Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Transitional Thursdays – An Immediate Change Effective Thursday

As if we don't have enough changes to anticipate, let's throw an IMMEDIATE change effective Thursday. Patrick leaves tomorrow to work storm damage in Arkansas. I will be single-parenting it through the end of the school year. It's nice that he will be working close by, so we can go and see him occasionally. The last time he was called to work storm was when Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Pearce was barely a year old. He doesn't remember it, but HE WILL remember it this time. Patrick has promised a special prize for each of the kids when his job is done.

Oh, yeah, and I have another "sign you know your office is closing." You know your office is closing when you go into the office, and you have no connectivity for the computers. Yep, went in this morning, and the computers would not connect. SOOOOO, I loaded up my gear and worked from home. Apparently the storm knocked out our business connection, and it doesn't appear they will have it corrected maybe by Friday…I AM NOT COMPLAINING.

The storms last night were horrific. Wave after wave of storms. Tornado sightings and warnings in multiple parishes – for those who don't live in Louisiana, we have parishes not counties. Lightning, hail, wind-blown rain so heavy you wouldn't be able to see a tornado until it was on top of you, thunder, and wind – it's what we call "spring" in the south. It was a tumultuous night with little sleep. Families huddled in closets or hallways covered in pillows flanked by flash lights and weather radios. Such demonstrative power of an Almighty God who wasn't even putting forth any effort is mind-blowing. If my God can whip up a storm like that without breaking a sweat, He most assuredly can handle last minute transitions. (BTW, they aren't "last minute" to Him.) He can handle big transitions and small glitches in our day like computer failure.

Whatever you are going through, God is bigger. Whatever you are struggling underneath the weight of, He is stronger. Whatever fear you are facing, He has never dropped anyone, and no one or nothing can pry you out of His hands. Your name is engraved in the palm of His hand. He's got this! He's got you!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

…What to do

What do you do when your child has a heart for missions at an early age?

I remember being afraid that God would call me to missions and send me far away…like to Africa. I was afraid that I would never see my family again if God called me to missions.

My daughter doesn't have that fear. God has given her a gift of mercy and compassion, so when the opportunity presented itself for her to go to a mission trip in El Salvador, she applied. She filled out the form herself. It will cost her $1,000.00, to go. I will be going as well because she can't travel by herself to a foreign country.

In order for to raise money, Erin is making bracelets to sell. If you drink cokes out of the can, would you please save the pop tops and send them to Erin? She will use these to make the bracelets to sell. I've posted some pictures of the bracelets. She is going to sell them for $2.00. If you would like to buy one, I know she would appreciate it. If you can do neither, we would definitely appreciate your prayers leading up to the trip, during the trip and for a safe return.

It really wouldn't surprise me if at some time in the future if she didn't do this on a regular basis. She has such a heart for God and for telling others.

So, what do I do when my child has a heart for missions? I'm doing everything in my power to make sure her passion doesn't die. I want her heart to stay open to all the possibilities God has for her.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The last I wrote on my company’s transition, I wrote about things that we found to laugh at. Sometime after I arrived at the office, I went to the break room, and on the way, I noticed THE CLOCK. The clock that had been stopped at 9:40 AM for several weeks now was working and showed 8:25 AM! What am I supposed to do with that? I messaged my boss with the confusing sign, and his quick response was, “You’re living on borrowed time. Someone borrowed a battery.” I thought that was pretty funny. Then I pointed it out to one of my colleagues, and he said he had climbed up there and changed it. He said he was going to “Show the man, we aren’t going down without a fight.” Hahahaha!!!! I thought that was funny. Now the interior door wouldn't scan our ID has since been fixed, but before hand, my boss called dibs on my stapler. I explained someone had already absconded with said stapler and that I was heavily considering booby trapping my chair!

We saw the maintenance man had come up from Baton Rouge, that he was cleaning out the drive-in with a power washer, and had the floor plans for the office. The scheming began. We know our office is closing. There’s no denying it. It’s just a matter of whether or not we will have jobs here or who is going to be moving away. The last time we had a “transition” was about six years ago. A lot of people moved from Monroe to Baton Rouge, and now they may be having to move again.

I know that if my position survives being placed here this go around that it won’t be the next go around. Things are always changing.

