Just don’t. But, when you have…

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Sisters. Does this prick you the way it totally did me? Read it again. Now, consider its truth.

Through obedience of my children’s souls, there came a true humility to my own. That humility has lead me to accept simplicity in God’s plan, His will, His intention for me. I read Titus 2 and know beyond any convincing or debating or demanding by humanity that God instructs older women to teach younger women things of being a woman. So this simplicity has caused me to self reflect and to come to an understanding that some “things” I hold precious or important or even once accepted as truth must change. See, through the truths taught to me simply from God’s word and not from human wisdom, have caused a choice. I have been shown from His word that so many choices I have made have been made outside of Him. Unknowingly I might claim…ignorance for sure…acceptance of human tradition or pattern or teaching…because that’s what I was told to do…whatever “excuse” I may use will not hold water for when I am asked by Him “Why did you do ________ when you came to an understanding that it was NOT what I wanted from you?” Just picture that scene. I do. I mean, I have a whole list of questions for Him. Like, “how did You deal with Judas?” and “what’s up with not making me a man?” and “why in the world did You create mosquitoes?!!” And yet no answer He gives me for these will be of ANY importance right?! But what about my answer. What about the defense I try to muster up for the WHY that He demands of me? A simple question. Why? There’s a popular hymn that causes one to think “what will your answer be?”

So. “Don’t go outside of obeying GOD to get something because you will HAVE to stay outside of God to keep it.” really caused me to admit that I was/am guilty of this. I have gone outside of God/His word/His authority to do what I want to do. In His name of course, because come on…we as “Christian” women in today’s world just do not outright rebel. We do what we want to do and claim that that is what God wants too…we can quote some big time scripture and back them up with some fantastic explanations that have taken us about 3.6 minutes to memorize. We have the highlights set on automatic…”I do ____ because of ____!” Our answers are quick, proud, with extreme confidence and we spout off exactly what we have been fed.
How many of us women have ever been willing to be taught instead of being the teacher? How many of us have ever wanted to be lowly, submissive, obedient, silent? How many of us desire to be the woman of God’s plan over the woman of our own desires/fulfillment/understanding? How many of us are selfish in the kingdom yet claiming selflessness the whole time? Better yet, how many of us have ever questioned what we SO PROUDLY claim to KNOW? I cannot answer for anyone other than myself…and I KNOW that I have been guilty of “leaning on my own understanding.” Pitiful. Sad. Playing the role of a Christian woman and yet NAILING the role of a hypocrite. Which I am pretty sure just disgusts Jesus. That’s what I gather anyway. And for heaven’s sake…I don’t want to disgust Him, any longer.

We -my husband and myself- had come to the understanding we had gone outside of God in making some of our decisions. And we knew that we would have to stay outside of Him to stay true to those decisions. One specific area was in my role in God’s kingdom. We had been blindly following, in good conscience, a humanistic understanding of my role. It made sense. It worked. It was productive. It was accepted. Everyone was on board. There was an universal agreement that THIS was obedience to God’s plan. It was easy. It was liked and pretty and fun and smiled upon. Every single Christian we knew agreed to this way. So the right thing to do was to just continue in it right?! Surely if all the good and honest and strong and faithful Christians were doing this it MUST be right!! And yet…the “but…’s” just could not be shaken. So, “seek and you shall find” became a promise we held Him to fulfill.

So, a journey of study began. Individually and collectively we studied His word. We relied on His word. We sought His word. We began looking to Jesus and The Holy Spirit’s message with the intent to obey THAT! We stripped away all preconceived ideas and all patterns and all accepted “truths” that had been preached to us for years and years and years. And THIS is when our lives were (to steal another’s writers words–Jen Hatmaker) “Interrupted.” When we began listening to HIM over the wisdom of people, what we began to hear was truth. His truth. THE truth. And so began the recognition of choices made outside of obeying God that we now would have to CHOOSE to continue outside of Him to keep. And it was like taking our hands and doing the up and down version of weighing the two. THIS over here is what GOD HIMSELF says…this over here is what these people are saying…hmmmmm, what to do what to do. Are you kidding me? I mean, THIS is what we do. It sounds ridiculous and I am willing to guarantee that some of you will think “oh no, not me, I never ever do that!” when in fact we ALL do. We are born and trained to believe “a way” — “a teaching” — “a denominational pattern” — and we seldomly if EVER question what we are taught. We just do it. We believe it. We practice it. We defend it. We even teach it to others and tell them they are wrong if they are not doing it, believing it, practicing it, defending it. And let me interject here and say that IF we are trained in God’s way, teachings, and patterns then when we do question them, we will find that our way, teachings, and patterns are in line with His. BUT what do we do when we find out they are NOT??!

Hence this post. Hence the calling to think. Women we are being taught and trained and programmed to believe all this stuff that most of is NOT what God has said but what we as humans want God to say. We twist and turn and pervert and change what IS to what we think it IS. Hmmmm, seems like somewhere I have read about leaning on our own understanding….and being proud in ourselves…and directing our own steps…and doing what is right in our eyes…so, we/I rely on God. We are searching diligently for truth. And once we understand through prayer and seeking, we obey. Simple –spiritually, it’s so simple. Physically…it’s so not simple. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. It’s controversial. It’s angered people. Many many people have turned away from us and no longer socialize with, fellowship with, or recognize us as saved in His kingdom. We are “in error” to them and therefore they understand that they must pull away from us. We understand this thinking. We knew this would be the outcome. We saw it in scripture that THIS is the result of truly obeying. Physically it’s hard. Jesus knows that too. Spiritually it’s worth it. Jesus proved that.

I am a woman submitting to my Lord and Master’s will for me in being submissive, and obedient, and silent when commanded to be, submitting to the authority that He has placed in my husband as my head, and choosing to obey Him over men. I am a woman who loves her God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. I am a woman who is learning what that REALLY means. And in that, learning more and more of what it means to love my neighbor as myself. I am a woman committed to obeying His clear and undeniable commands to teach younger women the things of being a woman. I am learning to choose Him over me. Learning to listen to commands over wants. Trying my best in sacrificing over fulfilling desires. I try. I fail. I repent. Beg for forgiveness. I try again. I succeed. I fail. The pattern will more than likely repeat for the course of my life. But I now know, through a continuation to study, that when I make choices to go outside of obeying God to get something…I have to stay there to keep it. And I just do not like outside of Him. It’s scary out there. I want to be “All In!!” Inside of Him by obeying His word.

I pray for courage to let go of any “thing” I gained outside of obeying Him. I pray for pride to not be what drives me. I pray for strength in enduring the “persecution.” I pray for all of my sisters, ones I know and those I don’t, to be ruled by humility. I pray for wisdom in loving my husband and children. I pray for time to become all that He wants me to become. I pray for understanding of my role in His kingdom and then courage to do just that, no more/no less.

