A first for me!

Last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to be the guest speaker at a brunch for an organization called Destined Shades of Purpose. This is a program that mentors young women from elementary school through high school. They tackle hard topics like anxiety and self confidence and even teach fun things like makeup! The mentors and mentees are also quite active in the community participating in a variety of outreaches.

I was vaguely familiar with the organization when I was asked to speak. Two girls from our youth group are members and I had seen some pictures posted online of their different events and outreaches. That was about all that I knew about it, beside that it was faith based, when I agreed to be a part of the ceremony. Every thought running through my head was full of excuses and reasons that I could give the lovely lady inviting me the answer of no! I had never spoken before besides in our youth group. I quickly answered yes, before I could talk myself out of it.

I prayed and prayed about what to speak about it. I felt confident in what the Lord has given me, but that still didn’t mean that I wasn’t nervous!!

It was a beautiful brunch, I was so blessed and honored to play any small part! I was even introduced by one of my youth girls! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I left this brunch with such a full and thankful heart!!

I watched as they honored each girl with certificates and gift bags. They also specially honored my two girls, who happen to be graduating out of the program (since they are about to graduate high school next week).

Otis and I spent some time speaking with the founder. We made sure she had our contact info. We told her that she can count on us to be praying over their work and to let us know if they ever need any help. The work they are doing is SO VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT!!

This life is not about competition. We shouldn’t feel like these girls should only be a part of our youth group. Students today face so much pressure!! They need support – as much as they can get!! It really does take a village!! Let’s support one another!

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Limitless

Yesterday we stopped and picked up a few movies from red box after church. We went home to lounge and enjoy some time together. One of the movies that we picked was The Greatest Showmen. I felt so late to the party, having not seen it yet. We were so excited to watch it after hearing everyone absolutely rave about it for months!!

Me being the pinterest-loving, home school mom that I am, I had an entire unit study prepared today  to discuss the themes, symbolism, and life lessons that were present in the movie. I didn’t start off with this discussion –  hello, Monday mornings are hard enough as it is…I could not sabotage ours by being off our normal routine. haha! I waited until math, history, and science were done. After lunch and break time, we came back together to start lessons again and I told them that we were going to take a little break to talk about the movie.

We talked about the leadership qualities that were shown by the main character. The fact that he knew that kind of life that he wanted, and he did not stop until he got there. We talked about how failure can sometimes be a stepping stone that leads us to fulfill our destiny. We also talked about how we have to follow our calling, even if it is frowned upon by society. Basically, that the calling that you have in life may not necessarily be the easiest or most traveled road according to some people.

I told them how as I was growing up, the norm was to graduate highschool, graduate college, get a job, and pretty much work forty+ hours a week until retirement. Things are different now. Everyone thinks differently. The norm is that there is no norm. I want them to know that they can accomplish anything and everything that they want. I want them to have amazing dreams and goals. I want them to know that they can do anything that God calls them to do.

Gary may be too young to remember, but Allie can remember when her Dad worked at a job that he hated. He worked hard to provide for our family and dealt with less than ideal hours. He worked and took classes so that he could earn his certification. He walked through open doors that led him to where he is today -a full-time position as an associate pastor.

Both of the kids, can remember how hard it was for our family before I left my job. They have had front row seats to the effects – good and bad- that we have endured since that change in our dynamics.

I hope that from watching us make these choices and follow God’s leading, it doesn’t mean that things are always perfect. Things can still be hard, but God will lead you through the hard times.

My kids are growing up in a time where they want to accomplish so much. They have talked about working at Starbucks(so she can learn how to make all the delicious drinks), working at McDonald’s ( so he can have as many cheeseburgers as he wants), and all kinds of things. They have lots of dreams and I love that. Allie has mentioned pastoring. She has had people speak over her life and we know that God has plans for her life and she will know her calling at the right time. I recently blogged about the one time in my life that I heard the audible voice of God- I know that God has  a plan for Gary.

I don’t want them to be scared of stepping out in faith. Or following what God has told them, even if it doesn’t seem like the usual path. I want them to have faith that God will sustain them and see them through. That He will direct their paths.

