Amazing Grace

So, I did a thing. It’s a thing I have thought about for a LONG time. It was not a thing I did on a whim, but rather after much thought and prayer. Last Thursday, I got a tattoo. To many, getting a tattoo is not a big deal. It seems like most people have one or plans of getting one. For me, it was a big deal. It was a big step. One I never thought I would have the courage to take.

I have always had a problem with making permanent decisions. I would never die my hair, because I didn’t want to risk a few months with a terrible color. I only cut my hair once or twice a year, because I change my mind so much about what kind of hairstyle I want. The thought of choosing something to become a permanent part of my body scared me enough to keep the idea of getting a tattoo at bay for at least 10 years.

All that said, I have been toying with the idea of a tattoo for many years. I thought about getting something to honor my dad or maybe a cute little elephant, but I could never settle on a design that felt right. It couldn’t be something generic or stereotypical and it had to be full of meaning.

After the events of the last few weeks, the idea started popping up in my head again. This time, though, it was very clear how it should look and the meaning behind it. It took me all of 5 minutes to design exactly what I wanted in Photoshop and decide where it should go. Everything felt right this time, so I took a leap and went for it.

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Before I went to the tattoo parlor, I spent a lot of time in prayer. I spent time in God’s word. I talked with God about whether or not this was the right thing for me to do. I know there are many varying beliefs on tattoos, but I felt very confident in my decision to move forward. A lot of that confidence came in the things this image represents.

” Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:3

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Doves

As I have written before, the tv show Touched by an Angel played a big role in my return to faith and rebuilding my relationship with God. When my faith was at an all time low, I stumbled upon episode after episode that seemed to speak directly to me. The show used doves for different reasons throughout the series, but they were always linked to God, His blessings, and His angels. Doves were a symbol of God actively working in the situation. Doves are also a common symbol for peace.

People

There are four doves to represent four specific people who not only meant a lot to me, but who made a significant impact on my spiritual journey. Their lives and deaths have helped shape me into the person I am today. In working through the pain of losing them, I have discovered aspects of God at work in my life. Some of those discoveries took years to understand and some were instantaneous.  

Flying

The doves are in flight to represent my loved ones flying away home. As the old hymn says, “like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away. When I die, hallelujah, I’ll fly away.” I wanted to capture the image of them forever flying free heading to their home on God’s celestial shore. They have left the pain, heartaches, and struggles of this world behind to go to a place where joy will never end. I wanted to have a reminder that, though we are sad they are gone and we miss them, they are in the place they always dreamed of going. There is also freedom in their flight that can only come from faith and trust in Jesus.  

Grace

The word grace is there, because God has shown me nothing but grace upon grace over the years. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see. God has opened my eyes to grace this year, especially in the last couple of months. It’s also a reminder that I am supposed to show grace to others in dealing with them everyday.

There is some extra meaning hidden in the word grace. It is done in my mom’s handwriting. Of course this is partially because my mom means the world to me, but there is so much more. I think my mom is a beautiful example of grace. Over the years I have watched her work thankless jobs to put food on the table, deal with difficult children, and overcome many struggles. She has dealt with the deaths of a husband, both parents, and now her big sister and brother-in-law. Through it all, I don’t think I have ever heard her complain. She does what needs to be done and carries on with life. I see grace in her strength, her bravery, and in her ability to keep moving forward.

Visual Testimony

Putting all these meanings and messages together, I’ve decided this is more than a tattoo. It is my visual testimony. It represents all I have been through as well as God’s ever present grace and peace. It represents all the scars and brokenness I carry around on the inside, but also the loving Father who has been there to get me through it all. It is in a place where others can see it, because I pray to have the courage to share it’s true meaning if I am ever asked about it.  

I consider this tattoo as a step toward healing and faith. I’m not worried about forgetting those who meant so much because I now carry them with me wherever I go. It is a bold statement, for me, in proclaiming my faith and trust in God in a way that I can never ignore or hide again. It is a symbol of the progress I have made since starting this blog a little less than a year ago. All thanks to His amazing grace!

