Merry Christmas!

Nothing more I could want...

Merry Christmas to all!

When We Give

One final thought before I head into my Christmas and New Years sabbatical. (Haha! Are you as amused as me I gave my own self a sabbatical from my own writing?!)

Recently God led Chuck and I to give financially to this campaign at our church. We were asked to commit monthly for three years. I can't say I've been excited about this, but we're moving forward in obedience and faith. Ever since we gave our pledge, God has not only provided, but surprised us with Sweet Things.

When we were traveling over Thanksgiving, we really wanted to eat at one of our favorite spots in VA- Potbelly's! I saved up some grocery money so we could treat ourselves. Instead, God provided when friends of ours treated us to lunch at Potbelly's, and I was able to use that money later for needed groceries!

Then this week, we found out Basye's insurance covers the cost of something we have to spend a lot of money on every month. It took a gazillion phone calls, and several stops at pharmacies, but FINALLY we received these for FREE!

Prescription diapers?! Most pharmacies had never heard of this. I certainly never have. They even put a sticker on the bag saying, "Use up to 6 daily" like a real prescription. Haha! We get to pick up a week's worth of diapers (the NICE diapers, mind you- we NEVER get the nice diapers! Pampers smell so amazing!) once a week until the end of the year. I'm just so excited!!

The other thing I realized is ever since we gave our pledge, I've had grocery money left over each month. That never happens. I usually struggle to stick within our grocery budget, and have been baffled at having extra.

The only explanation I have is when God asks us to give- He gives more. In abundance. That's our good, good God. Our good, good Father. I love Him so.

Blessings on each and every one of you. I have no doubt God is pouring out His Sweet Things on you, as well. Share, if you'd like. It would be a joy to hear your stories.

Merry Christmas all! Love you much.

A Word For Me, Part 2

The first thing Keith did was ask me a question, “Do you feel like you’re in a dry place or wilderness, maybe not fulfilled?” Tears sprang to my eyes instantly over the words not fulfilled. All manner of thoughts raced through my mind.

I’m a mother to two children who I agonized over. I am blessed! All I ever wanted to do with my life was get married and have babies, but now that I’m here I don’t think mothering is what I thought it would be. What was I actually wanting? I feel guilty for being bored, tired, exhausted, and uninterested in mothering at times. Was my life meant to be about diapers, potty training, breaking up fights (constantly!!!!), cleaning up sticky tables, Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and mastering the art oh-so-UNsuccessfully of raising my children to be respectful and obedient? My quick tears verified the guilt drenched truth- I don’t feel fulfilled. Or maybe more accurately, I don’t feel as if I’m fulfilling my calling well.

I was thankful Keith and I were talking on the phone, as I was able to mask my tears. He went on to tell me about two passages of Scripture from Isaiah (Chapters 12 and 35). As he read them aloud, these words raced straight to my heart as a precious gift from God. I wrote them frantically in my journal as he was reading, “Be strong, fear not. Eyes of the blind opened. Refreshing. Redeemed. Everlasting JOY. The Lord is my strength and my song. Draw water from the wells. Proclaim that His name is exalted. The dry land shall be glad and blossom abundantly.”

Hearing and receiving those Scriptures felt like the purest water soaking into my dry spirit. It was almost as if I was kneeling on parched ground, weary and exhausted and all of the sudden I was surrounded by crystal blue, fresh water. It was like I got to cup my hands in it, take a deep breath, and splash myself in the refreshment of it.  I continued to guzzle in everything Keith shared from the glorious Scriptures.

He pointed out the impact of intercessory prayer ministry is not to be understated. Prayers are powerful. This was particularly jolting to me because I have time to pray for others as I’m home raising my kids. When they’re up in the night, I pray. When I can’t fall back asleep, I pray. As I hear those little voices first thing in the morning when it’s still dark out, I pray. When I tuck them in for their naps and bedtime, I pray. When it’s time to eat, I pray. Keith encouraged me to keep looking for opportunities to pray, for there is power in those prayers. James tell us- each and every one of us- that ALL of our prayers are powerful and effective

Keith continued to explain how relational connections are evident in my life, and those are to be celebrated. It’s hard to describe what it was like to receive this affirmation. I guess I can just say it felt like God spoke to an empty part of my heart that had constantly been wondering, “Do I even matter?” I battle this thought often. As I’m raising my kids, do I even matter? In broken family relationships, do I even matter? Working with teenagers, do I even matter? As a writer, do I even matter? In my calling, do I even matter?

Every one of those doubts comes from lies the enemy whispers into my spirit. What God spoke the loudest to me through Keith that night was- I matter. My life matters. Through the blood Jesus shed for me, I am bought back from the lies and am equipped through the Spirit to not just exist, but to thrive.

At the end of our conversation, Keith said one more thing that has stuck with me, almost more than anything else. Three years ago someone told Keith he would be developing a new gifting. In the last couple months, I am the second person to ask Keith if he had a word to share. No one else has ever asked him that question in his life. He was encouraged in the Spirit because I followed the prompting of the Spirit in my own heart. I was so nervous about asking the question, "Do you have a word for me?". But if I hadn't obeyed the voice of God, not only would I have missed out on an incredible gift of refreshment, but Keith would have missed out, too.

