Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Chance At Life

Mike Tyson. Former heavyweight champion of the world. A legend in his own time. A hero to some, and a monster to many. He's either on one end of the spectrum or the other, but he's not in the center. He's not your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill, routine kind of guy. His fights in the boxing ring brought him great fame and fortune. His animal-like behavior outside the ring {well, inside too...I mean, there is the ear thing} brought him a ruined reputation and time behind bars. There's a long list of crimes and bad behavior we can attribute to him.

In October of 1998, he revealed a glimpse into his mind: I know I'm going to blow one day. . . . My life is doomed the way it is. I have no future. I feel bad about my outlook, how I feel about people and society, and that I'll never be part of society the way I should. (source: Fox Sports Community)

In that one quote was a cry for grace, love and acceptance. And isn't that the longing of all our hearts? Another chance at make right what's wrong.

Just a few days ago, Mike Tyson's Twitter feed read: People deserve more than 1 chance. Sometimes more than 2. Then, two days later: I love seeing people out there that take care of other people, selfless. They make me want to improve my life more as a family man & father.

What a drastic change from his mindset in 1998! And he's right!

We all want second chances, third chances, never-ending chances to be accepted and loved. To improve our lives. To be the parent, the lover, the child, the friend God created us to be. To know that our screw-ups have not ruined God's purposes for our lives. It seems as though Mike Tyson is taking hold of his second chances and making a go of it.

What do you think of his second chance?

This is part of the People of the Second Chance campaign, Never Beyond, that focuses on forgiveness, grace and second chances. There will be 25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Writing and Singing

I've been a stay-at-home mom for ten wonderful, painful, tedious, satisfying years. But now all three girls are in school, and my stay-at-home mom gig leaves me feeling less than satisfied during those long eight hours each day. While I'm helping out my husband with our business, answering phones and shuffling paperwork just doesn't fill the need I have to do something productive and satisfying. More and more I keep thinking I might look for work. But not just any work. I want to do something I love.

I love to sing and write. And not just sing and write about any old thing. My passion is singing and writing about how God loves me, how His love changes me, how He is hope. Yet I struggle with my abilities to sing and write. It's a lack of confidence, even though I know He equips the called. This is probably the biggest area where I take my eyes off Him, and focus on so many others who are so much better at singing and writing. And when I do that {which is more frequent than I like to admit}, I think about giving up.

I've said before when God wants me to understand something, He speaks to me over and over about it. I've been sensing this changing season, and this new thing He's doing in my life. He confirmed that to me through two different people using the same verse on the same day: Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19, NASB).

Then, if that wasn't enough, He confirmed to me that this new thing He's doing will be through singing and writing...those two things I love so much, yet scare me too. In addition to the verse, God spoke directly to me through my pastor as he was preaching about grace and work. He talked about how we should use the gifts and talents God has given us to work in jobs that we love. The he said, Don't quit writing and singing.

My head snapped up from my sermon notes. What was that, God? You really had him say that? Of all the job illustrations he could've used, you spoke those words through his mouth to me. I sat stunned, amazed and grateful. And confirmed.

I don't know what God's plan is or where He's going to lead me in these areas. But I recognize that I can't settle for less...for something that won't satisfy. And while I want Him to hurry up and show me, I know that sometimes the beauty is found in the waiting.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

POTSC - Casey Anthony

People of the Second Chance has begun a campaign, Never Beyond, that focuses on forgiveness, grace and second chances. There will be 25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society. The first poster is of Casey Anthony. Following are my thoughts on Casey Anthony's second chance:

I awaited his response to my confession. I was prepared for the worst. My body was tense, my emotions frayed in expectation of losing everything. Knees to the floor, I awaited my judgment and sentencing.

As much as I had prepared myself, I was completely shocked at what happened next.

I forgive you. It won't be easy, but we'll get through this.

I'd like to say I felt relief, but my first response was to question how. How could he ever forgive me? How could he still love me? How could he not want to make me pay for what I'd done?

It was in those moments of weeping on my bedroom floor that I began to understand the love and forgiveness of a good God demonstrated to me through human flesh that should've acted otherwise.

