Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Have Moved... Please Come Visit!

Hello dear friends!  I have done it.  I have made the move... and I am nervous. :0)

I do SO hope you come over with me...

I can't wait to see you!
Love, Dawn

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday... "Again"

So there is this thing this wonderful chick has started... her name is Lisa-Jo Baker.  She is seriously cool and you can meet her HERE.

It's called five minute Fridays and she gives a word to prompt us (her twitter/allume/blogger friends) to write.  No editing... no pondering... no rewrites... just flow.  Today's word is "again"... and I can write on that with ease today... and so here it is...



Again, I am faced with my daughter's fight for life.  As she shakes violently in my bed, eyes rolled back, every muscle tightened beyond belief... I face the seizure twisting her face and choking her breath and stirring that wad of emotion I keep buried inside.

Again, I take her in my arms and proclaim the name of Jesus over her.  Again, and again, and again.  Until it stops.  Again, I fight back tears and anger and rage and embrace the promises of the One who created her.  Again, I wonder how long it will last.  Again, my mom's heart takes the punch full throttle and tries to remember this is our normal.

Again, I soothe her back to sleep and pray for the Lord's strength, guidance, and hope.  Again, I call the neurologist to report this new ugly seizure.  Again, I ask questions and again, get little unclear answers.

Again, I cling to Isaiah 43 and again, I remind myself He loves her more than I.  Again, I wait to see how she will be when she awakes.  Again, she starts her day in strength and again, I am amazed.

Again, I remember we once lost her and again, I praise the Lord for so many days with her.

Again, I walk through my day looking like any other mother.

Again, I am not really like any other mother.

Again, we have dinner and I realize we made it through another day.  Again, I sleep with her to see if she has another one.

Again, God is sweet and covers her with peace. And again, we start our count at ONE... one day seizure free.

Again, I am amazed my friends do not tire of our request for prayers.  Again, I am blown away by their love and the love of strangers.  Again, she pulls people into the throne room to meet with God.  Again, I am humbled... overcome with thanksgiving.

Again, I sing praises to the One who created her and shares her with me.

Again... we start again.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saddened By Seizure

Dear friends,

I had all intention of posting a book review today.  You have been so patient this week.  I have spent this week really investing in quality time with my kids and I have just not made it to the computer to write.  And yet, you come each day.  Humbled.

My husband was on a trip last night and so I had Abby sleep with me to see if she had a seizure.  At 6:15 a.m. I awoke to find her violently shaking, making troubling sounds and choking.  As she shook for what seemed like five minutes (in reality only about 45 seconds), I held her and praised the name of the Jesus as my heart sobbed in sorrow.

Her resilience leaves me in awe.  After her body calmed down enough to start breathing properly, I soothed her back to sleep and she slept just one hour before waking for school.  She awoke bright eyed and even almost cheerful.

So my entire day was thrown off.  I am awaiting a call from the neurologist.  The type of seizures we are seeing are new and much more intense and violent than her "normal" ones.  This saddens me greatly.  We are almost already maxed out on the two medications she takes... not many more options.

I am wondering if it has something to do with puberty and hormones.  I am wondering if it could possibly have something to do with the new medication.  :0(  Unknown after unknown after unknown... leaves us guessing and searching and most often empty handed.

And that is where you all come in.  Your prayers and your friendship and your encouraging words help give me breath.  I am amazed at the faithfulness of so many.  And I am so blessed by you.  Each and every one of you and your prayers are a part of my dear little Abby's tapestry.

Thank you.

I will so try and post my book review tomorrow.  It is about a great little book with BIG blessings!

Much love, Dawn~

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday's Beautiful Moment...

I have been posting pictures of "beautiful" on my One Beautiful Life's Facebook page.  It amazes me how a picture can say so much.  I think that is why I love to take them.  You can capture so much with just one click of the finger.

My picture today is one of my precious Abby, boogie boarding in the ocean.  When this child was three years old, she was having sometimes 30+ seizures a day, could not walk anymore, could not talk anymore, and could not even hold her head up.

The above picture captures the Almighty mercy, grace, healing, love and generous power of the living God.  And it fills me with joy.

It was during this time that my prayer was something like this:

"Lord, please, I beg you... just give her one thing. Bring healing in one area.  Please give her the ability to walk and play again.  If you allow her to walk again, I will accept never hearing her voice again.  I will teach her sign language and that will be enough.  And if she can't walk again, then please let her talk and communicate again... let me hear her say, "I love you," again.  Let me hear her sing again.  And if she can talk and communicate and laugh and sing again... then I will push her in a wheelchair and carry her to the bathtub for the rest of her life... that will be enough.  Just one Lord... just one.

