"What now?" It's a matter of inflection…

You choose….positive or negative

When Family + Holidays = Misery (part 1)

Many people complain of family stress at the holidays. Arguments over who cooks better stuffing, who has to drive longer, who slighted who last year, who spent more on who last year, whose house you have to visit first and how long to spend at each stop. In today’s world, these are more or less just a part of life. Yet some people think these little things equal misery for the holidays.

There are others who long for these small disagreements. They would love to participate in lighthearted banter over recipes and cooking times. Anything would be better than screaming matches, objects being thrown, threats of physical harm, insults that you would never imagine saying in public – but with family, anything goes.

In homes all over, this yearly ritual has already started. No later than the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the first battle cries had been screamed. Dinners were cancelled. People uninvited. Tears were shed. The exclamation “I have nothing to be thankful for” ringing through homes and over cyberspace.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It’s hard to be thankful when you are shaking from being criticized or told someone’s life would be better if you had never been born. It’s hard to be thankful when all you want to do is run away and hide and sob until you fall asleep. But the Bible says you should be thankful in all circumstances – and it’s right!

As a Christian, these times make me more thankful. Thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for giving His life for me. Thankful I can run to Him in prayer rather than run to my room.  Thankful for my church and my Pastor that have taught me that since Christ is in me, I can do anything. I can remember that there are others who have no family to fight with because of death and they are all alone. I feel guilty for the pain of others that would love to fight with family no longer with them, because that would mean they were still alive.

My faith gets me though these times. It has for years – even when I didn’t realize it. Sometime around the second week of November, usually actually by Halloween, the dread sets in. When will the fights start? What will set it off? How bad will this year be? I pray that we can just time jump from November 1st to January 2nd every year. I have for years.

This year, the Thanksgiving episode of the drama ended early. By Monday, the fight was over and dinner was cancelled. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving at the home of friends that have become family. It was every Thanksgiving dream I had ever had. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by 20 people who really enjoyed being together! There were games and fun and food and love. And it was a blessing and I am so thankful!

I am writing this for the daughter that will never live up to her mother’s expectations. Maybe because of her own limitations, but more likely, because her mother or grandmother or other family member has expectations that no one could live up to. Either from delusional thinking, memory loss, mental illness, brain damage, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc., the person that should be your safe harbor is no longer safe and can sometimes be dangerous, especially to your heart. It’s OK precious daughter (or son). You have a Father that will always love you and always care for you and always want the best for you and you can NEVER disappoint Him! He knows your story – even the part you don’t know yet. Turn to Him and His Word. Your answers are there in those pages and in the conversations you can have with Our Father. Don’t let human frailty in others allow you to sink into sadness and anger. He is the Light and He is the Reason for the Season. Run to Him and let Him love you!

God Bless You All!

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The Last Seats

Yesterday all the volunteers prayed over the seats in the auditorium for all the possibilities that can happen this weekend as people hear a message of Resurrection and Hope. Life change, marriages restored, parental peace, hope reignited, among others.


These are the last two seats in the back of the auditorium. I always run to them to pray over. In my mind and heart, these are the seats that were hardest fought to fill. The people were in a battle just to get here. They came in late because the devil tried his best to keep them away. The kids were fussing about coming to church. The spouse didn’t see the point. Traffic was horrible. The person just felt like giving up. They didn’t feel worthy. They were scared.
But by the time they sit in these seats, the Victory is theirs! Once you are in our Father’s house and hear how much He loves you and that He has plans for you, you are Home! He loved you enough to sacrifice His One and Only Son for you!
I’ve been in that last section of seats at a church. I’ve sat in the car wondering if I should go home. I’ve felt like no one would want me in church because I had a child but no husband. I still feel that way sometimes because I’m not perfect and who wants to hang with not perfect people?
I’ll tell you who – Jesus does!!! He made a habit of it. No one’s perfect on the Earth.  At Elevation you will be welcomed with smiles and open arms and loved on by other non-perfect people! You just need to get yourself to one of our locations or attend online at www.elevationnetwork.com.
Happy Easter!

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And a Little Child Will Lead Them #elevat10n #superversary

The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6

My daughter was 13, still a child, when I decided we had to be back in church. You can check out earlier posts about my backstory as a Christian and our first day at Elevation Church.  On Easter of 2009, I finally got her to a church service that she liked. At the end of the Worship Experience, she turned to be and said “Can we come back?” It was the sweetest thing I had heard in quite some time!

After several years of not being in church, we had to develop new patterns and we didn’t come back immediately. But I kept up with the sermons and happenings online. In June, we had a family tradition of going to the Taste of Charlotte, an annual festival in Uptown Charlotte. We brought along Bailey’s best friend since Kindergarten, Kaila. That year, the festival was not as usual. The girls were bored out of the minds. It was Sunday afternoon, so I suggested we head out to Butler High School to the last Worship Experience at Elevation Church that weekend. Bailey quickly said “Yes!” and proceeded to tell Kaila how much she was going to love it. My heart skipped a beat as I heard my daughter proclaiming how great a church was to another 14 year old!

