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Showing posts from 2016

2016 Review

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If not for anyone other than myself, I like to reflect on the previous year. I spent some time this morning looking back at my recaps from the past few years. Michael and I often say we've packed a lot of life into just a few years. The front of our Christmas card this year had the word "Blessed" across our most recent family photo. It wasn't meant to proclaim abundance, wealth or any type of prideful expression. In fact, it is meant to stand as a testament of the blessed redemption our lives represent. Our smiles are genuine. The photo shoot was the second attempt at getting that one amazing shot I had been hoping for. It represents truth and reality, just the way our lives bear testimony of the good, the bad, the painful, the hilarious and everything in between.
We started 2016 with a one month old baby and the year that has unfolded for us as parents has been nothing short of chaotic and amazing. We were blessed to stand before our church with family by our side t…

For Poppy

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April 14, 1934 - December 28, 2016
They say it's what happens in between the dash that counts and for Anthony Frederick Laurie, better known as Poppy to me and many, the in between is certainly what is remembered. 
It's been a week filled with loss as the country mourns the death of super stars. For our family, we've only been concerned with the loss of one man who never had his name in lights but certainly was the light for all of us.

How do you recount the 82 years one man has lived? It adds up to the memories, the moments, and the impact he has had on all of us.

I often think about how different my life and upbringing would have been had both sets of grandparents not given their lives to the Lord as married adults. For Poppy, it was a transformation that altered the trajectory of him and his family. It now stands as the testament of who he was and is to our family. Our fervent prayer warrior, seen every morning at the kitchen table with his open bible and prayer list. Fo…

The Day After

What happened? There's shock and awe across the country. A lot of people woke up in fear today. Others couldn't sleep because of the events unfolding. Today carries mixed emotions from polarized people. And yet it is as I said days ago ... God is Sovereign and reigns supreme over any man and all people. 
It's been reported that we saw the highest evangelical voter turnout in decades. Our rights and privileges and responsibilities as Christians and Americans do not end with yesterday's vote. Now we must remain poised in prayer, rooted in faith, and grounded in our belief that God is in control. The voices of the unborn, the working class, those hoping for change must continue to be lifted in prayer to God. Let's not forget that how we got here has much to do with the power of prayer and the showing of our faith in the Lord, not a man, to restore us.
Can we the people restore our faith in humanity? Can we the people give each other credit for desiring the best for one…

Election Day

I need you to understand something. This isn't a secret and I don't make any apologies for it. I'm a born again Christ-following believer. My faith and relationship with Jesus Christ is everything to me. It is the core of my very being. My belief is in Christ, my Risen Savior, who saved me from my sinful state of separation so I can have the gift of eternal life with God in Heaven. This is who I am.

If you are like me, you find yourself rocked by the compounding election madness. And make no mistake, it's been nothing short of a circus. I don't have to recall it for you. Videos, emails, scandals, lies, mud slinging, name calling, Twitter wars, media coverage...we've endured it all for nearly two years. As it all comes to a head today, there's a cloud of doubt cast over the outcome. Choosing how to vote became a tumultuous battle of "the lesser of two evils." I've heard it, felt it, said it. I know.

This is why I'm writing today. It's s…

Here It Is

Here it is. The eve of the election; one of the most talked about, contested, debated and dividing elections our nation has ever seen. The blessed curse of social media and an overabundance of news coverage makes a news story out of everything. Nothing is sacred. Not an email, not a video. Make no mistake, wherever you go, whatever you do, someone is watching, documenting and taking note and it can and will be used against you, no matter how much time has passed. There's a lesson in and of itself but that's not my point here. At least not right now.

Here it is. Here's my point. I'm voting tomorrow. On the eve of this election I feel a lot of mixed emotions. I'm thankful that it's almost...over... I'm excited for the possibility. I'm nervous for the outcome.  I'm disgusted by the way the media has dictated the coverage to us. I am determined that nothing will stop me from casting my ballot tomorrow and like millions of others, I will be glued to Fox …

It's Coming

That's it. I'm boycotting. I don't want to participate. You can't make me. It's my choice. It's my decision. If I choose to avoid it...it doesn't make it go away. 
I'm talking about Daylight Savings time. I don't want to change the clocks back for multiple reasons. If you're a parent of small children you understand and you're dreading it too. I know what will happen. The 6 o'clock wake up call will inevitably turn into the ungodly hour of 5 am. Gone are the endless days of summer when we stayed outside until 9 pm. Now it will look like night time at 5:30 pm. 
Never the less, as much as I don't want it to happen, I don't support it, I'm not choosing it, it's coming. 
Just like the election. 
It's coming. Now only 3 days away. Whether or not I like it or the candidates, whether or not I choose to vote or forfeit my right and privilege, whether or not I support it...there will be a new president elected. With or without my …

For the Love

Stop! Stop whining. Stop griping. Stop complaining. Stop groaning and moaning. Stop casting stones. Stop breaking bones with the sticks you're throwing. Stop accusing. For the love of all that's good and decent, just STOP!!!

