Thursday, September 7, 2017

Arkansas Adventure Part 2-The Dirt Road


Hi friends! Welcome back. 

This is Part 2 of Arkansas Adventure. To catch up with what's going on, visit my post from August 24th here: Counting the Days...and hours

Today I'm sharing a poem I wrote that was inspired by the dirt road running in front of my grandparents' old rock house in Mt. Ida, Arkansas. 

Stay tuned for the last part of Arkansas Adventure that I promise will take you back in time when life was less complicated and moved at a slower pace.

Until then, I invite you to wander the nearest dirt road for what I call "dirt-road therapy".
Very few people and cars pass by,
This long winding passage under the sky.
Its quiet seclusion gives relief and rest,
From the stresses of life’s daily test.
Lined with wild flowers, grass and weeds,
They welcoming flow in the gentle breeze.
There was a time when this 
scene wasn’t so rare, 
and wandering the dirt road 
was common fare.
These days this pleasure is 
only a daydream,
While urbanization grows with relentless steam.
More effort and time is required to discover, the lost treasures on the dirt road left to uncover.
So the next time you need to escape the rat race,

Seek out the nearest dirt road to calm your busy pace.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Counting The Days...and Hours

This time next week…at exactly this time, on this day, I’ll be…

Have you ever been so excited about an event that you count the days and hours until it happens?

A road trip. That beach vacation. Your wedding day. Birth of a baby?

And when the event comes and goes, in remembrance of the special occasion, you say to yourself…”this time last week, I was…” and then you sigh, longing to be back in that time.

That’s me today.

I’ve been counting the weeks and days ever since plans were made six weeks ago.

Last month, my husband and I were traveling home on Interstate 20 east from Mississippi to Georgia. My dad lives in Mississippi and we’d gone to attend my Uncle Don’s funeral. My dad is the youngest of seven, at 82 years young. He has one surviving brother, Uncle Bob, who lives in northern Arkansas. Uncle Bob is 89, I think, and was also at his brother’s funeral.

While we were all together, Uncle Bob kept inviting me to come visit him and his wife Wilma in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The day before we all left, Uncle Bob repeatedly said, “I dare you. I dare you to come and visit us.” 

It was quite endearing, irresistible and well, don’t dare me to do something because I'm likely to accept.

My dad and all his siblings grew up in Mt. Ida, Arkansas, except for a 10-year gig in New Mexico, during the 1940’s.

Throughout my childhood, during the 1960s and early ‘70s, we visited my grandparents in this tiny Arkansas town, where they still lived in the old rock house on the hilltop of a dirt road, far off the beaten path.

We’d travel from northern Arkansas, where we lived at the time,
winding through the Ozark Mountains southward to Mt. Ida, to visit my grandparents. They must have heard the gravel and dirt road come to life, beneath our car tires, because they’d always be waiting on the porch to greet us, as my parents, my two brothers and I approached their house.

Oh, the memories! A time when life was simple and exploring the outdoors filled our days.

So, as my husband and I drove home, six weeks ago, he suggested that if I was ever going to visit my uncle in Arkansas, the time was now. That’s when plans unfolded to take my dad with us, so he could give us the grand tour of Mt. Ida, then head north to Uncle Bob’s.

The bittersweet reality is, this will most likely be the last time my dad and I will see Mt. Ida, and visit his brother in Mountain Home.

Why am I so excited about going back to Mt. Ida, Arkansas, that I’m counting the days and hours before we leave?

And why would I think it’s interesting enough to share it with you?

Well, I could use a little bit of escape and distraction from all the crazy going on today. Couldn’t you?

I’m going to take a step back in time to when kids got dirty, swam in creeks and ate grandma’s fried chicken on a river bank.

I'm also inviting my brothers and all my cousins who share the same sentiments of Grandma and Grandpa Jackson, the old rock house in Mt. Ida and all it represents, to escape their daily busyness and join me and my dad on our upcoming Arkansas Adventure 2017.

So, this time next week, the adventure begins, as we head west on Interstate 20.

Until then, let’s stay the course with this:

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children. Psalm 103:17

Love,
Terri
(Photos courtesy of Pixabay - www.pixabay.com)


Monday, July 24, 2017

Stop! Get Quiet...be still-Part 2

Welcome back friends!

If you were here yesterday, you know that today’s post is part two of Stop! Get Quiet…be still.

If you missed yesterday’s post, catch up here: Stop! Get Quiet...be still-Part I

I left you, waiting to see how God showed up in the midst of my recent unraveling.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I dreaded the long drive back home from the Florida town where my dear friend had just gone home to be with Jesus.

The days following are a blur.