Five years later, I watched as Casey Anthony awaited the jury's verdict. I felt her tension, the way she braced herself for the worst. I recognized the defeat in her eyes.

Then as the verdict was delivered, I cried with her as she realized her second chance at life. I identfied with the breaking that hope sometimes brings.

Within minutes my Facebook news feed was hot with rage, angry members of society claiming justice had not been served. And all I could think was, I know how she feels.

Guilty or not, I don't know. But as I read the angry comments, I remembered my guilt and my second chance. I remembered grace changing my life. And I hoped that grace would change her life too. And while I read all the raging comments, I wished that I could look Casey Anthony in the eyes and tell her that nothing she ever did or ever could do could make God love her any more or less than He already does.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Words. They're not worth much
Everyone wants something they can touch

These many musings of mine
Much like opinions, not worth a dime

Yet in seeing them I find release
Even if they're mine to keep

These strings of words rattle around
Until I find a place to put them down

And if you wish to know the longings of my heart
Read the words which from my pen depart

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Thing

Seasons come and seasons go
But this new thing you're doing
Leaves me scared of what I don't know

You've taken me out of my comfortable place
And set me in the midst of the unclear
But in the waiting I sense Your grace

Today unlike yesterday and years gone by
This new thing is different and uncharted
Tomorrow I'll look back and understand why

In grace I'll leave behind the old
To embrace this new life You've created
Seasons come and seasons go

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Searching For Truth

Several months ago I felt a personal challenge to dig deeper into law and grace. I've spent most of my free time reading. I've been reading through the New Testament portions that describe Jesus' life. I've also been reading several different books on the subject, picking them up alternately.

When I set out to learn about law and grace, I had no idea the journey God would take me on. All I knew at the time was that my experience with God was different from anything I'd ever been taught, and I wanted to find out why. I started asking questions. A need to know permeated my being. And with each bit of information, the need intensified. More, God...tell me more.

When I asked God to reveal truth to me, I wasn't quite prepared for what He'd show me. He began to reveal to me the understanding of Scriptures that I'd long questioned because they seemed contradictory to one another. What I found was that most of what I believed was a mixture of law and grace, which skewed my understanding of Scripture.

The most amazing thing I've learned is when reading the Bible, read it in the context of two divisions:

Old Covenant
New Covenant

When I began to put Scripture into context of these divisions, the purposes of law and grace began to finally make sense to me. And freedom began to rush in. I finally began to grasp that God sees Jesus in me, and me in Him. He sees righteousness when He looks at me. All my sins (past, present and future) have been forgiven. God's love for me doesn't depend on my all! If it did, that would be mixing the Old Covenant with the New. But the Old Covenant was put to death on the cross. Living under the New Covenant allows me to live in freedom, glorifying God, instead of living in a sin management program.

This truth has completely changed me. I am a different person. My understanding of Scripture is radically different. My concept of God has been aligned with His Word. My opinions and beliefs have been shifted.
And, honestly, I've been a little afraid to talk about it because it's so radically different from what most Christians I know believe. I've felt that if I discussed my questions, people would label me as on the verge of heresy. Maybe they will. But for the person in bondage, searching for freedom, I hope to encourage you to dig deeper. Ask questions. Keep searching!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five Lies

In the following videos, Steve McVey addresses lies taught in churches every Sunday. If you want to go deeper into understanding grace, this is a great place to start. These videos are each approximately 2 minutes in length, and are well worth about ten minutes of your time!

Your Sins Alienate You From Your Heavenly Father

Repentance Brings God's Goodness Into Our Lives

God Will Bless Us Because We Keep His Commandments

We Need To Speak Out Against Sin

Grace And Truth Need To Be Kept In Balance

Monday, August 15, 2011


I have over 600 Facebook friends, very few of whom I see on a regular basis. Most of the people on my friend list are from some part of my past, from some place I once lived. Fragments of me are scattered from one side of the state of Alabama to the other.

