“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”-Matthew 7:1-2*

I love live music.

There is something about instruments and artists coming together to create a piece which can move you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I have attended numerous concerts, events, and weekend jams and seen performers from Guns & Roses to George Strait to Elton John.  I have witnessed many concerts and the “other” extracurricular activities which accompany the event.

Been there, done that.

Last Friday night, I had the honor to attend a Christian concert with an incredible lineup of TobyMac, Mandisa, Ryan Stevenson, Danny Gokey, Finding Favor, and Aaron Cole called the “Hits Deep” tour in Baton Rouge.   Talk about hip-hop worship!  It warmed my heart to watch families dancing, singing, and praising along to their favorite songs for three and a half hours.  The crowd was diverse in nature but the artists were dedicated to promoting the message of how we are all the same on the inside and should unite as one in Christ.  Satan hates when people gather in the name of Christ and he was scheming at this concert venue, in a subtle way.

As my husband and I were walking to the arena, anticipating the entertainment which was about to unfold, I heard a voice booming through a bullhorn.  Randy asked me, “I wonder what they are protesting about?”  As we approached the doors, we were met by about a dozen people; the men were holding signs stating those who were attending the Hits Deep concert were going to hell for our actions.  One man was yelling into the bullhorn and rattling off scripture.  To the right of the men were a group of women and children, standing in silence.  I walked over to a Baton Rouge police officer and ask if he knew who they were and he said they were from a church in another state.

I was flabbergasted.

This was not another religious faction or proclaimed atheists attacking our beliefs or choice of music, but individuals claiming to be Christ followers, hurling angry words and judgment against thousands who were attending a Christian concert.  Why would they be upset with our choice of entertainment?  I don’t want to get into the reasons why this group felt compelled to picket this particular concert, but I want to point out the nonobvious reason.  The enemy plants seeds of confusion, doubt, and lies and makes us question each other’s motives and decisions for our actions.  Filling our minds with validation for our ability to judge the actions of others and come to the conclusion we are taking a stand, in the name of God.

Wait, how many times have I done this to others?

Conviction enters my soul.

I am not going to judge this group who chose to stand outside the concert last Friday night, dedicated to their beliefs they were delivering a message and serving God.  Perhaps they were, and maybe they weren’t.  I don’t want to fall into Satan’s trap of reviewing my fellow brothers and sisters and rationalizing my conclusions.  I need to focus on my behavior and the message I am portraying to others.  I am dedicated to spreading the peace and love of God and witness to those who want a personal relationship with Jesus.

I know one thing.  It was a blessing to take part in an event where we could forget our differences and focus on one common element:  Our God.  This group missed a wonderful night of praise, worship, and fellowship with a diverse group of Jesus loving concert goers and it was GLORIOUS!   #weare1movement

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Come As You Are

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“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with his own blood”.-Acts 20:28*

This past weekend our church opened the second phase of our expansion and boy it was exciting!  My family attended the morning service and sat in comfy theater chairs in the new worship center.  From the lighting to the acoustics to the new building smell, it felt warm and cozy.  Hard to imagine a terrific storm was raging outside during this particular worship service.  As I looked around I realized two revelations; God is good, and our church family was dedicated to making this expansion happen.

For the last few years, our church has engaged in a campaign challenging our members to give above and beyond their normal tithing in order to expand our church physically.  This would allow our church to build relationships, grow, and offer more services to the community.  Our senior pastor, Dr. Waylon Bailey, and his staff had the forward thinking of providing a way to connect with people in our community and offer a safe place to play, shop, and commune with one another.


First Baptist Church of Covington now boasts an indoor playground for all the little ones to enjoy.   This option will be so needed on those hot southern Louisiana summer days!  What a great way for our church members to enjoy their investment and as a church, we can open our doors and invite families in to let their children play and minister to all of their spiritual needs.  Another addition is the Equip Bookstore which aspires to be the premier Christian bookstore in our area.  I love our local bookstores, but I am thrilled to have access to Christian reference material and the ability to ask theological questions of a knowledgeable staff.  Now, who doesn’t like a cozy café to buy your favorite hot or cold beverage, a little snack, and settle into a nice cushy chair to either chit chat with a friend or fall into a great book?  Our church now boasts the Connect Café’ and partners with a local coffee company to bring you delicious drinks and tasty treats.  Throughout the common area are comfortable chairs where one can sit, visit, or read quietly.  All of the new features at our church are open every day of the week except Fridays.

