Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Adventures

I can't do it all. 


Yet, sometimes I need the reminder that I can't and I'm not expected to. 

With this season of life and the fact that things at our house are changing as we prepare for future ministry AND with some changes coming with new "littles", my heart needs to remember that I can not do it all and I can't even do MOST.....on my own that is.  It's a team effort with all of us AND with God at the center.  

  I'm a recovering perfectionist and it's hard for me to accept that some things can't be done to my "standards" all the time.  

What I can do is SEEK GOD first and frequently.  Give Him my list.  Give Him my responsibilities.  Give Him my desires and needs.  Give Him my weaknesses.  Praise Him for the good moments and seek Him during the not so good. 

I CAN take my eyes off of pinterest perfection.  I can embrace the things I do accomplish and put blinders on to the things I wish I could accomplish.  I can take my eyes off those other women that seem to make life look easy and homeschooling like it's straight out of a magazine.  They may can make homemade bread, multi-course home cooked meals that don't have its start from a box.  They may can grow their own vegetables and can them for later in the season, while my jars sit in the basement empty.  They may have encyclopedia answers for the million questions their big kids and preschoolers ask and may not say "look it up" because they honestly don't know the answer (it's good for kids to look up answers, right! least that's what I remind myself!). They may have patience and soft voices that rival Michelle Duggar. They may create beautiful things and take professional quality pictures.  Dishes may never sit in their sink.  They may seem to have just the right thing to say or do to teach their children Biblical knowledge or life lessons!

Yet, my reality is different! :) I can give it my all, but I know that I can't maintain ANY sanity with those standards of perfection! Facebook and pinterest are fantastic----but they can cause us to feel less than or "failures" if we aren't careful.  My own standards can cause me to feel like I'm not getting enough right----but I'm thankful for a husband that constantly reminds me that I am to do what I can do and let the rest go. 

Over the next few weeks, in addition to my 7, 12, and 16 year olds , we'll be transitioning to full time and part time care of an almost 26 month old, 24 month old, 15 month old,  3 month old and 1 month old.  (Not all 5 will be here all day, every day!....I'm not THAT capable!) Yes, I'm crazy in the eyes of most people. Yet, I know we didn't take on these responsibilities lightly. God was in the middle of the decisions and will continue to be in the middle of our daily lives.  Yes, I'm going to be tired (ha....exhausted!) and some days my sanity will be thrown out the door! (Kevin MAY come home some days and I may kiss him and walk out the door for some peace and quiet!) However, our family truly does thrive when we are surrounded by littles. It doesn't make sense to most, but it makes perfect sense to us! God gave me an insatiable inner passion for small children----and our lives are most blessed when we live out of our passions.

Granted, it is going to take some SERIOUS organizing and planning.  Gone are lazy days! :) Gone are the quiet, slow days.  But that's ok....

I won't be leaving the house much in the daytime hours very much in the coming days.  I won't just run out the door for lunch.  I will have to get back on track with meal planning and freezer meals.  My "lists" that people make fun of will become crucial for survival.  I may have the deer in the headlights look and may be spinning in circles!

Grace becomes even more important.  Accepting grace for myself and extending grace to others will be essential! Patience and flexibility will rank high up there as well! 

There will be more baby, toddler and school gear around our house than ever before.  I may not know where I'm going to put things, but we'll figure it out. 

I will admit I'm nervous about balance, but I'm confident as well.  There are no words to describe the love I have for little ones.  It energizes me as it drains me.  It makes me happy even as it stresses.  It stretches me, but in ways that are beneficial.

Most of all, I know that far beyond the planning and letting go of perfection is that the only way I can give to others is if I let God fill me first.  He won't make every day go picture perfect and totally on schedule, but He can provide joy that isn't based on circumstances.  He can fill in the gaps where I lack.  He can do what I can't.  WHEN I give it to Him.

Above all, He reminds my heart that it's a blessing to be surrounded by children.  Even in the chaos.  Even in the mess.  Even when they refuse to sleep when you want them to!  :)

Praying for the transition and learning new personalities.  Praying for the wisdom to make decisions to help things go as smoothly as possible.  Praying for balance to make sure each individual feels important and loved.  Praying that even though my hands will be full, that my heart will be even fuller.  Praying for the families and parents that are represented.  Praying those families know how blessed I feel to spend time with their children (and that mine never forgot how much I value and love them!). Praying that my husband still knows he is second only to God in my life.  Praying that all of the details continue to be worked out. 
It's the only way I know to accomplish anything!

Grace Unplugged and Own It

Taking a short break from vacation to pop in and share a review and give-a-way for you!

Two for One Special!  One reader will receive TWO books and they are both FANTASTIC! Fantastic.  Double fantastic!

Grace Unplugged
Written by: Melody Carlson
Publisher: B&H Books
Paperback: 304 pages 
Release Date: September 1, 2013

Own ItWritten by: Hayley and Michael DiMarco
Publisher: B&H Publishing
Paperback: 192 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2013

Stay Connected
Grace Unplugged Movie Facebook:
Grace Unpluggled Movie Twitter: @GraceMovie
Grace Unplugged Website:
B&H Facebook:
B&H Twitter: @BHpub
And remember to check out the Grace Unplugged movie trailer

Grace Unplugged (My take)

My daughter and I have been VERY excited to see this upcoming movie (releasing Oct 4), so I jumped at the chance to read the book.  Absolutely was NOT disappointed and it makes me that much more excited to see the movie (with musical performances by Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace).  In the novel, Jamie Trey is blessed with an incredible singing talent and wants to pursue that dream. However, her father is set against it.  As a one hit wonder talent, he is reluctant to let her pursue her talents because he knows first hand what the "real" word can do to a young talent, most especially a Christian.  Jamie takes things into her own hands and soon finds out many of those lessons her father wanted to shield her from. Painful lessons that separate her from her family and cause her faith to be put to the test.  When I first agreed to review the book, I didn't really pay attention to the author, but I was thrilled to find out it was by Melody Carlson.  I've read several of her books lately and have enjoyed them all.  My absolute favorite part of the book is that you can read it from both the perspective of Jamie and her wanting to grow up and break away from her parents AND also from the parenting perspective.  The author does a FANTASTIC job of presenting both sides.  This makes it extra appealing to be read by teens AND adults! Not only was it a great story for entertainment value, it has some great moments about faith!  How do you come back from mistakes? What do you do when you are forced to make a choice that compromises your faith? EXCELLENT book!