 

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Trophy of Grace

I have been planning a post for a while now. A post all about the progress I have made over the past year. I was going to write all about how I now host a home group in my house, attend a weekly bible study, and have done a lot of good work in my journey back to faith. This is not that post. Or at least not the way I ever thought this post would go.

For the past four years I would get a phone call around late September to early October. When I saw who was calling, I knew exactly what it was about. If I couldn’t answer, I knew almost exactly how the message would go, “Hey Lacey, this is Janet. When you get a chance give me a call back. I want to talk to you about something.” That something was going to be helping with the church Christmas play and even though I had already said I wasn’t going to do it anymore, I would say yes once again. My aunt Janet was one of the few people I could never say no to. I used to be slightly annoyed by those calls, but I would give anything to get one right now.

On 9/11/17, my aunt Janet and uncle Leon were killed in a car accident. Tomorrow will be one month, four weeks, 28 days, since they left this world. It still doesn’t feel real. There are moments when it hits me like a tons of bricks and others when I have to ask myself if it all really happened. They were two people who I respected, admired, and loved even more than I ever realized. I idolized my aunt and I cherished my uncle’s infectious laughter. I miss them, dearly.

All through this terrible ordeal, though, I have seen God at work. He has allowed relationships to be mended, bringing us together as a family. He has shown us love and compassion through the never-ending line of friends bringing food, donations, and words of comfort. He has given us peace in our certainty of where their hearts were and where they are headed. Most beautifully, He brought us together in a church service that next Sunday where we witnessed one of their sons rededicate his life to Him. It is impossible to deny that God has been working in this dreadful circumstance.

Of course, God has been working for a lot longer than just this past month. Janet and Leon loved to sing and spent many, many years traveling with their gospel music group. They visited countless churches to spread their love of God through song. As I pulled music for a funeral video, I couldn’t help but be comforted by the many songs they sang about going home to heaven or wanting to see Jesus. There were also a lot of songs about grace. One of my favorites that Janet used to sing was called Trophy of Grace. I can’t think of a better way to describe them now. They were trophies of grace for our family. Ones we will proudly put on display and attempt to continue their legacies of sharing God’s love with all who will listen.

“I’m a trophy of grace. A display of his love. I’m part of the result from the old rugged cross that was made with his precious love. I’ll never understand why he died in my place. Just look at me today because I can say, I’m a trophy of grace.”

I don’t know why they had to die in the way they did, but I do know going together was an answered prayer for them. They were together for more than 55 years and I don’t think either of them would have known what to do without the other. For years, they both cared for ailing parents and I am sure they never wanted to put that burden on their own kids. So, though I don’t yet have an answer for why they went the way they did, I take comfort in knowing some of their prayers were answered the instant they left this world together.

I recently read a devotional about Enoch from the book of Genesis. Enoch walked faithfully with God. One day God took him away to heaven. He found such favor with God that he never had to experience death. What if that’s the way it happened with them? They walked faithfully with the Lord and literally sang His praises all their days. I like to think God found favor with them and called them home. They died, yes, but in the way they died, they didn’t suffer. They didn’t succumb to debilitating illness. They weren’t burdened with experiencing their bodies slowly shutting down. They were gone in an instant. God called them home to glory.

My heart is broken over the loss of my precious aunt and uncle. I’m devastated that we won’t have one more Thanksgiving or Christmas at their house. My 30th birthday girls trip will not be the same without Janet. A good joke or gag gift won’t be as fun without sharing it with Leon. Yet, there is a peace that passes my understanding. My faith has been shaken, but it’s still standing. I will do my best to praise Him in this storm and rejoice for the beautiful lives of two people I was blessed to know.

Let the Storm Rage On

I love stormy weather. Really just weather in general. I love the sound of rain. I am fascinated by lightning. I relish the silence of snowfall. I am excited by tornado warnings and stand outside rather than seek shelter when advised. Mother nature and her fury amaze me on a daily basis. I like the chaos that comes with never truly knowing what the weather has in store. That chaos is doubled during spring time in my home sweet home of Arkansas. You never know when a spring shower could develop into an angry storm or even a violent twister. There is also the feeling of comfort that comes after a storm and realizing all is well. Everything is just a little more green and shiny after the rain has gone.

