Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Green Pastures.

This past month, life has taken turn after turn. At the end of last month, Tanner and I had our Baby Step 1 finished (Dave Ramsey) and were excited to use that money to continue saving for the upcoming holidays and start knocking out our debt! Then we got the news. Due to work being slow because of the oil industry being slow, Tanner's hours were cut down to 32 instead of 40, he gets a day off every week. That extra money was gone. God is good and we had to adjust our budget, but we weren't/aren't hurting for money. We have enough to continue paying all of our bills, have plenty of grocery, restaurant, and gas money, and we still had some left to put in each of our pocket money, Halloween expenses, and some in our saving for our trip to Ohio for Thanksgiving.

For a while, I was distraught. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all the kids dressed up in their costumes and I love dressing up in a costume, decorating our trunk for trunk-or-treat, and giving out candy. I had a whole plan for what we were going to do this year. Unfortunately, adult costumes are expensive (WHY?!) and I was looking at spending 100+ dollars on the costumes, some trunk decor, a "costume" for our dog, and candy. With the news, that was no longer a possibility.

See, I lean toward the saver side. Thus, when we got some extra money in from loving people to which we are EXTREMELY grateful(!), Tanner said we should put it in our holiday fund and I KNEW he was right. I didn't argue. But I was still sad.

On the bright side, we think we can pull off something with things we already have AND still incorporate our puppy! We are still working out the kinks, and Tanner is still trying to get excited about Halloween. ;P I love him so very much, but this is a holiday we differ on. I get super excited, and he doesn't. But that perfectly okay. :) Pink and blue. Not wrong, just different. :)

Anywho, I got to thinking about the timing of this news that we had gotten. Tanner has been looking at going back to college, and we just got our emergency fund fully funded. It was as if it was the prefect time. Tanner wouldn't get stressed with having a full time job, teaching the youth on Wednesday Nights, AND going to school as he would have a day off. Our budget would be fine and if an emergency came up we would be prepared. On top of all that, one of our friends offered to pay Tanner to do some work at his house. Friends are awesome. :)

So, today I am thankful. I am thankful that we have money to pay for the things we need and some. I am thankful for the green pastures God leads us to. He is an amazing and loving God. I trust He will always lead us in the ways to go. God always gives us just enough. I am thankful for the friends God has put in our lives. Our lives have been enriched by them. We have been blessed immensely from our time so far at Riverside Church of Christ.

I'd like to encourage you to focus on the things you are thankful for today. Focus on the green pastures that God leads you to. He has your best interest in mind even if you can't quite see it yet.
"The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters."
~ Psalms 23:1-2

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Post Anniversary Post

Yesterday marked three years of being married to my amazing husband. It really doesn't feel like it's been that long! It feels like I've known him forever (in a good way), but it also feel like we just started this journey yesterday. Being a Tuesday also made me have to remind myself it was our Anniversary! Though Tanner did go out of his way to make it special. :)

Instead of eating at work like he usually does, he met me at Pizza Artista. :) Then we went out to dinner last night at Texas Roadhouse and then SubZero (they make the ice cream while you're standing there! Apparently they were on Shark Tank.) for dessert.

Lunch date at Pizza Artistia

I know I have a very special man when he wants to take me out to a fancy dinner and splurge on me. :) I am so very thankful for him. God has really blessed me through Tanner and our marriage.

Happy 3rd Year Anniversary, babe. I love you so very much. I am looking forward to what the next year brings, ups, downs, and all. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stay Real

There's this guy. He has a blog. His blog is about his journey to loose weight. I know what you're thinking. Every blog about loosing weight or fitness is all about tips and tricks and all positive, full of "You can do it!" or "I got this!" or "Exercise is fun!"

His blog is refreshing because it doesn't have ANY of that! He is so real that some of his blog posts are about how he is struggling or how angry he is, or how he FEELS ALONE.

I can't tell you how awesome that is. You KNOW how awesome that is! For someone to put their REAL feelings out there, to commit to being open and honest and not sugar coating anything! To blatantly say, "This sucks!"

In my opinion, that's what I want to read. It tells me that I am not alone in feeling down or in a funk or just plain sad.

He is an inspiration for all of us to simply stay real. It doesn't matter what other people think. At least we can't be called fakers if we are honest about what is going on.

Read his blog here. It's not professional, but it's real, it's honest.

Most of all, stay real.

To Jeff Bobb, thank you for being real.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Positivity Struggles

This past week has been met with many a thing. Tanner and I were glad it was finally the weekend and things looked bright! We spent the day playing video games and relaxing, but finally got stir-crazy enough that we decided we'd use that extra money left in July's budget (woot!) for restaurants to go out and get a snack since it was happy hour at Sonic.

There we decided finally get my car washed! I suggested we check out the family owned place that dries your car after it goes through the wash. We get there, pay for the wash in which they clean out the car. A few minutes after we had been inside, one of the guys comes in wondering whose red Pontiac they had. Tanner stood up and the guy said, "You have a flat tire."

This surprised us both. We hadn't heard anything, the tires didn't look flat at all when we got out. Suspiciously, Tanner went out and checked it out with them. Turns out my car got out of alignment and my two front tires were worn to the belt.

