Thursday, July 30, 2015

Eyes on the Prize at the Back of the Line

Mark 9:35 - He sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.”

Lord, teach me to be last... over and over again.

Teach me to be last and leave a trail of grace that speaks Jesus on repeat.

Chosen, but humble.

Called, but caring.

Royalty, but full of graciousness.

Strong, but meek.

Hanging out at the back, but willing and able to lead through Your love.

A defender and encourager of the weak who sees the strength they already hold inside, and REMINDS them of that strength.

One who is honorable-- decidedly stepping away from agendas and deceit.

Lord, make me one who only has an Agenda of Joy.

Teach me to serve sacrificially like You did.

Because it is never about me, Lord.


It is always about getting them to You.

Eyes on the prize... at the BACK of the line.  I'm ready.

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Does This Seat Belt Wrinkle My Cow Outfit?

The things you think you'll never think or say?

Yeah... I thought and said them today.

Driving to Chick Fil A on Cow Appreciation Day, and I actually thought, "I wonder if this seat belt is wrinkling my cow outfit?"

The absurdity of that thought hit relatively quickly as straightened out my attire, so then I thought, "Lord Jesus, PLEASE don't let me have a wreck dressed like a cow."

It's udderly ridiculous ( you see what I did there?) the extremes that we will go to for our kids.

And that's a nice excuse until I tell you that my kids were not in the car with me.

Not only was I having this conversation in cow garb, but I was having it with myself.

It just keeps getting better.  Right? :)

In my defense, I was MEETING my kids at the restaurant.

As an aside, you have never seen a woman scurry across a parking lot quite as quickly as when she's dressed in cow garb trying to find the children that will be the living, breathing explanation for the same.

((Next year I'm stepping up my game and going completely alone.  It's one thing for a single gal to eat alone (I've learned to LOVE that time), but it's a whole 'nother deal when she's dressed in cow spots.  I dare you.  Do it, singles (and parents who manage to escape for an alone minute). 2016's our year.))

Hey- speaking of awesome... I have to tell you this.  A different kind of awesome, but exceptionally cool, nonetheless.

Here's a picture of one of the most polite, intentional children I've ever met.  I think his Dad is the owner of the Chick Fil A that we visited tonight in Montgomery, AL.  Anyway, my son noticed that someone had written a curse word inside the playground area.  It was hidden in a place where it was hard to notice, but it was there.  So, my son made it his mission to get it cleaned up before we left.  Then my niece joined him in that effort.  And then this child noticed, and did the same.

He came up to me after our dinner to introduce himself and to thank me for allowing my son and niece to help him clean up the poor wording.  He was so well spoken, that I know I looked shocked... and I completely forgot his name, but I'll never forget his heart.  It was very clear that he saw the business as his home and that he had welcomed the community into it tonight... that he took ownership (even at his age) of the blessings God had given them and had a heart to serve others.

Chick Fil A continues to do it right, y'all.  They inspire us to be bold.  They inspire us to care.  They inspire us... and we just love coming back because of that.  And that chicken?  God bless America.  That chicken is yum.   Happy Cow Appreciation Day 2015, friends!

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11th... New Life into an Old Date

A minister of mine once told me that we set our life around dates/events.

Example- "Oh, yes.  That happened before graduation..."


"I remember we talked about that after Daddy died."

We set our lives around major events.

Birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations, baptisms, and more.  These are the events on which we create our life timeline.  They are our points of reference.

Today is July 11th.  It used to be one of those for me.

It was a biggie.  My wedding day.

I remember thinking, "7/11 - the wedding date that he's guaranteed never to forget." :)

As it turns out, it was the date that I never forgot... and I was pretty hurt every year when it would roll around.  

For years, it was a day where I'd mourn what was and what should have been.  Just not a happy day for me.  It was the Land of Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda...

I just didn't want it to be that, anymore.  I wanted to let go and just DANCE in the freedom that was mine in Christ.

I wanted to remember the beautiful, even if broken.  

I just needed new beautiful.  Beautiful for THIS day.  God and me kind of beautiful.

I asked Him to renew that day for me, and God has done what only He could do.

Today I realized that I had not thought about it ... in years.  Facebook, however, reminded me with a "You have memories with ________" kind of post.

