Saturday, January 21, 2012


I just wanted to address a comment left by Brooke. Btw, Brooke, thank you so much for feed back. I appreciate it! I wish so much that we could have a face to face conversation! It would be so interesting.

Anyway, let me clarify a bit. It isn't that I don't think we need to repent. If we have sinned and we are sorry, then of course. But I wonder if it is for us more than it is for Him? For us to clear our conscience? I don't know.

I just believe based on the scripture I shared before (among others), that Jesus knows our hearts. He knows our true heart. He knows if we are sorry or not. I believe when He died on the cross it covered me. Done. My sins past, present, and future.

Here is another scripture reference - Mark 2. It's the story of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof by his friends because they couldn't get to Jesus otherwise. So, here is what happened:

4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Hm. So it says in verse 5, "When Jesus saw their faith..." When he saw their faith. He told the man his sins were forgiven. So because of his friends faith, he forgave the man. The man didn't say anything to Jesus. But Jesus saw his heart and also factored in his friends hearts. 

I guess what I am trying to say is all of the people of the bible that Jesus considered faithful or forgiven were all pretty messed up. King David, a man God considered faithful, had 700 concubines. He committed adultery and killed people. Yet, he was a "man after God's own heart."  Moses committed premeditated murder (Exodus 2) and yet, God considered him faithful.

There are tons of examples. Ultimately, God knew their hearts apart from their sins. 

I really don't know the answers. I just know that Jesus' blood covers me. Because of His blood, I am considered righteous. 2000+ years ago, He died for my sins before they were ever committed. I believe He died for all of them. He knows my heart and knows that I want nothing more than to be pure before Him. 

I just wonder, based on the scriptures and the people throughout history, if His grace is even more than I ever considered (obviously, but you know what I mean.). 

Just something to think about...

Friday, January 20, 2012


I told you guys I would be sharing all the awesome stuff I am learning! I have not been this excited about something in a long time... ok, ever!

I want to say that my studies have really challenged me, making me think outside the box.  I do want to clarify here before I go any further - this blog only represents my own personal thoughts. In no way do I think that I have the answers. In fact, I would encourage anyone to seek the answers for themselves. Dig into your Bible, pray, study and see where God leads you.

Let me start by stating the simple truth - Jesus is Messiah. He is God. He came to die, so that we could live. If you accept Jesus as your Savior, then you can have life eternally.

I have always believed that Jesus died for my sins, and I must confess my sins to Him, daily, to be forgiven. I also have believed that if I died with unconfessed sin, that I would have to stand before Him and be judged.

Recently, after hearing my cousin Shane speak on this very subject, I began to wonder if that was how it worked after all. Let me give you the scripture reference that caused me to rethink this.

John 8 tells us the story of the adulteress woman. The Bible says she was "caught in the act of adultery". Ok, lets think about this for a moment - caught in the act.  How mortifying. Considering she was caught in the act, likely she was unclothed. Wouldn't you guess that? They were looking to publicly humiliate her, do you think they gave her time to get dressed? I would guess not. So they drag her, possibly unclothed, to Jesus. They say to Him, "The law of Moses says to stone her, what do you say?"

Jesus doesn't immediately answer them. He just bends down and starts writing in the dirt (I love how He just kind of ignores them for a bit!).  They keep harassing Him for an answer. Meanwhile, this poor woman is lying there face down on the ground. Finally Jesus answers, "Alright, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone."  Then, he bends down and starts writing in the dirt again. Can you imagine? LOL! The Pharisees were probably arms raised, ready to throw that stone, then they hear the last part! I would love to know what went through their minds! I am so going to ask Jesus that one day!

Anyway, one by one, they all left, until it was just Jesus and the woman. Here is where it is stinkin' cool. Jesus is a genius, I tell you! Sure the law of Moses says to stone her, but the law also states that two or more witnesses must be present to convict (Deut 19:15). Obviously, He knew that. He decided to doodle in the sand until they all went away. He "bought her time" so to speak! So they are all gone now and Jesus says to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" The woman looks up, and realizes the Pharisees are gone - "No, Lord."

And then Jesus says, "Neither do I. Now go and sin no more."

WOO! "Neither do I." Y'all! That is some good stuff! Here is where my mind camps for a moment. No condemnation, judgement, harshness, anger. Just mercy, grace, acceptance, love.

