Domestic Violence Part 2: What You Can Do

Domestic Violence Part 2: What You Can Do

You realize what he's doing is wrong. 

You know this happens to other women.

You acknowledge that it's getting worse, not better.

So what are you going to do about it?

stand there while he pushes you or threatens to hit you again

believe the lies he speaks over you

allow him to defile your body, your mind, your spirit

No way. Not today. Not ever again. 

You see, my beautiful friend, there are some conditions you need to understand and accept about your situation.

Read More

Divine Appointments- How God uses interruptions to change our lives

Divine Appointments- How God uses interruptions to change our lives

What if interruptions in our lives are divine appointments rather than devilish schemes? 

Originally, I wasn’t planning to go on the cruise.

Friends were all going to celebrate accomplishments in their business, but I felt like I needed to spend time at home getting my ducks in a row.  About two weeks before the cruise, two women had to cancel, which left two non-refundable spots available. 

It’s a sign!  

A friend and I decided to jump onboard (pun intended) and got tickets to Florida to set sail with the rest of our friends.  

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

My preference would have been to fly down the day before, since flight delays could mean missing the cruise’s departure; however, the cheapest tickets available put us in town with JUST enough time to set sail!  Two flights, checked baggage arrival, and the shuttle ride to the ship had to coordinate smoothly to make this happen.  My mom was busy at home praying that everything would be on schedule and that I would make the call time.

Read More

Domestic Violence: You Aren't Alone

Domestic Violence: You Aren't Alone

What is black and blue and red all over? 

No. It's not the local tabloid. It's domestic violence, and it's happening in a home near you.

Maybe it's your home.

If it is, you're not alone.

And it's not your fault.

No matter what he says or how he makes you feel. It's not your fault.

Perhaps you're questioning if this is happening to you now.

As you ponder the words domestic violence, you think of those NBC Dateline segments and conclude your boyfriend isn't that bad. You think of Jennifer Lopez in Enough and decide your husband isn't that dangerous.

But is he?

 

Read More

Can Heartbreak Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

Can Heartbreak  Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

If you had to choose a silver-screen love story, which would be your favorite?

·       the fiercely assertive Scarlet and Rhett in Gone with the Wind

·       the adventures of summer vacation with Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

·       Dorothy and Jerry with their “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” from Jerry Maguire

·       the passionately committed Noah and Allie in The Notebook

If you’re like me, you grew up admiring these great loves and fantasized about your own, convinced you’d find the one, have a fairy tale wedding, and live happily ever after. Just like in the movies. Right? Of course!

Well, if you’re like me, you know it didn’t quite go that way. You probably chose poorly between an Ashley and a Rhett. You realized your summer fling should have been just that—a summer romance, not a life-time commitment. And those one-liners were momentary promises never meant to be kept.   

I fell in love for the first time at 14. No I didn’t. I had my first crush at 14. He was the hottest thing in junior high, and I was stoked to call him my boyfriend. His name was Raymond. Our young love lasted through the spring of our freshman year then he moved. Boy, was I heartbroken. Not really. I found a new crush my sophomore year.

Read More

How to Feel Comfortable While Shopping For A New Church

How to Feel Comfortable While Shopping For A New Church

Have you ever been “church shopping?”

Chances are if you have moved and tried looking for a new church, you have gone shopping for a church. For many, finding a new church home becomes a daunting and intimidating journey.

You would think that as an Army brat, growing up moving every two years and always meeting new people, I would be the best greeter at my church.  If you have checked out the Tribe’s bio page, Abby even titled me as “connector,” yet one area I feel I fail at time and time again is greeting and introducing myself to new people at our church.

After moving to Virginia, I started attending church with my husband where his family have been members for over 70 years.  I enjoyed the pastor’s sermons and made myself at home.  It felt like a good fit and one that didn’t take much effort.  I am forever grateful for this since I sort of “married into it,” which was definitely divine intervention!

For a girl who didn’t grow up around family, it was exciting to feel I like I knew everyone at our church.  Of course, I really didn’t know everyone, but it felt like I did and that allowed me to coast through the next 6 years without having to introduce myself to too many people.  As the years went on, I eased into my new role of being a “long time member” and started assuming I either knew everyone or they knew me, or at least we recognized each other enough to give a warm smile!

Read More

8 Must Read Books for the Christmas Season

8 Must Read Books for the Christmas Season

t's here!  It's finally, actually, truly here.  The most wonderful time of the year.  Yes, friends, December, with all its festivities, is upon us.  The decorations, the lights, the parties, the songs, the gifts, the candle light services.  All the wonderful happenings of Christmas start NOW.

