Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Red Peacoat, A Twenty Dollar Bill, and the Season's Change

(disclaimer: I am not changing jobs, or cities, or getting married, or making some huge change in my life.  I was just thinking about the change of seasons and God brought this to my heart! Also, that is NOT me in the above pic.  Ok, now that we've got all of that straight, you can keep reading!)

Fall is here!  And I love everything about this season. I love the "pep" it puts in my step.  I love the weather.  I love the foliage. I love the beautiful skies.  I love the bonfires.  I just love this season! I think alot of us do!  In the South, we love the relief of the cooler air and SEC football is on everyone's TV screens on any given Saturday.  But as much as I love this season, when December rolls around,  I don't kick and scream as I'm pulling out my red peacoat.  No, I just pull it out and quietly put away my t-shirts.  And one time, I even found a $20 bill in the pocket from the previous year!  Sweet!  And when spring comes, I put up the peacoat and grab the sundresses and flip-flops.  The same with summer.  I go from one season to another without much of a fuss.   

But do I do that in life?  When God has a season planned for me, do I go into it with an open heart, looking for what he has for me in that new season?  I'm afraid I don't.  Why?  I am entirely too comfortable in the previous season. I kick and scream and pitch a fit and white knuckle and will-not-let-go.  Apparently because I think I know what is best for me.  Which I absolutely do not.  But just as seasons during the year change, so do seasons in life.  And just like when the weather changes, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Yes, it will take some adjusting, but I. will. be. okay.  And I want to be one who embraces life.  One who goes in no-holds-bar living in the moment, for the glory of God!  

I think we can learn something from the change of seasons.  It is ok to move forward.  And not only ok, but it is good, because a season's change in life is usually necessary.  

And you know, I bet if I look for it, just like I found a $20 bill in the pocket of my peacoat, I will find a sweet spot in the season of life that I find myself in.  

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't Whittle it Away!

This was a guest post I originally did over on "Everyday Living" by Pam and Butch Richardson.  Most of you that read my blog probably know the Richardson's, but if not...take time to read their blog and get to know them.  When I started living in Gadsden, they became my second parents.  They have loved me as their own and I love that you all can get a glimpse into their life through their blog!  

Noccalula Falls is where you can find me on any given weekday during my lunch break. I guess you can say it has become a part of myeveryday living. When the clock strikes noon, I head up the mountain to enjoy my hour of respite from office work. Last Wednesday, something different happened and I feel like I learned a little lesson in living.
Staying true to my routine, I sat at one of the picnic tables in the shade as I ate my lunch. I was catching up on Instagram posts, emails, and Facebook from the morning. I was nearly finished eating when I noticed a man walking close. He was headed towards MY SWING. Now, I guess that needs a little explanation. I have a swing that I usually sit in after I finish eating lunch every day, and I love it—it is so peaceful! For some reason, it is rarely taken and I like to think that God reserves it just for me. But today, my swing was going to be occupied. And I was just going to have to deal. And I am sure glad it was!
The man sat down, and he had this long stick and a knife. Weird combo for most, but I knew what he was about to do: whittle, of course! You see, when I was a little girl, I loved pigs. (Random, I know, but don’t we all have our quirks??) Anyway, my dad had one of his co-workers carve me a little pig to put on my night stand. It was one of my favorite things—that whittled pig. This man was about to whittle—sitting right there on my swing. So I just decided to ask him about it. “Are you about to whittle?” I asked him. He perked up…”I sure am, what do you know about it?” So I told him the story about my whittled pig. It got us into conversation, but what he said next–I hope and pray–will stay with me for the rest of my years. “I like to whittle. It passes the time for me. I need something to help me waste time these days.” He said a few more things that I didn’t really hear because I was still processing the previous comment. He was whittling his life away. We talked about his previous marriages, his grandchildren, and his retirement from the Steel Plant. But I couldn’t help but think of how this man was literally and figuratively whittling his life away. It is what he was spending his days doing. As I looked at the shavings on his lap that would soon be part of the dirt at his feet, I was learning a lesson in living. We have a choice as to how we approach this life:
We can waste it and whittle it away or we can invest it and live.
And it seems very fitting that I would be asked to do this guest post and then God, in his providence, would bring the whittling man into my lunch hour.
And just so you know…Butch and Pam told me I could have freedom to say what I wanted on their blog today, so I will take advantage: 
You see, the whittling man showed me what it looked like to waste my days, while The Richardson’s have shown me how to live my days. I have been most blessed to be “adopted” into the Richardson family. They have truly invited me into their everyday living. And by that, I simply mean we do life together. And there is much wisdom to be learned from their lives. I love to watch them invest their lives into each other and into the lives of those around them. They enjoy life and people—because they see that both are good gifts from The Father. And I am sure glad that they do, because my life is different because of it!! There is a clear difference when you live life with purpose—and that purpose being the glory of God and the good of all peoples. As I grow older, I want my life to count. I want to make an eternal impact. I want to truly live.
I just love how God meets us in our routine, often mundane events, and shows us more about himself. And if we just take time to listen to others stories, which most of the time I never do, God always shows up. He reveals himself through nature, people, random scenarios, and even the random whittling man who steals your swing on your lunch break.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Finding Joy in the Ordinary

