Monday, August 22, 2016

Lessons from a Wipe Warmer

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5

I knew before having kids that the Lord had a lot to teach me through my own child and it's been a paradox of wonderful, hard, funny and even painful at times. It is amazing how He can use the smallest of things to teach us and encourage us. Here is one such example.

Soooo, pre-baby I thought there was no need for such a frivolous thing as a wipe warmer. My mom asked me a couple of times before Avery's arrival if I was sure I didn't want to pick one up from the store. I assured her that our baby would be just fine without one...
Fast forward to when we brought our baby girl home and diaper changes really began...she didn't like being changed one bit and let me know right away that she did not appreciate those cold wipes on her little bum! I was headed to the store in flash and a wipe warmer was purchased. (This would be the first of many things I had the wrong idea about! lol) This particular wipe warmer said it had a cute little heart shaped light that seemed like it would be handy for making a little light in the dark. I snatched that thing up, checked out, zipped home and got those wipes warming! (And it did in fact make diaper changes more bearable for us both!)

In the beginning, as long as you were holding Avery just right, bouncing her just right and keeping your toes crossed, she would sleep in a sunny room or a dark room but we very quickly realized that if we actually wanted to put her down to nap, any light whatsoever stimulated her and kept her awake.When you have a child that is difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep, sleep becomes a top priority! My mission became making her room as dark as possible. Heavy blackout curtains were purchased and blankets were even placed on the tops of those to drown out the sunlight that tried to peak over the top. 

Here was the thing though...the darker I tried to make the room, the more light I would find!! Light seeped in from everywhere...under the door (towel placed at bottom of door), through the sides of the door, the green light from the smoke detector, the fun lights from the humidifier indicating it was on and that lovely heart shaped light on her wipe warmer. I had little burp cloths tucked in and draped over anything with a light and trust me it sure makes for a designer looking baby room. BUT there was this one thing I couldn't get covered good enough - the wipe warmer. I would cover it with all kinds of things only to find light was still shining out. 
I couldn't believe such tiny lights could make such light in a dark room. During the day and with the other lights on, they weren't even noticeable but in the dark they were annoyingly bright. 

Walking around, bouncing Avery one night, I was trying to think of another way to cover up that light. I could feel the Lord speaking to my heart about how His light shines in the darkness, even more brightly in the darkness. Every single day the news is full of stories that can seem overwhelmingly depressing and even scary. In our own families and neighborhoods we hear of hard times for people we love. Perhaps you yourself are walking through a dark season in your life. Keep holding on, His light will pierce through that darkness - a beautiful sunset, a light breeze in the heat of the day, a card that shows up out of the blue, a hug, a song. 

I do not say these things with some romanticized idea that it makes whatever you're going through seem so much better right now. Honestly I hesitate to write with such hope at times because I see all the struggles people are going through. Don't buy into the lies that Jesus doesn't care, the He doesn't love you or you wouldn't be going through this, that He isn't strong enough to fix "it." He does care, He loves you DEEPLY, He does have a plan, He grieves with you and will strengthen you moment by moment. 

Those that spread the love, peace and truth of Jesus shine in the darkness. Remember that your smallest acts of kindness to people can be His light that pierces through the darkness in someone else's life. I know that there is darkness in the world and I do not understand so many things - why does this person have to be sick? Why did that accident happen? How could somebody do that? but I am more confident still that Jesus has already won the ultimate battle and darkness cannot overcome His light. 

I write this to remind myself on hard days that the darkness cannot overcome the light! Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why not? Go for it

From the time I was very young, I have always loved trying, learning and mastering new things. It was such a blessing to have parents that nurtured and encouraged that part of me. I remember my momma putting a needle in my hand at a very early age and teaching me how to cross stitch. I was (and still am) fascinated at how good she is at it! We could be following the exact same pattern and hers always turned out looking so much better! My dad let me "help" him re-roof our house when I was 5.  My brother taught me how to make twisted rope friendship bracelets when we were like 7. I think I was about 8 when Dad was repainting his Toyota and he let me run the sander. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg...since then I've added these things to the list:

Horseback Riding
Crazy Quilting
Hand Stamping Metal
Baking Bread
Invitation Design

These really are just some of things I've learned how to do over the years.  People often ask me how I have learned all of these things and my answer is very simple...I just try it. And then I try it again and again and again and again....well you get the picture...until I finally get it! 


I really don't think I'm any more naturally inclined to these things than most people, I just try it and keep at it longer than  most.
One of my questions is, what keeps people from trying and learning new things?
Here's just my own personal theory on a few things that hold people back.