So, what do you do when things are uncertain? Where do you turn? What do you do when you stress?

At this point, I choose to use humor. We’ll see what I choose the closer it gets to my looking for a job.

Truth is life is just one transition after another: it’s just some transitions are bigger or more difficult than others. I had to transition into being a parent, and then again to being the mom of two. My body transitioned into some stage shortly after turning 30 and my metabolism changed. My body is transitioning now – I’m known for having my own personal summers at times. We go through different transitions in relationships. Truth is as much as I’d like a nice, dull rut to lie down in and stay for a while, I don’t know one soul who has a stagnant, non-changing life. It’s how you handle transition. What PERSPECTIVE do you choose to view life through? Perspective tells people A LOT about your faith – in case you don’t know. It shows whether or not you’ve matured or are in the process of maturing in your faith and trust in God. OR it can show your immaturity…blush.

So for now, I choose humor. I choose to trust that God has this thing covered and taken care of. What about you?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is Loving Her Family Redeemer -- Digging Deeper

“An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings...

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.

When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.

When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge" (Psalm 91:4)

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life. Remember the One who loves you and then, be different because of it.”

When I was teaching last week on Ruth 2 and read verse 12, my mind immediately skipped to this story. I remember it because of how poignant it is. It paints such a vivid picture of what that momma bird was willing to do to protect her babies, and then how it connects the wings of God to our protection just overwhelmed me. Now again in Ruth 3, Boaz – the family redeemer – is connected with Ruth’s protection. In Ruth 3:9, Ruth asks Boaz to cover her. This act of Ruth was not one out of desperation. It was not an act of a woman with loose morals. She had created for herself a good reputation in a foreign town. By Ruth lying at the feet of Boaz, she was asking him to marry her which was totally acceptable since he was her family redeemer (Dt 25:5-10). As a matter of fact, God used these as an analogy when talking about the children of Israel in Ezk 16:8. Boaz, her family redeemer, took great care of Ruth. He spoke highly of her. He cherished her. He protected her from the things that could harm her. Ladies, if you or your daughter is dating, pray for a Boaz!

Ruth was willing to lay herself at the feet of her family redeemer. Can we do anything less than to lay ourselves down at the feet of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ? He is the Redeemer in whom we seek refuge. He is the Redeemer who “will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalms 91:4). He is the Redeemer who wants to protect you from the harshness and evil in this world. Jesus Christ is your Family Redeemer – Have you laid yourself at the feet of Jesus? Jesus Christ knows what it is like to have the flames of hell lick at his body then taste of death only to conquer it on Easter morning. Is there any other who is like my Savior? My REDEEMER LIVES! Hallelujah, my Redeemer Lives!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Has to Have a Sense of Humor During the "Transition"

I've never been good at waiting. Never been good at that "p" word -- patience, and I thank you very kindly not to pray that I might have patience! But waiting is what I've been doing since the end of last year regarding my job. I've also been waiting even longer on some other things in life, but God's timing isn't mine, and that is a subject for another blog.

If you've never lived through a "down-sizing," "re-organization," or "transition" with your employer, count yourself blessed. We were told at the end of last year to expect information about our "transition" by the end of the first quarter. Now we are being told end of May. Patrick and I are considering our options. One may include my possibly wearing a gun at some point. (That alone should make enough people sweat and pray to God that doesn't happen! My momma will be leading that prayer group. HAHAHA) The other is possibly at some point moving to the Austin area. Truth is, we have no idea what God has in store, and probably if we did, it might scare us sense-less. Although, Austin wouldn't be bad...loved living down there. But in the meantime, our lives are in a holding pattern of sorts.

It's good to have a sense of humor when going through this type of situation. My boss and I banter regularly about the "signs." The "signs" that your office is going to close as a result of the transition. So, HERE'S YOUR SIGN:

       1. About two months ago, they removed the snack vending machine from our office and haven't   
           replaced it. That's a sign they are closing your office.

       2. About one month ago, they removed the drink machine and haven't replaced it. That's a sign they 
          are closing your office.

       3. A few weeks ago, the battery in the clock on the wall died, and the clock is stuck at 9:40  
          until the office closes. That's a sign they are closing your office.

       4. Last week an office was told to stop using the shredder bends, and there would be someone   
          coming around to collect. That's a sign they are closing your office.