They are growing up in a time where they see vloggers and examples like the bucket list family living exceptional lives. I want them to know that they can chase their dreams and live lives that are better than they ever imagined. I think it is awesome that they don’t have to pick a profession at twenty something and then work their lives away at a desk. They can reinvent themselves as often as necessary and make a difference. They can do whatever they want- they can be as “ordinary” as they want or come up with their own path.

I’m so proud of them both already and am so happy that we live in a time where their dreams can be limitless.

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My Jericho

This post has been on my heart for a while now. The thoughts have been rolling around in my head and I’ve been wrestling with not only what to say, but how much to say and how to say it.

The past few months have been a struggle for us. The struggles that people face can be intense- we all have our own baggage. It has become more and more clear to me that you never know what the people around you are going through. We have faced a lot of things that we have chosen to keep private. Things that would probably shock most people- since you know, we seem to have it all together. Pastor husband, SAHM, two great kids…. what could be stressful in their life???!!?

My point is that it has been one thing after another. We are choosing to continue to trust God.

Sometimes, you have to make that decision firm in your mind…. because your emotions are not lining up. You have to know where you stand and what you stand for. Come what may. Standing in the midst of the trial is not the time to decide whether you are serious about this whole faith thing. That is the time when it seems to be easiest to walk away and just give up.

But God.

He had seen us through so much in our lives. I do have faith in Him.

When life doesn’t make sense…. like, at all….

And the circumstances are paralyzing….

And the fear is taking over….

And anxiety sets in….

And you doubt your worth, much less your call….

Through all of that (and more), He is faithful. He is constant. If I just learn to take a breath, step back, and rest in Him.

Things can get out of my control quite often… but God never loses control.

God never loses me. He knows my future and my worth and my calling.

Things might be stressful lately. I don’t know what the future holds. Honestly, in our lives it’s been more about surviving each day.

I titled this entry My Jericho, because I am always trying to find myself in the Bible. When I am going through something, I want to find who went through it first. I want to see how they handled it and how God brought them through. I want to read about their victory or maybe learn from their mistake.

As I read the Bible and thought about all the different Bible stories that I know, I struggled to figure out which one can relate to us currently. I feel like it is one thing after another. A repetitive cycle. We barely make it through one battle and another letter or bill or call comes in that has us scrambling to find our footing. We are desperately searching the horizon for relief. We are in the mindset of asking “what’s going to happen next?”

I think this might have been how the Israelites felt as they looked at the walls of Jericho. They circled day after day. It seemed as though nothing was happening. It seemed as though they were wasting their time and energy. They had to wonder how in the world walking around the walls was going to make a difference. They had to wonder why God didn’t just give them the city. Why the process??

Because life IS A PROCESS.

We trust and then we forget and then we struggle and then we praise and repeat.

We can get caught up in our own stuff, so much so that the process might not seem to make sense.

I feel like we’ve been circling around these same problems… these same issues… fighting these same battles….

day after day

week after week

Waiting on relief.

Being obedient is also a process. Trusting when it doesn’t make sense.

Joshua 6:20 tells us – “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.”

Verse 20 is the goal. If the Israelites had stopped circling the city walls one lap short, they may not have received their victory.

You might feel like I do tonight. Exhausted from facing what seems like the same battles over and over and not understanding why nothing is changing. Hold on for your verse 20.

I have faith that my victory is coming. That moment is on the way that is going to change everything. I’m going to exhale and know that everything that has led me to that point was a part of His plan. I trust that now, but I don’t see it yet. I have faith that I will see it.

Don’t give up before the walls of the circumstances you face crumble before your God.

Keep marching. Keep circling. Keep holding on, even if it feels like you are barely making it. Don’t think that you are alone. We are all facing enemies and walls in our lives. You will look back one day and see the purpose and the beauty in His timing.

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Even on the most difficult of days.

Battles y’all… they are so real….and so brutal. This year was supposed to be so much better than last year. It had to be. Unfortunately,  It has already had its share of ups and downs.

