An Evening with My Girl

“Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!”
Psalms 150:2

As we headed toward the Jennie Allen event at one of our local churches, my daughter and I were both worn down from the week we had just finished. Tired and a bit weary we parked and walked into the event I had been so eager to attend.

People were friendly. We found some seats, but missed the opportunity to sit with some of our good friends. The event was good, the music was fabulous and the gathering of 1200 women from our own community was incredible. We listened to the speakers, prayed for each other and those around us, plus, sang praise music.

When leaving we discussed the topics covered, how they related to us and how to implement them into our daily lives. Then came a moment of silence as we both reflected.

I asked my girl, what her favorite part of the evening was. Her answer surprised me. I had wanted to attend the event because the topic was so applicable to where I am at this point in my life. I also wanted to share a moment with my daughter. My girl had been a little unsure about what to expect, so when I asked her what her favorite part of the evening was I really expected her to say the speakers or how she loved listening to Ellie Holcomb (which she did!) However, her favorite part was when all 1200 women stood and sang, “How Great Thou Art.” She said, “Mom, I just thought about all the women in the room singing together and the words of the song. Then I thought about how happy that had to have made God.”

She teared up as she shared her thoughts with me. So did I. I knew in that moment she knew what true worship was. My momma heart swelled with thanksgiving to the God who created her. It was my biggest lesson of the evening and the most humbling. I attended the event focused on myself, while she went focused on God. I left still trying to figure things out. She left filled with the spirit.

“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Joy and Peace

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”- Romans 15:13

“The plans have changed.”

The message was clear. He didn’t even have to say anything. My husband looked at me during dinner the other night surprised himself by the circumstances.

This was just a temporary type of change, not a life one, but I think I would handle both similarly.

My first thought was literally, “How does this affect our household and what’s the new plan?”

I remember in 2012 when our mission’s director shared that to be a missionary you needed to be “FAT”. Meaning, you need to be flexible, adaptable and teachable. While I have worked and prayed through all three trying to apply them to everyday life, there are times my need for order trumps the whole “FAT” concept, by screaming, “I need to know how, when, and where! Now!”

Unfortunately for me, the how’s, when’s and where’s aren’t always there. Sometimes God asks us to step (or jump) as an act of faith.

“Deep breath,” I told myself. “Order,” I thought. First, ask God for Holy Spirit intervention. I am not alone in this. Second, call for spiritual reinforcements by asking for prayer from those who are faithful to pray.

Thankfully, one friend was already ready with, “Kysia, I’m praying for you to have joy and peace as you serve in this opportunity.”

Joy and peace, huh? Ok. That sounds good. But… what about a plan?

Third, take another deep breath, pray some joy and peace as I serve and… step forward. Might as well step forward.

Because….

The new plan has already started.

I still don’t know the plan. Tonight, though, my husband wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear, “Life is an adventure. Thanks for traveling it with me.”

“We aren’t bored,” I said back to him planting a well-earned kiss.

“No,” he said. “We aren’t bored.”

Gracious God,
We long to serve you in our home, in our neighborhood, work and around the world. Please, give us joy and peace as we serve; believing and trusting in your plan as we go. May we be encouragers and hope givers as we go. In Jesus name, Amen.

Opinions and Advice

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 1Timothy 6:20 ESV

“Yum, Mom! This tastes just like strawberries with crème.” My daughter exclaimed at breakfast as she ate cut up strawberries with granola and honey yogurt.

I sipped my morning coffee thinking of a time in the past I actually felt guilty for fixing my kids’ breakfasts. I had friends that had bragged about their kids being ready for life because “they made their own lunch, breakfast, and did their own laundry.” I also read quite a few parenting blogs that confirmed the comments I had heard about not doing “too much” for your kids. Although, I do believe our children need to learn life skills and learn responsibility, (please, don’t misunderstand me), there are certain things, as a mom I just enjoy. Making breakfast and spending a little time with my family in the morning is one of the things I treasure. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it. Yet, for a season, I allowed myself to feel guilty because of statements made and random blog advice; thus, robbing my joy of something I find pleasure in.

I’ve had to do some soul searching. Why do I value other’s opinions so much? I’ve been writing other people’s words in my heart for far too long. Worrying needlessly that, “I’m wrong because I think differently.” That is a lie I’ve chosen to believe. One that needs truth to replace it. My need to follow others is standing in front of God, so it is time to eliminate that lie with the Sword of Truth, scripture.