Thankfully, Tanner had the good jack in the back and he got the spare on the one that was flat so they could get it through the wash. My wonderful husband came back inside, frustrated, and told me what happened. My heart sunk. Tanner kept telling me it was a miracle that we had driven on it without anything happening for so long, but all I could think about was that we were going to need to buy two new tires (at least) and we were still working on getting our $1000 emergency fund back in place to complete Dave Ramsey's Baby Step 1 so we could move on to Baby Step 2 which is tackling our debt!

They finished my car and we went outside only to find new scratches on my car door. Both the passenger side, and the driver side.
Passenger door scratches.

Driver door scratch (gouge).
Unfortunately, we didn't see the extent until we got home and thus there was no point in going back. Tanner is also not completely sure they the scratches happened there. Add on to that the tires that could blow any minute if we drove on them.

I cried the whole way home. He was trying to stay positive and all I could do was cry because we were going to have to use our emergency fund once again. (We had to use most of it, since we had actually complete Baby Step 1, last month for Tanner's wisdom teeth removal. Though God provided there too so we had plenty to cover it and we got to pay in cash so we got the cash discount! :D )

It seemed hopeless. I felt as though we were never going to get to Baby Step 2 and we would always be stuck on Baby Step 1 thus we wouldn't get out non-mortgage debt paid off until 2027 or something crazy like that. It seemed Murphy's law had struck again. It seemed like Murphy was here to stay.

Sunday, I was still pretty down. As I got ready for church, my eye started to hurt. I tried all my usual tactics but I started to fear it was my contact. I refused to take them out, much to Tanner's displeasure, and we headed off to church. I suffered through the pain all through class and worship and our youth small group. We got home and Tanner had forgotten as I hadn't said anything for a while. SO, we sat and played video games until I said something about it hurting and he threatened to turn the game off if I didn't take them out.

Begrudgingly, I went upstairs and took the one that was hurting out first. Tanner came up with me, probably make sure I actually did it. :P

OH THE PAIN! Normally it hurts a little if I take out a contact that has been bothering me simply because the eye is irritated. But this! This was SO much worse! My eye watered and it was hard to keep it open! I told Tanner, "It feels like there is still something on my eye!"

I managed to pry it open and touch my eye where I felt something. I looked at my finger and there WAS something still in my eye! To me it looked like a piece of plastic, but Tanner informed me it was more likely some polyester or something.

In all that process, I realized that I had been wearing my last pair of contacts. It was time to order more. Another thing the emergency fund was going to have to cover since contacts are SO expensive and we hadn't planned for that expense. I was able to use what was left for July, as it would have gone into the fund anyway, so I didn't have to pull so much out.

Thus, for the last couple days I have been in a HUGE slump. I was having to wear my glasses so my eyes could heal (and if you know me, you know how much I HATE wearing glasses), we found out that my tire size is such a weird size that hardly anyone carries them in stock, we were looking  at the cost of buying the tires, getting them balanced and such, and then getting an alignment done; it was like the bad was never ending.

Tanner has been staying positive. He realizes the fact that it's not a big deal because we DO have the money we do set aside for these types of things. If we hadn't just gone through Financial Peace University, this would have devastated us and it would have had to go on one of the credit cards because we wouldn't have had the money. Tanner knows that we are going to be okay and that God is going to take care of us. He knows that as long as we stick to the plan, we will be back on track and tackling the debt in no time.

I know all of this to be true. I know that God is going to take care of us. However, I'm struggling to be grateful. I'm struggling to stay positive. I don't have my car to drive, we are having to carpool everyday in Tanner's truck (he drives to his work and then I drive to mine, then back to his work and he drives home), I was wearing my glasses (which of the two pairs I have, were the not a good pair since the lenses are apparently smaller, found that out last night), AND I couldn't eat anything yesterday because I had my medical exam thing for the life insurance I am getting. (Tanner had his done last week for his insurance.)

Today is a little better, though it started out rough due to my contacts being fuzzy while my eyes adjusted and waking up with the same headache I got in the middle of the night last night. I got some food in my stomach, and then coffee, my contacts cleared up and I'm okay. Yesterday, we got my contacts AND tires ordered! Tires will be here Monday and contacts on Thursday.

I'm slowly regaining my positivity. It's been a struggle though, and I'm not sure why. I guess I need to try and focus on the good. I need to focus on God... He is my comforter, I just have to truly believe it and seek Him.
Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Too Close For Comfort

There was a tragedy last night. Tanner and I were at home when we saw the news on Facebook. Someone decided that shooting at a theater was a good idea. It's awful and terrible and incredibly sad.

It scares me. It wasn't just any theater. It was the one here in Lafayette. Just a few miles away from our cozy house, our friends; in our community. Several people were injured and a two lost their lives to this madness. The shooter turned the gun on himself and ended his life as well.

We weren't there last night, but if we had gone to the movies, the Grand 16 on Johnston Street is the theater we would have gone to. In fact, we were just there on Sunday watching Ant-Man. I am deeply saddened by what happened. I can't look at the news on Facebook and not tear up. My heart sinks for the victims and those that were witnesses.

Thank God for the person that was able to pull the fire alarm and get everyone else out safely. Thank God for the people who helped the injured. Thank God for our police men and women and those that serve our community. Thank God that there weren't any more casualties than there were.