This past Wednesday was exceptionally difficult. When you feel like you are barely keeping everything balanced as is, and then you have a moment (or in my case, a morning) where multiple things crash down at one time. One bump in the road, I can handle. In fact, I am getting pretty good at it. But man, it was like I was walking through a minefield. Every text…every call….was something else that was going wrong. It was a retreat back to my room and put schoolwork on hold cause I need to pray and cry for a while kinda morning.

Otis and I were both just overwhelmed. We knew that we needed to have faith, but when everything seems to be crashing down in a very real way….that’s a hard thing to actually do.

Of course this happens on a Wednesday. A day when we are supposed to be preparing for a service that night. It always seems that the hardest battles show themselves on Wednesdays.

My original plan was to come to the church early that day. We had a list of things to do for the ministries that we are in charge of, not to mention preparing for our upcoming Easter event. After about an hour of my meltdown, things did not seem any better. I called Otis and changed our plans. I told him that I honestly didn’t even feel like coming that day at all.

Part of being a family that works hard at ministry together, means that we all have jobs to do and we work together to make things happen. As much as I would have liked to crawl back under my comforter on Wednesday morning and not face anything, the bottom line was that Allie had a job to do. So, we went to the church as planned. I got busy with my list. Even if life isn’t fair or working out, I can still busy myself to get things done. I know that when God told me to quit my job, that there was ministry for me to do…I know that it was His voice. I have not taken a single moment for granted. I know that it is a huge blessing that I have been able to spend the past couple of years working along side Otis. To have the freedom to homeschool our kids and have the freedom to spend time during the week helping  my husband- that’s a big deal to me. HUGE. To be able to serve beside him and not only help, but be present at every single event has meant so much to me.

The thought of my schedule changing and not having that freedom anymore is nauseating. Seriously.

Wednesday I was able to mark almost everything off of my to do list. Service time rolled around and students started arriving. Checking in on their school week and sports activities was a great distraction.

Worship time rolled around and I felt like doing anything other than singing and actually worshiping. I was all cried out.

In that moment when I had an awful, difficult, lousy day…I chose to worship anyway. I chose to raise my hands. More now than ever, I need to surrender completely to God. He has me. Even on the most difficult of days, He is more worthy than I could ever fathom.

I was determined that Thursday would be better. It was. God showed up in our situation and proved, once again, His faithfulness. The difference between 10:30 AM on Wednesday and 10:30AM on Thursday was mind-blowing.

No matter what you might be going through today. Choose to make that choice to worship. Your emotions and thoughts might not always line up, but making that choice is the first step to change your point of view.

Even on the most difficult of days, He is worthy.

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Keep On Trying

Hello everyone! Today is what I am calling a catch up day! It is a birthday week at our house- our sweet Allie turns 14 on Saturday! (Unbelievable!!) Her grandparents took her shopping and out to lunch yesterday for her birthday. That was a great surprise and a wonderful afternoon for them and her. So, yesterday we only finished about 75% of our school day. Which is fine…. I mean, flexibility is our greatest perk of homeschooling!

Today our goals are to finish up the work from yesterday, we are having a special unit study with projects on the Winter Olympics (Gary is suddenly very into this?). We also have to go to the bookstore for a new book for Allie’s Literature course.

On a side note, Allie opened her very own Etsy shop this week for her artwork. She has already received two orders, so finalizing and shipping those is also on our list for the day.

It is so easy to put so much pressure on ourselves and get buried in to-do lists, emails, work, school, church, life….

When we get overwhelmed in our schedule, we tend to get snappy with people. Usually, it’s those people closest to us.

I’ve learned that it is vital to our family that we plan on catch up days sometimes.

Everyday can be so packed with ministry that we forget to take time just having a relationship with Christ.

If you read my New Years post, then you know that one of my goals was to read my entire Bible this year. I have always been pretty transparent that Bible reading is/was one of my personal struggles. I have no problem reading devotions or Christian books. I can study to prepare for a series or service- no big deal! The thing that gets me is just the day to day reading of the actual Bible. Like, not in a devotion form. Maybe I’m not supposed to admit that out loud- you know, with the whole pastor’s wife thing…. but this is me. When I do just read the Bible on it’s own, I default to New Testament or Proverbs. When was the last time that I just opened and read Leviticus? So that is why I started a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan this year.

