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Deep breaths.

That’s what I find myself taking more and more.

You know the kind of breaths that other people hear and then ask, ‘Are you ok?’  That’s the kind I’m talking about.  Sometimes they’re breaths of frustration when I’m dealing with a moody daughter.  Other times they’re breaths of anxiety when I feel my things-to-do list overtaking the hours in my days. 

And then there are the other breaths.

Those deep breaths of grief that overcome me when I have a flashback of a specific moment with Nick and the images are more than I can bear.

Surely God knows that these breaths have some sort of healing power or He wouldn’t have made them a part of who we are.  He breathed life into us, and I just have to believe that He Who knows us most intimately gave us the ability to take deep breaths “as needed.”

I’m thankful even in my deepest breaths for the breath He gave us.

But more than that, I am thankful that He didn’t just write a book for us to read.  I am thankful that He breathed His Word into existence and left us with a Book that is ALIVE and ACTIVE.

I love to touch my Bible and know that it is made from God’s deep breaths.  It’s as if God exhales the words and as we read them we inhale them into our body.

As we breathe these words in, the Bible says they are able to “penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow” and “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)   When I think of this, I read His Words differently.  My eyes scan each letter with a certain level of fear and a great deal of respect.  He Who spoke the world into existence is the same One who breathed your Bible into existence.  As you read the first chapter of Philippians, I am praying that you will be prepared for both moments of encouragement and seasons of conviction as you inhale God’s breath into your deepest places.

Philippians was written to the church in Philippi while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. The church had sent Epaphroditus to deliver a gift to Paul.  Ind In return Paul sent them this thank-you letter. 

My first thought as I read the history of this book was this:

God blesses those who bless others.  What can I do today to be a blessing to someone else?  What have I done in response to blessings I have received from others?  Help me, Lord, to be responsive.

My second thought was this:

God can use something as simple as a thank-you note to change the lives of people.  When is the last time I wrote a thank-you note?  How much time did I put into the words I wrote?  Help me, Lord, to be an encourager through both actions and words.

From what I could gather in some research (Click HERE for some interesting charts), Paul had already completed his three missionary journeys by the time he wrote Philippians.  Over 20 years have passed since Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  I am sure that at this point in his life, Paul is tired and feeling the effects of the shipwrecks and persecutions he has endured throughout his ministry.  In spite of the certain pain and agony his body has undergone, Paul does not spend time lamenting his troubles as he writes.  He doesn’t complain.  He doesn’t ask for sympathy.  He begins with a joyful greeting and words of thanksgiving.

As I read chapter one, several verses popped out to me.  Too many to discuss in one post.

For today, I’ll touch on just a few:

I love in verse 4 when Paul says that he “prays with joy” when he is praying for the church in Philippi.  I want to have a joy that is so deep that even in my darkest moments I will turn to God and pray with joy for others.  I remember a portion of a poem that my first college roommate had on our mirror in the dorm.  I’ll never forget the words even though it has been over 20 years since I saw them in writing,

Lord, let me live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way,

That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayer will be for others.

Verses 9-11 really jumped out at me too.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.”

Paul wasn’t praying that they would feel more love.  So often I think of love as a feeling, and  my moods are affected by the amount of love I feel towards others and from others.  How often do I think of my love abounding in knowledge and depth of insight?  If I learn more about others, isn’t it easier to love them more deeply?  When I learn more about the qualities of God and the character of God, doesn’t my love grow deeper?  Not just because of a feeling but more because of a KNOWING.  I love the song, “I want to know you.  I want to see your face.  I want to know you more.” 

I’d never really thought about why we sing those words.  Why do we want to know God more?  I think the reason is in the verses above, “so that we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

If we KNOW God, our love will grow deeper (abound more and more) and we will begin to make better choices, we will become discerning (wise).

And eventually FILLED with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am already more excited! 

Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ, sat in a cold, dark prison cell and penned a thank-you note to a group of Christians and by making this decision, he allowed all of us to be encouraged, strengthened, and motivated to a deeper level of love towards God and towards one another.

This weekend, I want to:

Choose someone to love more deeply.  Maybe someone I do not know very well.  Choose to grow in knowledge and depth of insight about that brother or sister and choose to grow in knowledge and depth of insight about God.  See if God begins to reveal to me a deeper level of discernment.  See if I find myself being called to a purer life. 

I hope you’ll challenge yourself too.

Let’s keep reading chapter one until we have made our way through each lesson we can uncover.