Another example- when Romans came to arrest Jesus, what happened to the disciples? They left him,  completely abandoned him. Not only that, Peter even denied he knew Jesus. Yikes.

However, after the resurrection, Jesus appeared on the beach one morning. Several of the disciples, including Peter, were coming in from a night of fishing.  They saw Jesus on the beach, where He had prepared breakfast for them. And you know what? Jesus didn't even say, "GUYS! What happened? Why did you abandon me in my hour of need?" He never even brought it up. Instead, He loved on them, and fixed them a tasty breakfast. No condemnation.

Why? Grace. Mercy. Love.

One more.  Remember the story of the thief, hanging on the cross beside Jesus? Clearly this was someone that had done bad things. He says to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus says to him, "I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

The thief didn't pray the "sinners prayer". Jesus didn't quote the "Roman Road" to him. The thief didn't confess his sins. All he did was acknowledge that Jesus was God. And in mercy, grace and love, Jesus promised him an eternal future.

There are more examples, but this post is already a book. Like I said above, I don't claim in any way that this is fact. Just my personal thoughts.

There is no condemnation in Him. We are righteous because we are covered by His blood. Nothing we do can earn that. He paid the price for all of our sins - not just the confessed ones. When we accept Him in our hearts as Lord, and confess we are sinners, we are covered. Often times it is taught - Do not sin, so God doesn't condemn you. However Jesus taught, "I do not condemn you. Now go and sin no more." Big difference.

 Just as He said, "It. Is. Finished."  I believe Him.


I am officially a Thirty One Consultant! Isn't that cool? I love their products and I thought it would be so fun! Not to mention I have to make some money if I am going to be galavanting across the globe! 

So if need a cute new bag...

An awesome organizing tote...

Or any thing else, let me know!! I will be glad to help!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Recently, I began reading Beautiful Outlaw, by John Eldredge. It opened my eyes to a perspective I never considered. I began seeing Jesus as a man. He has always been my Savior, but I never thought of him much as a man. Not just a man, but a Jewish man.

I am not sure why it took me this long to "discover" this side of Jesus. I am not usually a follower. However, for my whole Christian life, I have let my "demomination" define my beliefs. I would read my bible and be satisfied with the 2 dimensional idea of Jesus. I never considered more than what was on those pages.

I feel like the veil has been lifted from my eyes. For the first time I see Him. Oh, don't get me wrong, I have always felt Him. He has always been with me, in my heart.  He has always been Lord of my life. I just didn't see Him.

So I began wanting to know Jesus in a way like never before. It was not a coincidence that during this time, I was reunited with my cousin that I will be traveling with. Funny, how God works sometimes. He made the connection for me to be able to go to China with Shane, but he also made a connection for me that has blown my socks off.

Shane's ministry is not about evangelism. Honestly, I just assumed it was. His whole ministry is teaching the Bible from a Hebrew perspective. Really, it goes hand in hand with the Beautiful Outlaw concept. The book opens your eyes to Jesus as a man, and Shane's teaching opens your eyes to Jesus the Jew.

Without considering those sides of Him, you are missing the very essence of who He was. I am committed to learning about the Jewish culture of Jesus' time. The little bit I know already has transformed my thoughts on Messiah.

I understand that I will never have full understanding of Jesus, Son of Man. I know that any of my discoveries or ideas are like a speck in the grand scheme of who He is. But I can tell you, I am not going to stop pursuing Him.

I plan on sharing my discoveries here. I have a lot of stuff I already want to share. Even if no one reads this blog, I intend on using it as my own journey journal. A place to collect and process my thoughts and feelings. I would love for you to come along and share your perspectives as well. Company always makes a journey more fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


What is worship? Well, here is one definition:

Worship - verb. To feel an adoring reference or regard to _________.

Clearly, you can fill that blank with many things. Unfortunately, in our world today, we have chosen to fill that blank with everything under the sun, except for the Son.

That alone is a post in and of itself, however, today I want to focus on the act of worship. What does it mean to you? In what ways do you worship our Risen Savior?

You see, I believe there is no one way. I believe worship can be many things to many people. To some, it is being alone, quiet before Him. Yet to others, it is singing to the top of their lungs with their hands raised. There is no right or wrong way.