I was so excited and started out so strong! I was keeping up with my plan and daily reading. I felt accomplished! Then I got a little behind…. then I was scared to even open the page in fear of how many days I might be behind. I gathered the strength to just face it… I mean geez, it’s only February… how bad could it be!?!?

12 Days.

I was 12 days behind in my plan!

Now I feel like a slacker. See, I’ve still been reading the Bible in my other devotion, but I had fallen behind in this particular plan. 12 days isn’t too bad, but it still would’ve been real easy to just shake it off and try again next year.

Is that what the Lord wants from me?

Of course not! He gives mercy and grace. He wants my effort, not my perfection. So guess what… I’m still reading my entire Bible this year! I’m going to do a little extra reading each day to get caught up. I’m going to be mindful of opening that plan when I have extra time here and there, instead of scrolling through IG.

I’m going to keep trying and pushing toward my goal.

Isn’t that what Christianity is all about anyway? Striving to be like Jesus. And when we mess up… getting back up and trying again!

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The Voice of God

Today is our son’s ninth birthday. I can’t think about this day too much without thinking about part of my testimony. You read about people “hearing the voice of God”, but most of us have never heard that actual, audible voice.

I have. Once.

It all has to do with our son. Before I dive into that…I need to give you a little back story.

Gary was the son that we prayed for. We already had an amazing daughter that we loved so much. She was three years old and we felt like we were ready to add another child to our family. We had no problem getting pregnant with her. We struggled with Gary. After almost a year, we finally had a positive test. We were so excited. We made the next available appointment that the doctor had, which happened to be a day when Otis was at work. I told him it was fine. I had been through this before. All of the home tests were positive, so I’d go in, they’d congratulate me and send me home with a blurry picture with an arrow pointing to a little spot that said ‘baby’. Then we could tell family and friends. The only problem was when I went in, that isn’t what happened at all.

They pulled the ultrasound wand out and circled all around my stomach. They went round and round. Then they called for another doctor to come in. I am laying there panicked….vulnerable….and alone.

The silence was broken by the doctor telling me that she was so sorry. She told me that I had absolutely been pregnant, however that it appeared that I had lost the baby. There was no heartbeat.  She told me that perhaps I had my dates wrong for my last period and that I wasn’t as far along as I should have been. My dates were not wrong. We had been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. I was recording those dates meticulously. I felt so broken in that moment. I thought why in the world would God allow us to get pregnant if we were just going to lose the baby?? The doctor told me that I had more than likely lost the baby, but that there was a small chance that everything was fine and that the projected dates were incorrect. She told me that I needed to make another appointment the next week to see if the ultrasound looked any different.

I left that office a mess. I was hysterical. This was not how I thought my day was going to go. Otis did his best reassure me that God has a plan. That was so hard to listen to, much less believe. We only told two people and asked them to pray. Going through normal routines and motions during that week was torture. Nobody at my work knew, no one at church knew…no family members knew….people interacted with us all week long having no idea what we were battling through.

Otis went with me to that next appointment. We went in dreading what we might hear. Then it happened- that same ultrasound wand went round and round my stomach again, but this time there WAS a heartbeat! The wave of relief was unexplainable. We thanked God for preserving this little life.

Everything was fine and normal with my pregnancy, well as normal as a pregnancy can be.

One Wednesday afternoon on our way to church when I was about six months along, we were involved in a car crash. A driver didn’t even look and attempted to pull across a four lane highway. We were going the normal speed and had no time to stop. The impact was hard enough that the airbags were deployed. It was scary for sure. After getting checked out, we were assured that our baby was just fine.

