Marriage, What Happened?

I have been sitting on this for awhile. When I see people posting on Facebook or hear them talk about how the constitution of marriage has been ruined by “the gays,” I get really irritated. Most of these people say that since it isn’t biblical, it destroys the meaning of it. Some even go so far to say that it destroys the meaning of all marriage, gay or straight. In my not-so-humble opinion, those people are WRONG. Homosexuality and the allowance of gays to marry has NOT destroyed marriage.

*insert gasps, shrieks, and women fainting*

I’m sure many of you reading will disagree with me. Some of you may even be mad after that statement. My guess is that 50% or more of you fall into one of those categories. Keep reading anyway.My parents have been married for 43 years (I think). They’ve no previous marriages, nor have they “stepped out” of their marriage with another man or woman. Both sides of grandparents only had one marriage and remained married until their deaths. (I have one living grandparent remaining.) That’s not to say that all of these marriages were sunshine and rainbows all the time, because they weren’t. I’m sure they all had their disagreements throughout the years, but their commitments to each other lasted regardless.

As someone who has never been married and has never even been close to getting married, I still very much believe in marriage and its being a lifelong covenant between two people. While I agree with the fact that homosexuality is not biblical and goes against the religion of our country’s founding fathers, I don’t agree with it being the downfall of the constitution of marriage. What I see as the downfall of marriage, in broad terms, is the lack of respect people have for one another. Somewhere along the way, (I partly blame the growth of technology and the slow burning persecution of Christians) we have lost the understanding of the importance of commitment to and relationships with other people.

I’m only going to say a bit on 2 points today. While the following things can be covered by the umbrella of “disrespect,” I think we need to be a bit more specific. I have seen and heard of so many marriages being ruined because of someone being unfaithful. I’m sure many of these started out innocent enough. You all know what I mean. “Oh, we are just friends.” “They’re just a co-worker.” That type of thing. I know A LOT of people who think that flirting is innocent. In some cases, it is. Example: I know a number of people who have the type of personality where they “flirt” with everyone even if they’re not purposefully flirting. But at a certain point, it becomes destructive. And what about those who are unfaithful and haven’t told their significant other? Who think because they don’t talk to the person they cheated with anymore that it doesn’t matter. Who carry on and on about how they and their spouse have always been faithful and had each other’s back, yet not even 2 months after the wedding, they were in another man’s bed. (Yes. Someone I once counted as a friend did that, and to this day, I can’t understand it.) Someone please tell the audience how this is a healthy relationship. How is it healthy to begin a marriage upon this?

Many think it’s ok to complain about what you see as your spouse’s shortcomings to someone else of the opposite sex. (I know that some friendships really are just that, but many times, there’s an underlying motive for the friendship.) “He just doesn’t do anything special for me anymore.” “She doesn’t even wear make-up when we go out and never tries to look good.” Or anything else of this nature.. It opens the door for someone to step in and try to fill whatever “gap” there may be. One complains about a spouse. The other becomes the shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, one thing leads to another and BAM. Bonnie and Clyde becomes Bonnie and Clyde and Pete from accounting, only Clyde has no idea that Pete even exists. The only person you should be talking about this with other than your spouse (or maybe a counselor/therapist) is God.

Lastly, what is WITH people getting married, separating a few months later, not even trying to reconcile, and then GETTING ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE BEFORE A DIVORCE IS EVEN IN THE WORKS?! And to those who are ok with being in a relationship with a married person, (whether they are separated from their spouse or not) YOU HAVE ISSUES. I’m sorry. This makes me angry. I have this exact thing more than once this past year and it just baffles me. How do you forget so soon that covenant that you made with your spouse and God. Did you just think it was words and nothing more? These fly-by-night one season “marriages” are what is ruining marriage. They are showing the younger generations that your words and promises to other people (and God) mean nothing.

(Originally posted on my old blog on January 3, 2017)

Way to go, Me

A few weeks ago we were headed to school.  While we were discussing something that The Kid’s class was doing, I told him, “Don’t be scared to ask for help, okay?”  Immediately I thought to MYSELF, “Derp.  Way to go, me.  Giving him advice that I don’t even take.  Good grief.”  Seriously.  That’s exactly what I thought.  I’m not paraphrasing.  Haha!

