Monday, January 28, 2013

All Things Work Together for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

This is the verse God has given me and my family in the last year. We are clinging to it like a lifeline. Challenge after challenge. Trial after trial. Lesson after lesson.

During the holiday season, a series of illnesses and "life" moments kept me away from church on Sunday mornings, until December 23. I was determined to go that day and help lead KidzWorship, knowing it would be a fun, Christmas carol filled morning. And that morning, along with several Christmas songs, we sang, "All things work together for good to those who love God ..." I knew God was smiling down on me. Just a little reminder. Just a gentle hug. Don't lose faith now. I'm still here, working all things for your good and the good of your family.

I didn't know then how much I needed to hear that. I needed to hear it, grasp it, claim it, marinate in it. More than once, in the weeks since Christmas, my human heart has questioned the verse. How? How can this, this thing, be worked for my good or my family's good or my child's good? Show me. I need to see the map. I need to see the future.

After a particularly difficult night last week, the following morning on Facebook, at least 5 different people has posted some version of this verse. Okay, God. I'm still listening. Teach me again.

It's hard; isn't it? Have you been there? Are you there now? Friend, I give you this verse, as many have given it to me in days past. Hold onto this lifeline.

And we know ... not "we hope," not "we think," not "we pray" ... we KNOW.

that in all things ... yes, all things ... ALL.

God works for the good ... God works. It's nothing you or I can do. God is working. And he is working for the good. GOOD.

of those who love him ... do you love God? Honestly, wholeheartedly LOVE him? How do you show him your love?

who have been called ... beloved, God is calling you. He is calling you to his side. He is calling you to his work. Are you heeding his call?

according to his purpose ... So, here it is. Do you know and understand God's purpose for your life? Are you living according to his purpose? Have faith and be encouraged. God has a purpose for your life, and he has designed you perfectly for that purpose. He also has a purpose for this time of trial or pain or challenge that you are going through.

He will work all things, yes all, to your good.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

His Voice

Last night my phone rang with a number that I didn't recognize.  It listed my town and the number, so I assumed it was someone I knew and answered it.  The person immediately started in with, "Hey!  You have a minute?"  And I immediately went into figure out who I'm talking to because obviously I'm supposed to know mode.

Within a sentence or two, I realized it was a dear friend of mine who was evidently calling from a different phone number than I have in my phone for her.  At one point in the conversation I finally said, "Is this your home phone?" and I told her that I hadn't known who it was right away.  She answered with, "Oh, sorry.  It's me!"  For some reason it was funny to me because it was someone whose voice I clearly should recognize--as indicated even in her answer of "It's me!"

As I thought back on it this morning, I thought about when God calls.  He doesn't call me up on the phone (at least He never has!), but He certainly calls me.  He calls me to obedience, and He speaks clearly if only I'd listen. But, do I know His voice well enough to hear Him?  Do I have to think through all the possibilities of who it might be before I realize it's Him, or am I walking closely enough to Him that I can recognize His voice within the first sentence or two?

In John 10:4, it says ...his sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  I want to live in such a way that such a thing could be said of me.  I want to know His voice.

Lord, I pray that I would take the time to hear Your voice, that I would attune my heart, my mind, my everything to You and that I would hear You when You speak.  I want to know Your voice, and I want to follow You with all I say and do.

*originally posted on A Mother's Ramblings on 1/11/12

Monday, January 21, 2013

Truth or Lies?

I have been interested in hearing some of the story of Lance Armstrong this week, however I did not watch his interview.  I have never been "follower" of cycling, but I do remember the big deal made from Armstrong's Tour de France wins.
What has struck me from the things I have read is how deep Armstrong was into his lies - so much so that he justified what he was doing as okay.

"At the time it did not feel wrong?" Winfrey asked.
"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."
"Did you feel bad about it?" she pressed him.
"No," he said. "Even scarier."
"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?"
"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest."
"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."

Read more:

He did not even think what he was doing was wrong. 

And because of this, he influenced others to do that same or threw them under the bus if they opposed them.

