Our Friday Weekly Wrap-up

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My son Christian photo bombing my Christmas tree shot. 

We’ve had a great first week at The Hallelujah House! It started with our Thanksgiving video launch to the acoustic version of Raising Hallelujah and ended with a blog post titled: The Gift of a Father. If you’ve missed any of it, I encourage you to check it out, by scrolling down. Looking ahead we have more gifts awaiting our readers. Next week, our focus will be on children. We will provide an easy, no-bake, healthy, cookie recipe that you can make with your kiddos, an article about how to unwrap Jesus for your children, and a workout you can do with your kids while they are out on Christmas break. I hope you’ll tune in, and if you haven’t already subscribed by email, please do so you won’t miss any of the content.

Have a great weekend and I look forward to meeting you on the porch next week!

First Things First: The Gift of a Father

Preparing the Heart

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My Daddy!

 

I’ll admit it, I’m a grown woman who still calls her father Daddy because that’s who is to me. Growing up, Daddy was the spiritual leader of our home, but it didn’t start out that way. When he picked Momma up for their date nights, at every stoplight the beer bottles left bruises on her ankles. One night, she forbade him to take her out with beer on his breath or bottles in his pick- up- truck.

Sober, he still dated her.

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Love this Daddy too!

Three kids later, Momma lined her brood by the door to head out for a church revival. Weary of being the lone wife in the pews, she begged Daddy to go.

He brushed her off. “You go on now, I’m tired.”

When we saw sadness flash in Momma’s dark eyes, we begged him ourselves. He couldn’t say “no” to his wee ones. “Alright, I’ll go this one night, but don’t go asking me again.”

We agreed.

The next night, without a word Daddy followed us out the door and the next. He went for the whole revival and began attending church. One evening, while alone God tugged at his spirit. He fell on his knees by the sofa where he confessed his sins, proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ, and surrendered his life to the Father.

I don’t remember my cigarette smoking, beer drinking Daddy. I only remember the one who read us the Bible and lined us up by the sofa every evening, so we could learn how to talk to our Heavenly Father. I remember the Daddy who led me to the Lord in a darkened church one Sunday afternoon before locking up. I remember the Daddy who sent me to my room to re-write a poem fifty times before proclaiming “Tammy, God made you a writer!”

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Another fine specimen my brother- in- law Shaun.

I tell you all this because our earthly fathers can be the filter in which we view our Heavenly Father. If this filter is cracked or smeared our picture of God could be distorted. A. W. Tozer stated, “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

The following are some ways in which we could perceive God that will throw us out of relational alignment:

  1. A Greek god:

If we see the Father as a Greek god of mythology, our relationship with him becomes impersonal. We will slide under the radar because if we screw up he may point his trident in our direction and strike us with lightening. Many times, being raised in a legalistic church or allowing legalism to trickle into our relationship can produce this view of God. God’s love is contingent upon our obedience. If we do anything bad—watch out for His wrath. We may have had a father who was harsh in administering punishment, offered performance-based affection, or pushed us into a rigid view of religion instead of relationship.

  1. Alexa:

If God is Alexa to us—ask and you shall receive—fulfilling our needs is His ultimate purpose. When we aren’t happy, God’s not doing His job. He’s not listening to us.  If this is our perception a litmus test would be in our prayers. If our prayers consist of a long list of wants then it’s possible God is not in His proper place in our lives. The Prosperity Doctrine teaches God’s job in our relationship is to prosper us, whereas the truth is our job is to prosper His kingdom. It is not to say God needs us, because He’s God He doesn’t need anything, but we are here for God not the other way around. Although, God is clear He does desire us to turn to Him with our needs, but our wants should not take up the dominant part of our prayer life. Furthermore, if we are abiding in the Father, our wants will be aligned with His for our lives.

If Alexa is our perception of God, our Daddy’s may have been a big gift givers, but rarely showed his love in other ways such as affection, being present, or affirmation in our lives.

  1. The Big Guy Upstairs:

If this is our view of God we may acknowledge He exists and give Him a nod or a word on occasion, but never invite Him to take over in our lives. It’s as if we view Him as an elderly albeit wise relative, whom you don’t want to bother with your petty petitions. You may have grown up in church as a holiday attender. Religious practices are tradition. In this case, our daddy’s could have been workaholics. We respect them for financially providing for us, but he tended to be vacant in other aspects of our lives.

