Fate: A Love Story about God’s Mighty Plan

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I have always believed in fate.

I haven’t just believed in it but I have marveled at its power.

God’s plan in action—fate, destiny—we dip our toes into footsteps we were already meant to walk in. That hair raising thing that happens when you look back and see life’s turns that, if missed, would have altered life as you know it.

For me, that was my first job.

Honestly, I didn’t want a job. I was kind of a nerd or geek–whichever one of those don’t make good grades–and generally I was just awkward.

You know, all the qualities I still possess but have learned to hone into the asset they are today (right?!).

Anyway.

My mom and dad made me get a job so I could pay for stuff like car insurance and learn to be a decent hardworking individual.

I was almost at the end of my first shift as a waitress when I had to ask for more sugar to refill the coffee bar.

My response came from eyes as deep as the sea with laughter splashing around on the surface, beside him three waitresses swooned (that’s still a word–right?)

“Gotta be louder than that if you want anything around here,” he said, tipping his head back toward the chaos of a busy kitchen and accompanied by a chorus of giggles.

I was always jealous of girls that could talk to boys. My flirting skills included running into poles when smiling, accidental drooling when attempting to speak, and sudden twitches while making eyes–or whatever that is called.

This was different, though, because it was my job to talk to him.

Night after night I asked for things from the kitchen, and it led to conversation.  He listened to me–he thought I was funny, and he enjoyed watching me stumble with words and nerves–he saw I was genuine.

He put together all my pieces I worked so hard to hide from everyone else.

And he kept me like a treasure–as his best friend.

See here is what I didn’t know all of those years–Shawn needed someone to trust.  Life had left him cynical about love and marriage, and his life motto was “I am never getting married.”

Through six years of friendship, God showed him he could trust me with his heart.  One day he took me to the movies (something we did often anyway) but this time he took my hand.

Everything changed.

All those giggling girls had faded away, and standing there was just me: the girl he loved. I was just as awkward as ever, but he loves that about me.

He has helped me to love that too.

Fate: God’s ultimate plan.

As I now sit in our kitchen with our two little boys buzzing at my feet, I remember all the days that led here.

Long before I met Shawn, my Dad worked in a neighboring town about double the size of ours and we wanted to move there.

But it just never worked.

After one real estate contract fell through, and other trip-ups along the way, my parents came to realize it just wasn’t meant to be.

I was so upset; I hated school and I had only three friends–counting my mom.  I just thought moving away would fix everything.

I couldn’t see the whole picture like God could.

Moving to a bigger town meant I would never have put in my application, and God knew that.

Wrapped in that piece of paper bearing my name and no previous work experience, was everything that has come into being today–my sweet family.

Today might be ordinary, but hidden in our steps is a master plan leading us exactly where God wants us to be.

And not just me–my kids too.

My footsteps align their fate as we make future impacting decisions, and star-crossed in our movements are those that will help pave family generations to come.

God’s plan: fate, destiny–whatever you want to call it.

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2911 West Bird

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2911 West Bird

It is a threshold that will forever remain in my heart—stepping through the doorway was like entering a parallel universe—this was Yes World, a place where no was only heard in conjunction with “do I have to go to bed?”

That’s right, the world was our oyster at 2911 West Bird—Granny’s house.

Drifting through the open doorway were smells of her kitchen. From the best fried chicken on earth to the greasiest burger in town, in her kitchen everything was made to order 24 hours per day. My food obsession cultivated in rays of sunshine pouring from the window next to the small wooden table which was the alter where Granny’s meals were laid.

It was also where Granny liked to watch us eat. As she watched every spoonful and anticipated each swallow, she delighted in that her family’s bellies were being filled.

Enough: that wasn’t something she always knew.

Granny grew up in a single mom home with three other children at a time when no help was available. Her mom often considered sending Granny to the orphanage up the road just to ensure she would be properly fed meanwhile giving her one less mouth to feed. This was the 1920’s when single mothers were frowned upon unless they were widows.

Great grandma wasn’t a widow, but as she might as well have been. Within the course of year Nora Moore went from a married mother of three with one on the way (Granny) to a single mother with four children—three living and one dead.

Granny had a promising future to enter into a loving family as she grew in her mother’s womb but two months before she entered the world, Nora’s world came crashing down. When Fern Charlene Moore was born on September 29, 1920, her father was already gone and her twelve year old sister—who would have been closest to her in age—was already dead.

It was mid-July, right after a celebration with friends. Pregnant Nora and oldest daughter, Golden, were drying dishes and proposing names for the new baby as they tried to guess a gender. The rest of the family scattered around the backyard playing hide and seek as their father, Charles Moore, readied himself on the back porch.

