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Here She Goes Again

Here She Goes Again


Posted By on Jun 12, 2017

So, last weekend Madison graduated. Now that doesn’t sound like a big deal. Kids graduate every year, and this is exactly what I was thinking until I saw my daughter walk across the stage, and then it hit me. She shouldn’t be here. I was told to abort her. (Imagine a crazy lady, weeping and wiping her face. Yep. That was me, and my hubby, too.) Then during the ceremony they showcased all 300 graduates and their favorite hobby/talent. Madison, the girl so completely humble that the photo she picked to showcase her “talent” across two over-sized projectors, to over 3,000 people was of her bending down to make these sweet kids in Haiti smile. She was the only graduate who didn’t face the camera with perfectly blown-out hair. And, more tears fell as I realized that she didn’t really care what she looked like. She just wanted to love on these kids.  All the other students did what I would have done. Picked the best picture of themselves, facing the camera, looking their very best. But not Maddie. Nope. She picked the first photo where you can’t really see her face, or that she isn’t wearing make-up at all. So what does my teen want for graduation? To go back to Haiti. What teen asks for that? She honestly amazes me and truly asks very little from me. Honestly. She’s not that type of kid whose always walking up asking for money to go to the mall (she enjoys scoring a fantastic deal a the local consignment store or Goodwill, even). Just yesterday I gave her a small amount of cash to buy lunch after taking her ACT to celebrate, but she walked in the door and handed me the cash and said she’d make a sandwich. I can’t make this stuff up.  So when she asked if I could post something on my blog for her to raise money for Haiti, I of course jumped at the opportunity. Only, it took me a little longer to post since we’ve been away at summer camp for a week (yes, I was the crazy camp counselor, only I ended up super sick with the flu. Not good.). So here I am with a box of tissues beside me trying to frantically fulfill my end of the bargain, especially since she need to raise half of her trip money in two weeks. Eek. The only thing different this year is she will be going to Haiti with her dad. Yay. 🙂 She’s excited to have this last trip with him before she goes off to college. Here are a list...

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A Walking Billboard

A Walking Billboard


Posted By on Apr 8, 2017

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” —2 Corinthians 4:11-12 (NIV) My 16-year-old walked to the front of her speech class at the State College with her hair tucked up in a scarf, concealing every strand, as she mimicked how I looked some 17 years ago. She shared her story of how my husband and I made the toughest decision to not abort her when I was diagnosed with cancer when I was six weeks pregnant, but instead underwent chemotherapy with her in the womb. For a teen who typically loves public speaking, and effortlessly captivates her audience, this was the first time I heard her say, “Mom, that was uncomfortable. I was the youngest student in the class, I’m homeschooled, and now they know I’m a Christian. Why is sharing our God-story so awkward?” She continued to say she felt judged by her silent, smile-free audience, especially when the next young lady to present encouraged the class to support Planned Parenthood. Her eyes widened as she listened to this opposing presentation. At that moment, I wanted to bubble wrap my teen and protect her from those unworthy feelings, until she admitted, “But then a handful of students came up after class and said, ‘Wow, that was really cool how you talked about your story and faith and all. We’re glad your mom, you know, listened to God and now you’re here.’” And that was it. That was the moment I was reminded of the importance of dying to those uncomfortable feelings and opening our mouths to share the truth and life through our redemption story, even in the difficult times when we think no one is listening, and certainly no one cares. We are much like a walking billboard, advertising how God has delivered us from a sickness, an addiction, maybe a gut-wrenching divorce, or some other heartbreaking experience where it feels like we’re being given over to death and we think no one would want to hear about that, would they? That’s the beautiful part about becoming a Christian. We’ve all been saved from something. And when we share our story and surrender to God by dying to ourselves, even our fears, that’s how His life is revealed in our bodies, that’s how He brings life out of death. DIG: What did God reveal to you as you read through this devotional? DISCOVER: Pray and ask Him how He’d like you to...