This struck me again as I worked on my Bible study this week.  In Genesis, Lot (Abraham's nephew) is mentioned several times, but not necessarily in a good light.  Lot started out with Abraham, following God and seeking after His will.  At one time, Lot and Abraham separated and Lot chose to move and live close to and in Sodom.  Over time, Lot and his family became a part of the society and culture of Sodom.  The problem was, the people of Sodom were "exceedingly wicked."  Instead of having a positive influence on the people he lived with, Lot was influenced by them.  He had been told the lies so many times (by himself and others), he believed them to be true.  God used several situations to try and warn Lot but finally had to pull him out of the city to escape being destroyed.

This has gotten me to thinking about my own life.  Is there a sin is so entrenched in my life that I don't even see it as sin anymore?  Am I leading others down the road of sinfulness as well?  I pray that God would grab a hold of me and redirect me before I get to that point.  I want to walk with Him so closely that there is no question about what is right and what is wrong, what is from God and what is not.  

Will you join me in this pursuit of God?  You can't do it on your own.  Get involved in a Bible study that focuses on God's Word.  Make sure you recognize God's voice when He speaks to you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Have you ever had one of "those" days???  Where you are counting down to the end of it???  Well...I have.  And I'm pretty sure you probably have too.  I recently decided that when I was having one of "those" evenings...the one where you want to pull your hair out before dinner time and count down by the minutes until bed time...that surely I wasn't the only one.  Surely there is another Mommy out there wanting to pull her hair out too!  So...I started texting a Mommy friend.  It looked something like this...

Me:  Hey!  How's it going at your house???
Friend: is going.
Me:  Does that mean your afternoon is as good as mine???
Friend:  Do you want to pull your hair out?
Me:  Why a matter of fact...I do!
Friend:  I love my life.  I love my children.  Why do I want to pull my hair out?
Me:  Because you're human.  :)  Wanna do dinner together?
Friend:  YES!!!
Me:  Come on over!  
Friend:  See you in a few.

And it hit me!  I am human too - just like my friend.  If I tell HER it is pretty much "normal" to feel stressed...then it is "normal" for me too!  It is OK to get stressed and have a hard time from 3-6pm...this is a tough time of day!  And THIS, my friends, is why God blesses us with friends!  He doesn't make us go at this alone!  He not only gives us a husband, but he gives us friends too!  The afternoon and evening completely changed when we did it together!  Our kids got to play and we got to chat.  We got to blow off a little steam, and we were both a little more clear minded and able to appreciate life a little more when we parted ways.
What a blessing my friends have been in my life!!!  Not only do we rescue each other from rough afternoons...but we get to do life together!  
We celebrate together!
Cry together.
Laugh together.
We can be ourselves.
We can be quiet together. (this is my new favorite.  lol)
We can be loud.
God has put exactly the right friends in our lives.  Some come and go - they served a very important purpose while they were here.  Some will be close for the rest of our lives.  It truly is amazing how God plans out the timing and people he blesses us with.

-Courtney Willis

Courtney is wife to Firefighter/Paramedic Josh.  Mommy to beautiful, strong-willed,, full of life, biological Gracie and handsome, rough n tough, sweet, adopted from Uganda Owen.  She has a passion for family, orphan care, photography, Africa, and writing.  She reminds herself daily to live one day at a time and is determined to get used to her new status as “stay at home Mom”.  She thinks life is best lived with a good sense of humor and daily time with God in prayer.  To check out what she is up to lately, visit or

Monday, January 14, 2013


Last Sunday, I was mom of the year.

Just sayin... I was.

