Tuesday, May 5, 2009



What does it mean to you? Webster says it's "a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work." That's true. We should be His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. But it's more than that for me. I can remember being in college and getting involved with the collegiate ministry there. We did Bible Study, went on retreat, pretty typical things I think. But then they started talking about who was going to be a summer missionary. All I heard was travel opportunity so I signed up for a weekend retreat and interview. That retreat was the first time God grabbed my heart and said, "Go and do for me." But he grabbed it so tight and it has never left me. I did get to serve that summer in Naperville, Illinois. At the time I thought I might want to go into the ministry and be a youth pastor so they sent me off to Naperville to assist a youth pastor for a summer. Good thing that was a long time ago and I was only 19!! It was awesome and God taught me so much.

Unfortunately, I returned to school and real life that fall and ended up dropping out of college and going to work full time. Within a couple years I got married and moved out of state with my military hubby. I drifted from the Lord during this time and did not even attend church until our children started coming. By that time, we were back in my home town and we plugged in at the church where we are still members today.

Jesus has grabbed my heart in so many ways over the years on lots of different topics, all to draw me close to Him. And I'm so thankful that He will never let me go. But nothing has ever grabbed my heart so tightly as missions. I want to go and do. I always have. I am now 37 years old with a husband and four children. How in the world is it feasible for me to go on a mission trip, much less actually afford it? But God still grips my heart every time I hear a missionary speak. Have I missed my call? Having never known what I want to be when I grow up, maybe I often wonder. But I know God gave me my husband and children. I do not doubt that. I just continue to wonder why He gripped my heart for missions.

I do what I can now. I am part of a Sunday School class that is very missions minded. We do our best to not only give money or needed items, but to also go and do work when we can. I support my church financially who in turn supports missionaries so they don't have to gather their own financial support. And my new venture is with Compassion International. I have been aware of Compassion for a few years through my Sunday School class. We adopted a child together and later added a second. Just recently God has called me to step up and my family has adopted our own child. His name is Shanthi and he is from India. Compassion's most recent blogger trip was to India last week and it has been the most amazing experience. As I have read about India and mud hut villages and gondolas and rickshaws, I have glimpsed Shanthi and his home. Most of the posts from the trip members have brought tears to my eyes and have given me a heavy burden for Shanthi.

But I also have a heavy burden to promote Compassion. It’s all my Sunday School members have heard for several weeks. That’s in thanks to these bloggers. I do not have a large following in my blog but I hope to use it to promote Compassion as well. And hopefully one day, I’ll be able to make one of these Compassion trips. I pray that God will allow me this kind of opportunity to serve Him. I know it would change my life and there’s nothing I want more than to be changed to be more like Him. That's what missions is to me: an avenue that will only refine me more for my precious Lord.

Look what all you can do for so little...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Compassion Bloggers in India

Please pray for the Compassion Blogger team that is in or well on its way to India. You can follow their blogs here and can see their widget on my sidebar. Pray for their safety, for wisdom, and for favor. This will not be an easy journey for any of them but they are being obedient!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

God's Gift of Spring to My Home Town

I am always quick to admit that fall is my favorite time of year. I just love it. But I also really love spring. And God send the best spring to my home town! I probably think they are the best because the are the only springs I have ever known. So I have been driving lately with my camera in the car to share some of God's beauty with you. As you scroll through these pictures, I pray you will take a moment and think about all the blessings God has given you!

My Emma Gets Ba-bi-tized!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Look What I Read Today

I am trying to keep in tune with God while at work and keep my focus right by reading a psalm and a proverb while at work every day. Psalm 1:2-3 from The Message says,
Instead you thrill to God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You're a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

I WANT THIS! I want to thrill to God's Word and chew it day and night! I love that choice of word: thrill. I visualize feasting on the Word of God and loving what I'm reading so much that my heart is racing and I am covered in goose bumps! Can you see it?! And Proverbs 1:33 says,
First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you're in good hands.
Can it be any simpler?
For Ian's birthday, hubby and I took him to his first concert to see Chris Tomlin with Israel Houghton. The Holy Spirit was in that coliseum and you could just feel it.

Can worship get much better than Chris Tomlin? Oh my, it was like a glimpse of heaven. All those voices and hands raised in unison singing holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!

At the start of this blog I explained how God just keeps confirming Isaiah 43:18-19 as a life verse for this season of my life? I just keep hearing about God's new thing and I just cling to it for all it's worth! I had never heard of Israel Houghton until this concert but boy did he rock the house! And what song did I just fall in love with...? Pause the song list at the very bottom of this page and listen to this song. The video is actually two songs but at least listen until 4:50 to the song "Moving Forward." At the concert, we just sang the chorus over and over... I'm claiming it!

