Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There are a million things that I wish I could write about, and they are all spinning around and around in my mind. We just finished Vacation Bible School where I taught the Bible Story for the preschoolers. That is so much fun, I did a good bit of thinking creatively and didn't have much to deliver you all a cup of cold water...I handed it out to the children! We discovered who Jesus loves, EVERYONE and it always challenges me. Jesus sets an example for us to follow on how to show love to those around us...whether we like them or not! I almost cried one day when we spoke about Jesus loving the little children. His words were, "Let the children come to me and do not hinder them." As I prayed I just asked the Lord to keep me from being a hindrance. I want to usher children, mine and anyone else's, into the loving arms of Jesus. The first day I told the story of the little children coming to Jesus. I explained that Jesus voice, when speaking to His disciples, was "loud but gentle, stern, but kind." As I was rehearsing I could barely stop crying as the reality of that came to my heart. That is the voice of God. That voice that drips with love while also being what makes the mountains tremble. For some reason as I read those words off of the page, eventhough they were my words, it pierced my heart. I love it that He speaks to His children, I know His voice and He knows my name.

Another big deal around Team Wessner's house was that my husband and I attended our first Homeschool Conference. Now, this blog is not dedicated to that, but I learned so much there. If you do not homeschool and do not want to, you can skip this paragraph, I will not quiz you. If you are going to homeschool or are kicking the tires...I listened to Jessi Wise and Susan Wise Bauer speak on a Classical Education. They wrote the book, The Well-Trained Mind and it was incredible to hear them speak. Sitting in that room, I looked at my friend and said, "I could cry." I know, that may sound crazy, it was just incredible to be in the same room with women of such wisdom, and talk about humble! She worked their table and answered questions that parents had, she even used the regular bathroom! I guess I had her on rock star status...she was one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Kelli and I even got our picture taken with her. She was so precious. I think she was surprised that we would want our picture taken with her. I just remembered what I wanted to tell y'all.

If you skipped the last paragraph, pick up here...I learned it at the conference, but I think it can apply to anyone. The first morning we were in ATL (where the conference was) I opened my Bible up and it fell to Nehemiah 2:20, "The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it." As I read the first part of that, immediately I thought of our effort to train our children as a matter of rebuilding. I was relieved when I read that the God of heaven will give us success. Now, I know that this promise was to Nehemiah and his people, but I think this applies to those of us who have committed to doing what He has called us to do. Actually the act of obedience is the success. Moving on, I wanted to read more. I loved Nehemiah's reaction when he heard that his people and their land was in such distress. He first met with God in prayer and then went to the King. He did not hold back when the King asked what he needed to be successful. Nehemiah left with the blessing of the King and before he said anything, he surveyed the land. He checked out the damage. Then, he went to the people and said, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been consumed with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will no longer be in disgrace." Then he shared how the hand of the King had been gracious toward them. Do you know what their response was? They said, "Let us start rebuilding." My heart is beating faster even as I type that.

Friends, I do not wish to be gloom and doom, but there are a few areas where the walls are crumbling and the gates have been burned by fire. A couple of weeks ago I heard Kay Arthur warn Christian women about the condition of our country. I felt like this weekend (the homeschool conference) was my application. I'm sure that if Satan had a bullseye that faith, marriage, and families would be on there somewhere...probably pretty close to the middle. We must start rebuilding. Just changing out our habits. Being more intentional in our time with our spouse, or in our conversation with our children. Just rebuilding. Aware of our family members who are far from God and reaching out to them on a regular basis...whether they like it or not. Funny thing, I just now got irritated with my husband because he was talking to me while I was doing's that for a contradiction, boy do I EVER NEED JESUS!!! He is now switching the laundry over so that I can finish this...I have spoken to enough people to know that not everyone is going to homeschool, I get that. What I'm saying is, we must rebuild.

I really believe that families that are surrendered to Jesus will change the world. I think that when parents respect their children and the children respect their parents, the watching world will take notice.

This was a random post, I'm sorry for that, but I needed to catch everyone up on where I was, so that the other posts will make sense. As I change and God works out my failures for His glory, what goes on in my head changes. So, now you are up to speed and my life is about to slow down, sort of, so check back for another cup of cold water soon. Thank you for checking in. I really wish I could personally talk with the people that read this. I would love to share thoughts and prayers...laugh and mutually encouraged by one another. Maybe one day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's a Bear!!!

