Monday, September 28, 2009

"One Missed Call"

My parents recently went on a fabulous trip, the trip of a lifetime. They went to Bergamo, Italy, for a ceremony honoring my late grandfather, William Sinclair Ashbrook, Jr. They were gone for 10 days. And I talk to my parents at least four or five times a week, so this was a long time to be out of touch.

I knew they were coming back on September 19th, sometime in the afternoon. I was anxiously awaiting the call, so I had my cell phone nearby all day. However, that day was also the day of my sister-in-law's baby shower. Which I was co-hosting. So you can imagine, I was a little preoccupied.

I'd been running around, doing errands, all the while listening for the phone. I had just completed one last chore and was headed home, when one of my favorite songs came on the radio. So I rolled the windows down, turned the volume up, and started singing away!
When I got home, I checked my phone as I was getting out of the car. 1 Missed Call. Bummer! It was my parents, and an exhausted sounding voice mail told me they were on a layover in New York City. By the time I called, it was too late. They were airborne.

There were two things working against me here. First, I wasn't paying attention. I was busy, distracted. Second, I wasn't listening. I had the radio going full blast, and was singing away at the top of my lungs.

I wonder how many times I've done this in my spiritual life? Just cruising along, letting life distract me. Not listening. Not paying attention to my relationship with God. The result? One Missed Call.

Something interesting to note. I wasn't doing anything wrong. Getting ready for the shower. Listening to the radio. But my priority that day was to talk to my parents. And since I wasn't paying attention, I missed my chance to hear about Italy, and make sure they'd made it home safely.

So here's a little parallel on the importance of hearing...and answering...the call. Take Philip. Philip was one of the first traveling missionaries we hear about in the New Testament. He was one of the seven chosen by the disciples to administer food and goods to the new believers, and a powerful evangelist. In fact, he was on fire. Turning Jews and Gentiles into Christians right and left in Samaria. And that's where he was when this happened, Acts 8:26 - "As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, 'Go south, down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.'"

Now, let's put ourselves in Philip's shoes. His ministry in Samaria was very successful. He was preaching to great crowds, and the response? Amazing! He was watching the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of those who previously had not even believed in the Jews' God. Let me tell you, I wouldn't want to go. Especially down a long, isolated road that ran straight through the desert. Hot. Dusty. No thanks.

But look at the next verse, Acts 8:27 - "So he did, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the queen of Ethiopia."

Whoa. The treasurer of Ethiopia. Now that's a guy with great authority. Mr. Eunuch was working directly under the queen. Philip basically met the Ben Bernanke of that portion of Africa.

And you know what Mr. Eunuch was doing? He was studying the scriptures. Isaiah, to be exact. Isaiah 53:7-8, which reads "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, He did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice."  And Mr. Eunich had no idea what that verse meant.  But Philip did. It just so happens that in that verse, Isaiah is prophesying about Jesus Christ.  So Philip rode with him awhile, explaining how the scriptures foretold Jesus' life...and death.  And Mr. of the top officials of Ethiopia...believed.

That's worth noting. Philip was in the middle of doing God's work, turning many to believe in Christ. But he was paying attention...and listening. And God called him away from something do something great. What did he do? He answered the call. And because of that, the eunuch believed, was baptized, and spread the Good News to Ethiopia. And that was the beginning of the Word spreading to all the ends of the earth. Because of the eunuch, thousands came to know Christ.

For us, it's certainly not impossible, but it is unlikely that God will send an angel to tell us what to do. I wish He would! But have you ever been in this situation? The church needs volunteers, but that's your only free day to do your big grocery run. Or you notice a co-worker looking especially down, but you just have to get those e-mails answered. So you tell yourself that your stuff is important, and you go on your way. And when you check your spiritual cell phone...1 Missed Call.

God's work can be done anywhere, anytime, not just between 10 and 11 am on Sunday.

Are you paying attention? Are you listening? Don't get so distracted by baseball games, and homework, and e-mails, and grocery lists that you don't hear your spiritual cell phone. Dedicate part of each day to the Lord in prayer. Set aside just 15 minutes a morning to read the bible. I promise you, that if you believe, God has a job for you to do. Don't miss the call!

