My Blog

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When I was growing up, my most cherished memories include sitting around the table with my family after dinner, swapping stories about our day and reminiscing over favorite times. Sometimes we’d sit for an hour or more, not wanting our conversation to end (or to do the dishes!). That’s why I refer to my blog as the Kitchen Table. I’d like for you to pull up a chair and enjoy sharing stories around my virtual kitchen table. I hope you’ll browse through my latest blog posts and connect with me by leaving comments. My prayer for you is to be encouraged and inspired by the words I share here each week, without even having to help with the dishes. 🙂

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Location, Location, Location.

Posted by on Nov 13, 2015 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, change, commitment, courage, faith | 1 comment

Building on solid ground

My family moved several times during my elementary, junior and senior high school years. Being painfully shy, I loathed the idea of having to attend another unfamiliar school as the new girl. Recess and lunch, usually a kid’s favorite times of the school day, sent waves of anxiety over me. I usually sat by myself in the cafeteria hunched over my tray and spent lots of time alone on the playground. Finally, I’d make one friend before my parents would say they’d bought another house and I’d be changing schools again.

I hated it. I wanted to be one of the kids who had history there. I wanted to belong.

Compromising on location was the root of the problem. Mom wanted to live in the city. Daddy grew up on a farm and craved the country air.

Between the summer of my third and fourth-grade year, we moved from the suburbs to the country—nine miles from the closest grocery store. But Dad’s job as a truck driver left Mom home alone with three children to care for while he was away all week. After four years, she couldn’t take it any longer.

So we moved into a pretty house on a postage-stamp-sized lot smack-dab in the middle of downtown Greenville. After only a year, Daddy decided city life wasn’t for him.

At last, during my first semester as a freshman in high school, Mom and Dad found their forever home and settled us into a small house in the quaint little town of Fountain Inn, perfectly positioned between Greenville and our former home in the country.

My parents' forever home

My parents’ finally found their forever home

My parents still live in the house that finally brought contentment. Our family found a place to call home; a place where we’ve set down roots and have had the opportunity to make our own history.

I’ve lived in that same town for thirty-six years now. It’s where I belong.

Deciding where to put a dream house is the most important part of the design process. Putting so much effort into creating a great home only to realize later it was built in the wrong place can shatter any hopes we have for an abundant life.

It reminds me of the first rule of real estate in finding the right home—location, location, location. Even if a house has the perfect floor plan with a beautiful lot and everything you’ve ever wished for, if it’s not in a desirable place, you’ll never find contentment, like my parents.

Finding the right location

When we begin choosing our home site, we must look at several different factors: location, stability of the ground, neighborhood, positioning the house toward the best views and choosing the rooms we want to enjoy seeing the sun rise and set.

A wise woman must consider the same things in order to give her home a kingdom address.

We cannot build strong homes unless they’re perfectly positioned under the cross of Jesus. Our residence may be the loveliest in the county, but if it’s not standing on the solid ground of Christ’s salvation, it will sink under the weight of worldly expectations. Ultimately, there will be no joy and no peace—only emptiness and longing. Building on Christ brings us confidence to know the ground will not wash out from under us.

For over twenty years I wasn’t sure if the ground I was building my life on was solid or shifting.

I lived without the assurance of heaven until I was almost thirty. Deciding I couldn’t live in the unknown any longer, at the close of a Sunday morning service I gave up my pride and exchanged my doubt for Jesus’ blessed assurance. From that day forward, I’ve never questioned my salvation. God continues to reveal Himself to me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, undergirding my faith and showing me the importance of making Him the foundation of my life.

Unfortunately, many women sit in church pews each week not knowing if their faith is real. There’s an uncomfortable squirming because they cannot unequivocally say they’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. Satan uses these doubts to bind and cripple us, making us useless in our homes and spheres of influence.

Building grace-filled homes anchored to the steady ground of faith takes courage and commitment. But it’s more than worth the end result of beautiful godly homes that reflect the love of Christ. Ultimately, this is the location we must build on. It’s the only place we’ll experience contentment. The only place we can ever truly belong—and find our forever home.

Building godly homes

Ask yourself:

 – Have I asked Jesus to take control of my life?
–  Am I being changed to become more Christ-like?
– Have I found the place I belong in Christ?
– Do I know I have a forever home prepared for me in heaven with Jesus?

 

If there’s any doubt you’ve been delivered and forgiven of your sins and believed Him to be the only way to receive eternal life, then you must determine where you stand with Jesus.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

Confess your sins to God, tell Him you believe He is the only way, the truth, and the life, and accept His gift of grace and forgiveness. When you pray this with sincerity, God will honor it and give you that assurance.

Without this certainty, you can only limp along, unable to tap into Christ’s unimaginable power. You can never know true peace.

If you already have confidence of your salvation, ask God if you’re allowing Him to transform you into a reflection of Him. Pray God will reveal one area of your life that hinders your home from being a blessing to your family and others.

 

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Where Do I Start?

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, faith, family, love and marriage, motherhood, Uncategorized | 4 comments

proverbs 14:1, wise woman, blueprints

 

I’ve always had a passion for houses. From cozy little cottages to grandiose estates, houses have intrigued and inspired me. As a nine-year-old I remember trying to put the puzzle pieces of a home’s floor plan together in my head.

“Why does that wall jut out in that particular spot? What’s behind there?” I’d ask my young self.

Spaces, details, and the design behind the beauty piqued my interest. I was always trying to take it all in, wondering how I could apply it to my own designs.

When I was in middle school I remember my parents taking our family to Charleston, South Carolina. I was awestruck. The charm and beauty of a city filled to the brim with history, my second love, overwhelmed me. Typical single homes featured sweeping side porches, or piazzas, looking into tall windows adorned with detailed trim and flanked by hinged shutters. Visions of antebellum women behind the porch’s false front door privately enjoying afternoon tea captivated my imagination.

charleston homes, wise woman

My love of architecture deepened.

