Purposeful Faith

Category - Freedom

When God Removes People From Your Life

I’m delighted Patricia Holbrook is hosting the linkup today! Patricia is faithful in her calling. She is honest and transparent. She has a story that will meet your heart in its dry places. 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Patricia’s book, 12 Inches!

The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” Judges 7:7

It was Friday night. I absently stared at the TV, thinking about how lonely I felt. Looking through my phone book, I knew that the options were not good. Friends who would be available on a Friday night would quickly offer me a tour back into my life before Christ… Places I knew not to visit anymore.

My new Christian friends were all busy with their husbands and family. It was me, my TV… and… my Bible. I glanced down and picked it up.

A new Christian, I had heard that Jesus was all I needed, but was unsure of how to let Him fill the void.

I surrendered my life to Christ only months before, and experienced unprecedented joy and peace. I spent the following weeks and months on a spiritual high, attending a new Christian discipleship class, prayer meetings and various church functions.

Yes, I made several new friends, but they were, well… new. And most of them were married, anyway. Loneliness filled my heart on the weekends. That particular weekend was the hardest of all.

As I held my Bible, tears streamed down my face. One of my best friends of eight years had turned her back on me.

Betrayal. Pain. Confusion.

The last drop in the bucket.

“Jesus, I thought you would fill my life, not empty it!” I cried out.

It was there, lying on my couch, that I heard His voice, whispering in my heart for the first time.

“I am preparing the soil for new sowing. For a new harvest.”

It was then that I saw it. I had a vision. As in a dream, I saw a large, bare field. The soil showed places where trees once stood. It was desolate-looking. Ugly, even.

Then I saw seeds coming down from Heaven, falling inside each hole on the ground. And finally, I saw the same field, green and full of beautiful, tall trees.

“Behold, I am making all things new,” I heard.

Twenty Years have gone by since that day…

And I behold the harvest.

I can close my eyes and see the faces.

My husband, our two daughters and wonderful, faithful friends throughout the years, planted in the field of my life. Besides one very best friend from my youth and my immediate family, they are all new.

They all have been planted by Yahweh’s faithful hands. And they have flourished and yielded fruits of joy, peace, love, patience… true friendship. True Love.

I stand amazed.

The vision was hard to believe at the time when loneliness filled my days. When God removed what I thought was true love… and those whom I considered real friends.

He plucked them all, one by one, and left me wondering whether I’d ever feel loved again.

But before He planted a new harvest in my life, He had to teach me to make Jesus my all in all. He wanted to become my very best friend.

Instead of giving in to the feelings of loneliness and depression, I sought His face.

I made the Bible my greatest companion. I woke up in the middle of the night to talk to my Savior and started serving Him at church. And before I realized it, He started planting beautiful new seeds into my life.

God showed me that, just as He gave Gideon victory over mighty enemies with a small army of faithful servants, His children don’t need 10,000 soldiers to win life’s battles.

When God is in control, He weeds out the unfaithful, and fills in the void in our lives with the 300 faithful few.

In.His.time.

Gideon was afraid of not having enough. He couldn’t see how he would defeat his powerful enemy with such a small army.

You may not see how your life can continue without a particular person. Or how you can give up your old friends and still have joy. I challenge you to trust Him. Trust that He is weeding out the unfaithful, cleaning out the soil, preparing it to yield a new harvest.

All He needs is your heart. Your surrendered trust.

I promise that one day you’ll stand amazed, as you contemplate the lush green fields that Yahweh will plant on your current bare land. As you give yourself to Him, believe me: He will give it all back to you.

Pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Because that is the kind of Friend He is.

Just trust His pruning. Trust His plucking. He only cuts out what doesn’t belong, anyway.

*This blog post is an excerpt from Patricia’s Book: Twelve Inches: Bridging the gap between what you know about God and how you feel.”

***Comment for a chance to win a copy of the book!  Also, share Patricia’s words on social media!

Visit the book page: www.soaringwithHim.com/Twelve-Inches

ABOUT PATRICIA:

Patricia Holbrook is the President of Soaring with Him Ministries, author, columnist, blogger, wife and mom. Her passion is to encourage her audience to “soar above life’s circumstances” by the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She writes about making beauty out of brokenness, trusting God in the dark, the blessings of obedience and her love for the Savior.