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God reveals in His word how He wants us to view Him. According to www.christianbiblereference.com, God is referred to as Father (Abba) in the New American Standard 1,131 times. If our view of God is Father it puts us in a perfect relational alignment. We will be in submission to His authority in our lives, we will want a loving two-sided relationship with Him, we will desire to be in open communication, we will feel loved and wanted by Him, and we will want Him to be pleased with us.

I had a friend named Vanessa who didn’t have a loving Father growing up. He was an abusive alcoholic, so much so, she landed in the foster care system. On her death bed she told me she’d bought a Father’s Day card every year for the Father she wished she’d had. After she received Christ, she realized she’d had Him all along.

“I always felt someone loving me from afar, that someone was watching over me, I just didn’t know who He was, until one day, while driving to the grocery store I saw cars pulling into a church parking lot. It was as if my steering wheel turned on its own. I followed the crowd into the building. Inside, I heard the message of my Heavenly Father and soon I understood it was Him all along.”

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Our Father wants to know us. He is pursuing us and wants us to know Him in a deeply personal way. So much so, He may steer you right into Him. Have you had someone in your life share Jesus with you? That was the Father seeking you!

I hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas that we take the time to unscrew our filters and inspect them. There is hope in overcoming our childhood religions and relationships—for they all fall short when stacked next to our Heavenly Father, but He’s the one that can fix that. He’s the only one that can help us see the clear picture of who He is. We just have to ask.

Jay’s the Daddy who can always make us laugh! Make sure to hug the Daddy’s in your life. Till next time…

 

 

 

 

A Glance at the Month of December:

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I striped the Christmas tree at the farm this year. 

The month of December we will be focusing on Gifts, but the type of gift is not the one you purchase and wrap. Tomorrow, I’d like to start with the gift of a Heavenly Father along with a self-examination of who He is to you.

Lisa’s providing an easy no bake, healthy cookie recipe in the month of December that you can make with your kids. Prem is going to teach us how to keep up the exercising while the kids are home by doing it with them.

Some other topics will be, Unwrapping the gift of Jesus for your Children, The Gift of a Willing Heart, The Gifts of the Magi, and we have a great muffin recipe you can make ahead for that early Christmas morning wakeup.

As you can see, we have many gifts in store for you this month, and you get to unwrap one tomorrow!

See you then.

Welcome to the Hallelujah House!

The Meaning Behind Hallelujah House:

I knew the theme of our new blog would be preparation of the heart, health, home, and harvest, but originally the working title was A Prepped Up Life. I didn’t have peace about that title. I felt most would see it as a prepping blog not one that focused on the Father and how He wants us to live an abundant life by being prepared.

One afternoon in route to pick up my kids from school, I prayed about it. I asked God what He wanted the new blog to be titled. I felt like it should be another “H” word. As the traffic came to a stop on I-4, two women I barely knew came to mind. One named Lori, I’d met at a writer’s conference. After a pitch session with an agent, and his response to my book was “who cares?” Lori and I had ice cream together. I shared my story with her, my sister’s cancer, my friend’s cancer, and then my own diagnosis. I was only four weeks out of surgery and the pain from my double-mastectomy still lingered. Several times as I unfolded the story little by little Lori exclaimed, “Hallelujah!” Her exclamations of praise made me miss the joy I’d lost through experiencing cancer three times in a row. It also made me see the Hallelujahs in the sadness.

That night, Lori prayed for me in her room and thrust a note towards me the next morning. Scribbled on notebook paper, her note stated my story is a gift and will be read by many. God would provide the path for publication not to worry, just bring it forward. She wrote, “You are precious to Him. He sees you and has so much to come for your good and His glory.” I’ve kept that note on my bulletin board behind my desk as a reminder.

Another woman I met at a prayer dinner. Our dear friend Ed was diagnosed with bladder cancer recently, so we gathered for dinner and healing prayer. After praying over Ed, the group placed me in the center of the circle. This woman stepped up and pushed everyone out of the way, stating “I’m going to pray over this one.” She placed her hand on my abdomen and prayed God to remove any and all infirmities. She prayed God would return my joy and help me to dance and play the tambourine in my house like Miriam in the Bible. Her prayer was a song of praise. This woman also used the word “Hallelujah” many times in our conversation over dinner. I noticed it.

I wanted what both these women had. I wanted my House—my scared-up body from three major surgeries back to back—to shout Hallelujah again.

