Painted Feet of Love!

Painted Feet of Love!

John 13: 34-35 says: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A few weeks ago I took Ellie outside to paint with her feet. It was a rare sunny spring day here in Illinois and I wanted to take advantage of it. While Ellie marched back and forth on the long white paper leaving beautiful marks with painted feet I was reminded that everyday we are leaving our mark. We are leaving a mark on the world in which we live. What kind of mark are we leaving? Are the marks we leave beautiful? The most important mark I want to leave is the mark of love. Love points people to Jesus. We have the opportunity everyday to love well. What does love look like? When we love others well it puts Jesus on display. I want to love in such a way that Jesus is shining through.

“Hey Helena, I really like the poem you wrote. I see a great future for you as a writer. Mrs. Chang also told me she saw your work in designer clothes that’s also a good career choice. Whatever your decision stay in school and be the best you can be. What’s really important is to work hard and enjoy doing what you do. Best of luck! Shane”

I was in Junior High. Something terrible had just happened. The kind of situation I’m not sure I’ll ever share with the world but the situation left a mark on me. School even before that moment was my happy place. School was the place I could leave it all at the door. After a confusing moment in life God knew I needed a sign that everything was going to be ok. Little did I know that I would find that sign in my math class the very next morning. I walked into class like nothing had happened just hours before. We had a guest speaker. It was one of my math teachers past students. Shane was his name! All the girls were head over heels for him. They spent the class period with googly eyes, passing notes and snickering at his every word. I was just eager to see why he was there. For the next 50 minutes Shane poured into us. He encouraged us to stay in school, not to do drugs and to be kind to others. He even took the time to ask each of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a writer. The next day when we got back to class Shane had written each of us a note. I still have mine today. It still encourages me. When I’m going through a tough time I look at that note that continues to remind me that everything will be ok. I wonder how many other kids kept the note. I will forever be thankful for a young guy who chose to leave a mark of love on a group of junior high kids, a mark that impacted me forever.

Leaving a mark of love can be as simple as a smile, a kind gesture, encouraging word, hug or in my case a note. Leaving a mark of love does not have to be complicated. The easiest way to leave a mark of love is staying close to Jesus. Let Him guide your feet through the paint and watch the beautiful way He uses you to mark the world with love.

The Lion In Our Face!

The Lions In Our Face! 🦁

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

This weekend in Kids Life our friends built a tower from pencils. The only direction that they were given was to use all 100 pencils and build ONE tower together. If it fell over (and it did) they had to start again. They could not give up. The activity would not be complete until the tower was finished and standing on its own. The goal was to teach all of us the importance of not giving up when faced with tough moments in life. The excitement at the end on all of their faces was a moment I will not forget. The room was filled with cheers and celebration the moment they backed away and watched as their 100 pencil tower stood firm. We can stand firm on Jesus knowing He will always come through for us just like He did for Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

Daniel was thrown into the lions den after he was found praying. Daniel was very close to God. He spent is days talking to God. Daniel was eager to stay close to God. When the priest became jealous of him they created a law that would throw a person into jail who prayed. However, while this new law tested Daniels faith it did not cause him to give up. He continued to pray. He continued to trust Jesus. He was thrown into the lions den but fortunately God came through when he sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. Jesus always shows up! Long story short Daniel was saved from the mouth of each lion. We can always trust God in moments when we want to give up.

We are going to go through tough times in life. I’m not sure what it is in life that you may be facing. You might not be up against any obstacle. What I know is that in life everyone faces tough times and during tough moments you will have the opportunity to give up or trust Jesus.

“The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.” John 10:10

Don’t let the enemy steal your victory from you. I’ll say it again. Don’t let the enemy steal your victory away from you. You’re victory is right around the corner. Joyce Myers says to praise your way to victory. What does this mean? When we are going through tough times it is easy to think negative. When we begin to praise Jesus for all He has already done in our life we open our hearts for all He wants to continue to do in our life. Don’t give up. Continue to fight and trust in Jesus.Choose to fight until the mouth of your lion is shut. Praise Jesus in every circumstance.