1. Fear - fear of failure or disapproval from others. 
My take on this is that we shouldn't be afraid to fail because if we do, then we're really just right back where we started but if we succeed...we have totally expanded our whole world! Growing up, people told me often that I wouldn't achieve my goals but I just used that to drive me forward and then I learned how to plug my ears and not listen. As I continued working toward my goals,, the song of triumph became louder than the noise of their pessimism. 

2. Complacency - some people don't even have a desire to try and learn something new. I think this is because they have lost their curiosity and made their world small. We settle for watching tv and pinning stuff on Pinterest that we never actually do. The world is so big...there are so many people that do so many amazing things and most of the time, they're even willing to teach you! 

3. Excuses - top one: I don't have enough time. Now, don't get me wrong, I think that there are genuinely a few people that really are too busy to take on something new but most of the time there is time in everyone's day to dedicate to learning something new. You will be completely surprised at how just spending 15 minutes a day doing something on a regular basis will totally begin to add up and yield results. And guess what, most of the time you can even practice whatever it is with your favorite show on! 
Life never gets old if you keep learning.

Here are more things I hope the good Lord gives me enough time to learn:
Harmonica (I stink at it right now. My dog, Winston goes and hides under the bed when I bring it out, lol, but I'll keep trying!)
Photography - all that shutter speed, lenses and aperture lingo makes my head spin right now
Mothering (don't know if I'll ever be ready for this one! lol )
And I know there will be new things to add that I will see and want to learn :)

I am so thankful for a sweet husband that not only puts up with all my new endeavors but encourages me and gives me tools to go for my dreams. He's such a blessing!

Are there things in your life that you want to learn? I encourage you to go for it! There is so much information now right at our fingertips that it makes it easy to get started. YouTube is incredible and I've learned countless things from video tutorials. In fact, when I want to learn something, that's usually where I start! 

Don't listen to that voice in your head telling you that you can't, it's too much trouble, you don't have enough time, no one cares, etc. Don't listen to the people that will tell you that you can't or that it's dumb.  Listen to my voice telling you that you can! You can! And our world needs you to go for it because we don't even know what we're missing out on right now!
Go for it!! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day

My favorite day of the year!
I love everything about this day:
the weather - so hot and thick
the smells - cut grass, sunscreen, mosquito spray, cookouts and gun powder
the fireworks - sparkles, showers of colors streaming across the sky, pops and booms
the flags flying - Old Glory, our beautiful reminder of the price paid and the freedoms we enjoy
the people - everyone seems to be just fine with hanging out all day long with no agenda besides hanging out and enjoying games, conversations, food and fireworks
the memories - oh the memories are my favorite and I will camp here for a little while.

Of all the days that are distinct in my mind, I can remember so many fourth of July's from my life.
As a little girl, snaps, tanks, sparklers and the growing black snakes were my favorites. Dad would help me light them and then he would set off the ones I was too little to do yet and I would watch with delight. Then we'd head to Plainview to watch the explosions of colors in the night beautiful. Cars lined the highway and truckers honked as they passed by. We'd drive home tired and talking about our favorites.

As we grew older, we started saving money in June so that we could go to the fireworks stand and pick out some of our favorites. We had lemonade stands, pulled weeds, made friendship bracelets and anything else we could think of. It was usually Tommy, Wade, Cale and me. We would go get colored smoke bombs, lots of black cats and M-60s, bottle rockets, roman candles and a few other things that shot up, spun around, popped and had colors. We weren't really into fountains, lol...they were a little too tame for us. Then the fun began. We blew up ant beds and yes, sorry to say, the occasional frog. One of our folks would cook hotdogs and hamburgers for us and there was usually a watermelon to be had under the shade tree at Cale's. So, so fun.

One of the last times we saw a good friend of ours on this earth, Lauren Caraway, was on Fourth of July at Mama Gayle's house. She was sitting in the front yard visiting with everyone, with that beautiful smile and a ball cap. Then the boys got a little carried away and somehow started a whole bag of fireworks on fire!...people scattered as things shot out like small missiles. Lauren's Independence Day was not far away. Which leads into what I really want to talk about next. I could go on and on with memories but I want to talk about FREEDOM, true freedom.

I started thinking about independence and freedom and how we view those two words most of the time in America. I would dare say we usually think freedom means being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. I know that's part of it...but is that really it?

These verses came to mind as I lay still:

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (Jesus speaking) John 8:32

"I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (Jesus speaking) John 8:34-36

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

The freedom we have in America is truly a blessing and like no other place in the whole world. I am so thankful for the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country. However, there is a freedom that no government can give or take away from us.

