Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Voices in my Head

I noticed a lot of my friends shared the same article on their Facebook pages.  It's called The Bully too Close to Home, by Rachel Macy Stafford of

After it appeared in my news feed for about the fifth time, I decided I should take a minute to read it.  After all, if that many of my friends deemed it worthy to share, perhaps it wouldn't be a waste of time.

So I read it.  And it was in fact a very good read.

The author talks about her obsession with perfection, and how that obsession led her to seek perfection in her children, namely her oldest daughter.  She went on to say that the desire to have all things perfect stemmed from the negative thoughts that creep into her mind, criticizing her appearance, her actions, and even her children.

Do you hear those voices in your head?

I know I do.

And no, I'm not schizophrenic.  
At least that's what I tell myself. 


But I hear those same voices, telling me those same things.

You're fat. 

You're ugly.

You're lazy.

You're stupid.

But the voice I hate the most, and yet I hear the loudest, is the one that tells me...

You're not good enough.

You're not good enough.

You're not good enough.

That is the voice that too often keeps me from knowing Jesus better, seeing Him for who He really is, and understanding His love for me.


This past weekend, my husband told me he had decided to teach our boys a lesson in humility by having them participate in a foot-washing.

Now, anytime you talk about feet, my automatic response is, "Ewww...  Feet are gross."

I mean, honestly, think about it.  Feet ARE gross.  Am I right?

They're cold.  They're sweaty.  They're smelly.  They're filthy.  Ew...

Yes.  I am right.  Feet... are... GROSS.

So, what better way to practice humility, than to kneel in front of someone and wash their feet?


This whole ordeal brought forth a memory of the last time someone, other than me, washed my cold, sweaty, smelly, filthy feet...


I was part of a Christian service sorority, Alpha Delta Theta (ADT), during my college years at High Point University.  The girls in this group were "my sisters".

I didn't do anything on campus without at least one of them by my side.  They helped me experience college life at its greatest.  Whether it was staying up all night rolling down a snow-covered hill, or getting kicked out of McDonald's because we were laughing too loud.  Singing to a captive audience at the local Pizza Hut, or crying over boys, or exams, or mean girls.

They helped me thrive and survive during those college years, in every sense.

But most especially in the spiritual sense.

When I started college, I was a follower of Jesus Christ, but I didn't really know Him.  I had always gone to church, but I knew there was more to being a Christian than what I'd learned at Sunday School.

I remember, my first day at HPU, when my college roommate introduced herself to me as a devout Christian, my response was, "I want to be that too."

And the first time I went to an ADT meeting, a curly-haired girl named Molly said hello.  Then she held her hand up to me with her fingers crossed and said, "Me and Jesus.  We're like this."

And I thought, "Wow.  I want that too."

And over the next three and half years, these ladies showed me that living for Jesus is more fun, more challenging, more meaningful, and more purposeful than I could ever have imagined.

And this past weekend, while looking down at my husband as he gently lathered my feet with soap, one particular memory with my college peeps came to mind.

That's why I wrote this blog post.  This is what I want to share with you.


I was one of the leaders of Alpha Delta Theta, our Christian service sorority.  As I called the meeting to order, our praise leader pulled me aside to tell me that in place of our devotion, we would be doing a foot-washing.  Our conversation went something like this...

Me:  Wait.  What?

Her:  A foot-washing.

Me:  What is that?

Her:  Like in the Bible, when Jesus washed the disciples' feet.

Me:  So you're going to wash our feet?

Her:  We're all going to wash each other's feet.

Me:  Ew.  No.

Her:  (awkward silence)

Me:  No.

Her:  Why not?

Me:  I'm not comfortable with this.

Her:  Why not?

Me:  I'm just not.

Not since I was a baby had anyone washed my feet.  Ever.  And as I watched another friend bring in bins full of water, with cloths draped over her arm, I became light-headed.  No, no, no, no, no, no, no.  

I was scared.  And a little grossed-out.  But mostly scared.

We sat in the circle with our closest friends.  My friend, the praise leader, sat beside me.  She read from the Bible about Jesus washing his disciples feet.

And as the washing bin made it's way closer to me...

(rapid heartbeat, nervous breathing)

I started crying.

Tears flowed freely from my eyes, and I totally lost it.

And not because I was thinking of Jesus.

And not because I was totally grossed-out.

But because of that voice in my head.

You're not good enough.

You're not good enough. 

You're not good enough.

I felt so unworthy.

Who am I that my friend should kneel before me, and wash my feet.

I tried to convince her to skip over me, but she refused.  She grabbed my foot and stuck in the water.  Then she proceeded to make it clean.

She didn't hear that voice in my head.  She didn't know I wasn't good enough.

She just washed my feet.

I have never in my life felt so humble.


I hadn't thought about that moment in a very long time.  But it all came back to me this weekend.

Keith wanted to teach our boys by initiating this foot-washing, but I think it touched me more than it touched them.

In their defense, they are young boys.  All they could think about was how smelly each other's feet were, and how much it tickled to have them washed by someone else.

But as Keith washed my feet, and I washed his...

This time, I thought of Jesus.  The King of Kings.  Kneeling in front of me.  Washing my feet.


Or better yet.  Jesus, King of Kings.  Dying on a cross.  For me.

I am so not worthy.

You are so right, voice in my head.  I am not worthy.  But He did it anyway.  How blessed am I?

Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

I've always struggled with those voices in my head.  It is quite a relief to know that I am not the only one.  

What I've come to realize is those voices come from the mouth of the devil, trying to destroy my confidence, and obliterate my sense of self-worth.

The Bible says in John 10:27

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

If I am listening to those voices telling me I'm fat, or I'm ugly, or I'm not good enough...  Then I can't hear the voice of God, the voice of Truth.  The voice that tells me...

I am beautiful.

I am loved.

I am important.

Thanks to my sisters in Alpha Delta Theta, thanks to my husband, (thanks to a few years in counseling), but most of all, thanks to the Holy Bible, I know His voice is the only voice that matters.

I hope you hear it too.  :)


If you have a moment, I encourage you to listen to this awesome song by Casting Crowns - The Voice of Truth.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Long Time, No Write

It has been a very, very long time since I last sat down to write a blog.  I'd like to say it's because I've been busy.  But once again, my excuse for not writing has simply been because I haven't know what to say.

My last serious blog was quite revealing in that I had finally come to understand some things about God and faith.

#1.  When I ask God for something, I believe He will answer.

#2.  I may not like His answer.

#3.  I have to trust that my Father knows best.

That blog represented a "light-bulb" moment for me.  Once I wrote it, I fully anticipated many more inspiring posts to soon follow.  I thought the revelations from God would just start flowing.  I thought I would feel closer to Him.  I thought I would continue to be at peace with all that has happened over the last year.

That is not the case.

The truth is the peace of that understanding only lasted for a little while.  Then I reverted back to numbness.

And I feel like I have been sleep walking through life ever since.


Every Wednesday, my homeschool friends and I gather around a small table in the local public library.  It is the time of week I most look forward to.  I like to compare it to what I imagine "planning period" might be like for public school teachers, except without the planning.

Heeheehee...  That makes no sense.  Let me try that again.

Maybe it's more like "recess" or "music class", when someone else takes your kids for an hour.  And at that moment, you are not responsible for teaching them anything.

I feel so grown up on Wednesdays, like I'm playing dress up in my mom's clothes and pretending to drink coffee.


A few weeks ago, I was at the library with my friends, and a couple of them suggested I read a book called The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rachel Nichols Alonzo.

This did not sound like my type of book.  I like to read fun, fictional novels that provide an escape from reality.  Not true stories that remind me how sad life can be.

But my friend, Missy, began telling me about this book.  Our conversation went something like this...

Me:  Ew.  That sounds scary.  What is it about?

Missy:  It is a novel about a true crime committed in the 70's right here in North Carolina.  

Me:  Yeah.  That still sounds scary.

Missy:  No.  No.  No.  You have to read it.  It's really good.  

Me:  Will it give me nightmares?

Missy (laughing at me):  Goodness, no.  It's about forgiveness.



I read the book this weekend...

It gave me nightmares...

Thanks Missy...


But seriously, it was a true story written by a woman recalling how her family was terrorized by an evil man when she was a young child.  Her parents were shot right in front of her.  Her mother died, and her father never fully recovered from the mental anguish inflicted by this "devil" who lived across the street.  

You can see why I had nightmares.

However, I read the book in less than two days.  I could not put it down for two reasons.

#1.  I needed closure.

#2.  Missy said it was about forgiveness, and I just could not wrap my brain around that.

It turns out, it truly is an awesome story of forgiveness.  I am still quite baffled.  It scared me to death, and opened my heart at the same time.

This woman, who had suffered life-altering fear and unspeakable loss at the hands of a madman, found it in her heart to pray for that same man and to forgive him.


I stayed up til 1 a.m. to finish this book.  And when I turned out the light and lay there in the dark, I knew I would have nightmares, so I tried to stay awake as long as possible.

I thought about how I might react if I ever found myself in that type of situation.  I'm quite certain my reactions would not reflect an unshakeable faith and deep love for God, as this woman's did.

I realized that I am not so deeply rooted in my faith that I would be able to forgive as easily as she has forgiven.

Once again, as I've done so many times before, I found myself wishing I knew God better.  And once again, as I've done so many times before, I hung my head in shame because the only one to blame for that lack of knowledge is me.

Then I fell asleep and had horrible nightmares.  Thank you Missy.


When I woke up Sunday morning, I literally jumped out of bed, eager to escape the nightmares, but also eager to go to church, hoping to hear something that would encourage this desire to know God better.  My Sunday School teacher showed a DVD from Billy Graham's My Hope America series called The Cross.  It was a moving compilation of testimonies, visuals, and messages.  It really fed my soul.

I walked out of that classroom feeling like God is just as eager for me to know Him better, as I am.  It got me excited.

And today, I began to incorporate Quiet Time into our school schedule.  I rarely deviate from our school schedule, so I figure by making it part of our daily routine, it will not go undone.  We will start our school day spending quality time in His Word, praying, meditating, and praising.

So, long story, short ~ that's why I'm writing today.  To tell you that scary, awesome book gave me nightmares, woke me up, and reignited that hunger for God inside of me.

Thank you Missy.  :)

Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

What scares me the most is that I've been here before.  Desiring to know God better.  Hungry for knowledge.  Eager for His Word.

And somehow I've always dropped the ball.  I pray this time is different.  And I ask you to pray for me as well.

The Bible says in Acts 13:22

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

I have always loved that description of David, "a man after God's own heart".  It gives me hope.  

