Thursday, May 25, 2017

Love Has NO Bounds

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     Love is not bound by language, culture, religion, or anything else!  In the times we are living in, I am super thankful to watch these boys grow up as best friends since birth!  I love watching them run, play, laugh, & hug all day long & never let differences hold them back.  Love is their common language.  Love doesn't require anything of us except opening our hearts & minds.  These boys could definitely teach life lessons to many!  We couldn't imagine our lives as anything but broken without their family living near.  We've prayed together in different languages & probably in totally different ways.  We've shared thousands of meals (at least 5 days a week for 5 months out of every year) & even tears.  We've suffered with them through 2 tragedies of loosing children.  They've given us their baby gifts & rocked our Clay that was born just a few weeks after burying their own.  We've embraced & celebrated with them the 3 living they have.  We respect their desire to work any days except Saturdays because that's what they believe in.  We've learned more from them than I can tell you.  They are much more than our friends; they are our family.  I can promise you that if we need them for anything, they are here & ready to help in any way to lighten our load for they showed up tirelessly when our Raegan was having seizures & hospitalized.  They didn't just call or text, they showed up!  I'm certain that Jesus came to tear down walls, not build them.  America was founded for those seeking freedom & a better life.  That's what they came here looking for as well.  No, they are not sponging off of the food stamp or medical care situation (not that that's anyone's business or that they are not deserving of them).  They work harder than most everyone any of us know.  They pay taxes & contribute to our economy.  They provide for & love their children just as any of us love our own.  Their oldest daughter has worked extremely hard to earn a scholarship for college.  I've seen the parents run ahead of us to scoop up one of ours that was crying & hurting to comfort them.  I think oftentimes people forget that they are humans with real intelligence, love to give, & contribute to make our world a much better place.  I know we are blessed just for knowing them.  If you never have, I encourage you to reach out, laying down all of your fears of differences & the unknown.  I cannot begin to tell you how abundantly blessed your own life will be!  It's our job to speak up for those who cannot voice their own concerns.  We are privileged with the opportunity to see & know, to be part of their strength, to make a difference in real lives.  Choose love!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Better NOT Bitter

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     If you follow my blog much at all, you know I'm a planner.  I like things just so.  I have a list for lists & schedules for everything.  You may have figured out that I have a dreadful case of OCD & perfectionist tendencies mixed in with a little ADHD too.  You also know that things not going as planned has been a theme in our lives for several years now.  Changes have occurred that we surely didn't desire or ever would've dreamed to happen.  I've written about the heartache, confusion, & ridicule, but what I haven't addressed very much is the God twist in our story.
     When any of us go through something unwarranted, it's common to be rattled by it.  We seem to always reject new for common.  As humans we thrive in the comfort of expectation.  We feel at ease in what we are most familiar with.  We prefer to fit in rather than stand out or dare to be different.  I'm guessing that it's hard wired into our Adam nature to want to be accepted & loved by all.  However, this is real life where individuals have the right to choose hate over love, deception over truth, sorrow over joy, & the list could go on & on.
     What I really want to zero in on is the the flip side of a new challenge when we choose to be brave & face the reality that things aren't going as planned.  We have to pick up the pieces of our crushed hearts & embrace our unique path for what God has designed.  After all, He knows best, & if we follow where He leads, we will be better, not bitter, for it!
     I wish I could remember where I read about making a list of lessons you learn from difficult circumstances in order to be better & not bitter.  At first I was almost repulsed by the very idea.  I don't feel bitter, but how on earth could I actually be better than before the issues?  After a few days of letting that sink in, I began penning down a few.  Before I realized it, I had written pages!  I'll try to summarize my new life lessons that I'm learning in my mid 30's:

  1.  Listen up! -  I have learned to listen instead of talk.  I will be glad to listen to anyone that needs an ear as long as the conversation revolves around themselves or a situation they are in.  I have a new no tolerance policy for anything else as pure gossip.  Truth about others is seldom ever told.  I want honest relationships that are positive.  People aren't searching for earth shattering advice.  They need to hear themselves, reflect, & be nudged to listen to God speaking to their heart.  He will not lead astray.  
  2. Be courageous! - Bullying is not limited to age & can carry into any social group.  Yes, bullies can be found in most every church.  They do not even recognize their own miserable selves.  They carry with them their forceful personalities & are famous for deflecting blame instead of manning up to their own shortcomings.  They live to create chaos & wreak havoc with their manipulative behavior.  They continue to destroy unless we arm ourselves with the courage to speak up for the weak & wounded.  We must guard ourselves against their attack because they will go to great lengths to eliminate anything contrary to their own perceived ideas of what everyone else should line up to.  I have learned that silence is not always the best option.  There is a time to stand up, take action, & speak!  "If God be for us, who can be against us?"  Romans 8:31  In dealing with bullies, don't embrace defeat.  Defend yourself without bullying back.  Be strong, & love yourself enough to let them go.  Stay calm in those desperate situations.  Rely on wisdom of God instead of fleshly emotion.  Let Him be your guide, defense, & strong tower (Proverbs 18:10).  He will keep us safe from their attack, however well planned it may be!  God always wins!
  3. Love ALL! -No one is "better" than anyone else.  They may be different, older, richer, attractive, popular, or even powerful but NOT better.  God's word plainly states that He is no respect of persons (Acts 10:34) & warns in his word against measuring ourselves up against one another.  2 Corinthians 10:12 states that such are unwise.  We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  He died for everyone, not a select group.  Sometimes the ones that are in need of love the most, show it the least.  The greatest commandment after loving God is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39).  
  4. Be trustworthy! - I have learned the value of being trustworthy.  It may be hard, but being open, honest, reputable, reliable, & vulnerable earns another's trust.  Cherish trust, & treat it delicately.  For when matters effecting serious trust has been broken, only God can restore.  Both parties must be willing to invest in deep work.  The reason behind the betrayal needs to be addressed.  Don't kid yourself into thinking that it can be easily repaired with a quick statement of forgiveness & cold embrace as the underlying issues are left unidentified & continually resurface.
  5. Show compassion! - NEVER be devastatingly unkind or hurtful.  Tearing others down is cowardly.  Cruelty for ANY reason is toxic.  Instead, dig deep to find compassion in your heart.  Realize that we are all in this world together, to help & not hurt one another.  Again, sometimes those in need of love the most, show it the least.  True love goes a long way.  1 Corinthians 13 dedicates an entire chapter to charity.
  6. Resilience is not an option! - Successful people don't die in the fight of their lives.  They understand the importance of living to face another day.  Don't let any battle damage your victory & spirit.  Draw strength from the Almighty!  We can either be the victim or the victor, not both at the same time!
  7. Dare to choose JOY! - Don't let others limit your joy.  No one's opinion should EVER hinder your happiness.  Master your own emotion.  Our self worth comes from our creator alone.  His view is not swayed by anyone.  No matter who you are or what you are going through, there is something to be thankful about~the sun shining, birds singing, children's laughter, music, etc!  Writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for is proven to lift your spirits!  Too many scriptures exist on this topic to begin to list them all.  My favorite is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
  8. Take care of myself & what's best for our family. - No one has to approve or understand our vision for our lives & those God has entrusted us with.  He blessed us with dreams worth seeking after.  Our life & those we share it with is truly a gift of God.  I must heed His guidance above another's opinion.  Also, taking special care of our bodies is a must for His spirit to dwell therein (1 Corinthians 16-20).  What I put inside my temple does effect it.  If I take care of myself, I will have the strength to serve & give more abundantly.  
  9. Let it go! -  We are not called to be fixers.  TBH, that is hard for me.  Sometimes I just think if I could explain something perfectly, then all will be well.  However, we cannot control anyone elses' thoughts or intentions.  I am not called to be the Holy Ghost.  God is fully capable of that job.  We must learn to rely on Him, & let God do what we cannot.  Trust His ways.  He knows best!
  10. Focus on SOULutions! -  Fixation on problems prolongs emotions & stress.  When it comes to toxic people & situations, obsessing on how crazy & difficult things are gives them a power over you.  Quit thinking about how troubling things can be, & focus on how to handle your own self.  Equip yourself with the knowledge of what always pushes your buttons.  This puts you in control & reduces stress when facing the same ol', same ol' set of circumstances.   What is best for your soul?
     NEVER forget that no matter who you are or have been, underneath is a beautiful soul desiring communion with God.  We each have a light to shine & a mission to accomplish.  There is a bigger picture to our lives, & it's most certainly NOT about what we achieve in the eyes of masses.  It's more about our own personal journey, learning life lessons where we can reach out & help others, making this world a better place because we are in it.  Sometimes that makes me feel so insignificant & small, incapable of making a real difference.  Then I break it down further.  What can I do to make just one family's life better or at least easier in this very hour that we're gifted?  That growing process we are participating in is most definitely a God thing.  If you feel captive to circumstance or certain people, I encourage you to allow Jeremiah 29 to minister unto you.  It is written to the captive, instructing them to live their lives (build houses, plant gardens to enjoy the fruits thereof, marry, multiply, & pray) & promises that if they do those things that they can do that His peace & goodness will follow in His time.  All else will be taken care of by Him.  He holds tomorrow.  We don't have to worry about it at all.  Dear warrior, that tells this mama to keep pressing on!  He is on our side!
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Friday, May 5, 2017