There has been a lot of ‘joy robbing’ and “lie infusing” lately in our country as the fight  between political parties to pursue our hearts and beliefs for their allegiance wages on. I’ve been hesitant to say anything on what I believe for fear of being a target to opinion bashing. So this morning while having some Jesus time, I came across this verse “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.” – 1 Timothy 6:20 NLT

Whether it is people’s advice or opinions, I want to make sure I am guarding what God entrusted to me by defeating the lies around me and checking the “truth” I’m believing against God’s words in the Bible. I also want to avoid contributing to the foolish bickering.   It isn’t worth it. If I want to get involved with my passions politically there are much more constructive ways to do it other than wordy fights with friends on Facebook or uncomfortable confrontations that aren’t’ going to be fruitful.

There are times I am going to truly have to take a stand. I want to make sure I pick my battles, staying rooted in scripture so I can be ready to fight the fight that is really worth fighting.  I also want to make sure I’m not just believing the words of others, even though I respect them. They may not be words of truth when lined up against God’s word.

“And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20 MSG

Guilt and Grace

“Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.” 1 John 3:21

Guilt. That yucky feeling I get when I make a mistake, hurt others or sometimes even accidentally mess up . When I feel guilty, I can’t focus on anything other than my mistake. Sometimes I get stuck there a bit.

Before Christmas during a little party my daughter and I threw for our first grade Bible class one of our students spilled his hot chocolate. I asked the boy side of the table to clear out so I could get it cleaned up. Then I poured the boy another cup. As the boys came back to the table the  one boy’s head was down. “I’m sorry, Miss Kysia,” came a tearful apology. (The most precious apology – EVER!)  My heart broke into pieces over his sweetness. “It’s alright, sweetie,” I said back to him. “We spill lots of stuff at our house. It’s all cleaned up now just like it never happened.” He sat down, but didn’t immediately go back to the game we were playing. He wouldn’t let himself move on.

Sometimes I too refuse to allow myself to move on. I get trapped in my feelings of embarrassment from mistakes made or I immediately begin trying to even more messily fix what I did. However, after apologies have been made and forgiveness extended, the guilt that lingers is often a snare not a conviction. That guilt has to be surrendered in order to go forward. 1 John 3:21 says when we come to God without feelings of guilt we approach him with confidence. Not only confidence, but bold confidence. A confidence that holds belief that God will take care of my needs; even ones I may have messed up. A confidence that comes from abiding in God’s grace.

Since grace is my word for this year, I mulled over what in the world guilt had to do with grace. Guilt keeps me from receiving God’s grace and enjoying the goodness of my creator’s gifts. Guilt is a grace-blocker because it causes me to take my focus off God and put it on my sin. It doesn’t stop God’s love from coming, just my ability to see and accept it. The best thing to do when guilt is around is ask for forgiveness for my sin, and trust that God has forgiven me.  If I trust that God loves me enough to forgive me, I should be able to move on.  That “moving on” part – is what grace is.  My sin, mistake and/or mess up is wiped away so life in Christ can continue.  While mercy is God graciously wiping away the mess, grace is being able to move on in  Christ enjoying God’s goodness.

Waiting Rooms and Radiation Machines

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” – Matthew 6:34 MSG

“Pull into the first left,” he said as I drove into the health center parking lot where my Dad’s radiation treatment would be. I traveled down the day before to spend time with my parents and go with my Dad to a couple of his appointments. He was really excited for me to see the incredible machine and meet all the amazing people at the clinic where he receives his treatments.

We parked and walked to the building. I made a comment about the book I was reading saying it was in poor taste to read a book with “death” in the title while going to hang out in the radiation waiting room. Dad chuckled and gave me a look that made me realize I was over thinking things. We entered into the building where he introduced me first to the man who helped patients get in and out of their cars if they had trouble and were not strong enough to pull themselves out and open doors. He was a sweet man in his early sixties who sat at the entrance to the door so he could have a good view to the pull through drive for patients who needed help.

Afterwards we walked to the check in counter. My Dad made sure to introduce me to the receptionists whom he showed his check-in tag to. She greeted us both with a big smile and told me how much she enjoyed seeing Jim each day.