GOISSo we hopped the train back to the car and drove out there. It was June 7. It was the first day of a new series “God Is…”. It was also One Prayer day with Lifechurch. When Pastor came out in a red graphic tee, jeans and spiked hair I could tell the girls were intrigued. The first time we came, Easter, he was dressed like every other pastor they had ever seen. That day, he was dressed like ‘one of them’. Plus Pastor had illustrated carrying around burdens that are not ours by dragging a young boy around on his back. They were engaged in the sermon! The sermon was “God is…Not”. He spoke about the dysfunction of anxiety and how anxiety is not only a dysfunction, it’s a sin. For me, this is a lesson that hit me hard and I have gone back to that teaching over and over and taught it to others. It has become a basis for how I live my life and if I slip, my daughter now reminds me. God is not incompetent. God is not forgetful. God is not indifferent. It was a life-changing day for me and my family. Plus, the girls wanted to come back again!!!


The next time we came back (about a month later – still trying to build some habits), it was the start of a new series, Cow Tipping. The sermon title was “My friend just got a divorce, and my brother is living with his new girlfriend. Are they going to hell?” Oh boy! Pastor Steven had asked people to tweet and email questions about Christianity. Things like drinking, smoking, cussing, lying, pre-marital sex, adultery. They ran the gambit and it was uncomfortable at times, but the girls were listening! And they wanted to come back every week! So we did! In my mind, a choir of angels was singing! My child was asking to come to church every week!!!

NSSUWe went to every week of that series. And the next ‘series’ was No Show Sunday. Little did I know how my life, and that of my daughter, would change because of that day. But the pattern was building. I wrote on my FaceBook page that morning I had to get a bunch of stuff done that day, because “the girls won’t forgive me if they miss Elevation”.

The premise for ‘No Show Sunday” was that the volunteers didn’t show up that day. There were still volunteers in the child care area, but there weren’t lyrics on the screen, ushers, greeters, people greeting us in the parking lot. We had only been coming regularly about a month but we were acutely aware something was different. And the point was made! As soon as the sermon was over, the girls were asking “Can we volunteer?”

I wasn’t sure. It was a huge commitment. Kaila lived in Gastonia. I would have to meet her parents with her every week and then drive to the Matthews Campus (which was about to open). It would mean hours of driving for me each week. They had never done anything like that before. They wanted to be Greeters. They were so excited! I couldn’t say no, so we signed up.  That night, I wrote on my FaceBook wall “God deserves my best and He has not gotten it for the last few months. It’s time to kick my service to Him up a notch and stop focusing on my wants. He’ll give me what I need in His time.”

Things had changed so much since we walked in that auditorium on Easter, just a couple of months earlier. I had no idea how much the rest of my life, and that of my daughter, was about to change in so many ways, especially in the next 18 months, both good and bad. But the things we were learning from Pastor Steven’s preaching and Elevation Church were going to remind us who was in charge for the rest of our lives, even when we felt like we were going through Hell.


Bailey and Kaila Greeting at Matthews


Here is a post from FaceBook after our first day volunteering:bailey is getting baptized


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My Christian Backstory (or Where I Was Before Elevation Church) #elevat10n #superversary

I have always been in church. My Granny took me every week when I was a little girl in Heath Springs, SC. She made me watch Billy Graham every time he was on TV. I remember being a little girl of 5 or 6 standing next to Granny in a pew at Flint Ridge Baptist Church and crying as we sang “Just As I Am” in church. How could someone love me so much that He would allow His Son to die for me? I didn’t quite understand it all, but I felt it all.

Me with my Granny and my Uncle Bert after church Easter 1970


So I grew up in church. I sang in the choir. I was in GA’s. My mom re-married when I was 9 and we moved to Charlotte. We started attending Thomasboro Baptist Church, the home church of my new Daddy. When I was 14, I publicly answered the alter call. I was baptized not long afterward. It wasn’t all it should have been. You can see that story at an earlier post when I was celebrating my choice to be baptized again at Elevation Church Lake Norman in 2014.

As I said before, we had always been a church family. I fell away as a teenager because I worked every Sunday and while I was in college I never made it a priority and my first career out of college again I worked every Sunday. I never forgot my relationship with God, but I sure didn’t prioritize it. The birth of my daughter changed things. I knew I had to raise her in the church, like I had been. Being the child of a single mom was going to be tough enough, so I needed to nurture a love of Christ in her so she would always have Him to lean on. We were members at a Presbyterian Church. If the door was open, we were there. I was a Sunday School teacher for 2 year olds, I served in the nursery during preaching, I led the 4 and 5-year-old Cherub Choir, and I coached softball and soccer. Seriously, if the door was open, we were there starting when my daughter was about two years old. By the time she was 7 or so, she would throw tantrums about going to church. At around 8, I stopped all the volunteering but it was hard to get her to church just once a week or so. When she was 9, I lost my job and we lost our home. We had to move back to Charlotte with my mom. I was suffering from severe, crippling depression. It was a dark and dangerous time in our lives.