How generous God has been to this child... to this mama... to this family.  Abby sings, laughs, talks, reads, whines (lol), runs, scooters, rides a bike, swims, boogie boards, jumps, plays basketball and dances.  And I was asking for one... just one.

This is beautiful.  This is His presence.  And I am flooded and overwhelmed with gratitude today.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen."  Ephesians 3:20,21~

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.  They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.  For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." Psalm 36:7-9~ 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saw this on facebook yesterday and had to share it with you.  I need this framed in every room of my house.

I really think it is God's heart for me right now and I am SO going to try and receive it.  I hope you can too.

Happy Thursday sweet friends!

Be encouraged...

Love, Dawn~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Open Letter to Lance Armstrong

Dear Lance,

In the wake of your behavior, last night's confession, and new allegations... I am compelled and feel very strongly obligated to write you this letter.  I hope to keep it as short and plain as possible without there being any chance of you not fully understanding it's intent.  And I hope to deliver my thoughts in two questions to you... the first being...

How dare... WE?

How dare we stand in judgment of you and your mistakes?  How dare we pretend we don't make them daily?  How dare we stand here and cast stones upon you as if we are sinless?

How dare we act as if we know you and you have personally let us down, affected our lives, and ruined some media-driven image created in our minds?

How dare we have put you up on a pedestal and idolize you as if you were perfect in every way?  How dare we forget only ONE is worthy of being lifted up and that He has already been... on the very cross that wipes out our transgressions?

How dare we splash words of disgust, hatred, self-righteousness and pride towards you in every social media outlet possible?

How dare we have looked to you to fill any void in our own lives?

How dare we toss aside and pretend to bury the reality of our own past mistakes and the damage it caused in our lives and to our loved ones and friends?  And how dare we take for granted those mistakes were not made into daily headlines, magazine covers, interview questions, subject lines of tickers, late night talk show entertainment, and public humiliation and shame?

How dare we quickly and casually jump on the nearest hater band wagon instead of praying for you?

How dare we forget the hundreds of thousands of people who were encouraged by you to fight the disease attacking their lives?  How dare we say, now, it does not matter?

How dare we forget the same grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness that is offered and FREELY given to us daily in Jesus Christ is offered to you?  How dare we not pray that the same grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness that is offered to us finds it's way to you?  How dare we not pray God brings beauty from these ashes and is glorified through it?

And how dare we buy into the money making... marketing strategy... and branding campaign of "Live Strong" when it was missing the two most important words... "In Him,"?

And lastly I ask you this, "Will you forgive us?"

My prayer and desire is for you to find Him in all this mess, for you to be used to share His truth, and for you to live a life branded only with "Live Strong In Him."

In His love for you... one of the millions of people who have never crossed paths with you and yet knows your name and story...

Encouraged at (in)courage

I was driving down the road two days ago, thinking about all the things left to do in the day.  It became clear, something was going to have to go.  Wait.  Who am I kidding?  LOL  Several things were going to have to go!

Do you ever do this?  Think about things that await on your "to do list" and decide what HAS to be accomplished and what can be penciled in for the next day?  Thinking about what I have to do on a daily basis can leave me feeling overwhelmed.  Like today, for example... I have to make dentist appointments for two of my chillies (kids), call the church and RSVP for church dinner that is TONIGHT, do at least two loads of laundry, clean the kitchen from morning madness, get a work out accomplished, have quiet time, shower (big event around here), pick up three chillies from school at three different times, get my post published, help with homework, "play school" with my middle daughter, reply to an important email, have 30 minute "pick up" party here in the house, attend church dinner/meeting, and other little odds and ends that arise in the moment.   

I forgot to mention watching soap operas and eating bon-bons.  Wait.  I don't do that!  Praise the Lord!

So as I was trying to think what I could slide to tomorrow (which was yesterday) I realized something.  I LOVE ah-ha moments.  God moments.  The reason it overwhelms me is because I have this IDEA that it ALL has to get done for the day to be a good day.  I realized that my IDEA of a good day was one where I got all my "to do's" DONE.  I WAS SETTING MYSELF UP FOR A BAD DAY WITH THE IDEA OF A GOOD DAY!

Does that make sense or did I lose you?

Then I was flooded with thoughts of peace.  I don't HAVE to get everything done for this to be a good day.  Not getting everything done DOES NOT mean I failed.  Not getting everything done DOES NOT mean I am a bad wife, bad home domestic goddess, bad mother, or failure as a whole!  And I smiled... inside.  I LOVE inside smiles.