I just LOVE quotes that make me think.
Hope you enjoy reading my thoughts. :)

Change…beautiful or brutal

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“Just call me…because you are going to be a basket case who will not be able to stop crying!” was the advice I was given from a few ladies about my baby babies starting kindergarten AND pre-k the same year. See, Autumn was always a very independent and confident child so I was not fearful of the routine change for her in starting kindergarten. Scout, however, was THE momma’s sweet baby of ALL the momma’s babies ever alive…so I was CERTAIN that the change from being home with momma allllllllll day evvvvvvvvery day would just be the worst. And the two only being 18 months apart in age meant that Autumn would start school and Scout would be home. Alone. With momma. For a year. I mean, that would have just been over the top hard for that baby to recover from the following year. I could just imagine it…”Aw, here Scout let’s take sthisssther (he had the cutest lisp) to school every morning then we will snuggle and laugh and play all day every day. Until it’s your turn to go to school. Cause I’m SURE you will totally understand that!” He would’ve needed serious therapy. Like DHR would have been called the first day right?! SO our answer was this…we will enroll Scout into a pre-k program so he and “sthisssther” can prepare and do the first year of school thing together. It was brilliant. And BONUS…our local school (the one hubs and I both graduated from) started a pre-k program THAT VERY YEAR that Autumn would start “keeen-dee-gar-tun.” Score.

So here we had all this CHANGE coming upon us. Individually AND as a family unit. My world would be changing drastically because my last 6 years had been CONSUMED with pregnancy, newborns, diapers, feedings, no sleep, spit up, just plain vomit, cuddling, snuggling, laughing, hide-and-go seek, Dora, Charlie and Lola, town runs, play dates, ALL.THINGS.BABY/TODDLER/CHILD. And yet, with all of that…the biggest change would be NOT BEING WITH MY BABIES EVERY DAY! I mean, I had devoted my entire life to this. My “job” was being home with them every day. And.I.LOVED.it. And then there would be the change that A and S would be making…the same as mine — NOT BEING WITH MOMMY EVERY DAY!
Please do not miss this though…there would be WONDERFULNESS in this change as well! I would be able to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned ALONE. I would be able to go to Wal-Mart and grocery shop ALONE. I would be able to clean my house DURING the day light instead of at 12 midnight because that’s when all is quiet and still. I answered one lady this way when she asked “aren’t you going to be so sad when they start school?!!” :
“UMMMM, NO. IT’S LIKE RETIREMENT FOR ME!” Who have you ever met that when their job is finished and complete isn’t ECSTATIC for retirement?!! I had been doing something else over the past 6 years…I had been preparing. I knew that if the world stood and time remained that in 5 very short years, my baby would be going to “keeen-dee-gar-tun.” I knew that was the natural progression of time. I knew that with maturity and growth would come change in her/our life. I knew that it was what was necessary for her to become who she was meant to be. I knew there would be sadness mixed with the excitement. I MAINLY knew this: THIS was part of the reason I would commit myself to her. THIS was why I would sacrifice a career, my pride, my need, my desire. THIS was why I forbade myself to miss these 5 years. THIS would be what I would NEVER be able to have again. A job was ALWAYS a possibility…my baby girl and baby boy’s first roll over, first word, first steps, the snuggles, the kisses, the TIME with them would not be ever again. And that TIME with them both would be over so quickly, I just didn’t wanna miss it. We made decisions to do without. We didn’t do vacations every year, we didn’t eat out, we didn’t buy new or expensive clothes, we didn’t have extravagant “things,” our home was small and simple, we didn’t have “stuff” … and ya know what? we made it just fine with what we did have — L*O*V*E and commitment. We had food every day…and we had clothes every day…we were provided for in every sense of the words “for our needs.”

I took a nap, on our big bed, with my sweet and precious and BEAUTIFUL babies one afternoon and woke up to be fixing pancakes and bacon for my 5 year old and 4 year old children’s FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. It LITERALLY happened that fast. With “Build A Bear” creations as support (Autumn’s voice recording was me saying “I love you baby…don’t cry.”…that bear still says that 8 years later) and backpacks full of goodies/supplies for their classroom and full stomachs…we head out. Scared. Unsure. Nervous. Excited. Giddy. Back to scared. Like a roller coaster that with every up there was a sign that read “good part” and with every dip “bad part” and every curve “good luck figuring out what you’re feeling now!” we head out to this CHANGE. THIS moment in our lives is EXACTLY what I thought of when I first read the above quote. THIS was such a beautiful and natural and exciting and new “era” of time for all of us…that was the BEAUTIFUL part. And yet it was so scary and different and challenging for us as well…that was the BRUTAL part. So how’d it turn out you ask?! Autumn (my very independent and confident child) cried EVERY SINGLE DAY for the first two weeks…like the embarrassing outpour crying that made me tell her on day 6 “I am NOT leaving you at the Hannah Home box for the love…it’s school. Your aunt is in the office and your momma lives 3 MINUTES from here…get it together!” Bless. And once she learned the routine and got comfortable with the “change” she fell in love with school and has never cried to go since. Scout (my very momma’s boy child) walked into that pre-k class, straight to his table, took off the supply filled backpack, waved at me and said “bye ma!” He cried WHEN I CAME BACK TO PICK HIM UP! The “change” wasn’t so hard for him afterall. Wow how our babies can totally fool us huh?!

Now. When I look at this quote I see a spiritual application and not JUST a physical one…read it again.

Based solely upon our children’s obedience to Jesus and His Gospel…our lives changed. And that “change” has been BEAUTIFUL. And brutal.
We, as 4 saved souls, have started at the point of the Cross. We no longer are just following after men, patters, traditions, ways, doctrines, etc. There is something very enlightening about simply and humbly seeking The Lord and His Word. The change that THIS brought has spiritually brought about a peace which doesn’t make sense in the world (isn’t it ironic..don’t ya think?). We accepted that we did not know a lot…and then begin to pray for the change that was necessary for us to know exactly what He wants/requires/demands. That change was from a commitment to trust. Trust Him to do what He says He will do…He is completely ok with being held accountable to His promises. That change was from a commitment to have faith. Faith that He is able to do just as He says…and to rest in that faith that He wants to. So, for us to have hearts which desire truth, seek truth, and ask understanding, trusting Him to lead us and having faith that He will…CHANGE has been beautiful because through His word we are brave enough to accept what is required of us. NO MATTER THE COST. It’s beautiful because it’s relying on Him…beautiful because He is ENOUGH. His Word is ENOUGH. And because we know that He is faithful and just, the change(s) we are making is/are not brutal in that we are fearfully resisting…change is brutal because becoming more obedient to God means being less obedient to self/people and self and people just DO NOT LIKE THIS!!! It doesn’t make sense. It’s weird. What I am obeying may not be what you’re obeying and therefore I can say you are wrong and you can say I am wrong…but say all we want right cause we know all there is to know and we are responsible for making sure that every soul is obeying the way we obey. Clearly, that’s the right thing right?! I have it all figured out…you need me to tell you what to do…and when you don’t, then you are wrong. Cause you will have to answer to me one day about how/what you obeyed. I am your judge. I have the answers. You must please me. You have to do what I am doing or you are wrong because I am right. This means this and if you don’t see/understand this this way…then clearly you are wrong. Now wait. Hold up. Surely when you read that and maybe even say it out loud when you reread it…it sounds REEEEEEEdiculous. It was intended to. See, change in what we do – what we understand – what we believe – what we know – what we practice – is almost 100% of the time looked at brutally. If we begin to do things differently…immediately those new ways are wrong. And yet, CHANGE is exactly what will happen when we accept His way for us. CHANGE will continue to happen our entire life after that moment as well…as we mature, we change. As we learn more, we change. As we understand more, we change. I use the #think a lot in quote posts to simply get people’s minds a’turning. So, just think about this with me for a moment:

We make physical changes ALL the time and they go without question right?! I may go from having dark hair through several steps to become blonde and only an occasional “ah, well, you look different” will occur. We change jobs, houses, cars, shoes, hair styles, friends, hobbies, ALL the time and hardly ever do we question those changes. There may be physical changes we make that never even get noticed. We change the type of music we listen to…we change the liquids we drink…we start painting our finger nails light colors instead of dark ones. These “types” of changes do not bother us or anyone else normally. They are vastly overlooked. BUT…let a family of 4 souls who submit to Jesus start making changes based on spiritual understanding AND THE WHOLE WORLD CEASES TO TURN. THIS is not accepted, or overlooked, or unnoticed. Let a woman and her husband and their daughter accept simple instruction of silence during gatherings of The Lord’s church and THIS has GOT TO BE WRONG…and ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY. There can be a family of 4 who’s child is slowly making subtle changes that are proving his/her choices to serve self instead of God but since they are physical choices like dress/dating/friends/habits/behavior/etc we don’t get all ruffled about that. We call that “normal” and “hormones” and “teenagers” and “sowing wild oats” and “figuring things out”…BUT if a woman and her daughter are choosing to submit to God in the instructions He has given them in being silent, it will not be tolerated. “They don’t understand those instructions clearly.” “That’s not what that means!!!” Do you see that?!
Why can’t we accept spiritual change? Why do we fear it? Why do we judge it? Why do we condemn it? Why do we not allow it? NOW…let me interject here and say this: we are commanded not to change what God has said right?! What He says is what He means. Clearly. And that is NOT the changing I am referring to in this post…it’s the change that comes from a true submission to His Word. The change that happens in our hearts…our thinking…our understanding…our choices…our actions…our worship…our devotion…our commitments…ONCE we humbly submit to Jesus, His example, His commands, His ways. Once we humbly submit to God, His Word, His will. Once we humbly submit to the Holy Spirit, His teachings, His commands, His instructions. THIS WILL CAUSE CHANGE. Change that will be BEAUTIFUL or BRUTAL…and that depends on us. Sisters, submitting to my Lord’s will for me is the best thing ever. It’s weird. It’s laughed at. It’s doubted. It’s questioned. It’s abnormal. it’s BRUTAL…To the world only. To my Lord — it’s the most BEAUTIFUL THING EVER!!! And I pray for Him to allow me time to change in whatever ways necessary to be pleasing to Him, to honor my husband, to love my children, to be the complete servant He desires. WHATEVER changes THAT requires…may I see them as beautiful and not brutal. May I understand the brutality would be in resisting those changes…resisting humility, resisting selflessness, resisting instructions from Him.
Change with intent to obey Him = beauty
Change resisted because of fear/pride = brutal.

#think ~~~~~ Just think.