I have been thinking about storms a lot lately, both weather related and the storms/challenges of life. At one point or another, we all face our own personal storms. Sometimes they are just a light sprinkle, but other times they are EF5 tornadoes that flatten everything in their path. When “the big one” comes, you feel as though you have nothing left and can’t find the pieces to try to start putting things back together. My biggest storm so far, my EF5 tornado, my busted mustard moment, was when my dad died. I have face many other challenges since then, just none quite as big.

The other thing about storms that came to mind recently was how we enjoy watching them from afar, however we never want them to hit too close to home. I am a storm chaser fan. I enjoy watching live feeds from storm chasers while they are out hunting funnel clouds and tornadoes. One of my bucket list items is to join in on one of those adventures. Yet, last Friday night, when I woke up to my phone alarm blaring about a tornado warning in my county I wasn’t quite as excited. When the meteorologist zoomed in on the rotation in the storm and it was literally over my house, I lost all interest in seeing a tornado up close…at least for the moment. Whether it is storm damage to someone’s home, car wrecks on the highway, or drama being played out on social media, we are all guilty of rubbernecking on the storms of others. When they hit a little too close to home though, we aren’t as entertained.

As much as I love stormy weather, I don’t enjoy the storms of life. The troubles and heartaches that come out of nowhere. I love the chaos in the skies, but hate when it happens in my life. Thankfully, there is someone who can help in times of trouble. He is the master of the wind. He can calm the storm and make the sun shine again. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the same storm about a time when Jesus and the disciples were on a boat. A great storm came and the disciples got scared.

“And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased and there was great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

– Mark 4:39-40, ESV

When storms arise, I quickly fall into the “why me” questions and desperately ask for saving. I am so quick to forget that God has been there and will always be there when I need Him. I don’t need to wake Him up to tell Him the boat is sinking. He knows. He is very aware of every situation I am going through and He is working in them even when I can’t see how. The disciples were worried even though they had the master of the universe in the boat with them. They lost faith and everything they knew to be true in that moment, because they were scared, but Jesus said, “I got this.” He questioned their fear because where they saw chaos, Jesus saw an opportunity to show His power. All we have to do is have peace and be still to allow Him a chance to take care of the situation.

As painful as they have been, I am thankful for the lessons I have learned from the storms in my life. I wouldn’t want to experience them again, nevertheless I know I’m who I am today and I am where God wants me to be today because of the challenges that I have overcome by His grace. Though I don’t wish for them, I pray God continues to give me the strength I need to weather any future storms and I pray He gives me the wisdom to remember that no matter what He is in control.

We’ll Talk to You Later

Mornings used to be my favorite time of day when my family visited my grandparents’ house. Early mornings while most people were still sleeping. I would wake up to the smell of coffee and hear muffled voices in another room. Instead of rushing out of bed to join them, I would quietly crawl toward the kitchen shielded behind the breakfast bar. I would sit there and listen to the two men quietly make small talk as one of them busied himself preparing to make breakfast once everyone was awake. I don’t know what lead me to spy on Dad and Grandpa Cole on those mornings, but something told me to take it all in and relish the special quiet times.

From an early age, I seemed worshipped the ground my Grandpa Cole walked on. Visits to my grandparents’ house usually involved me following him around like a puppy wanting to “help” him with his daily tasks. I remember waking up early enough to watch him do his daily calisthenics, a routine left over from his days in the Navy. I loved any opportunity to accompany him to his woodworking shop to see all the projects he had going. To this day, I can’t see or smell sawdust without being transported back to that shop.

After my dad passed away, Grandpa seemed to step in and try to fill the gaping hole that was left behind. Though he had always been a big part our lives, he became an even larger presence in my dad’s absence. At least that is how it felt to me. After Mom, Grandpa was the first person I would show report cards, tell about accomplishments, and go to with problems. He attended every band concert, awards banquet, and special event he was invited to. I had lunch with him the day I got my driver’s license and he happily escorted me when I was in high school homecoming. He was always there.