David was not a perfect man.  He disappointed God on a number of occasions.  Just as I have.  Just as you have.  And yet, God described him as "a man after mine own heart".

Despite my imperfections, I pray that someday, someone will describe me as "a woman after God's own heart".  

Friday, September 13, 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 36.

Last night, I went to the Taylor Swift concert with my cousin, Brandon.

That's right.  Taylor Swift.

Don't judge me.

Yes.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, with two young boys, who used my mom's night out to see a 23-year-old girl sing....

What can I say?

It was loud....


As I sat there in my awesome lower-level seat, in front of two seven-year-old girls who were desperately hoping to get a chance to meet the star, so for the entire hour before the show they nonstop screamed their little hearts out right in my ear, I thought to myself, "I'm old."  

I am not exaggerating.  These girls were truly committed to their cause of getting noticed.  They stood right behind my cousin and me.  One girl would say to the other girl, "Okay.  Let's say, 'We love you Taylor Swift.'"  Then they would both scream to the top of their little-girl voices, "WE LOVE YOU TAYLOR SWIFT!!!!" 

Okay, next let's say, "I'm a Super-Swifty."
Okay, now say, "You are so awesome."
"I can't wait to meet you."

When they ran out of clever sayings like that, they began telling her mother and her opening act that they love them too.

"We love Ed."
"We love Mama Swift."

When they ran out people they loved, they just started screaming out the names of Taylor Swift's hit songs.

"Love Story"

My favorite was when they mixed things up a bit...


Brandon and I laughed out loud on that one.

All the while, Taylor Swift is on the large screen talking about her music and her videos.  So then the girls start doing lyrics.


And I thought to myself, "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 36."  


BUT don't feel sorry for me.  For it was all worth it in the end.  You see, no one puts on a show like Miss Taylor Swift. 

As soon as the lights went down, and the RED sign lit up, I was transformed into who I went to that concert to be...  a Taylor Swift fan.

Let me tell you why I am continually amazed by this young lady.  It's not because of her voice.  It's not because of her fashion style.  It's not because of her incredible business sense.  It's because of her words.

This girl can write.

That's what I love about her.

I love her words.

Have you ever listened to her songs?  I mean really listened?  

Who describes love, hurt, or friendship that way?  

He's the song in the car I keep singing, don't know why I do.

You're just another picture to burn.

I've never been anywhere cold as you.

You're tied together with a smile, but your coming undone.

It's too late for you and your white horse to come around.

You got your share of secrets and I'm tired of being last to know.

My mind forgets to remind me you're a bad idea.

I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules everyday.

You have pointed out my flaws again, as if I don't already see them.

This is me praying that this was the very first page, not where the story line ends.

Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there's no right answer.

Your eyes look like coming home.

Whether you are pro-Taylor Swift or anti-Taylor Swift, I hope you can see that behind the blonde hair and bright red lipstick is a very talented young lady.

Don't judge me for recognizing that.  ;)

Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

The Bible says in James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father...

I've often times wondered if Taylor Swift is a Christian.  She does not openly say either way.  I have heard her say that she doesn't want to use her celebrity status to influence the beliefs of others.  I can respect that.

But as moving as her lyrics are about life and love, I can't help but wonder how she might use that talent to describe the awesomeness of God.  I would love to hear that.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Father Knows Best

A couple weeks ago, I got my hair cut.  

It was loooooong....  

... and pretty.  :)

I had never intended to let it grow out.  At least not to this length.  

I wish I could say "lack of time" is what has kept me from getting my  hair cut.  But it's not.

I have avoided scheduling my appointment simply because I was afraid of my inability to "keep it together" while sitting in that chair.


This time last year, I spent many evenings walking up and down the road with my neighbor and friend, Elisha.  She had completed her cancer treatments, and was impatiently awaiting the full arrival of her hair.  All the while, she marveled at how long my hair was getting.  With a guilty smile, I told her I wasn't cutting it all off until she and I could go to the salon and get our hair cut together.

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know we never got that opportunity.  Elisha passed away in April... with no hair.


So why now?  What made me ready to chop it all off?

Well, I've learned a lot since last year.  A lot from Elisha.  A lot from her battle, and a lot from her death.

Losing her made me contemplate things I had always taken for granted.  Faith.  God.   Prayer.  Love.

I can't tell you how many nights I laid awake asking the same question over and over again.  Why?

I never got the answer to that question.  I probably never will.  But I have been given insight that has given me peace.  And there is no doubt in my mind that peace comes from God.

I want to share all this with you.


Elisha Skeen was a very loved, very cherished human being.  I have never in my life witnessed such an outpouring of love, as I did when Elisha announced the return of her cancer.  Friends and family gathered around to comfort her, while friends of friends and friends of family came together to support and provide whatever was needed.  Thoughts and prayers came not only from everyone who loved her, but also from complete strangers.  People heard of her battle, and they joined her prayer team, begging God to heal her.

There were literally thousands of people praying for her.  And though she weakened, and the news kept getting worse, we couldn't help but hope that God would grant this request.

However, He chose not to.  And I spent the first few months following her death in total confusion, completely baffled at His decision to take her away from us.  

I continued to pray to Him.  I continued to believe in Him.  I continued to praise Him.  But as the days passed without her here, I became wholly consumed by my lack of understanding...