And the memories for the last 5 years are incredible...

They are mine as a single woman, too.  All mine and God's.... and I'm just so infatuated with how God has given July 11th such beauty over the years.

July 11, 2010 -  He reminded me that my boys think I'm the best cook in the world.  We cuddled in my room and watched movies, and it was just all about us.  What a sweet day.  I remember vividly thinking, "This is what "Be still and know that I am God" must feel like."

July 11, 2011

He gave me this clarity:

"waking up... dismissing nightmares...celebrating meaning...old dates...walking in the thank you...shutting creamer...dialogue...grace...writing...trusting...rolled coins...laughter...sleeping #AllInADay'sLove"

We started ENJOYING life to the fullest and it was just to much to even type about that day. I just remember being overwhelmed by how God loved me and knowing that He was redeeming what was broken.

July 11, 2012

My niece was baptized.  My niece asked Jesus to be her best friend!  

God allowed me to take time off to serve as my son's vacation bible school leader that week, too... and this day was the wrap up of that 3 day adventure.  Seriously, y'all.  It was like a Room Mother moment on steroids.  It's every single, working mother's dream to get to have those moments.  All evidence would tell you that I should not have been able to be there... but God.  He made sure I was there.  In the moment.  On July 11th. 

Oh, yeah... and He gave me an overachiever moment that day, too.  My little guy knocked his tooth out that week, so we were doing the dentist thing because that front tooth situation... well, it was INTENSE.  I mean, at the dentist, IN JAMMIES.  Need I say more? :)  But God perfectly arranged it where I could be off work to be in both places... and it just shouldn't have been.

But God and July 11th... they are something special.

July 11, 2013 

He made me present, yet again... for VBS with my son and my nieces.  

He taught us that Jesus is our super hero and that He was all we ever needed, but He'd give us friends to walk this journey out with.  God placed me there for the moments where my baby started mentoring other kids.... and when his gift for serving really started to emerge.

He made sure this Mama was there.  The world said that it could not happen.  God said, "Watch this."

 July 11, 2014

God swept me off my feet and redeemed what was broken by renewing our home.  He had some of His kids come into our home on July 12 and give us a home makeover.  Gone were the old memories.  God literally put a coat of paint, rearranged furniture, new drapes, and more into a home where a big ouch factor had lived for far too long... and He made ALL THINGS NEW.  On July 11th, I wrote this:

"Laying out the red ‪#‎SERVEday14‬ shirts and shutting down for the night. 6:30 a.m. will come bright and early, and I want to be ready.  Lives will change tomorrow... including the lives of the folks at my house.
Whether you are serving tomorrow or being served, I hope you just savor every moment tomorrow.

Whether you are sitting on the front porch loving on neighbors, pulling weeds in a yard, doing laundry at the local laundromat, or changing the life of a single parent or special needs family, I hope you savor it.

And if you're being served? I hope you, just like me, look at every face there and realize that YOUR heavenly Daddy is sending his most favorite gifts your way ... His KIDS! Why? Because He loves you just that much. heart emoticon

Lift up the name of the One who loves you most tomorrow, my friends. It's a GREAT day to be a kid of the King, but an even GREATER day to introduce someone to Him so that they can join the family. Walk it out and I guarantee that the world around you will want what you have! ‪#‎Jesus‬"

July 11, 2015 
He remained faithful to letting me be there.  He's such a sweet Daddy.

But He also reminded me why July 11, 1998 was still beautiful.

It happened.  And then it was over.   That was super sad.  Truly sad.

BUT .... the world's "over" allowed for God to create His new.  His mercies are new every morning, and they didn't end in my life simply because we live in a fallen world full of ouches.

Like this little piece of heaven... if life had not gone differently than my original plan, I would have never known this  love... and I can't even wrap my mind around that.  I could not have missed this stop.

And moments like this... they never would have happened if my plan had...

And a ministry and women that I would have never known any other way... and I can't imagine my life without them... Single Mom Central would not have existed...

And the expansion of our family into having lots of "adopted" brothers and sisters... because God told me I wasn't done after having my 2 boys.  He's given me kids that I would never have had otherwise.  This is just a few of them!

