The Egg! The Nail! The Cross! His Love!

The Egg! The Nail! The Cross! His Love!

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” Matthew 28:6

Today in our church preschool our friends were each given an egg to open. The eggs were filled with objects that represented an important moment from the resurrection story. When it was time for Ellie to open her egg she did it with excitement. Out fell the nail that the soldiers used to nail Jesus to the cross. Immediately and with a smile Ellie held up the nail. She then told the rest of the kids “Jesus on the cross. He loves us!” I was so blessed to be in there at that moment. She is so right! Jesus died on the cross and rose again because He loves us so much. He endured such pain and suffering so that when we die we can go live with Him in heaven. Why? He loves us! He died to give us new life. Why? He loves us! The answer to the why is always that He loves us! Jesus loves you no matter your story. He loves you in all your mess. He is waiting for you to come to Him so that He can tell you that the price is paid in full. I am so thankful that I have hope because of the price that was paid for my sins on the cross. I’ve done nothing to earn it. I don’t deserve it! He gave it anyway because He loves. He loves!

Telephones, Prayer Closets, Real Conversations!

Telephones, Prayer Closets, Real Conversations!

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you…” James 4:8

Ellie’s favorite thing to do right now is talk. Brings me back to my childhood. I talked so much that I received D’s in conduct. At one point I began talking really fast. I knew I had to get in all I was going to say quickly before my mom asked for a five minute break from my talking. What can I say? Ellie got this nature from me. I love it though. Jessie and I are always cracking up at the things Ellie will say or questions she will ask. Over the past few months Ellie has often said “Mom talk like me!” I couldn’t understand what she was trying to get me to say. I would repete her. I tried being excited as I talked. I even tried making my voice sound like her voice. Nothing worked. Ellie would always grow frustrated with me and sometimes cry because I couldn’t seem to figure out how to talk like she wanted. One afternoon as we sat on the couch she was asking me questions. “Mom! You like your lunch? I love Jesus! You love Jesus?” I responded to all her questions. Then, she said “now you talk like me!” It hit me guys! My kid just wanted me to ask her questions too? She wanted me to give her more than just a simple answer but she wanted me to have a conversation with her. So, I did! Our car rides are no longer silent like I enjoy, but they are filled with all three of us talking to each other, asking questions and encouraging one another. I have always been a sit quiet in the car, look out the window and day dream kind of girl. Not anymore. Ellie use to be this way too. She would get mad if we tried to talk to her. However, now Ellie wants to talk to us. She wants us to have a constant line of communication with her. she wants to really know us.

Jesus, He wants to really know you. He wants to have an open line of communication with you.

I’m no saint. Spending time with Jesus does not come natural to me. I know people who spend hours with Jesus everyday. They come out of their prayer closet (I can’t even see the floor of my closet) and they are excited telling me they just had the best three hour prayer session with Jesus. I’m over here like 3 hours? Man! Is He sending you to the Mission fields of Africa or something? What could you possibly talk about for three hours? There is nothing wrong with it. Infact its great. However, my prayer time does not look like three hours. Mine is more of a several times a day come to Jesus meeting. In Highschool I remember being terrified to have a quiet time with Jesus. Everyone who got up to give their testimony always talked about what God told them in their prayer time with Him. It was never that He loved them or He was proud of them or that He would never leave them. It was always “God told me to give this relationship up.” “God told me to walk away from basketball.” “God told me to go on the mission field.” This terrified me! If I have a quiet time with Jesus what is He going to tell me to sacrifice? What mission field will He send me on? Don’t get me wrong! I do think that a quiet time with Jesus is where He ask you to surrender things or where He places a call on your life, but I also think it is where He tells you how much He love you, How proud He is of you. How during your storm He will never leave you. I also think it is the time where He wants to hear your heart. What makes you angry? Why are you disappointed? What makes you happy? What are the desires of your heart. I don’t think it is a time that should scare you but it should excite you! Jesus is eager to talk to you and He is eager to hear from you. I think we might at times over complicate quiet time with Jesus. Some of us need a specific time each day with Jesus and others need more than one specific time a day. Here are three places I have my quiet time.

3 places I find quiet time with Jesus:

1.In the shower!

It’s a perfect place. No one can hear me cry if it’s been one of those days.

2.In the car after Ellie has fallen asleep!

I love to turn on my Christian radio and drive around the block a few times until Ellie falls asleep. Then I know I have a few minutes alone in my thoughts and with Jesus. This time with Jesus refreshes me each time.

3.At Bedtime!

I sometimes say I am going to bed but secretly I’m hiding under the blankets talking to Jesus!

The other morning we were waiting on our friends to show up. I never do this but I decided to put on worship music. Most of the time I have Kidz Bop playing. Not for Ellie either. I love Kidz Bop! I spent ten minutes telling Jesus how thankful I am for where He has brought our family and what He is doing in us and through us. I also told Him how angry I felt over a recent disappointment. How sad this disappointment still made me feel. How hard it is to talk about the disappointment. Guess what? Jesus wasn’t mad that I told Him how I really felt and honestly I felt better after. I needed that 10 minutes with Jesus. I needed that unplanned moment with Jesus to tell Him what was really on my heart. In return, He told me that He loved me. He reminded me that He is working all things for His good (Romans 8:28). I left that time with Jesus better then when I showed up.

Jesus is eager to talk to us. We live in a time when at any moment we can talk to anyone who we need to. We can text, E-mail, call, facetime, snapchat and so on. We have a constant open line of communication with so many people. However, we struggle to keep an open line of communication with Jesus. With Jesus we don’t need all this technology to have a conversation with Him. It’s as simple as being frustrated and calling on Him. It’s a simple as getting that promotion and stopping to thank Him. It’s as easy as being alone in the car and choosing to talk to Jesus. It’s as easy as waking 20 minutes early to lay in your bed and have your heart open to hear from Jesus. He will meet you where you are. It makes sense to me now. It makes perfect sense to why I was so confused as I tried to figure out what Ellie was wanting from me. In that time it took me discovering that she only wanted a real conversation with me I found that Jesus wants the same thing. He wants to have a real conversation with me and with you!

Deflated Love!

Deflated Love!

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23

I walked into the kitchen this morning to Ellie’s birthday balloons deflated on the kitchen floor. I sat at the kitchen table for a moment just staring.I watched the emptiness in each balloon. For a moment everything stood still. Then I felt these words in my heart.

“ My love never runs out.”

These words took me back to my senior year in high school. It was a storm to say the least. I missed the better first half of it while on bed rest after having a major spinal surgery. Honestly, I didn’t feel I had any friends who missed me being at school. I was lonely. I was broken. I was lost. My step dad became my best friend at that time and I’m very thankful for that time I had with him. Still though there was something… someone else I was missing. After having surgery I slept a lot. I couldn’t eat, I was in pain and the pain medicine helped me forget about how sad I felt my life was. Looking back, part of the problem was that I was having a pity party. I wasn’t open to the love Jesus had for me therefore I couldn’t seem to silence the emptiness I felt on the inside. I’m so thankful He found me in the midst of my brokenness and still chose to shower me with all his grace, mercy and His love. The hardest part was me choosing to let Jesuslove me. It meant I had to stop looking for His love in all the wrong places. When I chose to look to Him and trust Him He took my deflated heart and began filling it with His love until it stood tall. It was far from easy but there came a moment when I could finally see that He had not only love for me but a purpose for my life.

Back to the deflated balloons just hanging out. Even in this moment when my feet have barely touched the floor my heart already begins to count all my mistakes, setbacks and flaws. It’s early in the morning, but I have already began to tell myself how I’m not worthy for this call. I don’t have what it takes to make a difference. I’m so unsure of the next step. Yet, He quiets my soul with the words “My love never runs out.” I’m reminded that I’m called not because of my qualifications but because of His love for me and I know His love is enough to see me through. As the deflated balloons lay on the kitchen floor, I’m in awe knowing that Jesus knew this would be the reminder I needed today of His love for me.

Do you know how much Jesus loves you? I know! I know! You start thinking that I don’t know how many mistakes you have made. I don’t understand how bad life is for you. I don’t get the shame and emptiness you feel. Its true! I don’t know! Let me remind you, He does! Jesus knows where you are at and He still loves you. His love is not empty! His love for you stands tall. His love offers forgiveness. His love will give you peace. His love leaves you free. His love gives you a purpose. He wants to love you. Will you let Him. I hope that this serves as a simple reminder that unlike Ellie’s deflated balloons still taking up space on the kitchen floor God’s love for us will never run out.

Three ways we used leftover party supplies after Ellie’s magical birthday party!

Ellie had a truly magical birthday party with a huge unicorn balloon,

rainbow cupcakes,

a gigantic play area,

karaoke station

and friends…

lots of friends.

Its funny! When we moved here one of my biggest concerns was who we would invite to Ellie’s birthday party. Would she even have any friends? It was definitely a silly worry that kept me awake at night. Im thankful I can say I worried for nothing. We are most of the time always worried for nothing! Ellie had 12 friends show up and together they helped make Ellies birthday memorable. One of my favorite moments was watching Ellie rock out with her friends in their band.

While cleaning up I cringed at the thought of throwing away perfectly good party supplies still in good condition.

I didn’t know of a place to donate the supplies to (feel free to comment on a place you might know) and I honestly can’t imagine another unicorn party in the future. I packed the supplies up and discovered some fun and creative ways to reuse the supplies. Follow along with me to see all the fun we got into.

We set up a paint shop!

The table cloths were still in such good shape. I decided to tape the tablecloth to the wall as well as put a 2nd one on the floor. We pulled out some extra paint and a white thick poster.

Ellie had fun painting until her heart was content. It was fun to see her creativeness come to life and I really liked that we were able to get another use out of the tale cloths.

You could also use the table cloths as a backdrop for a photobooth to get fun pictures in front of. What are some creative ways that you have used plastic table cloths?

We made hair bows!

After the party we had tons of unicorn ring toppers laying around. I guess you can say the kids were more excited about eating the cupcake thean wearing the ring. I cleaned the rings and used pliers to pull of the rings leaving only the rainbow. I already had some yellow ribbon and clips on hand so with a little hot glue I was able to put together some hair clips. Ellie loved wearing her new clips and so did a few girls in my after school program.

We made a birthday party memory frame!

This was one of my favorite ways we were able to reuse the party supplies. I’m a very sentimental person. I wanted to find a way to have a keepsake of her 3rd birthday party. I went out and bought a wood frame. I cut up the tissue paper from Ellie’s presents and had her glue them to the edges of the frame. We also hot glued a unicorn party favor and rainbow topper to the frame. Now we just have to choose the perfect picture to place inside.

Ellie started asking about her birthday party in December. She cried when we told her that December was not her birthday! This makes total sense considering that I was placed on bed rest December 23rd because Of preterm labor. I guess she’ll always want to celebrate early. This year was my favorite birthday celebrations by far. It was the first one where Ellie understood that we were celebrating her and that made it extra special. It was extra special because she was able to pick her theme, cupcakes and party favors. Ellie had so much day in this party and I loved watching her get excited as the party grew closer! I’m excited for next year and to see all the unique things we will be able to do it’s her left over party supplies.

Here’s to turning three!

 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Ellie, you are our sunshine and today you turn three! Where has the time gone? We have enjoyed every second of every moment we have had with you. We are excited every chance we get to celebrate you. We love hearing you shout “my friends” when random kids walk into Chick Fil a. You love playing with everyone and you love others so well. We love that your love language is physical touch. You always want to be close; holding our hands, sitting on our lap, laying on our chest and snuggling real close. I’m in love with the way you still wrap your tiny arms around my neck as you fall to sleep each night.

We pray you always know how close Jesus wants to be to you. He loves you so much more than we ever could and sometimes that feels impossible, but it’s true. You are so special to Jesus! You make every morning bright with your loud wake up call letting us know the light is shining on the sun. Hearing you laugh makes our heart burst. Watching you worship beside daddy fills me with hope and joy. You always remind me that we need to read your Bible at bedtime. I love hearing you talk about Jesus and how much compassion you have when a friend is crying. It’s so cute to see you stick your finger in the air telling us you have an “IDEA!” We love that you are finding your voice and expressing your feelings. I pray you always know you have a voice and we will always hear you! Jesus will ALWAYS hear you! We are so unbelievably proud of you. When Jesus led our family to Washington Illinois you handled it with so much joy and maturity. I’ve cried way more then you on this journey. While I have fallen in love with our new home you fell in love so much more quickly and that has helped me ease in to so much change. We can’t say it enough! We are so proud of you. You will always be our miracle from God. The moment we found out about you we were reminded that nothing is impossible with God. What man said was impossible God proved faithful. Happy birthday to our unicorn 🦄 loving, frozen singing, PJ Mask fighting, Ryan imitating, christian rap shouting, Jesus worshipping little girl. You are the bestest little girlfriend a mommy could ask for. We adore you. We always will. We are so thankful Jesus blessed us with you. You are our sunshine ☀️! Happy 3rd Birthday! 🎂

Broken Crayons!

Broken Crayons!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28

Recently I did an experiment with Ellie. We took all her broken crayons and we melted them down until they took on a new shape. We then let the crayon wax cool and harden. The experiment was a process. It took time, work and patience.  However, it was worth it! Through this experiment I was reminded of the work God wants to do in the hearts of all His broken people. This is a project that needs parent supervision since a hot oven is needed.

First. we started by peeling away the part of the crayon that was no longer useful. This part was hard for me. Ellie’s fingers are tiny. It took everything in me to let her do  this part herself. I wanted to jump in and help the entire time.

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Next, we organized the crayons into a mini cupcake pan. We had fun mixing the colors. However, you can also sort the colors.

We placed the broken crayons in the oven to melt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until wax is melted. Ellie had fun watching through the oven door.

After melting we waited as the crayons cooled and hardened into the shape of a circle.

Last, we tested out our new crayon. Be sure that the crayons are cool before allowing your child to touch them. I let the crayons sit for an hour before we tested them. Some parents and teachers have let the crayons sit over night.

Ellie really had fun with this experiment. Waiting for the new crayons to cool was the most difficult for her. However, I like that  it was a good opportunity to strengthen her patience.

Can we all just have a come to Jesus moment real quick? This experiment is about more than broken crayons.  It’s about broken people. We are all broken in some way. Jesus wants to pick us up in our brokenness, tare off all the unnecessary mess, melt us down in the fire, pull us out of our darkness so we can do amazing things for Him. God is not surprised by our brokenness. God love us so much that He wants to bring us out of our brokenness. Did you know that the Bible is filled with men and women who did some pretty  messed up things? Yet GOD still did great things in and through each of them. Check it out…

Broken Men and Women of the Bible used by God:

Noah was a drunk and God used Him to build the ark. He used him even though He knew he would mess us after the flood and get drunk. Jesus still chose to use Noah because He knew that even in all of Noah’s brokenness that he would answer the call to build the ark. He did! We are here because Jesus chose to use Noah.

David  was a murderer and adulterer but God still crowned Him King  because He chose to forgive David and bring a blessing through him.

Peter denied Christ three times yet still Jesus used Him. After denying Jesus three times, Peter went on to be filled with the holy Spirit, perform miracles and confidently preach in public. Many people came to know of the love of Jesus because Jesus chose to use a man who once denied Him.

Martha worried about everything. God used her to be a servant to Jesus and His Disciples. She served them so they could spend their time in Prayer and sharing the word.

Rehab was a prostitute who was used by God to hide the men from being punished by order of the King of Jericho.

Moses killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Then He ran. However,  God still chose to use him to lead 2 million Israelites out of Egypt.

What is your story? What keeps you believing that God cannot use you? God wants to use you even in all your brokenness. God will never throw you out like a broken crayon. He wants to tare off all the junk, melt you down in the fire, mold you for His purpose and send you out to do big things for Him.  Regardless of the level of your brokenness- God can and wants to use you. The question stands, will you allow God to create something new in you?

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Count your blessings Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Count your blessings Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

“When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… you should do what I do! Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more… oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!” -Dr. Seuss

Our last book is ​Did I ever tell you how lucky you are? In this story, ​ a wise man is telling a young boy what he should do if he is to ever feel sad or angry. The wise man tells the young boy that he should start to think of all the unlucky things he does not have to deal with. Throughout the book the wise man describes life situations that would be unlucky to be in. This book challenged me to focus on all the good I have in my life and less on all the negative in my life. The truth is everyone faces hard times in some way. No one is exempted from difficult moments. However, the negative should never consume our thoughts. Be intentional about finding joy in each day.

A few years ago I was challenged at a conference to write down 1000 things that I was thankful for. This challenge really helped me. It allowed me to stop thinking of all the negative in my life and focus on all the good in my life. It’s so easy to be consumed with the things that make life challenging. If we are not careful life can start to feel so challenging that life is no longer enjoyable. My fear is that I will wake up one day and realize that I missed out on so much of God’s goodness because I chose to live in a rut. We don’t have time to live in a rut. Life is too short.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24 NLT

Regardless of what we are going through, we have reason to rejoice. I’m not saying that we will never have a bad moment or day. I am saying that all our days should not be so consumed with negative that we never experience Joy. I hope that if this is the case for you that you seek out the reason and a solution so that you can experience all the joy around you.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NLT

Challenge: Find an empty notebook and this next week find 100 blessings that you can write down. Watch how this activity changes your perspective on life. I can’t wait to share with you my list in my next blog.