Saturday, July 25, 2015

Darkness to Light

As I write this, I am sitting at a table at the local roller skating rink. Teens are all around me, grooving to the music, and my own teen and her friend are acting so silly that they instantly bring me back to my innocent teen days: days filled with giggles and knowing the grown-ups in my life would take care of the major things for me. Now I am one of the grown-ups, keeping kids safe, bills paid, work and housework done. And, in the past, that responsibility has weighed heavily on me, and I often felt I'd break from the pressure. Tonight, surrounded by laughter, young faces enjoying their lives, and the thump of bass too loud for my comfort, I am amazed and humbled by a God who takes care of my needs in amazing ways.

About seven months ago, I finally surrendered a stronghold that I felt defeated and unable to overcome for years. I had felt I didn't have the strength to combat its lure and didn't want the darkness exposed. And I knew the Holy Spirit residing in me was supposed to give me power, but I didn't feel the power. (Read Angela Thomas' book “Stronger” if you feel that way too.) Finally, I was so disheartened and disgusted at not honoring God that I got mad – mad enough to draw a line in the sand. It was a shame I didn't want to confess, but once I finally chose to believe the truth of God's Word, the Lover of my soul actually had me confess the stronghold. Since that day of confession to my leaders at church, not knowing what consequences I would face for my disobedience to God, He has shown me just how the Deceiver of my soul wanted to keep me – and you – in bondage. I was convinced, if I confessed my sin, I would lose a place of service that is very precious to me. Instead, I've gotten grace-filled prayer, guidance and, yes, accountability from peers and leaders at church who love me and want me to realize my full potential – and most importantly, my full freedom in God's grace. In fact, God recently instructed me to share details of my secret shame to a room full of about 200 women, so they could see how keeping sin secret and unaccountable leads to guilt, shame and defeat that the enemy wants to keep them in. He alone gave me the courage and boldness to do that. If you're stuck in secret sin, I encourage you to read Galatians 5:1 and 13 and realize Christ wants you to be free!

It's from this point of vulnerability and confession that I see my Abba Father, my Heavenly Daddy, blessing me! In the last 3 years, my employment status has been the rockiest of my life. During that wilderness of upheaval and homelessness, I decided I was going to rebuild my finances around tithing. Because I now tithe, this one stronghold was the last willful disobedience to God in my life. Now that it's out of the way, by His daily grace and strength, God truly is pouring blessings on my household.

For about 9 years, I've known I am called by God to adopt a foster child. First a dysfunctional marriage, then a divorce, then economic instability and fear of the unknowns in the adoption process kept me from moving toward it. Now, I'm done with training and waiting for my license to be approved by the state to become a foster-to-adopt mom. My previous apartment was much less than ideal for three people with its 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and no laundry. Because my physical home is also part of the foster care license, I realized it would be much better to move before getting licensed than afterwards. By the grace and favor of a Father who knows my deepest desire is to be a forever mom to a girl desperately needing one, in March, He provided a new apartment with a security deposit and pet deposit that were, combined, less than one month's rent, which is unheard of. In His grace, He saw favor to have my former apartment complex let me out of my lease early, with no hit to my credit score, no requirement to pay the full month's rent, etc. And, with only a week to plan and pack the move, I had friends volunteer to help and another friend told me of a good, used washer and dryer. The new apartment is peaceful, spacious, still affordable, and we are getting to know a great community of people within the complex during these summer swimming months. My cup and heart are overflowing with adoration for a Father providing for me like that!

After drowning out the noise at this skating rink for the first hour we were here so I could read my Bible study material, then typing this, I will go back to teen-watching, praying for these kids and pondering how this next generation can best be reached so they aren't trying to overcome all that life is throwing at them without knowing the Lover of their souls, who supplies all their needs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Homeless no more


It's a scary word. But it's a much scarier condition. Especially when I have an amazing daughter I'm supposed to provide for.

I have been without a permanent home for 7 months. Yet, the Lover of my Soul promises that He will take care of me far greater than He cares for the birds of the sky. I have gotten to see Him do some of His biggest work in my life, in a situation so much bigger than I am capable of solving, that there's no way I could ever take credit for the resolution to the problems.

