Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweet Reminder

Betsy was dedicated at Church yesterday and once again, her middle name rang true as to what an evidence of God's grace she truly is to me. Please don't take this to mean that she is any more important to me than either of my other beautiful children. I love them ALL completely the same. It's just that I was reminded again of why we named her Betsy Grace. It's because the word "grace" has such meaning in our lives, in our marriage.

As Nate asked me if we had ever dedicated Ava, a ton of shame and guilt flooded in with the memories of being in the Church bathroom throwing up from a hangover 10 minutes before we walked her down to dedicate her. I acquired that hangover from a very late night of partying, taking shots with friends. I was stupid, selfish, irresponsible and my priorities were completely out of whack. I remember waking up the next morning physically sick and also emotionally sick about where I had been hanging out that night and all of the money that I had squandered in that dark place.

As shame and guilt starts to seep in through the cracks of my wall of forgiveness and grace through Christ, God sweetly and gently reminds me that I am not that person anymore and that I don't have to feel shame and guilt. I've very quietly cried a few tears in the last several days...but not tears of sadness really. More, I think, tears of thankfulness. Thankful that God forgives and loves, no matter what my life has looked like or still looks like at times. Thankful that I'm able to raise my children from a place of forgiveness and grace and in a manner that glorifies God. Thankful that grace is extended to someone like me, when I so truly don't deserve it.

"And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10

Monday, May 9, 2011

Why I'm Getting (re)Baptized

I became a Christian when I was 7. Or at least, I got baptized when I was 7. Is there a difference?

I believe there is and this... is why I will be "getting dunked" in Barton Springs on June 5th.

I think there are definitely people (even children) who make a conscious decision to love and follow Jesus and get baptized as a public display of their faith, all at the same time. This was not my experience, however. My commitment to love and follow Christ came about 23 years after I got baptized (ouch)!

I have a very vivid memory of being at Church one night, in the Church I grew up in, and hearing a Sunday School Teacher talk about a prayer we needed to pray to ask Jesus into our hearts so that we could go to heaven. I remember seeing two of my friends, Sara and Emily , walk down to the front of the room to "pray the prayer" and I remember thinking I didn't want to get left out of whatever this was they were doing. (Basically, I didn't want to be going to this place called hell all by myself, right?! I mean, it sounded awful!) I had no concept of the gospel at this time and no idea what grace was or what it meant for Jesus to actually take my place on the cross and die a death that I deserved, so that I could live a life I didn't deserve. It wasn't really about Jesus for me at all, rather about wanting to "fit in"... and live in the clouds rather in some hot fiery dungeon where people are gnashing their teeth at each other. (And I also didn't want some little old Southern Baptist woman mad at me:)

Since then and up until about 3 years ago, I lived a life that was not God-honoring. Much like that of the younger brother in Luke 15:11-32. Because I lived my life that way, I have a greater understanding of God's grace and mercy on my life than I ever did. I have a greater understanding of why Jesus had to go to the cross on my behalf. I have a deeper love for Christ and understand that it is only by His grace that my life looks different than it did, that my marriage looks different than it did. Sometimes, I'll find myself completely overwhelmed with gratitude that He chose to intervene in my life, even if it was painful at the time that He did.

I feel, in a way, that I really just became a Christian a few years ago because that is when I began to understand not only how much God loves me, but also what it cost Him to love me so. Because I now understand (am continuing to understand) that, I want to publicly profess my faith in Christ and also my commitment to love, follow and serve Him in front of my friends, my children, my husband and even people I don't know.

I love what Baptism signifies: It signifies that the person's former way of life has been put to death and in it's place, a new life, in the image of God is resurrected!

I've really been praying about this decision and part of me was hesitant at first, to do this for many reasons: 1. A lot of people at Barton Springs that day probably have a very strong opinion of "Christians" or "Jesus" and don't want a baptism invading their Sunday afternoon. 2. I'm pregnant and not excited about getting out in a swimsuit in front of everyone (I'm hoping a moo moo is an option. If so, I know just where to go. And I won't say any names. Mom and Gran.). 3. I don't like a lot of attention on me.

