flush it!

 

20 lbs down. 15 to go!

I’m happy to report that I’ve officially lost 20 lbs! Right around Christmas, I got on the scales and realized I weighed the most I’ve ever weighed WITHOUT being pregnant. Ewwwww!  The sad part is I put this 20 lbs on in the last 2 years while training for half marathons. How crazy is that?  I basically gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted because “I was training for a half marathon.”  Wow. I wish I had a nickel every time I said that before stuffing my face with another slice of pizza or red velvet cupcake.

I’m now back at the size I was when I wanted to lose only 15 lbs.  I’m so grateful I’m back at the starting line, but  really ready to go the extra distance to be where I want to be…once and for all. And get this stupid monkey off my back! I always said after I had Haley … “if I could just get back into my bathing suit.” After Abbey … “if I could just get back in my jeans.” If I’d had a third, it would’ve been … “if i could just get back in my moo-moo.”  True.

This is how motivated I am right now: The other night I was in a hotel. They had left a cookies & cream candy bar on my pillow. First of all, I hate white chocolate. It’s way too waxy & sugary for me. BUT…having had no sugar in a long long time, I was seriously considering it.  I opened the wrapper and even stared at it, contemplating whether to break off a corner and reward my 20 lbs with a small bite. As I broke off the corner – and arguing with myself in my head the whole time – I found myself continuing to break the candy bar into a million little pieces. I then glanced around the room and thought, “what can I do with this candy bar to ensure that I don’t eat it?” There was no battery acid anywhere, so I walked into the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet. I flushed in 3 segments, fearing I might back up the toilet. Can you see me now calling maintenance for a clogged commode? Maintenance guy: “tummy upset?” me: “nope. just flushing candy bars.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done with food to ensure you wouldn’t eat it? I will share your answers on the show next week!

sometimes mommas need to apologize too.

 

I wasn’t an easy person to live with this past weekend. For various reasons – unmet expectations, miscommunication, fatigue, selfishness, and simply just being in a funk – I was a pretty big snot to my family. While I may’ve been “justified” in some of my feelings, my terrible emotional response was the furthest thing from Christ-like and certainly not something I am proud of.

Gonna be pretty honest here….I am grateful we’ve built a community where we can be. My motivation is always to share and show that I am a work in progress.

On Sunday, after my first tantrum, I went for a walk, pouring my heart out to the Lord. I was crying one minute and yelling the next. And I definitely did some yelling. After I got home from my walk, round 2 began and it ended with slammed doors and slammed hearts. The scripture about not letting the sun set on your anger – I didn’t obey it.

When the sun rose yesterday morning, the hurt, anger and pride were all still there. I didn’t pray on my way in, and I didn’t listen to scripture via YouVersion as I usually do. But – as typical – I confessed my sin to Dave and Bill as soon as I walked in the studio. I’m pretty good at spilling with them. They’re a captive audience. Because they have to be. Poor guys…

We do a planning meeting on Mondays at lunchtime, choosing a random local restaurant as our “off campus” office. Yesterday, the restaurant we chose had changed their hours, so we headed down the road to a place we’d never been before. We were finishing up our meeting, when Krispy and I had resorted to singing and “dancing” in the booth to the 70′s & 80′s music that was playing overhead.

That’s when I noticed Alan. (I didn’t know that was his name at the time.) At first glance, I could see Alan had a disability. It was clear his body moved involuntarily, but he grabbed my attention because he really seemed to be singing & dancing along with us, across the restaurant. I thought it was precious. We were the only ones still there, so I spoke over the dining room, telling him I saw him gettin’ down with us! I assumed (wrongly) the woman he was with was his caregiver, and after a few minutes, felt like she may’ve perceived I was making fun of Alan. I was mortified at even the thought, so I asked Krispy to let me out so I could walk over and make additional congenial conversation, in hopes of clearing any misconceptions.

And that’s when the Lord used Alan to give me the attitude adjustment I so desperately needed.