When I lost my job last summer due to circumstances beyond my control, because I hadn't been prepared financially, I couldn't afford monthly housing bills. In October, I gave up my apartment and amazing friends let Austyn and me live in their bonus room, eat from their table, and enjoy their family. It's only because I was transparent and vulnerable with a Facebook post last Fall that they even knew I needed compassion and help. And their amazing hearts led us to be part of their family for a while. I praise God for that family!

In January, they told me they'd need the space for other family members by April. Though I knew our time with them was drawing to a close, my financial situation wasn't getting better, and I had no idea what to do. I contacted a church in town that has homes it uses for missionaries and a group of homeless families. The church usually does not allow private families to live in the homes, but they made an exception for us. I was given from April through June to live in that house. And I praised God for that quirky housing provision.

I knew I needed to find a permanent place to live, but I still didn't have enough income to pay full rent anywhere. One day, feeling very frustrated and overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem, I contacted the city's director over public housing, who two separate people had suggested I contact. He got me in contact with a local non-profit that uses grant money to help people in temporary housing get into permanent housing. The program pays deposits and rent for a few months and ensures the renter will be financially stable at the end of the grant funding. I was accepted into the program and told to find a home within XX price range.

Finding a safe, really low-cost, 2-bedroom apartment, duplex or house that allowed our cats - which my daughter desperately needs for her mental and emotional health - was exceedingly difficult. After three emotionally-exhausting weeks of searching the housing ads, websites and physical addresses, I was getting nowhere. Finally, last week, I found one that seemed like the perfect fit. I checked the crime map, drove into the neighborhood at night, talked with neighbors, and applied for the property after explaining my financial hurdles to the property manager. I even took a friend to see the neighborhood on Saturday. I'd had a nagging gut feeling the place wasn't safe, but figured I was overreacting because the neighborhood wasn't as nice as ones I'd lived in before. After all, I'd done my research.

On Sunday, the friend I'd taken to see it came to me after church. She told me she hoped she didn't frustrate me because she knew I was weary from house-hunting, but that she had reliable information that neighborhood was really unsafe. I thanked her for loving me enough to be willing to frustrate me if it meant keeping us safe, and I waited and prayed, not knowing where to step next.

On Monday, I made a third call to the property manager of the apartment I'd had to give up in the Fall. I explained how hard it is to find a safe, affordable place. I told her my cap on rent, which was lower than what they were renting for. But, she said my old apartment was available and even agreed to lower the monthly rent for me. Then she told me they didn't accept pets anymore - and my entire countenance fell. She heard how deflated I became and said she'd see what she could do. We agreed she'd check on the pets and I'd see the apartment today.

This morning, I got a call from my mother, whom I'd listed on the rental application to the apartment my friend had unsafe information on. The property manager called Mom, who had rented from that company in the past, to tell Mom that she did not want her daughter and granddaughter living in that house, as an active drug house was right across the street. She promised Mom that she'd help me find a safe place. As I was hanging up with Mom, she called me.

I kept my appointment with my previous property manager and, long story short, my former apartment has been upgraded with new appliances, ceiling fans, and many other little things. And, they'll allow me to have the cats since it didn't smell like pets when I left it before! The paperwork still has to be signed, but the property manager and the non-profit that'll be paying the first several months' rent both say that's just a formality.

When I told my friend (the one who'd told me the other apartment wasn't safe) that I'd be able to move into my old apartment, she mentioned something profound when she said, "How amazing that God not only protected you from that neighborhood but let you know that He protected you! He is so merciful!"

Not only did God show He incredible mercy and protection, He also gave me wonderful insight into how to discern when the Holy Spirit is warning me. I second-guess myself a lot, so I figured that's what I was doing. Yet, He had the Holy Spirit warn me, and when I didn't realize that, He sent a friend with my best interest at heart to warn me. And then He sent the property manager to warn me!