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New Year, New You

New Year, New You


Posted By on Dec 31, 2016

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) After battling infertility for years, and finally accepting that I was sterile, my husband and I considered adoption. It’s amazing how excited you become about something once all other doors seem welded shut. So there we were, a year into adopting a sweet baby from China when mysteriously I became pregnant. No words can describe the ecstatic momma I morphed into, because God wasn’t blessing us with one baby, He was blessing us with two! Oh, praise Jesus. That is until week seven when all my pregnancy symptoms subsided and my ultrasound confirmed I’d lost the baby. Understandably, I became that weepy mess of a mom you’d imagine. That was the day Philippians 3:13-14 took on a whole new meaning, especially the “pressing on” part. I had a choice in the months that followed: I could wallow and lament (which, I did at first), or I could follow God’s Word and start “straining toward what [was] ahead, [and] press on toward the goal . . .” Some days this world tangles my heart so tight from the disappointments that I could easily whimper my time away. Boy, isn’t that what our enemy would love for us to do? Maybe that’s why God reminds us that this isn’t our home. This temporary world takes some pushing, straining, and pressing in order to get through. And the more I look around, the more I realize that I’m not the only one facing bumps. We all are. Praise God we will one day win the prize of heaven, because during this unexpected season of my life, I learned that obsessing over my brokenness wasn’t helping me move forward. Then more craziness happened. Seven months after my miscarriage, we adopted our sweet baby. And wouldn’t you know, as soon as my focused shifted to praise Him for this blessing, He surprised us with another pregnancy. This is a new year, filled with new experiences. Life may not turn out how we imagine, but the more we focus on Him, the more He blesses us when we least expect it. The biggest challenge we face is keeping our eyes on the goal. This new year are you ready to press on and become a new you? DIG: Are you facing a painful event you are having a hard time getting past? DISCOVER: Did the Lord put anything...

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So this past Saturday I asked my friends on Facebook (FB) for recommendations on where to pick up a turkey dinner since I planned on cheating this year for Thanksgiving {cough}. Thinking this was a novel idea of mine, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done this before. Then today a FB memory popped up from five years ago that said, “I’m thankful for the Publix prepared Thanksgiving Dinner sitting in the fridge…” What? I’ve ordered a Turkey-day dinner before? Good night, how do I not remember this? Oh, Lord what else am I forgetting these days? Ugh. My brain is sometimes broken, I murmured in frustration. I mean, of course I remember things, but I want to remember the little things, too. Like sweet moments of these two cuties below, but if I can’t remember ordering a holiday meal, whose to say I’ll remember a fun evening out if there’s not a photo involed? And then I read this crazy quote in my morning devotion from Change Your Words Change Your Life by J. Meyer, “One of the worst parts about complaining is that it prevents us from seeing all the blessings that we do have.” Ugh. So. True. Mrs. Meyer had just finished retelling how the Israelites in Numbers 21 were only satisfied when things went their way, but the second they grew tired and there didn’t seem to be an end to their journey, they grumbled and grew bored of their magical manna that dropped from the sky. Had they forgotten how Moses delivered them from slavery, the beatings, the oppression, the grueling work and now they’re harping on their free food and the long hike? Basically, they assumed when Moses rescued them, then their lives would forever be perfect. Ha. How many times have I thought that? Why is it that we imagine as soon as we’re out of debt, then we’ll be free—or as soon as I quit this habit, get this promotion, meet the right mate, finally become pregnant, or go to the right college, then we will finally relish in contentment? But that’s not the case. We choose our satisfaction with each word we speak. I don’t want to grumble like the Israelites did about the manna God provided. Murmuring kept them wandering. And who wants to wander around their bumps? I want to free myself from focusing on what I don’t have (an impeccable memory, oodles of scholarships for my teen, mellowed work schedule for my sweet hubby), and verbally remind myself of the many blessings surrounding me. Meyer says when we complain, we remain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t...