Dad and I took a seat in the waiting room and visited. He shared about how friendly everyone was and what it was like in the radiation room. On the trip down, I had wondered how this visit would go. Dad had mentioned he liked all of the people he had met and seemed to really  trust his doctors, but cancer is such a scary word. He had been taking radiation treatments since Thanksgiving and had lost some weight. In fact, he let me know in ten more pounds he’d be back to his college weight.

A radiation technologist came out to tell Dad it was his turn and was greeted by, “Hey, Jorge! This is my daughter. She is visiting from Arkansas. I wanted her to see the machine and meet everyone.” Then my dad looked at me and said, “Kysia, this is King George.”

Jorge took both Dad and I back to the room where my dad prepared for his treatment. I met all the technicians who shared with me sweet moments about my father and showed me how the procedure worked. I saw the big radiation machine and how it rotated to get the exact spot where my Dad would need treatment. Outside the room were located screens where technicians sat to make sure everything was going well. Dad climbed onto the table while I walked to the waiting room.

When we first found out about Dad’s cancer, the whole family was nervous. We each handled the fear in our own ways. Dad, determined to beat the disease, dutifully attended each step of the process. Side effects from some of his diabetes medicines made the process a little more difficult, but he remained faithful. He has had his bad days and his good days. Today was a good day.

Treatment didn’t take very long. After about twenty minutes Dad exited the radiation area door with a big smile saying good-bye and “see you tomorrow” to everyone in sight. As we left the building he said, “Isn’t that machine impressive? How it can rotate and shoot though my skin to get exactly to where I need the treatment.”

“Yes, Dad it is,” I replied. “Too bad you aren’t going home with me. I have a mammogram on Monday. I could show you my machine, the “Mighty Boob Squisher.” He laughed rubbing his face with his hand and then went back to the radiation machine explaining exactly how it worked. We climbed in the car and headed home to Mom.

I giggle a bit at my Dad’s enthusiasm over the radiation machine, but I am so very thankful for the technology and all the people making a difference in his life right now. The warm smiles and words of encouragement from the people at the clinic all bring sunshine into an otherwise dark experience.  He is blessed despite the disease. We all are.

Grace

Grace be with you all.Hebrews 13:25

“Grace” is my focus word for 2017. I’ve heard so many definitions of the word, but struggle with accepting all it encompasses. I want to take a year to mull over it, remove the theology and concentrate purely on the love it embodies. My prayer is that I will be able to give it more freely and receive it more gratefully.

While praying for my 2017 word, I found myself questioning grace on a recent trip in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. My husband’s Grandmother passed away, so my family found ourselves car bound in route from Northwest Arkansas to West Texas. My husband and I chatted about grace and our family’s word “Fellowship”, on the car ride down.

Upon arrival we were greeted with the warm hugs from family and warm meals from their community. There was lots of warmth and comfort throughout our stay in Texas. The little Southern Baptist church where the funeral was held served us a meal, as well (Fried Chicken and the most amazing sheet cake with a vanilla-almond icing). The members shared stories of Grandma and seemed genuinely glad to host us.

Funerals aren’t “fun events”. Even though we knew Grandma was preparing for death and were not surprised when she passed, we shuffled around nervously when we walked into the church for her service. The service consisted of hymns, the reading of her eulogy, scripture reading and a sermon. When it came time for the scripture reading, my husband stood up to read Psalm 23 and John 14:1-4. His voice trembled when he read; he stopped to regroup at one point. I saw tear drops well up in his mom’s eyes and could feel a sudden sorrow in the people around me.

Then it happened. Grace. Within an intense moment of sadness, the sound of a loved one’s baby broke the silence of sorrow as if to announce to us all that as death brings grief, new birth brings joy. The baby was the reminder of gracious gifts of life. It wasn’t a complicated gift.  Just the simple sounds of baby gurgles accompanied with the calming sound of a mom trying to quiet her. However, it was a powerful illustration of life continuing forward.

Driving back to Northwest Arkansas, I kept thinking about the little baby. So sweet, so innocent, totally unaware of her surroundings in the church, but so comforted within the arms of her mother. Since it was just a couple of days after Christmas, I thought about Christ swaddled within the arms of Mary. Such a sweet innocent little child, baby sounds and all with so much to give the world. Grace.

