Lord, awaken us…

One reason that I am so thankful God is using our family in foster care is because of the awareness it has given us. Not even just of children or families in care but it naturally exposes you to other children and families that my middle class American life might not otherwise get exposure to. That’s embarrassing to admit as a Christian but it’s true. I’ve been on short term mission trips and I’ve done community services where you go, you give, and then you leave. I get to return to my safe, comfortable lifestyle and quickly forget about what I’ve seen. Not so with fostering. Our life is woven in the brokenness of other families day in and day out.

I can not un-see.

There are daily reminders on every corner of this lifestyle that is so vastly different from mine. A lifestyle that is utterly heart breaking to me and yet to some individuals, it’s just normal. Things I consider wrong, irresponsible, neglectful, harmful, is “normal”.

I know things now that explain so much.

Like that “bad kid” in elementary school legitimately was taught from the time he was a toddler to tell people to “shut up” or “F@$& off”. In his life the people around him considered this appropriate and acceptable, sometimes even funny.

Precious little girls who have never been valued. Ever. Never in their life have they seen women being respected and treasured. Why would she assume she should value and respect herself?

Children that grow up in filthy, neglectful, drug using, abusive homes do not typically grow up to one day realize, “This isn’t normal.” From what I have seen, typically, they grow up and repeat it. I know this because I have cared for the children of those children. And the cycle continues. Some might say “They should know better,… eventually.” How could they know??? No one has ever taught them. Additionally, most of these children’s brain development and maturity has been stunted. Their age may suggest “adult” but their brain still operates as a child. (Google trauma and brain development.) Maybe they age and “know better” but they still have the coping skills of say a 9 year old.

May the Lord flood us with compassion and mercy….

I’m heavily burndened this morning. Burdened for these parents and children. Burdened for the generation after generation….. I asked God this morning, “Lord, what does it take? Lord, intercede for these children and families!!” And what His Word reminds me over and over is how He wants to…… through His church.Through us! And I know that we have got to rise up. We can’t just close our eyes and act like “Not my kids, not my problem.” If we are Christ followers, if the love of God is in us, it is TOTALLY our problem. If the love of God is truly in us, that love will compel us to MAKE IT our problem. I think of that beautiful song by Hillsong, Hosanna, it sings “break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your Kingdoms cause.” I have prayed that to God and let me tell you he has not failed to answer that. And my heart is in pieces right now,… kind of beautifully broken, as it is aligning with my Lords heart of mercy, love, compassion and grace.

I am praying that we would not shrink back. (Hebrews 10:39) I am praying that Christians all around would awaken to what God has called us to do. And I’m not saying it’s always foster care or adoption but it IS loving the helpless, the orphan, the widow, the abused, the hard to love and so on. There are so many ways God wants to use us!!! We have got to open our eyes to who is helpless. We have to quit casting our judgement on life styles and choices that we don’t even understand or know the depths of pain that caused it. We need to reach out and be willing to get messy with people. We need to sacrifice our pretty, comfortable, life of convenience and ease. And you better believe I am preaching to myself! 🙂

Pray for me. Pray for our family. I’m praying for all of you. 🙂 Pray we as Christians would wake up and be courageous enough to truly LOVE as God loves, “he who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all….” Romans 8:32

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


My struggle with church

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We didn’t go to church today. Actually, we haven’t been to church in a month. A series of events have played into this. First, we’re back to visiting churches, and have found ourselves in a very discouraging season. More on that in a moment. Then we got baby E, very early, on a Sunday morning. Then we went to Florida to celebrate the life of Jason’s sweet grandmother who passed away. And for the last 2 weeks we have had every intention of going and didn’t.

Most of you know I grew up in my daddy’s church. From age 4 to 25 I went to one church with my family and a congregation that became like family. I had friends, I had mentors, I had pseudo grandparents. I was involved in youth, went to camp and on mission trips. I was corrected and confronted about everything, from driving with my brother at 14 without a license, to wearing too low cut of shirts. I couldn’t get away with anything without someone seeing, which I realize now was a blessing, though it irritated me at the age of 16. But I always loved my church. Always. I never wanted to escape it. Even then as an immature adolescent. It was my second home, my extended family. As I grew up and matured as a Christian I began to appreciate First Baptist Lutz all the more. It’s not perfect but it’s seeking to take the gospel to all nations through various forms of ministry. Being apart of that church has helped me understand what the body of Christ should look like.

