Monday, October 12, 2015

Good News

It seems as if every time I turn on my television or log onto the internet I am bombarded with story after story and image after image of atrocities and disasters. War, floods, earthquakes, riots, murders dominate my news feed and leave me reeling from the horrors of the world. How does one cope with such waking nightmares? Where can a person find peace in the midst of world-wide turmoil?

Simple answer: Peace can be found in Jesus Christ.

Now, before you tune me out and write me off as one of those crazy Born-Again fundamentalist whackadoos, just know one thing. I share this only because I love people. I have no judgment or condemnation to bring upon people. I am a flawed human being who sins and fails God every day. But I have been given Grace. However, I believe with all my heart that the Age of Grace is coming to a swift end and so it is with great love and urgency for my dear friends that I share the Truth with you.

God loves you. He does not wish to see one person spend eternity in hell.

"Well, why does He send people there?" you ask.

Again, simple answer: He does not send people to hell. We send ourselves by rejecting Jesus Christ.

"But I'm a good person!"

That's great, but the Bible says that the best of our efforts to be good are like dirty rags to a Holy and Just God. We cannot earn our salvation, but that brings us to the Good News. We don't have to!!!

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus took upon himself the weight and shame of all our sins and paid the price for them. He suffered the punishment we should have had as sinners.

Through his sacrifice, we have direct access to God the Father. We don't have to go through priests or perform rituals and follow a bunch of impossible rules in order to earn God's favor and redemption. We have been given a chance to come to God through His Son and ask for forgiveness for our sins. God grants us His Grace and Mercy when we come to Him in the name of Jesus and confess our sins to Him and turn from those sins to follow Him.

Life is impossible to navigate without God. Without the peace He gives, this world becomes a dark and dismal place in which we don't know where to turn or what to do. How wonderful it is to be able to come to God as His child and say, "Help me, I'm lost, confused, depressed, stressed, worried, afraid, etc." 

The Christian life is not without worries or problems (no matter what Joel Osteen tells you.) There are difficult times. But as a Christian, you will never go through those times alone! You have a loving Savior on your side, not to mention a brotherhood of other Christians to lift you up in prayer.

"But what about all those hypocrites?"

Look, Christians are human. We mess up. We do and say things we should not. We succumb to temptations. If any person tells you that they do not sin, they are a big, fat liar. We all do. But true Christians will do their best. They'll repent and ask for forgiveness. We try not to judge, but unfortunately, it still happens sometimes. The key is not to fix your focus on flawed humans, but on Jesus. He never messes up or disappoints. He'll never lie to you or lead you astray. He will never break a promise to you. 

Dear friends, I feel in my heart that time is very short. Things are going to be brought upon this Earth that will be unlike anything we've seen before. If you haven't given your heart and life to Jesus Christ I beg you to do so before it is too late. All it takes is simple, child-like faith. God will hear and answer when you call out to Him. He loves you and wants to know you and show you the way to peace and joy! 

None of us can figure out this life on our own. And none of us can be "good enough" on our own to earn eternity with God. But remember the Good News: We don't have to do it on our own. Jesus Christ has already done it for us and we only have to put our trust in him to receive a place in Heaven.

You don't need any flowery language or thees and thous to pray to God. He is a loving Father who longs to communicate with His children. A simple prayer is all it takes:

Pray this prayer wherever you are right now and God will save you. He will change your life and give it meaning and purpose! He will give you joy and peace in whatever circumstances you are facing.
Be blessed my friends. Trust Jesus Christ with all your heart and in every part of your life. He loves you very much and I do too!

Monday, August 17, 2015

10 Signs You Were a Church Girl in the 90s

The 90s were like, totally awesome in so many ways, but they were especially cool for church girls. If you were a member of a church youth group, GAs, or other religious organization during the 90s you probably have a lot of fond memories of lock-ins, pizza blasts and fundraising car washes. You probably also remember that:

1. You had a crush on one or more members of the group DC Talk-
Most 90s girls had to say a prayer of repentance at least once for secretly wishing to have Toby Mac's babies. And you may or may not have had a dance routine to "Jesus Freak."
Eminem?  Puh-lease...