I don't know why a 59 year old man from Alabama came to a theater in Louisiana with a gun and started shooting. I do know, however, that the gun he had isn't the problem.

Guns can not shoot themselves. Guns can not make a person do anything. MAN shoots a gun. MAN uses them for evil. MAN commits SIN.

Just like you can't blame a pencil for misspelling words, you can't blame a gun for shooting. It is MAN that picks it up, aims, and pulls the trigger.

A gun is a tool, just like a hammer, and screwdriver, and a knife.

Please pray for the community of Lafayette, Louisiana. Pray for the families of the victims. Pray for healing. Pray for wisdom. Pray for peace.

Good is good. His love endures forever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I Have an Addiction.

I have an addiction. It's hard for me to admit. However, I've been dealing with this for a long time. Probably since High School. I didn't know I was.

My addiction: Food.

I am addicted to food. Yes, food is something we can't live without. I, however, end up eating things simply because they taste good or I feel like munching on something. Seriously, if I get a bag of chips in my hand, I don't want to stop eating. I almost ate a whole bag of white cheddar SKINNY POP popcorn in one sitting!

I even took the ALCAT test to tell me what I shouldn't be eating to help me be healthier. I found out that my body reacts the same way to Gluten and Strawberries as it would to Ebola. I got a whole list of  thing that essentially poison my body, at least a little, if I eat them. This list unfortunately includes: watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, potatoes, grapes, soybean (soy), dairy, grapefruit, peanuts, almonds, apples, blueberries, turkey, plums, pecans, honeydew melon, cocoa, crab, cumin, honey, lobster, mango, pears, raspberries, spinach, tuna, wild rice, and a few others. <-- HARD!!!!

You can see how my attempt to become health quickly spiraled into hopelessness. Which then became, "I give up."

Why? Because I LOVE watermelon, strawberries, pizza, buttered bread, cantaloupe, fires, mashed potatoes, chocolate, s'mores, chips, butter on my popcorn, smoothies, ice cream, ect. I don't want to give them up.

I found that when Tanner is sleeping upstairs, because of his mouth still healing from the wisdom teeth extraction, I sit on the couch, watch TV and hear food calling my name. We don't even have a whole bunch of food in the house at the moment, but we do have pudding, fudge bars, popsicles, popcorn, soda... they all call my name. I get the munchies BAD.

Know that I have admitted to myself those three words that no one wants to ever admit, I am addicted, I realize that I'm not the only one.

Apparently, my great-grandfather on both sides of my family were alcoholics. This resulted in practically all of my family not drinking. I know my family has tried some of it, but it was never in the house and it was something that was looked down upon. However, I think my family got so focused on not becoming addicted to alcohol that we didn't address the fact that you can become addicted to other things.

In my opinion, food became our addiction. Growing up, we ate out a LOT. So much so, that when I got married, cooking meals for my wonderful husband was hard for me, I didn't know what to make or how to make much of anything. I know how to make cookies, brownies, pasta, tv dinners, and canned chili or soup.

My sister, when she was little, could see a "MiMiDonal's" (McDonald's) from a mile away. She knew what those golden arches were and she knew the "fri fies" that awaited for her inside.

The hardest thing, I think, about admitting that I am addicted to food is that food is essential to life. How do you break an addiction when you need the thing you are addicted to?! I know I could eat healthier and I could try and follow my list, but even then I could still over eat. I CAN have popcorn, but I probably shouldn't have a whole bag full of it which is what I would want to do.

It's almost like I need a 12 step program to learn how to deal with food.

If you have any suggestions or help or even encouragements, they would be greatly appreciated.

It would also be appreciated if you would pray for me as I try and figure out how to deal with this and get myself healthy.

God is good. His love endures forever.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Eventful 4th of July

This past weekend was July 4th. Tanner and I had planned to go to Dallas to visit my family and spend time with them there. Even had Monday off so we could spend some extra time with them! We were excited and it promised to be a great weekend.

Last week however, Tanner decided he really needed to go to the dentist as the taking of ibuprofen was getting out of hand. The tooth he had gotten a crown on didn't ever stop hurting in one way or another, whether it be sensitivity or just a slight pain. Also, his wisdom teeth were coming in weird and giving him issues. So, he made the appointment for Friday morning and our plans remained unchanged.

The appointment went well, minus the part when Tanner had to bite down on a piece of plastic with the crowned tooth which caused him intense pain. They told him he was going to need a root canal and his wisdom needed to be removed. Prices were better than other places, and we decided we would makes sure when would be a good time to schedule the next appointment and call them with a time and date. They also gave us a prescription for the pain and some antibiotics.

The rest of the day was uneventful and soon we were off to Dallas.

Oh what a ride it was.

Tanner was is so much pain and he was the one driving so he couldn't take the pain pill they had given him because it would make him drowsy. Six ibuprofen later and he was still in pain. We spent most of the car ride in silence. Note that the ride is five and a half hours long.

We FINALLY made it to Dallas, got the truck unpacked and Tanner was able to take his pain pill. He went to bed and I stayed up a little longer to wait for my sister to get home and to just talk with my parents. I expected Tanner to be passed out, but when I went back a couple hours later to go to bed, he was up brushing his teeth. He was still in pain. We went to bed and he tossed and turned, took more ibuprofen, and finally fell asleep at about 5:30 am.

