Friday, December 7, 2012

Tradition

Well I’ve been gone for awhile. It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged. To be completely honest, I’ve been in a writing funk. I guess you could say I’ve had writer’s block. I think it’s cleared up as the Christmas season is in full swing. How could you not write about this time of year?! It’s my favorite!

It’s tradition in the Booth home to put up our Christmas d├ęcor the first Saturday in November. No, we aren’t crazy! That is perfectly normal. Ha! It’s actually a tradition that was started somewhat by my sweet Avie girl. We were so excited to have her home from the hospital. We were finally together as a family and beginning to feel normal. We couldn’t wait to share our favorite time of year with the newest member of our family so we decided to put up our Christmas decorations extra early that year. Saturday, November 1st, 2007, we spent the entire day putting up our Christmas tree, making yummy holiday snacks and introducing Averie to our favorite Christmas movies. It’s a day that I will never forget. I can still see Averie setting in her swing staring at the TV while we played “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” She was wide eyed and curious about all the life and colors around her. Little did we know she wouldn’t get to see Christmas day. You better believe I’m so grateful we went ahead and did things extra early that year.

So now in her memory every year we put up our Christmas decorations the first Saturday in November. We have “Angel Averie” ornaments that Asher loves to put on the tree. Continuing to incorporate her into our lives makes Asher feel connected to his sister. Just ask him who his sister is and where she’s at. He will tell you. He knows he has a very special angel watching over him. My two babies, hope and joy! I am a proud mommy.
What are your traditions? Do they point your family to the true meaning of Christmas? Asher is at the age now where we can really begin to teach him about Christmas and why we celebrate. The beautiful thing about that is Averie gets to be a part of that as well. I’m so thankful for Jesus. Because of him I get to hold my family close, enjoy them and live this beautiful life he’s given to the fullest for his glory.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

He's Got This

Why aren’t things happening my way and in my timing? Now seems like the perfect time? Have I been forgotten? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!

Have you ever said these things to yourself, to someone else or maybe even God himself…?? I know I have; very recently in fact. I’ve even at times felt as though I'm not being heard at all, but in all reality God is saying…”Yep, got it. I heard you the first time you asked!” Haha! He knows and He cares about everything little part of us. When things just aren’t falling into place it’s hard to get your flesh and spirit on the same page; are they ever?! You know in your spirit what’s right; who’s really in control and that His way will far surpass yours, but that darn flesh and its emotions always seem to get in the way and it definitely takes the Holy Spirit’s guidance and peace to bring those emotions under the obedience of the Word of God. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Emotions are a funny thing. It still amazes me how frequently they come and go. So many times as Christians when we begin to feel those emotions that aren’t necessarily popular like; grief, anger, sadness, loneliness…etc, we begin to condemn ourselves, and the devil is right there ever so eager to assist in the condemnation. “Look at you! You’re supposed to be a Christian.” “Don’t you have any faith?!” “Where’s your trust in God?!” But you know what, being followers of Christ does not cancel out our humanity. We still experience all those crazy emotions that come with the twists and turns of life and the bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven….”

What sets us apart is the way we react to those emotions. Do you let the anger consume you or do you hand it over to God and embrace forgiveness? Do you fall into a deep depression because of grief and sadness or do you allow God to give you beauty for ashes? Experiencing those emotions is not wrong or a lack of faith, it’s what you do with them that matters.

There are things going on in my life right now that I do not understand one bit and I’ve been hashing things out with God, but by going to him with my hurts and fears I allow him to send his Holy Spirit to reassure and comfort me. God can handle our honesty, so tell him the truth about where you’re at. Besides, he already knows.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Beginning

This past weekend I was honored and blessed beyond words to be asked to share my story at a women's event in Wichita, KS.

The church I spoke at is VERY special to me because it's the first church I ever attended. I was saved in this church at the age of five. So it was a surreal experience to say the least.

I went prepared with three pages of notes and a powerpoint but asked God ever so fervently to speak through me. Not for one second did I want Tressa to get in the way.

This opportunity came to me as confirmation of many things the Lord had laid on my heart and I went as a willing vessel ready to be used by Him.

God allowed me to endure what I did for a purpose. I believe that purpose is to bring Him glory by sharing my story wherever He opens a door. My heart is to see hope restored in those who have none. I want everyone to experience what hope in Christ is really about. God sacrificed his only Son so that we could be free from all the bondage the world wants to put us in and here's the kicker ladies and gents.... IT'S FREE! His love, His grace, His hope is a free gift! All you have to do is accept it!

I believe and hope that this is just the beginning of my wonderful journey in spreading this message....

Lord, you lead, I'll follow!