Thank you for reading this!  I love to hear your thoughts, both positive and negative.  God bless you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"You can't stop this love train!"

As I write this (September of '09) I have a three year old daughter and a two year old son. And I have decided that people with children around two years of age are in an exclusive club. I'm working on a catchy name for it, but for the time being, let's just call it the "I'm at my wits end what on earth am I going to do with this child?" club. If you have kids that are older now, you've already gratefully turned in that membership. If you aren't a member yet, this can serve as a warning. And, perhaps, birth control.
My son has tantrums. Not just run-of-the-mill tantrums, either. If his tantrums were storms, they would be F5 hurricanes. They aren't just kicking and screaming. They're forces of nature. And since scolding him does no good, and ignoring them means I'm going to be in that same geographical location for a good 30 minutes or so, I decided to try something that my mother did with us (she claims). I love him through it.
And what do you know, it works. I can tell when the tantrum is coming. Just like in nature, there are signs. So before the low grumblings can progress to gale force screaming winds, I love him through it. I put him on my lap, snuggle him tight, tickle him, and laughingly tell him, "You can't stop this love train! Can't stop this love train! I love you no matter what you do!" And he usually comes right around. Who can resist that kind of love?
Peter couldn't. A passage that brings me a lot of comfort is Luke 22:31-32. Let me paint the picture for you before you read it. Jesus and His disciples are sitting in the upstairs room. Jesus has already washed their feet. He tells them that He loves them just as the father loves Him. (John 15:9) He tells them to love one another just as He loves them (John 15:12). They have shared the wine and the bread...the first "communion" ever taken. They are quietly talking. And Jesus turns to Peter (then called Simon), and says "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers."
I want you to notice something. It says "So when you have repented and turned to me again....." WHEN. Jesus knew Peter (Simon) was going to sin. He knew it. And He wanted Peter to KNOW that He knew it. And He wanted Peter to know that He loved him, and to turn back to Him.
It's taken me a long time to forgive myself for some of the things I've done. A looooooong time. And to this day, I am so much quicker to forgive others than I am myself. But here is another truth, and it's one you need to write on your heart. Just as we are commanded to forgive each other, so we are commanded to forgive ourselves. If God Himself can forgive our sins, who are we to withhold that same grace from ourselves? 1 John 1:9, "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong." But you don't know what I've done, you don't know how many don't know... It doesn't matter. He cleanses us from EVERY wrong. No matter how unworthy of love you think you aren't. You are loved. Precious and holy in His sight.
Let's read a little further in the scriptures. And again...let me paint the picture. Peter has denied his Lord three times. He was one of the 12, one of the chosen to walk with Jesus, and three times he denied even knowing him.
On the morning of the third day, the women go to Jesus' tomb. And the stone is rolled away. Mark 16 tells us that the angels told them not to be afraid, but to go tell and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive. But look at this, Mark 16:7....the angel says "Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died." Including Peter. The angel gave them special instructions to tell Peter. Jesus knew that Peter would sin. Just like He knew I would. Just like He knows I will. And He loves me anyway. Just like He loves you.
Later on, Peter became one of the strongest evangelists in recorded history, writing two of the books in the new testament, preaching of great love and forgiveness, and converting thousands to Christianity. And you know what? Jesus knew this too. Matthew 16:18, "Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it."
I think about that, and I ask myself, what will I do....with the grace I've received?
There is nothing that my two year old son, or my 3 year old daughter could do that could make me stop loving them. No tantrum so great that I can't forgive it. And nothing melts my heart faster than my child coming to me, with a tear-stained face, whispering, "Mommy...I'm sorry. I love you." How much more love, how much more mercy, how much more grace will our Heavenly Father pour out on us? Nope. Can't stop this love train.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Licking our wounds...

