Reflections

Can you believe we are ending 2017?!? Where does the time go? As I sit here reflecting on 2017 and dreaming of 2018, I am in awe of what God has done.

2017 didn’t start out too great for us. In February little Oliver made his appearance. We were grateful God allowed us a few hours with him before bringing him home. I am thankful I was able to take some time off from work in order to heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Through Alex and Oliver God has called us to start a ministry (you’ll find out more very soon)!

In April we were so excited that we were able to take the family to Disney World (our favorite place)! We had a great time being with one another. I loved seeing the kids laugh and experience a magical time.

In July we were able to spend a couple of nights in Destin, FL with MeMe and Pawpaw. The kids loved seeing the “clear” water and even seeing a shark!

This summer Sallie and I took the kids to Ship Island. This was our first time there. It was fun! And we all were burnt! The kids enjoyed exploring and playing in the sand! They loved the boat ride and seeing all the dolphins!

James and I went to Waco, Tx with good friends. We had a blast spending time at The Silos. We were able to get a behind the scene tour of the place and even sat in Chip’s office. We tried out an escape room for the first time…sadly we did not escape in time!

James and I completed our foster license to become foster parents. This is a scary adventure but God said do it and here we are. We are waiting on our first placement but ready for what God has in store for us.

Halloween was fun! Chloe was Moana, and Grayson was Buzz Lightyear! We went trick or treating with good friends and of course got lots of candy. Grayson loves “scary” things so he really enjoyed it!

We were excited to host Thanksgiving again this year. James got a smoker for his birthday, so he smoked our turkey which was delicious!! I love being around family.

December we were blessed! We had our Bilbo Christmas. I cannot believe how much the grands are growing!

It also SNOWED! Yes snowed! The kids and even us adult kids had the best time playing in the white fluffy stuff!

James had the amazing opportunity to baptize Chloe!! That was an unforgettable experience! I can’t wait to see all that God will do through Chloe.

We had a good Christmas. The kids loved all their gifts and have been playing nonstop!

As I sit and reflect on all that we were blessed with, all the sorrow and grief, all the good and the bad, I am grateful.

Some of my goals for 2018 aren’t big or out of the box. I want to grow closer in my walk with God. I want to challenge myself to read more. I want to find a healthy lifestyle. I want to invest more in people. I want to disciple my children better. I know I keep saying “I want” so what I really want is that I will align all my wants to Gods will. So that, in 2018, I will not miss an opportunity that God has placed in front of me.

Warren Wiersbe said “It’s not ability God is looking for but availability.”

I encourage you that when God calls, go. When God asks, we will say, “Yes.” When God says “No,” we will say, “Ok.” Let’s not give excuses to why we can’t when all we need to be is available in 2018!

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One less stocking…

Christmas is and has always been one of my favorite holidays. Christmas seems to bring out the good in mankind. People are (usually) in the holiday spirit. The pretty decorations. The lights. The awe and wonder in the child’s eyes. Celebrating the birth of our Savior and King. I just love it.

Christmas also brings a sadness to many. Each year as I fill out my list of people for which I’ll buy Christmas presents, it always stings a little when I no longer put mom down on that list. Or when I’m buying for Chloe and Grayson my heart hurts a little as my mind wonders to Alex and Oliver. As I hang my kids stockings, my heart aches not having 2 extra stockings hanging. I can’t help but think I’m not the only one with a sad heart during one of the happiest holidays.

If that someone is you, I pray you will find hope and joy in our Father…our King. Levi Lusko said something in a sermon that has stuck with me: “Stop focusing on your pain and fix your eyes on something bigger…when you do it makes your pain feel small.” Friends, how true is that?! When we gaze on our Creator we aren’t focused on the pain of our suffering. Our pain has purpose. God is using our sufferings to bring glory to His name. He is weaving our pain throughout our story. If we focus on the pain, we will never see the purpose. So I encourage you (as I encourage myself) this Christmas season that as you stare at that one less stocking you will remember we serve a mighty God. I pray you remember that there is purpose and power in this season of pain. May we always fix our eyes on something bigger…on God himself.

Let’s

One of the best indicators for deciding who’s the leader comes down to this word:

Lets.jpgWho says the word “let’s” most often in your relationships, in your business, in your school?

That’s the person in charge.

For example, the word let’s is a powerful word that presidents use. A quick search of presidential speeches reveals that they use the word more often than not. Take President Reagan’s Berlin Wall Speech, given June 1987, where he uses the word four times to bring about leadership through change. Or President Bush (HW)’s inaugural speech, where he emphatically says, “Let us produce,” in 1989. Or President Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, where he leads us to the future, saying “Let us reach for the world that ought to be.”

But it’s not just with presidents, is it?

Leadership in our relationships matters, so you’ve got to figure out if your the leader or not.

But even more important than just our regular relationships is our marriage relationship. God calls a man to lead his wife and to lead his family. In fractured families, the usual culprit is that a man isn’t leading well, which stems from multiple issues. It could be that you, as the husband, aren’t worth following. I’ve been there. Those phases in our lives, as a man, happen because of sin or selfishness, keeping us away from reading and studying God’s word. Less often, but also related to sin and selfishness, is a man’s inability to lead, usually through ambivalence or lassiez faire attitude of “Eh, the wife will take care of it.”