I highly recommend both their new albums if you don't have them already. "Hello Love" by Chris Tomlin and "The Power of One" by Israel Houghton. Oh, and check this out to see if you'd like to support these ministries.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My thought: God has called us to love people.
The Bible says: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 NIV

My thought: I know this is true.
The Bible says: Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 NIV

My thought: So how do I love someone and get them to be responsible/accountable? For example, should Tom buy Jane food when Jane won't get a job?
The Bible says: The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40

Remaining question: As a follower of Jesus Christ, where does Tom draw the line? Is there a line?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Telling It Like It Is

So I've been avoiding my own blog for over two weeks. I have had some things on my mind, weighing me down, and sometimes it's scary to put those things in writing, ya know? I mean if I actually write down that I'm mad at So-and-so then I might really mean it. Or someone might read that I wrote it and tell So-and-so. Or... they might even ask me about being mad at So-and-so. And knowing myself as well as I do (it just makes me chuckle to write that-lol), I knew I would write about it if I came here. So even though I had all last week off from school for Spring Break, I avoided. But so many other things have happened since then that I want to tell you about so... let me just tell it like it is.

I'm scared to say I'm mad at God. If I say that, the lightning will surely come and I'll be one crispy critter. Not really of course but you know you've thought it too!! But whether I say it or not, He knows the truth. Before a word is on my tongue He knows it completely. (Psalm 139:4) He knows me inside out, upside down, and backwards. So let's just get to the heart of it. I'm mad, hurt, disappointed, and confused.

Even before marriage, and up until last fall, I have struggled with money. I had no idea how to budget or save and even the simplest things were hard for me because I lack self-control. This is my thorn in the flesh. But last fall we experienced a significant event in our family and it allowed us to get on our feet financially and through seeking God through that time, the way I think of money has really come to change. We've turned the corner onto the right track and things are going really well. We've been obedient in making committements to support things He's asked us to support. And almost simultaneously there were layoffs at hubby's plant and shift changes/loss of hours for hubby, and now I won't know until May if I can return to the school where I work in August. I know God loves me. The Bible tells me He'll surely care for me since he cares for the lilies and the sparrows. But why NOW? Why when things are finally good and we can breathe a sigh of RELIEF?

That state paired with the fact that we thought a tough situation was ending April 8 and it is seemingly going to continue, and continue even thougher, and I'm just in a state of confusion with God. Maybe mad, sad that things aren't going to be as easy right now as I had thought, disappointed that these struggles are continuing, and confusion over why. And I know, truly know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God could take all this pain away and that He could settle these situations in the blink of an eye. BUT HE HASN'T. Why? I finally told him last week, "Lord, I don't know what you want me to learn through these two issues, but I'm ready. I'm listening. Can we get on with it?" This has been my attitude for almost a week now. And it's constantly on my heart and mind. I'm wondering what I'm missing. I'm wondering what God's trying to teach me or tell me. Then I get to worship Sunday morning. It was kind of busy cause my Emma girl was getting baptized (look for detailed post in the near future) and my focus was not on Him. Until He showed up and tapped me on the shoulder.

My pastor is doing a series called "Lies We Believe" and this week's sermon was "Lies We Believe About our Circumstances" and he and God double teamed me! Lie #2 I have fallen for is that suffering is never God's will. Why not? Jesus suffered! Hebrews 5:8 says that although Jesus was a Son, He learned obedience through His suffering. Jesus learned from suffering... I am no better! Pastor Steve taught that I can deal with my circumstances by:
  1. keeping my focus on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
  2. committing myself to God daily (1 Peter 2:23)
  3. experiencing daily spiritual renewal (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  4. remembering my future (Romans 8:17-18)
  5. cooperating with God (Romans 8:28-29)
  6. growing (Romans 5:3-5)
I practically ran to the altar in surrender! God is so good and no matter how mad or hurt I get, he is BIGGER! Do you hear me people?! HE'S BIGGER THAN ALL MY CIRCUMSTANCES! THAN ALL OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES! What a release to confess to Him that I could not do it and that I needed Him to come and carry this load for me. God is so good! Reminds me of that song... (pause the playlist at the very bottom before watching/listening to the video)
Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let You go
You've taken me from the miry clay
You've set my feet upon the rock
And now I know

I love you, I need you
Though my world may fall
I'll never let You go
My Savior, my closest friend
I will worship you until the very end

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Ian!

