The Shakes

Thursday, September 03, 2015  ::   3 important comments

The ache in this world overwhelms me. Scrolling through my go to news sources so often leaves me in tears.

I cried many times today as I thought of little Aylan losing his life in the Aegean Sea. I could hardly contain myself as I read the words of his father on how he tried to save them. Truthfully, I wished I was alone while I read so I could weep and pray for him unashamedly. Ann Voskamp stirred my heart with her words as she so often does. Please read her post.

What do we do? How can we move forward when it has been documented that Planned Parenthood is selling body parts of aborted humans? What does sleep look like when I close my eyes and see Aylan face down in the sand? What can we do to help the droves and droves of people being pushed out of their land by the vile and abhorrent ISIS? How can we walk around knowing children are continually sold and used for sex over and over and over? What do we do in our own country when black people and police officers are being gunned down almost daily and peace seems impossible?

I'm at a loss. My heart aches.

I've been teased that I'm a woman with a cause whether there is a cause or not. But, when I look around there is cause after cause after cause after cause after cause after cause...

The above list doesn't even include what is happening in the lives around me. Abused kids, women struggling to find worth, men full of shame and self-loathing, people isolating themselves, people oversharing in ways promoting potential harm they can't yet see.

Last week during musical worship, my dear friend led us to "sing out to God whatever is on your heart." The only thing that surfaced was a giant lump in my throat. All I could think is, "I only know a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the pain in this world, but you know it all. How can you bear it, God?"

And today, I'm struggling. Why doesn't he come back? What is making him wait?

My faith shakes sometimes.

It's hard for me to believe while the world burns around me. But one thing age affords me is the ability to choose to press into Jesus even when I don't feel like it.

Even when my faith shakes, I choose to lift my hands high in surrender and worship.

Even when my faith shakes, I continue to beg him to hasten his return.

Even when my faith shakes, I go to my knees to groan for the relief of my fellow humans.

Even when my faith shakes, and I want to tuck and run, I stand my ground. And after I've done everything my small, finite self knows to do, I stand. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

And for the record, my life banner bears the name of Jesus. That probably surprises exactly no one.

Do you struggle with the world around you? What do you do when you feel the weight of it all? What do you do when your faith shakes? What do you do to stand? 

If you are still memorizing scripture with us, feel free to post your verses here. I will be focusing on passages that I've memorized that speak of hope, faith, and soul rest. 

May God move us to active compassion and prayer!

Hope-Filled Sleepless Nights

Wednesday, August 05, 2015  ::   6 important comments

I had trouble sleeping on Saturday night. The last time I looked at the clock before I fell asleep it mocked me with a bright "1:30." Crimson numbers stared at me throughout the night...3:00, then 4:00, then 5, 5:15, 5:30, 6:00... I stayed in bed until 6:30 as my mind whirled with thoughts of possibilities, anticipation, and hope.

Does that ever happen to you? Do life events affect your sleep? You're a lucky duck if you can sleep through the night most nights. I often tell people that I'm not good at sleeping. One can't be good at everything, after all.

Thankfully, while I was laying there on Saturday wishing for sleep, my mind space wasn't wasted with worry and fear which is sometimes the case.

I envisioned Second Mile's new gathering space. I prayed for the chairs to be filled. I imagined what it would be like to sing together. I asked God to give Chad good, challenging words for us to hear. God graciously responded to me, too. My soul lifted as I heard His very words in my heart and mind.

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people dwell together in unity." Psalm 133:1

"I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

"Unless the Lord builds the house, the people labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

"So in Christ we form one body, and each member belongs to the other." Romans 12:5
His assurance to me throughout my life through his Word is indescribable. I'm glad the time I invest in memorizing scripture turns into meditation which leads to continual transformation in my life.

Friends, I'm telling you, the fruit of your investment into taking scripture into your life is sweet. Be faithful in your discipline. Be joyful in your discipline. Be full of hope in your discipline.
Once again, month eight in 2015, what are you memorizing? Do you experience joy and hope in your spiritual disciplines? Why or why not? What specific way can I help you as you continue to seek after Jesus? 