Well, here he is! After over 30 hours of full on labor, Christian Matthew "Bear" Shepherd arrived at 7:01 am July 19th. He and my sister both put up quite a fight, but they had to go in after him. A c-section was performed and everyone is healthy and wonderful. As you can see he is beautiful and we are all in some kind of love. A sweet little picture of how the fatigue/drugs/surgery hit Ashley is this...she had just been wheeled back into the recovery room. Bear had not even made it into the room yet and she said, with complete earnestness, "So, do you think they'll let us take him home with us today?" HA!!! I wanted to say, "Ashley, you cannot move your legs, and won't for at least 10 aren't going ANYWHERE!!!" She is beautiful. Watching her labor was a real privilege.

I do have 3 children, but mine were all c-sections pretty much from the beginning. I've never seen God's plan in action. It was brutal. I don't have time or research to go into it, but it was a picture of what it really means to labor in the Lord and how our labor is not in vain. I saw with each excruciating contraction the fatigue on her face, but the joy set before her because she knew of her reward. She just wanted to gaze into her baby's face and tell him of her great love. The harder the contractions the more effective. Isn't that just like God? He doesn't waste a single thing. Even the pain has a purpose. That I haven't researched...I don't have scripture to confirm it...but I know it's there and I know it's true. Especially in this case.

I believe there are times that God is trying to birth something in us. The excruciating pain of obedience can be tiresome, it can cause us to weary and grow faint, but those who put their hope in the Lord will rise on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint. Ashley uttered those verses several times during her labor, she was hoping that with each labor pain she would be that much closer to her prize.

She was the one who said a c-section was in order. She could feel the baby fighting to descend and she had fought mighty hard herself, she said, "He's not in position, the only way he is coming out is by a c-section." She was right.

Sometimes we labor and labor and it doesn't go our way. However, if we are laboring in the Lord, our labor will not be in vain because our prize, our goal, is seeing Jesus face to face and hearing Him tell US of His great love.

It was hard to watch, but that reward, that sweet, sweet reward...blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a thought

This will be husband and I were listening to a sermon last night on "Biblical Motherhood" or something like that, by an amazing teacher, John Piper. After listening to him exhort mothers and share about his own mother I said, "I have got to prioritize my time with God." Mike responded, "We just need to prioritize God." That was big to me. Not just cornering 30 minutes to read and pray...everything I do...for His glory.

I said it would be quick...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary

I know you show up here to get a little something to take with you. A little giggle or a nugget of some sort. Well, this morning I'm going to tell you where my cup of cold water tends to come from. Today Mike and I celebrate 8 years of marriage.

A little history. My Junior year of college I had the privilege of joining a team and pioneering a ministy opportunity in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mike, unbeknownst to be had also taken the same opportunity. He's from Lancaster, I'm from Augusta. I was coming from Georgia College and he was coming from Valdosta State. The buzz was that some engineer quit his job to be a P.E. teacher...what a whacko! Well, as I've shared before, he won my heart over the summer. The following year we were married.

It was a struggle at first. I have told him that I married him more on a promise that he would become the husband of my dreams. I had been in a long relationship that, well, it was sort of hard to just move on. I wish I could say it was total crazy love...I knew I loved him and that God had promised good to me. I said yes with excitement and fear of the unknown. I knew that Mike loved me with every fiber of his being. I was 22 and just out of college. I had a lot to learn.

Fast forward and Mike is the promise. God was right about this man. Mike has provided me with the life of my dreams. I'm sure it might not look like much to someone else, but I spend my days doing what my heart has always desired. We are in agreement in my role as wife and mother and there is never any pressure for me to get a job. He laughs when I fall apart, knowing that I'll pull it together...and probably write about it later. He knows that women's bible study will always have a place in our life and that sometimes I'm just not going to cook.

He is my cup of cold water. He is the reason I blog. He believes that I am good at this. He has urged me several times to do more than write a Christmas letter and never balks at the time I spend on the computer when an idea just hits me and I have to get it out. He is not offended when I tell him EXACTLY what to do for our anniversary..he's thankful. He doesn't want to disappoint me, so I give a cheat sheet. Buy a card, sign your name, and write in our journal. That's it.