I cannot more emphatically state the following:

Men, it is up to you to lead your wife and family well.

You may say, “I’m leading. People follow.” But are they following out of freedom or out of fear? Husbands and dads lead best out of love.

Let’s think of ways to encourage our wives and children towards love and good deeds.

Let’s lead well, guys.

If you loved/hated this post, listen to Ask Pastor John for more information on loving your wife well.

Dew

Sometimes I have bad days, and sometimes I have good ones. 
Sometimes people make dumb decisions that don’t honor the Lord. 
Sometimes I make dumb decisions that don’t honor the Lord. 
And then I have a weekend like this weekend, that refreshed me continually moment after moment…

It all started Thursday, although if I’m being transparent, Thursday needed the two weeks before this one…

Two or three weeks ago, I had a whirlwind of a time, and it wasn’t good (What whirlwinds are?!?):

  • Professionally I had been belittled by colleagues in another state. 
  • Vocationally I had seen the enemy succeed in causing confusion and continued distance. 
  • Academically I had struggled with a hurdle in my apologetics class. 
  • Personally, well, all these things crumbled around, causing a rough couple of weeks (I even had to take Prilosec for crazy chest pains and grew a few more gray hairs). 

That was two weeks or so ago. 

Yet, Jesus is faithful as always, encouraging me through His word and the wisdom of others. 

So Thursday morning this happened:


Grayson and I got to go the pumpkin patch together, where I met a few dads and got to talk about life, parenting, and faith. The Lord even gave me an opportunity to share the moral argument for the existence of God with an atheist. Poor Grayson’s shoes and socks were soaked from the dew! But it was fun!

And then Friday Mary and I got to go to the wedding rehearsal of a couple that had been in our small group for over a year before moving further away. And they had some great BBQ, my love language:


After that, my friend snagged us some floor tickets and backstage passes to a date night at the Newsboys’ Big Church Night Out (its been awhile since we’ve been to a concert, just the two of us). 


Afterwards, we got to meetup with Brock and Auny, a couple who have poured into us some over the years. 


Saturday morning, we continued diving into small group life with attending a pretty cool Halloween birthday party. It was complete with dry ice and floating ping pong eyeballs!

Saturday evening we attended the wedding of that couple from Friday night, and their outdoor location was a beautiful fit for their beginning in the journey of marriage. 

When reflecting on how refreshing this weekend has been, these verses come to mind:

19 My roots will have access to water, and the dew will rest on my branches all night.

20 My whole being will be refreshed within me, and my bow will be renewed in my hand.

21 Men listened to me with expectation, waiting silently for my advice. (Job 29:19-21)

Sometimes we have bad days, and sometimes we have good ones. 

Just remember: the Lord is faithful to refresh. 

When the refreshing dew of the Lord rests on you, it will impact others, positively, leading to growth and strength.

The Joy of Parenthood 

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. I have to say it is one of the toughest jobs that God has given me.  A little over a year ago I had one of those aha moments. I was struggling with jealousy…jealousy of my husband that was able to “do” ministry, go on mission trips, going to events…Then one-day God spoke to my heart and allowed me to see that my ministry in this season of my life is being a mom. My mission is to disciple my children. My ministry is my family (honoring my husband and supporting him as he is able to go and be the hands and feet, teaching my children about life and walking with the Lord).  

Since then James and I have made sure to disciple our children the way God has called us to do. To be honest, this is harder than going on a mission trip. I mess up a lot and my kids see it. I sometimes don’t get to read my Bible and my kids see it. Sometimes I am living in my flesh and not the spirit and my kids see it.  

But you know what? They also see a mom and dad who love the Lord. That serve Him. That follow Him even when life hurts.  

About a year ago Chloe started asking many questions about what it means to be saved. We started praying with and for her. Trying to navigate this new step in parenthood. We never wanted to push her because we needed her to know what she was doing and be genuine about it. James and I have prayed and prayed that God would send her a friend that loved the Lord and would walk alongside her when she made that step towards Him.  

Who would have thought that He would have answered that prayer through a precious eight-year-old girl?  

Fast forward a few months. Chloe came running into my office one afternoon with her friend Brynn. They both were giggling and glowing. Chloe told me that she “got saved today on the playground.” Chloe and Brynn were playing at recess and Brynn simply looks at Chloe and asked, “Hey are you saved and baptized”? Chloe told her not yet. Brynn asked, “Do you want to be”? Right there on the playground, Brynn prayed with Chloe to help her receive Christ.  

I thought my heart would literally burst. It is a feeling that no one has ever prepared me for as parent. Chloe was different, and I could tell. This was the beginning of a sweet friendship that has developed. They spend their recess time planning on ways to help others. They text back and forth in the evenings giggling and talking about little girl things. God not only answered my prayer for sending her a sweet friend, but He sent her a friend that walks with Him and loves Him dearly.  

Mom and Dad we are given a precious gift and a BIG job on the day God entrusted us with His children. It is our job to guide them, teach them, love them in this crazy scary world. It is our job to walk with them on this journey called life. My heart is so full to see that my little eight year-old daughter has said yes to her Savior and is now my sister in Christ.  

I pray that she will be a world changer and that she will chase after her Creator with all her being.  

“Before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

“The Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9