Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful This Year For...

...all the beauty.

If social media, or blogging is any indication of reality, apparently all we did this year was have fun. Beautiful, unending, sweet fun.

Which we did.

But we also had one of the most difficult years of the last 10. Lucky [I guess] for you, I didn't take a picture or blog every time I cried, or freaked out, or wondered if God still heard me.

It amazes me looking back over my pictures from the last 11 months, how beautiful and blessed my life is. You'd never know the dark dark dark moments we endured. The trials, and the tests. Life just looks perfect. Beautiful. And you know--- really, its was. All the beauty and goodness of the Lord displayed in my precious family outweighs everything the world through us this year.

Thankful this year for...

the snow [more than once!]
the habit of 6 am walks with a dear friend
another great year at Classical Conversations
my girlfriends [tea parties, coffee chats, group txt messages]
a half million trips to the pool & parks
free trip to the beach with family
women's retreat hearing Havilah Cunnington speak
leading small group in our home almost every week
starting a photography business by accident
taking a watercolor class
restoration in relationships
my husband reading through the bible with my boys every night
Charles dad staying with us for the first time
the bitter sweet watching of our Katie turning from babysitter to wife and mom
all our birthdays--- 33, 30, 8, 6, 4, 2
our last minute AL trip to visit a friend of 20 years I hadn't seen in years
the boys taking up skateboarding
watching our friends and family rally around us when we needed them most
seeing my brother graduate from the Army
a visit to Texas to see my step sister get married
Heaven's love of the water table [aka how we got homeschool done]

And our countless field trips to: The Zoo, The Fernbank Museum, Tennessee Aquarium, Botanical Gardens, The High, Braves games, Rock City, Kennesaw Mountain, Children's Museum, Bounce U, Monkey Joes, and Sky Zone #weloveseasonpasses #welovewhenfriendstakeusforfree

This year was by no means smooth, but I think its easy to forget how much beautiful was in it, unless I take time to remind myself of it. This is me reminding myself, it wasn't all bad.

Thank you Lord.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Your Child's Friend

Why is good parenting so hard?

Can I just say that out loud? Well as "out loud" as keys typing can be.

I don't want to be their best friend---but yet I kind of do.

But really, even a best friend, doesn't let you be a plain disaster, a good friend steps in.

I just want to let them play, but I know they need to do school and be responsible humans who eventually need to cook, clean and provide for themselves.

When I draw the line, when I call back inside, when I give a direction, when I assign a chore--- the storm erupts and I remember the story from school of "Pandora's box". Should I just say "never mind" and let them go back to being self-absorbed-only-one-in-the-world-revolving little humans just so that at least they behave more pleasantly in the short term. There would be no crying, not fits, no strong will excerted towards me. Just smiling happy self indulgent little ones.

Oh, but I know this path little one.

At the end of the day I wished I could have just given you everything you wanted, but its just not good for you. I promise you'll grow up to be a lonely, unsuccessful, and unhappy person. Even if you can hide behind your strength or beauty or alcohol or job title.

True happiness comes when you learn what its like to lay your life down for your friend. Like your Savior did for you. It's not about just you. Its not about pleasure and temporary happiness [preaching to the choir now in place]. It's about obedience that leads to a joy unspeakable.

Honoring the only one worth honor everyday by living out His Word.

So, right now, you can't let me listen to a song in the car without throwing a fit because "you don't like it", but my hope is one day you can listen to an entire album your wife wants to listen to in the car. Not because you can really stand it, but because... you learned to love... a long time ago.

By the way, if my hope comes true, and your marriage is successful...

You're welcome.


a good best friend

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Supernatural Dreams

I dream.

The problem has been... I don't usually pay much attention to my dreams. After all, it's just bad pizza right? 

Or is it?

The words: dream, dreams, dreamed, dreamer, dreamers, and dreameth are mentioned 123 times in the bible. Twenty-one of those are actual accounts of dreams God gave people in the bible...that He used for his purposes & glory.

Seems like more than bad pizza right?

Earlier this year I went to a Christian dream workshop that focused on educating me on how God might be using dreams in my life. I think the biggest take away I had was that I really needed to honor my dreams. I needed to make an effort to wake up, write them down, and ask God more about them.

When I read the bible, I don't just blow it off as some random document written for someone else, I believe He's giving me these living words right now for my right now situations. I chew on them, I write them out, I digest them, I ask Him questions about them... why not the same for dreams?

