Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shedding the Plastic

I am in LOVE with Jesus. I am in forever awe of our Mighty God. 

But I am a sucky Christian. 

I know the Truth and love the Truth.... yet I can so quickly walk away from it?! I don't understand that. 

God spoke to me. "I'm going to remove that obstacle, Amber. I'm going to." 

And my actions all but call my Savior a liar. He promised, so that means I should park my rear and wait. Right? 
That's what I would tell you. I would say- "Be still. Wait on the Lord!". And I would believe it passionately with everything in me. I would pray for you and hope for you and encourage you to "Wait on the Lord.". 

Why can't I do that for myself? Why can't I wait? Why can't I be still in the Promise that He made to me? 

If I'm going to be transparent, I'll have to explain my heart condition:  I. Am. Angry. 

I'm so mad. And so stinking bitter about circumstances that continue to rear their ugly head in front of the path that I am so desperately trying to stay on. 

I'm fed up. I know that I'm battling a spiritual issue, but find myself constantly telling the "flesh" to put up it's dukes so that I can beat THE HELL out of it. 

I know what the Bible says. 

I know!! 

Don't tell me. Don't re-explain it. 


I'm so weak in my spirit. My spirit is a bloody mess. My flesh is, too- but I can see the flesh. It's all-up-in-my-grill, taunting me, harassing me like a 2nd grade kid 'Nanna-nanna-boo-boo'. 

 I am raging against what I can "see" rather than what is "unseen"..... 

And  I know better!  

My heart is broken and I'm watching myself crawl down into a pit. I'm all but seeking refuge in the depth of my own self sorrow. 


Maybe it's easier to crawl into that pit than to SUCK-it-Up and fight for Truth? Maybe it's easier to dwell in self pity than to fight for my spirit?

I know i need to fight against the unseen and quit belly aching about the things that I see. 

Is that what I'm going to do? 

Am I going to buck up, stick in my mouth piece and put on my tackle gear so that I can start fighting in a battle that's being lead by the Mightiest Warrior? 

Or am I going to hide in a hole and wait until the enemy destroys me because I'm too lazy to get down to business? 

I. Don't. Know. 

I wish I could write this and say with authority that I'm going to start kicking Hell in the teeth and not look back until Jesus comes to finish what He started. 

But right now I'm weak. And broken. And there is so much of me that feels hopeless and lost. 

Christians aren't s'pose to talk about these things, right!? 

I've heard it said many times that we aren't "representing" what being a Christian is about if we are confessing that we feel hopeless and alone in our struggle. 

Well, guess what!! Being a Christian isn't a plate full if cheesecake and brownies. 

It's not easy. 

It's HARD, buddy! 

P.S., Jesus said it was gonna be hard. Why in the world are we trying to hide the truth that Jesus made so clear?  Dude, Jesus had it hard! He cried bloody tears, people! We think we gotta pretend like we aren't struggling?!? 

It's worth it- please don't get me wrong. In all of the crap that I've gone through, I've witnessed God working in my life. I've seen His might. I've seen His power. I could NEVER turn away from Him. 

But that doesn't change the fact that it's hard. And sometimes lonely. And times, like now, I wanna curl up into my self whiney-ness, pull the covers over my head, and quit trying to finish the race. 

I don't want any sympathy. I want EMPATHY. Tell me I'm not alone in these thoughts and these fears and this struggle.  But don't feel sorry for me. 

God has a plan. I believe He does. I trust Him and know that even if I mess up, He'll still walk beside me.

I really wanted to be honest and real about the thoughts and hardships I face in my walk. I want to remove the lie that we have to ONLY share our praise reports and happy-go-lucky good things. We need to share with one another our hardships, too. As Christians we need to be in REAL fellowship with one another, and that means we need to start shedding the plastic and walk this walk in true transparency! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I continually find myself amazed by how miraculous our God is.

Periodically, I randomly get "pressing" to pray for 'random' people.  Most of the time- it's folks that I'm not in direct relationship with.  Once- it was for Katy Perry.  Ya.  I'm not kidding.  I all but wept praying for Teenage Dream girl.  Every once in a while I hear a song she sings, and I go into auto-pray mode.  "God, speak to her.  Lord- bring her back to you...."