I do not have to be perfect... or even better... I DO NOT HAVE TO BE MY IDEA OF PERFECT.

I do not have to have perfect time management.  I do not have to have perfect responses to my children's not so great moments.  I do not have to have the perfectly in order house.  I do not have to have perfect hair.  I do not have to have the perfect body.  I do not have to have perfect children making perfect choices with perfectly clean rooms.  I do not have to have the perfect husband.  I do not have to have the perfect faith walk!

I just about wrecked the car.  I felt such release.  Really?  It seems so simple.  Too simple.  But there it was... a releasing of MY IDEA OF NEEDED PERFECTION... MY IDEA OF GOOD... MY IDEA OF PLEASING... MY IDEA OF LIFE.

Sweet friend, I pray this is an encouragement to you.  I am so humbled when I feel God shows me something and I get to share it to encourage others.  The emails, comments, facebook messages, tweets, and conversations I am having with you echo what has pecked me to death like a wood pecker sitting on my head... I am not good enough... I am not enough.

If that is all we listen to... if that is all we hear... then we will be pecked down so deeply into the mud that it will take a crane to lift us free enough to even breath!

We are NOT enough.  WE ARE NOT.  BUT HE IS!  As believers, JESUS CHRIST LIVES INSIDE US!  There is the joy.  There is the peace.  There is the freedom.  There is the gift.  There is the release.  There is the love.  There is the way.  THERE IS THE LIFE!  HE is perfect and we are not!  WE ARE IMPERFECTLY PERFECT!

When we hear, "You are not enough," we answer it with, "But greater is He who lives in me than he who is in the world!"  When we hear, "You are not enough," we answer it with, "BUT HE IS!" 

And THAT is enough.  And THAT is what matters.  All the rest fades away in comparison to THAT!

I have met a wonderful group of women through my attending the Allume conference.  Imperfect women who love the LORD with perfect passion.  And they encourage me.  They encourage me to embrace my imperfectness with grace and joy.  

There is a wonderful place you can go to meet many of these women... right where you are.

 (in)courage is a place where women come and share their hearts, their trials, their ah-ha moments, their joys and sorrows, and their testimonies.  You can check it out HERE.  You WILL be blessed.

I pray you are blessed today.  Find comfort and hope in knowing you are not alone!  You are dearly loved and sought after... just the way you are. :0)

Much love, Dawn~

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Chick Flick" Therapy

I wish I could be all “holy” and say the first thing I did on my little retreat was hit my knees and jump into prayer, but I can’t.  My first desire was to snuggle down to a good chick flick.  I knew I needed what I sometimes refer to as “brain candy”.  I needed to decompress and just have some moments of little thought sprinkled with laughter.  So I sat down with my catfish comfort food and popped in 
 “Two Weeks Notice” with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.

It didn’t take long before I realized something that I had not really noticed before.  Lucy (Bullock) was me to the next degree.  In the opening scenes of the movie, she is lying on a yoga mat in protest of a historical building being torn down by a progress pushing - money hungry - powerful company.  I smiled inside.  “She is me,” I thought.  She is what I so want to be in so many ways… she does what I think about doing in my head.  I like her.  No wonder I love that movie.

Well there went my hope of thoughtlessly watching a movie!  Everything she continued to do went right along with things I WANT to do and I just continued to laugh at the whole thought of it.

There was a large plot of land for sale right outside our neighborhood.  It was for sale for a long time.  It was wooded and bordered a hidden little nature area that many people in our city don’t even know about.  It was the home to many deer who often stepped outside the wooded area to eat and lay in the sun.  And every time I saw that for sale sign and the word “Commercial” written on it, I would just fill with anger.  I wanted to stand on that property with a sign and declare that we did not need another nail salon, another frozen yogurt attempt, another restaurant, or even worse…  another strip mall that sits ¾ empty for years!

I often had thoughts of going out at night and tearing the sign down… or spray painting on it, “Let the deer live here and GO AWAY!”  Thoughts of getting caught and nasty mug shots on facebook kept me away from that one!  Or gathering like-minded friends and protesting with big signs. We could make our pleas on sheets and hold them up during rush out traffic.  How fun would that be? But that is where it stayed.  In my head.  Lucy would have done those things… all of them.  Hmmmmm.  Again… I like her.

