Last First Day

The night before your  senior year begins, the words of 1 Peter 2:12 are my prayer for you…”Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

As the close of a chapter in your life approaches, know this. As there will always be people who love you, there will also be people who don’t. There will always be someone who doesn’t agree with your actions no matter how good your intentions. Some will even make things up about you in an effort to bring you down. But my prayer despite all of that negativity and slander? May they know that despite their greatest efforts you are a young man after God’s heart because your actions contradict their words.

So, it comes back to you…

  1. Seek God FIRST! If you seek Him first, you will never lose your direction.
  2. Follow His prompting. By doing what He calls you to do, it won’t matter what anyone says.
  3. Seek to ONLY please God! Human approval is based on results; God sees your heart and loves you beyond your wins or losses.
  4. See what He sees. Many have told you or made you felt like you were less than, but know that when God sees you, He sees a bold, strong, courageous man who will bring many to His Kingdom.

As a result, you will not be dependent on the opinions of others and it will help you see the good in everyone. Then those very people who accuse you, will be the ones who glorify God because of your unwavering character and faith.

God has HUGE, GREAT things for you and they are not in the future. THEY ARE NOW! Don’t miss the opportunities He gives you. I am PROUD to be your mother! I love you! I bless you in the name of our Lord  and Savior, Jesus Christ!

May your last first day be the first day of a new and amazing journey. A journey that your Heavenly Father has specifically chosen for you!


“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

When I was in 8th grade, a guy told me I couldn’t be his Valentine because his friends thought I was ugly. Those words have stayed with me since they were spoken. I may not identify with them as much as I once did, but for a very long time, I did some stupid things to validate my worth and receive the approval of others.

“She used to be ashamed of her story, now she’s excited to tell them about God’s mercy, favor, and glory.”

I have made some awful mistakes in my life, many I have confessed to and many I have not. I guess this could be said for any of us. We confess just enough for people to believe we are transparent, but keep plenty close to the vest.

“A…heart like his mama’s”

One of my biggest complaints of Jake is how differently he treats me versus how he treats others. I complain that he is so polite to others whilst treating me not so nice.

His heart is definitely like mine. Last night, Jake reminded how mean I am to him. I have said some cruel and heartbreaking things to him throughout the years, which have obviously stayed with him. I have crushed his spirits, devalued him as a person and a young man. All the while sharing with others how “far” Christ has brought me.

Am I negating the distance I have travelled? Absolutely not, but how can one proclaim being a lover of Christ when she is not loving the most special gift He has blessed her with? Have my words hurt my son as deeply as the words spoken to me by an 8th grade boy?

“You are being too hard on yourself”

Am I? Or am I taking advantage of all the mercy, favor, and glory God has showered on me? Am I no different than the person that hurt me with his words all those years ago? Am I still the self-absorbed child that sought validation by putting others down because I was once hurt?

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” – Ephesians 5:8-13

May Your conviction produce a change and not be easily forgotten.

All I Could Ever Ask For

The past couple of years I have written a post commemorating Jake on his birthday. This year, I had the privilege of commemorating him in my speech class. Below is the speech I presented just a few days after his 15th birthday.

I remember the exact moment I fell in love. It was 9:11 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, 1998. Prior to that moment, I had no concept of what true love was. Yet, the moment my baby boy was placed in my arms, I was immediately overwhelmed by it.

When the nurse took him to check his vitals, he began to cry. My mama bear instincts kicked in and all I wanted to do was hurt that nurse. My baby boy is now 15 years old and as 3 John 1:4 states “I have no greater joy than to hear that my [son is] walking in the truth.

The road we have traveled has not been easy. He could have easily chosen the path paved with lies, fears, insecurities, and self-destruction, but he has chosen another path. Despite all my son has witnessed, on Monday, October 27, 2008, he chose to walk in the Truth of Jesus Christ. Since then, my son has not only grown physically, but emotionally, and spiritually, as well, in ways this mother could only dream of.

Now, just because he chose to follow the Lord at a young age, my child is far from perfect; after all he is a teenager. He has this gift of pushing my buttons, holding his finger on them until he sees I am about to burst. And everything I ask him to do is a huge inconvenience.

