Monday, April 28, 2014

The Truth

They were forced to take it down.  A school in our beautiful state was, last week, forced to remove a Bible verse from the walls of their gymnasium because some group in Wisconsin opposed it.  Did you know that Wisconsin is like 800 some odd miles from West Virginia?  Why couldn't they worry about their own school walls and let ours be?  Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to me.

 the further a society drifts from the george orwell

We moved here from New England more than a few years ago now.  We went the homeschool route up there after hearing that a local elementary school could not even put up a Christmas tree.  Honestly, we did  not know what we would encounter here, but we tried public school that first year thinking that life might be a little bit different this far South.  We were very happy with the elementary school in general..and then we attended our first PTO meeting.

My breath was taken away for a moment when I heard someone say "We will start the meeting by turning it over to Pastor so and so for prayer."  What???? As if I hadn't already thought I had died and gone to heaven just by moving here, they were going PRAY, right there in the school cafeteria, in front of all those parents???

Volunteering in our little guys kindergarten class would soon become a joy of mine, and I remember feeling that same shocked feeling when his teacher called me up that winter and asked if I could come into her classroom and put her Christmas tree up for her!   Heck YES, I was all over that!

That summer we would attend our first pee-wee football game as we had signed our stocky little guy up to play.  We took our seats on the bleachers all ready to get going after the National Anthem was played, but then we heard the Area Directors voice over the intercom asking folks to bow their heads while he prayed. I soon learned I would never tire of that shocked feeling hitting me when I realized that people around here still matter where they are at.

I noticed more often than not after that when we would attend those pee-wee football games that coaches called their teams to the sidelines to pray together before the games began and it was  such an awesome sight to see.  One local team even had shirts made that said "Faith, Family, and Football".  Every time I saw one of those shirts I would wish it had been our team wearing them:) One year our son had a coach that didn't pray before games and it was with great pride  that one of my best friends, whose son played with mine, and I watched our boys huddle the team together and ask coach to pray before their game started!

Fast forward to four years later and our sons last year on the pee-wee league before he would move to middle school football.  It was almost time for The Yankee to head out again and he was one of their coaches. Some of the parents and the Area Director called a preacher in to pray for my husband from the announcers booth while the team saluted him and presented him with a football signed by all of the boys.  It would have been a special event no matter what, but I have a photo that my husband didn't know was being taken of him, head bowed, the boys all standing in front of him with bowed heads, football lights glaring above.  That photo will always be precious to me and, had our Area Director not been a man of faith, open to the ideas of the other parents who wanted to recognize God and The Yankee, that moment never would have been captured.

Our little ones have long since moved on to the middle school and though I slowly feel the weight of the worldliness closing in around us, even here in our little piece of Mayberry, the Christmas tree still stands each year right in the atrium entrance of the middle school for everyone to see. A dear friend of ours hosts the Fellowship of Christian Athletes every Wednesday morning, where, every student that so chooses has the freedom to go sit and listen about God and start their day out with prayer.

Our middle school and high schools are also home to the Souled Out event each year where tons of youth and their parents come on a weekend evening to worship and praise. Young Life is now in both of the high schools in this county and doing great.

Several weeks ago, we took our daughter to watch the local track meet.  We had never been to a track meet before and only attended because her two best friends are on the team and we wanted to support them.  I looked down on the field right before the meet started just in time to catch this scene.

These kids are not discussing track strategy folks, these kids are praying.

 But in all honestly, do you know what?  I am scared right now...scared that, just by posting this blog, and shining a light on what is true, what is RIGHT, and what is still GOOD in this world, some people from Wisconsin are going to somehow swoop in and steal it all away from us.  And we shouldn't have to feel that way in a country that was created to be "One nation under God'.  In a country who originally created a public school system with Bibles in have we strayed so far?  How have we sat back and allowed it to be taken so far from what was originally planned for us?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Fog Has Lifted

I often wonder, "What on earth will I write about tomorrow?"  And I know that, if I didn't hand it all over to God and ask Him to show me, I probably wouldn't have any ideas at all.  More often than not, He uses my husband to show me.  I suppose because I have more contact with him than anyone else, who knows.  Maybe it is just because I listen to him so well..(ha ha, inside joke, he is laughing right now while he is reading this!!) But seriously that Yankee tends to be pretty in tune with the things God is trying to show Him and this week, we will call it providence that the word EDIFY has come up across his path more than once.