I have loved this season down to the very tips of my toes for as long as I can remember.  Even before I became a Christian in my twenties I carried a deep affection for this time of year.  I remember how, as a young girl, I would just sit and endlessly stare at the lit tree my mother decorated each year.  Although I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, there seemed to be something truly magical about the season of Christmas. 

 Now that I know and love the One of whom this holiday speaks, this long-held affection for the Christmas season goes far beyond the sentimentality and nostalgia I once knew, and points my soul to the most significant truths of my life.  That in His very great love for us, God came down and made Himself known to us.  Yes, the very One to whom all creation bows wrapped Himself in flesh and bone in pursuit of fallen humanity.  In this way, Christmas serves as the apex of the greatest love story this world will ever know.

Read More

How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

Your way. How’s that working for you?

Has your situation changed?

You’ve tried everything, right?

  • Spilled your guts on Facebook, looking for sympathy, a like, or a thumbs up.
  • Marched into Books-A-Million and purchased the latest number-one selling self-help book.
  •  Drank yourself into a stupor to escape your current reality.
  •  Popped a pill or two just to feel momentary happiness or relief from the crazy.
  •  Hid in your house and slept on the couch to avoid the day.
  •  Resorted to casual sexual encounters, mistaking them for love or validation.
  •  Rejected those closest to you, convinced they wouldn’t understand. 
  • Decided to be part of the crowd so you’d belong.

Didn’t work, did it?

I know. It’s okay. None of these worked for me either.

For years I stumbled through life doing things my way. I made lists. I checked the calendar. I talked it out. I rationalized. I theorized. I read books. I weighed options. I considered pros and cons. I basically relied on me. I’m smart. Surely I’m capable.

While I in no way discredit the value of these actions, I readily admit there was one thing missing.

Read More

The Battle of Negative Self-Talk: how I wore my swimsuit in public and enjoyed it

The Battle of Negative Self-Talk: how I wore my swimsuit in public and enjoyed it

Summer is almost over.

Can you believe it? 

How many of you read the blog posts in the beginning of the summer about embracing your body, putting your swimsuit on, and enjoying life (like this one)? 

Like many of my friends, I read those and thought “YES. THIS.”   I truly appreciate these women encouraging other women to put on our swimsuits and not let our insecurities get in the way of living life!  I know it helped remind me that making memories and getting in the picture matters more than how I look!

So, if that was you too, how is it going for you? 

If you are anything like me, you WANT to embrace your body and set a good example for your kids, regardless of what shape you are in, but the Struggle. Is. Real. 

Does reading an encouraging blog post result in discarding those old negative tapes playing in your head so that you are now suddenly feeling confident to DO all of those things without insecurities stopping you?  For some of you, yes, and that rocks!  A simple mind shift and you are ready to roll.  

Read More

When the Doctor Says Down Syndrome

When the Doctor Says Down Syndrome

About 8 years ago my husband and I were in Walmart, and we passed a young couple with the cutest little girl in their cart. Her blonde pigtails bobbed as she looked up at me with her blue, almond shaped eyes. I could tell as soon as she looked at me that she had Down syndrome. 

The first thoughts that went through my head were, “Oh my goodness, she is so cute,” and then my mind went to, “I hope we don’t ever have a kid with Down syndrome."

My son, Jackson, was born probably 2 years after I saw that little girl. 

He was 3 months old when we found out he had Down syndrome, and it changed our world. (You can read a little bit more about that here.) 

I don’t think I would be making assumptions if I said that people have probably had the same thoughts I had 8 years ago when they see us with Jackson. 

I've seen people look at us with pity. 

I’ve seen people look at us as the wheels were turning in their heads, probably trying to figure out what I did wrong while I was pregnant that we had a child born with special needs. Wondering what sins we committed to be given a disabled child. 

I am sure that people asked themselves something similar to what Jesus’ disciples asked him, "who sinned, this child or his parents, that he was born with Down syndrome?”

Read More

How to Resist Temptation

How to Resist Temptation

Temptation: The Beautiful Fraud

When I was young and heard stories of the devil, I saw him as depicted in all the childhood books. He was hideously ugly and donned a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. 

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the devil comes in the prettiest packages that appeal to all of our earthly desires.

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? 

I have. And it was captivating. The moment was unexpected, unforgettable. He took my hand and pulled me in. Our bodies kept time with the music—swaying, turning, spinning. The room lit just enough to follow with my eyes the structure of his face and the contour of his frame. The smell of sweet seduction surrounded us.  His whispers enticing me, appealing to every sensation. Promises of gratification and fulfillment, alluring and blinding.  We danced. I thought the song would never end.  

Do you know this man I speak of? Have you met him?  Maybe you are with him now.

Read More

Why Does God Allow Pain?

Why Does God Allow Pain?