The Bible says in Matthew 17:20

...for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

This verse fueled my bewilderment and intensified my insomnia.  While everyone else in my house was asleep, I would lie awake... staring at the ceiling...  wondering...  

Surely together with these thousands of people that were praying for Elisha, we had faith the size of a mustard seed.  Why then was she not healed?  

I didn't know what to do, or how to cope.  With Elisha's death.  With my declined request for her healing.  Or with my shaking faith.  So I prayed.  I prayed for enlightenment.  And I prayed for peace.

God gave me both.


I was sitting at the kitchen table, listening to my husband, Keith, provide a Biblical message on prayer.  I was reluctant to listen to his words because the pain was still so close to the surface.  I really just wanted to keep my ears, my heart, and my mind closed.

Keith said, "When you ask God for something, believe He will answer."

These words, full of sarcasm, immediately jumped into my mind.  Well He didn't answer our prayers for Elisha.

You know how people say God speaks to them?  Well, I didn't hear an audible response.  But in my mind, I felt Him speak.  I did answer.  You just didn't like my decision.

And that's when I realized what faith is and what faith is not.  

Faith is not asking for what I want, and expecting God to give it to me.  If that were the case, who would really have all the power in this situation?  Not God, but me.

No, no, no.  That just won't do.

Faith is asking for what you want, and trusting God to decide whether or not you should have it.

Wow.  How humbling is that?

It was a "light-bulb moment" for me.  

And as I sat there, across the table from the two children God has blessed me with, I saw myself in God's eyes.  Like a little kid, wanting my way, and demanding to know why I didn't get it.  

Why God?  Why didn't You heal Elisha?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Responding in the same manner I would to either of my sons if they stood before me acting that way, asking why I said NO, I felt God say,

Because I said so.

And because I am a parent, I know when I use those words with my children, it's because I know best.  And I expect them to trust that I know best.  They don't have to like it.  But they do have to accept it.

We asked God to heal Elisha.  Because He is our Father, we have to trust that He knows best.  He owes us no explanation.  We don't have to like it.  But we do have to accept it.

Romans 8:28 tells us
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Elisha was called to God's purpose.  She touched my life and the lives of so many other people.  I am closer to God because of her.  And I know, now in Heaven, Elisha is pain-free.  She is safe.  She is happy.  

That's what gives me peace.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

So...  long story short...  I did get my hair cut.  My hairdresser cut off more than 10 inches, which I donated to Locks of Love in memory of Elisha Skeen.  

I didn't cry.  Instead, I smiled. 

I Will See You Again, Elisha, with a smile on your face, and a head full of hair.  

Until then, in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3, 
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Retreat

My name is Marci.
I am an addict.

I've been scrapbooking for ten years.  It started when my oldest son was just six months old.  I went to a scrapbook party, and made my first page.

This was my very first scrapbook page ever!

I was immediately hooked, and I have never looked back...

Fast forward.  Ten years later.  I have a room fully devoted to my love for scrapbooking.  I'm so spoiled.  Thank you Keith!  I even became a Stampin' Up! demonstrator hoping to earn enough  money to support my habit.  Visit my website.

One of my favorite aspects of this hobby is the scrapbook retreat - a three to four day getaway with fellow addicts gathered together for the sole purpose of cutting and pasting.  We also eat and drink.  We listen to music.  We stay up til all hours of the night, and into early  morning.  Doesn't it sound wonderful?!

It's in those late hours, while designing layouts for our cherished photos, our chatter usually turns serious.  I don't know if we're so delirious from lack of sleep, or if we're overly emotional from looking at pictures of the people we love most.  We end up talking about life, love, marriage, pregnancy, hair, clothes, holidays, our spouses (Only good things, of course!), our children, our neighbors, and even our enemies.

Sometimes we cry.  But mostly we laugh.  It's a truly bonding experience.

I highly recommend it.  :)


The last retreat I went on was in February of this year, in Virginia Beach, with the women in my Sassy Scrappers Stampin' Up! club and some of their friends.  At 12:30 a.m., we found ourselves discussing God, faith, Jesus, and religion..

I don't remember exactly how the conversation got started.  But one of the women openly admitted that she does not believe in God.  Two other women admitted to having a lot of questions about Jesus and Christianity.  And so they talked.

They talked about how certain aspects of salvation do not make sense.   About how Christianity seems unfair.  About how believing in God seems illogical.

It was an eye-opening, faith-shaking, life-changing conversation for me.  Mostly because I didn't say a word.

I sat at my table with my head down, my heart pounding, and my mouth shut.

I was completely unprepared for this discussion.  My daddy always told me to never discuss religion and politics with friends.

The women looked to me for input.




I had nothing to say.




God is so intricately woven into the fibers of my life.  Every aspect of who I am stems from who He is and what He has done for me.  He is the focal point of my marriage, of my parenting, of my homeschooling, of most everything I do.




But I had nothing to say.




Finally one woman asked me, "Are you a Christian?"  I nodded.

She then asked, "So how can you believe?"

The only words I found the courage to say were these...

"How can you NOT believe?"

That's all I said.  How can you NOT believe?

Another woman asked me if I had been raised to believe in God.  Again, I nodded.  She looked at the other woman, and they exchanged that-explains-it looks.  As if to say, "That's why she believes.  Because her parents taught her to believe."