Obviously, I didn't sleep well either. :P

One unhappy camper.
The next morning he seemed to be feeling a little better. However, it didn't last long. We had gone grocery shopping, and we were back at my parents cleaning the grill, cooking, playing with my little cousin, Collin, and we eventually went swimming. Tanner, despite how hard he tried, sat on the steps most of the time with his head in his hands. (My poor hubby. :( ) He found that keeping cold water on the tooth with the cap helped, but he had to keep it on there. On the plus side, he drank LOTS of water. :P

After we came inside from swimming to eat dinner, he got hit with pain that had him curled up on the bed with his hands on his head pleading for it to stop. It was awful. I got him some more water and went to eat. Mom and I then thought of the idea of an emergency dental place. I started looking some up on my phone but, being the 4th of July, it wasn't clear if they were open. Tanner's pain finally subsided and he came out to eat some steak. Mom called the emergency dental place, found out they had been taking patients (frustrating) and they would be open for an 11:30 am appointment the next day.

After church we run over to the dental place, they get us in, take more x-rays and give us the price to do a root canal. More expensive than our dentist, but we decided to do it anyway because Tanner was in SO much pain.

2 hours later and Tanner is a VERY happy man in NO pain! He even fell asleep a couple of times during the procedure! (He was way to exhausted and with out the pain there to keep him up he just passed out. :P )

The rest of the day was very happy and we were thankful to have an extra day to spend in Dallas with my family. The ride home was also MUCH more pleasant.

So our restful weekend turned out to be a very interesting one.

Moral of the story. If you need a root canal, in a tooth that has been hurting, get it done the same day! Also, don't wait a long time to get the tooth that shouldn't be sensitive anymore but still is checked out. Not a good idea.

AND, don't eat heath bar ice cream. That's what got us into this mess in the first place. Heath bar ice cream cracks teeth. Don't do it.

Hope y'all had a less eventful (unless the events were good!) 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's Just a Number.

Weight. For a female, it's one of the biggest things on our mind. For a lot of us, every morning we get up, step on that dreaded scale and see what the number is, praying it has gone down even just a little.

We hide that number, don't we? We don't want anyone to know how much we weigh. It's the unaskable question. Everyone talks about losing it or how they've gained it, but no one dares utter how much. (Unless it's a weight loss campaign or something.)

Here's what I've come to conclude. It's just a number.

Would I love to loose weight? Yes! Would I feel better about being lighter? Absolutely!  Do I need to eat healthy and exercise? Very yes!

Am I going to be ashamed of the number on that scale if it's higher then I think it needs to be? Not a chance.

I remember the first time I started loosing weight. I was so excited. I was telling some fellow young women about it and saying how much I started out weighing (185) and how much I had lost (20 lbs) bringing me to what I weight at that time (165)! I didn't pay attention if there were guy around me. (I married. Who do I have to impress but my husband? :P ) One of the girls finally said, "I love how you just say your weight."

I almost had to stop for a second and think about it. I occurred to me that while I did care about being healthy and getting to a healthy weight, I didn't care who knew how much I weighed.

So, my fellow women, I encourage you not see the number on the scale and feel like you are not good enough or pretty enough or whatever enough! It's just a number! What really matters is what is in your heart, where your treasures lie!

What you see on that "dreaded scale", it's just a number. It doesn't define you.

(Please note that I DO condone healthy eating and exercise! I need to do more of it myself! (Ugh.))

Monday, May 18, 2015

To the Graduate...

You did it! You are graduated from High School. You have walked across the stage and thrown your hat. You have ended one chapter and beginning another.

You are probably already thinking about all the things you have planned for this last summer before college and going to college, what you will need to pack, how much you will need to pack, and the wondering how it will all fit in your car.

College, as you know, will be a whole new challenge. You will experience new things and meet new people. You will feel it when it finally sinks in that your parents aren't near anymore and you have to figure it out on your own, even if you are "SO ready" to be on your own. You will feel the joy as you make new friends. You will feel more stress than you thought you could. You will experience success when you get a good grade in that class you weren't so sure you were doing well in. You will experience a sort of loss as you miss your friends and family back home.

Though it all, though, remember that you are extremely loved by your family and friends and that they will always welcome you back with open and joyful arms. Remember that if you need any advice or just someone to talk to, they are simply a phone call away.

Remember to always do you best, to do all your homework, and study for every test.

Above all, remember to keep God the center of your life. Don't forget to go to a congregation on Sundays and Wednesdays. Make sure to find and establish a church home away from your church home. Put on the armor of God every single day as the enemy is still seeking to destroy you. Maybe now more than ever as you are away from the support system you grew up with.

If you keep God first, everything else will fall into place.

As always, keep on keeping on. One step at a time.

Congratulations on graduating!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting for Prince Charming VS. Kissing a Few Frogs

We've all heard these two phrases. Though I suppose over-heard would be the right word to use. Different people said these at different times. It's their "dating advice."
"Just make a list and make friends with guys and wait until you meet someone who fits your list."
"Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. So don't be afraid to date guys! How else are you going to know what you want?"
I heard someone say that sometimes girls just have to date a few deadbeats before they realize what they want in a guy.

I almost lost it.