The disconnection between my husband and me lingered. I continued with the usual; work, keeping grandbabies, ministry, the rush of life, while numerous volunteer needs at church continually beckoned me.

I’ve always struggled with saying “yes” when I should say “no”. Saying yes to doing good things isn’t always God’s best.

I’d once read Lysa Terkeurst’s, The Best Yes, and realized I needed to read it again.  

If you struggle with over commitment, I encourage you to read her book. You can purchase it here: The Best Yes

Have you ever been physically exhausted and soul tired; not sooo tired, but SOUL tired, where one more thing would’ve completed the unraveling?

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. Taky My yoke upon you and learn from Me, 
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

When did rest become a luxury instead of necessity?

I hope by sharing the following steps I took to stop the unraveling, will help you if you are in a similar mess.

First, I stopped.

I stopped my volunteer stuff at church and worrying about what others thought about it. I stopped rushing everywhere, barely arriving on time.

I stopped filling the margins of leftover time with lunches and other “fun” things.

I stopped looking at my phone every five minutes. I didn’t realize how addicted I was to my phone.

I stopped asking God questions and overthinking everything.

I got quiet.

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV)

I spent time with Him; in His word, waiting to hear what He would say, rather than me doing all the talking. This calmed the constant chatter in my head. My only prayer for several weeks was, 


"Lord, that I would hear Your voice and be filled with Your spirit."

In the quiet I was able to hear Him say,


But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, 
and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by your name; You are Mine. Isaiah 43:1

I drove with the radio off most of the time. No news or music.

The more I focused on what God said, the less my thoughts clamored about how to fix and control everything.

I got still.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

Did you know it’s okay to not have to go somewhere or do something productive, every waking minute?

I sat still on our porch. No phone or tablet allowed.

Being still isn’t only a physical act, but a stillness deep within. Physical rest requires being still, but soul rest, is an inner work that only God can do.

At first I had to be intentional to not succumb to the urges that I always need to be doing something.

While being still before God, I allowed myself to mourn my friend.

Instead of fearing my son’s mental illness, I allowed myself to grieve, then relinquish him completely to his Almighty Father, and trust Him, who is able to accomplish the impossible.


...do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the 
salvation of the Lord, which He will 
accomplish for you today. Exodus 14:13

During my time out, I accepted an invitation for a short beach getaway with several girlfriends. Nothing fancy. A tiny, old block house that we filled with lots of laughter and memories.

I know not everyone can go to the beach, but maybe there’s a nearby area you can escape to for a day or even a few hours.

Jesus did.
He went out and departed to a solitary 
place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35

My husband and I departed on a long weekend getaway and reconnected.

Work and chores still needed to be done, but during these weeks I rediscovered His peace and rest.

Remember the nearby town I mentioned yesterday that I despise? When I have to go or pass through it, and a flashback invades my thoughts, I allow the memory. Then I thank God for His working it for His purpose of healing and restoration. It's ah-may-zing the power that has! I'm sure that soon I will love that old town again.


As my time-out season comes to an end, the process continues. I have a new game plan, a different strategy. I expect that in the near future, I'll be sharing some of those strategies with you.
My friend, if you're feeling the melt down coming, unraveling, freaking out, overwhelmed and exhausted, you are not alone. As I type these words, I'm praying for you. Go to the The One who will give you rest. Learn from Him. Give Him your choking yoke and replace it with His.

Then you can say with me, I know the best is yet to come.

Staying the course together,
Terri

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stop! Get Quiet...be still-Part I

Greetings to any and all who may be reading this. 

A lot has happened since my last post on Valentine's Day, 2017.

I'm sharing today about where I've been with the hope that you will be encouraged.

This post is in two parts, with the second piece coming tomorrow.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I despise that town. I stay away as much as possible.”

“Why?”

“Too many bad memories. Everywhere I go, 
I’m reminded of 19 years worth of ‘em.”

This is often my conversation with someone about a nearby town where I lived for 23 years.

Lots of good things happened there. First house, my daughter was born there, and we had great friends and was part of an amazing church family. 

While living in this town, I also experienced the betrayal of infidelity between my husband and best friend from church.

Left with my precious children, then 15-months old and six years, divorce followed. 

Foreclosure, bankruptcy.

When I ended the revolving-door of insanity with my ex and his out-of-control life, setting boundaries, things intensified with him. 

Emotional, verbal and mental abuse.

Believable threats.

Scenes in various places like those on that TV show COPS.

Living in fear. Lies. Injustices. 

These memories surface, along with apparent undealt-with brokenness, everytime I go to that town.

In spite of the bad, my relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, deepened during those years. When I thought my stretched-out faith couldn’t be stretched one more milli-speck, He would show up, which caused my faith to stretch all the more.

