Taking the Time

Time is such a crazy thing. We all have the same amount of time each day. No one can possess any more or any less. Time truly is a irreplaceable treasure, yet we tend to throw it away so easily. We can waste hours and hours of it online or staring at our phones. If you are my daughter, you can somehow spend hours looking up random funny videos of cats or dogs.  Sometimes being purposeful with our time can seem like such a chore. However, it is that time of year when most people are making goals and promises about how they are going to prioritize their time a little different than in the past.

This past week was the Assembly of God’s week of prayer. They hosted a special theme and emphasis each day. Our church participated by having an hour of prayer from 12-1pm daily. We already have Monday Night and Tuesday Morning Prayer, but this was on top of those meetings. So, just to make this clear to you- we very specifically set aside an hour every single day to meet together and pray.

Obviously, my family and I are Christians. We pray most mornings before Otis goes to work. We pray with the kids before they go to bed. We pray before meals. We pray before we start our school day. We pray when we hear bad news or when someone asks. We even have a habit in our family of praying when we are passed by a firetruck, police car, or EMS with their sirens going. My point is this- we pray.

The first day of our hour long prayer this week was hard for me. An entire hour….all at one time…with no distractions. No kids or youth to pray for or with. No guarding the door or watching for parents.  There was absolutely nothing there grabbing for my attention. Just me and God. I found my thoughts wandering and me wanting to check the time on my phone.

That’s horrible.

That is hard to honestly admit and even harder to type.

As day two came, I kind of realized what a treasure this time was. Something that my husband has taught me over the past few years is the importance of listening during prayer. . We talk and talk and pray and pray, but never take the time to just be quiet and listen to God. He does speak to us. We are just sometimes too busy to hear it.

This week I kept thinking about the words to that song The more I seek you by Kari Jobe.

The more I seek you,
The more I find you
The more I find you, the more I love you

I want to sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, its more than I can stand
I melt in your peace, its overwhelming

The line that kept playing over and over in my heart was the “lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat.”

I felt like this week I had the time to not only listen to God, but to just be in His presence. Resting in His presence is such a sweet thing. Taking the time to just be with Him. You know why I had that amazing time this week to be in His presence? Because I scheduled it. I planned it and marked it on my calendar. I worked my day around it. School ran a little later for us each day, because this was made a priority.

Shouldn’t it be like that every day?

Now I know that with work schedules that not everyone is able to just devote an hour in the middle of the day to prayer. As wonderful as that sounds, it doesn’t always work out that way. If we are all honest though, I’m sure that we can take a look at our 24 hours and see some room to give God more. 


Don’t rush through your prayer time. Make time to listen for His voice and rest in His presence. It makes all of the difference in the world!!

” For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,  for my hope is from Him.” ~Psalm 62:5


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Happy January! New Years Resolution Time!

Do you make resolutions? I am not generally one of those people. I do have a little mini journal that I keep a running list of life goals in for myself and my family. I have never really been one to sit down and make a list of changes and goals every January 1st.

That doesn’t mean that I just sit around with zero aspirations. I always kinda have in the back of my mind that this year will be the one that I get healthier and drink more water. I will be a better wife and mom. We will put more into savings and cut out excess spending. Maybe even plan for that amazing vacation. I think everyone can understand what I am saying here– we all have those sort of goals rolling around in our brain.

I have learned in my 35 years that, there is something to putting something in writing. It sort of makes it seem more official. So I have decided that this year, we are going to write our resolutions down in our family.

Physically write them out….with pen and paper….and make a plan.

It is one thing to set goals, but those goals also need to be attainable!! What steps do you need to take to reach those goals??

I think that those things listed above will obviously be on my mind. One other major goal that I am setting for myself is to memorize scripture. My goal is to cover one verse per week. That might sound super easy to you, but I have a purpose for devoting that much time to each verse. I don’t want to memorize it in the sense that I can ramble it off with my eyes closed. I want to memorize it and dwell on it. I want  those scriptures to be “hidden in my heart” like in Psalm 119:11. I want each verse to become a part of me in such a way that I can lean on them during hard times when I might not know what to pray. We all go through times when we are exhausted physically and emotionally. The Lord is reminding me that it is important to have His words and His promises inside of us so that we can speak that life over our self, especially during those battles.