Among other places, you can find her writing weekly on her

blog, www.soaringwithHim.com. on her weekend column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution www.ajc.com, on iDisciple.org and websites such as Internet Devotions Cafe, among others. Patricia is also a national and international speaker for women’s events.

 

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When Someone is Better than You (& You Hate Them for it)

Better than You

The lady was confident. That was my first issue with her.

If she was just beautiful and – not confident, she might not have bothered me. But, she was SO sure of herself. She knew she was made of.  No one in the world could tell her otherwise! No one could stop her! She brought her brilliance with her wherever she went!

She sat like the statue of liberty. I was a small seagull whose job was to soak in her glory.

It didn’t help she had a great job and wouldn’t shut up about it. That really irked me, because at this time, I had a horrible job and I loved to whine about it. I have too much work! I can’t do it! I need a new job!

This lady spoke to my husband differently: My job is a dream! My boss is inspirational. My life is fantastic!

Puh-lease….someone pass me the salt shaker – so I can pour it on her head.

I could almost see it, me – the small one, salt-shaker in hand – wrecking her moment. Her, the large-and-in-charge one melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

But, she is not wicked. I am. Ever asked yourself…Why am I thinking this way?

I sat back in my chair, tuned out her conversation and considered –  why am I thinking so – meanly?

Her strength is depleting mine.

Her success is ruining my moment.

Her great attitude defines me as less than.

Her belief in herself is stealing my joy.

Why does one woman have such a great impact – on me? Can 1 lady take away all of God’s promises with 1 sparkly super-white smile?

Is this what God intended? For me to hate girls who are happy, successful and beautiful?

Somehow, in this moment, I know my heart has followed a rabbit trail – straight away from God’s glory. I’ve gone got myself stuck in a pit now.

Have you found yourself in a pit lately? Perhaps someone shines better than you? Always has a perfect answer? Has the job of all jobs? Is PTA mom extraordinaire? Is driving your dream car? Has perfect kids? Constantly shows off Facebook vacations?

God says, our pits are escapable, with his help. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit…he set my feet on a rock & gave me a firm place to stand.”

God has the strength to lift me up from the yuck I put myself in.
When I set my eyes on God, not her, he, like a medivac, pulls me to safety.
Choose to stand upon the solid rock – the ground that is not sinking. , that is not wavering and that will not quake under the pressure of earthly measures.

Here, I see: I am not less than, I am just right in God’s eyes.
I am not struggling, but victorious, because I am chosen as daughter.

I am not without a plan, because God has created good works for me in advance. I am not alone, for God sees the desires of my heart.

I am not dependent on others, but fully dependent on God – and who he says I am.

I pull out of my thoughts and find myself at that restaurant table. Her voice emerges, except it no longer sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but another girl, who’s excited to be who she is created to be. I mention how blessed she is to have a good job. She smiles. We talk – and have fun.

Order Kelly’s powerful book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today!

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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How to Fight Like… a Boy?

fight like a boy

Post by:  Beth Duewel

I wonder how many seconds I’ve held my breath? Like when I lost my mom. 1, 2, 3. Or when I stared at another blue line on another pregnancy test. 1, 2, 3, 4. How about the many times my children have ran into the sharp corners of life. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,…

I don’t get those moments back.

So, I need to breathe in brave. It helps to remember David fighting the giant.

Because I want to be able to fight like…a boy? Really, it still amazes me. How did a boy have the faith to step forward to fight a giant of a man? The name alone intimidates—Goliath the giant of Gath. I mean, David heard what the people were saying. His father, Jesse, and three brothers went to fight the Philistines while David ran errands and tended to their heard of sheep. But this small story of giant fighting is huge. For me. And no doubt for the girls in my fifth grade Sunday school class.

Because we want to know God will help us battle big in life. Just like David, we’re afraid sometimes. We also want to test and see if God’s love makes us brave. Does it?

Taking a breath of fresh air.

