Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Life...Out Loud + #LookingUp

Something happened to me this year that I didn't anticipate.

Some of my fear have been miraculously replaced with faith.

Not just faith; but a ferocious form of faith & boldness, that has me struggling to keep a tight reign on my tongue.

Sounds like a miracle to me :)

My holding back, being lazy, and blatant disobedience is wilting away.  In it's place is a brassy boldness instead.  O, this could get me into a lot of trouble.  It actually has already proven itself to work best on a very tight leash!

It has me questioning, "Why Now?"
Why all of a sudden is it hard for me to keep my mouth shut tighter than usual?
"Why is worrying about offending others often kept me from defending what was right?"

Do you feel that way?
Why is it so hard to stand up for what you know is right?
Do you look around and see things that are disturbing, but your too afraid to say something because it may offend someone, or worse yet...make them angry?

A few weeks back I was in Walmart shopping with my family.  We had just left church and threw our communion cups in the trash.

I was in the girls department, rummaging through some items with my 10 yr old daughter, when I hear some loud profanity nearby.  I see a aggressive father threatening his wife and 2 small children with vulgar comments and body language that said he was looking for a fight.  He agitated them by leaning in and cussing.  They obviously was used to this kind of scene...but I wasn't.

Afraid of getting involved or offending someone, I moved to another area.

He moved along with us.

No filter.  No care.  No regard.  He just kept speaking vile.

Before long his slander, body posture, and course words caused me to get mad.  Instead of walking away a second time, I decided I would just glance at him.  Maybe if he saw me, and knew I heard him, he would tone it down a bit.  Most people can act a fool in private but if they notice someone may see, they put on a prettier show.

I waited til the next mother blank bomb came shooting out...and I tilted my head up and made instant eye contact with the man.

"What are you looking at?"  He shouted across the aisle at me.  I wanted to tell him exactly what I saw, but I reserved myself, and said, "nothing."

"Then look away," he demanded.  "Mind your own business!"

For some reason I couldn't look away.  I don't know if it was this new-found boldness or a stubbornness I've had since I was a kid that wouldn't allow me to back down.

"You are blanking me off!  He yells!

"I'm sorry, I think you were already mad before I looked at you."  I stated.
"I also believe you made it my business when you cuss your family the way you do in the middle of a department store!" 


My tight leash was let loose just a bit and my tongue started talking.

I could have just walked away, but some part of me felt I must defend his wife & kids from his unruly behavior.  The 20 year old me would've cussed him back, the 30 year old me would've walked away, but the 40 year old me couldn't cuss..couldn't ignore...couldn't be moved.

And there I was, trying to rationalize with the unreasonable.  That got me nowhere.
But at least I said something SOMETHING.

After a few more big Momma words from him and several sidekick adjectives, he gave me a nice bird, screamed one last farewell and off he went.

Needless to say, my husband wasn't quite happy when he came back from picking out some snacks for the kids & learned that a strange man screamed vulgar names at me & in front of our daughter to boot!

The whole dramatic scene made me fire-mad.  My heart was rapidly beating & hands were generously shaking.  All the while, I can't tell you how many people walked by with their heads down while this grown husband/father screamed filthy names at me while I tried to shield my daughter.  I hear all the time how people walk aside while horrible things happen on the street, in their communities, & inside their homes.  I suppose it's easier to not get involved.

I am not sure what switched, or how my cowardly heart began to take simple acts of bravery.  When I was younger I was loud and boisterous in a negative way; when I became a Christian I somehow started believing that I was to be quiet and look away.  I'm done with that!

I can't imagine walking past someone hurting another person, burning a American flag, or disgracing a child.  I no longer will act like I don't see and hear.  It may seem like a simple thing that happened in Walmart but at the time it felt like David taking on Goliath.  It was uncomfortable.  It was intimidating.  It was the right thing to do.

I encourage you to speak up for those that can't or won't speak for themselves.

There is a difference between being scared & living in fear!

Being afraid isn't a big deal...being too afraid to do what you should do, is sin. 

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Listen Learn Love: Book Review + #LookingUp

by Susie Albert Miller

How to Dramatically Improve Your Relationships in 30 Days or Less!