I have a dog named Jim. Jim is about 5 years old, and roughly 105 pounds. He is a good dog, very sweet, and wonderful with my two small children. Recently, Jim had to have surgery to repair a torn ACL and remove bone spurs around his knee. This left him with a wound about 6 inches long, closed together with staples.

He's handled it far better than I would, I have to say. Almost immediately, he was able to limp outside to potty (sorry - that's the toddler mom in me coming out - I should've said "to relieve himself."), and he's hardly cried at all.

The biggest challenge we've faced is that Jim wants to lick his wound. And if left alone, that's what he would do. He would crawl into the corner, face the wall, and lick his wound. To keep him from doing this, we have to keep him in one of those big, plastic, doggy clown collars. Pretty funny looking, but they keep him from making a serious mistake.

To lick his wounds is his natural instinct, but there's a problem. It pulls at his stitches, and puts him at great risk for infection. And infection, of course, could kill him.

It struck me like Jim I am. And no "looking like a dog" comments, please. Don't we, as people in general, tend to do the same thing when we're hurting, emotionally? We do. We pull away. We hide in the corner. We face the wall because we don't want anyone to see us cry. And we lick our wounds. And if left untended to, our wounds get infected.

So just for funsies, I looked up the definition of infection. "Invasion by and multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms in a bodily part or tissue, which may produce subsequent tissue injury and progress to overt disease through a variety of cellular or toxic mechanisms." Yikes! So how does that translate to us, emotionally? Let's paint a little picture with an example. I'll tell you a story that happened to someone I know. We'll call her...oh, let's see...we'll call her Rebecca.

When "Rebecca" was in 7th grade, up in beautiful Shoreview, Minnesota, she was in gym class one day. And the class was divided into teams. And because the gym teacher was cruel and sadistic, she let the two captains pick the teams. One captain called out a name, then that individual joined the ranks of the chosen. Jerry something or other was captain number one, and I...I mean, "Rebecca," doesn't remember the name of captain number two.

Guess who was picked last? Me. And guess what Jerry said right after whining that he was "stuck" with me? He told me that I had a big nose, and that I'd never have a boyfriend. That sounds so stupid, doesn't it? It was 1987, for heavens sake. But I never forgot it. In fact, I remembered it on the morning of my wedding day.

Look back at the definition of infection. Invasion by and multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms.....Jerry's comments were certainly an invasion. And you know what they did over time? They multiplied in my mind. What started out as a hurt led to bitterness, anger, and a need for revenge. Does this sound familiar to you? What invaded your peace of mind? A break-up? A mean comment? Are you a victim of life's unexpected cruelties? Maybe you've lost someone. Maybe you're trying to have a child. Maybe you've been passed over at work, or lost your job. Whatever it is, please.....please don't let it multiply and infect your spirit. Friend, Jesus is the only one who can truly heal you of this.

Here is something that I find truly AMAZING. Jesus tells His disciples to do His work after He's gone...and listen to this analogy....and tell me it's not divine. Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth......" Salt has 3 purposes. To preserve, to give flavor, and to HEAL. You have a sore throat, gargle with salt water. A dip in the ocean will help to heal a skinned knee. The salt of the earth will surely heal your heart. (I did not come up with this on my own, btw. This beautiful analogy can be found in Sharon Jaynes' "Experience the Ultimate Makeover.")

Nothing spoils the flavor of our lives more than bitterness. Nothing is more exhausting than lugging around a heart full of hurts. So I'll leave you with this. It healed my heart...and it will heal yours...

Matthew 11:28 - "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.'"

Isn't it time to put your burdens down? Here...have a little salt...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Come...bring me your crazy...

One of my favorite sayings is that everyone carries around a sack of crazy. And we do...every last one of us. Some call it baggage...some call it issues...but I prefer to call a spade "a spade." Tip toe around it any which way you want...but we all carry around a sack of crazy.

I love a person with a really big sack of it, too. Maybe it's because it makes mine look smaller, maybe it's because a person who isn't afraid to open their sack and let you peek inside is just honest. And I love honesty.

Why can't we all just lay it out there? None of us are any better or any worse than anyone else. sack is pretty large....but go ahead. Take a peek.