In high school I’d lie in bed at night excitedly piecing together my future dream home. I envisioned a traditional design accentuated by a wide front porch, complete with swing, and long windows looking into beautiful, welcoming rooms.

Eventually I graduated with an associate’s degree in architectural engineering and have enjoyed drawing and designing house plans for over thirty years.

Fifteen years ago my husband and I built our dream home. Here is where you’d expect me to say, “They lived happily ever after.” And we have, mostly. But once we moved in and I realized we finally had what we’d been saving for, it seemed almost… empty. Sure, I loved our home and its design. Loved the land we built on, my husband’s family farm. But my home did not complete me.

Because that’s how God designed it to be.

I enjoyed decorating and filling our new house with beloved family pieces and photos of special memories. But, in order to make our new house a true dream home for our family, I needed to understand that “through knowledge [a house’s] rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures,” (Proverbs 24:4). The Bible’s not necessarily talking about precious family jewels here. It’s describing kingdom homes—homes that honor God.

swing, welcoming

Over the last few years I’ve become intrigued by wise women of the Bible—especially those who are in the business of building up homes. These scripture passages, along with a Bible study I’m currently leading and discipleship classes I’ve been attending, have brought into focus some traits of wise women and how to apply them to our spiritual and home life.

It’s easy to say we must be wise, not foolish, in order to build a strong and godly home, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to apply biblical solutions to practical, everyday situations. A wise woman wants her home to be a place that’s welcoming to all, full of love and understanding. A place where she encourages others through her words and actions. A place she enjoys her family and they enjoy her. These are the traits of kingdom homes.

welcome, wise women

So, where do we start?

It must begin with us.

“But as for you, teach the things which are in agreement with sound doctrine [which produces men and women of good character whose lifestyle identifies them as true Christians]…
Older women…are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of the home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” ~ Titus 2:1, 3-5 (AMP)

The Bible clearly points out the quality materials we must use in order to build godly homes.

*   Build our lives on sound doctrine (teaching).
*   Be reverent (respectful of others) in our behavior.
*   Don’t be malicious gossips.
*   Don’t be addicted to alcohol.
*   Tenderly love our husbands and children.
*   Be sensible and pure.
*   Make our homes places that honor God.
*   Be good-natured.
*   Be subject to our husbands. (Don’t worry, ladies, this isn’t about being a doormat.)

After reading this list one overall question stands out in my mind: When others think of me, aside from what I do for a living, what will they think of? How will I be remembered, especially by my family members?

I hope others would identify me as a true Christian, as stated in the verses above. I’m almost afraid to ask. But, as I ponder these attributes I realize I definitely have a few things to work on.

We should also note that Titus 2 addresses the traits of older as well as younger women. None of us is off the hook. And just because we’re older doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wiser. These are things we all must be intentional about prioritizing in our lives.

Building godly homes

 In order to prevent us from becoming the foolish woman who tears her house down, we need to ask ourselves these questions:

• Does my lifestyle identify me as a true Christian?
• When I read the list above, am I convicted about a particular attribute?
• Does my family consider our home a place that welcomes them and makes them feel loved?

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Blog, Blueprints, change, commitment, inspiration, love and marriage, love for children, perseverance, Satan | 14 comments

homes, hope, story, change
I have a burden. Until recently I didn’t know how to address it. But God has mercifully opened my eyes and my heart to His purpose in my writing ministry.
For several years I’ve noticed a surge in women tearing down their homes and the fallout is great.

The shell-shocked spouses and children left behind are just trying to stop the bleeding—learning to adjust to a new normal while struggling to rebuild their lives from leftover pieces.

Painfully witnessing battles that leave no winners, only wounds leaves us asking why. Why are we so  easily blinded by Satan’s lies, discarding Truth for what looks like a better answer?

Because it’s difficult keeping to the narrow path. Some days we feel it’s easier to just give up and give in rather than work so hard to maintain peace and order amidst the chaos. Being a good wife, mother and homemaker can drain your soul.

the narrow path

But we must keep pressing forward. We must ask God what His vision is for each of us and our families.

Where there is no vision, the people perish… (Prov. 29:18)

We gain motivation from our vision; motivation to push past the hurt feelings and the bickering and complaining. Motivation not to go back to bed when you’re drowning in laundry and dirty dishes and dirty diapers. God’s vision for our families is the inspiration that makes us get up every day and do the mundane tasks that reflect His love to the people we love most. It seems pointless and without purpose some days. But it’s not.

vision

Satan has a vision for us and our homes—complete and utter destruction. When we don’t ask God to give us a vision, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Why is he intent on destroying our families? Because he knows that the family, especially the God-fearing family, is the foundation for a healthy society.

John Quincy Adams once said, “From all that I had read of history and government of human life and manners, I had drawn this conclusion, that the manners of women were the most infallible barometer to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue of a nation.”

When we give up on the narrow road, our homes, as well as our society, begin to crumble.

God has a beautiful plan for us and our families. He wants us to succeed and be happy in our marriages. He wants our children to grow into strong people of faith and integrity. He wants our homes to be our dream homes, a place of respite and joy. And He’s given us a blueprint to do just that.

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As I’ve worked toward building up my home over the last thirty years, God has taught me much through His word. I’ve messed up more times than I care to count, but sometimes I listened and obeyed and got it right. Many times He used difficult situations to soften my heart and make it more pliable to His will instead of mine. It’s never easy, but it is necessary in order for us to become the strong and godly women He’s designed us to be.

My burden has now become a purpose. Through this blog, I’ll be sharing each week what I’ve learned about how we can design and build our own dream home using the Bible’s blueprint. A blueprint is a detailed plan we can follow so we’ll know what our homes are supposed to look like—a master plan to help us become successful wives and mothers. As much as we may hate to admit it ladies, for the most part we are the ones who create the atmosphere in our homes. Some days I hate to think what that means for my family.

