continue running the race in the right direction and with the best coach.

So I want to ask you today, are you that lizard that is out of the environment you know you are meant to be in? Are you running from the Father who truly desires to help restore your identity and return you to where you belong? If so, don’t merely slow down, but STOP. Stop running. Listen for His voice. He loves you and is ready to upgrade your life in ways you can’t even imagine. ❤

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Building Blocks

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It’s been awhile since I have blogged. I’ve had lots going on amidst the miscarriage, my trip to Texas for Premier’s National Rally, and the recent vacation in Wisconsin visiting family that I just returned from. I’m trying to get back on track though! 😉

The beginning of June I got my acceptance letter for Southeastern University, a Christian college in Lakeland, Florida. I attended for a semester in 2012 but due to the hour commute and decrease in BAH (housing allowance from the government) I returned to the University of Tampa to finish my degree. However, since I have graduated from there, I decided that it was time to return to school for something I feel called to do, and that is lead worship.

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I didn’t find out about needing to apply to the music department and submit a video audition until about a week before the deadline. I was a bit concerned about all of the scales I had to do, as I wasn’t used to doing scales. I had some questions and was given the email (during the summer) of the associate-professor of music. He was very good with emailing me and helping me choose a classical selection as well as answering any other questions I had. He also told me not to worry about the scales, as they will be removing that from the requirements! Praise the Lord! (God wink 1)

Furthermore, I was in communication with the school and discovered that they extended the deadline by two months! (God wink 2) Thankfully, I was able to get my application and video submitted 4 days after the original deadline of July 1st.

July 12th I found out that I had been accepted to the music department and I cried so many tears of joy. I have sang on worship teams for the past 6 years or so, but was never really given the opportunity to grow in my gifting. This was now becoming a reality. Furthermore, Casey and I returned to our old church in March, and I am back on the team there, and will be singing this coming Sunday. 😀

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Tears of joy when I got my acceptance letter into the music department!

I’m going somewhere with this. While in Wisconsin I called SEU to find out when the music theory placement exam was going to be, as I can’t register for my classes until I take the exam. I told the gal that I spoke with that I couldn’t seem to get a hold of anyone in the music department when I called there. She gave me the number to the chair of the music department as well as someone else I had tried calling several times. I decided to call the chair.

He apparently had JUST walked into his office (which is why he answered rather casually). I asked about the exam and he said they would be sending out an email with details on it. The conversation could of stopped there, but I proceeded to tell him of my concerns with music theory, as I never was good at it. I explained how I made first chair in orchestra years in a row and was accepted to Blake High School after auditioning, but was put in with beginner’s once they learned I didn’t know theory. He told me that he would be my advisor (God wink 3) and proceeded to tell me what I needed to study for the exam: augmented and diminished triads, how to build major and minor scales, key signatures, etc. (God wink 4) Anyone who knows music theory probably knows that this is what will be on there, but I am CLUELESS. He said if I didn’t do well on the exam it could add a semester of remedial classes to my degree. I have about 9 months of free schooling left on my GI Bill, which is about three semesters. According to my calculations I will have my degree in that time—without the remedial classes.

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I’m amazed at the grace I have been given with this whole process, and the “God winks” of being directed to the right people at the right time. My Music Theory for Dummies book arrived yesterday, and I plan to get to studying. On the cover I noticed it says, “Identify the building blocks of music.” Hmmmmm, This could be important, especially if I want to write music . . .

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Building blocks. I know how to sing, am good with harmonizing, intonation, etc., but I know nothing of keys, note names (what is what), etc. In orchestra I could see a piece of sheet music and play it without a problem. I knew where my fingers needed to go on the neck board based on where the notes landed on the staff, when to rest, when to hold half or whole notes etc., but I really knew nothing of what the notes were called or anything else for that matter. That is why I got an F in orchestra in high school when we studied theory, decided to drop the course, and sold the $900 viola Dad had bought me.

So, I am in for a challenge. There is so much more to music than simply doing what you know to do. When I began teaching myself guitar and learning chords I remember how proud I was of myself. I also remember my brother who was in a band look at me and say, “Whoa, you’re actually playing the cords!” I laughed and asked, “How do you play guitar?” “Power cords,” he answered. (Whatever THAT means.) LOL.

