Extraordinary

Ordinary people do extraordinary things every day.

Superheros live next door and aren’t cloaked in capes out of a Marvel comic book or billion dollar budget movies. Superheros are people~ ordinary, like you and I~ who find themselves in a position to do something that’s bigger than who they even thought they were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the very early morning hours yesterday, my son did something heroic. This isn’t a blog post to boast about him, though…this is a blog post to remind all of us that we can be extraordinary. All of us.

It started off with a text from him around noon that seemed a little suspect. “I’ve got to call you later and tell you something. Don’t worry, though.” Ohhhh……okay. First thought~ he got another ticket. Ugh. Second thought~ a fender bender. Ugh.
Instead of imagining all kinds of scenarios, I sent him a text back to please call now. Of course I was going to worry until I spoke to him.

It turns out that around 3am, my son happened to come across a car accident that had just occurred a moment prior. It appeared to him to not be serious and he instructed the girl who was driving to just go around it. But, for some reason, Nick changed his mind and got out of the car, walked past the vehicle on the street and found a second vehicle in a ditch. It was there that he found the passenger of that car, clearly in shock and walking around in panic, dialing 911. There was extensive damage to the drivers side of the vehicle and when Nick put his head through the window that had been condensed as a result of the impact, he found a driver struggling to breathe; unconscious and pinned to the steering wheel.  Nick described his breathing as “snoring” which he later found out is a sign of collapsed lungs. Encouraged that the driver eventually moaned when Nick would speak to him and, instructed by a nurse who came upon the scene, he continued to talk to him and provide reassurance that help was on the way….until he realized there was also a young man lying in the back seat, also struggling to breathe and bleeding from his nose.
There are moments in our lives when a split second decision is made~ an immediate reaction to a situation beyond our control. He knew that moving an accident victim was something to be avoided yet he also knew this young man was going to asphyxiate in that position. The nurse yelled not to move him but Nick pointed out that he wasn’t able to breathe so she, too, made a split second decision and agreed. Sit him up, support him, help him breathe.
And he did. Nick supported this boy in an upright position until paramedics arrived. Pulses for both the driver and the backseat passenger were faint, my son said, but there. Both continued to have labored breathing but they were holding on…the boy in an upright position, seemingly, having less difficulty than he did lying down. Nick has no idea of how long he spent coaxing these boys to live before help arrived but, of course, it seemed like forever.

The “jaws of life” were used to free the young men from the wreckage and Nick was, understandably, moved away to make room for the professionals.

It wasn’t until my son woke up yesterday morning and researched the accident that he found out the driver, a senior at FSU, had succumbed to his injuries on the scene. The young man who had been propped up against my son as he struggled for air, has survived.

My son is “processing” the loss of someone he didn’t know but who heard his voice as possibly the last thing before passing away. My son is also “processing” the very great possibility that he saved a life; giving the backseat passenger the minutes he desperately needed until help arrived.

And we, his parents, are processing too. Processing how incredibly proud we are of him to get involved, trust his instincts, provide comfort, be the hands and feet of Christ and do the “right” thing. Naturally, we are also processing the massive heartache and mourning that is happening for this extinguished life. And, selfishly, questioning “What if it had been our son?”

Tragic. Disastrous. Life altering.
But, Nick, you did something heroic. You provided compassion and we thank God you were on the outside of that car, reaching in and reaching out.

“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” ~Saint Teresa of Avila

Be blessed, friends….and tell people how much you love them.
Amy 

A letter to my children

My children were raised in a lukewarm, kinda Christian household. Truly, I felt pretty proud of the fact that we gave them a Catholic education and, for the most part, felt like they were learning all they needed to know on the school campus.
Proud of the fact that I gave them quite a bit more “spirituality and religion” than I had been raised with. Now the fact is this: just putting the purple and pink candles on the dining room table during lent was more than I was raised with so there was my small victory!

Today, those children are 21 and 24. My impact and influence in their lives dwindles with every passing day. (Yes, I had to stop typing because that brought tears to my eyes). But, I realized, it’s not too late to tell them I dropped the ball and so I began a letter to them a few days ago. I’ll share part of it here….

This is long overdue. 

You have been reading my blog for two years now and we have politely avoided the subject of Christ and who He is in my life. We’ve done that for a few reasons but, ultimately, I take responsibility. I am to blame; I am the mom. 