My favorite thing to do with my grandpa was go fishing. I would venture to say that was a hit with all the grandchildren and probably the entire family. Grandpa took a lot of pride in the pond he dug and stocked with his own two hands. I think he took just as much pride in the time spent around it with his family. I can’t count the number of summer days that were spent around that fishing hole. Looking back, I don’t remember much about actually catching fish, but I can see the countless life lessons we were taught: patience to sit and wait for a bite, responsibility in taking care of all the equipment so it could be used over and over again, communicating with others so lines weren’t crossed and tangled, respect for the land and animals…even the snapping turtles. Most importantly though, we were learning how to simply spend time with loved ones.

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Every year on my birthday I knew who would be the first to call me. It was usually very early in the morning, but even if I didn’t answer he would leave the same message as if he were talking to me. His froggy singing voice would croak out a verse of Happy Birthday followed by something along the lines of, “we love you girl and wanted to wish you a happy birthday. We’ll talk to you later.”

The walls of my grandparents’ den were covered in photographs. Every school picture of each grandchild and great-grandchild were proudly on display. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone take as much pride in their family as my grandpa did. His devotion to my grandma throughout her battle with alzheimer’s was the most remarkable testament to his strength. The fact that they passed away within six weeks of each other left us with a beautiful story of true love. The legacy he left behind is a daunting one to try to fill, but one in which I take immense pride.

Sadly, we seem to never know how much we appreciate something until it’s gone. My first birthday after Grandpa passed away I remember sitting in my car around 9 a.m. trying to figure out what was missing. Something didn’t feel right, like I had forgotten to do something. It hit me hard and fast that I hadn’t gotten my birthday wake up call from Grandpa. I never realize how those short calls used to make my special day seem all the more special.

With another birthday quickly approaching, I miss my grandpa. I think about the phone call I won’t be getting. I think about wanting to learn one more life lesson down at the pond. Thankfully, another aspect of Grandpa’s life left me with the wonderful solace of knowing that one day I will see him again. That man loved Jesus. I have absolutely no doubt about that. His dedication to church, prayer, and reading the bible were always present in his everyday life.

I would give anything to spend another morning having breakfast with my Grandpa Cole. His eggs were always cooked just right, the bacon fried to a perfect crisp, and his biscuits reliably burnt on the bottom. Watching that man cook breakfast was like watching a painter create a masterpiece, made even better because it was all done out of the purest of love.

Maybe, if I were allowed a peek into heaven, I would once again see my dad and grandpa sipping coffee around the breakfast bar waiting on everyone else to get there. Waiting to be reunited with the loved ones they had to leave a little earlier than they would have liked. If heaven is as simple as seeing Grandpa’s smiling face asking me how I would like my eggs, I can’t wait to go. Until then, I will continue to use the lessons that great man taught me and strive to live a life of which he would be proud.

Grandpa never ended a conversation with goodbye. He always simply said, “talk to you later.” I’m thankful by following in his footsteps and seeking to live my life for Christ, I will have the chance to do just that, talk to him later.

Sheltered Safe

It’s amazing how quickly you can go from feeling completely connected with God to not feeling close to him at all. One day you bask in his presence and the next you feel an emptiness deep in your soul. I have been struggling with that these past few weeks. When life gets busy I tend to have a one-track mind and the most pressing or visible thing tends to take precedence over everything else. Sadly, my relationship with God, too often, tends to get put on the back burner. This leaves me feeling alone and forsaken, even though I know I did it to myself.

Thankfully, when you aren’t actively pursuing Him, God still finds a way to remind you He is there. A couple of weeks ago I was driving to work listening to Hillary Scott’s album “Love Remains.” I’ve listened to it at least 50 times. “Sheltered in the Arms of God” came on. I started mindlessly singing along to this song I grew up listening to. At some point I focused in on the drums and was whisked off in a vivid flashback. It was more of a vision than a memory because I was seeing something I’m not sure actually happened.