THANK YOU FAMILY CHURCH FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY HEART!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Secret Blessings

When you’re in the thick of it you don’t see the purpose, plan or point of why things are happening the way they are, but it’s a beautiful thing when you come out on the other side, look back and see how God positioned things together like a perfect puzzle and what’s left is a priceless masterpiece.
I look back now on certain seasons in my life with such gratitude and clarity. I see how God went ahead of me and put everything right where it needed to be and asked me to be still and trust Him.
An example of this came to mind the other night when we were spending some time with our Catalyst Group.
While Averie was growing and developing at UAMS, someone anonymously donated a furnished apartment for me to stay in while living in Little Rock. It was such a blessing and a huge weight off our shoulders. I didn’t have to worry about living out of a suitcase, hotel costs, or any other factors that would cause even more anxiety. I lived in Little Rock Monday through Friday and usually would come home on the weekends. Casey came to visit when he could, but he had to work so we lived apart for close to four months. Now I know for some of you that’s nothing, but to us it was an eternity. Our marriage took a big hit.
My new home was nice. It was a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. It was very spacious and would allow for guests who came to visit Averie a free place to stay. September came and Averie was doing well and I was settled into my Little Rock routine. Then one day I got a call from Casey and he proceeded to tell me he had broken his foot while on the job. Now this may sound horrible, but if he was going to break his foot I sure am glad he did it at work. Those were medical bills we did NOT need! Not only was his foot broken but he needed surgery to repair it. Are you kidding me?! My life had become a sick joke!
I checked in with Averie’s nurses at the hospital to ensure she was doing well and then made my trip home to Bentonville to be with Casey for his surgery. Everything went well and he was discharged with instructions to not put any weight on his foot whatsoever for a solid week. So that meant he was wheelchair bound and depended solely on me. I see clearly now how God gave me the grace and strength to do what I needed to do. I packed some of Casey’s stuff, loaded him in the car, and took him back to Little Rock with me.
When I first moved into the apartment I noticed it was more spacious than most apartments, but I didn’t think anything of it until I wheeled my temporarily handicapped husband through the door. THIS APARTMENT WAS HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE! Wide doorways, a sink he could roll right up to, a roll in shower, this place had it all and made getting around so much easier for him. I was and still am blown away by God’s provision! Although he was there recovering from an injury, I had my husband with me 24/7 for a solid week. That was a good week full of funny memories, sweet moments and much needed time together. I can still see me pushing him up the steep hill to the hospital entrance. We laughed every time because I had to get a running start to make it. I cherish that week because it came at a time when I needed him. I needed a surge of momentum to get me through. God had gone ahead and laid it all out just for us. I’m thankful for those secret blessings; those moments that may disguise themselves as additional hardships but when you look back they are a gift from above.
Look back on your journey and recognize God’s hand on your life. I know you will be able to pinpoint those secret blessings. He’s positioned and planned our life perfectly, now lets just set back and trust Him. What do ya say?

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Tribute To Her

So my little sister is getting married in October and of course I am her matron of honor. UGH! I have to say ‘MATRON’ of honor since I’m married. It makes me sound so old!

Anyway, I’ve got this "matron" of honor speech that I’m writing and when I stop to think about it it’s such a daunting task. I mean how can I wrap up a lifetimes’ worth of memories and feelings into one speech?! There’s just no way! So it really got me thinking about my sissy, our relationship and life together.

Tayla Dawn Baker and I are 3 ½ years apart in age and although we may look the same we are very different, but that’s the beauty of our relationship. Where she is scared, I am brave and where I am unsure she is fearless. We complement each other very well. What is it about this sisterly bond? Its hard to put into words.

I never liked sleeping alone growing up, and even though we had our own rooms, more times than not I would find myself in her bed. Sometimes she would try to kick me out, but I would just keep coming back. HA! There was just something comforting about being together. Once my parents got us bunk beds and we had these sleeping bags that were pink with frogs whose eyes glowed in the dark. Now that I think about it, they were kind of creepy. We liked them anyway.

You wouldn’t believe it now, but Tay used to be a HUGE tomboy! She didn’t care about getting dressed up or painting her nails and her hair was always in a ponytail. When we were really little she used to run away crying when my mom would say it was time to get ready for church. She did NOT want to wear a dress. I loved them of course because I was little Miss Priss and even better, they were matching dresses!! One time dad was recording me singing on the fireplace with my hairbrush microphone and low and behold here comes Tayla running right in front of the camera naked as a jay bird stealing the show!

Tay was always outside! She climbed trees, collected rocks and weird things like curly fries from Arby’s. (That’s not a joke. The really cool ones she kept. My mom found some in her dresser drawer once.)

Tayla doesn’t even know how funny she is, she has that dry sense of humor that sends you into a belly laugh and the whole time she’s looking at you like, “What’s so funny?!” Some of the funniest memories as a kid involve Tay somehow. Now there are times when Asher will give me a look and I’ll say; “You look exactly like your Tee Tee!”

