Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Year Gone...Another Beginning

Here we are on the eve of a new year...and, as many others are certainly doing, I've been reflecting on 2014.

It was a BIG year...a crazy BIG year.

Probably the biggest year for me since 1996.

In January, I wrote a post on a word that God had given me for 2014 - TRUST. And let me say, this has been an interesting journey.

At the beginning of 2014, I had plans. Plans for the year. Things already in the books. Dylan's graduation, follow up trip, leaving for college, etc.

But I could not have even FATHOMED what 2014 was actually going to bring.

Nor how much I would be leaning on that word TRUST.

When my heart was breaking because I just knew that Dylan would move far, far away from me for school...I whispered "trust".

When I looked at my bank account and wasn't quite sure how we were going to make it to the next week..."trust".

When I was lying in bed mulling over every little thing in my life at 3am..."trust".

And just like that...God came through every time.

The school thing, I admit, was the hardest for me. How in the world could I imagine the person I had wrapped my entire life around for 18 years living 9 hours from me? I remember grieving over this thought before the decision had even been made.

And finally, one day, I just had to give it up. I had to trust. I had to say "God if you want him in Florida, then I have to know that You are going to make this OK for me."

Although, I have to say...I'm extremely thankful that God & I were on the same page about keeping him in North Carolina. ;)

Ultimately on the school thing...I just prayed that God would make it crystal clear where He wanted Dylan.

Boy, did He.

I don't think I'll ever forget the day that the envelope came from Wake Forest...I didn't even open it...I gave it to Dylan to open it. He just looked at it...didn't say a word...and handed it to me.

Oh, by the way, he had already committed to High Point University. We'd paid the deposit.

I looked...and couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Basically after it was all said & done, his college would be paid for. With very little loan money. All grants.  All scholarships.  I basically couldn't afford to NOT send him to Wake.

It took a little more time for everything to process for Dylan. For me, the final decision was made. For Dylan, he wanted to consider. But a day later, he said "get the deposit back from HPU" we are.

Dylan has completed his first semester at Wake. He has made friends. He has adjusted somewhat (I think there's more of that to come). He did well in his first semester. And in about 13 days from now, he'll start with his second semester.

Sometimes trust is easy...but often times it's hard. It's hard to trust that everything is going to turn out OK when we can't see the end. This year, I've definitely learned a lot. And my God has never been proven un-trustworthy. Which I kind of knew...but needed to be reminded.

I don't know what my word for 2015 is going to be yet. I have a few rolling around in my head, but I'm waiting to see what word God gives me.

But I do know that I can't wait to see what it is...and what He has in store for me this year.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Safe Friend

I was reading a blog the other day and the blogger mentioned having a safe friend. A safe friend, per her definition, is one that you can whine, complain, moan, cry to...basically someone that you can dump your stress on and they will hear you out. I would concur that this is extremely important...not only to your own mental, emotional, and physical health...but also for the health & well being of those around you.

Trust need to be able to check a little anger before unleashing it on some poor, unsuspecting soul.

My safe friend would have to be my bestest, Ashley.

I have no idea when this picture was taken...I think it was after I graduated high school - either in the summer or during my Freshman year of college. I have known Ashley since she was 13 & I was 14. I know I actually have known her longer because there's a picture floating out there of a church event and she's in the background of my sister...but my first memories are from our teenage years.

Our teens at church think its crazy that we've been friends this long. I would have to say that this is probably a rare thing...

Anyway, Ashley is the one I call when I'm having a bad day...when I need to check a response that may not come across quite like it's intended...when I want to know why the skinny little boys with no shirts on are running around Walkertown...when I need someone to vent to, to cry to, to complain to. She understands when I say "my child is about to make me him"...and she talks me down from actually harming him.

She's the one who (finally) gave me a Magic 8 ball to sit on my desk at work...because I wanted to use it to answer the ninety-eleven stupid questions that I get asked at work.

We've cried together, laughed together, done stupid crafts together, worshiped together, ministered together, and fought together.

At the end of the day...I know that if I need to unload 24 hours worth of crap on her, she's there.

And the road goes both ways.