      We are now waiting to see if they replace the empty toilet paper tubes in the restrooms, AND there are wagers going on how long it will be before the copiers and printers are gone. We've been told our desktop printers will be removed probably within the next month. We don't even dare ask for supplies! But I draw the line at the air conditioning. In case you didn't know, I'm too precious to sweat!

Faith is being sure of what you hope for sight unseen. We don't hope for the things we already have. Keeping your eyes on the goal helps to keep life in perspective. Knowing that God provided this job before I even knew it existed and before I even knew I would need it, I trust that God will do the same again. I choose to believe that God is already preparing my next job for me whatever that is, where ever that is, doing whatever He desires for His kingdom's sake. Does this mean that things won't get tight or stressful? NO! In this world we will have troubles. I just choose to believe that He's got this, and to be able to laugh at whatever I can is a healthy thing because who knows, I may be saying, "Welcome to Walmart," or "Do you want fries with your shake, baby?" Whatever I do, I hope it is to His glory. May He find me faithful.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Character -- Digging Deeper

Appearances can be quite deceiving. You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by the cover.” I suggest you shouldn’t judge a person by their external appearance either. Many a man has underestimated me. When I first started in my field there were not many women who had fraud investigating as a profession. I’m probably the second generation of women in my field, and when I started I was by far one of the youngest. When I would show up at body shops or I would take statements from the perpetrators, it was blatantly obvious they thought I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I’d let them spin their tales giving me all the details they wanted, and then it was my turn. I assure you when we parted ways there was no misunderstanding of where they stood with me and what I was capable of. Right is right, and a lie is a lie. I always wondered how God would use the choleric temperament He gave me. I wondered how He would use the gifts of prophecy and discernment He provided me. I wondered how He would use different hardships in my life, the gifts and talents He supplied to make me into someone worthwhile. He shaped my character by the hardships. He molded my perspective and skills with the gifts and talents, and the result is a character that I hope edifies Him. Thankfully, He’s still working on me.

Character is something you do or who you are when no one is looking, and the book of Ruth has characters of such quality. It’s interesting to me to see how Ruth’s character develops. I love seeing the hand of God working in and out of each situation. This is a great book. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Remember, we are reading this as if it was our first time. We don’t know what to expect, so let’s get started digging deeper!

Chapter one ended with a beginning. Isn’t that just like God? When we come to the end of ourselves, He see the place where He can begin doing a mighty work in our lives. I love that about Him. “It was the beginning of the barley harvest.”

Chapter two introduces us to Boaz and gives us some contrast with Ruth. He was an Israelite. She was a Moabite. He was a man of wealth. She was poor. Opposites attract.

In Ruth 2 we get to see the heart of Ruth’s character. She sees Naomi as her mother. She submits, obeys and tends to her. Makes me wonder if we are raising our children to be this way? Is the next generation of adults coming up able to submit? Ruth asks permission to go work and to provide for them the best way possible. Naomi gives her blessing. Ruth is a worker -- not a complainer, not a griper.

Boaz arrives on the scene. Being the wealthy man he is, you may or may not expect to see him overseeing the fields during the harvest, but it is how he treats his reapers that caught my attention. He greets them in the name of the Lord, and they return in kind. But then, Boaz knowing all of his workers recognizes someone who is not one of his reapers. He inquires of the foreman who she is.

Our reputations as Christians stand up for us in our absence or when we cannot defend ourselves. What does your reputation say about your character? For Ruth, Boaz learns about her devotion to her mother-in-law and about her being a hard worker – all of this from the foreman. Boaz calls to Ruth and gives her instruction about reaping and getting water from the vessels his men had brought up. Ruth’s character – humility. She falls to the ground and asks why is he giving such favor to her. Boaz knows God is going to reward Ruth for her commitment to Naomi.

Boaz makes sure that Ruth is fed and has water to restore her. He doesn’t give to her a small portion, and she isn’t greedy with what she is given. She eats enough to sustain her and keeps the rest to give to Naomi. In a country with people who are given to excess, we could all learn from Ruth and her appetite – she ate to sustain and provided for her mother-in-law.

Ruth was allowed to harvest in the fields with the reapers. She no longer had to wait behind and pick up what was left over. That to me is grace. The grace God gives us isn’t what is left over. What are we giving Him? I also see it as God’s providence. God used Boaz to provide for Ruth and Naomi.

