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TBH

To be honest…well I’m just too busy for God and God’s will sometimes in my life. I get caught up in being the task master and forget about what’s important in life.

Right now my task at hand is to get through my daughter’s high school graduation. (Number one of five.)  I’m so focused on the goal, so focused on getting things planned for the after party, I’ve forgotten there are still people around me I love.  I still have a Father above waiting patiently for me to get through another chaotic whirlwind of activities and realize I haven’t even slowed down once to care for His people.

Busyness. The. Struggle. Is. Real.  When I don’t take the time to sit and rest in my source of peace, then prepare for a hot mess.  I’m not listening when you talk, because I am thinking of my to do list.  I’m probably not even seeing your face, because I’m picturing the next thing on my never ending list getting crossed off.

Soooooo…. to be honest, I am a bad friend.   I probably didn’t call or text to check in on how that big thing went today in your life.  I am a bad mom.  I probably forgot to ask you about that huge test you’ve been studying for today. I’m a bad daughter.  I forgot this week to sit at YOUR feet and feel YOU pour life and energy into me.  I forgot that YOU are my source of peace in this life.  In my little self created world,  I forgot for a moment that YOU are THE ONE to bring meaning, peace and joy into my life.

My prayer for what is salvageable of this crazy week is to STOP.   LISTEN.  AND DO.

~Alyssa Mardis

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:6-9 NIV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 NIV

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NIV

The Struggle is Real

I’ve asked God for answers of where He wants me to be since 2010, and I honestly feel Him saying “Be still and know that I am God.”  I can’t even explain to you how difficult that is for me.  I am always striving to do more, to become something, or someone better.  I’m an achievement junkie, always setting up goals and knocking them down.  It’s what I do.  I need to be busy working on my next thing.   I want God to tell me to move here or do this….not be still.  I think God has me exactly where He wants me and He’s just trying to get me to master the art of contentment. Oh boy…this is going to be interesting.

To keep myself from going crazy in this journey, I am coming back to my love of writing.  For the record, I didn’t say that I was good at writing, I just really enjoy it. I actually have felt God kind of pulling me back into writing since the beginning of the year.  The last 3 weeks I’ve had more downtime than usual and have felt God tugging at my heart to get my journal out and begin writing.  I’ve been ignoring those God calls almost to the point of avoiding God altogether.  I’m still reading my devotion and Bible, but with little thought. I’m still praying, but without engaging my heart. I’m  afraid. Does God want me to write for an audience? If so, who? What do I write about? Forget the fact, that I already have my mind made up that I’m not good enough. Hmmmm…so why am I writing now?  BECAUSE I CAN’T SLEEP!

God knows if He really wants my attention He can just mess with my sleep.  I’ve been awake since 4 a.m. (It’s 6 o’clock now, and my alarm to go teach 21 4th grade students will go off in 15 minutes to start my day. Ugghhhh!) I tried everything to go back to sleep for well over an hour and couldn’t.   I really felt God pulling me out of my sleep to go write.   I wrestled with Him. 

 ME: “God, Im tired!”

GOD: “I will give you rest.” 

ME: “Seriously, God, it’s still dark outside!”

He kept nudging and I kept ignoring.  I tried to go back to sleep again and again, but couldn’t. I thought maybe reading and catching up on emails would help to make  me sleepy again, but then I read a devotion titled, “Leaving the Land of Disappointment,” by Sharon Jaynes. This is a small part of what I read, “The women didn’t have all the details worked out in their heads, but they were not going to sit home in their discouragement- paralyzed into inactivity. They were going to move forward…while it was still dark.” (Okay, this got my attention, but let’s face it…I’m no Mary Magdalene and I’m not needed today to find Jesus’ body.) 