I've struggled with anxiety half my life...and that's just the tip of my issue iceberg. If we're friends, there's a good chance that I'm wondering at the moment if you're mad at me. If we're not, I'm probably wondering why. I have a great job, and have never been able to really enjoy it. That's because I'm always waiting to get the pink slip. I hate giving my opinion because I don't want to offend anyone. I hate to not give my opinion because then I feel like I'm not standing up for my beliefs.

I worry about everything. EVERYTHING. EVERY. LITTLE. THING. And having children has only made it worse. Don't suggest meds, prozac and I are friends. So one day, I decided to do a little search. I decided to find out how many times in the bible God tells us not to worry. Because did you know that to worry is to live outside of God's will?'s means we're not trusting God's plan for our lives. It means we don't have faith that God is in control. I didn't find out exactly how many times He commands us not to fear (it's a lot and I'm still working on it), but I did find some gems that never fail to make me feel better. Please to enjoy...

Isaiah 43:1-2 "But now, O Israel, the LORD who created you says: 'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.' "

That's a wonderful one to send to someone who's lost a job, by the way. And I absolutely LOVE that God has "called you by name; you are mine." Awesome, isn't it? Here's another one to write on your heart...

Isaiah 44:2 "The LORD who made you and helps you says: O Jacob, my servant, do not be afraid. O Israel, my chosen one, do not fear."

Make sure you pay special attention to that - the LORD who made you is also the LORD who helps you.....are you asking for help? Consistantly? Don't be afraid to pray...and pray and pray and pray....
The scripture goes on with verse 3, and it is very helpful to me when I'm in "panicky mother" mode....

Isaiah 44:3 "For I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst and to moisten your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank."

Here's a great one if you're worried about having enough. Are you contemplating a job change? Debating whether or not to stay home with the kids? Worried about money in general? Then Jesus is speaking to you in Matthew...

Matthew 6:25-27 "So I tell you, don't worry about every day life - whether you have enough food, drink and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

He continues....and I think He means it in this one...because He says it twice...

Matthew 6:31-34 "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it's own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

That's one to meditate on for a moment. Please pay particular attention to this part - "He will give you all you need from day to day IF YOU LIVE FOR HIM AND MAKE THE KINGDOM OF GOD YOUR PRIMARY CONCERN." If you have a lot of worry and anxiety in your life (and have already determined that there is not a chemical imbalance in play - don't laugh - it's a common thing!), then ask yourself...what is your primary concern? God will bless you...if you are living in His will. If you are seeking refuge in His word. If you are making the Kingdom your primary concern.

That's enough for today. Up next...I'm not sure. Either more on worry, or on LETTING GO. And I capitalized that for a reason. LETTING GO of the sack of crazy we all cart around. It's possible...I promise.

Love to you!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Story - covered in His fingerprints.... first entry on my brand new blog. This must be how a writer feels, when they have an idea for a story bubbling under the surface...and they sit down, diet coke on their left, crisp new stack of paper on their right, and a brand new pen in hand.

I feel like I have a lot to say. Whether or not anyone will read it, TBD (to be determined). Whether or not it will do anyone any good, TBD. But I have something to tell you, and I might as well start at the beginning.

Once upon a, too cliche.

Deep breath...big we go.

I was born in Bloomington, Illinois. Not a big town, but it didn't really matter. We didn't stay there long. As a matter of fact, we didn't stay anywhere very long, but I'll get to that in a minute. I was the first child, sister number one came along about 3 years later, sister number two about 2 years after that. My dad was in sales, and he was good at it. So good, that he'd get promoted about every 3 years or so. Great, right? Except that with every promotion came a move.

The first move (and we moved in 1976, 79, 84, 87, 90, get the picture) of significance to me was the one in 1987. We moved from Overland Park, KS to Shoreview, MN. Up until this move, I'd always been a pretty popular kid. Lots of friends, lots of activities, healthy self-esteem. If I had to look back and pinpoint where the problems started, I would have to say Shoreview, Minnesota.