While this season of temporary housing (one step above true homelessness) has been very wearying on me, it has been AMAZING to see God provide all the quirky, atypical ways that He's provided. Never in a million years would I have expected the journey to look like this. And though I eagerly await getting the keys and laying my head on the pillow of my own home again, I know this is just one small part of life's journey where I must learn to wait on His timing and trust Him through the process. While I've been displaced, He's also put Bible study curriculum and Godly, caring people in my path to help me realize this is a season to buckle down and work HARD so I can re-establish my finances the right way and become stable again. For a long time, I was angry at the unfairness that I might have to get a second job. I railed at Him that I'm already doing too much as a working single mom. Once the anger subsided and I accepted that life gets hard, isn't fair, and that I should just take responsibility for what I need to do, God showed that He will more than make up the gap.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's raining...HARD

I've been very observant the past couple months as I digest my current life situations. I've been watching for God's cues and direction as I adjust to a new job, new routines in a new home, a constantly-changing financial situation, the uncertaintly of whether I'd win the fight for unemployment pay from a former job (I finally won in mid-December), and how my ex-husband being newly-engaged then single again affects our daughter. It's a strange time in my life. There are few constants for this girl who prefers routine. But a major constant is just how faithful our Daddy – Abba Father – is to His children! I will try really hard not to ever write such a long post again, but there's just too much to say right now. Feel free to skip paragraphs. I pray you'll find the nugget that you need, which God gave me the words to write.
One night shortly after I wrote my last post, I was looking over finances and realizing there was no way with my current salary that I could catch up on bills. So I asked my Abba Father to step in as only He can. I'd been looking for a suitable roommate for months with no success because I'm picky: I want a roommate that will be a good influence on my impressionable, asthmatic daughter with no smoking, no swearing, none or minimal drinking, no carousing, etc. It's a tall order in our society but I refuse to waver on these issues. I posted my situation on Facebook, not to ask for sympathy but because I needed the prayers of my brothers and sisters. I asked that, if anyone knew a moral female or family who would accept a roommate with child in tow, to please let me know. That very night, a former coworker answered that she and her family had a bonus room available. Long story short, I and my daughter have been living there about three months as my finances get slightly better with each paycheck. Not only do we have a safe, warm roof over our heads, I get to spend time with the mother, and my daughter gets to play with their children, who are close to her age. The mom is teaching my kiddo to do things I can't teach her, such as how to sew. This family is one of the most giving, caring, laid back families I've ever had the privilege to know! During bedtime prayers with my daughter, we pray that we'll be a blessing to them in return, and we know God placed us in their home for a purpose.
Also during these financially-difficult times, before I lost my apartment, a friend gave me money to use on groceries, household necessities and gasoline. I gratefully accepted the generous gift then the Holy Spirit told me it wasn't all for me. I have a single mom friend who was struggling even more than me and didn't have a friend offering a roof over her head. Though common sense told me to use what I needed now and save the rest for the next grocery shopping trip, the Holy Spirit told me to take this friend grocery shopping for necessities and to fill her gas tank. I shrugged it off at first, but He kept tugging at my spirit, reminding me I had a safety net this friend didn't have. He was also asking if I trusted Him to take care of my needs down the road since the money would be used up. In addition to her extreme financial troubles, my friend has been deeply wounded by an abusive ex-husband and church members who betrayed her. I'm excited to say my obedience to my Father has made an impact on her and has helped rekindle some of her faith because she saw the Church body at work through me! There's no price tag that can be put on that! Important to note: I couldn't have shared with her if my awesome friend hadn't first obeyed the Holy Spirit and shared with me!
In September, I gulped and made the investment to take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a 9-week class held at my church by Biblical financial teacher Dave Ramsey. I now have the knowledge and desire to “live like no one else so, later, I can live and give like no one else.” That's how Ramsey encourages participants to be diligent and follow Biblical concepts with money, so they can become debt-free and impact their families, communities and world with their finances. I want more than anything to be an ordinary person who God uses to accomplish extraordinary things, and I believe good stewardship of what God has loaned us is a crucial component to that. My financial situation will take time, discipline and God's help to reverse. But I plug along, grateful for the steep uphill climb rather than the rapidly-downward black hole I was headed into. And I finally laid to rest the internal struggle to faithfully tithe, and to tithe off gross income. I heard a pastor ask his congregation whether they were somewhat grateful for Jesus' brutal death on the cross or totally grateful, as He paid the penalty for their sin. The pastor equated that to tithing gross versus net income. Another pastor reminded me it's better to obey God and live off 90% WITH His blessings than to live off 100% denied His blessings. After all, isn't my soul's eternal home, and the sacrifice of my Savior, worth me giving up a couple specialty coffees to give God what He requires of me, His steward? And by the way, when the Bible first became available to the masses in a language they knew, a steward wasn't just a Biblical word. A steward was someone they'd all heard of. The steward was the trusted caretaker for a lord of the land. None of the property belonged to the steward, it belonged to the lord. That's how we, as Christians, are to be with everything that God has entrusted to us! (That's another gem I learned from Dave Ramsey.) 
