Monthly Archives

July 2008



~This post was written in pieces over the past few days.  It was really emotional for me, and I could not do it all at once.  The Lord beckoned me back to it until it was finished, and I am so glad He did…it was good for my soul to be near Him in these moments…thank you, Lord.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a woman who is a photographer, and she wanted to let me know that she had decided to do an “auction” in honor of Audrey. The top bidder would receive a session with her.  I was so honored, and I immediately went to her website to check out her work. I have a life-long love for photography, and I am a little bit (ok, a lot) picky about what I like.  Well, let me say this.  I loved her work. I sat for at least a half an hour, oohing and aahing at each shot, just to jump to the next and start it all over again.  I decided that my favorite was a beautiful image of a little girl blowing a dandelion, and you can see all of the little fuzzies as they float away from her.  That’s it, I thought.  She captured life.  More on this a little later…

I have a Bible Study on Tuesday mornings with an amazing woman of God (Ms. Nancy Dunn at Forest Hills Baptist Church here in Nashville…9:30 a.m. if you are local and want to join us!). Every time I am there, in the presence of other women of God, I come away refreshed and encouraged, and yesterday was no exception.  On the way out of church, Kate had run into the grass by the car while Abby and Ellie were buckling themselves in, and I turned to Kate and told her to run to me and I would pick her up.  Her eyes lit up and she took off full-force toward my open arms.  I lifted her way above my head and kissed her sweet cheeks on the way down. As I put her into her car seat, Ellie said to me,

“Know what, mommy? I really wish I had a camera, because that was a beautiful picture you just made.”
It caught me off guard, because I didn’t even realize she could see me from where she was sitting.  
“You think so, honey? Well let’s just blink our eyes and keep that one in our heads, then.”  
I smiled at my 3 sweet daughters, and then Ellie and I looked at each other and blinked our eyes…another moment captured and held as a precious memory.
On the way home, I was thinking about what she said and I realized that I see the world in photographs.  I love to take pictures, and I suppose my mind has incorporated a little camera that allows me to freeze moments and store them away.  Last week I was driving to the pool, and to get there I have to pass under these amazing trees that make a canopy over the road, only allowing bits and pieces of light to pass through.  It was beautiful. 
I thought about the way it was when I saw Audrey for the first time, red hair and those sweet rosebud lips.  No crying, but there was breath in her, there was life to be lived… I am so glad to meet you, sweet girl…stay with me for awhile…
After a hard day of school as a teenager, my dad took me out in his old-fashioned convertible to talk and make sure I was okay.  We drove to this field in the middle of nowhere that he had found a few weeks earlier.  It was amazing, because as soon as the lights went off in the car, what seemed like millions of fireflies danced around us.  I was completely mesmerized, and as the hot September night soaked into our skin, we watched them light up the night, and I felt like God spoke to me.  It is one of the earliest recollections I have of feeling His presence, and to this day, whenever I see fireflies, I remember the way the old leather seats smelled when my father loved me enough to show me that life is beautiful even when it hurts.
Me, in a veil I had dreamed of wearing my entire life, and a church full of people who were celebrating the way we loved each other.  I was so nervous because I was sure I would trip and fall, but then the huge wooden doors swung open and I saw him, and I wanted to run to the end of the aisle.
“It is very possible that your daughters will not survive. Now is the time to start praying.”
“4 pounds, 11 ounces, and the other is 3 pounds, 11 ounces! They are here and they are healthy!”
Kate recites her Bible verse from yesterday (A soft answer turns away wrath…thank you, Ms. Nancy’s class ladies!!!) as “A soft answer turns away the rats.” I spit my coke out all over the car and tell her she is brilliant and that I love her for being exactly who she is. This morning, she was acting up and using a less than desirable tone with her sister, and I asked her if she remembered the scripture I had taught her yesterday.  She nodded yes.  I asked her to say it to me.  She replied, “I think the Bible says I am going to time out.” This time it was coffee.
Abby, in the backseat of the car, eyes closed and hands in the air, worshiping with the music as she has seen me do a thousand times before. 
“Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief…
Todd surprises me at our wedding with a song he wrote for me.  It is called “After the Rain,” (seriously) and it tells the story of how he knew he was supposed to marry me one day when he prayed during a thunderstorm, and moments later it just stopped with no warning.  
My brother-in-law Greg calls, and tells me he went to play golf.  He says he cried on the way home because he realized he will never play golf with his son Luke.  I never mention the conversation to anyone, but the next day, Ellie draws a picture of Audrey and Luke.  She says they are playing in heaven.  I look closer and see something I have never seen her draw (because as far as I know, she has never heard of the game), and I ask her what they are playing. “Golf.” she says, and skips out of the room…
These moments, and millions of others, engraved in the beautiful book I am making in my head.  As I drove home, the Lord spoke to me, and I want to share with you what He said, because it is not an exaggeration to say that I believe it has changed my life.
Angie, sweet daughter of mine.  You know, I do the same with you…every day, every hour, every moment. .. 