“So HOW’d you put em on?” you ask…

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Lying in the Emergency Room of choice…being asked “have you ever considered hurting yourself?” and “is there any abuse at home we should know about”…having nurses check my wrists for marks…my husband explaining that the pain gets so bad for me that I have said “if I come up missing, I’m in the woods with a bullet in my head” and how he knows I would NEVER do that but THAT’s how bad this gets at times…like, WHAT?!! What the crap is happening?!! Tears just stream down my face, I can’t actually cry because my head will explode so for the 3rd day in a row I just cry silently. I just want it to go away. Please…for the love…just make it go away. All of it. The headache FIRST because that’s the prominent problem at hand, but the pain next. Then the stress felt. Then the no sleep issue – that’s a big one doc! Make the thoughts stop. Make the missing people I feel end. Make the attacks stop. Make the mean people just quit. Make ALL of this just go away. Please.
A FAST…like not kidding you, this kid had wheeled a few people back before and knew the way to make that wheelchair scoot…ride to the ct scan room and back, the doctor comes in to say “well, everything medically inside your head is fine…no tumors or spots of concern.” TJ explains the occipital nerve issue I deal with. So, just as he knows how, the doctor says he will be willing to meet with me outside of the ER to discuss medical options to control my headaches and my anxiety/depression. Which I so appreciate because he is offering the help he knows. So I explain to him my utter fear of man made medicines and have Zilch-O desire to become dependent upon any. My dad suffers from bi-polarism and I have always been so terrified of suffering the same so I do NOT want to chance chemicals in my body messing up other chemicals. Doctor respects my decision and preciously gives me a shot to fix the inflammation in my muscles/neck, a medicine to control my nausea, and a medicine to relax me so I can sleep. One time deal. And in a “here’s your bonus award for coming in today Mrs. Bragwell” way, prescribed me a small dose 10 count anxiety pill. “Just to take the edge off at times…will help you sleep” he says. AND MAN WAS HE RIGHT??!! I didn’t say I would NOT take anything…just don’t want to become dependent on anything. Lol
So, did the shot fix me? Did the amazing good sleep I got that night? Maybe it was the sweet and encouraging nurses and doctors who were so lovingly concerned about me? …
No. NO. and NOOOO.
All behind the scenes of this 2 year, life changing, stressful, heart aching, and ultimately “DEPRESSION” causing “situation”…has been THIS constant and amazing and beautiful person working for my good. Holding me up, keeping me together, reassuring me in our God, picking me up off the floor, praying over me, praying for me, cheering me on, wiping my tears and holding my hand, correcting me when I’m wrong, holding me accountable to my responsibilities, reminding me of THE BIGGER PICTURE…and his name is TJ.
Now let me say this…GOD is the ever constant, ever present, all safe REFUGE for us. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t sway. He isn’t persuaded away from us. He doesn’t buy into the false stories and lies of people trying to make Him pull away from us. Others will. And that’s told to us in advance…see, He doesn’t allow any “surprises” to jump out of the woods and blindside us. He tells us: “you will be hated.” BUT HE LOVES US. He is sitting there just WANTING us to rely on Him. “SIMPLY TRUST ME baby.” “I will take care of you…just allow ME!” And I know that ONE way He takes care of me is through His creation, named by his mother and father,…TJ.
This man. Yall, he is THE most aggravating person in my life. He can drive me batty in a flat racetrack second. He snores. He can take WEEKS to do something I ask of him. He has his limits. He is the way he is and he has the hobbies and desires he has…I knew that at 13 just like I know it at 39. He likes junk. He is NEVER interested in throwing ANYTHING away based on the handed down philosophy of Bragwell men “I may need that one day.” (eye roll please). He shuts down easily. He has NO interest in talking about his feelings. He overthinks. He plans waaaaaaaay too far in advance for my taste. He doesn’t like spontanaeity. He thinks going out to eat and dropping $75 is ridiculous when you can just eat at home. He picks his toenails. He bites his fingernails off and leaves them lying around on the coffee table. (THIS I have threatened divorce over.) The point if HE IS NOT PERFECT. He is just like every other male, he is flawed and weird and set in his ways and different than his female counterpart. So I am not trying to portray that he is this perfect little creature who just sits and stares at me and tells me how beautiful and precious I am all the time. See, even THAT…he’s never really been good at. “Keeps you humble Tressa” is his “reasoning” hahaa!
BUT what he IS is this…He is a man who loves his wife. Not always in the “let me run my fingers through your beautiful and long hair” love…but ALWAYS in the love of God. Always. He knows what it is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He believes that he is commanded to obey this and will be held accountable for his “performance” of it. He knows to lead her as he follows his God. He knows and does seek Him first in everything. He has this relationship with God that he doesn’t even have with his wife…he loves God more than he loves me. Just as he should. I made this statement in my vows to him on our wedding day (almost 15 years ago…wow) “No Christian wife minds being her husband’s 2nd love…when God is his first.” And I meant that. And TJ has only grown and grown and grown closer to God in his relationship with Him. As His servant, His child, His student, His representative, His disciple…TJ is committed to being what his God expects, commands, and simply wants for him to be. And ONE of the benefits in this is that he loves me. And THAT my dear friends…THAT is how I put my big girl’s back on.
Friday morning comes and I have had the MOST SOUND sleep AND rest. I am awakened to “I made you some coffee baby.” Once I rise, with the after effects of the headache still threatening me, he tells me to pack. He had asked me on Thursday “what do you need to feel better?” and we had kinda talked about getting away. But the headache HAD to go first. I had confessed to him I felt a real disconnect from him over the past year, from the stress he has – the stress of “church” – the stress of teenage daughter and preteen son still living at home lol – and that we survived the first 10 years of our marriage with the “hard stuff” of babies, nursing, toddlers, job changes, moving, moving states, etc. with flying colors but this part was HARD. And I related it to us not having time for the other. We took a week’s dream getaway in October of 2013 to Hawaii and that was the last time we had been away alone. So, he knew. He knew that taking his wife away to her favorite place in the whole entire massive galaxy would help her. To the beach we went.
We packed one bag, 2 beach chairs, an umbrella, and sunscreen. He had our children taken care of by friends who were standing by asking “what can we do?” Love. Tears. I mean WHAT would we do without them right?! Can’t even. So, a stop at the pharmacy and a 6 hour drive later, involving one stop in which I happen to see in the back seat the “take home copy” of the ER discharge papers which reads “Diagnosis – Acute Headache/Depression” and that depressed me. Like, I was depressed about being depressed. There’s something about knowing in your mind that you feel down…and actually being labeled as “DEPRESSED.” BUT… Big laugh about it now though. Anyway, we arrive, check in to the hotel we reserved on 65S 2 hours previously…he walks beside me, holding my hand, to the beautiful and majestic and I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it before it ALWAYS amazes me to tears beach. The sand was so cool. The winds were just a perfect breeze. The sun was barely peeking out from its friend the clouds. The waves were gentle with just a kiss of “come out here and I’ll getcha.” And my mind was quiet. My head was eased. My heart was full. My faith rekindled. My husband the reason.
As he placed my chair in the perfect spot and got my umbrella on the back, making sure I am just as perfectly comfortable as possible, he begins to walk.
His ADD does not allow him to just sit for very long. Bless. And as he is walking, I’m taking all of THIS in. Like, I’m at the beach. On a Friday. With no planned out agenda. No anticipating weeks/months of excitement. Just there. Without a worry. Because my husband loves me and knows that my laughter was gone and I was big girl pantiless for far too many days. That’s it. It wasn’t about him. Or the kids. It wasn’t about a vacation. It wasn’t about anything or body except that his wife was in need and he recognized it and selflessly make it his aim to rescue her from the sadness and depression that had all but consumed her. And I began to cry tears of happiness…tears of joy…tears of ultimate amazement that if TJ loves me THIS much…HOW MUCH MORE DOES GOD LOVE ME?!!
HOW MUCH MORE DOES GOD WANT TO TAKE CARE OF ME?!! HOW MUCH MORE DOES GOD SEE AND KNOW MY PAIN?!! HE created this beautiful place where the water meets the sand in a controlled fashion and where the sky and the water meet and gave me eyes to see this beauty and ears to hear the waves crashing, the birds talking to each other, and feelings to sense the sun and its warmth and the coolness of the wind. And created TJ for me. And had arranged to have me rescued by bringing both gifts to my ever present need in this very moment. And as the overwhelming realization of how MUCH I am loved by my Father and my husband engulfs me…I immediately felt peace. I knew that all is well in this spiritual house the Lord dwells in. He is pleased with our efforts and desire to seek and know Him…to worship Him in spirit and in truth…to humble our hearts and open our eyes to His truth…to make whatever changes necessary to please HIM and to not allow the attacks of the evil one and those doing his work to distract me ONE. MORE. MINUTE. And I lift my eyes to heaven…and say “yes Lord, I know You are there. I hear Your still small voice. I will from this moment on trust YOU. I will fix my eyes on Jesus and follow His example of obedience so I can too be where You are.” And comically, because I know He has a sense of humor, I also say “oooooooK, I will put them back on!”
Then this “Romeo” romantic –and believe me, this is a normal AND yet very very sporadic trait of his– comes back from his “exploration” of the beach with this…a gift and reminder of God’s perfect timing. His perfect love. His perfect -untainted by the world and its effects- care. His perfect creation.

And as the old song says…”and that’s all I need to know!”

Surroundings…meaning relationships…sisters/friends.

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On an average day…I will communicate via text, email, instagram, face to face, and EVEN the age old way of telephone, with my best friends. And yet, somehow, they are so easy to not even think about. Hear me out here. Do we realize how MUCH these relationships, our surrounding ones, really and truly mean to us?