In the words of Andy Stanley, "you're scaring the children."  But for real. I was volunteering at my son's school and had 8 year olds willingly offer their votes, some for Hillary, others for Donald, repeating what inevitably they'd heard uttered at home. One even shared, "If [one unnamed candidate] wins we sure are in trouble." Indeed. We are in trouble. But not because of one man or one woman. Oh no, our troubles go much deeper than that of one person. 
We're ADULTS and yet none of us can seem to put on our big kid pants and extend an ounce of grace let alone a hand. Forget missed handshakes. This is cutting to the core of our humanity. We're tied up in Twitter wars and social media slug fests as if our lives depen…

Politically Incorrect

I'm over it. I'm done with the onslaught of media. Heartbroken over it all. Disgusted by one candidate. Repulsed by the other. Completely overwhelmed with the state of our country. Truly underwhelmed by the options. Feeling absolutely disgraced like every other American. Questioning our ability to look ahead toward a bright future. Clinging to God's sovereignty despite man's humanity.

The war of words is the least of our worries.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
It's an attack on humanity. The innocence of life who cannot speak for themselves. The equality of rights that represent a complete abomination. The argument fueled by racial tension. The outrage of life lost and the black and blue blows seemingly behind it all. The growing spirit of pride and entitlement fueling our selfishness …

S.O.S.

At this point, you've heard me share this too many times to count. It's laughable. Embarrassing, really. I'm truly hoping I'm not the only one but so often I find myself on this deserted island sending out a desperate S.O.S. and wondering how on earth I would be rescued. I imagine the God of Wonders looking down at my smoke signal as He hangs His Holy head and looks on in dismay.

"Child, oh sweet hard-headed child. When will you learn?"

"Lord, a little help down here!" Does He hear? Can He see? Will He come to my rescue? He's never left me alone before but maybe this time... Maybe this was the last straw.

"My daughter, you're mine. You're precious to me. I know your thoughts before you utter a word. I planned all of your days before one of them came to be. Why would you think I would leave you alone?" (Psalm 139:16-17)

I'm so ashamed. I want to remember this moment. Mark it down. Etch it in my mind so I won't end up back …

The First Day of School

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How did this happen?? Just a few short weeks ago (right?!) we were kicking off mom's summer camp of fun and learning. There were grandiose plans, tons of organization and lots of effort put into our summer of fun together. We all know what happens to good intentions when life just happens. We did not do learning activities every day. His summer journal only has a few pages of writing in it. The summer goal of attempting to learn to tie his shoes was in fact attempted but not with successful completion. 
Nevertheless, time has gotten away from us and the long days of summer have somehow quickly come to a close with the start of third grade today. There's an expected level of excitement and anxiety that comes with the start of something new. This year comes with lots of changes and newness, along with lots of opportunity. Even so, the first day of school means the end of summer and I am in complete denial. 
Don't get me wrong. The summer did not come without its challenges. Ma…

Unanswered Prayers

He answered my prayer. It was so specific, almost insignificant to anyone besides me, but it was not something I overlooked. I saw and felt His Presence when I got the answer. I knew He had done what I asked, not for any other reason than to bless me because I had asked of Him. I couldn't help but give Him praise. He bent His Holy ear toward me and said yes. He blessed. He answered. I rejoiced!
It's a blessing to be able to give Him such praise. Yet I have to admit it came in the midst of a time of testing when I knew He was asking me if my faith would waiver. Just a few days ago His answer was no. It was something entirely different and much more significant to me and yet He didn't oblige. I can honestly tell you that it was something I have prayed long and hard over, pouring out my heart and shedding tears over this request more times than I can even count. The fact that He once again had to tell me no, keep waiting, doesn't mean that He's any less faithful but it…

They Are His

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I remember that hike. My memories app tells me it was three years ago, 2013. A hot and hazy July day in Virginia. We had made our way to the top and taken in the view of our town. The sun was now setting and we were headed back down the mountain when a certain energetic little boy took off running. We couldn't keep up with him since we had taken turns carrying him most of the way up. Now it was his turn to wear himself out. As I turned the corner, this was the exact site I saw. My boy, standing at the foot of a man-made cross, looking up in what appeared to be an act of worship. I could barely contain myself but somehow managed to capture this moment that would forever be etched in my memory.

