Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Radical Chapter 3

I'm an under liner. When I read I underline stuff....and sometimes I even star a sentence. As I was looking back through my chapter tonight I noticed something funny...almost(and by that I mean all but a few) every sentence I underlined had the word power in it. This chapter resonated God's power. The first sentence I marked was this one "The question for us, then, is whether we trust in His power..."

Do I trust in His power? Anybody else out there sometimes feel like they try to do things in their own power...even "stuff" we do for God? Reading this chapter...after just recently teaching "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan, was a fresh reminder of where my power comes from. I was reminded afresh and anew of how God gave me, a unlikely girl, His power so it is clear to those around me who deserves the glory for the success that takes place.

What do you think of when I say the word power? Do you think of the thing that makes your lights come on at home...that makes your car go...that keeps that laptop up and humming? Do we think about God? The power of God is so much greater than our minds can even fathom...yet we don't trust it. Platt says this "the gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and trust in His power" . Jesus tells us that "apart from me you can do nothing"...so then why do I try to do it in my own power so many times? Why does the church today try to "do church" on their own power? Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit completely? Am I dependent on my self or am I desperate for His spirit?

I have read many a story in scripture where men of God were put in positions so that God's power was magnified. I love the way Platt described Joshua and how God exalted his inability's. Here we have Joshua on the outside of Jericho and God is going to give Joshua the plans for the battle...he's waiting for a grand plan...a stoic plan...and he gets "walk around the city walls for six days and then on the seventh walk seven times and then blow your horns." I bet Joshua thought it was a weird plan...Platt even says that he probably wanted a second opinion. I laughed at that one because that is so something I would have done. You see I doubt His plan...His purpose...His power. When Joshua won the battle, it was clear to all those around that God was the one with the power...He got all the glory for what happened...not an army! God continually puts us in situations where we come face to face with our need for Him. I think my favorite quote was "He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness".

After reading this I questioned my life and if I had ever truly allowed God to make Himself known through my life. Is His greatness evident? Had I ever been so desperate for Him...desperate for His power 'cause I just couldn't do it alone? Yeah there are instances...but I don't want instances anymore. I am not satisfied with just sometimes relying on His power...or only relying on His power when I truly need Him. I want to live in the Spirit...make Him known through my life...my weakness...my inabilities. I am no longer content with self sufficiency(which is funny because that is what we teach our kids) or being self dependent. I want to be desperate for His Spirit, and I want my family to live in desperation...as well as my church. So now I will plead...plead for Him to show up in a might way...to show me His power...my weakness...so that I can see His purpose through it all! There is power, power, wonder working power...

I’m joining in the Radical Read Along over at www.MarlaTaviano.com. Come on over...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Saturday night I did something that my son has been asking me to do for a few weeks now...

I was sick to my stomach and so didn't want to do it...and with the first stroke of the clippers I think there may have been tears in my eyes.

Charlie has been growing his hair out since March and it had only been cut once...it was so cute...it still had blonde streaks running through it from the summer sun...it swept right across the tops of his eyes...oh it was so stinkin' cute. He was sick of it though. He told me it was too hard to take care of...he hated that it hung down on his forehead while he played soccer and football...and he was just done with it. I think I tried to talk him out of it like 15 times and then I just said, "it's your hair Chuck...we'll cut it if that's what you want." And then I got out my trusty clippers.

The whole time I was cutting it he kept telling me why he wanted it short again...bless his heart, he was having to console me and convince me that it was going to be alright. As soon as it was done I looked at him and said "oh Charlie...you are just so handsome it wouldn't matter what you did to your hair...I love it".

He still felt like he should convince me of his need for a "new do". He was telling me how easy it was going to be...how much quicker he would shower...that it wouldn't hang in his eyes...that I wouldn't have to help him fix it...that he wouldn't even have a need for conditioner. I laughed at him as he ran up the steps to take a shower, all the while wondering where my little boy had gone.

After his shower I sat down to talk to him before bed...the other kids were knocked out, so it was just me and him. I joked with him about all that hair laying on the floor and how it had looked like a dead animal and I wondered how much it weighed! He said, "I wonder if I lost weight", as he jumped up and ran to the scale. I hear him holler from the other room..."Nah, I gained 1.2 pounds". I am dying laughing at my crazy son...especially when he came back and told me that he just knew that he was going to be able to run faster since he wouldn't have all that hair holding him back.

As I swept the kitchen today I came across one little bunch of hair that had somehow gotten lost under the kitchen desk after I had swept the small animal up Saturday night. It brought back all the things that took place and what was said...and God showed me something. Just like Charlie's hair weighed him down...that's how sin is...and that's how burdens are. They weigh us down..makes us slow...it takes longer to accomplish things(like Charlie showering)...they hinder us. So many times in our lives we carry our burdens around like "it's just our cross to bear" and we try to be a martyr, instead of just giving those burdens..that weight..to God. We stay in our sin and try to convince ourselves that we just can't give it up or get away from it...it ensnares us.