Thank you to God for pouring out His word through His children, and through all of our different gifts. Thank you to Keith for taking the time to seek God on my behalf, and to boldly speak into my life.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. 

The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”

 Isaiah 12  

A Word For Me, Part 1

A couple weeks ago, I was leaving Fusion (the High School ministry where I volunteer) and felt a prompting in my spirit to ask a certain person for “a word”. It was the strangest feeling. This idea felt heavy. I knew the guy the Holy Spirit had put on my heart- he regularly speaks at Fusion, his wife had been my teen small group co-leader for two years, and I had been on a mission trip with one of his daughters. Still, I didn’t really know him. I felt fidgety. I was about to leave the building when Keith rounded the corner.

If there were ever a time for the phrase Here goes nothing, that was it. I mustered up the courage to walk up to Keith at the same time a group of students approached him. "Blast. Maybe this was my out. Maybe I had heard wrong", I thought. I decided to put my name tag away in the designated box to kill some time. The group continued to talk. “I’m outta here”, was all I could think. I headed towards the exit again when I realized Keith and his daughter were behind me. I zipped around and blurted out, “Do you have a word for me?” Thinking about that makes me laugh. It felt so silly to me, but I knew it was what God had prompted me to do. Keith replied, “Right now?” I assured him he could take his time and get back to me. He said he would, and I got the heck out of there.

Whew. I was relieved. I (almost) didn’t even care if Keith ever got back to me, I was just happy I had done what God asked. My part was over! I told Chuck about the encounter later that night. He smiled at me and told me that was a great question to ask. I was surprised by his response, and felt encouraged.

A few days later, all the forces of cosmic toddler evil invaded our home. I don’t know what on earth took over our kids, but the day was rotten. They were cranky, clinging, whiny, needy- which turned into fighting, hitting, pushing, crying, and screaming. (Some of the screaming might have been my own.) We were supposed to leave for our Thanksgiving travels the next morning, and I wanted nothing more than to leave the kids in their rooms and head to VA without them. (Not really, but if you're a Mom, you feel me.) I was going NUTS with the mayhem. I can’t even remember specific details, just the craziness that welled up within me.

When Chuck FINALLY arrived home, the nuts became nuttier. Why does that happen?! I ran away to the bathroom so I could get some semblance of peace and quiet. I cried out to God- ahem- demanded God do a miracle because it was going to be impossible to change my mood without one. We somehow survived the arsenic hour of dinner time and headed to do baths. It was right smack in the midst of all this chaos that I received a text from Keith. Chuck suggested I talk to him on the phone right away because I might really need “the word”.

I got really nervous. What in the world would God want to tell me through Keith, who I barely know? I got out my journal and pen, and made the call. 

The Last Resort, by Beth Fowler

Please welcome my friend, and one of the fabulous leaders from my writing group, Beth Fowler! Her story fascinates me, and I know you will be blessed by reading it. She is writing in response to my question, "Who is Jesus to you?" as part of the Who is Jesus series.  
Who was Jesus to me? He was a storybook character like Santa Claus and Prince Charming.
I went to Sunday school and endured goofy flannel-board stories narrated by ladies that seemed very old to me. At age 12, I quit going to Sunday school and church. My parents didn’t question why. Faith was never discussed in our house. You went to school on weekdays, the YMCA on Saturday and church on Sunday. Now my Sundays were free!
Decades passed. My life looked perfect. In reality, many mornings I woke up angry, but didn’t know why. Time slogged by as I guzzled alcohol, studied Buddhism, attended Avatar (not the movie, but a thought system), consumed legal and illegal drugs, used sarcasm, babbled to a psychologist, left my husband temporarily, babbled to another psychologist, yadda, yadda, yadda…I’ve broken every one of the 10 commandments.
Once in a while, I visited churches where phrases like “covered in the blood of the lamb” and sad lyrics of hymns remained indecipherable to me. My super-religious relatives (by marriage) refuse to visit us for Thanksgiving dinner if we serve wine. If that’s Christianity, I didn’t want any.
Even so, I knew there is a god and was so in awe of him or her or it that when people asked, “What are you?” I squirmed. Atheist was too final. Agnostic seemed dodgy. Buddhist didn’t fit either.
Meanwhile, a clot of grief throbbed near my heart, as though someone I loved had died. I worried that my black thoughts were radiating from me like poison. I was afraid my rotten inner world would give me cancer. Nothing I’d tried changed me. By the time I reached middle age, I dreaded trudging through the rest of my life if the future was going to be more of the same.
Then, six years ago, a Christian friend told me about an Alpha class at her church.
You see, Nicky Gumbel was a barrister (Brit for lawyer). One day Nicky’s buddy told him he'd accepted Jesus as his savior. Appalled, Nicky studied the Bible and other sources to be able to prove his friend wrong.
As you can guess, Nicky found evidence and corroboration. He became a believer, an ordained priest and presenter in the Alpha DVD series.
Nicky is the first person to explain Bible stuff in a way that made sense to me. Plus, he cited other corroborative sources. (It doesn't hurt that he's cute, funny, articulate and smart.)
After the first Alpha class, I wrote in my journal: "I believe Jesus was more than a man. I accept He is the Son of God. This acknowledgment has lifted my heavy, dark, judgmental cloud. The weight that lifted was from my futile effort to ignore and disregard the two billion-plus Christians living today and the 2000-plus years of Christian tradition."
My husband was blindsided when I crossed the line of faith. He said, “I’m worried about the consequences.”  He was afraid I would become like his religious kin and start talking in an odd accent about Hittites and begin laying down ultimatums.
 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV) My new heart is beating, and Holy Spirit rewired my mind.

