Friday, September 8, 2017

Learning to Let Go

Last year my oldest child, a daughter, graduated high school. It was a wonderful time of celebration and excitement for our family. She was homeschooled but we homeschoolers know how to throw a party! We had a full graduation ceremony and reception with other homeschoolers and their families and it was a blast. 

But then came August. I’ll never forget the morning that our first-born child left our snug, tiny home to embark on her first year of college across the country.

One word: Tears. Lots and lots of tears. Buckets of them to be exact.  She hugged her twin baby brothers goodbye; one of them teared up and the other did not (not unusual for him!). That wasn’t too bad to witness. But then she went to tell her sister goodbye. That, my friends, was agony. I don’t recall ever seeing my youngest daughter cry that much in her entire life up to that point. I think they stood there and hugged each other for about 15 minutes straight. Talk about wreaking havoc on a mama’s heart. 

We flew her up to Boston, her father, our oldest son, and I.  Remind me to never take a 7am flight again. That was the worst, mainly because we live nearly two hours away from the airport.  We rented a mini-van, because ALL the college stuff, and drove to Walmart on move-in day. We bought everything to outfit her dorm that she needed and even a few decorative things. I haven’t shared this before, but you know how God’s timing is utterly perfect?  Jeremy had received a bonus on that week’s paycheck that covered her dorm outfitting costs to nearly the penny. God is so good and so gracious.

Saturday night, after she’s all moved in, it’s time to say our goodbyes. Can I just say that in 20 plus years of knowing my husband I have never seen that man cry as much as he did saying goodbye to his baby girl? That was something to behold. Next, her brother said goodbye and then it was mama’s turn.  In that moment you experience a myriad of emotions. You wonder if you did your job well. Did I love her well, did I point her to the Lord, did we do this, or did we do that? All of those thoughts wrapped up in every bit of hope and excitement you have for her future.  It was a hot mess, really.

And then I had to let go.

There’s a saying that I came up with a long time ago; “The word “Smother” is only one letter away from the word mother.”  I definitely have had to work on letting go and not smothering from afar this past year. It has been very difficult at times and I am certainly no expert. I’ve only had one kid leave home so there are definitely more moms out there with much more wisdom than I could possibly offer. Maybe I can be of more help after the 4th and 5th kiddos leave the nest, lol. But what I can tell you is that there is peace in knowing that this daughter we raised, is moreover, a daughter of the King. She is HIS. And his eye does not leave her. When my eyes can’t see her, His always do. There is such comfort in that. There is a freedom I have kinda stumbled upon, and that is realizing that she now has to own her life. Her decisions, for better or worse, are hers. She has to live with the consequences, however good or bad they may be. She had some rough times her first year away, but she’s also made some very mature and tough decisions as well. In letting her go, I realize it is a gift to let her figure things out on her own. Of course we are there for her when she needs advice and wisdom, but ultimately she knows that she has to be the one to decide what to do. She’s what I call a “Kiddult.” Age-wise, yes a legal adult, but maturity-wise, still very much a kid. I don’t say it to patronize at all. It’s really just the stage of life she and many other 18-19 year olds are in. Old enough to make some life-altering decisions, but not necessarily wise enough to navigate them all alone yet. She’s getting there. Heck, I’m still getting there some days!

She just flew back to school for her sophomore year a couple weeks ago. I can honestly say that I did not shed any tears this time and she only shed a few herself. It’s been a much easier transition this time with her leaving home and I am thankful for that. I’ve been told the second year is better and the homesickness she had last year will be gone, which makes me happy and sad all at the same time. You moms know what I mean. However, this was the task set before us: to raise children that will grow into adults that are confident enough to leave the nest and make a life of their own.  She went to the doctor today for the first time by herself. You know what? She survived, I survived, lol. Imagine that. I wanted to be there with her and to tell the doctor what my diagnosis was (because of course I had already googled it and I just know that I’m right J). She didn’t need me to be with her though, and I’m learning to be ok with that. 