I have been there...where I felt like there was nothing I could do...I was trapped by my sin...my self-pity...my anger...my bitterness...and I was trapped. How grateful to God I am, that in His rich mercy He saw fit to reach down...work in my heart...He stripped that weight right off of me...and I laid those burdens down and I ran. Ran back to Him...ran to make things right with people that I had hurt...ran to the Word...I ran. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off of my chest...I had been so weighed down, and when God freed me of those burdens...that sin..I was lighter. I am sure it didn't show up on the scale (especially since the week this happened was my birthday week and I literally ate my face off)but I was lighter...and I can say that only because of Him. It had n-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with me being strong enough, or good enough, or anything enough. It was all Him...every last ounce.

Charlie reminded me of that when he cut his hair and felt lighter...free...even faster. Who doesn't want to weigh a little less and have better endurance? My friends, I urge you to lay those burdens aside...that sin that has you in a trap...and just run.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Thursday, September 23, 2010

All by myself...

Jesse is all alone these days at home...

He was not sure what to do with with himself once the big kids went back to school...

And so every morning...he rides...

He rides with the sun glistening on his stark blonde hair...

He rides in his undies...with no shorts on...

He rides through the dirt...and loves to get his tires muddy...such a boy...

He likes to watch the tires spin...

He rides all the way across our big back yard...

He bites his lip while he concentrates...

and he rides...and rides...and rides...

all by himself...and he's starting to be ok with that!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Do you watch wrestling? I never did...sometimes accidentally I would walk by a TV when we were growing up and would see it if my brother had it on. I don't know much about wrestling...I never even went to a high school wrestling match, but this week I feel like I could beat the best of them...even Nacho Libre. I have been wrestling all week and feel like a seasoned pro. I have wrestled with myself(something you won't see on TV)...over God's Word...the line...my thoughts...my fears..my flesh. I don't know any other way to describe my last week...but one filled with wrestling.

I have read chapter 2 of Radical like 4 times and every time I read back through it something else stands out to me....and I underline it...and wrestle with it. I'm going to try my best to get my thoughts written out in a somewhat clear manner...and pray that what I write truly magnifies Christ and not me.

When David Platt writes about his experience in Asia with a secret church, I got a little sick to my stomach. He talked about how the leaders just wanted him to teach for hours on end...that all they wanted was to learn the Old Testament and then the New Testament. These men left their fields(their livelihood...they were farmers) unattended for weeks to learn the word...Jesus was all that mattered to them. The word he described them with was hungry...and it stuck a cord with me. Am I that hungry for the word...for the truth..for God's moving in my life? He described the scene in that little secret church where they all huddled together with their Bible's laid on their laps and one little light bulb hanging over their heads and then Platt wrote these words...

No Sound system.

No band.

No guitar.

No entertainment.

No cushioned chairs.

No heated or air-conditioned building.

Nothing but the people of God and the Word of God.

And strangely, that's enough...

But is His Word enough for us?

Would His Word still be enough for His people to come together?"

and my question for myself was...is He enough for me? I don't need all of those things above(although I do like them)...but there are a whole lot of other things that I think I "need". I know I need to be hungry for the revelation of God.

As I read through the rest of the chapter I was like "right on...preach it brother", because Platt teaches such sound doctrine when it comes to who we are(spiritually dead with an evil heart)...who He is(a loving Father, but also a wrathful judge...which you won't hear too often)...and what we need.

This is the part of the chapter that literally jumped off the page because far too many people are falling into the lies of "Christianity today"... We aren't saved from our sins because Roman soldiers hung Jesus on a cross with nails...it's not the judgement of men that payed the debt for all of man kinds sin...wood and nails and a crown of thorns is not powerful enough to save us. "What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus' hands and feet but about the wrath of your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul" . The cup that He wanted to pass was not the cross itself...but divine judgement, the cup of God's wrath.

Today we tell people that the way to respond to this gospel is to say a prayer...invite Jesus into our lives...sign a card...walk an aisle...but that just doesn't seem adequate enough or even appropriate. In our ministry we have stressed this with our teenagers...that it's not a prayer...it has nothing to do with anything you have done or choose...that He chooses us...and that the sinner's prayer is nowhere in scripture. I loved Platt's statement here:

"We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced Him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept Him. Accept Him?? do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Don't we need Him?"