The Worship Center is a beautifully designed theater-style venue which seats about twenty-three hundred.  It is large but has the feel of an intimate family room.  Not only will we worship there every Saturday night and Sunday, but it will be able to accommodate musical concerts and special events.  Hopefully, we can attract some big-name bands to perform shows in little ole’ Covington LA!

worhsip center

When it is all said and done, this is a structure with space and services to use as a way of inviting the people to come and know Jesus.  A church is about the people who are dedicated to honoring God and His wish to love thy neighbor.  I am proud to be part of a church which opens its doors and says, “You are welcome in this place as you are” and cultivates relationships with each and other and with our Father.  If you are ever in the Northshore area, look me up, and I will give a grand tour of my church home.  Blessings!

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


A God Thing

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“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”-Psalm 37:3-4*

In keeping with the theme of “devotion” as my word of 2018, for the month of March, I am writing about the synonym “dedication”.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several definitions and the one I chose is “self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty”**.  When I read this I thought of my husband, Randy.

We have consistently referred to our union as a “God thing” and reflecting back over the years, I see why God picked Randy for me.

His dedication.

Here was a man, who had never been married, never had children, dating a widow with three small children and decided I am all in.  It has not been an easy adventure, but it has produced abundant blessings.

Randy has not ever considered our children or grandchildren as stepchildren.  He proudly talks about his sons and daughter in conversations and displays their pictures on his work desk.   He has repeatedly supported the kids in their extracurricular activities; showing up for games, concerts, and awards banquets.  He has counseled and disciplined the children, which was not an easy task, but he persevered and learned from his mistakes.

It would have been so easy for Randy to walk away during the turmoil involving my only daughter.  Lying, stealing, drug use, and eventually running away is what we dealt with in the first years of being married.  But he stood by my side, as we endured the living hell, and developed a game plan to fix our broken child.  Praise God it worked!

Early on, our marriage endured crisis and drama with our daughter, Randy losing a job, moving to another state, and suffering the loss of Randy’s father, sister, and a miscarriage of our only baby.  It was an extremely rough season and we all experienced grief and pressed on with Randy leading the way, following God.

I have witnessed Randy’s dedication to growing his personal relationship with Jesus.  Because he has invested his time in prayer and worship, the people in his life have benefited from his actions.  Randy is quick to volunteer in helping a neighbor, friend, or a stranger in need.  He is involved in Ragan’s Hope, feeding the homeless, mudding out flooded homes, and last August became a Cajun Navy member and assisted in boat rescues during Hurricane Harvey.  Randy views himself as a problem solver and will go to the ends of the earth to find solutions for those who are hurting.

Over the years, Randy’s actions model the self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty he has for others.  I see why God picked Randy to be my partner in life and provide such love and support for our family.   I believe his dedication to his faith, family, and volunteer efforts is based on his personal relationship with Jesus.  I am privileged to witness his growth over the last fifteen years in his spiritual gifts and am thankful to be a part of the journey.   Love you R2!


*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society



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“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11*

I felt mixed emotions when I heard Billy Graham had passed away.  Of course, the first emotion was profound sadness for the loss of a great man.  But then I found myself smiling and envisioning the joy in heaven as the faithful servant had joined ranks with his eternal family.  I have found myself watching many video clips of Billy preaching for the pulpit and some interviews with his family members.  One segment was with Franklin Graham, his son, who was recounting a conversation he had with his father about what to put on Billy’s tombstone.  Billy replied with one word, “Preacher”.

Wow.  To be able, to sum up, all of his life works in one word which defined him.  A question popped into my thoughts as to how could I sum up my life in one word?  I have thought and prayed about it for a few days and this particular word made itself loud and proud of me; warrior.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines warrior as a person engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly: a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.**

I can relate to the second piece where a person is engaged in some struggle or conflict.  In my younger years, I loved conflict, and not always in a good way.  I was quick to make my opinions known, without care for others feelings or thoughts, and loved to engage in debates which most of the time turned into arguments.  It was extremely difficult for me to see others’ viewpoints and easy for me to distance myself from those who did not think like me.  There were many life lessons learned early on in my adult life which were painful but necessary.

Over the years, I have continued to engage in struggles and conflict but I handle them much differently.  How you ask?  Instead of focusing on my opinions and refusing to believe I could be wrong about anything, I choose to fight for others.  I have channeled my combative energy into protecting, defending, and serving those who don’t or can’t find their voice, need physical, mental, or financial assistance, or desire prayers.  For me, being a warrior is fighting for others.