I had a conflict with another Christian this fall, and it was a tough time until it was resolved. But God opened my spiritual eyes to see how my perspective needed to change, and I grew in the process. I grew closer to the person and, most importantly, grew a little closer to God! I'm blessed this person was wise enough to realize we needed to resolve the issue. And, I learned that humble pie, which I used to detest having to eat, actually tastes sweet. What I mean is that, when I truly humbled myself and allowed God to change my heart, the peace and joy that flowed from that was sweeter than any pride I could have held onto. It was a really neat lesson to learn.
I have been on this half-crazed quest for years to over-analyze every situation in the attempt to discover my purpose on this earth. The over-thinking has been exhausting. I've had people remind me life is a journey rather than a destination, but in my impatience, I just want to reach the elusive destination of Jen's Purpose. On that island oasis, I wrongly assume life will be perfect. What I'm learning is that I am made more Christ-like through the struggles and how I handle them. Do I turn to God? Do I learn from past mistakes? Do I willingly give up a little more of me so I can be a little more like my Savior? I read something that was spot-on the other day: even if you don't know your purpose on this earth, if you pursue what you're passionate about, you'll find your purpose. Wow. So, if I pursue an authentic and transparent Christian life, even though it's full of stumbles and missteps, as well as successes and overcoming obstacles, I'll find my purpose? If I pursue things God has ingrained in me, such as singing for Him, writing for Him, encouraging people in His name, I'll be living my purpose? If I pursue sound finances so I can adopt a foster child, thereby doing my small part to help an orphan, I'll be living my purpose? If I raise my daughter to know and cherish our Abba Father and the causes that are near and dear to His heart, I'll be fulfilling my purpose? I'm excited just thinking of those things!
My new job is such a blessing! I love the people I work with, and I love the reason for our existence – to encourage people through Christian radio! It is a place I can be the “real me” and be appreciated and encouraged! One coworker told me it's a place I can heal from past betrayals. I am so grateful God saw fit to bless me with that work environment – I'm trying to remain conscious that most Christians aren't so insulated from the “real world” when they go to work. So I get up on rainy Mondays and minor holidays and go to work with a grateful heart.
Contemplative and a perfectionist by nature, I prefer not to be alone because I can get really melancholy when it's just me with my thoughts. Our minds are spiritual battlefields, and mine is littered with the casualties of past failures. I beat myself up over whether a decision two years ago to seek a better job was the wrong one because my finances are in the biggest mess they've ever been in. I beat myself up over whether I should have married my ex-husband. We have our amazing daughter together, but that union has caused so much grief and so many problems. My daughter spends half of each week with her dad, so I was alone a lot when I had my own apartment. Now that I live with this family, I enjoy spending time with them. Their company is a blessing, but I've also let it be an excuse to miss alone time with my Father. I read a book this fall that said, unlike physical appetite, our spiritual appetite often grows after we've been diligent and obedient to feed on God's inspired Word and in prayer. I know from years of sermons that I need to renew my mind through spending time with Him daily, but I struggle with that disciple. Authenticity. It hurts to admit these things because part of me doesn't want to reveal that I'm not Miss Super-Spiritual. But He calls me to be transparent, and I ask for you to hold me accountable on these issues.
Some key people who love me dearly have expressed concern about mentioning struggles on social media. So I talked with a wise woman with a couple decades more experience than me whom I deeply admire. She's extremely busy but I found myself answering her phone call one Saturday night around 10 p.m., and she was asking if I could help her prepare a large quantity of produce she'd received and needed to pass on to a friend in dire need. So, as I shucked dozens of ears of corn in her kitchen, I sought and soaked in her wisdom. She suggested that we can be transparent for the sake of helping others on their faith journeys and still be wise in how we do it. Then she paused, asked the Holy Spirit for guidance, and chose her words carefully and deliberately. My Father instructed her to tell me the key is to wait until we aren't in the heat of the emotion before putting the struggle on social media. That way, we don't type something that tears down a person or God's kingdom, but rather builds people up while still being authentic. I am so grateful God gave her that wisdom just for me, and I hope something I've written tonight is something you needed to hear. If not, stay tuned, because through my circumstances, I pray God will be glorified as He leads me to share how He's intervened and protected me and my precious daughter as we strive to know and serve Him.
I adore gift-giving over the holidays to show how much I appreciate my daughter's teachers, church friends and others. But this year, I bought Christmas cards from the dollar store to express my love. My daughter had so little under the tree and yet, we were both filled with peace! We were creative in showing people we love and appreciate them, and the season was more about showing God's love than anything else. I am grateful for these humbling experiences that put God's priorities in the forefront. During this season of waiting, it's definitely raining. Anyone who knows me well knows I can't stand to literally be rained on (I dislike my hair becoming like glue when the water and hairspray meet and I dislike it taking hours to get dry again.) However, this downpour of difficult circumstances definitely feels like God raining down on me, preparing me to grow so He can harvest from me what will best benefit His kingdom! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

