30 October 2008
My life was changed forever.
Actually, I guess I should say, my parents lives were changed forever!
I was born shortly after noon, right after lunch and about two months late.
Nope; that's not a typo, nor is it an exaggeration.
(They didn't induce back then like they do now.)
39 years ago, I was just a tiny, squalling infant... today I have finally found my voice.
I am speaking out the message God has shown my heart & I am helping other women who have struggled with weight & food issues (as I have) to realize their value & worth & potential within God's plan for their lives.
39 years ago, I measured a mere 21 inches long... today, I am reaching heights that most people only dream about.
Heights that I never dared to dream about.
39 years ago, I cried when I was hungry... today, my hunger for all that God has for me is insatiable but I am constantly being filled with His satisfying abundance.
39 years ago, I didn't know how to dream... today, my dreams are limitless & unrestrained.
There's nothing I can't do in Christ Jesus.
Who knew that 39 short (too short!) years ago, God would be using a nobody like me to do His good work?
All I know is that if the past 2 years are remotely representative of the next 39, then I am a very lucky girl.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. :)
29 October 2008
You know, I have ALWAYS been one to support our United States Postal Service.
When they needed price hikes to stay competitive with commercial mail services, I totally supported them.
The USPS is an AMERICAN ICON -- how can any history lover (like moi) NOT support it?
As an eBay seller over the past 3 years, I have used the USPS for my shipping needs almost exclusively. I think I have employed UPS twice during that time.
That may be about to change.
I'm indulging myself in this rant in HOPES that someone -- anyone -- hears my plea & can offer some practical help.
This is the scenario:
I sell to a buyer in the UK.
The UK buyer is offered the choice of PRIORITY MAIL INTERNATIONAL, but instead (naturally) chooses FIRST CLASS INTERNATIONAL due the considerable price difference.
($15.25 versus $27.00, in case you are wondering)
I am not about to force my buyers into using a far more expensive, premium shipping service in today's economy.
That would be cruel and idiotic from a seller's standpoint.
But DID YOU KNOW:
That there is absolutely NO WAY to track a First Class International package?
So, my buyer in the UK has waited 27 days for her package to arrive (it was SUPPOSED to be a present for her daughter's birthday) and I decide to investigate.
This is what I am told:
Yes, the USPS acknowledges that they received the package into their possession on October 2nd (using the Customs Form #).
After that, no clue.
The UK Postal Service claims the package has never entered their borders and the USPS won't dispute that.
The USPS claims that there is absolutely NO WAY to track or confirm a "First Class International" package.
But WHY IS THAT???
As I argued with the supervisor (via telephone) yesterday, there should be SOME FORM OF ACCOUNTABILITY for the USPS. Otherwise, a postal worker could just take advantage of that precious bit of information and go on a "shopping spree" among the First Class Int'l packages.
I have known some very fine, upstanding people to work for the USPS, but let's face it:
HISTORICALLY, the USPS' hiring has not been all that selective.
They are known for hiring, shall we say, less than moral individuals who wouldn't think twice about stealing a package, ESPECIALLY if they understood that there is no accountability on the part of their station or employer.
WHAT A GREAT SET-UP!
I was informed by the 12th USPS employee yesterday (for the 12th time) that I should choose a (more expensive) traceable way of shipping.
But, my argument is, WHY EVEN OFFER a non-traceable form of shipping? Isn't that just setting the system up for abuse & misuse?
What is the point?
I don't believe their illogical arguments & I'm not going to go away quietly.
I mean, really, in this day and age -- there's NO way, at all, to track these packages?
Meanwhile, GPS is tracking the movements of nearly every individual on the planet.
Oh, the technology is there.
It's the conviction that's missing.
If that package doesn't arrive REALLY soon, then I am out more than $60 AND I have lost the item which I could have relisted to sell at another time for possibly even more money. Obviously, Paypal will side with the buyer (as they always do) and refund her money (from my account!) to her -- and I don't blame them! If I were her, I would want my money returned, too! After all, her daughter's birthday has already come and gone. She has paid all this money & for what?
Short of taking up a lawsuit against the Federal Government (USPS, that is), I don't know what else to do!
So, dear readers: HELP!
28 October 2008
26 October 2008
Honestly, God has done SO much in me & in my life in the past year, that I was wondering what more I could possibly gain from the experience. I knew it would be fun & full of great messages, but my cup is already running over...
Still, last year's conference was so life-changing for me that I knew I was NOT about to miss it, so I went.
And God showed up.
The world is a mess.
The economy is in the toilet.
Politics are smothering the life out of everything.