But, as the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, we have the power to change our stories—and our homes.

wood teal punch list

At the end of each post I will include a punch list item. No, this doesn’t give you permission to punch family members. 🙂 A punch list is a builder term for a written list of items which need to be fixed, repaired or replaced prior to the final walk-thru in a home so it meets inspection requirements. My punch list will suggest practical assignments we can implement in our own homes. I pray this blueprint will encourage, teach and inspire each of us as we strive to ready our homes for God’s final walk-through.

Let’s do this together!

Could God Have Me Confused With Someone Else?

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Blog, courage, faith, inspiration, perseverance, serving God, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Photo by Morguefile

Photo by Morguefile

There’s a door out there with your name on it. Right now. It’s open.
What will you do? ~ All The Places To Go; How Will You Know? By John Ortberg

Do you ever just get tired? Tired of keeping all of the balls in the air? Tired of trying to keep going when all you want to do is lay down and take a nap? Tired of having to keep learning new things?

I do.

These last few weeks have put me to the test. Even though most of the events of this summer have been good, they’ve also caused me to question my calling.

Jacob's birthday/graduation party

Jacob’s birthday/graduation party

In June my daughter turned 22, my son graduated from high school on his 19th birthday, my mother and father-in-law celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary, I celebrated my 50th birthday, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a trip to Charleston, and my father-in-law celebrated his 81st birthday. Not to mention Father’s Day thrown into the mix!

Since we are a family who celebrates everything, can you say exhausted?

Photo by Morguefile

Photo by Morguefile

In the middle of all of the cake, ice cream and celebratory desserts, I’ve been trying to battle the sudden onset of my middle-age spread. Without success.

Can you say discouraged?

July came and I delved into the frustrating task of cajoling my son into preparing for his first semester at Greenville Tech. Let’s just say we weren’t on the best of terms that month.

While we were on vacation at the end of July, my eleven-year-old computer decided it was time to kick the bucket.

Great.

I frantically called our computer guy who came to the rescue with a new computer along with updated software. And things that took mere seconds to do before required hours of instruction manual reading, Google searches and pulling at my hair while screaming and begging God to infuse me with this new computer knowledge.

Yeah, that new technology really did speed things up for me.

Photo by Morguefile

Photo by Morguefile

In the middle of August, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law joined me in hosting a sit down dinner/couples shower for forty in honor of my soon-to-be wed nephew and his fiancé at our house. To many, this would seem to be the most difficult thing I had to do all summer. But it wasn’t. Choosing the perfect invitations, tying burlap ribbons to the dining room chandelier and adding finishing touches to all of the tables with chargers and lanterns recharged my soul. I loved being creative and discovering ways to make the special couple and their guests feel welcome in our home. I was in my sweet spot.

My Nephew, Brandon, and his fiancé, Casey

My Nephew, Brandon, and his fiancé, Casey

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That’s when I began to question my calling. Why did I enjoy party planning and decorating so much but loathed the idea of sitting down at my computer and writing my long-overdue blog post? Could God have me confused with someone else who loved to write?

Photo by Morguefile

Photo by Morguefile

Since I began this writing journey, I’ve heard stories of people who’ve always loved to write and dreamed of becoming a writer. That’s not me. I never, ever envisioned myself as a writer. Every time I sit down at the computer I question why God wants me to do this. Over the last few months my successes have been few and I’ve not been fruitful in my writing. The last two writers’ conferences I went to left me mostly deflated and discouraged.

So, why am I writing this blog post? Because I recently finished a book by John Ortberg titled All the Places to Go; How Will You Know? It’s been an inspiration to me as Ortberg explains how we need to walk through the open doors God provides without questioning every detail of why. Then I got to the chapter about Jonah.

all the places to go book

You know, I think most of us believe that if God calls us to do something for Him, we’re automatically going to love doing it. John Ortberg gives a different viewpoint.

Jonah doesn’t want to go and preach to the city of Ninevah as God calls him to. In fact, he buys a ticket for the first boat leaving town in the opposite direction. But God goes after him. He doesn’t let Jonah wallow in self-pity and go on his way. God calls Jonah to this task, not someone who feels impassioned to save the Ninevites.

Of course, God finally gets his attention when Jonah ends up in the belly of a whale and pleads for help. Like a whimpering child who finally decides to give in after being punished, Jonah reluctantly agrees to go.

In the end, Jonah gives a less than half-hearted plea to the people of Ninevah to change their ways. And they immediately repent. IMMEDIATELY. God knows something Jonah doesn’t. Their hearts are ripe to hear God’s message.

But that doesn’t matter to Jonah. He’s still angry at God for giving him the task he most detested.

The Bible says the whole city was saved in spite of Jonah’s less than stellar preaching. Over one hundred and twenty thousand people. Wow. God can do much with the little strength we muster.

Here’s my little nugget of wisdom. Just because you don’t feel qualified or particularly impassioned to do something you believe God is calling you to do, doesn’t mean you should ignore it. In fact, maybe you should give it further inspection. Remember the old saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” There may be someone out there who needs you right now. If you don’t step up to the plate, your purpose won’t be fulfilled.

So, even though I don’t comprehend the why of my being called to write, I want to be faithful. When I stand before God one day, I don’t want to discover all of the blessings I missed because of my disobedience. I want to know I walked through the door He put before me and fulfilled my purpose.

AllthePlacesYoullGo_Memes_3

What door has God put before you today? Do you have the courage to walk through? I hope so. If not, we all may miss out on a blessing.

This Boy

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in being tested, Blog, Bronco, difficulty, family, love for children, parenting, perseverance | 6 comments

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12

Jacob

Jacob

This boy.