Clearly, they are biblical. Then, why are we so afraid of them? Why are we so afraid to pursue what was inside of them? Why are we afraid to talk about them in a serious way? Why have we let the secular community monopolize on something God created? Why do we brush them off? Why don't we ask God for more dreams?

I did. 

Immediately after the dream conference, I asked God to speak to me more specifically and often in my dreams and He did. And He's continued to. He spoke to me specifically about a person and when I checked in with them, what I dreamed, had happen to them. It was something I could never have known on my own. It was specific y'all. I believe God gave the dream to me because He wanted me to minister to that person and to wake me up to the fact that He still speaks through dreams!!!

I think God wants to use dreams in all of our lives, not just mine, to reveal His love & will to us.

Go ask Him.

When you wake up, write it down. Share with me too if you want!

Job 33:14-16

For God may speak in one way, or in another,
Yet man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falls upon men,
While slumbering on their beds,
Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction.

Monday, August 4, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Plan

For those of you who have been following our homeschool journey, you know we've been homeschooling since the very beginning. Our oldest, Nation, is 8, and in third grade this year. His younger brother Solomon is 6 and will be in 1st. Moses who is 4 will be unofficially in pre-k, followed by their two year old sister, Heaven, who is unofficially unschooling, although probably absorbing more than I'm teaching all her brothers.

For the first few years we used My Father's World curriculum exclusively, but this will be our first year to try using a more eclectic approach. I will be combining some resources I've previously purchased, as well as lots of resources online, alongside Classical Conversations materials to form our lesson plans.

We will be using...

-Explode the Code for phonics

-Charles is reading through 5 chapters every evening with the boys for bible

-Classical Conversations provides materials on their site for a small monthly fee, in combination with the materials we receive in class once a week, alongside things purchased through their website to fulfill our science, history, latin, geography, and english material.

-Singapore textbook and workbooks for Math

-Lots of my other free resources include things I find online and Pinterest to coincide with the cycle we are in for Classical Conversations

This is will my first attempt at so much combing, verses all being laid out, but it saves us money, and keeps us tracking along with the same things they are teaching us once a week at CC, verses trying to keep up with them and also trying to do a completely separate curriculum at home like I did last year. If I like it, I will stay with it, if I don't like it, I will go back to MFW.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stop it

A few weeks ago we went through a sickness rough patch. The kind where there's 6 of you and so when one of you gets sick you have to wait 24...48...72 hours before being around other people. But the clock keeps starting over and the sickness keep morphying and spreading [again!] among your offspring. 

You're welcome I'm sparing you the details, but needless to say we were house bound for a long time and cabin fever [and guilt] were settling in hard. A sweet friend came over with soup, watermelon, cupcakes a little something else. No it wasn't wine. Ha. 

That "little something else" was her releasing me from the sick weighing burden of feeling guilty for being so sick a lot  recently. Sounds strange, but I definitely felt judged, less than, and like a flake. We'd had to cancel small group at our house several times because we kept being contagious, and I just felt like everyone must be thinking I'm faking it, or trying to get out of it. Surely everyone hates me now and no one will want to come to small group ever again. 

She said two words, sort-of gently...

Stop it.

I'm pretty sure the burden left just as I received them. It could have been the cupcake, but I do think it was the words that changed me. [Although you should have seen these cupcakes.] She told me to stop caring so much about what others thought. 

So what? She said. 

So what if they judge you? So what if they think you're not healthy enough? So what if they think you don't eat organically enough? So what if they think you're a small group leader flake? 

I mean, I already had this head knowledge, but it's like it clicked in my heart. I suddenly remembered it was all about what God thought about me and how He knew me, and how He saw I was doing my best in this season of my life and not about pleasing the people around me.

We giggled a little over [I'm not sure this is Christian like] discussing what happens to those who judge. They will be judged themselves. You know--- what goes around comes around? Some call it Karma, but as a believer we believe in spiritual laws, like what happens when you judge others.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.
-Matthew 7:1, 2

Really--most likely--my friends weren't judging me, and if they were--yikes for them. She said something really profound to me, she said, "What if you're just sick?" "What if you haven't done anything wrong, and you're not in trouble with God, and He's not against you, and it's not this huge attack and life isn't over, but what if y'all are just--- sick." 