If anything spoke to you as you were reading, please share your comments here by clicking on the words “precious comments.”  I would love to hear your thoughts.

God bless you all,

heartBG2

Roots……….

June 30th, 2011

 

The_Family_Tree I’ve heard that a tree’s branches never grow taller than the depths of the tree’s roots….

That is so true of me too!

I long to be more, do more, reach further……..but I find myself struggling so often to simply be what I already am.

What is the secret to growing?

Setting goals

Having passion

Casting a vision

Being persistent

I don’t think so.

For me, growing only happens when I am digging deeper into Him…..His Words….His thoughts……His goals……His passion…..His vision……

Some days I feel so close to Him that I could burst into singing!  I see Him everywhere.  I know He’s near.

Other days, like many I have had lately, He seems unreachable, in some ways unapproachable…….

And I find myself wilting, drawing in, shrinking back from all He has planned for me.

But has He moved, has He changed?

Never.

It’s me.

I’m the problem.  I’m the ever-changing.  He’s the never-changing.

Tonight, I shared with Tim on the back porch over dinner a bit of my heart.  I confessed my struggles and it felt good.  It felt good to say out loud some of the things I had buried deep within.

1 John 1:8-10 (New International Version)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

It felt good to expose some of my weak roots.

Reading through the Bible in a year isn’t enough…..I’m bogged down in battles between all of the “ites” of the Old Testament and honestly, I’m seeing myself as the person who is always at war, on a very personal level, I’m the one fighting the same old things over and over again.  I read a passage today that said, “every spring” the same nation came to fight another one.  Wow..not much has changed in 2000 years for God’s people except that the battles now are often internal rather than external.

So, what do I do with myself?

How do I apply Miracle-Gro to my spiritual life?

I pick a book of His Word, and I dig in!

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

No more posts about my life for awhile unless in some way they relate to a passage I’m reading.  My sweet friend Melanie has been deep in the book of John, and she has inspired me to choose a book and dig in too!

Since Paul is one of my favorite Bible characters, I’m digging into the book of Philippians first…chapter by chapter and verse by verse.

If you’d like to join me, I’d be thrilled!

Just read chapter one by Friday and feel free to share any thoughts you have on the verses you read.

I started this blog in 2007 to share My Heart and His Words……every time I begin to struggle with blogging, I find myself at a place where it has become more about my words than His….and when it does, blogging, for me, has lost its value.

Just confessing this to you has cleansed a deep part of me.  Thank you for your constant love as my journey with God seems to be an endless winding path of highs and lows.  Am I the only one who feels this way?

I love you all so much,

heartBG2

 

Spending time with people is definitely one of my favorite things to do, so in some ways I’ve loved having the opportunity to meet all of the youth groups that have been visiting the campus of KCU and also seeing alumni who I remember from the past 20 years of ministry here.

But when I took on this project, I had to let go of some other things…like cleaning my house, cooking, and writing…..

I haven’t missed some parts of what I haven’t been doing (smiles), but I have missed being in touch with all of you.

I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a little bit of what I’ve been up to and simply say, “I love you all.”

Summer in the Son brings back lots of memories of Nick, so the past week and a half have also left me feeling a little blue deep in my heart.  Nick loved the concerts.  He loved summer!

I miss him so much.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with grief like I often do, I highly recommend taking a long walk by yourself and just telling God how you feel.  I took one this morning, and it helped me so much! God longs to hear from you…on the good days and the bad.

Turn to Him with your hurting heart.  He cares, He understands, and He loves you.

Raceand  Christian Church copy  I’Bethel Church of Christ black and white group photo copy Summer in the Son Staff copy Brooksville Christian Church copy Central Christian Church Group Photo copy Church of Christ at Alexandria group photo copy East River Park C C copy First Presbyterian Church Group Photo copyOak Grove Church of Christ copy Indian Hills Christian Church copy Momentum Christian Church copy
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Thursday of last week, I headed out of town again!

This time, I spent the weekend in Nashville visiting Erich and Mallory!  Our busy days and nights left me with no time to write, but I promise that you were on my heart and mind every day.

I think that might be the most bizarre yet wonderful thing about blogging….even though I started this blog not knowing who would ever read it, I now feel connected to all of you in such a personal way.

Even as I found myself at the top of a water ride which involved laying on my stomach and pushing myself forward so that I would begin a downward slope at a speed much higher than I ever dreamed I would be traveling when I woke up that morning, I thought of all of you.  I thought of you and knew that you would laugh if you could see me laying there in my swimming suit with a skirt wanting so badly to still be a “fun” mom for Erich yet deep inside thinking, “I’m so done being a daredevil!”  (Not that I ever was Miss Adventurous, but you know what I mean!)

