Sunday, August 21, 2016

Meet the Teacher...

Every year I pray that God will hand pick each of the kids’ teachers. I ask Him to place them exactly where He wants them, or knows they need to be. This year, my prayer was different. While it still petitioned for Him to place them where He knew they needed to be, there were some questions, as I felt Him leading us down a different path.

“Am I hearing You correctly?!?”  “Are you SURE?”  And the answer was, “Yes.” “Yes” meant a drastic change in our lives, and it was spelled out over the course of this last year. “Yes” came reassuringly through several conversations with various people, and lots of heart and soul searching.

“Yes” meant we will embark on a new journey this school year. We have slammed on the breaks, and taken a hard left onto an unmarked, unpaved (for us), scenic, yet bumpy (I’m sure) road.

Some might think I missed the STOP sign, and got lost. Me too, believe me. I’ve double-checked the ‘directions’ a few times already. Some might think the road we just turned onto has a ‘Dead End’ sign coming up in a few short miles.

I believe the street sign, at the corner of ‘Life as We Knew It,’ and this ‘New Normal,’ had there been one, would have read, “turn here for God’s detour.”

If you haven’t guessed yet, we are homeschooling.

There is absolutely no way in the entire world, or universe, that we would be doing this if we didn’t feel strongly led to. Let’s review the obvious and get all the cards on the table: I am not a school teacher. I always wanted to be one when I was young, but that doesn’t count. I have worked a ‘9-5ish’ for most of their lives. Their natural instinct is to test me, and my patience. They define ‘strong-willed child.’ Both of them. I have always said I could never, and would never, homeschool my children, for all of our well-being. And I have eaten my words.

Some of you are sighing, and saying, “She has LOST her mind!” But for the record, I have not.

What I lost was the ability to continue to watch our sweet kiddos struggle so hard this last year with school, each in their own ways. School is hard(er). Do we believe you run when life gets hard? No. But we do believe you change course, or go a different direction, when the road starts to crumble from beneath you.

Let me explain. At some point during last school year, one of our daughter’s teachers said something that dropped like a boulder right in the middle of my way. She said, “If we had enough time to fully explain each concept to her, until she completely understood it, she would lock it into her long-term memory, and she’d have it and never forget it. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time, and the pace is such that she just can’t fully grasp the concepts enough to lock them in. It’s so fast, she just doesn’t have a chance.”

Doesn’t. have. a. chance.  

The message was not – she just isn’t capable. She’s very capable. (True story; not just proud). It was – this particular setting isn’t allowing her to reach her full potential.

At this point in our meeting we were passing the Kleenex box around, because the thing is she WANTS to succeed! She WANTS to read easily, and write the words that are in her head onto paper CORRECTLY. She became so very TIRED of it being so HARD. She tried so hard (with lots of encouragement and feet-holding) every year, and in her mind and in her eyes, she saw little improvement. At some point, your child, or at least my child, gets tired of hearing you say, “All you can do is your best. That’s all that matters. Just do your best.” 

And so from that moment on, that big, fat boulder sat right in my way, and I could not see past it. Could not GET past it. I thought, “She deserves the chance. She deserves what it will take for her to succeed, and we have to do something to give it to her.”

Without going into all of the other details that led us to this decision, here we are. About to set foot onto uncharted territory. And I am fully aware we are going backwards here. Driving backwards down our dirt road. Like we passed the sign at first, and reversed back to the turn. We have a 4th and 5th grader and we are entering our very first year of homeschooling.  But…we honestly believe we were watching our kids stand at their own crossroads. At some point, if something doesn’t change, YOU change. And we weren’t willing to watch them give up on learning, or themselves. They are very bright children, with incredible personalities, and we just refuse to lose any of that because of them feeling beat down.

So there’s that! We just keep adding to our ‘new normal’ don’t we?

I will say, it’s been a keenly interesting road we have walked these past several weeks, as we share more and more about our decision. More on that to come! In the meantime, we start school tomorrow, so pray for our safe ‘travels’ and I promise to keep you posted along the way!

Peace and Love.