God now uses July 11th to remind me of growth and beauty at every turn.  Friends, He can take your pain and transform it into beauty, strength, grace, and freedom.  He can give you a new name that you never even knew to pray for... because He loves you just that much.

I still see it... even today.

Sometimes it's watching my son and his friends grow into the young men God has called them to be...

Sometimes it's reminding me of the moments I'm blessed with because July 11th many moons ago didn't work out the way I wanted... but He blessed the path, anyway, and I'm graduating with another degree in December.

A wise and wonderful woman of God gave me this verse years ago when I thought the memory of July 11th would just flat out kill me.

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten..." Joel 2:25

God has repaid... time and time again.  I'm grateful for every July 11th that He blesses us to breathe in... every single one of them.

I'm here.  Completely wrapped up in the beauty that God puts before me day by day.  Not the plan I made, but the plan that He used to take a heap of ashes and broken promises and create life abundant like only He can.

Don't let yesterday suck the wind out of your sails, friend.  Your tomorrow is still beautiful.  Your today still has the most beautiful hope.  Our Creator is not limited by what we can fit into our minds.

He is creative.  He is willing.  He wants to redeem the dates that hurt you.

Will you let Him?

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

America's Love/Hate Relationship with Chick Fil A

April 24, 2012 at 4:47am

Face it.  We love and hate Chick-Fil-A

Now, don't get angry with me.  I come in peace and I love the Chick as much as any Chick-Fil-A loyalist.  I remain convinced, however, that as much as any of us love this place, we have equal disdain for it.

And so goes my case...

This is not a very "PC" etablishment and Americans are caught a bit off guard by that.  This company has unapologetically declared an official statement of corporate purpose that is faith based.  It goes a little something like this, "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."  S. Truett Cathy, the owner and founder of the restaurant chain started the company with a foundation based on his Christian faith and he continues it with a corporate purpose statement that reflects the same.  As you can imagine, that is met with both cheers and jeers. In a day and age where faith-speak is not always openly welcomed, Chick-Fil-A faces a fairly constant dialogue of being against against certain groups or issues because they have made such a clear statement of what the company is for.  At the end of the day, though, I think they find that these folks are just FOR loving people and serving up some amazing chicken.

S. Truett Cathy chose to put proof in the faith pudding by closing the doors of this restaurant chain on Sundays (yes, every single Sunday) and for Thanksgiving and Christmas.   He said, "I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business."  Note:  Cathy doesn't care if you are having a chicken craving that brings you to tears on a Sunday.  For just that one day, you're gonna have to ditch the "Eat Mor Chikin'" slogan.  The chicken sandwich folks are having church.

So, what do we love about Chick-Fil-A? 

Plain and simple, we love their food.  Chick-Fil-A prides themselves on using fresh produce that is prepped on location, peanut oil that is better for you than what the average drive thru experience brings to the table, and whole breast, hand breaded chicken.  We appreciate their efforts and we love the punch it packs.  Chick-Fil-A has truly hit the fast food pot of gold and customer reviews are the rainbows to each location.

We love the customer service at Chick-Fil-A, also.  A standing joke about Chick-Fil-A is that even if you walk in at 9:55 p.m. (they close at 10 p.m.), it is STILL "their pleasure" to serve you.  The faces you see in this fast food chain will serve you with the same smile they were serving up at 9:55 a.m. that morning.  The feel good just pours out of every part of this group and you can't help but to leave with a smile.

On a personal note, here are my own Chick-Fil-A "LOVE" moments. 

I love their marketing.  There is nothing like getting the whole family or a whole 20 floors of Corporate America dressing up in cow gear so that they can get a free chicken sandwich.  I'm sorry.  Call me crazy, but that is the stuff that marketing GOLD is made of.  I give the marketing team an A+ and then some.

I adore their coupons.  Only Chick-Fil-A will send me three coupons for three different things... AND allow me to use all three coupons in one visit without requiring me to buy anything else.  This company has the marketing game down pat because they aren't afraid to give to their customers.  They win us back over and over by just being too good to be true!