During my years of struggling with addiction, I lived from one major life event to the next.  Drama.  Good or bad, I didn't care.  Life wasn't much of anything to me unless something huge was happening.  Move cities.  Move states.  Decide haphazardly that I want to be a nurse. Run head first into a job I was not cut out for. If something wasn't happening, I would make it happen--I was good at that. I was searching for the "perfect formula" for life to work for me.  The right job, a nice home, a perfect marriage, 2.5 kids, and let's not leave out the dog and white picket fence to just encompass all of the American dream.
And guess what?  I never found that formula. I don't have those things. 
That is definitely not the reality I find myself in today.
I have been learning what it means to find joy in the ordinary.  I don't have to wait for the next major event for life to be exciting, because the most signicant and life-altering event in all of history has happened. And because I trust in that, there is an even greater event coming: the day I will see the face of Jesus. And since Jesus has sought me out, my search for that "perfect formula" is over.  I can be content in the moment in which I find myself.       
  Because Jesus has endured the biggest event the world will ever know, the dreadful and glorious cross, I can find meaning, purpose, and joy in the smallest things:
Playing in an ice cold creek and hiking in a cave with my niece and nephews
Getting out of that ice cold creek and eating the sweetest watermelon on the planet
Hearing someone you have so badly wronged say "you are forgiven"
Making fresh salsa on a summer afternoon
Being on a first name basis with the vendors at the local Farmer's Market
Learning to love the things that other people love
Watering my flowers every morning before work
Learning to cook foods that God provides fresh from my dad's garden
Cool breezes on a July evening
The passion in someone's eyes when they talk about something they love
Cooking for other people "just because"
Fresh eggs from my grandparent's farm
Walking around the backyard of my dearest friend, as she teaches me about herbs and flowers
Clearing my mind on a three mile run after work
Discovering a new love for cooking, fresh flowers, Farmer's Markets, and all things shabby chic
...learning to look to and love the giver more than the gift...
Life's daily joys are necessary for me because they remind me that I am okay. That everything is good.  Jesus is still on his throne and life is still worth living. And he enjoys giving good gifts to his children.  Finding joy in the ordinary reminds me that the moment has been redeemed. 
Don't get me wrong, I do still love "big events", but I don't live for them anymore.  I am the epitome of a work in progress.  But God is shaping my mind and my eyes to view all events, both big and small- as given to me from the same hand-- the hands of my good Father that filters everything.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Single Christian Girl

(disclaimer: I wrote this letter to speak truth into my own life, but decided to share)