Protect-I will first and foremost protect my beliefs.  This does not mean if you don’t think like I do, we can’t be friends.  What I mean is I will not succumb to society’s pressure and hide my faith.  I understand not everyone is a Christian and I support their right not to be, although it makes me sad.  I am open to discussing my faith with others who want to talk or understand more about a personal relationship with Jesus.  Believe me, I am not an expert by any stretch, but I know what I know by my experiences.  I aspire to lead by example, even though I am a sinner and fail every day in my endeavors.  The cool thing is I wake up each morning, dust off my failures and try again by asking God to direct me.  Being a prayer warrior has strengthened my relationship with my Father and He has revealed a gentle reminder; it is not all about me.

Defend-I will defend my family and friends. People are most vulnerable in stressful situations such as illness, death, financial issues, and social pressures. There is a spiritual war going on and I will cover my loved ones in prayer to fight off the enemy.    This is not to say when they make mistakes, I won’t call them out.  Discipline and accountability are traits I need to demonstrate and have the same expectations for those in my circle.

Serve- I am truly blessed with my relationships, health, financial stability, and material items.  Sure, I love to be lazy and lie on the couch, nosh on junk food and watch meaningless television.  And it is in these moments where the Holy Spirit whispers a convicting message to my soul, “get up and out there to help others who are suffering at this moment”.  Some may think this is guilt but I see it as a reminder of how blessed I am and how I am here to fight for those who physically, mentally, or spiritually can’t defend themselves.  It is an honor and privilege to participate in events which impact and assist others during a low period in their lives.

I continue to learn more about who I am and my purpose here on earth.  It is to armor up with God’s truth and to be His hands and feet to help others.  It is to be the voice of those who are quieted by fear, illness, addiction, or circumstances beyond their control.  It will not be easy.  The more I fight in God’s name, the more attacks which will be hurled in my direction.  I have to equip myself daily and put on my breastplate, pick up my shield, and take my sword to fight against the enemy in Jesus’ name.  In the end, it will be worth it, and on my tombstone, I want one word, “Warrior”.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Inspired By A Child

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”-Matthew 7:7*

It had been thirty minutes and we were still standing in line.  Thank goodness there was air conditioning and shelter from the sun.  I looked down at my granddaughter who was nothing but smiles and patiently waiting.  She had been anticipating this moment for months and in a few short minutes, she will get her turn.

My husband and I decided to take our family to Orlando for Mardi Gras week.  We were not thrilled about the ten-hour drive or going to the happiest place on earth, Disneyworld.  But we would get to spend eight days with our granddaughters, daughter, son-in-law, and son which was a marvelous trade-off.  My eight-year-old granddaughter, Jaelyn, had so much enthusiasm for meeting her favorite princesses at Disneyworld.  Who knew they had turned the grand meetings with the royalty into a ride with lines and wait times up to forty minutes?  She clutched her autograph book and was ready to spend time with her favorite characters.  This quiet, shy, little girl was ready to put herself in the spotlight, for a brief moment, in order to meet her princesses and make her dream a reality.

We walked into the park and the first person we saw was Mary Poppins.  Not a princess, but still a favorite for Jaelyn.  She walked right up to her and Mary Poppins asked if she would like to stroll with her.  Off they shuffled, hand in hand, having a chat.  I watched Jaelyn as she hung on to every word from Mary and was so focused on the Disney character.  I might add how wonderful, entertaining,  and in character the performers are and what an impression they leave on the little ones.  Jaelyn asked Mary for her autograph, which she graciously gave her, and then I watched her walk back to us with a smile so big it linked from one ear to the other.  My little, quiet, shy Jaelyn had the confidence to spend time with Mary Poppins; without fear of being on her own, carrying on a conversation, and walking back to our group with her head held high.

I witnessed this every time she met a character or princess all day long.  In total there were ten characters which she patiently waited in line and bravely walked up to them on her own, would engage in a conversation, asked for an autograph, and smiled real big for the camera.  At one point, I had tears in my eyes in witnessing her joy and enthusiasm in meeting her heroes.  It was such a special moment and well worth the crowds, wait times, and not so friendly people around us all day.  I wanted to possess Jaelyn’s devotion in forgoing actual rides and attractions to stand in line to meet her princesses.