Own It (leaving behind a borrowed faith) (My take)

A book mentioned in "Grace Unplugged", one that is crucial to Jamie's story, is "Own It".  It goes hand in hand with "Grace Unplugged".

This book is EXCELLENT.  It's not a fast read if you read it to truly change your life and to increase your faith---but it is GREAT.  Definitely recommend it for teens on up. My favorite part of the book is the highlighting.  I'm a highlighting, note taking nerd when I read and most important points are already in bold print.  GREAT VISUAL. It's a powerful book.  It explains how to truly embrace our faith as our OWN...not just the faith of our family.  It goes through explaining what owing your faith means and how truly owning your faith will save you, cost you, change you, complete you and free you.  I could write countless quotes, but a couple that jump out in my memory are:

  • "When you own your faith, His will becomes your will."
  • "The degree God intervenes in your life will be directly proportional to the time you spend with Him."
  • "If you struggle with wanting to be in control, of needing to manage not only your life but the lives of those around you, then what you are doing is playing God."
  • "Worry is your heart calling God a liar."  (This one really hit home! ouch!)
Though the book is targeted more to older teens and young adults, I found it to still be beneficial to my heart as well. 

Give-a-way will conclude at the end of  October 2nd.  One reader (USA and Canada only) will receive BOTH books.  Simply leave a comment to enter and BE SURE TO INCLUDE A CONTACT EMAIL....or I can't contact you if you are the winner (that has happened TWICE recently and I had to go onto the 2nd winner!)  

Thanks for taking the time to read the reviews, checking out what the books are about, and entering! 

Back to vacation world we go.....definitely loving the time with my husband and kids, being back in the Smokey Mountains and looking forward to being back "home" in a few days to see my little brother get married and spend some time on the family farm in gorgeous middle TN! 

*Disclosure of Materials Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the 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, September 22, 2013

In THIS Moment

God has called....

...and we have finally answered Him yes.

Though we don't know the timeline, we know it's not going to be as quickly as we want and probably sooner than we are ready in many ways!


we still MUST live in THIS moment.

The moments right here in front of us and the moments that God is still giving us.

Though we wait with much anticipation and we plan as much as possible to help make our dreams come true, we can NOT discount or ignore the NOW.

Because they matter and I don't want them to slip away.

Ministry opportunities right in our own home, in our own families, with our friends, in our churches, and in our own community still count.  Still matter.

Though we are in CONSTANT seeking mode and with a hunger we've never experienced, we can't let the moments of today slip away.

My mission field will be changing SOMEDAY to a different continent (crazy!), but today it's here.  In this moment.  In this location.

...and it still matters!

It still has value.

When we return from vacation and my brother's wedding, I will be adding some new "littles" to our home.  God gave us an opportunity right here on our own street of a family needing afternoon care for two "little bits".  A chance to be His hands and feet in a tangible way. This family had been on our hearts already and when the opportunity came about, we knew it was something to take on. I will be continuing to offer part time care for a family that we hold dear to our hearts with the upcoming birth of a precious daughter with a rare heart disease---as mom will be spending many weeks away a few hours away from home with her birth and immediate heart surgery. Though we can not come close to being mom (and an AMAZING one she is!), we CAN do our best to offer a loving environment for one of the big sisters and hopefully alleviate a tiny bit of stress from the family.  We will be getting back to full time care of the little boy that has been with us for almost a year and a half AND welcoming his newborn brother in just a few weeks when maternity leave ends.  Though their mom's heart is to be home with the some day, for now I can offer as much love and care to them as possible.

Ministry.  Hands and feet.

First and foremost, my mission field and ministry IS my family.  Our own home.  To love and serve my husband as God designed.  To love and raise our children in such a way that reflects God's love and teaches them to rely on Him, serve Him and serve others.  To educate our children in spiritual matters AND for their academic needs.  As a homeschool family, ministry happens around the kitchen table every day.

Our normal life IS still important and valuable.  I can't let the moments slip away as we wait and prepare for our calling to world missions.  Proactively preparing is important, but I must also keep my heart focused on NOW.

Time truly flies by.
Moments can really slip by unnoticed. More than I count unfortunately have through the years.
Chaos can drown out the stillness needed to worship and connect with Him.

I've always struggled with balance and now it's even more important to find the balance between schedules, needs, and keeping things on track BUT also the flexibility of embracing each moment that happens.  Seeing the opportunities that slip in and grasping them.  Slowing down to keep my eyes on Him and my heart open to little things right in front of my face that can be done to make someone's day a little brighter, moments to reach the hearts of my own children or husband, moments to be an example to others or an encouragement to those hurting, and to just stop and listen.

In the middle of the diapers, feedings, toy explosions, rocking and snuggling, naps, toddler meltdowns, disaster zones, mountains of laundry, meals to make, cleaning to do, appointments to meet, educational needs of 3 different grades plus preschool activities, etc....  I still have to find Him, listen to Him and engage in the moments that reach the hearts of others.