After work, Ruth carried her sheaves to town, and then went home to Naomi. She didn’t go out with the other workers. She didn’t carry on longer than what was required to get the work done. Interesting.

Next we read a conversation Ruth and Naomi have. Naomi knows Boaz as one of the family redeemers – not THE family redeemer. The family redeemer is one who can restore a family member. He can marry the widow of a family member to keep the lineage going. He can purchase land that is sold by a family member during hard times. SO, my question is this. If Naomi knew there was more than one family redeemer, then why did she try to get both of her daughters-in-law to return to their own families? There was a way for them to marry and have children. One possibility is she simply forgot about them – it had been over 10 years since she was in Bethlehem. But I wonder if there was another reason.

Then my mind goes to “family redeemer.” Boaz gave Ruth food to live on and water to sustain her. Jesus us gives us bread (His body) and living water. Jesus is our family redeemer. He redeems what we’ve enslaved or endowed to someone else during our hardest of times and in our weakest of moments. He purchased my soul in order to redeem me into the family of God. Makes me so thankful I have a redeemer who sees every hardship and heart ache I’ve ever tasted and known, and chooses to restore me completely and redeem me in the eyes of my heavenly Father!

Please enjoy this song by Nicole C. Mullins. Makes me cry every time and raise my hands thanking God for being my living redeemer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Has Some Details about My Job as a Fraud Claim Rep

Today was like sprinting a marathon, and sprinting just isn't something you do in a marathon. WHY? Cause you will pass smooth out! I'm teetering there myself.

I have several projects working right now. One project is for the whole zone – five states. I'm the point person. It is all filtered through my hands and my mind for me to analyze, dig, connect and get after. (hehehehe) My boss put me on this particular project because he says I'm meaner than a snake. I choose to think that I'm highly effective at lighting fires under the behinds of unscrupulous people, but that's my opinion.

This morning I had an early morning conference call regarding a staged accident ring I'm working. Have you heard that everyone is only separate by 6 degrees? Well, this group is separated only by two or three. One of our attorneys this morning was taking the deposition of one of these fine individuals and ended up getting a confession. WOOHOO! If you've never gotten a confession, it is a real high, and it's really just the beginning of the fun stuff. The confessor told our attorney that there was never any impact, that the damage on her car was there previously, that she needed money and this lady told her how to do it. She connected one of the ring leaders to some other parties of interest. Not only that, but she brought her BFF to the deposition, and she is directly linked to a DIFFERENT group inside this ring. Needless to say, we had to make rush referrals to the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) and the DOI (Department of Insurance). We found out that LSP (Louisiana State Police) are going to interrogate her tomorrow. And if the song "Bad Boys" is playing through your mind change the words to "Bad Girls" – the attorney, the LSP and me. (We all be girls!)

During her deposition, this woman also confessed that she and all the passengers in her vehicle were seen by this same doctor in 10 MINUTES! We were billed for much more – NOW THE RING HAS THE POTENTIAL TO GROW EXPONENTIALLY!

Can you tell I love my job? I do. I have since the first day I came into the Special Investigative Unit. It stretches me. It challenges me. It's never boring! While we may see the same people over and over again, it's rarely the same exact situation over and over.

With all of the talk about offices closing, it makes me very sad to think that my career in this field could be coming to an end. VERY SAD! For me, it's an adrenaline rush at times. But, if they choose to move my position somewhere else then I know that God will provide. He provided this job for me before I knew it existed (and you see how much I love it), and He will provide the next. If I love this job, then He will provide me something that will utilize the strengths, talents and gifts He has given me…and who knows, He may give me a job utilizing my new knowledge. I'll have my basic and advanced Women's Ministry certificate by December 2011. (I'll still have more to go on my Master's, of course.)

God knows I need some flexibility and health coverage. He knows what I need to make in order to pay the bills. God knows. He will take care of me and my family.