He stole my heart years ago. At first, I couldn’t connect with him as I had with my newborn daughter. Exhausted and not sure how to deal with the differences a boy brings, I wondered if we’d ever have as strong a bond.

Jacob's first day home

Welcoming baby Jacob

Then he smiled at me—more than a grin people say comes from tummy troubles. It was genuine. His smile came much earlier than I’d ever seen in a baby, entwining our hearts. Believing it was God’s gift to me in the midst of my season of weariness, I immediately took him to have his picture made. I didn’t want to forget that day.

 

Jacob's first photo

That first photo

 

That was almost nineteen years ago. My sweet and handsome son, Jacob, graduated last week from high school, on his birthday. His smile still melts my heart. His quick wit lightens my mood on burdensome days. His laughter, as well as his guitar playing and singing, is part of the score that makes up the beautiful music of our home.

 

View More: http://cathymobleyphotography.pass.us/roper-proofs

 

As I look back over the years of heartache and pain, joy and fun, I remember many worrisome days. From the time he was six months old until he was in first grade, he suffered from a continuing variety of ailments—asthma, three bouts of pneumonia, numerous rounds of bronchitis and even a test for cystic fibrosis, the disease that usually takes the life of children before their twenty-fifth birthday. He measured very small for his age, staying in the seventh percentile on height and weight throughout his entire childhood.

 

Jacob'e first day of school

Jacob’s first day of school

 

We dealt with a diagnosis of ADD, which resulted in us having to hold him back another year in K-5. His kindergarten friends moved on and forgot about him. The devastation of the fallout from that year caused him to suffer numerous setbacks.

He was impressionable, always wanting to be included. I worried he would end up being one of those boys who wouldn’t hesitate to follow the crowd, even if the crowd ended up in the wrong place.

He struggled with his grades, endured several teachers who were mean and others who didn’t seem to care. His laughing and witty mouth did get him in trouble on several occasions. I still remember when the assistant principal had him call me and admit he’d been disrupting class. I never received another phone call like that again.

 

Jacob in John's Bobcat

Jacob’s always loved heavy equipment

 

But this boy is special.

God created Jacob with a compassionate heart, a mind that understands the mechanics of a vehicle, and a personality that endears him to many.

I’m grateful He saw fit to put teachers and mentors along his path who loved on Jacob—who were patient and kind and good to him. These special people nurtured him and made a real difference in his life.

 

Jacob

 

Jacob and Taylor

Jacob and his sweet girlfriend, Taylor

 

Last year Jacob received the Student of the Year award in Automotive Technology at the career center he attended. This year he was honored with that department’s scholarship to Greenville Technical College, where he will attend this fall and study diesel mechanics.

A few weeks ago my husband, John, received a phone call from a man Jacob regularly buys auto parts from.

“John,” he said, “if my boy turns out to be half the man your son is, I’ll be pleased. I’ve never met a young man as polite and well-mannered as Jacob. He’s set the bar high. I know you must be proud.”

 

John and Jacob

John and Jacob with his first Bronco

 

Those words delighted John. My husband had no small part in influencing our son’s character—efforts well worth the investment of his love and time.

I thought back to his first year of kindergarten, when the teacher who’d shunned Jacob after he was diagnosed with ADD gave him the award for Most Well-Mannered. I knew it was the only one she could come up with for him in good conscience. Because she had to give each child something, and because he never failed to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” to her or any other adult, she knew he’d rightfully earned it.

 

Jacob graduating from 4k

 

His manners have served him well over the years.

Having a son has been one of the biggest blessings and scariest things I’ve ever endured. From racing go-karts in elementary school and dirt cars in middle school, to riding dirt bikes and enjoying the thrill of anything dangerous (and dirty), my nerves have sometimes been frayed to the edge. But when I see the man he’s become—one who’s strong and smart and hard-working—I have to thank God for the blessing of this boy.

 

Jacob in his go-kart

Jacob in his go-kart

 

Jacob racing his dirt car

Jacob racing his dirt car

 

Jacob on the tractor

 

My son isn’t perfect—not by a long shot—but he’s grown into so much more than I ever hoped to ask or imagine. He may not have been the valedictorian or earned a slew of awards, but he’s shown what hard work and persistence can do in life.

 

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I couldn’t be more proud.

This boy—my boy—has now become a man.

I love you, Jacob.

 

View More: http://cathymobleyphotography.pass.us/roper-proofs

Do you have a story of how your child overcame obstacles in his or her life? Please share. I’d love to cheer them on as well!

The Hidden Path

Posted by on May 16, 2015 in being tested, Blog, career, change, disappointment, discouragement, motherhood, parenting | 2 comments

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! ~ Psalm 77:19

Morguefile

Photo credit Morguefile

Have you ever felt like God slammed a door in your face—a door you thought would lead to your life’s purpose and passion—destroying your dream?

My daughter, Elise, thought she had her entire college career mapped out. Her dream was to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and pursue a career in country music. She worked hard for that dream for six years, investing every spare moment preparing for her future.

You may read this and think she’s just another American Idol wannabe. What kid hasn’t dreamed of being rich and famous?

But Elise isn’t like that. She’s a shy young lady who hates being the center of attention. For her high school graduation she didn’t even tell me she needed money to purchase the yellow honor society tassel to include on her robe. She didn’t want the recognition.

Elise performing at graduation

Elise performing during her graduation service

Only a handful of students at her school even knew she could sing. The big reveal came when she sang two solos in front of her entire class during graduation. Most of the kids sat there with their mouths agape. Who knew this shy girl could sing?

But that’s all she’s ever wanted to do. Paraphrasing the Olympic runner, Eric Liddel, Elise says when she sings “she feels God’s pleasure.”

elise at granny and gramps

Elise used to sing standing on her Granny and Gramp’s hearth

Elise singing at church

Elise singing at church

 

That’s why she wanted to attend Belmont. She believed she could make a difference in the country music industry by introducing more Christian-themed music into the mainstream.