Of course, sometimes she betrays me...and joins in with our youth to photobomb my phone...

I can't say I wouldn't do the same to her. ;)

At any rate, if you don't have a "safe friend" need one. You need one so that you don't unload on every unsuspecting person who has the decency to ask you "how you are doing". You need one to keep you sane.
Proverbs 12:25-26: "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad. The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray."
Of course, be careful who you choose as your "safe friend" must be someone that won't just tell you what you need to hear. It must someone who can be a secret-keeper...or at least know when the secret should be told (for your safety or the safety of others).

Choose wisely my friend...choose wisely.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why I Do Youth Ministry - Part Two

So, yesterday I gave you some of my "not reasons I do Youth Ministry"…and promised today I'd share WHY I do Youth ministry.

Let me tell you…Youth Ministry (and really any kind of ministry) is not for the faint of heart. If you think you can just show up, you are so totally wrong.

Because teens are difficult people. They are trying to balance being young with growing up, add in a HUMONGOUS dose of hormones making them slightly crazy…well, you just have a recipe for disaster.

But in spite of this, I love working in our Youth Ministry. Because…

#1 - I really enjoy being around teens. Some days are better than others…but I think that's true about all of us. Teens are fun loving people and I'm a fun loving person. Teens love teen-y shows, movies, and books…and my 38 year old tastes are not far off from the tastes of a typical teenager in that respect. There is nothing that can make you feel younger…and then older all at the same time…than hanging out with a bunch of teenagers.

#2 - This is the important one…I just feel this need to love on them. Our teenagers have so many negative things pouring over them that they need to go somewhere to feel some kind of positive love energy. Unfortunately, church is not always where they can find that. And I'll be the first to admit that some of our teens are harder to love than others. Some of that is a clash in our personalities. Some of that is my frustration in seeing our kids not living up to their full potential. Sometimes it's just that I'm not lovable for a moment…and that makes it hard for me to pour out what I'm not feeling. BUT, I think it's so important for teenagers to feel love from someone. They've got to have it…and unfortunately they aren't always getting that at home.

#3 - Many of our kids need people who will not only love them, but actually hear what they say. I can be honest - I don't always "hear" what my kid says. Because he is mine and my agenda in raising him is to raise him to be a responsible adult. And there are days that I don't want to hear his opinion, his reasoning, or just his general words. But someone, somewhere needs to hear those words. And I know that he has places to get those out. More than that, our kids need people who can give them wise counsel…and I don't know about you, but I never saw my parents as "wise" people (that has changed by the way…but at 16, 17, etc. they were not wise in my eyes). All kids are like that, though…they don't think their parents know jack-diddly-squat…but someone who is not "raising" them? Those people have all the knowledge. I want to give them a good Godly place to receive that wise counsel...because if they can't get it from me, they'll try to find it elsewhere. And there is no guarantee that what they will hear is truly Godly...or even good.

#4 - I am constantly brokenhearted for our teens. When our teens mess up, this weighs heavily on me. I take responsibility. I want to make sure that whatever has happened doesn't happen again. I want them to see that I truly understand what it means to make stupid, teenage mistakes that have important, adult consequences. I want to grieve with them…I want to weep with them…I want to get angry with them…and I want to heal with them. I pray for them often…sometimes collectively…sometimes individually. I just want to see them be the best part of who they are. I want to do whatever I can to encourage them in this…to encourage them to use their talents…to see that they become the best version of their self.

#5 - Not only do I want to love on them, I want to pour the love of Jesus on them. I want them to understand and know what real-time grace & mercy feel like. I want them to understand that so well that they have no other choice than to pour that out on others around them. I want them to SHINE with the love of Jesus in this very dark world. There's no way I can effectively explain God's love…I don't think I really & truly understood exactly what God did for us until I had my own child. And I know that I could never do for anyone else what God did for me. The best way for me to try to make our teens understand this is by loving them with this amazing kind of love.

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not trying to say that I am. I've made mistakes…I've messed up…and here's the truth - I'll probably do it again.

At the end of the day, though, if I'm not willing to love our students, then I might as well not even bother showing up.