As I was walking over to the table, the beautiful – AND BUFF! – blonde woman Alan was with, was on the phone. Alan was so excited seeing me walk towards him. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you I assumed (wrongly!) that Alan was mentally challenged and probably had the capacity of a child.

I couldn’t have been MORE wrong. Seriously wrong.

When I reached the table, Alan, unable to speak, grabbed his iPhone and typed out “your Carmen from the Joy FM.”

tears.

He knew who I was.

My pathetic, selfish self.

I nodded and said, “yes, yes I am.”

He typed: “I recognized your laugh.”

I continued to nod and hold back the tears.

He went on: “y’all called my business’s name last year at share-a-thon.”

I grabbed his phone and typed: “what is your name?”

He typed back: “I can hear.”

I typed: “ok”

He typed again, “I can hear.”

I grabbed his phone again. And that’s when it sunk in! He can hear! I don’t have to type! We laughed.

He type-told me he listened to the station all the time, that he was a photographer, and that’d he’d love to come out and take pictures anytime for us.

I was stunned. I had so many emotions wash over me, especially shock that he wasn’t intellectually challenged at all! Mentally, he was just fine! I was also ashamed. Ashamed that he thought I was somebody I wasn’t. Somebody that I’m not. If he’d been privy to the last 48 hours, he would’ve seen a very different Carmen. Alan told me I had no idea how excited he was to meet me. Truth was, he had NO idea how happy I was to be meeting him! In those very moments, God was breaking my heart and bringing me back to center. There was such a purity in Alan, an innocence. He was so genuine with absolutely no pretense. It’s so humbling to meet folks who are clearly living to please the Lord, and not this world. And unlike me – so many days – living to please ourselves. God was gently lifting my eyes back up to what was most important in life, and that it was certainly NOT what I was so bent out of shape about over the weekend.

When Stephanie hung up the phone, I introduced myself. I asked, “…and you are?….”

Stephanie: “his wife.”

Stunned. Again! And more emotions mixed in…admiration. questions. humbled. But mainly just so deeply touched God would allow our paths to cross with these new friends. We spent the next 45 minutes visiting and getting to know one another. Stephanie had her laptop there and showed us Alan’s photography and video work. It was so great!! And then they told us about a ministry they’re involved in, Care 2 Tri, that helps disabled individuals do things they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to do. Mainly, triathalons. (think Team Hoyt.) BTW, did I mention Stephanie was BUFF? Goodness gracious! She’s beautiful! It became obvious that she was equally beautiful on the inside. She and Alan have been married 17 years. Because of his genetic illness, Wilson’s Disease, Alan slurs his words making it nearly impossible to understand him. But Stephanie doesn’t miss a beat! She understands his language and speaks it fluently. She’s been a volunteer with Care 2 Tri for a while and is also on the Board of Directors. She’s currently training for her first event on May 26 (my anniversary, oh btw) in which she’ll pull a carriage so someone handicapped can participate in a 5K. They volunteer together, and Alan most recently took pictures at the St. Anthony’s event in St. Pete. What a team they are! And what sweet spirits they both have.

I got in my car and burst into tears. I was so grateful that this time God chose to “discipline” me with new friends who left me speechless. I repented for my selfishness and pride, praying sincerely, “Lord, help me decrease! And give me more of you, Jesus. Oh how I need You. Every hour I need You. And thank You that You are so merciful with me.”

As often is the case – or maybe it’s just because I’m in the music biz – I heard with new ears, a song I’ve been listening to for months. It’s Christy Nockels‘ “For your Splendor” on her new cd Into The Glorious.

here’s the line:

“Sometimes it’s hard to grow when everybody’s watching. To have your heart pruned by the one who knows best…
with my roots deep in You. I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit….”

My heart needed some pruning. I am grateful our Father loves us enough to do it.

I walked in the back door. I saw Abbey first. Still crying, I told my youngest, “sometimes mommas need to apologize too.”

new friends, alan & stephanie

 

prayer journal.