I’ll admit, when I am tired or feel unable—I forget about David. Really. All I can do is watch the worry-wrinkle between my brows deepen. But last month, while hearing this fear-fighting story again through the voices of my fifth grade Sunday school class—I took in a breath of fresh air.

In fact, we were all shocked to discover that David had no cheerleaders. Nope. Not even one. No one expected David to be brave. Not his family. Not his friends. Not his enemy. Because afraid was contagious and had already traveled throughout the valley. It loomed over the battle camp like smoggy smoke. A gasp, a quiet sigh, and a defeated shrug accomplished what words didn’t have to. In fact, Jesse kept David busy minding his own worry that his other sons were okay.

“And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp of your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring back some token from them.” (1Samuel 17: 17-18 ESV).

Yes. David took the provisions as his father had commanded. But while he was there at the camp speaking with his brothers, David heard something. He heard Goliath making threats, breathing anger like fire, and beating his bronze chest with demands to fight just one. Then 1Samuel 17: 23 says, “And David heard him.”

David heard the raging voice of Goliath, but he also heard the Sovereign whisper of God.

Besides, he wasn’t about to breathe in the same air as everyone else. While they were keeping David busy running ten cheeses to the commander, David was puzzled and questioned the fear and concerns of others. Why did he wonder?

Because David knew. He knew God protected. He knew God slew evil. He knew God rescued the lost. He knew God helped him pry open the jaw of the lion that tried to eat his sheep. He knew God.

We want to know God in this way. But we are satisfied with delivering cheese.

Why? Because we listen to the sound of our own heart beating. We allow our faith to match our circumstance. We pay closer attention to our worry-wrinkles and don’t see ourselves as the true reflective image of God.

How do we fight like a boy? Like David. We need to take time each day to know God.  Through prayer and His Word we can know without a doubt God will help us. He will protect us. He will slay the enemy for us. He will rescue our lost hope, lost patience, lost courage, lost joy, and our lost breath. God’s love makes us brave.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…” (1 Samuel 17:48-50) ESV. 

Whatever the battle today. Breathe brave, my friend. Breathe brave.

Want to be more fearless? Sign up for the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge! Or, order the book, Fear Fighting, today!

fight like a boyBeth Duewel is a wife and mom of three who is only able to breathe-brave through the perfect love of Christ. Beth would love to connect and pray with you on her blog: Fix-Her-Upper.com. Look for her book in spring of 2017, Fix-Her-Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life.

Renewing My Mind

I crave being made new.

I have a great desire to be a Size 6 and for firm thighs and flat tummy.  However, why do I equate my physical shape with the depths of my salvation?

They are hardly the same thing.

Somewhere in the twists and turns of thought and belief, I have convinced myself my mind is lacking.  I further the insanity by affirming said ideas when I look in the mirror.  What is this malady of lies I foster and feed?  When did I first believe that my appearance formulated my spirit?  If tomorrow I were to meet with an accident and lost a limb would I believe in Jesus any less?

By no means.

Would a handicap define me as lacking in my belief that Jesus died so that I might walk in the freedom of my salvation?

If this were true, why the Cross…. Continue reading and LINK UP!  

#RaRaLink UP

Embarrassing Bravery and Insane Courage

courage is required as we free fall into grace quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

There is a captivating quote in the movie, We Bought A Zoo: 

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

For ten years my husband and his sister wanted to go skydiving together. Their plan was to go once she turned 18. Time went by and the dream remained tucked away, but not forgotten. Then a few years ago there was a great deal on Groupon for skydiving nearby—and the rest is history.

These adult siblings demonstrated insane courage and embarrassing bravery as they plummeted to the earth (I have to say that their father and I also displayed some too by promoting, watching, and documenting the experience). I am proud of them. Ultimately, it was a lesson of trust, growth, and quite the bonding experience.

Isn’t this like our faith?

When we “sign-up” we count the cost and take a leap into unknown territory. The Lord asks us to trust Him in the midst of fear, obstacles, and at times scary and exciting circumstances.

The giants are present, but the slingshot is in hand. The hand looks weak, but the power is in the One Who called, Who holds together.