When my step dad passed away I hit my low. My stepdad was the closest person to me that I had experienced dying in my lifetime. His death tore me up in more ways than I can even understand. It hurt. It broke me. It scared me. It Confused me. Suddenly nothing in my life made sense. My anxiety grew by leaps after his death. I was dating Jessie at the time and for some reason our relationship began to scare me. What I understand now to be fear of losing someone else who I love so much caused me to want to walk away. I couldn’t bare the thought of losing Jessie unexpectedly. It was easier to just walk away by choice. So I did. I walked away because I needed relief from the intense anxiety that I felt around Jessie. Anxiety I never felt around him before. Honesty everything gave me anxiety after his death.. As Jesus began to heal my heart through counseling and time with Him I realized our relationship was not the problem and all of this was symptoms of my grief. Fortunately, Jessie didn’t let me isolate myself. He pursued me more than ever before. He called me to pray for me, showed up to take me to breakfast and made sure I continued to surround myself with those who loved me. In that time that I pushed him away I fell more in love with him. Realizing I had run out of fear and grief, I had a long and serious conversation with God. During that conversation He broke some things in me and healed my heart. In the lowest moment of my life God spoke to me, “Helena you can give up and live miserably or you can press on.” I’m so thankful that I didn’t give up. I’m so thankful that I decided to trust Jesus in my pain. Nine years after the death of my step dad I have a wonderful husband (same Jessie) , beautiful 3 year old daughter and together we are in full time ministry. Life is full of ups and downs and we are so blessed to have Jesus to lean on in every stage of life. Will you trust Jesus in the season you are in right now? It might be an up season. For some it’s a really down season. I don’t know how Jesus will work it out. I don’t know that it will be the answer you want. I do know that He always works all things for His glory. My go to scripture is…

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NLT

This scripture is the only answer I have for the question I can not answer. This scripture reminds me that even when life doesn’t make sense. When it feels like God cannot hear me. I know that He is “working all things together for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28) I love Him so He is working it all out for me. If you love Him he is working it out for you. It might not make sense but He is working. He hasn’t forgotten you. He can see you in the midst of your pain and struggles. The question for all of us is, will we choose to be like Daniel and trust that Jesus is working even when we are surrounded by very angry and hungry lions?

Razzle Dazzle Peacock 🦚 and His masterpiece!

Razzle Dazzle Peacock!

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.” 1 John 3:1 NLT

I just think Ellie’s first painting is a masterpiece. My cousin Jennifer says it looks like you can see a peacock in the center of the painting. Can you spot it? It’s funny because Ellie had just turned three when she painted this and really had no agenda. I just laid out some paint and she went after it!

Honestly, as her mom no matter what Ellie paints I choose to find beauty in it. After the painting was finished I knew we had to give it a name to make it complete. We took a poll on social media to get some ideas on her paintings future name. My cousin Jennifer voted for Razzle Dazzle Peacock. Brillant! I loved it as soon as it popped up on my facebook comments. Suddenly Ellie’s painting held so much more value to me once named. Looking at this now named masterpiece I am reminded of how much Jesus must love each of us. I’m reminded of how much Jesus values each of us. Why? Jesus calls each of us by name. What does He call us?

He calls us…

His child!

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:!2

When I was in Junior High my mom met my soon to be stepdad! I was fixing to enter high school and honestly I immediately loved Mike. He was an absolute pain in the butt and so annoying and stubborn. He was so stubborn. But as a dad he loved me. I remember right before they were going to get married Mike set my sisters and I down. He said “I can never be your biological dad but I will never treat you any different then I treat my own kids.” He always did treat us like we were his own. It was never “this is my step daughter.” He always introduced me as his daughter. I remember some ladies at my church being very confused when they found out that Mike was not my biological dad. Mike was just that good at playing dad. That moment. That conversation with my step dad still brings tears to my eyes. It was life changing for me.

