Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sisters By Heart

There are very few times in this life that I'm left mostly without words, seldom ever without the ability for words to flow from the fingertips.

This is one such time. 

My heart has been rejoicing and my heart has selfishly been hurting.  God gave me a priceless gift in my husband and then in my children.  Throughout life He has placed friends in my life that have been a direct gift from Him.  There is one such friend that He has given as a sister of the heart in countless ways....

The time is rapidly coming that she and her family will be embarking on a God-ordained, God-given mission as they begin a life in South Africa. 

Though I may not forever by so "short" with words on this topic....

For now I am....

All I have to say is:

From this heart here, to your heart there....we'll forever by God's sisters of the heart....and may some day God's mission for our lives reconnect our hearts geographically! 

Until then......thank heavens for technology! :) 

You can follow the journey of this precious husband and wife team and their 3 children at whisper listening and through Blessman Ministries !

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What I Wish I Knew at 18 (Life Lessons for the Road Ahead)

What I Wish I Knew at 18

Written by Dennis Trittin

About Dennis Trittin
Dennis Trittin is a successful investment manager, educator and mentor committed to helping young adults reach their full potential. Now retired from managing over $30 billion in assets, he devotes his life to promoting leadership and life management on a global basis. Trittin serves as an advisor to several charitable groups and as a speaker with national and local educational and community organizations. Dennis and his wife Jeanne are parents of two young adults and reside in the Seattle area.

Do you have an older teenager or a young adult in your household?  Do you have a graduate-to-be on your list to shop for in just a few months? 

Yes?  BUY this book.  (Or win a copy!!!!)

LOVE the information PACKED in the pages.  I've just put it in the hands of my daughter that will be 16 in a couple of weeks.  So many excellent truths are presented in the book, as well as many thought provoking questions about the future ahead. 

Some examples:

  • What is my life purpose? Where can I have the greatest impact?
  • What are my passions, gifts, and talents?
  • Who, what, where, and how will I serve?
  • What values will I guard at all costs?
  • How will I know he or she is "the one?"
  • What are my financial goals and how will I achieve them?
I love this quote when talking about life and the future:

"History is filled with people who used their God-given talents in amazing ways and made a huge difference in the lives of others.  With purpose, passion, perseverance, and direction, you can be one of them.  It's yours for the taking.  You can be a masterpiece in the making!"

Chapters are VERY short and conclude with a "Take Five"  question to ponder or activity to complete to help you with each of the topics.  Topics range from career choice, God's purpose, choosing a mate, how to budget and set financial goals, character, career advancement, etc..

For most of us that are a wee bit beyond the age of 18, we all have things we wish we would have known or even things we knew but wished we would have listened to!  This book is an incredible resource to hand down to those just starting out.  As someone more than double the age of 18, even I was finding things that were beneficial to me at this stage in life!  LOTS of good truth and golden nuggets woven throughout its pages!

I GREATLY encourage you to enter to win a copy!  Simply comment to enter.  Be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you if you are the winner.  Give-a-way will end on April 7th at 8 PM CST.  Even if you are beyond the age you think this is beneficial for or if your children are currently too young, consider entering to win so that you can pass it along to a young adult in your life!  Encourage them with some help starting out in the right direction!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Home Run review and Give-a-way!

Home Run.  Novel based on the movie that releases in theater April 19th.  (Be sure to enter to win a copy of the book at the end of this post!!!)

About the Author
Travis Thrasher is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction, including The Solitary Tales series, Isolation, and Ghostwriter. His writing is known for its honesty, depth, and surprising twists. Thrasher lives with his wife and daughters in Chicago.
About the Book (Movie)
The story is centered around the life of Major League baseball player Cory Brand. After years of self indulgent behavior and reckless living, a DUI and team suspension land Cory back in the Oklahoma town where he started. Forced to coach the local Little League team and spend eight weeks in Celebrate Recovery©, the only twelve-step program in town, Cory must face the memories that contributed to his life becoming so destructive as well as honestly confront the love he left behind.

