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Praise Him

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

In my last blog post, I talked about walking in the fire. Lately that has been our life. Thankfully our washing machine and air conditioner are fixed, but now our van has broken down. And it is so easy to dwell on all of those things, but we have to lift up our eyes.

If we can look beyond the “bad” things, we begin to see God working in our situation. We have to give Him praise for what He has in store for us. Let me just tell you, He does not change because our circumstances change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

And if you can’t get beyond your situation, you have to praise Him for who He is. He is still an awesome God. He still sent His Son to this world to die for you and me. He is still the King of kings and Lord of lords. Watch this YouTube video here. If you’re not sure how to praise Him, trust me, this will give you the words to say.

When you begin to get your eyes off of your circumstances and begin to press through in worship, things begin to change. Now let me just clarify, everything around you may still look the same, but something inside of you changes. Your whole perspective changes and God can begin to work in you.

Sometimes, though, God does begin to change your circumstances. I have a cookie business on the side, and in the last few weeks, I have watched it explode. Also, we came home yesterday and someone had mowed our yard. We have no idea who it was, but they were sent by God.

Trust me when I tell you that walls fall when you begin to praise. No matter what is happening in your life today, if you will begin to praise, He will begin to change you.

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In The Fire

“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25

Do you ever feel like you’re walking in the middle of the fire? Do you ever feel like everything around you just keeps falling apart? Trust me, I’m there.

Lately it seems like if it can go wrong, it will. Our air conditioner has broken (Praise the Lord it’s working now!), our washing machine is still broken, we have one vehicle at the moment, Witten has been sick, and the list goes on and on. I have found myself asking God, “Why?” on too many occasions.

But God has been working on me. Sunday our pastor started a new series called The Shift. Through this series we learn to shift our focus from why to what. What is the Lord teaching us through all of this? Then this morning my devotional hit on the same principles. I don’t know about you, but God always has to get my attention in several different ways before it fully sinks into my stubborn head. So, then, I wanted to share with you.

The above verse refers to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Now if you aren’t familiar with this story, you can read the whole story in Daniel 3:8-27. The gist of the story s that these three men refused to bow down to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar and asa result they were thrown in a fiery furnace that was heated seven times its normal temperature all while they were bound. However, in the midst of that fire Jesus showed up and loosed them and walked with them. Hallelujah!

That last sentence is where God really starts to talk to me. He loosed them and walked with them. He didn’t pull them out of the fire. Instead He gave them freedom in the fire and walked with them. That just gets me excited! Sometimes we’re so focused, especially me, on the fire that we can’t see Jesus. And if we can’t see Jesus, we can’t get full freedom. We stay bound in our despair and our hopelessness and defeat and we succumb to the fire.

Oh, but if we would just look up! He is with us. No matter why we’re in the fire, it doesn’t matter. We should be more focused on why we can’t reach out for Jesus. He is there if we will just look up and take His hand. Let Him free you today of the bondage you are wrapped up in. Even if He doesn’t pull you out of the fire, He’ll still be walking with you every step of the way.

On Sunday, our praise band played a Hillsong United song called, “Another In the Fire”. I have listened to it everyday since then because of the powerful message. You can listen to it here or you can buy it here.

If you live in Dyersburg and don’t have a home church, I encourage you to check out First Christian.

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When Motherhood is Hard

I’m currently sitting outside with my little guy, just the two of us. The girls and Thomas are at the movies, where Witten and I started out. He just couldn’t handle it, so we came home. However, with only one vehicle at the moment, we’ll be heading back in awhile to get them.

We came home to no air conditioning, sink full of dishes, and my washing machine still broken after almost two weeks. I was determined I was going to be productive and get the kitchen cleaned, but with Witten crying and the heat of the house, I just couldn’t.

So here we are outside, and all I can hear in my head is everyone telling me how much I’m going to miss these days. But I wonder how I’m going to make it through the end of this day.

I’m exhausted.

I feel completely defeated.

Some days it’s a struggle to put one foot in front of the other and plaster a fake smile on my face.

No one warns you that these days come with so many struggles. No one tells you that life won’t always be a walk in the park or that you will feel completely alone some days.

I don’t know all of the answers for sure. I know that I have to rely on my Heavenly Father to see me through. And I also know that I wouldn’t make it without some amazing friends.

Ladies, we have to be there for one another. A simple text goes such a long way. My precious friends have taken care of my babies like their own. They have ran errands for me. They have gifted me and taken care of me and my family. And my most precious friend has even offered her washing machine and lawnmower to me. They have been there for me when I wasn’t sure I could make it without them.