And if we weren't "Daughters of the King," and "Warriors" for Christ, we might be worried about all of this.
But like David -- standing before Goliath -- we are listening to another voice, following a different path, than the rest of the world.
Like any mortal, I have my moments of insecurity and doubt... frustration and anxiety.
I start to stress and calculate and micro-manage every element in my control (which is never truly in my ability to control at all).
And then I remember:
He foreknew my struggles before I even recognized them.
& He gives me HOPE for my future.
the lot that is cast upon me -- especially when I know
that others are dealing with far more & much worse?
and political agendas
instead being about
"our Father's business"?
It needs a SERVOLUTION.
25 October 2008
That's where I've been (and why you haven't heard from me) for the past 3 days.
And, can I just say,
this year was phenomenal!!
I was wondering how on earth they were going to top last year's conference, but God showed up & it was AMAZING!!!
I volunteered at each session & worked the After Party, so I am really tired, but I know my fatigue doesn't come close to what our awesome Pastor DeLynn & the HPC staff are feeling. They have been working on this women's conference, seriously, since last year's ended!!
Just a quick recap:
This year's speakers were: April Simons, Christine Caine, Dino Rizzo, & DeLynn Rizzo.
There were hilarious skits and "interviews," very cool give-a-ways, and Cirque Du Soleil was there for the after party!
But most of all, lives were changed, women were empowered, and dreams were born.
I'm so excited about next year's conference, I have already pre-registered and bought tickets for myself & Nadia.
I'm not lying or exaggerating when I say:
I wish EVERY girl & woman that I care about could come to next year's conference. It is SO WORTH any sacrifice.
You will not regret it.
I will post some pictures & more info tomorrow, but in the meantime...
click on the "Live The Dream" logo above (and then the "watch video recap" link)
& watch the short video recap of this amazing weekend!
22 October 2008
I am shamelessly lifting this from DAN OHLERKING'S BLOG.
This is a story written by Donna Frank about a girl who has come to HPC & has now come to know God. You will not believe this amazing story!
Julia was 14 the first time she heard of Healing Place Church. She was walking from Prairieville to Walker on Airline Highway. She had taken acid, swallowed lighter fluid and was bleeding all over from her cutting herself. A guy pulled over and she got in the car. He said he would take her to Walker. She knew what that would mean; a trade off, her body for a ride. She wondered if she was about to die and then wondered if she cared. But the scene changed when he began talking to her. He said, “I don’t know who you are or what you are going through, but me and my wife have been through some stuff—and I just wanna tell you about this church—Healing Place Church—don’t ever forget that name—don’t ever forget that God cares about you…”
Fast forward several years:
At a Chick Night DeLynn gave out pink princess mugs and Julia got one…and still has it. She loves it and has kept track of it through all the places her brokenness has taken her…hospitals, streets, St Louis, New York, Las Vegas, Mexico, L.A., Houston, and Lake Charles. She has held on to it in the midst of being shuffled around the country in the porn industry. Sometimes the simplest giveaways become the strongest lifelines.
Fast forward to present:
Last Monday night Julia drove by HPC and saw cars. She wondered if it was another one of those women nights. She continued to drive but turned around at the Acadian exit to come back and check it out. She just didn’t know if she wanted to live anymore. She says it’s kind of a blur; Delynn talking about weight and the obsession it can become. Julia said she’s never heard anybody get that real from the stage, especially a pastor’s wife sharing in front of her own church. It fascinated her and provided such relief; that somebody was willing to get on the stage and get real and tell women to let it go…about the real things in life…the undoing’s in life…
She went to the altar, got prayer and started on a new road.
Extricating oneself from the porn industry is not an easy task. Divine intervention is the most crucial part, but it also involves unsavory characters, threats, guns, getaway cars, hide outs and sometimes the FBI. Julia wanted out…so HPC said “We’re in”. God showed up and everything fell into place.
The road back home is a long one. This all began for Julia when she was 12 years old and her recovery will likely take years. The physical and emotional trauma that she has endured will be healed only by God’s patience and His unfailing love. Thank God for Healing Place Church, pink princess mugs, and a pastor’s wife speaking openly from the stage.
Thank God for Brother Wayne who taught his daughters they are princesses and that they are handing that down to this broken girl who is beginning to see a glimmer of hope… daring to believe that one day she can wear a tiara too.
Thank you Healing Place Church for letting us be the church…to do the ministry, not just talk about it. Thank you for allowing us to reach the world by serving one.
How cool is that???
I'm so glad I get to go to a church like Healing Place Church. =)
Now... go check out Dan's blog so he doesn't get mad at me for stealing this!
