Current thoughts inspired by a lot of time to think & reflect

Hey friends!  Bear with me on this post -it has evolved over several days of thoughts. It begins fairly light hearted and then gets pretty serious.  Thank you for reading along and please sign up to follow the blog.  Take extra good care of yourselves during this time of isolation!
I love clothes, shoes, & accessories. Just the other day I was telling Brad (as I strive to live in the light) that I wanted to make a purchase. I wanted two things from a local boutique. He said “why?” I said “I don’t know, I just need the one item & really want the other” He said you don’t need either of them & the fact that you want them so badly is proof that you don’t “need” them.” He is a tough sell folks.

Later in the day, I tried again & told him that I needed to do my part to support local businesses so I needed to make that purchase. He was not impressed & a little put off that I was still thinking about those material things.

That led us to start talking about this pandemic that we & the rest of the nation are currently experiencing.  If nothing else, doesn’t it make us realize what is most important? When everything is stripped away is often when we find out what truly matters. We experienced that when our family was separated in 2013. We lost our normal then & now everyone has lost what has always been normal. Brad was in quarantine then & we are all in quarantine now.  Sporting events, shopping, eating out, going to plays, going to the movies, even going to church.

There is nothing to do & nowhere to go so it doesn’t really matter what is in my closet. Right now, the latest fashions don’t matter, the events that we endlessly run to & post about don’t matter, what is left? People are left. Our spouses, children, parents, & friends but even those can be lost. We can only cling to the one thing that can never be lost & that is our relationship with Jesus Christ.

I think this might make us all realize that we can do with so much less stuff.  My kids & their generation need to know that, I still need to be reminded of that.

I keep telling my kids that this is a historical time & one they will be telling their grandchildren about it.  Think about it. When have we ever not been able to go & do what we want to do? Even if we are low on funds, we have always been able to go browse through stores or catch a matinee or sit down in a restaurant & now all of that is gone.  So, what remains? It is such a good time for self reflection & to think about how we self medicate. We all do it.

In our work at Cross Roads Recovery,  we help men who have self medicated with drugs or alcohol but for the rest of us it might be shopping, working, our kids, or eating. We all have some feel good that we turn to when our dopamine drops & we need a high.

For me, a new pair of shoes, cute top, or pair of jeans makes me higher than Mount Everest.  Some people go to the bar to feel good, some go to the fridge, some go to the gym, some go to their offices & bury themselves in work. For a whole lot of people, they bury themselves in social media. We are all looking to numb anything that feels uncomfortable so we find what is effective for us. Hopefully you will discover what your medication is during this quarantine & when you know what it is, that is half the battle! You can overcome it & find freedom!

We have literally been forced to slow down. We can not sign our kids (or ourselves) up for one million activities & in our non-stop culture that has been unsettling.  I read the other day that if the Planned Parenthood offices close for this curve flattening period then more lives will actually be saved than lost during this pandemic.

I have been thinking a lot about the story of Moses and how he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  It is one of my all time favorite bible stories because it show’s the power of God so clearly.  When Pharaoh refused to heed the Lord’s instructions, the Lord acted & sent plagues all across the land.  Do you remember them?

First there was the plague of the blood.  All the water in the Nile was turned to blood, the fish died, there was an awful smell and the Egyptians could no longer drink of its water.  Pharaoh was undeterred so the Lord sent the second plague – the plague of frogs.  Frogs were literally everywhere and covered the land.  This one got Pharaohs attention for a minute.  He asked Moses to ask the Lord to rid the land of the frogs.  Moses did that, God answered and all the frogs died but when Pharaoh got relief from that, he went back to his old ways and refused to listen once again.  So then God sent the third plague, the plague of gnats.  Can you imagine how awful that one would be? I hate a gnat but during this plague they were everywhere.  Next, there was the plague of flies.  Dense swarms of flies were everywhere.  There were not enough hands or swatters to get them all.  By this point, Pharaoh felt like he needed the Lord’s help again so he again asked Moses to pray on his behalf and ask the Lord to take the flies.  Moses did and God did but once again Pharaoh’s heart hardened and he went back to his usual life and still refused to let the Israelites go.  Next, was a plague on the livestock which would be similar to our economic system being attacked or the stock market crashing because this was the livelihood of the people back then.  Next up was the plague of the boils – festering boils broke out on every person and animal in the land.  Then came a plague of hail, then the plague of locusts, the plague of darkness, the plague of the firstborn & then the final action – the Passover.
In this story, God kept trying to get the attention of the people but in their stubbornness, they refused to listen.  Pharaoh refused to listen.  When nothing worked, God sent death.  The Israelites were given very specific instructions about the sacrifice of the lambs, how old the animals must be, how they must be cared for, what time they should be slaughtered, how they were to eat it, etc.  Once the animal was dead, they were to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of their door frames of their homes & scripture says “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every person and animal and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.  I am the Lord.  The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13
Just as He had said, when the spirit of death swept through the land the only ones who survived were the ones with the blood of the Lamb smeared across their doors.