This Is It

     When I look around & see this, I realize THIS IS IT!      
THESE ARE THE MOMENTS:



 building blocks, playing store, blanket forts, art kits, tangrams,  




our very own stick people, tool kits, marble mazes, 




flash cards, board games, even made up games,


 

dress up superheros, sharing devices, 







 & the endless piano playing, singing, & reading (yes, even at the beach)

     THIS IS IT!  THESE ARE THE MOMENTS that pay off, where grace abounds, that prove that there is a God, that shine LOVE, that cannot be taken away.  These are the pictures that I usually do not share with real life messy hair dos & mismatched clothes, but I should.  These are the images that I cherish, all that I possess of these times quickly passing.  These are not the insignificant, they are us in real life.  These are all reasons, the still images captured of WHY I homeschool.  Sure, I'm smart enough to earn a prestigious degree, to be paid top dollar.  I don't knock that.  It's just not me.  I'm free & happy here at home to learn with them, to love them, to watch them grow & change from tiny little dependent humans into dream chasers, world changers, independent ones that can think for themselves.
     In my opinion, there's nothing in life compared to being a mother.  Sure, no one stands in line to sign up for their sleep interrupted or changing poop diapers that have exploded onto everything in sight, but those are nothing in relationship to the bigger picture.  The loves & laughter are worth the chaos & tears.  Every milestone & triumph are worth fighting for.  Why in the world I would usher them off & think of myself as incapable to teach them to read, write, count, or compute?  I taught them to use a spoon.  I certainly cannot give up now!
     One day (too soon) they will all go their own ways & make their own decisions.  They will even be equipped with the best social skills the south has to offer through our travels, community, homeschool group, church, neighbors, friends, cousins, & of course one another.   With the grace & help of God, we will also be able to diagram sentences, master fractions, recite poetry, complete book reports, retell history, pinpoint geography, etc all while hiding God's word in our hearts!  
         
Plus having all of these helpers around is definitely a positive too!


We're all in this together!  THIS IS US!

Somewhere amongst all the crazy chaos 
are 5 flourishing kiddos 
that we only get this one shot at raising, 
& I don't wanna miss a thing!

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Little Different Easter This Year