Growing pains, I’m positive, are not just for kids.
          - Felcia


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When You Find Yourself in the Ditch

It was a drizzly Saturday morning and Savannah needed to be in town. We had experienced a terrible lightening storm the night before and so I mentioned we might want to leave a little earlier than usually just in case our country roads were littered with downed branches. Boy, was that an understatement. We left the house 15 minutes earlier than normal and headed down our county roads only to be met with trees crossing the road. I attempted a three  five point turn, backed up a quarter of a mile and tried three different ways to get to the interstate...all to no avail. But the last option presented itself in a different form. The way the tree had fallen, only the top, most narrow part of the tree was covering the road, so very slowly and carefully I drove over the slender tree trunk. SUCCESS!

After momentary celebration with Savannah, we headed on our merry way to town, and 20 minutes later, I dropped her off at her destination. Thinking I might surprise my guys back at home, I whipped into the Whataburger drive thru and picked up some breakfast for us and then headed back to the house.

While on the way home, I called Bruce and informed him of all the trees down and encouraged him to call the county because I didn't think our chainsaw was going to be able to handle getting these trees out of the road. He asked how I had made it into town and I informed him of my spectacular driving skills and he strongly advised me to not drive over any more trees since we had just replaced all the tires on the expedition just the week before.... (oops). But.....

Nearly 20 minutes later, retracing the route I had successfully driven from my house, I came across the same narrow tree crossing the road. I had to make a decision....obey my husband and possibly die of starvation/abandonment/coyotes/wild hogs.... in the woods because no one would ever find me ....or drive carefully back over the branch one more time to get home (because after all, I had made it over the branch once with no problem). And then I saw it....

A small grassy shoulder that appeared to be at least large enough for part of my tires to cross over and not run over the branch. I thought to myself..."well, replacing 2 tires is better than replacing 4." So very carefully and slowly I drove toward the grassy shoulder... and very quickly as my tires met the wet, soggy, mushy shoulder, my car began to sink...further and further into the small shoulder, until I was almost sideways looking from the drivers window into a three foot ditch. I kid you not. I can't make this stuff up.

The first thought that crossed my mind...." I have to call Bruce!" I dreaded it. In fact, I looked over at the three breakfast meals from whataburger and thought..."If I ration these out, how long will I live?" And then I realized that sooner or later I was going to need a bathroom and since I was sitting sideways with my door looking into the ditch, I had better figure out something. So I called Bruce...and told him I was stuck and needed help. And within minutes he and Tucker were driving down the road. When they got close enough I saw Tucker shaking his head, laughing. And then I saw Bruce, first looking with amazement at how someone could actually have done this magnificent maneuver and then I saw concern. And then I started crying, because what he saw, from his viewpoint was different from me. He told me to get out of the car....which was an uphill climb out of the passenger side door, he walked me to our other vehicle, saw how upset I was and told me to go home, he would take care of the mess. And he did...with the help of our very kind neighbor.

So, now that I've had a month to think about what happened...I've come up with a few spiritual lessons we can learn from my ditch decision...

1. Sometimes, when we realize we have made the wrong choice, it's humbling to call on the Lord. We have to admit that we did the wrong thing...that our choice wasn't the wisest and that we didn't follow God's plan.

2. Sometimes things are not as they appear - that shoulder looked completely strong enough to bear the weight of my car. Temptation is a lot like that...looks good on the outside, but the inside is a mushy mess.

3. The view from the ditch is scary- we don't always think ahead to the "what if this doesn't work out the way I have planned" but, careful planning and evaluation is a character trait of the wise. So look at all the angles and consider the risks before you do something adventurous! God calls us to risk but He also calls us to wisdom.

4. The view that spectators get can also be scary. When I saw Bruce's face I realized he was very concerned. We don't often think how our mistakes might impact those we love.

5. We don't plan to make big mistakes. Want to know something funny??? I was wearing my pajamas when this happened. I had NEVER done this before...I had seen women at school who dropped their kids off in their pajama pants and a t-shirt and I thought to myself....I'm not getting out of the car...I'll just slip on some flip flops and be back in a jiffy. But that's not what happened....Emergencies and foolish choices don't wait until you're all dolled up. We don't get to pick when bad stuff happens.

6. God, our Savior and Rescuer, took on the responsibility of all my ditch decisions that I have and ever will make. He came in and rescued me almost 40 years ago and has been helping me, guiding me and rescuing me every day since. When we receive our Lord as our Savior He keeps saving us through sanctification daily.