The blood of the lamb – May we all be found with the blood of the lamb on our doors & hearts in both uncertain times and in times of plenty.

God usually speaks in whispers but just like with my kids, when they don’t listen the first few times, I tend to get louder. I think this pandemic is God getting loud with us. It’s no longer “fix it Jesus” but “fix it people.”  We have to recognize the idols in our lives, repent & put the only one true God back in the center of our lives, worshiping only Him.

Let’s move our feet, make changes, and embrace the one who longs to embrace us!  Praying over each of you!

COVID-19 & all the things

Hello friends!  I have not written since December!!!  Life has been busy and I have been working hard to finish my Master’s program.  After the current class I am taking, I only have two classes left and the Lord has clearly told me that it is time to write my book!  I have been diligently working on it for one hour each day and I am making progress!  I am realizing that as long as I am intentional the book can happen in any season.  I don’t have to be sequestered in a mountain house for three months (though wouldn’t that be nice in our current climate?) and I don’t even have to go to a coffee shop.   I set my timer for writing time and I go at it until the timer goes off and sometimes longer.  My kids are old enough that I can tell them what am I doing and they let me be for a while.  Praise Jesus.

I am writing this post to talk about the current hot topic of our world –  COVID-19 and all the implications.  These are unprecedented times and most of us have never experienced anything quite like this.  Everything we know and rely on has been disrupted.  I never thought there would be a day when I couldn’t send my kids to school or that I couldn’t gather with my church family but here we are.  My heart is breaking for all the high school seniors who are missing out on their last games, proms, and possibly graduation.  I am also thinking about the brides who are having to postpone their weddings!  I can hardly fathom what  all of that must feel like.  Yet, I have a peace and a hope in Jesus Christ and I know that He was not surprised by this and He is never without a plan.  I can’t help but think this is going to draw people closer to Him.  Uncertain times have a way of making us do that – we want to run to whomever can comfort us.  I just know He is going to bring good from this.  So many church gatherings were cancelled Sunday and even though their services are always available online, I think the hype it received this weekend maybe caused a few people or hopefully a lot of people to tune in.  I kept thinking about people who have never stepped foot in a church or maybe it has just been a really long time but maybe they took a baby step and watched online this week.  That is a lot less intimidating than physically walking in a new place.

It was even nice for me, a regular church attender to have so many services at my finger tips.  I watched two sermons Sunday and have some others I want to catch this week.  Could it be that for the vast majority of us that God is giving us a breather?  I know for the ones who are sick and the families who have lost loved ones, they can’t see any good yet but maybe He is telling our nation and our world to take a sabbatical.  To enjoy the homes we have,  to love our families,  to do quality time type things that we rarely ever do as we hurry from one thing to the next.  I know God loves it when I try to figure out His ways:)) Because His ways are higher than ours, we can trust that He is always there and always working even in times like this when everything feels so nuts.

I posted earlier today that I got to work out with my hubby then we took a walk together.  I am an Enneagram 8 so I am doing okay at this point but I am worried about my friends who are sevens because they are probably losing their minds.  Social distancing has been hard for Law, he is definitely a seven and loves being with people.  He came out of regular school in December of 2018 and we did a brutal home school program for six months then last August, he started Veritas which is two days per week at school and the rest at home.  He has loved it!  Homeschooling is obviously not new to us since the COVID-19 breakout but he is missing going two days per week.  He said “I just got back to school and now I can’t go?!?” He wanted to go for a bike ride yesterday and I said “okay, but just stay around here, don’t stop and talk with anyone, don’t hug, and don’t shake hands” & if you know Law then you know that was a tall order.  Twenty minutes later he came back & said “Mom, I waved at a fireman then I stopped at an elderly man’s house because he was raking leaves so I asked if he needed help but bless his heart, he didn’t hear me and then I started up my secret bike path and remembered you told me not to so I turned around and came back” #socialdistancing #thankslaw

As tough as it is, I do hope people will do what is asked of them and if all we do that, hopefully this thing won’t be as bad as they are predicting.  It seems that the economic fallout is going to be significant so if we can all do our part to still support small businesses while we isolate that would be phenomenal.  This is huge for so many on an economical level.  Businesses, restaurants, the transportation industry, vendors, event venues, florists, hairstylists, non-profits who put on events to keep their program going, the list goes on and on.  Let’s all commit to praying each day, crying out to our Father asking Him to heal our land.  Life as we know it depends on it.

