Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: September 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pick Up the Phone!

We've all had them -- those moments when you feel a strong urge to call someone else. You think, "I'll call them soon," and that nagging feeling keeps at you until you pick up the phone. 

I just want to publicly say how thankful I am for friends who following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Yesterday, I was really discouraged and hurting when a friend called at just the right moment. I began the conversation in tears, but by the end, I couldn't stop laughing. God knew I needed a friend at that moment and I'm so thankful that mine called at just thre right time

If God lays someone on your heart, don't hesitate to call, text, or write them today. We aren't promised tomorrow and so we need to make the most of today.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Eyes that See

Last night, I was blessed to go prayerwalking with a group of middle school girls. I explained to the girls that so often we go through life with our eyes closed to the people around us. I told them that we were going to ask God to give us eyes to see the needs around us so that we would know how to pray.

As we were walking, we came up on a blind couple dressed in Bavarian clothes leaving the Festhalle. We began talking with the couple and they shared with us that they had just finished performing and that they were about to go change so that they could come back and drink. The girls gasped! I explained to them that we were from the church and that we were praying and asked if they had any prayer requests. They immediately began sharing requests with us.

I was praying for them today and I realized that God had used them to open our eyes. Too often we walk around oblivious (blind) to the hurt of people around us. I want God to give me eyes wide open so that I can see others as he sees them.

I also realized how often I am blind to what God wants me to learn. I like to "figure things out" and "make a plan" but God says repeatedly commands us to trust him. Trusting him when we are blind to the unknown takes faith. The crazy thing about faith is that the stronger our faith grows, the weaker we see that it is. We desperately need God to give us faith; it is not something we can generate on our own. It requires divine intervention.

So, before I start rambling, here's my landing. I want to hear from you about a time when God revealed himself to you. Share an example when you were once blind, but now you see because he chose to give you a glimpse of himself.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Fear of Failure

There are times when we don't try new things because we are afraid. We fear the unknown. We may also fear failure. I never used to think I struggled with this but I've realized this past year how much I do. I put off getting my commercial driver's license for years -- for one I didn't have the "want to" and secondly, I was afraid of failure. After lots of stress, anxiety, and tons of study, VOILA! I passed the test!

Now I am at another crossroads where my want to and my need to don't exactly line up. I am taking Advanced Statistics (and I've NEVER EVER had a statistics class in the past). The first couple of days I was in a sort of fog where people were all speaking around me, but I didn't know the language. The old fear of failure began to creep in again. Yesterday was a turning point for me. All of a sudden, things started clicking and light bulbs started coming on.  There is still a lot for me to learn, but I know with hard work and discipline, I can do just that -- learn.  Whether I pass or fail isn't the end all (of course it could be the end of my PhD journey), but the real question is what have I learned from the experience.

So, I say all that to say, "Don't put it off anymore. Take a leap and try something new!"


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Did I Say That?

We all have those moments. You know -- those times when dumb just jumps right out of our mouths. My daugher tells people that she is a brilliant brunette with blond moments. I have more of these moments than I care to admit and for some reason, my friends never let me forget them.

Recently a friend sent me an email with many "idiot sightings" and I thought I'd share a few of them here with you along with some of my own. Feel free to share those times when you've said something you regretted or have seen someone else have a "blond moment."

True story that happened to me:  One night after a movie, I went to Sonic with some friends. I ordered an ice cream cone. They guy brought everyone's order and handed me a cone -- with no ice cream. I said, "Can I have some ice cream with that?" to which he said, "Oh, yeah..."

An example of one of those times when dumb jumped out of my mouth:
We were in Kenya and I was preparing to teach a women's Bible study group about David and Bathsheba. In front of our team, I said, "I'm thinking about dressing up like Bathsheba for my study." (OK, if you don't get it, read the story of David and Bathsheba in the Bible).

Sightings from others: 

I handed the teller at my bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00. I said "May I have large bills, please"
She looked at me and said "I'm sorry sir, all the bills are the same size."

I live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local  township administrative office To request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road. The reason: 'Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.'

I'd love to hear from you! What's something you said that didn't quite come across the way you meant?


Monday, September 17, 2012


Several years ago, I remember someone asking me if it was possible for suffering to be a blessing. At the time, I thought they were crazy. After walking through many paths of suffering, I've decided that yes, suffering can be a blessing. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 73 about how God held onto him in his darkest hours and about how he experienced the nearness of God.  I think this is what James meant in 1:2, when he challenged us to consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials. It's not that we enjoy suffering, but that we experience Christ in suffering.

One year when I went to Africa, it seemed as everything went wrong. They lost my luggage; my hotel room flooded. They messed up our reservations and I ended up staying in a room alone my first night in Nairobi. Three days later, my luggage arrived but in searching my bags they opened my coffee creamer. No biggie right? Well, they didn't close it so all my stuff was covered in sticky white cream! My other suitcase was carrying food bags for the orphanages -- they burst. On and on it went. "Consider it pure joy" became my mantra that trip. I was determined not to let the "little" things get to me.