So many lessons...So if you find yourself in a ditch of your own on the only rescuer who can help us! He is in the business of saving us....will there be scars? will there be scrapes and bruises and consequences? Yes, but He is our Rescuer and we can trust Him with our recovery. He knows how to heal us even from the pain we inflict on ourselves.

That's my story...

PS- For those wondering..... No Whataburger was harmed in the rescue....all meals were safely microwaved and consumed.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book Review- The Prayer Box

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” ~Paul Sweeney

I love books full of adventure, history and/or prophecy, mystery, danger, intrigue, romance, plot twists, etc.……that’s my kind of book! 

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is NOT that kind of book. 

I’ll admit, it was given to me as a gift from a friend so I wanted to read it for her sake, but when I read the back cover, I was a little disappointed and just decided it was going to bore me to tears. 


The Prayer Box is a full and sweet story about…..well, a prayer box.  I had never heard of a prayer box before and don’t know that I ever will again, but the idea is a wonderful one.  This is the story of a single mom named Tandi, who moves back to the town of her childhood with her two children to start over and get her life in order.  She is hired to clean an old house that was left vacant by the death of its owner, an old, reclusive woman named Iola.  Turns out very few people cared for the mysterious Ms. Iola and very few ever really tried to get to know her.

When Tandi discovers some beautiful boxes full of letters that Iola had written through the years, scores of them, her curiosity is piqued and she starts to read them.  These letters aren’t to a long lost lover or to a child living far away.  They are to her Heavenly Father.  They are years of prayers given for the very townspeople who had shunned Iola during her life.

The real story of this book is the story of Iola Poole, as told in bits and pieces through the prayer letters.  Tandi’s story just kind of comes alongside it and makes it better.  Tandi’s faith is floundering at best, and she learns more about herself and her God than she ever dreams while reading these prayers written over decades of one lonely woman’s life. 

Lisa Wingate is a well known author and a very good one, and truly, this book does not disappoint.  It’s not one to get the heart racing, but it is one to get the heart feeling.  I recommend it to anyone who loves a good, solid, sweet story that will draw you closer to your loving Heavenly Father and make you feel like you’ve lost a friend at the end.

P.S.  And by the way, to my pleasant surprise, there is, in fact, some mystery and a legit twist at the end!  AND there is a sequel called The Story Keeper that is also very, very good and worth your time.

Happy reading,


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

You Don't Have to be Lonely

Sing with me...."You don't have to be lonely at Farmer'" ....y'all that song and commercial CRACK.ME.UP. Maybe it's our recent move to the country...and the fact that Savannah is nearing what some (not her dad) would think appropriate dating age....but thinks they have the loneliness issue solved. Bless their hearts...

This summer has been a whirlwind of activity in our house. As soon as school was out, we enjoyed a week long visit with my brother and his family, then a few short days later my crew left for Peru for 10 days. They came back and just a few days later Savannah left for camp, and now Tucker and Bruce are at camp and we still have a Worship Camp,VBS and finally...vacation! It's crazy!

But most of those activities haven't included me. And I have been alone a lot. Now, before someone hands me a tissue...please don't feel sorry for me. I don't think in my almost 45 years that I had ever been alone for 10 days. I grew up in a house of 6, then college roommates, I married right out of college, had kids...yeah...I have not been alone for that long EVER. So it's been a little wonderful and weird all in the same breath.

But I learned a few things....

1. don't have to be afraid.
2. Make the most of your time.
3. God makes a great conversation partner.
4. There is peace in the quiet.
5. Getting still before the Lord takes effort.
6. Being alone doesn't have to mean you're lonely.
7. God created us for relationship...and by the time 10 days was up...I was ready for my relationships to come home!
8. You can be alone and be ok...not depressed or stressed or in denial.
9. Being alone can be like a detox for the soul.
10. Being alone helps you appreciate your friendships more.

Bonus...Being alone for 10 days, I also confirmed what my heart already knew...I do not make the majority of messes in this house!