As I prayed about this decision, I asked God to remove the distractions. As He did, I actually got excited to do this so publicly!

So, I'm not sure if it'll be in a moo moo or an XL maternity swimsuit but I'll be getting baptized at Barton Springs on June 5th!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If I'd Only Known...

Nate and I have a joke between the two of us that if I had known, the night I met him at Blind Pig Pub, that we'd later have a HUGE testimony, four children and a minivan and that Nate would be a pastor, I'd have run so far in the opposite direction he never would have caught my name.

It's so true.

BUT...I would not have known what I was missing...and I would have been missing A LOT.

I would not have understood the joy I was giving up in raising these three (soon to be four) children with Nate. Or the peace I have in sharing my testimony. Or the best friend I have in my husband. Or the community of people I'm surrounded by and living life with. I might not have known the joy of living for Christ instead of for myself.

This morning, as I make bacon and toast for Jessica before her day of TAKS testing, I am reminded that I'm so thankful for God's greatness. Not just in who He is and because He saves me on a daily basis, but because He knew what He wanted for my life, and it was much much better than what I wanted.

I'm not sure exactly what I wanted back then but I was definitely too selfish to think about having four children, for sure too cool to drive a minivan and absolutely too proud to have a testimony that people might judge me for.

God's plan for our lives is beautiful and gives us infinite joy that no plan of ours could ever match.

I'm feeling thankful for that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I recently had someone tell me that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. What a weight lifted off my shoulder in that moment. Here is why:

I grew up in a Christian home. I was in Church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. I was at every youth group event and every Church potluck. I was a really good "Church go-er." But, I was a terrible Christian. I didn't follow Christ really at all. I followed my social life. I grew up mischievous and rebellious, testing authority any chance I got. In high school I experimented with drugs and sex and partying. I became a single mom at the age of 20. This mildly calmed down when I had Jessica. Mildly. I still continued to follow my social life and love of partying right into marriage and having more children. In 2006 and into 2007, my marriage hit a rock bottom that saved my life.

Nate and I have had many ups and downs. We've lost friends along the way. We've hurt people. We've been hurt. We've hurt each other. At the heart of it all, God met us in a more intimate way than He ever had. Calling us to follow Him. To give up ourselves and really follow Him.

We are doing it so imperfectly. But, we're doing it. And it gives me more joy and peace than I can even explain.

Along the way, we've been told we aren't cut out for ministry and that we don't deserve to be in the ministry. Personally, I'd agree. I don't feel cut out for ministry. I don't feel good enough or equipped enough. I'm so thankful that God doesn't take the advice of people. That He is sovereign and knows what's best for my life and the life of my family. That through Christ, He makes me good enough. That He equips me because He has called me. Nate has preached several times in the last few months and I get encouraging emails about how much his teaching touches people or reaches people.

I had my 15 year high school reunion this past weekend and had several people ask me what my husband does. When I replied (kind of quietly) "he's a pastor", I would get a strange look. One old friend said "how the heck did that happen?" I heard one guy at my table say "I mean, Melissa Jones marries a minister. Who woulda thought?" Nate and I laughed about this the whole night and even some the next morning as we told stories from the night before to my parents. But it reminded me how much God has intervened in my life. And for that, I'm so immensely thankful!

Thank you Lord for continuing to write my story differently than I ever would have. You know best.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Loving the Poor

I intend to write a much longer blog about my thoughts on the message at ACL this morning and will do so when I can post a link to the message from the ACL website. And, once I feel I've actually processed properly what all I heard. For now, this one blurb from the sermon has really been hitting home with me today and I'd like to share it with you. It was spoken to a congregation by their pastor, Robert M'Cheyne in Scotland 150 years ago. In my opinion, he nailed it.