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Deliverance from Despair

Deliverance from Despair


Posted By on Jul 4, 2016

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”—Psalm 107:6 (NIV) I remember the day Erin Brockovich, the well-known environmental activist, visited our town and confirmed what our community had feared: We were living in a cancer cluster and water contamination was to blame. Each bath, hand-washed dish, or dip in our above-ground pool my family of six encountered meant cancer-causing elements were slowly absorbing into our system. Never before had we wanted to move so quickly, yet with this unsettling news the housing prices in our area had plummeted. As a result, we owed more than the house was worth, and the only way out was filing for foreclosure or applying for a short sale, so we thought. It’s unexpected situations like these that remind me why I love God’s Word so much. In fact, the Lord showcases what triggers His amazing power in Psalm 107:6. This passage retells the story of when the Israelites hit rock bottom, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (emphasis added). Sometimes it isn’t until we are wading through hardships in life that we experience our “then” moment. The bottom falls out, “then” we cry out to the Lord. It’s like this one act of emptying our resources, emotions, and physical stamina finally allows us to become the perfect vessel, weak enough to unleash His mighty power. In our housing situation, that’s exactly what happened. For a year we tried to finagle a plan. We attempted to short sale, even though we never missed a monthly payment, but as every buyer fell through, I cried out to God to save us. After a year, we finally gave up and trusted that He was in control. If we were supposed to move, He’d show us how. So when a new realtor explained that we could rent out our home and buy another, we laughed. “Sure, ok,” we jested, and half-heartedly tried this guy’s plan. Somehow, within 30 days we found a home, signed a contract, and secured renters who could care less about the silly scare. And wouldn’t you know it, a year later our water contamination problems diminished as no explanation was found for the unusual outbreak. God loves to deliver His children. As much as we try, our lives will never morph into perfection, not on this broken earth. But we can grow and transform with our knees on the ground and our face lifted high, crying out for His wisdom and guidance. DIG: When was the last time you hit rock bottom...

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  So what do you decide to do on your one year anniversary of heart surgery? With bottles of Zika-repellent, go to Haiti, of course. Yep. We decided Sunday {June 26, 2016} that I’ll be going with my 17-year-old, Maddie. Sweet. Only, my husband was supposed to go, you know, because he’s far more healthy than I am, or so I kept imagining. But the truth is, I feel normal. Really normal. Surprisingly, refreshingly, magnificently…normal! {I know. Too many -ly words. Sorry, my grammatically-minded friends.} Normal is glorious. It means you’re not sick. You’re not tired. You’re not running from doctor to doctor, dropping boatloads of co-pays, getting stuck with needles to determine, that yes…you are like the rest of the disease-free world. Praise God for that! Better yet, praise God I’m so normal that I can travel to Haiti in twelve days and love on some precious orphaned kiddos in another country. Me, heart-surgery-girl, the person who used to pay karate fees twice because she forgot she’d paid two days prior, or the person who tried to tithe twice, before realizing that there was already a week-old carbon copy of our tithe check to remind me, or the person who six months ago would so remember your face, but couldn’t possibly recall your name…even though I’ve known you ten years. So, if you don’t mind…will  you please pray for us? Me, and sweet Maddie? That the trip goes smoothly, that Maddie’s dream of loving on babies goes well, that we all return happy, safe, and Zika-free? And possibly with a different type of healed heart. One that’s filled with a renewed understanding of precious people in this world who need Jesus, because really, that’s all they have. They’re not worried about where to travel on summer vacation or the perfect gourmet concoction to create for the 4th of July menu, they’re thinking of the hunger pangs grumbling in their bellies. God prepare my heart for a different type of healing, the sobering, realistic kind that only truth can bring. Love to all of you! Dabney PS For those who asked, here is a link you can go to if you’re interested in more info....