Whether it was random choosing or divine placing is a question not yet answered as each child chose the perfect spot in which to hide. In between the shed and the fence was Cecil’s favorite because his brother Gene, the seeker, didn’t like the poison ivy; Harry from next door tucked himself behind a sticky bush and immediately regretted it as his finger throbbed and his shirt sleeve clung to a branch.

It was Lela who could never make up up her mind quick enough. She darted from place to place as Gene counted down.

“Ready or not here I come!” rang out simultaneously with a loud bang from the back porch.

In the kitchen a plate shattered on the floor at the deafening sound of a gunshot as Nora reached the window just in time to watch Lela collapse where she was standing. By the time she reached her daughter, the grass around her was drenched in thick, dark blood and Lela was lifeless. Her eyes were open and pensive as if she were still pondering a good hiding spot, and Nora wept over top of her barely noticing the tiny kicks fluttering in her womb.

Her husband heard the anguished cries from the chair on the porch where he had been preparing to clean his gun, and where it suddenly shot a bullet into the back of his daughter’s head. The moment he watched her fall, he froze. Too afraid to move from that spot and claim the truth of what he had just done; caught in the web of that moment his terror sucked out his heart and left him as a shell. His insides were empty as he finally approached the backyard scene where his wife was covered in the blood that was on his hands.

Kneeling beside her was Gene, the oldest, whose hand slowly reached for Lela’s eyelids before Nora slapped it away.

“No! Don’t touch her! Don’t touch her!”

No one really saw him slip away in the midst of the chaos; eventually they just noticed Dad was gone. That bullet—resting feet away beside a wilted leaf—shattered Granny’s chance at ever truly knowing her family. She would never meet her father or her sister Lela, and she would never go to church and sit in the favorite pew where the Moore family regularly sat—Mom and Dad sat like book ends to keep the kid’s straight. She would attend First Baptist Church with her mom, her oldest sibling, Goldie, and two brothers Gene and Cecil, but those two missing bodies would always be felt—even by Granny who never met either of them.

Barely meeting ends through seamstress work and a part time secretarial job, Nora Moore continued to get out of bed daily and keeping working when truly she was broken. How many days did she curse the sun as it rose on another day that she just didn’t think she could get through? How many times did she shake her fist at the stars and demand an explanation from God? And did he ever give her one?

I don’t think he did. When God doesn’t answer that usually means we are in the process of a test, and the strongest students are the ones most rigorously tested.

Granny remembered her mother as a faithful woman; a strong woman who loved her family and did what she needed to do. It was Granny who told me that Nora once began the process of taking Granny to the orphanage up the street because she could not feed her any longer. Imagine the heartache of turning your beloved child over to someone else because you could no longer provide; this is a different level of love, a selfless one that many couldn’t bear.

God rewarded and God provided.

Cecil, Granny’s oldest brother, enlisted in the army so that he could send home his pay to feed them. It was exactly what she needed to keep going. None of us can say for certain what happened to Charles Moore after he ran away, but what we can say is that Nora Moore faced mountains that many would never even consider climbing. And she kept going—she kept on moving forward. She relied on God and she allowed those to help who He sent along the way.

None of this was forgotten. In their aging years, the baby of the family became the caretaker. Granny took care of Nora, as she lived with my Grandpa and Dad, until her last breath was taken in 1956 in the bedroom next to the kitchen of that same house where Lela was taken from her so many years ago.

2911 West Bird.

Why I am NOT worried about Merry Christmas

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I woke up this morning, filled my favorite “If Momma Ain’t Happy…” mug, and scrolled through the morning news.

Red cups–they were everywhere. I found myself strangely not offended by the sight.  I was confused at the outrage and a little jealous of the white-topped red cup when my own was lacking anything fluffy.

Anyway.

Here is why I am not offended by the Starbuck’s red cup.

1).  Religious freedom is a give and take–the owner of Starbucks is said to be Jewish. Starbucks has the right not to say Merry Christmas in order for me to have the right to say it.

2). The cup is just red. Nothing else. It does not even venture into the Happy Holidays debate.

3).  I personally don’t link my faith to coffee drinks–my sanity on the other hand…well, that is different.

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A few “courageous” individuals have now ventured into Starbucks and tricked the baristas into saying “Jesus is Lord” or “Merry Christmas.”

So yeah, I won’t be doing that and here are the reasons:

1).  This does nothing to further the Kingdom of God, and will likely push people even farther away. In a world where Christians are labeled “haters” and “extremist groups” I think we are just proving their point here really.

