Saturday, March 12, 2016





Friday, March 11, 2016

Life "Seams" Better with Family

In all my life, if I never know what other good things have come from my actions, this will be enough.  I am completely blessed by this beautiful essay.

Tori Buxton
Mrs. Sanchez
Honors English 10
March 2, 2016
Life “Seams” Better With Family
A thread is a series of even smaller threads, made of cotton fibers, woven together to create the one simple thing that holds an entire piece of clothing together, but sometimes the threads fray and clothes get holes. In most cases, there is a common motif that creates important connections in our lives and these “golden threads” are made up of experiences (the smaller threads). I have found my golden thread to be my family. Throughout my life so far, every experience that I have had has tightened my small threads to build my relationship with my family.
Throughout my life, my family has instilled a sense of excitement and thankfulness in me, but more importantly, they have allowed me to know what it is like to feel loved. Most of my young childhood memories are picture-perfect. I can remember playing in the backyard with the neighbors and my sister, having family dance parties in the living room until bedtime, and watching Harry Potter movies and having picnics with chicken nuggets or Chinese food every couple of weekends when my dad had to go out of town for work, and my mom wanted to cheer us up. Every morning, I would watch my older sister get on the bus and then spend all day with my mom. Pretty soon, my little brother was born, and it was my turn to wave goodbye as he watched us get on the bus. My siblings and my cousins became my best friends, and still are. Every Christmas morning, we would open presents and my dad would make a big breakfast. We had our own little traditions that were always special to me. I struggle to describe what a blessing it has been in my life to have an immediate and extended family who have shown me such joy, and made it their goal to help me understand how loved I am.
I believe that another, important reason that I have such a strong connection with my family is that they are my support system. Even when bad things happened, my family made it clear to me that we were a unit, and we could always find security with each other. When I turned 7, my mom got transferred for work, so we packed up and moved to Georgia. I was terrified to leave behind my extended family and friends, but my mom made Georgia sound awesome, so eventually I was convinced. Turns out, she was right and I loved it there. It felt like a year long vacation.
Then we moved back here. We moved into my grandpa's house until we could find a new house and I started going to school at Big Walnut. My grandpa helped us with our homework and he would make cookies for us after school. Everything was okay for a while, but my parents fought a lot. In 2009, they announced that they were getting a divorce, and my mom moved us into her parent’s house. No more family Christmas traditions or early morning Easter Egg hunts, and no more dance parties. We had to start transitioning between houses the summer after 3rd grade. At that point, my thread was frayed and weak. My family bond felt completely broken. I remember how scared I was that all of my good times were over. That wasn’t the case. My parents made sure my family connection wasn’t broken. People would tell me how lucky I was to not have “normal divorced parents” and ask me if my parents were getting back together because they made such an effort to be compatible for us. I am so thankful that I have parents who are willing to show me how much they care about and support me, despite their differences.
People have always told me that my parents are strict, because I haven’t been allowed to go to parties or hang out with my friends every weekend. In my family, it’s always been important for me to try my best at anything I do and to focus on what matters to me personally. I have always gotten good grades and overall been a pretty good kid because of this mentality, but sometimes, I haven’t quite made the grade or I’ve made bad decisions. Towards the end of this summer, I got myself into some trouble, and when my parents found out, they weren’t mad like I expected. They sat me down to talk to me and they both cried. I have never felt more ashamed than I did in that moment, but despite the disappointment I knew they were feeling, they kept continually explaining to me that they were still proud of me, and that they would always love me. “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future” (Paul Boese). There is not one day in my life that I can remember that my parents haven’t told me that they love me and are proud of me, no matter if I’ve made a great accomplishment or a mistake, and this has shown me what it means to be accepted and forgiven.
Despite the trials and tribulations that I have faced in my life, I have always had my family as a guide. I realize that this benefit has made me into the person I am today, and I am grateful for that. The love, support, and acceptance that I have felt through my family has brought me closer to them and been an inspiration to me, to show these qualities to other people and hopefully to my own family one day. “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects” (Herman Melville).  In the end, even with a frayed thread, family is who I count on to help me sew up my holes.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Try the Matter

Today’s Meditation:

We must not trust every word of others or feeling within
ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whether
it be of God.  Unhappily we are so weak that we find it easier to
believe and speak evil of others, rather than good.  But they
that are perfect, do not give ready heed to every news-bearer,
for they know man’s weakness; that it is prone to evil and
unstable in words. – Thomas a Kempis (Imitation of Christ)

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. - Psalm 118:8

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

God Isn't Limited

Today, from Proverbs 31 Ministries

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. - Ephesians 1:18-19

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let It Be

Sometimes the words of wisdom I need come from The Beatles... :)

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,

There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. - Psalm 141:3

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Being Confident of This...