Waiting for your perfect Prince Charming and going out and kissing a few frogs.. both of these view are very WRONG. That's right. I said it. They're both wrong. However, they are both right as well.

Here's the deal. There is nothing wrong with making a list of things that are deal-breakers if someone has or doesn't have something. (For example, a deal-breaker could be that the guy you are looking for has to have a relationship with God. Another could be that he doesn't smoke.) It's when this list has expectations of your future husband that are not realistic. (Like he has to always want to be with me.) Also, don't say "He has to be blonde" or "have green eyes" because you never know who God has in store for you. Also, remember that no one is perfect. Finding the "perfect man" is a lie. You aren't perfect and he won't be either. Your Prince isn't always going to be charming.

There is also nothing wrong with dating. However, guard your heart. Date with the intent to marry. What I mean by that is don't just date someone because they are cute and funny and they like you. Save yourself the heartbreak. PLEASE! (Oh, if I had taken this advice!) If a guy doesn't act like someone you would consider marrying in the future, DON'T DATE HIM!

Here's the truth, once you start dating someone, you put on rose colored glasses. You think they are just the best thing in the world and you stop seeing the red flags (or you just ignore them). I know this from experience.

I dated a guy once and ended up falling more in love with what I made him in my head than he actually was. My cousin asked me once if I would marry him if he asked. I told him yes. They guy in my head would have asked and would have been a wonderful husband that would stop playing video games and spend time with me. The guy I was dating wouldn't have asked at that point in time and wouldn't put down the controller when we got a chance to Skype.

Am I saying he is a bad guy? NO! He just wasn't the guy I thought I was in love with. He wasn't the guy I was to marry.

So, please, hear my words, take them to heart. Don't have so high of expectations that you get exhausted with waiting and just date the guy who is close enough but may not have (or has) the REAL deal-breakers. But also don't put yourself through the hurt of just dating anyone who is cute, nice, funny, and likes you. If you can't point out other reasons than those of why you are dating him, chances are, he's not the guy for you. Please trust me on this.

And guys, this isn't just for girls. Don't settle, and don't put yourself through the hurt of dating just anyone either. Your future wife will thank you.

There is someone out there for you. I don't know when you will find him or her. I just urge you to date wisely and with intent.

You are worth the wait and you are worth fighting for.

Guard your heart.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Battlefeild

Last Friday I had a friend pray over me. She and I have been talking for a while about the struggles of life and the spiritual battlefield. She told me her story and she is helping me grow and understand more.

This weekend Tanner and I went on the youth group Beach Retreat. On our way there I was sitting there thinking and, for some reason, my mind wandered back to elementary school. I had this insane realization.

I was baptized just after I turned 8. I remember talking to my parents about it on the way to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and them offering to pull over and find some water right then. I remember telling them that I could wait until we attended church that Sunday (which ever one we decided to attend in Arkansas). I remember that day being so excited, not realizing when the invitation song was sung, and thus being very distraught when service was over. I remember my dad explaining it to me and going forward to the preacher anyway so that I could. I remember the smile on my face and my dad's strong and stead hand on my back. I remember my feet coming off the ground a little and how I mentally freaked out a little while I was under the water, scared I was going to fall. I remember all the hugs and the older ladies asking if I would like to partake in the Lord's Supper, them bringing it to me. I remember the love and the joy on that day.

Little did I know, I stepped prominently onto battlefield at the moment I came up from the water.

In the fall, I started 3rd grade at a new school. I sat by a girl who talked to me and became a friend. Unbeknownst to me, Satan would use that friendship against me. That year and the two after (3rd - 5th) were filled with torment. I was bullied and torn down. My grandpa got sick and died and I felt guilty that the last time I was at his house I threw up on his floor. And when I was sad because he was sick and I told my friend, she tried to one up me saying that she had bruises on her bottom from being whipped. I learned to keep my mouth shut because it felt like no one cared.

I left Elementary School wounded, scared, and guarded.

Time after time Satan used my friends to wound and scar me. I built up walls to guard my heart, determined to not get hurt again, yet desperately desired for someone to break past them and take care of my heart. I became shy, broken, and reserved.

I didn't realize that those walls would hinder my relationship with my mom, my dad, my sister, and ultimately my heavenly Father. 14 years later I am still battling those walls and the fear that came with those wounds. I struggle with letting people in. It is only by God's power that my wonderful husband, Tanner, made it past those walls.

This realization made my jaw drop and my eyes widen. For the first time, I saw the battlefield. I had this thought of wishing someone had taught me how to put on the armor of God instead of just about it.

So, this weekend I opened myself to God. I wanted to break the walls down, but I knew I needed his help. I knew it would only be through Him that I would find healing. During our time of silence the first day I mentally said, "Here I am, Lord. Use me."

That night, the speaker, Mark, invited us to once again take a breath and just listen. Again, I said mentally, "Here I am, Lord. Use me." I was sitting there just listening when I heard a not quite audible voice, but it was distinctly, "You are beautiful, my child." Tears shot to my eyes and I reeled mentally for a moment. Had I really heard something? Did I just make it up? But I remembered my friends story and how she had heard something before too. So, I accepted it, blinking back tears.