Dear Single Christian Girl,
You are not unnoticed. I see you. I know how it feels for even the smallest social events to cause an enormous amount of anxiety. Dress up and go anyway. Do NOT let social media be the only social life you have.
I know that, for you, church can even be awkward because you have no idea where to sit. Whatever you do, do not give up fellowship with believers because of your insecurity. Get involved. Serve. Give. Encourage. Love on the children there. Encourage the moms there. Be salt. Be light.
I know the sting you feel when one of your many married friends announces that she is pregnant again or that she and her husband are celebrating their ten year anniversary.
Rejoice with them. Get to know their kids. You can be the “cool aunt” and have a lot of“nieces’ and “nephews” that way.
I see the life drain out of your eyes and all hope of marriage for you diminish when your friend announces her engagement and proceeds with wedding plans.
Jump in and help her plan her wedding. After all, you have had a lot of practice!
I know that holidays are some of the hardest days and lonely and quiet. Mother’s Day can be a dagger in the heart and I won’t even talk about Valentine’s Day.
Celebrate others on those days. And eat chocolates, even if you buy them for yourself.
I know that weekends can be hard without other single friends. Travel. Go see people. Go see places. Exercise a lot. Sleep in. Drink coffee all you want.
And I know that wedding showers and baby showers bring about much heartache. Coordinate the showers. You DO get cake, after all!
I know you feel inadequate to have your married friends over to your tiny apartment for dinner because you don’t have beautiful china and you’re unsure of your cooking ability. Have them over, they probably need adult time. And they probably wouldn’t care if they got pizza on a paper plate. (I had a friend over not long ago and she loved being at my place because “it was so quiet she could hear the refrigerator running”)
I know that you have been used to having peers and in this season of life, there are none. Don’t think you can’t be friends with married people. Contrary to how you feel, you aren’t a different species because of your singleness.
There will be days that you will feel so very alone in the world. But you aren’t. God is with you, even now. He isn’t waiting “on the other side”. Also, reach out. And for the love of all that is good and right, stop overthinking. If you’ve gotta overthink something, let it be God’s word. Channel all of that overthinking into something beneficial, at least!!
I know you have a lot of extra time on your hands. Busy yourself with good things. Organize events. Get outside yourself. That is the best gift you can give yourself.
I also know that your heart hurts. I know that you feel like something is wrong with you. And most days you cannot be convinced otherwise. And I know you long for a family. Pray. Ask God. Trust him to hold your aching heart.
And I also know that nights can be painfully quiet and I know that is when Satan attacks. Stand firm. But to stand firm, you must have on the full armor of God. Dig deep into God’s word and stay there until you are changed.
I know all of these things. Trust me, I know.

It is really ok to feel all of these things. It is not ok to let them rule you and to act on them. You must take the thoughts and feelings captive into the obedience of Christ. Truth trumps feelings. Always

But I also know that your singleness is not a trial period. You are living now. Stop acting like the best is around the corner. Learn to cook now. Buy nice things for your tiny apartment. Truth is, you may never get married. Even if it is your deepest desire. But you must trust that God is good and that he knows what is best. For his glory. And for your good.

I also know that this can be one of the most self-absorbed times of your life. To put it bluntly: the world doesn’t revolve around you and your feelings of singleness. I know it feels like it should, but it does not. And nothing is wrong with you. Sure there are character flaws and your appearance is far from perfect. But that is not why you are still single. God doesn’t withhold anything good from those who walk uprightly. I will say it again, get outside yourself. Cancel the pity party before the planning even starts. Nothing beneficial has ever come from a pity party.
Focus on others. But above all, worship God. 

I also know that you desperately need reminding that you have a God who absolutely loves you. He pursues you. All of the relationships that you are seeking to find perfect love in….it’s not going to happen. It only happens in your relationship with Jesus. That goes for everyone- single or married. You are no less of a woman because you are not a wife or a mom. You are delighted over. You are not defective. Your worth is not determined by if there is a ring on your left hand or not. You will not be complete when you meet your husband or have kids. You will only be complete when you see Jesus. He is what your heart is longing for. He is why you were created. And your creator spent time forming you. You are exactly where he wants you. You are perfectly loved by our perfect God. And you are a character in the greatest love story ever told. Fall in love with your first love, over and over again.
You can stop obsessing over how you look. Always put your best foot forward, of course. But, if and when a man comes to sweep you off of your feet, he won’t know what BB cream or bare minerals is anyways. He will be a man after your heart, not your face. Don’t lower your standards and DO NOT COMPROMISE. Stop listening when the world tells you that you should be married by 33.