Philippians 1:6:

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heartand, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What Will We Do?

Putting away the Christmas decorations brings both a sense of sadness and a promise of new beginnings.  The season brings so much joy, wonder and anticipation, but the New Year brings the same; a chance to put that joy, that message of God's great love to work in the world.  What will we do to bring about change inside ourselves, and in the world, to bring strength and peace to the people?

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. - Psalm 29:11

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Unexpected

God has been moving in my life in unexpected ways.  While being away from Seminary this fall I've stepped away from my blog... I've been celebrating the season with my family; watching my kids cheer and play football, loving family activities, working with the youth and enjoying all that autumn brings. Sounds peaceful and beautiful...  but with it has come a whirlwind of "unexpecteds".

I've realized that when God has a plan for you, life can change rather quickly.  I am discovering that trusting in Him is the only way to move through life events. A lot has changed for us...  I have recently committed to a full time job in ministry.  I leave my sales job at the end of the year for less money and more work to the glory of God. We've moved, unexpectedly, to a little ranch in the country.  I've seen relationships change and have learned that doing what is right is not usually popular. I'm learning a lot about grace, love and finding peace when it seems to evade.  I've realized that resolution doesn't always come; that I won't help every person that comes in my path in ministry. While my heart breaks when that happens, I have to learn to trust that God will handle what I cannot. As God brings beauty and a chance for creation to rest through winter and become new, I pray he continues to do the same in me; that I reach for Him, trusting His promises, constantly... 

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. - Hebrews 6:18-20

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Looking Forward

I'm finishing my schoolwork for the summer semester today.  This is my third break in three hours. As always, my mind wanders as I struggle to complete the final work.  I'm amazed that the summer semester is already coming to an end. Summer has been full, busy and overwhelming.  (Isn't summer supposed to be beautiful and freeing?) Beginning next week, summer "vacation" ends for us.  We travel for the last time this weekend then focus on the sports, work and events of the fall. I always long for the beauty and routine of fall, but as I finish up this work I am particularly excited.  I'm taking my first break from school in three years.  I get to focus on being a mom (albeit still a youth pastor and Aflac agent), getting healthy, and renewing my spirit to continue God's work. I am encouraged by being still, seeing the blessings surrounding me and the beauty of the future.  I believe the most joy can be found in seeing God's presence, finding a reason to look forward and something for which to be passionate. I pray that we all consider our blessings and find hope in the future...

I look forward to enjoying God's creation in fall and worshiping the creator, to being engaged in His word by choice, to remembering His word as a love letter versus a textbook and to sharing in a slower closeness with my family.  Praise God for breaks and new beginnings...

I[a] exalt You, my God the King,
and praise Your name forever and ever.
I will praise You every day;
I will honor Your name forever and ever.
Yahweh is great and is highly praised;
His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation will declare Your works to the next
and will proclaim Your mighty acts.
I[b] will speak of Your splendor and glorious majesty
and[c] Your wonderful works.
They will proclaim the power of Your awe-inspiring acts,
and I will declare Your greatness.[d]
They will give a testimony of Your great goodness
and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and great in faithful love.
The Lord is good to everyone;
His compassion rests on all He has made.
10 All You have made will thank You, Lord;
the[e] godly will praise You.
11 They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom
and will declare Your might,
12 informing all people of Your mighty acts
and of the glorious splendor of Your[f] kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
Your rule is for all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all His words
and gracious in all His actions.[g]
14 The Lord helps all who fall;
He raises up all who are oppressed.[h]
15 All eyes look to You,
and You give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open Your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways
and gracious in all His acts.
18 The Lord is near all who call out to Him,
all who call out to Him with integrity.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry for help and saves them.
20 The Lord guards all those who love Him,
but He destroys all the wicked.
21 My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise;
let every living thing
praise His holy name forever and ever. - Psalm 145

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ice Cream and Sin... The Little Things

Yesterday, despite knowing that I wasn't allowed to have it, I had a perfect peach ice cream cone. After all, peach ice cream is only served in the summer months, and it's delicious.  It seemed like a welcome treat... until dinner, when I couldn't stomach much else because I felt so sick.  Last night I started thinking about how much sin is like that.  