He lavished me with grace and forgiveness for my mistakes. He turned vision for ministry into physical reality. He called me out over deep waters to the mission field; opened doors to opportunities and experiences that I otherwise would never have had…

…if I hadn’t gone through the pain and hardship…
if I hadn’t experienced the abuse.

And at one of the lowest points in my 16th year as
a single mom, He penned, When All Seems Lost, a poem I wrote that eventually became a song.

Then I wrote a book. Two actually.

God has definitely taken the bad stuff and turned it into His good purposes. All that happened was a long time ago and sounds like I have healed and moved on to amazing things. 

While this is mostly true, the other truth is, I haven’t. Not fully. 

The rush of life, work, raising kids, and saying yes to endless volunteering opportunities, has let me unintentionally avoid dealing with painful memories. 

So where have I been these past five months, since my last blog post? Where did I go? 

I went into time out. 

I quit writing. I quit all social media venues, except one I visited occasionally. I said, “no” to every volunteer opportunity.

I quit scheduling stuff, and cramming my days with pressure to do this, do that, get IT done, get more page views, followers and comments. 

My want-to quit on me too. In a state of exhaustion, I felt the unravel begin.

Marital irritants became monumental. I began to disengage from everything important.

I questioned...
  • Will my marriage survive?
  • Will the ministry survive?
  • Has God really called me to write?
  • Did I really hear Him say......
Some days ended with me crashing in bed before dinner.

Add to that the ongoing sorrow of my son’s mental illness and estrangement, I was done.

Then in March the news came. My bestie of 25 years, mentor and sister in Christ (the one on the left) suddenly had a stroke and lay in the hospital on life support. She wasn’t going to make it.

A seven-hour drive to say goodbye, followed by her passing, left me depleted and emotionally spent. 

No doubt that my current life, compounded with past years of undealt-with hurts had caught up with me. 

All I seemed to be able to hear from God was, 


“Terri, stop! Get quiet. Be still.”
"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

"Gladly, Lord. Gladly."

My Father put me in time out. 

During my alone time with God, my prayers went from presenting requests, with stress-infused petitions, to two things:
“Lord, that I would hear Your voice, 
and be filled with Your spirit.”

Was I in trouble and needed to be disciplined? Or was my time out like those called by coaches to discuss strategy and a new game plan? I discovered it was some of both.

Meet me back here tomorrow to find out how my Rescuer, Jesus, showed up. 

If you are on the brink of quitting, hang on! If you're burned out and over committed, there's hope.

Until tomorrow, I leave you with this song: WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST

Staying the course,
Terri

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On This Valentine's Day...

Hi friends!

I've had the humble privilege of being a guest writer today on another blog and I want to share it with you.

Julie Dibble is a writer, author and speaker. Her ministry is to all women, but more specifically to police wives. She speaks at various women's events and is currently working on a book about being a Christian wife.

My story today is about how I fell deeply in love after a devastating divorce many years ago. Whatever you might be thinking, it's not what you think.

On this Valentine's Day you might be yearning for a special someone or have been disappointed by your special someone's lack of expression of love.

To find hope and encouragement, you can read my story here: I said, YES!

I pray God's increasing rich blessings of knowing Him all over you!

Staying the course by staying in love,
Terri

Monday, January 30, 2017

What is Your Passion? What do you Want?

Many years ago, when someone would ask what I wanted, or what was my passion, my answer would be a blank stare.


I had the mindset that what I wanted didn’t matter. And passion? Passion for what? I was simply trying to survive in this world as a single mom, juggling hardships and taking care of my children.

I loved the Lord. A lot! I did have passion for Him and His word. After all Jesus is the reason I survived all those hard years. So after my blank stare, my answer would always be within the broad scope of my relationship with Jesus being my passion.

I felt it was a luxury to contemplate any specifics about what I wanted or desired. Reality was what it was and to dream or think about what I wanted or what was important to me would be selfish.

I was caught in a tangled snare.

I was bound up in living the status quo, accepting financial restriction as a way of life, succumbing to physical limitations as I age, governed by impossibilities and a can’t-do mindset. 

My walk with Almighty God has grown and matured through the years, yet I’ve always felt a sense that He wants to do more.

In 1 Kings, chapter three, King Solomon asked God for a discerning heart to govern the masses. He’d witnessed God’s fulfillment of incredible promises He’d made to King David, Solomon’s father. Solomon was young and overwhelmed with his new position in life, but his faith in God exceeded any limitations he had.

Here’s how that conversation went:
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night 
in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want 
me to give you.” Solomon answered, 
“You have shown great kindness to your servant, 
my father David, because he was faithful to you and 
righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this 
great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. "Now, Lord my God, you have made 
your servant king in place of my father David. 
But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry 
out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you 
have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people 
and to distinguish between right and wrong. 1 Kings 3:5-9

God not only granted Solomon's request for wisdom, but He gave it in abundance along with great material wealth, which Solomon didn’t ask for.