So, I don't wish to make any other woman struggle. I know that for many women their husband is not their cup of cold water. Marriages are under attack, we must join together and beg God to show us mercy and favor. I believe that biblical marriage can and will change the world. When men love their wives as Christ loved the church and when women respect their husbands as the head of the house. Ladies, this is different than the model of the world. God tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind. I think our marriages fit into this model. Imagine someone walking into your home and finding peace and harmony because husband and wife are in accordance with God's will. If you think for one minute you won't have an opportunity to share Christ you've got another thing coming. The lost world is watching...let's give them something to talk about.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. You are the greatest promise ever fulfilled...besides Jesus!

Note: Mike and I have screamed and yelled (have screamed and yelled, he is extremely level headed) and stayed up late duking something out. We recognize when the enemy is using us against each other and we pray like heck to be safe. I cry, he grovels...we struggle...we are all supposed to be struggling with all of His energy that works so powerfully in us. Also, a pretty intense book that I have read is called Created to be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl. This is not light reading by any stretch...she's pretty intense, but I gleaned alot from her wisdom.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This is real, this is me

This may not be a spiritual post. So, if you need spiritual...check John! I'm teasing...this has been a super tough week for me, for many reasons. I have not really had the desire to do much around the house and my heart has just plain been heavy. Today we had one of our favorite "Teams" over (if she had a blog I would link her name to her blog since I know how to do that now) and then we just sort of laid around. So, once the children were in bed I settled down with the leftover dip (Thanks was dinner!) and the remote control. I told you it wouldn't be can I be spiritual and watch my T.V.???

First I started with House Hunters. I love that show. However, it aggravates me a little bit. These people are currently living in about 550 square feet and are looking at homes that are at minimum 2,000 and they complain about the light fixtures. HELLO!!! You can all fit in the kitchen and you can't brush your teeth and pee at the same time! I'd be saying, "Where do I sign?" It just cracks me up. Tonight they were like, "Yeah, these counter tops will have to go. They aren't really our style. We'd replace them with granite." The kitchen had already been remodeled! I know, it's their own preference, it's just interesting to watch. I wonder what I would look like if someone filmed me walking around looking at homes? I wonder if you'd be able to tell where my priorities are? Do I want a huge tub to be alone in a tiled bathroom or do I want a cozy library with big huge chairs and walls LINED with books for us to eat up like chocolate truffles. Would I care what the light fixtures looked like? Probably not. I'm typically not a detail person. I would care about a guest room for our family that is out of town and a library. That's just me. Then I flipped to the Disney Channel because I was interested in "Camp Rock."

Alright...dirty little secret...I LOVE Disney Channel Original movies. I don't know why! I've tried to put my finger on it. I do not share them with my children, I do not watch them to keep up on "culture." Bottom line...I like them. I heard the Jonas Brothers the other morning on GMA and couldn't understand them and I do not like their jeans. I just don't like a guy in skinny jeans. This movie, like all teenage movies is about some kids with a dream, a girl who doesn't want anyone but herself to achieve it and the underdog who succeeds for the first time EVER! Maybe I like them because they are predictable. I know that in the end I'm going to feel good. I'm not going to think...I'm just going to giggle a bit.

I wouldn't redo much of my life. I don't mean that in a terrible way, I just mean that I feel like my life just gets better. There isn't any particular time that I would prefer. Watching these kids just makes me think about the time when I had a flat belly and perky...well, my body was different. I think about how awkward certain years were...certain phases. It's tough growing. It's even tougher when you just aren't too sure where you fit in. I struggled a little bit with that. I had super friends (still do...Hi guys!) and a typical (I think) high school experience. Well, not Disney typical. We didn't usually bust out into song at the basketball games or cafeteria. It was just plain pizza and the occasional fight.

In the movie the main guy is looking for this certain girl that he only heard at the beginning of the movie. She inspired him and made him want to sing...or had his notes...whatever. Well, the song that he heard her sing was, "This is real, this is me. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be..." She spent her entire summer lying about her mom (who worked in the cafeteria so that she could attend Disney) and was found out (also Disney) and then busted out at the end with her song. Of course the boy (a Jonas...whatever)heard her, they completed the song. I loved it. So there.