You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. -Acts 2:28

for the last few weeks, i’ve been looking specifically for a prayer journal. who knew they’d be SO hard to find?!  seriously, try finding them! now admittedly, i wanted a spiral bound (easier to write in) and there were certain categories or tabs i wanted included. but last night i accepted the fact that what i was looking for does not exist. so…i got over myself and bought a regular lined journal. sometimes, i can get so caught up in the packaging & presentation that i forget the point.

and the point is i want to be more disciplined in prayer. i also want to pray consistently for those that i say i’m praying for. i’m sometimes good at praying the 1st prayer, but rarely is there a 2nd or 3rd. just being honest. but, i wanna be better. i want to commit to pray for my family, my friends, and our community on a regular basis!  AND, i want to spend more time WITH Jesus.

do you have a journal? prayer journal? any tips or advice on what’s been helpful for you?  help me do it the “write” way! haha. kidding! i know there is no right way. but i’d love to hear from some of you seasoned journalers.

created.

 

hey guys,

this saturday, several of us from team freedom are getting together at the underground in ybor city to learn more about how we can get involved with created. i originally only sent this to our team freedom members, but the more i thought about it, the more i felt there may be more of our listeners in the tampa bay area that might like to get involved with this ministry even though you weren’t involved with our run earlier this year.

so…. i know it’s last minute, but if there are any of you that are interested in coming, please put your email in the comments section of this post, and i will send you an evite for saturday. we’re getting together from 1-3.

this is not an “official” JOY FM event, but more something i am doing personally. however – of course – things that i am personally involved in always spill over to the show. that’s why we call it “doing life together!” this organization is very near to my heart, and i’ve gotten to know many of the women of created. and i love their hearts and their ministry. you may’ve heard devony & april’s stories when we had them on air a few months ago, as well as joann & keisha’s,…the ones who make it all happen.

here’s a partial screen shot of the evite:

if you'd like to come, send me your email addy in the comments section of this post, and i'll send you evite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an important note to those coming:

please read carefully

With.

 

This is the one of the best talks I’ve heard in a while. The speaker’s name is Skye Jethani. The talk is about 25 mins long (don’t let the timer in the bottom right hand corner throw you), but it’ll be some of the best 25 mins you spend! Our staff watched this during our spiritual enrichment this week.  And even though the talk was about young people, and why the church is losing them, it was extremely relevant to adults too.

There are several things that have stayed with me this week…..

1) The “postures” we assume. (my personal tendency: under)

2) Do we have a relationship with God or do we have a relationship with the Bible? (of course, we’re suppose to be in God’s Word. But I confess to you, I often pick up my bible and read it, long before I will get down on my knees and pray.)

3) The Gospel is not how people get to Heaven. The Gospel is how people get to God.

4) Would you be happy being in Heaven even if Jesus weren’t there?

I really encourage you to find a quiet corner, and WATCH.  Totally worth your time. Since watching, I’ve said to myself a thousand times: “with God. with God. with God…”

I think you will too.

http://www.experiencelumen.com/?page_id=473

 

Denver’s Obituary.

 

Ron just forwarded me Denver’s obituary. Because so many of you feel like you know him too, I wanted to share with you. Thank you for caring so much! I love that you love him!! And I can’t wait for you to know him in Heaven one day!

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this picture is from our last visit. and i love love LOVE this picture of him. he looked so cute in his overalls!

The gates of heaven swung open on Saturday, March 31, 2012, and Denver Moore went walkin’ in! He had sung those words of his favorite old spiritual countless times, receiving standing ovations all across America. He dreamed of heaven and was ready to march in with the saints and be reunited with Miss Debbie, the woman who believed he would make a difference. He was 75 years old.

Though his lips were always flappin’ like Bible pages, he would say, he never claimed to be a preacher, just a sinner saved by grace with a message of hope for those that didn’t have any.