My first thought was, "That's not why I believe."  I mean, I guess that is the reason I believed when I was little, but that's not why I believe now?

It was at that moment, for the first time in my life, I realized that I don't know how to explain why I believe.

All I can say is I look at this world, at my children, at the cycle of life, at everything.  And I just do.  I believe.

I believe the Bible is true.  I believe God created the world.  I believe Jesus is God's Son.  I believe He died for me.  I believe He rose again.  I believe God loves me.  I believe I will live with Him in Heaven some sweet day.

I believe it.  I believe it.  I believe.


Last month, a friend of mine who was also at this retreat, and part of this conversation, confronted me about my lack of participation in the whole discussion.  She reluctantly admitted that she was disappointed, as she has always viewed me as one of her most devout Christian friends.

She had every right to question my motives for not answering.  As a Christian, is it not my obligation to jump at any opportunity to tell someone who doesn't believe in God, why they should believe in God?

That was when I finally said out loud all the thoughts that had been haunting me the last four months.

I didn't know what to say.

I don't know why I believe.  I just do.  And now I realize, that's not good enough.

I know God is real.  I have never doubted that.  I still don't.  I just don't know how to explain why I know He is real.

You could not be more disappointed in me, than I am in myself.


I don't know who was more surprised at my confession, my friend or me.

I cried all the way home.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

It's important to me that you know my belief in God has not faltered.  I still know God is real.  I have never doubted that.

I'm telling all you this because I want you to know why I am all of a sudden looking into who my God is.  I want to be able to explain why I believe.  For those of you who are Christians, you probably understand why I believe, even without me having to explain it.  But how do I explain it to a non-believer?

I've just recently come to the realization that I don't know God as well as I thought I did.  I don't know Him well enough to know how to tell others about Him, or in a way that would make them want to know more.

The Bible says in John 1:1 ~
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

It all started with The Word.  THE WordGod's Word.

If I want to know God better, it seems logical to me that I should spend more time in His Word, seeking His divine answers to all my epiphanic questions.

I just want to know more.

I hope you do too.

I'll keep you updated.  :)


By the way, if you happen to be a scrapbook addict like me, I'd be happy to introduce you to my support group.  :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Christian Walk, Thus Far...

I've always been a believer.  For as long as I can remember, I've known God existed.

Growing up, my parents took me to church every Sunday.  There I learned about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I learned about Heaven and Hell.  I learned about sin, repentance, and forgiveness.

I took what I learned and applied it to my everyday life.  I did what I learned to be right, and I avoided what I learned to be wrong.

I was a good person.  I was a Christian.

When I came to know the man I now call my husband, he showed me there was more to being a child of God than just doing the right thing.  He told me about salvation, claiming Jesus as my personal Savior, and entering into a committed relationship with my Creator.

Since then, my life has reflected a new level of Christianity, inclusive of more prayer, more love, more faith, and more joy.

With all that also came more fear and more anxiety.  I have struggled with imperfection, guilt, and a constant feeling of unworthiness.

Who am I that Christ would die for me?

A Christian counselor helped me understand God's grace, Jesus' sacrifice, and my own self-worth.

It's been quite a journey getting to know Jesus, and learning how to live my life for God.

I finally got to the point where I felt good about who I was as a Christian.


But the year 2013 has been an eye-opening experience for me...


You might have noticed I've not blogged in awhile.  That's mostly because I haven't known what to say.

I've found myself in an unexpected place, seeking answers to questions I'd never before thought to ask.

Why do I believe in God?

What is faith?

Why do bad things happen?

How do I know the Bible is true?

It's scary and exciting at the same time.  "Scary" because until this year, I didn't realize I don't know the answers to these questions.  "Exciting" because I fully expect to know more as I move forward.


I ask you to pray for me as I continue my Christian journey, ever seeking a closer walk with God.

I encourage you to ask your own questions, and I pray you find the answers you are looking for.

And I invite you to join me as I offer further insight into my journey thus far, and as I share my findings in future blog posts.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

My trust in God has carried me through the events that have transpired over the last six months of my life.  But my faith has been shaken.

I looked down at the foundation of my belief in God, and I realized that I've become a little too eager to accept what others tell me about Him, about Jesus, and about the Bible.   I believe what they believe simply because they told me it's true.  

And now I've decided that's not good enough.  I want to know more.   

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15
" Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Study to show thyself approved unto God...  

That's exactly what I intend to do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blog Stalkers

It's been seven weeks since my friend Elisha "flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels".

They played Sissy's Song, by Alan Jackson, at her graveside.

I don't know if she picked that song or not.  

She and I had talked about our funerals one time when we were walking.  It was kind of a depressing topic, but we talked about everything, so somehow the discussion of our funerals came up.  I had told her I want this song played at my funeral.  

When we got to the cemetery, as we stood at the top of the hill, just feet away from her coffin, and the music to "Sissy's Song" started, I sucked in my breath, remembering that conversation and trying to keep from sobbing.

I miss her.  

I think about her a lot.  Even still.  

It's just so sad.  

But I think I'm healing.  Slowly.

I no longer obsess about how awful her last days, weeks, and months were.  Now I picture her in heaven.  

I imagine her up there with a healthy spiritual body, a head full of hair, and pain-free smile on her face.  I picture her at the top of the mountain, looking back at the valley she came through to get there, with her hands in the air, feeling victorious.  I see her comforted.  I see her strong.  I see her happy.