I had been viewing this whole sickness as a report card for my ability, or lack there of, to shop and cook well enough, my ability to be healthy enough, my ability to be spiritual enough, to pray enough and so on.

Don't get me wrong, I think there's a lot of connection to how we eat and live and how we feel physically, but in this moment I felt so wrong. Like such a loser for catching yet another virus. She freed me up with the truth.

So, next time you're down on yourself because of what people might be thinking about you, do your self a favor and say, STOP IT. And next time someone seems to be in a position where it's super easy to judge them, STOP IT. You don't know--it might be their best, and even if it's not--it's none of your business. 

They already have an enemy and an entire kingdom against them--they don't also need you.

Just release yourself and others to not feel the weight of this worlds shame, and embrace it's a lot less worse than you think, and that God is for you, and not against you. Yes, you have room to improve and grow and change, but it doesn't completely define you, and it certainly shouldn't feel heavy and crappy.

You're awesome.

Don't think otherwise.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

What God Said To Me

God has many names

In John 1, it tells us that God was the Word and the Word was God.

Clearly God likes to chat. After all, He invented it.

Something the Lord is continuing to teach me this month is that He's always speaking.

As I am experiencing a particularly difficult time right now I asked the Lord what He wanted to talk about and He said "fireflies". Okay Lord. Relationships are about intimacy, and intimacy is about communication, and communication is about understanding and understanding comes from questions. So, Lord, "What about fireflies?" 

He showed me a picture in my mind, of a field covered, and I mean covered, like nothing I'd ever seen before... even in a movies. The picture was a grassy meadow just covered in fireflies. I, being the faith-filled believer I am, quickly went to verify that this actually happens on Google. Sorry Lord. Ha, as it turns out, He did know what He was talking about. It does happen.

Later that day, I happen to over hear a song in the car by Owl City titled Fireflies. Subtle Lord, real subtle. The lyrics that resinated with me quickly were---

I'd like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep

'Cause everything is never as it seems.

Everything is never as it seems.

Through both word, picture and song, the Lord comforted my heart this day reminding me that everything is never as it seems.

It seems like the Lord has forgotten me. 
It seems like there's not enough.
It seems like we're missing God.
It seems like a nightmare.

When really--- He'll cover a field in fireflies somewhere in the world and have them shoot it and upload the picture to google and play a song in my car if thats what it takes to remind me He's still here.

But the truth is---

The Lord has not forgotten me.
There is more than enough.
We're not missing God.
Knowing Him is an eternal dream I never have to wake up form.

I hope wherever you are today--- He sends you fireflies and songs to remind you, He's here with you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Things You Don't Learn In A Book

This has been a year, even though not even half over, of deep teaching. The Lord has been rooting out old habits and old ways of thinking in both my husband and I. 

It's painful.

It has not been fun.

It's good.

But it's hard.

I have to agree with the cliche "bitter sweet."

Sweet to discover another piece of God's heart for us. Another morsel of truth. Bitter to endure the lesson it took to learn it. I asked my husband many times this year already, "Couldn't the Lord have just let us read this in a book or something". Ha. I know that's not how lessons are learned. Hearts are changed through trials. Oh boy, have we been through them this year.

The verse the Lord gave us this year is James 1: 2, 3, 4

"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
But let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

I should have known to head to the basement for shelter when He spoke that to us, right? I remember thinking... what trials? We are "living the life", that scripture doesn't even apply to us. And please don't mention that scripture again to me, it makes me feel nervous. It's like praying for patience. Don't be dumb. There are things you just don't say out loud, right? Ha.

Well we've successfully found the "various trials" part, the "testing of your faith" part, and the "lacking" part. Now, to keep seeking the fullness of these scriptures.

Give us all Joy Lord, not happiness, but Joy in the face of any and all unpleasant circumstances.

Make us patience, and we learn to have faith in your goodness.

Complete your work in us.

Let us lack nothing you have for us--- in the natural, supernatural, relationally, physically. In all things.