Friday, June 10, 2016

New Normal

Our Heart's Home in the Hill Country

 This week was the beginning of a new season for our family. Not just summer, but summer with me – Momma; Mommy; MOM (said in the 5th time they’ve called for me voice).
Over the last year we have watched our children change. ALOT. They change every year of course, but these past 12 months have been different. It was our first year of female preteen years. Oh the joy! This year things started to matter. For both of them (8 and 10). The pressures of standardized testing, and performing. Our daughter was no longer completely comfortable telling people she is dyslexic. This year it became a source of frustration, and embarrassment. Our son compared himself to every other student in his class and the pressure was silently destroying him.
There were new revelations, new experiences, new topics of conversation, new sources of stress (for all of us), new questions, new attitudes, new emotions. Many weighty things reared their head. Some we slayed. Some we just started swinging at, and failed; learned from it, and tried again. Some things we were prepared for and we thank God for those moments! But most of the time, my husband and I stared at each other blankly, not knowing how to respond, or handle these issues at “such a young age.”

Week after week I told myself, or wrote in my journal, “I need more time with them.” The window is closing on our time, where they will openly listen to us. Where we can get our foot in the door with them on certain stances. Where they look to us for answers, and not just consult us for our opinion, if they ask at all. I need more time to strengthen my position as MOM in their eyes. For a long time they saw mom was super busy, super tired, and super impatient and short-tempered at the end of the day. (Honesty). She helps people, but when does she help US?
So, I began praying many months ago, and seeking the Lord’s direction. And bit by bit I received confirmation, and direction, to make a drastic change that would give me the time, and allow me the energy to pour into these two beautiful souls God has so graciously gifted me with.
I made the very difficult and heart wrenching decision to leave my ‘job’ at Buckner to work from home. I say ‘job’ because it was ministry. When I started working at Buckner nearly three years ago, I couldn’t believe I was getting to do ministry and it be my job. My experiences there, and the relationships I made with so many, are so invaluable. I’ll never be the same. I was stretched, and grew so much, and for that I am so thankful.  

But, every night I was reminded that there was a clock ticking on the time I have with ‘my gifts’. And I needed to do something to be more PRESENT in their lives.
So, as of last week I began a new chapter, and as of this past Monday, we started our new normal.  What a ride already! I’ve started a list of things that I’ve witnessed and experienced already, that I’m not sure I would have, if we hadn’t made a change. Confirmation. Thank you Lord. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I'm thankful for God's persistence with me. He began to speak to me about being quiet two Sundays ago, during our Worship Team's presentation of "The Promise". 

It struck me that God was silent (Scripturally), for 400 years.  Four-HUNDRED years. Yet the people continued to believe, hope, and have faith.

Amos 8:11-12 says there would be a famine of hearing the Words of The Lord; people would wander all over seeking the Word of The Lord and not find it. 

I become impatient and doubtful if I don't hear from Him the same day, the same week, the same month. 

I received His message to me, and believed it to be a lesson on patience, and not doubting Him. I missed that He wanted me to see His example of quiet. 

In the days that followed that initial message, I was sick; felt horrible; was tired and stressed from one of the busiest weeks of the year for us at work. And words flowed freely. Any words. Entered my mind, came out of my mouth. I was not quiet. 

This all came to a head toward the end of last week. I was left reeling with a picture of my behavior, and it was ugly. All I could hear was, Quiet. Be quiet.  

Not a reprimanding, Be quiet! (aka shut up!), but just...Quiet. 

Jesus was quiet. He never retaliated; He didn't walk the road dragging His cross, shouting, this is what I'm doing for you all! I am about to save you all! You people will regret what you are about to do.  You'll regret it. Just wait.  

No. He was quiet. 

"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23 NIV)

All throughout His earlthy ministry he was quiet; got quiet with God; answered quietly to accusations. 

I sat down Sunday to study a lesson I was to teach on Tuesday, and the key verse was "Happy are the meek". The definition of meek: to have a gentle, QUIET, humble spirit, or nature. 

Ha Ha! God, You are so You! There it is again.  Be quiet.  Okay. 

So I look up Scripture about being quiet,and it is a praise-worthy attribute. The Bible commends those who can keep the peace and listen.
There is a time to keep silent, and a time to speak. Eccl. 3:7

James 1:19: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 

God will quiet us with His love. (Zeph. 3:17)

Then I began to understand. Quiet isn't necessarily something we can DO. Not Scriptural quietness. I can wake up and decide to be quiet today, but that's not going to last long. But  if my focus is on Him, quiet can happen. If I focus on the fact that He loves me so much, He stays after me when I don't get it the first time, because it's IMPORTANT! He doesn't want me to miss this! And that is awesome and that is a little scary too. Because it is so important.  I think, well, I'm not quiet; I'm slightly quick-tempered (ha!); quite vocal; quite opinionated. This will not last long, and I'll fail. And it's important.

