Tuesday, September 29, 2015


God has been stirring my heart lately with the whole idea of purifying my life.  Pure, clean, set a part, different than the world.  I want to have a pure heart… a heart clean from contamination and focused on the things of God.

Have you ever felt like your spirit was dirty?  Imagine you are normally really busy in the morning, but today you decide to spend some special time with God.  You crank up the worship music, open your Bible, and soak in His presence.  

You talk to Him so comfortably and freely.  You confess sin and bear your heart to Him.  When you are finished with your special “quiet time” with God you feel so much better and you feel clean inside.  The day has started out right so you assume it will end well. 

Before you really have a chance to begin your day the phone rings and "dirt" is splattered on you.  You turn your head toward the family room and "dirt" is splattered across the screen of the television.  You hang up the phone and hear your family arguing passionately about meaningless things… more "dirt" is splattered on you and you haven’t even left the house!
This may sound all too familiar to some of you.  “Dirt”… What kind of "dirt" am I talking about?  I’m talking about the kind of “dirt” that can make your spirit feel “icky” inside. Don’t you just love my fancy words. 

Listen to what the Bible has to say about this in James1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans
and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)

“Refusing to let the world corrupt you”… hmmm.  What does that mean?  Well, in another version it says it a different way… “Keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.” 

So… what I am gathering from this scripture is that if I want to stay spiritually clean, one way I can do this is by limiting the “world’s” influence on my life.

Wow, that’s hard!  We are supposed to live IN the world, but not be OF it.  

Philippians 3:20 says… 
“But our homeland is in heaven…” (NCV).

How do we do this?  How can we live and be an example to others of Christ without letting the world infiltrate our thinking, speech, dress, actions, behavior, and reasoning? 

How can we live pure lives in the midst of an impure culture?

1.     Keep God FIRST
Stay connected with Him.  Read His word (the Bible)… It helps wash your heart clean.  Talk to Him daily… just like you would a friend.  You don’t have to use fancy words when you talk with God.  Tell Him everything… the good, bad, and ugly of each day.   He wants to be a part of it all.  Invite Him to join you in all you do Allow His Spirit to guide your steps Become sensitive to His voice and obedient to His leading.  The more time we spend with God daily, the more we will be able to discern between dirty and clean.

What I mean by this is that God will help guide us into making right choices when it comes to what we choose to allow in our lives and inside of our hearts.  When we attempt to let something in that we shouldn’t, He will let us know.  He will give us a sinking feeling in our guts, a sick turning of our stomachs, or uneasiness within.  That will be His Holy Spirit helping us keep our hearts and lives clean and close to God.

Dirty hearts equal dirty lives.  Eventually the dust and dirt hiding within will seep out for all to see.  There is a scripture that comes to mind that describes this perfectly.   Matthew 12:34 says

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

How can we remain pure in the midst of an impure culture?  Stay close to God.  Take time today to be with Him.  Time in His presence changes our hearts.

Another way to stay pure is by striving to…

2.  Keep your heart CLEAN daily

Things don’t work properly when they aren’t clean.   I have found this to be true with my vacuum cleaner.  I have the kind that doesn’t have a bag and you can really see the dirt flow in as you clean up.  I like the idea of seeing that it is working, but not the emptying it out afterwards part.  I have noticed on occasion that dirt can get backed up in areas I can’t see and then it stops working properly.  It isn’t until I actually sit down and take everything a part that I find a pile of dirt clogging the flow.

Isn’t that so true with our walk with God?  When we don’t take time to keep our hearts clean daily, the flow of God in our lives gets clogged up.  We start to feel funny, God starts to feel a bit distant, and ungodly things start to pour out of our mouths.  Yikes!  Where did that come from?

Just like it took me time I didn’t plan on to clean out the backed up pile of dirt in my vacuum, we need to take time daily to clean our hearts.  The dirt in that vacuum hid in places I didn’t see (piling up), but it still needed to be removed. 

Sin, just like that dirt is really good at hiding in the places of our hearts that we don’t notice.  It is only by choosing to clean our hearts daily, that we might see it (With God’s help of course) and remove it.