In this moment...

They still matter!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Confession

I have a confession to make. 

For someone considered "smart" back in the day (don't feel so smart these brain seems to be fried more often than it is alive! motherhood? age? too many things going on?), I feel so "not smart" when it comes to studying the Bible. 

There you have it. 

I said it out loud.

Well, I at least typed it for the world to see.....or at least the ones that read my ramblings.

I LOVE scripture.  I find GREAT value in it.  I hunger for it. 


I struggle. every. single. time. I. want. to. study. it. for. myself.

Surely I'm not the only one!

Scripture is alive and it comes alive in our hearts when we GET IT IN our hearts.

I can read it.  I can write it (as in copy the words). I can even memorize it.  I can pray it (scripture).

However, I just can't seem to dig deep into it without the help of a study guide, commentary, devotional, blog, etc...

In other words, I can't do it alone.

I can take the time and read, re-read, and try to apply it....

But to just pick up a passage, chapter, etc.. and study it in context, with historical applications, cross references, etc...

I can't.

I try.

But fail.

I can't remember timelines, names of places and minor characters, etc...

Grace says that's ok.

It's the content of my heart and motivation that matters.

Do I want the knowledge so I can "appear" more spiritual or do I want the knowledge so that it penetrates my heart more?

Do I want to study to "show off" my skills or do I want to know God more?

Do I want to study because I "have to" (legalistic approach) or because I'm hungry for the word and it's power in my life?

Do I study it because I'm in need of more of Him and less of me? Do I study as an act of spiritual warfare?  To transform my mind?

Struggling with understanding is NOT an excuse to skip it or to not attempt it.  I do let life get in the way of the amount of time I spend too often.  Sometimes that is an excuse and sometimes it is reality.

I know this....

I won't quit.  I won't stop trying. 

I'll keep praying, asking for wisdom and understanding.  I'll keep using references and doing what I can to bring at least a slight amount of background and context to what I'm reading. I will continue to read it and decide for myself, through the best of my ability and the leading of the Holy Spirit, what I think the message to my heart should be.  I'll continue to read excellent books and follow blog writers that are willing to speak truth and make "sense"....and read their personal thoughts about how to apply it to my daily life.  I will choose to exercise discernment in choosing authors and not just jump on the bandwagon of something popular (or follow every suggestion of the "must" read book of the week). 

I won't quit because I want to study with my children.  I want them to know much more than have it in their hearts.  Especially as the world continue to call right wrong and wrong right.

God is concerned with my heart.  He's concerned with my motivation.  He's concerned with my love for Him and my desire to serve Him.  Yes, it's important to know as much Biblical knowledge as I can and teach it to my children, but he's not sitting there grading me on how many correct answers I can give. (I still cringe at the thought of what grade I made on my college entrance exam of Biblical knowledge....I don't remember the grade...but I remember thinking they would probably not let me walk out the door without the big "L" on my forehead {this is not true by any means...but I did feel that way}. It didn't matter how many verses I could quote...I couldn't recall facts. ) My ability to be called HIS child is not contingent upon what grade I might get on a test.  I'm HIS because I accepted that I am a sinner and need His saving grace through the blood of Christ. 

 Yet, I can't get lazy.  I can't put learning about Him and His word on the backburner.

Though if you see me, don't be surprised if I have a perplexed look on my face and wonder how in the world other people can pull page after page of thoughts out of a passage and how they know the translations of the words in the original language.  But I won't quit....

I'll keep on....

Praying for wisdom.
Praying for understanding.
Seeking Him.
Soaking in His words to the best of MY ability.

Because I am His and I want to know more of Him. 

Missing Him

I *thought* I'd be ok.

I * thought* it wouldn't be so hard.

I *thought* it wouldn't matter so much. 

But it does....

More than I dreamed.

Time does make an absence more bearable but the emptiness does NOT go away. Those that say time heals all wounds...lied.

In barely over a week, I'll be back on the family farm.  Enjoying family.  Enjoying life.  Enjoying being in beautiful TN, back to our roots.  Back home. Being home feels even more important to us as the plans for our future unfold...and the fact the miles will be increasingly drastically.

Most importantly, I get to watch my "little" brother pledge his life to the one who stole his heart.  Words can't describe how amazing it is to know he found the one his soul loves. 


HE won't be there to welcome us home.  He was bigger than life and his memories touch every single aspect of being back home. Many never got the chance to know him or realize how impactful he was to all of us.

 We are thrilled that the wedding is going to be home on the farm and going to be spectacular...but...the absence hurts more than I imagined.

For our family, this is the first REAL event since Dad walked home with Jesus---and sending us into a whirlwind of change and heartache we didn't know existed. It will be the first time my siblings and I will all be together in one place (we all live spread apart). It's the first time we've been in a large gathering since his celebration of life and the first time we will see many family members. It's the first confrontation of our "old" lives colliding with our new "lives".  Life has been divided into before Dad died and after...

The wedding celebration coincides with his birthday. I know had he been here he would have been thrilled to not have had to wear a monkey suit....not sure he ever forgave his daughters for forcing him to wear tuxedos at our weddings. :)

It's not going to be easy and my stomach is churning with nervousness of how the emotions will impact.  I won't lie.  It's been creating shockwaves that I just wasn't prepared for. 

However, I know he will be there.  He'll be looking down at his son that I know he is proud of.  He'll be looking down with acceptance at the choice Matt made.  I know he'd be pleased.  I know he will be there in little physical details for those in the wedding party.  I know he'll be there in intangible ways that those of us that loved him dearly will recognize.  Many intangible ways....

(image credit to the bride-to-be....I stole it!)

I know this day will magnify the loss in our hearts.