Websters defines edify as this:

 to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge :  uplift; also :  enlighten, inform

Out of all of those words in that definition, UPLIFT is my favorite.  And when I received one of the emails from the Yankee this week, he had found a definition that said, 
To spiritually/morally
 lift benefit!

Photo courtesy of The Yankee! (Thanks Babe!)
 I come from the purest of layman's perspectives when I am talking about the Bible.  Not only do I not claim to be an expert, but I cringe at the thought that my Pastor, Roger, might even be reading this!!!  It is a dream of mine to begin working on a Masters in Theology sometime soon in my "spare" time..(ha ha, another huge joke there if you know me)!  But I know when something moves the Holy Spirit inside of me, and I just can't get away from this edify word! If you follow my blog, you guys are just traveling along with me as I try to learn and grow.

I have devoured every biblical passage with edify in it, but I have to look at both the King James for how it was meant to sound and The Message to break in down into plain English for me. I am a little slow like that. The Yankee, he is the smartest person I know.  He could read the King James all day long and actually GET IT.  Me, I read one passage and feel as though I was magically transported back to my "Chaucer" class in college, and, just like back then, I am left going "Huh?", so I go to The Message to try and fill in any gaps from only reading the King James version.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify. (KJ)

1 Corinthians 10:23

The Message (MSG)
23-24 Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.

Yes, I would very likely be jumping up and down out of my seat right now were I not typing!  Read that last part again.  I put it in bold AND highlighted it because it is so important. I am so excited because we can apply this to every area of our life!  I will use marriage, because that is where my heart is.  I could just get by, and wake up every day wondering what I am going to get out of that day, but what happens when I wake up and wonder what I can do to help my husband have a great day or if he wakes up doing the same?  Life is better, that is what happens.  And maybe you aren't married, but apply this to your boyfriend or girlfriend...and maybe you aren't even in a relationship, so apply this to anyone you come across during your day and you will see that when you concentrate on helping others live well, your own day is so much better!  Better still, lets apply it as a we go to church on Sunday mornings just to get by and say we went to church, or do we go to church on Sundays to truly edify Christ?  What about when we walk out of the church? Oh man, THAT is a whole other blog!

The Bible also has this to say regarding the word edify
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use in edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

The Message (MSG)
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Again, I had to bold and underline because I get excited,like a little kid, when I see that all of the answers are right in front of us, in one book, just waiting to be taken in.  Did you ever look at is as YOU having the power to minister grace to someone?  That thought had never crossed my mind, but I sure love it! 

Say only what helps, each word a gift.  Maybe it is just me, but I am SOOO guilty on this one. I don't mind tattling on myself... I get frustrated, days get long, I get too busy, I get grouchy (a lot) and each word isn't a gift at all. Just recently, we were planning a church event and I got tired and snappy and bit the head off of one of my besties, like THE person here in WV who has been there for me every single time I have called her, which is A LOT.  I felt so horrible, I vowed to never snap at anyone again, but then, of course, I am human and got grouchy again (just not with her! lol!)

There are so many more references to the word edify in the Bible.  I hope we can all take some time this week to look into and see what they all mean.  But for me, for right now, I feel like a fog has lifted as I am realizing the choice I have to lift others up, help others to live well, and offer others grace just with my words!  I love it!

Til' next time ya'll!
God Bless and Love Everyone!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pop Culture Grabs My Heart - For REAL

Sometimes I have to wonder why we even pay for cable.  Our television is rarely on.  But when it gets right down to it, we have two reasons why we don't just nix cable once and for all...Reason number one is spelled N-F-L and I could lie to you and say that is because of The Yankee's love of football and all things Patriots, but I have to take partial responsibility on this one as well because I LOVE me some football:)  But reason number two for not ditching cable is ALL me, and that is...... The Voice!  Isn't it crazy that I don't watch anything but this one show?!?!

We have been so busy around here that I haven't had time to watch it at all.  And we don't DVR or anything like that, but Friday night I had a rare night completely alone (not something I recommend, I missed everyone so bad I could hardly stand it) and I was able to catch up on all of The Voice episodes I had missed by watching them on the computer. 