Lessons Learned from Life@Thorntonville

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” – Hebrews 12:1 NIV

It has been two years and one hundred posts since the birth of Life@Thorntonville. What began as an encouragement from a loving spouse, turned into a place of release, an opportunity for my introverted self to have a voice. I’ve learned so much through this blog including the following:

Thorntonville. Thorntonville is home. Simply put it is my home where my family resides. We are Thorntons. So when I started Life@Thorntonville I intended to write more on our life, like parenting issues, being a wife to my amazing husband and illustrations of God working through our home. My children, eager to encourage their mom on a new quest, thought that would be ok for our lives to go into print- until it did. Then they weren’t so comfortable. As my friends read more about our family- my children became a lot more honest with me. I learned many lessons on our home being a safe place where mistakes can be made without the public always knowing about them. I do occasionally still write about my children and husband, but only with their approval before publishing. My family is much more important to me than this blog. Thankfully, the comment, “Don’t do that or mom will blog about it.” Hasn’t been made in a while.

Purpose. Over the last two years I’ve learned through writing, my personal dreams are constantly evolving; plus, my opinions often change as my dreams evolve. I naively believed at the beginning of this journey that most people just woke up with a dream and then followed that one dream their whole life. At some point in these last two years of writing, though, I’ve realized life is meant to be lived, shaped and formed in route. God uses these shaping sessions to draw me closer to Him and mold me, giving me knew dreams as I go. He purposefully exposes me to new realities to help me mature as a follower. As a woman, I’m evolving, learning, growing and maturing. I’m much more comfortable with this concept than when I started blogging and thought I had to have everything figured out.

Grammar. I’ve always been a math kind of girl. Even as an Interior Design Major in college, I enjoyed numbers best. I’m good at space planning and mental calculations of square footages, not necessarily throw pillows and paint colors. Taking up blogging was an adventurous quest for me. There are no numbers in writing except for words per page and how many people respond to a post, both categories of which remain minimal for Life@Thorntonville.   I’ve always struggled with words, too. I’m a lousy speller and could care less about things like past participle or present tense. From a family filled with English degrees and people who love to correct, I found numbers to be more forgiving. I figured (math lingo), if someone understood what I was saying, I’ve communicated successfully. Blogging however does require attention to details of the language being communicated. I’ve proofed and proofed, had my children help me and have, on more than one occasion, referred to my college grammar text books. I’ve learned so much, but progress is still needed. Never the less, I press on.

Faith. I always wanted my faith to play a role in my writing. I cannot live without God. He had to be part of my writing. So I pray for verses before starting each blog. Some articles end up being amusing to me when I finish, because the verse printed doesn’t directly pertain to what is written. However, the meaning of the verse is usually the starting point from where the thought began.

Fear. Writing words on paper can be downright scary. I never know how my thoughts will be received. The first six months of writing were the hardest because of fear. Then I had a conversation with another blogger who gave me some wise advice. He said, “Kysia, write for yourself. It’s your space. You aren’t writing to please others. If you are, then it will never work. There is always someone who will disagree with you.” I had to revise that thought a bit. I’m writing my thoughts in hopes to encourage anyone else out there who may need encouragement. My prayer is for God to use my stories to grow others closer to Him. My words are seldom complicated, just simple statements of my life that I want to share, hoping someone else will be blessed. When I came to terms with why I was writing, my fear, for the most part subsided.

Lessons. Although, I’ve learned many things through blogging, this last item keeps me going. Each time I write I learn something new about God and about myself. Through blogging, God has corrected me on many a thought that doesn’t measure up to His word. At times, I’ve had to rewrite knowing that my own conclusion would not encourage others, but instead tear them down. Through prayer God has led me to scripture and teachings to help guide me to where he wants me to go. Often hard lessons learned through the process.

Life@Thorntonville begins a third year right now. I want to thank a few people who helped along the way. First, my husband and children for holding my hand as I stepped outside of my box to learn to express myself. Second, Jody Dilday, who sat in Panera with me one morning helping me learn the basic computer skills of WordPress. Third, Seth and Amber Haines, who although I really don’t know that well, have been a huge source of encouragement through their own writings. Last, thanks to my readers. You’ve been a fun and very kind fellowship.