Wash your hands and stay safe friends!

xoxo

 

When things go by the Wayside

Some of you that follow our ministry or watch the news know that for most of this year we have been under contract for some land. Not just any land but land that we believed the Lord had promised to us. It was one hundred acres which was the exact acreage listed in our vision statement that was drafted five years ago. If you saw the news or read the papers, then you also know that on November 18th, the Jones County Planning & Zoning Committee unanimously denied our application to operate our ministry on the land in their County. What we experienced in that hearing room that night was one of the worst experiences of our lives & it has taken me almost a month to find the words to describe it.  I think I have got it now and I want to start at the beginning of the story.
Five years ago when we accepted the calling to do this work and open a recovery ministry, we went to visit our long time counselor and friend, Dr. Ken Beers. The Lord has used Ken mightily in our lives and we are forever grateful. Ken counseled us through it all and was my counselor the entire year Brad was in recovery so we continue to keep him posted on our lives and occasionally go in for check ups. When the idea of this ministry came up we naturally wanted to share our thoughts with Ken. If not for Ken, we would have never heard of No Longer Bound which was the vessel that God used for Brad to find healing and freedom from the bondage of addiction. Ken and NLB were the vessels that God used to not only save Brad but also save our marriage and our family.
We made an appointment with Ken and as we shared our vision for the ministry we shared that we envisioned one hundred acres (because when you write vision statements and make plans you absolutely shoot for the stars) & as soon as we said one hundred acres, Ken pointed his finger and excitedly said “I know just the place!” We were like “okay, keep that under your hat and we’ll circle back when we are ready.”
Fast forward five years to this year, January of 2019 and at our first board meeting of the year, our board decided that we should get proactive about finding some land to grow the program & our goal for the year should be to acquire property. We had never forgotten Ken’s statement from that conversation five years ago and literally had prayed over it for the last five years – sight unseen. So naturally, our first thought was to call Ken.
Before I had a chance to call him, we ended up sitting beside him at a funeral. I told him about the board meeting and asked if the land was still available. He said “It is and I am actually meeting with the owner this week and I will talk with her about it” & that was that. Within a week, Ken reached out to say that the land was still available and the owner would be glad to show it to us. Ken shared the owner’s number, I called and she called back and within one day, Brad and I were out there meeting with her and looking at the property.
I will never forget that day in February when we drove onto the farm. She told us to cross the railroad tracks, go to the gate and enter the code. As we approached the big stone gate, we noticed that etched into the stonework were the words “Wayside Farm” and Brad immediately said “How about that? It is called Wayside Farm, how fitting as the people that we help have all fallen by the wayside.”
We drove down the long, winding driveway and marveled at the beauty of the land. That driveway lead us to a smaller, circular driveway at the main house where we met the property owner, Mrs. Katie. She was delightful and there was an instant connection and ease of conversation. She showed us all throughout the main home, walked us to the stables and then hopped in our car to drive down to the pond. This property is home to two houses, a barn, a few horses, some cattle, a workshop, a pavilion and a four acre pond. It was perfection. As we ended our tour and drove back around to the front of the house, we sat in our car talking and we asked what the total acreage was. As God wold have it, Mrs. Katie said it is one hundred acres. We smiled and shared our vision with Mrs. Katie and we all marveled at the God wink we had just experienced. Mrs. Katie is strong in her faith and went on to share how special this property is to her and how happy she had been there until her husband’s death. She teared up as she said it always felt like holy ground to her & we agreed. She shared that she had never put it on the market because her heart’s desire had been for it to be used for a ministry purpose. She could have sold it in a red hot minute at any time and made some good money as the property appraised for over a million dollars but she didn’t need the money and it seemed to all of us that maybe she had held onto it for such a time as this.
Over the next month, we drafted a proposal to Mrs. Katie that explained our ministry, provided our business plan, vision statement and every piece of information anyone could ever want about who we are and what we do. We proposed a purchase price & hand delivered the proposal to Mrs. Katie in March. In a matter of days, Mrs. Katie accepted our proposal & by May we were officially under contract. We had until 12/31 to raise the money for the purchase and close the deal. There was so much hard work ahead but it all felt like a dream.
There is a process in place in most counties that states if anything different is going to take place on a property other than a single family dwelling, then you have to apply for a conditional use permit at the local Planning & Zoning Office. So in June, Brad and I headed into the Jones County Planning & Zoning Office to file the paperwork. We were naive and had no idea what we were heading into that day. We filled out the paperwork as best we could & turned it in having absolutely no idea what we would soon face. The land tract was so large and so rural that we assumed no one would have a problem with it because we were so far off the beaten path. We filed the paperwork and checked that off our “to do” list.
We began raising money and taking donors out to see the property & by September, everything was financially in place for the closing to happen by year end as our contract stated. Since we filed the P&Z paperwork in June, the public hearing would normally have been scheduled for August but Mr. P (the head of P&Z) was going to be out of town so he put us on the agenda for the September meeting. He explained the process that would take place two weeks prior to the meeting. The process included letters being mailed to all property owners within 200 feet of the property, a public notice in the newspaper and a sign placed by the road on the property which briefly described our intent and gave the public hearing details.
We marked our calendars & started doing PR. We talked to everyone that we personally know that lives in Jones County, we met with public officials, local business men and women & we went and knocked on doors to everyone that was in that 200 foot circumference just to shake their hand and explain who we are before they received the letter in the mail. All of that went really well and we were encouraged.
Then the letters went out, the ad ran in the paper, the sign went up and all hell broke loose.
People got up in arms, were misinformed, petitions were started to block the ministry from coming to the county, news interviews were given, slander and social media attacks were rampant & we were absolutely floored. We expected opposition but never to the degree at which it came.