I think about our walks, and our talks.  

And what amazes me is how I never feel truly inspired to write until I'm thinking about Elisha.  It's hard to write about anything else.

My husband has encouraged me to write about other things.  While he knows my writing about her is therapeutic to me, it may be painful for the those of you who love Elisha.  I apologize if that is the case.  I'm not trying to dredge up memories to hurt you.  

I'm just writing because I feel inspired.  I write so much better when I feel inspired.  And right now, nothing inspires me more than Elisha.


I remember one time when she and I were walking, we had both recently posted separately on our individual blogs.  She asked me, "So do you stalk your blog?"

That may seem a very strange question, but if you knew Elisha, you would totally understand.  She had a way of saying things that just made you laugh.

So, through giggles, I asked, "Stalk my blog?"

She went on to explain, "Yeah.  Like check it every five seconds to see how many people have read it."

When you create and design your own blog, you can go to your design page and look at your blog numbers.  Each post is listed, along with the number of times that post has been viewed.  So after you publish what you've written, you can continually refresh your design page to see how many people have read it.

Oh yes, I do that.  And I was so thankful to know that Elisha did that too.

Then she asked me how many had read my most recent blog post, about reconnecting with my childhood best friend  (B.B.F.F.E. - Part One).  At that time, about 55 people had read it.

Elisha was shocked, as this was her all-time favorite thing I had ever written.  She thought my number should be much higher.

I was shocked because I thought that number was pretty good.

So I asked her how many had read her recent blog post discussing her anxiety about an upcoming scan she was having to determine if her body was clear of cancer (Scanxiety).  She had well over 200 views.

My mouth dropped.

She laughed.

I said, "You are so popular."

I went on to tell her that my highest number was 81 page views.  I had never even gotten to 100.

Elisha said, "We're going to get you to 100 on this one."

Later that night, she encouraged her Facebook friends to read my blog post, sharing a link to it on her wall.  By the next day, I had 101 views.  I texted her immediately, "Now I'm popular too!  Thank you!"


Elisha and I continued to stalk our blog posts after that, sharing our numbers.  The last blog post she wrote told the world that her cancer had returned (Round Two).  She texted me numerous times over the next 48 hours, to tell me her numbers.  We were both shocked.  Within days of her typing those words, over 2,000 people had read them.  I just kept telling her, "You are so popular."

Elisha was popular.  She still is.

I check her Facebook page often, and lots of people are still talking about her.  So I hope it's okay that I am too.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

Since my declaration to be more inspirational in my writing, as Elisha was, I've closed each of my blog posts with "Seeds of Faith", hoping to point everything back to God, as Elisha did.

I've lost loved ones in my past.  But loss of life has never been more "in my face" as it has been since Elisha passed.  I see her not here everyday.  When I walk up the road, she's not here.  When I invite her husband over for a meal, she's not here.  When I play with her son, she's not here.  When I write a blog, she's not here.

How do I point that back to God?

I don't know exactly, except to say, that in losing her, and having this hole in my life where she used to be, I am continually seeking His comfort, His strength, and His peace to fill that void.

And every time I am sad over losing her, I remember her husband and her son, right next door, whose grief and pain are so much bigger than mine.  So I pray for His comfort, His strength, and His peace upon them.

Sometimes words fail me.  And even in prayers, I don't know exactly what to say.  So I pray the 23rd Psalm.

Lord - You are my shepherd; I shall not want.

You maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  You leadeth me beside the still waters.
You restoreth my soul: You leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

You preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: You anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in YOUR house for ever.

When Elisha was sick, and I knew she needed peace, but I couldn't come up with the words to pray, I prayed the 23rd Psalm for her.  Lord - You are Elisha's shepherd;  she shall not want...

When her husband and her son leave my house, I pray the 23rd Psalm for them.

I encourage you to memorize the 23rd Psalm. When you are in need of God's comfort, God's strength, and God's peace, but your heart and mind are at a loss for words, this passage of scripture can be your guide.


If you are reading this blog, Elisha has touched your life in some way, even if it is only through my words.  I hope you are inspired.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Test Week

One of my favorite week's of homeschooling is our TEST WEEK.  Does that make me weird?

It does.  I know it does.  

Even when I was little, I LOVED test week.  I got excited about my number two pencils.  I got excited about filling in the circles.  I got excited about seeing the teacher mark the start and finish times on the board. I got excited about all of it.  Mostly I got excited about showing myself how much I had learned.

I was such a nerd...

I still am.  I still love test week.  I love getting pencils sharpened for my two boys.  I love filling out their student information pages.  I love writing the start and finish times on the board.  I love all of it.  Mostly I love seeing how much my boys have learned.

See.  I'm still a nerd.  

And the funny thing is...  I've passed it onto my boys.  They love test week too.

I guess they're nerds too.


So...  I was bit perplexed when a friend of mine texted me yesterday morning.  This week is test week at her  homeschool.  Her text said, and I quote...

"Let me tell you, I HATE testing.  My daughter has already cried this morning and I felt completely helpless. Arg."

We texted back and forth for a little while.  She was venting.  I was attempting to cheer her up.  

I later received another text from her...

"I need some words of encouragement.  I'm about to cry."

My poor friend.  This is her first year testing.  I tried to cheer her up using Abilene's famous words...

"You is good.  You is smart.  You is important."