“Mary Magdalene got up, and she kept going…while it was still dark. In the end, she was not disappointed that she took this step of faith and you won’t be either. Just as assuredly as Jesus met her at her greatest point of need, He will meet you at yours. Don’t allow the weight of discouragement hold you down or lower your expectations of the life in Christ. Get up. Get moving. Open your eyes. Open your heart. There’s more to experience just around the bend.”

I’d love to tell you that after reading those words I jumped up and immediatly was obedient to the calling of God to get up and write…but No. I honestly believe the God of this universe woke me up and tried to get my butt out of bed to spend time in His word and write something in my journal…and I refused.  (I’m not a morning person.  Get off my case.) I know the significance of God calling me to do something. I know what He was asking of me. I read the words of an email devotion I rarely ever find the time to read, and I read it at This. Precise. Moment. And then tried to go back to sleep.  That was my response to God…again.  I still did not want to get up and write.  I was afraid. Afraid of failure.  Afraid of sounding foolish.  Afraid of judgement. Afraid of letting this go and it being out of my contol.  Afraid of the unknown.  

 I was STILL unable to go back to sleep.  After at least 3 full weeks of avoidance and blatant disobedience to His calling to write, I’m out of bed and I’m writing.  Why? I don’t know?  To whom?  Not a clue. I guess, like Mary, my job is not to have all of this figured out, it’s to be obedient.  I know God has a purpose for this. 

If you feel God tugging on your heart and calling you to action, no matter how big or small,just do it. Our God is incredibly persistant and He wants to use you for for His purpose. He has more than a billion people on this earth to answer this call, but he’s chosen you. 

Why am I still writing???  To urge you to follow God. Reach out to that certain person he has put on your heart.  Give some much needed encouraging words or a helping hand. Pursue the passion of a job change or volunteering that He’s called you into.  Use your God-given talents He’s provided, without fear of rejection or failure.  You’re right.  You’re not good enough. (I’m not good enough.) BUT He is more than enough with you and with me. He is right here with you urging you to start now, because with Him, you are more than qualified. Stop what you are making yourself busy with right now. Get off of your social media. Turn off your television. Drop the excuses. Do God’s will. That’s the thought that popped into your mind you tried to instantly squash, because Satan wants you to believe it doesn’t matter…It matters to God.

~Alyssa Mardis 

“My eyes are ever on the Lord , for only he will release my feet from the snare.”

Psalm 25:15 NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

I leave you with one last quote from Mother Teresa, “God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.”

Here is the link to the full article, “Leaving the Land of Disappointment.”

http://www.crosswalkmail.com/ViewMessage.do?m=gykywrntgy&r=ozmwzjwrrwwr&s=dhgdpstmdgdtjmnrkwlzltsjhkkjgctlppn&q=1490773753&a=view

Think About That!!!