2. You knew the power of Veggie Tales-
Any junior leader knew the importance of having a library stocked with Veggie Tales videos for Junior Church or nursery duty.. They were funny and entertaining and if you timed it just right, parents were there to pick up their kiddos just as the credits rolled.
"It's time for Veggie Taaaaaaaaaales!"

3. You knew WWJD-
The trendy bracelets not only advertised the fact that you were religious, but they were a big help when making important life decisions. Should I answer back to this rude person? What would Jesus do? Should I go to that wild party? What would Jesus do?  Should I wear sneakers or sandals?  What would Jesus do? (Duh, sandals.)
'Cause Christians need swag too.

4. You thought Shout to the Lord was the bomb-
This praise song turned power anthem was a staple at youth rallies and retreats during the late 90s. It was like the "Bohemian Rhapsody" of church songs. If you heard it you had to sing it at the top of your lungs. Whether you could sing or not.
We loved Darlene Czeck  Czech  Zwieback ... whatever.

5. You kissed dating goodbye-
The well-known treatise on Biblical courtship by Joshua Harris came into vogue in the latter part of the 90s. While people could argue that Harris made some good points, most of us just jumped on that bandwagon if the approaching weekend found us dateless.
*Sniff* This is waaaay more scriptural.

6. You went to Church Night at the skating rink-
Many skating rinks had a special "Church Skate" on Wednesdays. They would forgo the MC Hammer and Madonna and play Christian artists like Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. Youth groups would come by the busload for good, clean, potentially bone-breaking fun.
There's nothing like busting your rear-end to the pulsing beat of Carman.

7. You laughed at Mark Lowry.
 Mark Lowry was the Christian comic du jour of the 90s. He was goofy but joked about stuff we 90s church kids could totally relate to. It wasn't a good church van trip until the group leader pulled out the Mark Lowry cassette tapes he bought at the Christian Book Store.
Yes, that is what television sets looked like back in the day, kids.

8. You went to or worked at a Judgment House
While most of our friends were going to haunted houses during Halloween, we church girls were attending or volunteering at our church's Judgment House. We splattered ourselves with  fake blood and played accident victims or we dressed in all white with tinsel halos and played angels. Because what's Halloween without dressing up and scaring the crap out of ministering to people?
Nothing says "Jesus loves you'" like seeing people being dragged to Hell by teenage "demons."

9. Your church had Chick Tracts-
Chick tracts are like Judgment House comic books. They don't pull any punches and they cover a wide range of topics: evolution, Dungeons and Dragons, greed, drinking and much more! Most 90s church kids were aware of the entertaining stories and nightmare-inducing depictions offered within those weird little tracts.
Charles Dickens won't mind...

10. You went to church camp-
Whether it was Centrifuge, Crosspoint, or En Fuego, church camp awesome. There were games and music and cool inspirational speakers who re-lit your spiritual flame. You had a great time with all your church friends and came back with renewed passion. And a glow-in-the-dark t-shirt.
"Dude, I've gotten saved like 3 times already this week..."

What did I miss?  What are your favorite memories as a 90s church kid?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Mustache You to Go Try Don Bigotes

My family enjoyed a fantastic lunch today at what has become our favorite restaurant in town, Don Bigotes.  This place offers an amazing lunch buffet that is not only delicious, but easy on the bank account. The cuisine is authentic Mexican and it is truly some of the tastiest food in the area.

Don Bigotes, or "Mr. Mustache" as it's translated, opened in February of 2015 in what was formerly the Jack's building in Cherokee Plaza in Centre, Alabama.  Owner Alex Bravo (I love his name, he sounds like a secret agent!) gave the place a complete overhaul inside and out. It's colorful, fun and inviting. 
It's easily spotted from the road!