God equips for the task at hand. For what is laid out, He knows the course. We ride this journey, tandem.

What is God asking you to trust Him with?

Is He calling you to something that seems impossible in your own strength? Is it self-control, parenting well, mending a relationship, being kind to that “hard-to-be-nice-to” person, getting out of debt, faithfully spending time with God, learning a new skill?

My father-in-law once preached a great message about how, with God, the impossible is possible (Matthew 19:26). We might find ourselves between a rock and a hard place so we will trust and look to Him, and not rely on our own strength.

I have a few friends right now who are facing impossible types of circumstances. It’s hard to watch as the winds of loss, pain, and injustice beat against their face. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place, and the outcome is uncertain. Yet, I’m reminded of Moses, God put him in the cleft of rock while His glory passed by.

Could it be that when we are in a hard place, or a seemingly impossible season, that God’s glory is very near?

and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Exodus 33:22

Courage is required as we free fall into grace. Bravery is needed as we trust God in the midst of the unknown. We do not go alone, as we take a leap of faith. Our Lord has gone before us, and goes with us.

Look to the cross, Jesus is definitely the example of insane courage and embarrassing bravery.

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

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Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

When It’s Their Fault

Their Fault

I sang and danced and swirled and twirled. I had no care in the world. I paid no attention to my foot caught on the hem underfoot or my strap halfway down my young arm. None of that mattered. What mattered was that I felt alive, beautiful and one with creation.

their fault

What happened to that little girl?

The one who gave no care to her off-pitch high notes?  The one who heard not catcalls of criticism, but simply her voice of freedom? The one who gave no merit to outside perceptions, but just God’s wild affirmations?  Somewhere along the line, she got buried.

It’s always easy to blame others, They broke me.”

They broke me with pointed words, “What’s wrong with you, Kelly? Wake up, you self-absorbed one.”
They injured me in ways that people don’t talk about over coffee.
They pointed out my big nose, loud voice and my bouffant hair.
They made it clear I was destined to be a loser.

In school, I remember things. We all had a papier-mâché project. You put a little something in your balloon, you’d shove in a little figure of sorts, then blow up the balloon. After that, you’d add doused paper on top – lots of doused paper. You cover that balloon right up, layer upon layer. The balloon got hard.

I am like that balloon – 3-inches covered by guilt and shame. You too?

Their Fault

“People stole care-free from me.” I yell to God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Ro. 12:2

God speaks to me,
“Kelly, you can relive the past in your mind
or you can renew your spirit with my mind, the mind of Christ?

untitled-design-11

Half of me is so accustomed to assigning other people blame for my pain. It’s hard to turn away from a comfortable seat well worn. But, the other half of me realizes if I want to be new, if I want to get up and go, I’ve got to turn another direction. I want to believe it is well with my soul.

I close my eyes. Can I find her? The liberated, dancing singer?  

I know she’s under there, under the fortified covering of papier-mâché, somewhere…

God calls me friend.
God names me, daughter.
I am his love.
The very pursuit of his greatest affections.
A layer of paperweight peels off me…

He sees me, my beauty.
He writes my name on his hand.
He cuddles me in feathers.
He’s my bodyguard, ever-protector, forevermore.
The balloon is seen again…

He leads me.
He unveils his master plan for me.
He tends to my soul.
He teaches and transforms,
molds and makes me,
helps me.
The balloon pops…Bang!

And that little figure? The one tucked deep away, inside the covered balloon? It surfaces. I finally see it. Except there’s one thing I notice, that strikes me – funny. The figure looks nothing like me. It looks like Jesus.

As I strip off the layers that cover me, I see – Jesus, the very power of God, living in me.

I find who I am, through the great I AM.
I release my potential through his power.
I reignite my passion as I draw from his paternal love.

I never needed people to approve me, but Christ to move in me.

But because of his great love for us, God,
who is rich in mercy,
 made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions…(Eph. 2:4-5)

God brings me back to the heart of who I was created to be. What love, I loved, he loves. I see this when I realize I am alive with Christ.

their fault

When I grab his hand and let him take the lead, he leads me to still waters, to new hope and to a new dance that sings his glory.