That afternoon in grid-lock traffic, after remembering those two Hallelujah women He’d strategically placed in my life to pray over me, I asked Him, “Hallelujah? You want the blog to be called Hallelujah?” Immediately, this song, “Raising Hallelujah” poured out of the radio, and the words “Hallelujah House” came to mind. “Hallelujah House?” Instantly, I knew that was what the blog was going to be called. I had a peace about it. No one would mistake this for prepping. My heart’s desire is for this blog to be an outpouring of love to women by helping to make their lives a bit easier.  This website will provide content that will help you contemplate the majesty of the great Creator, prepare a healthy cookie for your kiddos but also look at ways to prepare your home for a future financial crisis. These are just some of the topics that will be covered. We will also be providing more video content.

Also, I’d like to open this blog up to other writers. I want to build a community of abiding women who feel they have something to offer the readers on the subject of preparing. If you are one of those feel free to submit your ideas and writing samples to tadams22@me.com.

I hope you will subscribe to this new endeavor by email and join me as we raise a Hallelujah in the house.

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” Revelations 19:1 English Standard Version.

In the production of this video, I’d like to express my appreciation to cousin Matt Hodge for all the aerial videos,  cousin Tony Sciacca for technical support, and my son Nick Adams for the ground videos and teaching his momma how to piece together a video…thank you son!

Raise a Hallelujah by Bethel Music. Written by Jake Stevens, Jonathan David Helser, Melissa Helser, and Molly Skaggs. Acoustic version sung by William Morrison.

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. I needed to take a hiatus from writing. I set my book aside and my blog and spent some time living.

In the latter part of June, I packed up my youngest kids for a trip to Virginia, to see my family where we counted the deer at night, puttered around historic towns, and meandered down country roads.

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By mid-July, it was off to Muir Beach a bit north of San Francisco, California, where we rented a quaint cottage overlooking the Pacific. Every night we slept with the curtains open and a full moon slipped between the California mountains sprinkling its diamonds over the ocean; yet like clockwork each night the fingers of fog curled around the mountain peaks, before tucking us in a hazy cocoon.

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We wore sweatshirts during the day and built fires at night. We listened to the stories of Alcatraz and slopped through bowls of Cioppino, (If you’ve never had it, you have to try it).

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We checked the Redwoods off our bucket list…

 

And our little one Bella hung in there with us like a champ.

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She didn’t make it past dinner this night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because this guy makes her the toughest five year old around…

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They have wrestled and fought every day of the summer. Calgon take me away!

 

Once we returned home we packed my boys up for college. We moved Nick and Christian into their apartment in Tally, where they are attending college. Not wanting their momma to get bored, they left me tons of junk to clear out and rooms to refurnish.

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By mid- July, I was itching to paint. I picked up the brush and went to work on a large canvas, I titled “God’s Grace.” I painted my niece Aubri, curled in a nest, while butterflies are creating a blanket over her to keep her warm.  I am so happy with this one. Writing is a job for me, while painting is my vacation.

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Once the painting was completed—check, and bedrooms done—check, my brother Brandon came for a visit. We took him to the farmhouse and enjoyed a weekend together.

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The farm is good for getting dirty and riding ATV’s through the woods.

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I thought today, I would get you caught up on where I’ve been and discuss where we’re going. I’d like to change things up a bit on the blog. I want to hear from you. What do you enjoy reading about? I have so many interest such as homesteading, decorating, refurbishing furniture, the cultural climate, history… I would still keep writing what God puts on my heart through it. I’d just like to mix things up a bit. So, what blogs do you enjoy or what would you like to learn? Speak to me privately via email or leave a message here.

I will enjoy reading your responses.

I smell a change in the air. Catch you next week!

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Choosing Not To: Interview with Christian Farris on Addictions

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The first time I met Pastor Christian Farris, I admit he wasn’t my cup of latte…sort of speak. Where I come from, pastors are a whole different blend altogether. My husband, Jay and I met Christian through dear friends. Since then, our relationship has grown alongside the vegetables, cows, and goats on our friend’s farm in Georgia, where we often come together to rest in creation, lend a hand, share a meal, or attend one of the Bible retreats hosted there. Today, I admit Christian is like drinking coffee without sugar, the more I’m around him the more I savor his pastoral flavor.

            Christian Farris is a pastor at Next Level Church in Tampa, Florida. It is a church with multiple ministries, but is known for helping people with addictions and rescuing women from sex trafficking. In the Tampa Bay area, it’s often labeled the “recovery church.”

            The church hosts weekly meetings, sponsorships, and mentor programs for those addicted. I set out to interview Christian regarding the things that enslave us verses living in the freedom of the gospel.

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TCA: “When did you know you were called to be a pastor?”