I read a quote today that I really like and really needed: "Obstacles are object lessons for your faith – they cannot prevent what God has promised you." Sometimes PEOPLE are the obstacles. You know what God has called you to do, but some just haven't gotten on board. Proverbs 16:9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." I know what God has called me to do. I also know the gifts and talents He has given me. Now, all I have to do is wait and trust him to work it all out for my good because I love him (Romans 8:28), and I'm his daughter. Every good and perfect gift comes from my heavenly Father (James 1:17). I can't wait to see what He surprises me with next. I love surprises even though the suspense just kills me sometimes.

So, you might be wondering what happens next with my ring that is blowing wide apart. Well, let's just say the LSP will get all the documentation we can provide them in order to go after those suckers. We will request restitution, and hopefully it will be awarded. Depending on what we find with the medical provider, he could possibly go to jail, as well as, the people who staged the accidents. You know, "Be sure your sins will find you out? (Num 32:23). Even if I don't get them, God will. He always does. He's good like that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Has Been Punished in My Lifetime -- Digging Deeper

I don’t remember how old I was, but it is an event that is etched in my memory. I don’t remember the events leading up to it, but I remember standing beside my dad in their bedroom with my mom standing by. He bent me over and spanked me three times…spank-spank-spank. He stood me up and with tears running down my face. He said, “Apologize to your mother.” To which I responded, “No sir, I will not.” He bent me back over and spanked me three more times…spank-spank-spank. He stood me back up; I’m crying; she’s crying. “Apologize to your mother.” “No sir, I will not.” Bent me back down and spanked me three more times…spank-spank-spank. I stand up. I’m crying. She’s crying. He’s crying. “Apologize to your mother.” “I’m sorry!” I turned and storm to my room. I tell people in my home there were two books that were read, high-lighted, underlined and notes made in the margin – the Bible and Dr. Dobson’s Parenting the Strong Willed Child. No one I know likes punishment, and trust me, whatever I had done, I had worked my way up to a spanking. And after every spanking my parents would assure me that they loved me. It was never done in anger.

Our faithwork this week was to read Ruth 1, to study it, to meditate on verse – basically apply everything we’ve learned so far in how to dig deeper. You may be wondering how my story applies to Ruth 1, but hang with me. During my digging into the first verse of Ruth 1 I discovered “the time of the judges” was a time when people did whatever they pretty much wanted. The children of Israel were running amuck yet again. Because of their disobedience and lack of submission God had to punish them and brought about a famine. Elimelech and Naomi lived in Judah at this time, and Elimelech decided to take his family and flee. It doesn’t say that God spoke to him or gave him a vision to take his family elsewhere (like God did with Abraham). Elimelech did this on his own. His own choice. He made it thinking he would spare his family, but in the end, it ended up costing his family.

While in the foreign land, Elimelech died. Naomi’s sons married Moabite women, but in the time they were married, they didn’t have any children. Then Naomi’s sons died.

When I read this passage creatively, I read it from Naomi’s perspective. She was full of life and hope for the future when they fled the famine, and everything she held most dear was taken away from her in a matter of 10 years. How empty she must have felt. Maybe depressed. Angry at God at times. Devastated. Somehow Naomi hears the famine is over and decides to return home. Isn’t that where we often want to go when things can’t seem to get any worse is home? Crawl up in the bed and not get out for days? As Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws are walking back, Naomi decides it is better for the two women to return to their own people. This way they would at least have a chance at a future because Naomi’s future was sealed – she would now be a beggar or among the poorest of the poor with no husband and no children. In her brokenness and emptiness she blesses the two women – this may have been one of the reasons that her daughter-in-laws felt such devotion to Naomi. Naomi gave of herself even when it seemed she had nothing left to give. Orpah relented and returned. Ruth, however, did not. Ruth’s covenant to Naomi is what we often hear in weddings, “Where you go, I will go.” This covenant of Ruth’s was powerful and firm. She would not be dissuaded.

When Naomi returned to Judah, her hometown, the Bible says the whole town was stirred up. “Can this be Naomi?” Think about it. When Naomi left she was married and possessed things. She returns without a husband or sons but has a Moabite woman as a traveling companion. In the matter of ten years she has suffered three deaths, three grieving periods. This alone can age a woman. Some eat when they grieve. Some don’t. Either way it transforms the appearance.

When Naomi confirms her identity she tells them to call her “Mara” which means “bitter.” That made me wonder what “Naomi” meant – “pleasant.” Along this ten year journey Naomi had turned her anger inward and into bitterness. She left Judah full and happy, but God brought her back empty, and she chose to be bitter – read that again. OUCH!