When Mark started talking, he showed pictures of a groom seeing his bride for the first time on their wedding day. He made the point that this is how God sees us. He is our groom and we are so beautiful to him. Of course, I started crying because it was so beautiful. (Though when he first started showing the pictures I had a brief moment of wishing I had the picture I thought I was getting of Tanner seeing me. And then I remembered what my mom had described and an image came into my head and I was really happy. Note: I couldn't see the whole way down the aisle due to my contacts.)

When Mark stopped talking, there was a silence to let everything soak in. So, I sat, lifted my head up to the sky, and once again said, "Here I am, Lord. Send me." I didn't hear anything and so I just went into praise. "You are my God. You are my Savior, the Lover of my soul." In the middle of a praise, I was cut off. "I am here. I have always been here. Seek and you will find." Then I felt something. It was like arms were wrapped around me, but not just my body, my heart. I felt free and joyful. Tears streamed down my face. God was with me. He was here and he wasn't going to leave me. I wanted to hug anyone who got near even if I didn't know them (I didn't).

I also got this image in my head. At first I was kneeling down at His throne in Sparta like warrior garb. But then, it was like He lifted me up and I was as His side dressed in a white Grecian style dress with the floor-length style skirt, it was sleeveless but had thick, tank-top like, graceful sleeves. The top was silver in that it was like armor. I had on the classic tall, Roman, sandals. It was beautiful. I was not just a warrior, but a warrior princess.

I got to talk to Tanner about it and he said something along the lines of that God was showing me that He had been with me all along, through all of the hurt. Tanner held me as I cried some more, grieving the time I spent breaking God's heart in my search for healing as I built my walls, distancing myself and then wondering where He was.

Every morning, now, I try to make time to pray and listen. I make sure to arm myself, and every time I pray on the armor of God I see that image I did Saturday night, the warrior princess.

I pray that you will find peace in Him and that you will find your healing in Him. For God is with you and no one can be against you. God has already won the war.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Another Day, Another Lie.

Lately, I have been struggling with feeling like I really stink at relationships. I feel like I can't get close to anyone. If I do, I'm just going to get hurt all over again. However, I do feel the GREAT need to have a best friend(s). I know I need to open up and I know I need to let people in.
I keep hearing, "No one really wants to know you. Why would they care? They don't want to have a deep relationship! Who does? You're too different. Too messed up. Let them know about your struggles? HA! They won't want anything to do with you if they knew. If you say anything about you're struggles or anything that could be negative about your life, you're not being a good wife. You're making your husband look bad. Weren't you told not to disrespect your husband? You wouldn't want to do that, right?"
 I am finding it hard to trust. I've been hurt so bad in my past that I don't know how to let someone in completely. I don't know how to fully open my heart to someone. Even with my husband sometimes! Granted, I have grown tremendously in the past two years; I still have a long way to go.

Tanner has been meeting with a men's bible study group and with a friend weekly. It's so amazing to see him grow and see the bonds he is creating. I long to have that. I know I need to have someone that I can do that with. Unfortunately, every time I go to consider who I might be able to form that kind of deep relationship with, I get an overwhelming feeling that no one will want that kind of relationship with me; no one would really want to talk to me.

Then the reminders of the pain and the past relationships that ended with my being back-stabbed, trampled on, and overall hurt time and time again.

I built up so many walls that even I don't know where they end anymore. I don't know how to trust someone other than God, my husband, and my parents and sister with my heart anymore. I don't know how to be vulnerable. I have become so guarded that I carefully examine what I am going to say/expose to who and what they may do with it. This also only happens when I feel it is absolutely necessary.

God put a desire in me, however, to be with others who know me, who I can open up to and be vulnerable with. I have been relying on my family and Tanner to fill this desire, though the brunt falls on Tanner. I know this isn't fair to him. He can't be my husband and my "girlfriend." I know that God fills most of the desire, but He desires us to be in community with each other and thus the desire isn't completely filled.

Perhaps my problem is that I don't know what have a "girlfriend" looks or feels like when it is a healthy relationship. My fear of being hurt again holds me back. My past looms over me, reminding me of all the other times I've tried and it failing. I can't hardly talk about it without choking up.

Recently, I told the girls in my small group about the last time I thought I had a good friend and how it ended in hurt and then said "friend" turning all but one of my supposed friends against me. I felt my voice break near the end. I didn't realize how sore a subject it still was, that the wound from that still hasn't healed.

It was HARD to tell them that story even though it was short and summarized into two sentences. I am so grateful to the other woman in that group and how she spoke to my wound in saying that none of the girls (or her) would do anything like that to me. I felt so loved and encouraged.

But the lies still remain. I am still hesitant to let them any deeper. I still hear Satan whispering in my ear.
"You're too much for them. You're too messy for them. If only they knew the rest. They would look at you with pity and disgust. They wouldn't want to talk to you again. You have nothing to offer them."
I know that God can heal all things. Through His power I can overcome this, but I'm not completely sure that I can do it without the help of another God-filled woman.

I pray that you don't hear these lies. If you do, I pray you may overcome them. I pray that you don't walk away from every conversation think that you are the most awkward person in the world as I do. And I hope that you will pray for me as I continue on this journey.