What about our faith? We can know how to treat others with kindness, attend church, tithe a portion of our income to the church, etc., but not know the building blocks of our faith. So what are they?

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1.) Salvation: We must know God’s true character, that He is loving, and always speaks truth. We must also believe that His only son, Jesus, was crucified for our sins, buried, and raised to new life on the third day.

2.) Study: We must know the word of God by reading His truths in the Holy Bible. By doing so, we will be able to apply what we have learned to our daily lives and interactions with others. Lies that we have believed about our identity will be replaced with God’s truth about who we are in Him.

3.) Prayer: We must pray to God on a regular basis thanking Him for all we have, repenting of our sins and asking forgiveness, and presenting our requests to Him. People can’t be in relationship without communication. The same goes for relationship with our Father.

4.) Speak: We must speak to the mountains in our lives and tell them how big our God is. There is power in our words. God spoke and light appeared. Jesus spoke and the sea was calmed. The disciples spoke and demons were cast out.

5.) Act: We must act on the word of God making it a reality in our lives rather than a feel good message we hear on Sunday morning. This goes beyond applying what you read to your life. This is intentional life changing action which means going out of your way to minister to a homeless person, or acting on that Holy Spirit nudge you feel to do something or say something to someone that will take you out of your comfort zone. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He wants to make disciples of us so that we can disciple others.

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I may be able to sing well without knowing music theory, but it won’t go much beyond that. I don’t know the history of music, or how to help someone else better understand the art because I don’t know the building blocks. If I want to be able to lead a team I need to know more than simply how to sing. Granted, helping others enter into the presence of God is the goal of a worship team, but it would be difficult to make that happen if everyone was singing and playing instruments in different keys! (Hey, it would be making a joyful noise!)

I know this was a long post and I’m truly not trying to make up for lost time, lol. This is something I have been wanting to share as I think knowing the building blocks of faith is so important. I’m sure others have different building blocks, but these are ones that I find to be important to better understanding our faith. We can’t build a sturdy house without a solid foundation—so we must study and know the foundation.

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'”—Isaiah 28:16

 

 

Where is the Love?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. — 2 Chronicles 7:14

This world is in need of a heart transplant. I don’t watch the news, but I still hear about it. We need to be praying harder than ever for our families, for our nation, for our WORLD. We need to stop being so self-centered, angry, and violent, and treat others as we would like to be treated. We are allowing the enemy to win. But God knows how the story ends. And this is only the beginning.

Thy Will

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Today, after a 3 hour appointment at the doctor’s office, I went across the street to Brandon Regional Hospital, which I have frequented often due to mom’s health issues. However, this time I went for myself.

The long drive up the parking garage felt different then all of the times I had driven up it before. This time, instead of checking in at security and heading to the elevators to go to mom’s room, I went to registration. I then saw the pre-op nurse.

April 23rd, after weeks of prayer, I tested positive on a pregnancy test. We weren’t trying. It was a total “God thing” that it happened. Really. I can share that story with you if you want to know. Casey wasn’t ready. I was. To my surprise, he was excited.

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We started making plans. I filled out a “Belly Book” pregnancy journal. I bought a shirt to wear and announce it. I read “The Healthy Pregnancy” book. We weren’t going to wait 12 weeks, because “that” wouldn’t happen to us. We discussed names. I ate organically, cut out sweets, artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, etc. I took high quality prenatal, EFA’s, etc. I had the pregnancy symptoms.

Then at 6 weeks I spotted a little. No cramping, so there wasn’t much concern. Went in for my first appointment days later. Had my very first ultrasound, not under the circumstances I had wished. No heartbeat. It was still early though.

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I returned the following week and still no heartbeat and an enlarged yolk sack. “What is the baby measuring at?” I asked the doctor. 1 day larger than the ultrasound 6 days prior. It was no longer a viable pregnancy. What?? The doctor talked of having a D&C, going under anesthesia, having my uterus cleaned out of “products of conception,” etc. It was too much to handle.

I felt as though I was taking a walk of shame out of the building. So many expectant mothers sat in the waiting room, bellies protruding, and I walked out with a tear stricken face trying to hold it all in so I wouldn’t scare them. My eyes met a young pregnant mother who had two toddlers with her. I watched her unload them from her car when I arrived. As I pulled away she was loading them into the car. Our gaze met. I think she knew.