Home Run powerfully reminds us that no habit is beyond help, no one is beyond God’s reach when they are willing to surrender, and no hurt escapes God’s healing. “What Courageous was for fatherhood, and Fireproof for marriages, Home Run is for battling addictions, bad habits, and hang-ups. The inspiring and authentic message of Home Run is that freedom is possible.”
My take/thoughts:
I'm not a sports nut.  Most especially, I'm not a big baseball fan other than enjoying attendance at a few games here and there for fun.  I wasn't for sure if I would "get" a book that is based so heavily on a sport character AND enjoy it. 
I did! 
Great things about the book itself:  it's a fast read with short chapters which means that you can read a chapter in between the craziness of life's schedule!  I know many people are reluctant to read because they can't finish a chapter quickly with life's demands.  The characters are "developed" quickly and you can easily follow along even if you don't have much sport knowledge or lingo! 
The story itself:  oh goodness, I could say so much.  Addiction is so destructive.  It's poison. It can damage those around you faster than a train derailing.  It can easily carry on from generation to generation if the cycle isn't broken. 
Fortunately, for the characters of this book, the cycle of destruction stops when Christ enters in and through an amazing 12 step program, Celebrate Recovery.  Cory finds out that addiction comes in many forms and that alcoholism isn't the only addiction people have to recover from.  Celebrate Recovery tackles any and every addiction that may plague an individual.  With many area churches hosting this program, I was thrilled to see it represented in detail of what takes place in the program. 
Cory learns it is NEVER TOO LATE and that Freedom is Possible. 
The same message that we ALL need to wrap our hearts around.  We may not battle alcoholism.  We may not battle drug addiction.  We may not battle pornography.  Yet, we ALL battle something.   We all carry pain and scars that need healing. We all need freedom.
Some of my favorite quotes or "take aways" from the book:
  • "Sometimes you dream about something your whole life only to forget about it once the dream has arrived.  Because even dreams can be a lot of work." many times have we found ourselves working so hard for something and then when the day comes, we can still feel so empty when our motivation was to fill a gap of something missing.  A spot that only Christ can fill.
  • "While God did indeed love them and protect them, He didn't always answer their prayers. That was one of the greatest mysteries of life.  But that didn't prevent her from continuing to have faith in Him.  It just made it a little harder."  I love the honesty of the thought process of Emma in the story.  She learned to cling to her faith even when God said no, not right now, or I have a different plan. 
  • "I'm just me.  Banged up and imperfect." Another character, Karen, was talking about how grateful she was to participate in Celebrate Recovery because she could openly share without fear of being judged.  She could be herself.  I loved those 7 words.  I got goosebumps thinking of those words and applying them to myself:  I'm just Tracye.  Banged up and imperfect. 
  • "Cory didn't realize that every single person living and breathing was broken.  Maybe they didn't carry the weight he did, and they didn't fracture themselves so much in life, but everybody was lost and in need of saving. Everybody stumbled and failed." Whether we handle our disappointments, pain, and heartache in a healthy manner or unhealthy manner----we ALL are broken.  We are all lost.  We are all in need of a savior. We all fall down and need to be picked up.
  • "I am valuable not because I am doing something well, but because I am God's child...and He doesn't make junk."  This is perhaps one of the greatest messages of the entire book.  Cory had to learn that even though his childhood baggage and then the repetition of continuing that cycle into his adulthood had warped his understanding of God and the image of Him being a loving father, he had value in JUST belonging to God. So many times we get caught up in feeling unlovable, unworthy, and believe that His love is performance based.  Truth is we are worthy of love JUST because we are HIS---not based on works.  He can never love us more if we do more and He can never love us less if we fail.  His love is truly without condition.
The only negative thing I could say about the book is that I wish the author had spent more time writing about the recovery process.  He spent the first 350 pages of the book talking about the "messed up" life and then only 50 pages of the "turn-around".  With so many good points brought out in the book, I feel like he could have written so much more about the character once he submitted to Christ and to recovery.  I think it would have been beautiful to have seen that develop more than in just a few quick pages!