As I have prayed recently for God to line my wants up with His, and to deposit His desires into my heart, while removing those that aren’t from Him, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with His answer. 

A specific passion I’ve had for many years shifted from the bottom of my 2017 goals list, up to the top three.

My lifelong weight struggles and issues with food have led me to years of research on everything from diets and weight loss, to health and wellness through natural solutions. 

I’ve tried to subdue this growing passion, thinking it was secondary to other ministries I’m involved in. I’ve never thought of it as a ministry, but now I do.
We were bought at a price and are to honor 
God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
When I revealed this passion to the Lord, as if I’d hidden it behind my back, He began connecting the dots in fulfilling a dream of a new vocation and livelihood that has endless possibilities.

He will instruct him (her) in the way chosen for him (her)…He (she) will spend his (her) days in prosperity. Psalm 25:12-13

My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will 
release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:15.
Now, when someone asks me what is my passion, I can answer with excitement and confidence that as I pursue what I want and desire, I know I’m headed in the direction that pleases my Lord.

So what about you? What is your passion?

It could be that the very struggles you’ve had in life, are the stepping stones God has placed for you to step into the way He’s chosen just for you.

Ask Him to line up your wants with His and to deposit His desires into your heart while removing the ones that aren’t from Him. Like Solomon, ask God for a discerning heart. 

I’d love to hear back from you what happens next.

Continuing the course,

Terri

Monday, January 16, 2017

When Goal-Setting Becomes a Chore

Last week I wrote about setting goals for 2017, as a guest writer on another blog. I shared how I was deeply inspired about the process of writing down our goals, and then displaying them where they're seen regularly.

Before moving on, you will want to read last week’s guest post here: Say Goodbye to Procrastination then pop back over to finish this post.

Setting goals every year has been a challenge for me. More like a failed challenge. I’d start out fast and furious, then fizzle by the end of January. Before I knew it, December was here and the end of another year of unfulfilled goals.

In case you struggle with the same thing, I’m going to tell you about where I am in the process. I hope that what I share today will encourage you to do the same thing.

I feel so strongly about this, that I plan to revisit this subject every couple of months so that we can all see where we are in our goals. 

This can provide accountability, even if it’s just for me.

Last week, I was inspired and excited as I typed out my 2017 goals.
However, I didn’t complete the last step; printing them out and displaying them where I’d see them regularly.

They stayed on my computer buried deep within my documents folder.  

Why didn’t I follow through with the last step? I could say “life happened” which is the most common excuse we all use when something doesn’t get done.

Something else happened too. This goal-setting document that I completed with such fervor was quickly falling into the memory banks in my brain, titled, Forgetfulness.

Several days ago I ran into the pastor who inspired me to write out my goals. Small talk led to the subject of goal setting and I realized I was already forgetting and moving on with my life apart from my God-inspired goals. 

I knew if I didn’t revisit this very important document, I’d find myself in the busyness of the Christmas season again, without having met any of my goals for 2017.

When I read my goals document, I realized something very important that I left out. It was something the pastor urged us to also write down.

What is it I really want? 
What is important to me?
What do I value? 

I’ve prayed and asked the Lord to line my wants and desires up with His, and lesson those desires in my heart that aren’t from Him. As I prayed this, things began to shift.

Some things that I assumed I should be doing fell to the bottom of my list, while those things at the bottom moved to the top.

This was a surprise to me. An even bigger surprise is the relief I felt; like the lifting of burdens. The burden of what I assume other’s expectations of me are. The burden of trying to push open certain doors that maybe God isn’t wanting to open. The burden of frustration I’ve felt by trying to accomplish certain goals and projects because I thought I had to.

Today I trust God’s answer to my request to line my wants and desires up with His. I can now set goals based on what I value most and on the desires God has now stirred in my heart.

As you sit down and write out your 2017 goals, I encourage you to first, get quiet and still with the Lord. Ask Him to line up your wants and desires with His. 

Let go of all preconceived notions and ideals you’ve had, and lay them down before Him. He will surely answer and clarify your priorities and goals He wants you to reach for 2017.

As He stirs your heart, and quickens desires in accordance to His will, then it’s okay to set your goals based on those desires and what's important to you.

This process has been freeing for me. I hope it will for you too. 


I invite you to share in the comments below. If you have any questions, of course, you can also contact me by email by filling the email form on the right side of this page.

As you set your goals for this coming year, may you find renewed vision and purpose, as God refreshes and fills you with His desires for your life.

…staying the course,
Terri