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I thought of you and wondered, “Will I ever share about this moment when I lost a lot of dignity as I pushed myself forward with my toes and realized that I needed a much bigger push……and so by the time I took off down the slope, Erich and Olivia were halfway down the track and then they were standing and laughing at me as I finally arrived at the bottom with a huge splash.”

I wondered if I would share about watching mom teach Maria how to make a lavender sachet, and how I didn’t have the patience to sit and weave ribbon in and out of lavender stems..

erich and mallory 009 erich and mallory 007 Click HERE for instructions for making these yourself!  They scent is amazing!

I wondered if I would share with you about the worship service at Belmont Church where the flower girl from Erich and Mallory’s wedding came over and sat on my lap for the whole service, and how I fell in love with her so quickly.  I leaned down at one point and whispered, “Do you want a piece of gum?” to which she whispered back, “I want to sit on your lap.”  Then later she leaned over to Olivia and asked, “How old is Erich’s mom?”  I’m just thinking that she felt like she was sitting on a grandma’s lap, and for the first time in my life I truly didn’t mind the thought!

Yes, with everything that happened from Thursday night until tonight you have been on my mind in a very real and powerful way.  I miss you when I don’t have time to write.

Even today, as I stood at Kentucky Christian University taking photographs of youth group after youth group who are attending this week’s Summer in the Son, I thought of you.

Not so much because I thought you’d smile, but because I thought you’d maybe pat my back and lovingly scold me saying, “Tammy, Tammy, why do you say “yes” so often to things that stretch you so greatly?”

Today was a long day.  I’ve taken way more pictures than I ever wanted to and I’ve spent most of the evening on Photoshop framing them for the college to give to the campers as they leave on Friday.

My eyes are tired.

My mind is tired.

And I know deep inside that I’ve brought this all on myself, so I have to laugh.  Honestly, there is no one to blame but me!  On the bright side, I’ve learned a lot about Photoshop that I did not know, and that is the true reason I agreed to this project.

But, as I sit here tonight at 1:24 a.m. determined to have all the photos from today ready to send to the print shop tomorrow, guess what is on my mind?

YOU!

Yes, I knew that before I could dive back into more editing, I had to share what happened tonight, because of all the things that have happened in the past four days, this one tops them all.

I took a break tonight around 9:45 to take Olivia and a friend to a concert at KCU..Gungor was playing, and if  you have never heard them you should click on their name above and check out their music.  Wow..talented and so inspiring! 

concert 004

Anyway, as we were waiting in the sea of high school students, I kept seeing this one sponsor/mom standing with what appeared to be her son off to my left.  They looked a little overwhelmed with the crowd, and honestly, a little sad.  I was visiting with some alumni and yet every time I looked towards them, I had this urge to just go say, “Hi,” and welcome them to the campus.  Finally, I turned to my friend and said, “This probably sounds crazy, but I feel like I will be quenching the Holy Spirit if I do not go speak to that woman.”

I made my way through the crowd and introduced myself, asking which church they were from.  When I heard the name of the town in which she goes to church, I thought she might know someone I knew.  As it turned out, she was fairly new to the church and town and did not know them.  So awkwardly, we continued to talk for a bit as I pointed out Olivia in the crowd and then Todd further back with his girlfriend.

She introduced me to her son who, she explained, has autism.  We talked a bit about the fact that she had shared with their youth group just earlier in this very evening about his condition and about how all the kids had sweetly hugged him and welcomed him with open arms.  She seemed thankful that she had chosen to come and bring him along for the week-long experience.  As our conversation progressed, I felt this nudge to share that we had lost two children, one to cancer and one to SIDS.  I don’t normally share this information in a first-time meeting, but it flowed with whatever we were discussing at the moment, and I felt it was okay to say it comfortably.  Nick had been heavy on my heart all day today anyway, so it felt almost good to talk about him out loud.

Immediately after hearing the word cancer, the lady I was talking to said, “What kind?”  I replied, “Brain cancer,” and tears filled her eyes.

She said, “My sister has brain cancer.  Tomorrow she finds out if it is back.”

Suddenly, I knew why the Holy Spirit had pressed me to go to her.  We talked and talked about her sister, about the fight with cancer, about God’s faithfulness in the most difficult times.

Finally, the doors opened for the concert, we hugged, and I now have a new friend who I will be praying for fervently.

