Wednesday, August 27, 2008

From Hillbilly to Heiress

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

Psalms 16:5-6

It's so good to get back to writing! I've missed it these last few days. For those who don't know - I went to the Beth Moore Conference in San Antonio, TX last week. I am over loaded with information and could write for days, but I promise - I will not! However, I'm sure I will be referencing the conference in my posts for days to come:)

Before leaving for my trip I was pretty bummed. My ministry partner, Leigh had nearly broken both ankles on Monday and she was to drive to my house on Thursday and us fly out to San Antonio on Friday. But, that's a little hard to do when both of your feet are in boots! (you will have to go to her blog and see the pics she has of her feet - YIKES!) You see -- we just knew that God was going to tell us great and mighty things about ourselves and ministry as we worshiped and prayed together during the course of the weekend. Now, she wasn't coming.

So - thankfully, I had two other ladies on our ministry teams going to the same conference. I had talked to them by phone, e-mail, heard their messages on tape, etc.... but NEVER officially met them. Also, right before leaving - I recognized a name on a list of ladies attending a special event offered during the course of the conference. Ends up - it was a Mom I know from Nashville. So long story short here (this isn't my main message for today) ---- God worked out all the details. I left Nashville not really knowing a soul and came back with a slew of new friends!!

OK - now for the main thing ---- the point is, I was determined that I was going to hear from God this weekend. I mean I wanted the Alamo Dome to part wide open and have rays of sun light shining down on me with angels singing and my face glowing like Moses in the Old Testament!

Beth's message was right on. I took pages, upon pages of notes. And I can't wait to share what I've learned with all my "peeps" (Beth, Amanda, Melissa - I said that just for you - ha!). Seriously, I've already called several girlfriends back home and we have gone over note by note what was shared at the conference. It was GREAT stuff and Beth was very anointed and profound in her speaking.

But, for me - the Alamo Dome didn't open. The rays on sun didn't fall on me. And I was definitely not glowing. As a matter of fact - I was caught blocks away from the hotel when a rain storm hit and have never been so soaked in my life --- we are talking wringing your clothes out bone chilling soaked.

Nope. Instead, I heard the Lord say these words to me. "You are a Hillbilly Heiress." WHAT! Does the Lord even use the word Hillbilly in His vocabulary?! That is nuts --- I have no doubts that you are agreeing with me at this point. As strange as I thought it was - it kept coming back to me.

You see, Beth's theme was that "we" are an "Heiress of God." She had 8 points and they all started with "I am an Heir of God ........." and then another point would be stated. She laid the foundation for this on Friday night and then hit the ground running on Saturday with two sessions. Very early into the first session on Saturday, she talked about our past and how God's inheritance trumps anything else that we've inherited. This got me thinking .......

My family has no literal inheritance. I lived in a trailer park in Tennessee when I was young. I remember taking a bath in a tin tub in the front yard at my grandparents house --- they also had an out house! I remember at Russ' first Thanksgiving with my family, my relatives just busted out the instruments (including a canjo -- that is a literal can of food that has been turned into a musical instrument) and started sangin'. No,that is not a typo - they seriously talk that country. So --- they do not sing - they sang. At that time they were in a gospel "sangin' group". Russ also learned other vocabulary words he had never heard in his life that weekend!!! I come from a line of Lilly Mae's and Clementine's. Until this weekend I was aware of all of this about my family, but never realized one thing. Yes, it is true - I am a Hillbilly.

You see - in my talking with God during the weekend (in addition to begging Him to part the skies for me to receive "my Word") --- I asked Him for a title. A title for my blog or for my book that would be cute, catchy and draw ladies in so that they could learn about Him. He was so faithful this weekend. He didn't speak to me the way I wanted Him too, but He spoke to me in the way I needed Him to. Soft and gently - very casually during the course of my day.

When I got back and was sharing everything with Leigh about the conference, she said to me .... "You know, I've learned that conferences are great. But I don't need to go to a big conference to hear from God." AMEN! And I think that precious Beth Moore would agree with that. YES - God moved at her conference. AND, I'm confident that for someone there --- the Alamo Dome did part and the rays came down and the whole nine yards! But, not for me. And that's OK. God desires a personal relationship where we can talk daily - just not one powerful time. And a relationship where He can be a little funny and say words like Hillbilly!!

So, with ALL OF THIS long post being said ---- it looks like I'm on my way as being known as the Hillbilly Heiress from Tennessee. Sharing how God can take anyone and forgive their sins, give them worth and make them an Heir.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In The World But Not Of The World

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
I John 2:15

So, as a parent --- how in the world do you guide your kids in living in this world, but not loving the world??? They are surround by various media's making suggestions to them on how to dress, think and feel.

Now - I am NO EXPERT! For heaven's sake, my oldest is only 8! But, I really feel that this is where every family has to hash out with God what kind of boundaries to set for their children. The Bible gives us clear directions regarding right and wrong. However, how do we handle "gray" areas? Like TV for example. Is the "TV" sin? No, it's just an object. Is owning a TV sin? Is watching TV sin? It depends on how the TV is used. Are sinful things shown on TV? YES!!!!! So, for my family. We do not allow a TV in our kids rooms. Yes, would could use the parental controls and all that stuff which is great - but we just aren't even going to go that route. We watch TV shows as a family.

