This Is Us-When Life Gives You Lemons

Have you seen the television show This is Us?have a love/hate relationship with this show. I love it, but I bawl like a massive baby through each episode! One episode really hit home. Dr. K comes out to give Jack the sad news that one of his triplet babies is stillborn. Jack is entirely stunned and is trying to process what has just happened. Dr. K tells Jack that he and his late wife lost a child when they were first married and how he thinks of that baby every day.

He encourages Jack by saying if “you can take the sourest lemon that life hands you, and make something out of it that resembles lemonade, then maybe one day you can provide another man hope.” Wow! I bawled as I watched this… I sobbed uncontrollably.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”8k0m_” via=”yes” ]We all experience tragedy, grief and difficult seasons in life. We don’t all have the same hard, but we all go through difficult seasons.[/ctt]

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

This week, a picture popped up on my facebook memories from 7 years ago. I took a look at this picture and the smile on my face and thought, “I can’t believe all that has happened in my life in the 7 years since this photo was taken.”

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When this picture was taken, I was in my 30’s and I have a huge smile on my face, not knowing what the years ahead would hold. My husband had just bought me a BMW. We were living the American Dream with our home in the suburbs, our 3 kids, and a dog. We were surrounded by family and friends, and life was good.

I was homeschooling my boys, living life, and the future was bright. Much to my surprise a few weeks before my 40th birthday, I found out that I was pregnant!

I birthed and buried my baby that following year.

My long-awaited son was stillborn. Within a short period of time, I went from living life on the mountaintop of life to quickly descending into years of agonizing, soul-crushing pain.

Life didn’t stop and I didn’t slow down. I pushed the pain down, put on a happy face and just kept going. In between my days of intense grief, there were happy times too. I helped  Jacob start a Model NATO debate league for high schoolers, and host conferences and workshops. Most of my days were filled living life to the fullest loving my sweet husband, homeschooling the boys, going to church, doing Bible Study, cooking tons of meals and washing a million loads of laundry, traveling across the country with Jacob and Ian for Speech and Debate, and driving Connor back and forth to therapy and school.

Jacob later graduated from our homeschool, took a gap year, and it was during this time that the health of my mom rapidly declined. We spent our Christmas that year going back and forth to the hospital. My mom was put on life support, and after many years of pain and suffering and battling illness, she died a few days after Christmas. After her death, I cried nearly every day for almost a year and I was consumed with grief. In between my days of intense grief, there were good times, but this season was marked by agony and major life transitions. We were in a serious transition period. We moved for the first time in 15  years, Jacob started college, and Peter changed jobs!

After we moved, I struggled to get our life back to normal, although I am not really sure our life has ever been “normal.” We moved into our home 2 weeks before the new school year started. On top of that, we began renovations on our home immediately. Things were pretty chaotic.

A few months after we moved into our home, and eleven months after the death of my mom, my dear sweet Mother-in-Law suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This sent rippling effects through our immediate and extended family. Once again we found ourselves devasted by loss and heartbroken in the valley of the shadow of death.

Fall turned to Winter and Winter turned to Spring.

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We found ourselves out of the valley and back on the mountaintop of life again. We continued our home renovations, bought new furnishings, and put in a pool. Things were finally looking up, and it looked like 2015 was going to be a great year, and it was until spring break came, and I broke both of my arms in a bicycle accident and was incapable of doing anything for myself for weeks on end. My guys had to feed me, dress me, brush and floss my teeth, fix my hair and do my makeup. They literally had to do EVERYTHING for me! During my recovery, God was very near and taught me many things. After months of healing and therapy, I was finally beginning to get my life back.

Soon after we discovered that Connor was not Autistic, but that he was suffering from PANDAS and Auto-Immune Encephalitis. Which began months of intense medical inventions and therapies.

Most recently, I hit my head and suffered a concussion, and was laid flat on my back in complete darkness and silence as I healed. I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, and for weeks I suffered the effects of that concussion. I spent hours in my room by myself in the dark completely overwhelmed by sight and sound. I am still feeling some of the side effects of my concussion today, and hope that the symptoms soon reside.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”SXRd2″ via=”yes” ]Life is uncertain.[/ctt]

It is filled with both personal victories and mountaintop experiences in between the valleys. Life has continued to give us some of the most bitter pills we have ever had to swallow, but through it all, we have become stronger as a family. We have become closer to our Saviour. We have learned that life is hard, but God is good. He gives us beauty for ashes, and His Love for us incomprehensible! It is not just about taking lemons and making lemonade.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”GBklS” via=”yes” ]It is about trusting Jesus with our life and our circumstances.[/ctt]

With Jesus, the scripture says, we can do all things! No matter what the future holds, for those who are in Christ, we are clothed with strength and dignity and do not need to fear the future. We know God is with us and that he loves us and wants good for us. He has given us a hope and a future, no matter what comes our way!