I’m thankful that tonight I didn’t resist the Holy Spirit’s need to work.

I’m also thankful that He nudged me enough to put this in written form to all of you, my prayer warrior friends who will lift up this single mom from Northern Ohio who has a critical day ahead of her tomorrow.  Her children are 7 and 11, if you can believe it.  If you followed Nick’s story, you will remember how significant those numbers are to our family.

I am going to take a minute to add a few pictures throughout this post, and then I will close until tomorrow.

I love you all so much!

heartBG2

Not afraid to shine…….

June 23rd, 2011

 

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be as confident in our purpose as the Statue of Liberty is in hers?

To boldly stand and shine even in the darkest places….

That’s what God has called us to do.

II Cor. 4:5-6

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Matt. 5:15-16

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Phil. 2:14-16

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

It’s easy to be a light on the Internet, but in my day-to-day life I want to be an authentic, purpose-filled child of God.  I want you to be one too.

How can you shine for Him today?

I hope you find lots of ways!!!

Longing to live a life unafraid to shine for Him,

heartBG2

 

I loved this quote that was written on a glass window in Philadelphia, “Go back to the past to build the future.”062011068 On a very personal level, I have learned that going back to my past and remembering how God walked the road of grief with me after we lost Adrienne has helped me realize that He will be with me in the days ahead as I continue to work through my deep sadness after losing Nick.

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This gentleman stood in front of me waiting to walk through the museum which contained the Liberty Bell.  I wondered what he was thinking about as he stood in line.  I wondered what stories he has heard about the past that have given him strength as he has walked into the future.062011067

I snapped a shot during a video reenactment of the life of a freed slave who worked for Abigail Adams..I love the words that were on the screen as I took this photo, and I find it amazing that in our country’s history…our past…God was working, calling people to specific journeys…

What a reminder that God is working today and that He will be working tomorrow!

062011102 I’m not going to pretend that I was amazed by the Liberty Bell.  I actually texted home to Mom and the kids, stating that the Liberty Bell was much smaller than I had ever dreamed.  I am still being teased about this text, because I guess the bell isn’t as small as they had imagined after reading my text…..oh well, it was small to me! :). 

When I think of this bell ringing throughout Philadelphia years ago, it does make me smile and wonder what kinds of things we hear today that remind us of the freedom we have in America……or is there anything left to which we turn our ear?062011150 This road spoke to me as we walked by…not a in an audible voice, but there was something about the roads wide, smooth edges combined with its enclosed, rocky path that reminded me that life is a lot like this road….

Our feet may hurt from time to time during our journey, but God promises to set our boundaries in pleasant places if we simply trust Him with our tomorrows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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Standing at the tomb of thousands of unknown soldiers who fought for our countries freedom and then watching the torch which burns continually in their memory was such a vivid reminder of how much our freedom cost.  How easy it is for me to forget the sacrifice made by so many who walked the road of life before me………

As Tim and I continued our walk through Philadelphia we found the oldest residential street in America, Elfrath’s Alley.  Tim and I had never heard of this street in our lives, but it was almost surreal to walk down its narrow passageway and try to imagine the horses and carriages that one day trotted along from home to home.062011179

062011190062011188  Spying a small mailbox beside the porch of one of the houses on this street reminded me of how special letters from a friend or family member must have been at that time in history.  Today, I often take for granted the many different types of messages I receive in one day (texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, and the list goes on and on).

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Tim wanted to take my picture in front of one of the doors in this old alley, and I loved the red one. So I turned to pose not realizing that it was door number 117! If you followed Nick’s story at all, you will remember that he said his nickname was 7-11, because we discovered his first two brain tumors at those two ages!062011207

I felt Nick’s presence in that moment!  I thought that he was cheering me and Tim on as we ventured into a week of such a different kind of “vacation.”  I felt like he was giving his stamp of approval!  Seeing the number on the door made my heart sing!

I love looking back and remembering how God has been with me through every happy and every difficult moment in my life.

When I look back, I am reminded that I can look forward with confidence, knowing that God has been and will continue to be with me every step of the way………. 

No matter how rough the road.

Look back today and say “thank you” for all the times God has been exactly what you needed.

And then look forward with faith and determination, knowing that you do not walk into the future alone.

God is with you!

heartBG2

 

If you listen to KLOVE very often, you have probably heard the voice of Renee Swope sharing a devotion from time to time for Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Renee has become a friend of mine over the past few years, and I was so excited to be a part of a group of friends who read her book in pre-release form and then answered questions after each chapter in an online study group.  I learned so much about what it means to find my confidence in Christ, and I also learned ways to stand up to the devil when he is trying to fill my mind with negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity.

