Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Truth is Enough

Learned about the truth behind the Council of Nicaea and the reason for a creed. Have known the creed all my life, but it means nothing if you don't know why you say it. Chills as we read the creed together in church today. Such amazing history! And the telephone game of today when it comes to attacks on beliefs and doctrine is prominent and dangerous and needs to be corrected. What do you believe about God? And what's your source?

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 26, 2016

What Jesus do you worship? Faith-Filled Fridays

Our pastor's sermon on Sunday is very critical to take away pre-conceived ideas about Christians and who they worship. It's telling of the times, and the confused ideas about who Jesus was/is.

Which Jesus do you believe in?

Click Here To Watch: Five Jesus'?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bully Mind Games

Mama bear came OUT the other day.

While I can talk peace and negotiations on almost all issues...when someone physically and emotionally harms my kid and gets away with it? I see red.

So when my teen son comes home and says a kid physically "bullied" him unprovoked, and I see the wounded pride and fear in his eyes, my mind scrambles any intelligent advice I should give.

Thank God this parenting thing is a two person gig around here.

Because, while I hadn't really had much experience with being physically bullied, my husband had. And he knew the feelings and the mindset of both the bully and the bullied. He also knew that our son, who has had an extremely tough year, was at a crossroads. We'd seen a confident young man allow image, insecurity, and meanness steal his joy and his love of being a kid. Eighth grade has been awful around here...just as it was for me. And my heart has been hurting for my son for a very long time. My husband told me that our son would have to stand up for himself if he had any chance at getting past his extremely large internal hurdle. But what did that look like? I didn't know.

The next morning, fully prepared to storm into the principal's office if my son so happened to defend himself (as I shamefully advised in my effort to "equip" my son), I overheard my husband prepping him before the bus arrived.

"Be confident. Even if you're scared to death inside, be confident. Stare the guy in the eye when you see him. Don't let him see you scared. Be prepared to defend yourself, and don't let him intimidate you."

Most of all, my son left the house knowing that if it came to it, he had full permission to defend himself, and his parents were on his side.

That afternoon, my same son, who had admitted to leaving class early the day before to avoid more confrontation with the bully, informed us of his newest encounter.

And he didn't hide this time. He stood tall, and did his best to exude confidence.
When the bully said he was going to fight him after school, my son said,
In class, my son stared the dude down (I can imagine the look as he often gives it to his younger brothers...scary)! And just as his father told him, my son used his mind before his fists and had a very tall, bulky friend stick by his side after school. The bell rang, and they waited around in the hallway-- the bully and his friends on one side and my son and a friend on the other side. Waiting. Probably wondering...probably fighting away nerves inside.

Finally, my son looked the bully in the eye once more and said,
"So, are you going to fight me?" 

And you know what happened?

The bully walked away. THE BULLY WALKED AWAY!

After my son's glorious retelling, I don't think I've ever seen my husband so stunned, my son so at peace, and I've never felt so dang proud of both my son and my husband.

Mind Games won. Even if my son shrunk into the corner the day before, he went to school with a new weapon: CONFIDENCE. And while my son was ready to defend himself (with our permission...sorry if you don't agree) and he used back up...knowing he would be defended by his extremely kind friend who said he never came to that.

IT came down to a bully wanting a wimp to dump on his brokenness and frustration with life, and what he got was a no-nonsense, get-what-you-asked-for response from my son.

Thanks to my husband who knew the mind games needed, and kudos to my son who FINALLY listened to his father!

Monday, February 15, 2016

A character('s) study: #amwriting

"when fiction dances with humanity 

"She'd trip up often, when she was aware of the absent obstacle, the soaring strength of her heart beating its steady, fluid rhythm even at the prod of old emotional bullies.

There was a frenzy only for a split second, as she checked herself to be sure the obstacle truly had disappeared. Her heart didn't wrestle like it used to, and she could hardly pinpoint when that change had occurred.

Her tears were nowhere to be found when old pricks tried to draw blood. One blink, two blinks, and she kept walking forward without another thought to the thing that once made her wretch, sob, and claw from her soul to her skin, feeling raw and beaten. It was only a brush of a shadow now, a flit of memory, a single cloud passing by on a rather cloudless day. For a second, the subtlety would usher up fear that her heart might be callous and hard, but then, she'd remember the journey, the growth, and the things that had died to give her a second chance to live with hope.

Maybe strength truly did arise from pain.

Maybe beauty was the treasure left after the ashes.

Maybe was too weak.

She knew. Strength was beauty, and beauty was left after the ashes fled to their rightful place again. With the wind, the breath of God blew them away to show the gem He'd never abandoned, He'd never forsaken, but the treasure He refined through the pain and sorrow."

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Journey to the Color of Ash: Faith-Filled Friday

A friend told me she was adding verse mapping to her life for Lent. Instead of taking something away, she wants to give something to God. I loved this idea. So I am copycatting and committing to verse mapping again.

I decided to start in the gospels at Palm Sunday, and go through to the end of each. As I turned to Palm Sunday the day after attending the Ash Wednesday service at my church, I thought to myself, This feels like I am jumping ahead of the Lenten season...reading Palm Sunday now? I was just marked with the ashes to remind me of my lowly, dust-derived state desperately in need of a Savior and have 33 days until Palm Sunday.

But with the beauty of verse mapping, and the Holy Spirit, I discovered that I was in the exact place of the Bible that I needed to be for the ashes to truly gain significance.

I actually went way before the gospels, to the prophesy of Palm Sunday--Zechariah 9:9. And somehow, in my study, within the verses before and after, I discovered the ash, the marking that had been on my forehead, the symbol used for men and women in the past who were described in the same way as Christ upon the donkey:

Lowly. Humble. Poor. Afflicted.