And THAT, my friends, is why I DO youth ministry. It's not for me…it's only for God's glory…to bring honor to Him. And for this time, He has given me this awesome opportunity to do all of the above. I can't imagine a more important and more fun ministry to be a part of.

Other than children's ministry…and He lets me do that as well.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why I Do Youth Ministry - Part One

Recently (and by recently I mean within the last 3 months) one of our students asked me "why I hang around with children all the time". At first, I thought she was referencing my work in the Clubhouse with what I actually consider as "children"; however, she was really referring to herself and her peers. I can't remember the answer I gave her at the time…and honestly I think she was really joking around with me…but the question has been on my mind ever since she asked it.

Because really & truly, if my motives are not true…then I shouldn't even bother.


And that's what I've been considering since she asked…WHY do I do youth ministry?

So…I'm going to attempt to tell you why I do youth ministry and why I think it's important.

BUT FIRST…I would be doing a disservice if I didn't consider some of the more popular reasons that other people think that I (and my fellow youth leaders) do youth ministry.

#1 - To go on lavish, all-expense paid trips.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! While part of that is somewhat true…I do go on trips and the cost for me to go on said trip is usually covered (after I have worked alongside our teenagers at every car wash, meal, fund raiser, etc.)…there is nothing lavish about spending any more than 20 minutes in a 15-passenger van with teenagers. The smells alone will keep one from even imagining for a moment that you are going to some tropical paradise.

And lavish?  I spent one youth trip sleeping on a very uncomfortable couch every night. The most lavish part of that trip was that we had a pool at the house we were staying in. A pool that I never got into. Now…when we take a youth trip to Hawaii or a cruise to the Bahamas?  Maybe we can give lavish a little credo.

Also…I don't consider a trip where I maybe get 10 hours of sleep over a 5 day period lavish. Nor do I consider a trip where I have to keep up with 20+ teenagers lavish. I have a hard enough time keeping up with one.

#2 - Because you are still young & fun.

Yeah…no. I have an 18 year old son that will tell you all the ways that I am neither young nor fun.  Just ask him.

#3 - Because you have nothing else to do.

Honestly, I love having nothing to do. My favorite thing is to discover that I have nowhere to be and nothing that must be done. And when I find myself with this rare treat, I don't call up 20 of my favorite teenagers and plan a trip.

I lay in bed, drink coffee, read a book, and/or watch TV.

THAT's what I do when I have nothing else to do.

So…why do I actually do youth ministry?  I'll tell you tomorrow.


Monday, June 30, 2014


Tomorrow my "baby" turns 18.  I just cannot believe it.  I promise, just the other day he was 3...I blinked and here we are.

In the wee small hours of the morning (I woke up at 3am this morning - caffeine often has a strange effect on me...instead of keeping me up for hours, I go to sleep thinking that the caffeine hasn't affected me at all...and then BAM, I wake up at 3am and I'm up until it's time to get up)...

Anyway, in the wee small hours of the morning, I decided to blog about my boy being 18. My first thoughts were toward a sweet, sappy, reflective writing thinking back to 18 years ago and having no clue what I was in for...but getting the best blessing ever.  And then, as I got closer to morning, I decided to do something that maybe had a little more humor...and possibly still subjected to the sweet, sappy reflections...

This bi-polar approach can be blamed on Kate Conner...this is what I was reading at 3am...and 4am...her blog is not bi-polar per se...but it contains the truths I need to hear infused with the humor of living life with three kids. If you don't read her blog, you should.

Again...I digress...

So, without further are 10 things I've learned by being Dylan's mom:

#1 - One of Dylan's preschool teachers gave me the BEST parenting advice ever...she said "If it's not immoral, illegal, or a potential danger to the child or others, don't sweat it". I can honestly say, I took that to heart. Hear me say, there is a time & place for discipline and self-control...but there are battles that we don't need to wage with our children. Wearing matching clothes...while embarrassing to you at the not that big of a deal. And just think, one day you can pull that picture out showing off their most hideous outfit choice, and the embarrassment will be theirs!

I did put my foot down on wearing socks with tennis shoes...there is no place for feet in tennis shoes without socks. That's just gross.