      This picture, my friend, is NOT what Easter is about.  My heart was convicted after reading a blog post by the famous author Jen Hatmaker.  Her church was gearing up for their 10th Under the Bridge Easter for the homeless of Austin.  My sister shared Jen's post with these words on top, "I so much  this. This is what church should be. Can't we just do this instead of buying Easter dresses? Are Easter dresses even still a thing for people?" 
     Why yes, Easter dresses are still a thing for people (especially in the south) but not this year for us.  I made a choice right then & there to not go out or even internet search for hours,spending hundreds.  After all, we have more clothes & shoes than we need, more than we ever will wear.  Thankfully, we had company that flew in & hosted Taxidermy classes in our shop the entire week before Easter.  It not only added extra on to my plate & kept me busy cleaning up after, washing extra clothes, & feeding the small army of guys but also my thoughts in check from second guessing the decision (I guess you can call it mom guilt & some crazy inborn nature to fit in to society that tries to rear it's ugly head from time to time.).  The moment they left out on that Saturday, the very day before Easter, I shared my heart about it with Nathan.  Of course he hadn't worried a bit about having clothes for Easter & jumped right on board with not running to town in a panic to buy last minute.  To be honest, I think I told him for accountability for myself, to insure that I wouldn't cave under pressure.  That was the right choice for my family this year.  Afternoon approached.  We braved the local Dollar Tree for candy for our crew & the church kids & ended up only spending $9 on a few cheap prizes to set in front of their baskets.
     As anyone can see, we most certainly did not do without.  If you look closely, you can spot a tag or several hanging from the clothes.  What we discovered was that we had more than enough springy clothes & shoes to choose from, some that had been hanging & never worn.  We all had nice clothes on even though every item wasn't new.  The kids woke up excited as usual.  As I type, I have sticky men dangling from the ceiling overhead.  No one did without.  The kids never missed a beat nor even noticed.  We are beyond blessed already.  No need in wasting more.  Maybe after my last 2 posts, less is more may be motto this year.  There is really no need in promoting ourselves.  The thought comes to mind, "After reading this, people will think y'all are broke."  Think that if you want.  It's a heart thing, not a wallet issue.  
     Our 7 all got ready for Easter Sunday morning service.  We didn't stress too much about hair dos this year either.  That's no small feat for me.  We left an hour early to pick up the our "bus" kids as usual.  That ministry is our heart.  I threw a few extra clothes in the back of our van in case that one in particular wouldn't have anything to wear again.  I was shocked & surprised at how dolled up they were.  There's just something about Easter that everyone knows is special.  New faces were present.  Happiness abounded in the air.  We sang His praises.  The kids choir livened things up with "Jesus is Alive & Well!"  The Lord passed by & anointed Nathan to preach a tremendous message highlighting Peter's part in the story of Jesus' resurrection.  Jesus' life insisted that mercy triumphs over criticism & judgement.  He chose to love & live among the outcast & call them the beloved children of God.  Jesus stood in the gap for us.  He accepted the crucifixion, but it did not defeat Him.  Nothing can keep you from that kind of love outstretched.  Death of this world could not conquer my Savior.  He LIVES & came to see about even Mr Peter who cursed & denied him thrice.  There are no conditions on His love for ALL humanity.  Our service was truly a resurrection service, one I won't soon forget!
The Kiddos at Papa & Meme's House Easter Afternoon
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          Easter afternoon was filled with family fun.  No big to do dinner this year.  We all met up about 3.  EE did work her magic for us a mouth watering Easter cake.  We made a humongous mess dying, coloring, hiding, & hunting eggs.  The kids opened gifts, ran, played, & ate way too much junk.  Nothing lacked.  Again, less really is more!
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Photos compliments of EE's Cakery Facebook page!  
Go look & LIKE her page!
You will NOT be disappointed!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Marched Off

     March is birthday month here.  The 6th is the day we celebrate Marianna Jewel & the 26th is Clay Walker's day.  This year we seemed to march off the grid the whole month for lots of fun!
     For starters, Marianna wished for a horse ride on the beach.  She had no idea that we'd deliver.  We told her the beach was a go for celebrating her 11 years but the horses were a stretch.  We woke them early to adventure to Fernandina Beach, FL.  We ate great, played hard, posed for pictures, & just as she thought we were leaving, she found out the horse trailer unloading across the parking lot was just for her.  Her wishes were granted!  The excitement in her eyes were worth it all!  We left the island with tummies full of seafood, thankful hearts, & new memories.
     The next week, my mama whisked us girls away to North Carolina.  To say we had fun would definitely be an understatement!  Even with fine dining & lots of shopping underway, both pale in comparison to touring the Biltmore Estate!  It was absolutely amazing.  I couldn't imagine a castle being any larger.  No words could describe it justly!  If you've never been, GO!  It's the largest estate in North American & 85% is open to view.  Best of all, you experience the romantic love story of how the family reached out to others with heart's of gold.  To add to the beauty, the snow was pouring down like soft rain & stretched as far as you could see were carpets of spring tulips.  Just remembering makes me want to pack & trek right back!
     After we settled back home, our church held revival with some of our great friends.  It's so encouraging to see others that we don't see very often & experience how time & space never damper true friendship.  God has richly blessed us with many of those in ministry.  I cherish the time spent in the company of others as they share with us their hearts.
     Even though Clay may have thought his time would never arrive, it surely did!  His wish for a 6th birthday family camping trip had been planned out for months down to even the smallest detail.  While we had our say in ordering the tent, he picked out most everything else right down to the meals.  To be completely honest, I may have tried to talk him into "camping" at the cabin only to have had a BLAST.  Going to bed with the fire crackling, crickets singing, & owls hooting & waking up to the sun rising over Walker Campsite on the banks of the river felt like the closest thing to Heaven.  We swam🌊, built campfires for us & the army men🔥, fished trot lines🐟, hunted turkeys🦃, grilled steak & shrimp🍤, roasted marshmallows🍙, kayaked⛵, sang way too loud🎶, blew out candles🕯, ate EE'S delicious cake🎂, opened presents🎁, partied nonstop🎉, & played way too hard!  The slow pace was exactly perfect.  We left with memories that will never be forgotten.  The 100 quart cooler of dressed fished was only the icing on the cake.  We can't wait to go again!
     Between all of these adventures, we squeezed in a museum field trip with our local homeschool group as well as a few other hunting & fishing trips.  Spring here has sprung!  The beautiful weather has it's pull on us to get outdoors.  Marching off the grid was nothing short of perfect!  I'm sure I missed the lastest memes & what someone else whom I barely ever see was up to, but that doesn't even compare.  Try it sometime!  Less really is more.  💗