His story, well known by millions, is told in SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME, a word-of-mouth best-selling book that spent 3 1/2 years as a New York Times best-seller. His follow up book WHAT DIFFERENCE DO IT MAKE, tells the rest of his story.

Denver, formerly homeless, spent much of his life on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas, until Deborah Hall (Miss Debbie to him) dreamt of this poor man with wisdom that would change the city. And did he ever! A few years after her dream, Denver was honored as the Philanthropist of the Year for his ministry and fund-raising for the homeless in Fort Worth. Upon accepting that honor, he shared the story of his transformation that he first told on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. “God is in the recycling business,” he said “What most folks in Fort Worth thought was trash on the streets, God turned into a treasure! “ Amen to that.

In 2007, Barbara Bush selected SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME to be featured at her Celebration of Reading fund-raisers in Dallas and Washington DC. Denver was honored to meet the President and attend a private luncheon in the White House with Bush family members and four other best-selling authors. As he pulled away from the White House in a long blue limousine, he told his co-author, Ron Hall, “I done gone from livin’ in the bushes to eatin’ with the Bushes. God bless America,” he exclaimed, “This is a great country!”

Since 2005, Denver spoke at more than 400 fund-raising events, and countless radio and TV shows. He attained rock star status with his fans but the only introduction he ever wanted was, “Tell ‘em I’m a NOBODY that is tryin’ to tell EVERYBODY about SOMEBODY that can save ANYBODY.” And he did. That “Somebody” was Jesus, and Denver woke up in His arms on Saturday. His famous quote and the final words in his book are “We are all homeless workin’ our way home”. Welcome home friend; you were a good and faithful servant.

He is survived by two daughters, Tracy and Marva, and two sons, Thomas and Curtis. He leaves behind millions of folks forever changed by his testimony.

A celebration of his life and passing will be held on April 12, at 2 pm in Fort Worth, Texas, at McKinney Memorial Bible Church, 4805 Arborlawn Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76109. It is open to all who loved him and want to honor him.

Donations made to the Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County, 1331 East Lancaster Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76102 will keep hope alive for the hopeless.

Denver.

 

My heart is super heavy today. I received a call from my friend Ron this morning telling me Denver passed away in his sleep last night. I am grateful he went so peacefully. And I am rejoicing that his faith is now his sight….that his faith is now perfected!  He is home indeed! But gosh, we are going to miss him here. There was nobody quite like Denver! And I soaked up every minute I got to spend with him. He turned 75 this past January. Denver’s health had been failing the last couple of years. I was planning a trip to go and see them this summer (as I have many summers since I met them years ago). So, I’m sad I won’t get to see him again this side of heaven. And while I type this through tears, I am so incredibly grateful God gifted me with his friendship the years that He did.

me & denver

I’m re-posting a blog I wrote a year and a half ago when Denver was reunited with his daughter, Tracy. After spending the last hour looking through all of the pictures from this phenomenal evening, I am pretty certain the only other reunion that will rival this one, is the one that is yet to come….

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August 2010

Let me just say up front that I absolutely, positively do NOT believe in coincidences.

Never have.

Never will.

And after this week, I’m as resolute as I’ve ever been in this belief.

For  years, I’ve been fanatical about the book, Same Kind of Different As Me. If you’ve never listened to our show, the quick synopsis is this: The book was written by Ron Hall, an international art dealer, & Denver Moore, a homeless man for more than 30 years, who grew up a prisoner… first to virtual slavery as a sharecropper and later as an inmate at Angola Prison. The story is theirs. It’s a divine story of how Providence caused their paths to cross in a way that only could’ve been penned by God. Again, no coincidences….