Oh, we so desperately need Him...and that I think is where the wrestling begins. I wrestled with whether or not I have not done the kids in our ministry justice. Have I stressed to them enough about what salvation truly is? Do they know Jesus intimately? Do they hunger after His word...do I? Do they truly get it or are they clinging to a prayer? Are they settling for less than "a God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-denying gospel"?

I am worn out from my wrestling this week...but I'm glad. I texted my husband yesterday to say to him ...I'm struggling...where do I draw the line? Is it wrong to go on vacations? Is it wrong to go through Dunkin Donuts and get my Pumpkin Spice Latte that I love? Is it wrong to want new things...is it wrong to have someone pray the sinner's prayer...am I a selfish baby because I don't see others needs like I should? His response...."good". I said "good what?"...he said "good that you are struggling". And I smiled...it is good...so I will put on my stretchy pants and cape this week...dive into God's Word...and keep wrestling. Maybe I'll even learn some new "moves" this week. I know one thing, after all this wrestling, I am just praying that I would follow Him and come out stronger on the other side...and maybe learn how to do a Superfly Snuka move(don't let it fool you...I had to google it)!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radical...uncomfortable in my comfort

In 1998 I left the comforts of my small town and flew half way across the world to Spain for a missions trip with my college basketball team. We traveled all over the country playing basketball, sharing testimonies, doing camps for kids where we shared the gospel, and ministering on the streets. We didn't see very much poverty…we stayed in nice hotels…ate at nice restaurants…went shopping….went to bull fights(which I will never go to again…no clue they actually killed the bull!!)…and we came home. It was a great experience…but I thirsted for more.

Shortly after coming back home to my small town I felt God calling me to do something bigger than anything I could have imagined. I was in my last semester of college when I signed up to go to India with Light Ministries out of Liberty University. I was signing up for a year term…and off I went to raise money. Months later the money hadn't come in and God shut the door. I didn't understand why, but shortly after that my grandfather died….I quit my job to take care of my grandmother who suffered from dementia, and then I met my husband. I saw that God's timing was perfect and that He truly did have a plan for life..and for now it was not in India. I married my husband and we set off for Georgia to begin our life together in the Ministry…and I have been comfortable ever since.

I have my mini-van…nice home…nice clothes…plenty of food…great church…yeah, I'm comfortable. But about 6 months ago I read Crazy Love and I became extremely uncomfortable in my "comfort". What was I missing? Was I willing to give it all away and follow Christ wherever He led my family? Would I put my kids in a dangerous mission field if God called us there? Would I quit living so materialistically? I was willing to GO twelve years ago, BUT…"I have kids now….there's no way I could do that now…right?". All of these questions have come up in my mind…and then I got the book Radical by David Platt, and I have been rocked to the core again…and the question that won't leave my mind is "am I content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him?"

We read in John 9 about the conditions required to follow Him…become homeless, let someone else bury your dad, don't say goodbye to family, to leave it all behind and follow Him… what does He mean by that? In our minds we think, "surely he doesn't require that of us today". Surely He doesn't require us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor and follow Him….surely not? Leave our families??? No, my Jesus would never do that either. Jesus was calling them to leave their comfort…drop their plans..their dreams, and follow Him..…and I have learned that He is STILL requiring us to do that today! The question is…can I do that?

I sit here typing this now and tears literally brim in my eyes…can I do that? I want to in my heart of hearts…but can I? I have told friends of late that I would sell everything I have…and I would! I would sell my dream house that my husband and I built…the furniture that sits within these four walls…gone. My jacked up mini-van…clothes…you name it. I would be willing to sell it all, for me that is saying a lot because 6 months ago I would have told you no way…I need my stuff. But lately I see it for what it is…STUFF, but even as I write that sentence I immediately think of things I wouldn't get rid of(my camera, photo's, my computer). I think about what my family could do with our money if we downsized it all and sometimes I get giddy at the thought. I desire to give to others…to ministries…to hurting people, but haven't done anything about it yet. I know that being Radical is much more than just selling my "stuff"…it's the other things I struggle with…and that is why I am doing this…to say that I am weak…that I struggle…that I am selfish…that I want to protect my kids…that I am controlling, and I want to be able to lay ALL of that down and just follow Him!

David Platt said it so well about how we have molded Jesus into a man that "doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closet relationships so that He receives all of our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, He loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream". And I have fallen into that lie…and lived that kind of Christian life…ever since I became comfortable….and now I am uncomfortable in my comfort. My prayer is that while I study His word and read "Radical", that God would work in my heart…strip me of my pride and selfishness, and that the outcome would please Him.

If you would like to join in on the study…read the responses of other people going through this journey with me you can go to http://www.marlataviano.com/ and jump in on this crazy, radical journey!

It'll change you...I promise!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

9 is fine...