One show we watched for the first time last season was American Idol. My oldest, Savannah REALLY got into it! She loved the horrible singers and would latch on quickly to several favorites. We had a great time watching this together.

So, when tickets for the concert went on sale ---- I thought what a fun family trip! Well, the closest concert was about 3 hours away from here and luckily - it was on a weekend. I got some details worked out and purchased our tickets.

We didn't tell the girls until Friday and the concert was on Saturday. Friday morning we told Cassidy. Then, Russ went all out and made a scavenger hunt for Savannah with a little help from Cassidy. When Savannah came home from school it started with a trip to the mail box, then all around the house and yard and ended up finding her "surprise" in a treasure box. It was all very cute!

So - after lots of screaming and a little packing we were off to a concert. By doing that - does that mean that we love the world? Well, let me say this......

On Monday, it was Savannah's turn to take something to school to tell about "her". She didn't bring anything about American Idol --- you know what she packed? Her prayer journal. She did this all on her own, without any suggestions from me.

Yes, it's possible to raise children to live in the world, but LOVE the things of God.

Enjoy our concert pics!
Savannah holding up her last clue

Savannah, Cassidy and Savannah's BF, Makenzie, at the concert


Brooke White

Christy Cook, Cassidy's favorite -- singing one of Cassidy's favorites - "God Bless the USA"

Cassidy's personality doesn't show much excitement (God gave her portion to her sister!), but would wave to the "Idols" once in a while


David A.

Savannah seeing her personal favorite, David Cook, for the first time (my response was similar ------ it's OK - Russ is aware!)

David Cook!!!! We were about 20 rows from the stage and dead center:)

More David Cook

And more David Cook

And one happy family:)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Oppressed, The Orphan and The Widow

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."
Deuteronomy 10:18

When I was only 14 years old I went on a Mission Trip to New Orleans, LA. That one trip forever changed my life. I worked in a project area with kids who were afraid to go home. They talked freely about the gun fire and various family members who had been killed. During that week I met a 12 year old who was pregnant and I also held a "crack baby" in my arms. This baby was nearly 2 years old, but was still very much like an infant. I made two special friends, Jamal who was about 3 and then Devon who was 8. I have some great pictures of that trip. And still have some of the letters that Devon wrote to me after leaving. On our last day - so many of the kids we met were begging us to take them home. When I say begging - I'm talking about crying, screaming at the top of their lungs holding on to your leg kind of begging. Some of the kids kept trying to get on our bus and hide down in the seats or in the luggage area under the bus. I cried from New Orleans, LA all the way home to Cleveland, TN. To this day, I still tear up thinking about all I experienced.

After that experience, I've taken many mission trips and continued working with kids in project areas up until I was pregnant with my first child. My heart has always been tender to children, especially those who are born in poverty areas and without much hope. Believe me - Russ does not want me to take any more Mission Trips for fear of us needing to purchase a second mini-van to hold all the kids I would likely bring home!!

During the last few years, I have been connected with many people who have adopted. Their stories vary, but almost always come back to these statements: 1) We are all orphans, by His grace, Christ adopted us into His family. I felt His calling to extend that grace by adopting a child. 2) Christ says that we are to defend and feed the fatherless - He has called my family to live that out.

My heart is breaking today for two special friends. Both have other children, but were feeling called to adopt. Near the ending point - both adoptions have fallen through. One from Russia. The other twins from Liberia. You can read about Lori's story regarding her twins at her blog

I can not image the devastation. Just recently, I've wanted to work with Compassion International and "adopt a child" where you pay X amount a month to help feed them and get them items they need. It was so hard to look at all those children and pick one. But one stood out above all others. As I continued to pray - I went back a few days later excited to her adopt her. Her picture was gone. Had someone else adopted her? Had something terrible happened to her??? I couldn't believe it! That was my child --- who in the world took her and what happened??? As I've continued to review the sight - I'm again, overwhelmed by the great need of these children, but "my child" is not standing out this time. And every time I look, I say a prayer for little Doreen from Uganda and continue to sort over which child to pick now. But with so many children - does one really matter? Do you think that "one" matters to Christ? Yes, "one" does matter. And, I can't wait to help make a difference in the life of just "one".

I can no way compare my situation with what has happened to these other families. But in Lorie's story - she mentions how she truly felt God leading her to these twins. It was no mistake. So why did the adoption not work out? Little details like that will not be answered on this earth. All Lorie knows now is that she will forever be praying for two little twins in Liberia and she will continue the search for the child God wants to bring to their home.

We are not all called to literally adopt children into our families, just as we are not all called to have widow/widower move into our homes (like a parent or in law). But, as a Christian we are to do our part. I'm amazed at how many references in scripture talk about how "we" are to take care of the orphan and the widow. Ps. 10:14, Ps. 68:5, Ps. 146:9, Is. 1:17, Jer. 22:3 -- just as some examples.

My father in law passed away last November. Every time we got out to eat with my mother in law, my husband pays for her meal. It's not a huge thing, but it's one way that my family can "care for the widow".

So what are you doing about the scripture listed above to be a "defender"? Have you asked God what should be your role in caring for the oppressed, the orphan and the widow? If you ask - I have no doubts that he will tell you. Then, let me know. I can't wait to hear from you!