So, there I lay on my couch in my wee little house. My pajama bottoms that I've had since my second baby, my jiggly belly, a VBS t-shirt from SonTreasure Island and I should mention that both my shirt and pants have various paint colors on them from our many painting fiascoes. My hair is pulled back in Julia's silver glitter headband and I'm wearing my husbands socks. I love that song. This is REAL, this is me. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

I'm a wife to a P.E. teacher who is my favorite person to be with. I'm a mother to 3 spectacular children. I'm a sister, I'm a daughter, I'm a friend. I'm a child of God. I am an absolute mess some days, and I'm capable of pulling you out of your mess on others. Oh well. What I take in some days from either the television or the jaded blips I get of someone else's life...that's not my real. This is real. This is me. This is my portion. These are my boundary lines that have been drawn for me. This isn't only where I'm supposed to be, this is where I want to be...I choose to be.

"Whom have I in heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:5-6

I pray that wherever you are today, you will find the courage to admit and enjoy what is real and what is you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's a Girl!

Some of you may have just wet your pants. Mostly those who are not in town. Dad...breathe's Julia's baby picture! This is my first of two girls. Julia has always been, 100% girl. Just how I would want a girl. I used to tease Mike and tell him that Anson would want to sit on the bench and read books with his mom instead of playing soccer. One day Mike shot back, "Yeah, well, what if Julia doesn't want to paint her nails?" Well, that just plain hurt. I'm serious! I apologized for always raining on his parade, and he apologized for raining on mine. Julia and I paint our nails. Anson...loves to read!!!

I was shocked when Julia was born. I had geared myself up for another boy. I think I didn't want to be sad if I didn't have a daughter. I couldn't believe it! I actually told the doctor to "SHUT-UP!" She is almost 4 now. Time flies when you are having fun...or does it?

I'm not sure who said it, but it was wise. Someone looked at me with that compassionate, envious look and said, "The days are long, but the years are short." How true that was. I say compassionate and envious because this was a veteran mother. She was, in her compassion, recalling the absolutely unbearable moments of motherhood. The days when there is only vomit and diarrhea. The days when a trip to the store is not the shower is! Then, once at the store a baby cries (so YOUR milk lets down) the toddler lays on the disgustingly dirty floor and SCREAMS proving you to be inept and then someone has to pee...RIGHT NOW! She was remembering, and was compassionate. The other emotion was jealousy. Her children no longer climb up onto her lap to read "just one more Clifford book." Her children don't argue over who got to sit by Daddy at the dinner table. Her children don't stare with wide eyed wonder when the sun slips down over the Gulf of Mexico. Her children were gone, her years were shorter than she had anticipated. Good, good, advice.

This all brings me to yesterday. Being that Julia is a girl, she LOVES to wear dresses. It doesn't matter what we are doing or where we are going she wants to wear a "beautiful dress." Yesterday it wasn't anything fancy. We have our weekly playgroup and yesterday we were going to Chick-fil-A where if you dressed like a cow you got free chicken. That, my friends, is a blog all its own!!! So, Julia pointed to her new dress from Mike's mom. "Mom, I don't want to save this until Sunday. I want to wear this dress today." Now, some of you may not be like this, but I know some of you who read this, your response would be the same, "Baby, let's save that one for Sunday." To which she responded, "Well, Mom, can I not just wear it today? Can you clean it before Sunday?" In that moment I thought, "Why the heck not?" Our playgroup friends are fabulous. Why should we just wear our playclothes? These people love us and have served us with great commitment. I said, "You know what, Jules, I sure can. I think you should wear this dress today." I don't want Julia to be like me. I do not want her to wait unti the perfect day to look pretty, or celebrate the ordinary.

"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." How many times have you heard that verse? I use it when my children are grumpy or don't want to do what we have to do. Why not use it on the good day? Why not dress up. Choose the "beautiful dress." Make my hair nice. Maybe I could even put on some lipstick for crying out loud. I will not be leaving my house for a long time. Oh, I'll go out, but in our decision to keep the children home to be educated I could get a little comfie in my jammies. I could think, "It's not a big deal, I'm not going anywhere. I'm just here with the kids." Aren't they worth a little extra?