(That's a quote from The Help.  If you haven't read that book, you should.  Or at least watch the movie.  It's awesome.)


My kids have never cried during test week.  And I have never wanted to cry during test week.

Yes, it could be because we are total nerds.  

But, just in case that's not it, and I'm actually doing something that might be helpful for others to know, here is what I do to insure Test Week is a positive experience at Chapel Hill Academy.

1.  I always test in April.
I test right after Easter break.  That way we are refreshed.  We are nowhere close to being burned out.  It makes for a good week.

2.  I tell my boys the test is not for them, but for me.  
I tell my boys, ages 8 & 10, this test is not about them.  It's about me.  I explain that their test scores will show me what I have taught well, and what I haven't taught well.  I tell them if they do not know the answers, not to worry about it.  It will show me what subject matter we still need to focus on.   These tests show my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.  This is good for me to know.

3.  I don't make a big deal about the tests.
I don't act like the fact that we are testing is all that important.  I don't spend weeks ahead of time preparing for the test.  This way it seems as though we are simply taking a break from our normal homeschool days to "see how Mommy is doing as a teacher".

4.  I don't do any other homeschooling during test week.
I'm sure the reason my boys like test week is because our homeschool days end up being much shorter.  Testing only takes two to three hours each day.  That leaves a lot of time for play.

5.  I always do a pre-test on day one of testing.
We use the Terra Nova standardized test.  (I get them from Bayside School Services -  This test comes with a pre-test.  We always start with this on Monday.  It's quick and easy.  I find that is a good way to start off the week.  They complete day one of testing on a positive note with a good feeling, and then they get to play.

6.  On the last day of testing, we always do something extra fun.
My first year of homeschooling, my oldest son was the only one testing.  When we finished our last test section, I let him pick a special place for lunch - just the two of us.  He picked Waffle House.  He is sooo my child.  And I let him pick songs on the jukebox.  He played all Rascal Flatts.  My child, for sure!   Last year, we stayed overnight in a hotel.  This year, I scheduled a field trip at the Lazy 5 Ranch.  


Don't get me wrong.  I don't breeze through Test Week without any stress.  There are many aspects of testing that stir up nervousness in my mind, and in my stomach.  Here are some thoughts that run through my head as I try to look over their shoulders while they're taking their tests...
  • I know he knows the right answer.  BUT he marked the wrong answer.  
  • We haven't studied that yet!
  • Is he supposed to know that?
  • I don't even know the answer to that.
  • I'm gonna have to google that one.
  • I want to help you.
  • I wish I could help you.
  • I'm sorry I can't help you.

I think the hardest part of test week is not being able to help your child get to the right answer.  This is when I have to remind myself... (and this is exactly what I told my friend yesterday)

" doesn't matter if they do good or bad.  All they have to do is take the test.  So everyone take a deep breath.  Smile.  Pray.  And know that this will all be over soon."

I know it's different in public school.  EOG scores matter.  But in homeschool, the only one affected by your final score is you - the teacher.  If your child doesn't score well, you just teach it again.  It's simple as that.


I got our test scores back last Friday.  As I scanned the pages, I was full of relief and and overcome with joy.  

My boys are nerds.  And it turns out they have a very good teacher.  :)


Seeds of Faith (inspired by Elisha Skeen)

Just hearing the word "test" sparks anxiety and fear in the minds of many teachers and students.  Here are some Bible verses to help you get through Test Week.

James 1:5
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Psalm 56:3
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Proverbs 19:8
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.

And my personal favorite...

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's May.

It's May.

Do you know how I know it's May?  No.  Not because I looked at my calendar.

I know it's May because I've got that feeling.  You homeschool moms, and probably public school teachers, know exactly what I'm talking about.  That feeling I like to call ~ "I'm done".

For those of you who don't have the luxury of lesson-planning, grading papers, conducting tests, and pretty much being fully responsible for the education of your children, let me explain it to you...

My two boys and I have spent the last nine months doing organized learning in our classroom.  We start with Science, then move on to Handwriting and Social Studies.  I give them their Reading assignments.  While I fix lunch, my boys take turns working on their typing skills on our computer.  After lunch, we resume our studies with an afternoon activity such as art, poetry, or critical thinking.  Then they do some Language Arts, followed by Writing.  And our school day is done after Spelling and Math are completed.

At least that's how I plan for each day to be...

As you can imagine, it doesn't always work out that way.  In fact, the closer we get to the end of our school year, the less likely it is that our school day looked anything like the schedule I described above.

In fact, today...


I'm almost too embarrassed to share this with you...

But I guess if it makes you feel better about your school day, it will be worth my embarrassment...

This morning we had breakfast with friends at Cracker Barrel.  Then we went to Lowe's and Wal-mart.  Then we gathered with friends for story time at the library.  Afterwards, we met for lunch at the Sub Shop.  Now I am in my office writing this blog, while my boys are watching television.

That's what we've done today.

And I'm totally counting it as a day of school.

I know it sounds like a completely unproductive, all-fun, no-education day.  And at the beginning of our school year, I would totally agree.

But today, I would argue that point...

They played Checkers at Cracker Barrel.  That's educational, right?  Math (circles, squares), Science (ummm...  surely there's something scientific about Checkers), Critical Thinking (Oh come on.  You can't argue that one.  Checkers is definitely critical thinking).  So Math, Science, Critical Thinking.  Check, check, check.