I can hardly wait to go see this on the big screen! 

One copy of the book is being given away to a reader chosen at random on 3/31 (contest ends at 8 PM CST).  Simply just leave a comment to enter.  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Coming Back Soon

I've been quiet this week and not jumped back into blogging like I thought I would. 

I expected to come back from Hearts at Home with my fingers just itching to type faster than my thoughts could form. 

I just KNEW He would show up and speak to my heart. 

I absolutely expected this year at Hearts to be the most heart reaching for me.  Having spent the last several months behind the scenes with Jill Savage on the book launch team for "No More Perfect Moms" and knowing how powerful the theme was and how much it had already reshaped me....I just KNEW God would further that. 


He showed up.

He challenged.

He inspired.

He broke down walls. 

He brought laughter.

He soothed wounds.

He opened my eyes.


So many more things.

I just have yet to find the words to share all of that experience. 

Life IMMEDIATELY returned to busy, whirling faster than lightning.  As with most major times of spiritual refreshment, satan is waiting to attack and ready to do so in the weakest areas.  Just when I'm needing to pull in and be introspective, life is a blur and that time is not easily found.

No different this year!

I have found myself this week in such a strange place.  Exhausted. Overwhelmed.  Disconnected, yet so connected to Him. Emotionally spent, yet so alive inside.

Those feelings aren't unusual or so "strange", except for how heavy it feels right now. 

I'm still trying to glean everything from every speaker and every conversation.  My heart is like a sponge right now as it's still trying to soak in every drop.  God is absolutely reaching in and rearranging so much in me. 

It's unnerving.

From the outside, my family is seeing me stressed and tired.  Yet, from the inside, they aren't seeing what really is going on. 

Their Mom (wife) is actually going through a refining.  A breaking down of walls.  A faith that is being strengthened, even through testing. 

God is here.  He's listening.  He's reaching out.

In the whirlwind of life, I'm still seeking.  Still finding. 

Oh how I wish I could just run away for a few days so I could truly calm the outside chaos to hear the inner workings of His spirit. 

Looking forward to the words free flowing to the keyboard again.  Definitely will be blogging next week with some more give-a-ways.  Hope to be blogging about the heart changes taking place.  Even hope to be blogging, transparently, about the hard things----those hidden cobwebs that He is sweeping out.

One specific workshop I attended I KNEW would be hard and life-changing and it most definitely didn't disappoint, even though it was HARD to sit through and now hard emotionally to work through.  (Letting Go of Baggage with Suzie Eller----and now joining in her book study of Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness).  

I'm coming back soon.  Just soaking in and working through what God is working on in me right now.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ready for Renewal

I'm officially ready to walk out the door in a couple of hours to make the drive over to Bloomington, IL for the National Hearts at Home conference. 

My bags are ready.

The last minute details are taken care of or will be shortly.

Most importantly, my heart is ready.

I wanted to post a blog about all the things I was hoping to see/learn this weekend.  All the things that I knew God would show up and do. 

But I can't.

I'm already so emotional.  I'm already so overwhelmed with expectation.

I know God is ready to show up in a BIG way.  I know that because He's already here.

I'm ready to get lost in the crowd of 6,000 other women wanting and needing a fresh outpouring of encouragement and hope.  I definitely can't wait to relax, laugh, and just let the weight off my shoulders for a couple of days.  More importantly, I know that God has something big to show me. 

I'm confident of that. 

Some years the workshops I've been assigned/chosen have focused on marriage.  Some years it has been on getting through a particular rough spot in parenting.  Some years it has been just about a boost of encouragement after being weary.  One year, it was about finding the courage to battle through the emotions of losing Dad.

This year, it's about a bigger picture.  It seems like instead of "one" focus or one "need", God has placed me in the position to absorb what I need in MANY areas. 

I'm hungry with anticipation. I'm ready for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

I'm even ready to be broken.  For that means that He can rebuild and repair in the way HE needs. 