And then, not too long ago, we saw trees being torn down by bulldozers.  My heart sank and I was yet again filled with anger and disgust.  And then we were told what was going to be built there… a gas station.  Mercy.  Really?  A gas station!  I went postal inside.  I imagined all the birds and squirrels and chipmunks and deer whose homes were being thoughtlessly destroyed and just wanted to go right up to those machines and kick them!  I know.  That would have sent them running!  “Halt this needless, wasteful, and destructive operation,” would have just rolled off the contractor’s tongue for sure after such an act of protest!

Later in the movie, Lucy went on to show me up even more when she confronts Grant’s character outside his work place.  She confronts him about his plans to tear down the community center and tries to make a deal with him to save it.  He asks her to get in the car and asks to hire her!  I laughed again.  How many times have I thought about stalking Gary Kelly (CEO of Southwest Airlines) and confronting him about the way he/his company is treating the AirTran pilots in this merger.  I have visualized myself walking up to him in an airport somewhere and presenting my thoughts in the most loving manner possible... with homemade cookies, even!  Lucy would do that. Yep.  She would.  And then he would probably hire her and “One Love” (Southwest’s merger campaign slogan) would finally become a reality.  And that corner of the world would be a better place where everyone received a free pair of rose colored glasses and lived happily ever after! 

But I soon realized something else.  God was not mentioned.  Prayer was never offered.  His will never consulted.  And there was my revelation… Lucy relies on herself.  There is one part in the movie where she doesn’t want to try anymore.  And yet again, Lucy and I are alike.  That was the very reason I was sitting there, in that moment, on that sofa, alone on my little retreat… because I didn’t want to try anymore.  I was feeling defeated… just like her.  I was eating catfish and she was ordering a crazy amount of Chinese food!   

Parenting… marriage... balancing attempts… trying & failing… seeking… battling the enemy… it had all pushed me to throw my hands up in defeat.   I was tired.  I was not “seeing” progress… I was not “seeing” fruit from my labor… and yet that was it… “my”.  I was relying way too much on “myself”.

I looked through a notebook I have of notes…  notes on all kinds of things.  And I found a statement from  a book, “Marriage, The Journey.”  I must have checked it out from the library.  But the statement had stars all around it and so it caught my attention.  “If you are disappointed in yourself, then you must have been believing in yourself.” 

There it was… the basis of my wanting to give up… the foundation of my depletion… the root of my problem.  My eyes were on myself instead of on the One who can deliver me from all snares, fill with me His strength, whisper to me His wisdom, guide me with His hand, shelter me from the arrows of the enemy, and clothe me in armor and righteousness.

As the movie ended, I smiled again.  I love the ending.  She gets the guy, the guy gets free of his bondage, the community center gets saved, and she gets to order Chinese food for two.  

I love Lucy.  I love her passion for all things right.  I love her passion for taking a stand or lying on a mat!  I love her desire to help the underdog and protest against the often destructive greedy machine of progress.  And I love that she ever so sweetly represents my greatest need… my need for Him.  My need for the Lord.  She represents my passion and longing for all things right... and my need for the ONE who can make it all right... I CAN NOT.

As I thought about the above quote, it made me think of the story of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus in Matthew 14.  As Jesus comes to them in the midst of a storm, Peter doubts who He is.  He asks Jesus that if it is indeed Him, for Jesus to command him to come.  Jesus responds with, “Come.”  Peter starts walking towards Him… on the water.  And then, Peter seems to take notice of what is going on around him… a storm.  The scripture in verse 30 says, “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out saying ‘Lord save me!’”

The wind’s power, fear, and lack of trust are what caused Peter to doubt the Lord again.  Peter is walking on water.  That seems like a pretty powerful thing… something that would build my faith! (or would it?)  And yet the power of circumstances around him proves more powerful… causes him to doubt Jesus again in the midst of something amazing… in the midst of a miracle.

I am not just like Lucy… I am also like Peter.  I am smacked, again, with this scripture. 

And Jesus responds by “immediately” stretching out His hand and catching Peter.   But Jesus follows with a rebuke.  “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (31)

That rebuke rang loud in my ears and pierced my heart.  Those words for Peter are words for me. 
Oh me of little faith, why do I doubt?  Again. And again?

And that sent me into a word study the next day for hours on “faith”.  As God revealed His word and as I sought Him, He answered and refilled and restored and renewed.  My faith has been being attacked.  My faith has been being tested.  My faith has been being stretched.  My faith will be increased!

I look forward to sharing some little sweet nuggets on faith with you soon.

Are you doubting God?  Are you doubting His word… His presence… His promises…  His power?

We are all like Peter sometimes.  We are all human and we still battle the flesh… the flesh that tells us, moves us, and tempts us to act and move in our own power… in our own strength… in our own way.