Blessings of joy and hope to you today, dear one! 

Laying Down Your Everything

Wednesday, July 01, 2015  ::   8 important comments

Hey, hey, hey! It's July 1, 2015 which means Chad and I are celebrating 20 years of wedded bliss!
Twenty years of love, ministry, fighting, making up, raising kids, moving to different countries and different states, opening our home, crying and laughing, deep conversation, cheesiness beyond imagination, and so so so much more. I'm so blessed by this man. He loves me well. I can't express to you the fun we've had over these 20 years. I pray God allows us at least 20 more years together.

We are also starting our two week vacation today. The timing is perfect and somewhat stressful. As I mentioned in the last post,  a house remodel was forced upon us. But good news: the finished bathroom is amazing! Chad's goal was to finish everything before we left so we could come home and not have to pick up the hammers and paint brushes right away. Perfect timing.
It is stressful because we are in crunch time to move into our new church building. For my readers who do not attend Second Mile, we are calling our new facility El Centro. For ten years, we've benefited from the generosity of other Tucson churches, so our body experientially learned that we are the church, not a building. We don't want to lose this deep truth in our ethos, so we are choosing not to call our new space "the church" because the people are the church. Our first Sunday at El Centro is August 2nd, which means work needs to be accomplished...and we are leaving for two weeks. Oh man, stressful timing. The good news is we are a group, a body of people who work together, and we have leaders and lists in place to make the next few weeks efficient and effective. Have I ever mentioned that I love my church? So, so much.
The front of our new space. Photo taken by my good friend, Nate E. 
If you are still checking in for scripture memory, let me congratulate you on staying the course for more than half the year. Great job! You are working to make this a true discipline.

When I come to a transition in my own personal bible study and I'm not sure what to do next, I head to the gospels to hear from Jesus, so I've been reading through Matthew. As you all know, this world is no easy place to live. As a follower of Jesus, I want to make sure I'm pointing to him in my actions and in my speech. "Love wins" is all over the place right now, and every time I see it I think of John 15:13. "Greater love has no one than this, than someone lay down his life for his friends." Love that truly wins is about laying down your life, your agendas, your ideas, your rights, your self-righteousness, your contempt, your stubbornness, your status, your everything, the way Jesus did. His love wins because it never fails. I want to be more and more like him in how I love people in this life. This is not meant as a slight towards anyone who uses "love wins." This is a caution to my fellow followers of Jesus to be sure you are showing Whose love is the ultimate winner.

I'm familiar with this passage so I'm hoping it will be easy to memorize. I want it to be a reminder of how I want to live in our ever evolving culture. Far be it from me to be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, but have no love.

Matthew 5:13-16 
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Please share what you are memorizing. It would also be encouraging if you would share how you decide what you will be memorizing. Do you have a system? Do you randomly choose passages? Do you go for single verses or whole sections? 

Many blessings to you as you seek to know and show true, steadfast, winning love! 

Leaking Pipes :: A House Renovation

Sunday, June 21, 2015  ::   3 important comments

Second Mile finished the Hebrews series with a bang. Several people shared with us what God spoke to their hearts through Chad's teaching and their own study. We worshipped as a body and lifted Jesus high. Chad and I sat on the couch when we got home that evening to rest in what God breathed into our community through 36 weeks of in-depth Hebrews study.

And then our sweet Morgan came into our living room to tell us there was water all over the floor. It was quite a jolt to the peace we were enjoying on the couch.

Therefore, we started out the week of Esther's high school graduation with a forced, major remodel. We were told our house needed a total re-plumb which meant we would have no water for awhile (two weeks.) We had floors ripped out, our guest bathroom gutted, and two feet of sheetrock cut out in much of the house. We had industrial dryers and dehumidifiers set up to prevent any funk from growing in our walls. Lovely.