How can we clean our hearts daily?  Well, for one we can confess our sins in prayer.  When we keep God first and spend time with Him daily, a natural out flow of this time will be God showing us areas of our lives that might need extra work.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Actually we can take it a step further.

There is a two-part heart cleaning process that can occur during our prayer times, if we let it.  It includes the practice of both “confessing” and “revealing”. 

Confessing” –
In essence this means to recognize the things you have done that are wrong, admit it, and say you are sorry.  Generally we all know our hang-ups and where we fail.  It is when we choose to admit those to God, ask for forgiveness, and strive to change that we truly see the difference.  The process is simple… just share with God your struggles (one by one), tell Him you are sorry for messing up in this area of your life (and really mean it), and ask for His help to change… and for the better.

Revealing” –
When we come to God in prayer we can also ask Him if there are any hidden areas of sin in our hearts (piles of dirt clogging the flow) that He might “reveal” to us.  When He brings them to our mind, we need to confess them to Him and ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes this revelation of our hidden sin can be startling to us requiring a focused effort and possibly accountability to keep it from sneaking back into our lives.  With God’s help we can walk in freedom from the chains of sin that seek to rule our lives.

Cleaning our hearts daily is hard work, but it feels so good to be clean.  Have you ever gotten really dirty before?  Do you remember that feeling?  … Soggy, gritty, uncomfortable, and gross. Now, think back.  What did it feel like in the shower after you were clean?  That is the spiritual experience God wants us to have as we take time daily to clean our hearts.  It’s a refreshing experience!

1 John 1:8-9 says…

“If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.” (NCV)

One important ingredient to living a pure life is endeavoring to keep our hearts clean daily.  I challenge you to take time to check in with God today and leave refreshed.

How can we remain pure in the midst of an impure culture?  Stay close to God Keep your heart clean daily.  Wash the dirt of sin away in prayer and ask God to show you areas of your life that need improvement.  Staying pure is hard work, but SO worth it!

Another way to stay pure is by striving to…
3.      EMPTY the “Junk” from your Life

Junk collects quickly especially if you have a hard time letting go of things.  I wouldn’t call myself a “junk” collector or hoarder by any means.  I am simply a “Piler-upper” of things I don’t want to lose.  Big difference!

I guess when I think about it, I mostly pile up the things I want to deal with later.  They seem important at the moment, so I keep them close to me where I can find them when I am ready to sort things out.    

Hmmm… How many times do we do this with God?  We allow things to pile up in our lives that really shouldn’t be there promising to deal with them later, but later never really comes.   We are “spiritual junk” procrastinators!  I know it may sound funny, but it is SO true.  We have good intentions of course, but we just don’t follow through on them.

Keeping that “junk” in our lives that doesn’t belong and really shouldn’t be there, really hurts our relationship with God.   “Spiritual Procrastination hinders our present growth in God.”  It’s really hard to make room for “new” God-things in our lives when our hearts are cluttered full of junk that really needs to go. 

When God prompts us as we are praying, confessing, or seeking more of Him to… set aside, change, or completely remove something from our lives, we need to do it!  He knows best!  Just obey!

When my kids were younger they had this procrastination thing down pat.  We would ask them to do something and they must have thought we implied… do it whenever you want to do it as long as it gets done.  Our interpretation though was very different.  We expected them to:   Do it… IMMEDIATELY, RIGHT AWAY, and NOW! 

We discovered quickly that they didn’t catch our passion for doing their jobs in a timely manner.  For that reason, I decided to come up with a slogan for them to chant to remind them of our desire for them to obey quickly.  This is how it went…. “Just OBEY, No DELAY”… “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.  We said it all the time especially when we asked them to do something for us or if they were moving slowly to follow through.

Maybe we need to imagine God chanting this same phrase to us as He calls us to live a greater life of purity.  “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.   Just give up those bad habits, remove those toxic friends from your life, spend more time in prayer, give social media a break every once in a while to focus more on God.  YOU know what He is calling you to do…. “Just OBEY, No DELAY”.

When we allow spiritual “junk” to remain in our hearts and lives it can corrode our spirits and make it harder for us to hear God, feel God, and draw closer to Him.  Seek to remove all hindrances from your life and focus your heart more on Him.  He will lead you right where you need to be. 