And yet Jesus is the way... the only way… and His way is best.

If we could only remember that and walk in that truth daily. If we could only get our eyes off ourselves and onto and stayed on Him!  Let’s try.  Together.  

I think it leads to abiding.  And I know it leads to intimacy with Him and transformation.  There really is nothing better than that.

I encourage you to claim at least two promises that will help you remember to trust in the Lord, to lean on Him, to wait for Him, and rely on Him.  Write them down and put them in your car, on your fridge and on your bathroom mirror.  Let them become the words that echo in your mind, heart, and soul.  You will be amazed and encouraged by the peace and joy that comes from His word covering you and your day.

If you aren’t sure where to go in His word to look for promises… the book of Psalm is a great starting place.  The book of Romans is another treasure box!

“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.” Proverbs 3:5,6~

“As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.  He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.”  Psalm 55: 16-18~

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, January 11, 2013

"The (Catfish) Shack..."

I slipped away on Tuesday.  I realized... and it was confirmed several times... I was depleted and needed to be ALONE… to release, rest, and refill.  Well, I say, “alone” but I was with the Lord and… with my beloved bundle of fluffy goodness… my dog... Dusty.   As I write this, he continues to bring me his ball and lay it at my feet!  Such a love.

As I drove into the town of my little retreat and was thinking about my time here, I noticed my husband’s truck was almost on empty.  I already knew what I wanted for dinner.  Catfish.  There is this little place, actually, it is a gas station with a restaurant inside, and it has wonderful catfish served with the perfect fries, cole slaw, and a corn muffin!  I love to tell people my favorite place to eat in this town is the gas station!  So I was trying to decide whether or not to go to the house first and then back out to the gas station or go on to the gas station first and fill the truck up and get my catfish.  It is funny how often these little moments of decisions have such an impact on life moments… God moments.

It was later in the afternoon so I decided to go on to the gas station.  It was a GREAT decision.  I decided that once I got the house, I wanted to hole up and not come out again until time to leave!

I was standing at the gas pump when this older man came out of the station.  “That’s a good looking pooch you got there in that truck,” he said to me.  In a split second, I had to gauge how I was going to respond.  Do you know that second of thought... where you are trying to decide?  Is this a friendly man?  Is he trying to start conversation?  Is he a weirdo?  Should I just smile, say thanks and turn away?  I mean, let’s be honest.  As a woman, at a gas station, if a man tries to start conversation with me… those questions rush through my mind.  So I decided he was old, looked friendly, liked my dog, and I would engage.  So I stepped around the pump to see him better and replied, “Yes sir... he sure is... thank you.”

“Did you see my little fella in my truck,” he asked.  I stepped around even further and sure enough, there was the CUTEST puppy in his truck, standing up on the back of the seat, looking out at his Pa.  It was a Schnauzer baby... much like this one.  Of course, I ooohed and aaahed like the crazy dog lover I am and our conversation… and God’s appointment for me… unfolded.

He wore clothes that were far less than new-looking.   He had on work gloves that he had cut the fingers off of and his fingers looked well worn.  And his smile… his smile was so sweet and genuine and kind… I wanted to hug him.

He went on to tell me he had been a dog trainer for over 40 years and that he was always amazed at how smart they were… how much they could learn.  He told me about a 14 year old Jack Russell he had to put to sleep last year.  With tears ever so slightly glimmering in his eyes, he said, “I have lived a long life, I spent years in Vietnam, was shot at, poisoned… and worse… and I just kinda shook it off.  But my girl got brain cancer and I had to put her down.   I am not ashamed to tell ya… and if anyone wants to say anything about it… let em… but I sobbed.  I mean…  I didn’t just boo hoo, I sobbed… every day… until there was just nothing left.  I just cried it all out.”

He’d been looking off into the horizon when he told me most of it, and then he turned and looked me deep in the eyes… with the tears still glimmering.  I reached out and took his arm and told him I knew that pain all too well and I shared my story of having to put down my sweet Schnauzer... little Lodie.

He then told me how his Jack Russell had saved his life.  She’d stumbled across a copperhead snake just in front of him and she pounced on it.  He said she got it right behind the head, shook it like crazy and it tore all apart.  “It’s guts went a-flyin everywhere,” were his exact words.  The thing he was most amazed about was the fact that even after she’d killed it, she would not let him get close to the dead body.  He said every time he tried to reach down to pick it up, she’d grab it and take it to the other end of the yard.  She still wanted to protect him.  And he just smiled and shook his head at the remembering of it.