Keep on keeping on.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Devotional Writing Block

I am working on the devotional thoughts for the Girl's Night for our teen girls. I have tried two different topics. Both times I have gotten two paragraphs in and realized that it sounds more like a speech and/or blog than it does a devotional. There are no discussion questions. While it would be good, I don't want to preach at them. They didn't come to Girl's Night for a sermon, and our goal for the night is to get them to bond. Bonding doesn't happen while your sitting and listening to someone talk.

I am at a loss of what to do. I want to talk about this topic, but I can't seem to not write anything but a speech/blog. Granted I would absolutely LOVE to give a speech, but this isn't the audience, the time, or the place. Tanner said he had the same problem when he started preparing devotionals and it just takes practice. The problem with this: I am a perfectionist. It's a flaw, I know. I don't want to go into this with something that is more speech than it is discussion. I know I will lose their interest. They must interact!


The point I want to get across is that they are the bride of Christ and they don't need to look for love elsewhere because they have the perfect love from God. He is the lover of their soul. I even have a song I was going to reference (Who I Am by Blanca).

My brain just does not want to come up with questions that would lead to that point. I've come up with a great start to a speech/blog though!


Feel free to leave ideas in the comments! Your thoughts are appreciated!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Love of God

Do you know the extent of God's love for you?

You may say, "Well, yes. He is my Father."

Guess what? He loves you MORE than just a father. It's true, a father's love is insanely deep. However, not only does God want to be your Father, he wants to be the lover of your soul!

Let's go back to the scripture for a moment. You remember in Genesis there is this guy named Abram, whose name gets changed to Abraham. He makes a covenant with God and from Abraham and Sarah come the Israelites. It's a story we are told as kids, right? Minus the bloody, nasty parts, of course. Don't want kids throwing up or having nightmares now, do we! But isn't everything in the bible important? Of course. In fact, it's actually an integral part of the story! (A lot of my knowledge comes from Ray Vander Laan. If you want to check out his stuff go to

In Genesis 15, Abram asks God how he would know that God would give him all the things God has promised. (This is called chutzpah is Hebrew, which is like persistence. But I won't get into that right now.) So God tells Abram to go get a cow, a goat, a ram. a dove, and a pigeon. What he doesn't tell Abram is what to do with them. However, Abram apparently already knows what to do. This tells us that this was a cultural ritual. (It still is in some places.) What this ritual was is that terms would be made between men and they would agree on the terms, unless it was between a greater party and a lesser party in which the greater party will set the terms. They would then kill the animals and place them where the blood would pool in a valley. Once there was a river of sorts, they would each pick up their tunics, take off their sandals, and walk through the blood. In doing this each would be saying, "If I break my promise, you can do this to me." ("This" being killing and walking in the blood.)

Gross, right? No wonder they didn't tell us this part in Sunday morning Bible class! But if we think about it, God's willingness to do this ritual for Abram's sake shows his immense love! He is the God of the universe for goodness sake. He could have just said, "Because I said so!"

So let's continue with what the text says. Abram then waits for God, making sure the birds of prey stay away from the carcasses. (Again, gross!) The sun starts going down and Abram falls asleep. In his sleep, he realizes what his end of the bargain is, to be blameless, and he because terrified. No kidding. Abram knew that if he even stuck his little toe in that blood, he was a dead man and the promises God had for him would be no more. So, then a smoking pot "walks" through the blood. (This would have been a pot with holes in it that women would have in their tents to put the burning coals in from that days fire and put the top on. It would then smoke all night and the women would then pour out the coals the next morning to make the next days fire with.) This represents God as the greater party would always go first. Thus, it was Abram's turn. The text doesn't say this, but it's as if he walked up to the valley and God, the torch, and moved him out of the way saying, "No wait. I've got this." God walks through the blood a second time. God is saying, "If YOU break YOUR promise, YOU can do this to ME."

At this moment, Jesus was sentenced to death on the cross.

Let that sink in for a moment.

When I told that to the Jr. High students at church Wednesday and their minds were blown. They couldn't believe that no one had connected those dots and told them about it before!

There's more. "What?" Oh yeah!

Fast forward to Exodus. Moses has lead the Israelites out of Egypt and they have stopped at Mount Sinai. This is where I think, "Oh, yeah. This is where God gives the ten commandments!" There's more to the story. This isn't just where God sets ten rules the Israelites have to follow. This is a wedding. God marries his people. The ten commandments weren't two tables with 5 on each one, it was 10 on each, a Ketubah, a contract. This is still practiced in Jewish wedding today, Instead of having vows, the bride and groom will write up a contract each to God of what kind of a husband and wife each will be. Ray Vander Laan read the first one, "You shall have no other idols before me" in this new light as so: "I will have no other lovers."

Powerful, right? "Didn't something happen with the Israelites while Moses was on the Mountain?" Yes. The golden calf. See, while Moses was getting the Ketubah from God, the Israelites decided that he wasn't coming back and so they needed a new god. They melted down their earrings and from it made a golden calf and started worshiping it, throwing a big party. (We won't get into what kind of party it was, but I will say it wasn't G rated. Even Ray Vander Laan didn't want to get into it.)

Fun fact: instead of wedding rings on their fingers, the Hebrews would wear rings in their ears, earrings. Wait, what did they melt down? Their earrings. Their wedding rings. During the wedding between God and his people, his people cheat on Him! You'd think he'd be done with them. Seriously, if it was my wedding and I found out something like that, the wedding would be off! But God doesn't do that. He keeps loving them! He purifies them and then the wedding resumes.