In 2006, through tears, I read their story for the first time. Immediately, I knew that I wanted them to be on our show, and I made a phone call to their publicist. To my surprise, Ron returned my call himself and said he and Denver would be delighted to come to Florida. I was over the moon. As luck would have it (yeah right!) Ron & Denver were speaking in Ft. Myers a few weeks later, and I drove down to meet them. It sounds so cheesy to say, but there was an immediate connection. We became instant friends. This pic is from that night in Ft. Myers: (I had cried all my make up off!)

me, denver, ron, mary

A few months after us meeting for the first time, I picked Ron & Denver up at Tampa International Airport and drove them over the Skyway to our studios in Sarasota. And that was all she wrote…..

Relationship happened.

And what a ride it has been.

Book signings.
Desserts. Lots of ‘em.
Visits to Dallas.
Trips to Rocky Top.
Lots of conversation.
Paintings by Denver. Hung proudly in my office!
High tea on Madison Avenue in NY. (Much to the chagrin of the well-bred women in high falootin’ hats.)
YoungLife speaking engagements.
Bike Ride for the Homeless in honor of Denver.
Flights to Nashville (at which Bill & I lost Denver in the airport!)
Movie deals.
Lunches.
More conversation.
Another Bike Ride for the Homeless.
Videos filmed.
Second book.
Chapter affectionately titled (I’m choosing to believe) “Bossy White Lady”
More sharing.
More trips to Texas.
And. And. And….

dave, ron, me, denver, bill

All that to say …. Ron Hall & Denver Moore have become family to us. We love them with our whole hearts and have counted it a complete privilege we get to call them friends. We’ve talked about this book for  YEARS! And as Bill humorously puts it … “If Carmen finds out you haven’t read SKDAM, expect a copy and deadline.” It’s true.

Additionally, every person on our staff has read it. It’s pretty much become a requirement for employment! It’s also become a requirement for friendship! Kidding. Sort of.

I think I’m so taken with their story because it’s the story of how God can bring beauty from ashes. Visible ashes. And not so visible ones.  It’s a story of rescue, redemption, and restoration.And this past Monday night was yet another piece in the redemption and restoration. It was a beautiful night. So beautiful that I’ll never be able to properly articulate how beautiful it was.

Denver has several children. He reunited with his daughter Tracy a few years ago. He’s visited her a couple of times in California when his speaking engagements & travels have taken him there. However, Tracy had never visited her father in Dallas. Nor had Ron ever met Tracy or her family.

But let me back up for just a moment.

Earlier this year, Denver had been in and out of the hospital due to complications with diabetes. It had been a year since I’d seen Denver, so I was missing him and itching to get to Texas. Additionally Ron has an uh-MAZING ranch an hour-and-a-half west of Dallas/Ft. Worth. It overlooks the Brazos River, in the middle of nowhere, no internet, etc…. a great place to unplug. He’s always been incredibly gracious to let me stay there. I was craving that too.

I invited a few friends and booked a flight. In perfect Ron Hall style, he rolled out the red carpet only asking what time we landed so he could “organize the parade”. Direct quote. Yep, his hospitality is as big as the state in which he lives. After catching up at Ron’s Dallas home for a bit, I asked Denver if he wanted to come to the ranch with us. (Years ago Ron made him a fantastic guest suite above the barn. This thing is PLUSH!).Denver told me he couldn’t come because he didn’t want to get too far from the hospital, and that his daughter was coming in the next day.

SAY WHAT?!

“You’re daughter is coming here? To Dallas?”

“Yes, Miss Common. She’s comin here tomorrow eve’nin.”

I went on to gush over how wonderful that was. We visited for a while longer and then my friends and I headed to Ft. Worth to see the mission and on to the ranch.

Fast-forward a few days.

Denver decided he wanted to have a dinner party. (Now I must note here it’s easier to nail Jell-O to a wall than to nail Denver down!) So the fact that he was pulling everyone together was simply incredible and too cute for words! After living on the streets all those years, Denver still sometimes feels confined indoors. And to have a set time or appointment with him? Ha! At best, it’s a wing and a prayer. Ask Ron.