“Isn’t it amazing how God puts that kind of knowledge and love and wisdom into an animal,” I offered.  “Yes.  Yes, it is,” he replied and went on to tell me about how God had used the donkey to speak to a man in the Bible who didn’t want to listen to Him!  Neither one of us could remember the poor fellow's name.  But we laughed together and agreed that we both thought if an animal spoke to us, we’d pretty much listen to it too!

There we stood.  Outside.  In the cold.  At a gas station.  In this sweet little moment.  Two strangers.  Yet so alike in this love of our dogs.  And there our dogs sat, in our trucks, watching us.
And then he said it, as he turned to walk back to his truck.  “Ma'am, if you are a praying lady, maybe you could remember this ole man in your prayers.”

Something shifted.  “What is your name?” I asked.  “Bill,” he answered.  “So nice to meet you, Bill,” and we shook hands.  “My name is Dawn and it just so happens I have come to town to be alone with God for a few days.  And I am a prayin' woman and I will pray for you, Bill,” I replied.  A big smile came across his face and he gave me a sweet southern gentleman’s, “Well, thank ya.” And then he turned to walk to his truck.

I told him I needed to go in and order some catfish for my dinner and he snapped his fingers and shook his head and said he’d ordered some and was about to go off and forget it.  He went to move his truck from the pump and I went inside… running over with thankfulness for such a sweet moment with such a sweet man.

I went to the ladies room first to pee ALONE! (If you read one of my last posts you’ll know that is a TREAT!)  When I came out, I picked up my to-go order and started to walk out.  Bill was standing there and said, “Hey, you said you came here to be with the Lord…”  I nodded yes with a smile and he continued, “I want to leave you with this… that’s good company.  It is the best company.  The company of the Lord.”

“Yes it is,” I agreed.  “And I have not had enough of it lately,” I added.  “He also says what you ask of Him, to ask with faith… believing.  Not like some of these people who don’t really believe.  You got to really believe,” he added. 

Yes.  He was so right.  And this stranger just spoke the very words I needed to hear.  

I had just spoken days earlier, that I wanted to quit.  To stop believing.  That believing was too hard when the answers just didn't come.  It was too hard when the silence from above weighed me down.  It was just too hard when my daughter jerked and moaned in a horrible seizure... again and again and again.  It was just too hard when I prayed and prayed and prayed and... "nothing".  I continue to fail.  Fail at displaying fruit of the Spirit.  Fail at being the mom He wants to me to be.  Fail at being the wife He wants me to be.  Fail at making Him a priority.  Fail in trusting.  Fail in praising.  Fail in abiding.  Fail at this... this life... this one life.  It was just too hard.

And THAT was why I slipped away.  I knew if I wanted to quit, the enemy was at my jugular and I had to get into the throne room of God.  I had to find quiet.  I had to find Him.  I had to hear Him.  I had to drink from His fountain.

I was smacked.  

I could just not stop looking at him with thankfulness.  The Lord had just used this sweet vessel to speak to my heart… in a time of great need of being reminded that He means what He says and I HAVE to believe… I HAVE TO BELIEVE no matter what is going on around me.  No matter what I SEE… No matter what it looks like...  no matter what I feel... NO MATTER WHAT!

He smiled and moved forward to get his food.  “Have a great night, Bill,” I replied.  “You have a good stay Dawn," he answered with that smile.

And I walked out.

I was so struck with the whole thing as I drove away. 

I could have missed it.

Had I gone to the house first… to turn on the water, and the heat, to pee, and to get settled in… I would have missed it.  I would have missed him.  I would have missed Him.  And how sad would have that been?

Moments of decision.  When I was trying to decide what to do on the way into town… my heart told me to go to the gas station.  The Holy Spirit whispering.  And I am so glad I listened and obeyed.
As I write this, I am sad I didn’t hug him.  I don’t think I did.  Did I at the end?  I can’t remember clearly.  But I think I did not.  And I think I should have.  

So I close my eyes, and I hug sweet Bill, with his sweet puppy, and his precious heart… and the encouragement of the LORD he blessed me with.  How I hope I run into him again at that little catfish place in the gas station of this little tiny town of my retreat.  And I praise my God for being so living and so active and so, so sweet… He amazes me with HIMSELF so very often.

Who might God send to speak to you?  Have you ever met a "Bill"?  Let's pray to always be open to hear and see that appointment... and to let His love unfold!  I don't want to miss a single one.

Be blessed this weekend.
Much love, Dawn~

Post Edit:  Would you like to meet some other amazing women who seek God and grace in the everyday?