The symbolism is not lost on me. The meaning resonates within my very being as a mother. It is my greatest calling. To point them to Jesus. When I begged and pleaded and prayed for God to make me a mom, I knew what I was asking for. I knew what this meant and what I would become. Oh yes, on …

I Can't

Today I just couldn't. I couldn't be sweet. I couldn't find it in me to be calm. I didn't have the self discipline to keep it together. Patience wasn't just missing from my vocabulary, it was altogether absent from my being. I couldn't find the strength or energy to feel like myself let alone be what others needed me to be. Incapable to say the least. Like literally just couldn't. 
It wasn't even a bad day. There wasn't anything detrimental or catastrophic that was going on. It was simply, purely and only ME. I was the problem. 
Emotionally I was spent. Physically I was drained. For no clear or apparent reason but for a million things that seemed to somehow be weighing on me. I could feel the physical oppression of anxiety taking over as if it was sucking the very breath from my lungs. It was consuming me. Taking over. I felt like a complete mess and wanted to crumble into a ball. But I had one child crying needing comfort and another begging for food…

The Most Magical Place on Earth

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There we were. Poised for the show. We had an amazing view thanks to daddy and Papa saving us a spot. Illuminations of familiar classics cast across the castle. The fireworks were starting. I'm not sure what happened. I know I had a smile on my face from ear to ear but then I realized a certain someone in our party was rather fidgety. Actually more like jumping up and down, jumping off the stroller and throwing himself on the ground. I tried to get him to sit. He'd nearly knocked several people over on the last catapult. I was easily distracted by the boom and display just overhead. Try as I could, he wasn't sitting and now the fight had ensued. It was a battle of wills and a crowd of chaos but we were both determined to get what we wanted. I just wanted him to sit down and not be a distraction. Really I just wanted to watch the fireworks. 
Somehow the jumping and thrashing turned into a full blown tantrum. Tears. Screams. How could this be in the middle of Disney World? Th…

Days Gone By

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It had been a long day of travel in a packed car. We were all tired and weary and ready to pile into the hotel and fall into bed. I had enjoyed the ride beside my boy, watching his mind at work as he busily created. He spent a solid six hours playing, taping and putting together multiple creations made from a clear plastic box, styrofoam cup, a roll of tape and a few small trinket-like toys. After a full day of this, I could barely climb out from the back row since the stuff had seemingly multiplied in the car. 
"E, your stuff has taken over the backseat. I've got to clean up all this trash." 
Without missing a beat, his tone changed to a scold as he corrected me. "Mom, this might be trash to you but it will always be inventions to me." I couldn't argue. In fact, I had to apologize because I knew to him this wasn't trash at all. How many times have I been reminded of this lesson from him? He continues to amaze me with his creativity and I witnessed him at …

He's the Man

He's the man who used to drive a motorcycle. It's not something that many would know. And it's not something he would go around sharing. It's not that he longs for the carefree days of old. It's simply that he has fully embraced his new life. 
He's so down to earth and practical that the motorcycle driving side of him is something I have a hard time picturing. Maybe because he now drives a minivan. But in his defense, he did get rid of the motorcycle before he met me. It wasn't all my fault. 
I remember very early on telling him that we were a package deal. He could not love me without accepting him. I had to know that he understood he wasn't just signing up to be my husband. He would be joining me as I parent my son. He didn't just embrace my son, he jumped headfirst into parenting, fatherhood, and life with a precocious and rambunctious four-year-old. He didn't have the enjoyment of bonding with a baby and watching him grow. But he never missed …

Real Life is not Pinterest

Day one of summer is now in the books. I wish I could say it was all I hoped it would be. As with any well laid plan, I've had to learn real life often gets in the way. 
We found out a few weeks ago that Eli wouldn't have a spot in the summer program he was involved in last year so it meant rearranging and making new plans. "Mom's summer camp of fun and learning" was that new plan and I was excited. I immediately created my "summer" board on Pinterest and started pinning away. Crafts, make-together snacks, homegrown fun and learning activities, we would have so much fun. I was determined to make this a summer to remember - for everyone. I planned to create just the right balance of structure and leisure along with opportunities for us to make memories and work on needed skills and abilities. It's no secret that Eli learns differently than me so I did my homework and took extra time to research ways to help him continue to grow and learn. It's bee…