But according to Denver, he wanted Tracy to meet the “people that had changed his life”. To be sure, it certainly was NOT/is NOT me who changed Denver’s life. That credit goes entirely to Miss Debbie, Sister Bettie, Ron, Carson, and Reagan. And of course, ultimately God. But that goes without saying. I only share Denver’s statement to tell you what a complete honor it was to be invited to this dinner. And the timing? Are you kidding me? Really? Tracy here while I’m here too?! No way!! Only God….

We drove in from the ranch to Denver’s favorite restaurant in Dallas. It’s a little Italian place just north of the city. We all pulled up at the same time and to any on-looker it was a family reunion for the ages. We were all “brothers from a different mother” so to speak. I was certainly the cream filling in the middle of the Oreo. :) Sidenote: Denver & I are so color-blind about color that we can actually joke about it. It’s very freeing….

Once inside, we hugged, took pictures, shared stories, hugged some more, and took more pictures. Carson recounted for Tracy the night after his mom died how they’d decided it was time for Denver to come and live with them. He talked about going down to the streets to get Denver. “I didn’t want to go with you, but I knows if I didn’t, you’s gone git yourself killed.” Denver quickly interjected. To which Denver followed up that story by telling Tracy that I almost got him killed too. “She put me in that convertible of hers and then took the top down. I just knew I’s either gone git shot or have a wreck. One a the two.”

if you've read the book, you know why denver was scared to death to ride with a white woman.

Dinner arrived and Ron stood up to say the blessing. No sooner had Ron sat down, Tracy said to the dozen of us there: “I have a few things that I’d like to say.”

The floor was absolutely hers.

Full of grace, THE most beautiful, well-spoken, delightful, “I’ve got the joy of the Lord” woman stood up and addressed the table. For the next several minutes she talked about what it meant to have her father back. She acknowledged all the folks that had played a part in his life. She spoke of the utter joy that she felt; that each day was a gift and a blessing. She shared that she and Denver spoke everyday about everything and that he was her best friend.

Tracy radiated Jesus. With her father sitting next to her, a perfect picture of reconciliation was evident. Total forgiveness. Complete restoration. Redemption.

denver with his daughter & family

Tracy then locked eyes with Ron. “Ron, thank you, for seeing in my dad what so many others couldn’t see. I will always be grateful to you and Miss Debbie for loving him. Thank you, Ron, for seeing that he was the same kind of different as you.”

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If you’ve gotten down this far on the blog, then you have a glimpse of just how incredibly special Denver was. And if you’ve not read Same Kind of Different As Me, you should!

I’d love your prayers for Denver’s family, for Ron, and for all the ones who loved him so. Denver’s legacy outlives his physical body. And I guess that’s everyone’s prayer, huh?

I love you, Denver.
and I miss you already.
and if there really are neighborhoods in Heaven, I hope my house is right next to yours.
And I promise, I won’t be as bossy up there.

having tea in NYC on Madison Avenue. Goodness, did we get some stares. ha!

Storm.

He can still the storm to a whisper. -Psalm 107:29

From time to time, God gives me these “platinum” moments that allow me to see the relationship He has with me and how it mirrors my relationship with my daughters. I treasure these “ah-ha” moments because they remind me that He is so incredibly personal with us.

We live in Florida. In the summertime, we have tropical afternoon thunderstorms. You can count on them rolling through like you can count on the summer humidity giving you a bad hair day. Equally absolute, these thunderstorms roll through fast, and the skies can go from blue and bright to black and ominous in a matter of minutes.

One Sunday afternoon after church, my husband Pete and our oldest daughter Haley decided to go get a quick workout at our local YMCA right around the corner from our house. I was home with my youngest, Abbey, who was probably 11 or 12 years old at the time. Pete and Haley were due home from the gym any minute. Needing to return a couple of things at the mall and knowing it closed at six, I decided to leave before Pete and Haley got home. I gave Abbey the cordless phone as she was watching TV, and told her daddy would be home in a minute.