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When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

makes embarrassed

Bzzzt…the green radio waves signaled…I was on! I was live.

untitled-design-7

“Can I just vent? Everything’s going wrong… Remember how my husband went out of town last week? Well, the second he leaves, daughter started exploding the worst vile out of her mouth. I couldn’t get her head to toilet fast enough; the stuff went all down my leg. Finally, husband gets back home – and he gets sick! Days later, son starts shooting water out. Now I have it. Add that to the cold that’s coming on…and I haven’t even told you about yesterday! Oh, don’t start me on yesterday! I spent nearly all day convincing the military (I mean, employees) at the Motor Vehicle association that my documents were valid, acceptable and pleasing. It was the greatest defense case of my life – and I fought it out groggy head and all. I lost. I ended up driving 2 hours to get an updated marriage certificate – one that is “acceptable” to Homeland Security, which means it has different colors on it. I guess what’s acceptable just changed recently. Who knew? This morning I also poked my eyeball out – hard – with a sharp object sticking out of my son’s bookbag.” Bleep…

Bzzt… “Ladies, it’s when twenty things pile on, that’s when I want to – die.” Bleep…

Now, let me tell you – these other bleeping women? They are my best blogger friends (Abby, Angela, Christy, Jami, Katie & Karina) – and they are about as caring and welcoming as a grandma with a hot plate of cookies. They love and then heap second helpings on your plate. It is how they are; I love them.

So, with all this said, why the bleep did I feel so horrible after I talked to them?

“They’re going to label me a complainer.”
“They’re going to think I don’t have Jesus in me.”
“They’re going to wonder why I am not more positive.”

‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:2′

This verse proves I am a failure. I am a “bad, bad girl”.

Considering this, my off-kilter heart transports right back to 3rd grade. I had talked out of turn. I always did. The teacher had me kneel 4-hours in front of the Holy Mother of God, Mary. She stood high. My knees went numb. Mary’s virgin eyes laid into me. They whispered, “Bad, bad girl.” 

Help me God…

untitled-design-6

I’m a bad, bad girl who doesn’t do good.
A bad, bad girl who makes others cringe.
A bad, bad girl who makes cheerful hearts go sour.
A bad, bad girl who will never “get it.”

My knees went home red that day, my heart went home injured. The lesson was learned: I was bad. Mary agreed.

So, today, I sit and wrestle with 3 questions.

1. Does discontentment disqualify me from being good?

If Jesus died to lay his very goodness over me, then his goodness is what I carry. Goodness is not dependent on a passing feeling or a state of mind – it is dependent on what was already accomplished on the cross.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14).

You did not choose me, but I chose you.. (Jo. 15:16)

2. Is sadness or frustration – a sin?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

According to the verse above, who cries? ___        Someone troubled- and likely sad.

Now, what does God do for these sad people? _____ He hears them.

Does he label them? ___ Well, yes, he does. He labels them – righteous.

The ones who cry out to God from the pit of pain certainly are labeled, but they are aren’t labeled shameful. They’re labeled righteous. While the enemy wants us to believe we are horrible, God just believes – his children are good.

3. Does my pain need to be squelched because it is dreadfully sinful, horrible and disturbing to man?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

When we cry to God, take a close look at what happens. Notice, God does not say: When the righteous cry out, the Lord tells them to hush up, pull it together and come back when they can put a smile on their face.

On the contrary. When the righteous cries, he hears and then delivers. He understands and then provides a way. He leans closer and then, like a good daddy, provides.

Jesus understands pain. He took it. He knows struggle. He lived through it. He felt emotion. He also cried. Our feelings weren’t given to us to be hated. They weren’t created by God to be called “bad, bad things.” They were handed down to us because God wants to hold them for us, care for them and show us how much he can provide.

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When Life Goes Not Good, Not Good at all!

Not Good at all

I love Annie’s all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies and only the all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies.

At this point, you are probably asking 2 questions:

  1. Why is she telling us this?  I promise there will be a good point.
  2. Why is she eating something so childish as that? Because I try to pretend my kids love them.