James 4:8 says…

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (NLT)

The closer we get to God, the more pure our hearts will become… and where else could our hearts be more satisfied?  I challenge you to choose purity today, friend. Give God all of YOU and watch Him do amazing things in your life!  Purity Matters!

Living to leave a legacy,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I had a MELT DOWN recently…Don’t judge!

(Warning… this post is raw and real.  If you cry easily, grab the tissues).

It was a week ago on a Sunday.  I was in church seated beside my in-laws.  My husband was helping in a pre-teen class that week so he didn’t witness the big event.  I hit my limit.  It was all I could take and something just broke inside of me. 

I don’t know if you have ever been there before or not, but it’s not a pretty sight.  It’s a place where emotionally you are spent.  In what seems like an unexpected moment everything busts loose inside, breaking, and pouring out for all to see (depending on where you are and when it happens).  For some it comes out in tears, others in anger, while others bury the pain or emotional turmoil deep within in an attempt to hide or deny their frustration.

I’ve been there before.  More than once I must admit.  It has happened in times of stress with broken relationships, family struggles, financial straits, but most often when the worries of my health issues press in tightly.  This time… once again, it was my health. 

To sum it up I had been struggling with on going pain for a little over two months.  It had been narrowed down and treated with four different antibiotics.  FOUR!  I had many tests done and blood work too.  As a result of my consistent struggle, I was referred to a specialist for further treatment. 

It took TWO WEEKS to get in to see that specialist!  The visit was quick and the problem was found immediately.  The culprit of my on going misery was… a large kidney stone (7mm to be exact).  It would require surgery to be broken up.  I exhaled a sigh of relief… Well, at least we knew something, finally.  I left the office with hope of a solution to soon alleviate the pain.

When I called the office back after my appointment to see when my surgery would be… I was shocked at their response.  I just couldn’t believe it!  They said the soonest they could do surgery would be FIVE WEEKS AWAY!  I begged and pleaded.  I related my excruciating pain and frustration, but all it did was get things moved up by one week. 

I resolved that I just couldn’t do it!  The pain was too much!  I felt like I was in hard child birth type labor 75% of each day.  To think I had to deal with this for another whole month was unbearable to even think about.  I enlisted a crew of people to pray as I tried to think about other options. There had to be another way.  My mind was all fuzzy from the pain.  I just couldn’t think clearly.  I needed God’s help.

My first contact with others after this horrible news was on a Sunday morning at church.  I was in dreadful pain and an emotional mess to say the least.  I tried to hide it all under a smiley put together face and pretty clothes, but under the surface emotionally I was bursting from the seams ready to explode.

I thought I would be fine as soon as the service started… more listening and less talking to others would occur which would keep me safe from unraveling or so I thought.  I could do this... I reassured myself inside. 

Before I could stop it, it happened!  It came on me like an unsuspecting storm.  It rolled out in short streams at first, followed by a violent down pour of never ending tears that washed over my face.  The tears just wouldn’t stop.  The more I thought about things, the more I cried.

What did I think about?  Well, what do most chronically sick people think about?  It’s dangerous to be left alone with your own thoughts on a bad day.  The first place I go is not to God saying “Why ME?”, but asking God “Why THEM?”…I felt like a burden.

I had been sick with an autoimmune disease for 9 + years now… which has brought with it many, many side effects, surgeries, and cycles of pain.  My family has suffered in my estimation.  They didn’t sign up for this.  My limitations, hurts, hang ups, and sicknesses have hindered them.  They miss out on a lot because of me!  They worry too much!  It’s not fair!

The negative thoughts persistently flooded my mind as the music continued to play at church. It was carrying me away to an even lower pit… a dark place.  I really didn’t want to go there, but I did.  A flashback came back to me of a sicker time, a worse day.  I wasn’t getting better.  I was losing weight drastically, I was dehydrated because I couldn’t keep water down or eat anything, and I had lost all energy to fight. 

I remember one night my husband coming into my room to check on me.  He was worried.  I could tell.  It was a familiar expression I had grown accustomed to seeing on his face often these days.  I determined this night to tell him that I just couldn’t fight anymore.  I didn’t have anymore energy or fight in me.  He drew near and I mustered up all the courage I had to whisper it to him.  The tears poured recklessly down both of our faces.