Charlie....Charlie...Charlie. What a great kid my Charlie is. Today he turns 9....which seems unfathomable to me...because I feel like I just had him. I feel like he was just learning how to walk, talk, and eat with a fork. Now he is 9! I don't know where the years have gone....or this little boy:

Charlie is a funny kid...and his smile can just melt your heart...along with those beautiful brown eyes. His sensitive heart makes this Momma proud...and yes he still hugs me and says that he loves me. I still make cupcakes for his class on his birthday(Shelby wanted to know if I would still bring them cupcakes in high school)...I still lay down with him at night and talk...he's still my little boy, but yet, he is young man.

He is quite a special kid my Charlie is. He is so smart and has wisdom beyond his years. He often sits back and watches and takes things in without saying a word. He is a passionate young man that loves to learn about animals, and science...and then for months on end he will tell you all the facts he knows about the mole rat. He wants to learn to play guitar, and he can sing...yes, an offspring of mine and Ric's can actually sing! I love to hear him sing praises to the Lord!

I think about where I was at this age. I was a basketball player and lived and breathed everything about the game. I set a goal when I was 9 that I was going to play college basketball(yes, I was kind of a freak of nature). I had someone ask me if it bothered me that Charlie wasn't into athletics as much as Ric and I were(don't get me wrong, he has a ton of ability...just not that into sports)...my answer is a quick..."not for a second". You see, I have said it from the day he was born that my prayer for him is that he knows what's important in life and that He lives for Jesus. All that other stuff is really just stuff!

I hope that he grows up to be a Godly young man. A young man who stands for the things of Christ...no matter what the circumstance is. A young man who tells people about Jesus....and lives Jesus in front of them. A young man who treats others with respect. A young man who trusts God in all things. A young man who always loves his family. A young man that is willing to say "here I am....send me". I pray that God would make him a leader...take him to ends of the earth to tell people about Jesus. That Charlie would live and breath everything about Jesus...I'd much rather that be his passion than a leather ball.
I love you Eric Charles Blazi III....I know God is gonna do big things through you...and I can't wait to watch your life unfold before my eyes. Happy 9th Birthday you big, handsome goofball....hope it's grand!!
Yes...9 is fine indeed!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

9 02 10

No, I'm not talking about Brenda, Brandon, or Donna. I was writing this date down and thought, that is too funny…but these numbers mean more than to me than just being the most popular show on TV when I was a teen. No, these numbers are a testament to God's goodness.

Today I am celebrating 10 years of marriage with my husband, Ric. A decade…that seems so crazy to be able to say that. What a ride it has been…and I am ever grateful for the ride. I thought that today, 10 years after I stood across from the love of my life, I would write about 10 things that I have learned in 10 years!

1.That Georgia football games trump anything…even babies being born (although we got married on the same day that Georgia played Georgia Southern…all the while several family members may have had ear buds in listening to the game during said wedding…I still get grief for that one)

2. That your wedding day is wonderful…but all the days that follow it is truly what it's all about…

3. That 4 kids are loud and crazy and make life so much fun…and yes, we know what causes babies in case our family is STILL wondering…and no we aren't having any more…as of now! Ok Mom, I'm kidding…hope you didn't have a heart attack!

4. That there is nothing sweeter than seeing the man that you love in the eyes of your children.

5. that keeping track of turns is VITAL…."Mommy"…."it's your turn, I got it last time"!

6. That paint thinner will not cause blindness…even when you are pregnant and shouldn't be painting!

7. That men truly have the secret…about mowing the lawn. I may have to explain that one day soon but yes men, I know you're secret and I will expose your secret to your wives….y'all are so tricky!!

8. That everything that happens is NOT a life or death situation…although I do regress in this knowledge…daily!

9. That romance is not about flowers and fancy dinners…but romance is having him do other sweet stuff for me. Nothing says I love you like taking out the trash or cleaning up the dishes...just sayin'! 1-800-Flowers has truly missed the boat….it should be 1-800-it'sokhoneyjustrelax! But seriously…it's seeing my husband play with my kids, pray over them at night, tuck them in at night, do something out of the ordinary(like the trash…ahem), back rubs…it's truly the little things that I love.

10. That God is Faithful…He brought me my perfect mate (no, Ric's not perfect…just perfect for me) in His perfect timing. I love Ric more today than I did 10 years ago, and although we have been through the greatest of times and the hardest of times my love for him has grown through it all. He is one special man…a man of faith, truth, love, consistency, and steadfastness! He rocks and I am so glad I'm beside him in this life!

Happy 10 Years babe! Can't wait to see what the next 10 years hold for us!

Don't be making fun of my scanned in pictures...it was a decade ago..I don't even think they had digital cameras back then!!