The menu is great, offering the traditional favorites like fajitas, tacos, and burritos. There are also a number of excellent not-so typical items like fried tilapia, Pina del Mare and even vegetarian fajitas. There are daily specials which are always excellent and a great value. My husband and I like to split the Los Mariachi Fajitas for Two featuring short ribs, chicken, shrimp, beef and chorizo. Bueno!

Today we all hit the wonderful buffet. There is such an assortment of delicious things to try on the buffet and at only $6.25 a person, it's a remarkable value (especially considering the amount of food my boys can put away!)  The buffet offers taco shells and tortillas to make your own tacos, spicy chicken nachos, beef and chicken enchiladas, some really tasty seasoned chicken with cheese, and my personal favorite, Mexican lasagna. The items on the buffet change day-to-day, but there is always something excellent to try.

              Mexican lasagna is soooo yummy!
                                                    I like the enchiladas a whole lada!

There is also a nice little dessert buffet offering fruit, pudding, sopapillas and little cake bites.

So pretty... I must eat them!

The regular menu has other desserts like yummy sopapillas topped with ice cream, banana chimichangas, and churros!

The staff at Don Bigotes is super friendly and personable. The waitstaff is always helpful and ready to refill your glass or get you anything you need or want. Alex Bravo, the owner, seems to be always smiling and on hand to see that your visit is a good one.

Don Bigotes is a great place to come with the family. The tables and booths are spacious and there is a small kids menu with child-friendly dishes. The dining area is nice and perfect for events like birthday parties (complete with embarrassing sombrero!)  There are 3 large screen televisions in the main dining area and another near the bar which are great for watching the game. Speaking of the bar, I'm told Don Bigotes will soon be officially licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for those of you longing for a margarita. 
It's a fiesta for the senses! 

Don Bigotes is my family's go-to place for a meal out.  It's fun, delicious and very affordable!  If you haven't checked them out yet, you should. For more info you can visit their Facebook page here.  

What are you waiting for? Vamos!

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Facebook Newsfeed is Making Me Crazy

Not that I had far to go, but still...

Auburn's ginormous new scoreboard?  Y'all, a bigger scoreboard only makes the scores look bigger. Do you really want your embarrassment at this year's Iron Bowl magnified 435%?

All those rainbows are going to make me have a seizure.

All those Confederate flags are making me want to watch "Gone With the Wind" and I don't have 3+ hours to spare. Besides, it's RAAAAAAACIST!  

#darkfordinner- Seriously?  This is a thing?  Why is this a thing? Why does this have to be a thing? Don't families talk to each other anymore?  Why does anyone (especially a child) need a computer or iPad or whatever at the dinner table?

Why aren't we talking about what's going on in Greece?

When did Mental Floss become the new Buzzfeed?

Stop tagging me in Poe memes. I've seen them all. A bajillion times. Seriously, quit.

I like dessert too, but sometimes it's good to pin a recipe for roasted carrots or broccoli.

Oh, you posted a selfie? That's different.

No, you don't look fat in your pic, but if you keep asking I'm going to say yes and offer to let you be my guest at the gym.

I don't know who half of you people are.  I think Facebook is friending people of my behalf.

You are selling your truck, not saleing it. Your truck is for sale, not for sell.

Everyone's offended. Everyone's offended that everyone's offended. Everyone's offended that everyone's offended that everyone's offended.

Why are people swimming in Weiss Lake?  Ewww!

Too many pictures of Donald Trump and not enough pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo.

If you love reading so much, why are you always on Facebook?

I think that about covers it. I'm sure my newsfeed will be on the lighter side tomorrow after all the *unfriendings.  My work here is done.