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Holy Cannoli

Holy Cannoli


Posted By on Mar 28, 2016

Sometimes I think God gives me devotional ideas just for my benefit, even though I’m writing them once a month for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. So, here comes some honesty. I had a cruddy Easter yesterday. There. I said it. My hubby was sick. Then I got sick (stomach flu, anyone?). Then I needed to prep to teach Latin and Rhetoric for my daughter’s class the next day (Monday). Then, of course, I needed to make the big, happy Easter dinner. But I wasn’t happy. My China-doll needed help with her China project (due Monday), so of course I gave her some awesome creative advice she didn’t take. (Can you guess the one main trait we share? Anyone? Starts with “Con” ends with “trol”.) After debating with a preteen, then studying for Latin, I headed into the kitchen at 4pm to prepare our Easter meal. By 8pm, my day felt like give, give, give, only I was wishing we could have blessed  someone else with dinner. My new puppy had another puppy accident. My youngest asked if she had to eat? Or could she only eat bread? My son wanted to know when he could return to his XBOX? Any my kitchen? Well, don’t ask. All I could think was I wish we could have loved on a neighbor, friend, or at this point, a stranger–anyone who would appreciate the sacrifice. (You know, because it’s Easter…the most incredible day the Savior died for everyone. Oh, and did I mention J was in bed under the weather? He got the only free pass.) I hated staying home, sick alone. We missed church. We missed fellowship. And my attitude was, well, kind of how this stinky blog post is sounding: rotten. Something inside just felt wrong. I was cranky all day and night and then I woke the same way, until I read this (click on “this” to read). It’s like God knew I needed this reminder today. Thank you, Lord, for your amazing ability to speak to me just when I’m my crankiest. Holy Cannoli. All I can say is Your timing is perfect. (I apologize for the negativity scrawled across this post. I tried to edit-away the ugly. Forgive me?) Thankfully, in my weakness, He is strong. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10....

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Face Your Fears

Face Your Fears


Posted By on Feb 19, 2016

{Devotional} Fear is the great silencer in life. I remember the moment a friend asked if I’d speak at his crisis pregnancy fundraiser. After an uncomfortable chuckle, I refused. “I’m not a speaker,” I reminded him. He wasn’t looking for a speaker, he said, followed by something along the lines of, “God has given you a powerful testimony our guests would be blessed to hear.” Biting my inner lip, I agreed. My tummy twisted as anxiety filled my spirit, so I prayed, polled friends for wise counsel, and eventually joined a public speaking group. However, I soon learned that of the twenty or so club members, few shared my faith in God. And the speech I needed help with was how the Lord protected my unborn baby while I endured chemotherapy during my pregnancy. So now I fretted that I’d somehow offend these people by talking about God. Fear had entrapped me. With my speaking event a few months away, I had no other options. I practiced with these strangers my crazy God-story. And these kind folks coached me through, all the while hearing a message from a sheepish 30-year-old who would rather have shoved her head in a hole than shared her miraculous testimony. Panic felt like a weapon used to slice my soul and render me wounded. Little did I know that this one speech would open the door to many more speaking events, where other strangers would spur me on to face yet another fear: writing. This dyslexic, math-lover who failed the fourth grade somehow ended up being used by God in the most unusual ways, and all because I faced the things that had held me captive for far too long. God knew He wanted to use this testimony to reach other struggling souls. I simply had to trust Him. So what if I would have allowed my cowardice to silence my first speaking event? Fear could have kept me from the very thing God was calling me do. The Bible says the “Fear of man is a dangerous trap . . .” (Proverbs 29:25 TLB). Clearly, anxiety hinders our faith. Maybe that’s why God repeated differing versions of “Do not be afraid” 365 times throughout the Word. He knew we’d need daily reminders to combat faith’s number one obstacle. Dig: Today, trust the Lord with all of your heart like Proverbs 3:5 suggests. Write out your fears, praying for answers. Make sure you listen and write down what you feel the Lord is revealing. Discover: Research “fear” in the Bible, and see what God reveals to you. Here are some verses to get you...

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