Sometimes it takes a child who believes in fairytales, princesses, and happily ever after, to show me, one who has been hardened by the cruelness of this world, the joy in having dreams, waiting patiently, and inspired to make them come true.  Incredibly, this is how I experienced a simple life lesson, which was lived out in a crowded theme park, on Mardi Gras day with my family.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Everyone Loves a Parade

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“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the month of February, I am focusing on the word, enthusiasm, a synonym which supports my 2018 word “Devotion”.  The definitions of enthusiasm are:

1a : strong excitement of feeling : ardor

b : something inspiring zeal or fervor*

Mardi Gras season is a perfect example of enthusiasm here in Southeast Louisiana.  When I moved here from Texas nine years ago, I had no concept of Mardi Gras.  It is not a one-day celebration but a seasonal festival.   Carnival season starts with the selection of the Royalty for each Krewe’s ball and the majority of the parades run in the final two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras day (also known as Fat Tuesday).

Most people love a parade; the music, floats, and dance teams all melding together to form the celebration which takes Mardi Gras to a whole other level.  Some of the bigger parades can have up to thirty floats, with well-known celebrities riding in the parade.  There are the high school and college bands from all over the country who march, play and have the crowds dancing on their feet.  And of course, there are the throws.  What is a throw?  To be honest, it is cheap plastic trinkets from beads to stuffed animals, which are tossed from the floats to the crowds.  And people act like they are precious and rare commodities, scrambling to catch or pick up the items off the ground.  I am a little amused at the enthusiastic parade goers and the lengths they will go in order to capture throws during Mardi Gras season.

As I move through my tenth Mardi Gras season, I have come to realize there are similarities to attending a parade and living life.  What if I approached every day with a strong feeling of excitement like going to a parade?

Anticipation-There is preparation and planning needed when attending a parade.  Where will I set up, what do I bring, how long will I stay, and do I have a plan for my physical needs (food, water, bathroom, elements, etc)?  Next is the excitement factor.  I know what to expect and look forward to the sights, sounds, and smells on the parade route.  Oh, how I long for some good Jambalaya and King Cake!  Another key component is location, location, location.  Who wants to be ten deep in a shoulder to shoulder crowd?  My husband is a seasoned pro at parading and has the contacts for locations on the parade route, how to get around the crowds by using back roads, and knowing when streets close down for the festivities.

I find living my life is like the anticipation of a parade.  I find myself preparing and planning for my daily agenda starting with prayer and journaling.  It helps me focus on what I need mentally and spiritually to face the day.  I plan for my family’s physical needs and try and keep our home a safe refuge from the ugliness of the world.  I find a well thought out plan lays a good foundation to face the day to day hurdles and activities.

Being present-When I hear the sirens from the police and fire trucks (who generally lead the parade and alert the crowd it is about to commence) I focus on the moment.  The sounds of the piped in music from the floats and the reverberation of the marching bands gives me goosebumps and fills my heart with joy.  I watch the children on the shoulders of dads and big brothers trying to catch a trinket or beads to put in their goody bags.   The smiles, laughter, and screams of delight coming from the crowd make me smile.  The atmosphere is full of excitement and positive vibes.  Then the last float goes by and it is over.  A little sadness fills the air as I want there to be one more float.  A deep sigh escapes my lips and I start to remember the excitement I recently experienced.

I am reminded I should also be present in my life.  There will be joy, excitement, laughter, and delight which I should embrace and soak into my soul.  I should not worry what could be around the corner; fear, sadness, grief, and disappointment.  Life is made up of all these emotions and in order to be present, I have to face and live through the good as well as the bad.

Fellowship-A parade consists of a diverse crowd of people.  We generally meet some of our friends, or family will come into town and join us, and it is a great way to get away from technology and focus on relationships.  We generally arrive several hours before the parade starts in order to set up and avoid street closures.  While waiting for the parade it is custom to get to know the people around you, find out if they are local or out of town, what did they bring to eat, and what has been their favorite parade.  It is not uncommon by the time the parade rolls; we are sharing food, helping each other catch throws, and hosting our own dance party.

God is about relationships and so is life.   God made us social in order to interact and take care of one another.  This is why I am involved in a church and volunteer so I can fellowship with others.  I am amazed how moving to Louisiana nine years ago has afforded me new friends and relationships I would have not developed if I had not followed God’s lead.  I look forward to how my community will continue to grow in the future due to new connections with others.