I'm thrilled to finally see Jill Savage on stage talking about the information in her incredible book, "No More Perfect Moms".  These last several months of working behind the scenes on her book launch team has been something incredible for my heart.  Instead of just being able to promote her book and try to get it in the hands of as many moms as possible, it changed me instead. 

I do admit....

I'm a wee bit nervous.  OK----- a LOT nervous.  I like to blend in the crowd.  As an introvert, I just want to soak in and be alone.  I already know that God is pushing me out of that box more than I'm used to. 

I also am nervous because I know He's going to challenge me in ways that I'm not sure I'm ready for.  It's like postponing reading a book because you know it's going to challenge the way you think about things.  Kevin and I have been praying specifically about some direction we need to go as a family, a couple, and as individuals.  We've been praying for this weekend to be a time that God can reach in and talk to me so that He can actually be heard above all the craziness of normal life. 

I'm also just speechless with gratitude.  This is the VERY first year that I am attending without guilt or concern about the cost of registration, hotel, spending money, etc..  I actually can spend some time shopping with a little money in my pocket at the expo.  The first several years, we couldn't justify spending the money to attend and my heart ached.  That next year, Kev bought me the conference to go as a Mother's Day present, but we couldn't afford the full conference.  I finally was able to go in person other years, but it took some major planning and saving.  At times, I felt broken watching women spend money left and right....and I couldn't.  We would even drive back and forth because we couldn't afford the hotel.  I was so thankful that he would take the time off work to drive us back and forth and spend time with the kids. It was a BLESSING beyond words to attend, but it was a sacrifice of something else to do so.  This year, because of the gift of being able to provide childcare and having focused intently on paying off debt the past couple of years, there is NO guilt or regret in spending the money to make it a fun weekend for all of us.  God provided!  I'm thankful and appreciative.  Kev and the kids have a fun weekend planned as well.  They will get some incredible family time while my heart is getting what it needs!

I've heard it often, and continue to do so, that I'm crazy for loving being home with my kids, homeschooling, and then taking on extra little ones to love on part time and full time.  We prayed consistently for months before making that decision.  I wasn't for sure if I could handle the responsibilities of my own and home education requirements AND then to add more!  However, God put a peace in my heart and confirmed constantly that this WAS the path He chose for us.  The results: He has provided abundant, overflowing joy.  Energy.  (Now, don't get me wrong....many days ARE FAR from perfect and exhausting!) Laughter.  Grace.  Above all, focus and accountability has created such a family dynamic that we are happier, healthier, and more connected than we've ever been before.  As a matter of fact, today my youngest completed his last regular assignment for 1st grade.  Just a couple of weeks ago, my oldest completed her 10th grade year.  My middle son will finish in 10-12 days.  This is the FIRST year that we've completed the year without having to go well into summer AND we've finished VERY early.  All I can say to that is that God knew what He was doing.  He equipped us all with what we needed and continues to do so!  This mom is thankful. 

This mom is ready to see what He has waiting for us!  It may not be what I "think".  It may not be what I "want".  It may not be what is "comfortable". 

I do know it will be what is RIGHT. 

Ready to go soak in some encouragement.  Ready to listen to His voice.  Ready to respond to that voice! 

I'm just ready....

(And for those of you that know me well----YES----I did have to get a new notebook/binder just so I can take LOTS of notes.  Yes, I did buy some more of my favorite pens (FRIXION pens make me smile because I can erase and not get upset when my "perfect" page has scribbles!) . Of course my binder and bag are damask.  Yes, my need for organization did overtake:  I did color code my paper according to workshop.  Yes....I packed an extra pack of tissues. Yes, I do have back-up pens in my Bible case for JUST in case.  Yes, you can officially laugh at me!  Though SOME of you get it, others of you think I'm crazy! :)  That's ok! )  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Heart Cleaning

I admit it.  I have spring fever worse than I've had it in a very long time. 

I'm antsy. 

I'm moody. 

I'm energetic one second and lethargic the next. 

I'm ready for some sunshine. 

I'm super ready for some cleaning. 

Yes, I just said that. 