To trust or not to trust

Trusting God sounds appealing and easy when it’s tied up in a neat package with a bow and I hear  someone’s story about how God has helped them. But in the nitty gritty of the moment, when God can see the big picture but I can only see on puzzle piece, it can be really scary. Today, I’m going to be really transparent. Because I have real needs that, somehow and someway, my God is going to handle. I want God to use my life to draw attention and glory to Himself. So, if I don’t share the specific struggles, how can I share the specific triumphs when He shows up and moves in my life?

It’s one of those days where I’m clinging for dear life to the promises given to us forever in the Bible, the inspired Word of God. We had awesome worship at church, and there were a couple times when, from my position in the praise team on the platform, I got choked up because the song lyrics were so impactful! I was so grateful to my God that He gave me a voice and passion to express my love to Him through singing, that I gave it every bit of voice I had! I’m overwhelmed by His love on the cross, and I got to sing a verse about when He came out of the tomb and conquered death for all who place their trust in Him! Talk about barely being able to get the words out – I’m tearing up all over again just thinking about what my Jesus did for me on the cross!!!! But, still, in my flesh – the religious word for my human nature – as the music has faded and it’s several hours later, I am contemplative and struggling.

The Bible tells us that Christians are to walk by faith and not by sight. That means that I shouldn’t just look at my circumstances but should look at God’s promises and see how He’s taken care of His people throughout the history of the Bible so it can increase my faith that He’ll take care of me too. My circumstances right now make my pulse race, and I have to fight the anxiety attack that’s just beneath the surface: I am facing a low food supply, the inability to pay my car note that was due last month and the rent that’s due now, and most other bills. I just got my first paycheck from my new job Friday, so the fact I can’t pay these bills even with a paycheck is scary and frustrating. Additionally, work I’ve done contractually for months with anticipated payout is still not getting paid yet. There are additional other factors – completely out of my control - contributing to my financial stress that I cannot go into details about in a blog. I definitely believe in hard work and not waiting for a handout, but I know God also uses the Body of Christ to minister to each other. Being a single mom, there’s no other income from a helpmate, and most people don’t randomly give money away. So, my stress is mounting, and I am clinging to God, begging Him to intercede for me.

But how do I take the Biblical principle of walking by faith and not by sight from being a principle and apply it to my circumstances in the here and now? I’m sure I can pursue answers to that question the rest of my life, but I am very comforted by several Biblical concepts.

First, I have heard the stories of many people who have said when they tithed – gave a full 10% to God as He requires in scripture – that He has taken care of their needs. So, today, as my hands literally trembled, I wrote out my tithe check, trusting that God will be pleased with my cheerful and faithful giving, and praying He’ll help me pay the necessary bills. (Ironically, I’m really low on checks and don’t know if I’ll have the same address in the time it would take to order more, or if I’ll be begging friends to sleep on their couches.) Malachi 3:10 says: 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

Secondly, in Matthew 6, Jesus talks about how much our Father cares for the birds of the air and even the wildflowers. Then my Savior reminds me how much more God cares for our needs! I am so grateful to be reminded of that today! Here’s the set of verses:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I am by no means a Bible scholar, and I’m not going to attempt to pick apart those verses. But I trust that my Savior meant what He said about God’s character in that text. After all, faith is trusting in what isn’t seen.