I remember him telling me for months that we did not have to spend an entire summer in Guatemala. He had never been there and had no desire to go. Even at the airport in Miami as we waited for our connecting flight, he would say “Mother, we can still turn around.” But no matter how strong his desire not to go was, something inside of him was telling him that he needed to go.

During one of the lowest points of our trip, while reading the Bible, he read the words of Habakkuk 2:3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” It was like a light bulb went off. At that moment, my son, at the age of 13, believed and held on to those words, trusting the Lord did have something in store for us.

Without fail, just 2 weeks later, this same young man was telling me with absolute certainty that we were moving to Alabama. The child who kept telling me “Mother, we can still turn around” was saying we had to move to a town we only knew existed for 3 days, in a state we had never been to. How the tables had turned; my son was now challenging me to do something I did not want to do, but knew we had to. By the end of our 8 weeks in Guatemala, he had grown 3 inches, his signature long hair was gone and a young man emerged.

John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, mentions that at the core of every man there are three desires; a battle to fight for, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. My son had officially begun his journey into manhood. I suddenly began to see his desire to be the hero in his own little world, slay dragons, and one day rescue his very own damsel in distress.

I had no idea what a good man was supposed to look like, let alone a hero. After all when I saw my son, all I saw was my baby. Then I heard a song by Shane and Shane that said “I wish that I could be your everything. Be the one to give you all the things you need, but sometimes I’m going to let you down. There’s someone if you just believe, who will be your hero like he’s always been for me. Darling, Jesus is the one you need.” I suddenly knew what I needed to do. I needed to continuously direct my son to the One who “knit him in my womb” and has “great plans for him” as the Bible describes.

I would like to leave you with the words of my son’s favorite verse, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). If the past few years are any indication of what is to come, this young man, my young man, Jake Anthony Tsakos, will continue to prove that God still speaks to and works through anyone who is available, no matter their age or circumstance.

Last night, Jake and I were talking about how much we both don’t like being in Alabama, but we agreed this is where the Lord has us for now. Jake continued by saying that it is great that I am able to go to school, but he knows we are here for him. He said he believed that he wouldn’t be “this strong” if we were still living in Florida. I knew he was referring to his spiritual strength and I was taken back to the moment I held him in my arms for the first time. Except now, I was overwhelmed with love and pride for the young man I was seeing before me. Happy Birthday, Baby! I love you!

“Let Stand”

However much I like to cook and try new recipes, needing to marinade overnight and tons of ingredients and preparation is not for me. Quick and easy recipes have always been my kind of cooking.  With that being said, my ever favorite recipe are the “break and bake” cookies. They are so easy; pre-heat the oven, break, place, bake, let stand, and enjoy. The only downside of this recipe is the “let stand” step. When you just want to “enjoy”, those extra few minutes can be excruciating.

Though excruciating and seemingly unnecessary, those few minutes determine the final product. If you let the cookies stand too long, they will be too hard; and letting them stand for too little time, will cause the cookies to fall apart when you try to serve them. Now, some people don’t mind their cookies hard or falling apart, but I believe most people enjoy them when they are firm around the edges with a soft center. YUM! Want a cookie, yet?

Life is the same way. We aren’t always sure of all of the ingredients, prep and cook time required. Yet, we can be certain that as long as we are cooking with the Master Chef, whatever is cooking will be delectable.

A year ago today, Jake and I started a new recipe of our own.

1 cup of fear
2 cups of excitement
1 Tbsp of anxiety
1 semi-ripe teenager
1 semi-ripe adult
100 cups of faith
Mix first 5 ingredients with 5 cups of faith in pre-loaded car. Blend for 10 hours.
Let stand until further notice. Sprinkle faith throughout as needed.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)

Life Altering

Sometime in late 2011 or early 2012, the opportunity was offered for members from Thomasville Baptist Church in AL to participate in a mission trip to Zacapa, Guatemala. Each person who was sensitive to their desire to go either chose to pursue it or chose to ignore it. Some who had been to Guatemala were eager to return and others were eager to visit for the first time; either way each person had some kind of expectation of what was in store for them.

About a ten-hour drive away in Belleair Bluffs, FL, a mother and her son were also planning a trip to Zacapa, Guatemala. Unlike the TBC team who was only planning a one-week stay, this mother and son team were planning on staying for eight weeks. They packed all of the belongings they would need for their trip and either sold, donated, or stored everything else. They knew that upon their return from their summer adventure, they would be starting anew.