"But the day of my trial would come,
Like an earthquake to my beliefs.
And the doubts I could not outrun,
Brought me to my knees.

And I thought I was done,
And I almost gave up.
When my whole world was crashing down.
Now I can't shake this truth,
After all I've been through somehow,
Lord, I believe in You more now"
- More Now, Carrollton

We have all been through something that has made us feel that way. We have all experienced something in life that has shaken our faith completely and made us fall to our knees asking why. 

When I was probably 4 months pregnant, I remember standing in the shower and being overwhelmed with the need to pray for my son to not have Down syndrome. It just hit me out of the blue. “God, please. Please don’t let this baby have Down syndrome.” 

Then I remember I felt like that sounded pretty rude, so I quickly followed it up with, “Not that there’s anything wrong with people who have Down syndrome, they’re wonderful people, but just….please don’t let my baby have Down syndrome.” I didn’t pray for my baby to not have Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, or any other kind of genetic disorder. Down syndrome was the only thing that even crossed my mind. I’m a worrier, so I just brushed it off as me dwelling and tried to go along my merry way.

Read More

Healing & Restoration: How Jennie Got Her Jesus Cape

Healing & Restoration: How Jennie Got Her Jesus Cape

You may be familiar with Stella and how she got her groove back. It’s the story of a successful black woman in her forties who finds love in the islands after a friend encourages her to “get back out there, date, have some fun.” Stella sets her sights on a younger man then soon realizes the need for balance between love, companionship, and responsibility in life.

While Stella found her groove in a guy, I found mine in Jesus. This is a story of healing and restoration, of how Jennie got her Jesus cape.   

In 2013 a tragedy devastated my left arm. The arm, as it was affectionately known, was completely useless. I could not move it, could not use it. I could see it there. I could feel its existence, but I could not do anything with it. My left hand was rendered useless as well. I could not move a single finger, make a fist, grip, or pinch. It was like the power to my left arm had been shut off. I wondered if maybe it would be paralyzed, be lifeless forever. 

Read More

Lessons I Learned From My Parents: Later I learned they were biblical

Lessons I Learned From My Parents: Later I learned they were biblical

When I think of my parents, a few select memories always come to mind.

My earliest memory is of living in a trailer in Leesville, going to a beach, and being surrounded by my parents’ long-haired hippy friends and rock music. I recall my dad’s green truck, our tiny dog Georgie, and honeybuns. The honeybun was always the half my dad saved for me while he was at work. 

I remember in elementary school wishing so badly that my mom would be a room-mom, one of those ladies who spent their free time organizing and coordinating class activities. How cool it would have been to see my mom at school!

I remember in junior high my mom driving my friends and me all over town—to the mall, to slumber parties, to school events, to church, and to an Expose concert. Even though my mom drove us everywhere, we surely couldn’t be seen with my mom, so she always walked behind us. I still feel awful about this, but come on, I was 13!  

I remember in high school fighting with my dad about curfew, not understanding why at 15 I had to be home at 11:00. Surely he knew all the fun happened later than that; what if I missed something?   

 As a child I thought my parents were the best. As a teenager I thought they were ridiculous. Now as an adult I’m pretty sure my parents are genius, right up there with Einstein!

I have lived 43 years in the presence of my parents and realize they have become a reminder of how I am to live my life since accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. So much of what they have taught and modeled is rooted in the word of God. They may not even realize this. 

These are lessons learned from my parents that later proved biblical:

Read More

For Grievers Stuck in Their Grief: Do You Want to Be Healed?

For Grievers Stuck in Their Grief: Do You Want to Be Healed?

Disclaimer: If you are in the early stages of grief, click away from this post. This post is for people who have been grieving for a long time and are stuck in their grief. 

Are you stuck?

Stuck in the pit? 

The pit of grief?

Oh fellow griever, it’s time. It’s time to move forward. Notice I didn’t say move on…. that’s not what we’re working toward here. We’re working toward forward movement. I want you to know joy again.

Read John 5: 1-9

This passage of scripture spoke to me like none other in my grief journey. God pulled the scales off my eyes as I was reading, and I thought, “THIS. This explains my responsibility in my becoming healed.

When we begin reading, we see that Jesus was back in Jerusalem and at the pool of Bethesda. We also learn that there were a lot of sick people by the pool. According to different studies, it was believed that an angel would stir (or trouble) the waters, and only the first person into the pool was healed.

At the time of the man’s encounter with Jesus, he had been lame for 38 years. That’s a long time, my friends. Now comes the interesting part. Let’s look at what Jesus says to him in verse 6:

Read More

The Truth about Grief: What I wish I had known when I started my grief journey

The Truth about Grief: What I wish I had known when I started my grief journey

I wouldn't wish the pain of grief on my worst enemy. It's brutal. It's exhausting. 