And when people say they love you and enjoy being around you, believe them. Don’t punish everyone else for feelings you have about yourself. Let God transform your mind. Learn to love yourself. You are worthy of that.

Chin up, buttercup. You’ve got a life to live. 


Your single sister in the fight with you 

Friday, May 9, 2014

I missed it!

You have heard me talk about and even blog about my friendships.  How important they are to me, how much I value and treasure them, and how I would really do anything for my friends. 
But, I haven't always been that way. 
I have always had really good friends, but I have not always been a good friend. 
This past weekend, we had a Ladies Luncheon at my church and it was an awesome time of fellowship and encouragement.  I walked away impacted, just like everyone else, but I think I was impacted in a different way. 
(pull up a chair and sit a spell...)
Denise, the speaker, spoke a lot on suffering.  She has walked through incurable cancer with her son.  She spoke of the "tear in her soul" that the diagnosis brought about.  She talked about the fight of faith.  The questions.  The numbness.  The doubt.  The hope.  She hit on it all.
She also talked a lot about her daughter-in-law, her son's wife, who walked through this with him at the age of 25.  Twenty-five.  Can you imagine?  I won't even pretend like I can understand.  But she rolled up her sleeves and went head first. She researched this disease.  She stayed strong. She trusted The Lord.  And she faced her biggest fear-- the very real possibility of losing her husband to cancer. Why was it her biggest fear? 
Because at the age of 12, she had lost her mom to cancer. Tears streaming. 
All over the room. 
And I was no exception to the tears streaming. But, I am also sobered.  I am sobered by the story, yes.  But I am more sobered by God's goodness.  Across the table from me sits the daughter-in-law.  The daughter-in-law just so happens to be one of my most precious friends, Stacey.  To me, this story is real.  This story has faces to put with it.  I knew this story was happening as it was going on, but I was unengaged.  I was too deep into my drug addiction to care, bottom line. I was not there to carry burdens.  I was not there to take a meal.  I was not there to call her up on the phone or send her a text telling her I loved her and I am praying for her.   I was not there.  And I hate that I missed it.  Sin separates us from the ones we love the most.  And we don't even realize it is happening. 
And before we know it, we look up and we.have.missed.it.   
And it hurts. 
Sitting right there in front of me, was one of the strongest, most courageous, most godly women I have ever met in my entire life.  At the age of 29. And I was absolutely overwhelmed by God's grace that had maintained that friendship.  Even when we are faithless, he remains faithful.
I grabbed her after the luncheon and just said "I missed it all and I am so sorry!!"  See, I knew those things were going on, but I was so self-consumed and internally focused that I was not engaged.  But Stacey responded with such love and grace that only comes from The Father. 
And here is the thing: I don't really deserve her forgiveness.  I wasn't there during the deepest suffering of her life!  But she overly extended grace and mercy to me. 
And in that moment, I was so amazed at the goodness of God. 
Stacey, your character in suffering and grace towards me in our relationship encourage me to seek our Heavenly Father more. 
Thank you.  I know him a little more than I did last Saturday because of you. 
And I thank God that he continues to build our relationship even stronger today.
And just to update you.   Stacey's husband is now NED (no evidence of disease) and they have a baby girl, Nola Bradley, who turns one this month.  A true miracle, indeed. 
Stacey, I hope on this Mother's Day, you feel how much you are truly loved and are celebrated!