Moving to Georgia has rocked me in this area. We have struggled for 7 years to feel really connected to any church. And not just feel connected but witness the power of the Holy Spirit, alive and active within the congregation. Moving to the country, especially, has made it an even greater challenge. I don’t mean to knock on churches but we’ve been to too many where it feels more like a Christian version of a country club. Meeting on Sunday’s, preaching out of the Bible and singing Christian music doesn’t make the church truly alive in Christ. I have left churches in tears simply from feeling unwelcome and like an “outsider”. Feeling like these Christians, who don’t know me at all, could care less about the state of my soul. That’s a horrible, scary observation.

For awhile we attended a newer church, but after a couple years we felt it was simply stagnant. Through a lot of prayer and agonizing over what to do we left.

Once again, we were confronted with “What is the churches purpose?” In short, the purpose of the church is to come together, encourage, admonish and equip one another through the teaching of the Bible, prayer, and singing Psalms and spiritual songs. Then we effectively scatter through out the week taking the gospel into our community and beyond. Disciples making disciples. Essentially, one would think, you would start seeing growth and life change in the church as a byproduct of people being reached with the gospel of Jesus. Additionally, the church would engage in outreach together to further the gospel and love people like Christ loves us. (A few passages to support that description. Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:42-47, Acts 6:7, Colossians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 8:1-2)

So, we started visiting again. I was very frustrated and disappointed with our seeming unfaithfulness to a church body. That’s how it felt. I didn’t want to “church hop”. That was not my paradigm. We connected with another local church and the pastor very quickly. He was somewhat new to the area. He seemed like a strong leader, ready to pour everything he had into the community and commission us, his congregants to do the same. It seemed as though he understood the Bible and how it described the church as we did. We were excited and all in.

He was not what he seemed. We suffered a great loss under his leadership. He was let go. We were devastated. We were left with a broken, hurt, unhealthy church that we had really just started attending. We tried to hang in there. Maybe not hard enough, I don’t know. But we began visiting again.

And here we are. Visiting. With no church “home”. I’m becoming so frustrated by our situation that when Sunday rolls around it’s tempting to just want to stay home. In fact this morning I even thought “ugh, it’s raining. I don’t want to go out in that.” Never in my life has rain kept me from wanting to worship with the body of Christ. I can’t even describe how sad this makes me. Sad because I can see its effects on us spiritually. Because I’m not foolish enough to think it has no effect. It totally does. Sad because this is not what I want for my children. So yes, it pains me. Praise God it does. What a mercy from the Holy Spirit because I do not ever want to give up on the body of Christ. I do love the church. I don’t know why we’re struggling here. I’m starting to wonder if it’s us! I know we are not perfect, nor are all our desires and ideas, and I know there is no perfect church.

What we want is to be connected with authentic Christians that love God passionately, are rooted in his Word and with all their might want to live it out. And for some reason in this “Bible Belt” small town we haven’t quite found that. Fortunately I know this whole experience is not meaningless. I have a different perspective now. Mainly, I have compassion for people who are visiting, who have been hurt by the church and the ones who have faded out of church completely, and sadly a lot of people in this area have. All in all it’s been a very humbling season, which I can ALWAYS use humbling. 🙂

Maybe you’re like me. Can I just encourage you, don’t give up on the church!! Just keep going. Keep praying for God to lead you to the right body of Christ. Keep praying the church in America would have an awakening. But don’t give up and stay home. We were never meant to be lone Christians. And yes, I know we have our brothers and sisters in Christ all over and outside our local church and thank God for that. I have needed them so much to spur me on to not give up meeting with my local family in Christ. God means to work through the body of Christ, the local church. Your local church. My local church. Christ loves the church, it’s His bride. We’re called to love like Christ, so we too must love the church and never ever give up on her.

Not So New Resolution

It’s January. I love the New Year. Does anyone dislike the New Year? I mean who doesn’t love the idea of fresh, clean slates. New mercies. New season. I can’t explain why a simple change of date and month causes me to feel so invigorated but it does.

I don’t have a resolution…. I don’t even have a word this year (or last year apparently!) I do have scripture though. God plopped me down in Ephesians and for a little over a week has basically said, “Stay put.” It started with Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.” I began refreshing my mind with this passage. Asking questions like “What IS unwholesome talk?” “What would or would not benefit those who listen?” And getting tough, convicting responses from the Lord.