Fifteen minutes later, I was on the interstate southbound entering a nasty, lightening-throwing, violent storm. This was the kind of storm that makes you want to pull over and wait it out on the side of the road. Unwisely, I slowed down but continued to drive right through the storm. The rain was blowing sideways and blinding me. I drove as slowly as I could, emergency flashers on, my concentration fixed on the white lines that marked the darkened, flooding asphalt. Within five minutes, I began to see beams of sunlight. The rain was starting to subside a bit. Within a couple of minutes, I was back up to interstate speed (or perhaps a little faster!) and saw nothing but blue skies ahead. Of course, I could still see the thunderstorm in my rearview mirror.

As I was pulling into the mall parking lot, my cell rang and abbey was on the other end. “Mommy, daddy’s not home yet, and it’s lightening and thundering outside. It’s really dark, mom, and I’m scared. This storm is big!” Naturally my heart broke at the thought of my baby girl being home by herself, scared. I immediately began to reassure her. “Honey, it’s gonna be O.K. I promise!” As I said these next words to her, I immediately heard them in my head, as if God the Father were saying them to me: “Abbey, daddy will be home in a minute. I know it’s scary, but KNOW this… I just went through the storm and I am already on the other side of it. It’s not that big, I promise you! I can see the other side. I’ll stay on the phone with you until it passes.”

After I hung up with Abbey, tears welled up in my eyes, as I realized the picture that God had just painted so clearly for me. Recalling the experience brought several cloudy thoughts into clear view:

• “Daddy will be home in a minute” – God is coming back for us one day. He will be home in a minute.

• “I just went through the storm, and I am already on the other side of it.” – Jesus did go through the storm…for US! We are on the “already through” side of the cross.

• “I can see the other side.” – In the middle of our storms, God can see the other side, even when we can’t.

• “I’ll stay on the phone with you until it passes.” – The Holy Spirit stays “on the phone” with us, communing with us, until the storm passes. Actually He never hangs up!

When I got home a few hours later, I told Abbey about the parallels I had felt God speaking to me through this particular afternoon storm. It changed both of us.

And to this day, I can’t drive through a thunderstorm, without thinking about the storm from a Kingdom perspective.

 

Love.

 

i’m sitting at my kitchen table listening to urban cowboy (don’t judge!) on my new “old fashioned” record player pete got me for my birthday. he and abbey are at basketball practice, and i’m packing to be away from home for the next 17 days. (2 friendraisers. fl & atl). happy about friendraiser. sad about being away from home that long.

but, i’m taking a break from packing, to blog. and i wanted to blog for 2 reasons:

1) it’s leap day, so i wanted to have an entry that said, “february 29.” i won’t be able to do it again for another 4 years! btw, i’ve actually thought about all the folks that are having birthdays today. i’m sure they do it up! if they don’t, they should.

2) i’m still basking in the glow of this past weekend. my muscles aren’t really sore anymore. and i’m kinda bummed about that. i like having battle wounds, aches & pains! i’m weird, i know. haha.

i heard a quote years ago. it was this:

True love cannot be found where it does not truly exist, nor can it be hidden where it truly does. 

while i’m almost certain the quote was meant for the romantic, “the guys gets the girl” kinda thing …. tonight i’m thinking of our community. i’ve been so OVERWHELMED by the outpouring of love and support for Team Freedom. i’m reading through emails now from participants, participant’s husbands, listeners, friends & family …. all sharing with me how God used this outreach to love on them in a way they never knew. it is so true: He can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

of course, we came together to raise support and awareness for human trafficking. and we did. but the “side” stories are just as powerful to me. one in particular is from a woman whose husband reluctantly came to the princess pasta party. after hearing the stories of telisia and devony, he apologized to her on the way home for not supporting her through her training, and said, “please forgive me. and when you cross the finish line, i will be there.”

i could tell you of dozens more. but here’s what i want you to hear….

the thing i LOVE most about our JOY community is that LOVE exist. and it canNOT be hidden. we LOVE God. and we LOVE each other.

and i LOVE you!

happy leap day!