Monday, March 24, 2014


I have heard the best way to stick to something is to gain accountability for it. 
Tell people about it. 
And since I posted it on social media, I guess the cat is out of the bag
...I am training for my first half marathon! 
I ran my first 5k in January and decided running wasn't so bad after all. 
The training program I used (Couch to 5k) kept me disciplined.
And since I had registered for the race in November and recruited a friend to run with me, I knew I would have to do it! And this past weekend, I ran 10k (6.2 miles) and started feeling more confident that I could do the half. 
But there is quite a difference in 6.2 and 13.1.
So why a half marathon?  Why not a 10k next? 
I probably will run a 10k race sometime during this training,
but I know myself, and I know I need a stretch goal. 
I work well when the goal seems impossible. 
And when it looks like I couldn't do something, it is motivation for me. 
Because I am just that head strong and stubborn, I guess. 
It is crazy how much running and my relationship with the Lord go hand in hand. 
I blogged about this in an earlier post, but I am learning a few more things physically and spiritually as my running journey continues. 
Get rid of old clothes. 
The clothes I started off running in, in November, do not fit anymore.  
I was running a mile for time a few weeks ago and my shorts were literally falling off to the point that I couldn't really run. 
And my closet is packed full of clothes-- most of which are too large.  
(I really need to get rid of them, anyone want to help clean a closet?)
But I still hang on to them. Just in case? 
I feel like, we, as believers, are guilty of this. 
We hold onto our old "filthy rags" just in case. 
We are still wearing the clothes we have made for ourselves when robes of
righteousness are ours through Christ. 
"...to give unto them beauty for ashes..." -Isaiah 61:3
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." -Isaiah 61:10
I can stop labeling myselfAnd others.   
I still do not consider myself a runner.  I think of a "runner" as a person who runs marathons and finishes with a great time.  Someone with a slender build.  Someone who knows the "ins and outs" of running. Someone who knows about hydration and gels and carb loading. 
And that someone would not be me.
In my mind, I am still the "big girl" with a bad foot who could never run. 
Labels are deadly. 
Even in the Christian life, I confess that I label. 
I give myself or someone else a label and expect them to act accordingly. 
But it's opposite. 
I remember about 5 years ago, a counselor I was seeing told me she would never ask me about who I thought God was, but she would tell me who I thought God was by my actions.
That hit hard.
If I run, I am a runner. 
And in the same way, if I love Christ and follow him, I will do what God commands. 
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -John 14:15
It gives me new ways to be thankful. 
I remember hearing people say that they used their running times as times to really worship God and to cry out to him in prayer. 
I was thinking "yeah, I will cry out to God during a run, alright.  I will pray that I don't die". 
But now I get it.  I love to run outside. 
(Treadmills make me feel confined and no one can confine me, it just suffocates
me and I end up freaking out.) 
When I am running outside, I notice things I wouldn't notice otherwise. 
And it really is some of my best prayer time and time for me to just worship God. 
I can pour out my heart before him.  I can clear my head. 
And above all, I can be thankful that he allows me to run. 
And that he has given me good health. 
And that he has given me a second chance to take care of my body,
that this body can really be used to honor him. 
"...or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 2 Corinthians 6:19-20
Pace Yourself.
It really is a (half) marathon, not a sprint. If I start off too fast, chances are, I won't finish strong.  I have learned to be realistic.  I am not some record breaking runner. 
I simply set out to finish,  and to finish strong. 
Today, in this moment, in this mile of the race,
I want to breathe in His direction and breathe out obedience.
Too often in my walk with The Lord, I want to do great things for him, which is definitely not a bad thing.  But I have to be realistic. 
Can I really just drop everything here in the US and go die a martyrs death in some third world country?  Am I equipped for that?
Sure, I could, but is that being faithful to what God has called me to today? 
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
As I was running Saturday, I wanted to stop after about mile 4. 
And I considered it.  But I kept pushing through. Because there was a goal. 
And I had others cheering me on. 
(Literally, through texts!) 
How much more should we persevere as children of God?  
There is a much greater goal than finishing a measly run. 
We live to see the face of Jesus. And to be with God forever.   
Our Heavenly Father and a great cloud of witnesses is surrounding us as we
are sojourning on this Earth.  There is a goal and there is a purpose. 
Even in suffering, hardships, loneliness. 
There is more than what we see. 
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." -James 1:12
I am reminded everyday that he is making all things new. 
But running has been a way for me to truly experience that in the physical realm. 

And these two dear friends will be joining me once again.
(Have I mentioned that I have the very best and most encouraging friends?)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Very Best Two Years...

"I don't really know what my emotions are, I just know I have a headache.  I am on my way to treatment and I have knots in my stomach.  I am ready to change but so scared of the process.  I don't want to be broken like this, but Lord, I want to be made whole."