True freedom is only found in knowing the Son, Jesus. Jesus is the truth and when we know Him, He sets us free by making us right with God through his sacrifice, giving us forgiveness, taking our shame and bringing us into eternal life. He gives us the ability to please Him. That's what freedom is.
We buy into the lie that freedom is doing whatever we want but then something happens...we become slaves instead...slaves to - money, pride, drugs, careers, doing good things, sports, fear, anger...the list could go on and on. The very thing we thought would make us free or make us feel good has taken us captive. Instead of fulfillment there is emptiness, anxiety, fear, bitterness, addiction...

The two last verses I listed say that our freedom is to be used to SERVE in love not to just do whatever we want.

I challenge you to take a look at your life and see if what you are actually now serving what you thought was serving you...and if you find that you are in fact a slave...I invite you to call out to Jesus to set you free, set you free to serve him, please him and find fulfillment in your life. Maybe you've never called out to Him, that's okay, He's lovingly waiting for you. Maybe you know the Lord already but find you've started serving other things, just come back to Jesus. He's there lovingly waiting for you too.

I'll wrap up with this: Lauren Caraway knew true freedom, she knew Jesus Christ. She loved others and served others. Even though her life was not long on this earth, she had the ability to please God because she knew Jesus. She now lives in complete freedom and wholeness with Jesus - forever. She is completely free from sickness and the things we still battle here. Her Independence Day is every day and ours can be as well.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Wimbledon - the very word just oozes tradition. Immediately perfectly manicured green grass courts with the Rolex clock, athletes in all white uniforms and The Royals in their box come to mind. I see in my mind the grounds of the All England Club, a place I've definitely never been in person before but have been to countless times through my television screen. It' one of my favorite times in summer leading up to my most favorite summer day - 4th of July.

I see the athletes walk through the tunnel with their big racket bags, all white apparel, sweatbands or visors and steely eyes. I wish I was one of them. Their ability to direct that bright yellow ball wherever they want stroke after stroke intrigues me. I see them battle each other but even more so, I see them battle themselves. They battle to stay the course in the midst of the electrifying crowd, the media, nerves and the opponent trying to enforce their own will upon them. All of their countless hours of training is for now, this moment. They put themselves on display for glory or criticism - most of the time both!

Such brilliant displays of grace, power, courage and brains. The ability to adjust to weather conditions, physical conditions and your opponent is a must. There's no one else to take the shots for you. You can't pass the ball to your teammate and there is no one to block for you. Winning and losing is totally on your shoulders. The ability to persevere is critical and the best have a dogged determinism that can't be equaled. And just like in any sport, any person can win on any given day so you must bring your best.

What's interesting though is that I did not grow up playing tennis or even watching it. I remembered hearing when I was little that my dad used to play and that he was very good but at that time in our little town of 2400, tennis was nowhere to be found. The only 2 courts we had were by the golf course, cracked and full of weeds. When I did get into Junior High the only sports we had were cross country, basketball and track. I loved all three.

I can't help but dream and imagine though about what it would've been like to compete in tennis. As funny as it is, I have literally dreamed of winning a big match on center court. It's definitely not in the Lord's plan for me to ever play on center court at Wimbledon but I do plan on going to watch a match there one day!

My favorite player, Roger Federer, will be playing in the semi final tomorrow (on my favorite day!) for an opportunity to reach the final. I'll be cheering him on from here! I want him to show everyone that even though he hasn't had the results lately that he's had a certain points in his career, he is still one of the all time greats and capable of winning more Grand Slams.

Why do I love Wimbledon so much? Wimbledon represents a dream to me. The dream to be great at what you do, no matter that is. It is the underdog pulling an upset and the champion executing the plan. What is your Wimbledon? What inspires you and shows you what hard work and greatness look like?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's time

After a long break from blogging I feel like it's time to write again, to share about our life and what the Lord is doing in it. 
There really is so much to share so be on the lookout!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wade: A Reflection on the Last 10 Years...

I had originally planned to sit down and reflect a bit about my last 10 years when I turned 28 this past December... it's now January and will soon be February and I thought I best get with it, if I don't want this post to turn into the my last "11 years". Unfortunately, the moments when I have clarity about what I might want to notate about life are sometimes in the midst of a work day or a long run or the hustle and bustle of the day and sometimes when I come back to capture it, the eloquence (at least I thought it was when I was contemplating) of that thought has vanished.