I was speechless as my spirit understood what He was saying to me.  Not necessarily in words, audibly, but it was as if I knew something profound I had never known before, and I knew God had imparted it to me. 
I have choices, every second of the day, to serve my Lord.  To honor Him with my speech and with my thoughts, with the way I love those around me and the way I worship Him. Every moment, there is another opportunity, and I want to use as many of them as He will allow. In fact, Scripture tells me that one day I will stand before Him, and I will (symbolically) hand the King of all Kings a tattered scrapbook of my days.  It is up to me to decide what the pages will reveal.
I was washing the dishes last night and thinking about what the Lord had said to me, and I heard the girls fighting. I raised my voice more than I meant to, and I thought to myself, “Wow. I don’t look like myself in that one. Let me try that again.” I apologized to them for my tone and let my hands drift into the hot water.  Now that one felt better for me too, Lord.  
There are many, many pages I want to rip up and hide…maybe you do too. But that shouldn’t consume me.  Rather, I want to focus on the beauty of this gift that the Lord has given.
It is the gift of this breath, this moment, this photograph.  My offering, captured.
We need not dwell on the things we wish we had done differently, nor should we even give too much thought to what the future will look like.  We need not worry about the pages, but rather this very simple fact.
I have this moment. Right now. And I want to make it good.
I am sitting cross-legged in an old chair, pouring out my heart to you, because above every other thing I can think of, I want these words to be a beautiful photograph for the Lord I love.
In a few minutes, I will go find my children their dresses and we will go to a cook-out with friends.  As I snap their sandals and brush their hair, I will tell them how I love them and how grateful I am to be their mommy.
Todd just came in to tell me about something he is reading and I nodded absent-mindedly as my thoughts drifted everywhere but his voice.  No, I thought, I don’t want it to look like that. I want to love deeply, and have him know that I care about what he cares about.  I want to show him that I am here to listen, and that he matters to me. 
I met a woman who does not know about Jesus. She is broken, bruised, hurt, alone.  I want to show her the way He loves her, to inspire her to let me into the places she runs from. I want to make His name known. I want my life to be lifted up to Him, offered to Him, spilled out for Him…
“She is gone…”
A crown of thorns, piercing his sweat-drenched brow…oh, my sweet Savior…
You refused the bitter wine but drank deep of the cup that would not pass. 
I see you there, Lord, and I will not turn from You.  Not in my joy, not in my agony, not ever. Not ever. I will remember the scars, and the gracious Love that the world could not believe…
Oh, my Jesus…speak to us through your Word…
…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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you…Philippians 4:8-9

I have always loved this verse, and I have been meditating on it for the past few days.  I hope you are blessed and encouraged by it tonight…
As for the photographer I mentioned? Her name is Amy, and her business is called “Images of Grace.” (And no, I don’t think that’s a coincidence:)
I came home from church on Sunday (after the message on Providence), and was trying to trust God with my fears.  I opened my email and saw a message from Amy, saying that the bidding had ended.  I cried and cried when I saw the amount, because it answered an unspoken prayer request that Todd and I have had for weeks (almost to the dollar!).  Thank you, Rachel.  You were most certainly used by the Holy Spirit, and I am still speechless, because it was a confirmation of something I have known for years, but love to be reminded of…
I’m still here, Angie.  Tucked away behind this trusty old camera.  Now remember, you have this moment, child… That’s it, turn your head a little more toward me…Do you trust me? A little more toward me…there…perfect…