I love looking back with such fondness on my childhood with her and now that we are both adults, I’m excited about what’s ahead. She’s getting married and I will be so honored to stand beside her on that day. There have been some definite rocky patches but one thing has always remained…her and I; together! We’ve survived a lot and have only grown closer because of it. My sister is the best and I cannot imagine my life without her. I LOVE YOU TAYBAY!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who's In Control?

I believe with all my heart that our gracious and loving God has a wonderful sense of humor.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a planner. I like things to be orderly, scheduled and I really DO NOT like it when unexpected circumstances are thrown at me at the last minute that causes my carefully laid plans to change. It’s horrible I know and I’m getting better. Seeing the way my life has unfolded, you would think I would have learned by now that I have control of absolutely nothing. I only think I do. I can just imagine God looking at me trying to control and schedule my life down to the smallest detail, shaking his head and chuckling under his breath. So many times I know he’s said, “Oh my sweet Tressa, you only think that’s how it’s gonna go.”

Time and time again I see how patience and allowing God’s plan to unfold is so much more fulfilling than anything I could dream up, but yet I still find myself striving to control the situation and make things happen as I think they should. Goodness, that’s exhausting! Anyone else out there like this? Why do we do this when the alternative brings such peace, rest and the desires of our heart?! For me, fear is one of the big reasons! I fear that if I don’t make these plans and ensure that it all unfolds accordingly then WHO WILL?! I fear the unknown. I like to know what’s coming. The thought of my future just floating around out there and me just flying by the seat of my pants literally makes it hard for me to breathe. But you know what, that’s not how it is at all. God has our lives in the palm of his hand. He sees every second of everyday and he’s planned it all. He knows how life is going to go for us and he has a purpose for everything. The most beautiful part is that it’s a GOOD purpose. All good things come from him. James 1:17; “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”

Think about it. God, the Creator of everything, has a specific and very detailed life laid out just for YOU! Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think his plan just might be better than ours. This is where intimately knowing Him and his Holy Spirit is crucial because He will order your steps and send his Holy Spirit to speak and tell you when to move or when to be still. So again, this all goes back to KNOWING HIM! That’s our job!

It’s so liberating to know that I don’t have to figure this whole thing out and make things happen. I just have to know Christ and follow His lead. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…”

I leave you with a scripture my friend sent me; Proverbs 16:9 MSG, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

Take A Closer Look

Ladies, this post is for you. I love how God orchestrates those divine appointments when there’s no denying that He’s at work. Last year, during the planning stages of the W.O.W. Ladies Retreat, the Lord laid something on my heart and I shared it with Monica Sweeney, the director of W.O.W. at the time. I told her I felt that it was a subject that needed to be addressed as it went along with the theme for the retreat. She quickly replied and said, “I felt that I needed to ask you to speak and that was my confirmation.” So she asked me to speak at the retreat. The thought of speaking in public normally does not scare me, but in this case I was terrified. I knew God had given me a word and I felt a huge responsibility to deliver this message of Love and Unity.

I immediately got on my knees and surrendered this opportunity to Him. I did not want one second of this to be about me. I did not want one word out of my mouth to be about me or anything else but what God wanted to say. I submitted myself to him as a humble servant so willing to be his mouthpiece in this instance. When you do that, you better just hold on. When you ask God to use you, you better be ready for the ride of your life. Ask and you shall receive… right? His words and ideas began to flow from my pen to the paper. The title He gave me was “Crisis in Comparing…”

Everyone at one time or another plays the comparison game, but this is for us girls. Both consciously and subconsciously we compare ourselves to each other. It’s just what we do! It’s been said that we compare the worst of ourselves to the best of others. Why in the world would we do that?

Example, you arrive at a friend’s house; her house is clean and very well decorated. She is dressed to impress and looking beautiful. Her kids are playing quietly upstairs and her husband is tending to her every need. What’s your first instinct? To compare?

"My house could never look like this, I don't have any style."
"Wish I could look like that in that dress."
"Maybe she can teach my kids to manners."
“Her husband is so sweet; my husband never opens the door for me, and he would NEVER do the dishes!"

Then pride jumps in and needs to be justified:
"Well she just thinks she's better than me."
"Look at everything she's trying to throw in my face."
"Must be nice to not have any problems."
"He must be hiding something if he's treating her that well."