I’ve been told by Mama and Deddy that my first sentence was “I [can] do it myself.”  If you know me, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t shock you in the least bit.  I detest asking for help.  I would much rather dig myself into a hole trying to figure something out on my own than ask someone to help me.  The past 7 years or so, I have spent so much time trying to control every single aspect of my life.  I’ve lost sleep and I’ve driven myself to the very brink of literal and certifiable craziness multiple times.  I am a master of over-thinking.  My picture is next to “anxiety” in the dictionary.  I like to make things more difficult than they actually are.  It’s a real talent, it is.  Usually by the time I’ve asked for help, I’ve spent a lot of time freaking out internally and running through every possible outcome.  I do this even on things that should be fun like picking out clothes, creating a piece of art, learning to play or sing a new song, or making brownies (or whatever.)

Does this remind you of someone (yourself) or of a situation?  I’m thinking it does….

How often do you try and figure things out on your own without talking to God about it?  How often do you wait until the last minute or until things seem unbearable to ask for His help?  I’ve gotten better in my communication with God.  Most nights I fall asleep before I finish praying and I spend a lot of the day talking to God in my head, but I have found that I STILL try to figure things out on my own.  The years since I moved back to Madison have been rife with evidence that I do not have to do things on my own.  The past year has been even more than those before.  Progressively, things have been organized without me even having to take the first step, but for some reason I can’t grasp the fact that it just isn’t possible for me to figure things out peacefully on my own, nor can I understand that I’m not strong/powerful enough to.  I have noticed recently, though, that the desire to be so tyrannical has weakened.  I have wasted a lot of time worrying, “when is the next time I will work?” “How am I supposed to pay for ‘this’ or ‘that’?”  (Sometimes the things are stupid things, but those are for another blog another day.)

Here’s an example of things working out without me even really beginning to worry about it.  (When I say “really worry,” I mean I haven’t entered “Freak-Out Mode.”  Yet.  Actually, I never got even the slightest bit close to “FOM” in this situation.)   I have to drive to school an hour away twice a week next semester.  I had been wondering what I could do to make a bit extra so I wouldn’t be so crunched for gas money.  All of the sudden and when I was least expecting it, God.  Proving Himself to me yet again.  Some members of my life-group at church always seem to need me to house sit or watch their kids at the exact moments I am running low on funds.  They go above and beyond to help me and I never expect it or see it coming.

Philippeans 4:6-7

It’s funny (but not funny at all) how many times we can read something in the Bible, but still not do what it says.  The same can be said for how many times we have to live and relive things before we FINALLY understand.  It’s human nature, I guess, to want to do things alone without asking some “man in the sky” for help or waiting for his answers.  But the thing is, God isn’t just some “man in the sky” or “fairy tale.”  He is our Creator.  Provider- Jehovah Jireh.  Counselor.  Shepherd- Jehovah Raah.  Teacher.  Lord God Almighty- El Shaddai.  Comfort.  Father.  He is everlasting- El Olam.  He is the most high God- El Elyon.  Elohim.  Yahweh.  Adonai.  He is the Lord of Peace- Jehovah Shalom.  The list goes on and on.

The point is that in everything we do and everywhere we go, He is there.  All we have to do is ask and listen.  He wants us to ask.  He wants to help us.  It would be a cruel god who creates a being and leaves it to its own devices.  I am so thankful that the One True God has not done this.  As many times as we fail Him, He continues to show us He’s still here- watching out for us, waiting for us to ask for His help, and for us to just follow Him.

1 Chronicles 16:11

Washed in the Blood

I feel confident in saying that most of you who are reading my blog posts know I was raised Methodist. If you didn’t know before, you do now! When I was born, my parents were members of a Presbyterian church, and then later switched to Methodist. (They’re pretty close to the same thing.) So.. both of these denominations have the tradition of sprinkling babies when they’re a few months old. In these churches, this is considered as your baptism. Occasionally older people are also sprinkled, but I honestly could count on 1 hand the number of people over…. about 2 years old.. that I witnessed being baptized in the Methodist Churches I have attended.

Another thing about these churches– eh.. I don’t want to bunch all Methodist churches together and say they’re all the same– So let’s say “another thing about the Methodist churches I have attended…” Another thing about the Methodist churches I have attended is that they don’t really talk about salvation. Well…. they didn’t when I was growing up. I’m sure they have adjusted a bit “with the times.” I don’t remember anyone ever talking to us about being saved. It seemed like it was mostly, “well you’ve been going to church your whole life and have known Christ your whole life, so you’re going to heaven.” There was no focus on the defining moment. There was really no rejoicing or even mention of people being brought to Christ.