Life is like a parade.  It is totally worth the anticipation, enthusiasm, the relationships, and the making of memories.  If you ever have the opportunity to come down to Southeast Louisiana and experience Mardi Gras, I highly recommend it.  There are many family-friendly parades all over the area and you can learn the history of the parades and get more details at http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades.html.   Blessings and Happy Mardi Gras!




The Value of Connecting

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“This is my command:  Love each other.”-John 15:17*

This is a hard week for my family.  It has been seventeen years since my first husband and the father of my three precious children, Scott, passed away suddenly.  I find myself in a vulnerable and emotional state as I reflect back on our lives and pinpoint a common theme.

Scott was passionate about relationships.

FRIENDS-Scott grew up in a small suburb of Fort Worth, Texas, graduating from the local high school and pursued college, where I met him.  We dated, became engaged, and closed the deal in marriage.  We moved back to the suburb (which had grown considerably!) and I witnessed his people skills at work.  Everywhere we visited he knew someone.  There was always a handshake, hug, or pat on the back from Scott to his friend.  He would remember family members (and their names) and ask how they were doing.  Scott was genuinely engaged with the other person, a smile on his face, locking on their eyes, nodding his head in agreement, and being present for their story.

This kind of meets and greet were not limited to our community.  On a couple of occasions, we were on road trips, hours from where we lived, and Scott would run into someone he knew! It happened in a grocery store, airport, sporting events and gas stations.  Again, the rapport was demonstrated at his funeral when there were over four hundred people who came to pay their respects.  It was a visual reminder of how important friendships were to Scott and how he and his friends had a special bond.

FAMILY– Scott’s love for his parents was a marvel to witness.  He would always kiss his father and mother every time he left them.  We only lived a few miles away from his parents but he would talk to them every day.  We lost his father, Arnie, in 1988 and Scott made sure his mother was engaged daily.  He would visit her and help with items around the house.  I guess you could say he was a momma’s boy, but he was proud of the title and I respected their strong connection.

Scott also had an older brother and they were typical siblings, goofing around, arguing, and turning every event into a competition.  I know Scott was proud of his brother and would protect and support him in his choices.  Then there was the extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins, niece, in-laws, too many to count but Scott was always up to visiting and catching up.  We would go to family reunions in West Texas and he was so excited to see everyone and to introduce me to the family.  Scott’s mom was the youngest of eleven living children so they were many older uncles and aunts.  To hear their stories and recollections of Scott as a youngster was hysterical!  I remember those reunions fondly and realize how many of the family has since passed on.

GOD-The most important relationship to Scott was with God.  When I met this twenty-something year old, he told me he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  God was important to us but I have to admit, the early years we were not focused.  As a couple, we would sporadically go to church, sometimes tithed, and most of the time prayed before eating.  This all changed about a year before he died.  We were invited to a non-denominational megachurch in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and after a few visits, the experience transformed Scott.  I now know God was preparing Scott for his eternal homecoming.  Scott insisted we faithfully attend church every weekend and tithed on a regular basis.  Scott also insisted we prayed with the children each night before bed and we would pray together, the two of us, giving thanks for this life and lifting others in need.

In the last year of his life, Scott had a long-standing disagreement with his older brother.  On his last Christmas Eve, Scott asked if he could speak with me privately.   Scott confessed God was asking him to forgive his brother and make amends.  I told him if God is directing him to do this, he best submit.  He called up his brother who agreed to come over and the two of them spent the next three hours talking about their issues.  By Christmas Eve night we were all able to gather, as a family, and celebrate the meaning of Christmas.   I witnessed such a burden being lifted from both brothers’ hearts.

After Scott’s death, I too was able to find peace in knowing Scott was in heaven.  Early on a Sunday morning, I called a friend who I knew would be awake to let her know Scott had passed away.  She was shocked it was me on the phone because she had awakened from a dream about us moments before the call.  We were all at church and she asked me, “where is Scott?”  I told her to turn around and she would see him standing in the doorway.  When she looked, he was waving at her surrounded by a bright, beaming, golden light.   I was thankful for God to give me the confirmation Scott was with Him in His Kingdom.

God wants a relationship with each one of us.  He also wants us to develop kinships to lift up and support one another, not tear each other apart.  I believe God brings certain individuals in and out of our lives for a reason.  For my long lost friends and family, I will continue to find joy in the times we used to share together.  No regrets and no shame if we have drifted apart.  I would love to catch up, re-connect, and value my relationship with you.

Just like Scott.


*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society