There is still a little of me (okay, a lot) that just wants you to like me. I want you to want to hang out with me, I want you to not think your mom has had a lobotomy, I want you to respect me without arguing my position…but, more than anything, I want you to know that without Him, His grace, His mercy…well, not sure where I would be. If I don’t tell you how amazing His love is, who else will tell you? If we politely skirt the subject, I will then do you both a disservice. My need for your admiration and acceptance is no longer more important than my faith and relationship with God. As a mom, you need to know that. The beauty is that it doesn’t diminish ONE drop of what I feel for you both; it is somehow enhanced and bigger. 

My love for you is the single most genuine love I have ever given; it is also the single most genuine love I have ever received.  The two of you are, simply put, two of the most awesome people I’ve ever known. Bright, funny, caring, committed…and cherished. God truly, truly blessed me with my children. You have, individually, brought me the funniest moments of my life, the proudest, and even the saddest. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

But I would trade my need to be accepted by you for guiding you as I should have. I have failed a million times…a million missed opportunities to show you the truth. If I had it to do all over again, it would be different. I’m sorry for that. (And I’m smiling here because I know you guys are thankful that it wasn’t different). I know you guys are thankful for the leniency and the fun mom. 🙂      I’m still fun, I promise. But I’m not the same. I’m aware of every single offense…against you. Against myself. Against GOD.

I love watching families who are strongly rooted in their faith~ watching children who may even grow up and eventually wander away from their faith in Christ. That’s ok; that’s not for their parents to worry themselves about. God is in control of all things….and, yes, He is in control of my two, also.
But there is regret in my heart for messing up what God entrusted to me. I acknowledge that. From that regret, my letter to them was generated. Completely inadequate and, yet, completely surrendered.

Be Blessed!
Amy 

Tonight, I need Philippians

There is no greater thing in the entire world than being asked by someone to help them in their walk with Christ. Whether it is helping them take the plunge into the deep end or helping them commit to just dipping a toe in the water; it is an honor and a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.  

Just by their asking me to shed light on their path, God has entrusted me to be a vessel. I feel completely inept in my own ability but take great comfort in knowing that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

Tonight, I feel a particular need for His strength. Not only do I want to speak the words that God knows my friend needs to hear, I am feeling depleted as Sunday draws to an end. This week blessed me with Tres Dias and the closest I have ever felt to my heavenly father. And He gave me great, abundant faith because He knew I would need to lean on Him shortly afterward. I am leaning with all my might and know that He will see me through to greater blessings on the other side of this storm. He is a fair and just God and will not give me more than I can handle…ever.

So, God, pour into me. Bring me peace that surpasses all understanding.

I praise You even in the storm.

And, please God, let me continue to be used by You.

Abiding in You,
Amy 

 

 

 

Investments and Returns

I love a good blog written by a good writer with good insight and no agenda other than to share what speaks to them.

One of my favorites is written by Steven Furtick. He happens to be this uber-cool young pastor barely into his 30’s who leads a church in Charlotte, NC that gathers 9000 people a week. 9000 people can’t be wrong ~ this guy is amazing. When I have time, I like to listen to some of his podcasts and I subscribe to his blog simply because they are quick reads and always, always chock full of tidbits to think about.

Yesterday, he wrote about people investing in one another. You have NO idea how time sensitive this was for me to read! Just this week, I made the decision to sever a relationship based solely on someones unwillingness to invest…and no, I’m not being overly sensitive here. They actually said they were too busy to invest in getting to know me. Pretty sobering to feel that from someone, yet alone actually hear it. That was a first and, I suppose, this person did garner some respect from me just by their honesty alone. They saved me time and energy, after all.

The beauty is that it’s okay. Some people invest enough to get by, some people invest heavily and some people don’t have time to invest at all. But I loved Steven’s words about what the bible says regarding investing in people…

You see this same sentiment from Paul when he’s speaking to the Philippians and their investment into his ministry:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now… It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. (Philippians 1:3-5,7)

But I want you to know that this isn’t just true of pastors and ministries. It’s true of every person you invest in. Whether it’s your children, your boss, your staff, the people in your small group, or the waiter at your table.

Every person you encourage.
Every person you mentor.
Every person you’re generous towards.
Every person you believe in.
Everywhere they are, you are.