So obviously, I was one of the babies who was sprinkled. We have pictures of me in a gown being held by the minister at the Presbyterian church in Vicksburg, Ms surrounded by my parents and grandparents. Assuming the words of a baptismal ceremony at a Presbyterian church are similar to that of the Methodist church, my parents were asked if they believed that Christ was God’s son, and then they and the congregation said something like, “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that ‘this child’ surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in a way that leads to Life Eternal.”

SIDE NOTE: I can’t believe I remember that! That and the communion liturgy are engraved in my brain, apparently. 

To me, that is more of a parental/congregational profession of faith and is more like a dedication than a baptism since babies cannot declare their belief as Jesus Christ being the son of God. I haven’t always felt that way.. I had The Kid “baptized” when he was a few months old. Small ceremony with just Mama, Deddy, and Cinda Walker and her son Peyton (I worked for her and babysat Peyton. They are special people to us.) Vaughn Stafford, my youth minister from 9th grade, is the one who baptized him.. Before I began really reading and understanding on my own, I felt that sprinkling was the right thing to do and thought that it was weird that others waited until they were older to be baptized. I really had no clue that baptism had anything to do with salvation. I thought, “Ok. People in the Bible were baptized when they were older, but that was just because they weren’t raised knowing Jesus.” Or “I was already baptized, so now that I’m saved, I don’t need to worry about getting baptized again.” I’m not saying that I was wrong, I’m now saying that I don’t believe in that process anymore. I do think that baby/child dedications are wonderful and in some cases help with accountability.

To give some back-story, I asked the Lord into my heart in 7th grade at a See You at the Pole rally. Like I said before, I didn’t really know it was such a big deal because I had always known that God was with me. To be honest, I don’t really think I realized that the way I lived should have been changed. Goodness knows I have made my share of mistakes and have done my share of sinning. My point is that I have felt like something was missing or wasn’t right. My thoughts here recently are that I feel that way because haven’t been baptized of my own accord.

For the past few weeks I have been praying about it. I had asked God to show me what I should do. Yesterday morning in church, I got the sign. I was able to witness another girl who was raised in a church that “sprinkled” get baptized. She felt the same way I have been feeling and decided to take the step. I worried that people would say that it was weird or pointless. You only need to “get saved” once, so why would you need to be baptized more than once? Right? Nah. Because of her, I was able to see that I am not the only one who felt/feels this way and it gave me the push to make the decision to take the next step in my salvation and be baptized. Matt, one of our preachers, told me to find a Sunday that my parents would be able to come (since Deddy is a music minister and works on Sundays) and that Deddy could assist in the baptism if I and he would like. We haven’t picked a day, yet, but I’m sure we will have one soon!

(Originally posted on my old blog on August 8, 2016)

The One and Only

One thing that I pride myself on and that I absolutely LOVE finding in other people is this:

The fact that I try my hardest to be myself is one of the things I love most about “me.” Do I try out new things because someone suggests it? Absolutely! Will I try to style my hair differently if I see a picture that I like? Sure! Did I get my idea for 30 Before 30 from someone else? I definitely did! But the things on the list are all ideas of my own. They’re all things that I, personally, want to do for many different reasons. What I DON’T do is try to be someone else. I DON’T cut my hair a certain way because someone else did. I DON’T try to take on attributes of others. I DON’T try to compete with others in life, and I definitely don’t put on a front on social media (or otherwise) to make people think I am someone I’m not.

Transparency and originality is something that seems to be fading into a lost art. An interesting, fun, and genuine way to get to know others and to form REAL relationships with them is to be yourself. Don’t try to impress someone by being what you’re not. Be the real you. There is nothing more awesome than allowing yourself to be really known. To be 100% yourself and to have others love you for it.

The best thing about my 4 best friends are that they are unapologetically themselves. Each one of them, while very much alike, are very different. The reason that we get along well with each other is because our friendships are based on honesty. From the beginning of our friendships, Deidre, Linsey, Laura, and Lena have always been ourselves. Maybe we held back a bit at first, but we were never trying to be someone we weren’t. Many times I have found myself holding back around a new person or group of people because I feel that they might not like “me.” (More often than that, though, I hold back, not because I want to, but because I fight quite often and intensely with anxiety.) Holding back and pretending, though, are two completely different things.