When we choose to invite Jesus into our hearts, we are immediately called His child. It’s so corny but He has our picture on His fridge in heaven. C’mon you know in heaven there has to be a fridge with tons of food with zero calories and your picture on it! He never calls us His step child. He doesn’t determine how much love He shows by the way we behave. He loves us despite our flaws and we are His children no matter what.

Forgiven!

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:24 NLT

I love to daydream. I often find myself daydreaming about heaven and what I think it might be like. I’m sure my dreams are nothing compared to what heaven will be. I do know heaven is a perfect place. However, I still enjoy dreaming about it. I often dream about a big white board in heaven. It will be the whitest and cleanest whiteboard you have ever seen. I mean more white and clean then when you get a freshly new white board. Anyway that white board will be key. Why? Your name will be on it but your sins will be wiped clean.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” Isaiah 43:25 NLT

I know that we will be held accountable in heaven for our mistakes on earth but I honestly don’t know what that will look like. I know what that looks like for unbelievers but I do not know what it looks like for those of us who have chosen to believe in Him. However, I do know that because Jesus says that he no longer thinks of our sins again then we shouldn’t either. We spend a lot of time holding grudges against ourselves for mistakes that we have made. We spend a lot of time writing all our past sins down on an imaginary whiteboard in our mind. Yet, Jesus if we have asked Him has forgiven us of all of them. That imaginary whiteboard in heaven will show no signs of your sins.

His Chosen!

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NLT

We had been praying for a year. In our spirit we felt that we were called somewhere else, but no doors were open. A year we prayed and told God that we trusted Him for His will to be done in our life. We continued to stay faithful to Him where we were. Suddenly without warning a door opened. Unsure we once again prayed. Lord, is this you or is this us? The decision was difficult to make. Honestly we were scared. We were unsure. What if it’s not God? What if it ruins Ellie? However, we had more peace about saying yes then saying no so we took a leap of faith. We do not regret our choice as we have seen God do some big things already. God chose our family to come to Washington Illinois for a specific purpose. But before He chose us as a family he chose us individually because He knew each of us would play a specific role in the calling He placed on our family. Jesus has chosen you for a specific purpose. Are you allowing Him to use you for that purpose? Maybe your scared? Maybe you feel unworthy? Maybe you are just not hopeful to where He is calling you? Jesus doesn’t make mistakes. He won’t get you where He called you and then say “oops my bad wrong person.” There is hope in all of His plans even if you cannot see His plan at first.

“ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Razzle Dazzle Peacock sits in my office in Ellie’s corner. Her painting serves as a constant reminder that God calls me by name. He calls me His child who is forgiven and chosen for a specific purpose. He calls you by name. Among so many other names Jesus calls you His child, forgiven by Him and chosen for a purpose. Most importantly, when Jesus looks at you He sees a masterpiece! You are loved! You hold so much value because of who calls out to you!

Letting go and trusting Jesus completely so that we can enjoy being fearless mothers!

Letting go and trusting Jesus completely so that we can enjoy being fearless mothers!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” – Proverbs 31:28-31

During a nap Ellie woke up in a panic, crying and screaming “my baby my baby I left my baby at the store!” I reassured her that her baby was safe and she was only dreaming.

However, I have that same recurring dream. You know the one? The dream where I show up at home and realize I left Ellie at the store. I think it’s recurring because deep down I worry I’m not enough for Ellie. I worry I won’t be there when she desperately needs me. I worry I will disappoint her. What if I fail her? The truth is I’m not enough. Not without Him. Without God I am no good to Ellie. Without God life does not make sense. Without God we can’t be the mom that our kids need us to be for them.

There are several types of motherly worries! Here are a few…

First time moms: First time moms spend their time worried about proper car seat hook ups, breastfeeding, sleep schedules, first day at daycare, hiccups, paci or no paci, cry it out or run to them, co sleep or in their crib. First time motherhood brings tons of choices which in return fills our hearts with much worry.

Moms of multiple kids: Moms of multiples kids agonize over how they will help their adolescent teenager through the trials of peer pressure. They stress over preparing their five year old for kindergarten. They fear that the newest baby of the family is not getting enough snuggle time.