Insert wedge in friendship here; resentment and bitterness begin to creep in and you find yourself disconnecting and shutting down. The enemy puts the blame back on us so he can isolate us, get us in a vulnerable state and then begin to fill our minds with all kinds of lies. There’s something powerful about women united and the enemy knows that and that’s why he’s out to distort and destroy true Godly friendship. He's going to try to convince you that you are alone and the last thing you need to do is get close to anyone. He will tell you that everyone else has it all together and if you reach out you will only be judged. Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." We are better together and NO ONE has it all together. We need to realize we are NEVER alone. There is so much FREEDOM and POWER in that! I can't tell you how many times I've been so afraid to open up to my closest friends about something because I felt like I was alone and that no one else could possibly understand and then God in his gentle way will send someone to me and show me that I'm never alone. And even if there's no one physically in this life that "understands" or has gone through the same thing as you, HE HAS! Hebrews 2:18, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” He loves you and He understands! He’s been there! God created us deficient by design. He created us for relationship; for friendship. But Satan knows how hard we are on ourselves and He knows that if he can get us to turn on each other, then we'll never fulfill our true God given purpose. COMPARING IS A TOOL SATAN USES TO DIVIDE US! Once we start comparing ourselves and our lives to others; we begin making assumptions based on what we perceive. How crazy is that?! We think we have them all figured out based on what their wearing; who their setting with; how their house looks; or how their kids behave.
So how do we fight this crisis of comparing? First, you must live your life with awareness, not fear. We want the enemy to see us and go running in the opposite direction. Be aware that we do have an enemy who is out to steal, kill and destroy us. Second, when those thoughts and attacks start to creep in use your mouth! Speak out the truth. Recognize those lies and audibly replace them with words of truth. Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" Lastly, use the tools God has given you to wage war on the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18; Put on the full armor of God.

John 13:34; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

I’ve read this in a couple different settings and it makes me cry every time. Ladies, this is how God sees you. I pray that as you read this you will see yourself through HIS eyes.

Dear Women,

When I created the heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being. When I created man, I formed him and breathed life into his nostrils. But you woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate. I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you. Man was put to sleep so that he could not interfere with the creativity. From one bone I fashioned you. I chose the bone that protects his heart and his lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do. Around this one bone I shaped you. I modeled you. I created you perfectly and beautifully.
Your characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. You provide protection for the most delicate organ in man, his heart. His heart is the center of his being; his lungs hold the breath of life. The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart.
Support the man as the rib cage supports the body. You were not taken from his feet, to be under him, nor were you taken from his head, to be above him. You were taken from his side, to stand beside him and be held close to his side.
You are My perfect angel. You are My beautiful little girl. You have grown to be a splendid woman of excellence, and My eyes fill when I see the virtues in your heart. Your eyes - don't change them. Your lips - how lovely when they part in prayer. Your nose, so perfect in form, your hands so gentle in touch. I've caressed your face in your deepest sleep; I've held your heart close to mine.
Of all that lives and breathes, you are the most like Me. Adam walked with Me in the cool of the day and yet he was lonely. He could not see Me or touch Me. He could only feel Me.
So everything I wanted Adam to share and experience with Me,I fashioned in you: My holiness, My strength, My purity, My love, My protection and support. You are special because you are the extension of Me.
Man represents My image, woman My emotions. Together you represent the totality of God. So man - treat woman well. Love her, respect her, for she is fragile. In hurting her, you hurt Me. What you do to her, you do to Me. In crushing her, you only damage your own heart, the heart of your Father, and the heart of her Father.
Woman, support man. In humility, show him the power of emotion I have given you. In gentle quietness show your strength. In love, show him that you are the rib that protects his inner self.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Close The Door

The doctor had just finished telling us that Averie had passed away and I couldn’t even form words. I ran to the bathroom because I thought I was going to be sick. When I joined the others back in the consultation room my dad saw exactly what needed to be done and I believe with all my heart it set the tone for what was to come. He said, “Let’s take a moment and praise God.” So that’s just what we did. Everyone in that room began to pray and praise God; thanking Him for Who He is. You see, our circumstances at that moment did not change God. He was and always is worthy of our praise regardless of what’s going on in our lives. By going to the feet of our Savior at that very moment we closed the door to Satan and all his plans he was devising to destroy us.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I’m not saying there weren’t bad days. There were days that were unbearable, but we made the choice in the very beginning to cover our grief with praise to our King and He honored that. Any bitterness, anger, or blame that tried to creep in was quickly extinguished by His love and protection. We submitted ourselves to Him; put God in his rightful place and he took care of us.

We are ALL children of the Most High King and He should always be the first place we go. For all you parents out there, is there a better feeling than your little one crawling up in your lap just to set and allow you to love on them? No, there’s not. What’s your reaction when they are hurt and run to you for comfort? I’m assuming you quickly scoop them up, kiss the boo-boo and reassure them with your love. Think about that and realize that’s exactly how our heavenly Father is. He longs for us to crawl up into His lap and allow Him to love us. When we go to Him with our hurts, we release Him to heal us and restore what’s been stolen.

As stated earlier, this also closes the door to the evil plans of the enemy. John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Satan wants nothing more than to use the tragedies of life to destroy us, but when we run to Jesus and seek His face the enemy has no choice but to flee. Those negative thoughts you battle in your mind, they aren’t from God. Take them captive and replace them with TRUTH; the absolute Truth that’s found in God’s Word. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

As so beautifully put by Casting Crowns, PRAISE HIM IN THE STORM! He will lift you up, guide you and see you through…ALWAYS!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Good Stuff

“In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse….” I’m speaking from experience when I say, until you live through these words you really don’t understand the magnitude of the words you are saying. Too many people turn around and walk away before they get to the other side of these words; the other side of 'for worse’ or ‘in sickness’ or ‘for poorer.’ As my mom has said, “So many people give up before they get to the good stuff.”