I was back in the church my family attended when I was a child. Up on the stage, in the corner, was my dad and his drum set. With each beat of the drum I could visualize my dad playing along. I could see the unique way he tapped on the snare. I could see him closing his eyes and letting himself get lost in the music. It was a culmination of the thousands of times I watched him play the drums at church. This time though, he was playing a song just for me. Singing along to that song felt like we were singing together again. There was peace and comfort in that moment. I knew God was using that song to touch base and remind me that I am always sheltered in His arms.

This moment was made even more significant because it has taken me years to be able to think about my dad and not feel an overwhelming sense of utter sadness. I spent so many years being angry at God and resenting the fact that my dad died that I forgot to remember all the happy times. Only recently have I been able to open up and rejoice in the things he left behind. I can now appreciate the wonderful legacy he left in the music he instilled in us.

Once again, I realized God and my dad have always been there. In the music I hold so very dear. Memories of my dad have always been tucked away in the drum licks and mandolin pickin’s of all the songs he used to love. I will forever be thankful that remembering my dad will always be as simple as pressing play on an old song.

I am also thankful for God’s gentle reminder that He is always there. Let the storms rage high and the dark clouds rise because they don’t worry me. For I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God.

God, Bless the Child!

When my phone rings early on Sunday mornings I know exactly who it is before I even look at the screen. I rouse myself enough to answer and half of a cute little face pops up on the screen. Then comes the big question, “Sissy, you gonna go to church wiff me?” No matter how tired I am or what other things I would rather do on a Sunday morning, how could I possibly say no to that little face?

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Shortly after they were married, my best friend and her husband asked me a very big question. They asked me to be the godmother to their future children. I was beyond honored and truly touched they wanted me to play such a big role in the lives of their children. I didn’t accept the title of Godmother lightly. It meant so much to me. I knew I wanted to make sure I was an important person in that child’s life.

A couple of months later they announced they were expecting. The role of godmother became real. In the beginning, this title was strictly in the legal sense. Neither my friends or I were going to church or actively pursuing our relationships with God. Being their little boy’s godmother meant that if something happened to them I would be there to raise him. To me, it also meant that I would be another grown up to love and spoil him. I vowed to devote time and energy into making him feel like the most special boy in the world.

When the baby was born, his parents started attended church. A few months later they invited all the family to attend his church dedication service. Sitting in that congregation listening to the pastor talk about the responsibility of raising this little boy in the church and making sure he knew about God, I realized there was another aspect of my role as godmother that I wasn’t fulfilling. What would he think if he saw me not going to church? What he think if his Godmother never talked to him about God? His parents never asked me to help teach him religion, but as his godmother, I realized I had an obligation to share God with him and encourage his spiritual growth.

I didn’t know where to start sharing God with that little boy because God and I hadn’t been on good terms for quite a while. So we started small. I found some bible songs on Youtube and we had a jam session. Hearing my 1 ½-year-old godson sing “Jesus Loves Me” melted my heart. I didn’t realize it then, but I think that is when my heart started to soften a little in my relationship with God. I didn’t know that teaching my godson about how Jesus loves him would kick off a year of rediscovering my faith and healing some deep wounds.

Now I look forward to Sunday morning Facetime calls, singing together in the worship service, and talking about what he learned in Sunday school. Even when I don’t feel like going, it’s easier to just go than it is to explain why to a 2-year-old. This little boy has taught me so much more than I have taught him. He taught me that having a relationship with God is as simple as knowing Jesus loves me. He showed me that I would rather strive for faith like a child than the size of a mustard seed. Watching the world through his eyes simplifies the most complex ideas into simple concepts of love, acceptance, and faith.

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Being a godmother has truly been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I love that little boy more than I can possibly say. The fact that he has me wrapped around his little finger helped me get back into church and pursuing God. I am so very thankful for him and honored to be his “Sissy.”

All That Really Matters

“God isn’t the event. God is in how we respond to the event.”

That quote jumped out at me this week from an unlikely source, a TV show. I was simply trying to drown out the world and numb my mind to the craziness happening this week. It wasn’t a show about God, but there in a random storyline came a message I needed to hear.