Go HERE... and be blessed!
The Winner Is...

I am so sorry that I was not able to post this but we don't have internet connection at the lakehouse and I have no idea how to post from my phone!

How do you like this high tech drawing!  LOL  With only 4 people interested in winning, I so wish I had four copies of Ann's book to give everyone.

But alas, I don't... and so my little man drew a name for me and...

Kim is the winner!

I so encourage you, if you have not read "One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp, to order it and give it a go.  You can find a used on Amazon.com for little cash and I promise to let you know if it goes on sale again... like way on sale.

It is really amazing how having a heart/mindset for gratitude can change your perspective.  Like just like last night... my sweet husband was snoring.  Bless his heart.  And I could NOT go to sleep.  I tried shaking the bed to get him to roll over, closing his mouth with my hand (LOL) and counting sheep in my head. Nothing worked.  I was so begging for quiet and so I got my pillow and a quilt and went into Marc's room to sleep on the extra bed in his room.

Awww- QUIET.  I snuggled in and was just about to doze off into blissful rest when the heater came on.  For some odd reason, when the air blows through the vent in Marc's room, it sounds like a car horn... the entire time the heater runs.  It never changes pitch... just a constant car horn noise!

After about 2 minutes of "Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww" I thought I was going to bang my head in the wall!  Ughhh.  " I HATE this heater!" I screamed in my head.  As I buried my head further beneath the covers a little whisper came through the noise... "But aren't you blessed to have a heater"?  Aw. Yes. Gratitude.

And so while that "car horn" blasted for another 2 to 3 minutes, I thanked the Lord for a heater that still worked, a house that was warm and dry, the provision to pay for that heat and this house, a spare bed to climb into, a house full of sleeping family members I love, and the sweet gentle reminder to be thankful.  The heater turned off, quiet returned and fell asleep with thankfulness on my heart instead of frustration.

That is what Ann's book has done for me.  And that is why I am reading it again.  I want more of that... more of gratitude and joy!

Be blessed sweet friends.
Much love, Dawn

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A little road trip...

I am leaving today... for a little road trip.  I have decided my need for rest, release, and renewal demands it... and I am going.  My bag is packed with comfy clothes, books, journals, bibles, music, and snacks!  And I am taking my precious dog. :0)

I will be back with a post of Friday.

I pray you are all blessed and encouraged.

Love, Dawn

P.S.  I will draw a name for my book giveaway and post it! :0)

Monday, January 07, 2013

Desperate Release

The timing could not be better.  Really.  I am averaging about two to three breakdowns a week.  I think that qualifies for "desperate".

The kids seem to be not able to move, much less play, if they are not right next to me.  When they do attempt to play... arguing, bickering, whining, and tears are too soon to follow.  I hear myself saying the same things over and over and seriously, I am tired of saying them.

I step into the bathroom to pee.  I start to think a thought of my own and within five seconds, someone is knocking on the door.  "Mommy...?  Are you in there?  (knock, knock, knock, pound, pound, pound.)  Mommy?  Mommy?"  "Y-E-S-S-S-S!"  "I am in here, trying to pee... for just two minutes," is most often my response.  Pause.  Fingers slide under the door.  I think about stepping on them and refrain from the evil!  Pause.  "Can I come in?"

"N-N-N-O-O-O!"  "I want to pee alone."  "Please."  "Just TWO MINUTES!"

I walked in from church today.  My purse still on my arm and only three feet in the door... and it started... "Can you work on the paper with me, can you run with me, will you be the coach, can we watch a movie, can you put another game on my player, what is for dinner, can you... can you... can we... can we...?"

I breath slowly.  Pause.  I release breath slowly from my lips and respond, "I am not even in the house yet... can you all just wait a moment before you attack me with requests?"

Most of the time I fall into thinking I am just a horrible mother who wants to hide from her kids in the closet.  I mean, I occasionally read blogs where moms think it is amazing to spend every waking moment engaged with their kids.  They think it is simply adorable that their kids color on the walls and leave mud hand prints everywhere.  They plan their entire lives around their kid's activities, play dates, sports activities, practices, over nights, youth events, and volunteering in their classrooms.  They eat their fast food dinner in the SUV at 9 p.m. many nights as they go from here to there and from there to here again.  And they think it is great.

Every birthday party is the grandest of affairs with party favors that would make Martha Stewart spitting mad with jealousy and decorations that people might even pay to see.  And they invite ALL 25 kids in the class. And their parents! 

They make snacks daily that look like this...

and this...