You might be thinking, “What does she know about marriage and hardships, she’s too young.” You are right; I like to think I’m still young.

I have been married for almost 8 years, and I had no idea what would lie ahead for Casey and I when I repeated my vows. I meant every word I said, but I was naive and thought we would just ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Reality smacked us upside the head really quick. We were two completely different people, now living together and expected to stay together forever. WHOA! The first couple years were difficult. I’m not proud to say it, but we had a lot of screaming fights; a lot that ended in me crying and Casey leaving, but he always came back. We would apologize and move one, but the roots of our problems were never discussed or solved.

Now fast forward three years and we have a premature baby and I’m living in Little Rock almost full time. For four months we pretty much lived apart. Not only were we miles apart physically, but also as husband and wife. Bringing Averie home united us as a family. We worked very well together, but our lives were dedicated to this little miracle and once again we let things in our relationship slide.

Then just a little over a month later there we were thrown into this thing called grief and who knows how to do that?! He grieved his way and I grieved mine and let me tell you it looked completely different for each of us. On the outside, Casey remained calm, steady and seemed to move on so quickly. Me on the other hand, I was a basket case. It seemed he was always having to pick me up. After awhile that made me angry. “Why don’t you ever cry?!” “Do you not miss her?!” “I’m tired of being the one who’s always falling apart!” For a time we went to grief counseling, but we were just going through the motions. I don’t think we ever really allowed ourselves to dig in. I guess at the time we weren’t ready.

So we stopped talking about it and decided to have another baby. Having another baby was all I could think about. I had this hole in my heart and I needed to fill it. I felt so broken and empty. I was robbed of being a mother to my daughter and at the time the only thing I thought would remedy it was another child. This is bold I know, but that’s what our marriage began to revolve around. Another baby was all I wanted, nothing else mattered. I didn’t care about the other areas of our marriage that were suffering. I figured if we could just have another baby that would fix everything.

Six months go by and still no baby. Looking back now and seeing how everything unfolded I think, “Tressa you were so stupid!” God is so perfect in everything He does. As you read in the “Moving Forward By Moving Back” blog, I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after we moved back into our home and a week after what would have been Averie’s first birthday.

I know it’s hard to believe but having another baby did not fix our marital problems. Hmmm…


Asher did bring the joy back into our family. The three of us together, we were great! Casey was and still is the BEST father. Everything I ever wanted in a father for my children, Casey is and so much more, but the gap between Casey and I only became wider and wider. We were on this vicious cycle of fighting, apologizing, making up, and enjoying the calmness for awhile. Then our issues would rear their ugly heads and the cycle would begin again. I felt like I was suffocating!

I did not like who I had become to him and to myself. I felt that I had become everything I despised. The baggage we had accumulated was too heavy and too much to carry so I was ready to leave. I wanted to start over; have a clean slate. Had I done that, I would have carried that baggage right into the next relationship. This was an inside job! I was part of the problem! Casey and I both had deep rooted issues that we had ignored for years. My expectations for him had become so unrealistic. I created this mold that I wanted him to fit into and he was resisting and beginning to resent me.

We knew if we did not do something we would not make it.

The first thing we did was decide that we were in this. We were dedicated to doing the work and not only saving our marriage but making it all it should be.

We began seeing a Christian marriage counselor. One of the first things he identified was that our own personal relationships with Christ were lacking. We were missing that intimate and abiding relationship with Him. Over the next eight months a lot was revealed and there were times when I didn't see how it could ever get better but we stayed faithful. There were days of crying, days of talking it out, days of silence. Slowly, we began to see a difference in each other and our relationship. We began to see as we put God in His rightful place, He took care of everything else. I started to see Casey differently and he began to see a new me. We were falling in love all over again.

We remembered what it was like to be together. No longer did we struggle to find things to talk about. No longer was it awkward to kiss. No longer were we just roommates coexisting and raising a son. We were a husband and wife functioning the way God intended. (Ephesians 5:22-33) I looked at this man I had married and I had a new respect and love for him because he was loving and cherishing me as Christ commanded. We had an awakening. The blinders had been removed.

God without a doubt transformed our marriage. He healed and restored parts of us that had been so badly wounded.

This transformation roots from an abiding relationship with Christ. When we turned ourselves over to him, He immediately began to work and as we've continued to walk in this new relationship we have seen His hand on our lives like never before.

I love Casey Wayne Booth with every ounce of my being. I am so happy I get to share my life with him. Because of these storms we have endured our love and bond is only stronger. We can overcome anything with Christ and so can you.