But seriously, sometimes we find ourselves alone. Sometimes it's physically alone, maybe through the death of a spouse or a divorce or empty nest. Sometimes it's emotionally alone...we might not feel like anyone understands, that we are the only ones going through the loneliness, the heartbreak. Here's the thing...we get to choose how we handle begin alone. No, we don't always get to choose aloneness, sometimes it chooses us, but we can decide our attitude and our actions during those times.

And if you find yourself in a permanent state of alone....remember you were made to be in relationship...first with God and then others. Nurture and embrace the intimacy found in alone time with the Savior and then find relationships that honor God and bring others closer to Him. It's strangely fulfilling to pour into someone else and you just might find yourself not so lonely anymore.

Psalm 68:5-6 says:

5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in      a sun-scorched land.

God has a plan for those who are alone. And so does the be alert to the devil's lies...his methods are so lame...kill, steal and destroy...they never change...he's always going about those three things. He's a devourer. So if you feel yourself being devoured or like something is robbing you from your joy, your life...identify it as spiritual warfare, take God at his Word and fight the enemy with the truth found there. Our minds are powerful instruments. Who will you let control yours? 

Trusting the Shepherd...not the Farmer,


Friday, July 7, 2017

5 Ways You Can Help Send Your Kids to Hell

Disclaimer: Unbelief is the only thing that sends people to hell. That's why it's so important that as Christian parents we are pointing our kids towards Christ. Part of that includes doing our part, according to scripture to train and parent them Biblically. It's not popular. It's not going to win you points with your friends, unless they are likeminded. It is however going to give you peace, when your parenting work is done, that you have done your best, though flawed, to point your kids to Christ. 

First off, I'm pretty sure the title alone is enough to spur some conversation, but let me tell you, when this topic hit me in the face like a baseball flying through the air on it's way to a homerun, I figured you deserved the same wake up call as me...and I am all about the sharing.

So, some backstory...I have been working on some continuing education (CEU's) classes this summer, just brushing up on my teaching skills. Most of these I can do at home and so in the afternoons, the kids are pretty used to seeing me with ear buds and computer and think it's funny that I have to do summer school. They're hilarious.

I teach at a Christian school. We use Christian curriculum. We teach the Bible. No apologies. No floundering around those facts. So obviously, some of my CEU's are going to be geared around what God's word says. And boy....on this particular day...did they!

I was sitting in my cute comfy chair, listening to the lecture, minding my own business, when the speaker, who has taught for more than 40 years, said, "Eli's sons are burning in hell today because his father valued them more than he valued what God said." And there you have it. I hit the rewind key on my computer 4 times. I had heard right and I wanted to know more about this.

Now, I had heard this story many times before...but never put exactly like she put it, so I was interested to read the passage again in the Bible. Check it out at Bible Gateway . Ok....are you still with me? Y'all...this passage was so sad to me. Here Eli, pansied out of disciplining his sons because he valued them more than he valued God's instruction. So even though Eli talked to his sons about their sin, he did nothing to discipline or train them to do the right things. I wanted to rip through the pages of scripture and beg Eli to get his act wake up and smell the coffee. He was playing around with God's people and God's house. His sons were out of control, rebellious, permiscuous, arrogant, disrespectful and the list could just go on and on and ....wait a minute.

Doesn't that pretty much describe kids today? Oh maybe your kids aren't going into the church and taking things that don't belong to them...but stealing doesn't have to be just can be time or talents. And maybe your kids aren't promiscuous, but you allow them to watch all kinds of vulgarity and sexual sins on TV and movies and you don't monitor their social media accounts. Maybe what was cute at 2 isn't as cute at 14, when they are rolling their eyes, placing their hands on their hips and talking back. And what are we parents? Are we sitting idly by and telling them "no-no", "Johnny, you know you shouldn't do that", "don't do that", "you're gonna regret that", "lol I did that when I was your age...and worse"? and worse yet...parents blaming others for their child's behavior or attitudes. I have seen all of this play out before my eyes at one time or another.

So where did Eli go wrong? How did sons wind up spending eternity in hell?