Don't get me wrong.  I love to bring delight and whimsy to the snack table ON OCCASION but not DAILY.

And they photograph themselves smiling all the time in the middle of messes saying how happy they are to be lying in the living room floor in the middle of smashed cheerios and legos and laundry.  And I really think they mean it.  I mean, I have no reason to think they don't.

I am like a deer in the headlights.

That is not great in my book.

That is a 3-D nightmare.

I feel itchy all over just thinking about they way my 4 year old's room looks and smells half the time.  I do not find it cute or delight in the baby-ness of him still sleeping in pullups and smelling like urine every morning.  I actually am WAY over it.  Way. Over it.

THAT is why I look at those blogs only once every 6 months instead of weekly.  I AM NOT THAT KIND OF MOM.

I like some order.  I like some balance.  I like some cleanliness.  Notice I said some.  I am far from a neat freak and my house is lived in.  But we windex hand prints instead of framing them and we pick up toys instead of living on top of them.  I like kids who are learning independence at an age appropriate time.  I like free time... where there is no place to be at a certain time.  I like margin and flexibility.  And I like kids being free to be kids.  

I very recently told my husband that I actually think we have done some sort of disservice to our kids as we do things together as a family ALL THE TIME.  They have no idea how to be alone.  I ask them to go play and they look at me like I have just banished them to Siberia for the winter months!  My four year old actually cries.  And then there is silence.  I will go and take a peak into his room and he will just be sitting there... doing nothing.

We play games as a family at least 4 to 5 times a week.  We go on family hikes.  We play wii bowling together as a family.  We go to Stone Mountain.  We travel.  We go to the movies.  We go to restaurants.  We go to my daughter's basketball games.  We go to my other daughter's Spirit nights.  We worship together.  We eat EVERY dinner meal together at the TABLE. (sans husband when he is on a trip) We craft together, make jewelry, cards, pictures.  We go to the bookstore together.  We go to the library together.  We do devotions together.  We pray together.  ALL. THE. TIME.  And much more.

So when I ask them to go play... they are like deer in the headlights.  And if there is a moment free... they are asking how it can be filled.  And I can't take it anymore.

Balance.  We need balance.  I need balance.

MANY of the things we do are WONDERFUL and I LOVE that we are a family that does things together.  But not at the expense of little to no time alone, little to no time alone with my husband, and kids having no idea to occupy themselves.

I have been trying to think of things that can change.  Things to pull back, things to keep, things to start.  Because something has to change.  I am fried. Cooked. Salted and peppered.  DONE.

SO... there is this book... HA HA!  I have not read it, obviously.  It is being released today.  Desperate, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  I met both of these precious and lovely women at the Allume conference.  I was struck deeply with Sally Clarkson's love for Sarah Mae.  Sally saw Sarah Mae at a conference in the past.  She saw her pouring out to everyone and everything.  Then she saw her standing off to the side, alone.  Sally went over and asked, "Who pours into you?"  I guess Sarah Mae's answer may have been, "I don't know," or dare I even suggest, "No one."  Whatever her response, Sally Clarkson said, "I want to pour into you."

Can you imagine?  Can you imagine the gift and holy blessing of a wonderful, loving, godly woman coming up to you and asking to pour themselves into you?  Offering to love you, mentor you, hold you, wipe your tears, make you laugh, listen to your disappointments and fears, never judge, offer support and advice and steer you to the living God... to the throne of Jesus?

Wow.  I sinned.  Right there.  Jealousy swept over me and I whined inside, "I want a Sally Clarkson!"

So both of these women have joined their hearts, their love, and their passion for moms and have written this book.  From the website:

Desperate is for those who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help. It’s for those who have ever wondered what happened to all their ideals for what having children would be like. For those who have ever felt like all the “experts” have clearly never had a child like theirs. For those who have prayed for a mentor. For those who ever felt lost and alone in motherhood.

I am ordering it.  TODAY!

Are you a tired mother?  Do you have feelings that you dare not share?  Do you look in the mirror and wish you had not just yelled at your fighting kids?  Do you feel alone?  Do you wish you could just pee alone?

You can order a copy of this book HERE
 And if you order one or more copies this week, there are gifts!  What mom would not like a little gift to arrive with a book full of hope?

The fact is, we are not alone.  My guess is there are probably a fair number of moms out there who relate to daily frustrations and challenges in parenting and in trying to balance a very busy life. There are probably more moms than me who are not rolling in fields of motherly bliss all the time. 

So if you are one of those moms or you know one of those moms... share the link for Desperate and let's read this book together!

Be blessed.  Be encouraged.