It's a new season of life.  A new season that is beautiful and worth celebrating.  Love and hope.... nothing quenches those blessings. To see a new couple embark on their journey....well it's amazing....especially when you are a sap like I am.  (Pardon me, if I wipe a few tears now!) 

It's the beauty of another celebration as a daughter gets to walk down the aisle on the arms of her Daddy, feeling like a princess, despite his own physical battles.  It's a huge victory and moment of celebration for them that they are very much deserving of.  It's an emotional time for them as well.

I also cling to the beauty of Psalm 30:11

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy..."
and verse 5 as well
"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."
I continue to embrace the mourning.  I embrace the joy.  I embrace the new beginnings.  I will embrace the flood of memories.  I will embrace and hold him close---because he most definitely never left my heart.
(And Kevin....I'm waiting to fulfill with great joy the promised dance!) 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stepping Forward

It's been a little over a week since we committed to accept the call of missions in our lives.

All of the peace, joy, and excitement still remain.

The hunger for God grows stronger.

The longing to be where we know we belong grows daily.

The wanting to release ourselves from the things that hold us back or have a hold on us is growing rapidly as well.

Where are we now and where do we go from here?

We know where we want to be and where we want to serve.  We know which ministry we want to partner with.  That becomes more clear by the day.

We know a tentative plan on how to proceed and "officially" apply.  Though part of this process GREATLY depends on passport fees, application fees, etc... we HOPE to do this before Christmas.  We've created a budget to make sure that we have the finances available to get this rolling.

We plan to meet with our Pastor this week quickly and then after we return from our trip next week, a more in depth meeting.  Mostly just for accountability for our hearts AND to seek spiritual guidance and prayer support.

We are tentatively planning for Kevin to make an exploratory trip after the first of the year when his vacation days start over (and after we have had time to build up our savings).  Granted, I want to make this trip with him...beyond words....but logistics and finances don't allow for that at this point.  I trust him and HIM to make this trip without us.  (Though jealous!)

We continue to have confirmation that we are heading in the right direction, both in our hearts and in our children's hearts.  They are beginning to have a thirst that can't be quenched and their excitement builds.

Definitely MORE emotions of being terrified (I need another word because I seem to be overusing that one these days), but such peace and calm.

We are mostly focusing on NOT letting this dream/calling slip us by.  Relying on God for provision, but also being active in doing our part.

I keep saying I feel like we need a 5 gallon bucket OVERFLOWING with provision (both spiritually and financially) and that we only have a couple of drops rolling around in the bottom.  However, we know that every drop makes a difference and we'll see it grow (both finances AND spiritual needs).

The main thing is that we are NOT taking our eyes off of Christ and we are continuing to seek Him more and more.

Let the adventure begin....

BASH and the Pirate Pig Review & Giveaway

B&H Kids Facebook:
B&H Publishing Twitter: @BHKidsBuzz


This book, BASH and the Pirate Pig, made me literally laugh out loud!  Over and over again.'s geared for elementary and early jr. high kids, but I laughed constantly.  Hmmm....wonder what that says about me? NO...please don't answer that question!

Seriously, this adventure of two cousins and their CRAZY antics over a summer was a hoot.  Can I say "hoot" or does that give away too much of my southern TN roots?

Though at first glance, I thought the book wasn't going to be a good fit for my family mostly because the word stupid was in the first sentence and the first couple of pages definitely described a kid with an attitude problem (though REAL life I wasn't sure if that is what I wanted to give my kids to read because we are dealing with NOT having bad attitudes...GREATLY battling).  However, I'm glad I gave the book a chance because it only took a couple of pages before I knew that woven in between crazy adventures was LOTS of great Biblical truth AND scripture and the bad attitudes were quickly changed! By the end of the book, the Romans Way Biblical explanation of salvation was presented in the "words" of kids to be understood by kids.  LOVE!  Make that REALLY love!

I can HARDLY wait to let my 12 year old read this while we are on vacation next week.  My 7 year old will also love it!  As a matter of fact, it might best be read-a-loud while we travel because I think our entire family will be rolling in the floor with laughter.  Most especially because I can think of some crazy adventure stories my husband would tell of his childhood while spending summers playing with HIS cousins.  I mean really, boys....the things they can come up with!  I LOVED that the summer adventures were on a farm and the warm memories of childhood it brought back to mind for me.  After all, haven't YOU been cow tipping, dreamed of riding your cow to get icecream, built forts and boats, named all of your animals crazy names AND gone SNIPE hunting (yes, oh yes....I fell for that one growing up!)


About Bash and the Pirate Pig 

Bash and the Pirate Pig, by Burton Cole, is the story of a cranky city kid named Raymond "Beamer" Boxby who must spend summer vacation at his younger cousin, Bash's, farm. 

Beamer prefers air conditioning and video games. He can't see what good can come of this so-called country fun that includes riding cows, river rafting with a pig, or playing with skunks. 

But hang tight, Beamer, because Bash's zany adventures with his "Fishin' and Farmin' book" (The Bible) just might lead to the coolest discovery of all. 

About the Author
Burton Cole is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist with thirty years of experience and more than fifty humor writing awards to his credit. He grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio and attended a small-town church with a slew of cousins and buddies. That same boyhood inspires his colorful stories today. 

About the Illustrator 
Tom Bancroft has more than twenty years of experience in the animation and illustration industry and worked with Disney on films including Beauty and the BeastThe Lion King, and Aladdin. Other clients have included DC Comics and Big Idea Productions. 