Oh how I pray that someone out there is as sappy as I am because let me tell you, THIS kid, Jake Worthington, brought me to tears, not once, but two or three times!

It is true that he could have brought me to tears because every Keith Whitely song brings me to tears, or the thought of Keith Whitley's life, or the so very sad circumstances of his young death due to alcohol addiction.  And yes, I do believe that is part of why I was tearing up. But by the third time I was tearing up, I had to ask myself, why is this Jake getting to me so much?  And I knew it was because of exactly what the judges said....he is so REAL.  Even before they said that about him, I had been sitting there, as a parent, thinking, "God, I can only pray that you allow my children to be as real as this kid is."

I love to be optimistic.  I think it is something that my faith brings to the table and I find it easier if my glass is half full, but, like many of you out there, I had a really rough week.  The reality is that most of you probably had a way rougher week than I.  Still, I could hide behind a "blog facade" and write about something frilly and nice and wrap it all up like a fairy tale at the end of the blog, but this week was just plain hard.

Goodbye's alone are enough to break a week, but throw in there the rest of life...this week I have prayed for my mom who is sick, my aunt who is not feeling well.  I sat with The Yankee as he tried to reach out to a friend over the phone, hearing a conversation that broke my heart.  Another person dear to my heart confided in me of a conversation that seriously hurt someone she and I both love, which also was heartbreaking.  I even got pulled over by the police for crying out loud!!!  Really, I did!!!

And as I look back, what I can take out of all of it that is positive is this..goodye's are hard, but they are real and they come from a place of The Yankee and I trying to live out a genuine life that God put before us and doing our best to live in a real manner that He would have us live.  Listening to my mom be sick over the phone when I am too far away to help is hard, but it is real and she is just about the most real person I know.  I heard my husband be so heartfelt with his friend over the phone and heard that person just use excuse after excuse after excuse, making me all that more grateful for loving someone who knows how to be real.

I think there are a lot of people out there like me, who long to live in a world full of real, genuine, heartfelt people.  I think it is why country music is so popular.  I think it is why the Jake Worthingtons and the Scotty McCreery's of the world soar to popularity in these reality show contests. (For the record, I have never watched American Idol, but I do love Scotty Mcreery.)

Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.” Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.

I look at this Jake and I look at my kids and I say, "Dear Jesus, help us to raise them as genuine as we can." I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and was convinced until Friday night that it was a bad thing.  Then this kid just puts it all out there and hides no feelings from anyone and it takes watching a 16 year old kid that I don't even know to make me realize that it is ok for me to be real!  Even though I had already known it was in God's word to be just that!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Honey for Your Soul

We could all choose to wake up and smile at the first person we come across that day.  Maybe even go so far as to say something kind to them. Or maybe not.  Maybe, instead we could ignore them, or snap at them for something.  After all, there is nothing quite like starting someone else's day off on the wrong foot.  Why should we have to be nice during the first part of our day?

We could all choose to smile at everyone we see in the grocery store. Or maybe not.  Maybe, instead, we could keep our head to our store list and ignore everyone who walks by.  After all, grocery shopping is a total pain and it takes up so much of our valuable time.  Why should we have to waste extra time stopping to smile or talk to someone?

We could all choose to smile as we pass by folks on our walk, or our run or at the gym.  Or maybe not. Maybe, instead, we should keep our earphones on and only stay plugged into our own little world.  After all, exercise is soooooo difficult, and again, just something we really have to make time for.  Why should we have to take time from our important ritual to even offer up a smile to someone?

Proverbs 16:24 courtesy of (in)courage

Ever since I posted this image on our Hills of Mercy Facebook page the other day, I just haven't been able to get this verse out of my head! (Not that I want to!)

The Yankee has a cousin I adore, even though we have never, ever been able to spend any time together one and one and I believe we have only met once.  She is the epitome of kindness and often enjoys mailing me things out of the blue.  One day she sent me this magnet that holds a prominent spot on our frig.

Photo courtesy of my frig:)

I don't know about you, but it is an AMAZING fact to me when I stop and think that I actually have the power to make or break someones day with kindness.  Let me repeat that in case it didn't sink in, YOU AND I HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE OR BREAK SOMEONES DAY.  And, it is, of course, a CHOICE!