So, sometimes, with these all-chocolate graham bunnies, they run out of stock (probably because they are so amazing). Then I have to settle for the mixed bag – with vanilla and chocolate chips. I try to pick out my favorites. But, my all-time fave bunnies, well, they don’t taste the same- the other flavors rub off on them.

Almost every time, after I do that, I vow not to buy that mixed bag again. But, yesterday, I did. My sugar craving won over bad memories.

When I sat down with the bag at home, I considered…

What if I saw things differently?

What if rather than expecting that these bunnies taste exactly as planned,
I expect a different plan,

but not an all-together bad plan?

What if rather than pushing my demands,
I open myself up to delight in these bunnies as they are – in a new way?

I can accept:

They won’t be as flavorful as before, but different.
They won’t crunch exactly the same, but different.
They won’t be my all-chocolate bunnies; but different.

I crunched, munched and considered them a whole bunch…and by golly, I liked them. I really liked them. I do like green egg and ham, or rather the vanilla-coated chocolate bunnies in my hand.

If I failed to consider them from a new angle,
I would have failed to grasp the joy present in the moment.

How might you need to see things from a new angle?

What might God be prompting you to let go of – so you can grab hold of – a new view?

Times change. People move on. Days look different. Life evolves, turns and seasons change. And what I find can be the hardest thing to contend with are good times, gone. Good memories, lost. Good laughs, evaporated.

What is it you are still grasping for – that is long gone?

Might you consider a new angle?

Perhaps what is good is gone, because what is great – is coming.

Have you considered that?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is. 43:19

When we look at a job as dead-end, we miss the little path God has jutting out to a new opportunity. When we see a marriage as failed, we miss the rail that leans us onto God’s great love. When we see finances as doomed, we miss the door God wants to open to save us. When we see our anxiety as endless, we miss the small prompting of new life God calls us to. When we see life only as overwhelming, we miss the wind of God directing us where to go.

What are you missing?

Maybe something has taken new form because God wants your heart to take new form.

We are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Next time something seems lost, paused or different than expected, ask yourself these three things:

  1. Might God be doing “a new thing”?
  2. Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
  3. Will I believe that God is moving me from glory to glory,
    or will I walk against his wind, trying to step back into an old story?

Friends, I know it is hard. I hate it too. I stomp my feet, I chide change and I turn my back on things outside of comfortable. But, I am going to assure you – and me – we are not sitting with a mixed bag of blah. What we are sitting with is a bag of blessings. God is moving us into spiritual progress, greater spiritual blessings. There is fullness God so desires we enjoy.

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When Those Who Wander Get Lost

Wander Lost

Post By: Angela Parlin

I tore through the woods behind our home barefoot, chasing two tiny dachshund puppies, on repeat.

I was a young puppy Mom, and Bailey and Bear were my sweet, scrappy baby boys. They were fearless, but only because they were also clueless. They could sniff out a door open for adventure, faster than I could grab my shoes.

Bailey and Bear were happy at home, let me tell you. Spoiled rotten actually. It wasn’t that they wanted to leave our home, but they were made for the hunt. They loved to make us happy, but they also lived to chase after squirrels and birds and other puppy dog friends.

They were prone to wander beyond the walls of our home, beyond the confines of our fenced backyard.

It stressed me out to no end. I felt like a crazy woman. But when they ran? I ran after them. Because they were my babies. And while I believed they were the most adorable dogs ever made, I also knew their brains were small. Their hunting instinct and tunnel vision overpowered their intelligence, and I wasn’t going to let them get hurt. I wasn’t going to lose them…

Come on over to Angela Parlin’s blog  to see how our Father comes after us also. Bring your encouraging linkup post, as she’s hosting the #RaRaLinkup this week!

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Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Post by: Jami Amerine

It was an ugly cry; nostrils flaring; with an occasional snort/hiccup/whimper/wail.

On my white blouse, there were traces of snot and black tears.

I knew full well, this meant mascara was streaming down my cheeks and that I looked – dreadful.