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     Reflection= PRICELESS!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

DREAM

     My laptop is back!  Blogging twice without it this year was all I could take!  I am so thankful for friends with technology super powers!  As my fingers glide across my familiar keyboard, all seems right with the world...

       I began this day rather "illy."  Is that even a word?  Anyways, it's kinda like right on the brink of being full fledged ill.  My allergies/sinus come & go this time of year.  I could list several other excuses as well.  One main issue was that time just slipped away this morning.  I had like point 2 seconds to get ready & leave to get the girls to their Art Class on time.  I really needed to wash my hair but that had to wait.  Not long into the ride, I wished I had chosen a different shirt.  This one was uncomfortable.  Overall, I felt like a hot mess & was pondering what I could do to turn my feelings around instead of them jumping off the cliff.
     1st things 1st~BUY another shirt before I have a breakdown!  As soon as I dropped the girls at their destination, I hit a favorite store up & found not only 1 new shirt but 2 & also a few other things.  With my shirt changed & retail therapy underway, I came across this sign:
       I just stood there lost in thought, snapping this picture.  I began reflecting on good things.  My illy mood vanished.  You know, dreams really do come true!  My thoughts immediately ran to years ago when I asked Nathan if he could do anything he wanted, what would it be?  At first he reacted as if I had asked him the silliest, most unthinkable question ever.  Until that moment, he had never even realized that he could actually choose to work a job he loved.  In a few moments, he answered Taxidermy, & his dream was born!  Here we are, YEARS down the road (literally 2 miles away to be exact).  He worked 10 years at 2 jobs.  His Taxidermy shop consisted of a storage building during that time.  We lived on a dirt road on land that wasn't even our own.  Now fast forward to the present...We purchased a small pecan orchard on the main highway in order to have the frontage for the business.  We moved our home to the land as well.  Our business has since expanded to include Custom Processing & has grown by leaps & bounds every. single. year!  Here's a visual:
 South GA Taxidermy Then & Now
     We also literally laugh out loud at some of our dreams that fizzled.  Any of you have those?  Some are probably not as comical as ours.  We once drove down the interstate at the beginning of our marriage wishing we owned a camper.  Thank heaven above that God truly knows best!  It was a fleeting dream.  We are so thankful that we never swooped into one of those lots & purchased.  No, we are not against anyone who has that dream.  It's just not ours.  We LOVE to travel to all sorts of different places.  We simply do not want to spend 20 grand or more on something that limits our choices.  We can, instead, take all that money that we saved by NOT purchasing (plus the insurance, repairs, storage, etc) & travel most anywhere we want to go for YEARS!!!  That has surely been a blessing to us since traveling together is one of our main pleasures in this life.
     Dream uniquely!  Dreams are your own.  We are living ours.  Besides what I've mentioned above, we pastor & are involved in a ministry that has us by the heart strings.  We are also raising 5 children which we homeschool.  No doubt all of those things collectively wouldn't equal anyone's dream that's reading even though many of my blog posts are read over 1,000 times.  Guess what else?  We aren't into vehicles & living in a mansion isn't our priority either.  We are happy owners of a family van.  We buy new for reliability & not for looks.  It's just simply our transportation for trips.  After said trips, many times we leave it looking as if it could be condemned!  Just imagine 7 eating ice cream, 4 being 10 & under!  It's just more important to us that they enjoy our adventures than having rigid riding rules.  They are only little for a short while.  After all, our family van was never bought as an investment looking for a return.  My point is that for everyone, priorities are different.  Some desire swanky cars, big homes, & PHDs.  That's great!  I am thankful for everyone that possess talent in areas that I do not.  We all need doctors, lawyers, mechanics, engineers, & life would just certainly be drab without artists.  Celebrate individuality.  It takes guts to go against the flow & plow your own way.  Life is too short to let other's dictate your happiness. 
     Dreams are birthed.  Some grow, & some fizzle.  I could see how some could quickly turn into nightmares.  Don't let that kill your spirit.  Let go.  Don't water dead plants.  Never forget that some dreams turn into reality!  Everything starts with a dream! 