God has been working on my heart and mind on this subject A LOT the last month or so.  He has given me this verse three different times, in different settings, and by completely different people in the last week. This was also the verse I felt compelled to read aloud to my husband while we snuggled in bed last night…
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:6-9 NIV
One thing I can be absolutely sure of is that there will be hard times. There will be bad days and even worse days.  Satan loves those days.  What he loves even more is to hear us complain to everyone who can hear, just how bad we have it.
I remember one of those weeks in my life…I was a single mother of three very busy kids.  I worked full time as a teacher and went to school for my master’s in counseling at night.   I had one week left until graduation day and I still hadn’t completed my thesis paper.  I just couldn’t write any more on that topic.  I was DONE.
I left for work one morning and my daughter forgot her uniform.  I had to use my only break to go home and get it, so she wouldn’t have to sit out that night at the game.  On my way home my transmission went out of my car.  Seriously.  Now? There’s really not a good time for that to happen, but with everything else I was worried about, this was TERRIBLE timing,  especially financially.
I spent the next week driving my dad’s big ole farm truck back and forth to work  and picking up the kids.  I took off two full days of teaching to finish my thesis and seriously contemplated quitting school just three days before my graduation.  After much blood, sweat, and tears I decided to turn in my finished work.  I drove an hour away in my big ole red farm truck to turn in my paper and found that it wouldn’t even fit in the student parking lot.  I laughed at the thought of the truck fitting in any parking spots along the street.  In a desperate attempt to get  my thesis to my professor, I parked the truck in the middle of a semi busy street with the emergency flashers on and ran to his mailbox on the first-floor.  I yelled out something to his secretary about making sure he got my paper and ran back to the truck in record time. Thankfully everyone had avoided a collision with the big metal beast.  What a relief to have that paper turned in and finally be heading home!
Or not.  The truck sputtered to a pitiful stop in the middle of a rather large Ozark mountain hillside.  Did I mention it was raining?   I called a tow truck to pick up the truck and my dad to come and get me.
There I sat on the side of the rode.  I. Was. Exhausted.   Two weeks of  staying up late to finish this God forsaken paper, my car broken, my borrowed truck broken, and my piggy bank broken.  I did the only thing I could possibly do.  I laughed hysterically at the crazy situation I was in. Thankfully I had an hours worth of papers to grade on hand while I waited to be picked up that evening.
I ended up doing well on my paper.   I graduated and  picked up my repaired car just two days after the break down.  My parents were going to take me on a really great trip somewhere to celebrate graduation,  but instead paid for the repairs on my car.   God answered my prayers of despair.   I didn’t have what it took to finish that last paper.  I couldn’t have done any of those years in college as a single mom without Him. As I look back at all He did for me then, I find it really ridiculous to worry about things I go through today.  I have no reason to complain.   He has blessed me far beyond what I could ever deserve or repay Him.  I am thankful the God of this universe takes the time to answer my prayers. #no worries #talk about the good

The Gift of Marriage

 

On February 24th, 2013 I wrote my desires of finding my future husband to God.  This is what it said… “The ONE”
“Father I DO want butterflies.  I want tingles down to my toes.  I want to be dizzy with his kisses. (thank you Shnee Carter for helping me acknowledge this) Father I want a Godly man, who will truly desire to know my heart, and fall in love with me completely.  I want him to ALWAYS cherish my heart.  I want a man that I will NEVER make me doubt his love and devotion to me or our family.  I desire a Godly man who will be a great leader for our family.  Father, I want you to be our guide as a couple to look to you and honor you first in our relationship/marriage and family.
I want to have a real relationship, with real love, real trust, and a whole lotta JOY.  I want this man to LOVE…I mean LOVE our kids wholeheartedly and invest in our kids.  I want deep unconditional love, respect, closeness, commitment, Godly, kind, caring, etc.
I want to be married to a man who loves me in spite of me.  I’m far from perfect in any way, but I will try to be everything he wants and needs every day.
I want to welcome friends and family into our home whenever.  I just want our home to be a safe, loving, caring, FUN, enjoyable, relaxing, consistent, GOD-FILLED, PEACEFUL, welcome-to-be-yourself kind of place.”

Ephesians 3:20 ‘God is able to do far more than we could ever dare to ask or even dream-infinitly beyond our highest prayers, thoughts, or hopes.’ (thank you Leah Edwards for giving this verse to me at a time of great loss and just struggling for hope)

Romans 14:23 ‘If a dream comes from God, it will be SO BIG in your life that you can’t do it on your own.  If you could do it on your own you wouldn’t need faith.'”

Just three days (February 27, 2013)after this discussion with God, my husband-to-be asked me out for the first time.  (after meeting for the first time the night before at Literature Fun Night…a way to get a single teacher’s attention is to take your kids by yourself to school functions showing that #1 you’re responsible #2 you’re a great father #3 you value education) However,  I reluctantly agreed and immediately regretted agreeing to go out with him.  I even tried to find a way to get out of going out with him.(I wasn’t ready to date again) I recall going over several excuses with why I shouldn’t go out with him, when I finally just gave up to “get it over with.”  I’m so glad I took the chance of getting hurt again and went for it, because boy did God answer prayers. I did get everything I dreamed of in a husband and more. I am incredibly blessed.