Chick-Fil-A has captured the attention of a nation.  This is best displayed each year via social networking on April Fools day.  I noticed it for the first time this year, but this has apparently been going on for at least two years now.  The post is set up in a news release format and looks very realistic... and each year it sets the online community on fire.  "Chick-Fil-A Open on Sundays."  That single line and an article regarding the same raises annual havoc online and the company is barraged with feedback.  Personal news feeds are clogged up with opinions regarding the same.  (By the way, it's a joke.  They are NOT opening on Sundays.)

You see, I believe that no matter how much anyone loves, hates, or loves AND hates Chick-Fil-A, we have the dialogue for one reason.  We're intrigued by a company that takes a stand and doesn't apologize for it.  Whether we like the stand that they take or not, America loves it when someone stands for something.  Just like our kids are dying for discipline and stability, Americans are dying for someone to say what they mean and mean what they say.  Chick-Fil-A has done that and they've done it big.  Icing on the cake? They are a measure of corporate success that cannot be denied.

The cows that tote the "Eat Mor Chikin'" signs are not alone, friends.  In one way or another, America really does love Chick-Fil-A.

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Glitter and the Monday after Vacation

The first day at work after a retreat with my loves and with folks who "get" us like none other.  I must tell you that I'm 10 shades of tempted to have a pity party about going back to the real world.

Like EVERY fiber of my being wants to cry, whine, and throw a tiny grown-up fit.  With chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

I'm not feeling very holy right now, friends.  Can we admit stuff like that here?

I feel like pulling my head under the covers... and staying there... and then getting my kids in the car and sneaking off to Six Flags for the day once people think I'm sound asleep.... and giggling the whole way there. :)

That's what I feel like doing.

Yep.  Back to the real world.  In less than 12 hours.

But God.... :)  Right?

God reminded me tonight that the loveliness of last week was the "real world", too.  :)  It was amazing, wonderful, relaxing, and spoke my love language in every way possible... and these are ALL things that I can take into my every day life.

So, albeit not my natural inclination for a Monday after vacation, I'm started a working gratitude list now.  For every sigh, pout, and whimper I feel about leaving my boys and returning to the regular groove tomorrow, I'm going to find something shiny, happy, & glittery to replace it with (because face it- glitter helps - and it NEVER leaves you once you've touched it-- {{and all the dance teachers said, "Amen"}}).

I am GOING to shift the focus to Jesus for Monday.

First three pieces of awesome to make the list?

1- I have a job.  For real, y'all.  I have a job.  I could stop there.
2- I have kiddo care with folks that know about super heroes and DELIGHT in caring for them. :)  They are HONORED to love on my buddy in the way God hard-wired him... and I love them.  Simply love them.
3- I have wheels to get to both places.  Wheels that sparkle with a paid for 1998 glow.  That is snazzy to the nth degree, friends.  You just can't beat it. <3

More to come, but look what God has already done.  The desires of my heart are just bonus material. He's already exceeded everything we need with the basics.

If Monday is eating your lunch, start a list.  I think you'll be surprised with all of the "glitter" that you find there.  PS. I hope it STICKS!

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What are the Desires of God's Heart?

So many times we ponder the desires of our own hearts.

You know it...

The dream that just won't go away, but has not become reality in your life.

The little tug in your heart that calls you to something you can't quite reach.

The ache in your spirit that has you homesick for a place that has never been home except for in your heart.

We think on these things.  We dream on these things.  We seek the heart of heaven in regard to these things.

But do we seek the desires of God's heart?  Do we ponder what those are?  Because He has them... but they are all about us.  His heart is always to win the hearts of His children.... to usher us into His presence.

Desires.  For us.  His children.  It's just what He does.

So, that dream in your heart.  It won't go away because He planted it there.

That tug in your heart.  It's unreachable by you, because God wants to build the expectancy of heaven in your heart.

That ache in your spirit.  Oh, that ache.  It's so real.  It's real to Him, too.
If we never ache, we never know the hand of the Healer.

So, I pray that we dream.  I pray that we feel tugs that we can't reach.  I pray that we ache.

Let us be homesick for the desires of Your heart for us, Lord... and in Your time, Lord, show us Your healing hand.

Be it on this side of heaven or forever with You, we are ready, Lord.  We are ready.

Copyright © 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.