We sometimes measure sin by how often we do it. 
"It's just this once." 
"After tomorrow, I'll stop."
"I know people who do this all the time."

Other times we measure sin by it's nature and the perceived gravity of it.
"It's not so bad."
"I'm just looking."
"Hitting snooze and lying about my tardiness is not exactly murder..."

The problem is that these things are ultimately hurting us a little bit at a time.  Like the ice cream made me unable to take in what was good for my body, sin pulls us further from God and receiving all that He has to offer.  It made me realize that it's the little "just this once" things that add up to harm us both physically and spiritually...

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. - Galatians 6:7

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


In early June I was sitting in an insurance enrollment talking to a client about her preexisting conditions.  She shared with me some information about a hospital visit she'd had in January. Since her symptoms were similar to ones I had been experiencing for over a year, I inquired further.  She conveyed that the issue in January was just a scare. She had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010 and was afraid the cancer had returned. When I shared that my symptoms were identical to the ones she had experienced, she encouraged me to go straight to my doctor. I had already been to my general practitioner (GP) last June. He had sent me for abdominal scans for possible gallbladder concerns. When those were inconclusive he attributed my issues to hemorrhoids or a lower GI ulcer and sent me on my way.  I tried to follow a diet for an ulcer, but had been feeling progressively worse through the year. I was lethargic, tired and the nausea and abdominal pain were becoming more unbearable as time passed. I felt an urgency to follow my client's advice. Having been unimpressed with my GP, I set up an appointment with my gynecologist who covered all her bases with lab work and an ultrasound before deciding to send me for a colonoscopy. At this point, I was anemic and was living with unnecessary pain. I was grateful for any test that would provide an answer. This is where God's providence comes in to play. A polyp in my sigmoid colon had grown so large that it was blocking my colon cavity. This was causing the bleeding and pain. The polyp was severely dysplastic (precancerous). Within a few years, the growth would have become cancerous. The doctor shared that if I had waited until I was 50 to have a routine colonoscopy, I would likely have had advanced stage cancer. The polyp was easily removed, and I feel better already. With iron and diet changes, I'm feeling like a new person. I'll be returning for a colonoscopy every 3 years to keep future growths from becoming cancer. I believe God had this client sit with me in our enrollment to encourage me to continue searching for an answer to my ailment.  Her prompting moved me to take action that I, otherwise, would not have taken.  I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with her and feel that God intervened on my behalf.  I also feel like I've been given a new opportunity to live a healthier, stronger life. Thanks to God for that gift.  When we keep our eyes open, we see the ways He intercedes through His word, other people, and incidents that may change our path. I will keep my eyes fixed on Him.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:26-28

Monday, July 20, 2015


The last few weeks have been a struggle, but I'm starting to realize this is His plan and I will get through with His strength

This keeps showing up on PInterest, and in Daily Quote... a message to remember. He's here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Set Free

It's only when I'm alone with God, in a serenity that the world can't provide, that I can see with clarity.  When the body succumbs to illness and fatigue, when life is thankless, when the murmurs of people and petty troubles engage, when it doesn't make sense why attacks are made over senseless issues that in no way further the kingdom of God, there is one place of peace...  That is in God himself.  At times, I long to stay in that place where peace abounds, in the calm waters or mountaintop experiences, instead of returning to the valleys of life and people, but that isn't where the work of the kingdom lies. 

My truth today came from John 8.  As Jesus spoke to the Jews, convincing them that the truth in Him would set them free, I read: "...He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” ...and a pain shot through my heart.  The murmurs of people will always be there.  There will always be a fight to be fought, but my truth lies in Christ.  If I choose to believe anything that is not of Him, if I choose to believe the hurtful murmurs of the people, that I am less than worthy in the role He has placed me, then I am choosing to listen to the father of lies.  When I close my eyes and see Christ, when I read the scriptures of what and Whose I am, when I walk worthy... I am choosing to believe the truth that only He has for me and the truth will set me free (John 8:32).

Friday, July 17, 2015


I miss my church family.  I have worshiped in other places for five weeks.  In this time I have discovered two things.