***Link added!***  If you would like to hear the entire service I refer to in this post, click here and meet my wonderful pastor, Scott Patty.  It’s the one called “Providence” and it’s free!!!!Just click on the mp3 button to download… Your comments and emails have been a source of great strength to me this week, and PRAISE GOD I am doing really well without my meds, and having absolutely no side effects…it is miraculous!!!! Thank you for your encouragement and continued prayers…I’ll be back here soon…I feel a post brewing…:) Have a great day!

I woke up yesterday morning with fear darting through my body like electric current.  I couldn’t move, and my heart was beating so hard I could hardly find my breath.  Gasping, trembling, consuming fear.  I closed my eyes and prayed for the Lord to be near to me, nearer than the terror.  I was paralyzed as I cried out to Him, and as much as I wanted to, I could not put my feet on the floor. After a few minutes, I felt like He told me to stand up and start the day.  I was crying, shaking my head, begging my legs to get me to the shower, where I would try to figure out how to get my clothes and makeup on for church.

For several years, I have taken anti-anxiety medication to help me with moments like these. Last weekend, through a series of events, I felt that the Lord was telling me that it was time to stop taking it (I am not a doctor, and I am by no means trying to give advice on starting/stopping medication, I am just telling my story). I was nervous about the timing, but I was certain He had spoken, and therefore confident that He would be my strength.  This morning felt like more than I could handle, and I began to chase my thoughts through the dark corridors.  
As we sat down for church, I noticed that the name of the sermon was “Providence.”  I felt my body start to settle into the pew as our Pastor opened in prayer.  I love to be in the house of the Lord, where His peace settles upon me in the most profound ways.  I cried my way through worship, each song tugging me closer to the feet of my sweet Lord.  The message was about the birth of Moses.  It is found in Exodus, chapters 1 & 2.  If you have a Bible, you should read the story, and if you don’t have a Bible (and you want one), than you should email me:)
Moses was born to a Hebrew woman during the rule of cruel king who demanded that all Hebrew boys be put to death when they were born.  The midwives who delivered Moses “feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt told them to do…Exodus 1:17”  And so Moses’ mother Jochebed (one of the top contenders for “favorite baby names” this year, I’m pretty sure) kept him with her for about 3 months and then when she could hide him no longer, she put him in a papyrus basket and placed it among the reeds in the Nile river.  
Moses’ sister watched as her brother drifted out farther and farther.  At the same time, Pharoah’s daughter was bathing with her handmaidens in the Nile, and she heard a small cry. She saw the baby in the basket and despite her father’s wishes, she did nothing to harm him. Instead, she sent her handmaiden to fetch the baby, and at that moment, Moses’ sister stepped out from where she had been watching and asked Pharoah’s daughter if she should go find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby.  Pharoah’s daughter tells her that she will pay the girl if she does, and the girl goes to get her mother (if you are following this little synopsis, you will realize that this is also the mother of baby Moses).  After she has weaned the boy, he is brought back to Pharoah’s daughter,who raises him as her son.  She names him Moses, which means “drawn out of the water.”  That is how this baby boy, the Hebrew who should have been killed at birth, becomes royalty.  My sister in law Nicol told me she once heard someone say, “she put him in the river a slave, and he was brought out of the water a prince.”  His mother believed in listening to the voice of God, and I am sure that as she set the basket in the water, tears streamed down her face as she wondered if she would ever see him again.  Out of her hands, into the water.  This is the face of obedience, and a most powerful image of trust.    
Moses, as many of you know, would one day lead his people out of slavery and through the parted waters.  He would be a beacon of light for God’s people, and a man who lived his life walking alongside the Lord.  He sought the Lord as a friend, and God spoke to him through many trials throughout the years.  The book of Exodus records many of his “wilderness wanderings” with the Israelites, and one of my favorite scriptures comes from Exodus 14:14, where the Israelites are complaining about their journey. Moses says to them, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still…”
Many, many times during my pregnancy with Audrey, I would recall this verse, and rest in knowing that my God, my strong-tower, my Jesus is in battle for me. I need only to be still. I could talk about Moses all day long, but you will get more from reading it for yourself. Exodus is one of those books in the Bible that people don’t naturally think about reading because it is in the Old Testament and it can seem far-removed from where we are in life now.  Don’t be intimidated…open up and read, and ask the Lord, as Moses did, to “Show me your glory(Exodus 33:18).  He will bless you as you walk alongside Moses, through the desert and right up to the Promised Land.  
One of the great twists in the story of Moses is that God never let him enter the Promised land he worked so hard to get to.  This particular story makes me cry when I read it (although, that’s not necessarily saying much…I cried when I saw “Cars” for the first time.  Yes, the cartoon.). Moses is standing at the edge of the land he has spent most of his life trying to enter, and the Lord says to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it…” Exodus 34:4