CF: “I felt the call on my life as a boy. My father was a pastor of a Baptist church at the time, and I was raised in such a rigid, strict religion that I couldn’t see how I fit into that arena. I left home once I graduated from high school and turned away from God for a short time. I felt I didn’t fit into the mold of what a Christian was supposed to be. At nineteen, I went to Bible college and experienced a paradigm shift. Later, my father, brother, and I along with several others began to examine the first century church and how they operated within the scope of freedom and grace. In Mark 7, Jesus points out man’s tendency to cling to tradition in religion and their love for tradition and rules was stronger than their love for Christ. It wasn’t until we broke out of the rules and regulations of religion did I see my place in the arena God called me to.”

TCA: “How would you describe your congregation?”
CF: “The great thing about my congregation is it’s very diverse socially, economically, and racially. We have wealthy business owners who worship alongside those that ride a bike to church. I see our church as a great example of the first church, members of all sorts of brokenness coming together to worship the one true God.”

TCA: “You don’t look like the typical pastor or what most people would imagine a pastor to look like. Do you think this helps people with addictions trust you to help them?”

CF: “I don’t think trust is what I gain right off from my appearance, but I do think people are more intrigued when they find out I’m a pastor. At first they don’t believe it, and then it strikes their curiosity and they want to see what type of pastor I am.”

TCA: “I notice you have what looks like some sort of flag tattooed on your arm. What does it symbolize?”

CF: “The tattoo is of black stripes representing sin fading into the red stripes of Christ’s blood. It was inspired from Isaiah 53:5 ‘…by His stripes we are healed.’ It is by His stripes we have freedom. Hence, why it resembles a flag.”

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TCA: “Have you ever personally struggled with addictions?”

CF: “There’s not one person who hasn’t struggled with some sort of addiction. Addictions are not just chemically dependent there are also biological addictions. The biological addictions I’ve struggled with such as the approval of others or lust.”

TCA: “What is different about your addiction program when compared to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous?”

CF: “The first difference is our program is of course Biblically based. It introduces others to Christ. Another pitfall for AA or NA is people aren’t addicted to substances as they’re addicted to self-medicating what they can’t heal. Substances just happens to be the tool by which they choose to self-medicate. This is where AA and NA go wrong, they put all the focus on the whatand very little on thewhy.”

TCA: “You’ve stated in order to overcome any addiction one must change their mindset from I can’tto I chose not to. Can you explain that?”

CF: “There’s a difference between shall notand cannot. God told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden “Thou shall not eat.” He didn’t tell them they cannot eat. He warned them of the consequences of eating the fruit and left it open to their free will. When you live in the conflict of can’t, you put yourself into a prison which is in complete violation of free will. What is the purpose of free will? I am free to do what I want to do, but not everything I am free to do is good. If you try to imprison me, my nature is I’m going to try to find a way to escape. You immediately place someone in bondage when you tell them they can’t do something. When you do that you are placing your belief system on them. You want to create an environment to help someone choose what’s best and give them the freedom to choose that best.”

            “In Colossians 22, Paul states you cannot add more religion or rules to your life and expect that to help the sin problem. Rules don’t work. Jesus used sheep as an illustration for us and that was no accident, I’ve worked with sheep. My father had a farm with sheep. If you run a barbed wire fence through a sheep’s pasture. The sheep will tear themselves up to get to the other side that has the same grass as the side they are on. Same with us, if we try to imprison ourselves within can’t, we will find a way out and justify sinning to ourselves.”

            “When I changed my perspective from I can’t to I choose not to it was life transforming for me and has been for others.

TCA:  How can this change of attitude and perspective magnify Christ in us?

CF: “I’m actually living out the call of God on my life as a human. Bondservant is a choice. I’m choosing to place myself under God’s authority, and I’m magnifying the very purpose of the gospel of Christ. The gospel was not to enslave me but to set me free. I’m living out the gospel which is freedom. We magnify Christ through walking in freedom.”

TCA: “Is there a verse you like to refer to on the topic of freedom?”

CF: “Yes, it’s Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (English Standard Version)

If you would like to see more of Christian’s teaching, you can find him on his church’s Facebook page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/nextlevel.church.7/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

Note: Thank you for your patience with me in my infrequent posting this summer. I’ve been enjoying all my kids back in the nest for a bit and recovering from my double mastectomy. Throughout the remainder of the summer, I will be posting articles that I have written for publication a year or more ago. See you with some fresh articles starting this  fall.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.