I guess that exciting first date story and honestly first year of dating is just a blur of absolute bliss.  We spent the first few months just getting to know each other and trying to decide if we were a good fit.  Do we have the same goals???  I believe so…we want to raise loving, caring, responsible, respectful kids.  We waited two months to introduce our children.  We planned a trip to a Springfield Cardinals game with the River Families.   We took some extra precautions  and drove separately and DID NOT plan dinner just in case any of the kids expressed discomfort.   They were all super excited to meet and hangout for the first time.  We had done a lot of reading on how to introduce dating  to our kids to try to do what was best for them.  One suggestion was to not show ANY affection for at least the first 5 dates with them…no holding hands, no arms around each other,  no kisses goodnight, etc.  The ONLY reason we managed to pull this off was simply because we wanted our children to be comfortable with us getting to know each other and to start a relationship on a completely good note.  We wanted everything to be open for our children to see what a healthy relationship looked like.  

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

The kids loved each other and begged to be together all the time. My kids loved him….his kids loved me.  It was almost a fairytale come true…

Being in a “blended family” certainly has its challenges. We certainly won’t be giving them everything they desire, but would like to enlighten them with valuable life lessons.  We care less about being their best friends and more about building their character in ways they most certainly DO NOT appreciate very often.  (oh the pain of chores, homework responsibility, phone limits, bedtimes, etc….we may as well cut their little hearts out when we give them consequences.)

Moving 7 people under one small 4 bedroom roof with different rules, routines, consequences and expectations can be rather stressful for all involved.  (understatement of the year)

We have to remember how we got here…2 people fell in love.  We have to put our relationships with  God, individually and as a couple, FIRST.   Our marriage comes second.When we put our marriage second and take care of each other’s needs it spills over into our parenting and all other aspects of our lives.  After years of research psychologist and family therapist James Bray states “Marital satisfaction almost always determines stepfamily stability. If satisfaction is high, tolerance for the normal tumult and conflict of stepfamily life is correspondingly high. If marital satisfaction is low, however , tolerance for conflict is so low that often the stepfamily dissolves in divorce.”

God has blessed us with an incredible marriage and family and for that we are grateful. The day to day stress and added step family issues will come and go, but God willing this family will be standing strong in His amazing love, mercy and grace.  AGAIN…how great is our God!!!!

“So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything.  And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing.” – Ephesians 6:13

Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”

1 Peter 3:1 “Wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives…your beauty should come from your innerself,  the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit…put their hope in God and were submissive to their own husbands…Do what is right…DO NOT GIVE WAY TO FEAR.” (emphasis mine)

Perfect love?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
Wow. Harsh reality.  We are very much in love,  but immediately we know that it is imperfectly.  We’ve been through love. .. we’ve been through incredible loss.  We FEAR. We are not God. He loves perfectly and try as we may, we do not. God shows us His immeasurable love for us and wants us to spill that love over into other people. It’s better to be loved imperfectly than to never have been loved at all.  

Love Your Enemies

http://bible.com/111/mat.5.43-47.niv “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
In the best and worst of moments you can look to His word and find these nuggets of truth.  God is not asking us to go into our daily chaos alone.  He gives us a life manual to follow and even WANTS a personal relationship with us.  How crazy is that?! The omnipotent God of this universe wants to be our friend, walk with and guide us through the muck of this sinful world. We don’t always love what he tells us…love your enemies???Pray for those who persecute you???  I promise you can do this with HIS help.  He will free you from the prison walls that others and you have built, that hold you back. #HIS

Finding Wisdom

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ”
There are so many times in life when you just don’t know the right thing to do. There are difficult decisions to be made…Pray to the God of infinite wisdom to show you His ways and be blessed with his knowledge and peace in decisions big and small. He will give you insight.