1. Eli's sons did not know the Lord. Of course they knew about the Lord, but there was no real relationship with the Lord. Evidently, going through the motions was enough for Eli to believe he had done his job. (I Samuel 2:12)

2. And as the story goes, although they knew how to do various responsibilities in the church (tabernacle), they treated it with disrespect because there was no reverence for holy things. Eli even knew of this behavior and did nothing but verbally speak with them. (I Samuel 2:13-20)

3. Eli "kept" hearing from people about what his sons were doing. This implies that he was not ignorant to their terrible behavior but had been told time and time again. (I Samuel 2:22)

4. Eli had raised sons who would not listen to their father. (I Samuel 2:25)

5. Eli's words were not enough....disciplinary action was never given and as a result Eli was not able to rejoice over his children. Instead, he found himself in grave misery over the eventual loss of not only his sons, but of the blessings that God had intended over the house of Isreal during his lifetime. (I Samuel 2:26)

So what can we do differently as parents, to ensure our kids don't go to hell. Nothing and everything....Your kids have a free will and they will eventually choose for themselves...but God gives us clear and white...on some things we can do that clearly contradict the methods that Eli used....take a closer look:

1. Relationship Relationship Relationship. During the early years of our children's lives a relationship is about knowing about God. We learn the stories of the Bible and we learn about miracles and prophets and all the good stories in His Word. But as our kids get older, it has to be more about a relationship...the saving relationship from our sins and then a growing relationship with our Savior. Learning to walk with Him, learning what He desires and valuing His directions from His Word...those are the things that we need to bind in our child's heart. You model and teach this by your own behavior.

2. We need to train our children to reverence the things that God says are holy. He calls us to holiness (I Peter 1:15), He is holy (Leviticus 11:45), our thoughts are to be holy (Phil 4:4-9), our worship is to be holy (Psalm 96:9)...And the list could go on and on and on....And I am asking myself along with you....what are we teaching our kids about holiness and reverence to God????

3. Eli ignored the warnings of those around him (I Sam 2:22)... God has placed people in my life that I've had this conversation with: "I want to know if you see or hear my kids doing something that is destructive to their life or the lives of those around them." Will it be hard to hear it?....YES. Will I be embarrassed?....MAYBE. Will I want to strangle my kids?....PROBABLY (if it's true). What I am saying here need a few people around you that you're willing to listen to even if the news isn't good. You need the people around you who will tell you if they see your kids being unkind, rude, rebellious, promiscuous or destructive. And if you hear from those trustworthy need to take care of it. Ask your kids questions and then DO something about it if it's true. That's the training part...the discipline part. You've got to get in the game! Proverbs 27:6

4. Eli's problems started before this story. Eli had raised two sons who didn't listen to their father...and that didn't start at the tabernacle or the promiscuous behavior. It probably started much younger...because these were established habits. It might be something cute when they are little a "talk to the hand" kind of statement from your 4 year old...but let's face it moms and 15 that same hand up in the air isn't quite so cute. Momma Nancy gave me some great advice when I was pregnant with Savannah. "Don't allow at 2 what you won't allow at 15." There's some truth to that. Chew on it for a minute.

5. Realize that God will take action when he has had enough. Oh He is so merciful to us, but there comes a time that when we have embraced lazy parenting, an undisciplined home, an unholy lifestyle, a disregard and lack of respect for HIM, that He moves on and gives those blessings to others...look at who the sons were replaced with...Samuel...a son that was given to Hannah, a barren wife, who was willing before the birth of her son to promise him back to the Lord, as His servant. Through Samuel, God blessed the nation of Israel. He left things better than they were before.

Parents...let's get it together. Let's quit making everything else more important than a relationship with the Lord and a holy life. Let's quite ignoring the warning signs from others and the Holy Spirit, when we sense our kids are in trouble. Let's raise respectful children who have been trained to listen to their father's (both earthly and heavenly) instruction. Because God forbid, that we don't leave this world better because our children are in it....God forbid, we send them to hell because we are more worried about social status, being their friend and how it looks to everyone else. God forbid. God forbid.

Let's change the story together...


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fear- Let's Talk About It


Fear can paralyze us, make us not take that next step in fulfilling our dreams.

Let’s talk about fear, know it, claim it and push through barriers the devil puts in our way.