My prayer for anyone who reads this as well.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


30 good decisions I've made to date

surrendering this short existence for a glorious eternity
attempting to be a authentic and vulnerable person
taking God's word literally
learning & practicing how to hear God's voice
learning & practicing how to walk in the gifts of the spirit
going to youth group
going to counseling and inner healing classes
going on mission trips
reading Redeeming Love
making and keeping best friends throughout my life
giving up tanning, fake nails, colored contacts, push up bras, and hair coloring
going to Kennesaw State University [and starting KGBS bible study]
being apart of a college group
always going to church
staying in a multitude of counsel
having mentors
marrying Charles
buying a house [and buying a second house]
building a self employed business
having kids ...and early in marriage ...and close together
keeping at it till i got a girl
staying at home with my kids
working through hardships with family
joining and staying with a small group
learning how to use a camera
over photographing my life
giving the whole organic/natural life a chance
writing [by keeping a journal and writing a blog]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Your Destiny Is In Your Family

Recently I went to hear Kris Vallotton speak at Bethel Atlanta Church and he told a story [which I'm sure to do no justice to] about a difficult season in his life when many things including finances were lacking.

[which coincidentally has described the last few months of our lives]

The story goes something day he came home early from work to find the whole house completely dark and found three little tents set up in the living room that his kids were playing in. When he found his wife she explained that for months she has been shutting off the heat [and lights I believe] to save money while they were home during the day. She was just trying to do whatever she could to ease the burden as she knew how hard he was trying to rectify their financial crisis.

He said everyone should have a three little tents moment in their life.

A moment where you realize what it really feels like to be in covenant with someone. Not in convenient with someone, but in covenant

You know... those people in your life who do things like that. People who sacrifice, and lay their lives down for you, for better or for worse. Believe in you. Stand by you. 

Find those people. Be that person.

He posed the question--- "Who are your people?"

As a mom [and so are many of my readers] my "people" are my husband and my kids. It's not super glamourous. I'm not married to the president or running a ministry with thousands of employees. But the five people he's given me to--- they are my tribe. They are my people.

He encouraged us in a day where fame and position are portrayed as the ultimate mark of success to not end up... forsaking your family.


Have your house in order first. Serve those in your house first. Make sure your little disciples [kiddos!] are getting the best of you and not the left overs. Lay down your life for your spouse. Fight for them. 

He walked us through the deep friendships of Jonathan and David and Ruth and Naomi. Which I will encourage you to dig deep into study yourself, but man, it was a good word. I hope it's a good reminder for you too.

I can say that we've spent a lot of the last 10 years of our relationship walking this out. Fighting for each other and our kids when it would have been very easy to walk away or pass a pill. We've had more three tent moments that I would care to remember, but it's covenant. 

He loves us this way.

Actually--- much more.

"Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. 
Your people are my people, your God is my god..." Ruth 1:16

Friday, February 28, 2014

I Do Hard Things

Havilah Cunnington.

I had never heard of her, and maybe you haven't either, but I'm about to recommend her bible study, "I Do Hard Things" to you because she's awesome sauce.

She recently came to our church for a conference all the way from Redding, CA [Bethel Church] and I immediately liked her. She's hilarious, straight forward, but still brings the truth drenched in love.

Let's be real, anyone who has 4 little kids like myself, I worship with reverent understanding of their daily toil. Say all you want about your 5 hour alone time coffee, 4 bible translations and journals spread about on a Monday morning... but tell me you're still following Jesus after keeping 4 boys under 5 alive and I'm all ears.

Probably my favorite quote from the weekend was...

"Most days I met God between the washer and the dryer" #shehadmeatlaundry #momlife #realtalk

Or maybe it was when she said "We've had 4 kids in 5 years... Now we don't kiss, we don't hug, and we definitely don't get in hot tubs anymore." #shewasjoking #dontbeoffended

If you're looking for a very very very practical bible study on how to deal with and heal from the things life throws at us, I highly recommend this to you. Here's just a few nuggets I took away front the weekend...

  • Hard things happen to all of us. Some we ask for by our poor choices and some just happen to us [we didn't do anything to deserve them]. Understand the difference. Don't confuse the two. 

  • We all have a "yard" God holds us responsible for caring for. Boundaries are crucial to keeping the things in your yard [marriage, children, career, ministry, etc] thriving and alive. Lack of boundaries is often a sign of disobedience. You can't change others trying to get into your yard, or control your yard, but you can change how much exposure you have to those people.

  • It doesn't matter that you fail, it's how you deal with your failure. Repent quickly, and stop rehearsing what you did...He knows. Take the file out of the "failure" folder and put it in the "forgiven & learned from" folder.

Let me close with this. It's the only bible study I've probably completed since having 4 kids.