There was something more that God was trying to show me. I felt frustrated as I found possible
symbolism that seemed to be just between the words I studied. I kept searching, and I wondered if I was making it up. But I know, there is something more...something so beautiful and mysterious that to find it would dig deeper than I had ever gone. Maybe deeper than anyone has ever gone. And that's when I became resolute in my study, and surrendered the curiosity to mystery. Maybe there was nothing there. But I doubt that. Only because God has taught me that He truly is even more grand than what is written in the black and white of a page. Verse mapping Zechariah gave me a feeling of rubbing through the black and white to discover a new color beneath the page...a color nobody has ever seen. A color that I couldn't see but knew could be there.

And it really all started with the obedience of a church, filling a man-made tradition, or two, to revere a Holy God. Ash Wednesday and Lent have become something treasured in my heart this year...more than ever before.

The pastor was clear in stating that Ash Wednesday is not found in the Bible. That we keep this tradition because it adds to our walk in Christ, and reminds us who we are and Who He is.

But in my verse mapping on Palm Sunday, I discovered more to the ash and the tradition. The ashes are a humanity-old symbol--something used time and again throughout Scripture. The ashes are the black of a human heart in mourning, the dust of a dry, pitiful soul, and the outward symbol of a lowly, afflicted man in need of a Savior...a Savior who came to us, lowly and afflicted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mama Reinforcements

Is there any other job besides parenting where you feel like a complete failure over and over again, but never think about (or at least, seriously consider) calling it quits and looking for another place of employment?

It's just been one of those,'s just say, school year 2015-2016 has been rough.

I am exhausted.

Thank God for good friends who are always ready to get away for a girls' night.

If you never give yourself time away from your kids, and if your kids aren't picture perfect little 1950's darlings, then I am telling you a night out. It is certainly great medicine...or a vitamin to get you through til the next night out!

And the old saying, Distance makes the heart grow fonder?? Yeah, it's true even if it's just a few blocks away for a few hours. Mama Drama is spilling from Monday to Tuesday to today. Lord have mercy!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Putting the Smack Down on Video Game Addiction: Mama Drama

You know, it's hard to parent these days. I know. We have technology like no other generation, and
our kids have grown a sweet tooth for virtual candy.

I have always struggled with what the limit should be...first with T.V. , now with MineCraft, Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions, iPhone Apps, IPad play...yeah it goes on and on.

Honestly, I've done it to us. I am the one who handed my kids the video game platter. I bought the stupid plastic.

But, I am at my limit. After a long winter of gaming, I have decided to pull the plug (sorry for the cliche...but I literally just went around the house and did that to the computer and the xbox.)

Here are my top reasons:

7. When my baseball loving kid would rather sit on the couch and play virtual basketball instead of going to practice

6. When my swimmer throws a fit before swim practice because he'd rather "relax and play the xbox with his brother"--yes, and he uses the "brother unity" card to get mama's heart soft. Brotherly love? Eh...

5. When the kids just can't get a long after a long bout of gaming because they "kill" each other, sabotage each other's MineCraft creations, run upstairs in tears because they hate their brother for all the turmoil he's caused their world.

4. When video game time is up and World War III explodes because of the emotional weaning from game world to real world.

3. When I teach Sunday School, and other zombie children fill prayer request time with MineCraft talk. No way? Yes, way.

2. When Sunday night is mental breakdown and stress drama because they forgot about the homework Mama kept asking about ALL weekend...but they got plenty of time to defeat that world and try a gazillion other games.

1. When real life is seen as breaks from video game time. No, reading a book for 30 minutes does not mean it is a good break from gaming. 

You break from life with entertainment, not the other way around.

So, my boys will walk into the house today, with a big notice at their feet, and I will hang it up on the wall for a reminder. We've got to work on real life character, attitude, responsibility around here. Yes, there will be kicking, screaming, and gnashing of teeth, but caving to my reluctance for more Mama Drama is not going to benefit my kids at all. It's time to put the smack down on gaming. Lord Help Me!

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Place to Go: Faith-Filled Friday

Ever felt like you wanted to run but you didn't know where to go? Sometimes I just want to get out of
my skin. It seems my bruised ego, ringed out heart, my conscience just want to claw their way from within me to some hideaway far from me.

Yeah, I feel like this often when I mess up in my parenting, marriage, and just life in general. And those angry rebels within me are only subdued by returning to only one place: God's word.

If you aren't a Bible reader, then you probably think I am being hokey. But I am dead serious. Whether you believe in it or not, the Scriptures soothe the human heart in such a unique, all-inclusive way, that there really is no denying that they are at least in touch with humanity.

And today, I found the Scripture I needed as a flail about trying to get out of my head, away from my heart, far from my mistakes.

Have a faith-filled Friday...and a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

O Gentle Romeo:TBT

It's where I am at.

Rekindling my love for Shakespeare.

Two decades creative spirit is inspired once again by the ol' bard. Today, as I was looking through some old boxes, I found my script from my senior year when I played Juliet. But my love for Shakespeare grew before that iconic role. And now, as I write novels, I can't help but weave some evidence of the influence of the master writer, Mr. Shakespeare.

So for Throwback Thursday, I want to show off the script that was once my gem as a high school senior who'd spent three years working her way to center stage.

I love seeing my stage directions written above, also my character analysis, emotions, and movements. Not much different than the habits of an author. My acting days were, perhaps, "setting the stage" for my desire to write fiction? There are many similarities, actually.  The arts are connected in that way.

Those days of being part of a competitive theatre department were tough just like the journey of a writer, for sure. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of tears, and a lot of rejection. But in the end, my dream came true.

I am hoping for the same thing in my writing.

Thank you all for reading. Thank you for encouraging. And most of all, thank you for praying.