Could your work relationships use some fine-tuning?
Are your friendships not quite what you would like them to be?
Does your marital connection with your spouse need revived?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may benefit greatly from reading Listen Learn Love!

This book is written as a practical guide to enrich any relationship within 30 days.  By following Susie's method, you will see effective results.  Some changes will happen instantly and others will be a continued improvement for a life-long rich investment.  This is a sure way of increasing the value of your relationships significantly.

These tried & true techniques will leave your relationships rich and rewarding!

She uses a simple combination of 3 parts:
Listening, to reduce tension.
Learning your loved ones, to deeper your connections.
Loving others well, to create a level of commitment.

The Author also gives us tips inside these parts that provide us with easy ways to practice as we train ourselves to listen, learn, and love others.

This entire unique guideline sounds easy, and while it is also challenging.  It challenges our hearts to put others above ourselves, and to set our selfishness aside.   The reward is a promising improvement in any relationship whether at work or home.  Each relationship can be transformed by these steps and leave you immersed by positive interaction with all the people in your life!

Pick up a copy today!

ISBN paperback 978-1-939447-74-6
ISBN Ebook 978-1-939447-85-2
Dunham Books
Blythe Daniel Agency

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Praying Upside Down Book Review

by Kelly O' Dell Stanley 

A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God

 When you talk to God, do you ever wonder if He hears?  Do your prayers feel uninspired or routine?  Do you sometimes feel like you don't even know how to pray?

 Try praying upside down.

Kelly O' Dell Stanley uses her history of visual writings & inspirational techniques, to engage with her readers at an artistic level.  She utilizes art and prayer and creates a picture of how to change your perspective when entering into communication with God.

If you have ever had a prayer that has been left unanswered, or felt as though your prayer time was a one-way conversation; you will receive great insight from reading this book.
She suggests that since Jesus was unlike anyone else, we also are free to be unique...and this also applies to our prayer time.  Praying Upside Down is a great reminder that as we serve Jesus, He calls us to do things a bit different.

Jesus tells in Matthew Chapter 5 that His kingdom looks a bit different as well.
He says that the poor will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Those that are mourning are comforted.
The meek will inherit the earth.
The persecuted will receive the kingdom of heaven.

This all is upside down.

Kelly encourages us to look at things differently and to change our perspective on prayer by moving into a different spot...This change of viewpoint will ignite our prayer life and ultimately transform our time with God.

I recommend this as casual reading and also as a small group study.

ISBN 978-1-4143-8983-7
Tyndale Publishers
Blythe Daniel Agency
269 pgs
8 wk study guide sold separately
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fearlessly Living Afraid

Everyone has something they're afraid of.  Some common fears I can list are being scared of heights, big crowds, driving in fast traffic, flying, speaking in public...etc.  They tend to make your heart beat just a bit faster and your palms sweat, bearing witness to your anxiousness.  It is normal to have a fear of something; something that would stretch you beyond your limits.

These are obvious fears, each has his own...I know mine, you know yours.

What about the things that you don't know your afraid of though, or maybe not admitted that you are afraid of?

These are deeply embedded fears,  Fears that control your life,  your thoughts, and your decisions.  They are hidden, maybe you don't even realize that you have them stored away.

I went to a Christian Writers Conference called She Speaks a few weeks back.  Two of my dearest friends ventured with me on a long drive across several states to meet up with like-minded women with a passion and fervor to write & speak for the glory of God.  It was something I had been looking forward to for almost a year.

While traveling down the road with the best girls, listening to my favorite tunes, & heading to the opportunity of a lifetime...I hear a question pop into my heart.

"Why are you afraid, Amy?"

Huh!  Where did that come from??  "I'm not afraid," I thought back.

"Yes, you are."

I was stumped into silence.  "Lord, what am I afraid of?"

I knew it was Him.  Only He would pose a question to me like that at a time when I thought I could conquer the world.

"Why do you home-school?" (I have kept my daughter home from public school for 5 years)

Well, I had many answers to that question, so I started pitching them all out.

"First's better.  I mean, she doesn't have to conform to the world this way.  She is free to learn at her own pace.  It creates a longer presence of innocence.  I can focus on spiritual teachings and help develop her relationship with you.  It limits secularism...."  On and on, I fed Him my rap list of all the right answers.

Blah actually what it probably sounded like.