We wanted to clear the air and clarify misinformation that was being passed around about our ministry and the intent for the property. There is a church, Encounter, that holds Celebrate Recovery meetings and our residents had been a part of those meetings for months. So, the pastor and the Celebrate Recovery leader reached out to us or we reached out to them (I can’t remember) and we set up a meeting. We planned to host a Q & A at Encounter on the Thursday before the public hearing in September so that we could address the concerns of the public and answer any questions they had. Thursday rolled around and just hours before the Q&A, Mr. P from P&Z called to say that a resident had hired an attorney who made them aware of a state law that requires a bigger P&Z process and that our hearing would be postponed a a result. As a result of that, we postponed the Q&A with an intent to do it closer to the hearing & hopefully let it all die down a little.
Soon, we had a new hearing date in October and were told the hearing with the committee would proceed as normal and then we would have to wait six months instead of the usual one month and the Commissioners would make the final decision at the end of that six month period.
As we got more details about these concerned citizens and the acquired legal counsel, we realized we also needed to have legal representation. We hired an attorney who is familiar with P&Z hearings and all that they entail. He told us that since we would have limited time to speak that we should present a file full of letters of support for the committee to review. The support and affirmations in those letters were powerful so we filled a file with the letters and planned to take them to the hearing. Our attorney did not realize that the letters had to be filed ten days in advance of the hearing so they would have been null and void for the October hearing date. The letters seemed too important to just disregard so we withdrew the application that was filed in June, thus postponing the October meeting. We filed a new application, submitted our letter file and our third and final hearing date was set for November 18th.
We met with our attorney and he prepared us for the context of the meeting and how the meetings typically flow. It would be a public hearing so it was open to the public. The committee members would be seated in a circle up front and there would be two tables on either side of the room, one for Brad and our attorney and the other for our opposition and their attorney. The meeting would be called to order, Brad and our attorney would have ten minutes to speak, anyone in the room in support of us would have one minute to speak for up to ten minutes. Then, the same cycle would repeat for the opposition.
Our local news had been covering the story and talking with angry citizens for a couple of months but we had not made a comment or agreed to an interview because that just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. There was too much to share & not enough time in a news clip to do that, not to mention how the media clips the footage to paint the portrait they want to be seen. Our goal was to remain humble & move forward until the Lord closed the door so we respectfully denied any interview requests right up until the day of the hearing.
November 18th rolled around & as the day went on & calls came in of local support dropping out and not attending the hearing on our behalf we began to understand what was happening. The main opposition (the one who hired the attorney) is a family that no one in the County (including the committee members) were willing to disagree with or go up against. We had a growing sense of dread as we made our way to the conference room that night but we went because we knew that was what the Lord told us to do – to follow through & to finish the race.
We showed up about 5:30 which was thirty minutes ahead of the 6 pm meeting time and the parking lot was full. We quickly debriefed with our attorney in the parking lot and headed in. We were the only item on the agenda and the hearing room was packed to standing room only and people flowed out into the hallways. There was somewhere between 100 and 150 people at the Government Center that night and about 30 of them were there in support of us and the rest was opposition.
The people who filled that room were angry and mean spirited and it was heartbreaking to witness. It is one of those situations that unless you were there and experienced it, then it is hard to describe. It was such a reminder that in today’s culture, people don’t just disagree any more, if they disagree, it is not just a difference of opinion, there is hate and malice. Our ministry, our leader (who is almost my husband) and the men in our program were vilified that night.  We had previously joked about neighbors coming out with their pitchforks & while they didn’t show up with actual pitchforks (probably because of the metal detector) they used their sneers, facial expressions and words to express how unwelcome we are in their community. After the meeting drug on for an hour and a half, the committee finally decided to put an end to it and the unanimous declination of our application was met with applause, cheers, and hoots and hollers from the crowd. It brought me to tears and I just have to believe that they didn’t understand what they were saying “no” to.
The hearing was just the first step in the process and the County Commissioners would make the final decision next June but after what we witnessed in the hearing room that night, we have no desire to move forward with our application. That was an answer to prayer, not the answer we were hoping for but an answer still the same. The door was clearly closed that night. Ministries need the support of the community and Jones County is clearly not interested in a ministry like ours that helps men who need a second chance. We help recovery center graduates re-enter the community and go back home to their families. We get to aid in the regenerating work of Jesus and see men regenerated and families restored. The problem of addiction is in every county in our state and we want to be a part of the solution. We will be an asset to whatever community we reside in, not a burden. The letters from all of our Bibb County neighbors as well as the The Bibb County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that.
As the community members cheered that night, our hearts broke because as they were cheering all we could see are people dying from addiction & loved ones crying because our program is always full and our capacity for help is currently limited. In that room and beyond there is a stubborn resistance to change no matter if that change is good or bad.
Many people asked why we continued to move forward knowing the opposition we faced and our answer was always because we knew that God was in this and that any time you are doing Kingdom work, opposition is expected. If there were no opposition and it had been smooth sailing, that is when we would have felt like something was wrong. I want to share a few God winks that let us know the Lord was in this all the way to the bitter end.
1. the conversation with Ken over five years ago alerting us to the land and to begin praying.
2. the first meeting with Mrs. Katie about her heart’s desire for the land and that it was exactly one hundred acres.
3. Mrs. Katie accepting our proposal.
4. Raising the capital – God used one man for the bulk of it.
5. Cross Roads residents being hired by Jones County business owners.
6. P&Z meetings being postponed – we viewed this an encouragement rather than a discouragement because God was saying “not yet, you are not ready.”
7. The attorney God provided for us and the help he gave.