Don't give up, get on your knees and surrender your life to Him. Allow your marriage to grow and get to the good stuff.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Needs Friends?

I've been going over and over this in my head and it's only become more difficult to put into words what friendship means to me. Honestly, in our society the word friendship has lost its meaning. To the world a friend is here today gone tomorrow; they'll love you today and then stab you in the back. Unfortunately, I have experienced this to a degree a couple of times as have most of us.

As said by Pastor Nate many times, "God created us deficient by design." He did not intend for us to go through life alone. God created such a thing as Godly friendship. There are people that He will bring into your life to serve that very purpose.

There are so many examples I could give you of how God has blessed me with true Godly friends but we would be here all day. These friends don't just tell me what I want to hear. They speak truth in love into my life. They believe and see the best in me when I can't see it for myself. They refuse to jump on the gossip train and choose to rise above. They encourage and challenge me as a wife and mother. Above all they pray for me and always point me right back to the truth of God's Word. These kind of friendships aren't born overnight. They take time, effort and a huge amount of trust.

The situations that alot of friends would turn and run from, my friends ran towards them. When Averie was born, my friends were there. When I held her in the hospital, they were there. When we brought her home, they were there. The night she died, they were there. When I needed to fall apart, they were there. When I needed "girl time," they were there. When I needed to hear the truth, they were there. They understood the unspoken word, they knew what I needed most of the time before I did. Those are things I don't take lightly and are forever engraved on my heart because I know these people were sent to me straight from my God who loves ME so much. They truly are an extension of Christ; His hands and feet.

There was a time when I believed all friendships would end; they would run their course and be over. God proved me wrong yet again and through my tragedy HE showed me that friendships that are designed and ordained by HIM can never end. Different seasons come and go but just like a marriage, if your friendship is rooted in Christ, there can be no end.

I've always loved this passage and refer to it alot when speaking of my BESTIES.

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16 NIVUK)

This is what I've experience these last five years. My definition of "Friend" has completely changed!


"Ive been burned too many times."

"Friends only cause drama"

"I don't need friends."

Ive heard these and many more so many times. My question is, have you allowed yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit when choosing who you invest your time in?

Open yourself up to this kind of friendship, first and most importantly, with Jesus Christ. Then ask him to bring those individuals into your life who He wishes you to build a friendship centered around Him.

When we abandon ourselves and put absolute trust in HIM, he will blow our minds and our old way of thinking will no longer hold weight. Remember, His plans for you are ONLY good! Get to know Him today; Trust Him.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Moving Forward By Moving Back

Moving forward by moving back. You might be saying..."huh? That doesn't make much sense." Well allow me to explain...

After Averie died I told myself I would never go back into that house. After all she did die in our bedroom. At that point in time, a house that once represented life, dreams and a bright future, now only represented sadness and shattered dreams.

We had decided to put our house up for sale and move in with my parents. Knowing I would have to go back to get the necessities, my hero, Casey went out to the house and put everything of Averie's in her room and shut the door. His concern with me and my feelings still overwhelms me. He was and still is such a rock!

The house had to be cleaned and prepared to be put on the market so our friends cleaned and packed up Averie's room with such care and love. Our friends, oh my goodness, they are unbelievable, but that's another blog all together!

We were very aggressive with trying to sell and even lowered the price once, but no one was biting. We barely had anyone looking. Our realtor worked so hard but nothing was happening. I didn't understand! I just wanted to be freed from this house and I wanted to move on! I was certain that God couldn't possibly want us to live in this house again. This house held nothing but loss and just the thought of going back made it hard to breathe.

Once again, my life was on pause. The fog of grief was so thick it was crippling me. The anxiety that came with the status of my life became too much. I suffered from several panic attacks and they were only getting worse. Mother's Day 2008 was approaching and as the day grew closer I grew more anxious.

I remember talking to my mom one day saying, "I can't do this. I can't be here anymore, I'm suffocating!" I knew people meant well, I knew they loved us and was helping a great deal but I needed a change of scenery. I wanted to go somewhere where I wasn't known as Tressa, the girl who's daughter just died.

So what did I do? I went on a cruise of course! Casey and I had some extra money and after talking it over together we decided that my mom and I should get away over Mother's Day.

She and I enjoyed a seven day Royal Caribbean cruise and it was amazing! For the first time in six months I felt normal. I believe the Lord refreshed my soul on that trip. We had tons of fun but also had time to talk about anything and everything. It was spiritually and literally a breath of fresh air!

When we returned I felt different; better. The following Sunday I was standing enjoying a wonderful worship service not really thinking about the uncertainty of my life when clear as day and the closest I've ever gotten to hearing an audible voice of God, I heard the Holy Spirit speak right to me. He said,"You can do this, it's time to go back." I knew exactly what he was talking about. It was time for Casey and I to move back into our home. For the first time I felt like I could actually do it. I told myself I would NEVER go back, but God had other plans. When I told Casey what the Holy Spirit had spoken to me this was his response, "I've been ready for awhile, I was just waiting for you to be ready too."