I have been struggling with how to react to the things happening in the world right now. I have been struggling with how those things are being discussed on Facebook and social media. There is so much hatred, division, and cruelty being spewed everywhere that I just wanted to shut it all out. Which is what led me to binge watch a show about midwife nuns in post WWII England, Call the Midwife. I didn’t want to see another post agreeing or disagreeing with the latest political moves. I didn’t want to see another meme passive aggressively making fun of a group of people. So I put my phone down, turned on the TV, and got an unexpected message.

That struggling to understand what is going on in the world has also left me with a bit of writer’s block for a blog post. I normally think about it all week and sit down to write on Saturdays. This week though I didn’t know what to say. I had a lot of questions for God this week that only seemed to go unanswered. I didn’t know what to write because I didn’t feel like He had given me any words this week. It’s now Sunday and the only thing I keep coming back to is that quote.

When something happens, good or bad, we are quick to claim it was an act of God. Leaders are elected, laws are passed, natural disasters happen, people die and many speak about how those things are God’s will. How often, though, do we stop to think that maybe God shows up more in how we react to an event than in the event itself? Is God the hurricane that destroys thousands of homes or is He in the volunteers that help rebuild the homes?

This idea easily translates to what is happening on social media right now, not in the issues, but in how people are treating each other. Is God the post someone makes voicing their opinion on an issue, or is He in the way people reply to that post. Furthermore, where is the devil in all of this? Are the things we are sharing, liking, and posting on social media bringing glory to God and sharing His love with others or are they only contributing to the division and hatred brewing online? Posting on these sites has become second nature to us, but are you taking time to think about what your post is saying about you and, more importantly, God?

I am not perfect in my beliefs or the way I convey them on social media, but I try to be very careful with what I do and say online. I rarely make political statements or declarations about my beliefs on certain issues. I do not engage in arguments in comment sections. This is partially because I know how easy it is to misinterpret meanings, but it is also because my beliefs are just that, mine. I don’t need you to agree with me to make my views on things valid. I also respect your beliefs and accept that we can disagree without a dispute or a need to declare one of our views as correct.

Social media is also, in my opinion, not a place to take action. I believe if I feel strongly enough about an issue then I need to take physical action toward it, instead of complaining about it on Facebook. Liking a charity’s page and sharing their status is great, but it doesn’t do much to help further their cause. I can share a meme about the dire state of our education system or I can roll up my sleeves and find a place to help fix it.

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I fear social media has provided us with the opportunity to say things in a public forum we would never say to someone face to face. It has allowed for some people to show their true colors, but it has also caused people to over exaggerate their feelings. It has allowed for such negativity and hatred to develop in a way we have never seen before. What I think so many of us don’t realize is how many people are watching us online and taking to heart the things that are being said.

We are called to rise about the world. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. I’m not saying social media is bad and too “of this world” to be enjoyed by those who seek to live a Godly life. I just think if we are striving to follow Jesus and share His love with others we should be thinking twice before hitting the post button.

I believe, when it comes down to it, all that really matters is whether or not you knew Jesus and showed Him to anyone. Today, however, there are more eyes on us than ever before. I want to make sure the things I do and say are allowing me to speak life for others and not help plant seeds of doubt in someone’s fragile faith. I don’t put on the label of christian lightly because I know it is one I can’t ever take off. When I go out to eat, when I sit in church on Sunday mornings, when I post on social media, I am wearing my christian label and representing God’s love. God is in my response to the things around me. Everything I do matters. It’s a big deal.

Would now be a bad time to ask you to like and share this post? If this post or any of my others spoke some life to you please take a second to share them with someone else.

My Confession

I am going to let you all in on a big secret. Are you ready? I tend to slightly obsess over celebrities, television shows, and movies. Alright, if you know me, at all, you know that isn’t much of a secret. You have heard me go on and on about my favorite celebs countless times or seen me share things about my favorite shows on social media. The real secret is, I use my obsessions over those things to avoid my feelings and the stuff going on around me. An even bigger secret is, I didn’t even realize that was what I was doing until a few months ago.