In some ways, that's what happens with life - we set down with a pen and a paper or an open heart before the Lord and we aspire to greatness - no ordinary life for me we say and we pour out our desires to conquer through Christ all our struggles, we write our plans to live a life of lasting impact for His Kingdom, we aspire about the lives we'll touch, the relationships we'll mend, the blessings we'll share - and somewhere between the altar of the church and our car when we leave on Sunday morning, we lose focus. If I could characterize my last 10 years in any way, it would be to say that it's been a time of amazing clarity followed by moments of complete lack of focus. Sometimes when I put this in light of Paul's exhortation to "run with endurance the race marked out for us", I'm reminded that if you want to have the best "race", you need to stay focused throughout the race... but also, I'm reminded after my moments where I lose focus, that since it's a marathon and not a sprint, there's a lot of race left to focus on. I mean who remembers the person who is leading at mile 1 of a marathon or even who is winning (or behind) for the first 25 miles?

It's with that thought in mind that I think about my last 10 years - how 10 years ago in December, I was 18 years old - just finishing up my last season of high school football and thinking about thinking about what might lie ahead in life -  if someone was to ask me then what I thought I would do with my next 10 years at that point in life, I would have probably stated some of these high level things:
  • Graduate college
  • Have a successful college football career
  • Marry a beautiful girl
  • Start to work
  • Continue to love and serve the Lord
  • Stay close to all my family and friends
  • Grow-up
I didn't make a list of the specifics of all my expectations for the next 10 years when I was 18... but at a high level, I know something close to the ones above would have been on the list. Interestingly, there's much about the above list that I knew little about what it took to get to do these things or what it would take from me to accomplish them. I live a charmed life - most of my time is spent contemplating first world problems like how to save more money, where to take a trip to this year, what volunteer work to do, how much to put in the 401k, whether to take job A or job B, what to watch on TV tonight, is it time to upgrade to a flatscreen are some of the types of non-problems that I face along with the same really big ones, like am I making the most of this life God has given? It's pretty amazing to me that I've never ever been hungry a day in my life that I didn't choose to be hungry an that I've never been cold wittout the ability to warm up or warm without the ability to cool off in some fashion. I've had struggles and I've faced adversity, but I really don't know hardship. I create most of my problems. When I think about it in context of the world, it's amazing that I had things on the list to dream about at 18 years of age. It's even more amazing that God is His grace helped bring many of those to pass and taught me so much through the process. I still wake up everyday and wonder why I got to have the life I do - I don't know that I'll ever find out the answer besides that by God's grace He wanted me to have it - there's no better response to grace than gratitude and I pray that if there's one word I've spoke more than any other to God it's thank-you. Every day is like Christmas morning.

In the last ten years of those things listed above:
  • I went to College - played football on a scholarship, got two degrees while on scholarship
  • Received a BMW - beautiful, marvelous, wife
  • Started a career with Ingersoll Rand
  • Continued to love, grow, and serve the Lord
  • Stayed close to maybe two handfuls (at best) of the family and friends I thought I would
  • Grew-up... learned how to be a husband, an employee, a teammate, a servant, a grown son
There's a lot more that has happened in my last 10 years than the short list above... but at a high level, you can see that most things turned out fairly close to expectations, with the wife overly exceeding expectations, the football career unerachieving, and the relationships being much harder to grow and maintain than ever expected. They say that for a man, the years between 18 and 25 are called "The Big Seven" - In prior times, in those years, men used to graduate high school, leave home, graduate college, get a job, marry, and start a family. I didn't complete the list, but I got close. Times have changed... I think now, most men delay adolescence to where they complete about half that list in about twice the time period. I don't know all the reasons why most men would rather stagnate than grow and why our world has been so accepting of it, but I will say that as I look around the world we live in, I know it's far worse off for having allowed such laziness. I've often wondered why the Good Lord made it where we only get two sets of teeth (in most cases), shedding our baby teeth sometime before we hit 10 years of age and then having the responsibility of caring for the "big teeth" for the remainder of our lives - but as I look around and within, maybe the reason we shed the teeth when we are young is because it's at that point in life when we are still resolute that growing up is a good thing, even if it hurts - we aren't so afraid of change and the thought of becoming more than we were yesterday. I'm glad that we cut our teeth when we are babies... if we had to do it later in life, I bet many of us would just opt for a technological advancement or a shortcut - or maybe even just go straight to dentures. I've learned in the last 10 years that if you want to grow, you have to be willing to suffer. The only way over is through.