I'm "itching" to purge, organize, and scrub.  It's therapeutic on so many levels.

Though spring isn't really showing its face around here yet, the snow is officially melted and I see a few tiny sprigs of green peaking through. 

Seeing those few green sprigs coupled with some mounting stress, I "HAD" to find a spot and attack it this morning. I knew I didn't have time to do a major project, but I could find something to make a small difference with. 

So....I started the attack on the kitchen.

I really like the look of clean countertops, but since we don't have much cabinet space, that's hard to come by.  I really do desire the uncluttered, chaos free spaces.  I love to look up and just see a blank slate, most especially when I'm stressed. 

I finally realized that if I want that open space, I HAVE to make space in the cabinets for the things that are sitting out.  Without much space to spare, that meant I had to get rid of things. 

And boy did I....

I mean really, how many pots does one really need?  There are only four spots on the stove!  How many bread and pie pans does it really take, even on a baking frenzy day?  Do I really need those specialty items that rarely get used or just used during a certain season (like during canning season) or can I move those to the basement or garage?

I'm not done, yet, but I did clear up enough space to rediscover my countertops.  I now have a space to look at that brings about calm instead of clutter.  I still have to go finish some more cabinets and organize and toss/donate things, but I made progress.  I even got out the murphy's and polished the cabinet fronts and washed blinds. 

In the middle of the mess I made.... (have you ever noticed that when you start a cleaning project you initially make a BIGGER mess!)

God found me.

He reminded my heart that I need to be doing the same things in my own heart and soul. 

Are there things I need to let go of?  Is there too much clutter?  Am I leaving my "counters" clean or am I letting junk build up?

What gunk is hiding in the corners needing to be washed away? What little mess have I allowed to spiral out of control?

Perhaps, I need to give some of what's lurking in my cabinets away.  Meaning, I need to give it to Him instead of trying to stuff more and hide it behind doors. 

Well, you know what happens when you stuff too much behind a door?

Someone will open that door at the wrong moment and it will all come falling out.  That's been known to happen a time or two (or a million or two!) with our closets!

In my own heart, I can stuff and stuff until someone says just the wrong (or right) word and it all can explode out of me like a pressure cooker letting off steam. 

It isn't pretty.

God reminded me that my heart is in need of some spring cleaning.  I'm most definitely looking forward to this weekend at Hearts at Home National Conference.  I know so much will minister to my heart during those few days.  I always come away challenged, convicted (not condemned) and renewed. 

I've been spending the last several days and will continue spending time this week just trying to get my heart prepared.  I know that many attend just to get a break from "mom reality" and relax.  THAT is super important and a GREAT plus to the weekend, but I'm ready for what it does on the inside of my heart.  The laughs will be incredible ( I've seen Anita Renfroe live before and my cheeks and abs hurt for several days from the laughter!) and are definitely a prescription that is needed when life feels so heavy.  Yet, it's the depth I'm craving and I KNOW I won't come home disappointed.  As with previous years, I know that I'll come home overwhelmed and on overload.  I'll actually feel somewhat more stressed than I left because it's just SO much to absorb.  However, in the days that heart will begin to soak in all of the nuggets of truth and encouragement.

I will grow and stretch.  God will clean out many of those "cabinets" of my heart.  It will leave room for me to be able to fill them only with what He desires. 

Spring cleaning isn't just for the physical home. It's for the heart as well. 

Ready for both.  Even though it's not the easiest process. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