My Dad passed away this past November. I had always feared one of “those” phone calls.  I had thought about getting one of those phone calls in depth a few times, like seeing it happen in a movie, the next thing you know you have a runaway train of thoughts about what you would do in that situation.  Fear leads to anxiety ridden thoughts over the thing you fear, yet you still do not feel prepared when you are in the situation you have feared for so long.  Shocked, gutted, panicked, frozen; those words better describe getting a phone call that your Dad has had a heart attack.

It was during the next few months that I felt the Lord nudging me about fear, convicting me about the small and big fears that I backed away from. I believe it was a stage of my grieving that led me to push my anxiety to the back burner; thinking to myself: why would I be fearful if I have already lost my Dad and I survived it. 

The Lord was with me, I felt his presence every step I took, every decision I made, he helped me, calmed me. Things just seemed smaller, less of a big deal. Time on the other hand became much more precious, memories became like valuable heirlooms and I felt a rush to capture these now very important things. The Lord nudged again and I knew exactly how I was going to do this, photography.

I have loved photography for a really long time but had only been brave enough to take pictures of our kids and our family, until recently. The devil liked to tell me lies like 'well sure the photos look good to you, but not to anyone else.' or 'you thought that photo was amazing but it only got 4 likes on Instagram, you must not have real talent.'. 

A few months ago, I completed a morning devotional about living fearlessly; how to boldly walk through the doors that God opens for you. During this study, the opportunity arose for me to take engagement photos for the sweetest couple. My voice surprised me when I heard myself say “I can do it, I’d love to do it.” I am not going to lie, fear bubbled many times before the actual day of the photo session came but I persisted (I know the Lord made me keep going because I was really kind of nauseous just thinking about it). 

The session was successful and I am so glad to say that I did it! But it’s really not about me completing this photo session, it’s much bigger. It’s about looking back on your journey to seeing how the Lord changed your heart to be more like Jesus, how He worked things out for your benefit to show you His sweet grace and  how He forgives you for the fears you have let the devil place in your life for so long, this is His indescribable mercy.

Isn't breaking free from a bondage holding you back, in this case fear, so rewarding when you can see the Lord’s work in every part of your story?  So, yes, let’s talk about fear, know it, claim it and push through barriers the devil puts in our way. What fears do you hold in your heart? I pray you focus on Joshua 1:9 instead. Replace anxiety and fearful thoughts with the fact that the Lord calls you to be strong and courageous. He promises to be with you wherever you go. So do not be afraid.

This is my story,

Nikki Taylor

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gather Around

Some of my best childhood memories are those where my family--me, my younger brother, mom and dad--were gathered around the dinner table. That table, coincidentally, is still the table my parents gather around today. Oh the stories the table could tell! I've already told my parents I want the table when they die. I think they thought I was joking, but I am not.

Even "back in the day" my brother and I were involved in multiple school activities. Like most high schoolers, those activities kept us going from morning until after dark some nights and even weekends. I seriously don't know how we made it without cell phones. My mom must've spent hours in her car just waiting for us to finish so we could go home! Regardless of how crazy the days schedule, my parents made sure we ate dinner together almost every evening. The food wasn't what brought us together but the daily connection we had talking about the good, the bad and sometimes the really ugly throughout our day.

I never knew how important those times meant to me until my husband and I started our own family. We discussed our desire to have this intentional time of connection around the dinner table. So as a young married couple we'd attempt to eat a meal I, as a young bride with minimal cooking skills, had prepared (some nights were more successful than others!) and talk about our day. We found out that first year this meal time conversation also worked over fast food if my meal wasn't executed as planned!

When kids came along our meal times sounded more like a battleground than conversations:

"Sit down!"

"No, we don't put our feet on the table while we're eating."

"Rolling olives up our legs is not something we do at the table."

"Yes, you do have to eat all your green beans or yes, you WILL be eating them for breakfast!"

Our kids have gotten older and there are less battles, although sometimes the green beans still cause an issue. Occasionally, we're surprised by more meaningful conversations involving questions that have been on their minds or a detailed recap of the day. Other nights it can be pretty quiet because, let's face it, some days are just hard and by dinnertime we're tired and feel defeated. The point is, we're together and we're hopefully building a stronger family in the process.

I want to know in this age of technology and busy schedules, how do you stay connected with your family? Dinners? Game nights? Take a minute and share your ideas in the comments below.