One of the most memorable sermons I have ever listened to is one John Piper preached entitled, Make Your Mouth a Means of Grace. That pretty much sums it up. In any and every situation I want to ask myself “Is my mouth a means of grace?” “Am I imparting grace to the people around me?” It makes perfect sense for Paul to continue in that chapter with these words, verse 31 and 32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Jesus taught that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,….” Matthew‬ ‭15:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Whatever we are holding onto in our heart is going to determine whether our mouth can be an instrument of grace. So that got me thinking…. when my mouth is NOT being a means of grace, what is the sin I’m holding onto? Is it resentment, a sense of entitlement, impatience, or unforgiveness? When my words are tender, humble, and loving, it’s because my desire is to love and honor Jesus. And when my words are uplifting, beneficial, and gracious, you can trace it directly back to Who is on the throne of my heart. But when my words are ugly, negative, harsh, or sarcastic it’s not a reflection of my love for Jesus, it’s just me unyielded to the Holy Spirit. This has been a powerful time, meditating on Gods Word and doing my own heart check. God has made me keenly aware of how desensitized I can become to my own sin, justifying these “little” grievances that are detestable to him. Bitterness, greed, resentment, envy, slander, etc. can infiltrate our hearts slowly and subtly and really begin to wreak havoc on our spiritual life and relationships. As I began reading these verses, fully aware that I’m not immune against these sins, I asked God to bring it all to light. Sometimes we have to pray that so we can confess and repent and truly “rid” ourselves of it all.

Bring it to light, Lord.

This morning I honed in on the beginning of Ephesians 4, verses 2 and 3, “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Does that not just knock you out of your chair? Thats a pretty heavy commission for us! I mean, every day I have to fight the inclination to be the antithesis of that passage. I love the people in my life but the fact is relationships are hard. If we’re honest, people we love can be annoying and hard to love sometimes. I know I can be!! My sinful knee jerk reaction to frustrating situations is anger. I get hot, physically, and my chest gets tight with angry feelings. And then if it doesn’t get dealt with properly I might just get bitter or resentful. You can usually tell this by whatever comes out of my mouth and it’s not grace. But I want to speak grace and life. In joyous times, in the mundane times, and in the uncomfortable, hard confrontations I want my heart to be right with God and my words to “build others up, so it may benefit those who listen”.

God didn’t put all this in his Word to make us despairing, feeling as though we can not possibly do this. He put it there because through Christ we are more than conquerors. I have experienced how powerful it is to pray through these passages. I have felt a complete shift in my attitude, outlook, and speech when I apply these truths to whatever is going on in my day. Be humble. Be patient. Bear with one another. According to their needs. Keep the unity. Don’t grieve the Spirit of God. Filtering my thoughts through those truths is the key. It also takes a lot of diligence! But God is faithful when we actively put our trust and heart in his hands. And it is life giving when we live according to his Word!

I’ll close with this because our heart, mind, and mouth are all connected. What we put in our mind nourishes our heart and soul. This year, as every year, I pray I would put more and more of the precious, life giving Word of God before me.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:4-8 NIV‬‬

Hope of the World

Today we began decorating for Jesus Birthday. And can I just say, I really hate not getting to share pictures of all our current family members. 😩 It almost feels wrong picking over the photos of our cute little munchkins, like I’m leaving them out. But, rules are rules.

Little babies teensy little hand

Big babies chunky foot 🙂

This Advent season I am reading through John Piper’s devotional The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. You can download it for free from Desiring God’s website. Today’s devotional is entitled Why Christmas Happened and the scripture used is 1 John 3:5, 8 “And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him…..The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”

Before John Piper even goes on to tell me “Make this personal and love Him for it” I already am. Not only do I love Him for coming and taking away my sin but I love Him so much for destroying the works of the devil. Works like anger, hatred, addictions, abuse, rebellion, and specifically works like broken families and children in foster care. I have felt hopeless for our boys being reunited with healthy parents. I have felt concerned at the thought of them going to another family member. I have felt confused not knowing if, given the opportunity, we should adopt them. I have felt unsure about their stability in life.

And then He came.

“”Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations……And his name will be the hope of all the world.”” Matthew‬ ‭12:18, 21‬ ‭

His name will be the hope these boys need.

His name is the hope their parents need.

His name will be the hope of all the world.

I am so thankful for Christmas. Every year we get to take time to focus on and have our perspectives refreshed on why Jesus came and what that means for us.

For me this year it means I don’t need to feel hopeless for these two baby boys and their family. God has clearly intervened on their lives and allowed us to play a role and no matter what happens I can trust our time is not meaningless. Because Jesus came I have hope that God is at work even if I can’t see or understand from my limited perspective.

Jesus came to take away sin. My sin. Their sin. Your sin. 

I pray this Christmas this truth resonates deeper in our hearts than it did the last. I pray we would understand the magnitude of Jesus coming and that it would strengthen weak faith, give hope to the hopeless, bring light to those living in dark, call home those who have walked away, and bring people from death to life. I pray with the deepest gratitude in our hearts we would celebrate our Rescuer and King, the Hope of the world.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9-10‬

Sorrowful Saturday

They were human.

As we’ve been intentionally reflecting on Holy Week and the accounts of the days leading up to the Resurrection, I’m reminded once again of how human the disciples and Jesus are. They were real people with real feelings.