Let’s be people that other people thank God for every time they remember us and the deposit we’ve put into them. Let’s be people whose reach extends beyond ourselves because we have invested in other people beside ourselves.

I don’t always get it right. I miss opportunities to invest in people who need it because of simple oversight. Personally, I’m going to be more diligent about investing in people I may not know very well because, frankly, I know what it feels like to be invested in. Invaluable and this week, in particular, highly appreciated.

Abiding in Him,
Amy 

It’s a God Thing

When I was a very new Christian and other Christians who were mature in their faith would tell a story and end it with “…isn’t that crazy? It was just a God thing”, I would always sit back and wonder. Was whatever happened to them a “God” thing or was it just happenstance; a coincidence or a lucky break? At the time, I wasn’t really sure. I wasn’t really dialed in to how God moves in our lives.

co·in·ci·dence

noun

1.

a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.
Apparently by mere chance? That’s the best way to define coincidence? Seems pretty vague and inexplicable to me.
I’ve had a LOT of “coincidences” happen in my life; too many for any mathematical probability guru’s who would care to challenge me on that. I’ve had several just this week! The fact is….they weren’t coincidences. They were things that happened as a direct result of God.
It was a God thing that I survived a car accident when I was 17 that should have killed me by all accounts. The officers and EMT’s at the scene told me that they fully expected fatalities when they saw the car. High rate of speed, slamming in to several concrete lights poles; one of which was actually broken in half and the top half was sent slamming in to the top of the convertible car, creating a 2 foot stalactite shaped metal crater that was about 1″ from my skull. No seatbelt, no brakes applied, no precaution at all by my own hands. I shouldn’t have lived; let alone not suffer permanent injuries. THAT was a God thing~ He was protecting me even when I didn’t.
I read this story last night and it really got me thinking about how God works in our lives every single day….
When It’s Crystal Clear In Anaheim, California, Mavis Jackson drove past the Crystal Cathedral. For twenty years, she said the same thing: “Someday I’m going to go there.”

One Sunday morning, she did. Putting on her best outfit, she simply decided, “Today is the day.”

Getting there early, Mavis took a seat in the middle and watched the huge three thousand-seat megachurch fill with people. She was awed as the majestic voices of the choir seemed to encircle her. She marveled at the manner in which a huge section of the glass ceiling slid open at the start of the worship was if to invite even the birds to worship.
At the end of the service, Mavis stood up and waited for the aisle to clear. Trying not to sound too excited, she said to the young lady next to her, “I am so glad I came today. Wasn’t it wonderful?”
The young woman nodded.
“Are you from here?” asked Mavis.
“No, I’m from the Midwest,” said the young woman adding, “I’m actually here on a mission. To find my birth mother.”

There was a pause.

“I know how you must feel,” said Mavis. “A long time ago, I had to give up a little girl for adoption. I didn’t want to…but…”

Another pause.

The young woman looked deeply into Mavis’s eyes.
“Do you…remember her birthday?”
“Yes,” said Mavis cautiously. “October 30th.”
“That’s my birthday,” gasped the young woman.
They sat down.
The young woman introduced herself as Cheryl Wallace.Cheryl explained that for years she had been haunted by the lingering uncertainty of not knowing who her birth mother was and, more important, why her mother had given her up.
In her small midwest town, everyone was discouraging.
“You’re looking for a needle in a haystack,” counseled the town clerk.
“There’s no trace of her,” said others.
Eventually a suggestion from someone who thought she’d once heard that Cheryl’s birth mother had moved to Orange County, California, led her to this time and place.
Even on her most optimistic days, Cheryl never could have forecast such a remarkable outcome–that such uncertainty would end in such certainty, in a manner that only God could have made happen.
And when they confirmed that their wonderful miracle was true–that they were long-lost mother and daughter–they knew that Mother’s Day would never be the same again.

I am so tuned in to how God is moving and orchestrating things in my life today. Today and every day…large and small….and I just wanted to remind you to do the same!
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous
Abiding in Him,
Amy 

Abiding

“Words can’t begin to explain….” is overused.
I know that now, after having experienced a weekend of such profound beauty that mere vocabulary and their feeble descriptions would be futile.  Words truly cannot begin to explain.
Imagine what it’s like to have God’s love, mercy and grace showered on you for 3 days.  Tres Dias. Three days.
I am so grateful to have participated; to have been invited to spend days where my only mission was to receive and to be loved unconditionally.