Today is my oldest child's and only son's birthday! And - OMGosh! - I have a real teenager now! Happy 13th baby. Have a great day! I love you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I have four mostly-wonderful children. My only son is 12 and his name is Ian. Then I have three daughters (go ahead--have a moment of pity for my husband...) Jennings, 10; Kaci, 8; and Emma, 6. All I have to say is that life is busy! Before I tell you my story though, I want to offer a little background if I may. (And I guess I may since it's my blog! HA!) I have been a Christian all of my adult life but I have not always been actively growing like I am now. So although my three older children have all asked Jesus to be their Savior, it has been all His doing and not-so-much from me. I mean I cared but I was not active in modeling Christ-like behavior, using the teachable moments for His glory, or showing them what being in love with Jesus looked like. And I know what it looks like 'cause my Mamaw showed me. But that's another story for another time. But I am at a new place in my life and loving Jesus is everything. Everything I could ever want or needs stems from loving Him and that has to come first. Anyways...

Emma came up to me Sunday afternoon and she says, "Mommy, when can I get babitized?" Now, you just need to know that I did not spell baptized wrong; that's how Emma says it! I explained to her that she can get baptized once she asks Jesus into her heart. She promptly tells me that that's exactly what she did while she was at the alter this morning. So I quickly send up a silent prayer (God please guide my thoughts, give me focus, and speak through me. Touch her heart so that if this is her time to come to you she'll understand and be ready.) and asked her if I could draw her a picture. I know I have told y'all that I'm a visual person but have I told you I can't draw worth a lick?

I used that good ole stand by of Emma on one cliff and God on another cliff. By folding my paper, you can see that Emma could walk with God before sin entered the world. "What is sin, Emma?"

"Sin is when you do something bad Mama."

"That's right. Sin is when we disobey God. The Bible says that all have sinned. Do you sin?"


"Do I sin?"

"Yes." She went on here to list all the people who sinned so if you see your name on her picture, you'll know why.

"So guess what happens when we sin?" Open up the fold to see the great chasm that separates us from God. Can you hear the gasp as she realizes she can't get to God now? We went on to discuss what a wage was. I offered her a dollar to fold a towel. After she folded the towel, I gave her the wage. The wages of sin is death or being separated from God forever! I caught her studying the picture and I said, "Emma, what do we need?" She looked, and looked, and I could amost see the wheels turning and then BAM! The light went off!

"Mama, we need a BRIDGE!" I have tears running down my face as I just sit here and remember. Yes my sweet, spunky, often-naughty girl!! We need a bridge. Praise you Lord for her understanding!

"And do you know what baby? God gave us a bridge. Who's our bridge?" I began sketching a cross across the gap and as I finished she whispered, "Jesus!"

She just looked at the picture for a few minutes and I finally asked her if she understood. She nodded and I told her when she is ready to talk to Jesus, there are just a few things to do:
  1. tell Jesus she's a sinner
  2. ask Him to forgive her sins
  3. believe that He died on the cross for her sins
  4. ask Him to come live inside her
  5. tell me or Dad
When she's ready, I also told her that me or Daddy or anyone at church would help her pray. I looked at her expectantly, trying not to be pushy, and all she has to say is, "Can I keep the picture Mom?"

"Of course you can baby."
P.S. The big "V" looking mark at the top is where she checked what she wants (heaven) and she X'd out what she didn't (sin/death)!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wishing I Was More Like David

So I am doing a wonderful new Bible study: Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed. It's a study of King David and it's so good! It's Priscilla Shirer, Kay Arthur, and Beth Moore all in one study! I had never heard Priscilla speak before this study but she is passionate and really on-fire! (Is that enough exclamation points to let you know I am pumped?!)

In the first week of this study, we have seen various times where David asks the Lord what to do. Here are a few examples:
  • 2 Samuel 2:1 In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. "Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?" he asked. The LORD said, "Go up." David asked, "Where shall I go?" "To Hebron," the LORD answered.
  • 2 Samuel 5:19 and 1 Chronicales 14:10 So David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?" The LORD answered him, "Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you."
  • 1 Chronicles 14:13-16 Once more the Philistines raided the valley; so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, "Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army."

So I have two questions really weighing on my mind for the past two weeks. And I have really felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to ask and LISTEN. So I inquired of the Lord, "What shall I do regarding ******?"

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

"Okay Lord, I'm here and I want to hear you speak to me. There are two things I'm really wondering about God. What should I do about *****? And is ****** for me?"

I wish I were more like David. It's not like the Bible says, "David inquired of the Lord and three days later God said for him to go to Hebron." It's like David had immediate answers. (Yes, I know it doesn't actually say that but let's assume ok?) Sometimes I wish I could ask and He'd just answer.