Bash and the Pirate Pig 
Written by: Burton Cole 
Illustrated by: Tom Bancroft
Publisher: B&H Kids
Hardcover: 224 pages 

ONE reader (US or Canada) can win a copy of Bash and the Pirate Pig.  Simply comment on this post (or my facebook link) and you will be entered to win.  PLEASE be sure to leave an actual email address so I can easily contact the winner.  Winner will be chosen at random (using on Sept 24th!  (Though we will be traveling, I will still jump back online to choose and notify the winner!).  Comment before 12 noon CST to be entered! 

*Disclosure of Materials Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the 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."

Friday, September 13, 2013

This Is Where We Are

Today, I'm just thinking of the desires of my heart and how those desires are so lined up with each of the members of our family unit. 

Today, I'm thinking about how we are praying and seeking for God's provision and for the doors to open to provide those desires because we believe that God's desire for us lines up with our desires. 

That is place of peace that words just can't describe.

I write this post mainly because I want to remember.  I want to remember these emotions and I want to remember what it was like to feel the results of surrender.

We know where we desire to be and we have visions in our hearts of what we picture ourselves doing.  While we wait to see that become reality....

We are experiencing some amazing things that just don't make sense other than to know that it comes from having stopped the running.

  • I can pray again without hindrance.
  • I can sleep like I've not sleep in longer than I can remember (except obviously when the kids have needs and the typical things that come along with parenthood).
  • I can pray again with hope and expectation.  I don't have this looming fear that my prayers don't go beyond the roof.  I still have doubts and don't have the full "mustard seed" faith that I desire, but it IS growing.
  • I feel like for the first time in a very long time, I'm returning to myself---meaning I feel like ME.  I am acting like me. 
  • Not only do I feel like me, but I feel I'm finally in this place that God can shape me HIS way.  HE is getting through my outer shell and into the most inner part of me.
  • Our home----oh my goodness---it's just JOY filled.  There is a lightness that words can't describe, even in the midst of HEAVY decisions. Many of you know we are struggling with some parenting issues (just typical things that most parents have to work through) and though we still have mountains to climb, we see progress and hope like never before.
  • We are softer and more vulnerable with each other.  ALL of us.  We are communicating in a way that just has honestly been missing.
  • I can't get enough of being with God and spending time in His word and talking to Him. 
  • I feel like I'm walking around with a glow---just a true overflowing.
  • I can feel the Holy Spirit moving more freely in me by the minute and I have MISSED this freedom for so long.  Chains are literally breaking every direction. I wait with expectation knowing that as more chains break, I will become more of the me He has designed me to be
  • I am thankful for the little messages ("coincidences" others might say) to our hearts in the most amazing little ways.  Enough of a reminder to keep our hearts focused.
  • I'm amazed at how the things/belongings we have suddenly just seem less important.  As we think ahead to know that some day, we will be somewhere else with MUCH MUCH less "stuff", we are finding how much things once so important just don't matter.  Just yesterday, I sat around looking and thinking some about our home and what makes it "ours" and I realized more and more it isn't the stuff.  It isn't what is on the walls, in our closets, etc... Even the hobbies and things that have brought me joy, just don't seem to have the same pull.  Yes, I still want to craft and create, read, sew, scrapbook, etc... but there has been a shift. Even last night, I found myself looking at some clothes I bought last week and I realized I didn't need them.  Not HERE in this time and most definitely not in the future we were see ourselves serving.  (Obviously clothes will be necessary----but not the same types or the same quantity!).  So we returned which ones I could. 
  • As we look ahead to activities that we are planning ahead for or we know that come up every year, we wonder will we be here? Will be here for this one, but not the next one?  It is making us realize which activities are truly valued and which ones were just "extra".
  • I am finding that I'm in a place of more joy just in the little things.  Though time is still a constraint and finding the right balance in taking care of everything on my plate in regards to our home, homeschooling, littles, husband, spending time with God, and the countless other well...a HARD struggle....BUT I'm finding that my attitude is different and I'm doing many of those things with much more abandon and enjoyment.
  • This is huge---I'm finding I can let go and just focus on the moment.  That is PURELY of the Holy Spirit changing in me.  I'm a recovering perfectionist.  I'm a scheduler/planner/have a back up to plan B and C, and put some very unreal expectations on myself.  Though I've been working to change that for a good year now, I finally feel some real progress is being made.
  • Kevin and I talk daily about how we SEE God at work.  We see little things happening that we KNOW are coming from Him.  We can look back at things and see how He was preparing the way or making His presence known.  Beginning to see some threads in the tapestry He has woven for us.
  • Kevin and I also talk daily about how we are in this place of "the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace"'s TRUE.  The things that mattered or hurt so much last week, just are growing STRANGELY dim.  They are there.  They still hurt.  They still have to be dealt with....but they are just dim.  We are big picture focused and it releases such weight, allows for healing and forgiveness of some things, and just allows our hearts to become centered on Him.
  • Even though I'm CONSTANTLY with my children, I'm finding more and more desire to be with them.  TRULY be present with them and just embrace more of every little moment.  Thursday nights are my night "off"---I can use that to go to the library and read, spend time shopping (or window shopping most often), eat a meal by myself, just about anything that $20 allows. Kevin gives me this night to renew my spirit and renew physically and mostly just to SOAK in some quiet and calm (if you can imagine being home ALL the time with 16,12, 7 and multiple 2 year olds and find you NEED renewal even though you LOVE with PASSION your life!).  My family has outgrown the ages and benefits of a Parent/Mom Morning Out program, but it was still needed.  I've found that I still need that quiet and calm, but I need my family just as much.  Last night, I asked my family to come along with "my" night off and we made it family night out.  We still stuck to the $20 limit and shared some plates of chicken teriyaki and ate it at a park the kids had never been to but that Kev and I frequent on date night.  The weather was our first beautiful "fall-like" night and we both just sat back and awe of the changes we see in our kids.  They also GLOW with expectation.
  • I'm finding God giving me new opportunities to connect with individuals.  To encourage individuals through trials they are focusing with new eyes and new purpose.  He's let me see that at times of feeling "non-existent" and invisible---I was being seen by Him and that He is using some of my darkest times as a ministry opportunity.
The list could go on forever. 