By divine intervention, these two teams met on July 14, 2012 in the Guatemala airport when the mother and son team, who had already been in the country for a month, would serve as translators for the TBC team. They had never met nor even knew that the other existed until that very moment. And at that moment, a ripple effect began.

Within a few days, a bond had developed, friendships were made, hearts were stirred and plans were being made. By the end of the week, the mother and son team were considering moving to Thomasville, AL. And a little over a month later, they did just that. Now, a year later, those friendship continue to develop, hearts are still being stirred and plans have been met and new ones are emerging.

In late 2011 or early 2012, both of these teams did not know the other existed. They did not know that their individual decisions to visit a town in Guatemala at a particular time would be the very encounter God would use to make His plan to come to fruition. Yet, in order for this plan to be realized, each individual needed to be sensitive and obedient to the impression made on their heart. Without either the sensitivity or the obedience, we are not certain as to how this story would have played out.

When making a decision, how often do we consider how it may affect the world of the people already in our lives? How about the people we haven’t even met yet? What if each of our decisions were a piece to a much bigger plan? Although we can never be sure what sort of impression our decisions will make,  we can be certain that at any given time, any of of our decisions can be life altering.

Sins of our Fathers…and Mothers

Whether we like it or not the behaviors of our parents (good or bad) have affected us in some form. We are, as much as we deny it, like our parents. Their makeup is what makes us their children.

As Jake gets older, his mannerisms, his laugh, his reactions, become more and more like his dad’s or mine with some of his unique personality mixed in. Sometimes it is great to see a mini me, but other times, it hurts me to see that a lot of my behaviors have influenced how he sees and reacts to this world.

In the midst of my most selfish days, I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have. Because of God’s grace, I have been forgiven and have repented of those sins, however, as much as I want to, I am not able to erase the consequences and the damage the exposure of those sins have had on Jake. So, instead of wallowing in regret, I pray for him, teach him the Truth and, probably the most difficult, apologize to him.

Intercessory prayer and the teaching of God’s Word is critical to guiding our children in their present and their future, but apologizing addresses the past. We, as parents, need to apologize for our behaviors and try to keep the influence of those behaviors away from our children. For example, Jake is at a difficult age; on the cusp of boy and manhood, the choices he makes are influenced by what he has seen and learned. However, by confessing my wrong behaviors and apologizing for exposing him to them, he can identify that what he has seen and learned from such behaviors should not be considered when making his own choices.

Apologizing to Jake was the most difficult thing I have done thus far. I almost didn’t even do it because I kept thinking it wouldn’t make a difference and what was the point if I already had forgiven myself and had received forgiveness from the Lord. But when I did, I felt such peace and another level of freedom from those sins. Jake, at first, had no idea why I needed to apologize, but when I explained that I didn’t want my bad choices to be an influence in his life, his expression changed. It was mainly a one-sided conversation because my son isn’t into conversing before fully processing what he has heard, so I am not sure what his thoughts are, but my prayer is that by confessing and apologizing, the sins of his mother don’t have as much power as they once did.

Crimson Cleanse

On a day when we are supposed to be thankful, I can’t help but be amazingly grateful for the blessings I have. My boy, who although may be quite sick today, we are grateful for his health and that we are only dealing with a cold and not a debilitating or terminal disease. Our beautiful home, car and food we are able to enjoy everyday.

So many things we are able to be thankful for, but there are no words to express our gratitude for the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made in order for us to be free from eternal suffering. The shedding of His blood covered our sin and washed them away.

By this Crimson Cleanse, we were made white as snow. Yes, that is so cliché. How can we be made white as snow when we continue to sin everyday? That is one question we may never understand and I am not going to waste time trying to figure it out.

I don’t know about you, but I have done some pretty bad things in my life. So many times, I have chosen my own ways and ignored that a better path was designed for me. When I was cleansed of my sin, I was given access to a plan better than I could have ever chosen.

On this earth, I may not ever be perfect, good or even mediocre but everyday, I will choose to shower in the Crimson Cleanse before facing the world, so I may be better today than I was yesterday!

This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

My bags are packed!