I'll never forget my first day of Jr. High in my brand new school. I was a middle-of-the-year transplant, in a town where no one ever moves. Everyone seems to marry their high school sweet-heart, and everyone's been friends since kindergarten, if not before.

And then there's a new girl. A student-aide walks me to's choir...about 3 times the size of a normal class. She opens the door, and we walk in. You hear the needle screeching off the record, the room falls silent, a collective gasp rises from the crowd.....ok, maybe that's a little dramatic, but that's how it felt to my poor, 12 year old brain. Nothing I did or said helped me to blend in, either. Up in Minnesota, my mid-western way of speaking was like a foreign language to them. "Oh myee gash...whyee do yoo have such an accent? Where are yoo frahm? Loo-ee-see-ah-nah?" By the way - it's hard to write in a northern accent. You may have to just use your imagination. Guess overalls had been all the rage in Kansas...but when I wore my prized possession up there, they called me farm girl. That was the middle of 7th grade. It took until the beginning of 8th to really make any friends.

High school wasn't too much better. One girl in particular made it her mission to keep me from having many friends, and she succeeded pretty well. When my parents broke the news at the beginning of my 10th grade year that we'd move to Colorado over the Christmas break, I wasn't too heartbroken. Part of me really looked forward to a fresh start, a clean slate, if you will.

If I were to say nothing good came out of living in Minnesota, it wouldn't be the truth, though. In 8th grade, I went to a retreat called "Quest," and that was my first experience with Jesus Christ. Up until then, I had kind of seen God and Jesus as one (I know they are, but I didn't really differentiate them at all), kind of floating up in the sky, granting the wishes of some, and not others. I guess I thought of God as a big, cosmic Santa, except not nearly as jolly. More judging, and quick to punish me for every missed step. At Quest, I got to know God on a more personal level, and I got to know His Son. At the end of the retreat, they gave us a copy of the New Testament. I took it home and started to read it, and I started to pray. It's very interesting that God chose that time in my life to call me to a deeper relationship with Him. It's very comforting to see that He was there, even when I felt so alone.

I'm not sure if it was my freshman or sophomore year, but the follow-up retreat to Quest was TEC - Teens Encounter Christ. This one was a little longer, a little more in-depth, but otherwise very similar. At the end, we got a copy of the full bible. I still have it today - and it's very precious to me. It's in two pieces, ragged, tattered, underlined, notes on many of the pages...loved. That bible has been with me, perched right there within reach on my night stand, ever since.

So we moved to Highlands Ranch, Co., and I loved it there, but the damage was done. I had self-esteem issues, weight issues, eating issues.....pick an issue, any issue, I probably had it. But I did have a fantastic group of friends. We got into quite a bit of trouble, but we lived to tell of it, and we all seemed to turn out in the wash. An interesting side note, though. The "trouble" I got into (and don't be mistaken, there was QUITE a bit of it) coincided perfectly with my decision to stop going to church. It was nothing against God at all. But I just wasn't going to be the new kid again. So other than Christmas and church.

Fast forward a few years...I'm a nervous freshman swallowing back tears as her mother and grandmother drive away from all-girls' dorm at the University of Kansas. Since I didn't want my potential friends to see me crying, I hid in the bathroom for a good 30 or 45 minutes, trying to compose myself. Just when I thought I had it together, I'd break down all over again.

But college proved to be fun. I joined a sorority, made lots of friends, and changed my major 3 times. The first year. I guess it was my sophomore year when my mother called me, and wanted to talk about the classes I was taking. Since I had grudgingly decided I wanted to be a track coach and a health teacher (I Teach?? This is where you can take a moment to LOL), I was loaded up on classes involving math, science...everything I'm terrible at. My mom asked me if I had ever thought about radio or tv. I can hear her now, God bless her. "Really, have such a nice speaking voice, and you do love to sing. And you know, I always said you were a good writer. Call the journalism school, you'd be very good at this. Really honey, do it today." Well, my mom ended up calling the dean, and made an appointment for me. My mother would deny this, but I really believe that was at the Lord's nudging. God had a plan for me, just like He has a plan for you. But I stray.