There were lots of times as we faced slander and cruelty that we wanted to quit and wondered if we should. Everything in our flesh said “just give up, the ministry is doing fine where it is” but then we would hear God say “you are doing fine but you can do better and you can offer more so keep fighting the good fight because I have gone before you and I stand behind you.”
I don’t fully know why we had to endure the villainous P&Z hearing that night but I do know that the lesson that Brad, my husband, and the leader of Cross Roads taught the nine residents who were watching him that night is immeasurable. He taught them that it is okay to be afraid but don’t let that keep you from standing up for what you believe you in & following through with what you believe you have been called to do.
Brad has given me a lot to be proud of in a husband, a father and a faithful Christ follower, but nothing made me prouder than his courage and his humility as he faced the roar of opposition on November 18th. It was only the spirit of the Lord that filled him and allowed him to be so calm and humble amidst such fierce opposition.
Some of our supporters and friends that were in the room that night wanted to take us to dinner afterwards. Choices for a late dinner were limited so as we entered the cafe’ we noticed that some of the opposition was also there. We passed by the one man who had a visual aid at the meeting displaying the 200 opposing signatures he had gained on his petition. He was happy and jovial as he made phone calls to the other good ole’ boys letting them know he had shut us down.
We sat down with our big ole’ group and told the waitress that we would like to pick up their check because that just seemed like a move Jesus might make in that same situation so we enjoyed our meal and paid for theirs.
One last story as I wrap up. There is a little yellow gold figurine that has been a part of our life since 2015. I took it to my bible study back in August when asked to bring a tangible symbol of God’s faithfulness in my life. Brad graduated from No Longer Bound in December of 2013. In 2014, they contacted us and wanted to film our story and show it during their banquet in October. So for most of 2015, we filmed the video and the theme was “United” and they used these little wooden figurines in the background of our video and on the tables the night of the banquet. The little yellow one was left behind in our home during filming. We displayed him on the dresser in our bedroom as constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. Once we were under contract for the land in Jones County, each time we visited the property, we would leave a small token behind as a physical sign to God that we were believing His promise and claiming the land just as the Israelites did thousands of years ago. Usually it was just a pocket knife or lip gloss but then I decided to up the ante by leaving behind something with more sentimental value. You guessed it, on my last visit to the property in mid-September, I left my little wooden man.
A few days after the P&Z hearing, I found myself passing through Jones County on the way back from a funeral in Milledgeveille so I stopped by the property to pick up my little man. He was dirty and a little beaten up by the weather but just like us, he was still standing. Now, he has been moved to a more prominent spot in our kitchen where we all see him everyday. We are still reminded of God’s faithfulness but now it includes his faithfulness even when the story didn’t turn out like we hoped.
The good news is that God is still at work, He is still on the throne and is bigger than any opposition we will ever face. He still has a plan and a future home for Cross Roads Recovery, this just was not it. If nothing else, we are thankful for the experience that has only equipped us for the future & the new friends we made along the way like Mrs. Katie.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this story and God speed! Glory to God forever and ever Amen.