I went back to John this morning and read chapter sixteen verse sixteen through eighteen. It says, “Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.””

They didn’t know what was coming. And this is important to remember because on this day following Jesus death they would have been experiencing deep grief and utter confusion. “What just happened?”

Then there is Peter…. Facing the overwhelming despair that he denied he was a follower of Christ. Can you imagine? In your Saviors most painful hour you completely disassociate with Him and deny even knowing Him. “Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:60-62

For several years now we have chosen to watch the Passion of the Christ on Good Friday. Jesus was fully God and fully Man. But let’s be honest, we tend to think that Him being fully God took away from the human side of Him. He was sinless, but he wasn’t a robot void of human emotions. He experienced sadness and pain. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44 As The Passion gives us a visual for what Jesus went through physically and emotionally it is clear that he is very much human.

Obedience, grace and love.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Isaiah‬ ‭42:1-4‬

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬B

Knowing exactly what He would endure He yielded Himself to the Fathers will. Not only that but in the midst of excruciating pain and suffering He extended grace and forgiveness to all those that denied and persecuted Him. To us. We are the persecutors and the Peter’s. And all you have to do is read the scriptures to see how gracious Jesus is to our unbelieving and disobedient hearts. He offers forgiveness. Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”

Today I take in the death of Christ. The times I have denied him, betrayed him even. I weep bitterly along with Peter.

They were human just like me. Just like you.

But then….. tomorrow will come! His death will not be in vain.

“I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.” John‬ ‭16:20‬

Because of Jesus Christs indescribable, amazing love for us, our sins have been nailed to the cross.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭

May your sorrow turn to joy this Easter.

In His grace,

The Scrooge in me….

There are some of us that around Christmas time we feel a bit like a “Scrooge”. I was having a conversation with a friend about how excessive Christmas can seem in light of, not only the abundance we live in but also the real reason we celebrate. We struggle with buying more when everyone we know has enough. Every Christmas I fear we’re missing the point (again) because we are distracted by shopping, spending, wrapping, traveling, cooking, party hopping, gift exchanging, on and on and round and round the crazy Christmas carousel we go. “How do you stop the madness?!”, I wonder. The Scrooge in me wants to cry out “That’s it! No more presents! We don’t need one more item, one more gift card…..” (Quite frankly, I’m tired of storing and cleaning all this STUFF.) Yet the Spirit of God in me says, “Calm down dear daughter. I am the Giver and I delight in giving good gifts. It’s why I sent my Son.”

Here are a couple things the Lord has reminded me about gift giving around this time of year:

1.) Think about who you’re giving to and where they are at in their relationship with Christ. Do they even have relationship with Christ?
2.) Will not giving gifts to others represent Christ well? Will they understand where you are coming from? There is a place for moderating our giving but it may be reserved for those closest to us, in our home, who know our motives and are joined with us in them.
3.) It’s not about you. God may be impressing and revealing things to us that others are not able to see yet. Don’t let legalism creep in and snatch your opportunity to generously love someone closer to Christ.

With all that being said I want to share with you a couple ways that you can give gifts AND be intentional with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Consider them gifts with a greater purpose.

Christian books are always a great gift, in my book 😉 pun intended. Butter your reader up to their new literature with a 10 dollar Starbucks card. Can’t hurt 🙂 I highly recommend anything by Francis Chan, he spans generations with Crazy Love and Forgotten God and also has one specifically for married couples, You and Me Forever. I’ve read them all and they are solid. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman is good, as is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I am in the middle of reading Radical by David Platt and plan to make it a Christmas gift myself. 🙂 If you are uncertain about a book ask someone who is mature in their faith that you can trust to point you in the right direction. Just because it’s in the Christian section of Barnes and Noble doesn’t mean it’s Christ exalting.

A good study Bible from Christianbook.com would be a most excellent gift for someone new in their faith journey. If in your budget have it imprinted with their name to make it extra special 🙂 I know Bibles can be expensive but honestly,….. can you even put a price on the Word of God? I don’t think so.

Katie Davis Majors is the author of Kisses from Katie and founder of Amazima ministries. You can learn more about her through the website. This *link* will take you to the store where you will find handmade items that benefit and empower women and children in Uganda through the ministry of Amazima. I recently purchased an Alice bracelet. Not only do the proceeds serve a greater purpose but consider the story behind the bracelet when it’s worn and how that in itself can point others to Jesus. Win Win 🙂 Not to mention it’s very cute!

You can find gift items at other places, Lifeway is one suggestion, where the proceeds benefit foreign missions or a specific cause. We just have to be intentional in finding these kinds of gifts.

So for those of us who struggle with the Scrooge complex…… let us overcome it with joyful, godly, prayerful and purposeful giving.