This tiny baby, drawn out of the water to be used by our Lord.  He was rescued because God had great things planned for him.  The providence of the Lord allowed the midwives to protect him, ordained that Pharoah’s daughter would be bathing at that exact time, filled his lungs with a cry that would bring her to him, made sure Moses’ sister was near enough to come up with a “plan….” It was beautiful to see them in my minds-eye, as the Lord orchestrated the rescue of Moses.  Beautiful, but painful, because I am not one of those mothers. My mind was screaming these words…
Where were you when my nephew was sleeping in his bed, moments away from his last breath?
Where, oh great providence of God, were you when my daughter’s kidneys began to fail?

I was there, in the river, basket in hand.  Where were you Lord?
I could feel the anger rising up in me as I listened, wondering why the God of the reeds, the God of papyrus, the God of Moses chose something different for my family. My heart was bursting from within me, and the tears were hot on my cheeks.
I wrestled for a good part of the afternoon with my hurt.  Sometimes I think it’s harder to believe the way I do, because I believe with everything in me that He could have changed the story.  This line of thinking inevitably brings me to the question, “Why didn’t He?”  Many people have written with the same question, and I want to tell you that I have thought it through many times, and I have come up with a great theological explanation that I want to share with you.
I have absolutely no idea.
What I do know is this.
The Lord walks beside me as He walked beside Moses, and He knows me by name.  He loves me, and I love Him.  I pushed my baby through the reeds and never saw her again.  And yet, here I am, worshipping the God who allowed it.
I know.  It appears to be an unbalanced courtship.  
I want you to know that as I type these words I am sitting in Starbucks, crying my eyes out, begging God to move my fingers and convey where my heart is resting now.  While I was sitting in church yesterday, I found a page of notes I had taken when I was reading the book “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ” by Madame Guyon a few years ago, and I saw this quote.
“Love, then do what you please…” (St. Augustine)
I am not ashamed to say that I believe the Gospel is true.  I believe that He died for me, that He knows the number of hairs on my head, and that He keeps my tears in a bottle.  I believe there was a real man named Moses, and that the Lord really parted the waters.  I believe in the scarred hands and feet. I believe in the providence of God, even when it feels contrary to what my heart desires.
I have seen the way my Audrey has brought people to the cross.  I have seen the way she has impacted my own life, and the lives of people I may never meet.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want her back, or that I never hurt or doubt.  I do. Every single day.
Scripture says that the Lord Himself buried Moses, and to this day, nobody knows exactly where his body lies.  We do not know what Moses said to God as he breathed his last breath, but we know that he fulfilled his purpose on this earth.  
In his case, it was 120 years.  In Audrey’s, it was less.
I have written more than I meant to, and if you have made it this far, I want to encourage you in your walk today.  He has not abandoned us.  He is the God of the River, the God of broken dreams and crushed spirits, the God of Moses, the God of you.  He is trustworthy, and my prayer for you today is that you will press into Jesus as the words spill like broken perfume through the pain…
Love, then do what you please.
Beth Moore, Book Recommendation, Faith

Family and Books

***Update***Just wanted to let you all know that Lifeway (Christian bookstore chain) is having a sale, and several of the books I mentioned are on sale until the 26th.  The Jesus Storybook Bible is only $8.50 and the Henrietta Mears book (What the Bible is all about Bible Handbook) is 50% off, so it’s $8.99.  I think it’s the best of it’s kind, so if you are wanting to dig into scripture, this is a great place to start!!!! You can do it!!!