Got up at 5am, showered.
Did my hair.
Dried my hair while I read my bible.
Tried on 53 outfits until I looked super hottie.
Put on some mascara (this is a major step up for me).
Helped my sick husband set up the vaporizer.
Dressed, fed, loaded the kids up.
Made the drive to church.
Got everyone to classrooms with their badges on.
Got myself to the youth department and did my attendance duties.
Talked way more than my allotted amount in Sunday School (shocker, I know).
Picked everyone back up.
Loaded everyone in the car (after a ride on the elevator and then the "jeeps"... aka, golf carts).
Fed everyone lunches when we got home.
Diapered, potty-checked, read, and got the boys to nap.
Registered a bunch of ladies for bible studies. (If you have not signed up, you can do it right here)
Medicated my husband again... poor guy has been sick for almost a month!
Went to Sam's for the first time in a lonnnnng time (my cart was loaded up)!
Unloaded and put away all the groceries.
Prepped the ingredients for dinner.
Woke up all my rugrats.
Played playdoh, colors, fort-building, jumped on couch pillows, and built some Lego motorcycle thingy.
Took the boys on a bike "ride" (ie my oldest rode his bike while I dragged my toddler in a wagon).
Cooked everyone dinner.
Did dishes.
Dumped kids in the bath.
Cleaned the bathroom and folded a few clothes while they took their baths.
Dressed, diapered, potty-checked, tooth brushed, sippy-cupped, read, prayed, sang, and bedded kids.
Paid a few bills.
Folded the rest of the clothes (avoiding matching up the socks... I wasn't up for that).
Wrote a blog post.
Prepped myself for bed.
Facebooked a bit.
Kissed my sickie man on the cheek.
Mentally applauded myself for using every. single. moment. of the day.
Conked out.

Supermom, right?

But Sabbathmom... uhhhhhh, no.

Ya know, we like to sorta just "overlook" the commandment of God regarding the sabbath. (And by we, of course, I mean... me.)
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 *emphasis mine
But... but... it's the weekend. I mean, I have to make sure the kids have stuff for lunches for the rest of the week. I have to get the clothes finished. I have to make sure bills are paid. I have to clean the toilets in case my mother-in-law pops in. I have to register women for bible studies or they won't get their confirmations and they'll think it didn't work. I have to cook dinner for my family.

I have to... I have to... I have to...

Nowhere in my list of have-tos did I say "I have to obey and follow the commands of God."

At the end of the day... at the end of the age... what will He care about more? That my mother-in-law wasn't grossed out by my toilet or that I stopped my crazy, spinning life and took a day to honor Him by pursuing peace. rest. tranquility. focus.

One thing I left out of my "things I did last Sunday" list above was right there at the end. After applauding myself for using up every moment and right before conking out for the night, that secret, silent whisper of the Holy Spirit spoke those verses into my heart. Ya know, the verses of the Ten Commandments that I got 10 gold stars for memorizing in 4th grade Sunday School?

So, yesterday when Sunday rolled around and my lengthy to-do list followed it, I chose to get a step closer to following and obeying this command.

I didn't unload the dishwasher.
We ate leftovers.
All of the clean-ready-to-be-folded laundry sat still in the baskets.
I didn't mop the floor.
or clean the toilet.
or wipe the bathroom counters.
I saved my trip to the grocery for today.

During naps, I sat on the couch under a blanket with the space-heater going while gazing out the window into the cold afternoon.

And I felt so much more tranquil. at peace. at rest. focused on Him.

Now, I'm not saying abandon your family... you might remember a post I wrote a while back called Demon Lady which was about making Sundays a nice, good, organized day for your family. What I'm actually saying is that we need to step that up another notch. We need to use those days leading up to Sundays to prepare. Like, maybe pick one or two areas that we can start cutting out for this month's Sundays... go to the store on Tuesdays?

And then maybe in February, keep going to the store on Tuesdays and also make sure all homework is completed by Saturday evening?

Then for March, store on Tuesday, homework done Saturdays, and get all clothes set for the following week on Friday.

And so on... maybe make it a journey to a sabbath life? Take a year if need be, or a month, or a few months, or go cold turkey and stop working on the sabbath this coming Sunday. But, I think it's important that we take time to stop. and rest. and keep a day holy. and remember that God brought us out of a land where work and acheivement and success defined our worth. He brought you out of a life of slavery to those things. Let's honor Him and give Him thanks by taking a to rest.