Recently, my Facebook news feed has been covered with You know you're from (fill in the blank) if you've ever... If you spend any time at all on Facebook, you've probably seen it too. Friends from all across the state have been posting to those walls like crazy. I find them interesting to read because I remember so much of what they mention. Yet I haven't posted on a single town's wall. I don't post the things I remember because of one little word: from.

I don't have a hometown. I lived a lot of places, but I'm not from anywhere. Home has always been wherever I lived at the moment. I've lived in my current location for ten years, but I don't call it my hometown. It's not where I'm from. Yet, I don't have a place to go back to either.

I attended a funeral yesterday, and on the ride home, I wondered aloud to my husband, I don't know where I want to be buried when I die. Jokingly I said, Maybe I should be cremated and my ashes scattered across the state.

I lack a sense of belonging. And it's bothered me lately. Seeing all the Facebook posts and attending the funeral have frustrated that lack of being from somewhere and the emptiness I tend to feel because of it. God knows that frustration and need I have to belong somewhere. Anywhere. And during my run this morning, a song came on I'd never before heard. God showed me where I belong...where I'm from.

If you lack a sense of belonging, listen to this:

Monday, August 8, 2011


Jane married young, confident of the bright future ahead of her, but life hasn't turned out quite like she expected. She never expected to single mom of three at thirty. She never expected her ex-husband to be a dead-beat dad. She never expected life to be so hard.

Jane works diligently 40 hours per week at a decent-paying job, but it's just not enough to make ends meet, much less have money left over for extras. Paying the rent, utility bills, and childcare fees eats up her paycheck. Her small children don't get the pleasure of  summer vacations or even a night out at the movies. Her pillowcase is stained from the tears of worry that stream down her cheeks each night when she finally puts the day to rest.

School starts soon. Jane isn't worried about getting her children name-brand backpacks and shoes. She doubts she'll be able to afford backpacks and shoes at all. She can't even afford groceries and toiletries for her own family. She wonders how in the world she'll afford school supplies.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Little Piece Of the Blog World

This month marks a year since I began regularly blogging. It's taken a while, but after trial and error, I think I've figured out my little space in the big world of blogging.

I write because it's therapeutic for me. Writing about my experiences helps me figure out what it is God's teaching me and where He's leading me.

I write because I hope someone else can identify with the joys, struggles, and questions I experience. I usually learn things the hard way, and if one sentence out of a multitude of blog posts helps someone choose a different path than I have, it's worth every word. And if someone has chosen the hard way of doing things, then I hope the peace and joy I've found in God's grace helps to direct them to Him.

I write because this little space of mine is one of the very few places I can paint, splatter and repaint the words and thoughts that drift through my heart and mind. In a verbal situation, I often keep my thoughts/opinions/beliefs to myself. But here is where I find release.

Over the past year, I attempted to gain more followers through contests. Stats are apparently a big deal in blogland. But a couple of months ago, God showed me that He would bring the people who needed to identify with my experiences. No contests needed. I gave up the approval of followers.

I also attempted to write about set topics on specific days...another biggie in the blog world. That didn't work out too well for me. I would sit for hours, staring at a blank New Post screen, beckoning words to enter my brain, only to walk away frustrated. I've learned to sit and write when God gives me the ability.

All in all, my little piece of the blog world has been a blessing to me. I've met people I would've never otherwise met. I've learned that sometimes I have to dig deep to discover what it is I believe. And, probably, most importantly, I've realized that people just want the freedom to be real with one another and to be loved just simply because they are strings attached.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

From Homeschool To Public School

After homeschooling last year, my three girls will rise and shine {okay, well, rise...I don't know about shine} very early on Thursday and head back to public school. I'm nervous, and yet, excited. The girls are very excited. They can't wait to be with their friends every day.

My wise friend Ashley, who I quote often, says, Our job as parents is to teach our children to love God and others, and to teach them to grow up to live indepently in the world.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to homeschool last year. But it was a strong leading, so we did it. I can't say I kept the girls from any harm in public school. Or that there was something we did while homeschooling that made a huge impact on them. But, I do know this: I now know my children better...their personalities, their learning strengths and weaknesses. And because of that, I'm prepared to send them into the world of public school, confident that we are all prepared for whatever this year holds.