Also, I am so excited about the Bible Study.  I will post more when I have a better idea of the details, but I am sad to say I don’t think we will all be able to squeeze into my house, so I am looking into a few locations that might let us borrow space.  Please pray that we can find a good spot/time that works well for everyone.  I also wanted to let you know that we are going to be doing “Stepping Up” by Beth Moore, and I am working on figuring out a way to include all of you who are interested in joining us.  I am praying through details, so please join me in asking the Lord to bless the “planning.”  I am so, so excited to share this time with you.  I will keep you posted…in the meantime, head over to Lifeway and get some good deals!!!
Hi all!  I hope you are well.  The past few days have been really busy (in a good way), so I haven’t had a chance to post.  Nicol, Greg and Summer are in town, as well as Todd’s brother Jack, his wife Molly, their kids Bella and Jackson, and my in-laws.  I love a house packed with family, and it has been amazing to just spend time together…we are so incredibly blessed to have each other.

I have been praying for the past few weeks about this, and I am really excited to mention it here and see what God has in store.  I am thinking about starting a Bible study (probably Beth Moore but I haven’t decided for sure) and I would love to invite you to be a part of it. We will meet at my house, either every week or every other week depending on what is good for everyone.  If you are interested (and live in Nashville!), please email me at and put “Bible Study” in the subject line.  I would love the chance to fellowship with you, and would consider it an honor to share some time with you as we seek the Lord together. I am thinking that maybe a group of 15 would be a good size…let me know if you would like to come:) If you are not a believer, but would like to learn more about Christianity, please know that I would LOVE to have you.  I am so looking forward to connecting with you…
Also, I wanted to let you know that Danielle’s Blogs are on sale through the end of the month, so if you are thinking of making over your blog, now’s the time! I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed working with her, and I know you will too. 
And finally (sorry this post is all over the place…it’s late and my brain is tired:)), I am going to pass along this list of some of my favorite books.  Many of them have been instrumental in shaping my faith-walk, and I would love for you to have the opportunity to soak in the wisdom they have to offer.  I categorized them based on several emails I have received, and I hope this is helpful to you.  I have vivid memories of standing in a train station bookstore with my dad in Japan and fanning books from cover to cover in front of my face so I could smell the pages.  I haven’t changed much:)  I am praying you will be as inspired as I have been by these amazing books…may you yearn for the face of the Lord as you read.
I usually read from the NIV
The Bible in 90 Days (Cooper)…this is the NIV version, but broken down into sections so that you read the whole Bible in 90 days…this is how I finally read the whole thing!
Bible Commentaries:
Believer’s Bible Commentary (MacDonald)
NIV Commentary (Bruce)
I would also recommend a Hebrew/Greek Lexicon-this will give you the meaning of the original words used in scripture…so interesting and helpful for study.
It’s also good to have a concordance (I use Strong’s) to look up/cross-reference words you find in scripture. 
Learning the Bible:
What the Bible is All About (Mears) LOVE this book!!!! It is big, but it is really good. 
The Bare Bones Bible Handbook (George) Good beginner book.
How to Study Your Bible (Arthur)
Praying God’s Word (Moore)  Broken down by topic (depression, anxiety, unforgiveness, despair etc), this helps you find scriptures related to different strongholds.
Intimacy With Christ (Guyon)
Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (Guyon)
The Seeking Heart (Fenelon)
The Valley of Vision…a collection of Puritan Prayers
General Christian:
The Hiding Place (Ten Boom)
The Ragamuffin Gospel (Manning)
Sabbath (Muller)
Connecting (Crabb)
Prayer (Foster)
Celebration of Discipline (Foster)
The Sacred Romance (Curtis & Eldridge)
Wild at Heart (Eldridge)…for men
What’s So Amazing About Grace (Yancey)
The Pursuit of God (Tozer)
Desiring God (Piper)
Same Kind of Different as Me (Hall & Moore)
Blue Like Jazz (Miller)
Your God Is Too Safe (Buchanan)
Mere Christianity (Lewis)
Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)
Daily Devotionals:
My Utmost for His Highest (Chambers)
A Diary of Private Prayer (Baillie)
Streams in the Desert (Cowman & Reimann)
Bible Studies:
Anything by Beth Moore…my favorites are The Patriarchs and Breaking Free, but all the ones I have done are amazing.
Anything by Priscilla Shirer…she is also ridiculous.
Women Gifted for Ministry (Towns)  
Grace Based Parenting (Kimmel)
Parenting the Way God Parents (Koonce)
Easy Homeschooling Techniques (Curry)
Children of Character I (Freeman)
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart:
I will tell of all your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name,
O most High.
Psalm 9:1-2
Have a great night…I will write again soon.
Jessica Turner