As a result, I am forever changed. And while my thoughts and emotions are still processing the truths I have learned, there is little else to say. I am forever changed.

And forever grateful to Linda, to my friends and family who took the time to write me letters of encouragement and love, to my sisters in Christ….to my brothers in Christ.
Above all, to God. There is no one like you, God.

John 15:5 (NIV)

    I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Abiding in Christ,
Amy 

Mustard Seed

Sometimes, we have such a revelation ~ in a split second or over a period of time~ that we have to pause and sit in awe. This has actually happened to me a lot in the last couple of weeks. The common denominator for my revelations? I didn’t trust God enough. I didn’t think He was big enough. My faith was small.

Francis Chan calls it “lukewarm” Christianity. Praying, worshipping, praising; all of the right components and still an underlying anxiety that God isn’t working to bring your little prayers any answers. I was right there~ caught in the cycle of “I trust you, God…completely….mostly….sort of….okay, completely….almost….” This kind of mindset is depleting and bankrupt.

So where does this lack of authentic faith come from? It certainly isn’t deserved. When I have asked God to make my paths clear and show me truth in the last few years, He has done so. And to the cynics, I offer just one of many testimonies about God.
Last year, on a normal commute home from work,  I cried out loud (in my car!) for the truth to be revealed about a particular situation and my cell phone rang within seconds. The person on the other end had all of my answers that had been locked tight for years and years and had picked that exact moment to reveal truth. That was God. I knew it immediately; only God could have prompted that phone call.

Doubters call that coincidence. Believers know better.  🙂

Time and again when God would answer my prayers, I was grateful and, yet, each time I was a little surprised that He actually provided what I was looking for.

Not trusting God enough to hear me every time? Counterfeit Christianity. Guilty as charged.

Last weekend, I wasn’t sure God could move mountains again. And yet He did. He plowed through that mountain as though it were simply air.

Yes, Lord, my faith has been as small as a mustard seed. 

And You promised it would be enough….and it was.

My promise to you, Lord? My faith will no longer be so small. You are deserving of so much more. Just because the world around me hasn’t always been reliable and trustworthy, YOU, Lord, have.

You never cease to amaze me and I am humbled by your glory.

Be blessed, friends!
Amy 

Right on Time

It’s raining and I have instrumental music on the stereo this morning. This house is so at rest right now; dogs snoring, hot chocolate within my reach.. and peaceful.

Peace filled. 

It hasn’t always been so. I remember, vividly, the days we closed on this house and the days we moved in and the days since then to this day. Peace did not find a home here very often~ and even though I could be sad and regretful of that, I prefer to look around and see the peace that is here now. In truth, it’s been too long in coming…for ME.

But God’s timing is not my own. So, despite all of my pushing and rejecting and nagging and sulking in the name of Jesus (dumb, I know), my timing wasn’t meant to be. I was trying to control what I felt needed to happen for peace to be invited into my home and by doing so, I was left frustrated and anything but peaceful.

Listening to Joel Osteen this morning, he talked about how some bad things in life happen for reasons far beyond our understanding. It is God’s privilege to keep some of those reasons cloaked for a time. In other words, not everything is for us to question. Not everything has a logical answer in our limited understanding. Not everything can be explained.  Still, we waste valuable time and effort trying to figure out why…and then we spend more time and effort being sad or angry…and still more time and effort “putting a question mark where God has put a period”.  Joel’s point was that some things just happen and the best thing we can do is just pick up and trust in God. Put one foot in front of the other and know that God will make beauty from ashes…somehow, some way, someday.

And He did. What was meant for evil has been used for good~ something I never, ever could have believed or even thought possible. It happened when I stopped putting a question mark where God had put a period. It happened when I stopped trying to control my circumstances and just let God have His way in His timing.

Habakkuk 2:3

 And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”
Amen to that. Right on time.
Blessings,
Amy 

7 Secrets

Tomorrow, around 1pm, I will have been married 27 years. The gravity of that statement is not lost on me~ it would be difficult to articulate the thoughts that go through my mind as I attempt to reflect on more than a quarter century of a life built with my husband.
In some ways, 27 years seems to have gone in a blink of an eye. In others, it seems as though he has been in my life forever. I suppose when you meet your life partner when you’re only 15 (though we didn’t date until we were 17), that constitutes nearly an entire lifetime.