I feel like I'm rambling a's what I'm saying. I want to be more like Julia. I want to stop "saving" the pretty things. I want to treat each day as one to be celebrated. The friends that I spend time with are worth getting cleaned up for. Do I really rejoice in every day? Good, bad and indifferent?

This morning Julia came into our room first. She climbed up onto the bed to cuddle with Mike. I leaned over to her sweet Wessner ear (those who know me know a Wessner might have Wessner ears yourself...I LOVE THEM) and said, "Julia, do you think Mommy should get a new dress." She smiled and said, "Yes, and Mommy, I want one too." I could eat her up!!! So, after that I finished getting ready. Drying my hair...fixing it a little bit...and Mike used that opportunity to discuss the basics of the gospel. If you do not do this with your children...start. We go over why we need Jesus, how He took our sin, what the punishment was...we want to be the ones that lead our children across that line of faith...I'm sure you do as well. So, in this conversation Mike asked her how Jesus took her sin. She told him that He just took it out with His hands. I giggled a bit. I imagine at our conversion God just like, scooping our sin out with His gigantic hand. Here is a bit of their discussion. "How can God take the sin away if he's not even here?"
"Yes, He is, He's in my heart."
"How did he get in your heart?"
"He just walked in."
"If you died and went to heaven and God asked you why He should let you in, what would you say?"
"Because you love me." He was searching for, "Because I accepted Jesus as my Savior." Well, neither one of us can remember how she got to this comment, but I thought it was precious. She said, "I have heaven in my heart." No wonder she wants to dress up. No wonder she wants everyday to be like Sunday. A day where we pull out our best no matter where we are going. She has heaven in her heart. I think for those of us in Christ the same is true for us. If Christ dwells within us, don't we all have a little heaven in our heart?

I know some of you personally and know it is not within you to pull out a dress on a random rainy Thursday. I'm not saying dress up, necessarily. I'm saying stop saving the special. Pull out the fancy table cloth for your own family...for PIZZA! Go the extra mile when it will probably go unnoticed. Not so that God will love you more or that you'll get the "Mother of the Year" award. Do it because you've got a little heaven in your heart.

Monday, July 7, 2008

No Dogs Allowed

"Guys, I need your help. I cannot find my keys." This really doesn't happen all that much at my house. My keys "belong" in the kitchen hanging up. Well, I really needed to renew my library books (using the library is no longer free for me as I am ALWAYS paying late fees!) and I needed the card that was hanging conveniently (usually) on my key chain. The kids' response just made me giggle because they said, "Well, it's a good thing we don't need to go anywhere." "Yeah, good thing. Whoever finds them gets a reward." Now, that comment revealed a lot about my children. Anson began looking feverishly for the keys in hopes for a reward...any reward will do. Julia, on the other hand looked at me and said, "Well, uh...what's the reward." That sums them up. So, I'm setting this little post up...we were looking for my keys. So, I did the regular. I prayed, "God, you see all things. You know exactly where my keys are...BRING THEM TO ME!" I looked in the trash can because they could have gotten swept off of the counter, I looked in my purse, emptied it out, checked Ella's bag, then to the couch. Play that dun dun dah music in your head.

Why are couches so nasty? I don't care who you are or who cleans your house, I'll bet that your couch would embarass you in front of company. Sometimes it's like winning the lottery when you pull the cushions off..."Look, Oh my gosh, I've been wondering where this was. Hooray!" So, the kids helped me, only because they wanted to jump on the cushions. Well, to be honest, I was just going to put the cushions back on the couch. I know, disgusting...but the vacuum was crying because it feels like we wouldn't even know if it married a Rainbow and got used everyday. So, I had Anson go get the vacuum so that I could clean the couch before putting the cushions back. Note: still no keys. So, as I started vacuuming I noticed dog hair. Ha, that's funny. You will not find a dog in my house, but there was dog hair under my cushions. Where did it come from, you ask? Well, it came from my dog, of course. I thought you didn't have a dog. I don't.