Thirdly, my faith has been strengthened when several Christian friends have been amazing as they’ve responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and have given to me! One friend let me “shop” in her pantry, freezer, and stash of household items for a major restock a couple times! Another friend will randomly bring me extra food and toiletries she knows I need from purchases she made with coupons. Several other friends have been prompted by the Holy Spirit to send me money – and when I added up the donations, they equaled the exact amount I needed to pay the rent last month. So when I worry about how these new bills will get paid, I am reminded that God is already putting the wheels in motion to take care of my needs. And as a side note, I know He’ll take care of my needs – not necessarily my wants. I WANT to remain in my own home, independent and not having to work around anyone else’s schedule. I NEED a roof over my head  - I may not get to stay in my own home, and I may have to die to myself and be OK with that.

Seeing prayers answered increases my faith. In fact, writing about God’s provision in my recent past gives me hope for the future. I hope, in sharing this, it helps someone reading it who may be struggling with their faith when all they see is daunting circumstances. I hope it comes across more about God’s goodness than my struggles! I also hope I’ll remember to do a follow-up post explaining the intricacies of how God worked out the situation once it’s taken care of. I welcome you to remind me to do that!

I am sure God already has the specific spots in the metaphorical mosaic of my life that these broken pieces fit perfectly into, and that these struggles are not random problems that caught Him by surprise. My guess is that these pieces are part of the winding path to something really exciting - a path that couldn't be created if life were easy and I didn't need to rely on God!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I am compelled...

I have always loved to express myself through the written word. I have a couple dozen journals, starting with little kid handwriting and many misspelled words. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and gain perspective of a situation. Writing helps me hear what God is telling me because my pen will start flying across the paper, or my fingers across the keyboard, as He reveals a truth to me. Sometimes it's a new truth, and other times, He gets my attention with something I've heard my whole life but previously didn't have experience to practically apply it.

It is my deepest desire to glorify God through how I react to the awesome, the good, the awful, and the devastating life circumstances that we can all face. I also seek to glorify Him in my written and verbal words, and in my actions. There are moments I monumentally fail and my human nature wins over the Spirit of God inside me. But I pray those times are fewer and farther between as I strive to daily give control of my life to my Father, knowing that can lead to quite a winding path. I don't have a professional goal for five years from now that I'm striving to reach. Whatever I'm doing, I want to honor Him with my work, my attitude, my time, my finances, and words, my actions and even my thoughts.

I cannot keep from writing anymore - I am compelled to do it. For a couple years now, the Holy Spirit has been calling me to write. Sometimes it was sheer laziness that prevented me. Most times, it's been fear that I wasn't holy enough, smart enough, scholarly enough or interesting enough for anyone to listen. I also don't want any skewed version of God's truth to come from the enemy through me and steer someone in the wrong direction: God makes it clear in scripture that He'll hold people accountable for leading others astray. While I am still keenly aware of those reasons, I now believe I am to the point of disobedience to my Father by not sharing things He's put on my heart.

I ask for your prayers as I write - this is a very daunting step for me to take. Maybe it's because some trusted people in my life have criticized me in very cruel ways before. Maybe it's because I feel so unworthy and unqualified to be a mouthpiece for God. Maybe it's because I don't want to hurt feelings or step on toes. But, as I get closer to God, my heart aches over the things that grieve the heart of God. I cringe at the way our society and families don't understand or know God's Word and how life-changing it can be if they apply His principles to their everyday lives.

Some of what I write will simply be therapeutic for me, and hopefully for anyone else who reads it. But I also have a list of topics to tackle that are issues I believe God is calling me to stand up for or against. While I am a grammar geek, I'm sure my spelling and grammar won't be flawless, as content will be more important to me than perfection, and I may be so eager to share that I press the publish button a little too quickly. So I ask you to look past those mistakes to the deeper issues.

I know writing is part of my purpose on this earth, so information on this blog, and even comments by readers, will very likely be used for a book or song in the future. I would ask for your prayers and constructive critiques. Please be respectful in your comments, even if your viewpoint differs from mine. And, by all means, please share scripture that comes to your heart as you read about a certain topic. I'll start on actual topics as they come to me. For now, I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  -- Jeremiah 29:11-12