Real dialog and a genuine heart for God reaches people when sharing the gospel–not forced words.

2).   As Christians I don’t believe that it is our job to force everyone to say Merry Christmas. Jesus Christ is at the center of my life and my Christmas, and always will be–I cannot force that on anyone else, though.

My lips will always spill out the gospel and especially the love of Christ.  However, I will never tell anyone they have to say Merry Christmas because Jesus doesn’t force me to.

I say it out of my love and devotion to Him, and that is why I want everyone to say it if they do.

3). This point has been already stated in other blogs, but we should be worrying about feeding the poor and getting gifts out to kids in need. So many better ways to get out the Christian message than through overpriced coffee.

4). Speaking of $5 coffee, how bout we just stop buying the stuff? Not out of some kind of protest, but think about all the good we could do with that money?

Or blow the barista away and buy the guy behind you his coffee instead of getting for one yourself–then just say “God bless.” You always have the right to do that.

Bottom line, I just think we can do better.  I think there are better ways to get the gospel out than forcing Merry Christmas down people’s throats.

There are probably a lot of really good points I missed and feel free to share them in the comments–or disagree with me there too–you always have that right!

Merry Christmas friends…you know after Thanksgiving and all.

Throwing Forks and Picking Teeth: The Trenches of Marriage

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Happily ever after begins with understanding that happiness never equals perfection.

I didn’t marry the profile of a perfect man, I married a real man.

He screws up sometimes and often says exact the wrong thing at the wrong time.

He doesn’t tell me I am beautiful every day either and honestly he doesn’t even make me feel beautiful everyday.

I don’t even expect him to, because friends, I am NOT beautiful everyday.

I have picked my teeth, farted, and snored in front of this man who honestly just impresses me that he is willing wake up next to me everyday without being completely horrified.

Some days my attitude isn’t beautiful either.

I once threw a fork at his head because he told me that he forgot to buy french onion dip.  I was pregnant, but still, the fork barely avoided his eye socket and hit right above the eyebrow.

I am pretty sure it hurt and if I wasn’t pregnant he probably would have grabbed the fork and chased me around the house with it.

I also shot him point blank in the head one time with a paintball gun standing not more than one foot away from him.

Thank God he is hard headed because apparently it could have killed him had I shot him in the right place. I thought his eyes were going to bulge out their sockets, but he took a deep breath and slowly walked into the distance–kind of twitching as he went– before killing me.

I just didn’t know that paintball guns were so intense; I kind of thought that they were like Nerf guns.

And that isn’t the only shot taken in our marriage.

I have yelled at him; he has yelled me. We have taken bricks out of the foundation of our relationship and thrown them at each other to the point I have thought we just might crumble to the ground.

That’s right, we have been there.

Marital problems are easy to romanticize, but the days when you have to diligently fight for your marriage and to keep loving each other during the worst moments of life are painful trenches.

We have been to some dark places together and the only light we have ever found there was Jesus. He is the key to success. When I am totally unlovable, Shawn loves me the way Christ loves me–unconditionally.

Each day we must echo God’s grace.

For He chooses to love me no matter my sin and no matter my fails–He picks me up and offers me unconditional love.

We must do the same for each other.

The rough roads we have been down have taken us to the most breathtaking places, simply because we have been willing to stay in the car.

Jen&Meg: Two Unique Hearts loved by One God

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In college Jen and I hit it off right away as non-traditional students (married moms who are a weeee bit older than the traditional college student).

Though our connection was obvious from the start, we quickly learned that we aren’t exactly alike.

Jen is orangized while I lose kids in laundry piles.

She assigns notebooks for each area of her life with pens that she seems to have no problem locating while I search for the receipt I wrote a list on the back of with an orange crayon.

She made me ranch dressing spiced with plants from her windowsill. I fed her slightly burnt frozen pizza.

I’m laid back while she struggles with perfectionism. She feels guilty for resting while I often rest tooooo much.

Where she is strong, I am weak. Where she is weak, I am strong.

I think God does that on purpose with our friends. We don’t have to all be exactly alike to love our friends.

As different as we are, we are both loved by the same God who we share a passion for writing about.

Two unique hearts loved by one extraordinary God. And we want you to know that no matter who you are He loves you too.

After many lunches of discussion, Jen and I are excited to have launched our shared Facebook page.

Not only do we share both our blogs and other articles, but we also have a weekly Bible discussion called Coffee and Conversations where we invite others to dive into weekly topics with us.

I hope you will check our page out! You can find us here:

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Oreo covered faces: Fulfillment on Earth

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That moment when a hollow aching from deep within rises up and searches for more.