Last summer I really believed that I had heard from the Lord that we were to get a puppy. A Pug puppy. Mike and I discussed it, remembered what happened the last time we had dogs (they ended up in the classifieds) and decided that we would get a dog. We prepared for this puppy. We trained stuffed animals, we made a chain link count down, we visited her. We were set. We were excited. We picked her up and MY world turned upside down. I bought the books. I read the books. I failed at training. We upgraded our cable and DVR'd every "Dog Whisperer" and watched it, tried it...we failed. Our sweet little pure bred dog was not working out. I didn't know what to do. We gave it a few more months and then one day I snapped.

That morning Anson had gotten up and was sick, like grab the trash can sick. By lunch time he was feeling better, but I heard this lapping sound and it was the dog "cleaning" up after she got sick. That was it. I waved the white flag and began to pray for a way out. Mike came home, I admitted defeat and we called the breeder. She was very sad, so were we, and said that she would work out some foster care until she could get her adopted. Well, she now resides in Texas and I am sure that she is living the dream! That is where the dog hair came from. My dog, that no longer resides here. It's funny because I also found one of her little Georgia Tech collars and the vet called to remind me that her heart worm meds needed to be filled. I got a little sad. I loved that little dog, but I didn't love her enough to allow her to turn my house upside down and keep it that way. Bottom line my dear friends...we suck at dogs.

So, Ali, where is this going? Of course this is going to my sin. As I started sucking that hair up, (Pugs shed...ALOT) I thought that even though I do not have a dog, there is proof that there was one at one time. From the puppy shampoo, the collar, the vet calling, then the hair. There is no doubt I owned a dog. Not dogs allowed...unless I have told you to your face that I LIKE your dog and they are welcome in my home while you go on a quick trip. Do you know what Jesus did on the cross? He bore our sin in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live for righteousness, by His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

He removed your sin. Casting Crowns has made one verse very popular with their hit song based on Psalm 103, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." He has removed our transgressions. That is HUGE!!! When we commit our lives to Jesus, confessing with our mouth and believing with our heart...the sin is removed. Do you know why we struggle with this idea? Because there is proof in our life that sin was present. We all have little reminders that we did not always walk with God. Because of this we tend to believe that God saves us, but doesn't really change us, that it's up to us. That is not true.

I almost went into verb tenses and the word sin used in the book of 1 John. Here's the nuts and bolts. When we receive Christ's gift of atonement, or sin is removed. We are "justified" that's a church word for "to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be." This was taken from the Greek word based on Romans 3:24. That means you, Mrs. I'm Not Good have been JUSTIFIED! God has declared you righteous...because of Christ. He has removed that which was unrighteous and credited Christ's death to your account. Overwelming, isn't it? Now, why is there dog hair in my house if there is no dog. Like, why do I sin if God has removed my unrighteousness? That is where the process of sanctification comes in.

Stay with me...I think you'll leave a little lighter. In John 17:17 we find Jesus praying to God the Father for His disciples, and those who will follow because of their testimony. He says, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." The word "sanctify" means to purify. To cleanse from guilt or sin, to purify internally by the renewing of the soul. You can find all this for yourself on several websites. I use this one. So, we are believers, but we need to be purified. There is that left over smut that taunts us and tells us that we aren't completely His. That garbage that creeps up on us when we least expect it and then BAM we're questioning our salvation. It happens to all of us. What we need to know is that our enemy is real and he is prowling around like a roaring lion. We musn't give him a foothold. You must declare NO DOGS ALLOWED. I refuse to believe that I am the same person that I was before Christ invaded my life.

You will, if you look, and somedays if you aren't looking, find evidence of brokeness. You will find dog hair. You will find puppy shampoo. You will find bitterness and envy. However, if you look even closer you will find joy. You will find peace. You will find a heart that is struggling to love only the things that God loves. You will find them both, but what you won't find is the dog. Nope, no dogs allowed. I've been justified. My sin has been thrown as far as the east is from the west. Now, I'm in process. Daily I'm being sanctified. I'm being vacuumed up. The residue that is left is being cleaned. I'm not the same. Neither are you. Do not, for one minute believe that lie. Say it, "No dogs live here."

I want you all to know that I STRUGGLE to keep these short. There is so much more I would want to tell you or have you tell me. However, I want to respect your time and hope that you will leave here with your cup of cold water and go drink deeply from the fountain of life.

Note from Husband: My husband found my keys on the front porch.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I can hear her...I know she's in there!