So that's exactly what we did. We took the house off the market, painted and changed things up a bit. When we moved back in it felt fresh and new.

God will not ask you to do something and then abandon you. He will be there all the way, leading and guiding you, comforting you and carrying you when it gets too hard. We bought our home with big dreams in mind. Our plan was to stay and build our family. The enemy tried to steal that from us and even succeeded for awhile but our God is the restorer of all things that have been stolen or lost. We refused to let Satan steal from us anymore!

I didn't have to have a new house to have the new start I desired. The new start took place inside of me, not in what I had or didn't have.

When Averie died our "home" ceased to exist...it was just a house and represented nothing but broken dreams. Reclaiming our house and the dreams it represented was the beginning of God putting our lives back together. Just like a beautiful mosaic piece, God took the broken pieces of our shattered life and made something beautiful! Oh yeah, and just five short weeks later, a week after what would have been Averie's first birthday, I found out I was pregnant with Asher Kayne! Wow! Isn't God amazing?! His timing is perfect!

Be led by the Holy Spirit! When He speaks, you move! Nothing but good can come from being obedient.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Without You

I stated in my first blog that I used to blog on MySpace. Well I was searching through some old blogs and I came across a poem the Lord gave me around the 1 year anniversary of Averie's death and I would like to share it with you. Without You Written By: Tressa Booth November 25, 2008 I walked through this year without you Without your face, without your hands Without your little legs learning to stand Most times I'm okay and full joy when I think of you But other times I'm paralyzed by the raw feelings of missing you Why I have to walk through the rest of my life without you I will never understand But I'm comforted in knowing that you are in better hands When will I see you again I do not know But one thing's for sure, when that day comes I'll be ready to go Until then I'll live life here to the fullest and carry you my heart For by doing that it's safe to say we will never part I love you Averie Marie and that will never die For I know one day soon beside you in heaven I will lie  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Shift

So I've been told by many that I need to start a blog. Well back when MySpace was cool I blogged almost everyday and to this day that's where alot of my most precious postings are located. I don't even know where to start really. My name is Tressa Booth and I'm just an ordinary girl who had something very extraordinary happen to her. June 22, 2007 will always be the day that changed my life FOREVER and for so many different reasons, but I have to say the biggest reason of all is that was the day that completely shifted my relationship with Jesus Christ. You see, I am 27 years old and for 25 of those years I was a PK or Pastor's Kid. I grew up in church and was saved at 5 years old at church camp. I lived a pretty good life, yet still made my share of mistakes, but God was never really personal to me. I went to church because I had to. Don't get my wrong, I loved God, but I was missing that intimate and abiding relationship with him. When I married Casey at 19 years old we were already really plugged into the church and loved serving in any capacity we could, but still something was missing...

 In January of 2007, after being married for 3 years, we found out we were expecting our first child. You can imagine how excited we were! The first 5 months of my pregnancy were typical, extreme fatigue and nausea were the two biggies for me, but I didn't care. I LOVED being pregnant! Then around 23 weeks I began to have this on again off again back pain and this wasn't just a slight ache. It was a paralyzing pain in the middle of my back. It felt like someone had grabbed my spine and was twisting it. Not pleasant at all! It wasn't constant, but when it happened it was crippling. Of course I spoke to my doctor about it and at the time he wasn't to concerned. He said everything looked good and that I could take tylenol. On June 21, 2007, on my way home from Tulsa, the pain started again but this time it was worse then ever and not even the tylenol did the trick anymore. It was impossible to sleep that night and trying to get comfortable was out of the question. The pain brought me to tears. After about an hour of tossing and turning, Casey finally got out of bed and said, "I'm taking you to the hospital." At this time it was midnight and both of us had to work the next morning so tensions were running high to say the least. I was reluctant and said I wasn't going. He insisted and I finally gave in. So in my sweats, tshirt and flip flops, I grabbed my purse and we were out the door headed to Willow Creek in Fayetteville.

Once we arrived they got me all hooked up to a fetal monitor and started running tests. The course of events from there on out are still a blur, everything happened so fast after they took my blood pressure. As nurses and doctors were coming in and out, I began to hear words like, preclampsia, hypertension, seizsures...all very scary to me! I was admitted and sent upstairs to my own room. By this time it was 4am and our families were on their way. By 7am on June 22nd, MY favorite doctor to this day, Dr. Duke, came into my room and gave us the news. He said, "You are getting very sick very fast, we are going to airvac you to UAMS in Little Rock and your baby will probably be born today."

WHAT?! NO WAY! I'm only 25 weeks along!! It's too early!! I began to fall apart, freak out and cry but was quickly informed by the nurses that due to my high blood pressure I did not have the luxury of falling apart because that could send me into a seizsure. WOW! Way to help calm me down! But what happened next is when everything changed, my dad leaned down ever so gently and whispered words of peace and comfort and at that moment the Holy Spirit took my hand as if to say..."I got this." I felt safe and secure like everything was going to be okay. By 8am the helicopter was there and whisked me away to Little Rock.