Then I heard someone say (can't for the life of me remember where now, sorry for not giving credit appropriately) that the better I knew God, the better I'd hear him. It's like when the phone rings (Oh! It just came to me--Priscilla Shirer said this in the video session Sunday night.) and just from the tone of the ring you know it's your best girlfriend. She doesn't have to say, "Hey girl, it's Lisa." You just know. It's like that with God.

So maybe my problem is not that He isn't answering me right away but maybe that I'm not hearing Him. What if He's whispering the answer to me every time I ask but I'm not in tune enough with him to hear it?!

Jesus, I love you and I surrender all I am, all my time, all my money, all my talents, and all my possessions to You. Please send me a refreshing of the Holy Spirit so that I am in tune and can hear Your voice. Jesus, give me that kind of hunger people talk about when they just can't get enough of You and Your word. The more I know You, the bettter I'll hear You. Bring it on Lord cause that's what I want today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


So, I am using this new devotional I bought back in January but am just getting around to using it. It's called The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda. It is described as "a one year plan for studying, praying, and responding to God's Word" and since I can use all that... here I am. =)

Luckily the entries aren't dated so when I picked it up on Monday, I could jump right in. Now, back to Genesis. I was asked to read Chapters 1-3 for this weeks devotions and since those are such familiar verses, I thought I would read them in The Message. I have read the start of Genesis so many times... I mean, think about how many times you've wanted to read through the whole Bible and started there. Never mind all the times we've studied Adam and Eve. So it was remarkably refreshing to read from The Message. I am a very visual person and as I read this passage this time, I could just see the nothingness changing; taking on shape and definition, becoming lighter, showing specs of color. It was beautiful!

But let me stop rambling and get to my point. In Genesis 3:22 God says,

The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!
And I thought, wait! Man can't eat from the Tree-of-Life? I thought he couldn't eat from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of Good-and-Evil. This just made me think. Before sin entered our lives, we could eat from the Tree-of-Life and live forever but the moment Eve disobeyed, we were barred from that tree and it's now protected by cherubim and a revolving, flaming sword. This is something I knew but it just struck me yesterday. We had it all! We had communion with God in the most glorious garden ever created, no shame, and eternal life. Eve believed one lie and we lost it all. Thank God that it was reclaimed when everlasting life was offered by another tree... the one that Christ hung on for my sins.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are You Plugged In?

I have the best Sunday School (SS) class in the whole wide world! While our church (First Baptist, Rock Hill) successfully groups people into SS by age and marital status, there came a time when I no longer found a good fit there. Four folks in my church felt the same and were led to start a new class. When I was lucky enough to find them, I was ready to plug in to their class. Now, these four (Frank, Charlotte, Jennifer, and Donna) started the class but only Frank felt God leading him to a particular leadership role and that was to teach. The others wanted to let the class "form" and see who God might lead to other leadership positions. In the early conversations between these four folks, they prayed about what God wanted them to study, who should be in the class, and what the class should be about. They came up with four things that they felt should be the class' mission statement.

  1. The class should be active in missions work, through giving, going away on trips, and doing hands-on work locally.

  2. The class should have regular opportunities to ensure building relationships amongst class members.

  3. The class would be involved in ongoing in-depth Bible study.

  4. The class members would actively be in prayer for each other.
I had been a director previously in a young couples class but I had felt God moving me away from that class and I was honestly burned out and wanted a break. After a few weeks of class and a few weeks of hearing Jennifer recite what positions were still open, I felt God speak.

"Be the director of this class Amanda."
"But Lord, I just stepped down from another class and I don't know these people."
"Be the director of this class Amanda."
"But Lord, I need a break. I'm kinda burned out."
"Be the director of this class Amanda."
"But Lord-"
"Be the director of this class Amanda."
"Yes, Lord."

And there I was, directing a new class I had not planned to direct. I liked the class, the topic was growing on me, but I knew only a couple of people in the class and one of them was my mom!

I am so glad I was obedient. I had no idea what God had in store for me and just how much these people would come to mean to me. I couldn't know that they'd uphold me when my dad died and that I would wake up on Sunday mornings so excited to see them. I couldn't know that several of them would become godly mentors for me and my husband and that two would become close confidantes. Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to send me such an awesome group of people into my life. Together we just want to love and know You more!

So my question for you is this: are you plugged in?