#2 - "I don't have time to go to the emergency room" is a valid reason "why not" for whatever hair-brained, daredevil trick that your child wants to try. This should be your immediate reaction to "Hey, Mom! Watch this!"

#3 - If you have dirt, sand, or mulch within a 10 foot range of your child, you are going to have it in their pants, socks, shoes...and transferred to your house. No day I think I dumped an entire sandbox out of Dylan's pants. How the child had been walking around with all that sand is beyond me.

#4 - There is a reason that boys don't use hair dryers. I have the singed towel to prove it. When asked why in the world he stuck the hair dryer right up on the towel, the answer was "I wanted to see what would happen".

#5 - "I wanted to see what would happen" is the cause of 95% of childhood accidents.

#6 - Having several seasons worth of good, wholesome TV shows on DVD will come in handy if you have the misfortune of ending up in the hospital on a crazy sleep schedule. Before they days of 24-hours of Nick Jr. and Netflix, "The Cosby Show" on DVD was a lifesaver the one time that Dylan had to be hospitalized. It's also what caused him to be a "Cosby Show" addict.

#7 - Showing up to church, dragging along a child with no shirt, is perfectly acceptable if the child will not wear the shirt you have picked out for him. Of course, this was before I learned the lesson from #1.

#8 - If you thought that you had loved something as much as you could ever love something, then you are wrong. I don't think I ever understood how much love I contained until I had Dylan. And when I thought I loved him as much as I ever could, I was wrong. It just grows and grows and grows.

#9 - You kind of have to get used to your kid. I loved him right off the doubt about it. But liking him? That took a bit. There's nothing that tests likability better than having that little person completely dependent on you...waking you up every 2 hours (if you are lucky)...being more tired than you've ever been before...and have that little one screaming for no apparent reason.

#10 - Teach your children to be responsible people - responsible for their actions, responsible for their words, responsible for themselves in appearance and attitudes. Help them to own their faults and their shortcomings...and help them to put forth their strengths.

There is so much more that I have learned being Dylan's mom. This past year, especially, we've been learning together - Dylan learning what it means to be a more mature person; me learning to let go a little at a time. This parenting thing isn't for sissy' isn't for the faint of heart...and it certainly does take a strength that at times you don't think you have. BUT every smile, every laugh, every positive thing they do are worth all the hard days, all the rough nights, all the sick days.

Happy 18th to a kid that I'm most proud of. God is going to do wonderfully, crazy, big things with this kid.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I have tossed this over and over in my head...and the word that keeps coming to mind is "amazed".

Just yesterday, it seems, Dylan & I were sitting at my parents kitchen table...looking through the HUNDREDS of college flyers, brochures, etc. that we had received...trying to narrow our focus to a small group of schools that would fit what Dylan wanted to major in.  That day we narrowed our focus to four schools - two that were near to home & small...two that were far away & large.  From those four, Dylan applied to three...and has been accepted at all three.

I never doubted for a minute that he would get in at Florida State or High Point University.  They are great schools and I knew that he not only met their minimum expectations, he exceeded them.  His SAT scores were great...his academic transcripts looked good.  He fit their "bill", so to speak.

The wild card was Wake Forest.  Such a prestigious school...such a small school...such a competitive school.  We just weren't sure.  One day Dylan & I both felt sure he could get in...then the next, doubt would overcome that and we figured it wouldn't happen.  And they take so long to let you know of a decision.  We've known the results from FSU & HPU since we are in March & no formal decision.

That is, until last week...

Although, we didn't realize we actually had that decision until yesterday.

Dylan received a letter in the mail from Wake inviting him to interview for a scholarship. I only read down to the part that told us to RSVP & the details that he needed to send.  I kept wondering "how can they offer this opportunity if they haven't actually accepted him".  Yesterday, I read the WHOLE letter...down to the last paragraph that said (paraphrased) "because you are receiving this invitation, this means you have been accepted & your formal acceptance letter will come at the end of March".

And now my mind is reeling.

My kid was accepted to Wake Forest University.  I'm amazed.  Not because I didn't think he could do it...but it's just so surreal.