Memorial Day

It was a special service. An emotional video of remembrance. A retired Air Force Colonel sharing his sentiments towards his fallen comrades followed by the playing of Taps. The mood was somber, humbling, honorable. The video alone had brought me to tears, so thankful for those who have served our country. But in the midst of the crowd, I couldn't help but notice a white haired gentleman rise to his feet as he wiped away tears. He stood at attention then put his hand over his heart. He was followed by another in the same motion. Still one more stood with arms raised to the sky then his stance turned to attention. I didn't know them or those they were remembering but it was emotional and moving and a reminder of those we should be honoring this weekend. The distinct way they stood at attention told me they were certain to have served. I wanted to know what they were thinking, who they may be remembering, what service they had given, what sacrifices they had endured. I wanted to …

It's Monday

It's Monday! It's the last full week of school. Just 8 days left and 3 of those are early dismissals plus field day, end of the year assemblies and celebrations... It's an exciting time of year and summer break is at the forefront of everyone's minds. I even dressed Violet in her brand new Minnie Mouse outfit in anticipation of just 31 days until our Florida vacation. I AM HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But it's Monday. Did I mention that? It's like the law of gravity or e=mc2. It seems when God created the world and set everything into motion that He must have divinely planned for Monday's to be the test of what we learned on Sunday. Am I right?! 
I woke up early. I woke up happy and refreshed. The baby slept through the night which meant I slept through the night. The coffee was preset and it would be ready by the time my feet hit the floor. That's enough reason to get me bounding out of bed. I'm now sitting here at high noon wondering what happened to the pa…

Blessed Be His Name

It's coming up on Mother's Day. It used to be one of the most dreaded holidays I could ever experience. Now it's one of my favorites. Mother's Day weekend always falls around my son's birthday and it stands as an annual reminder of God's richest blessings and answers to prayer.

I've spent some time this morning making my list:
- Cupcakes for Eli's Birthday
- Card for Mother's Day
- Wrap gifts

Just a few of the preparations in a weekend full of party plans. You know how seriously I take celebrating and this is certainly a weekend that deserves celebration. But not just birthday parties and mother's day plans. No, this calls for a full and complete honoring of the faithfulness of God. The sentiment attached to these memorable days is fiercely tied to remembrance and gratitude woven together with tenderness. This is my proclamation that God is faithful, so faithful.

Sunday morning we will sing the familiar worship song "Blessed Be Your Name.&q…

Abundance

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...when it gets dark, and things look a bit hopeless, Lord, 
You lift our chins to look up at the stars, 
and whisper that no matter what's happened, what feels like burned up ashes today, You are redeeming it, You will redeem it, redemption will rise. 
Redemption is the papery ash that’s falling, 
turning, and uplifting, as sparks of pure glory...a bit like stars in the middle of the dark...
Ashes are never the last line of any of God stories.
Abundance is. - Ann Voscamp


Today marks an anniversary that's difficult to reflect upon. Five years ago fire destroyed the house I had once called home. What most people didn't realize at the time was my son and I had already been living out of the home for more than a year. It was one of the lowest points I can recall, questioning what was next, feeling helpless and hopeless and out of control of the pieces of a shattered life that I couldn't figure put back together. All of that was prior to the fire. 

Nothing prepares you for a trage…

Answered Prayer

Here it is. Here is where I build the altar of remembrance and give thanks for what the Lord has done.

I told you earlier this week of the walls we were scaling. Claiming in faith that they would come crashing down. How can I keep from singing His praise when God has proven Himself mighty and victorious, able to conquer even the highest, most impenetrable wall?! Praise You, Lord!

This week has been filled, I mean FULL, of challenges. You know what I know about the Enemy has proven true. His fiery darts have been aimed this direction all week. A deathly ill child, a teething baby also going through a growth spurt, work obligations, church commitments, bible study, schedules having to be rearranged, and the list goes on and on. He was bound and determined to throw obstacle after barrier after stumbling block my way in an effort to trip me up. You know what I know about God is even more true because to His credit alone I never fell except to fall straight into the arms of Jesus. I've…

Walls

Sunday was a worship experience unlike any given Sunday. You see last week our pastor presented us with the "Jericho Challenge." The Old Testament story is familiar to me, one I've read to my son a number of times. One I learned myself even as a child. The wandering in the wilderness was over - except the giant wall standing between God's Chosen People and their Promised Land. How could God have brought them all this way only to land them in front of an impossible, impenetrable wall? They had their very literal marching orders: March around the wall six days and say nothing. Just march. On the seventh day march around seven times and shout and blow their horns. They weren't supposed to fight, climb or knock it down. All they had to do was march then shout and the walls would come down. With very little effort on their part, actually. All it required was faith and obedience.

Our own Jericho challenge began with a week-long process to identify and pray against the…