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.


Book Review: Little Bible Heroes Daniel & Miriam

The concept of books written for children about Hero's from the Bible is excellent. I appreciate any resource that can be used to teach my children about the Bible. Author Victoria Kovac, and illustrator David Ryley created a book I believe best suited for elementary age children.

While reading the Daniel book to my toddler-age son, I had to leave out a lot of the story. Since he's so little, I don't like to read stories to him that focus on bad dreams and wicked men. The use of words like, "Israel, Babylon, Jerusalem, and conquer" cause my son to be uninterested. He really likes the pictures, so if I share my own version of the Daniel story with words he understands, he will stick with it.

I have attempted to read the Miriam story to him several times, but he's only been interested in hearing it one time. I think he simply likes hearing about Daniel because Daniel is a boy! Again, I don't like reading stories to my young son that include words like, "evil Pharaoh, babies killed, and real family" at his age. This book would also be much better suited for older children.

Overcome Me!

Last night I was boiling fresh from a Pennsylvania farm corn on the cob. I had set the timer and then moved on with dinner prep, which also inevitably included breaking up a toddler WWE tournament. Sigh. Right in the middle of one of their matches, I heard this sound in the back of my mind. It took a couple moments for the sound to register in my brain as BOILING water BOILING over. Sizzling. Splashing. Lid rattling. Explosion ready to happen. I sprinted to the stove to turn down the burner, and tipped the lid to let some air in…ahhhh. All was well.

If only dealing with the pressures of life were that easy. I feel sick to my stomach thinking about it. The pressures of life. Ick. They make me feel on the verge of blowing the lid off my mental boiling pot at any minute.
Let’s just start with emails. “Are you going to be joining such-and-such group in the Fall? Please respond ASAP.” “Do you need child care for such-and-such group. Please sign up ASAP.” “Here are the notes for such-and-such. Please study them ASAP.” “Here is the calendar for the year for such-and-such. Please let me know if there needs to be any changes ASAP.”

Then there are the texts to reply to, the social media to keep up with, the (occasional) voicemails to respond to, the thank you notes to write, the birthday cards to send, the person to reach out to, the treadmill to walk on, the weeds to pull, the walls to paint, the blinds to put up, the car that needs to be fixed, the bathrooms that need to be cleaned, the dirty AND clean laundry all over my bed that needs to be dealt with, the size 24 month clothes in my son’s drawer that need to be given away because he’s wearing size 3T clothes that I pull out of a tub every day! And on, and on, and on, and on….
I know you feel me. I have so much to do on a moment-by-moment basis, and what do I almost always end up doing instead? Watch TV. Scroll through Instagram. Swipe through Twitter. Check my email- again. See what’s going on in the Facebook world. Dumb FaceBook that we all love to hate, but can’t seem to know what to do with.  Sigh. Huff. Puff. Dangerously close to blowing my house down with the pressure building inside me.

All this for what? To lay my head down at night and desperately try to shut out the day- all I didn’t get done, and all I have to do? With tears in my eyes, and a mind that can’t take it anymore, I am saying it’s time to be done.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Be still.” “I lead you beside quiet waters.” “I restore your soul.” “When you are weak, then I am strong.” “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give.” “Quit striving, and know that I am God.”

The Spirit comes when I am still. Quiet. When I put the kids down for a nap, and shuck the corn outside in the fresh air and sunshine -no music, no Netflix. Stillness. When I read a book written by a Godly woman- wisdom for my soul. When I cook with fresh herbs from my neighbor’s garden, and reflect on such sweet gifts given to me. When I take the kids for a walk outside and share the troubles of my heart with Jesus instead of walking on the treadmill and watching Gilmore Girls. When I listen to worship music while driving in the car and soak in the beauty of the mountains that surround me.  When I begin to experience the Spirit’s presence in new ways, because I’m still enough to notice. To hear. To listen. When I read the Scriptures and experience peace. When I work on memorizing a verse. That's when the Spirit pours out.
He's beckoning me. The stillness, the quiet, the rest for my soul. I have to fight for it. I have to say no to distractions. I have to be disciplined. Ugh, the D word. But I WANT it. I WANT HIM. I need the quiet. I need Jesus. I need the Spirit.

“Holy Spirit you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what my heart longs for. Where my heart becomes free. To be overcome by your PRESENCE, Lord.” (Kari Jobe)
Jesus, overcome me by your presence.


Paw Patrol Undies- and how they refreshed my soul.

Last weekend, Chuck and I spontaneously decided to take the kids on a little getaway. We’ve had a long, emotional, and tiring summer so we needed some time together alone as a family. On Thursday afternoon we headed down to VA where Chuck’s family has a house. A long car ride with two toddlers is NEVER enjoyable, but we finally rolled into town and stopped at one of our favorite dives- Cook Out. It’s cheap, it’s yummy, it’s NUT free, and oh yeah, it’s cheap!

Dinner went rather smoothly and my heart was full as I looked around the table and saw all of us enjoying a dinner out. Chuck and I were extra joyful because it was the first restaurant Basye has been able to eat out at due to her allergies! Plus, Jase was doing amazingly well at potty-training and even announced to us during dinner he needed to go. Please don’t roll your eyes- this is a serious victory people! Our table of 4 was cheering and clapping and celebrating like it was Christmas when Jase got back from the restroom!

Eventually we headed out to the family farm- fresh air, land for miles, and a mountain view so gorgeous it’s hard to believe it’s real. As soon as I got out of the car I ran around taking pictures of the beautiful views- it was shaping up to be an amazing weekend away!

I wish I could tell you we had the best weekend of our lives. I wish I could tell you we got to rest, relax, and get refreshed. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but by 10pm that night, things had started to go downhill. Jovie kept growling, putting me on edge. One of the kids refused to sleep, but instead decided to wreak havoc in the bedroom. This led to waking up the other kid with both of them screaming and crying. It took until 10pm to get everyone settled and asleep. Night 1 was a bust.

I did not sleep well, and when I got up Chuck was already stressed out with the kids. They were getting into all things fragile, slamming doors, pinching fingers, getting into boxes of candles making a wax mess, messing around with cords and plugs- one of which sounded a loud, obnoxious alarm every time it was touched. I could go on. We survived until nap time, only to NOT have nap time. So much fussing. So much crying. By then, I was totally over our weekend getaway, and wanted nothing more than to go home. I wish I could say I strapped on a smile, chose joy the Jesus-way, but I didn’t. I was exhausted. Done. Over the whole thing.

The next morning we got to work right away so we could finally head home. After several hours of yard work and cleaning, we were on our way- until we got a call saying we needed to head BACK to the house to meet the police because we had made an error with the alarm system. Then when we were one hour from home, we realized we had left Basye’s glasses at the house. A $175 hit, on top of the fact our baby girl can’t even see well without them!

Since we were gone all weekend, I had to grocery shop after church on Sunday. No one likes grocery shopping, especially during Sunday afternoon nap time. But I forced myself out the door anyway. On the way, I felt myself burst into tears as I mourned the weekend I had wanted to have so badly. I beat myself up for not choosing to have a good attitude.

As I dragged myself into Aldi and began piling stuff into my cart, I saw them- Paw Patrol undies. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Size 2T/3T. They were something I needed, but I never expected to find them there. Tears threatened to pour. Jesus loves me so much! He gave me the Sweetest of Things in only the way an intimate God could. Toddler undies, of all things. Finding them there with characters I knew Jase would be so excited about made my heart soar with joy! Jesus’ amazing love poured out on me in such a sweet way. As if that wasn’t enough, I rounded the corner at the end of the isle and was surprised to see a big display of Aldi’s all new baby line- pouches of fruits and veggies, diapers, and Pull-Ups of all things. Items never sold at Aldi- items I needed! Items that would save me the trip to Walmart, hallelujah amen! My heart had been so dried out from our trip, but those gifts from Jesus were like a flow of streaming water.
Jesus, you knew. You knew what my heart needed. You knew the most intimate of ways to speak your unending love to my struggling spirit. Thank you, my sweet Jesus.
 *** In case you were wondering, the Paw Patrol undies are a huge hit! And do you want to know something else? As I write this, we have one sick Papa and another sick kiddo- the puke I’ve cleaned up should set records. But Jesus is my strength- breathing energy and hope and an uncharacteristically good attitude into me. What happened at Aldi was absolutely the gift I needed to endure yet another difficult time.
Jesus knows. HE ALWAYS KNOWS.