Something happened recently that really made me stop and think. In fact, I will be honest to say that this incident made me angry. More than angry though, it made me sad.

Most of you know that my husband, Brad, is the Associate Pastor of Worship at our church. I am telling you this story not because of him. In fact, he really has nothing to do with the why I felt the way I did. Just a little "set up" to this story is needed - our church has a full praise band and team. Every Sunday morning, they lead us in "worship".  While we are a Baptist church, our worship service does not look like your typical Baptist service.  We use lights, cameras, instruments, projections, etc...

Brad, the praise band/team, as well as the audio visual team, are always looking for ways to do more creatively. To be quite honest, these guys are really good at what they do. To them, their creativity and God given talents are the way they worship. Their creativity is off the hook - and I truly believe Jesus gave them their abilities because it reaches people. The worship they lead us in every Sunday, reaches people in ways otherwise not possible.

So here is what happened. The worship teams decided to rearrange the stage a bit. The idea was to make it more functional and more appealing as a set.  They bought some risers for a few of the instruments. These risers are not only functional, they are also stinkin' cool. They have panels in the front with lights in them. Now, don't get me wrong, when I say lights, I don't mean strobe lights or anything of the kind. They are simply meant to just add a little something to the stage. When the lights are on, they are one color and remain that color through-out. No blinking, or crazy disco type stuff (not that, that is wrong in anyway. I am just saying these particular lights do not do that.). We use colored lights in the background, as well as on the stage in general.

Well, here is where it gets ugly. These risers have been quite controversial. In fact, it has gotten way out of hand. I have seen sides of people that have shocked me. Comments that have been made have really hurt my heart. To get in such an uproar over lighted risers really makes me question the heart of the church.

Let me explain myself - I understand completely that we all worship differently. To some, the music time is when they most feel connected to Jesus and the service. To others, it's the preaching. Neither aspect is more important than the other, we all connect in different ways. I completely understand that the lights on the risers, or the risers themselves, may not be something everyone enjoys. I guarantee though, if people came into the service with their bad attitude left at home and found something in the service they did like, they wouldn't miss the blessing that church is. I can't believe if you come into the service with anger or annoyance in your heart over anything, that you are going to feel the presence of our Lord.

Many people believe that the creative arts stuff is not necessary because it isn't something they enjoy or understand. But, what about the people that truly worship God through it? Or better yet, what about the people that are bringing their talents and creativity to the Lord as an offering?

I guess what I am trying to say is if we all came to church less worried about our own wants and desires, and came with our hearts and minds open to letting God use whatever our worship service included, we sure would feel better. I guarantee if you leave your "self" at home, you will leave blessed.

There is a Casting Crowns song that really comes to mind here. I will share the lyrics with you - I think it sums up exactly what I am trying to say.

City on a Hill

Did you hear of the city on the hill?
Said one old man to the other
It once shined bright and it would be shining still
But they all started turning on each other

You see, the poets thought the dancers were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak

And one by one, they ran away
With their made up minds, to leave it all behind
And the light began to fade, in the city on the hill
The city on the hill

Each one thought that they knew better
That they were different by design
Instead of standing strong together
They let their differences divide

And one by one, they ran away
With their made up minds, to leave it all behind
And the light began to fade, in the city on the hill
The city on the hill

And the world is searching still
But it was the rhythm of the dancers
That gave the poets life
It was the spirit of the poets
That gave the soldiers strength to fight
It was the fire of the young ones
It was the wisdom of the old
It was the story of the poor man
That needed to be told

It is the rhythm of the dancers
That gives the poets life
It is the spirit of the poets
That gives the soldiers strength to fight
It is the fire of the young ones
It is the wisdom of the old
It is the story of the poor man
That's needing to be told

One by one, we'll be running away
With our made up minds to leave it all behind
As the light begins to fade, in the city on the hill
The city on the hill

One by one, we'll be running away
With our made up minds, to leave it all behind
As the light begins to fade, in the city on the hill
The city on the hill

Come home
And the Father's calling still
Come home
To the city on the hill
Come home 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Oh, yes, there is more!