About a month after the car accident, I was at work on a Saturday afternoon.  I had been having some pain in my stomach, but I didn’t want to ask to leave work. I didn’t want it to look like I was just trying to get out of there early to start my weekend. My plan was to push through the couple of hours that I had left, go pick up our daughter, and then I could go home and get in bed. I left at my normal time, but I didn’t know what was wrong and in fact I wasn’t sure that I could drive home. I called Otis and told him that I didn’t think I could go get Allie. I was crying and told him the pain was pretty intense and escalating quickly.  I remember telling him that I didn’t know what was wrong, but that I was sure I was fine and there was no reason to panic. I went home, curled up on our bed and cried in pain. All I could do was pray in between the cries. The pain was worse then what I remembered labor being.  The only thought that was racing through my mind was that this must be what it feels like to have a miscarriage. I was so scared that I was going to lose him. I wasn’t home long when I heard our front door unlock. Otis had left his job early and come home to check on me. He immediately helped me up and told me that he was taking me to the hospital. We ended up spending the weekend there. They told me that I had an severe bladder infection. They watched the baby and me over the next couple of days and then sent me home with some medication. I was fine after that, but man was it painful!

Some time passed and we welcomed a beautiful baby boy to our family. We are so thankful for Gary. Life was wonderful. We were settling into our routine as a family of four. Allie was obsessed with her sweet little brother and was such an amazing little helper. I started new hours at work and was able to be with the kids during the day. Otis was just hired as the full-time youth pastor at our church. We were excited for this new chapter. I remember that it was our first Wednesday night after our hiring. This was the night of our first official youth service. We were in the upstairs youth room setting up and getting ready a couple of hours before service. We were each working on different things. Allie was playing. We had 11 month old Gary laying on a blanket in the middle of the room, so that we could both keep our eye on him. He seemed to be content playing with his toys. We were both working in different areas of the room and Gary was right in the middle of the two of us. He was away from everything- we thought we had picked a pretty safe spot. I was looking down at a piece of paper and heard a thud. My head shot up and I locked eyes with Otis across the room. We looked down- Gary was gone. We heard another thud as we raced to the stairwell. I had only looked away for what seemed like a second. Gary wasn’t even walking yet. He had scooted across that room so fast and fallen down a flight of stairs. I can still see in my mind the sight of his little body laying face down at the bottom of the steps. I raced down to him and scooped him up. He was screaming, his head was swollen and already purple. Otis was right behind me calling 911. The operator told us not to pick him up, but we told her that we already had. She told us that an ambulance was on the way and that we needed to keep him as still as possible. We strapped him in his car seat, thinking that would be that best way to keep him still and waited on the EMS. The ambulance arrived and transported Gary to the emergency room. The doctor came in and checked him out. He was too young to do a CT…his brain was still developing so much. They examined him and physically he seemed to be fine. Another wave of relief washed over us. We barely had time to exhale, before the doctor started his next paragraph. He told us that he would not be able to guarantee that there wouldn’t be mental or developmental issues down the road. We would just have to wait and see.  We pushed those thoughts out of our mind and focused on the fact that our baby boy was ok.

We never really had any other conversations about possible problems with Gary, but the words that the doctor said echoed in my mind constantly. I was home all day with the kids and worked at night, so there was no time to have a  break down. My time to myself was on my way home in the middle of the night. My shift ended at 3AM, I had a 45 minute commute home, and everyone in my house would be asleep when I got there so no one would see my puffy face or my tear stained cheeks. I cried- not a soft, whimpering cry. It was coming from a place deep in my heart where I had tried to bury it. I worried about the unknown. What if he never talked? Or wasn’t able to  learn at the normal rate? What if we took him to the hospital that night and he was fine, but he really wasn’t? I wrestled with these fears and thoughts for weeks. I cried every single night. I asked God why. I tried to pray through it. I talked to God between my sobs. It was becoming my norm. I balled my eyes out every single night my entire drive home. I blamed myself and felt so much guilt. One night ( I could show you the exact section of road I was driving over when this happened), I was pleading with God. I was asking Him what in the world we were going to do if something was wrong with our son. Then I was trying to ‘pray my way through’. I was trying to reason with myself and my thoughts. I said out loud ‘he’s going to be ok…you kept him safe when he fell down those 18 stairs.” In that moment in the darkness on the interstate, I was alone in my car. The radio was off. It was just me and my cries. I heard a voice. It startled me. I jumped as my head spun around and looked over at the empty passenger seat.  The voice said, “Of course I kept him safe. I kept him safe on those stairs and I kept him safe when you were in the hospital, just like I kept him safe when you were in the car wreck. I am keeping him safe….just like when the doctors told you that he had died and you weren’t pregnant any more. I kept him safe. He is my child, too. I have plans for him”

Insert lots of goosebumps right here.