I am incredibly excited to announce the opportunity for each of you to join Renee in another pre-release event!  She will be leading a 7-day Doubt Diet which will be available as a free Ebook on Amazon and via email through sign-ups on her website

If you would like to join Renee in this week-long adventure, simply click HERE to read all of the details!

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renee swope

Renee is a precious woman of God, and I am thankful for the words she has penned in her book A Confident Heart.  I know God will use this book in mighty ways to strengthen the faith of women around the world and encourage them in their journey through life.

Let me know if you sign up for the 7 Day Doubt Diet!! 🙂

Love,

heartBG2

 

As the mom of a teenage girl, I was so excited when Moody Publishers asked me to review Hannah Farver’s new release, Uncompromising:  A Heart Claimed by a Radical Love.

Hannah, a freshman at Patrick Henry College who loves Jesus passionately, shares in this book about why it is so important for girls today to KNOW Jesus in a personal way and have their deepest needs met by a personal relationship with Him.

The book deals with everything from purity to modesty to friendship to self-esteem.  Hannah shares her own struggles as well as the struggles of several of her friends as she journeys through issues that every girl faces in the world today. Discussion questions are provided at the end of the book which correlate with each chapter making it a perfect option for a small group Bible study.

I am planning to read the book with Olivia this summer!  And I am hoping to use it in a small group setting this fall! 

I was able to finish reading it as we were traveling through so many different states over the past several days, and I wanted to take a few minutes to let you all know what a great book it is!

I am thankful for girls like Hannah, and I am praying that Olivia can follow in her footsteps as a Christian girl with a heart that has been claimed by a radical love!

If you’re looking for a great resource to use with the girls in your church, I highly recommend checking this book out! 

Hannah’s blog can be accessed by clicking HERE.

This is a blog I want Olivia to start following!  As a mom, I can serve as a guide for Olivia but a young woman like Hannah Farver is what I long for in Olivia’s life….a true role model who can show her the love of Jesus in a way that is relevant, meaningful, and life-changing!

uncompromising book image hannahHappy reading!

heartBG2

We’re Home!!!!!!!!!!

June 22nd, 2011

 

Twenty-five and a half years ago on the night before our wedding, Tim went to see one of the Rocky movies with a bunch of his friends. I believe it was Rocky IV.

Years later when we named our first daughter Adrienne, we thought of “Yo, Adrienne!” often and remembered the Rocky movies from our high school years.

So, when we headed out for Rhode Island last week and knew we were going to go through Philadelphia we just HAD to get our photo in front of the Rocky statue! 🙂

Remember the stairs that Rocky ran in his training for the fight? 

Here they are! 

Isn’t life a lot like these stairs?

Not always an easy climb…..

But in the end well worth every drop of sweat!

I have so much to share from the trip!  The ladies in Rhode Island were precious!  Such sweet stories of God’s faithfulness on the East coast.  I am always so inspired when I fellowship with new Christian friends.  I am reminded that God is touching lives all across the world!

For today, I just wanted to say “We’re home!” and also say how much I thought of all of you each and every day and wanted so badly to be able to sit and reflect a bit with you about the day’s events, but our schedules were packed from sun up til sun down.  When I finally reached the point of bed time, I could barely keep my eyes open to read for a few minutes!

I will write more tonight or tomorrow.

As you journey through life today, even if the stairs seem steep and your goals seem unattainable, remember Paul’s great example!

Phil. 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I love you all,
heartBG2

Another Journey Begins…

June 15th, 2011

 

roadTim and I have been on a lot of different kinds of “journeys” in our 25 years of marriage.

Some fun.

Some very tough.

Some inspirational.

Some very mundane.

Some that took us many miles from home.

Some that kept us in our home traveling only through things like grief or joy.

Today our bags are packed, and we’re pulling out in about two hours for a journey from Kentucky to the East coast.

I will do my best to find wireless Internet and check in with pictures along the way. 🙂

I’m hoping to figure out how to add photos on Facebook using my IPod touch.for some reason it has been saying “unable to upload.”  So we’ll see!

I wanted to take a minute to say “I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH,” and I am thankful for the journey of life we all walk together even if it’s only through my blog.

Please keep us in your prayers….that we will have a safe trip and that our kids will be safe and enjoy their time with Mamaw!

Thankful for each of you,