My friend, I don’t know what lemons life has given you. Your hard is not my hard but hard comes in all shapes and sizes. The road ahead may be uncertain, but I am here today to tell you that no matter what you are going through today, it is temporary and cannot be compared with the glory that awaits us in heaven! Press on, and continue to fight the good fight of faith.

 

Women of Faith Bible Study Giveaway!!

Looking for a Bible Study for the New Year? Well then look no further. This week I am giving away not one, but three Women of Faith Bible Studies! What a great way to start off the new year, by digging into the word of God. I just love Bible Study and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to shares these beauties with you!

Building Your Strengths and Praying with Power and Giving God Your Future

In the late 90’s I attended my first Women of Faith event. I laughed, and I cried, and God met me in that arena in a very real and tangible way. So when I had the opportunity to review this new Bible Study series I was thrilled!

Each Women of Faith Bible Study includes twelve weeks of study, and each chapter includes practical illustrations and thought-provoking reflection on topics that are relevant for women of all ages today.

I am currently working my way through the Building Your Strengths book that includes a forward by Patsy Clairmont. Building Your Strengths is full of wisdom and practical application. We all have God-given gifts, given to us to help us share the gospel and we all have strengths to use for His glory. This study helps you examine your gifts and strengths so that you can better minister to others and grow your faith in the process. I am excited to see what all the Lord will reveal to me in this study!

At the end of each chapter, there is a section called Digging Deeper that challenges you to go a step further in your study. A Section to Ponder and Pray, and Trinkets to Treasure – with each chapter you are presented with a symbol to remind you of the gifts you have been given.

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These studies can be used on your own or in a group. Included in each book is ample room for notes and prayer requests. At the end of the book, there is a leader’s guide provided to help facilitate use in a small group. Each chapter is only a few pages long and can be completed in just a few minutes each day.

For more information about Women of Faith check out their website. Women of Faith

Women of Faith exists to point women to God. They believe:

The Bible is the inspired word of God and is true.  — 2 Timothy 3:16-17

There is only one true God, existing as three Persons in one: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit (The Holy Spirit).
— 2 Corinthians 13:14, John 1:1-5, 1 John 5:7-8

Salvation is found only through Jesus Christ.
— Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12

The greatest command is to love God and love one another.
— Matthew 22:36-40

Enter to win the Women of Faith Bible Studies bundle by following this link to                  a Rafflecopter giveaway!

The giveaway will be announced on February 1, 2017,  in the comment section on this post and will also be announced on social media.

The Women of Faith Bible Study Bundle includes:

Building Your Strengths (Thomas Nelson, 2016) foreword from author and speaker Patsy Clairmont. Learn what Patsy means when she says this about gifts: “It comes so easily to us that we don’t get the big deal about it.” This is a 12-lesson study series where you examine what God says about your gifts and how He has given them to you to shine for Him. Learn how to embrace your strengths and know that they are needed in the kingdom – and how to access them! This book is about leaning on God in all situations and using your gifts to shine his light and glory.

Giving God Your Future (Thomas Nelson, 2016) foreword from Thelma Wells. “It sure makes life a lot easier to handle when all the responsibility of planning your future is left up to the Master of the Future.” – Thelma. In this book, you will explore what Scripture says about giving everything to God and surrendering to Him. Throughout the 12 lessons, you will be able to pray your way to giving up control and give Him your future. This study looks at what the Bible says about trusting God enough to give Him our all and being able to say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

Praying With Power (Thomas Nelson, 2016) foreword from author Patsy Clairmont. Patsy says, “Learn how to enter the privileged sanctuary of prayer.” This book has 12 lessons of reflection, exploring, and journaling prayers and scripture to help the reader understand your prayer attitudes and to find ways to get out of prayer ruts. The study inspires you to accept the invitation from God to pray boldly and discover prayer in the two-way conversation it was meant to be. Readers will navigate journaling prayers and how to pray their way through a desert or valley.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

 

Revive Gathering

Calling all women of North Houston: Do you know about Revive Gathering yet? If not, then you need to! Revive is a seasonal gathering for the women of North Houston to come together and glorify God through worship, prayer, and God’s Word. Women from several churches and denominations in the area gathered together this past Thursday at Revive Gathering.

To God be glorified, women be unified – Revive Gathering

fullsizeoutput_18e4The worship was phenomenal Thursday evening and women from all walks of life were united together in praise for  Jesus under the stars at the Rob Fleming Park in The Woodlands. We sang songs of praise and worship to our Almighty Lord and Savior out in the brisk cool evening air. Voices lifted high to our King! It was a beautiful thing to be a part of. Then, Gina Webster brought an incredible message of unity for women to lift up and encourage one another so that Jesus Christ may be exalted!