In the beginning of the flood, my heart was so, so sad. You see, I'm a planner, and a celebrator, and a mom. I love tradition and ceremony. I enjoy stopping in moments to make memories. (I mean, I literally stop in moments to take mental pictures to create memories. My mind and heart have some awesome shots I've collected through the years.) Considering these "special" qualities I possess, the plan I've been concocting for Esther's high school graduation week was quite grandiose and impressive. From the breakfasts I would make to the balloons I would fill, from the family dinners around the table to the open house we would host for all our friends, I had some serious plans!

But when your house has no water or walls, plans have to be changed. Friends, it was a real struggle. Not the kind of "the struggle is real" stuff with which people hashtags their annoyances. The kind of struggle that I had to wrestle through to come a point of surrender. I would love to tell you my heart and mind are so sanctified that it was a quick, easy, painless process, but alas it would be a lie.

I cried.

I schemed.

I fumed.

I dismayed.

Then on Wednesday, Chad and I went to lunch and decided to take hold of our circumstances and celebrate Esther with our family and friends to the very best of our abilities. It was a turning point for me. I went home, cleaned as much as I could to create space for us and welcome our extended family, decorated for Esther, and wrote down the schedule and plan for the remaining week of graduation.

Our community rallied around us beautifully. Because my friends know how important hosting is to me, we were given gift cards to take our extended family out for dinner. So many people offered to open their home to host Esther's graduation party. Many people gave sacrificially to us to help begin to pay the bills for the renovations. The church family who learned good things through Hebrews about being the church fully stepped into love and care for my family. I could never express how much I love these people. Through seasons of great difficulty for us, from foster care to stroke to our current house discombobulation, we are deeply cared for.

**Thank you, Second Milers! You guys are the best!** 

Chad has been working so hard everyday, trying to finish the renovations before we leave for vacation. Did I mention he's doing most of the work himself so we can get the most bang for our buck? This "disaster" gave us the opportunity to make our house awesome. Yay, us?

 Turned to this
 And then turned to this 
I'll share a photo of the completed bathroom soon. It's going look awesome! 

When it is all finished, maybe we will host an open house so you can see what we've been up to. For now, here's a little sneak peak at the new and improved laundry room. 

All in all, I know it's small potatoes compared to the suffering in the world. I asked God to increase thankfulness in my heart through this ordeal and he's been faithful to do so. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for it to be finished. But, I'm thankful for a house, for a husband who knows how to build and fix stuff, for resources to restore our home, for friends who provided and care for us, and for the coming days when this project will be complete.
What about you? Do you struggle sometimes to be thankful in all circumstances? What have you been thankful for lately? Do you enjoy house projects? Are you working on anything major right now? 

Many blessings in the trials, my friends! 

Late but still Thankful

Friday, June 05, 2015  ::   6 important comments

I apologize for the delay in posting this. Many of you know the last two weeks in May were less than convenient for the Haynes family.

A good thing is Esther graduated from high school!
The not so good thing is our plumbing broke.
I'll write more about both experiences soon. 

To be honest, all of it kind of took the wind out of my sails, which is ironic since the last moxie memorizers post I wrote was about not giving up. For the last two weeks of May I didn't think or care much about my little memory packet.

But I'm not stuck, thank you Jesus.

I finally finished the 2 Timothy 3 passage about not being a weak-willed woman. The list of ick still gives me trouble, but I've got the important parts of not letting it worm its way into my heart and home, so I'm moving on to a much happier passage.

Psalm 77:11-12
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 

Isn't that inspiring? There is something about this passage that puts my spirit at ease, builds my faith, and causes me to simply rest in the assurance of His faithfulness. I want to be a person who is full of thankfulness, and a sure and true way to build thanksgiving in my heart is to remember all He has done, is doing, and will do.

What are you memorizing/meditating on currently? Comment away, my friends. Thanks for being patient with my delay in posting this accountability avenue. I'm glad we are in this together.

Many blessings to you as your heart is filled with remembering!  