Then beauty is revealed - the only way to be Scripturally quiet - is for it to come from Him. He will quiet me with His love.  If I allow God's love for me - which is abundant - to fill me up, so much that it overflows from me, then I can respond in a quiet, gentle way, or not at all. Then I can smile, and be quiet. Hush. 

It is a choice. I have to choose to allow that LOVE; that BIG LOVE, to fill me up, and then flow out of me. That is a choice. Being quiet is not one. Quiet is a product of Him in me. 

"A result, rather than a means." (JR Miller;

In my research on 'quiet' I found this blog by JR Miller - don't know him or her, but Miller brought to mind quiet, yet strong forces.

Sunbeams, gravity, dew...the cross. 

The grace of Christ in my heart should soften and refine my nature. 

That hurts. If you've ever seen the Skit Guys God's Chisel skit - it feels like the chisel. It hurts. But I'm thankful!  So thankful! Please, chisel me now; let me feel You chipping away at the hard, jagged edges of who my flesh is. Please don't leave me unfinished. Chisel.  

The grace of Christ in my heart should repress angry feelings and soften them into gentleness of love; it should restrain resentment; it should return kindness for unkindness; return gentleness for rudeness; return blessing for cursing; return prayer for defiance. 

It does - if I allow it. I have to kick down the wall blocking His love flowing into my heart, and demolish the dam that keeps it from flowing out of me.  

Quiet. Worthy is the Lamb! How deep the Father's love for me; His wounds have been my ransom. Jesus died my soul to save..Jesus paid it ALL, and so ALL to Him I owe. Oh praise the ONE! Let the grace of this, of HIM, abide in my heart and generate QUIET.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Daughter of the King: in His Hands

Yesterday morning as I saw the pictures and heard the news of ice-covered DFW, I felt deflated.  For the past four months I had been looking forward to a dear friend being the guest of honor at our church's Daughter of the King, women's event.  I was so excited for several reasons - getting to hear her sing and share her story is always a blessing and I was excited for my church family to share in this blessing; and I was looking forward to our high school girl friends coming together to hear our friend, and fellowship.  
That was not God's plan.  Yesterday morning, I knew that with a pouty lip.  I whinned to anyone who would undestand or listen.  She's not coming.  
That was not God's plan.  I say that now with a full heart and a huge smile.  HE HAD OTHER PLANS!  
In my friend from childhoold's place, stood another friend.  She stood, and she sang, and she played her guitar, and she shared her story.  She bared her soul before her home congregation.  She walked in obedience with every chord, with every word, with every detail of her private story.  I can imagine she wanted to puke, cry, and walk off of that stage several times, but she didn't.  She stood and explained how God met her where she was at, lying on the floor at rock bottom.  
She stood in front of a jam-packed full sanctuary of people she has grown up with, as well as complete strangers, all ages - she sang and she blew transparent.  She deep-breathed and swallowed down her own will, and made known to many the power of God's grace and mercy.  
The majority of the audience knows Jesus in an intimate way, but I would say lovingly, the minority (myself included) has bared their soul as she did in front of such a large audience.  
The Lord made a path for those to follow.  
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the mold of the norm was shattered a bit.  Rocked.  
Another close friend who came to the event, said she had just seen Rick Warren on The View this morning, talking about how we need to take the one thing we are most scared to share, and make that our focal point (or something along those lines).  That's where God has done the most work.  He wants us to not leave behind the nasty, the bad, the embarrassing; because that's where He shines brightest.  Where people can see - WOW - He brought you from there!  Or, He helped you through that?  WOW!  And create a desire in others for that.  Creating a gnawing in them to get and have what those who's mess, He's made HIS MESSage, have in HIM.  
The Word says GO Tell!  In one translation Jesus says Run tell that!  Not really, He just says, Go tell as many as you can about me, but I hear, "Run tell that!"   :)  He says, "Go back and report what you've seen and heard: The blind will receive sight, the lame will walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor!"  (Luke 7:22)
I pray that people not only heard my friend's words and her songs last night, but that God spoke to them about sharing their own story.  I pray they take away more than just a great evening, but a conviction to be transparent.  To bare past and share present.  Myself included.  
My personal joys last night came from the fact that she sang "Oceans".  Enough said.  This song has been God's message to me for the past five months (weird the timing).  She sang "The Rock Won't Move".  :)  Anthem.  Listened to it on the way to the church.  She sang a song she wrote.  One that tells her story in song - through the gifts God gave her.
Think about that.  Can you imagine God's face - the light - His presence - bursting forth from the heavens when one of his children, uses the gifts He gave her, to tell the story he saved her from, and is writing now, to let others know of his saving grace, His redemptive love, His hand extended and open and ready to lead someone up and out of the pit, or off the floor, and to take the next step toward freedom?  Can you imagine?!?!?  
My friend was stretched.  WAY out of her comfort zone.  
She got a call yesterday morning to step in, in the absence of the scheduled speaker/singer, due to dangerous weather conditions.  She walked out onto the stage and stared out into the audience of many, and then she obeyed.  God's work happened last night  And it was awesome.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Somewhere close to 25 years ago, my parents loaded my two brothers and I up in our multi-shades of brown passenger van, and we embarked on an adventure.  An adventure that became a permanent reoccurrence in our lives every December from that year on.  An adventure that annually rebirthed fresh memories, a new story, and another page written well in the book of life.  Our annual family trip to the Christmas tree farm! 