Summertime

Around here public school teachers have already gone back to school & the kids start next week.  My kids start a little later in the month but either way, summer is quickly coming to an end.  I love summertime and have since I was a kid but there is something about a new school year and getting back into a regular routine that excites me too.

When you are a kid, summer is the greatest word in the English language.  The days are long, the weather is hot and each day is filled with endless posssiblity because these are the days when school doesn’t take up your whole day and homework doesn’t steal your nights.

When I was growing up, summers were sacred.  There were bikes, basketball goals, the ballfield & the pool.  The highlight of summer for me and my friends was the community pool affectionately know as “The Gordon Pool” to outsiders or just “the pool” to us members:) I think it was a like $100 for a membership for the entire summer.  We all disppeared at 12 pm and didn’t come home until after 6.  My parents and all the parents of my pool buddies had it made:)  I recently told my parents about a meme I saw online that said “I am pretty sure my parents didn’t know where I was from 1990-1995” and that sounds about right for the generation I grew up in.  Parents didn’t hover and we were fine and most of us are still fine today.

The pool was the greatest babysitter.  We all loved to go because we knew we could all meet up there.  The cute teenage boys would be in the deep end playing gator while us younger girls had our tea parties or played on the slide in the middle of the pool.  Now those boys don’t seem so much older than me & we even have kids the same age.  We didn’t need clocks back then.  We knew when the Price is Right went off that the pool was open and then the lifeguard usually told us when it was time to get out and go home so we knew it was supper time.

There is comfort in knowing what will happen from day to day and back then we knew.  We knew the gate would be open at noon and we would trudge in and hand our snack money to the ladies behind the counter to put in our box.  The boxes were like a big standing tackle box with a piece of tape across the front of each individual box displaying the owner’s name.  It would either be Mrs. Marcelyn, Aunt Trish, Mrs. Libby or sometimes Ms. Lynn manning the counter.  You could order hotdogs, french fries and almost any candy you wanted.  If you were lucky,  Mrs. Libby would write your name in ketchup or mustard on your hotdog.  There was almost any kind of candy you wanted and the chocolate was the best because it stayed in the cooler.  There was no AC at the pool concession stand.  Tracy Hawthorne was one of the lifeguards & all us little girls thought she ruled.  She was gorgeous and she drove a little red BMW which was like everything in our small town.

We all walked or rode our bikes to the pool and summer days were all spent between streets named Ann and Sitton and my grandmother’s house was sandwiched in between on Greenview Avenue. Those were the days.  Those days were golden and we didn’t know just how good or sacred they were when we were living them.  Summer was watermelon, pools, shelling peas on your grandma’s porch, sleeping late and staying up even later, bare feet, & boat rides on the lake.  One set of cousins had grandparents who lived on the lake & we went every weekend and all four of us kids were packed in the car without a seatbelt in sight.  When our our lake days ended we rode home (like 30-40 minutes) in the back of a truck the whole way but not before we went through Dairy Queen and got Mr. Misty’s.  Thanks, Uncle Greg:)

I guess summer was a good teacher, even as children it was teaching us that good things don’t last forever & things you look forward to all year long are over in a flash.  As we are all now in our 30’s and 40’s we know just how precious time is.