After being accepted into Belmont, the only step left was to try out for their music program. Once she auditioned we just needed to wait a few weeks for official news of her acceptance into the program. We had no doubt she would make it.

Several weeks later she received a letter stating that she, unfortunately, did not make it into their music program. But they were still looking forward to having her as a student in another capacity.

At first I thought she was kidding. But the sobs that punctuated each sentence she read confirmed the truth. Belmont was not to be part of her future. She’d hung all of her hopes on her acceptance into their program, and now they’re saying she’s welcome to come and try something else??

Thud! I think I heard Elise’s heart drop to the floor as she read me the letter.

Our family was devastated by the news—confused and grieving over the death of her dream. We’d prayed fervently over this decision and believed it was what God wanted.

What was she supposed to do now?

Because she was nearing graduation, we quickly came up with another plan. Vocal tryouts were being held at a great school nearby, so she auditioned and was immediately accepted. She decided to pursue a degree in Music Education since she’d enjoyed being a teacher cadet in high school.

Freshman year

Dropping Elise off her freshman year

Freshman walk

Freshman walk

But halfway through her first semester there, she called begging me to let her drop two classes—music theory and voice.

I could understand her wanting to drop the difficult music theory class—but voice lessons? She’d always excelled and loved those in the past.

“What’s going on Elise?”

She started crying, spilling out the whole sordid tale of the unprofessional manner of her teacher. He constantly told her that she wasn’t pretty enough to be a singer and that her voice wasn’t very good anyway. She’d sunk into a state of depression due to his harsh words. Her self-esteem had already been destroyed, and now this guy was driving another nail in the coffin.

Even though I allowed Elise to drop the classes, by the end of that semester she was ready to drop out of school altogether. Teaching was not her heart’s desire and she had no idea which direction to go. Fortunately, she was able to move back home for her second semester, only needing one class that met two days a week to complete her freshman year.

But once home, she became more depressed. Not knowing how to help, we continued praying for direction.

Then I remembered Cathy Baker from my writers group, whose husband and sons are musicians, and knew she would not make light of Elise’s situation. The next time I saw her I asked what she’d do if she were in my position.

Me and Cathy Baker

My sweet friend Cathy Baker

“Has she ever considered applying to North Greenville University?” she asked. “Both of my boys went there and they had a great experience. The school has an awesome gospel group that travels around the area singing every weekend and the scholarship is great. Maybe she should audition for that.”

I cringed a little when she said the name of the school. We’d asked Elise about applying there when we first started looking at colleges, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

The next day I invited Elise to lunch to discuss this new possibility, hoping she’d be responsive.
After we sat down, I quickly sent up a prayer and began sharing what Cathy told me about NGU. When I finished, I sat quietly, waiting for her response.

“Mom,” Elise looked me right in the eye. “If God wants me to go to Africa at this point, I’ll go. Sign me up for the auditions.”

I couldn’t believe the work God had done in her heart over the course of the last year. Even though it was difficult for her to face the possibility of another rejection, she signed up to audition for Joyful Sound at North Greenville University and was accepted.

First day at NGU

Dropping Elise off at NGU

She has been blessed beyond measure being a part of their team, making great, godly friends and witnessing the power of God to impact people through music. Her voice has grown even richer and more powerful than it was before. More importantly, her relationship with God is stronger than it’s ever been.

 

crazy times

Her team has had plenty of crazy and fun times

A few weekends ago she gave her last performance ever with Joyful Sound. Her three years in their ministry have impacted her more than I believe Belmont University ever could. As I sat there listening to her sing, I thought back to all the events that had brought her to this place. And I remembered Cathy Baker, the reason we’d even considered North Greenville University. I’m amazed how a prompting from God led to a conversation that brought so much good into Elise’s life.

Elise with some of her team

Elise with some of her team members

If you ask Elise about all of the pain she endured getting to North Greenville University, she’d tell you it was worth it all; every heartache, tear and disappointment was worth the reward of where she is today. She’ll graduate in December with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a stronger faith in God.

 

Having some fun before a performance

Having some fun before a performance

I share this story because I wish someone had told me during our time of pain and confusion it was going to be ok. God’s plan is greater than anything we can envision for our children and we need to boldly trust Him with their future.

Joyful Sound 2015

Joyful Sound 2015

Now that her time in Joyful Sound is over, I know God wants Elise to continue using her voice to glorify Him. I don’t know what the next step is, but we trust Him to lead her in the right direction. After all, He made a path for her none of us knew was even there.

Are you struggling through a difficult time of rejection or confusion? Don’t give up, keep pressing into God and He’ll reveal His plan to you.

She Never Raised the White Flag

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in appreciation, Blog, commitment, love for children, marriage, military spouses, Mothers Day, parenting | 6 comments

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” ~ Proverbs 31:28-29

Mama dressed for prom, 1964

Mama dressed for prom, 1964

I’m sure there were plenty of times she wanted to raise the white flag. To surrender to the endless litany of to-do’s, three cantankerous kids and the mounting pile of laundry. To just throw up her hands and say, “That’s it. I’m done.”

But she didn’t.

My mom isn’t one who enjoys being the center of attention. She’s always been happy working behind the scenes or cheering from the stands. But today, the Friday before Mother’s Day, I want to shine a little of the spotlight on her—because she deserves it.

Mama married Daddy when she was just 18-years-old and had me a mere 9-1/2 months later. Pretty much all of her adult life has been devoted to motherhood.

Mom and dad

Mom and Dad

Soon after they married, Daddy, an Army Sergeant, was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. He had to go over first and she followed later—an 18-year-old teenager flying to a non-English-speaking country—alone and pregnant.