When you pretend to be someone or something you’re not you end up miserable. Chances are, you’re making others miserable, too. Not only this, but if you base relationships (this includes friendships) on the basis of something that isn’t true, you run the risk of really hurting people. You break the trust they have given you. You essentially betray them. Hurting yourself is another blow-back from trying to be what you’re not. This act that is being put on can end up causing you to struggle with yourself and doubt yourself. It is extremely unhealthy to allow yourself to continue with these facades.
The beautiful thing about life is that we can REALLY be whoever we want to be. (You cannot ever truly become someone else, though, no matter how hard you try.) God made each of us for a specific reason. He made us all different, with different features, thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc. for a reason. What would be the point of having everything the same or having everything “perfect.” Your best option is to accept “you” and be “you.”
(Originally posted on my old blog on August 5, 2016)

30 Before 30


That’s how old I’ll be in about a month. Twenty. Nine. The big TWO NINE. One year away from 30.
I don’t know how y’all felt/feel about turning 30, but it worries me. Haha! Now I know that age doesn’t define who you are or, for the most part, what you can do…. but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like time is slipping away. I feel like there are a lot of things that I haven’t done that I had hoped I would do by this point in my life.
Those who know me know that the past few years haven’t really been easy on me. From relocating to going back to school to struggling with working and making sure that I don’t give up any time with Mini-Me, I have pretty much stayed in a constant state of stress. I have become someone who is not quite “me.” I used to have no problem meeting new people or trying new things. I now live in a bit of a shell and only let my 4 closest friends see “the real me.” Truth be told, I think I am a better “me” in some ways. I have been slowly cutting out people who I feel aren’t genuine. I have been trying to do better about living what I “preach.” I have been trying to be more available to my friends if they need me, to help people who need it, and to be a nicer person in general. I just want to me MORE “me.” Pretty sure that doesn’t make much sense to you guys, but it is what it is. Ha!
Because of these feelings, I decided to be a bit cliche and come up with a list of things to do before I turn 30. (Yes, I know the list below is more than 30, but it’s my list so..) Some of them are things that I have wanted to do for a long time. Some of them are things I just think would be fun. The others are things that I think will challenge me in some way, like face a fear or really force me step out of my comfort-zone and try and overcome some of my anxiety. {Of course I have goals for the next year that aren’t on this list. I have left them off because they are things that I have already been doing– example: work on being able to talk about beliefs and the Bible with “The Kid” regularly and to help him learn and memorize verses.} It is my hope that, in completing this list, that I will be able to learn more about myself and the world around me.
And so, ladies and gentlemen! Without further ado, here is my list! I will put a date next to. strike through, and make them purple once I have done them. Hopefully some of them will become posts themselves, and if they do, I will link them.
30 Before 30
Take “The Kid” to DC to see monuments and Smithsonians
Finish decorating and setting up my house
Create and sell a painting
Turn the extra bedroom into a small home gym and get back in shape
Take “The Kid” to the Chattanooga aquarium
Go up in a hot-air balloon

Do a photo challenge

Learn about and to shoot guns. Own one.

Start getting things set up to be a foster parent

Build at least 4 pieces of furniture
Have family photos made of myself and “The Kid” and of us and my parents
Take a train to New Orleans and stay for a few days
Own a cello
Take a small road trip through Mississippi
Run a marathon (or something close to it)
Make a small garden
Get new tattoos (Ephesians 6:19-20 and my grandparents’ writings from my Bible)
Learn to invest $$
Write and mail a letter at least twice a month
Dye my hair a wild color
Sew that Vogue pattern dress I’ve had for 4 years
Go camping or hiking alone
Write a song and perform it (or see it performed) for others
Master 10 difficult yoga moves
See the sun rise or set at the Grand Canyon
Go to a drive-in movie – July 8, 2016 “Tarzan” with Britt Martin
Read more Walt Whitman
Encourage different people with a note or small “happy” once a month
Do volunteer work with “The Kid”
Start some kind of ministry to help further “Love Madison”
Go without junk sugar for 30 straight days
Hopefully I will be able to complete this whole list. If anyone would like to join me in any of these tasks or help me finish them, let me know! I would love to have partners in crime and get to know some of you better!!
(Originally posted on my old blog on August 2, 2016)

Easter & H20-Proof Mascara

Happy Easter, everyone!!