Who is Jesus to me? He’s my life saver. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

(In honor of one of Jase's favorite shows these days!)

Burger King and a Divine Appointment, Part 2

After my awful nights sleep at the camp with my girlfriends, Chuck picked me up. As we were driving to my parent’s house, where our kids were staying, I was starving. I needed to eat. We saw an exit approaching where I knew one of my best friend’s lived. I asked Chuck if I should even bother calling since it was so last minute. He encouraged me to just try, and we got off the highway. Katie picked up right away. We exchanged small talk for a couple seconds and then I asked her where she was. When I told her my location, she exclaimed, “Are you serious?!” Turns out, she was about to drive right by the Burger King where we had parked. She then told me to look over at the stop light, and I saw her car!

She had her oldest son with her, and her Mom, who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time. We all got out of our cars and joyfully embraced each other. It was a sweet reunion. The first thing Mrs. Dimler (Katie’s Mom) shared was how God had miraculously provided for her and her husband with a house. (That is an amazing story, but for another day!) What happened with her house got me thinking about a different story. So after we all sat down with our food, I asked Mrs. Dimler to share the story of how God healed her heart. (Sorry, another amazing story for another day!) I will say, Chuck and I listened intently, just mesmerized by the way she talked about Jesus. There was a smittenness (yes, I said smittenness) in her voice. Joy on her face. She sounded and looked so in love with Jesus. She kept talking about how good He is.

After she finished telling her heart story, she shared about another physical issue she’d been having. I had to keep myself from gasping out loud because- get this- it was the SAME issue I have been dealing with for the past year. I sat there stunned. And in tears. I could sense The Spirit at work in a powerful way, and I knew Chuck was feeling it, too. I reached over and we grasped hands.
Through tears, I finally blurted out that I’d been having the same physical issue. Mrs. Dimler spoke such a powerful word over me. She reminded me of the necessity of Scripture, but added how I needed to claim those words, not just speak them. She encouraged me to own the words, and believe the words. One thing that particularly struck me was when she recited 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind”. Then she said, “So if God did not give us the spirit of fear, then where did it come from? The enemy!” To which she promptly proclaimed, “Go back to the abyss you came from, Satan! In Jesus Name!” Can I get a Hallelujah?!

The Truth that God gives me the spirit of a sound mind both refreshes and relieves my spirit in a way I haven’t experienced with this Scripture ever before. Since I struggle with anxiety so heavily, my mind is constantly waging war against me. I love the fresh wind of hope that Paul proclaims in 2 Timothy. I proclaim the Spirit of a sound mind, and I proclaim it over you, friend- if you’re reading this and struggle with similar issues.

Later in the conversation, Mrs. Dimler expressed how important it was to be off of caffeine completely with the physical issues we struggle with. When Mrs. Dimler said that, it was like I heard an answer from God. Stop drinking caffeine. (I was sitting there drinking a black iced tea!) My caffeine intake has been heavy since my Starbucks years- who I fully blame for my addiction. I am a coffee lover. I am an iced tea lover. I have always drank both daily, but that day, I dumped out my iced tea and haven’t had any caffeine since. Two days later, I stopped the medication I had been on for almost two years. One week later, I was pain free.

That was about a month ago, and I’ve been pain free ever since.

I followed up with my doctor a couple weeks ago. She was amazed the pain was suddenly gone, but attributes it to me giving up caffeine. God may have used the lack of caffeine to bring healing, or maybe He just healed me! He certainly healed me from a spiritual sense. I rest on His promises. I find peace in His Truth. I claim His power. I claim His spirit of love and a sound mind.

He gave me a Divine Appointment with a strong woman in the faith, and the Great Physician worked me over.

Technical Difficulties

Thanks so much for checking in, you regular Tuesday readers! The blog post for today, Burger King and a Divine Appointment- Part 2, is ready and waiting in a Word Document. Unfortunately, Word is acting up, so I need to wait for my Technical Assistant to help me. Will work to get the post up ASAP! Thanks for your patience!