BE BRAVE
DARE TO DREAM ON 
May you find yourself living your dreams!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wake UP American Christians

     With 5 children, things can get chaotic in a hurry.  First, I hurl a few warnings that I'm about to lose it.  I keep thinking they will learn to stop it at that point.  Oftentimes I get enough & loudly proclaim, "Can't everybody just be nice?"  That statement is usually followed by a hush in the crowd & me adding, "It will NOT hurt anyone to get along!  If you can't, separate!  I've had enough!  I don't care who did what or why!  Just stop!"  Then I get this blank, shocked stare that seems to say, "I.know.I.did.not.just.see.that.  She literally screamed at us."  Their eyes dart quickly back & forth at me & between themselves.  I have 1 that almost always tears up immediately.  I let out a huge sigh as they walk away, & I feel like a failure.  I am irritated at them & now also at myself.  I hate the thought of parents yelling.  It just makes my skin crawl, &  I immediately want to throw up.  Instead, I just sit down in the rare moment of silence that I now cannot even enjoy now.
     Again, I wonder how we landed here.  In my mind, they have driven what would be our joy ride right off the cliff.  Blame game?  Sure.  Who doesn't?  Who can relate?  Yet, that doesn't make any of it right.  Understandable?  Yes.  Relatable?  Yes.  Normal?  Justifiable?  Ok?  No.  I'm not sure what Jesus would have done, but I'm positive I missed the mark.  I'm pretty creative, but I am not the author of perfect parables.  Our entire family down to the smallest can quote, "Be ye kind one to another.  Ephesians 4:32."  We've even made a reward system out of it in the past.  However, can we live it?  After all, we are human.  We are faulty.  We are wrong, & we sin...yes, I called myself out & used the word sin.
     As this recent US election & all of the events surrounding it has come & gone, I am sad.  I am disappointed.  I am upset.  It's all so alarming & confusing.  I know that takes most of you by surprise.  Anyone can take 1 look at me, my family, our Taxidermy & Processing business (the very definition of 2nd Amendment Supporters), the fact that I've been raised in a very conservative political home, the fact that I believe in modesty as not only an outward dress but also a lifestyle, & maybe this is where I should NOT insert that my family has always reached out to employ what society has deemed as "underprivileged help."  To be honest & frank, I've never cut an entire yard of grass, ever.  I've done little, if any, domestic work growing up.  I've always been encouraged by society to instead use my mind for "better" things.  I italicize better because no one is better than another.  No color, no job, not even one choice completely defines an individual.  I have also never been hungry or lacked any needs or even many wants, despite my lack of experience with any form of manual labor.  Whether I want to admit it or not, I am honestly the very definition of privileged.  The question for me is not whether it exists or even if I agree, the question is what am I going to do about it.  Why am I privileged yet sad?
     During this time in America, we are divided.  Divided like never before?  I seriously doubt it when we consider the Civil War & equal rights movement.  Indeed, America has come a long way.  I am thankful for my right to vote & participate in our government & freedoms & those who have fought so hard for that.  I would like to be one that continues that trend that their fighting would never be in vain.  However, most of what I see is not necessarily heading in that direction.  What I see from even my close friends & families that I know is outright appalling & attacking one another.  Has sarcasm & mockery ever been as accepted & encouraged?  I mean really, how many memes does our generation need to spread their own agenda?  I will be the 1st to admit that some are funny, but at whose expense?  Is it okay to laugh when others are being targeted whether it be true or not?  Is that bullying?  Is that hate?  Is that malice?  & is that in Jesus' name???  I'm not asking if it is truthful in your eyes or for your particular set of circumstances.  I am not asking if you agree with the meme or can even relate.  I am asking if it good, edifying, graceful, & peaceful?  Dear American Christian, did you forget the scriptures that you claim to live by:

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is 
good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."  Ephesians 4:29

"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking. nor jesting, which are not convenient:  
but rather giving of thanks."  Ephesians 5:4

"The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; 
but the lips of a fool will swallow himself up."  Ecclesiastes 10:12 