A fellow blogger, Vanessa Dionne says it best:

Miscarriage is one of the most painful kinds of death we can experience because it seems so unfair. Blinded to the sanctity of unborn life, our fallen world cannot offer hope to the woman who has lost her baby. We cannot find our hope in this fallen world. We must turn back to the Author who alone creates, cherishes, and sustains life according to His will.

My world came crashing down upon me. I was angry at God. He knew how long I had prayed for this. “We’ll try again honey,” Casey said as he tried to comfort me in the doctor’s office. We didn’t think this would happen to us. We scheduled another ultrasound to confirm a week out.

I spent three days grieving. I began to heal, although I felt so very alone. 1 in 4 women miscarry, and they usually suffer in silence. I wanted to go public with my story in effort to help those who have gone through this, but also to help those who haven’t gain a better understanding of it.

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I want to give some advice to those who have never experienced a miscarriage, as it truly is difficult to comprehend if you haven’t walked through it. I have found that I have needed to have a lot of grace. Those who have walked (or crawled through this) will be able to relate. I will make this a separate blog.

Jalene Browning, a fellow jeweler and Christian sister of mine shared a song with me the day before my follow up. It changed my outlook. I clung to this song as my anthem. Had I not, I would have come out from the next appointment angry and bitter. I returned at my 8 week ultrasound to have the miscarriage confirmed.

 

Today has been 28 days since my baby got it’s wings. Yes, it was my baby, heartbeat or not. I believe life begins at conception. I was holding up quite well, even Saturday when the spotting started. I wanted to pass it naturally, although I had heard how painful it could be, and the chance of needing to go to the ER due to so much blood loss. The memories came flooding back. This wasn’t over. It was like throwing salt into an old wound. Monday I went to the doctor and they recommended a D&C based on how much time had passed. I didn’t want to do it.

At 3:45am this morning on the way to the bathroom, I believed I passed everything. It was horrible, yet surprisingly painless. I thought to myself, “Could this be it?” I hadn’t had contractions or “labor” as so many describe. I went in today for another ultrasound and was told it wasn’t over. “Just do the D&C so you can begin to heal from this,” the doctor said yet again. “But it’s beginning,” I countered back. I knew it could take time, a lot more time, and then the risk of infection would be high. I also ran the risk of not passing it all, and needing a D&C anyway. I just wanted to be over it. 28 days later . . .

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The hospital was so cold. I felt so alone. Two ladies who worked there told me that I have such a positive outlook despite my circumstances. I gave God all the glory for this, because it truly is by His strength that I have been able to get though this.

On the drive home the tears came. I tried so hard to do this the natural way—to let nature take it’s course, but I’m tired. Tired of waiting, and not knowing when and where it will happen. I cried because I felt so weak in that moment. I am having surgery to remove the remains of my pregnancy . . .

I looked at the hospital bands on my arm and tears flooded my face as I drove home listening to “Thy Will” and trying to sing along through the tears. I gave in to the procedure I was so dead-set against. To me, it is essentially an abortion. It’s the same procedure. In fact, the doctor slipped up and caught herself saying “abortion” and quickly said “miscarriage”. I know my baby is no more. It’s just a scary thought, especially when you read the description of the procedure on the consent form . . .

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But, I know that this whole experience is nature’s way of saying that something wasn’t right. Chromosomally, something wasn’t right. God knows. He is God and I am not, just as the song states. Casey and I will get though this. We will trust our Father, even when we don’t understand and circumstances don’t seem fair. He has our best interests at heart.

I want to thank those who knew about this and have prayed for me and reached out to me to see how I have been holding up. I especially want to thank Kelly Spezzano and Jalene Browning, my fellow Premier sisters, as well as Mike Glenn of Premier Designs prayer team. Your love and support have meant so much to me. Also, thank you Jenny Cruz and Jessica White for your encouragement and support. May God bless you immensely. Momma Del, your texts meant so much to me. Cheryl Johnston, your tears and prayers touched my spirit deeply. And lastly, my sister Janet: Your calls, texts, and tears helped me during such a difficult time. Love you.

My procedure is at 10:30am tomorrow. I would appreciate all of the prayers and support I can get. I know I will leave feeling empty. But I know this isn’t the end of my story. As with my accident, this test will become a testimony. This season may take awhile to heal from, but healing will come.

 

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 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” —Psalm 34:18

 

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