The Bullard Christmas tree farm trip most always began the same - current family vehicle loaded down with us five: Dad (Rod), Mom (Rhonda), me (Ashley), middle brother (Cade), baby brother (Chase).  Once crammed into the car, Rod and Rhonda would kick-off the caroling, I'm pretty sure with "Over the River and Through the Woods".  True to form, at least one of us kids was against the world, or feeling just the opposite.  Wishing ourselves adopted by some other family, who didn't torture their children in such ways as caroling and traveling millions of miles all the way to Gilmer, to saw down our Christmas tree.  So at least one mad kid, with the remaining two belting out those carols with the hopes of further infuriating the mad one.  :/ 

Once at the Tree Farm, we would pile out of the family vehicle and onto the hay bale-lined trailer, on which we would grab at the available hand saws, and fight over them, arguing who was going to get to saw the tree down that year.  As Mr. Youngblood drove us out into the middle of the tree field, and we barely escaped limb and extremity loss - then the fun began.  We would race all over that field, darting in and out of the rows of tress, shouting "This one! I've found it!"  "No this one, it's PERFECT!"  Much to our dismay, no matter which tree we thought was most amazing, Rhonda would have the final say.  There was the checklist:  Perfect, full shape; not too tall, no holes, straight trunk." 

After about two to three years of hearing us complain about how she ALWAYS got to pick the tree, and once she realized just how many homemade ornaments we were going to bring home each year of grade school (I believe I was in the 2nd grade when this began) - we started another new tradition - the KIDS TREE!  Now we got to pick out our own tree!!  AND we got to put our stringed popcorn, and all of those homemade, clothespin reindeer, Styrofoam cup angels, and coffee filter snowflakes - all over it!  Everyone was happy!  Well at least 3 out of 5 usually. 

So back to the farm. After body-tackling each other to the ground over who got the SAW, and successfully felling the trees, we'd wait for the tractor to come back and get us.  They'd shake and wrap the tree, and then we'd giggle as Dad fought to tie those trees down to the top of the suburban or van.  On the way home we'd stop at eat the Lock Stock and Barrel Saloon for burgers!  Once they went out of business, the tradition became La Finca - best hamburger at a Mexican food restaurant!  Mmmm! 

Then we would carol all the way home. Or maybe do a Chinese Fire Drill.  Or play a game where we tried to get people in the cars next to us to look over at us.  Or there was the one year that Cade was so mad at us - he had tried to run away at the tree farm (off into the trees), but we found him, and as we were Decking the Halls, we heard Cade mumble something.  "What was that Cader?"  "Tree's gone," he replied nonchalantly.  And YES, the tree was GONE folks.  That was a special year.  We rode in the bench seat Ford from Wholesale Supply (all five of us), and the wind just up and scooped that tree right out of the bed!  We all turned to look, and sure enough, there was the tree hopping and bouncing down the rode behind us.  Oh the memories!