Moms of graduates: Moms of kids who are graduating high school worry about weather or not we raised them right and properly prepared them. I personally don’t think any of us are properly prepared for life after High school.

What are some worries you have as a mommy?

If we don’t choose to stop the mom worry now it will just continue to grow more wildly out of control. To be honest. The worry makes motherhood so much more difficult. My child still has not had a hotdog because I’m too worried she will choke. We don’t have to allow the worry of motherhood to keep us from enjoying our lives as mothers. So, what do we do? I only have three years under my belt as a mother. I have a lot of learning and trusting in Jesus to do myself. However, I do know three things we can start doing today to kick start our journey to be mothers who trust completely in Jesus.

Call on Jesus!

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1(NLT)

I can’t be a perfect mom. You can’t be a perfect mom! However, we CAN be good at asking Jesus for help. Why? He is perfect! When Ellie was first born our nurse suggested she take Ellie to the nursery so I could rest. I didn’t want to but I don’t remember her giving me much of a choice. Looking back it was a good idea. I was so tired and in the midst of changing Ellie’s diaper I suddenly had to pee so bad. I knew I had to push Ellie’s crib in the bathroom with me. I was not allowed to leave her unattended nor did I want to. I thought if I can just finish changing her diaper all will be good. Well my bladder had a mind of its own and before I knew it the floor was covered in the contents from my bladder (just keeping this mom thing real for y’all) and I was sobbing. The nurse heard my sobs and came running in with the doctor probably imagining the worse. When she saw the floor she smiled a sympathetic smile. I was completely thrown off by her smile. Like, why was she so pleased that I had peed on the floor? She began reassuring me that I was not the only one who this has happened to. I offered to clean up my mess but she insisted that we all need help with our messes and we are never too old to ask. Our amazing nurse taught me a powerful lesson. As mothers, we are not too old to ask Jesus for help. We are not alone in motherhood. He wants to help. I napped for a few hours and when waking up I just had a desire to hold my baby. So I walked down the hallway to the nursery. They make you buzz in and show ID on your wrist band to prove you are the mother. When asked I told them I was there to get my daughter. When I said “daughter” I burst into tears. AGAIN I was sobbing! I had a beautiful daughter that I have so much love for. I love Ellie so much and I only want good things for her. I was just so proud to call my little girl daughter. Guess what? Jesus loves Ellie so much more than I ever could. He also calls her daughter. He will always take care of her. He is proud to call you daughter too. He is totally fine when you to call on him. In Fact He wants you to call on him. He wants to help you kick the worry and fear and be the mother He has called you to be.

Point your kids to Jesus!

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6

We need to Point our kids to Jesus so that they will always know in who to place their hope and trust. We can’t always be there for our kids. We cannot protect them from everything in life. We don’t always know the answer for our kids. However, we can show them how desperately we need Jesus so that they will know how desperately they need Jesus. We can show them who has all the answers. We are all in desperate need of Jesus. When it feels like we are a pro at this mom thing we need Jesus and when all the eyes in walmart are pointed at our fit throwing child we need Jesus even more. I’ve recently switched to shopping at Kroger. You probably now know why. As moms we can only do so much and the best thing we can do is trust God to help us be the best mom to fit the specific needs of our children. Always Point your children to Jesus.

Pray for your kid!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4:6-7

I remember as a kid waking up many nights to my mom praying for my sisters and I. She would sit at each of our bedsides and pray… long and hard. She prayed and I pretended to sleep. I contribute a big part of where I’m at in life now to the hours she spent in praying for me. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer is not what you have to do. Prayer is what you get to do! Prayer is the best thing we can do for our kids. In prayer we find the answer. In prayer we break the chains that need breaking.

This Mother’s Day break free from the guilt and worry that Motherhood so often brings and choose to rest in the knowledge that Jesus has prepared us and filled us with all that we need to be the mother our children need. Let go and let God! If we could just stop for one moment and listen, we might hear Jesus say, “I got you. I got you family. I got your child. Trust me. It’s all going to be ok.” I’m not saying open up the back door and let your child run free but I’m saying trust him to lead you as a mother without fear of tomorrow. Enjoy the gift of motherhood by letting go of the torment that fear brings you be the fearless mom Jesus made you to be. Happy mothers day!