"But now ye also put off all of these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy,
filthy communication out of your mouth."  Colossians 3:8

"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know
how ye ought to answer every man."  Colossians 4:6

     Sin is not excusable.  It effects others beyond yourself.  Sin is not tolerable.  Sin must be repented of.  & just like we teach in Children's Church, the steps of salvation are to hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized.  Similarly, once we possess salvation, we must realize when we have done something wrong, believe there is a better way, repent of our current sins, & confess so that those sins can be washed under the blood.  Wake up America!  Yes, I am asking the throwing to stop.  It is okay for people to believe differently.  We don't all have to agree.  We all see things differently based on our own personal religious beliefs, raising, social circles, circumstances, knowledge, etc.  We don't, however, have to bash one another for them or throw stones in their direction.  I am not in any way suggesting that you change your beliefs or who you are.  That is your decision.  I have never condoned nor considered sitting back & passively letting things just play out for my life either.  I am firmly rooted in my beliefs.  I am open to listen to yours.  That does not mean I agree.  I am happy to give my opinion as well.  I am an adult.  My heartfelt desire is to treat others with respect & to show compassion, mercy, patience, & kindness.  I want to show love.  It's sad that I hesitate to even use that word because of it's gross misuse.  I do not wish to be hateful or fling sarcasm that makes any group of people quiver.  I'm pretty certain that doesn't win anyone, especially souls for His kingdom.  For when you throw dirt, you lose your own ground.  It's time to wake up American Christians.  Jesus never excuses sin.  He didn't cower & not stand up for right either.  He just did it very differently that what I am seeing today.  Jesus answered not a word to defend His very own life.  He didn't have to.  He lived it to it's fullest.  He LIVED what He believed.  His actions lined up with His words.  He never wavered.  Yet, he also was not popular.  In His dying moments, He was begging God to extend forgiveness to those that crucified Him.  I am trying harder than ever before in my life to REACH OUT to others & LIVE in such a way that the scriptures extend life & hope through me.
     Since I have typed against certain memes, maybe this is where I should insert the beautiful picture of a church that states, "Church is a hospital for sinners, not a social club for saints."  If everyone in our church dresses "up to par," acts a certain accepted way, follows acceptable rules for things to do or not to do, agrees where to go or not go, checks behind one another to make sure others are doing as they are "suppose to do," this is not the church as Jesus intended.  Jesus compelled ALL.  I don't understand having churches that are fit for certain races or class of people.  If we are all perfect & have everything figured out, there is no need for congregating to prove that.  We will never change the world by going to church.  We will only change the world by being the church.  The church is not a building or even a denomination.  Having our name on a membership or only reaching out to a specific group we "approve" of or deem worthy, is NOT salvation.  I am not against gathering together.  We pastor.  Obviously, we are faithful attenders.  I encourage anyone to come & be a part, sing His praises, fill yourself full of Him to go out into the world.  It is not God's will that we tend to ourselves only & barely get by with a handful of others.  Intead:  Be thankful.  Show love.  Share & serve.  That is our life work, our mission.  We are to spread His goodness through service.  How we treat people outside the church after the service is over tells a true story about who we are.  Putting others down is childish, especially copying words of another that would hurt or put down anyone.  It has become the norm to tack the phrases "bless their hearts, just sayin', but that's none of my business, keepin' it real" or throw the words "prayer request" in the place of the real word gossip around in a careless, thoughtless manner.  Wake up American Christians!  Be careful how you throw around someone else's clever words just for fun.  Better yet, use your own words, & think them through.  Be aware of other's feelings.  Listen more.  Speak less.  We are none perfect, but can't we try?  
     I never thought I'd actually say this but I do miss the food & pet posts circling my social media feed.  I use to think, "What if I told you that you can love & eat without posting it?"  Now, I'm over here feeling like, "Where's the supper & dog pictures people???  Oh, & don't forget the selfies!"      

Please don't view this post as a place where comments justifying yourself or beliefs are necessary.  I always welcome kind comments & encouraging words.  If you hate this blog, I am ok with that.  This is my little space on the internet.  You don't have to make your argument or further your agenda here.  I am clearly asking Christians to wake up & consider your actions & go forth showing peace.

BE THANKFUL  ~  SHOW LOVE
SHARE & SERVE

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,
think on these things.  Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard,
and seen in me, do:  and the God of peace shall be with you."  Philippians 4:8-9