I’m gonna look through my phone right now and give you a couple of examples of the convos I have exchanged in just the last 2 days…and I picked the ones in which I could make this point.

Me: “Random ? … Was “anti-sass medicine” the name of it when I told you about it or did you name it that? I’m writing about learning from older women and telling the story of the lady who told me about it and can’t remember if that’s what she named it or you.”
Lindley: “I honestly don’t remember…(On my defense…early stage dementia…)”
–she is so telling the truth people, like she remembers hardly anything. I can say “Lindley…put this in your calendar so that you will remember AND you won’t schedule anything else that day at that time!” and it doesn’t seem to fail that she will FORGET TO CHECK HER CALENDAR IN HER PHONE when making plans. She began having “forgetful moments” after her birth giving years. She acknowledges her issue and is completely ok with being called out on it…when she says things like “you know, come on now, help me out…ummm, like, ummmmm…” I will laugh. She knows. I love her. I pray she never forgets me, she is 6 years younger than I so she naturally should keep long term memory longer than me BUT at this rate…lol. She knows and believes in me. All of me. She is SO my right hand. She is an answered prayer.

My friend Shelana is an ADVOCATE for not texting and driving…like doesn’t even look at her phone while operating a vehicle (which almost got 991–hahahaha–called on her tail one day for not replying in a timely fashion) so she has started trying the voice texting. It’s been a blast people. Here’s yesterdays convo about me asking her if she and Gabbie would want to go with Autumn and me to pick out a dress for the Junior High Athletic banquet next week. I will alter these a bit due to the going on and on and on and on we sometimes do…
Here’s the short version:
I ask…hey you wanna go, she says she’s already over that way because she needed some stuff, she’s already mutilated like 3 voice attempts because it changes words and her texts make no sense, then this is where we will pick up:
Me: “Are you gonna be back soon?”
Her: “Well Sarah Grace may have a dress that Debbie would consent to wearing one evening”
Let me interject right here…she has children, none of which are named Debbie. Continuing…
Me: “Are you drunk?” accompanied with a photo of a tee that says the same and the two boxes for yes and no…the “X” is marked like to the side and underneath the boxes. Funny.
Her: “I had a stroke.” which is the truth. 2 1/2 years ago.
Her: “Debbie may have a dress that Gabby can wear” again, that Debbie.
Me: “I can’t wait to meet Debbie”
Me: “She’s up for whatever”
Me: “Want me to take G with me to town or leave her home?”
Me: “Aka Deb”
Me: “Debbie”
Me: “Little snack cake”
Me: “I’m laughing out loud like so loud”
Her: “It’s up to Debbie”
Her: “Me too I almost had a wreck”
Me: “Is Sophie, now referred to as Alice, with you? Just because Debbie needs a sister named Alice”

The result of this…Gabbie is now Debbie for like eternity and Sophie runs in her house last night after returning from the trip with us and yells…”ALICE IS HOME!!”
So Shelana sends this this morning:
“Shane thinks we have corrupted them beyond repair.”
Me: “When I think…she favors Alice in the wonderland. Shane and TJ may separate us in corners.”
–I laugh everyday with this woman. She is so good and lovable and raw. She is an answered prayer.

Me: “Listen to this song…the words.” Along with the name of the song. This is a very common thing for the 2 of us. One of her favorite “things” is knowing that “this world is not her home” and so we randomly will send each other reminders.
Anna: (7 hours later because she was at work and does NOT reply much, out of respect, while she is at work) “Holy crap!!!!! No freaking way!!!”
sends pic of her car radio with the song title showing
Anna: “I was like this is a good song!! Then I thought…wait…isn’t that what Tressa sent?”
It was the same song. She had read my message 7 hours earlier, didn’t have time to look up and listen, and then on her way home she heard it and it hit her! We have that connection. She is the most spiritually minded young woman (she’s 14 years younger than I) I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. She has been in my life for almost a solid year and she loves her Lord, her husband, and strives every day to be more of who she should be for both. She is an answered prayer.

Ok so who caught the common thread among these 3 relationships? They weren’t born in the same era of time, they don’t have the same goals and desires in life, they don’t have the same great/awful traits, so what makes them so alike to me, in my life?


They. are. answered. prayers.
Lemme explain.
For years I have been in this committed state of change. Refining is the best description I guess. I have witnessed through the evidence presented to me through my own actions/choices that I am NOT the perfect person I spent so many years believing I was. Shocking right?! Like that moment you realize “I am crap.” Surely you know that moment. The “AHA” moment I guess, like “hey woman, THIS whole thing IS NOT ABOUT YOU and who you claim to be and what you claim to stand for and what you feel or think or believe or want!” If you’ve read previous posts, you are aware of this. I have seriously been focused on putting away the idea/notion that I can just be whoever I am by nature or whoever I simply choose to be. For instance, I am a very bluntly honest person. I have never had a “problem” telling someone the truth about something…whether it hurt him/her or not was not my concern because the truth is the truth and he/she deserves to hear the truth right?! Like, “honesty is the best policy” on crack. So when a friend/sister would come to me with whatever, I would just blast them straight up with the truth…”he doesn’t love you, get over it.” or “well you should’ve thought about the way your life would turn out if you made that decision BEFORE you made it.” or even “this is totally your fault.” And then walk away feeling justified because “I told the truth.” I mean, isn’t that “what we do”?!! We CHOOSE how to be and then JUSTIFY that choice by saying “this is just how I am!”
Which led me to think…”is it?”
I had no compassion. I did not listen well. I was way over opinionated. I was obnoxious. I was selfish. I was self centered. I was proud. I was confident. I did not care. I was rough. I was scarred (not scared but scarred, like with scars). I was a product. I was all about me. I used to tell people during my college years (there won’t be many posts about this era of time so pay attention. lol) “there’s nobody I’d rather be with than me.” And I was being honest. Because with me…I caused myself no pain, I couldn’t leave myself, I wouldn’t cheat on myself, I wouldn’t disappoint me, I wouldn’t be humiliated, I couldn’t neglect myself, etc. I was ALL FOR ME. I graduated high school this way, college this way, married this way, gave birth this way, and managed every relationship I had this way. Even my relationship with Jesus. And yet…WHAT about anything I just described to you reflects Jesus?

So fast forward a couple of years, events, things, and people, and we get to that “AHHAAAAAAA” moment for me. And with the saddest reality I had EVER experienced, came the ugly truth I had been missing.
Here’s what I thought previously: I was sure. I was good. I was spiritual. I was accepted. I was loved. I was a good friend. I had good friends.
Here’s what I realized: I was lost. I was ugly. I was over-confident. I was proud in the bad way. I was selfish. I was a crappy friend. I was a poor example for my friends.