I had spent weeks wallowing in the what if’s of the situation. I had no reason to let my thoughts consume me. Gary was acting normal. He was learning and moving and playing like normal. But in my secret place, it was eating me alive.

Today that little boy turns nine. He loves Legos, playing video games, and Pokémon. He is a math whiz and loves reading, as long as he can choose the book. He is the comedian of our family. The kids is hilarious! His timing is just something else! He loves Jesus and hates to work! haha! His imagination is astronomical. He can make believe with anything and creates all kinds of games.

We love this kid immensely. He is 100% boy and keeps us on our toes. He is going 90mph from sun up to late into the night. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

I often think about that night in my car. I think about how God loves us so much. I think about how Gary is my child, but he is God’s child too! He must have some amazing plans for this kid! I mean, I trust that the Lord has awesome plans for all of us….but to know that I heard an audible voice regarding my son. That is something that I never thought I would experience and will never forget.

I have thought about sharing this story numerous times before. Today felt right. I think his birthday was the perfect day to put all of this into writing.

God hears your cries and prayers- even if you are alone in the middle of the night on a dark highway. He has you in the palm of His hand and just like the song says..no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.

I hope that my story…our story….has blessed or encouraged you in some way tonight!

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Snow Days!!

This has been such a crazy couple of days!! We have had two full days of snowy fun, which in unheard of for Charleston!!

It was so much fun to be out in the snowfall. This was heavier than any that I had ever been in and it was fabulous! We had so much fun playing in it- the kids and dog loved it as well! It actually ‘snowed’ for several hours yesterday. We told our kids to enjoy every second, because it may be twenty years before they see it like this again!!

We had snowball fights and made snow cream! We were finally able to build a snowman today (since it started slowly melting and became slightly more of a wet snow). We named our snow lady Veronica and she might look pitiful… but we made memories that will last a lifetime!! If you go just a little into the woods behind our house, you will come to a small creek. We went back there twice to see how it looked in the snow and if it was frozen. The winter wonderland was so beautiful!

It was a lot of fun this morning when we first got up- we walked around the yard and could see all of the deer tracks in the snow!

We got out the kids boogie boards and slid down a ditch. We went for walks and have had two full days of family time! ❤️

I’m the type of person that can get very cold, very fast. So our outside time was frequently interrupted with breaks inside to ‘ thaw out’. But that’s ok!! We were able to get several episodes of The Flash in!

You could never stay in too long! I think we all knew how special it is to have snow like this in our area and didn’t want to risk missing out on too much!

Our sweet Jasper loved playing in the snow! When we took him in for breaks- he just wanted to come back out!

Tomorrow morning when we wake up, there will still be snow on the ground. We’ve told the kids that they can go out for a little bit in the morning, but then after that we are getting some school in!! As much as I love this snow! I feel like this right after Christmas break and all that our family has been through… I am ready for some sort of normalcy. I need routine!

I have enjoyed playing in the snow, no school, ignoring laundry, and making a big/late breakfast for my family… but in reality I know that’s not real life!

We are going to get up and savor a few more hours and then hopefully have a healthy dose of routine!!

Stay safe and enjoy the weather!! ❄️

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Goals, Goals, Goals

We have had quite a relaxing New Years Day around my house. We stayed up until midnight with the kids, drank some sparkling juice, and all crashed sometime around 1am. Allie had a friend stay the night, so I made sure to tell everyone that this morning was absolutely a sleeping in kinda morning! I got a new waffle maker for Christmas and have used it once already. I thought about being a picture perfect mom and waking up early to make everyone waffles. I changed my mind real quick. I slept in and then laid around watching tv and playing on my phone until about 10. I let everyone eat cereal or pastries for breakfast and starting making our big meal of the day. We had the traditional meal of fried pork chops, collards, hoppin johns, and cornbread. It has been a great day.