But like He always does, He brought me out of it. One night I just broke down at a stop light and sobbed. I confessed that I was clueless about what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I obviously had no idea what to do to take care of my family. I was coming up on being out of work for a year. I had finally broken down and applied for food stamps and Medicaid for my daughter. I pleaded with God to show me where He wanted me, where I belonged. I knew He had plans for me. I was still alive when at a point I had felt I shouldn’t be. I admitted I was weak and He was strong and wherever He led me, I would go.

When I got home and checked my email, there was an email about an office manager position at a management consulting firm. Management consulting was what I wanted to do when I graduated! I had degrees in Business and Psychology in preparation for that career, but I let life and hard-headedness get in the way and followed money into the restaurant business. But there was more. The name of the company was Peter Rock Consulting. I would find out later that, yes, the company was named after the disciple Peter. The principle felt that the greatest stories of leadership in our history are located in the Bible and the greatest leader of all times was Jesus. Yes – God had placed me exactly where I needed to be. It was my new boss that pressed me to find a new church, one that Bailey would attend. After the year I had, you would think I would run to the church for some peace and comfort. But I was still overwhelmed with all that had happened and getting back into the swing of working full-time and my daughter started having more trouble than ever in school. It was always something. Sunday was the day I slept all day long. I was totally exhausted physically and mentally. Our living conditions were still not great. Grown women with children should not live with their mother. I’ll just leave it at that.

I thrived at Peter Rock Consulting. The psychologist I worked with had gotten his start working with adolescent and pre-adolescent girls with serious issues in a residential facility. With a growing daughter that was angry at the world for everything, again, God had me right where I needed to be. My Daddy was a psychologist. He promised me while I was pregnant that he would be there to help me raise my daughter. Unfortunately, he went to Heaven right before her 2nd birthday, followed soon after by my uncle, my Granny and my Grandaddy. But the time my daughter was 5 she was so comfortable at funerals she ran up to my Granny’s casket and exclaimed, “Look how pretty she is!” I dearly needed help as she started into the teen years. Nothing seemed to bring her joy other than drawing and animals. School was an argument every day. My boss gently suggested that my daughter needed to be in church, with like-minded people and children. He urged me to keep visiting churches. He knew eventually I would find one that fit.

So Christmas came and went in 2008 and I still had not found a church. It was almost Easter. There was no way we weren’t going to be in a church somewhere on Easter!!! I prayed for guidance and I surfed the internet. I visited churches alone.  I knew the right place for my daughter was there somewhere. You can’t swing a cat in Charlotte without hitting a church. It was there. I knew it.

During my research I came across an article about Elevation Church. It was about to celebrate Easter for the 4th year. They had done some crazy egg drop the first year – which was referenced in the article. It said the music was loud and the preacher engaging. That’s what we needed. Bailey was all about music by the time she hit 12 or 13. Emo music. My Chemical Romance is the main band I remember. Hopefully the Elevation Church music would come close. She had started coming home from school swearing there was no such thing as God and I was crazy if I thought He would take care of us. None of her friends’ families had to go to church. It sounded like some of the most blasphemous, hippy crap I had ever heard and it was coming out of my child’s mouth, a child who I drug to church over and over again, and I wasn’t having it!!!

I gave her an ultimatum the day before Easter: We are Christians. We go to church. We dang sure go to church on Easter. So pick a sunrise service at Chimney Rock or this church here in town called Elevation where she could wear jeans and a tee shirt and the last service was at 6:00 PM on Easter Sunday. She said “That one” begrudgingly. Hallelujah! I was getting somewhere.

She got to wear her black leopard print jeans and her tennis shoes. She went in without a fuss. She sat down and stared at the floor. I prayed she would at least politely sit there and listen. We were three or four rows from the front of the auditorium at Butler High School. We had been smiled at, waved at and welcomed since we hit the parking lot. I prayed this was it. This was where we needed to be. That this was going to be home.

Check out my previous post to see more about that first day on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009. It was just as I hoped. We were home and our lives were about to change in ways I never thought possible.

Sneak Peek at Coming Posts

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First Time at Elevation – Easter 2009 #elevat10n #superversary

“Broken and repaired. Damaged and restored. Sometimes, it’s not about what you can do. It’s about what’s already been done. This series, Healer, is about being made whole again.” – Elevation Church


Sunday, April 12, 2009 – Easter

That was our first time at Elevation Church, at the Butler High School campus. Pastor was preaching at Uptown and it was the last of probably 5th or 6th sermon he had preached in 24 hours. Elevation didn’t have a permanent building yet, but the Matthews site was under construction. So how did we, a family that had been heavily involved in a formal Presbyterian church for over 10 years end up at this new type of worship we had never really heard of???