The point is that, even in the midst of the doubts that are creeping in or in some cases screaming, we know they are not indicators of reality.  Reality is what we are seeing and knowing to be true. 

We know this is our call.  We know that the peace we feel and the changes in our heart is of God.  We know that as long as we are fully seeking Him as we are and how that growth continues.....we can't go wrong.

We can wait for the answers.  But we don't wait helplessly.... We are being proactive.  We are beginning to seek financial support in a "what-if" scenario.  Just speaking out of our passion and what is in our hearts.  We refuse to let these moments pass us by.  We are actively in pursuit.

We can wait for the answers and doors to open AND weed through the uncertainty and what now....because we know He's opening little doors at a time and a BIG one is just around the corner.

We can wait for the "please come join us.....we have a spot JUST waiting for your family".....

I can wait for the answers because I'm so amazed with just what is happening to our faith just in the saying yes.....

I can only imagine what happens to our faith when He swings that door WIDE open and says...come...I've been waiting for you.  I've been preparing this place for you.  THIS is the opportunity I've had for you. 

Oh yes....

I can wait for that!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Our Knees

Back again on last night's topic of running and surrender...

As He begins the process of molding and shaping us, teaching us, and preparing us, we are also in a place of surrendering more and more things to Him.

Conviction over areas that we still are not obedient to Him or areas that we need to give to Him and leave at His feet (and not pick back up!) runs through our hearts.

One such thing that has been on my heart for WELL over a year  is the act of praying on my knees.

It's just a "simple" act.  One that I didn't think would be as powerful as it has been.  One that seemed so powerful the few times I did it...but I just never gave in.

My heart began that pull WAY back in March of 2012 (yes, I'm ashamed to say I've been having this in my heart THIS long without submitting!).  Dr. Juli Slattery gave a life-changing main session workshop on wisdom and she ended it with asking the 6,000 women gathered to move out of their seats and onto their knees to end the weekend in powerful prayer.  It. was. POWERFUL!

That moment stayed in my heart.  It washed over and over me with the power it had.


I didn't surrender.

The feeling didn't go away.

Occasionally, Kevin and I would pray on our knees at different times and I would marvel at the power that brought.

Yet, we didn't make it a priority.

Even though my heart was drawn to that "simple" act.

I was most especially drawn back to that act, convicted (not condemned) of it in a powerful way when we attended Teach Them Diligently in May.  It came up several times in different workshops.  "On our Knees" can be just a phrase to reference praying.  However, these women spoke of the power that the physical act brought.  I've written of how Rachael Carman reached some deep places in my heart during her workshop on "Having a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids" in Letting Go (and boy do those words have MUCH more meaning now!).  What I didn't write was how she REALLY moved my heart in regards to praying on our knees.  On her knees in front of the room, she prayed for our workshop and our lives.  She talked about the importance of that act of saying "You are God, I am not." Of being in a position of humility.  Of how there is nothing more powerful than a mother and father on their knees.  Literally. That we take our part in raising world changers....on our KNEES.

It moved my heart.  It NEVER left my heart and I've though on it almost daily.  I even have written blog posts in draft from about this very topic, but I neither hit publish and I never submitted.  I wrote it down as a topic of discussion for Kevin and I on our dates that we spend for spiritual growth and accountability, but I never said the words.

In these past weeks and months, different times at church we were invited as a congregation to all pray on our knees for different situations.  They were POWERFUL moments.  Moments that very much cemented in my heart its power and intimacy for lack of a better word.


I still refused to walk in that obedience.  I still just would not surrender.

Then this weekend as the weight of so many difficult situations came crashing down, I surrendered.

On my knees, flat on my face before God.  A simple act...with far from simple results.

It changes my heart.  It literally makes my focus change.  It brings me into a deeper intimacy with Him and a deeper intimacy with Kevin when we pray on our knees together.

It's brought me into a place that lets me be more vulnerable and capable of connecting in a more profound way.

As we seek His will in accepting the call to missions, we are faced with more questions than answers at this moment, but on our knees the answers will come.  For now, our biggest focus is preparing our hearts and letting Him making the changes He needs us.  For me, this has been one of those steps in submission and surrender.

The results have already been UNREAL.  I've seen more results to prayers than I have in a long time.  It isn't simply that the position change has made the difference.  It's the heart change that has made the difference.  It's the finally acting  in obedience to what He has placed in my heart.  Not all prayers are on my knees (otherwise, I'd never get up!), but there is great power in those moments that I can fully surrender to Him in such a way.

I'm a born and raised southern girl---raised in the middle of the Bible belt on very conservative values.  It was often talked about how this or that sweet church lady had worn her knees out praying and it was TRULY the praying on your knees type of prayers.  I often heard that motherhood would require a good set of knee pads! Kevin talks about an amazing woman, a mentor for him for many years and the power of her prayers.  Many of those were countless hours spent on her knees.  Though she's not physically capable of that in her life now, her prayers are STILL as powerful because the heart submission still has the same power.  We've often through the years said how we just need Mrs. Martha praying for us because we KNOW how powerful her prayers are!

I want that impact on others.  I want that impact on my family.  I want that impact on those that we will be serving and showing the love of Jesus.