We had some great Easter services at Fusion Church of Madison on Sunday. There were so many people at both services as is “the norm” on Easter. We (our church) were so thankful for those who decided to come and worship with us- even if they don’t come on any other Sunday.
I’ve been singing in church my entire life- although I was a wanderer for 10 years.. I’m not a stranger to singing solos in front of people. I was excited (and nervous) when asked if I would be ok leading Forever by Kari Jobe. (Click on that title and listen. You won’t regret it.) This is one of my MANY favorite songs and one I had been hoping we would do at some point. It never crossed my mind that I might be the one leading.
The moon and stars, they wept.
The morning sun was dead.
The Savior of the world was fallen.
His body on the cross.
His blood poured out for us.
The weight of every curse upon Him.
One final breath he gave as heaven looked away.
The Son of God was laid in darkness.
A battle in the grave,
The war on death was waged.
The power of hell forever broken.
The ground began to shake.
The stone was rolled away.
His perfect love could not be overcome!
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!
Forever He is glorified!
Forever He is lifted high!
Forever He is risen!
He is alive!
We sing hallelujah.
The Lamb has overcome!

The words to this song are so very important, but never once have I focused on the words of the songs I was singing while I was singing on stage. I have always tried to focus on getting the words right, not falling or tripping, being in tune, etc. I have sung Forever so many times. In my car. In the tub. Around the house. Pretty much everywhere. I knew it would go well, although I don’t think my voice does the song justice.

After practicing the song with the band a few times and leading the song during our first service, I was certain the second service would be perfect and that I’d be able to relax and do what had been asked of us- “Worship WITH them. Don’t just lead.” So just like before, I grabbed my mic, turned it on, closed my eyes, and waited for my cue. As soon as I sang “His body on the cross” I started getting choked up, and by the 2nd verse I lost it “in front of God and everybody” as they say. I couldn’t sing, couldn’t say the words. Matt, one of our preachers, sings loudly. Since I like hearing him, I tried to focus on his singing to get myself together. During this breakdown, I also heard someone.. possibly Derek (because he had a super huge smile on his face at the time and was all but dancing while directing our group).. let out a cheerful yell or laugh- I’m assuming because what was going on with me was completely understood by this person. The combination of that single cheer/laugh, Matt singing, and the knowledge of how important the words are, composure was regained. It took a few lines, but what are you gonna do?

This had never happened to me before in front of other people. I have cried listening to others sing or play, but never while I was the one being listened to. I’m a visual person. What I hear or read, I see in my mind…. and this song always gives me such a vivid picture of the crucifixion and resurrection. It’s never one like in pictures or in movies. It’s different. First person. The abandonment Jesus must have felt.. The feelings of those watching.. It is all in my mind at once. If you’re the same way, you know exactly what I mean. Matt unknowingly described the emotions in his sermon on Sunday. Despair…. and then the greatest hope EVER. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was tired, or the fact I had decided to worship instead of lead, or a combination of the 2 that got to me.. but I realized what I was singing and was just completely overwhelmed.

Lucky for us, we don’t have to experience the hope the disciples had when they met and followed Jesus only to have that hope ripped away. We will never have to feel the despair of watching our Savior be taken from us for what we think will be forever. We get to only have hope and joy because we know He will come back for us.

(Originally posted on my old blog on April 1, 2016)

Thanks A Million

The past month or so, I have been so very consumed with working on my genealogy. On top of that, I have been working on my class work. To say that I have been busy is an understatement. It has been GREAT, though. Through this journey that seems so short, there have been a few people who have wonderful ears, extra brains, and just over-all helpful to me. Deidre, Tammy, Linsey, and Laura have let me be super selfish in this. They have let me talk and talk and talk and talk about my trees, different family members, whether or not I should contact different people, etc.
Tammy has worked innumerable hours trying to help me decipher all of this new information. Laura and Deidre have asked so many questions trying to understand what I’ve learned. Linsey sat with me at Cracker Barrel 2 nights after we found my maternal bio-grandparents, bio-mom, and her 3 sons and talked out the pros and cons of contacting each of them versus the others. All 4 of them have tried to help me figure that out. There are so many different factors to take into account in these situations that it is almost unreal. It could create a domino effect- good or bad.
There are also people at our church who are super excited when they see me so they can find out if there’s a new page in the story yet. It is just really awesome to me how others can get just as excited about this mystery as I am. People who are not bothered one way or another with the outcome are busting at the seams for more mysteries to be solved.
There is no way that I could ever thank all of these people (the person who gifted me the dna kit, Tammy, Dei, Linsey, Ann, Cheryl, Laura, and a couple of other Madison friends) enough with only a blog post, but I just felt the need to say it today. Thanks a million for letting me be so selfish the past month. It means more than y’all know.

(Originally posted on my old blog on February 10, 2016)