I can’t even imagine.

Once there, she went through the remainder of her pregnancy without the luxury of conversations with her mom about any questions or fears she may have had. Long distance calls were expensive and few.

Mama holding me shortly after I was born

Mama holding me shortly after I was born

She lived with Daddy in a little house off base that had a couple of other tenants—none of them English-speaking—a shared bath and an unheated kitchen. I remember her saying there were numerous times she went into the shared kitchen and had to chop up the jelly from the cupboard because it was frozen.

While Daddy was away all day, she devoured the books my grandmother sent, reading them over again and again. She also made sure not to miss the daily one hour English-speaking radio broadcast. Once I was born things didn’t improve much. As much as Mama wanted me around to keep her company, I preferred sleeping. So she read while I slept the day away.

Family photo 1966

The last family photo taken before Daddy shipped out to Vietnam

When I was one-year-old, we flew back to the States. This time she was pregnant with my brother, Ricky. Six weeks after he was born, Daddy was sent to fight in Vietnam and Mama brought us back home to live with Grandma and Grandpa.

She doesn’t talk much about the year he was gone, just that she refused to watch the news while he was away.

The day Daddy came home from Vietnam

The day Daddy came home from Vietnam

Once Daddy returned safe and sound, he suggested to Mom that he re-enlist. Mom strongly disagreed (by claiming she’d divorce him if he did) and the matter was settled. He left the Army for civilian life.

Three years and five days after my brother was born, I had a sister, Lisa. By that time mom and dad had bought a small house and Daddy was a truck driver. It wasn’t the easiest life for either of them. Dad was gone most of the time and mom was almost solely responsible for three small children. Who could blame her for sometimes having a short fuse with us?

Lisa, me and Ricky with Mom and Dad

Lisa, me and Ricky with Mom and Dad

disney world

Me, Lisa and Ricky with Mama at Disney World, 1974

After several moves, we finally ended up in the little town of Fountain Inn, where my parents still live today. I was fourteen when we moved and Mama decided it was time for her to get a job. She worked four ten-hour days in a plant and I became responsible for making supper each night. She’d tell me what to cook and I’d have it ready when she walked in the door. Since Daddy was still driving a truck, he was gone most nights. Even though I know Mama was bone-tired from working a long day, she’d listen to all of us chatter about our day around that supper table. Sometimes we’d stay for over an hour, talking and laughing and sharing. I guess that’s why those times are still so precious to me—we had her undivided attention as long as we remained at the table.

Limoges family 1982

Ricky, me, Mama, Lisa and Daddy around 1982

As each of us grew up and moved away, our bond with Mama grew stronger. She’s always been there—from helping with yard work, to painting and fixing up our “new” old home, to taking care of the grandkids when needed, she’s almost always available. She’s a great listener and makes it easy for me to share all that’s going on in our lives.

Family portrait, 2004

Family portrait, 2004

Mama has always made home a welcoming place, inviting us often to come back for birthday dinners and holidays or just because she’d love to see us. She and Daddy have shown us the importance of family and that it’s the greatest thing we have aside from Jesus.

Jacob licking Mom's face

My son, Jacob, licking Mom’s face 🙂

Mom and great-granddaughter Blakely

Mom and great-granddaughter Blakely

We love her homemade spaghetti, carrot cake and jell-o boxed cheesecake (hey, nobody makes it like Mama does). We love hearing her announce every Christmas her “we spent the same amount on each one of you, so don’t get upset if someone gets more gifts than you” speech. She loves to sing and has passed that gift on to my daughter.

The Limoges Family, 2014

The Limoges Family, 2014

She is good and strong, loving and compassionate. I’m proud to call her my mom.

Mama and Daddy with me, Rick and Lisa

Mama and Daddy with me, Rick and Lisa

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Thank you for all of the hours you’ve invested in us, taking us to church, teaching us good manners and judging right from wrong. For showing us an example of kindness and instructing Lisa and me to “stand up straight and be proud of what you’ve got!”. Thank you for all the love and time and energy you’ve poured into us. And thank you for never raising the white flag of surrender, although I know you must have been tempted on more than one occasion. After all, you were outnumbered! You’re amazing and I love you!

Bob and June

My mother-in-law and father-in-law, June and Bob Roper

I can’t let this day go by without also saying Happy Mother’s Day to the best mother-in-law in the world. God gave me such a gift when he brought me into the Roper family. I love you, June, and am grateful for the influence you’ve had on me, as well. You’ve taught me much about life and loving others well.

Have you been blessed with a wonderful mother? Make sure to tell her how much she means to you this Mother’s Day. I’d be honored for you to give her a shout-out here.

What Can I Do?

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in being tested, Blog, courage, faith, forgiveness, gifts | 1 comment

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

The twenty-one brave men who were executed for their faith

The twenty-one brave men who were executed for their faith

Every time I scroll through the photos on Facebook I quickly move on. The photos of ISIS militants preparing to behead Christians are nauseating and horrifying. Seeing the evil threat to those who’ve courageously declared their faith in Christ, knowing the fate they will suffer, brings an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Anger seethes from within, but nothing I say or do can rescue those brave souls from their imminent fate, and so I keep scrolling and whisper a prayer for the families that are left behind, trying to subdue the sorrow.

focus-on-the-family-logo-300x154

I recently received a letter from Focus on the Family that offers a ray of hope to Christians in the Middle East. In it, Focus president Jim Daly describes their most recent endeavor to bring help to the persecuted.

Focus’ Associate Office in Egypt has been reaching out to the Christian and Muslim community since 2001. Within a week of this horrible event, they sent out a team to visit with the families of those martyred men in the small, destitute villages where they grew up. As the team went door-to-door ministering to these families, they were amazed at their spirit of peace, thanksgiving and unshakable faith—a mirror-image of the first century church.