Burger King and a Divine Appointment, Part 1

I definitely believe in miracles. I believe in divine appointments. I believe Jesus heals. Stories of this type of power show up in the Bible over and over, but I’ve also got stories of my own. My own two children are examples of miracles and healing. But, today I want to share about a very recent divine appointment.

Let me start by sharing the backstory. For about a year now, I’ve been struggling with a physical issue. I’ve been to the ER over this particular issue, have seen a couple different doctors, and even had tests done. Everything “serious” had been ruled out, but no one could tell me why I was having this constant pain. At certain points I was able to shrug it off, and deal with the pain. But most of the time, I was under constant attack with anxiety. What was causing the pain? What if it’s serious, but the doctors missed something? What should I do about it? I’d wake up in the night worried about it. I’d be getting the kids dressed, feel a sharp pain, and start to worry some more. I’d hear about someone else’s diagnosis, and worry about myself. Worry, worry, and worry some more.

It got to the point where I would weep with Chuck while he prayed for healing over me. One particular night, as he was praying over me, I felt a warmth come over my body. Later as I was getting ready for bed, I realized the pain was gone. It was a true miracle because I hadn’t been pain-free in months. Chuck and I cried together and praised Jesus for His healing. We were consumed with joy and awe and worshipped our Healer together. I had a peaceful, pain-free night of rest, but by the next day the pain started to come back. I have to admit, I was discouraged. I couldn’t figure out why God would take my pain away for such a short time.

A couple weeks later, I shared with Chuck how I was still consumed with anxiety over this issue and he prayed over me again. I wept and wept, and we both cried out to God for answers. For help.
Shortly after that time of prayer together, several of my girlfriends from college and I met up at a camp in Northeastern PA. We had a sweet time of sharing, talking, laughing, eating, and more talking. As I began mentioning my pain to them, they helped me realize the medication I had been on for almost 2 years might be causing it. That night at the camp, I woke consumed with terror over my pain and what might be causing it. I was so afraid, I tossed and turned in my bed for a couple hours. I felt sick to my stomach.

Hear me out. I’m not a woman unfamiliar with all the fear, worry, and anxiety verses. I know a lot of those verses by heart. I recite Scripture in my mind, and out loud. I sing worship music in my head. I pray- a lot. But this particular anxiety felt immovable. I was shaken, almost to my core. I had a hard time being joyful. I had a hard time being at peace. I just couldn’t get over this one. I was under serious attack.... (Stay Tuned for Part 2 next Tuesday.)

Winner Winner!!

OK friends, this Give Away ended up being so good for my heart. Ah! I was feeling pretty down about blogging over the weekend, and headed to the grocery store. What better way to cheer a person up than to grocery shop, right?! Yuck. Anyway, when I was done I checked my email and saw a bunch of comments for the Give Away. It just got me so excited to read what you all had to share. I loved it! And now I have some renewed direction and fresh ideas for writing in 2017.

Thank you- thank you- thank you for reading, commenting, and being apart of the Full of Joy adventure! I am really happy to announce the winner of the Dunkin Donuts gift card. We are in the full swing of the holiday spirit around here (Thank goodness Halloween is finally over. The last thing I need in my life is a holiday wrapped around fear, gore, horror, skulls, and creepiness. My thighs don't need the chocolate either.), so I had a little elf help me with the drawing.

Congratulations Leigh! Your Dunkin card is on the way! Thanks so much to everyone for playing along.

Thankfulness and Some Dunkin

Today marks 1 year since the official re-launch of the blog. (You can check out that initial post here.) Even though I've been blogging for years, this past year has been the most significant. Writing weekly has helped to grow me as a writer, but something else happened unexpectedly. I grew closer to Jesus. He gave me a vision for this thing, and He has been faithful to pour into me. The more I write, the more I hear from Him, and the closer we become. I'm so thankful for Jesus. I'm thankful for you readers! I'm thankful for my beautiful friends who have stepped up with me this past year as guest bloggers, and poured their hearts out. honor of this milestone, I am hosting a GIVE AWAY!

Even though Starbucks is my true love, frugality won the battle, and I have chose Dunkin Donuts as the prize! (With a Starbucks gift card, you can get like 1 1/2 drinks. With Dunkin you can get like 10!)

***To enter to win a Dunkin Donuts gift card, please post a comment on the blog stating what topic you would enjoy reading about on here. Winner will be chosen and announced next Monday, November 7. (Sorry, U.S. residents only.)

Thank you all for following along- I love you for it!

Almost Time to Celebrate!

Thank you for checking in, you Tuesday regulars! Stay tuned- on Thursday there will be a special post, and a little celebration! See you then!

Jesus, You're My Superhero- by Chuck Dubbe

Recently I was sharing with my man that my upcoming guest bloggers will be writing in answer to the question, "Who is Jesus to you?" He jumped on it right away, and volunteered to write the very first guest post on the topic. I am over-joyed to welcome my incredible husband on the blog today. Thank you Babe for supporting my gifts, and helping me thrive in Jesus, even when things might feel scary. I'm your number 1 fan. I love you mucho. (said with an accent)

Jesus, you're my superhero!
That’s the name of a song, by Hillsong Kids, that was stuck in my head this morning. Works perfectly for the title of my post. J

Who is Jesus to me?