"That sounds good Amy, but your lying."

What! could I have been lying.  I started to check my heart, I don't want to lie.  What am I missing here?

He posed the first question to me again...
"What are you afraid of?"

Something broke open inside of my heart.  My spirit resonated that there was in fact something I was afraid of and wasn't admitting.

I carefully whispered through my thoughts back to Him,
"I am afraid she will get hurt."
My eyes welled up.  My chest felt heavy and tight, I knew that He was exposing something deeper in me that I had hid away.

"I am afraid that you won't keep her safe Lord."

And there it was.. the nail was hit on the head!  Truth exposed!  I didn't trust God to take care of her for me.

Graciously the conversation continued on and instead of leaving me to wallow in my wretchedness, He spoke again.

"Do you believe I created you for a reason?"
"Yes, Lord."

"Do you believe I created her for a reason?"
"Of course, Lord."

"They why wont you trust that the purpose I have for her is good?"
 "Why wont you let me use her?"

The decision for us to home-school her was great in the beginning.  It was enriching and we have enjoyed her being home.  In the past, I may or may not have done it for the right reasons, but this year, He showed me that I had based my entire decision on fear instead of truth.

The choice to school her at home this year was not based on what was best for her, but instead it was based on what was best for my heart.

What a mighty stop sign fear can be!

It can put God's plans for your life to a complete halt.  Fear has the ability to freeze you in place when you are supposed to move.  It encourages you to be comfortable when God wants you to rely on His strength and do something different, daring, or dynamic!

The inner fears that stop you from God's purpose are an enemy to your existence.  They snuff out the good things God wants you to approach, and you miss out on life altogether.

There is always something that will speed up your beats per minute...but living fearlessly while still being afraid, allows you to feel scared while relying deeply on God to sustain you.

It's OK to be afraid, but it is not OK to position yourself as a stalemate and not move at all!

Right now examine yourself...ask Him, "What is it that I am afraid of?  What fears do you have that prevent you from being used by God?"

At the She Speaks conference, the Lord revealed to me an entire web of fear that I had tucked away.  He showed me what I was truly afraid of and how it was disabling my life.  I came home a different person; a different mother.

Today I walked her into her first day of class.
My mind was petrified, my heart was still...and God is with her.
I say to my fears..."I trust my God!"

And with that, I know her purpose will be great, because the God who created her is just that...Great!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

At What Price? by s.a. Morgan #LookingUp 7

Thank you Amy for allowing me to share my thoughts, and my poem on this very difficult topic
with you, your friends, and your readers. 

This is a polarizing subject and many will not share or appreciate my point of view, nor will they be happy with the message in my poem… so be it!

How do I write my poems; where do I get my inspirations from? It's different every time.
Sometimes it's a beautiful place or an interesting person; it could be a photograph, or maybe,
a single word… or two… or three!

One word:   'Abortion'
Two words:   'Planned Parenthood'
Three words:   'Selling fetus parts'

Shall I go on, or can you see something wrong with this picture? Well I did… and I DO!

I don't believe in abortion, period. But I also do not believe that it is up to me to judge someone
else on their choices; that's God's department. What I would be happy to sit in a court of law
and pass judgement on is, the deplorable act of SELLING for profit, human baby fetus parts, or
any human parts for that matter.

When I originally heard about this travesty, I was speechless.  I'm not any more.
The attached photos are of human fetuses that are both developed to 11 weeks...
Which one pleases you?
Which one makes you smile?
Which one makes your heart feel all warm and fuzzy?
Which one will grow up and say, "I love you"?

Two words, 8 letters each; change only 2 of those letters and you get-
Two completely different outcomes:
               (click to enlarge poem)
 Thank you for taking the time to read this..I know this poem may have created feelings that make you uncomfortable.  You may even feel that it's un-called for, or over-dramatized.  I may lose readers because of this post & continue to get nasty comments due to my stand against abortion & the newest claims against Planned Parenthood.  I understand we don't all see things the same way, I love you either way.
People have always been divided on issues such as this; I know this will be no different.  If you can see my heart in the things I post, I pray that you will stick around and continue to visit me each week.  Please link up if you have a favorite post you would like to share below by going to the link up tab.  I would love to encourage you to keep reading & keep writing!

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