My daughter was 13 at the time. Despite growing up in the church, she was rebelling. Probably because if the door of the church was open, we were there. Right before Easter some junk came out of her mouth that she had picked up at school about there not being a God. Well, that wasn’t flying with me, so I was determined to find a church I could get her to attend. I knew I wasn’t getting her dressed in a dress, etc. for a church like we were used to so I started doing research. I found an article about Elevation in the Charlotte Observer, and while it sounded crazy to me, I could take her in jeans and a tee and that would at least keep the uproar at home to a minimum.

So Easter weekend that year, I gave her a choice. We were going to church, no matter what, but she could choose – get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and drive to Chimney Rock for a sunrise service or there was some church in Charlotte that we could go to that had a service at 6:00 PM AND she could wear jeans. She picked Elevation.

So we rolled into the parking lot at Butler High School late that afternoon. People were jumping around and waving at us. This was pretty cool! We got out and started walking up the walkway and everyone was welcoming us. We got inside and went into the auditorium and were seated about 3 or 4 rows back from the front.

This is the first thing we saw (actually this is the teaser, but you get the idea):

At that point I’m wondering what in the world?!?! We were definitely not at 1st Pres anymore! But I looked over at my daughter and she was no longer staring at the floor. She was staring at the screen! Then the music started and Mack Brock and the band came out on stage. She sat up. Then, a miracle started to form in front of my eyes as an artist came out and started painting on glass! Bailey was an art student at Northwest School of the Arts. While she is more into sculpture and photography, she appreciates anything artistic.  In my heart, I knew I had brought her to the right place at the right time and God had arranged that meeting. Here is what the painting looked like: (I know I saw a video of it at some point, but I can no longer find it)

easter hands

So the music ended and instead of her sulking back into her seat, she listened to Pastor Steven preach. So did I. I knew we were in the right place. We had been through some very rough times – unemployment, losing our home, illness, depression, anger, etc. We were broken. We were damaged. But that day, our lives shifted in a new direction. In the sermon, pastor says he hopes our world is turned upside down by his message from Isaiah 53:1-6. Our world definitely was!! I had never heard a pastor preach like that. He was honest, brutally so, about the horror of the Crucifixion. He was straight-forward in what it means to love God and esteem Him. At one point he said “I know a lot of you are first time guests and didn’t plan to get into all this, but if you didn’t want to get wet you shouldn’t have gotten near the boat”. When he said that Jesus “kicked the end out of a borrowed tomb” I was all in. Then he said said “Cut the crap! Give yourself to Jesus and be healed by His wounds! He suffered for you! And He loves you!” I was smacked in the face with the truth and I appreciated it. I knew if I was going to show my child the way of the Lord, we were in the place I was going to learn, and so would she, how to live as true Christians, not the ones that give lip service and live like hell.

As I was looking through things I said over the next few months, I see a change in my outlook on life. I was more positive but most importantly, I started relying on God to be there for me. I was no longer alone. My child was no longer locking herself in her room all the time. In fact, she invited her best friend Kaila to come with us to Elevation during Cow Tipping.

There is so much more to be thankful for, so the next step in our Elevation journey will be in my next post. But for this one, I am so thankful for that day in April 2009 that I decided that I was dragging my child to church and I’m thankful that the experience was life-changing. We still struggle. We don’t have it all together. But we have God in our lives constantly. No half-stepping as Pastor said that day. We are all in and can’t wait for the next 10 years and beyond!


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Be Still and Know that I am Lord (Or “Please get these locusts out of here!”)

Now therefore stand still and see this great thing, which Jehovah will do before your eyes.  1 Samuel 12:16

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  Psalm 46:10

And Jehovah turned an exceeding strong west wind, which took up the locusts, and drove them into the Red Sea; there remained not one locust in all the border of Egypt. Exodus 10:19

I wasn’t in the best mood on the way to church this morning. My daughter wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t the most pleasant person to deal with as we got ready to serve and attend church. She has eosinophilic esophagitis and recently everything she eats causes her pain and then on top of that she can’t sleep, so her being grumpy is an understatement. She was in pain, hungry, sleepy – “mad at the world” was an understatement actually. On top of that, my feelings had been hurt at church last night by someone who, at least it appeared to me, was encouraging me to change churches by praying about it because I said the other one might be a shorter commute!  To say I was distracted and not in the right frame of mind was an understatement. In fact, as I drove I was writing a blog post in my head (I do that a lot – if I wrote in WordPress every blog post I write in my head I would have a novel by now) on the subject. The more I dwelt on what may or may not have been an innocuous statement, the more agitated I became. This is NOT how you are supposed to go to church!

THIS is how you are supposed to go to church:

1Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. 2Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. 3Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.     4Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. Psalm 100:1-4

This definitely wasn’t how we started into His presence this morning.