Don't Give Up!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015  ::   9 important comments

Recently, I read an article about memorizing scripture being an outdated idea. The author basically said it was an old-fashioned discipline limiting our ability to dig deep into scripture. Poor thing. I think he's altogether missing the point.

Listen, if you are still memorizing bible verses to get a star on your chart, then you'll be sad to know there is no chart. (Side-note: Don't teach your kids to memorize scripture for a prize. Please.)

If you are memorizing verses to check a to-do list box, then a check mark will be your only profit.

If you are memorizing scripture without deeply pondering what the words mean, then you are just being religious.

If you are memorizing scripture to puff up your big old fat head with knowledge, then you are only acting like a big old fat pharisee.

I've had my fair share of people tell me that they really see no use for taking in scripture in this way. When I was younger I would argue with them, hoping to compel them into submission. But now, I nod my head and pray they will come to the end of their excuses.

You've heard me say about a jillion times taking in God's word through memorizing and meditating throughout my college years transformed my life. The Spirit used it to remove the shame I walked in (Psalm 3:3), quiet my loud mouth (Proverbs 10:19), show me that he loves me deeply (John 15:13), and teach me that nothing compares to knowing and following him (Philippians 3:8).

I hope you know I don't believe this is the only way to take in scripture, but that it is one part of the whole of allowing God's word to be in you, to be part of your heart, mind, and soul. (Psalm 119:11) Please read, study, listen to, meditate on, and even sing about scripture. The reason we share the verses we are memorizing with each other on this blog is to encourage accountability, commitment, and togetherness. To be honest, some of you are so disciplined that it doesn't matter one little bit if anyone else is on the journey with you. You'll just keep forging ahead. But then there are people like me. I may be able to make myself stay disciplined for awhile, but when I want to quit, or I'm lazy or tired, it helps me to know I'm not alone...even in scripture memory.

In January, I announced that we would be memorizing two verses a month together and more than a dozen people jumped on board. (Women AND men, btw. Drives me crazy when people call this a woman thing.)  But, in April, just four short months later, less than half of the original group posted their verses. Now, I'm not going to assume this means you've fallen off the wagon. Are you still reading and taking in God's word? Yes? Good. Take it one step farther. Are you still training yourself to memorize two verses per month? Yes? Good. It greatly encourages all of us if you will kindly share with us what you are memorizing. It challenges me/us to keep going. It gives me/us ideas of what to memorize next. It allows me/us to pray for you in your own disciplines. It shows me/us that we aren't alone.

As for me, I'm still working on the 2 Timothy 3 passage. Honestly, the list of destruction in verses 2-4 is still hard for me to remember, so I've moved on to the real meat of the passage, so now I'm solidifying 6-7.

2 Timothy 3:6-7 
For among them are those that creep into households and capture weak-willed women, burdened with sins, and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. 

Which is why I want us to be people of the Word of God! I don't want to be a weak-willed human led astray, learning a bunch of stuff that the world shoves in my face. I plan to continue to use God's word stored up in my heart and mind to arrive at the cross of Christ, considering everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing, truly, experientially, knowing Him.

It's time. Please post your verses! Let's do this thing together!

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good for in the proper time we will reap a harvest 
if we do not give up. 

Let me encourage you with this disclaimer: all the references and verses shared in this post are from memory. This is not a prideful brag, but a loving encouragement of 'look how God has shaped my mind.' 

Blessings through God's word to you as you keep up the good work! 

Participating or Spectating

Monday, April 27, 2015  ::   5 important comments

In Chad's message on Sunday, he talked about the importance of living out our faith with community. Hebrews is full of instruction for believers to encourage one another, to be hospitable to each other, to love each other like family members. The DeSoto family is all of this and more for my family. I love all of them so much. 