When I was standing on the side of the road and the officer told me, "There are no survivors," I thought that included me. How could I bury my husband, 5 1/2 year old daughter, and 2 1/2 week old son, and still live? 

Over the past nine years, I've walked the hard road. I've learned about myself, about others, and most importantly, about God. 

I hate that my relationship with the Lord grew from tragedy, but I wouldn't trade the intimacy I have with Him now. I've made more mistakes than I can count, and He continued to patiently love me back home. His love bore my rebellion. His love bore my mistakes. His love bore my sin. 

Some people are surprised that I still have faith in God after such a tragedy. My faith has grown exponentially. You see, when you know Him, and not just of or about Him, you know His goodness. You feel His presence during your worst times and your best times. 

I don't know how anyone moves forward without Him. Without Him, I would never be where I am today. Yes, I still have hard days, but I also know joy and peace that pass all human ability. 

Right after the wreck I frantically searched online to try and find others hurting as much as me. I desperately needed to know what to expect and that I wasn't alone. Though I found a few articles, they felt clinical and sterile. I needed someone to shoot straight with me. That's the purpose of my writing. It's raw and real and far from eloquent, but these are the things I wished someone had told me at the beginning. 

Read More

Uncertainty, Doubt, Shame, Guilt, and Bestie Texties

Uncertainty, Doubt, Shame, Guilt, and Bestie Texties

Bestie Texties:  I wasn't sure if this was a commonly used term or one I made up….until I googled the term and saw that “textie” is now used to describe people you text all the time, like besties. (Thanks, Urban Dictionary.  I was worried you would give me an inappropriate definition, but you kept it clean, win!)  For me, it describes the text messages I send to my close friends.  I usually refer to them as my “if I were to actually do status updates on Facebook, this is what it would be…”

Ironically enough, I am not one for public sharing on social media or online (this is a blog post, I know, but God has a good sense of humor…).  On the other hand, get me around a group of friends, or even new acquaintances, and if the occasion calls for it, I will happily tell my embarrassing stories, even the ones that I told myself I would NEVER tell because everyone doesn’t need to know every detail of my life.  Have some decency, Samantha!!!  But it never fails. I get around a group of people and the TMI stories eventually come out.

Read More

On Ten Years of Marriage

On Ten Years of Marriage

Ten years ago this week, I married my quasi-high school sweetheart (there's a long story that goes with that title). We had a smallish wedding on a tight budget, but I was never the kind of girl to be too concerned about the number of guests or number of dollars I'd be allotted for my wedding.  

Honestly, I found all the planning and choices to be overwhelming and stressful. Invitations, flowers, bridal parties, wedding cake, grooms cake (we have to get two cakes?!), out of town guests, hotel reservations, photographer, videographer - it was all a bit too complicated for me. I wanted to be married without actually having to get married, but I had some sort of understanding that the wedding itself (and all the busy-ness that went along with it) was a necessary part of the experience.

Read More

The Miracle of Faith Itself

The Miracle of Faith Itself

I was nine months pregnant with our third son when I discovered the lump on Jacob’s sternum.  Jacob was 20 months old at the time, and he had held his mama’s heart in his chubby little hands since the moment he arrived. 

Our second born, he entered this world all beat up and bruised after what would be my most difficult labor.  I struggled and pushed and pleaded, but my body simply could not deliver him.  The doctor finally forced him out, tugging his little head with a device that looked better suited for medieval torture than modern labor.   As rudimentary as the method was, it did the trick.  Out he came, and another perfect baby was placed in my arms. Jacob’s strength gained as mine abated.  The loss of blood had been immense.  I passed out cold while gazing at my husband holding our newest son.  Several hours and one blood transfusion later, I was as good as new, and Jacob and I both survived to face even bigger battles together.

Read More

Parenting a Teenage Boy: AKA Surviving the Terrible Teens

Parenting a Teenage Boy: AKA Surviving the Terrible Teens

Fourteen is rough. So are fifteen and sixteen. Now that I think about it, thirteen should have been the clue--the clue that my son was changing. 

His dad had told me this would happen. "No, not Jacob," I thought. "He's so sweet. He's different." Well I was wrong. Jacob is not different. He is normal and just like most teenage boys I have encountered. 

Read More

Failure isn't Fatal

Failure isn't Fatal

I'd watched the Biggest Loser over the years but wasn't an avid fan. As I watched contestants sweat profusely, vomit, and pass out, I thought, "Man, that looks hard."

It is.

I thought maybe we'd ease into the workouts. I mean they had told us we were not just obese; we were MORBIDLY obese. Obese as we were, we were jumping into the deep end with the first workout.

Read More