While I was meeting with Shane last week, he said, "Hey, I am going to Singapore right after China, why don't you come with me there too?" I laughed and told him there was no way I could do both.  After our meeting, I came home and got in contact with my trusty travel guy.  I gave him the dates and cities, and for kicks, I asked him how much extra it would cost to add a stopover in Singapore.

Knowing that it would be outrageous, I really didn't give it much thought. A little bit later, my travel guy calls to tell me that adding in Singapore added $50 to the ticket! Isn't that crazy? So I talk to Brad and he said go for it! YAY! So, I am going to Singapore too!

Here is where it gets funny - I have a friend that is from Singapore. I emailed her asking her some basic questions and told her about the church where my cousin was speaking.  She replied saying that the pastor of that church and his wife are good friends of hers! LOLLL! She said there are approximately 4 million people in Singapore and we will be meeting her friends? SO funny!

At first I wanted to take Jackson with me. He seemed really excited, but when I told him that we would be gone 2 weeks, he said he didn't want to go. He is such a home body. So I asked Julianna - of course she was secretly hoping Jackson would back out so she could go. LOL. I really thought about going alone, but Shane will be busy, and I really wanted someone to hang out with. So, once again, my baby girl and me are headed to China!

This is such an opportunity, and I am so excited. I really can't wait to see how God is going to work! I am looking forward to being in China again - without the stress or pressure of the adoption. I am looking forward to seeing new places. And I can't wait to spend so much time with my sweet family!


Ok, remember in my last blog post I said I had a GOD STORY to share? Oh it's a doozy! Y'all, I am serious, only my precious Father could have orchestrated this! Ok, here goes.....

Little bit of background... I come from a pretty big family, and growing up we were all close. My mom's brother has two sons - Shane and Jonathan. When we were little, we were pretty close. As we grew up, we maintained that relationship. Even in our late teens, early twenties we hung out a lot.

Unfortunately, I lost touch with them when I moved away in 2000. I kept up with them and what they were up to through my mom, but I didn't have much contact with them myself.  Ok, change directions and fast forward a bit...

You guys know that I was really struggling this fall. I remember the week before Halloween being particularly bad. Brad and I had many "heated" discussions those days about our adoption journey. My heart was broken and he knew that, but he felt confident that we were suppose to step back and reassess things.

I never shared this, but it such a huge part of this story.  On Wednesday, October 26th, Brad said he needed to talk to me. I knew that meant something big. Let me first say, Brad is truly, one of the most Godly men I know. If he says God spoke to him, you better believe He spoke. So he tells me that the night before, he was having trouble sleeping. He said he was really struggling with losing our referral and trying to make sense of the whole mess of our adoption.  He decided to get up and pray. He really sought God that night, and pleaded with Him to open his eyes to what we were suppose to do. He felt let to a certain passage in the bible. He read it, and he said he really felt God speaking to his heart - what he had to say was not easy for me to hear. At first, I didn't want to accept it. As the days went by, then the weeks, and now months, I can see it so clearly myself. That alone can only be Divine as well.

Anyway, Brad said that he truly believed that God impressed this on his heart: Our journey was something we had to go through. Otherwise, we would have never learned to trust Him in such big ways. We had to see that He would be faithful. We had to see that He would be our Provider. We had to see that He makes the impossible, possible. Only Him. Only His power. We had to go through that as preparation. For what? We don't know exactly yet. Brad just said it is bigger than anything we have ever done. This "big thing" is going to require blind faith and trust like never before. And then he said, "Michele, I believe His will has been accomplished. I believe we have done what He asked of us, and now He has a new direction for us. Something bigger. What if we aren't suppose to help just one? What if we are suppose to help many?"

As I sat there listening to him, tears streaming down myself, I felt like my heart had literally broken into a million pieces. I wept like I have never wept before. Gosh, tears sting my eyes now just remembering the anguish that day... pain that still grips my heart. The next few days were awful. How could it be done? How could the journey be over? How could I ever give up on this little girl that has lived in my heart for so long? The truth is, I never could do those things. Only His grace has gotten me through each day.

I am not giving up on her, just so you know. But, I am going to be faithful to my Lord, and for now, He has set my feet on a new path.

So are you wondering how my cousins play into this story? Ok, this is the good part!