Team Freedom

tiff, car, nat, trish

sunday evening thoughts.

 

i’ve been in a bit of a funk the last few days. i had 2 cruddy runs this week, after having a fantastic run week, the week before. i’m within a week of playing host to about 200 people, and wanting to make sure everyone is good; their expectations exceeded. it’s the perfectionist side of me. i’m pretty good at visioning and managing projects, but the devil is in the details, and trying to manage all of the little last minute details…zaps my energy faster than anything. i’ve also had a couple of folks i’ve not been able to accommodate. sadly, i wear their disappointment in me like a wet sweater. as much as i try to “shake” it, i have a hard time divorcing what i know to be true vs. their words and emotional blackmail. add to that, a hard situation at work this past week….so yeah, i’ve been a little blah. but of course, the thing that makes me the most blah is that i get blah-er when i know i’m letting my irrational “blah-ness” make me blah to begin with.

yes, i am crazy. please tell me somebody can relate! ha.

one thing i’ve remembered for sure this week is that we have an enemy. and boy, do we. when natalie and i decided to commit to this half marathon to raise money for human trafficking last july, neither of us knew how tested we would be during this journey. it’s almost laughable the things that have happened in the last 7 months to each of us.  she’s battling strep throat, as i write. so pray for her!!  it’s seriously been one thing after another. but God’s word tell us that our battle is not against flesh and blood (ephesians 6:12) and i’ve felt that in a very real way the last few months. i think natalie would say the same. but we, as a community, are taking on the darkest of the dark. and darkness himself wants to discourage us, defeat us, and battle us mentally, spiritually, and physically. but he will not win. nope, this is when i have to dig deep. press in. and live what i say i believe. and yes – even if i’m feeling blah.

on friday night, i went to a bible study at a “safe house”, if you will, for women who are leaving a life of prostitution. created is a ministry whose heart is for vulnerable women. they’re a Christian organization committed to the restoration of women involved in the sex industry. created desperately wants to show women their value, beauty and destiny in Jesus. as i sat in the room with these beautiful women – all at different stages of their restoration – i was overwhelmed at the path God has paved this last year. i went back to last summer…sitting at my kitchen table, signing up for the princess half again, mainly just to get my lazy butt out exercising, in spite of the blazing heat and humidity. and here i am 7 months later being introduced to a world i didn’t even know existed – in less miles near me – than the mileage i signed up to run.

we (the morning cruise) will be introducing you to our new friends on thursday of this week. i can’t wait for you to meet them. you’ll meet devony. she was trafficked. but only after her pimp removed her braces with pliers in a hotel room. and then he put her to work. and you’ll meet april. april wasn’t trafficked, but she was in bondage, for sure. both devony and april now minister in the very places they were rescued from….. they are my heroes.

clean out your closet and give to created's thrift store!

i spent the day cleaning out my closet. i cranked up whitney’s greatest hits and i went to work. i made piles of jeans, pants, dresses, coats, purses (many still with tags. how ridiculous is that!) …. all stuff that i thought i wanted at some point in my life. but have no need for – or even wear anymore. i will be taking my folded piles to created’s thrift store this week. one of the important steps in restoration is meaningful work. and micro businesses offer such opportunities to women who are trying to restore their lives. it’s also very easy to pull stuff out of your closet when you see the faces that your excess can help.

well, it’s time to head to bed. thanks for letting me share my thoughts, struggles and heart with you tonight.  i’d love your prayers this week. thank you so so much. i am so grateful that we serve a God who is powerful, yet so personal. He is good. and faithful. and His grace IS enough. of course, He led me to this scripture this evening. it overwhelms me that He loves me so much that He would direct me to His very word that I needed to hear. His Word is alive and meets us right where we are.

Ephesians 6:10-12 MSG version:

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish. 

it IS a fight to the finish. a fight to the finish in life. a fight to the finish over the finish line next week. a fight to the finish in abolishing human trafficking.

i’m in.

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