I mean…HOW do you change right?! Like that’s the first question you ask. Ok so I know all of this, but HOW do I make it better? I do not claim to know HOW it will/should work for you, but here’s a start for how it did for me…
I asked God. Seriously. I looked up and said “ok sooooooooo…what?! What do you want from me? Because I don’t know, I’ve never asked You before!”
See, I had listened to myself tell myself I should be the way I was…I listened to friends reassure me that I was fine…I listened to brothers/sisters tell me that I was accepted by God…I was listening to all the voices I wanted to hear. Saying alllllll the things I needed/wanted to hear to soothe my soul. “You’re fine.” “You’re pleasing Him.” “You’re doing what you should do.” And I KNOW these friends/people were going on and making their decisions about me from a good place. They are good people. So, they weren’t doing anything wrong. THIS was totally my mess up. My wrong doing. And I would be the only person who could un-do it.

So ONE area of my refining process has been to pray for honest hearts. Honest, God fearing, God serving, selfLESS hearts who will know me -the true me- and accept that I was completely unaware of who that true me is and on my way to finding her. Friends who will believe in me. Sisters with hearts who have been changed by the belief in Jesus. Ones who will love me…NOT for who they think I am or think I should be…but love me for who I am so desperately seeking. Sisters who would need my insight and wisdom in the areas of life I have already been through. Friends I can learn valuable lessons from like forgiveness, mercy, kindness, compassion, nurturing, loving…all things I never was. Women who love Jesus and know that they stink at it sometimes. I prayed for truth. I desired and longed for women who I could laugh with and cry with and share intimate feelings with and express anger to and learn from AND teach about just. being. a. woman. I had never given any consideration, AT ALL, to the women I was surrounding myself with. I had never given any consideration, AT ALL, to the woman I was/was not for them. I had never thought “am I helping her be more like the woman she needs to be for God?” because I HAD NEVER THOUGHT IF I WAS THAT WOMAN!!! I was blinded by what I wanted to see, believe, feel, or accept. All that “I am fantastic” crap. But when I began to pray—years ago mind you—for truth, in every way, in every thing, in every relationship…THAT is just what has been answered…and is continuing to be answered. And prayerfully will always be answered.
AND please don’t miss my point here by thinking that I do not value ALL of my friendships, relationships, sisters because THAT is so far from the truth. I have forever friends and new ones I just recently met. I have those who I don’t see all the time and when we see each other it’s like we never have spent a second apart. I have those I would bail out of jail in a heartbeat. I have those who may be a little challenging to like all the time, just as I am not likable all the time. I LOVE THEM ALL. I have ALSO learned EVERY ONE has something valuable…something unique…some “reason” to be in my life…and I truly love (which is another whole post) each one of them. Everyone around me has something to offer and I am so focusing on learning what that is and then allowing God to use that in His way for my life. I am trying with my whole heart to be who I am supposed to be…and at the same time satan is trying so hard to deceive me as to who that is. It’s a battle. Everyday. And everyday I lean on HIM for answers. I take what I know RIGHT NOW and live that out the best I can and I pray for more and more and more and still more understanding of what He wants from me and my life in His service.

So, what has been searched for and prayed about by TJ and me…being in this together…is truth. And truth is, I want to be the woman who pleases her Father. I want to obey. I want to teach younger women about being a woman. I want to be taught by older women the same. I want to be selfless. I want to be a Jesus example of submission, obedience, love, kindness, compassion, purity, and forgiveness. I want to be only want what HE WANTS FOR ME…which is to be changed in my thinking and to see truth His way. I want to be encouraged by those around me in truth -HIS truth, not our versions of it- and I want to be an encouragement for everyone around me in the same.

We have friends. All of us do. We have those we talk to every day, every other day, once a week, once in a blue moon, and no matter the amount of communication exchange…we are all probably guilty of not being appreciative enough for the role in which they play in our lives. We probably don’t do enough praying about valuing people in our lives and keeping those relationships alive and well which encourage us in truth and letting go of those which do not. I have learned to seek out those souls committed to obeying and serving and to let go of those who are not…and continuing to set the right example for both. So, thank your friends. Tell your sisters you love them. Pray for relationships which are Christ centered. Be the woman the world of women around you NEED and the one God wants.

And then laugh. And text crazy. And prank call. And send funny pics. And MOST importantly…pray for her. And love her with every word you utter.


Realize and understand

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It may take some small somethingother … It may take a great big slap in the face … It may be willingly in this life … It may be forcefully hereafter … It may have opened your eyes … It may have caused you to look away … No matter, the realization of WHO He is and what you’re not will come.
His ways for you are some of the time against everything you’ve known/been taught/believe/think/want.
And yet His ways for you are ALWAYS better than anything you’ve known/been taught/believe/think/want.
Does it matter what I know?
Does it matter what I have been taught?
Does it matter what I believe?
Does it matter what I think?
Does it matter what I want?
Yes it matters!
Because if you line up everything with HIS Word…He will be pleased with your life, your worship, your sacrifices.
If you do not, and you choose to twist HIS Word to what line up with what you know, you’ve been taught, believe, think, and want…He will not be.
And sisters we know we want Him pleased. We wear His name because He is worthy of our hearts, our obedience, our lives. For ALL we KNOW He has done for us…makes us realize HoW BIG He is and then understand how small we are.
Let’s choose to obey. Simply. Humbly. Honestly. Let’s unite in being women for His kingdom. Let’s fulfill our roles of supporting, submitting to, respecting, and loving our husbands in everything. Let’s be partners in training our children and keeping them in line to obey us as we train them in His ways. Let’s train them that love is action…and then when we say it it’s already proven. Let’s be modest hearted women with gentle and quiet spirits. Let’s make sure our conduct is that of obedience. Let’s be chaste and pure. Let’s be serving those who need us. Let’s say “I’m sorry please forgive me” when we completely mess up! Let’s be women serving in the roles He created JUST. FOR. US!!! Let’s be honored.

He is Who He is …
I will do my absolute best to be who He desires for me to be.
I realize and understand that means it’s not what I know/have been taught/believe/think/want…it’s what HE SAYS. Him alone.


Limited and narrow

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This was the statement that made my little mind go….”woooooooooooow!” :
“I don’t know how anybody could be happy when you are so limited and narrow!”

One would expect this of an individual whom may not know his/her Creator, one who may be full of doubt, or even one who admits to not fully understanding the word/will of The Lord right?! However, this statement came from a professing Christian. It was made by an elected Bishop in “God’s church.” It was made by an individual claiming to fully know and understand the word of The Lord and His church. It was made by a preacher of God’s word. It was made by a international teacher of the bible. It was made by an influential individual whom is forming and molding minds to believe a certain way in regards to God’s word. It was made by a leader. It was made by someone who professes to study God’s word and live according to what He has said.