21 October 2008
I'm no longer focused on Elevate (Healing Place School of Ministry), and I don't think I'm supposed to be.
Last year was crazy busy, too. In some ways, I was actually BUSIER last year than I am this year.
And yes, the workload this year is MUCH more intense (no lie), but that's not it, either.
I have always been able to "push through" no matter how grueling things become
(Hey, I survived boot camp!).
Quite honestly, my heart just hasn't been in it. I love being an intern, but I can't seem to get focused this year.
Then my friend & advisor said something to me recently that makes perfect sense
(thank you, Tiffany!):
"It may be that God's favor is not upon you in this area, in this season."
Well said... and absolutely right.
I know, without a doubt, what I AM supposed to be doing in this season:
*Leading my life group
*& FINISHING MY BOOK
Oh, we can balk and try to stay where WE want to go or where WE think we should be, but if it's not HIS will, we are just wasting time.
So, this morning, I "resigned" from Elevate.
Or, rather, put my ministry training/studies on hold.
I hope to someday return to Elevate to complete the degree I would like to obtain, but even more, I can't wait to see what God has for me next.
Whatever it is, I know it's going to be AWESOME!
20 October 2008
Ha! Like that's ever going to happen...
My BEST FRIEND (since the 4th grade!!!) -- Shannon -- is one of the founders & staff-writers for the awesome blog: NWA MotherLode. I have been perusing their site since they first went up and I have to say, it keeps getting better & better! Be sure to check out Shannon's regular column: "Life With Ladybug." Even if you don't live in NWA (North-West Arkansas), there are some great features & contests!
I am SO SAD that some of our very dear friends -- Pat & Lorri Earles -- are moving to the Oregon/Washington State area! Sheesh, could they get any further away???
We are going to miss them SOOOOOOOO much.
Lorri is one of my sweetest friends & I have enjoyed serving with her at the Baton Rouge Dream Center over the past 2 years. Her kids & mine also share special bonds & this move is not going to set well with any of us, but we wish them the very best.
Plus, maybe now -- FINALLY -- I will have an excuse to travel to that part of the country (the only region, except Alaska, I haven't been).
WE WILL MISS YOU EARLES!!!!!!!!!!
Lastly, (but not least) I want to give a shout out to my SISTER -- Lameis -- who has (finally) started reading my blog!! I love you, little sis. =)
18 October 2008
The morning started somewhat misty-eyed:
After nearly 2 years of volunteering with Ladies' Thrive at the Baton Rouge Dream Center, yesterday was the last "THRIVE" of this year.
Officially, we are just taking a break for the holidays to focus on all of our upcoming activities (Fall Fest, Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Toy Give-Away), but in reality, they are looking for a way to shake things up a bit.
They want THRIVE to evolve into more of a discipleship program -- teaching the men and women practical life application & encouraging them to step up and volunteer, too.
I think this is an AWESOME idea.
Even so, I'm kinda sad to see this "era" come to an end.
There are some inner-city ladies who have been with us almost from the beginning:
Mrs. Augustine, Mrs. Georgia, Mrs. Mary, & Monica...
Others have only just joined us in the last few months:
Chevelle, Antoinette, & Mrs. Debra.
But ALL of them have come to hold a dear place in my heart.
I'm very excited to see what could & will become of the new plans that will be implemented in January.
I'm really hoping that ALL of these faithful men & women will become an integral part of BRDC and its many Outreaches.
A lump-in-my-throat-but-oh-so-excited Good Thing.
After THRIVE, I met my very good friend (and soul-sista) Monette at the Baton Rouge River Center for HOLLYDAYS.
Can you say: SIX & a half hours of non-stop SHOPPING!!!!!Monette was awesome!
I kept telling everyone that she was my "personal shopper," and really, she was!
Since I have lost so much weight, almost nothing fits me anymore.
And since I have struggled with my weight for so long (and tried to hide it behind baggy clothing), I'm kinda outta touch with what's in style.
Monette -- on the other hand -- is a walking fashion statement.
The girl never looks "undone;" she is ALWAYS GORGEOUS.
We had so much fun, but my feet are STILL hurting.
That's ok; it's nothing a little bling and some pretty shoes can't make me forget.
That's lots of good things!!
On another, more spiritual note:
I decided just a couple of weeks ago to get re-baptized. So did my middle daughter, Natasha.
She was only 7 when she was baptized the first time & really wanted to re-commit her life.
For me, it was all about "waking up" in my faith.
I've been a Christian since I was 10 years old, but God has worked some pretty amazing miracles in my life in the past couple of years.