Abigail often teases me because I add an accent to ethnic names. Having grown up in Germany, I commonly roll the r, which comes up in many languages. I love Jesus’ Hebrew name – Yeshua HaMashiach. (Try pronouncing the ch as if something got stuck in the back of your throat.) Ab once thought I made that name up, in an attempt to sound Jewish. Haha!

The meanings behind names are important to me. Yeshua or Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation.” Having committed my life to Christ as a child, I didn’t realize Jesus wanted to save me from more than a life apart from God. He invites us into His kingdom (the king’s-domain) to have a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10). “Save” is my new favorite word, which is sozo in Greek (as in John 3:17). It means forgiven, delivered, healed, rescued- all of which are in constant demand here on this earth. Man, I sure need His healing (physical, emotional, and spiritual) and forgiveness on a regular basis.

Mashiach in Greek is “Christos,” which is obviously where we get the word Christ. It means Messiah or The Anointed One having been anointed with God’s authority. Isn’t that so rich? Throughout the Bible when someone is anointed, it shows God’s special favor and blessing on that person. Jesus received special favor from His Father, especially with such a rich and awesome name. I love His name! (Psalm 119:132)

Jesus Christ is a name to be loved and blessed. Did you know WE can bless Jesus? Psalm 100:4b says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Wow! If Jesus likes to be blessed, how much more should we bless each other regularly. We bless You, King Jesus!

His name is powerful and literally life-giving. “But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” (John 20:31) The “these” refers to the miracles and testimonies compiled in the Book of John. Jesus gave all His followers (including me and you) the authority and power to do the same the things He did and more, simply by the power of His name (John 14:12-13). That’s remarkable! I’m just now learning to wrap my mind around that goodness.

 I will end with this old praise and worship song, which brought me to tears when I heard it recently. It perfectly sums up what I wrote. We actually sang it in Germany growing up, but it's lyrics didn’t have nearly the significance they have on me today. Jesus Christ means much more to me now, so much more!

 Majesty worship His Majesty
Unto Jesus, be all glory,
Power and praise
Majesty, Kingdom authority
Flow from His throne,
Unto his own, His anthem raise.

So exalt, lift up on high
The Name of Jesus
Magnify, come glorify,
Christ Jesus the King
Majesty, worship His Majesty
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all Kings.

Who Is Jesus To Me?

Over the next several months, when I host a guest on here, they will be writing in response to the question, “Who is Jesus to you?” Thought it would be fitting if I share my own heart’s answer.  

Would it be too cliché to say Jesus is everything to me? If I whittle it down to my deepest core, I am living because of Jesus. His Father God gave me breath- created my mind, soul, emotions and body, and His Son brought me life. I was destined to live a life riddled with selfishness, anger, betrayal, bitterness, immorality, fear, anxiety, and worry. But Jesus took it all, and paid the price through His death on the cross- for me. For my freedom. (For you, too!)
What astounds me is His Victory over death. Not even death can defeat my Jesus! Right now, in my daily world, Jesus is Victor. Most of the time that means He is victor over the fears and anxieties that plague my mind. I’m afraid of physical diseases on a regular basis. I’m afraid an illness is going to take the life of someone I love. I’ve learned this fear comes out of the fact I cannot control my own health, or anyone else’s health. What Jesus has been teaching me is the more I trust Him, the more I let go of the control I think I have, and the more freedom I live with. It’s counter-intuitive, but it works. Jesus says over and over in the Bible, “Do not worry about anything! Trust in the Lord! Lean not on your own understanding! Do not fear! Do not be anxious! My peace I leave with you, my peace I give.”

Jesus is peace to me. And if His peace is reigning in my heart, I can face the day. If His peace is ruling my mind, I can truly live. I wish I could say the peace of Jesus reigns so strongly in my heart and mind I never have to battle those fears/anxieties anymore. But the truth is, I am regularly overwhelmed with anxiety. Thankfully, I have grown tremendously in this area, but the struggle is still there. What I believe is someday, I will stand completely healed from the disease of anxiety. Whether it happens by a miraculous healing through The Spirit on earth, or through a continual healing process- I will be healed.

My desire is that here on earth, I will stand healed. Just like the man in Acts 3-4 who could not walk. God used Peter to heal him, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” When I can’t seem to find peace from Jesus in a given moment, the peace I have because He reigns on the throne of my life is enough.

Loving and following Jesus in this life never means things are perfect and I’m happy all the time. It means I’m living because I have hope in The One who saved me from myself.

The Write Space

This week, I have the fun opportunity to share some of my blogging experience with the writer's group I'm apart of called, "The Write Space." If you live in the area, please contact me and I will share more details about when, where, what time, etc. It would be a privilege to serve anyone who would like to come! I'm honored to have been invited to do this.

The leadership of TWS has asked me to share several aspects of what my blog journey has been like. These are the questions I will be answering, as well as any others that may come up.

~What was the blog about for the first 9 years, and what is it about now (in the last year)?

~How does blogging get you closer to God?

~What is frustrating about blogging?

~How do people react to posts?

~What have I learned about myself? God? People? through blogging.

If interested, please come on out! Thankful for this group.

When He Says Go, Part 2

Thank you to those of you who have prayed for me as I’ve transitioned to a new Mom’s group. I am grateful for the outpouring of support on this decision, especially from my M2M girls.

Two weeks ago today, I was incredibly nervous, as predicted, to drive across the neighborhood and walk into a house full of complete strangers. Many people have asked me why I was so nervous. I guess I only know my own personality, so it’s hard for me to fathom why anyone wouldn’t understand the nerves? Being shy by nature, but friendly by nurture (thank you Mom and Dad!), I think those who meet me (but don’t truly know me well) are surprised at my social anxieties. Simply put, I was nervous because this was a huge change, an unknown situation, with unknown people, with unknown outcomes, and I was dragging my kids right along with me.

The night before I went to the new group, I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned. The next morning I got even more anxious and took those emotions out on Chuck. I believe I may have snapped at him over his wrong technique at heating up a breakfast sandwich in the microwave. His response was to pull me into a hug and pray over me. This was the first time I cried. After he prayed, I noticed how excited the kids were to head over to the new group. Jase kept saying, “Play with new friends!” while jumping and smiling. This really did make my heart happy. God was showing me through Jase this was something I could be excited about, too.

When we pulled up to the house to park, I got tears in my eyes again. It was so hard to get out of the car and walk, but God gave me the Audacity (Beth Moore) to move my legs. That’s all it took. I just had to move. A sweet little blondie greeted us by yelling “Hello!” from the front porch. My kids were excited to run into the new house, and their spirit was contagious.
Bristle blocks!
In the end, we had a lovely time. The kids had endless toys to play with, a bounce house to jump in, a swing set to climb on, and this Mama even made a craft (Now that’s hilarious, if you know me!) while drinking coffee.
Oh my. Serious about my crafting.
Throughout the morning there, I had the privilege of meeting 4-5 other Moms, and about 7 kids. On the way home, I had more tears in my eyes, but for a different reason. Each one has a story. Each one has a destiny. Each one has needs. Each one needs love- and I absolutely mean the love of Jesus. Each one needs Jesus Himself- some may already know Him, others may not. So yes, my heart is all in. If God uses me to spread His love, and His gospel it would the greatest joy I could imagine.

It might be strange to say, but I love those girls already.

Baby Girl loved crafting.

He was laughing hysterically at the sounds this gun makes.... ;)


Minimalism, by Jill Zavacky

Happy Tuesday Everyone! I am so pleased to introduce you to my friend, Jill. We served teenagers together for three year at our church in Northern Virginia. Not only that, but Jill and I also share a passion for Jesus and writing about Jesus. (Check out her blog here.) Recently she posted a picture on Instagram about how she fit her entire wardrobe into a suitcase. I was impressed, and a little convicted. Please give her a warm welcome as she shares her heart with us today. (You might also want to grab a hot cup of coffee with pumpkin creamer, like I did when I read it! Oh the joys of Fall!)

Some may call my way of life, “minimalism,” but I just call it being faithful with little. 

IT ALL STARTED when I moved to my fifth apartment in five years. I was moving from a town house with two roommates into a basement apartment of a family friend, in a house that was already completely furnished. I couldn’t fit half of my things into this new space, and I realized I didn’t really even need any of it. It was then my journey towards minimalism started.

I remember attempting to unpack my clothes into this giant walk-in closet, realizing in the process I was holding on to so many things I didn’t even want anymore. I looked around at everything I had and felt so uneasy. There was so much money invested in all of these things I rarely wore or even looked at. All I saw was so much money wasted. At that time, I could barely afford to live on my own anymore. I was drowning in debt, medical bills from a recent surgery, and student loans. But my closet was full and my walls were decorated. I could wear a different outfit every day for a month without repeating anything, but I could hardly even pay my bills.

It was in that moment I realized something had to change. At this point it wasn’t only about money, it was also about the principle of the matter. Why did I have so many things I didn’t use or even need? With each insignificant possession I got off of my hands that year, I realized just how much money I had wasted over the years purchasing all of it. I believe having stuff is not a sin. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. He blesses us with big houses and a lot of stuff so we can host people in our houses and enjoy our things with them. But I know I must also be faithful with little, and I CAN be faithful with little.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:20, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth not rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Beginning a journey towards minimalism is really just beginning a journey towards the pursuit of Jesus in regards to your possessions. Laying up your treasures in heaven may look different for you than it did for me. The point is not that I got rid of half of my possessions.  The point is not that I’ve come to find contentment with a wardrobe of basics and a house with only the bare essentials. The point is actually that I’ve learned to be faithful with little. I’ve learned to turn to the Lord for my main source of satisfaction, instead of paying more attention to the demands and changes of the culture around me. Style, fashion, popularity, you name it - it all fades and changes, ebbs and flows. But wherever the Lord dwells, there is no destruction.

God is permanent. He is constant; He is faithful. And this is why we must store up our greatest treasures with Him alone, and not in our closets. We must align our hearts with where our treasures are found.


How Big Is Love? by Amy Parker- A Book Review

You guys, this book is ADORABLE! It's perfect for both of my children (son- just turned 3, daughter- 1 1/2). Not only is it suitable for them because it's a board book (Can I just send a shout out to whoever invented board books?!), but the content is beautiful.

As I've shared before in book reviews, having a book that shares the values of the Bible, and the love of Jesus in words that speak directly to toddlers is thrilling as a Mother. "How Big Is Love?" expresses what love is in such a cute, catchy, and understandable way to kids. I especially appreciate the author, Amy Parker, taking a page in the story to praise Fathers- their strength, and their love.

My son would say his favorite part of the book is looking for the cricket on every page, thanks to the Illustrator, Breezy Brookshire. It's a fun way to keep him involved, while the message of God's love subconsciously flows through his mind, into his heart. I give this book five stars!

When He Says Go...

Raise your hand if you've ever felt The Spirit nudging your heart towards something, but you were really hoping you wouldn't have to do it. I'm glad I can't look around and physically see you right now because I may very well be the only one with my hand up. Trust me, both of my hands are raised.

For the last two and a half school years, I've been involved in a group called, "Mom to Mom" through my church. My particular small group is amazing. I have loved every leader I've had, and I love all the other girls at our table. We have grown together, cried out to God together, laughed together, cried together, partied together, had babies together, lost babies together, played with our kids together, and had some amazing breakfasts together. I had just signed up my kids for the child care a couple weeks ago, all ready to start the new year with my group.

God had other ideas.

Recently, I heard about a group of Moms/preschool kids in my new neighborhood who meet regularly. They just so happen to meet the same exact day and time Mom to Mom meets. My first thought was, "Oh well, I can't join- I already have M2M." Over time, the Holy Spirit began nudging my heart.

His whisper in my soul prompted, "Remember when you drove through this neighborhood before you even lived here and prayed for people?" "Remember how you've been asking me to help you meet your neighbors?" "Remember how you've longed to share Me with those around you?" "Now is your chance."

Me: "Noooooooo. Why can't the group meet on a different day than Mom to Mom does?!"

Then I heard messages from our Pastors on Sunday mornings. They spoke things like, "When God says go, you go!" or "Who is one person in your life you can share the love of Jesus with?"

The final straw happened during my teen small group one night. I was sharing my dilemma about joining the new Mom group vs. staying in my church's Mom group. My co-leader (who's a little older, but a whole lot wiser!) spoke up and stated, "I don't see what the problem is?" Later she talked with me candidly. She basically told me as Christ-followers, we're on this earth to share Christ- with our neighbors. She even said, "Mom to Mom is for you, the other group is for you to share the light of Jesus." Wow. How could I say no after that?!

The next morning I called my amazing Mom to Mom leaders and somewhat tearfully shared the news. I was going to be joining the new group in my neighborhood. They both affirmed my decision and encouraged me I was doing the right thing.

Though reluctantly, next week I will be heading up the street to face a whole group of Moms and kids I've never met. Sounds like an introvert nightmare to me. I might even break out in hives. As I walk over I know I'll be missing my friends who will be gathering at the same time without me. Sniff sniff.

Sometimes God asks us to go, and even when we can't see why, we just go...

Happy 3rd Birthday, my Bon!

You became my Honey Bun almost right away, but somewhere along the line that got chopped all the way down to "Bon" or "Bonni". Because your older two siblings are in Heaven, you are my actual firstborn son. The firstborn son has had a valuable role in a family all the way back to the Bible times. God has created you uniquely special, and He has great plans to use you for His Kingdom. Your name, Jase means "Healer". Not only has God used you to heal my heart after the loss of your siblings, but He will continue to use you to bring healing to those around you. Be tender with the hearts of people, my dear son.

My daring boy. When you put your mind to something, there is NO stopping you. Your mind is filled with adventurous thoughts at every moment of the day, it seems. You want nothing more than to be outside, playing at the park, swimming at Becca's, riding your bike, or playing with the hose out back. Your energy never ceases. You love to dive off the couch smack onto the floor, and laugh when you get there. You zoom around the living room at full speed pushing your sister's doll stroller like it's a race car. You climb. You tackle. You roll. You dive. You run. You jump. You are always on the go. Jesus will use this passion in you for His glory. Oh how He has marvelous plans for you each day.

Your life delights the heart of Jesus, even more than it delights Mama and Papa. When all else fades away, Jesus will always be your rock. Your redeemer. Your light. Your guide. Follow Jesus always, and choose the wise way.

You love your sister. You are responsible to care for her, look out for her, and respect her. You are her big brother- you will always be her Hero. That is a high calling- but don't worry. Jesus will show you the way.

I see the way your Papa looks at you. His eyes shine with pride because you are his son. He believes in you- in every single part of you. He adores you. He loves to play with you, and rough house with you, and build forts for you. Papa would go to the moon and back for you. But even more, your Heavenly Father adores you to your core- your Papa and I will never be able to do that.

You make your Mama laugh on a daily basis. Your words are sweet and kind, funny and silly, thoughtful and curious. The other night I got to hold you in my arms as you slept and was reminded how very young you still are, though you are growing up quickly. Don't hurry your life away- always find joy in the moment. I am confidant you won't have any trouble doing that!

Jase, I am proud to be your Mama. I am proud of YOU. You are strong. You are courageous. You are born of God. You are learning. You are as independent as you can be. Your smile lights up my soul. Your eyes reflect the depth of something so special in you- you are a creation of God Almighty. You are beautiful in every way.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jase Charleson Amos Dubbe. You have my heart. You always will.

Respite in NOVA

It's nearly impossible to predict how and when Jesus will completely and abundantly refresh my soul. I feel as if my soul needs refreshing on a daily basis. But there comes a point in time where to the depth of me I am completely dry and worn weary. Mothering plus ministry life has a tendency to overwhelm me to the point of crazy, if I'm not careful.
Jesus watches over me so tenderly and knows exactly what I need, when I need it. Last weekend, I had the honor of attending a wedding shower in Northern VA (our home before we moved to PA) and decided to visit with some other friends while I was down there for a quick 30 hour trip. Every friend I visited with, every hug I received, every gift that was given, every conversation, every smile, every laugh, and every moment of prayer filled my heart until it was practically bursting with joy. Jesus is in His people. 

My dear friend, Denise and I met years ago through a Bible study. We ended up doing several Bible studies together, and had wonderful times in prayer for each other. God has used us in unique ways to bless each other during particularly tough times. Denise has been through unspeakable tragedy, but I've never seen Christ shine more brightly through anyone during such a dark time. Seeing her, and being able to look her in the eyes and hear her heart was something I've been desiring for a long, long time. Thank you, sweet Jesus.

Hear more of Denise's story here. (Via her interview with one of my favorite author/speakers, Priscilla Shirer!)

Here is the reason for the whole trip, the beautiful bride-to-be Amy!

Three amazing girls. They all hold such special places in my heart. Cindy (far left) and Kendall (far right) were both in my teen small group for 3 years, starting their 10th grade year. These girls and I have had countless coffee dates, small group parties, pre-Prom gatherings, times of prayer, times of talking through tough stuff, mission trips, and youth group activities together. I love all these girls to pieces. So proud of how they've grown into Godly women.

Sharie (left) is the Mother-of-the-bride-to-be, and another dear friend! We were in a small group together with our husbands that we absolutely loved, we were housemates with our husbands on a mission trip to Croatia, she has watched Jovie (our dog) on countless occasions, and she is an all around wonderful friend! Such an awesome Mother/Daughter duo.

This is my amazing friend, and mentor, Candy. We co-led teen small groups together, met together regularly, prayed for each other and our girls, and she invested her whole heart into mine. I had asked God to provide me with a mentor while we were living in VA, and Candy is nothing short of a treasure to me. She hosted me in her home last weekend, and made me feel like I was apart of her family. She is a true gem.

Little Abby was another girl in my teen small group for 3 years. When I first met her, I could barely get a peep out of her. But one day she helped me serve at our church by organizing pastries for a big event, and we hit it off. I hadn't seen Abby in almost 3 years and it was an absolutely joy to meet her for coffee and hear all about her life. Love this girl.

My fabulous friend, Megan helped finish off my whirlwind weekend by treating me to the incredible restaurant, Sweet Water Tavern. We chatted for a couple hours straight. We laughed, we reminisced, we caught up, and we all-around had a wonderful Girls Night Out! This is one awesome girl.

I literally just took a big breathe and sighed. I am refreshed. I am renewed. I am filled up. I am overflowing with gratefulness for the gift of the body of  Christ. The gift of the love of Jesus that pours out through His people.

Peach Pickin, Forgive Me

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. This past Tuesday was the first Tuesday I haven't posted since the re-launch in November. I am disappointed in myself. Certainly if anyone raced to my blog last Tuesday they lived to see another day, even though I hadn't posted. Yet, somehow this flaw for the first time in 10 months really BOTHERS me. I am bummed.

It has helped me to realize I have too much going on. I've been taking a serious look at things and have decided I need to cut some stuff out- even good stuff. The Spirit has been leading me to stillness. To quiet. To rest. To listen. It's been an incredible discipline, one I am more and more drawn to. I know He will lead me to the things I need to sift out.

But for today, I apologize for not being faithful to my Tuesday post. The kids and I went peach picking with some friends yesterday, so thought I would hold you over with some pictures. I'll meet you back here on Tuesday. Lots of love to all.