JJ Heller LOVED Review/Give-a-Way

I have to admit, before listening to this new CD, I wasn't very familiar with JJ Heller.  I do LOVE her song: "What Love Really Means"....but that's honestly about the only one I know. I was thrilled to have the chance to check out more of her music.
I'm going to be really honest:  the first time I listened to the CD, it didn't really grab me and beg me to come back and listen again.  However, I was completely distracted and busy doing too many other things.  I liked the music style, but I truly just didn't give it the attention it deserved. 
I listened again.
And since then I've listened again and again....because oh grabbed me.  When my heart wasn't distracted and I stopped to listen to the words, I literally found myself in nearly every song.  Tears fell.  God was near.  Hope was found.  Fears released.  Faith renewed. 
These words are powerful.  They are real.  They are raw.
This isn't a jump up and down, hands in the air, worship cd.  It IS a CD with an HONEST, introspective look at real life and how God is with us through every amazing moment and every heartbreaking disappointment.  Above all, it's a reminder of LOVE. 
I'm so glad I gave it another chance because it's quickly becoming a favorite.  Nearly every song has a line that grabs my heart and won't let go.  That is the beauty of HONESTY lyrics.  Incredible lyrics. 
I'm a new fan.  Oh goodness!
Want to check out JJ Heller's newest CD?  Enter to win one copy to be given away at random on 3/19 (contest ends at 8 PM CST).  Simply just leave a comment to enter!  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!  Are you already a fan of JJ Heller or are you a "newbie" interested in checking out her music? 
Music Video

About JJ Heller's LOVED

When JJ Heller and her husband/co-writer, Dave, began writing for their sixth studio album LOVED, life looked a few shades darker, more painful and confusing than it had during the work on their work of the recent past. Over the past few years, the duo steered much of their material toward the whimsical and simple joys of life, love and new parenthood. But, when confronted by illness, death and broken marriages within their community, the Hellers chose to stay true to the weight of their season of life when crafting lyrics this time around.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Letting God Do What He Does Best

Part of yesterday's Mission Conference  included a missionary speaker from Indonesia.  Let me just say:  he had ABUNDANT enthusiasm.  For those that were there yesterday, you totally know what I mean.  He has the energy of my 6 year old!

Aside from the joy he brought as he spoke, he definitely has caused us to really be introspective about mission work. 

Coloring Sheets and a Guitar....

He talked about how they didn't know where to start when they began their ministry.  They knew that God was calling them to be His hands and feet, but they didn't now how.  After the volcanic eruption (2010?) when most of the Americans left and thousands of locals became refugees, they decided to stay behind and try to help, even without running water or electricity for 4 months. How? What?

They began with coloring sheets and a guitar in a refugee center.

God did the rest. 

Because of their willingness to do what they could, even though it felt like so little....God was able to step in and do what He does best. 

Create miracles. 

He did it in the Bible.  Just one example: feeding of the five thousand from just a few fish and loaves of bread offered by a little boy.

Their obedience and willingness to serve opened the door for others to partner with them to bring about much needed help to an area in desperate need.  That then opened the doors for the ministry of the gospel and the conversion of many Muslims to Christianity. Now they literally have a waiting list of individuals waiting to be baptized.  A definite work of God!

His words really struck a chord with me.  All afternoon his words kept echoing in my heart and then all night I kept tossing and turning with the question running through my head....

What are our coloring sheets and guitar?

We are in that same place of not knowing what to do, but knowing we want to serve. 
We are in that same place of not having much to give, but know we can give of ourselves.

It's a visual reminder of how God can do so much with so little when you have willing hands and a willing heart. 

We are praying that God will reveal to us what our coloring sheets and guitar of offering to Him will be and how to use them.   I know the timing of yesterday's message was perfect for our hearts.  It reminded us that "little can be much when God is in it".

Sunday, March 10, 2013

But God...

This post actually started out as an attempt at a facebook status update.  However, as I typed and retyped it numerous times I found that I couldn't squeeze my thoughts into that "short" space and it make sense.  So off to blog world I go....

Today, while soaking in the surroundings at church, I felt another confirmation of being where God wants us to be. 

Let me back up....

We officially changed churches back in November/December. 

It was one of the hardest things we've done in a long time.

We (especially ME) weren't ready to give up our comfort zone.  We weren't ready for relationships to change.  We weren't ready to lose that "home" connection we had been able to find after moving 375 miles from home. 