This made sense because this how I felt, dreadful.  And vain as I am, I didn’t care that I looked a wreck. Pieces of my heart were going to being left in this “men’s” dorm. My sons would now live here, in halls that smelled like feet and corn nuts.  Here on the second floor of a dormitory I had blazed past 1,001 times during my studies at Abilene Christian University, I was about to leave not one son, but two.

The “man-babies,” John and Luke tried to pity me, bless them. But truth be told, their demeanors could not hide the thrill.  A new episode, a world they have not known, outside the confines of our rules and our ideals. To the man-babies the halls did not reek of burnt pop-tarts and jock itch spray, to them it smelled of freedom. The future was labeled clearly over the doors of Mabee Hall, rooms 208 and 255.

Luke pat/hugged me and kissed our foster daughter that sat casually on my hip. She was oblivious, but I couldn’t help notice that the hug was accompanied by a gentle escort out the door. “I’ll call you mom, and thanks.”

The door shut and a sob escaped me.

And my blurry eyes were relieved to see him as he ambled toward me. At nearly 6’4” my baby boy was as unacquainted as acquainted.  John lifted his cleft chin in my direction with a casual “hey, I am around the other side.” The corners of his mouth quivered as he tried to be cool and not appear too giddy. In a swift movement he lifted his foster sister from my arms and in lanky, cowboy booted strides escorted us to his new room.

Just like Luke, my hug goodbye was laced with a gentle shove out the door.  John had to run back to his car and then meet friends, so he was a little more abrupt. I stood surrounded by student workers hauling mini fridges, parents no better off than I, and the buzz of adventure vibrating in the stale air.

I thought out loud, “I didn’t get a picture of them in their rooms!” I looked toward the exit and yelped, “John! I wanted…” and caught the last glimpse of John’s back before he swiftly turned onto the staircase.

And that picture is burned in my mind.

I keep looking at it. I can’t stop replaying it.

Soaked with tears and the heavy weight of the end of a cherished chapter, I made it to my car. I buckled the baby in her car seat and waited for my husband. In the distance I could see Justin and our two youngest sons heading toward me. We would leave here and go home to our new normal. We’d done this before when our oldest daughter moved into the dorm, on the same campus two years before.  But this was different.  Maggie is my friend, with John and Luke, I know the man-babies wouldn’t be around or text or call like Maggie does.  I know… nothing will ever be the same.

I turned up the radio to blaring toddler tunes so the littles would not be alarmed by my sobs.  I made grilled cheese for the boys; I choked down a salad, and bedded everyone down for a nap. I kicked off my shoes, grabbed a box of Kleenex and climbed into my bed.

I know you think I wanted to stay there; to hang out a little longer at that dorm and make sure they had everything they needed.  Alas, it was time to go. And here, now, in cool sheets with a red nose and swollen eyes I let loose in the place I longed to be. Alone with my God, I cried and prayed. My phone buzzed, I needn’t look to see, words of encouragement, messages of “been there… it will be okay, they’ll be fine…” Had I responded I would have said, “Please leave me alone, I just want to stay here a little longer.”

I didn’t want encouragement. I didn’t want to pull it together or stop the waves of heartache.  I wanted to weep and reminisce.  I wanted to lie there, imagining my head in the lap of my Comforter – my only Hope.  As sad as I was, and as much hurt as I felt, I was right where l wanted to be.

Our society doesn’t grieve well.  We pick up and trudge on to the next thing. We hate to hurt. We despise the low places and we do our best cover the agony with sensory indulgences… an ice cream cone, wine, or new stilettos.

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Will you let me own this hurt?

Here I lie crumpled at the foot of the cross. In this place of my brokenness, there is a view that I can only see through the eyes of my suffering.  Let me stay.  Not to wallow in self-pity, but to weep in the arms of my Father.  Just for a while let me hurt. Just for a little longer let me embrace the great Healer.  He knows me, He remembers what I remember.  I know the man-babies have to go, I am not so dull. But just let me stay here a little longer and visit with the only One who can see the snapshots stored in my heart and head. Here in the quiet, surrounded by decrepit tissues and a tear soaked pillow case I need only to grieve without excuse. No condemnation, no pity, no “pull yourself together.”

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Please, for here with my God is my favorite place to be.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

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547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine
is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

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