We aren't holding back any longer.  We are surrendering on level after level.  The weight lifts more and more with each surrender. Our home has been happy for a long time, but there are no words to describe the difference we feel in it even now.  It's almost as if we can feel it as soon as we walk in the door.  It's a sign that we are stepping on the right path....surrendering more of ourselves every day and on our knees.  Seeking. Believing.  Connecting. Releasing. Listening.  Bowing down and asking.  Bowing down and receiving.  Bowing down and giving more of ourselves.


The only regrets are having waited so long....

...And I no longer have fear of what He has for us in the next step.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


9/9/13 In the middle of a CVS parking lot, Kevin and I stopped running. We came home and shared our hearts with our children and they amazed us with their responses.  Some of the most powerful moments that will forever be etched in my heart.

9/10/13 We publicly made the announcement that we aren't running.

What were we running from?

God's call on our lives to the foreign mission field.  To serve. To love. To be HIS hands and feet.  Together as a family.

Running for so long has nearly destroyed us.  We should KNOW that we can't out run God.  He wins.  Running just leaves you in turmoil.


Surrender brings peace.  It has broken the walls in my heart that have been built higher and higher. It has brought me on my face before God with nothing blocking us.  It has lifted a weight that I didn't realize had become so heavy.  I feel like I'm me again.  The chains are breaking more every day.

We do NOT know what our call means or the time frame.  We most definitely do not know the how, especially on the financial provision end.  If I were to write a check today, I could barely cover four passports. (Kev has an active one, the kids and I don't). The other expenses are unfathomable. We have far more questions than we have answers.

Yet, we've finally given the only answer that matters... Yes, God!

The only running we are doing now is into His arms.

We have a vision in our hearts of where we want to be and how we see ourselves serving, but we have to wait to see God provide that or show us His version instead.

We are definitely going through the rollercoaster ride of not knowing how to proceed, feeling doubts, fearing attacks of Satan that come when you surrender to God, and countless other things.  Countless.

However, the peace that comes with surrender is far more powerful than the terrifying thoughts of stepping so out of many of our comfort zones (but for every step out of our comfort zone we know that we are stepping into our passions and His will).

Where are we now?

On our knees.  Literally.  Seeking God constantly.

We truly seek your prayers.  Obviously for doors to open and for financial provision, but even beyond that our priority is for our hearts.  Our hearts to first and foremost be connected to Him.  We don't want to take a single step out of His will.  While we wait for answers, we are choosing to draw close to Him.  Seeking His wisdom and guidance, pouring out of His Spirit, deep in His word, and preparing our hearts to be more ready to serve.  Most of all, we are turning our lives to Him for Him to shape us and mold us HIS WAY. For Him to equip us now that we have accepted the call.  For the fact that we know we are NOBODY---but we have a passion to love and serve and to it together as a family. We pray that He takes that and uses it.

We are beginning to see how things we've gone through have prepared us.  We are seeing that He was there with us during the times we thought He wasn't.  Bringing us to this place of decision.

We choose to not be fans of Christ.  We choose to be followers. (Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman reference). We are choosing to let God show us His power.  We've spent too long praying small prayers.  Prayers that were important and necessary, but not the big prayers that allow God to show us His strength.

We know that so many of you knew that this was OUR calling for so long.  We've known it for a very long time.  I've had this direction in my heart for nearly 25 years.  We've known it.  We've just not accepted it and stepped in faith.

We accept it.  We step in faith.  We pray and we seek.  We turn every fear to Him (there are enough verses in the Bible on fear to literally cover every single day!) and let Him show us His truth.  We focus our hearts and transform our minds when the doubts arrive. We just grasp His hand.

We know no other way to begin this journey....wherever it leads.

No longer running away from Him, but to Him.  Surrendered.

To Him.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hard Day---but Victorious

My heart is heavy.

Actually it's broken and the air has been kicked out of my gut.
Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you.
People have a way of walking over you.
Situations can rattle you to the very core of your being.

I feel that way right now over some situations in my life.

My heart hurts. My emotions are raw.


Yet, in the midst of the brokenness, I feel God drawing me near. Reminding me He is close and more than capable.

My sister at heart reminds me to claim the promise of Exodus 14:14 as my own. "The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still." I'm claiming that every minute at times.

Yesterday, in a very broken state of mind, the last place I wanted to go was church.( Just being honest. I talk often about the need for being transparent.) I was not in the frame of mind for going.  My heart had been demolished it felt like (multiple situations at once---don't mean to be vague, but somethings just aren't meant to be aired publicly).  I was too angry, too tired, and listening too much to the lies of Satan (he DOES attack at the weakest moments!). I have a weakness of letting a hard situation cause me to spiral out of control and feel like a failure in every aspect of my life---even those completely unrelated.

However, twenty minutes before time to leave, I jumped out of bed and dashed around to get ready to go.  Only out of obedience.  Only because I knew it was the right thing to do. My heart was only partly in it.  Yet, I asked God over and over on the way to soften my heart, take my act of obedience and turn it in to the love and desire that usually comes with attending church.  In other words, bring me to you.

It didn't happen in the beginning.  The first parts of worship were just words.  I "felt" like everyone could see this target on me that said "She doesn't belong" or "she's a fake".  I battled the lies of Satan constantly.

The message began and I was resistant at first.  I was listening and very actively taking notes.  Academically, so to speak but not reaching my heart.  I kept praying again and again for the wall to be knocked down and the bridge to be rebuilt.


It did.  The message reached my heart and it was a good one.  Am I enough?  Is Christ enough when everything else is taken away?  When family situations hurt.  Am I enough?  When parenting is harder than you ever dreamed, am I enough?  When....everything is stripped I enough? Do you chose to rebuke being a fan and accept being a follower.  Even through hard things?

Those are the exact questions I was needing to be asked.

It broke the wall.

By the time, the ending worship came around, the real me was back.