Elias is on his way!!!

***7/13 update***Everyone is doing great…I haven’t downloaded my photos yet, so if you want to meet Elias, please go to Jessica’s blog…they have posted several videos and pictures of the sweet pumpkin pie.  We are going to head over this evening with the girls, so hopefully I will get some more photos then.  I just wanted to thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement while Jess was in labor/delivering.  I know I don’t know all of your faces, but you have been my friends for months, and I am so glad you walked this with us as well.  I am grateful for you…each of you.  I can’t wait to squeeze your necks in person one day and tell you what you have meant to me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

***Elias is here!!!!*** He was born at 5:03 am and weighed 8.36 pounds…he is absolutely adorable. We are all exhausted but just so grateful that he is here and that he is healthy. Jessica is doing well. We are trying to decide who he looks like, but we aren’t sure yet. Thank you so much for your prayers during the night…I will post photos after I get a good nap:)

***12:00 a.m. update*** Jess got an epidural and she is resting..she was on a really high dose of pitocin, and just was not progressing. It was really, really bad pain…she was UNREAL. We are so proud of her hard work, and she is comfortable right now, which we are so grateful for. If you are still awake, please keep praying for her. It is going to be a long night but we are so excited to meet him!!! Come on Elias!!!

***10:40 update*** no baby, not progressing much…wow, jess is amazing. please keep praying…she is in so much pain but she is so determined.
please pray for:
-her headaches
-her labor to progress
-no more medical intervention unless totally necessary for hers/elias’ sake
-her pain level
-pockets of rest
-a baby to come soon!!!!!!
thank you so much for your comments…we are reading them and they are encouraging to all here…i will keep you updated after she is checked again in the next little bit…
(original post below)

Sort of.

My friend Jessica was admitted to the hospital last night to have her sweet baby boy. I got a call at 5:30 am and headed over. She is not progressing as fast as she was hoping, so I am going to ask for your prayer for her labor. She is going naturally (like me…uummm, not really. I asked for the epidural when I hit the 7 month mark. I was willing to drag that thing around for two months if it meant no pain…..:)). Jess is a TROOPER. Here’s the quick version. They had to induce because she had developed hypertension as well as pre-eclampsia. She got into the hospital around 7 and they didn’t get a room for her for two and a half hours. She had to have her IV placed 4 times before it was successful, and then after a few more not so pleasant moments (involving faulty catheters), she got about an hour’s worth of sleep. She was wanting as little intervention as possible, and unfortunately they have had do give her pitocin and magnesium sulfate. It’s not fun stuff. She hasn’t been checked in the last few hours, but at last check she was only 4-5 cm. She has a really bad migraine right now, and it is so hard to see her hurting so much. Her contractions are only coming every 7-8 minutes now…
I am one of her birthing coaches, so I am here for the long haul tonight and I will keep you posted as there are updates. She and her husband Matthew are also posting on their blogs if you want to check in there for updates. If you are new to my blog, Jessica is the friend that kept you all updated while I was having Audrey.
Please pray for her labor, for her husband, and for me as we support her today.
More to come…
Thanks for “being here” with us…you are so appreciated.