More what? I can’t help but wonder.

More is a word that generates many images.

More stuff: fancy cars; bigger homes; trendiest fashions; and latest technology.

More fun: vacations; day trips; dinners out; living the life…

More money: to fund everything listed above.

More fulfillment.

Is there such a thing being more fulfilled?

The definition of fulfillment: satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.

This is the more that I have been searching for; at the same time, though, this is the more that I will never achieve.  I don’t think total fulfillment will ever be reached until we stand in the presence of God.

Certainly we can, and should, develop our character and seek knowledge here because our calling to Christ is to back up our faith with these things:

Knowledge, virtue, self-control, brotherly affection and love. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

All of those things revolve around character development, but what we must realize is total satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment will never be achieved while we are still fighting our sinful natures.

Until the day we stand before Christ, we will never fully know who we really are.  When we look into the face of our Creator is when we finally understand that who we are is nothing more than HIS.

Which in reality is a whole lot.

We belong to Him and what this means is that an eternity of true contentment—fulfillment—awaits. It is there that our questions will finally be answered.

Still, there must surely be depth here in this place where I have temporarily made my home.

That through the dishwater my hands sink into, I can pull out joy and understand that this is my earthly calling and that in reality I do not need more.

So instead of total fulfillment here, what I am looking to is purpose.

To find purpose in the small duties I so often dread is the closest I will ever come to true fulfillment because they are the same ones that make life better for the ones I love.

My boys.

I have been given what will seem like only a moment in time with these two.

To teach them. To mold them. To give them the tools to serve God.

The willingness to put my own desires underneath their needs.

In this, perhaps the closest we can come to earthly fulfillment is through sacrifice.

I believe that is the example that Christ set for us. He purpose on Earth was sacrifice for His children.

I truly believe that during my time in the world I will never come closer to the face of God than I am right now—as I look into their beaming Oreo covered faces.

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Wait…OREOS?! From my under the bed stash.

Some sacrifices are easier to make than others.

Bombs in Israel: Dirt on my floor

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The room is lit by the rays of the sun, and I am cleaning floorboards to the beat of  newscasters discussing the ISIS threat.

The kids are in the background grumbling about their part of the chores, and the dog is stretched out on the same hair-covered spot on the couch I plan soon to vacuum.

Life. This is mine, but not really.

As my elbow grease builds, I just keep on talking to God.

Rambling to Him (and we all know I ramble), I shake my head and think He must often find me so silly. The sky bright through the window, it shines on my Voice of the Martyrs book “Tortured for Christ” sitting on the table.

All the horror the world is facing as this comfortably seated and well-dressed newscaster shares her thoughts on a situation none of us will likely ever understand.

And I just keep scrubbing my blessed floors. 

Where is my place in the plight of His creation? I keep asking. 

Here I am, a product of where I was born and living the life I was given, and I am conflicted about whether to feel grateful or guilty for my blessings. In reality I am both.

I decided just to ask Him.

My chatter quieted and I listened for something greater.

What He showed me was my floor.

He put right here for a reason; I cannot say exactly what that reason is. I cannot question His plan but what I can do is every single thing He asks me to do while I am here in this place.

Whether it seems significant or not.

Today I have been told to feed my children (and believe me there are days He has to remind me to do that) and in the meantime to teach them about who He is.

I have also taught them–and myself–that there might come a day when it is our turn for persecution.

Either way, I know He has a plan.

The Potter who handcrafted the song bird…

The Scientist who put the laws of gravity in place…

The Comforter who sits in the cells of the persecuted…

The Protector who guides the missiles of His people…

He has a place for me in His plan.

He has told me to pray and to stay aware.

To pray can sound a little bit like a cop out.

“Prayers!!!!!” A common theme in our comforts to one another as we scroll through a social media news feed.

Sometimes it can seem a shallow promise, but truly it isn’t when we pore ourselves out for the needs of others.

God hears and He answers.

I will truly pray for those who are persecuted, and I will truly pray for those in greater trials than me.  

When those in prison in the Eastern world are asked what we can do to help, they ask that we pray, so let us pray.

I will also bring awareness when and where I can. Like through this blog, so I can ask you to pray too. That we can all remember how blessed we are, and also to remember that this moment can quickly turn to another, darker, one.

That is His plan for me right now, and no matter how small it may seem that is what I will do.  

And I will keep asking for more to do, because my life is truly His.

So is your life.

He has a plan for you too. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for it, but remember it is all in His time.

Always start with a prayer.

Go to the Voice of the Martyrs website to learn more about praying for persecuted Christians:

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