In all honesty, we were disobedient to God's calling for us to be somewhere else for a VERY long time.  That lack of obedience COST us.  It created unnecessary turmoil in our hearts.  We knew God was asking us to go in a different direction, but we weren't willing to do what He was asking.  We didn't want to start over.  So much of my being unsettled and "stressed" came from my own unwillingness to do what was asked.  Long story short....we created more stress in our own hearts and in our marriage/family because we willingly didn't follow through with what God had put in our hearts.

Our church wasn't bad in the least.  It's a church full of incredible people, with their hearts sold out to loving God and others. 

Yet, it's not where God wanted us to be.  It's not the direction He had for us.

Finally, stepping in obedience, has restored peace.  It's reopened a closeness with God that we needed. 

We definitely are starting over in regards to knowing few people and not quite finding "our" place, yet.  However, we've never been somewhere that we've felt more welcome from the onset or more comfortable in regards to knowing that God had His hand on this "move". 

Today, I felt a HUGE confirmation in my heart that He definitely had reasons for leading us in a different direction.  Though we know some of the specifics of why we needed the change, others have been more vague. 

Today, I understood ONE of those many reasons.

Opening doors. 

These last two weeks have been devoted to highlighting mission work that our church is involved in.  I KNEW our new church home was mission minded.  In our experience, Assemblies of God churches are heavily involved in mission work.  However, we've NEVER been anywhere that supports mission work as greatly as our new church.  I just didn't realize how far reaching it was!  It's been phenomenal to see and hear the hearts of so many that are serving both domestically and internationally.  It's truly opened our eyes. 

It's no secret we are seeking direction in regards to feeling called to some type of mission work.  Somewhere.  Some day. 


We don't feel prepared.  We don't feel ready.  We don't feel capable. 

We have more doubts and questions than we have answers.

But God....

But God... is speaking.  We are beginning to open our ears, eyes, and hearts....and listening intently. 
But God....can provide.
But God....can equip.
But God....can make the path known.

For every "but" we can conceive or comprehend....God has an answer. 

I realized today very powerfully that we are where we need to be while we wait for those answers. 

Over 50 different couples or families are currently being financially supported on behalf of our church, circling the globe. 

Though financial support is necessary and well appreciated, it was the hearts that caught my attention today.  The people around us are TRULY passionate about supporting through prayer, finances, encouragement, etc...  Holding a "passport" that was given out today that includes bios, prayer requests, and photos of each missionary really struck me.  These pages are filled with "ordinary" people that listened to God and STEPPED out when He asked.  As I looked up and saw the large flags representing every country that is currently moved me.  I know each and every name on our prayer bookmarks and in our passports had some of those same "But Gods". 

We are where we need to be. 

We are where we need to be so we can listen and learn.  Where our passion can literally find the fuel to feed our faith to step out when that times comes.  We are in a place that we can gather from the experiences of others (especially as some very dear friends are preparing to leave for South Africa...and how amazing it will be to see their faces in our "passports" next year).  We are in a place where we can grow and learn. 

The place where we can see where our passions are leading.  The place where we can soak in what is around us and decide if God is truly speaking and leading or if we are just walking in our own desires or for the wrong reasons.  The place where we can wait and see how and where He is leading. 

The place where I know that our "But Gods" will begin to be replaced with the bold faith that accepts that He is more than capable to handle anything.  Saying we have the faith is one thing, but firmly grasping and accepting is another.  Yet, I'm beginning to feel the gap between the two slowly (VERY slowly) closing.  There are moments that Kevin and I are beginning to have the same specific leading and whispers in our hearts.

Today, I'm thankful..... for where we are.  We are emotionally/spiritually in a place of uncertainty in regards to knowing where our next step will lead.  BUT that place is a good place.  It's driving us to Him to find the answers and making us lean on Him in a deeper way. 