My realization moment came in July of last year when I hit peak obsession mode. At some point, I discovered a favorite TV show from my childhood was available on Amazon Prime. I didn’t have a show to watch so I decided to start it. Around the same time, I had a big fight with my brother. Fighting with my brother is not something new, but the nature of this one was bigger than before and caused a lot of unrest for me and my family. I was upset, hurt, disappointed, and distraught with the way things played out between us. I felt a lot of blame and guilt for the impact the fight had on our family. Instead of taking those feelings to God or talking them through with family members, I escaped into the world of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

I spent every free moment binge watching the six seasons of that show. I even stayed up all night a few times, claiming insomnia, but really just not wanting to turn the TV off. When I wasn’t watching the show, I was on IMDB.com learning all the show details and behind the scenes gossip. That lead to learning all about the star, Jane Seymour, which lead to a desire to watch every movie she has ever been in. Once I burned through every episode of the show, I spent countless hours on YouTube watching old interviews and footage from the set. I even spent many days reading fan fiction (judge me all you want) because I didn’t want the story to end. This is what I do when I obsess over something. I spent the better part of a couple of months learning all there was to know about this TV show from the 90s. I never tried to talk to my brother. I never talked to anyone about how the conflict with him was tearing me up inside. I never prayed about it. I just watched TV.

Looking back on my life, I can see a similar pattern of obsessions emerge throughout the years. Around the time my dad died, I Love Lucy became my first real delve into this obsessive process. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Lucy and Lucille Ball, but what 13-year-old needs to know who the original writers of the show were? When I was 15 years old my mom got remarried and I suddenly couldn’t get enough of old Hollywood musicals. Enter, the Judy Garland era. What 16-year-old has a CD case devoted to a singer who died 20 years before they were born? My high school years also saw a love affair with Gone With the Wind and movie musicals in general. College was all about Broadway musicals and Kristin Chenoweth. When my Grandpa died Law and Order: SVU came into the picture. When I was doing an internship many miles from home I was comforted by the southern charm of Designing Women. Every major moment in my life can pretty much be documented by what I chose to obsess over to avoid my feelings.

Do you see what is missing though? Do you see the one place I didn’t turn in times of heartache, grief, sadness, or turmoil? You’re right, I never turned to God. I never threw myself into studying the bible, going to church, or listening to christian music when I needed it most. I took comfort in the stories of other people. I escaped into worlds created by the movies. I fantasized what it would be like to walk in celebrities’ shoes. I never took my problems to the One who could actually help me deal with them.

When I was younger I relished going to church, singing christian songs, and learning about God. The biggest celebrities I knew where gospel singers. I looked to the teachers, preachers, and church elders as role models who I wanted to grow up to be like. I remember God and church being an important aspect of my everyday life. What I don’t remember, is exactly when all that changed. I don’t remember when I started to lose interest. I don’t remember when I started to look elsewhere for role models. I assume it all started around the time my mustard seed was busted and I began to lose my faith.

It’s been a little over a year since I had my turning point of questioning if I truly believed in God (see Busted Mustard Seed), but even then I didn’t turn directly back to Him. I didn’t even know where to start, so instead I turned once again to a TV show, Touched by an Angel. I followed my same pattern of binge watching every episode, but it almost seemed like every episode had a message I needed to hear. As usual, I researched everything about the show, but learning more about the stars lead me to all the work they do in the christian community. I feel silly saying God spoke to me through that old TV show, but I don’t really have a better way of putting it. At least I won’t say something cheesy like, I was truly touched by an angel.

When I slipped into my Dr. Quinn obsession last year, I could feel it happening. I knew what was about to happen and I tried not to give in completely. I told myself I would just watch the show and not look it up on the internet. Then I reasoned that I would only look at cast names but nothing more. I realized, for the first time, I was avoiding a real life situation by escaping into this world of make-believe. I also actively realized I was avoiding the subject with God, because I wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. I knew exactly what I was doing and it scared me a little. It scared me when I realized this is how I handled every tough situation in my life.

I want to sit here and write that because I see the error in my ways I will never do that again, but I know that would be a lie. I wish I could say I have turned that obsessive behavior toward working on my relationship with God, but that isn’t true either. I wish I knew everything there is to know about God like I know everything about the West Wing, but I don’t. I wish I would hungrily binge read my way through the bible like I tear through biographies of my favorite celebs, but I don’t. The only thing I can say is that I am trying. I’m trying to set aside time each day to spend in the word and talking to God. I’m trying to cut back on mindlessly watching TV and spend more time reading about Him.