It was the perfect amount of homework and depth. There is a video series you can purchase to go along with it, but she also has a youtube channel where she does a daily video to correspond with each day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I have been writing my resolutions down publicly for a few years now. [See 2011, 2012, 2013 here] It's almost tempting to stop because it seems like so many are not accomplished, but then again I think some are frankly just because I wrote them down and it reminded me to go after them. Example... We attempted to try 13 new restaurants this year and we came pretty darn close mainly just because I had a goal I was trying to acheive. Others like lose 50 pounds fell short about... 100% ha ha. The first resolution may have greatly effected the second.

I was doing 11 for 2011, and 12 for 2012 and 13 for 2013, you get the picture, but for 2014 I decided to do it old school and go back to the wonderful number 10. So just 10 this year guys. Probably 7 to miss and 3 to hit dead on, but still--- attempting.

1. Lose 60 pounds
That's right. Pre-four-babies-weight. I did 4 months of three days a week personal training last year and didn't lose a pound even though I lost some inches. That was discouraging. I want to make another baby this year and shouldn't be trying that being so overweight and unhealthy if I want to continue low risk homebirths. So I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to do this, but in the past tracking my calories and exercising regularly does the majority of the trick. Going to bed earlier helps, Ha. I'm almost done nursing Heaven so that should help too. I'm assuming this will take me half if not most of the year to safely accomplish. But I'm open to miracles. And magic wands.

2. Go on 12 double dates with 12 different couples
I want to be intentional about going deeper with people this year. So, friends I already have as well as getting to know some new ones. I'm looking forward to making a point to say "hey, you two, let's grab some dinner and get to know each other." I love making new friends... and even getting to know old friends better. And I love food. Oh geez, this isn't helping resolution #1.

3. Once a month dates with each boy
Heaven and I already spend a lot of one on one time together, but it's hard to get one on one time with each boy for very long around here since they are always playing together. I started this last year and didn't do it often enough. I look forward to making a special date---of their choice---and just enjoying just them. Last year I was amazed at how much they talked my ear off---guess it's hard to get a word in with 3 other siblings everyday.

4. Get better at photography
This is one resolution I had last year that I actually accomplished. I did take a class and practice a lot. Took pictures of a few babies, children, and one family. Loved growing in this area and look forward to more growth.

5. Create and stick to a responsibility chart for the kids
This includes chores, brushing teeth, and vitamins. They kids do help me every day around the house, but I've never made and stuck with anything that they have come to expect and know as routine. Thus, I tend to get lots of grumblings when I "unexpectedly" ask them for help. I know this is all part of the training years and lots of character that is lacking, but I do think if they knew they were always responsible for XYZ on Monday, for example, they would grumble maybe a smidge less.

6. Read 6 Books
I usually have this on my list, and although tempted to put 12, I know realistically with ladies bible study at church homework and our small group how we love reading and homework I'll already be maxed out. I do love reading... I just haven't figured out quiet how to do as much of it with 4 kids as I did when I was single, ha. I want to read Daring Greatly, How We Love Our Kids, and Love Does, not sure about the other ones just yet.

7. Disciple one friend & Lead one family member to the Lord
I these people in mind. But I will take dozens and hundreds more of friends, family and strangers for the Kingdom if you will it Lord!

8. Get my prayer life organized
I've never successfully being organized with my prayer life since having kids, but I really want to again. Although spirit led and "drive-by" prayers work. I know things fall through the cracks. I'm thinking about resurrecting the good old prayer binder with the divider tabs for different sections of my life that need attention. This is a long shot, but I hope it happens!

9. Lead our small group well
This past year, leading a small group has been one of the greatest blessings. I have so enjoyed doing this with my husband and getting to know practically 8 other couples from scratch. My desire this year is to pray for one couple every day of the week, and be intentional about setting up double dates, and playdates, and guys & girls nights, etc. Just really forming a deeper community to listen and serve one another.

10. Write weekly
I say this the last few years too, but with homeschooling and adding a child, and leading a small group, etc etc. Life never seems to slow down. I enjoy writing and I think most of the time, others enjoy my writing too. I love when God uses me to encourage someone through my real life mom fail day stories. I love anytime I can make someone laugh too. I haven't started teaching Nation grammar yet, but maybe eventually my writing won't be so painful to the comma police either. Either way, I want to try to make time for me to sit and write what's on my heart to share with others. In the form of blogging I suppose...


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