We have had a bit of a 1980’s/1990’s summer at our house this year.  I was down and out for 9 weeks with my foot injury so my kids slept late, swam some, climbed trees, rode bikes, read books & made the best of summer just like I used to.  I can only hope they grow up to have sweet memories of their summers just like their Mom.  My injury took the pressure off to fill this summer with endless activity and I decided I like it this way.  Summers are for fun but also for rest.

What are your favorite summer memories?  Soak up these last days and be excited for the next season!  Seasons are a gift & they will always come & go – if not for that we probably wouldn’t appreciate each one quite as much.

#sweetsummertime

Reflections

Turning 40 has been a lot of fun. I have had some great dinners, a party, & have gotten some sweet gifts. 💗(Gifts are my love language)

A few days ago, I was sitting in the cafe at Barnes & Noble. I was journaling & planning to do some work & for a rare moment both my kids were sitting with me & were not arguing.  Lawson flipped through a magazine while Bella was reading. That quiet moment left me thanking God for the gift of summer, for changing seasons, for my friends, for my husband, for Law, & for Bella. 

I have been given so much in life. I hope I have a lot more life to live but even so, it’s been a marvelous ride thus far. Not perfect & not always easy but marvelous all the same:)

I have been super reflective since turning 40. (Can you tell?) It’s a milestone birthday like #16, #21, & #30.  It has me thinking on my first 40 years – what they looked like  & what my next 40 will look like. 

The first 40 were my birth, childhood, getting an education, falling in love, working & establishing a career then marrying & birthing kids. The next 40 will look very different – my kids will only continue to grow so they will graduate school, get married & have kids of their own. Brad and I will grow older and we might even get to retire so this second half of life will pan out a lot differently than the first half.  Time marches on.  I sure I hope I can be old and wise and not just old:) 

In our formative years, I don’t think we can fathom what the stages of life will look like.  I know for a fact one thing that I didn’t anticipate as a child. From a child’s eyes, 40 is old so I assumd by 40 I would have it all figured out.  I figured I would have accomplished all my dreams and would be on the downhill slide to life on a beach or something.  The mind of a child is not always realistic and it shouldn’t be because children’s minds are designed to dream & imagine so encourage your kids to dream often.  There will be plenty of time for adulting.  

Guess what?  Now that I have reached 40, I  can certify that I still have dreams & I still have goals to accomplish.   What a travesty it would be if I didn’t still have dreams!  In my earlier years I always assumed that I would be completely settled by the time I reached 40. I guess in many ways I am settled  but I still have so much to do! At a couple of points along my career path, I had the big corner office, with a fancy title & nice salary & the world told me that’s all there is. That was the goal & I had arrived.  I am so glad to know today there is so much more to life & just as there is no one perfect size or weight, there is no perfect age to chase your calling.  I think by 40 most of us are just figuring out exactly what it is that we want to do or maybe we are finally ready to answer the call God has placed on our hearts!  The good news is that if you are called, all the details will fall into place!  I am going to start on my book and see what else is in store for my next forty years!  Keep chasing dreams, Sisters!

I am pledging that this is gonna be my best decade yet. Get out there and have a great day!