I have some friends that I don't see very often and (thanks to Facebook) I see their name/face/status update and I just go a little fruity for a few minutes and start praying.  Sometimes I pray things that make NO SENSE and I feel thankful that nobody can hear my conversation with the Lord.

Once- I felt prompted to pray for a family member and I said "SO? I feel like I should pray for you...." and I stuck my hand on my husband's shoulder while my husband put his hand on this person's shoulder and I just started praying-my-heart-out.  It was so out-of-the-norm that afterward, said family member commented to my husband "Ok? That was really weird."  And the truth is was really weird.  It's not normal.
It's not typical.   We live in a private, hands off, don't get in my business world.... stepping out of that norm is super-duper-out-of-the-ordinary.

What is so miraculous about our Father is that HE will go to great lengths to lift up and reach His beloved children.  I've been so encouraged by the pressing that has come onto me to pray for others, because I know that if He is using me to pray for other golly- He's using OTHER people to pray for me, too. Whoo-Hoo.  How amazing!?!  I know that random people pray for me.
I am not guessing.  I KNOW they are.
I mean?  I've gone from happy singing in my car to all out weeping (snot-pouring-hiccup-weeping) for somebody else because my heart was saturated with unexplained heaviness....

He loves us.
So compassionately.
So deeply
    and honestly
         and generously.
                and truly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Used to Be Me

I used to have giddy, goofy, dorky, laugh-til-I-almost peed-myself moments.  Out of nowhere, for absolutely NO good reason at all- I'd jump into "I'm such a big DORK" mode and act-a-fool.

I miss that relaxation.  Laughter is the best medicine?  Hook me up to an IV please.   I know it's a season, and I know it's a tough one to be living in right now, but I am missing out on my use-to-be ability to be a free spirit.  I'm still tired and foggy-minded, and slow to gain energy and emotionally blah and high and low.  There hasn't been much room for giddy-goofy dorky me.

That person is still in me, though.  The 20 year old that didn't have any real responsibilities.  The younger me that didn't overly concern myself with when laundry was going to get done, because mine was the only  load that needed to be washed, or what to cook for dinner, because a bag of Cheetos would do just fine.  There's still a non-sleep deprived human being living in me somewhere- somewhere- somewhere?

Taking care of  a family is the MOST thankless job that could ever exist.  We know this to be true.  There is no reward for being a parent.  Nothing tangible.  Nothing concrete.  We can't assure ourselves that our children are going to grow up to be well-rounded individuals.  For GOODNESS sake, that may be the very reason my head is half-gray at 30; fear and stress over whether or not I'm accomplishing much-of-anything good in my motherhood?

It's easy to become consumed.  I talk about this more than I should, but it's just the plain-ol-ugly truth.  It's hard-HARD hard so-dang-hard to do this parent thing.  This mom thing is just hard.

I've never been a 'working' (outside the house) mom, but there are times I wish I had chosen that road.  To be out of our house, working a job that thanked me for my efforts with a pay check and an annual review complete with a written report that stated how awesome I was, and in what ways I can improve.

Wouldn't that be great?! To have an annual review of our parenting?
"Well, Mommy? I've been really happy with breakfast and lunch... but dinner needs some work.  Lighten up a bit on the garlic, and serve more chocolate... Oh, and the way you helped me deal with that girl from school that called me a poo-poo head- that was great! It really helped me to hear that I am really NOT a poo-poo head, and that I shouldn't worry about somebody saying that I am..."

I think that's the toughest part.  I don't know how I'm doing.  I don't know WHAT I'm doing.  I don't know what the results are going to be, I don't know where I'm failing or how I'm failing or how I'm excelling or....  anything!

It's hard to relax when the lives of 3 human beings are on my shoulder.  There are times that the tension in my heart is so great that I literally find myself holding my hand to my chest, wondering if God made some huge mistake in giving me these children.