I am currently sitting here thinking about this coming year. Everyone has gone to bed at my house. Gary spent some of his Christmas money on a set of walkie -talkies. He gave one to his sister and he doesn’t quite grasp the concept that he doesn’t have to yell into them. It is quite entertaining!! 😂😂😂

This First day of the new year is symbolic- this is the day that people tend to set goals for themselves. We didn’t really talk about goals with Gary, since he is only 8. Allie did share some of her resolutions for the year and I am going to do my best to hold her accountable.

It is very easy to set big goals for yourself. Sometimes they are so big, that we quickly fall short and then just remove that goal from our radar completely. What a sad cycle!! I was thinking about the goals that I have for myself- I want to make them attainable. If that means starting out small and reevaluating in three months… so be it.

Why not take baby steps to have the best possible chance of success???

I wanted to share a few of my goals with you-

1) Bible Reading- I have always been very honest about this being an area that I struggle in. I can read devotions and verses no problem. I feel like I fall short with the diving in and really studying to go to a deeper level. I have no problem doing so when I am preparing to speak in Youth, but on a day to day basis… I’m not there. I also feel like I read chunks of verses with different devotionals throughout the year, but when was the last time that I read my Bible through completely? I started my Bible in one year plan today!

2) I want to grow. I want to grow my businesses. I want to grow my faith. I want to nurture my relationships. I want to be present. I tend to be like Martha who is busy with the details and not focused on the Lord right in front of her. I want to keep my focus in check.

3) I want to blog more faithfully. There have been many times this year that I thought about writing a post. I held back. Sometimes it was because I was busy, others because life wasn’t going too great and I didn’t want to sound depressing. When I go back and read my first post, I am reminded that God very clearly told me to start this blog. I need to be willing to be transparent in my struggles. My goal is to absolutely write more! (I’d love if you would subscribe! 😁)

4) I want to be a better mom. As a homeschool mom, sometimes it’s difficult to keep everything balanced. Add into that equation that we are also our kids pastors and it can make roles blurred. I attended a conference this year where a speaker shared about finding joy in your everyday. She shared about how you are going to want your children to want to come home for the holidays and visits later in life. I can’t live each day worried about completing a checklist as their teacher and never set aside time to just relax and be mom. So, my goal this year is to be “just mom” a little more!

I have several more, but I’m not going to bore you with all of the details. In a quick summary, I want to save more, give more to missions, and drink more water!!

I’m believing that my goals are attainable and that it is something that I can stick with! Like I said earlier, I can always reevaluate in three months and see where adjustments need to be made! Making small changes toward the better is certainly more rewarding than making no changes at all!!

What are your goals this year? Maybe you will inspire me??

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Good Riddance to you!

Happy New Years Eve!!

We are fighting the urge to curl up under the covers over here! It is cold outside!! I’m scared that if I get too warm and cozy, that I might fall asleep. It’s New Years Eve… I can’t fall asleep before midnight!! We are planning a festive evening of games, family time, some sparkling juice and watching the ball drop!

No matter how tired I feel right now, I have my coffee in hand and am so excited for these next few hours to pass! I cannot wait for this year to be over with!!

2017 has been a rough year for our family. I am so ready to tell it, “good bye and good riddance.” I would even be as bold to say that this has been the worst year of our lives. We have faced so many heartbreaking things- my husband lost his mother and his brother this year. We have dealt with sickness, hospital stays, planning funerals, and family drama. We have faced other, less painful, but still annoying issues during this year- a broken dryer, dead car batteries, financial stresses, and a broken dishwasher. Less than a week ago, the diamond fell out of my engagement ring and was lost. It has just been one thing after another. We have never faced a year with SO much in it.

This year has also been a year for growth. We have had experienced changes in our role in ministry. It has been an adjustment and a period of growth. He has taught us to lean on Him. He will guide and lead us, as long as we trust in Him.

We have to believe and trust that 2018 is going to be better. That this has all – as painful as it has been- is a part of God’s plan. These gut wrenching times have been stepping stones. God can use pain that the enemy puts us through for His good. That can be used for growth.