Just when Naomi thinks she has had enough, and she’s ready to give in and give up, we read in the last verse of the chapter that it is really a beginning – “as the barley harvest was beginning.”

When we are at our rock bottom, when we feel destitute and full of despair, when we feel empty that isn’t the end. It’s a beginning. Journey with me into Ruth to see what comes next. You see, just like my parents came to love on me after I was disciplined, God comes alongside Ruth and Naomi to love on them. I can’t wait!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Someone Broke In and I Was ALONE

At 3:15 AM, I bolt straight up in my bed swearing I heard someone approaching my bedroom door. The problem? I was the only one home. Every NCIS, CSI or Criminal Minds show I have ever watched flashes through my mind – They're going to kill me!
 I don't know of any time that Patrick and both of the kids have been gone at the same time much less for two nights in a row. He had taken the kids to see his mom, and I was staying home to work on seminary homework.
Under normal circumstances, I am a VERY SOUND SLEEPER. I don't know the world exists most nights, so for me to hear something at my closed bedroom door was a miracle…or was it?

My heart began beating so quickly and so loudly I thought I'd have a heart attack. After looking around my newly remodeled room, I realized that I didn't have a thing with which to defend myself because we still had things in the dining room. So I retrieved my cell phone, and dial 911 without pushing the green button. I find some spray sunscreen, so I put on my glasses in case the spray comes back into my direction it won't get into my eyes. My intention was to spray the intruder in the eyes with it. (And surely it would leave trace evidence on my killer that could link them to the scene of the crime!) I crawl out of bed holding my breath. Tip toeing across my large room. About three feet from the door, a beetle got turned upside down and with his wings beating the floor about as rapidly as my heart was beating, IT CROSSED IN FRONT OF MY FEET -- as if I wasn't bug-eyed already. I reached the door in time to lock it and ran to my bathroom to make sure the access from the butler's pantry into the master bath was locked. Then I crawled back in bed and waited.

I started wondering how anyone could get in without my hearing. The doors beep when opened, and they are double-locked. Maybe someone left a window open? I didn't know. My ears are acutely aware of every sound the house makes.

At first I think it might be our old, miniature beagle who I allowed inside. But normally I hear her claws tapping on the floor when she walks. I ruled her out, so I go back to praying. "God, PLEASE KEEP ME SAFE! Get them out of my house. I have no way to defend myself. The guns and the baseball bat are in the dining room, and I am here by myself. PLEASE HELP ME!"

About 4 AM, I decided the person must have left (even though I never heard them leave). I decided to go into a light sleep (as if I could control that). With my phone ready to dial 911 in my left hand and my spray sun screen in my right, I fall asleep propped up in my bed. When the morning light came through my window, I was confident the person had left – WHY? I don't know. So, I opened the door and went to see what was removed from my home.

I felt so foolish. Nothing was awry. Nothing was taken. Remember when I said I sleep so soundly that I don't know the world exists? The only thing I can think of is I dreamt the sound of someone approaching my bedroom door.

That one night probably took five years off my life.

I honestly don't know what I would have done if someone had spoken to me when I was approaching the door or had tried to open it. I pray that I would have fought with all my might while calling 911 – ridiculous sounding I know, but I wasn't thinking my clearest. I should have just called 911 and been done with it, but I didn't want to look foolish if no one was actually in my home.

I'm so thankful I can call on the name of the Lord even when my fears are unfounded or when I've escalated my fears beyond the normal reasonableness. Whether our fear is real or imaginative, He is our Protector, our Stronghold, our Rescuer. He is our Shield and Fortress. We can hide in the cleft of the Rock of our God's hands knowing He will never leave us or forsake us.

Whatever is in your life right now that is causing you anxiety, whatever is causing you to lose sleep at night, whatever is causing your heart to race -- I challenge you to lay it at the feet of Jesus and find your comfort in Him for He knows what the future holds and has already prepared the way.

This is Jade, our miniature beagle. As you can see, she is no guard do. But the next time, if there is a next time, that Patrick and both kids are gone maybe I'll let our beagle sleep in my bedroom. Not that she would defend me because she would be making a puddle under the bed, but at least I would know it wasn't her!