*Get a sense of humor. Or buy one. They probably got one fer sell on the Facebook Yard Sale No Rules Page.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Thrill of Hope

Turn on the television, go online, open up a newspaper and you're instantly bombarded with bad news. Terrorism, violence, disaster, disease and despair fill the headlines. This is supposed to be a season of Joy and Peace, yet it seems with each passing day the world spirals further into the chaos of immorality. How can we sing songs of love and cheer when there is so much evil and unhappiness in the world?

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night." It speaks of a weary world much like the one we see now, a world of corruption, hostility, and great unrest. But a thrill of Hope echoed across the world that night so long ago when a Savior entered the world, not as a conquering king, but as a helpless baby.

Hope. It's a small word with a tremendous promise. Hope is not wishful thinking, but grasping and claiming the promises made to us by God and trusting without doubt that He will bring them to pass. Jesus' entry into the world marked the fulfillment of an age-old promise. (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7)
It also marked the beginning of a new Hope for mankind.

The Law of God declared that the punishment for sin was death. For centuries, animal sacrifices had been made to atone for the sins of humanity. God loved his creation and I believe that when Satan came around to remind God that mankind deserved eternal separation from Him, He knew what must be done. There must be an Ultimate Sacrifice made. A Final Atonement. God offered His Son as that sacrifice so that we could continue to fellowship with Him and be His children.

Our Hope of Salvation was born as a baby in a stable. He was born to die for us. He was born as a Gift from a loving Father who wished to redeem His wandering children. It is because of this Gift that we can have Hope, despite the state of the world. God sees what's going on. He saw it 2000 years ago. He saw it from the very fall of Man. He has given us Hope in the form of His Son Jesus. We can look to Jesus for comfort, peace and unfailing love.

The world may be weary, but it can thrill in the Hope that Jesus has come to save us from our sins and to restore us to the Father.

Do you need Hope? What greater Christmas gift can you ever get than the assurance that you belong to God and have everlasting life in Him through Jesus?!  The best part?  It's FREE!  You don't have to buy anything or do any certain number of good works. You just have to accept and believe. All it takes is a simple, heartfelt prayer like this one:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.

If you prayed this prayer I rejoice with you! Christmas will have a deeper, fuller meaning for you from now on.

Whether or not you prayed this prayer, know that God loves you and I do as well. I wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas!

*No, I will not always be this "preachy" in my blogging, but I felt called to share today. God is good, folks. Don't doubt for a moment!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A New Chapter

The first event that I ever attended at Malone Baptist Church, my home church of the last 20+ years, was a Christmas event. I suppose it's only fitting that my last event as a member of Malone was a Christmas event.

This week a rather long chapter of my life came to a close with a mixture of sadness, excitement and nervous anticipation. I have left my father's church behind (with the best of feelings) and have taken a ministry position at a church closer to where my family and I live. This has actually been coming for quite some time. I have felt the pull, heard the whisper of "get ready, change is coming" and although I am a bit nervous about this move away from everything familiar, I am confident I have done the right thing.

Malone will always be home. I came there as a sullen fourteen-year-old, unhappy to be uprooted from a former church, home and school. I was determined not to like it and to remain miserable. The good people of the church however, made that difficult. Their warmth and kindness was overwhelming and I could not help but love them back.

Christmas 1992. I wore ugly Christmas sweaters before they were cool.

The people of Malone prayed me through my teenage years, saw me off to college, supported me through single motherhood and rejoiced with me when God sent me the man of my dreams. I was married at Malone, my husband and children were baptized there. I found my purpose and calling through the prayers of the wonderful folks between the pews.

There are many people that I recall with great fondness. People that made such an impression on me that I have never forgotten. People like my first Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Lucy. One of my first memories of Malone Baptist was of that first Christmas party. Mrs. Lucy's dear husband, J.N. was sitting in a chair with clothespins all over his shirt and even in his beard from some game we played. Mrs. Sue was another wonderful teacher and a Christmas party at her house included an hour-long game of hide-n-seek and a fashion show involving the wearing of an angel tree-topper as a hat. 