I'm prepared to help with homework, to talk with teachers about my childrens' learning habits, to get help if we need it. I was never confident in these things before homeschooling. I'm also prepared for my children to hear conversations and words that I'd rather them not; to struggle through being, as well as finding, faithful friends; to see and experience things I might not choose for them. I'm ready, and they're ready, to participate in the public school experience. Before homeschooling, I was terrified of what each day of public school might hold. Now I'm confident that we can be an active part of "the world" without feeling the desire to shelter them.

I think I've taught my children to work out problems on their own: schoolwork-related, as well as relationships. I endured many days last year of hearing, But I can't do this by myself. I need you to help me. But by insisting that they keep trying, they learned how to think for themselves {at least a little bit more than they had been}. I also endured many long days of hearing, She's bothering me. Make her quit. But by insisting that they learn how to work out their differences, after a while, they actually enjoyed each other for extended periods of time. The girls know they can come to me and ask for help about anything, but they also know I'm not going to make a big deal over or fix petty relationship annoyances. {Of course, if someone were intentionally being harmful to them, I'd jump right in!} But I think that's part of teaching them to be independent: sometimes there are things you have to do, and people you have to deal with that you just aren't going to particularly like.

Most importantly, I think we've all learned a little more about loving God and others. They got the chance to be active participants in helping others in ways that otherwise they'd never have had the opportunity. They handed out food to those in need, they entertained precious little children whose parents were getting help, they organized items at a ministry house, they spent time seeing other sweet volunteers serve out of love. And I hope they learned that all of it meant nothing if done without love.

Yes, I'm so thankful they had the opportunity to homeschool last year. And I'm so thankful they have the opportunity to go to public school this year, where hopefully, they can take what they learned last year, and influence other students' lives.

There's just one thing I'm not quite sure we're ready for: the alarm clock!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


My husband and I like to watch reality shows in which people tell their stories of surviving tragedies. We've watched some crazy stories, like the couple who was on a date in the mountains and got separated from their tour group. They spent days lost in the mountains with no food, shelter or warmth. I'm always amazed at the choices people made to get themselves into the situations, not realizing their very lives were about to be challenged. I often tell my husband during these shows, If we were to be in that situation, you need to go ahead and know that I am not going to survive. I WILL die.

You see, I've never been one to fight for myself. I often do things I don't want or have time to do just so I won't make someone upset or angry. I often allow people to say things to me that I shouldn't allow. My friend often reminds me, Don't be a doormat.

Probably for the first time while watching one of those shows the other night, I told my husband, I would've gotten out of that situation! I would've done whatever it took. You see, a man had abducted a woman and her two small children in her own car. He kept them for several hours, repeatedly abusing the mother. She and her children made it out alive. I would have too...because the are two things I will fight for {albeit sometimes not very well}: my husband and my children.

I've learned over the past few years that family is worth fighting for, even when we're the very ones who make the choices that put us in situations where we'd rather give up. Family is worth spending countless, difficult hours in counseling to get to the root of a problem. Family is worth saying no to all the busyness. Family is worth carving out time to just be together. Family is worth the effort of fighting all the outside influences that would tear it apart.

I will do whatever it takes for my little family to survive and to thrive. What about you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just A Thought

We make judgments based on our limited knowledge of a person or situation.

More often than not, we don't have all the facts to make a correct judgment.

God knows all the facts...every detail...and still He forgives and restores.

What about us {those who seldom know all the facts}? Are we willing to forgive and restore? Or does our judgment cause us to pronounce a sentence of Get your act together, and keep it together for as long as I deem necessary, then maybe I'll forgive and restore you?

{I might be limping toes are kinda sore now.}

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Scratched the surface
Headed into the deep
Finding some answers
What is sown is reaped

Not so much doubt
More a working process
This finding out
Faith in progress

Working out salvation
Costly for sure
Priceless in the end
What is refined is pure