Characteristics and Roles this individual holds:

*Professing Christian
*Bishop (Elder)
*Member of “God’s Church”
*Student of God’s word

This statement was made by a woman. Any “shock and awe” in your mind right now?
It was a result of a discussion among other women, older and younger, about the “place” or “role” of women in the church. Which led to this Bishop asking a younger woman “would you vote for a woman president?” The young lady responded with “no, I do not believe I would.” The younger woman confessed that the man is to be the head. Which obviously BLEW the woman elder’s mind. She was “seriously concerned” that younger woman in today’s world would have this view. She said (to her husband none the less), and I am paraphrasing here, “you would expect this from an older person, but in this generation where there are so many more opportunities…not expecting young women to have that type of persuasion.”

So, like normal…my mind goes into a “write this down because this is a good lesson for the younger women.” If we are taught that happiness comes from fulfillment of SELF and what WE want and being GIVEN the opportunity(ies) to do as WE please in The Lord’s church…then that is EXACTLY what we will strive to gain. We all want to be happy. Happy is good. Happy is fun. Happy is so much better than sad. Happy is where it’s at man. Happy is what we are ALL trying to be. Happy Happy Happy. And the same goes for if we are taught to be happy in The Lord, His word, His way, His instruction(s), His church, and the roles He created for us to fulfill…then that is EXACTLY what we will strive to gain.
Think: What happy are you being taught?
What happy are you seeking?

Is it easy for me to “claim” to be obedient to what God has said for me as a woman to be doing? Is it easy to for me to profess I love Him? Is it easy for me to tell everybody I that I am a “Titus 2 woman” or a “Proverbs 31” woman? Is it easy for me to look like a Christian woman? Sure it is…so does the lady bishop who made the opening statement that made me hit the rewind button like 37 times to make sure I was hearing her correctly. So…HOW do I know that I am what I claim to be/do what I claim He tells me to do?

Sweet Jesus. He tells me. He tells me exactly how to “prove” that I love Him. His sweet apostle John tells me. He tells me how I know I know Him. All of those obedient and precious and life giving apostles tell me. And upon knowing what I am told to do as a woman…if I am doing that — I am who I claim to be and am doing what He tells me. If I am doing more than he tells me…I am adding to what He says. If I am doing less than he tells me…I am taking away from what He says. So there IS a line. There are limits. It is narrow. Right?!

When I realized I was on a wide path, with many other people around me on it too, I realized I was NOT on the narrow one. I knew Jesus said something about a wide gate and a narrow path but I also felt very comfortable and safe and warm and fuzzy in the nice place I was in. I knew what He said. I knew He meant what He said. BUT (Anna, I am working on it but have NOT perfected it yet…haha) I liked the company. I liked the safety. I liked the acceptance. I liked my faith. I liked what I stood for. I liked where I was. There…I admit it. It was ALLLLLLLLLLLL about “I.” Shocking, I know. (sarcasm at its finest btw)!

So began my search for the narrow. I found limits. I found happiness. I found contentment. I found joy. I found peace. I found fulfillment. Allllllllllllll in God’s word. All in the words of God which reveal the roles that I have as a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and an example. By NO means am I going to paint the picture that the journey from the wide to the narrow has been fun -or completed- because it has physically worn me out at times. I have hit the floor overcome with tears and sadness. I have ached inside for the losses I have experienced. I have mourned over the “old Tressa” being gone…I liked her so much better! Many of my sisters still say “where’s the old Tressa, she would not take this crap!” Heaven stars I am trying…I am trying. Patience.

And I am spiritually happy with that.

I am happy with the responsibility of being submissive and obedient like Jesus. I am happy with being TJ’s helper and being submissive and respectful to him. I am happy with being a nurturing and loving (don’t laugh please…yes I struggle with this one at times) mother to Autumn and Scout. I am happy with being the teacher to my daughter and other younger women of how to love her/their husbands and children, and to have the characteristics that The Lord commands godly women to have. I am happy with being the weaker vessel. I am happy with having the same title as Christ’s church…a bride. I am happy to be taught His word. I am happy to learn. I am happy to have the world call me crazy. I am happy to ask TJ to read and approve what I write before I post. I am happy to be led. I am happy to be blessed with SUCH a beautiful and unique and special place in His kingdom. See, I am learning to see “happy” the way Jesus did…and to avoid satan’s parade of pretty, easy, accepted, natural, and comfortable. The struggle is real. And if I want to be where Jesus is…I have to do what Jesus did to get there…
Submit and obey. “…yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Jesus was limited and narrow in His desire to obey His Father. His Father’s way was the ONLY way He accepted, the ONLY path He traveled.

My happiness truly—and honestly—has come from seeking The Lord’s way for me. Seeking has led to finding and finding has led to doing and doing has led to happiness. The happiness that He promises…not the world. I advise you to look up the biblical definition of happy…compare that to the human definition. Glad I did. The leader of this world is so tricky and smooth and good at deceiving me. And yet my trust is in my God…who will never deceive me but only tell me the truth. Whether I will accept it or not is totally up to me. And sometimes..honestly..I just do not want to. I want what is pretty…easy…accepted…natural…comfortable. And THIS always comes to my mind when satan leads me to that kind of thinking…SO. DID. JESUS. But His want was overridden by His obedience. “Oh, how I love Jesus!” If I truly do, if I truly obey Him and what He says, if I truly seek His will for my life, if I truly fulfill my roles in His kingdom…I will be —

Limited and narrow.

“Took this…thought of you ;)”

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We just MUST share THESE types of captured moments. And then with the little addition of “thought of you” it brings tears WITH the smiles! I am in AWE of His Majesty and designs of the canvas of the heavens. To know He can do T.H.I.S and thinks and loves little ole me…humbling.
And my sweet Lindley…even with the flu you still don’t stop the awesomeness that just FLOWS through you do you??!!! Thank YOU for being awesome and allowing me the privilege of loving you!
AND…who else sees the Tyrannorsaurus Rex at the bottom??!!! #amazing #feelsosmall #HesSOgreat #sharinghisbeauty

“Oh, you’re paying for it…”

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Having a convo with one of your best friends is nothing out of the ordinary right? I do it all the time. Streams of text messages come in and go out…which consist mostly of spiritual ideas/thoughts/quotes/questions/etc….on a daily basis with a few of my closest sisters. Don’t get me wrong, I do send/receive one of the following types of messages every day to/from one of them:


So while having a normal spiritual conversation the other day, one of my friends says-as a rebuttal to an “it’s free” comment made- “nothing is free, oh, you’re paying for it!” Now, the situation in which she made this statement about is irrelevant. HOWEVER, when she made that statement “oh, you’re paying for it!” that was a “write this down because this makes for a good lesson for women” type comment so I -in my moment of “awwwww that’s good right there”– grab a napkin and jot down the brilliant rebuttal from my friend. It got me to thinking…
-Do I as a wife/mother realize in the critical moments of my life (as they are happening) “oh, you’re paying for it!”? Or am I blind to the choices I’m making, the issues I’m not handling with my children, the time I spend praising OR condemning my husband, the opportunities I am missing to encourage another wife/mother/young lady? Am I so wrapped in myself and my wants and my thoughts and my time and my decisions that I am going to be paying for that selfishness in the long run? Do I focus more on social things than spiritual things? Am I guilty of putting my job before my children? Do I put my children before my husband? Am I being the daughter I need to be for my parents? Is my life reflecting what God wants it to so that my nieces, sisters, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and DAUGHTER see my faith in Him? Do I know what God wants me to be doing? Does my husband benefit spiritually from my life? Do I live so that the world around me knows without a doubt that I am trying with all I have to be an obedient servant in His kingdom?