I just didn’t know what else to do.  My fight was gone.  In that moment, with tears in his eyes and a burning passion in his heart my husband stood up and in a sense proclaimed to my spirit as he spoke… 

"Don’t give up!  FIGHT!  Fight for ME!  
Fight for your BOYS who love you dearly!  
Fight for US!  Don’t give up!  We love you!" 

I listened and took it all in not knowing if that day would be my last.  He was right.  I needed to fight.  If God wanted me alive, it would be for a purpose.  If not, I was ready to meet my maker.

Something jolted me back to reality in church.  My negative thoughts were still there wandering around.  What if?  What if I didn’t make it that night?  Would my family have been better off?  I know it is a horrible thing to think about, but when you are chronically sick and you feel like a burden at times… your mind takes you there.

I’m not talking about being suicidal or taking things into my own hands.  But some times on bad days (health-wise) I wonder if my family might have been better off if things would have turned out differently that day. 

The minute I went there… to that place I didn’t want to go... God’s presence was felt IMMEDIATELY.  The tears rolled down my cheeks even more.  He flipped the coin in my mind pointing my heart toward the good.

What if?  It was almost as if God was posing the question to me with an attitude.  What if you didn’t make it that night?  If you believe your life has purpose, which it does then how many people’s lives might NOT have been touched as a result of this happening? 

I thought back over the past 5-6 years and my heart filled with emotion.  My tears changed in that moment from tears of sorrow and frustration to tears of joy.  How many people had come into my life since that day?  Wow… SO many! 

As I scroll across the last few years of my life many familiar faces come to mind.  There are my “Heart to Heart” sisters and “Spill the Beans” gals who gathered in my home to connect on a deeper level with one another and with God.  A bunch of crazy teens my husband and I shared with on Sunday mornings for awhile to help them grow in their faith, a new believers Bible study group,  a small group of ladies from various churches and walks of life that joined in my home to help a new believer grow in God.  I can’t forget my “Sisterhood” sisters,  “Joseph” study group at church, or my “Kindred Spirits” friends online just to name a few.  There are just SO many people I have been blessed to know and whether they realize it or not, I am not the same for having known them.  I am better!

Besides meeting a lot of incredible people over the past few years, I have also had the chance to create some very special memories with my family.  I have given out more hugs, stolen some kisses, said “I love you” often, and became more purposeful about family time.  I am blessed with every extra moment I have been able to share with my amazing husband and awesome boys.  I want my words and actions shared daily with them to reflect the love I hold in my heart.  I am truly blessed to be both a wife and mom to these incredible godly men.

I love this man!!!
It wasn’t long after that dark day that I actually started this blog once I started to feel better.  It was one way I felt I could make a difference.  I didn’t want any of the time I laid around sick to be wasted.  I wrote “in the midst” of my struggles hoping it would help others to keep pressing forward in God.  It was my attempt to live to leave a legacy online impacting hearts I may never meet this side of heaven.

My favorite verse I have latched onto that has seen me through all of the struggles I have faced so far has been this…

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)



Me... on the mend
after that bad season
YES… I do have bad days and at times they are very bad days, but I have realized that I can’t truly appreciate the good days until I have faced the bad.  It brings perspective!

I don’t want to leave you hanging with my unfinished health crisis story so here is the rest of the story… I asked friends to join me in prayer for what to do concerning my FOUR WEEK wait on surgery.  A friend suggested I contact the office to see if they could refer me to some one else who might be able to do things quicker, so I did.  WOW!  You will never guess what happened?  That day I got a call that the doctor could squeeze me in the NEXT DAY… less than 24 hours away.  Woohoo!

Recently I had the surgery and had some minor complications, but I am currently on the mend.  Thank you to all of my family and friends who have continued to faithfully lift me up in prayer.  As you can tell from my post, I was weary in the wait, but you carried me through.  Prayer, Perspective, and Purpose… Regardless of where you are now, God has a plan!

Trust Him in the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He is faithful, friend!

Living to leave a legacy,