My first verse is 1 Peter 1:6-

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

This is how I am going to help myself memorize and dwell on this verse this week….


I also have it saved on my phone and hanging up in our kitchen. 😁

We will see how this method goes. I may end up switching it up, but this is how I am going to start.

What are some of your favorite verses to memorize? and your tried and true methods?

If you see me this year, ask me what verse I am working on for the week. (you might even see random letters scribbled on my hand) 


 

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December 2016 Reading- Sandcastle Kings

In the midst of a very busy December, I was still able to read one book. I was happy with that! The book that I read was Sandcastle Kings by Rich Wilkerson. The reason that I chose this book was because I had seen this pastor on a couple of talk shows. He is probably most known for being a pastor to people like Kanye West and the Kardashians. It had me curious.


I am going to share a few of my highlighted passages so that you can get an idea of the feel of the book-

“The closer Jesus gets to us, the more we realize just how far we are from Him, how far short we fall of His purity, wisdom and holiness.”

“You may not be worthy of God, but you are still priceless to Him and He alone gets to decide your worth.”

“Our quiet worship should turn into noisy gratitude.”

“Today’s reality was shaped by yesterday’s choices, and tomorrow we will experience the consequences of the choices that we make today.”

Check out this book if any of these quotes peak your interest. Happy Reading in 2017!!

 

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The End of the Year Festivities

We have had a busy month at our house!! A certain level of chaos is a part of  everything that comes with the Christmas season and now celebrating  a brand new year!

Our month of December was packed full of the typical events- parades, making cookies, attending parties, shopping, plays, choral presentations, attempting to build gingerbread houses, Christmas light viewing,  and exchanging gifts. There was lots and lots of family get-togethers. We were blessed to have more flexibility in my schedule this year, so we were able to attend more events together! Not to mention the glorious fact that our Allie is old enough to babysit and so we could go to some as a couple and not have to pay a sitter!!  (on a side note, we do generally pay her a little something…however, we gave her an advance to do some Christmas shopping so she has been working off her debt😁)

We have a party for our youth group every year and the past four or five years they have always been themed. This year our theme was whoville and we had a blast pinning ideas on Pinterest and making them come to life! 



Our first family Christmas celebration was wonderful. We were able to have a little gathering with my brother and his girlfriend on Christmas Adam. This is the event were we saw my dad and his wife. It was a great day.


All of our festivities were sort of potluck, so we had separate dishes/appetizers that we brought to each home. We got home and spent 20 minutes tops unloading gifts/dishes and reloading new gifts and the new dishes for the next round! That night we had an evening with our framily who also happen to serve along side us in youth ministry. This was also a fantastic night. We appreciate these people so much- we honestly see them more than some actual family and we are thankful to be walking through life with them!!


On Christmas Eve, we spent the day with Otis’ mom and his siblings. It is always so much fun to see all of the cousins together. I absolutely loved this pic of Allie and her little cousin. Gary also loved spending  time with everyone as well.


One of my greatest fears this year was about Christmas. I was so nervous and scared that our Christmas would be horrible since I left my job. I worried about not being able to give our kids the type of Christmas that they are used to. Now believe me, we obviously put a great deal of focus on the true meaning of the season. Let’s be honest now- who doesn’t love to watch the kids open gifts and see their faces light  up with excitement when they open that special gift that they have been begging for!! I was so overwhelmed this year by the faithfulness of the Lord. Someway, somehow it all worked out and we had a marvelous day!


This year was a little crazier since Christmas fell on Sunday. We cut out some of our usual family traditions, since time was a little tighter. We woke up and had Christmas with our family. We always see what Santa brought first and then read the Christmas story from the Bible before we open gifts. It was a great morning. The big gift this year was a laptop for Allie and the Lego set Jokerland for Gary. He has been asking for this set for a few years now and was so excited when he opened it that he actually kissed the box!

 

We went to church as a family and then headed to a family dinner with the rest of Otis’ side of the family. We always have fun and love shopping for everyone. 


I was especially excited about this get together, because we had a few very special gifts that I could hardly wait to pass out. Otis’ cousin and best friend was killed in a car accident his senior year of high school. I actually went to school with his cousin and knew him before I knew Otis. I went through my old yearbooks and found his message in the autograph section. We had a bracelet and a keychain made that had his nickname in his handwriting. It was such a touching moment. Seriously, the gifts came out beautifully and were very high quality. It was such a special time. That was certainly a highlight of our holiday season.


We made visits to a few other family members and enjoyed some time of rest and relaxation. We had a little youth event for New Years and just opened up our youth room. We played basketball & football, ate, and watched movies. Then we had the live feed of the ball drop from Times Square…shot some confetti and celebrated.


I am looking forward with great expectation to 2017.We have already had some things spoken to us and over us concerning this year. We are striving, as with every other year, to walk in the complete will of God. We want our faith to be in Him and Him alone. We  have not done this yet, but I want to sit down with our kids and write out goals for the year. That will probably be part of our school day when we start up again on Tuesday!!


Our family is so thankful for all of the changes and growth that 2016 brought! We are anticipating even greater things for 2017! Happy New Year!! ❤


 

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A Birthday Getaway! 

We were very blessed to have the opportunity to sneak away for a few days a couple of weeks ago! We didn’t go too far, but we did get to experience something completely new to both of us— staying at a bed and breakfast!! Neither of us had ever stayed at one!! We were awarded a gift card a couple of years ago to use for a getaway. I’m a little ashamed to say that it took us this long to be able to go!! 

We searched bedandbreakfast.com and looked at numerous places in various surrounding cities. Otis came up with the idea of using it for a birthday retreat. Our birthdays are back to back and so we had the when decided, just not the where. We ended up choosing a place in Calabash, NC. This was an ideal location since it was close enough to drive into Myrtle Beach for shopping, attractions, or dining!! 

Our reservations were set for The Rose Bed and Breakfast!! 

I was a little nervous and unsure about what to expect. I was googling things like ‘do I bring my own towels’ or ‘should I bring sheets and pillows’ the night before while trying to pack. This is probably what caused me to completely forget to pack my toothbrush and contact supplies😩😩😩. #thankfulforCVS

I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived. This place was beautiful!!! 


The owners were just so sweet, welcoming, and pleasant!! 

Our room was spacious and perfect for the two of us!


The home was gorgeous- especially decked out in the Christmas decor!! 




I can’t write a post about this trip without dedicating at least a paragraph to the amazing breakfast!!! We were given a menu with options to choose from. We chose each night what we wanted to eat the next morning and what time we would be downstairs. It was lovely!! 

This is what we came down to-


Over the course of our stay, we enjoyed pecan French toast, an omelet, grits & eggs, baked apples, homemade scones & Coffee cake!! It was all absolutely heavenly!!!  Some type of fruit and homemade pastries were served in addition to the menu items we chose. The first day we had baked apples and the second day we were given orange slices with honey and cinnamon. I had never heard of oranges served that way. They were amazing and we plan to copy this treat at home! 

This was just a really great experience for us!! We loved it and had zero complaints. 

There really isn’t much to do in calabash itself- except eat fried seafood. We drove in and checked out the waterfront. 


We didn’t want to spoil our birthday dinner at Rioz that night, so we didn’t eat anything. We checked out a few shops and then headed back to the B&B to relax before dinner.

We had an amazing birthday weekend!! 

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Thanksgiving, Christmas Décor, and November Reading

Thanksgiving was another great holiday for our family. The four of us stay home and celebrate with a relaxing day. Like normal, we started with me waking up early and starting on dinner preparations. As soon as Otis woke up, I  reminded him that his most important job at that moment was to go get me a newspaper. 😁 I love to sit down and go through the black Friday ads. I know they are online and some of them have been out for weeks. There is just something traditional for me to spread out, go through the entire packet and write my list. I LOVE it! We watch the parade together and watch for our favorite floats and performers. This year’s winners were Pokémon, Ben Rector and Santa Clause!!

We had way too much food and enjoyed a wonderful and delicious meal together before we all  needed some lounge time to recover!! We are so thankful for all of our blessings this year and how God continues to hold us in His hands!


Allie and I headed out to do some Black Friday shopping that night. We were chatting all day long about what time we should leave. In years past, she had gone into work with me and then we would go shopping at 3AM when I got off. This year, we could go whenever we wanted…we just weren’t sure when to go! haha! We headed out about 7:45PM and hit almost everything on our list. We are not big ticket item shoppers. We are all about the doorbusters- the $5 items and the cheap movies!!! We were home a little after 1AM and had a great time!

 

Our family tradition has always been to put up the tree and outside decorations on the day after Thanksgiving. We bought our tree the Wednesday before and so on Friday, it was ready to move into the house and be decorated. The kids and I usually handle the inside decorations and the tree. Otis is outside getting all of the lights on the house. It works great for us! Christmas really is our favorite time of year!!



 

We are excited for all of the festivities that this coming month has to offer!! We are also excited that we will have more freedom than ever to participate in them as a family. We are headed to our first Christmas Party tonight and are looking forward to our local parade this weekend!! From here on out, it’s all Christmas, all the time!!

 

Now on to my reading for this month….

I only made it through one book this month, but that is fine with me!! I read Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst. 


I have become a really big fan of hers and was super excited to dive into this book. I was really looking forward to it, because if I am honest with myself…I was hoping to grow while reading it. It can take me about 3 seconds to feel left out, not good enough and alone in life. I know that my personality is to take things very  personally. Every glance, every card, every text, every invitation or lack of- It all tends to go straight to my heart. I opened this book ready to highlight, underline, and learn. I will say that I definitely took more notes from this book than I generally do while reading through a book. Here are a few of my highlighted notes-

“I have to keep my mind focused on what the Holy Spirit whispers, not what my flesh screams.”

“The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes my thinking will be the making of my identity.”

“The more fully we invite God in, the less we will feel less invited by others.”

“It is impossible to hold up the banners of victim and victory at the same time.”

“Heartbreaking seasons can certainly grow me, but were never meant to define me.”

There was so much more that I could have written about this book. I hope that if the topic, author, or any of the quotes peak your interest…that you would give it a read!!

 

I am already planning a few more posts over the next few weeks. I pray that everyone enjoys this beautiful Christmas season, all that it represents, and all that it has to offer!!

 

 

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I quit my job… 6 month update 

I knew that I wanted to write a six month update on my life since leaving my job. I actually asked my husband if he would write a post for this blog. No doubt, that this life changing decision affected him and our family almost as much as me. He was supportive every step of the way- from the initial conversation to dreaming of “April” to talking me through the pit in my stomach when it was time to turn in my notice. If you take the time to read his side of the story, you will see that it wasn’t an easy journey. In fact, we both had moments of doubt. Through it all, we trusted that God was in control. 

Here are his words–

In October 2014, Julie and I visited New York City for the Hillsong Church Conference. I went expecting to be in awe of the city and to be impacted by the conference. Little did I know that on the flight out Julie would receive a word from God that would be transforming to our family and we had not even arrived in New York yet. 

You see, Julie had been working for a company for nearly 13 or 14 years and for the first 6 to 7 years, it was a great job. We enjoyed many perks from this job and it had definitely been a blessing to our family. Sometimes however,things change and not always for the better. 

In January of 2009, we welcomed our second child, Gary,and Julie was on her maternity leave when she received an offer for a new position at work upon her return. The offer sounded really good so she took the position. 
Fast forward 5 years and it had not been all that it was cracked up to be and Julie found her self praying that God intervene in some way.

You see it would not be easy, because this new position had opened up the opportunity for Julie to stay at home with our kids and we had decided we would homeschool. So decisions were made and plans put into place based on the new position job description and hours.
Now back to New York 2014, at this point the job description she was given had changed drastically. The work environment was not the same at all. She found her self in a situation that had become unhealthy and looking back was effecting our whole family. Honestly at that time, I did not even realize the effect it had on our family. As I look back from where we are now, I have thought about it many times and how it was hard on all four of us.
Now all that to bring you to the point where God would speak and Julie had to listen. Only problem was when He spoke, it was not exactly something I thought was possible. God told Julie that 18 months from when she heard Him on that plane she would leave her job. Now that sounds great and empowering no doubt. When she told me I was very excited for her and I really, really wanted her to be able to walk away from her current situation. I just have to be honest now, we were both working very hard just to make ends meet sometimes and since we are being honest, this is where my human reasoning and me being unfortunately so much of a realist took over. Some may call me fatalist or a Mr. Negativity, if you will, but in the days to come after she told me what she had heard from God, I could not fathom how in the world we were going to make it. 
Julie had her heart set on this. She knew what God had told her and while I know she had doubts, she was trusting in Him and His plan. She had discussed it with me now several times, I guess in hopes that I would say you know what I have prayed and God told me do it, it’s time. Only thing is I just could not get over the thoughts like…we are barely making it now. How will we pay the bills? How will we afford to eat? How will we go on vacations and trips that we have been going on and planning? You see that’s a lot of me,me,me; very selfish I guess? She told me she was waiting on me and would remind me that she was hoping that I was praying and listening. I was, but maybe, sometimes I was not praying about as often as I should. Why? Because my mind was telling me there is no way this can work. Just look at what you make. Your going to live on that alone? How different will life be? It’s going to be miserable. Again pretty selfish right? Sorry, but that is just how I felt sometimes when the conversation would come up.

So then we found ourselves at the 18 month mark and still I had no definitive answer for her. Disappointing huh? Yeah, I was disappointed for her and I was disappointed in myself. My selfish thinking and fears were trumping my faith. Then I begin to go through some struggles, actually we both did. Through prayer I came to realize that our struggles were no accident. Could it be that we were actually now in disobedience? We were a month past the 18 month mark now and I realized that God wanted me to trust Him more than I ever had before. So, the first week of May I told Julie that I knew now that she had to go and turn in her notice to leave.
It’s been 6 months now and although we still have challenges, that’s life right. It has its ups and downs, but God is God and He is still Good. It’s amazing how He has provided and taken care of us.
A great balance has returned to our home. Julie is so much happier and so is the rest of the family. The kids so enjoy having her home to concentrate totally on their homeschooling and also many home projects. Julie has gotten her own little business going with AVON and she has seen a lot of growth in that area. Most importantly we have been able to go to things as a family and enjoy them as a family. The date nights are great!!’ Our daughter is at the age now that she can stay home with our son, so we have been able just to go and have these random dinner dates, that was never an option before. 
Trust in God put ALL your faith in him. He will not let you down.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬


I am so thankful for the support of this man and so many others that spoke life into us while we walked through this transition. God is so faithful. It makes no sense to me how we have made it 6 months. I tell people all of the time that it is God’s tithing math. God can do more with your 90% then you could with 100%. It is all about obedience and being faithful. That is what our family has done. We stepped in obedience, even when it didn’t make sense. It’s been scary at times, but the Lord has been good to us. 

Stay faithful. When He speaks, listen and obey. 

You can never walk on the water and be a part of the miracle, if you don’t step out of the boat. ❤️

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October 2016 Reading

I had enough time to make it through two books this month. One of them was a typical choice of mine- a book about youth ministry. The other was one that I came across on Instagram one day. It was a pleasant surprise!

 

The Big Ten by: Scotty Gibbons – This was a small and easy read. It was packed full of great information for anyone involved in youth ministry on any level. It covered many points- almost every aspect of ministry that you could think of. These main concepts include Campus Ministry, Discipleship, Small Groups,  Planning Events, Budget, Youth Leader Volunteers, Communication, Using Scripture, and Speaking. We have been in this area of ministry for many years, and we came across concepts that we had not yet applied to our group. Learning and Ministry is a never ending process. Don’t ever stop trying to grow.

 

Sparkly Green Earrings by: Melanie Shankle – This is the book that I found on Instagram one day and decided to check out. This book is written by a mother. She tells the true and hilarious stories that come with raising a child. I know people use the term “LOL” so lightly. In all seriousness, this book did make me laugh out loud numerous times. It was a pleasant read that made me remember so many instances from when my kids were little. This would be a great read for any mom that could use a laugh.  I did highlight one passage- “if you want to discover the new, you always have to leave the old behind. God can’t take us anywhere if we keep clinging to little bits of the past.”

If you are looking for your next book, check out one of these!!

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So, I quit my job… 5 month update…

I am still asked on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis if I am happy with the decision to leave my job. People who know me and know the circumstances, know that the answer is obvious!! Of course! I was going to wait and write a six month update, but I figured since I am constantly asked so much that I should go ahead and post now.

I am so, so happy. I am rested. I feel normal. I am absolutely loving every minute. I am blessed to be able to be more active in ministry and our kid’s schooling. Life is good. The Lord is faithful and is presenting opportunities for showing hospitality and love to people in ways that I could not before due to time. I absolutely feel more peaceful and less stressed. 

God is meeting our needs. We have not missed a meal or had anything disconnected due to nonpayment. Just being honest here- haha. We are taken care of. 

I can so clearly see God’s hand in this all, and I know that He is not finished yet. I know that some things are still being lined up by His timing. I know that we have been obedient to His voice and so I believe that He is going to continue to open doors for us. 

Our faith has absolutely grown in these past months. It has truly been a step of faith.

God is faithful. He will take care of you. He is not going to lead you to a place of destruction. Trust that His voice is true and you can depend on its guidance more than your bank account or job security!!!

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North Augusta

During our evacuation two weeks ago (thanks to Hurricane Matthew), we took some friends up on their offer and headed to North Augusta to take shelter! Even though it wasn’t a planned trip, we had a fantastic time with them. Seth and Amy graciously opened their home up to us, our kids and our pets! 


Since they are youth pastors as well & that is how we met several years ago, we usually only get to see them at youth events. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing them at conventions, events, and fine arts every year. However, you can only do so much hanging out when you are also responsible for a van or two of teenagers!! So, this time was really special for us. We really enjoyed our time with them. (And don’t get me started on their adorable Pinterest-decorated house!!!) 


Amy has come to Charleston for a little day trip a couple of times. She always jokes that there is nothing to do in Augusta and so she will just keep coming to me for our little visits.

She lied. (haha- love her) ❤️

I told our kids on the way there that this was not a vacation. I explained to them that we were evacuating and that this trip was about staying safe- not doing fun stuff every day. Well, Amy is a teacher and her school was being used as a shelter so she had the time off with us! Somehow, Seth was also off because of the storm. We ended up with four full days together! (Silver Lining for sure).

They have a 15 passenger van that they bought to use for church events. That came in quite handy!! We all piled into that van and they drove us all over town!


Our first afternoon, they took us to the North Augusta Living History Park. It was a great little community park that had a small colonial town and garden. 



Then we went to a different part of town and walked by the Savannah River. During every van ride, Seth was also giving us a driving tour and pointing out historic spots. Otis is very much into that sort of thing- he loved it!

 

Our next stop was Brick Pond Park to see if we could spot any alligators!

 

The next morning we drove around Downtown and went to the Riverwalk.



 

We also went to the Augusta Museum of History. I was glad to go because #1) that is where Seth and Amy held their wedding reception and I wanted to check it out and #2) now I can count this as a field trip day in my homeschool lesson book!!! Not that I needed reasons beyond learning about the actual history of Augusta! We learned lots about James Brown and golf carts!!!

 



This place was my favorite place of the entire trip. We went to the Augusta Canal. This place even had a bridge where people put locks like the bridge in Paris!! I loved it and wished that we would’ve bought a lock!! 

 


We had a wonderful Sunday as well! We went to church with Seth and Amy. If you follow me on IG, you know that I teased Otis for being the only worship leading evacuee that ends up on stage at a church the he has never been to singing with the worship team! Thus, the birth of the hashtag: #onlyOtis!!!

 

We finished the day with lunch after church, a little chill time, laundry, and dinner with Amy’s parents. We came home that night and got things organized to leave the next morning.

We had so much fun despite the circumstances! Our kids now want us to vacation in North Augusta and visit again very soon! 

 

 

 

 

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