On November 2nd, I got a friend request on Facebook. I don't get them often, so I was surprised to see that little "1" up at the top of my page. I click on it, and it is a request from Shane!  I was so excited! So I immediately accept it and post a message on his wall. Within minutes, he sent me a message privately.

We chatted for a bit and we said how we would love to see each other. It had been years! I knew that he was doing ministry work, and a lot of times it was out of the country. He sent me to his website to check out his calendar see if I was going to be anywhere near where he would be in the coming months. I went to his website, Shane Willard Ministries to check it out. It took me like a second to see that he was going to be in China for a week in April. I sent him a message telling him that I was so jealous that he was going to be in China! I told him how much I love it, and how I feel I left my heart there.

Meanwhile, before Shane messaged me back, I went to talk to Brad. I told him that I had just reconnected with Shane and how excited I was! I then told him that Shane was going to China in April and I was going with him, even though he didn't know yet. Brad just looked at me and said, "Ok." HAHA! I think he knew better than to even try to fight me, after his last few days with Psycho Michele.

So just a few minutes after that, I get a message back from Shane that said "Come with me! I would love for you to join me!" ACK! He typically travels alone, and seemed really excited to have company! Now at this point, I am thinking this is just a cool little "fluke" and it would be neat to really go with him. In my mind, I am thinking, while he works, I could sightsee! Fun, right?  Well, then he tells me, "I will be there speaking at a staff retreat for International China Concern. They are a non profit foundation that has given their lives to care for special needs orphans (italics mine)."

Y'all. I was floored. My mind started racing! So I did a little bit of research and International China Concern is this awesome foundation that does wonderful work in China. They send teams into the orphanages to volunteer.

Do you guys see where this is going? I ended up meeting Shane in Charleston over New Years. We had a great time catching up. I shared my heart with him about China and orphans. He said, "Michele, the president of ICC will be at this retreat. He would be someone to talk to if you want to get involved."

Seriously. Seriously?

I honestly feel like my heart may burst with excitement. I am going to CHINA!!!!!!!

I don't know what will happen there. I don't know what Jesus wants to accomplish through this. I can tell you though, I am suppose to be there. I am suppose to go with an open heart and an open mind. He is working!

Isn't that the coolest story? Seriously, all of that took place in a matter of a few days. Since then, I feel my hope building. I feel the darkness breaking to light. It's like I have a purpose again. I will still get to be in China, loving on people, being His hands and feet.

Isn't that what it's all about?

Maybe one day, I will bring home a little girl. I am certainly not burning any bridges. But for now? For now, I am content going where He tells me to go. Yay for me, it just happens to be CHINA!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Sorry for the silence. It hasn't been that I haven't wanted to write, I just never could seem to focus my thoughts long enough to do it. I also didn't want to share how much my heart was hurting. I knew if I blogged, it would be very hard to hide it.

But, here I am. January 2012. A new year, a new beginning. I can say that I feel better these days. October, November and much of December were pretty dark for me. I am beginning to see the Light again, and I am very grateful for that.

After much prayer and discussion, we are putting our adoption on hold indefinitely. As much as it hurts my heart (and I can't even put into words just how much), I am beginning to accept it. I do believe we is what we are suppose to do.

I know that these last 3 years had purpose. As I look back, I can clearly see God's hand in all of it. I do believe we were on the right path. Because of the journey He brought us on, I learned to trust Him more. I learned that He provides, comforts, prepares, protects. Maybe without that journey, I wouldn't have known Him the way I do now. 

I also believe that He used us to bring two precious girls to their forever families. Those little girls were never meant to be mine, but I am humbled and honored that He chose us to help make a way for them to come home. They will always hold a very dear place in my heart. I am so grateful that they both will be raised in a Christian home, with families that will love them and protect them.

I know that Jesus is doing something new and something big. He has drawn my heart to China for as long as I can remember, and I clearly have a heart for orphans. Maybe this whole journey prepared a way for me to do something else. Maybe I was never meant to care for ONE orphan, but to help care for MANY. Maybe we are suppose to go to them, instead of bringing just her to us.

I do have a huge GOD story, but it deserves a post of its own. I will share it soon. If you will continue to pray for us, I would be so grateful. We aren't burning any bridges - we aren't withdrawing our adoption paperwork. We are just waiting for Jesus to show us what He is doing. We will join Him wherever he leads.