The twenty-one men beheaded on February 15, 2015, were poor day-laborers in Libya who, for the most part, were the sole support for their families back home in Egypt. The families they left behind suffered through 45 anxious days after their loved ones were captured. These same families described their experience to the Egypt’s Focus team explaining that, miraculously, within hours of the mens’ executions, their grief turned to rejoicing. Their precious men were now in the presence of Jesus. Their torture had ended.

The faces of these men

The faces of these brave men

It’s unfathomable for me to imagine being in their place and responding that way. They, however, are now praying for the members of ISIS—praying they would one day come to see the light of God’s truth and love.

Egypt’s Focus office has seen an increased interest in Christianity from people of the Muslim faith due to persecution. Their office is helping to bring the light of Christ to a very dark corner of the world.

What can I do to help my persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ? I asked myself as I continued reading the letter.

I finally felt a sense of hope when I read about Focus’ new campaign to raise $931,000 over the next few weeks for the specific purpose of building up Middle East outreach. The funds will contribute to the ongoing ministry to refugee families and intervention in crisis situations, as well as provide practical help and answers to their questions about marriage, parenting and family issues.

Jim Daly

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family

According to Jim Daly, “Contributions to the fund will also be designated to several specific projects, including the construction of new housing for families of the twenty Egyptian martyrs. They’re also hoping to establish a memorial for those brave men, as well as help start a sustainability project for their families and members of the surrounding community who’ve lost their primary source of income. The fund will also purchase 10,000 “Women’s Dignity Kits,” which can be a lifeline for refugee women who are culturally forbidden from broaching certain subjects related to feminine hygiene.”

This fund will help continue Focus’ ministry to share God’s love by addressing the people’s short-term physical and long-term spiritual needs.

If you’re like me and have been waiting for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those being persecuted, as well as wanting to reach out to Muslims with the gospel message, here’s your chance.

There are several ways to give: 
• Call toll-free 1-800-A-FAMILY and give over the phone

• Mail your check to
   Focus on the Family
   PO Box 219382
   Kansas City, MO 64121-9382

• Or visit their website and give at FocusOnTheFamily.com/International

Focus on the Family flyer

Focus on the Family flyer

As stated in Focus’ letter, every gift helps and is appreciated, no matter how small.

Let’s take this opportunity, as those who love Christ and want to be His ambassadors, to give to those who are suffering greatly for their faith. God calls us to minister to widows and orphans. This is a practical way we can make a difference in their lives. Won’t you join me?

What If This Isn’t Real?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in being tested, Blog, discouragement, faith, fear, grace, promises from God's Word, trust | 3 comments

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree ~ Jeremiah 29:13-14 The Message

jacob and ross

My history buff son, Jacob (r), with his friend Ross in their third grade Civil War play

The other night my son, Jacob, and I were watching History channel’s documentary The Men Who Built America Part 2. We are both fascinated with history and were engrossed in the story of Andrew Carnegie. His rise to fortune was brought about through major technological innovations that made steel suitable for manufacturing structural beams. He is also credited with implementing new mass-production solutions in the steel industry. Because of this, in 1873 Carnegie was able to oversee construction of the longest bridge ever built, just over a mile long. It spanned the mighty Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, and connected the East and West like never before.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie
( Andrew Carnegie Image Collection)

There was, however, one big problem. At that time, one in four bridges built failed. Therefore, no one wanted to test its integrity by crossing it. Because Carnegie had invested everything in this venture, he needed to do something that would bolster people’s faith in his ‘magnificent’ structure. He remembered a popular myth of the day that elephants wouldn’t cross unstable structures, so he arranged to have one walk across it on opening day.

Elephant walking across bridge

Photo – April Smith’s Classroom

 

It worked. Steel orders from across the country flooded in.

This story reminds me of a time when I doubted my faith in God. As a busy wife and mother in my early thirties, teaching Sunday School and being involved in numerous other church activities, I was exhausted. Doubts increasingly began to creep into my mind.

As I sat in my car one evening after returning home from yet another church meeting, questions started whirling around in my head. What if this isn’t real? What if there is no God and I’ve been wasting all of my time for nothing? Why on earth should I believe God is real and that Jesus’ story isn’t something a crazy person just made up?

Despair overwhelmed me as I thought about the possible futility of my faith. I couldn’t keep following and serving a God I wasn’t 100% sure existed. I didn’t want my beliefs to be built on something that fell apart under the weight of my unbelief. So I prayed out loud and gave all of my questions to Him, ending my prayer with a request.

“God, if you really exist and everything I’ve built my faith on is true, prove it. Reveal yourself to me in ways that could only be you. I’ll be watching. Amen”

The Eads Bridge

The Eads Bridge, the longest bridge ever built at that time, under construction – Wikipedia

One of my biggest regrets is not writing down all of the things God did to make Himself known to me over the next period of weeks. I only remember repeatedly being shown His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, and my faith was restored. When I doubted the bridge of faith that brought me to Christ, God proved it was strong enough to walk across.

God is big enough—big enough for my questions, big enough for my doubts and big enough to handle it all. So often we think it’s wrong to question God. Those questions, however, can lead us to a stronger faith.

I know for certain I was saved at the time I questioned God. But I wanted to experience Him in more tangible ways. I wanted to know that I’d built my faith and hope on a God who was real and true. Because I was brave enough to ask, God was gracious enough to answer. One of His greatest joys is revealing Himself after we’ve asked for His presence to be made known in our lives.

Lee Strobel was an intellect and an atheist who set out to prove the Christian faith was a myth. Instead, he became one of its strongest supporters. He wrote the well-known book, The Case for Faith, because he wanted to share his findings with other non-believers and doubters.