xoxo,

Jodi

Highlight Reels

There are alot of pics on social media.  I post a lot, my friends post a lot.  You have heard social media called the highlight reel.  We don’t always know the truth behind pretty pictures or even ugly ones for that matter. But it’s not the ugly ones that intrigue us. We see a smiling, happy couple & we make assumptions. This picture from our 10 year anniversary trip (in 2012) to Antigua is a perfect example.
Sometimes all the people in these pretty pictures may not even know what is going on. That was the case here. Brad was giving in to his addiction & making poor choices back then but I was not yet clued in to it all. But in a few short months our lives would fall apart & the next year would break us & test our marriage in ways we couldn’t have prepared for. This cute pic doesn’t say all that.
However, I can honestly look at this picture & in that moment we were truly happy.  That anniversary trip to the beautiful island of Antigua was one of the happiest times of my life. Ten years was a big milestone for us.  Now I look back at it & realize what a gift that trip and this picture was/is.  Looking back, it feels like a precious gift that God wrapped up just for me. He gave me that week with my husband in that beautiful place because He knew what was ahead. He gave me rest & sweet memory in that trip. I am forever grateful for that.
I have not thought about this picture or that trip in a long time, until this morning.  I opened my Facebook app & this picture was shared with me as my memory from 7 years ago. Thanks FB:)  When I saw this picture, it got me thinking.
Thinking that I am so thankful for that moment in time & all the moments since. It reminds me of what a good, good, God that we serve. He is not absent in our suffering nor is He absent in the blessing of good times.
So thankful for the way He has worked in my life & marriage & all that He has redeemed & restored.  I am especially thankful for the things he made brand new! Today, my marriage is strong & Brad is the most remarkable man I know. He is wise, discerning, honest, & oh so kind.
Brad answered God’s call to ministry & by extension I did too. The ministry he placed on our hearts all those years ago has grown & changed & is more than we could have imagined. Most of all, it is bigger than Brad or me. Our prayer from the beginning was that God would do something so big that it would be destined to fail without Him in the center of it. We are four years in, still going strong & there are big things on the horizon!
To God be the glory forever & ever. Amen.
I felt led to do this short post today to encourage somebody out there to not give up.  There is always hope – sometimes it’s a scary hope but don’t ever give up hope.  The thought of what something might be is exciting and gives us the strength to keep moving forward.  Whatever you are facing, God has got you and He is greater than all the hurt.  He is a God of immeasurably more!
If you don’t follow Cross Roads Recovery on Instagram or Facebook, please do!
All the best!
Jodi
antigua

Staring down the road to 40….

That may not be an appropriate title – staring down the street to 40 is more like it. My 40th Birthday is just 2 days away. I entered this world on June 22, 1979 at the Coliseum Hospital around 7:45 p.m. That was about 11ish hours after my cousin, Jennifer who was born in the same room. The same day we entered the world & began life, a close family friend of Wanda’s (Jenn’s mom) lost hers. Her name was Lynn & she died in a car accident right after she left our hospital room. Talk about the circle of life. God gives & He takes away.

Mom & Wanda & me & Jenn were all in one room. How fun is that? 😊 Jenn was plump & bald & I was scrawny with itty bitty eyes. (Later in life, I got plump & she got scrawny ☺️) We both favored our grandfathers in those newborn hospital pics. From that day forward, we were like sisters. We don’t talk as often these days or see each other all that much but our bond remains.

It was always so fun sharing a birthday with a cousin & we were the first grands on the maternal side so you know how that goes. Spoiled rotten was an understatement. To this day, we blame our Ma-Ma & Me-Ma for our expensive taste. Rhody & Jane are extraordinary women who had the most special friendship. They were sister in laws but genuinely loved one another & the Macon Mall loved them. ☺️ They taught Jenn & I so much but they deserve their own post so I won’t ramble on about them here.

As I prepare to celebrate my 40th year, I want to share 40 things that I know.

1. Family is everything. I am so thankful for my family of origin but also extremely thankful for friends that have become family.

2. Life is short & fragile.

3. Forgiveness is a must. It heals you too.

4. God is good.

5. God has planned immeasurably more for each of us!

6. Hurt people hurt people.

7. Harsh words sting.

8. Writing words is therapeutic.

9. Counseling is a GOOD thing.

10. Grandparents should live forever.

11. So should parents.

12. Growth is hard but so rewarding.

13. Courage is hard but so necessary.

14. Humor is so helpful but cutting your bangs is not.

15. Abundant grace is necessary for all of us.

16. Learning to have tolerance for people not like me is hard but important.

17. God loves working miracles.

18. God specializes in brokenness.

19. Little sisters are gifts.

20. Love covers a multitude of sins.

21. Exercise is good.

22. Love does.

23. Babies are delightful.

24. Colic is not. (BG taught us that)

25. Trials make us strong in weak places.

26. Hate is not the opposite of love – indifference is.

27. I don’t understand all of the Bible but I don’t let what I don’t understand interfere with what I do.

28. I was not nearly as smart as I thought I was 20 years ago. #hindsight

29. I regret having such a smart mouth & talking back to my momma.

30. The apple indeed does not fall from the tree & we are all a lot more like our parents than we care to admit.

31. One of the only things we are control of is our attitude. Make it good.

32. Choices lead & feelings follow.

33. Kids need parents who show up.

34. Life is messy.

35. Marriage takes work.

36. When you have a choice to make, choose wisely.

37. Hugs are good for your soul.

38. So is time spent with old friends.

39. You can’t make old friends.

40. Age is just a number.

Happy Birthday to me & Jenn & my best buddy, Ryan VanSon! (There is a previous post about him 😉)

Thanks for reading & please sign up to follow along!

All my best,

Jodi