I keep going back to those days when I first found out I was pregnant...when I first wondered what in the world I was going to do with a baby. I remember going into a teacher conference with his 1st grade teacher who told me that Dylan was such a perfectionist that when he didn't perform well on his spelling tests, it really upset him...we began studying harder for those tests. Every step...every achievement to get to this point.

And I'm amazed.

In my wildest dreams, this is not what I could've even imagined for Dylan.

On Sunday night, we did a "thankfulness check" at our Youth Bible Study.  When it came to be my turn, I couldn't settle on one thing.  Not because I'm not thankful...but because I just have been given so much.  Someday's its almost overwhelming to look at this journey of the last 18 see where we started...and to see where we've ended up.

Simply amazing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 - Year of TRUST

A few weeks ago...maybe before Christmas...Alyson was in my room.  Taped to my mirror are a couple of favorite all time Bible verse (Isaiah 43:1)...pix of my favorite twins...and (until about a week ago) a list of goals that I set for myself in 2012 - no that's not a typo...I really set them in 2012 and then decided in 2013 to just continue working toward accomplishing those goals.  She began to go down the list of things that weren't marked off, asking if I had done them.  For the most part, I had not.  I'm not upset about that, but I really wanted to do something better for 2014.

I don't make resolutions as a general rule.  I would prefer to set goals for myself and then move forward.  I have made 2014 goals as well...but they aren't taped to my mirror.  They ARE, however, written in my prayer book.  I'm hoping that will help me to pray over them...allow God to help me achieve these goals.

One of my goals has been to get in the habit of a quiet time for at least 5 days out of the week.  Now, I can tell you that I am good for at least 4...I know that sounds weird...and really & truly I should be better than that.  I like to do my quiet time in the evenings.  I've tried the mornings, but I feel like I sleep through my Bible reading and prayer evenings work best for me...sort of.  Monday through Thursday, as a general rule, are fine.  I carve out time sometime between 8pm & 10pm...spend time in my room (usually with ear plugs trying to drown out the TV in the living room - my house is small!) and for the most part, I do pretty well at keeping this.

I say this as I have struggled this week to keep up with it and haven't been as faithful as I should. ;)

I did slack off over Christmas in keeping up with my quiet time...and did it so unintentionally that it was a week or so before I even realized I had done so.  It's amazing how little things can build up to get in the way of what we really need to do...and we can just forget it so easily. 

So, come January 2nd...I got back on the "bandwagon" and started back in my quiet time.  It was during that very quiet time that God spoke a word to me that He wanted me to focus on for 2014...


I trust God...sort of.  I often, though, let my very human nature get in the way and take over for God. I mean, He can't really have time for all of my small, miniscule problems when there are people with cancer...or other life threatening illnesses...or things that are much bigger than me praying over my backdoor not leaking (which is does from time to time).

But the reality is...HE DOES!

And it's not my job to decide what God does or does not have time's my job to TRUST.

2013 was not a bad really wasn't.  I saw God work in HUGE ways.  I also felt my share of struggles.  For a time, I would overcome one hurdle...only to have another pop up and smack me in the face.  I wondered if I would EVER get past it all.  And to top it off, the reality of Dylan's senior year and all that entails hit me square in the face.

And while there a few things I would change about 2013 if it was in my power (i.e. I wouldn't have made sweet Oliver go through 2 heart surgeries in 2 weeks at 6 weeks of age...I wouldn't have allowed my friend Casey & her family to be in a head on collision that she is STILL recovering from...I wouldn't have let my friend Kim fall out of that golf cart and hit her head so hard that she almost died - but Praise GOD is recovering)...but I know that all these things are working together for God's glory.

And it has set me up to be ready to work on TRUST.

So, for the entirety of 2014...when I begin to doubt God and doubt what He is able to do for me and in my life...I'm whispering the word TRUST.  I'm praying the verses from Proverbs 3:4-5 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."  I'm working to TRUST God not just in the big things...but in the smallest things.

And in the place of my 2012 Goals, I have taped a card that says TRUST & includes the Proverbs verses to remind me every day that He has this...and I need to TRUST in Him.

So far...He hasn't let me down.

And I don't expect Him to.