And, as I write this, He reminds me that I have to be willing to turn THEM over to HIM, trusting that HE will take care of the short-comings that I am sure to meet in raising these girls.  I can't be perfect.  They  won't be perfect.  I have to hand them over..... I have to STOP being insane and stressed and gray-hair-breeding.

I need to be the way I use to.... or something close to it.  Serious, yet Dorky.... Giddy and Goofy...  with a hint of Structure and a side of Carefree.

Taking care of one's self is harder to do when that self has 3 other little lives to care for.

I forgot that I use to be me....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tell Me I'm Amazing

"Look at me!  Lookatmeeeeee!!!!  Look what I can do!  See?! See!?!  See!"  as my 5 year old, curly blonde haired, gorgeous and stunning blue eyed sweetness  twirls around the living room.

Remember doing that when you were a kid?

I do.

I remember doing the lamest and goofiest, non-awesomest things when I was younger, all the while squealing at the top of my middle-child lungs "Look!!! LooK!!!!!" hoping for a glance from my parents and an "Amazing!!  You're amazing!!" word of encouragement from their lips.  Rare to be found, those words.  I was in competition between an artistic older brother, and an angelic vocalist younger sister.  (I had nada).

I'd try and try to find my place in the talent that seemed to fill my family tree by dancing like a ballerina and pretending that I knew how to play the piano- but instead of getting happy back pats from my parents, I seemed to annoy them more than anything else.

I didn't know where I belonged, and I wasn't sure what I needed to do to be the kid that got the praises that I so wanted to get.  I heard a lot of "you're so pretty" and "nice try", but not much of that strong, sincere "Whoo HOO, Good JOB!".

I've been wondering if maybe I project much of my childhood miss's on my children?
For example: My oldest is super artistic and an outstanding reader.  We praise her ability and tell her how amazing she is- and include character compliments and gratitude for her willingness to be such a great helper to her mommy and daddy.

My youngest is just CUTE and sweet and super adorable.  She's fun (and exhausting) and silly;  We tell her by the attention that we give her just how great  we think she is.

And then there's our middle child.    Anyone that's EVER been a middle child is already putting your hearts pity toward our precious 5 year old.  You know what it feels like, don't you?  The Middle Child.
Not old enough to get the priveledges, and not young enough to get away with ANYTHING!

Without filling her with fluff (because I refuse to lie to my children about WHO THEY are) I try extra hard to find ways to tell our middle that she's awesome.  Yes- she's a great reader and a great artist, too- but those are the thing she's heard her parents say to her sister (they don't seem to 'belong' to her).  And she is SO cute and silly and fun (and exhausting), but again- she hears those things about her little sister.

Our middle needs to find her individuality, the same way that I wanted to find my own- and it's a big job for this Mommy to stand beside her, cheering her on, while she finds it.

 It's true that her older sister can easily "outshine" her and her younger sister can quickly pull attention "away" from her-  so she most definitenly needs extra doses of encouaging words and one-on-one focus from mommy and daddy.

When we are consistent in telling our 5 year old how GREAT she is, I see a difference in her joy.  When our 5 year old is driving us CRAZY with disobedient behavior and a bad attitude- thus causing her to get in more 'trouble' than normal, I see a SERIOUS difference in her joy.

All she wants is to hear "You. Are. Awesome."  She lives for pleasing and pleasant and loving words from her parents, her peers, and her authority figures.  Is that a middle child thing? A girl thing? A personality thing?

I don't know- but I just realized that I can relate to my little girl very well.

I want to hear that I am amazing from my husband, and my peers and my authority figures.  NOT only do I want that encouragement, but I wanna know ALL ABOUT why it is that somebody thinks I'm amazing- details, details, details.

Who doesn't want to hear an edification?  Especially "us" Mommy's.  We are HUNGRY for that affirmation.  Some of us may have husbands that are super at complimenting the 'good works' we've done, and there are some of us that have to pull the eye teeth from our spouses to get them to recognize that they might possibly need to be a little bit more giving with their affirming words.