In less than 12 hours, I will be on my way to the airport…Guatemala bound! This trip will only be for a week. The details of this trip are to primarily help out Vida Nueva’s Bilingual VBS in the mornings and in the evenings there will be a soccer camp. In addition, to serving with the church, I will be looking for a place to live and a school for Jake. But even beyond that, this trip is for clarity.

I am a planner at heart, so last night, I had a hard time sleeping. In my anxiety, I kept repeating “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:5-7 I know I have nothing to worry about “because He who is me is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), but I am finding myself repeating that verse over and over again.

I know His plan for me and Jake has already been written and I pray (and ask you to pray along with me) that He will reveal more of the details during this coming week. I have no doubt the plan is for us to live in Guatemala and I, believe, we are to move in February, but my prayer is for the Lord to confirms that timeframe.

Jake will not be with me so I also ask you pray for him. We have been apart on other occasions, but it is never really easy.  Please pray for my friend, Wendy, as he will be staying with her while I am gone. Also, keep all of the other folks who have graciously volunteered to help out with Jake this week. Thank you!!!

Lastly, I ask you to pray for the people and the country of Guatemala. Pray for those who we encounter to accept, believe and confess Christ as their Savior.

It is going to be a great and exciting week! Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and support!

P.S. I will do my best to post everyday.

Chosen…just for me!

I could say that on November 12, 1998 at 9:11am was when my life changed, but it was before that….

On a February night in 1998, I remember looking at a pregnancy test in disbelief. It said I was pregnant. I was 20 years old, far away from my family and completely numb. I was going to be a mother. There was a baby growing inside of me….I bawled! Jake’s dad was quite excited and “proud” of himself (must be a man thing). I called a friend over and she was also super excited…I was still in disbelief. So much so, I took another test in the morning just to be sure…It was positive again.

The next 9 months were difficult. I went from 108lbs to 98lbs because I couldn’t hold anything down for the first 6 months. When I was able to eat, I gained more weight than I have ever gained. I had become so used to having a headache that I didn’t know I had it the entire pregnancy until after I gave birth and it went away. My body was not my own.

Giving birth was a process, to say the least. My midwife was so sick of me she agreed to induce me the day before my due date. It worked out perfectly because my water broke just a few hours after getting to the hospital and the labor pretty much progressed on its own. The next morning, I was so convinced I was going to have a C-Section, it took the nurses about 20 minutes to convince I needed to push.

A few minutes after that, the joy of my life came into the world.

This beautiful joyous boy has given me life beyond compare. This perfect gift from God has shown me just how much my Heavenly Father loves me. It is an act of grace to be chosen to be a mother. I don’t know why the Father chose me. I still often look at Jake and wonder why me? 

He could have so much more than I could ever offer him, but then the Lord reminds me that He not only chose me to His daughter and chose Jake to be His son, but He chose me to be Jake’s mother. Before I was even born, it was written that Jake was to be mine. That thought truly amazes and humbles me; that I have been entrusted to raise an amazing man of God…no doubt he WILL BE an amazing man of God.

Jake was chosen just for me and I am honored to be called his mother!

Happy 13th Birthday, Bubbies!!

Brown Thumb

Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 11:17

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:7-10

These 2 verses have come up a few times in the past couple of weeks. I didn’t think much of them in connection to each other, but as today continues, I see the correlation more and more.

We talk about what we are passionate about, right? When you’re in love all you do is talk about *heavy sigh* “him”. When you have a new toy or gadget you spend all your time learning about it and showing everyone else how cool it is. The same goes for what we harvest in our children’s lives.

If we carry anger, unforgiveness and bitterness, we will harvest the same in our children, whether we want to admit or acknowledge it. On the other hand, if we harvest the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, we will see the same fruit growing in our children’s. Ultimately, our children have to make their own choices and decide what they want to harvest, but imagine if they didn’t know how to sow anything else?

This concept is a bit too late for me. I have already allowed weeds into Jake’s life. No, I am not beating myself up about it, crying defeat or even saying what I have done is all bad. What I am saying is, I may not have a green thumb (it’s literally brown ;)), but I know an Expert Gardener who will take my crops, remove the weeds and prune them to perfection. I just have to let Him to do it…which is another post all in itself.

We do the best we can with what we got, but that isn’t what God asking. He offers us to do the best we can with what He’s got! When we realize and succumb to that, our children and our children’s children will reap a harvest that only God could ever have sown!! HALLELUJAH!!!