For my readers who don't live in Tucson, Angela is on staff with Second Mile as our very gifted worship leader. The woman can sing like nobody's business. But her beautiful voice pales in comparison to her heart to see Jesus magnified and glorified. The Spirit of God has gifted her to lead people musically to worship him, but also in working out their faith in their everyday lives. By all good definitions, Angela is a leader. I'm blessed to call her friend and privileged to work with her in ministering to our church. 

Not too long ago during our staff meeting, Angela began to share with us how she was challenging the people she leads to use Chad's message series through Hebrews to deepen her personal bible study. I loved what she was sharing so much, so I blurted out, "Would you be willing to write a guest post about this?" But, then we never really talked about it. This week she emailed these great words to me. 
If there were anyone Angel could’ve asked to write on this topic that would feel completely inadequate, it would be me.  Couldn’t she have asked me to write a post about how to style hair? I would knock that one out of the park. However inadequate I may feel, I am willing to share my experience and hope that for someone out there it will encourage you to approach the word with refreshed resolve. 

Over the last couple of months I have had several conversations with women within Second Mile on the topic of studying the bible and daily “quiet times” (how did that name ever come about? I think it’s dumb). The concern these women were having was that it was hard to know where to start, how to connect their study time with other areas of their lives, and how it felt daunting in light of receiving so much great content on Sundays from Chad and not always digging as deep as they could there first. Beginning another study in the bible seemed overwhelming.

On Sundays we come and participate in taking in the word. We don’t allow someone to spoon-feed us. We have to be active participants to fully grab all that we can out of it. That’s why we don’t call our Sundays a service, it is a gathering and there is a call to participation that can’t be ignored. With that, if we want to really dive into the depths of the word we have to be note takers. This is not a judgment towards anyone who doesn’t do this, but I personally would only get out a fraction of what I do if I didn’t take notes – again, I am a participant, not a spectator. What then do I do with those notes? Wait until an hour before community group starts to crack open my journal again so I can conjure something up before discussion starts? No. There is so much more to dissect there. We are truly missing out if we are limiting our study of the message to only Sunday and community group. 

What I have been trying to make a discipline and have been encouraging these other women to do as well is to take the chapter we are going to study on Sunday and read it through before Chad teaches on it. I read it multiple times. Then after the teaching I read it again. I read through my notes and my questions and read the chapter once more. I cannot tell you how much I get out of the scriptures when I develop meaningful repetition.  There is light shone on areas of scripture that I otherwise would’ve overlooked until I slowed down and chewed on the scriptures this way.

One night last January, John and I awoke to our 12 year old telling us there was smoke in her room. We couldn’t find the cause, called 911, and waited outside. While waiting we could see the amount of smoke slowly increase. When the firemen arrived they went through their routines to do an initial assessment of the situation. They went into the house, came out and reassessed. They did this several times and then got on the roof and decided whether or not they would have to go through the attic. They worked intensely but strategically until they found the root cause. They didn’t go in and just start spraying water everywhere assuming they knew what was going on because they know fire. Nor did they wait outside too afraid of the unknown inside. They are trained to be strategic and planned but to also not miss anything. This is how we should approach the word daily and use the incredible teaching we have been given to plan, strategize, dig in, read again and again, and find every nugget of truth out of it that we can. Is this done all in one day? No, take the time to move throughout scripture through the week with patience, eyes to see, and ears to hear. 

The last point I want to encourage with is how much I have enjoyed pulling verses out of the chapters we are studying in the gathering to memorize for the month as I am involved with Moxie Memorizers. This has been incredibly enriching and beneficial and I look forward to continuing this approach for a while.  

What is your approach to studying the word? Do you find it easy to compartmentalize what the Sunday teachings are with what you are studying on your own? Or have you found a rhythm of going deeper throughout the week in the study offered us through Chad’s teachings? Whatever your approach I pray the word continues to be living and active and sharp in your life. 


Thank you, Angela! I pray God uses your words to push us all to know Jesus more through actively participating and engaging in his word! 

Please leave some comment love for Angela. Answer her challenging questions with your thoughts. 

I pray you experience great blessings through God's active and alive Word!