Those are words that I journaled as my friend drove me to treatment.
Deep down, I knew this was a time I would never want to forget.
This was my first sober day.  
That was 730 days, or two years ago, today.  

My first sober day was painful.
As my mind started to clear from the fog that drugs had left me in,
I started feeling the pain of my sin.
My body ached.  My heart ached. And I had not felt anything in years.  I had literally killed my soul.
But as time went on, I got my emotions back (oh BOY, did I get my emotions back!!)
I felt alive.
But I still had no idea that he was preparing me for such a full life, rooted in him.
I had no idea that on that November day when I would leave treatment,
my life would truly begin again.  

My worst days now are infinitely better than my very best days in addiction. 
The past two years have been so full.  

Full of change.  There are very few things about my life now that are the same as they were 2 years ago.  Location, job, ambition, desires, goals, dreams, focus, hobbies, reactions, you-name-it. 
I surely do not live for the same things.

Full of joy.  Joy that can only come from The Lord.  It hasn't been a "breeze", but I have a living hope that does not change as my circumstances do.
There have been many tears shed, but my joy is in something that tears cannot wash away. 

Full of hope.  I no longer wake up dreading the day because my hope is in the
risen Christ who has conquered all.  Whatever I face has been filtered through the GOOD hands of my heavenly Father who works it all for my good. 

Full of friendships.  New ones, and restoration and healing of the old.
All of which encourage me to press on to know the Lord.

God has replaced that desire I had for drugs and alcohol with a desire to know him today.
In the same way that my body craved drugs two years ago, my heart longs to be with him today.
I remember using every bit of energy that I had on getting my next "fix".
My prayer is that my energy will now be exerted in pursuing God in that way.
I fail him daily but his love has never-- and will never fail me.   It just keeps pursuing my heart.
I just want to know him and be made like him.  And I want others to experience this good gift.
And I know that this is a good gift of his grace.  

I credit no one or nothing else for this day.  Not even myself. 

You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:68  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I Am Not An Addict

Simply put, I am not. 
"But, you talk about addiction in your past.  It is a part of your story" 
Yes, I do, and yes, it is. 
I was a drug addict. 
One of the worst ones, if there are degrees of just how bad it can get.   
Imagine this: You have this friend, a young lady. You have spent over a year getting to know her.  And you know her heart. She is a faithful wife. She loves her family.  She is devoted to her children.  And above all, she loves God. 
But she introduces herself this way... "Hello, I am so-and-so and I am a prostitute" 
It makes no sense.  Clearly, she is not a prostitute. 
She is a teacher and a mom and there would be no time for prostitution.   
So you ask her why she introduces herself as a prostitute. 
She replies "Well, you see, ten years ago, before God saved me and before I was a wife and a mom, I was selling myself on the streets.  That was the life I lived." 
It sounds absurd to continue calling herself a prostitute.  Nothing in her life indicates that she is a prostitute.  But, there are clear indicators that she is a believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, a mom and a teacher. 
Addiction was the biggest part of my life for years.  It did define who I was. 
Everything I did was based out of the fact that I was an addict. 
I took pills...to feed my addiction. 
I drank...to feed my addiction.
I lied...to feed my addiction. 
I manipulated...to fool my friends and family into thinking I was ok,
so that I could feed my addiction. 
I even went into a career field....to feed my addiction.  
Addiction defined who I was. 
Everything revolved around my addiction. 
I was a bonafide addict. 
But God intervened.  And now, he calls me his. 
“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine"
Ezekiel 16:8
Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not ashamed of my past. 
I have a blog that talks openly about my past, being a drug addict and alcoholic. 
I can identify with many people who are hurting because of the bondage that addiction causes. 
I shared my testimony a few weeks ago with a group of young ladies at JSU, and I talked a lot about my addiction to drugs and alcohol.  
God has given me a story.
But it is his story, and I choose to let him write it. 
And by his grace, there has been a plot twist and a change in characters. 
 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come"
2 Corinthians 5:17
I believe in the power of words. And I believe that if we identify ourselves by our past, we will continue to live that way. 
In the way of shame, guilt, and regret. 
If we identify ourselves by who we are in Christ, we will live free, joyful, and abundant lives. 
As a believer, I can't help but think that it grieves the very heart of  God if we live in our past...if we choose to identify ourselves by what we have done as opposed to what Christ has done for us.  Whether that be a drug addict, a binge eater, a bully, or whatever we have done in our past. 
"That, however, is not the way of life you learned  when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Ephesians 4:20-24
The gospel tells me that Christ died for that. 
The gospel tells me that I can be set free from that bondage. 
The gospel tells me that Christ is bigger than my sin. 