I pulled into the parking space and we started walking toward the church. We’ve been experiencing the effects of Hurricane Joaquin here in the Charlotte area – LOTS of rain and bouts of strong wind. The weather was pretty calm when I got out of the car, unlike the storm that was brewing in my heart and my head. I knew my mood had to get adjusted quickly before I breached the threshold of the church.

Then it happened……a HUGE rush of wind. And another and another. I paused in my walk. In my head, I heard the beginnings of Psalm 46:10… “BE STILL, and know that I am God”.

As I started walking again, the wind seemed to get stronger and stronger and I started praying. Praying that the wind would blow away all the negativity in my head and in my daughter’s head. She had ear buds in and a hoodie over her head. I specifically prayed that God’s wind would break those barriers she had put up as protection. His protection was what she needed. His love was what she needed. His healing was what she needed. Those things were what we BOTH needed. I begged Him to provide all these things – trusting He was going to get us over this bump and into His presence in the proper state of mind.

I’ve walked the walk through that long parking lot more times than I can count. I know the way. So about halfway, I closed my eyes and lifted my hands a bit, thanking God for all He was doing in our lives. I already knew my prayer from moments earlier was fulfilled. I needed to thank Him for what He had done this morning. I needed to thank Him for everything He does for us.

As usual, my Trust in Him was fruitful. By the time we got to the threshold, I was smiling ear to ear and telling a friend what I was feeling and doing. My mind was in a totally different place as I stepped onto the walkway in front of the church than it was when I stepped out of the car. But I wasn’t sure about my daughter. In my mind, God’s winds had pierced her protective defenses and cleared her heart and mind and gotten her ready to come into His presence. But until she pulled that hood off and those ear buds out, I didn’t know.

She noticed me talking with my friend and took out the ear buds and pushed back the hoodie. THAT person was not the same kid I was in the car with! She was smiling, pleasant and laughing. The wind had taken up the locusts and blew them back from wherever they came from. She walked in the church ready to share God’s love with all that came in her path.

I said another prayer of thanksgiving as I watched her walk off, waving and speaking to people like the loving person I know she is. It wouldn’t be the last that morning. I find myself giving thanks to God so many times a day it would be a task to quantify it. We had a teaching this weekend about remembering to give thanks to the Lord for the little things. I forget sometimes that everyone hasn’t lived the life I have. Everyone hasn’t lost everything, or seemed to have lost everything, only to find themselves with everything they need because He provides it. In my church world, I’m old. I’ve followed the Lord for over 40 years – since I was 5 years old. Most of the people I go to church with haven’t been on this Earth that long! I’m thankful for that. I’m grateful for the times I can show someone from a chapter in my life how I asked for Him to help and He did. I’m privileged to be able to tell how I started tithing and the positive impact it had on my life. I’m honored to tell others how time after time, the Lord has been there for me and my family. I am evidence of a loving God. I’m a sinner but He has taken my sin from me. I call on Him and He is there. I trust Him because He has my heart and my soul and in Him, my life is Heaven on Earth. And even if the locusts come visit, He’ll blow them away with His powerful wind.


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Happy Anniversary to Me! Ten Years at The Rock!

10 years ago today it was a Monday. And it was my first day at Peter Rock Consulting, Inc. I had been unemployed for over a year. I had lost everything it seemed. My savings were gone. I had no more unemployment left and I had just had to apply for food stamps and move back home with my mother. About two weeks earlier, I had sat at a red light, feeling sorry for myself and bawling. Then I realized my mistake. I couldn’t fix this myself. I needed help. So I sat there on Wilkinson Blvd and cried out to the Lord “God – show me what to do. Find me a job! I obviously cannot do this on my own. I’m trusting you. Show me please!”

I checked my email that night and there was a job posting for a small management consulting firm in SouthPark. When I majored in psychology and business management, that was the goal – to work in management consulting somehow. I wanted to help people be better with their employees and their companies.

When I graduated, I chose money over what I wanted to do out of fear and took the ‘easy’ road – the restaurant business. I’d worked as a bartender and waitress for years. I was good at restaurant management. I became a district manager after just under a year and doubled my salary. I had a car and maintenance allowance. I bought my dream car – a red 1994 Camaro. I paid off my student loans. But I was miserable. I made bad choices for my life. The best part of that decision to take that job was that it brought my daughter into my life. But I surrounded myself with the wrong people and never thought about God or church. I never darkened the door of a church for at least four years. I worked every Sunday instead.

When Bailey was about a year old, I quit. I needed to be with my daughter. She didn’t need to be in a restaurant all hours of the day. I was exhausted and sick. I had no idea about a few weeks after I quit I would be diagnosed with sarcoidosis. My lungs were filled with granular tumors. I got out of breath walking across a room. I was terrified. My baby was a baby. I had to get better. I decided it was time to get back to church and make sure my daughter was there with me – like my Granny had taken me as a child. Between the Lord and great doctors, I was no longer sick after two years. I took steroids all that time and dealt with their side effects for quite some time, but it’s been 18 years since I was told my lungs could eventually just be unable to work and I show nothing but a little scarring from those tumors. They melted away.