I still know the promises that I have had spoken to me from the Lord. I can look back in my journals and remember the excitement and hope in the future. Even though this year has pretty much sucked, I am choosing to hold on to those promises. Just because I haven’t seen them all come to pass yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Maybe I just had some growing to do!! I have to cling to the hope that the best is yet to come. That tomorrow morning I will wake up and be able to take a deep breath, knowing that there is so much to look forward to. Even though the pain is still real and there is still healing to do, God has me. He sees right where I am on this journey and He will sustain me.

I am praying over myself this year- praying over my husband, children, church, family, dreams, finances, ministry…EVERYTHING!

I believe that 2018 is going to be the best ever. I am trusting for blessings, fulfilled promises, restoration, and peace.

I’m thankful that through Christ I have that hope!

Praying blessings over you in this New Year!

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Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving is behind us and all things are full speed ahead toward Christmas now….

It’s definitely my favorite time of the year. Before things get too hectic, I wanted to be sure and post a recap of our thanksgiving this year!

Our celebration always starts the night before. Our church never has service that night to allow the congregation time with -their family. The past I -don’t -even -know -how -many- years, we have opened our home to the youth group to just come relax and hang out. If you ask my family, apparently I turn into a bucket full of crazy before we host any event. It makes no difference if it is a Youth event, birthday party, or even just a simple dinner…. I always try to make our home look it’s best, meaning I always have a to do list. Our home is pretty small, but I love having people over. The ministry of hospitality was one of the things that the Lord really spoke to my heart when I left my full time job. I feel like I do have a knack for planning/preparing/hosting. Sometimes I let the size of the house stop me from opening it up to friends. God is reminding me that people are so often hurting- what really matters is the fact that you invite them and pour into their lives, no matter the menu or house size. It doesn’t all have to be pinterest perfect… just be authentic.

Anyways… not sure where all that came from…. back to our thanksgiving…

We loved having everyone over. We ended up with about 23 and enjoyed having a fire and oysters in the backyard. We had frogmore stew and chili ready in the house. Everyone just laughed and watched Christmas movies and had a great time. We spend so much time with these students every week, they are our family and we love them!

Thanksgiving is the one holiday that we stay home and don’t go anywhere. I involve my family in planning the menu and instead of choosing sides, they always choose the ‘all of the above’ option. We end up with a giant spread for only four people….but I always warn them that I am not cooking again until at least Monday!! 😂😂

This year we ended up with Roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, and rolls. Wowzers! We also had a pecan silk pie, a caramel pie, and a pumpkin roll for dessert! Our fridge is so full of Tupperware containers that I was struggling for a place to put bottled water this morning! We had a fabulous day together! It always starts with lounging on the couch and watching the parade while going through the Black Friday ads in the paper! Since it is just the four of us, I don’t have any pressure as far as an eating time. We just eat whenever I get it all ready! My daughter came and helped in the kitchen some this year and also helped me set the table. We try and make it a special occasion- which means a nice table scape and I get out the gold silverware!

We have so much to be thankful for! Even when times are hard or we might find ourselves waiting on promises from God to be fulfilled, we can still rest in His faithfulness.

After we rested for a few hours, I got to take this beautiful girl out for a little Black Friday shopping!

We hit a few stores Thursday night and we’re back home before midnight. We crashed and slept in the next morning. We took our time getting ready and went back out to go to two more stores Friday! (Ya know I had to take a trip to Hobby Lobby)

The one thing that has been different this year is our Christmas decor. We usually buy our tree the day before Thanksgiving, so that it is ready to move in the house and decorate on Friday. The grocery store down the street from our house where we have bought our tree from for years did not have them this year. So, we ended up finally getting our tree from Lowes TODAY. That’s crazy to me! Usually our home is completely decorated and the tree is finished. Not true for this year! But, I do have the fall decor put away. Sticking to his Black Friday routine, my husband did get all of the outside lights put up! #waytogobabe

Although it might be weird for me to not have everything all set up, I am glad that we were able to find a tree today and am looking forward to decorating it (fingers crossed) tomorrow!

I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving and took a moment to recognize all the things in your life that you have to be thankful for! ❤️

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