So I went to meet the dean, and right there on the spot, he just enrolled me in all of my classes. I didn't have to apply for the school or anything. And thus began my love affair with radio.

I love radio so much. I love everything about it. I love the way it sounds when you're talking up the intro to a good, fast song, and you just nail that post (if you're a radio person, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about). I love it when I have an idea, and then I see it escalate into something on the air. I love the laughter, working with other people, playing music for a living. Its a good gig.

So I graduated with my BS in journalism (so appropriate by the way - a BS degree in radio, I love that). But before I move in that direction, let me tell you a little bit about where I was personally. I'd moved out of my sorority house before the start of my senior year, and was living in an apartment with my 3 best girlfriends. I was working full time, studying full time, interning part time (felt like full time), and partying the rest of the time. I was also the only one out of all my friends that didn't have a serious boyfriend. Insert my mother's voice...."Oh Rebecca. The ONLY one? I'm sure you're not the ONLY one." No, I was. The ONLY one. So young, so lonely, so ripe to meet the perfect jerk.
The perfect jerk came into my life right before my 21st birthday. I didn't succeed in removing him from my life until after my 24th birthday. But again...I stray.

So I pose a question to you. What do you do when all of your friends have moved away and gotten married? What do you do when you're a 22 year old emotional mess who drinks a little more than she should and makes terrible decisions? Don't move to Texas, where you're parents live! Don't move back home, save money, pay off debt, and try to get a job at a radio station! For heaven's sake, no! You stay where you are, you get a job that you hate, and you move in with the perfect jerk! Take your parents advice, ha! I was going to learn myself, and I was going to learn it the hard way, thank you very much for caring.

So that's what I did. I took my flimsy self-esteem and my warped body image, and I got a job at a plastic surgeon's office (if you need to LOL again, feel free. I can't hear you). Because that's what you should do when you really need a lesson in loving the body God gave you. You look at fake parts all day.

So here's a fun way for me to spend the day. I can pull out my journal from those days and read the entries. "Dear God, I know this relationship I'm in is a mess. Please fix it. Please give me a sign if I'm not meant to be here." And then my parents would call me......"Rebecca, the radio stations down here are wonderful! You'd really love Texas, move in with us. You won't have to give us a dime." No thanks mom and dad. I've got a great life up here, really. "Dear God, I'm miserable up here. I'm getting my heart broken on a daily basis. Please give me a sign if I'm not meant to be here." And then I'd get in such an awful fight with the perfect jerk that my voice would be lost and my dignity destroyed. "Dear God, I just hate my job so much. Please help me to find a job in radio. And please give me a sign if I'm not meant to be here." And I'd wreck my car. Do you get the picture?

I was begging God for signs (seriously, I have a whole prayer journal and a half of them), and He was giving me billboards. We make a serious mistake when we come to God with our will and ask Him to bless it. How could God bless my life at that point? I wasn't honoring Him with my life style at all! Nothing I was doing was according to His word. Instead of asking the Lord Almighty to bless our will for our lives....lets come to Him, offer up our lives to Him, and ask Him to show us His will. If I'd have done that in the first place I would've saved myself a lot of heartache, but my story wouldn't be nearly so juicy.

So lets fast forward a tad. You know how you'll have a weird dream, and you're going from place to place and you don't know quite how you got there? One morning, and it was right after another horrible fight with the perfect jerk, I woke up, and just lied there staring at the ceiling for about an hour. Then I got up, and I got my suitcase. I wasn't thinking...I was just moving. Almost like some unseen force was guiding my motions.....ok, now open the suitcase. Ok, now open your drawer. Ok, now put some underware in it. I was just kind of floating along. Then I packed up my car, and went back inside. I called my boss and left him a message that I'd be gone for awhile. And then I left. And I drove south.