Now that is love. Pure love. Not just from a Father but from a spouse who loves unconditionally and intimately. To know that this is the kind of love that God has for us, and not just the Father/Child relationship that everyone talks about, speaks deeply to me!

Think about our young girls! For them to know that they can be fulfilled in every way because they have a God that loves them as a beautiful bride could be life-changing! They could know that they don't need to look for love from outside sources, from boys their age who are struggling with the same things that they are. Plus, thinking back on my own life, I think I may have looked at some things differently if I had thought of God as my husband and not just my Father. God is our Father, but he is also the lover of our souls. Yes, lover. He wants to know us as deeply as a spouse. Deeper even!

I think that this thought might bring a new perspective to our girls as they look at their relationship with God and what they do with their lives. It sets a new light on "God is always with you." It's no longer God the Father watching you and making sure you don't mess up and when you do He is going to punish you, it's more that God is with me because He loves me deeply and he WANTS to be with me, he CHOSE me.

There is a song by Francesca Battistelli called "He Knows My Name" in which the bridge says:
He calls me chosen
Free, forgiven
Wanted, child of the King
His forever
Held and treasured
I am loved.
Not only does this speak to being a child of God but, in my opinion, also a lover, a spouse, of God. Wanted, His Forever, Held and Treasured, Chosen, Loved; these are all things that a husband would say to his wife (and visa versa). My husband wants me, I am his forever, he holds and treasures me, he chose me, he loves me. As well, I want my husband, he is mine forever, I hold and treasure him, and I love him.

Imagine some things that girls fall into because of the world we live in. What if they had the mindset that when they start worshiping something besides him that they have cheated on him? How would that impact them? Would they still do some of the things the world likes to tempt them with? How does that impact you?!

Just as we all have a love language, God has a love language. His love language is obedience. Just as I feel loved when someone gets me a thoughtful gift, God feels loved when I obey His commands.

I will show God that I love Him by keeping His commandments. I know I am going to mess up, but I know that He is going to forgive me when I do. Because of His love I will strive to be blameless. His love is my motivation. He is the lover of my soul. Is He yours?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing Inspiration

Yesterday, as I was browsing Facebook, I came across a picture of Patricia Briggs New Book "Dead Heat" (coming March 3rd!) posted by Binge Reads with a message that said she would be answering questions that day in the comments! Needless to say, I got excited.

As I was looking through the amazing questions people were asking, I wondered what I would ask her. I saw another person ask about writing and, as an aspiring writer (sort of), I thought I would do the same! I always do get stuck somewhere in the middle because I'm not sure where to go.

SHE ANSWERED! (Excuse me while I "fangirl" for a minute.)

Here's the question and her answer:
  • Elisabeth Ellsworth How do you know where to go with the story? I always start a story and then get stuck because I don't know where it's going.

    HUGE fan! Can't wait for Dead Heat!!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 21 hrs · Edited
    • Pat Briggs Story begins: Character in a place with a problem.
      Unlike · 2 · 20 hrs
    • Pat Briggs Story continues: Character tries to solve the problem with the following possible results: solves problem only to learn that wasn't the real problem 2. Fails to solve problem, problem worsens. 3. Partially solves problem and has to go back to the drawing board.
      Unlike · 2 · 20 hrs
    • Pat Briggs Repeat last step at least twice (no more than four in a novel). Then conclusion.
      Unlike · 2 · 20 hrs
    • Pat Briggs This isn't the only way to write a story, but it gives you a hint on how to get over the middle doldrums where the introduction of characters, setting and problem is over and you know where you want to end it--but you don't know what to do with the middle three hundred pages.
      Unlike · 2 · 20 hrs
    • Pat Briggs Good luck!
      Unlike · 3 · 20 hrs

In light of this amazing author answering little-ol-me's question (and wishing me good luck! *fangirling*), I thought I might pick up writing again. What she said struck me. The story begins with a character in a place with a problem. However, my characters seem to get themselves into problems that I don't know how to solve. (Yes, my characters do come to life to some extent in my brain and they tell me their story. Apparently, much like Patricia Briggs!)
Thus, it seems my problem is not thinking about the problem thoroughly enough. Imagine that. :P Now the biggest problem: Do I start with completely new stories or do I try and figure out how to make the current ones, that I have been working on for years, work. To have all of that work be for nothing makes me a little sad. On the other hand, if they weren't really good stories to begin with and I can't find a way to get the characters out of their predicament and into a happy ending, why waste any more time on them?

Perhaps it is time to evaluate where I got the inspiration for those stories in the first place. Perhaps I just need to find inspiration for a new story. Maybe Tanner and I will look at the one he started and collaborate on that one. Maybe inspiration will strike and I will find a story that flows and has a solvable problem.

I know I can't force it, but when it does happen, I will take some of Patrica's advice to another aspiring writer and try and write at least two pages a day.

Thank you so much to Patricia Briggs for answering my question and inspiring me to try once again!

If you want to check out any of her books, go to! I am in love with her Mercy Thompson series and Alpha Omega series! Did I mention that Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega series) is coming out on March 3rd? Because it is! YAY!

Keep on keeping on!