I have been SO blessed in SO many ways. I'm excited to see all that He is doing & is about to do in my life!
I don't feel, even remotely, like the same person I was 3 years ago...
13 October 2008
It's titled, "With Everything," and every time I hear it, I get goosebumps.
I know some people don't like the whole "Whoa-Whoa" end chorus (near the end of the song), but EVERY time I hear it, I think of the Israelites shouting -- by God's command -- and the walls of Jericho coming down.
The song even mentions tearing down our walls.
It's very symbolic for me because I feel like so many walls in my life are finally coming down.
When I hear this song, I sing out at the top of lungs (ok, well, when no one else is in the car with me) and I just picture those walls in my life toppling to the ground.
It's truly anointed.
Do you have walls that need to come down? Turn it up:
11 October 2008
"It's not me; I tried to do it for most of my adult life & couldn't. It's all HIM (God)."
But then comes the inevitable follow-up... "So, what exactly are you doing to lose it?"
Um, weren't you paying attention?
It's not me.
I've done every diet, read (almost) every book, tried (nearly) every gimmick.
But when I tell them what I honestly believe, I usually get a blank stare in return.
"You mean, that's it??"
Sure, it may SOUND simple: Turning over a life-long struggle to God and allowing Him to heal me from the inside, out.
But what most people don't seem to understand is that it is one of the hardest things I have ever done.
The actual step of RELEASING that control? It's not so easy despite its deceptively simple veneer.
Yes, there's more to it than that (which is why I'm writing a book), but that step -- that enormous leap of faith -- is the cornerstone for the entire process.
Obedience to Christ, relinquishing control, absolute submission to His way instead of my own, "logical" way.
It doesn't make sense.
I have done NOTHING in the past 8 months to justify (on a logical level) the loss of 63 pounds. And yes, I am perfectly healthy... just got checked out, actually.
Everything is great! Great cholesterol & triglycerides, excellent blood pressure, even my blood sugar is steady & low (Hb A1c = 5.6). Indeed, I've never felt better in my life!
I guess I'll just have to get used to the dumbfounded stares & incessant skepticism.
When we allow God to use our pain for His glory and good, we always come out on top!
And some of us get to wear a smaller dress size, too. =)
10 October 2008
What a week it has been!!
In a nutshell, the insanity began at 3 AM on Monday morning.
I woke up suddenly and thought the power had gone out. I got up to get a flashlight only to discover that sporadic areas of my house had power, but 75-80% did not.
We checked the breakers and reset the whole-house breaker, to no avail.
The air conditioner wouldn't work, the fridge was out, and so was the freezer.
In desperation, I began calling friends to find an electrician (well, I waited until after 8 am).
The electrician came out on Monday, but found that the problem was no easy solution... a wire in our meter pan (?) had caught on fire and burned clear through. (!!!!!)
When it fell away, it caused our house to run only on limited power and only a few things (low energy) would work. This required:
*DEMCO to come out and shut off power to our house
*The electrician to come back out and replace the meter pan & wires
*The city building inspector to come out and inspect the new wires/meter pan
*DEMCO to come back out and turn everything back on
Then, Monday night was HP Women and DeLynn brought an amazing word for all the ladies there. It really touched my heart and encouraged me for the week ahead.
Tuesday was the start of 40SAP and of course, Tuesday night was HPSOM (Elevate) classes.
Wednesday was full of errands and appointments and trying to get laundry caught back up from 2 days with no power (hey, I have 3 kids).
Thursday started with an early doctor appointment, followed on the heels with haircuts for myself & Nadia, followed by the second meeting of my life group: INSIDE OUT
Today was our usual THRIVE Friday & I have spent the afternoon getting caught up on paperwork. It has been a long and exhausting week, but I am more than content with all that God is continuing to do in my life.
Last night's Life Group meeting was just wonderful. I really love all the ladies who attend the group and I think lives are going to be changed & God is going to be glorified through all of this.
If you are wondering what happened to my political rant post, I removed it. For one, it wasn't fair for me to only point out the faults of one side when there have been equal injustices on the other. But mainly, I do NOT want my blog to become a political whipping post. I did not start this blog to influence peoples' political opinions or to publicize my own. I think the right to vote -- to CHOOSE who we want for higher offices is a wonderful FREEDOM and right that many people take for granted. Even if I disagree with your choice of candidate, I will NEVER deride you for YOUR choice.
I respect every individual's right to choose & vote as they see fit.
Hope to begin posting regularly again, but that's it for now.
I'm sure I've worn you out with all of this anyway.
The Prodigal Blogger has returned!