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


So I haven't done a very good job of getting into the habit of writing on my blog yet. But I think about it alot and am trying to get it into my habits. I have to come today though and write about my weekend. Hubby and I left Friday afternoon around 1:00 for a weekend away with our Sunday School class. We visited Springmaid Mountain in Spruce Pine, NC and we had a ball!!

The theme of our retreat was "Change." How do I make changes in my life? How can I help and encourage friends who are doing the same? My special friend Charlotte taught us from some of the Christian counseling courses she has taken. Not only was the message and the material timely, but the fellowship and time away was exceptional. We had 19 people on retreat with us and we stayed in Springmaid Mountain's large bunkhouse. Two other great friends, Scott & Sue, planned and prepared all our meals. I especially love retreats like this one where we are all in the same building the whole time. It seems to offer a certain closemess that staying in separate rooms/cabins lacks.

Yet another dear friend, Donna, sprinkled much spice over the weekend as she offered games for us to play. Most of them made us laugh and it can be so good to laugh together. It won't be near as funny here as it was there but my sweet husband spoke up during a session and commented that there was one big thing in his bedroom that was keeping him from making a certain change in his life that he wanted to make. I sat beside him and I thought long and hard (all of three seconds... maybe!) and for the life of me, I could not picture any "big thing" in our bedroom. And then it hit me! He was talking about me! I looked at him and I said, "Just what 'big thing' in our bedroom are you talking about?!" If you didn't read that with all the sarcasm you can mutter, go back and try it again for the full effect. Someone later told me that they would have given just about anything to have had a camera to take a picture of me at that point. As soon as I said it, the whole room bust out laughing, hubby was doing all he could to convince me that's not what he meant, and I realized my silliness. Think of all the stress that was relieved as we shared that good-natured laugh together. God is good!

But now for what's really important. I went away to spend time with friends, to spend time with my husband, to be without my kids (can I get an amen?), but the most important reason I went was to spend time listening for what God was going to say to me. God spoke to me about two things. First was to encourage me. Change is hard and it takes time. My goal for this year was to improve my walk with Christ. I want to improve in all the areas that are important: prayer life, daily quiet time, in-depth Bible study, tithes and offerings, and scripture memorization. But taking on all of these at once was only setting myself up to fail and I could not do as well as I had planned to. So I refined my task. I tackled just one of these: scripture memorization. And I have improved!! And this is pleasing to the Lord and these verses I'm learning will bring abundant blessings to me now that I have hidden them. Thank you Beth Moore for a fun and easy way to learn 24 verses in 2009!! ( See sidebar on right for my list.) I came away from this weekend feeling that "I can do it" feeling! I have tackled learning scripture and I have changed. I am currently working on my sixth verse this year. Watch out prayer life! You're next!!

I am also encouraged in another area from this weekend retreat. Hubby and I are struggling with a family member. It's not appropriate to get into all the details here but it has caused us much stress, sadness, and disappointment. But guess what? I can pray for the family member. I can love the family member. I can encourage the family member. I can even, as the Bible says in Matthew, go to the family member and show him his fault, but I cannot make him change. I cannot make him want to change. I cannot do the work for him. This is hard. But I was encouraged this weekend as I was reminded of my limitations. I need to be obedient to God and let him do what only he can do. Did I mention how good my God is?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Seeker Groups

So do you know what a Seeker Group is? As I understand the concept, it's a group facilitated by a believer in Jesus Christ for people who have not yet made that decision but who are seeking more information on the topic. But how about a group for believers in Jesus Christ who want to grow and learn more?
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV
I'll be the first to admit that I am at the point in my spiritual life where I can study a book of the Bible or a passage of scripture, but I find topical study very hard. I would love to be a part of a group that could meet once or twice a month (or whatever) to take the chunks of meat we can't yet swallow and puree them a bit. Okay, so maybe that's a really bad continuation of the milk/meat analogy but you get my point.

Here are the facts as I see them:
I have questions.
I'm stuggling to find biblical answers on my own.
I need help.
Surely, I'm not alone.
I am going to email some friends and see who might be interested in something like this. I hope I get some takers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

God is so Good

God is so good, ya know? Just when things seemed so overwhelming to me, He gives me a verse, just for me. I can't even remember now where I first heard it but it has defined me for the past few months and has lead me here. To this blog. To this place where I can write out how good He is.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

18 "Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."

This blog is for me. Not to sound selfish but I need a place to think. Away from the hubbub of my often crazy, much too busy life. This is my place. And every day I want a new thing. I want Jesus to come and bring me something new every single day. I want to love Him more, know Him more, and walk closer to His side every single day. This blog is my place to record my journey. If it blesses you along the way, then to Him be the glory, great things He has done!