They had story time at the library.  Reading (Mrs. Robin read to them), Art (They painted strawberry pictures).  Check, check.

They ate lunch with their friends.  Now isn't everyone always saying homeschool kids need social interaction?  Social Studies.  Check.

Right now they are watching Disney's Kickin' It.  Hmmm...  how can I make that educational?  Afternoon Activity?  Yes!  Afternoon Activity.  Check.

So all we've missed is Spelling and Writing.  Wait a minute...  

...   ...   ...

Okay.  I just made them spell "writing".  So we've covered both items there.  Spelling.  Writing.  Check.  Check.

And you thought they didn't learn anything today.  Don't you feel silly?


You see, I've reached that point in the school year where I am so burnt-out on our learning routine.  I am just trying to survive.  And I am just desperate enough to justify my educational choices for today.   Don't judge me!

I'm tired of talking about plants, and communities, and writing, and multiplication.  I just want to take a nap.


So...  in my own defense...

I can tell you that we've finished our Science and Social Studies curriculums for the year.  Those are the most fun. 

Handwriting.  Bryson is good with his handwriting.  Camden...  I don't want to talk about it.

Math is pretty much done.  It's just review stuff from here on.

Writing.  Ah Writing.  Writing is my arch-nemesis.  I know that is ironic, considering I love to write more than anything else.  What can I say?  It's much easier to do it than to teach it.  So I've pretty much given up on writing for this year.  Don't worry.  I'll try again next year.  Eventually I'll get it right.  I hope...

That leaves us with Language Arts and Spelling.  We're on Unit 8 out of 10.  Ugh...


On paper, we've still got five weeks of school.  Mentally, I am so done.

That's how I know it's May.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

As moms - and in this case, as homeschool moms, - I think we try so hard to be perfect.  And when things don't go perfectly, we feel ashamed.  

Take comfort in knowing that God does not condemn you for skipping Spelling.  Or for counting Checkers as your Math activity.  

Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day.  I hope you told yourself you are doing a great job.  :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

What I Know About Thyroid Issues

I think the hardest thing about suffering from thyroid issues is when the world looks at you, they can't see there is anything wrong.  I'm sure this is the case with other sicknesses as well.  But my thyroid began betraying me about eight years ago, so I can speak from experience concerning the struggles that follow.

I didn't remember how alone I felt during that first year following my diagnosis until I chatted with a friend who just recently learned that she too is experiencing thyroid mishap.  She sat across from me, tears streaming down her face, describing exactly how I felt, and all I could do was cry for her.   I hate to see anyone go through what I've been through..


My thyroid adventure led me down a path of deep depression.  But it wasn't just me who felt overwhelmed before I even got out of bed in the morning.  I dragged my husband down with me.  We went to very dark places.  Not always together.  Sometimes very far apart.

I remember my first visit to a highly recommended endocrinologist.  Our conversation went something like this...

Dr.:  How long ago did they kill your thyroid?
Me:  One year ago.
Dr.:  And they haven't gotten you regulated yet?
Me:  No.
Dr.:  And you're still married?
Me (looking to Keith, a little confused):  Yes.
Dr.:  And you haven't killed anyone?
Me (amused):  No.
Dr.:  And obviously your husband hasn't killed you.
Me: giggle, giggle
Dr.:  I'd say that's a miracle.


I've told you much of my thyroid story in a previous blog titled I Miss My Thyroid -

What I didn't tell you is how it seems the world sees you...  What they say...  What they think...  How they act...  How they make you feel...

As I've said before, the hardest part of my experience was the toll it took on my family.  I was not physically, mentally, or emotionally able to love and nurture my husband or my children the way they deserved.

I requested help from friends and loved ones (food, housekeeping, child care).  My mother-in-law is a saint.  She cooked and cleaned and fed and bathed and loved and prayed for us every day.  My sister is my hero.  She took days off of work, moved in and took over, doing everything I couldn't.  My best friend is amazing.  She lived in Iowa, but coordinated meals for my family.

Let me tell you, you find out who your friends are in times like that.  You learn who you can count on.  And you realize just how kind, or how hurtful, others can be.

While some people willingly stepped up to the plate, others just didn't understand.

I was accused of "faking my symptoms."

I was told it wasn't "as bad as I made it seem."

How can you know if you haven't walked in my shoes?

People rolled their eyes, looked at me incredulously, and questioned my motives.

The most hurtful words were, "These are your children.  You need to take care of them."

I think those words hurt me the most because they were so true.  These are my children.  I do need to take care of them.  That's why this was so hard.  There is nothing I wanted more in the world than to take care of my children.  It still breaks my heart that I could not.

For it to be implied that I had abandoned my role of motherhood and had no desire to be responsible for my children...  the pain of those words literally took my breath away.


That was years ago.  I know now that God carried us through those times.  My marriage is stronger now than it has ever been.  And I spend every moment I possibly can loving and nurturing my children.


I'm saying all that to say this...

If you know someone who suffers from hypothyroidism, I encourage you to pray for them.  They don't look sick.  They don't look tired.  They don't look unhealthy.  But trust me when I tell you, they are exhausted.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

The world doesn't know the struggles you face.  But God does.

Tell Him when you are tired.  Tell Him when you are overwhelmed.  He will lift you up.  He will give you strength.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
    and with my song I give thanks to him.