You can choose to smile or choose to look frustrated.

You can choose to be engaged in other's lives, or you can choose the cruelest of cruelty.....indifference (yikes, a whole other blog, that nasty word!).

You can choose to gripe or choose turn the other cheek.  (I am a firm believer, being a recovering griper myself, that planting your feet in the ground and being sure that other person knows you disagree with them is a selfish act showing the world that you are convinced someone has offended YOU once again, and, well, how DARE THEY offend you, so, by golly, you are going to be sure you tell them about it!). Have you ever met that person (or knew the old me?) the one that just had to tell you if they didn't agree with every single thing you did?  The one that HAD to point out if your way wasn't their way because, well, their way is just flat out better than your way and they are going to be certain to let you know it.

I have a dear friend here who has only known me in my "after" mode, that is, "after accepting Christ".  One day we were talking about someone asking me for forgiveness and she said she couldn't imagine me ever not forgiving anyone, because, as she put it, I let people walk all over me and then turn around and smile at them and invite them into my house.  While it might be a perception that I would allow someone to walk all over me, the fact is, I am making a choice.  It is easier for me to walk away than to retaliate and try to bring someone down in the same manner they may be trying to bring me down. And furthermore, I feel bad for the gripers, not only because I am a recovering one myself and understand the misery of living there, but because I see their sadness and the anger that bubbles underneath indicates that, just maybe, they are not living fully where Christ is trying to get them to live. 

So I try (and often fail) to choose honey or a smile or a kind word or a hug.  Because it's easier.  Because it is what Christ would do.  Because I would rather make someone else feel joyful and light than burden their day with my own frustrations.  I can take those to the Lord, I don't need to place them back on the person I feel has offended me!

1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you

Who can you smile at today? Who can use a kind word? A hug? I say anybody and everybody!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Happiest Race on the Planet

The finish line of Saturday's Color Run.  Thanks to my friend LJ for taking the pics!

Apparently the hills of Roanoke can be a little more brutal than the hills in my own neighborhood, you know, the ones I jumped off my track training and trained on these past few weeks for my first 5K ever?

There were five of us and we all started out The Happiest Race on the Planet at a nice pace.  For the first little bit I actually thought it was going to be easy.  I felt like a runner! It wasn't until I lost sight of The Yankee and our daughter (the latter having not trained AT ALL for this event, bless her little long legged naturally athletic heart!), that I started to feel like a failure.  I tell you, the devil would have had me stop that race right then and there and start walking it instead.

Somewhere passed the halfway mark, something just clicked and I felt like a runner again. I knew that God had given me the strength to do this because I had run three miles at home way more than once. But I knew something else, that if I started walking, I would not only be letting myself down, I would be telling God I was not going to do something He Himself had put on my heart.  Not only could I not let myself down, there was no way I was going to let God down.

I have a pretty rockin' playlist on my Smart Phone for when I am running, it is a must to get me through the training.  But I also threw an extra song in there, Mercy Me's I Can Only Imagine.  I know, I's not upbeat, you can't dance to it, and honestly, more often than not, when I hear it, I wind up in a puddle of good tears more than anything else.

There is no particular one line of this song that gets to me the most, just the general awe-inspiring image of standing face to face with God.  And how does that pertain to this race?  I can only imagine, when He looks at me and says, "Remember when I told you to get as healthy as possible?" I want to be able to say, "Not only do I remember, but I did exactly what you told me to do!" And THAT my friends could keep me running like Forest Gump!


In case you don't know me and you haven't read any of my previous blogs, I DON'T RUN..really, I don't.  I have always hated running with a passion. I would have rather stuck needles in my eyes for days at a time then get out there and jolt my entire body with the torture of lifting one foot in front of the other at a faster pace than my normal walk that I enjoy so much.  It has been a steadfast rule in my life that I will not run, even though I knew God wanted me to step it up in this area.  It wasn't until my husband was home in January and encouraged us to run as a family that I finally realized it was time to listen.  And I did.  One lap everyday of the first week, two laps the second week, and so on and so on.  Rome wasn't built in a day you know.