Either way- I've come to the conclusion that whether it be a girl thing, or a middle child thing- a mommy thing or a personality thing- we ALL want somebody to tell us that We Are Amazing.

I'm so glad that God thinks I'm amazing, and that my children believe that I am, too.  And (when he remembers to voice it) that my husband does, as well.

Now? I have to be willing to Tell "ME" that I'm amazing (and believe it).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

He Spoke.

I know that He talks to me.  Deliberately, He speaks to me.

But sometimes? I don't know what He's saying.  Sometimes it's not totally clear.

In a song, on March 3, 2011 He spoke a clear and crisp message.  I wrote it down on a large canvas.  It says:

"He brought me to this brokenness....."

I already knew He was working on  me, but this message confirmed that I was going to get taken further into a place of brokenness, and in His sweetness He chose to reveal to me that He was taking me there.  
He prepared me.  (He is SO GOOD!)

The date has a relevance.  It makes me so sad to realize it, but it also humbles me.  

It was 7 days later that I came into a place of slight recognition as to what path of brokenness I was traveling down.  

On the 8th day it was fully confirmed.  And to be totally frank- it sucked to be there.  
Even though I knew He brought me there, I still felt angry.  And lost.  And empty.

It was on this day that God answered my heart cry when I prayed that He would lead me to somebody that would give me an answer.  I wanted clear instructions and a direct answer from Him answering my gut wrenching question

"How do I deal with this?!"

The answer came: "Pray it Through"

On the 9th day I remained empty, despite His willingness to speak to me.  I felt myself moving toward hopelessness.  It was a dark place to be, mainly cause I had already lived in that darkness before and  I knew how miserable it was going to be.   

And on the 10th day He spoke to me again.  The 10th day was Sunday, March 13.

We went to church and God spoke to my heart through our pastor.  Topic: "Forgiveness".

I received the message in my spirit, but in my flesh I questioned my ability to see and allow that forgiveness come to life.

Later, as I was alone in my car, I found myself (literally) driving without a destination.....   I chose to drive aimlessly until I had an answer. I didn't know the question, and I hadn't a clue as to what I expected to hear.  I just wanted an answer.

30 minutes later I had a destination to head toward- so I plugged the address into my GPS and got on the highway.

 I looked at the sky in front of me and noticed how blue and bright and clear and beautiful it was.  I noticed that all around, the sky was perfectly clear, except for a single white-puffy-cloud.  I said in my heart, with awe and humility "God! You can speak to me through that cloud."  I wasn't 'asking' Him to.  I just proclaimed the Truth that I knew "You can."

And He did.

I was one exit away from my destination, and the cloud was in my direct line of sight.  I watched as the cloud started to feather and break apart. (Remember- I was looking for an answer but I didn't have the question)

The cloud started to form the letters  J  e  s   in a feathered cursive form.  I began crying from the pit of my soul.  It didn't finish forming any other letters, but I knew He was telling me that the answer to my question was "J e s u s".

He wasn't finished answering the question that I had yet to form.

I can't explain it, but those letters, as miraculous as they were- they were not the full message.  I was humbled by God's willingness to SHOW me that HE can and will and DID speak to me through a simple cloud.  The tears that I was crying were belly-sobs of awe.

I kept my eye on the cloud.  I knew He had more to say.  And in those few seconds, I realized that I was waiting on God to remove the cloud completely.  My turning signal was on, and my heart was heavy.  "God! Are you going to remove the cloud before I get off of the highway?"  And just as I asked the question, I turned my eyes toward the exit I was to get off of, and then took one last glance at the cloud- the cloud was completely gone.  

In a matter of seconds, the cloud had started to form the word "J E S U S" and then it fully disappeared.

I know that He allowed me to experience a miracle.  And there are parts of His message to me that I understand, but then the other parts, I can't quite grasp.  

To recall the vastness of this miracle is quite challenging. If anyone else were to tell me this personally, or if I were to read these words elsewhere,  I would assume the story teller was totally exaggerating something they had imagined.  

It's too fantastic to believe that God would take the time to directly speak to me, but truly and fantastically- He did.