My heart was full again and I could feel God taking those broken places and repairing them.  Restoring them. Giving me hope.

Life hit full force again back out the doors in the real world.

I'm not going to lie.  I had a HARD day that left me with more tears than I've had in a very long time. When my husband "forced" me to deal with some of the issues and not let me run away from them, I wasn't prepared for all of the emotions that came rolling out.  I'm a stuffer. I'm an overthinker.  I'm extremely tenderhearted. When the damn breaks, it isn't pretty.  I was done for and the brokenness overtook.  I was even so emotionally and physically exhausted that later in the evening I fell flat on my face from being weak and am sporting a mild black eye today.  Lovely! :)


God met me there.  My husband was a vessel that he used in more powerful ways than he has ever been in hard times.  He kept whispering the truth to me, asking me to remember what was important and matters most, and words that HAD to have come directly from the Holy Spirit. My sister-at-heart has been priceless.  His word has spoken volumes. It truly is alive.  I've played the same songs from worship over and over CONSTANTLY today to drown out the negativity as soon as I felt my emotions overtaking in a downward way.... (Enough---Chris Tomlin, None but Jesus---Hillsong) and a new favorite that I have been playing countless times Sovereign by Chris Tomlin. When I felt myself slipping, I poured myself into HIM....

It hasn't been a perfect day.  Far from it.  Yet, I've found God as soon as I've reached out.  I may have had to reach out over and over and over again, but He's been there. I will still be continuing to fight the battle because I refuse to allow Satan any victory.

My joy is still here.  My focus and priorities aren't changed.  I'm still hungry for God in a way that I've never been.

I know....I know without a doubt...that we are truly in a spiritual warfare battle because the enemy knows that if he breaks me, God can't use me. The enemy knows that God is revealing His purpose to us and that if he can distract me and crush me that I won't say "yes" to God's calling.  We know the answer we are going to give when we find enough faith to give it.

The battle is hard.  The battle hurts.  The battle doesn't end with one victory or defeat---it's going to continue.

But I know the victor...

I know who provides victory.

I know that He uses the broken.  I know that in our weaknesses is when He is made the strongest.  I know who can pick me up off a floor when there are no more tears left.

I know as much as it hurts to be going through a valley....

THIS is where He will show me his victorious hand. THIS is where I see Him redeem, restore, and fill in every gap, and repair the broken place.

 I just have to hold onto it!

.....and holding on I am!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Still the One

Everywhere we turn. 

Right is called wrong. Wrong is called right.  Everywhere---even in the church as a whole at times.

It is becoming more and more difficult to not find ourselves overwhelmed with darkness.

I'm finding myself more and more thankful EVERY single minute for my husband. 

He keeps me grounded.
He embodies that Biblical instruction of caring for me as Christ cares for the church.

He isn't perfect.  We still battle priorities, parenting concerns, misunderstandings, different way of doing things (or speed!) and poor communication (as in I still make the mistake of thinking he can read my mind and he can't).

Yet, he's the greatest treasure my heart can hold.

He still struggles with areas (don't we ALL), but his desire to Grow and Lead are more apparent every day. Even when he doesn't have the answers, he desires to know them.  Even when he doesn't know how to handle a situation, you know he is on your team.

He battles for me and our family (and countless others) in prayer.  Even though he is exhausted beyond imagination in this season of life, he still ends each day with me praying before he falls asleep (instantly) and the last thing he does before leaving home at 4 AM is to wake me up and pray over our day (specifically my day at home with the kids and littles). 

He walks the walk that he talks and when he stumbles he seeks forgiveness.

I love this man.

Many overlook his value.  Many ignore him.  Many don't take the time to see what a gift he is.

He's running on empty.  Work is draining him like words can't describe....


He keeps on walking and serving our family.  He still laughs.  He still LOVES passionately and thoroughly, always finding ways to make our days brighter.  He still carries a 60 pound kid to bed UP the stairs every night and tucks him in (...which feels like a TON when they are dead asleep).  He's still the FIRST to get up when there is any sound in the house or when someone needs something. 
He's still his daughter's hero and the first she runs to tell about EVERYTHING and ANYTHING.  He still is the one that has the kids waiting at the door for him to walk in (so they can ask him the million questions that mom couldn't answer or show him things that mom is clueless about).  He's still the one that tells me that I'm beautiful regardless of how my body is aging or the extra pounds that are taking so long to come off (he is blind without his glasses!). He's still the one that spends countless hours rubbing my joints and muscles with "stinky" essential oils so I can sleep and manage life without relying on so many meds. He's still the one that cooks and cleans just as much if not more than I do (true team partner....even though at times this does make me feel like I'm slacking or a failure). He's still the one that calls every break he gets, even if in a whisper I say I can't talk because I'm holding a sleeping child OR I yell that I can't talk right now because I can't hear you over the chaos.  He's still the one that lifts me up when the world has crushed. 

He's still the one that can make me madder than mad or frustrated me beyond words (oh wait....that should wait for another post! LOL!)

He's still the one that reaches my soul and points me in the direction of Christ.

He's still the one that melted my heart into a puddle last night when he settled into pray, but got back up, turned the light on, reached for his glasses and his phone to pull up a picture he had taken of the prayer board in our hallway that I had updated.  He wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

He's still the one.....

That makes this mom know she's more than capable of handling anything because he reminds her of that when she is at her lowest. 

For this and so much more...

I say thank you.

Two little words that don't begin to repay him for what he is....but the only words I have and they are never said enough. NEVER.

The world has enough negativity.  It's time to celebrate the positive. 

(I make no apologies if the 1976 Orleans hit "Still the One" is now stuck in your head! Because it is most definitely on repeat loop in my own head right now!).