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:3

The gospel turns things on it's head. 
The world would tell me I am living in denial by not claiming my identity as an addict. 
God's word tells me I am living in the truth. 
As for me, I choose to live from that identity that I am his. 
I am his beloved daughter. 
I am not my past. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

...Just As The Snow

There are 2 days that I really dread every year.  
And they just so happen to fall within 2 weeks of each other.  
The first being the ever-so-hated-by-singles Valentine's Day.  
And the second being my birthday.  

Now, I am sure Valentine's Day comes as no surprise to you, if you know me and my desires for marriage and a family.  
But, my birthday?  That one may seem a little odd.  
But after spending many hours hashing this out with The Lord, journaling, and asking myself "why?" and getting to the root of the issue, I see that it all boils down to the same exact thing: 
the expectation of being made much of. 

This is not a post to hate on Valentine's Day, as I am sure it is a holiday that many of you love and enjoy...and you should! It is a day set aside for chocolates, flowers, cards and a whole-lotta red and pink!  It is a time to show that special someone just how special they are (and who doesn't want that?!)
And, I really used to love Valentine's Day so much.  
My dad & brothers would send me flowers and balloons and candy every year!  My mom always made a big to-do of me on Valentine's Day.  It was so much fun because it was about ME!  

And my birthday...whoa.  It was like a week long event.  
I made sure everyone knew it was my birthday for weeks prior.  
Okay, and weeks after.  

But as I have gotten older, it isn't so cool for your family to send Valentine's balloons, cards, or candy.  
And turning 33 just doesn't have the same ring to it as turning say, 7 or 8.    

There just seems to be so much hype around both days. 

I have learned a lesson in humility from the snow about both of my dreaded days approaching.  

There was so much anticipation of the snow coming yesterday.  
I even had envisioned the power going out and me sitting in my living room floor with candles, my lantern, a book, and a jar of peanut butter for days.  
I did all of my laundry because who would want to have laundry piled if there was a power outage?  We all made preparations just-in-case.  
And then the snow came!  
And it was indeed beautiful. 
 I even slept with my blinds open because I wanted to see it as I dozed off! 
I didn't want to miss a single flake falling to the ground.  
But when I woke this morning, it was melting.  

And in that moment, The Lord was so gentle and compassionate with my heart.  
He reminded me that anything that I make much of other than him will fade away, just as the snow.   Birthdays.  Valentine's Day.  Christmas.  
Even a much anticipated wedding day.  
All of these days are days to be celebrated indeed.  
But, if I make any of these days about anything other than him, I will be disappointed.  

If I make Valentine's Day about a significant other, rather than my eternal love, it will melt away.  
The flowers fade. 
The chocolates get eaten. 
The red even fades.  
All of those things are so fun and important on February 14.  
But how long do they stay important?

If I make my birthday about me and not about the one who created me, it will melt away. 
 The balloons pop.  
The cake gets devoured.  
The Birthday cards get tossed, inevitably.  
Again, those things are of the utmost importance on March 2.  But on March 3?  Not as much.  

...but the word of The Lord stands forever..."
Isaiah 40:8

I am so thankful that God is so intimate and personal, even in the times that we should be celebrating, but instead we are dreading.  
He gives new perspectives.  
He uses everything to show us himself.  
Even the beautiful snow, that melts.  

And my prayer is that I can make much of Jesus.  

More of him, less of me.  



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All You Need Is Love

Phillip Ellen

9 out of 10 people (maybe 10 out of 10) will recognize the name in Etowah County
and surrounding areas.  
Last week, "Brother Phillip" was laid to rest. 
After a battle with cancer, he went home to be with The Lord. 