1.  I can worship sincerely anywhere.  No building, Sacrament, style or attitude holds God.

2.  I miss the support system, fellowship, and promise of those who are praying and walking the journey with me,

God is omnipresent, He can be praised in the darkest of places, the glory of creation, the most meager setting... Anywhere... But there's something to be said for worshiping in the same place and with the same people.  The peace and passion that we share together is a gift.

24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25

Monday, June 29, 2015


When dying becomes a truly real thought, one ponders life.  How much of what I want to "be" for others, has become "I do for others"? How much of the abundant life God has for me have I lived? How often do I transmit my pain onto others, blaming their actions for my response? Have I made a measurable difference? How will I be remembered?  

And with this thought, living life becomes different, new... But it shouldn't be the thought of dying that changes a person into a life of living. We all only have this moment...

I wonder what the world would be like if we all lived like every day was our last.  

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. - James 4:14

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Small Difference

Picture from John Pavlovitz post - "The Lost Christian Art of Giving a Damn"
I happened to read John Pavlovitz's article (link below picture) following an incident in my family last night.  My oldest daughter asked for some change and laughingly gave it to a handsome young juggler with two buckets marked "Beer Money" and "College Fund". Later we passed by a homeless man on the street who appeared blind. She sidestepped him to the curb and continued on hurriedly.  I also stand convicted, as I did not stop because the family had left me in their hurry to the car. I asked my daughter why she chose not to address him or ask for change for him.  Her response was "Did you give him money?" I explained to her that I rarely give people money.  I shared that I usually provide food, prayer and conversation then attempt to guide them to the closest place for help. I explained that my concern was that she chose amusement over compassion.  We talked a little about it and later she spent time praying for the homeless people of Columbus.  I was enlightened to the fact that we often sidestep people for our own agendas. That breaks my heart. No matter the reason a person has ended up on the street, that person is worthy of our love and the love of Christ shown through kindness.

My kids recently asked me what I want for my upcoming birthday.  I have decided that I want them to spend the day making bags for the homeless with me, then to join me in taking the bags downtown and handing them out as needed to the people on the streets. As a one income household, I don't have the ability to take someone into my home or to offer the kind of money for lasting change, but I do have the opportunity to make a lovingly small difference... We all do.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

Monday, May 4, 2015

Prosper the Work...

I'm officially done with the semester.  Have mercy... it was a rough time.  Last semester my 3.9 grade average dropped to a 3.7.  This semester I think I can expect another drop.  The balancing act is painful and sometimes my work suffers.  The weight that was just lifted from me is inexplicable, despite the threat of a lower grade.

It's crazy though... despite the human stress I feel to overcompensate, perfect and stretch myself, it feels as though God is here every moment, patiently waiting for me to see what He has for me to learn from all this, and I did learn.  In the midst of the stress of the sixty total pages of papers due from this semester I learned more about me, and about Him.  It's all coming together.

And I think maybe it's like childbirth, you forget the pain of it for the beauty of it, until the next time...

May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Yes, Prosper the work of our hands! - Psalm 90:17

Thursday, April 9, 2015


So many things to be joyful about; the reaffirmation of my Baptism and the renewal of creation in Spring... 

Look around.  There is so much beauty to be missed when we go about our day without finding the miracles of creation.  Renewal does the heart so much good...

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

In Love... No Matter What

For the past two years God has been calling me out of my brokenness and into the brokenness of others.  I usually see my calling to that in extreme situations.  I am able to show compassion and reach out to those who seem to need it most. Tonight I see that I am called to others' brokenness period.  There needs to be nothing extreme about it.  I am called to be kind to all people; to acknowledge their hurt, their joy, their suffering and their longing... No matter who they are and no matter how they treat me.  God doesn't give us the option to choose, I don't know why I ever thought we had that choice.  With a greatly convicted heart I rescind that understanding. We don't get to choose who receives our grace, kindness, love, attention... We can choose how we respond, but it must be in love. We are all called in this way to love others no matter how they treat us, yes, no matter how they treat us. In truth, no matter who we are, what we believe, or what has happened to us, this will be the enlightenment that makes a difference in this world.

Every action we take, every word we say to, or about, others should be greatly affected with this thought.  Only in love will we find healing for ourselves.  Only in love will we be filled and create the opportunity for others to be filled with an abundant love.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. - 1 Peter 4:8-11

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Some things will only pass away in time and when He makes them okay in the end.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4

Monday, March 23, 2015

In the Name of Jesus...

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.  Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. - Acts 19:1-5