I've learned a lot about Jesus in the last 10 years, probabably more so than the first 18 years of my life put together. Interestingly, I would say that as you grow older, it gets even harder to get those learnings from your head to your heart.... and even harder still to get your hands involved.  I'm  nowhere close to being an expert about the Christian life, about life in general, or even about myself and the deluge of questions I wake up with each and every day. I'm certain I have much more to learn than what I know already. A few of the nuggets I've learned in the last 10 years are:
  • There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going
  • Is easier to never say yes to something than to say no to it after you've caved the first time
  • Character is easier to keep than recover
  • If you are going pray for rain, get ready to deal with the mud
  • One of the biggest temptations is to settle for too little
  • He who kills time murders opportunity
  • No matter what your lot is in life, build something on it
  • Failure is not falling down - it's staying there
  • If you want to work for world peace, start by loving your family
  • I'm poorest when I have more than I need and think it's not enough
  • Consumption without contribution leads to entitlement
  • There's a friend whose closer than a brother... she's called your wife
  • Presence is more than just being there - if your absences doesn't make any difference, your presence won't either.
  • It's easier to smell a rotten egg than lay a good one.
  • Being thankful changes you.
  • When life is sweet, be thankful and enjoy.
  • When life is bitter, be thankful and grow.
  • Keep running the race, no matter how far off course you get, no matter if you are running all alone, no matter if you have to crawl on your hands and knees - it's worth it, so keep running.
More than anything in the last 10 years, I've learned that how you spend your days is how you spend your life. If you have something you don't like about your life - a struggle, a disposition, an addiction, an attitude - it's not going to go away until you not only move it out, but build something worthwhile in it's place. Sin is the number one life killer - "A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief.” ― A.W. Tozer

I don't know how close I've come to the profoundness of thought that I had in mind (or at least I thought I had in mind) when I was piecing all these thoughts together over the last few months with the idea of posting a blog on what I've learned in the last 10 years... but I'm glad I took the time and had the focus to at least give it a shot for so much of life is wasted away on might have beens and at least, this isn't a post that almost happened. However good or bad it is... it is - rather than just another one of those things on my list I'll get to some day. As I write this, I'm already at work on my next 10 years.... so far, I've come out of the gates a bit sluggish, but this introspective look is definately a kick in the pants for me. I know that if one does as he always has, he'll end up where he's always been. I don't want to do that - how often I'm reminded that his one life is the only one I get. No matter how many Stapples commercials I see, I know there's no easy button out there for anything worth having.

In the next ten years, I want to learn how to redeem the time, overcome the struggles and make the most of this vapor that I call my life - I want to keep the focus and I want to be running down that straigth and narrow path each day, I want to learn how to praise in the valley and on the mountaintop, I want to learn how to dare and dream big dreams, I want to fail forward, cause I know I will fail along the way, I want to grow-up... there's a full measure in Christ and I'm far from it, I want to find a way to love my wife more than I ever have before, I want to leave these next 10 years of life better than I found them... I don't so much care to mount on wings like eagles or run and not grow weary - I just want to learn how to walk with Jesus, day by day, and not grow faint.

What do you want to do with your next 10 years?

I'll leave you with a wonderful thought from Katie (Kisses from Katie author):

"Life is not made by lives saved or bellies fed or words written. To adore the One who created the heavens and the earth, to give thanks for who He is and all He has given, to worship and commune with Holy God, whispering in the quiet, clinging in the noise, believing in all circumstances - that is what makes a life large."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Presents vs. Presence

Yesterday at church the sermon really challenged each person to look at their own heart and see if they were desiring the presents of God or the presence of God.

“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” Ex. 30:3

This was after Moses had come down from the mountain and found the people worshipping the golden calf. The Lord was so angry. He said though he would give them the Promised Land but would not go with them. He would give them what they had been desiring but not Himself.

Moses and the people were so upset. Moses’ reply was the following:

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” –Ex. 33:15

Moses would rather have stayed in the desert and have the Lord’s presence than go to the Promised Land without the Lord.

The question posed to us was, if God said he would give you exactly what you had been longing for and desiring, but not himself, would you take it? would you still want it? Can I honestly say that I would rather stay in the desert (figuratively speaking – that could be ill health, poverty, estrangement from family, job loss, etc) and have the Lord than go to the land flowing with milk and honey…let’s say “easy street” but without the Lord? 

I know in my own life it’s easy to focus on what I want FROM God and I too easily forget that His PRESENCE is the greatest gift He gives. I want what I want and when I get it, I think I will be satisfied…but only for a little while, then I want something else. But when I truly seek the Lord’s PRESENCE over his presents, there is such satisfaction and peace in my heart.

Christmas time is full of presents…don’t miss HIS PRESENCE – the greatest gift, Jesus.