When I arrived at UAMS, the new set of doctors and nurses began to running more test to see what exactly was going on and how long could we hold off on delivering my baby girl. By the time my family arrived we had a diagnosis. HELLP SYNDROME

What is HELLP Syndrome?
HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth.

H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells),
EL (elevated liver enzymes) and
LP (low platelet count).

Unfortuneatly, the only cure was to deliver Averie immediatly. I was reeling from everything that was being said. Was this all really happening to me? At 6:30PM I was wheeled back to the operating room and at 6:46PM on June 22, 2007 Averie Marie Booth came out screaming, weighing only 15 ounces (432 grams). We were given the possibility of her grim fate from the beginning. One doctor said only 1 in 5 babies weighing less than 500 grams survive. Averie was that 1! After a week in the hospital, I made a full recovery and was released. I pretty much moved to Little Rock because we had a long road ahead of us. There were good days and bad days. It was an emotionally roller coaster that I so desperately wanted to get off of. Some days I was so stricten with depression that I didn't even get out of bed. Then other days I would be completely fine. Casey came to Little Rock when we could and I would go home on the weekends sometimes, but living apart was hard. Finally after four months of gaining weight, learning to eat on her own, test after test, good days and bad days, and ultimatly exceeding all expectations and blowing the doctor's minds, we actually got to take Averie home with us. So on October 18, 2007, Weighing 5 lbs 12 oz, we loaded this little miracle into our car and started our journey home to Centerton.

We were greeted with a parade of family and friends on our street holding signs; "Welcome Home Averie!" I'll never forget that sacred moment.We were home and were finally able push play on our lives that had been paused for four months. Our dream had come true. We had our baby home with us, our family was whole. Because of her prematurity, we had to use a little more procaution when going places or having vistors, but we didn't let that stop us completely. So many people had followed our story, read my blogs on MySpace as I mentioned earlier, and most importantly had covered her in prayer. Now we wanted people to see what God had done! We wanted them to see the results of their prayers! We took her to church and had her dedicated. We had family pictures made, and even put up our Christmas decorations on November 1st because we were so excited to share our favorite holiday with our new addition. We did all the things we had been dreaming of for so long and had finally begun to feel "normal" again. Then the unthinkable happened....

On November 28, 2007 I woke up out of a dead sleep and found myself looking down at Averie in her bassinet. I rubbed her back and noticed she didn't wiggle or move. I turned her over and her lips were blue. I began screaming, "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!" Ironically, we had to become CPR certified before leaving the hospital with her so naturally I began performing CPR on my 5 month old daughter. Casey was already awake and calling 911. They were there in what seemed like seconds. My heart was pounding out of my chest. NO WAY was this happening! We have been through enough! The paramedics took over, put me in the front seat of the ambulance and told Casey to follow behind in our car. I couldn't speak, I was in complete shock and denial of what was happening. By the time we arrived at the hospital our closest family and friends were there waiting for us. We waited in a small room for what seemed like hours. In reality it was only about 30 minutes. A young and very kind doctor stepped into the room and uttered the words I thought I would never hear..."We were unable to bring her back her. I am so sorry we did everything we could."

It's hard to put into words what happened next, the feelings, the tears, the screams...it was all so raw. At that moment, my life was over. I didn't want to go on without her. I wanted to crawl into bed, go to sleep and never wake up. For the first time I felt lost, hopeless and like I wasn't going to survive this. My dream, my baby girl was dead! The nurses wrapped her up in a blanket, put a little hat on her and allowed us to set and hold her and say goodbye as long as we needed. After I had said my goodbyes I remember standing in the middle of a dark hallway in the ER, looking at my mom and saying.."Where do I go now? What do I do?" At that moment I couldn't see a future.

Two days later we buried our little girl, Averie Marie Booth. Our church was packed out for her funeral. Family, friends, nurses, doctors, people we barely knew were there because God had used this little girl to impact so many lives. I was in awe of God's faithfulness. Even though I was in the pit of despair and grief I began to see the light at the end of all of this. I began to grieve with hope; hope that although the loss would never leave, the raw grief would someday be gone. Thus began the journey of a lifetime! Jesus Christ came and transformed my life through this tragedy. Something shifted in my life on June 22, 2007. Jesus Christ became real to me. He became more than a nice idea or story. He was personal to me, He was working on my behalf; moving mountains for me. He saved me from a life of sadness, depression, bitterness, lonliness. He saved my marriage and made it better than I could ever imagine. He gave us a son, Asher Kayne Booth, who brought the JOY back into our lives. He's given me a testimony to share so that He may be glorified.

My story doesn't end here, it's only just beginning...