I realized that He spoke to me because He wants to speak to me.  He wants to speak to all of us.  
He chose to speak in that moment because my heart was fully open to receive His word to me.  

 I've not quite grasped the enormity of His message.  

I would assume that He was telling me that Jesus is the answer to removing an obstacle.  And though that is the full on Truth- "Jesus IS THE ANSWER to removing debilitating obstacles from our life." I can't help but  feel like God has more to say to me.

I need so desperately to know.  Though I know He spoke to me, I want Him to tell me more.  I want Him to sit down on my couch with me, and hold my hand, and say "Daughter!  This is what I want you to do....." 

He gave me a  message through a person, and through a miraculous sign....   shouldn't that be enough?  Am I just naive?  Why don't I know what direction He wants me to go in?

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I met this guy.

 (Here's how.)

And via Twitter he messaged that he checked out my blog.

My first thoughts: "Yay... " and then immediately I thought "OH NO!!!"

self-consciously click on my blog to read over my recent post: I'm (horrifically) reminded I had just rambled on about how "being on my period SUCKED" and all this other female-chick stuff.

Dang.  Why couldn't I have written about something deep and interesting?!?

It'd be like if Paula Dean popped over for dinner, and you happened to be having Hamburger Helper that night.  No bueno.   Here's this awesome writer, who writes about writing, and he checked out  my blog, and I only had Hamburger Helper up.


Then I pulled myself together, gave myself a lecture about being "me" regardless of who sees "me", period-hating'-smack-talk and all.

So, a ton of affirmation flew into my lap when writer-blogger-dude asked me to do a guest post.
And then all that self-consciousness came back as I started wringing my hands and pacing around like a nerd- telling myself that there was NO way I was even a little bit good enough to do a GUEST POST for awesome-writer-blogger-dude.

(Repeat giving myself-a-talking-to routine.)

I eventually relaxed enough to quit trying to figure out how to not suck, and what I'd write about, and decided that- like everything else I write- my inspiration would just need to happen organically.  Interestingly, that conclusion is what lead me to write this.

My title was "Genius Perspective" and (ironically) he subtitled it "Finish What You Start".

I am the ULTIMATE idea person, but totally lack the follow through for all of my brilliant plans.  The subtitle, at first- made me feel like a hypocrite, cause I rarely finish what I start.

And then- it revved me up to have another talking-to with myself.
"It's out there now, Amber.  Other people know what you started.  You're gonna have to finish it."

Very excited to follow through.

Here's the link.

Be sure to follow Jeff Goins on Twitter, and subscribe to his blog.


I love reading about what others that are on the same path that I am on have experienced.
(For this post- said path is referring to my Christian walk- though it is quite imperfect and stumbling.)

It's my opinion that not all authors have 'the answer' to the life struggles we all face;
However,  I see myself as  somewhat of a 'wisdom gleaner', so if somebody wrote a book on a subject relevant to what's going on in my life; I read it, and analyze it, and pick it apart, and take from it what applies to my life.... after I've made sure it checks in A-okay with my spirit... AND the Bible.

(unless I'm reading a book about how to grow the perfect tomato plant; no bible referencing or spirit-checking needed there)

One of my favorite "if you're a woman and you're married" books is called:
"For Women Only" (what you need to know about the inner lives of men)

Shaunti Feldhahn did an OUTSTANDING job researching for a fiction novel she was writing, and ended up with so much profound information that her research turned into NOT ONLY an incredible novel, but also a brand new concept for a whole other book.

In Shaunti's  book (For Women Only) she blew my brain up when she explained that

  "men would rather feel 'alone and unloved' rather than 'inadequate and disrespected'."

Furthermore!!!  She touched on the fact that some men noted a challenge in choosing between the 2 choices, because both  (unloved and disrespected) appeared to be "the same option".

     This brings me to my point.

I don't know what I'm doing as a writer.
I have no credentials.
I didn't go to college.
I've never taken a writing class.

I started blogging because I wanted needed to write.  I needed to process.  I needed to get my impassioned thoughts out in front of me so I could backspace and delete and reorganize them to the degree that they made sense.