In the mean time, I began to work at Bailey’s day care in the infant room. I loved it, but I knew I couldn’t raise her on my own unless I found a better paying job. But I loved being with the babies all day and being able to walk down the hall to see her playing and learning. Eventually I got a job at Microsoft, which I loved!!! Surrounded by smart people, opportunities to do good in the community. Great benefits. Good pay. What’s not to love? But as things go with companies, my job wasn’t forever. After 5 years, I was unemployed and lost.

A year later brings me back to the beginning of this post – sitting in a little blue pickup truck that belonged to my mother, crying out to the Lord in surrender. He was the only thing that could make my life right. I was always at church. I was a Sunday School teacher, soccer coach, baseball coach and the choir leader for the 4 & 5 year old cherub Choir. But I still didn’t ‘get it’. I still had not surrendered myself to God. I said the right things and did the right things, but I still struggled with everything. I didn’t get that He was in control – not me.

The night I asked God for help and He brought me to Peter Rock Consulting changed my life. My boss and his wife are faithful Christians. My first day, as we sat at lunch together, he announced that before lunch they always take time to be thankful to the Lord. I knew I was in the right place.

Over the years, my skills have grown. I’ve moved a paper-based organization to a paperless one to now an organization that is ‘in the cloud’. I’ve streamlined just about everything and looked for new methods and technologies to help us serve our clients better and do more with less. Along the way, my boss encouraged me to get back into church. I stopped going when I moved back the Charlotte and had never found a new one. It was my boss’ urging that led me to find Elevation, because I needed to find a church that Bailey would go to. I knew as she was a 14 year old that didn’t really want to be at church at all dragging her back to a more mainstream, formal church was not going to go well.

Working for a psychologist as I raised a teen girl on my own was its own blessing. While he always maintained proper boundaries, he was there when I just needed someone to listen to me. He encouraged me to find a counselor, as well as one for Bailey. He encouraged me to learn new things – like DreamWeaver. And he trusted me with things like re-building the corporate website – even though I had never built a website in my life. I have thrived at Peter Rock Consulting and learned so much. I’ve also become confident in who I am in the world and in the Lord. That tearful prayer 10 years ago led me to a life changing email that led me to the best job in the world. I will be forever grateful to God for answering my prayer and my boss for being Jesus’ hands and feet and helping me to grow into the person I am now.

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Living Water and Life’s Messes

In honor of the passing of my fish, Cutler Beckett, I thought I would repost this.

Funny how God places thoughts and things before you in the oddest circumstances….

Earlier, I was cleaning out my aquarium. I’ll admit, it was way past due. There was no visible algae  – but under the lid, it was attempting to make its presence known. But algae showing up is a few signs past the aquarium needing to be cleaned. By that time, the bottom of the aquarium, under the gravel, is just gross. Every solid particle is there – uneaten food, what’s left of the ghost shrimp my beta ate, etc. – I don’t need to go into more detail. Yuck!

But to clean that, I have to stick my hand it in. I have to, for lack of a better word, ‘massage’ that gravel to clean it. Sure the water pressure from the shower head helps, but I have to stick my hand in that yucky mess and roll those stones between my fingers. If you have never experienced the joy that is cleaning an aquarium that’s overdue, think about that time when someone let food fall in the sink and the plug was in it and then the water got turned on and made gravy of the discarded food remnants. Gross, right??? But the only way to clean it is to stick your hand in there and pull out the plug.

As a mom, I’ve cleaned up my share of gross messes. As a restaurant manager, I cleaned way more than my share of greasy, gross messes. The best part of no smoking in restaurants was that meant no more scrubbing tar and nicotine off the ceilings. But there is one thing that always gets you through it – water. And moving water is the best. As long as the water is running, and that gunk isn’t going to rest on my hands, I can do it. I can stick my hand in the bottom of the aquarium and the bottom of the sink as long as the water is running. If it’s not, because any more water would make the sink run over and the gunk would go with it onto the floor and the counter, I know it will be OK, because I will turn it on the second there is enough room to safely do so. And the running water will clean the mess off of me and keep it from getting back on me.

Christ’s love is living water.

John 7:38 says “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

John 4:14 says “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Revelation 7:16-17 says “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, not any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepard, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Christ’s love inside me protects me from the messes life has to bring. That Living Water inside me assures me that He is my Savior, my Protector, my Father. He washes my life clean of the messes the world brings. Just like the water from the faucet washes away the messes, His love washes away the tears. Without His love, this world would be a messy, rotten place.

But with His love, life is beautiful and clean. But not perfect. Yes – there will be messes, but you can get through them with His love and the Living Water that wells up to remind you He is there and you are His child. Remember He loves you and He brought you where you are and He’s not done with you yet. Trust in His love and let the Living Waters wash away the sorrow.  And if you have to stick your hand in the dirty sink, so to speak, remember His love will wash it all away.