I want to burn with the desire to know Him better, but sometimes it’s just a small flicker of interest. I get distracted, easily, by the things going on in the world around me. I want to spend hours watching praise and worship videos on YouTube, but sometimes I end up watching celebrity talk show interviews for hours instead. I can’t recite many scriptures off the top of my head, but I can sing every word to every song in Wicked. The good news is, for the first time in a very long time, I am trying to do better. I have lost some of my passion for the entertainment world and gained a renewed excitement for things that bring glory to God. I’m not saying that I am giving up the things I have held dear over the years (I write as I sit in a room covered in Broadway memorabilia) but I am going to let God take priority over them. I am going to stop using them as a distraction from my feelings and instead go to God with my problems. He is the one that can help find healing and answers. He is where I will find true joy and happiness. He is the ultimate celebrity. The one who truly deserves our praise and adoration.

 

Fear Feels Bigger

I don’t have an emotional revelation or witty anecdote for this post. I sat down to write after a long day and I realized I have nothing to say. I have a long list of topic ideas, but none of them feel right tonight. I normally sit down and a story seems to flow out of my finger tips. I got nothin’ tonight, but I made a commitment to post once a week and I am not one to give up on commitments easily.

I have been struggling with fears and decisions lately. I have been praying a lot about a couple of things the last two weeks. The good news is, I believe God has sent me some answers to those prayers. The bad news is, I don’t particularly like the answers He has given. I have tried to interpret those answers in a different way and make them fit into the plan I have for myself and pretend that is what God clearly meant. But It doesn’t work that way.

Maybe my lack of inspiration tonight comes from the fact that I have been resisting God this week. I have been resisting the things I think He wants me to do and I feel like that has put some distance in the relationship we have been working on. I want to follow where He leads, but right now, in this moment, I have let my fear of the unknown take control. Right now, as Finding Favor puts it, my fear feels bigger than my faith. So I leave you with the song that spoke to me and my fears this week. I pray that I can let go and truly learn to cast my cares on Him.

Angels Among Us

To quote Alabama, “Oh, I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hour to show us how to live, teach us how to give, and guide us with a light of love.”

I believe in angels. I don’t mean the celestial beings in white robes with glowing halos. I also don’t mean the ones from Touched by an Angel that go undercover to work God’s cases. I believe there are people who God empowers to be angels in our lives. He leads them to step in and help others when they need it. They help influence us to keep going the right direction and follow God’s plan. It’s like when someone says something you need to hear at the exact time you needed to hear it. Or when you are stressed about money and someone randomly pays for you meal.

Some angels are silent and affect your life in ways you may never see or realize. Other angels make such an impression in your life that you know they were sent from God. You never know who God will inspire to move in your life. The bible even tells us to be kind to everyone because we might be entertaining angels unaware. (Hebrews 13:2)

Angels are everywhere. They are the sixth grade teacher battling breast cancer who teaches you the true meaning of strength and endurance. They are the Sunday school teacher who always makes you feel loved. They are the mentor that makes a point to pray for you over every Chic-fil-A lunch date. They are the person who is always in your corner cheering you on even when you are doubting yourself. They are the mother who is always there to support you no matter how crazy your current scheme is. They are the long-lost friend who offers to pray for you when she has no idea you need it desperately. They are even the actors on an old TV show about angels telling stories that start to open your heart in ways it hasn’t been in a long time.

On the flip side, I supposed, there are also demons. They are in the people who tempt you to do wrong. They lead you to follow the ways of the world instead of God. They might even seem like angels at first, but following their lead can send you down a very different path steering you away from God’s plan for your life. I have followed my share of demons, but, oh, how there have been many angels to bring me back.

I challenge you to do yourself a favor this week by taking the time to tell someone who has been an angel in your life how important they are to you. Tell them a story of something they did that meant a lot to you or simply say thank you or just share this post with them. You will be blessed by how much those words of thanks will touch their heart. Trust me!

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