VeggieTales Review & Give-a-way


"If you like to talk to tomatoes. If a squash can make you smile.....Broccoli, celery.....VeggieTales, VeggieTales.......There's never-ever-ever-ever-ever been a show like VeggieTales!"
Our family has been singing silly songs with Bob and Larry for well over 15 years now.  (Yikes, did that REALLY just make me feel old!).  We've been faithful watchers of the VeggieTales series since nearly the beginning.  We are now even thrilled to know that our granddaughters also spend time watching.  (Again, I just felt a wee bit old!). 
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and watch another BRAND NEW episode in the series this last week.  I knew I wouldn't be disappointed!
I absolutely LOVED this one!  Granted, VeggieTales is for the preschool crowd!  However, this Momma actually enjoys watching them.  Hopefully that means I'm young-at-heart (or maybe a tad bit of sanity has been lost through years of parenting!). 
This new one:  About the Little House that Stood ranks way up high as one of my favorites.  It retells one of my favorite Bible stories (obviously in TYPICAL VeggieTales style!)  It immediately took me back to my own childhood years and the moments of teaching each of my own children the precious children's song "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock".  After all, isn't this what biblical motherhood is about.  Giving our children a firm foundation to stand on.  Teaching them by example the importance of following God's footprints! 
I absolutely adored the way that this particular video included so many childhood nursery rhyme characters into the story, teaching each of them the importance of being neighborly and working together. 
I'm not going to lie.....I *ahem* was probably the most enthusiastic viewer of this particular movie!  :)  From the youngest in the house (1 year olds) to the oldest, we all laughed, smiles, and sang-along, all the while being immersed in wholesome values and Biblical truths. 
The great thing about VeggieTales is that it grasps the attention of the youngest viewers and provides a springboard for teaching wholesome values as they get older.  Plus, the characters are just completely adorable. 
Can you tell we are a Veggietales family?  :)
I'm excited to be able to offer a copy to one of you!
One reader will be chosen at random on March 17th (contest ends at 8 PM CST).  Just leave a comment to enter (be SURE to leave an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner).  Just say you want to be entered OR tell me your favorite VeggieTales episode or character! 



About The Little House That Stood
When the Three Little Pigs roll into Cabbageville looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue! Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt with bricks, but only Bob builds his houses on a firm foundation - following the wise plans from the Master Builder's Handbook! Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses - and their lives - on solid ground? Find out in this parable that shows kids when they follow God's blueprints, then can stand strong when the storms come! 

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Little Angels: Prayers for Every Day Review & Giveaway (Roma Downey)

I'm super thrilled to share a couple of reviews and give-a-ways this week for parents of young children! 

So thankful! 

Up first tonight:

Little Angels Prayers for Every Day
Roma Downey with Illustrator Lisa Reed
To be honest, I wasn't aware that Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel series from years ago) had ventured into books for children.  I honestly didn't know what to expect.
Instantly, upon opening the package, both of the little ones I provide child care for were drawn to the book.  Instantly! It was like a magnet!
Before I even had a chance to actually read it to them, they were entranced!  They both (18-20 months old) turned the pages and began "talking" about everything they saw on the pages.  I just sat back and smiled!  It was precious. They both were more vocal than I'd heard to date.
I initially was impressed with the quality of the book.  Excellent for little hands!  I wasn't expecting a board book with thick pages and heavy duty cover.  It definitely can take being handled by little hands!
Then---once I began to read it, they loved it.  They were mesmerized!
The book is a series of short little, rhyming prayers.  Catchy and cute. 
I LOVE how they are grouped according to topic!  For example:  prayers for help, comfort, meals, bedtime, praise, etc...
An example of one from the "Praise" section:
Dear Jesus,
I just want to tell everyone about the joy you bring. I'm happy just to know you, Lord.  You make me want to sing!
Over and over, we've been reading them.  I look forward to spending time repeating the catchy little prayers with the "littles" often. 
It was definitely a nice surprise to have a product to review that literally, instantly, brought such joy to their little lives!  I'm thrilled to know that it's a precious tool to instill more of the goodness of God in their little hearts as they learn and grow!  Even my six year old has picked it up several times to read it and it just makes me smile!
I'm excited to be able to share a copy with one of you readers.  Just simply leave a comment that you'd like to be entered to win.  MAKE SURE that your comment has an email address so I can contact you if you are randomly chosen as the winner. Contest will end at 8 PM (CST) on March 12th!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."