God Bless!

cutler beckett 1979303_10203045775606555_78838559_o


I’m Getting Baptized Tomorrow!!!

I am so excited! I am getting baptized tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman!

There have been some people in the media saying Elevation baptisms are ‘manipulated’. Let me tell you about my first baptism and let you consider that experience a bit. I apologize ahead of time for some of the graphic details.

I was baptized at a Southern Baptist Church when I was 14. Honestly, what should have been the the best day in my life only holds horrible memories for me. I don’t remember the joy of having my sins washed away and becoming a new person in Christ. I remember guilt ridden conversations and shame.

I was taken to church all my life. I remember standing beside my Granny at Flint Ridge Baptist Church in SC and tears flowing down my face as a 7 or 8 year old as we sang “Just As I Am”. I understood as a young child that God loved me so much, just the way I was, that He sent His only Son to die a horrible death – for me. How could anyone love me so much they would do that? Why would He do that? As a child I knew I was loved by my Granny and Mom and Grandaddy and Aunts and Uncles so much. How could God do that to His Son? My family would never do that to me. At that age, I wanted to be baptized, but I was told I was too young. I needed to be older to make that decision.

When I was 9, we moved to Charlotte, NC. My mom had remarried and we went to the church where my new step-dad and his family were members. I would still tear up as I sang the hymns. I knew I loved God and He loved me. As I grew older, I was in youth groups and did things with them. I loved going on trips and spending time with other kids that loved God. We had lots of fun. I had always sang in a choir at church. Later in life, I would actually direct a children’s choir at First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, NC. I grew up in church.

But around 13 or 14 years old, I began being reminded I had never been baptized. People were wondering when I was going to get baptized. It was time. What was wrong with me? Why hadn’t I answered an alter call? My new step-grandfather was a deacon in the church. My new step-grandmother was a leader in the women’s groups. I began to feel like I was an embarrassment because I had not been baptized yet. (This is not to say I was – I am just relaying how I felt at that time) 

One day, I finally answered the alter call. I still remember I had on a light green flowing dress. It was my favorite color. I wanted to accept God as my Lord and Saviour. I was happy to walk toward the front of the church towards Pastor Keiger. I was ready to let everyone know how much I loved God and knew He loved me. This is my best memory of that time in my life. Walking towards the front of that church.

Then the visits started. Deacons would come in groups of two or three. At my house, at my grandparents house after Sunday dinner. When was I going to be baptized?!?! I made the commitment. It was time. I was almost 15. I began to get scared. I didn’t know these men. I knew they were from the church, but I didn’t ‘know’ them. I don’t remember any of their names. I know now they were only doing what they thought was the right thing – they were determined I was getting in that big tank full of water behind the choir loft in a big white robe and I was going to do it SOON! There was a calendar to be kept. If I didn’t do it now, I would have to wait. Let’s get this done.

So the date was set. There were a few others being baptized that day. I do not remember one of them. I remember meeting with the Pastor and the others. We were told what would happen. We were shown the HUGE white robe with all kinds of straps on it that we would wear as we were baptized. After that, I was really scared. I no longer wanted to do this. I didn’t want to get baptized any more. I was terrified!

Too bad! I was getting baptized. How could I embarrass my family by backing out?!?! I made a commitment and I had to uphold it. So the day of the baptism came – and so did another regular monthly visitor that teenage girls aren’t always too excited to see. This was the early 80’s. We weren’t quite as open with things back then. There was no way I could get dressed up in that white robe and get in a tank of water!!! I tried to back out but I couldn’t tell those men deacons why I just couldn’t do it that day. I asked to speak to a lady. They sent in a woman to talk to me. She told me it would be fine. She would help me get changed as soon as I was out of the water. No one would know. Then I opened the clothes my mom packed me – white jeans!?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?! This has to be some cosmic joke or a sign. A sign that this was not the day I was to be baptized. I just started crying. Please God! Don’t make me do this today! I am going to be so embarrassed. But if I don’t do it, my family will be embarrassed. I had to do it. I had to put on the huge white robe with all the straps and get in that tank.

So I did, with tears in my eyes. But they weren’t tears of joy. They were tears of fear and shame. It got even worse after I was out of the water. More fears were manifested. I was miserable. I just wanted to go home and cry in my room alone. But my family wanted to celebrate, so we went out to eat at some steak house. I just wanted to crawl under a table and cry. There was no joy in the day. I never wanted to be there that day, but through the powers of shame and guilt, I was baptized.

This is no indictment on the people who ensured that I would be baptized that day. They were only doing what they thought they needed to do in their hearts. If not, I choose to believe that no one meant to manipulate that little 14-year old girl into doing something she didn’t want to do that Sunday morning. All I know is, baptism is a celebration of a new life in Christ. That day was no celebration to me.