There were many others who talked, cried and prayed me through the angsty high school years and into the stress-filled college years. It was church members who encouraged me to study music, even suggesting schools and programs with available scholarships. My first piece of mail to my first home-away-from-home was from one of Malone's dear Prayer Warriors, Mrs. Jan. I still have that little encouraging postcard in my treasure box.

I wish I could list all of the church people who have blessed my life, but it's such an extensive list I would never finish. I will just say that having been a part of Malone Baptist Church and its amazing members has been enriching, uplifting and life-changing. I would not be who I am today without those influences. They have given advice, counsel and prayers and so much more to me and my family. I know I will be dropping by as often as my new position allows, but even if that's only once in a while, my dear "home church" will never be forgotten. 

Thank you, good people of Malone Baptist Church, for welcoming a brooding teenage girl with open arms and helping guide her into spiritual and physical maturity. I hope I've made you proud.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


There is a saying that cousins are the first friends you ever have. I am inclined to agree. Cousins, unlike siblings, are the relative-playmates who you don't see everyday. They're a bit more novel. For a lot of people, cousins are seen only at weddings, funerals and the occasional family reunion. They pop in and out of our lives, but we're usually very happy to see them.

I spent much of my childhood six hundred miles away from my cousins, so the times we got to spend together were uniquely special. My list of cousins is quite large. My mom is one of seven children and my father is one of four. I have cousins galore. I love them all dearly, but I've always had a special bond with the two closest to my age on my mom's side of the family, Tiffany and Stephanie. They are the daughters of my mom's younger sister, but they are both slightly older than me. From a very young age the three of us were big time buddies and partners in crime.

Even as babies, Stephanie and I knew how to rock

We had a laundry list of games and activities to take part in when we finally got together. As I've mentioned, I lived several states away from my cousins and only got to visit during the summer. However, as soon as my family pulled into my grandparents' driveway for our annual visit, my aunt was right behind us in her station wagon, ready to spirit me away for some quality time with "the girls." This usually involved Barbie dolls, water, and plenty of mischief.

Stephanie was almost always the one who came up with the really fun ideas that would inevitably get us into trouble. We played in the mud, painted the playhouse with peanut butter and brought plenty of wildlife into my aunt's kitchen.

When we weren't catching snapping turtles at my aunt's house, Tiffany, Stephanie and I were at my maternal grandparents' house jumping on the trampoline, exploring the off-limits bomb-shelter or running around the neighboring fields and woods playing The Wizard of Oz. We made ourselves sick on crab apples. We tortured the younger cousins with stories of how the train behind my grandparents' house would jump off the tracks and come down into the field to "get them." We created elaborate imaginary worlds on my grandmother's front stoop. We occasionally fought, but our quarrels were always short lived.

This was a land of untold wonders

Unfortunately, as the years passed, and despite my family moving closer, the three of us drifted apart. We got married, had babies and jobs and hectic lives. We're friends on social media, but we don't get many chances to see one another. This past weekend however, we reconnected at my aunt's house for the first time in years. The conditions were less than ideal, the result of tragedy, but there was still a feeling of joyful reunion. So much was still the same about my aunt's house: the doormat on the porch, the pictures on the wall, the feeling of warmth and welcome. I could have been ten years old, plopping down on the waterbed and rummaging through my aunt's movie library in search of The Wizard of Oz. 

Nostalgia is bittersweet. I have so many cherished memories of time spent with my beloved cousins, but those memories are usually accompanied by a little sadness over the loss of those days of innocence and wild abandon. Still, as I watched my children run around the yard with my cousins' children, I couldn't help but be happy at the completion of the circle. Cousins are not just your first friends. They are your forever friends. No amount of time or distance can change the fact that you are joined, not only by the bonds of blood and genes, but by camaraderie and love.

*Tiff and Steph, "There's no place like home."