We have to be those kinds of friends. We have to lift other women up in prayer. We have to rejoice with them and cry with them and laugh with them and listen to them. We have to learn to be a friend.

I hope that I can repay them with the same generosity they have to me.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

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The Chicken Sagas Update

Well it’s been a full week since we got the baby chickens. I am happy to report that all eight survived the weekend, and Olivia is now back in charge to my great relief.

The biggest change we’ve seen in our chickens is how much they’ve grown. They get bigger and bigger everyday and they’re starting to get feathers on their wings.

Check out those feathers!

Another thing that is unfortunate with our chickens is how much they poop! It’s everywhere y’all. They even walk through their feeder and poop. Thomas says all he can smell is chicken poop. Apparently the rest of us are now immune to it, which is a whole other problem.

Olivia is now changing newspapers and cleaning the floors daily. We’ll all be really glad when they’re outside. Thankfully it’ll only be a few more weeks.

Stay tuned for more chicken stories!

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The Chicken Sagas

So, I’ve always thought my parenting skills were pretty on point. I mean, of course, I’ve made mistakes along the way, and some days I’ve felt like a total failure. For the most part, though, I like to think I’m pretty level headed with my kiddos. I’ve seen lots of parents in my teaching career, and let me just tell you, some of those parents can make you feel like super mom.

Unfortunately, over the last few days, I have begun to question my parenting capabilities. No, nothing has happened to my children. No one is in trouble. Neither of my school aged children are failing their respective grades.

So, now I’m sure you’re wondering what makes me feel so inadequate. I said yes to something I shouldn’t have. I made a decision that has changed everything in my home. I let my daughter do something I never thought I would. I let Olivia get baby chickens.

Yes, you read correctly. Baby chickens. Ten baby chickens to be exact.

Now, let me just take you back a little bit. Olivia started 4H this year, which teaches all about agriculture and lots of other things. She absolutely LOVES it. She loves animals and would gladly acquire a farm. For those of you who don’t know me, I am NOT a farm girl. My best friend in high school even called me a city slicker all the time.

So, Liv comes home earlier this year talking all about these chickens and raising them. I think how hard could this be? Oh how naive!

Now, you had to order the chickens in February and they didn’t come in until April. Well, in March, they had a meeting about these chickens. However, I had parent teacher conferences and couldn’t go. The ladies at the 4H office graciously sent me the information for Olivia and I to check out. Obviously I had every intention of reading it all, but I just never got around to it. Big mistake.

Then Wednesday, we picked up our chickens. They start talking about all kinds of crazy stuff and I am lost. (Note to self: Always read the information sent.) Apparently these little things are like newborns. Yeah, they’re handing over ten newborns to me. 🤦‍♀️ We basically have to incubate these things like newborns.

All I could think when these ladies were talking was, “What have I gotten myself into?” I knew Thomas wasn’t going to be too happy about the extras I took 😬 but he’s used to my far fetched ideas and crazy ways.

Our afternoon was getting away from us and it was almost time for church, so we picked the other two kiddos up and headed home to eat quickly. Thomas and I decided that I would drop the kids off at church and go to Tractor Supply while he rigged up the kennel for all of the chickens.

Now, I’ve probably been in Tractor Supply maybe a total of five times in my life. I had no idea what I was doing. I even felt intimidated driving up in my minivan at the farm store. Thankfully it’s apparently “chicken season”. Chicken stuff is EVERYWHERE! Apparently you can even buy a life sized metal chicken to decorate your yard or for your chickens to hang out with. I dunno..

There I am standing in the middle of the chicken section looking around lost as a goose. There’s chicken feed, chicken treats, chicken toys, chicken coops, and baby chickens. There’s also a lady buying some baby chickens. This lady was a chicken expert, y’all. She was all pullet this and red tailed feathered big brown bear chicken that. I was a little amazed at how much she knew and that she was buying these chickens of her own free will.

So after chicken lady left, the sales lady asked if I needed help. I mean I’m pretty sure she could see the look of fear and confusion on my face. This was the super chicken expert. She grabbed everything I needed and even talked me into a 50 pound bag of feed. As I waited for my bag of feed at the checkout another chicken expert (obviously you must know all about chickens to work here) filled me in on all the things to do with these chickens.