Once in the driveway, the tradition always took a turn for the...well, it started an uphill climb we'll say - for Dad anyway.  For us kids, it was like a treacherous bridge you see on Indiana Jones movies - where the wooden planks are missing and you aren't sure if you'll make it across.  We always prayed the neighbors weren't home when we got back with our tree, because after we unloaded our beloved fresh-cut trees, and cut the mesh off of them, the battle began.  The battle between Rod, the tree, and the tree stand.  It NEVER went in without a hitch.  It was war, and it was never pretty.  We would try to stay inside and untangle lights and check for bad bulbs, while Dad had it out with the ole tree stand.  Every now and then Mom would go out to check the progress, especially once she heard the chainsaw crank up.  I won't share those conversations here in such a public place, but I'm sure your imagination won't fail you.  :)

It was our tradition!  It was fun and exciting, embarrassing and tortuous - depending on the kid and the year, but nonetheless we made memories!  And we are carrying on the tradition.  My little family has been cutting our tree down at Danville farms ever since our sweet Dylan came into the world.  We haven't missed a year at Danville (in the past 8 years), with exception to last year when Philip and the kids came home from a trek in the woods with two serious, for real Charlie Brown Christmas trees.  My brothers and their brides cut their trees down as well.  And THIS year we had a very special treat. 

Today, we ALL went to the Tree Farm together.  What a sight it was.  All of us traipsing over the field, searching for the right tree.  Laughing about the memories from days gone by, and thankful we all lived through those wonderful times.  I pray my kids carry this tradition on with them.  And I am thankful for my parents, and that making traditions, and having fun as family, was a priority.  It's what we did.  We made memories that have lasted and will continue to last us a lifetime!  Merry Christmas!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Narrow Place Experience

Yesterday afternoon two friends and I headed to Ft. Worth to hear a friend IN CONCERT!  I was pretty dang excited.  We were going to get to hear her sing her own songs in a concert setting!  As the ride ensued, and converstions began to flow (for 3 hours), the Lord began a work that would change us all and mold each of us.

Still trying to proccess all that He revealed and healed, and put that into words, but I hope to share that soon.

As for the artist - Lauren Chandler - the best I can describe it is this:  God's gift to her, could fill the Grand Canyon, just a source of love, peace, joy, heartache, healing, a river of Him flowing through her and filling the space around you.  The words He gives her to tell her story and share her heart, and sing her relationship with Him, are full of life; drenched in the Spirit.

And a little bit of girl punk, foot-stompin, declaring His love NEVER fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.  It was invigorating, passion-stirring.

Describing the narrow place we are in - between Jesus saving us and returning home with Him; the struggle, the pain; the goodness; the glory; we wait patiently and full of hope.

The intricate details of the entire night's events; the very words He spoke to us through Lauren; the way we all got there that night, on that day; the events and experiences leading up to it; the stories that were shared; the testimonies given; it was a masterpiece of our CREATOR.  He brought it all together and for it to be so personal was overwhelming to say the least.  I'm in awe.  And I'm excited, b/c it doesn't stop with last night.  There is more to come.  More of His plan, and paths we may have never dreamed of exisiting, were just revealed.

I love you Jesus!  Thank you for loving us enough to do something like THAT!  You rock!  And so does your girl LC!

If you have not blest yourself with The Narrow Place album, hop over to iTunes or Amazon and download Lauren's Chandlers heart shared through song on The Narrow Place.

Peace and Love.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No Limit Soldier

Saw a sticker on the car in front of me in the parent drop-off line this morning that said "No Limit!"

Two things came to mind....

The first, naturally, was a song from about a decade or so ago...nah-nah-nah-nah  No Limit Soldier. Thankfully I couldn't remember the lyrics, and the Holy Spirit quickly took my attention to Him.

With Him, I have no limits.

Just me on my own?  My limits abound. I can't make it an hour into my day without failing in my attempts to be better, or I'm sad to say, on some days, just be nice.  :(  But that's me.  That's my humanness.  That's my junk riding herd over my day.  And I am beyond limited in what that day will bring.....UNLESS!!! 

Unless, I allow my Jesus and his LIFE to flow freely through me...THEN, I am limitLESS! 

A No Limit Soldier for Him. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Phillipians 4:13

I have NO lack, for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glroy by Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 4:19.

PLEASE do not gloss over this verse, I tell myself.  BELIEVE it.  You can do ALL THINGS through HIM.  If I choose to be His no limit soldier.  (nah-nah-nah-nah).

Disclaimer: The content of this message is directed to the author herself; the author is a hypocrite just like the rest of the human race; no judgement please.