I think a lot. About spiritual things. Now MORE THAN EVER. It came with our children obeying the gospel. Literally…THE changing moment of our lives. I know that my -and TJ’s- obedience to the gospel was the starting point, but through such a devotion to prayer for our children’s souls to be humble and obedient, and a constant refocusing on our parenting motives, our lives were FOREVER changed — FOR. THE. BETTER. in that we began in that moment to truly seek The Lord. It began with a question. It began with seeking and asking HIM for the answer. “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
And…just as He promises…He answered. Through His word, the way He speaks to us, He answered by saying what He had been saying to me the entire time (ironically enough). I had just NEVER asked HIM before. Crazy huh? Serving The LORD of heaven and earth and not even knowing how – or why – only out of “well, this is what I have been told my whole life so it must be true!” mentality. I was so ashamed of myself when I realized this. I felt such a burden of guilt. I could not even lift my eyes up…at first. But through humility, through a honest desire to have a honest heart in seeking for His honest truth, I could. I could lift my eyes to heaven and say “Lord, I may not know right now what you want from me, but I promise I will seek it because I know You promise I will find it. And whatever it is…and however hard it may be…and whatever I have to give up…I will do it.” And with TJ as my spiritual head, leading me, praying with me/for me, humbling himself as well, our lives would forever be changed. And I couldn’t be any happier and more miserable at the same time! hahaaa. Let me explain briefly what I mean by that…
Happier in that I have never felt more at peace spiritually because I KNOW WHY I am serving Him, I know what He says for me to be doing, I know who He says for me to be, simply and only because I asked HIM. Have I perfected it…um CRAP NO! Do I know everything yet? Uh-huh, not claiming to. BUT do I know what is plainly commanded of me…yes. So I start there. Therefore, I am obedient to what I know as of today. And when (and believe me THIS will happen over and over again) I find more that He has commanded…I will get busy on that as well. Little by little, piece by piece, correcting mistakes along the way, I will serve Him with all I got. And when the time comes for me to see His beautiful and amazing face…I have confidence (now) that I will be able to say “I did what YOU told me to do…not perfectly, but I tried with a honest heart!” Sure beats “well, so and so told me that it was ok to be doing such and such based on what he/she understood of some part of most of Your word.” makes me think of Brian Fontana saying “60% of the time it works every time.” Bless. A big laugh.
We now worship as a church of 4. We live a life of worship. We read and talk and study more than ever. We sing to each other in the car, and while washing dishes, and while getting ready for school about Jesus and how Awesome He is. We are looking for ways to help those who need our help and then helping them in whatever way we can. We are sacrificing our “old” comfortable normal ways for the narrow path. We are giving up our “old” selves and our “wants” and “desires” in ways that go beyond just simply saying we are. We are still sinners. We are still weak. We are still selfish at times. We are emptying out more and more and more of self to make more and more and more room for Jesus. We pray. We cry. Well, that’s not entirely true…I cry. a lot. I lose sight sometimes of what “it’s really about.” We get angry. We.ARE.HUMAN. And yet in our humanity…we are becoming more spiritual to recognize that our humanity is weak. And sad. And has a whole big pretty population with it. We want Jesus. He is enough.
Miserable in that there have been physical changes in our lives which have broken our hearts. We have had people completely change their minds about us (from “wow you are so great and spiritual and wonderful to you are in sin and wrong and lost.”) We have had lies told about us. Closest of relationships have been severed. Selfishness has reared its head in my life and I have been humiliated by my own actions. The physical appearance of our worship has changed. And satan wants nothing more than for the physical to outweigh the spiritual. Absolutely nothing would satisfy him more than for us to miss the physical “stuff” and relationships so badly that we exchange our spiritual understanding to have them back. “Just accept what they’re doing.” “Everyone else is doing it so it must be what He wants.” “If you’re the only one seeing this then you know it has to be wrong.” I wonder what Jesus would say to those attempts. Oh wait…He already has hasn’t He? Yeah, and I’m paraphrasing here people but you are more than welcome to look it up for yourselves in Matthew 16:26, “so what IF you have the whole entire world and everyone loves you and accepts you and thinks you’re fabulous and you get along with everybody and you’re accepting the times and the changes that humans have made with what I have said…IF your soul belongs to satan because of it.” Just think about that. I sure did. “Stuff” and “friendships” wasn’t so hard to let go once I realized having it/them was costing me my soul. Shew, this life is hard enough people…pay more attention to Jesus than your checkbook and the number of people who “like” you.

So, “oh, you’re paying for it” made me realize that by asking The Lord for wisdom in training our children’s souls, He answered. He answered and they both, on the same night, obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. We in that moment became brothers and sisters in His kingdom and no longer just father/mother/daughter/son. We ask Him for His guidance in training them and now…oh, we are paying for it. But the price we are paying on this earth is in physical measures -stuff, relationships, buildings, reputations, respect, friendships, …CRAP. The spiritual price is only our obedience. We know how to read, we know how to comprehend, we know how to ask The Lord to give us eyes of understanding and a heart to accept and a will to obey. So obedience is easy really. The price Jesus paid so that our spiritual debt of sin wouldn’t be charged to us…HIS LIFE. To me, to us, He outweighs alllllllllllll the stuff satan can offer. he (satan) can have all the crap he wants.
We want Jesus.

Finally, in asking myself all the questions of “do I” and “am I” and “does my husband/children” -fill in the blanks with the rest-, what I realized is every THING I do or do not do in my life matters to someone, in some way, for some reason. I’m paying for the results of my marriage, my children, my work, my service, my friendships, my Christianity in good ways or bad ways. That is totally up to me. I desire for my reward to be spiritual. For my husband to praise me and my children rise up and called me blessed. I desire for my Lord to be pleased with my heart AND my service. I desire for what Jesus paid for me to be worth it for Him…that I will sacrifice everything to obey Him. After all, that’s what it cost Him to obey His Father…everything.

Click on this link to hear an amazing song…about how much it cost.