By this point, I thought I’d be a marriage expert but in 27 years, I doubt that title is ever really attained. I second guess many things in my marriage just as I second guess my role as a parent; sometimes my best fell short. Sometimes I didn’t do my best. We live and learn and try to do better..even 27 years later. In fact, especially so.

Several years ago, 2 bachelors (jaded by their respective parents’ failed marriages) interviewed multiple couples who had all been wed for at least 40 years. In their extensive research, the bachelors compiled 7 secrets to a long and happy marriage. I believe they are worth looking at whether you’re simply considering marriage or have celebrated milestones of longevity.

  • Divorce is not an option. If we have one eye on the exit, we don’t have our entire focus on resolving issues.  *Naturally, this excludes abuse of any nature.
  • There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, only perfect moments. Expect non-perfection; practice patience and give the acceptance we want in return.
  • Unpack the Gunnysack. Unexpressed frustrations in a marriage can pile up and weigh us down like an overloaded gunnysack
  • Never Stop Dating. It’s the quantity of quality time spent together that leads to a wonderful marriage.
  • Love is a four-letter word spelled G-I-V-E. Most people think marriage is 50/50.  It’s not. It’s 60/40. You give 60.  You take 40. And that goes for both of you.
  • Join the CMAT Club. The CMAT club stands for Can’t Miss A Thing and represents the idea that life is short, so make sure to enjoy as much with your spouse as you can.
  • The Discipline of Respect. It is the catalyst for all things beautiful in a relationship: trust, connection, authenticity, and love.
Thank you, Matthew Boggs and Jason Miller. Things we should know but be reminded of…and often.
 Happy Anniversary, W. I love you. May we celebrate 40 years from now with a song like this couple. Is there anything more beautiful than a long marriage spent in love?
Be blessed,
Amy 

Know Better; Do Better

Prior to this week, I was about as unfamiliar with the organization Care Net as one can be. However, after spending 4 days at a Care Net conference in Orlando this week, I now wonder where my head was buried prior to this past Tuesday.

Please take a few minutes to educate yourself on this non-profit organization.
Who Is Care Net?

I know this is a sensitive subject for so many of us; the idea of unexpected pregnancies. The idea that there are alternatives. The idea that abortion is murder.

I get it. I do. This is uncomfortable and it’s not easy to talk about but many things that are the most important are also the most avoided because we want to stand politically correct or, at the very least, not offend anyone.  This morning, my favorite evangelist, Joyce Meyer said on Facebook

“We are not free until we no longer have anything to prove and we are not living to impress people.”

I am so humbled that you follow my little blog and have at least a little interest in my words but the truth is this~ what good is this little blog if I don’t share what I learn? What good is this blog if I avoid the tough subject because I don’t want to offend you? I think, friends, it would be unfair to dish out sunshine and encouragement when my heart is literally broken by what I’ve seen and heard this past week.

I am walking away from the conference with so much more understanding and knowledge. These are some statistics that have caused my heart to sink but there is reason for hope, too. Congress launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood this week, for one thing. What do you really know about Planned Parenthood? I hope you’ll take the time to investigate, if for no other reason than Planned Parenthood receives $363 million in federal and state taxpayer funding annually. Quite a chunk of money for a “non-profit”! Know where your money goes~ they are the country’s largest abortion provider.

Some of the allegations against Planned Parenthood include

  • a pattern of Medicaid fraud among affiliates
  • misuse of federal funds to subsidize their abortion business
  • and deliberate defiance of laws designed to protect minors like parental notification for abortion and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.
For me, the most interesting and enlightening testimony this week came from Abby Johnson, who was a Planned Parenthood rising star out of college. Promoted to a center Director, she was enjoying her comfy office on the 3rd floor of an ultra modern clinic when one day she was asked to assist in an abortion due to a staffing issue. The first 7 pages of her experience in that room is so riveting and so exposed that I just implore you to read it~ please, please visit http://www.unplannedthebook.com/ where you can even read the first chapter. You will never, ever be the same.
I will never, ever be the same. I share this with you today because we’ve bought a big lie, friends. I bought the lie~ hook, line and sinker. I share this with you because we are better than this lie and, if by some chance, you call yourself a Christian… you must be informed. When we KNOW better, we DO better.
Love you guys. Be blessed,
Amy