The Case for Faith

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

 

C.S. Lewis, author of the popular Narnia series, tried to disprove Christianity as well. Even though he grew up in the faith, he fell away in later years. Like Strobel, he also unsuccessfully rebuffed Christianity and became one of the most popular Christian authors ever, using much symbolism about the strength and love of our God and Savior. The book, Surprised by Joy, was his response to discovering the truth about God and His character.

Surprised by Joy

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis

If you’re questioning your faith today, don’t let it stop you from asking God to reveal Himself to you. He’s big enough to handle all of our questions and doubts. He is, after all, the God of the universe and Creator of all things good. That qualifies Him to handle anything we can throw at Him. Let Him be the elephant that walks across the bridge to build your faith.

Eads Bridge

The Eads Bridge today – Wikipedia

How has God revealed Himself to you during a crisis of faith? I’d love to hear your story.

It’s Not About the Bunny; It’s All About the Grace

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Blog, family, grace | 2 comments

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.

~ Clarence W. Hall

Easter with Grandma and Grandpa

My grandparents with my siblings, cousins and me on Easter Sunday

When I was a little girl I couldn’t wait for Easter. After presenting us with our Easter baskets, Mom would dress me and my siblings in our new Easter outfits and we would head to church for the special service. Afterwards, still in our Easter best, my family, along with mom’s siblings and their families, gathered at my grandparents’ house for a big lunch. Once the kitchen was clean—a detail that drove us kids crazy with anticipation—the adults would hide eggs for me, my brother, sister and cousins to hunt in the front yard. I don’t know how many times we would beg the adults to hide the eggs ‘just one more time’ but, looking back, I appreciate the patience they had with us. As I later found out with my own kids, the task of finding new hiding spots in Grandma and Grandpa’s small front yard became exasperating after a while.

Great-grands at Easter

The great-grands after the egg hunt at my grandparent’s house

I’m sure many of you have similar fond memories from childhood Easter holidays. As kids, we don’t really ‘get’ the reasoning behind the most celebrated day in Christianity. But as we grow in our relationship with Christ, we understand the significance of the resurrection and the unfathomable gift our Lord and Savior made available to each of us—rescue from eternal damnation and the hope of living with Him forever in Paradise. But the key point here is that He makes it available to us. Yes, it’s a gift. However, in order to enjoy the benefits of a gift we must acknowledge and accept it.

Easter Sunday

The other day as I was cleaning the kitchen, I had the TV on and was absentmindedly listening to The Meredith Vieira Show. I don’t usually care to watch that show but was in the middle of something and didn’t want to stop, so I left it on.

Meredith’s guest, Gracie Helbig, was put on the spot and asked to reverse places and interview Meredith. With no prep time for questions, Gracie nervously made small talk. Then she asked Meredith if she was excited for Easter.

I turned toward the TV, curious how Meredith would respond.

Her demeanor changed as she told Gracie,”I actually am very excited for Easter. I love Easter. Do you love Easter?”

“I feel medium about it”, Gracie said, shrugging her shoulders.

“I love a basket and to this day I make an Easter basket,” Meredith responded. “And my kids are in their twenties!”

Gracie, laughing at her said,” I love the reason you love Easter is ‘I love a good basket’.”

“I mean, I love the lilies.” Meredith tried to define her reasoning. “I mean, I don’t want to get religious here. Keep it to the bunny.”

“And the chocolate”, Gracie retorted.

“Yeah!” Meredith agreed.

I bristled listening to the comments. It stung to know thousands, possibly millions, of people had just been told it was ok to ignore the real reason for Easter—Christ’s sacrifice. No, Easter isn’t about bunnies, baskets or religion; it’s about God coming down as a man and building a relationship with us. But when you say the word religion in the Christian realm, many equate it with Jesus.

cross

I don’t like the term religion. It has started wars and ostracized people for centuries. It conjures up rules and regulations, required liturgies and judgmental attitudes. It doesn’t say anything about the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place. It’s all about the grace. Meredith and Gracie have missed the greatest gift of all amidst the bunnies, baskets and chocolates.

I have nothing against bunnies, baskets, chocolate and eggs being used as symbols of Easter. As a matter of fact, I enjoy the decorating and the hunt. We still give our kids Easter baskets every year, making sure to include something that points them to Jesus along with their chocolate bunny.

Elise hunting eggs at my grandparent's house

Elise hunting eggs at my grandparent’s house

When they were little I found a great tool to teach my kids the true meaning of Easter; Resurrection Eggs. There are a dozen colorful plastic eggs each containing a symbol of Easter. A booklet is included that even allows you to give a devotional on the days leading up to Easter Sunday that go along with the contents of each egg. My kids loved opening the eggs to see what was inside and it gave me the perfect opportunity to explain the story without them realizing they were being taught.

Teaching with the Resurrection eggs

Sharing the Easter story with the great-grands using the Resurrection Eggs

A few minutes ago I dug around in my pantry to see if I still had them. Viola! There they were. I pulled them out and began carefully opening each egg, trying to remember what they held. Just as I finished looking through every one, my 18-year-old son, Jacob, walked in.

“Hey,” he said excitedly as he saw the box of eggs.”I remember these! I always liked opening the eggs to see what was inside.”

Jacob

Jacob finding an Easter basket surprise

And so he carefully began opening each egg, just as I’d done. I asked if he remembered what a few of them symbolized and he came up with just about every answer. Then he put them back in the box and went to get ready for a date. It warms a mother’s heart to see her grown son still have fond memories of a spiritual tool that was used to teach him the greatest story ever told.

Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection Eggs

I pray that Meredith and Gracie will one day come to know and appreciate the true reason for our joy on Easter Sunday—the empty tomb and God’s gift of grace..

What special ways have you taught your kids Bible stories that made learning fun?

If you’d like to order the Resurrection Eggs, visit

www.shopfamilylife.com/resurrection-eggs or you can find them at your local Family Christian store.