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Gina encouraged women to show forgiveness, love, and mercy to one another and to build up the household of Faith. She said we don’t need to wrestle, envy, or be jealous of sisters. Instead, we should realize that we have received the promise of Jesus Christ and that God has a plan for each one of us that is full of goodness. She concluded her message with a charge for us to be women who fight for our sisters to lift up one another and to celebrate the good gifts that come to our sisters.

We ended the evening gathered in small prayer circles, where we prayed for one word for each woman. I was honored to lead a sweet group of young women in prayer, and I look forward to what God is going to do within their midst!

As women, we were made for community, and we need our sisters to love, encourage and pray for us. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to keep us isolated, separated and divided. As women, we must stand with our sisters and build one another up for the Kingdom of God.

Revive will meet again April 20, 2017, and I hope to see you there!

 

 

She Laughs Conference Recap

She Laughs Conference Recap

I had a blast at the She Laughs Conference this past weekend in Henderson, TX and can’t wait to tell you all about it! The She laughs Conference I attended was hosted at First Baptist Church Henderson. I went to the conference with my friend and co-laborer, Missy Millspaugh. When we arrived we were instantly greeted by Pastor David Higgs and his beautiful wife, Kim. Kim has an amazing smile and her countenance radiates Jesus! If you are in the area be sure to visit First Baptist Church Henderson.

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Katy McCown is the founder of the She Laughs Conference. Katy and I have something in common as we both left our corporate jobs to raise and homeschool our children. Katy is a retired television news reporter and her husband, Luke, plays football for the NFL New Orleans Saints, and they have six children. In her spare time, she writes for Proverbs 31 Ministries and hosts She Laughs.

She Laughs is based on the scripture in Proverbs 31:25.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

Katy is passionate about Jesus and seeing women walk in strength and dignity, and desires women to live a laugh characterized by laughter, without fear of the future. Her opening message entitled, The Path to a Passionate Life, discussed our preparation, position, and pursuit. My favorite quote from that session:

God is far less interested in our motions, then in our motives.

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Next, we heard from Lisa Allen, founder of L.J. Allen consulting and coaching, and Executive Director of Ministry Training at Proverbs 31 Ministries. We laughed as we evaluated our personalities in the session, What Shoe Are You?, where I discovered that I am a combination of a Work Boot and a Stiletto—what a combination! I also discovered that God gifted me with a special combination of strengths in order for me to fulfill my calling.

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We laughed for the rest of the evening as Shari Braendel of Fashion Meets Faith and author of Help me Jesus, I have Nothing to Wear inspired us to look our best for the King. In her session, Hairspray & High Heels, she reminded us that the King is enthralled with our beauty, and what we think about ourselves matters! Missy and I were both even brave enough to get up on stage in front of the women of Henderson and participate.

Speaking of brave, the ultimate bravery award goes to the men in the camera crew that came all the way from South Carolina from Meade Agency to film a congregation full of estrogen-filled women!!

Saturday morning, we learned ways to avoid burnout in our calling, igniting our passions to fuel our calling, and we were reminded why we need to laugh. The content of the topics discussed at She Laughs was relevant for women of all ages to help them pursue the good works of their calling.

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The picture above was the grand finale. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so if you want to know more about the picture above, then you will have to visit a She Laughs Conference for yourself! She Laughs Conference

 

Resolutions for the New Year!

Resolutions for the New Year!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year?  How is that going for you? I am not good at making resolutions, but I usually start the new year with great aspirations and intentions. Instead, we take stock of the past year and make plans to improve in the coming year. This year I choose the word Contentment and a scripture to focus on. Do you have a Scripture of the Year?

I love the fresh start the new year provides. This year our family is reading Psalms for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance by Mark Lanier as our daily family devotion.

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Instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year, what would happen if we would all commit to delight in the law of the Lord in 2017? What if we looked to the Psalms for daily wisdom and guidance for the new year. Psalm 1 is a great guide for us to live by and the wisdom it provides us is all we really need as we begin the new year. Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the wicked. 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. – Psalm 1 ESV

Psalm 1 tells us that the man who genuinely worships God and embraces the law of the Lord is blessed, and that he will prosper. In contrast, we see that the wicked perish.

Psalm 1 tells us that the man who genuinely worships God and embraces the law of the Lord is blessed, and that he will prosper. In contrast, we see that the wicked perish. Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord. He will bear fruit and prosper. The Lord knows the way of the righteous and the wicked. The righteous prosper, and the wicked perish.
 Will you commit yourselves anew to righteousness in 2017?