Being that it is rather warm in Augusta this time of year, we need to get outside and that means swimming. Now, we do have quite a hillbilly heaven in my backyard. We've got a "real nice" (you say that with an accent) blue plastic pool from the Wal-Mart (you also have to preface Wal-Mart with "the" I'm not sure why) and we have a big time! Seriously, you have to have water available if you are going to spend much time outdoors. That's if we stay home. Now, I have great friends that invite us to swim with them throughout the summer. That thrills my heart that people would enjoy my company, and the company of my 3 small children and have us enjoy their pools. Today we enjoyed a pool.

I have the privilege of calling Dana my friend. Today we were invited to celebrate Canada Day with several people, including some Canadians! I tell you that because the walk to her pool stopped my spirit in its tracks.

I had finally gotten everyone in the van and happy. We had the bag packed, our suits on, and we were set for a great day in the pool. Some day I'll say "by the pool" when I'm just sitting in a chair sipping a chilled beverage, but for now I'm in the pool WATCHING everything my children are doing. "Mom, WATCH THIS! Hey Mom, WATCH ME!" Julia knew that one of her favorite little friends would be there so she practically jumped out of the van. Of course I'm left with the donkey role. I double as a pack mule, I'm telling ya!

We all enter by the back gate, the kids know exactly where to go. Julia was first. Anson was close on her heels, and Ella and I were bringing up the rear, of course. The kids cannot open the gate, so Julia was standing there, listening to all of the action going on in the backyard. She turned and shouted back at me, "Mom, I hear Jordan! Jordan is in there. I can't see her, but I can hear her voice, I know she's here!"

I've struggled with the Lord lately. I'm sure that there are several reasons and I know I'm normal, but I've struggled. I know He's good and I know that He loves me, but I'm in process. That's why my blog has been a bit slow, I write best when I'm walking with God. It's His gift, not mine. That, He has made abundantly clear. In any event, I heard this comment by Julia in my spirit. "I can't see Him, but I know His voice. I know He's here."

We can't see God, but we can see evidence all around us that points to His existence, but as far as seeing Him...we missed Jesus...God in the flesh. Although Jesus does say to poor doubting Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." I think that's me. Blessed to believe even though my eyes have not see His face. It's hard isn't it? To press on. To just keep on keeping on? You know what keeps us keeping on? Knowing His voice. Julia couldn't see Jordan, but because she has spent time with her, she knew her voice, she knew she was there.

My name is actually Alison. I'm sure that if you didn't know that, you probably assumed. There are certain people that I love to hear say my name. It always evokes a different emotion. When my husband says my whole name it communicates a gentle and sweet love for me. When my Mom says my name I usually respond quickly and without question. When my friends call me "Alison" I relax because I know these are people that have known me for a long time. You see, Ali has just recently become my name over the last 8 years or so. My principal asked me what I'd like to go by and I said, "either." Guess what it was? Ali.

There is something beautiful about hearing your name. God knows our name. God knows YOUR name. Do you know how I know that? Sing it with me, "The Bible tells me so." Look with me, if you will, at John 10:3, "The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." Does that feel good to you? It does me. God formed me in my mother's womb, He knows me. This verse says He not only knows me, but for those that belong to Him, He calls them by name and the sheep listen to His voice. That, my friends, is how we know He is near. Even when we can't see Him. We can hear His voice. That sounds easy enough, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but my life is LOUD!!! This world seems to be at a constant SHOUT while God's voice seems to be a whisper. Good thing He calls us by name. Nothing, I mean NOTHING will get your attention faster than someone familiar saying your name. I have friends that still call me AliPyle (that's all one word). That gets my attention. My children know to look my way when their name comes out of my mouth. Why is that? It's all about relationship.

If I will commit my time to meeting with God I will know Him better. His voice will become louder than this world because I will be more attuned to the voice of my Father than the voice of this world. It was just precious to me. "I can hear her, I know she's here." She was so excited!

How about you? Are you so excited at just the sound of His voice? Do you know His voice? Are you aware of that still small voice that whispers to your heart and begs you to follow? I am, and I'm tired of being irritated with the only One that loves me perfectly. I desire excitement, passion, and joy. I know when I've heard His voice, and I know He's here. That is exciting!