“I fear there are some Christians among you to whom Christ can say no such thing (“Come thou blessed….and inherit the kingdom “ from Mathew 25:34). Your haughty dwelling rises in the midst of thousands who have scarce a fire to warm themselves at, and have but little clothing to keep out the biting frost: and yet you never darkened their door. You heave a sigh, perhaps, at a distance, but you do not visit them. Ah! My dear friend! I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day……I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians, because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart, an old heart would rather part with it’s life-blood than it’s money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you; you will be beggars throughout eternity.” - Robert M'Cheyne

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


If you're like me, when you think of Christmas, you think of scenes like this that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You won't find anyone who loves Christmas more than I do. I love the time of year...the smells, the lights, the cold weather, the music, homemade egg nog, shopping for family and making Christmas memories for my three girls. My favorite movies are The Family Stone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It is my absolute favorite time of year.

When I think of Christmas, I think of driving around looking at Christmas lights with my parents when I was young. I think of opening presents at Nanee's house in my pajamas in the kids room and then sneaking into the adult room as they opened all of their gifts and had so much fun laughing at them. I specifically remember my mom holding up a pair of XXXL silk panties from Eckerd Drug Store that Nanee had gotten her. And then there were the gifts that Nanee handed out that she "purchased in Italy" that clearly had a Wal Mart sticker on the bottom. My dad got that awful box of Stetson cologne and aftershave every year and actually wore it. I would watch from the background as all of the adults laughed so hard there were tears. I remember the smell as you walked into Nanee and Paw Paw's house and the snow village that filled up three mantles the size of the wall. I remember the feeling of comfort as everyone lounged around watching football. I remember creeping into the kitchen to sneak dessert when Nanee wasn't watching. I remember Paw Paw popping our toes and Henry's game of Airade. I remember Kim smoking out the living room and Kirby and Dad breaking something in the house that Paw Paw told them to hide from Nanee. So many memories...good memories.

But it's just been this year that I've really been able to reflect on not only the memories but the real reason for Christmas. I know, I know. YOu're tuning out not because I'm just another Christian talking about the "reason for the season". But honestly, as a Christian, I've never, as much as this year, realized that Christmas is so much more than all of these wonderful memories and the new memories we are making with our girls. It's a celebration. A celebration of the birth of our Savior. A Savior that came to earth as a baby (blows my mind), lived life as a normal human being like myself (although not quite like myself considering he was sinless), died a death he did not deserve, to give me eternal life.

This is my savior. He is why Christmas exists. Christmas is a celebration of His birth and a time to reflect on what He has meant to me, to you. It's a time to reflect on the blessings he has poured out on my life. It's also a time to think of those He embraced the most...the poor and needy. And to strive to think of those who are less fortunate more than just this one time a year. To strive to think of them daily and how we can love them as He did.

In the words of Stephen Colbert "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition — and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Here's to making more wonderful Christmas memories and to remembering why this time of year exists!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So Domestic and All...

Lately I've been feeling very domestic. I'm not sure if it's the influence of Ree Drummond and my complete obsession with her blog or just the fact that I have three kids and I don't really know how else to be at this point in my life!

I am about to purchase a minivan. I've been cooking (and baking!) like crazy and my house is pretty much spotless. I won't comment on the laundry (but it is neatly piling up in my laundry room).

For some reason, all of this gives me such great satisfaction and comfort. I have always been the first to say I could NEVER stay home and only be a "homemaker" (I hate that name by the way). But, with this third child, my desire to stay home more has become so much stronger and to be honest, has me rather surprised at myself. I have loved cleaning the house and cooking big meals and being the one that gets to pick my kids up from school. I've even had crazy thoughts of...shhhhhh...don't say anything...but...(homeschooling!!!). I mean, have I lost my mind??!! I am completely aware of how crazy that sounds and have no intention of doing this (I'd have the kids skipping school too much) but it's just an example of what a crazy 180 degree turn my desires have taken.

Yesterday morning I baked a cobbler after getting the kids to school and Betsy down for a nap. It was good for my soul. For dinner, I sauteed up a bunch of vegetables and The Pioneer Woman had the most amazing recipe for pan seared mushrooms. The best mushrooms I've ever had. Period.

Here is a recipe I'm going to try tonight: Creamy Cheese Grits with Chilis

Looks so yummy I'm almost drooling on my laptop. With grilled fish and grilled okra. I'll keep you posted...

I'm off to the grocery store...

(See? So domestic and all!)