How do I know Phillip Ellen? 

Well, this man had a heart for the outcasts.  
He loved the unlovable. 
He pursued drug addicts and alcoholics because he knew the only true hope that could be offered
is the person of Jesus Christ. 
Brother Phillip started New Life for Women, the treatment center I was in for 8 months. 
In short, Brother Phillip's heart and vision is a huge reason why I am sober and
walking with The Lord today. 
I did not have a close relationship with him. I am pretty sure he never really learned that my name was Katy, but he knew who I was and called me "the girl with the million dollar smile". 
I also knew that he loved me. 
Because he told me. 
Every single time that I saw him.
And I will never forget that.
At the most unlovable time in my life, he loved me! 
It is proof that to impact the world, all you need is a love for God and a love for people. 
Although there were numerous people at his funeral, we will NEVER know the depths of the impact this man of God had on the kingdom.   

His funeral was a true celebration. 
As it should have been. 
This man literally impacted the nations. 
I get chills just thinking about it. 
He left a legacy. 
He stored up his treasures in Heaven and his joy is now complete
as he is in the presence of the Almighty Jesus. 

It made me start thinking of what treasures I am storing up. 
It made me wonder if my life is truly having an eternal impact. 
Do I live for this world or am I truly living as a sojourner and an exile on this Earth,
anticipating the kingdom? 
What really matters to me?  Is it my appearance?  My reputation? My comfort? 
If I am honest, it is a resounding "yes".   
The law of God is summed up in 2 commands:  Love God.  Love people. 
It isn't to be innovative and pioneering. 
It is to love. 
The love that we show others could (and will) affect generations to come.  It is simple obedience. 
My family (who will never meet him) will be different because of the love that
Brother Phillip has shown. 
Because he loved with the love of Christ. 
I hope to love with the same love.     
It is amazing to see how, even though Brother Phillip's life on this earth is over,
he is STILL impacting the nations. 
Even this girl. 
This girl that he barely knew, but loved. 
"God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hurts So Good

I know what is coming.  Tomorrow, something is going to be drastically different about my life.  I can't sleep, but I don't want to take anything to make me sleep because that is exactly what has gotten me to this point.  AND THEY KNOW IT.  I am pretty sure I can't hide any longer.  They are on to me. 

These are the thoughts going through my mind on this night two years ago.  
My life was in a million pieces, across two states.  
The next morning when I would wake up, and walk into my best friends house,
 my life would change forever.  
It was the hardest, best day of my entire life.  
January 9 was when my friends and pastor sat me down and called me out of darkness and sin and into the glorious light of Christ.  
It wasn't many days later that I surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.  
I traded my millions-of-pieces-of-a-life for his promise to make me whole.  
And he is staying true to his promise.  

I didn't wake up one day and decide I wanted to sell my soul to pills, trust me.  It was a slow fade.  And subtly and before I knew it, I was bowing down to this little "g" god.  
It became the most important thing in my life.  
I organized my life around it.  
It changed me.  
It controlled how I spent my time.  
It affected my relationships.  
It absolutely consumed me.  
And it got me to the darkest place of my life.  
I was ready to end my life.  
I was pursuing death, but at the very same time, perfect love was pursing me.  
God's irresistible love was chasing me down.  

Exposure:  it hurts so good.  

The freedom I felt when I knew I was exposed and I didn't have to live in darkness anymore is the most freeing place I have ever been.
When the light of God's truth started shining into my life, 
I could finally live.  

I look back on the past two years...and believe that God truly makes all things new.  
I am not the same. 
His word has cut the core of who I am and demanded a change.  
And this change isn't about me, at all. It is not so that people will look at me and think what a wonderful person I am.  
This is a story to show the greatness of our God. 
Now, this new love relationship I have with Christ has become
 the most important thing in my life.  
I now organize my life around him.  
He is changing me.  
And it has brought me to the most joyful days of my life.  

To God be the glory, great things he has done!

"This God-- his way is perfect.  
The Word of the Lord proves true.  
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him"
Psalm 18:30