Olathe, Kansas is right off of I 35. The same I 35 that goes through the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and the same I 35 that goes through the DFW area. Up north, it splits into I 35 E and I 35 W. Same with Dallas/Fort Worth. I'd given my parents a little heads up that I was headed their way, but I was a little out of it when I did it. It never occurred to me that I had no idea where they lived. I knew it was Keller, and I thought Keller was closer to Fort Worth than Dallas, but that's about it. I never started crying until I got to Denton, and saw the signs for the I 35 split. Then...I lost it.

I found a pay phone and got a hold of my dad. Poor dad. He answers the phone and all he hears is me crying so hard I'm hyperventilating. But he gave me directions and I was on my way. You know the story of the prodigal son in the bible? How the younger of the two sons doesn't want to wait for his inheritance, goes and blows it, and then comes back ashamed and hanging his head, just hoping for a servant's position? And his father honors him. That's how I've always felt about my move to Texas. I didn't listen to my parents. I made foolish decisions. I was going to show everyone that I could do it my way, all by myself. And then, as I'm driving home to see my parents, I realize I don't even know where they live.

And there was my dad...outside...waiting for me to pull in. He opened my car door, pulled me out, and held me while I sobbed as if my heart had been ripped in two. It hadn't, of course. It had just been stomped on and then ripped into a million pieces.

Too make a long story less long, I went back up to Kansas after a week of letting my parents just love me and take care of me. How like God they were. They'd forgiven me before I'd even asked for forgiveness. They gave me grace before I even realized I needed it. They just celebrated my return. Don't be afraid to let God do that for you, if you need it. One of my favorite bible passages is Jeremiah 31:19-20...."'I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.' 'Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?' asks the LORD. 'I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.'" Isn't that AMAZING? Even when we turn away from God...He LONGS for us. He doesn't just love us...he longs for us. Meditate on that for just a moment. Breathe it in...and accept it as truth in your life. He longs for us...and surely will have mercy on us. Lord, I thank you for that. I thank you for your love and your mercy. Amen.

Once I finally realized that I could no longer live in Kansas, I did what I had to do. I packed up my stuff, said goodbye, and left. Did I look back? Of course. Was it easy? Of course not. But God never told us His will for our lives would be. Was it right? Oh yes.

Back in Kansas, every door I knocked on was slammed. Or just not opened. I couldn't get a job in radio to save my life. And Kansas City isn't a major market when it comes to radio stations. Dallas is. It's the fifth biggest market in the US. And when it comes to country music, it's the most important market. If you want to work in country want to work in Dallas/Fort Worth. I moved there October 11th, 1998. Two weeks later, I had a job at 92.5 KZPS running the board on a Sunday morning show. Two weeks later, the news director at 570 KLIF called me to see if I was interested in filling in on news when the full timers were out. They also needed weekend producers. They happened to share office space with a country radio station. I got a job in promotions there, and then spent the rest of my free time in the studio, pulling cd's for the dj's and asking questions. I just drank it in. Then, on Easter Sunday of 1999 the program director called me and wanted to know if I'd ever dj'd before. There'd been a jock who'd no-called, no-showed and they were pulling him off the schedule. Could I maybe come in at 10pm and work until 1am? Could I!?!?

After that, I got a position as a part time jock on that station. After doing the overnight shift for roughly 3 months, the program director called me in again, saying he wanted to pair me up with another girl to do a night show from 7pm to 11pm. 2 and a half years later, my dream came true. I went over to 96.3 KSCS and joined Terry Dorsey and Hawkeye to be part of the Dorsey Gang. I've been there since August of 2001.

Do you see God's fingerprints in there? They're everywhere. Do you see how much better His plan was for my life? Look at what I was praying for. And God said, no child. I have something prepared for you. Something so much better.

Another one of my favorite bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11....."'For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

If you're hurting, or hoping, or searching, or frustrated....I hope this can be of some help for you. God's plan in my life continues to unfold. As of this blog post, I've been married to my soul mate for 5 years. I have two beautiful, precious children. When you're in the middle of the storm, you can't see the clearing ahead of you. It doesn't matter, though, because God can. And He has big plans for you....plans for good and not give you a future and a hope.....