When I heard Laura Story's song, "Blessings" on the radio, I was thrilled. It seemed to capture the essence of this message in my heart. (Notice the yellow flower in the video --- if you've read Tears to Joy, you understand the significance of this flower) I want to share it with you below and I'd love to hear from you about a time God turned your suffering into a blessing.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Don't you ever relax?

Last month, my cousin asked me, "Girl, don't you ever just relax?"  I've thought about his statement so much over the past several weeks. The truth is, my life is GO, GO, GO. While I tend to enjoy the busy pace, it is important to take time to slow down. I began to think about when I "just relax" and it usually involves hiking (which can be go, go, go) or camping (which I haven't done in way too long). I decided to make it a priority to slow down and be still.

I don't know about you but for some strange reason I feel guilty when I try to relax. There is so much to do! What would happen if I didn't get everything done? Most of the time, nothing would happen. It would be there tomorrow.

This is why I decided to create a special place to call my own -- a place to be still and relax.

Where is your favorite place to "just relax?" Do any of you struggle with "relaxation guilt?"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Win a Free Copy of Tears to Joy

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week and today is World Suicide Prevention Day; unfortunately, many people believe the myth that if you talk with someone about suicide, you plant an idea in their mind. The opposite is true. If someone is thinking about suicide, talking about it could spare his life.

In 2009, there were 36,909 suicides in the U.S. (100.8 suicides per day; 1 suicide every 14.3 minutes). This number is astounding to me. So many people suffering without hope. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.  Believe it or not, the elderly (80+) are the most likely age group to complete suicide (Click here for more information on suicide among the elderly).

I have met so many people who struggle with depression. Did you know that people who are depressed are twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who are not depressed. In an effort to help, the American Association of Suicidology has compiled a list of potential links between suicide and depression. Click here to read more. If you have friends or family members who are depressed, be proactive in expressing your love and support. Join me in praying each day this week for those who are depressed and feel hopeless.

Seven years ago, I never dreamed I'd be blogging about suicide. Since Michael’s death, I am determined to be vigilant to do my part to prevent future suicides. In response to this week, I am giving away a free copy of my new book, Tears to Joy, which shares practical tools for helping the depressed and for reaching out to those touched by suicide. To be entered in a drawing for the book, comment below (make sure to leave your name) what you will do this week to help in suicide prevention (pray, blog, link others to a blog about suicide, talk to a friend, etc.).

Join millions in lighting a candle near a window at 8:00 PM tonight to remember those who have died by suicide.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

O The Love!

Last week, my mother-in-law called me crying. I was worried something was wrong. She began to talk to me about how she would never drive again (doctor’s orders), and my heart hurt for her. Then she told me that she didn’t want to sell her car. She told me she wanted to give it to me. I didn’t understand at first. I began to explain to her how I couldn’t afford a car payment, and she said, “No Natalie. I want to give it to you.” Then I started crying! What a lavish gift! Thank you did not seem like enough in that moment. In no way did I deserve such a gracious gift. She gave because she loved – and I was incredibly humbled.

This morning I was reading in 1 John 3 when the first verse grasped my attention. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” I admit that there have been times over the past year that I felt anything but lavished with love. I felt fearful, alone, and wondered if God heard my prayers. However, in the midst of those dark times, God was there loving me lavishly. He gave us the most lavish gift of all – His Son.

I remember our pastor asking us if God never gave us anything other than his Son, would that be enough for us. His grace is enough. It is more than enough. It is a lavish outpouring of his great love. Because of this grace, we receive the gift of his Presence daily. This morning take time to bask in his lavish love!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What is a Pre Release Party?

Now that Tears to Joy has been published, I want to offer my family and friends a chance to buy it prior to the release date of November 20. This is why I am hosting a pre-release party Friday, October 5 at the Bridge Church. I will be available to sign copies of the book and to answer questions as we celebrate what God has done in turning my tears to joy! I will share about the book in a brief interview and then we will have a short time of worship where we can give God the glory he deserves. While I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my story in this book, this book is about God much more than it is about me, and I want the pre-release party to be a time of thanksgiving for all he has done.

The party starts at 7:00 and there will be a short program. There is no obligation to stay, so feel free to drop by for just a few minutes. I’d love to see you there!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dreams Really Do Come True

We've all heard it said, "Dreams really do come true." Well in this case, it did! I have shared before on my blog about my childhood dream to be an author. I'd come home from school and write stories just for fun. Ok, so maybe that sounds kind of nerdy, but I believe God put a burning desire in my heart to write at a young age.

Six years ago, I began writing in hopes of one day being published. Well I am so thankful that Tate Publishing decided to take a chance on this first time author. I am thrilled to share that Tears to Joy will be in stores this November, and I am hosting a Pre-Release Party Friday, October 5 at the Common Ground Coffee Shop (at The Bridge Church in Cleveland Georgia) at 7:00 PM. I will share briefly about how God has turned my tears to joy and how I hope he will help others to experience the joy that only he can give. Tears to Joy will be on sale for $12.95 and I will be available to autograph copies.

I can't tell you how exhilerated I am to share this announcement with you. It truly is a dream come true and I give God all the glory!