 Passion is what makes what I do fulfilling.  When I become passionate, I write well.  When I "try" to write, I write horribly.  I need to be thinking about or reflecting on something to get what I want to say onto a screen and have it make sense.

Somebody once said this:

"You don't have to write about something that you learned from an experience.... just write about the experience."

I had no clue what he was talking about.  He said something in English, but it went into my brain as Greek.

Experiencing and learning are the same thing.... right?  When you experience something, you also learn something, don't you?  

I do.
Do you?
Is it just me?

Shaunti experienced the grueling task of research   upon research   upon research as she wrote her novel.

From her experience- she gained so much wisdom that it poured a new passion in her to write another book.
From her experience, I was able to glean from her wisdom.
From my experience reading (and learning from) her book, I'm now able to teach my daughters....
And they'll teach their children...

Experience is to LEARNING as being Disrespectful is to being Unloving.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rob Bell: "Christian Author"

I don't follow the "news".  Personally- it fires me up, and I'm too busy to put a whole bunch of passion into the things I cannot change.

I intelligently choose to be ignorant.

But? Then, there's Facebook.  It's a sort of "in your face" news feed; where people I care about and respect post their "news", or- "the news they personally care about."

So, my former pastor posted this link about Rob Bell and Universalism.

Blah blah blah- I don't care about Rob Bell.

What I did care about what how easily us "Christians" tend to follow people.  We (myself included) reference authors as though we're referencing the Bible.

"Well? You know, Dr. Dobson says we should spank our kids.... and to do otherwise would be more harmful to them than to not."  (paraphrased)

If I had grown up in a home where my parents never beat-the-tar out of me for being a total brat, I may not have so quickly believed Dr. D's approach to discipline.  However- Dr. D lines up with the big B-I-B-L-E, therefore- he is correct, and I will trust his teaching.

Having said that- there are some authors that teach on theological things that only folks who've been disciplined in Greek and Hebrew and pig-Latin could comprehend.

And this is where we (Christians) can get sucked into False Doctrine.  We don't know if what these people are teaching is true or not.   We assume that because the author is a "christian" and talks about the Bible and God and Jesus, that they are right.

If someone sounds spiritual and uses big words- they have got to know what they're talking about, right?

There was a part of the post that referenced some other dude that got "crucified" for teaching false doctrine:
{these thingy's mean I'm commenting/adding to the original post}

"A larger denomination would take his {Rob Bell's} credentials and excommunicate him like they did to me,” Bishop Pearson told CNN. {*insert whine and boo-hoo's*}
{Pearson} said it reminded him of his days as a charismatic leader of a big church in the largest Pentecostal denomination. His questioning of hell from the pulpit led to his ouster. 
"What happened to me is happening to Rob Bell," Pearson said. "If you denounce hell, it's like you are denouncing God. You’re going to be called a heretic." 
{Because HELL is a reality ya BIG DUMMY, and telling folks there ISN'T a hell IS denouncing the-real-deal GOD}
“I thought my people loved me and would walk through the valley of the shadow of death with me, but they didn’t,” Pearson said.

Interesting, Mr. Pearson.  You thought  that those people that YOU were teaching about GOD, and JESUS, and following the WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIGHT were.... your people  ?!?!

You thought they'd walk through the valley WITH YOU!?!

That's jacked up right there, buddy.  Jacked. UP.

Christians should not ever EVER ever be "PEOPLE FOLLOWERS".

We are JESUS followers, nothing more.

So- puh-lease!!!! Take what people say, think about it- and DO NOT accept it until you do your homework.

Break out that red-leather-bound thinga-mah-jig collecting dust on your shelf, set the iPhone app down, and turn Google off.  If it doesn't line up with The Word- it's total and complete CRAP!

 We are in the days of ELIJAH, ya'll. 
(Elijah's story is in the book of Kings and you can read how he felt isolated and alone in the culture in which he lived. But God told him to stand up and speak for Him.)

Break away from the Christian Authors and turn yourself over to the Author of our salvation.

The END. Amen.  VOI'LA!