Much more knowledgeable, I headed home. Thomas had the kennel ready and after getting the girls from church, Olivia helped set up their food and water. We were a little concerned about one, but they were fed and watered so we went to bed.

Thursday morning we woke up to to a sad discovery. One of the babies passed overnight. Now, I’m not sure if this is one that Ann Elizabeth picked up and dropped or one that Witten squeezed too hard. It could have also gotten into the Jolly Rancher Witten thought they needed.

We soon learned that there’s nothing quite like trying to get a dead chicken off of some cardboard. Thank the Lord for Thomas! After the chicken was disposed of we tried to get ready while still fretting over chickens. I kept asking myself a million questions:

Are they warm enough?

Are they too warm?

Is their food okay?

Is their set up okay?

Is it too drafty?

Definitely like newborns!

As we rushed out of the house, I noticed another one that was looking sickly. I spent the day worrying all about those chickens. I decided I should run home before getting kids, and I’m so glad I did! I walked into a scene I never thought I would.

Six chickens had escaped and the sickly one was dead. Now, getting the dead one wasn’t nearly as hard as catching the other six. I immediately called Thomas as he’s coaching baseball like he was going to save the day. Ha! He talked me into calming down some and then I worked to catch chickens. I caught four, tore my dress, and finally went onto get kids.

After getting back home, Olivia helped catch the other two. She put down clean newspapers, and I made sure they couldn’t escape again.

Thankfully this morning we woke up to all eight of our chickens happy and healthy. Now, Liv is at her dad’s house this weekend, so that leaves me in charge of chickens. I’m just hoping she comes back home to all eight still alive. Say a prayer for me. I’m going to need it!

Stay tuned for more from the chicken sagas.

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Keep Singing

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5b

As I lie in bed this morning trying to get a few extra minutes of sleep before my alarm went off, I could hear the soft patter of the rain outside my window. As I listened wishing I could sleep the day away, I heard something else. I heard the birds singing. I’m sure I’ve heard the birds singing during the rain a million times before, but today the thought hit me, “We should be more like birds.”

How many times do we wallow in our troubles? We start to focus on the rain on our backs. We spend so much time dwelling on our problems that we forget how to sing, and we forget to trust the One who has promised to bring us through.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.”

Never does He tell us to dwell on our problems. God tells us to think on the things that are praiseworthy. Trust me, I know when everything seems to be falling apart I have a really hard time thinking on anything else, but we will never see the victory if we don’t start thinking about the Victorious One.

We have to claim His victory in our lives as well. It starts with our thoughts, but our thoughts overflow into our mouths. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” We have to be careful what we are proclaiming.

There is a song by Casting Crowns titled “Praise You in This Storm”. This song portrays exactly the way I think so many of us feel when our feet are against the fire. We don’t understand what we’re going through. We don’t understand why God hasn’t taken it all away, but despite our finite knowledge, we have to keep praising Him. We have to keep worshiping Him because He is the One who will bring the breakthrough.

You can purchase the song here.

I pray today that if you are walking through something that seems to be impossible, that you give it all to a God. I pray that you will trust the One who can bring you through.

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Fake It Til You Make It

We’ve all heard fake it til you make it probably more times than we can count. We’ve probably all tried to do just that at some point or another. I know I’ve put a smile on my face when it seems the whole world seems to be falling apart. I’ve tried to hold it all together on my own, but that’s not what God tells us to do.

1 Peter 5:7 says, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” When you cast something, you are essentially getting it away from you. Dictionary.com defines cast as “to throw or hurl; fling”. When’s the last time you threw your cares on God? That’s what He tells us to do.

If you’ve followed me at all, you know one of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” If you want peace, you’re going to have to give it to God. You have to take the time to spend with Him. Not only do you need to be talking with Him, but you need to be listening for what He wants to tell you.

There’s a song by Chris Tomlin called “Home“. The first verse says:

This world is not what it was meant to be

All this pain, all this suffering

There’s a better place waiting for me

In Heaven

You can buy the song here.

This world is not going to be perfect. There will be hurts and pains. We have to remember that this is not our home. Our eternal home is in Heaven. We also have to remember that these things we are faced with are spiritual. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” And with these things being spiritual, we need to understand that we can’t face them alone or in our own finite power. We need the power of Jesus Christ.

We have to know where to put our hope and trust. Psalms 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Our trust is not in men. It is in the Lord. We have to know where to put our trust.

Quit faking it til you make it. Put your trust in the Lord today. Let Him fight your battles for you and receive His peace in your life.

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