So I kept running on Saturday even when I wanted to stop.  And I finished my first 5k in 34 minutes flat.  That won't get me into the Olympics, but it did make the Top 5 Most Proud Moments of my life list:) I will be washing blues, pinks and purples out of my hair and apparently off of my skin for days to come, but that's ok...each time I see those colors it is a reminder that I did what He asked of me in this area.

There are many, many other areas of my life I know God is telling me to step it up.  Starting this blog is one.  Another is my over all health in general.  God has shown me that my body has a zero tolerance for sugar, preservatives, and possibly even wheat. In the near future I will be stepping up, and blogging about, my experiences in these areas as well. 

How about you? What are the areas of your life that, when you see Him face to face, you want to be able to say "Yes, I did that, just like you asked me too!" There is no feeling in the world like knowing you did something to please God, it's NEVER too late...and really, shouldn't every thing we do be to His glory?

Til next time ya'll!
God Bless and Love Everyone!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

No False Pretenses

"You and Uncle actually argue?"  This question came from my lovely niece the other day as we were talking about Homecomings.  Her husband is gone a lot too so it is a blessing to me that I have her to discuss Homecomings. God gave me her so that I have someone who understands what it is like to go days without getting to hear from your husband. And it is a blessing for me to be able to be there for her as well, especially since her husband is a younger replica of my own.

But when she said this, I thought to myself, "Uh-oh, maybe I am doing a little misrepresentation here?"  Not that I believe it is anyone's business if the Yankee and I argue, but I also don't want to paint such a pretty picture that it is completely unrealistic.

Yesterday on the Hills of Mercy Facebook page I posted a link to this article by Matthew Jacobson.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you click on it before you go any further with my own blog post today.  It is a virtual "how to have peace in your marriage" and I wish someone had put this article in front of me all those years ago.  We could have avoided our own War Story.

Have you ever been that person that just loves to plant yourself in one spot and go on and on and on just because you have to be heard?  Because you are convinced the other person just needs to hear what it is you are saying?  Because you just know that your plans are better than their plans and gosh darn it, they need to HEAR what it is you have to say???  And "Poor, poor me if they don't hear what I am saying." That used to be me.  And that mentality was what caused my part in watching our marriage almost fall apart back in the day.  I say "my part" because I am a firm believer it takes two to royally mess things up.  And yes, one person is probably a little more in the wrong than the other, but guess what?  The ONLY thing we have control over is what we can change about ourselves. I remember getting lost so much in arguments, it was like not even being able to see the forest for the trees.  There were times in the end I remember thinking "What were we even arguing about to begin with????"  Have you been there?
So back then, much like MJ speaks of in his blog, I opted to try my best to be the peacemaker. An amazing thing happened.  The more quiet I was, the more The Yankee heard what it was I needed!!  Every time I opted to not plant my feet in the ground, ever so slowly, the light began to shine through the trees in the forest! Really, it works!! Try it!  If it doesn't work I promise  you never have to read this blog again:) 

There are so many choices in life.  The more I write this blog, the more I see how much control we actually have over our own lives.  MJ says, "Arguing isn't something that happens to us, it is something we choose to do."  AMEN to THAT!!!  What if next time, we just chose to walk away? I have a dear friend in an incredibly difficult situation.  I am constantly having to remind her,"Say I love you and walk away..don't let him draw you into his battle world, you have more control over this situation than you can see."  The process really transcends marriages even.  We can CHOOSE to be the peacemaker when dealing with every difficult situation in our lives, not just spouse situations.

The Yankee and I have vowed to pick up our crosses for one another daily.  And I believe people see that from the outside, but when my niece was so shocked that we actually do argue, I felt a bit fake for a moment. We do still have many disagreements, we are very different people and we live in a manner some might consider very stressful, just based on what The Yankee does for a living.  But with each disagreement we grow, we learn and we move on to a better couple than we were before. And always, ALWAYS one of us make the conscious decision to be the peacemaker:)

Til next time ya'll!
God Bless and Love Everyone!!
PS..don't forget to search Facebook for "Hills of Mercy Hollers of Grace" Click "like" and share with your friends!!
Arguing isn’t something that happens to us. It’s what we choose to do. - See more at:
Arguing isn’t something that happens to us. It’s what we choose to do. - See more at:
Arguing isn’t something that happens to us. It’s what we choose to do. - See more at: