A great story to tell: God cares about every little detail of your life!

You guys! Otis and I received the greatest, unexpected blessing this weekend!! I knew immediately that I was going to write a post about it!

If you know me or follow me on social media, then you know that one of my favorite bands is Needtobreathe. They are from Charleston, and so they always play here during every tour. We ALWAYS buy tickets to go see them. We have even traveled to be able to see them at other venues. We have seen them in concert eight times now and have loved each new album they release.

They played here this past Sunday night and we didn’t have tickets. 😞

There were a few reasons why we didn’t purchase tickets. The main one being that the struggle in our finances has been major lately. So much so, that we have considered putting the kids in school and me going back to work. That’s a hard choice to make. We know that God led us to where we are…. and we don’t feel led by Him to make that change yet…. so we are just doing our best to wait on His plan and are trusting Him each week to provide and take care of us. The second reason that we didn’t have tickets is because we had the opportunity to purchase twenty one pilots tickets for our daughter as an early Christmas gift. If you haven’t seen the video on my Facebook page… she cried like a baby when she opened the gift! ❤️ That purchase took any spare money that we had saved up. Of course, as parents we are going to put it towards her instead of ourselves.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t feeling a little salty when Sunday rolled around. I’m seeing the bands social media posts and am just thinking about how this is going to be the first tour in years that we won’t see. Then I’m blaming myself, like ‘well, you’re the one that isn’t working so you can stay home and teach your kids. It’s your own fault.’

Across from the concert venue is a shopping center with some restaurants and a grocery store. Those restaurants have outdoor seating that faces the venue. I mentioned to Otis that we should go to one of those places during the show. That way we could at least sit and listen for a little while. We came home from lunch and Otis started feeling sick. He laid on the couch and I could tell that he really didn’t feel good. So, I wasn’t sure if we were even going to go at all. He knew how much I wanted to go and got up anyway. #besthusbandever

We drove across town and as we were getting close, Otis said half joking with a laugh, “Lord Jesus, I just pray that someone gives us free tickets tonight.” I laughed and then told him “no, for real, go ahead and pray for that!” He did and as we turned into the shopping area to find a place to park and there were tons of security guards and parking attendants. I guess that they were trying to keep people from parking there. We got really nervous because we didn’t want to get yelled at for trying to park and listen. Some of the places were closed since it was Sunday evening. There is a restaurant in that strip that we enjoy going to as a family, but we couldn’t get parking on that side. On the opposite side of the shopping center, there was a subway open. We parked there. Otis said that he was going to walk through the restaurant and out the other side. He was hoping that since the show had already started that they might be selling any unsold tickets for super cheap. As soon as he walked through, the subway employee just looked at me and asked if I was buying something. I was already nervous about getting in trouble, so I told him that I was! I bought two cookies and a drink. Otis came back and told me that the available tickets were regular price. Disappointed, we went outside and sat down. At least now, we were paying customers. We were going to set some kind of record for how slow we ate these cookies! Haha!!

We sat down and just talked for a minute. Three people came and sat at the table next to us- they had purchased some snacks from the grocery store and it looked like they were planning on just listening as well. I joked that I had already planned my sad IG post where I was going to put a pic of us sitting outside and then video of the outside of the venue. However, we were happy to be there at all and settled in to listen for a little while before heading home.

As we sat there, the line and crowd of people waiting to enter the venue had disappeared. We were just casually chatting. We watched a lady walk from the venue, across the street and right up to our table. She asked us if we had tickets and our response was to ask back if she was trying to sell hers. She replied that she was not. Her date was a no show and she wasn’t going in alone. She told us that we could have her two tickets since she didn’t want to just throw them away.

I’m sure we looked like a couple of deer in headlights. We asked her if she was serious and then thanked her as we gathered our things to leave our table. We couldn’t believe it! Sure we had prayed it, but we just couldn’t believe that it had really happened.

So, Sunday night we were able to go to a concert that we loved! We have been able to share that story and brag on how amazing God is and the fact that every little detail of your life matters to Him!

Some of the things that just amaze us about this story are:

– Otis suddenly feeling sick after church and us almost not coming at all.

-Our half joking but totally serious prayer!

– the fact that we randomly walked into subway and I bought cookies out of fear/guilt that caused us to hang around right there instead of walking to the other end of the shopping center to our usual restaurant.

– the fact that this lady walked right from the venue to our table. I mean she came straight to us.

It was all amazing and left us feeling excited. It is always a nice reminder, especially when you have been in a difficult season, to feel that fatherly love.

You might think this is no big deal… that it was just a random concert.

It meant so much more to us than that. It was a blessing straight from God.

He sees and hears AND He cares.

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Fun Things to do in NYC

This past summer, we took a group to NYC for a missions trip. We planned our itinerary so that we would have a couple of days for sight seeing as well. NYC is a huge place with tons of options to choose from as far as where to go and what to see. It is possible to pack a lot into just a couple of days if you plan accordingly!

One of the first things on our list, was to take our group to Time Square. We wanted them all to be able to take in this iconic place!

We purchased tickets for one of the sightseeing bus tours. It was a great way to see the city and to get from one place to another.

Honestly, the tour guides themselves were not very impressive. They did give us a couple of gems each time as far as famous landmarks. I honestly took the earpiece out and just took pictures as we went. They seemed to be making some of the information up as they went along and then begged for tips as people got off the bus.

Having said that, I would absolutely buy the tour tickets again. If you read the details listed on the brochure, there are tons of attractions that you are able to visit for free with your tour ticket. So, it can be totally worth it if you are able to go to numerous landmarks. I think that next time, we will just walk from one attraction to the next and not even worry about the bus.

We were all anxious to visit the 9/11 memorial site. With our tour bus tickets, we had free admission to the museum. It was all humbling and overwhelming.

We spent several hours there… Otis could have spent all day at the museum. There was so much to read and take in. We will absolutely go back.

As we went over the list of attractions that we had access to, we noticed Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We headed there and probably had too much fun! We laughed so much through crazy poses and took hundreds of photos! It was such a fun experience!!

Another place we went to was Top of the Rock. This was also included in our tour bus ticket. When I visited NY as a teenager, we went to the top of the Empire State Building. Comparing the two, I prefer Top of the Rock. At this location, the Empire State Building can also be in your pics!

Many students in our group had never been to NYC. Of course, they wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Instead of taking the tour to the statue, we opted for the Staten Island Ferry. This was free. It gave us all a nice ferry ride where we went right past the Statue of Liberty. We were able to see her, take lots of pics, and see the skyline from the water.

We were able to fit all of this, plus some shopping, in about two days!!

One more excursion that is totally worth mentioning is Broadway!! If you have the time and the budget, go see a show! We took our group to see The Lion King. Y’all it was so phenomenal!!

If you know me, you know I am a Disney fan anyway…. but I literally started crying during the opening song. They are all singing Circle of Life as I have tears rolling down my cheeks. Otis may have laughed at me. 😂😂 It was all so magical and well done. The tickets aren’t cheap, but definitely worth it!

If you only have a couple of days in NYC, plan well…. you can fit a ton in a short timespan!!

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Whispers of Lies

This is something that we have all dealt with at some point in our lives. Truth versus lies is probably the longest struggle in all of history. It should be easy to differentiate between the two. Sometimes though that is my greatest struggle.

Advice that I have given students over and over and over again is that Satan is a master at deception. He doesn’t have to destroy your life in one day. He only has to get you to make one bad decision after another and slowly you end up far away from where you started. He slips lies into your thoughts. Those whispers of lies can have an impact on how you view yourself and others. This deception can hurt relationships and your own self worth.

The absolute worst part is that Satan knows your weak areas. He knows what lies will cause the most damage. He knows what he can whisper in your ear in such a way that you struggle to not believe it. You find yourself allowing the lies to tell you more about yourself than your very Creator.

Help us, Jesus.

It happens to all of us. No one is perfect. We all have weak spots, past circumstances or sins that create easy targets.

I’ve shared on here before that I didn’t have the easiest life as a teenager. My relationship with my mom was very broken.

I never had a career in mind growing up. I knew I liked photography and I even thought about being a teacher. I just wasn’t sure. I only knew one thing for sure. I wanted to be a great mom. I wanted to have a happy family. I wanted to be the team mom that spends her time running kids around and has a cooler of Capri Suns in the back of the mini van.

I love my kids. I love our family.

But there are times….

Times when Otis and I might not agree (ok,ok we are fighting about whatever) …. Satan whispers in my ear that my marriage is not any better then the marriage of my parents. And even though my marriage is nothing like theirs… and we have beaten the statistics, since we have already been married longer than they ever were. Those lies still attack me every now and then.

Times when I’m having a tough moment with my kids. Moments when I doubt our calling to homeschool. Even moments when I end up losing my cool and yelling at them out of anger. The enemy whispers to me that I am no different than her. That my kids are going to look back on their childhood and remember that mommy yells when she gets mad. That I am not any better and I will never change the cycle.

Those moments pierce my very soul.

They tend to leave me broken and emotional. If I linger on them- listening to the lies and allowing them to echo in my heart- I feel worthless.

But those lies are NOT the truth.

I know my God that has transformed my life. I know that Otis and I have built a life that breaks several cycles that we faced growing up. I know that even though I am not a perfect parent, that I am a good parent. I know that His grace covers me…. even when I yell.

And some of you might even be surprised to read any of my above confessions. I might appear to be a pinterest mom that has it all together. And I try to be that a lot of the time. 😂😂 We all have times when life is messy.

All of that to say this… It’s so important to know the truth. Know what God says about you. Know that you are His treasure and that your worth is so much more than past circumstances. The things you went through in the past may have left scars on your heart, but it does not define your future. You have to have it engraved in your heart whose you are. If you don’t know for sure who you are, then lies will try to creep in and define you.

My hope and my life are found in the truth.

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭25:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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I’ve had the intention of writing a post. There has been so much going on, that the subject keeps switching. I want to include it all, but am not sure that each merits it’s own post. So, here is a post with all the ramblings that have been rolling around in my brain the past few weeks.

Summer of a lifetime

It may still be summer weather, but summer itself has come and gone for our family. It was a crazy one for sure!! Over the course of the summer, we were blessed to fit in a vacation with some of our best friends and two major trips. We traveled to or through 11 states during the past two months with our family and Youth. We went on an amazing missions trip to NYC where we partnered with the Dream Center for a week. Literally a month later, we made the drive to Houston, Texas for National Fine Arts Convention. Three of our youth, including our daughter Allie, qualified for nationals when we participated on the state-level back in February. Our summer was full of ministry, trips, and adventures. We reminded our kids throughout the summer, what a blessing this all was to be able to attend. We truly had the summer of a lifetime!

Back to school, Back to school

We have started our 7th year of homeschool. We love it and it fits perfectly for our family. The flexibility that it offers, allows us so much freedom. This year, we started a week earlier than the county. I am already thinking about a conference that we go to in the fall, and that extended Christmas break that we enjoy as a family. I figured that we could go ahead and get a head start. 😁 We are less than two weeks into the school year, and we are still transitioning for sure! The kids are in 9th and 4th grades this year. The workload is a little heavier. Our 4th grader is struggling especially- some school days for us have been nine hours long. That’s too much for this mom! I told him very quickly that this was not going to be how our year looked. I know that everyone is working to get back in the routine of school….. I just wish it would happen in like two days, not two weeks. I’m trusting that we will all finish week two strong and that week three will be even better!

Our Sweet Jasper

I can’t write a post about an amazing summer, without including this terrible note that it ended on. We had planned on starting school a week earlier than the public schools in our county, just to get a head start. I had honestly contemplated pushing it back just to give us more time to recover and lounge after our travels. Unfortunately the Friday before we were scheduled to start, our Sweet husky Jasper passed away. I decided to stick to the early school start, because I knew that the kids would need the distraction. If we had another free week, then it would be a week full of tears. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly with Jasper… it completely broke our hearts. Jasper had been in our family since he was five weeks old. It was like we lost a six year old kid. It’s been really rough on all of us. We still find ourselves crying at how unfair it is that he is not here anymore. We are working on a project to honor our Sweet Jaspy, and so I’m sure there will be a post in the future detailing what happened as we work to raise awareness. Our family was truly rallied around by our church and family members when this happened. Calls, texts, messages, cards, packages in the mail, and ALL the hugs…. we are so thankful for all of the hugs and love that we received. It carried us through.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. This is my family and just a glimpse of my heart. ❤️

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Our trip to Magnolia in Waco, Texas

Y’all. Who doesn’t dream of one day visiting the place made famous by Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper!?! As soon as I found out that we would be in Texas this summer, I did a search to find out how close we would be to Magnolia. It was a couple of hours away, but we combined it with some more sightseeing and it was absolutely worth it! As soon as we were close and could see the silos, a few of us may have squealed with excitement!

Our group arrived around three in the afternoon. I had read that later in the afternoon was usually better as far as crowds go. We walked up to a line at the bakery, of course, but as every article that I had read stated- it moved fast.

We spent about two hours here and loved every second.

We visited the bakery and purchased some cupcakes, muffins, and cinnamon rolls to go. Many of the articles and blog posts that I had read raved about the shiplap cupcake- a vanilla cupcake with cream cheese icing. I purchased one of those along with a few other options to try. The way the bakery works is that they pass you a card that has all of the available options and a pencil. You write your name and make your selections while you are in line. Then as you enter the bakery, you hand your card in at the register. This helps things run so smoothly. You pay for your purchases and then simply wait for them to call your name. They will have them all boxed up for you.

The shiplap was good, but not my favorite. Make sure that you check out their seasonal options. During our visit, they had a peach cobbler cupcake. This was my favorite. If I was going back tomorrow, I would buy two of those! It had graham cracker crust on the bottom, was a super moist peach cupcake, and was topped with peach purée cream cheese icing. I may have already checked the website, and unfortunately they do not ship.

The seed shop was so cute! It was a small little shop that had all sorts of succulents and gardening goods for purchase. Everything there definitely had the feel of their style.

The center of the property has an area called “the green” where families can play corn hole or toss a ball around. They have numerous food trucks around (I counted eleven when we were there) and TONS of seating. We purchased some burgers and hotdogs, along with a few mason jars of sweet tea to enjoy for lunch. Even though everything is outside, they really do their best to make it as comfortable as possible. There are fans and misters at the larger seating pavilion and when you are standing in line for the bakery.

We ate lunch before we wandered into the store.

We all had so much fun! It was absolutely worth the drive. We loved seeing it all in person!

Since we were in the neighborhood, we also drove to Harp Design to take a picture.

We did not get to visit the restaurant. It is located nearby, but not on the same property. If you go or have been, let me know how it is!!

If you have never been, I would definitely recommend it. There is enough to do that it makes for a fun and relaxing afternoon!

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Tips for Traveling By Train

Last month, we took our first ever trip by train. We went all the way from Charleston to NYC! It was a twelve hour ride and we were in a group of ten. Needless to say, I was nervous since we had never travelled that way before! I searched online for tips and articles. I wanted to write a post sharing the things that I felt were MOST helpful.

We loved traveling by train and are already talking about when our next trip might be. It is so much more affordable than flying… and not to mention much more comfortable!!

Here are my favorite lessons learned:

1) Don’t stress about your luggage.

We did not want to check any of our bags. Like I said before, we were traveling with a large group and we were going to be gone for an entire week! We stressed to our students to make sure that their bags weighed within the carry-on limit. Our bags were never measured or weighed anywhere. We figured that our local train station was so small compared to Penn Station in NY, that they might weigh them when we were on the way home. They did not.

2) Bring Snacks for the ride.

You are allowed to bring your own food/snacks on the train. We didn’t take full advantage of this on the way there, but we did on the way back home! One of our trains had a full dining cart and the other only had a cafe cart. I had read people complaining about how outrageous the food prices are on board. We ate both times at the cafe cart, and didn’t find it too astronomical. I would find it comparable to eating at a sporting event. Our family of four ate for about $50.

3)Pack a few clothespins.

This is a tip that I read…. didn’t do… but wish I had. Our first trip was overnight, but this would’ve been helpful on both trips. The curtains on a train can be pulled to cover your window, but they don’t stay put. If you toss a few clothespins into your bag, you can simply clip your curtains shut and sleep in peace with no sunlight peeking through!

4)Buy a neck pillow!

Most people that travel a lot already have one of these, but I did not. As soon as we decided that we were taking a train, I knew that I wanted/needed to buy one! The best deal I found was at Ross. I was able to get one for each of us for about $8 each and they are memory foam. I cannot imagine taking that trip without that pillow! Seriously, it was a game changer!

If you have never traveled by train and have been thinking about it, I would encourage you to plan your trip! It is so much fun! The seats are so roomy!

They recline, swivel, have a footrest, and a table. There was so much leg room! I was so surprised when we first boarded. You do not need to buckle up and are free to walk around from car to car. Our trip took us through Washington DC and we could see the monuments as we passed through. It was so much cooler than flying!

It was surely an adventure!

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A Fabulous Friday

Today was a good day. These past few weeks have definitely been a whirlwind for our family. During the past six weeks, we have:

-enjoyed a weeks vacation at the beach

-attended graduations and graduation parties

-hosted a dinner celebrations for Allie’s 8th grade promotion

– gone on a 8-day missions trip to NYC

-taken an overnight trip to youth camp for Otis to speak

-prepared a meal for around 30 volunteers at another local camp

– all of that is on top of orthodontist appointments, library visits, laundry, family visits, a couple of beach days, summer reading, and regular church responsibilities/services.

Believe me, we stay pretty busy all the time & I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just cannot believe that we have already zoomed past the 4th of July!! Time is flying by this year!!

We function as a family of four and do almost everything together. All of this busy-ness has kept us running around and ministering together. That’s such a blessing! Today, Otis and I decided to go run some errands in the morning alone and then enjoy a lunch date together!

Life really does change so much when your kids are old enough to be home alone!! 🙌🏻

Most of the errands were the boring, typical stuff- bank, post office, etc…

We did make a stop at one of my favorite stores! I love going into Ross! I had three birthday gifts to buy and our son desperately needed some new pants! I always find such great deals there!

This is such a cute pillow that I found! Llamas are a joke for our family and so as soon as I saw this pillow, I knew it would be perfect on our back porch!!

On top of new clothes for our son and Otis, I also spotted this dress for only $10.99! (This is why I LOVE Ross)!

After making our purchases, we headed to a new-to-us lunch spot that is close to our house. We are usually always down for tacos and enjoyed the view and the time together!

In case you are wondering, I had the surf & turf taco and the teriyaki chicken taco! And that view is so relaxing!!😃

My brother and his girlfriend are in town and so we are looking forward to some family time tomorrow! Saturday is shaping up to be just as great as Friday!

I hope you all have a great weekend as well!! Be intentional and spend time with those people important to you!!

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NYC Missions Trip 2018

This time last week, we were in NYC on a missions trip with the Dream Center. There were ten of us that went and we had a fabulous time! I’ve attempted to write this post several times, but it almost feels too big to write out. All of the memories and emotions are raw. I’ve decided that I’m going to write three posts about this trip- this one discussing the missions trip, a post about sightseeing and a post about traveling by train. That way the pressure to cover it all doesn’t get the best of me!

Our team has been on stateside mission trips before, but never with the DC and never in NY. In fact, only one of the students had ever even been to NY. This trip was a huge deal to all of us. We had over a year into the planning and worked hard to raise the funds for us to go. I can clearly remember sitting in the first chapel on the first day and praying over each student and where they were in their lives. I wanted this trip to be meaningful and life changing…. and God was faithful and did so much in the midst of our students!

We took part in several areas of ministry during our time with the Dream Center. One of the very first things we did was a prayer walk. We walked through these neighborhoods that we would be ministering in and prayed in various areas- by a homeless shelter, at a playground, near a spot that is being taken over by gangs, at low income housing, and at a public park where so many homeless sleep at night. We prayed for the community, we prayed for the outreaches, and we prayed for doors to continue to be opened for the NYCDC after we left.

We participated in numerous adopt a blocks while we were there. The NYCDC has been so faithful with these events- the people in the community know when they are coming and they are lined up waiting. We were able to minister in the Chelsea and Harlem areas. At an adopt a block, once the initial set up is complete, there are several ways to minister. Some of us helped with the passing out of groceries and hygiene items, some of us passed out hotdogs/cookies/water/lemonade, some of us engaged the waiting adults in conversation, some of us played with the children and some of us prayed with people once they had come through the line. The experience overall differed so much depending on where we were that day. At one spot, people just wanted the free food and then to be left alone. Another day, our students were able to pray with almost everyone that came through the line. Not much could make me more proud then when I looked over from my station and saw my kids praying over strangers in the streets of NY!

The kids in these neighborhoods soaked up every ounce of attention that we could pour on them! A couple of the places, we visited twice while we were there. At the second visit, the kids would remember our names from the first time. They wanted to run and play and laugh.

Another way that we were able to impact the community was through a ministry called visits. People in the area that don’t have family or could use help around their house or someone to talk to are in this program. The students of the dream center go visit these people twice a week for a couple of hours at a time. They can help with cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc…. or they may just have conversation with the people. This really builds community among people that might otherwise feel very isolated. We were able to split up and accompany them on these visits. Each experience was different. Some people simply wanted someone to talk to. Some of our students dealt with hoarders and spent the entire time cleaning. I personally helped change bed sheets and bag up dirty laundry. I swept her apartment and then spent the rest of the time listening to fascinating stories about her life. Even though it was my first time meeting this woman, I could see how much she looked forward to this time each week and the relationships that were built from it.

We were also able to bless the Dream Center team while we were there. We spent a few hours working at their storage unit. We organized, counted, priced, and checked pallets and pallets of donated goods.

We also helped them set up for church on Sunday. They don’t have their own building and hold church in a school, so they set up and break down everything each and every week.

I hope that in some small way we were able to bless them the way that they blessed us.

This trip in general was phenomenal. I watched students that I loved be used of God. I saw them stretched out of their comfort zones and I saw them grow in faith. We witnessed things together that we aren’t normally face to face with here at home- we saw people sleeping in boxes in the street, people digging through trash cans for food, we saw filth and the desperation that must come from being homeless. Not to say that those same things aren’t happening here in Charleston, but we aren’t up close and personal with them like we were there.

We were all inspired, we came back with fresh ideas of things to do here at home and ways to help those around us. It doesn’t always have to be perfect or the exact same- what’s important is that you are doing what you can with what you have.

One of the biggest blessings from this trip came on our ride home. We boarded the train to head home at 6am one morning. A couple from New York boarded the same time as us. It’s a 13 hour train ride. These people were going to visit family near Charleston and were on the train with us the entire time. We didn’t talk a whole lot with them until the last hour and a half of our trip. Otis and some of the boys had gone to the lounge car to play uno. That left me sitting on my row alone. The couple asked me what kind of group we were and what we were doing. They told me that they had been watching us the entire trip. The were amazed at how the students respected us. The commented on the way we all spoke to one another and took care of each other. The gentleman was even surprised that we knew all of the names! That might seem silly to me, but it impacted them! They were so impressed! Otis and the boys came back and we had conversation with them the rest of the time. We talked about church and they connected with our church and Youth group on social media. They wanted to be able to watch our services online! While we are having this conversation with them, the lady in the row behind me asks if she can get the social media page information as well! That was a great moment for me to share with our students that yes they were used all week long on our missions trip. AND yes, God can also use you just by the way you carry yourself. God can open doors anywhere!!

If you are looking for somewhere to serve, check out the New York City Dream Center! They are making a real impact all around them and can use all the help they can get!

I will be forever thankful to the amazing church family that rallied behind our group and helped make this trip possible! We were supported with offerings, sponsor letters, and fundraisers! We could not have done this without you all! ❤️

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Psalms 71:5-8

I have been pretty transparent and honest with our youth with my struggles. I often tell them that one of my biggest weaknesses is reading my Bible. Now don’t get me wrong, I can read devotionals and Christian books all day long. It’s when I sit down to just read the Bible that I struggle.

I think part of my problem is that I put too much pressure on myself. I feel like I need to read a lot. Every single day. I should be devouring it. But I don’t. I’m learning to cut myself some slack. After all, I’m not reading just to mark it off my checklist for the day. I’m reading to grow in knowledge and to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I don’t have to read 10 chapters a day. I can read just one or even just a few verses, as long as I am meditating on those and pursuing God about what it says.

I was determined this year that I was going to read my Bible all of the way through. Because I usually read different devotionals, my studies tend to be all over the place. I really wanted to read the entire Bible this year.

I started a plan on my phone to do that on January 1. I did really, really good for about a month. 😩 now I just read some as it comes to mind and am trying to get caught up. A few weeks ago when I was speaking in Youth, I thought that I would use myself as an example. I told the students how it was ok to be behind as long as you kept going and striving. I opened my Bible app knowing that I was behind, but I didn’t realize how far behind I was. Y’all, I had to admit in front of everyone that I was 110 days behind! Now I’ve been reading my other devotions, but this was just in regular Bible reading. I determined that I would get caught up and that I would finish the Bible this year!

All of that to say that God can use our faults in His perfect timing. I was reading scriptures last week that should’ve been read months ago. This verse in particular hit me right in my heart.

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭71:5-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s timing for me to read this verse was perfect! I began to dissect it phrase by phrase and see how much it applies to my life!

Oh Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.

The past few years have been a rollercoaster for us! We have faced some serious battles, but we have not faced them alone. God has been with us every step of the way and has not failed us yet! We are learning again and again that He is faithful!

Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!

This part hit me as well. Some of you know this, but most of you may not. I was born premature- 3 months early. My lungs were not developed. I did not have hair, eyebrows, or fingernails. I barely weighed a pound and during my stay in the hospital, my weight went down to under a pound. My dad has always told me two things about my birth. Number one is that I could fit completely stretched out in one of his hands. Number two is that it was the first time that he prayed in a long time. I spent my first Christmas in the hospital and my first year out of the hospital hooked up to a heart monitor.

As a parent, I cannot imagine going through that. I look at my beautiful family and am so thankful. I look at where God has led us in ministry and am amazed. I know that we are living a ‘for such a time as this’ life. Everywhere He leads us has a purpose. He sustained me when I could’ve easily died as a baby to live out His will. No matter what we face in this life, there is always something to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to remember all that he has brought us through.

My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.

I never would have thought that I would be where I am right now. When I was younger, I didn’t really have a career dream. I always said teacher just because I thought that would be fun. All I ever knew for sure was that I wanted to be a mom. I always ever dreamed of being that carpool the kids around, team mom with snacks in the back of the van…. everyone hangs out at her house kinda mom. The kind that spends her time shuttling kids around to where they need to be and just being present in their lives. I never thought of ministry. Sure after we were married, Otis and I volunteered. We would’ve never imagined being in full time ministry. Now I am able to serve with my husband full time. I am able to teach our children. I am able to shuttle them around, plus all the kids in youth group. I am not only mommy, but “mama J” to so many as well. The Lord has directed, protected, and placed us where we are. We know that He will continue to lead us. We are able to be an example to others every single day.

After saying all of this, how could I ever stop praising Him and declaring His glory??

Sometimes a few verses can speak so much!! ❤️❤️

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Rest is good for the soul

This past week we were so blessed with the opportunity to join some very close friends on vacation. A beach house was rented and plans were made. Our schedule was cleared and as the time approached, we were so excited for some time away.

A vacation at the beach is the kind of getaway when a person can truly rest and relax. Some vacations are busy and scheduled and can leave a person feeling more exhausted than they were when they left.

Life is so hectic. Unfortunately, the pace of it all has no sign of slowing down any time soon. The school year is busy and the summer is packed….don’t even get me started on the holidays!!!

Our family seems to have been going nonstop lately.

It is so important that as often as you get the chance, take a step away. Take every opportunity given to catch your breath.

We finished with school the day before we left. We enjoyed a beautiful week with our toes in the sand- reading books and watching kids play in the waves. No schedule to follow. No where to be. Just time to breathe.

We tend to make ourselves so busy that we might even feel guilty for stepping away. There is no reason to feel guilt. The Bible talks so much about rest and we just zoom past that part and think that a minute here and an hour there is good enough.

It takes time to rest. You have to be purposeful with it. This world will fill your days with instant EVERYTHING. Restoration of your soul takes time. Don’t be afraid to step away. You will come back to your life/job/family/ministry refreshed. You will come back renewed.

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.   – Hebrews 4:9-11

It is important enough that God made it a priority, yet we don’t ever seem to think it is important enough to invest times of rest in ourselves.

Rest is good for the soul. Make time for it. Breathe it all in. Allow your body/mind/emotions time to recover and use the quiet time to grow closer to your Savior!

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.  – Psalm 116:7

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