Bailey after her Baptism

Bailey after her Baptism

Tomorrow is a celebration!!! I have never felt more alive in Christ than I have since the first time I walked into an Elevation service at Butler High School on Easter Sunday in 2009. I have watched our church grow. I’ve watched my daughter grow in her relationship with Christ. She was on the greeter team with me at Matthews. I saw her baptized in September 2009 at the Matthews campus. She filled out the card herself. I had no idea she was doing it but I was so happy when she told me. I walked in one day and there was a letter she wrote Pastor Steven posted on the wall in the room where the volunteers gather before services. She was thanking him for his leadership and Elevation for helping her through some very rough times and showing her hope in Christ. These days, I watch her beam as she takes care of the volunteer and staff children every weekend in Clubhouse.

So my baptism tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman is a new beginning for me. While I have always been a child of Christ and a Believer, I am making the choice to be baptized tomorrow. No one is pushing me or manipulating me, like they did at that Southern Baptist Church so many years ago. I am freely and willingly ready to be born anew in Christ’s love. I am at a point in my life where many choices are in front of me – relationships, career, family. I need God’s direction as I move forward. My baptism is my clean slate to start over.

I invite anyone to come join me tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman at 5:00 to witness or to be baptized themselves. It will be a celebration of God’s love for us all! Hope to see you there!!!

With LOVE in my heart,



Joe Delph praying before

Here are the pictures! Happiest Day of my Life!!!


Bailey captured this picture as I came out of the water. I love my friend Melissa’s face as she is waiting for me with a towel and the best hug ever!!!


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When Life and Death Collide

Eighteen years ago right now. I was on my last Daddy – Daughter Date with my Daddy, Chester Helms. At least it was our last one without the Baby Princess. He took me out to eat at Champps Americana because we had never been there before and I didn’t think a sports bar would be the appropriate place to take a baby later. I can still remember it like it was yesterday, even what I ordered. Chicken Salad sandwich with pasta salad. And I couldn’t finish it because I was so nervous and I couldn’t take it with me because I couldn’t eat after midnight because I was being induced the next morning, May 24th, at 7:00 AM. Little did we know Bailey wouldn’t make her entrance until 9:05 AM on May 25th. I should have known then she was going to be a handful. 🙂 After 26 hours of labor she still put up a fight to come in her own time. LOL

But both nights, my Daddy was there for me. He and Mom stayed with me the entire time. My friend Nell joined us in the early morning hours before Bailey finally arrived. But when I watch the video, I still tear up when I see my Daddy, in his high-tech wheelchair, reclining as he sat with me the whole time. Mom was working the camera and fidgeting and such, but Daddy just sat there, and listened when I needed it, and was my calming steadfast rock. He always was.

I wish he had been around more for Bailey. Losing him when she was two was just too soon. It’s hard that her birthday always reminds me so much of what I lost when I lost Daddy, even though I gained so much when she was born. I may not have shared DNA with my Daddy, but I doubt any biological daughter could have been closer than he and I. He was my best friend and my therapist and my protector – my Daddy.

I get angry at him sometimes still. He promised me when I told him I was pregnant and scared, that he would be there for me. He would help me. I wouldn’t have to raise her alone. I thought “What could be better? He was the perfect Daddy, so surely he would be the perfect Grandpa”. I was pretty sure Bailey’s father would never be there for her or me, but I knew my Daddy would be. He adopted me a couple of years after he married Mom and he had been there for me since I was 9. I could raise her alone, as long as Daddy was there. And maybe God would bring me someone just like Daddy was for me for my precious baby girl. But Daddy died in April 1997 – not quite two months before Bailey turned 2. He broke his promise. He was supposed to help me raise her.

I told her father while I was pregnant the best gift my Mom ever gave me was a life without my biological father. I told him if he ever wanted to be in her life, that would be fine, but I didn’t want  him in my life anymore as anything other than her father. So glad I made that choice. Her biological father never made a motion to meet her. It took my aunt falling ill with cancer and us visiting her in AL for him to meet his daughter at a park – when she was 16. She knew she had siblings and she wanted to meet them. As I imagined, after some time he broke her heart as well. He married a woman and didn’t bother to tell her about 3 of his six children – the three that don’t live near him. Bailey was crushed that her own father basically dismissed her existence. I hope one day they can develop a relationship. Every daughter should see her Daddy as the perfect man. He should treat her with respect, care and dignity. He should show her how she deserves for any man to treat her. I have no doubt if more Daddy’s would treat their daughters and their daughter’s mothers with more respect, we would have a lot less social turmoil in our country. But that’s a blog for another time….

Tonight is about me and my Daddy. It was our last outing together just the two of us. After May 25th, 1995 it was the three of us. We went to parties, charity events, restaurants, movies, Charlotte Hornets games, anywhere we wanted to go Daddy was proud to show off his Princesses. Bailey charmed many a person, usually men, wherever we went with her big smile and lots of laughter and Daddy beamed. I really wish her birthday didn’t always remind me of the loss of him, but then again, it reminds me of how much he meant to me, gave to me, and taught me about being a good person, as well as a good parent.

I miss you Daddy!


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