A cupcake for you… A letter to our 2nd child!

A cupcake for you… A letter to our 2nd child!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I’ve been doing a lot of trusting in Jesus over the past few months. I still don’t understand. I’m still a little angry. I still cry long and hard when I’m alone. I still question God. I still question myself. My heart is still so broken. BUT… I choose to trust Him no matter what trials may come our way. I know you were here and you matter. I know Jesus loves you! This was your month. Your month to come into the world. Your month for us to bring you home. This was your month that Your big sister would have sang Jesus Loves Me to you. Your month to make us a family of four. You are so loved. While we never held you we know you were here. We celebrated your existence when we saw those two pink lines. Your short life counts. You deserve to be celebrated! The moment we found out about you we were so excited. We were told not to get excited but you were so real to us. Losing you is so painful but I’d rather cry many tears losing you then never knowing you are waiting for us in heaven. The most important thing is that Jesus knows of your life. Jesus knows how real you are to us! Jesus knows all the love we have in our hearts for you. I believe Jesus celebrated with us when we discovered you. I also believe Jesus knows our broken hearts after you left. Jesus knows and His love for you gives me such peace and hope. I miss what was suppose to be but I trust Him. I miss what should have been you in my arms but I trust His plan. My heart is broken but I know Jesus has you!. This month I miss you! This month I choose to celebrate you in the only way I know how. I choose to not only grieve you not being here with us but I choose to celebrate that we know about you. I love you and I know I will hold you one day. Until then here is an extra large cupcake for you! Happy due date month!

Colorful Bubbles! Colorful Attitudes!

Colorful Bubbles! Colorful Attitudes!

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”Proverbs 17:22

I recently saw this bubble activity being done at school. It looked fun so I decided to try it with Ellie at home. It was very exciting for her and it kept her entertained for a good hour. All we did was separate bubbles into four clear containers. We then put a few drops of food color into each container. We did yellow, red, green and blue.

I unfortunately spilt blue on the carpet. Nothing a little vinegar and dish soap can’t pick up. However, next time we will do this activity outside. We decided to bring in her bubble machine for an added effect.

I watched the bubbles float in the air slowly landing on the paper and leaving a colorful display. I imagined how the world must look when we bring our attitudes into the picture. Figuratively speaking our attitudes have the power to paint a beautiful picture each day or….they have the power to paint the opposite. Jesus maintained a perfect attitude. He prayed about everything and worried about nothing. Choosing to present a positive attitude does not mean you have a perfect life. It means you choose to keep your eyes and heart set on what is above.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Victor E. Frankl is a Holocaust Survivor. Read what he had to say about attitude during his stay in a concentration camp…

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Victor teaches us that we get to choose our attitude. And no one can take that choice away. We get to choose to stay positive. When life is dark and gloomy and things are not fair or right we can choose to close our eyes and see the rainbow that Jesus is forming in the storm. We have the power to see good in each day. We have the power even when life is painful and we are broken to see and know God is at work.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

It began in Junior High. My negative outlook on life. I started to believe that there was nothing good for me. I wouldn’t go to college, I wasn’t cool enough for friends, there was something REALLY wrong with me, my family was too broken and there was no hope for anything good in my future. Honestly, I had began to listen to all the lies of the enemy. The enemy had me in a serious headlock for a long time. Looking back, I regret that poor outlook I had onlife. I regret believing that God had left me out of His plan. I wish I had someone who would have set me down and encouraged me to stay focused on Jesus. I really needed someone to slap some sense into me. Im sure some tried, but I just wasn’t hearing it. I really needed to hear the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 early on in Junior high. This is a scripture I didn’t read or hear until I was in my 20s.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I missed out on so many friendships and opportunities because of my attitude. If I could go back and live it different when it comes to my attitude I would. I would use that painful time in my life as a way to bring others to Jesus. Here’s the thing I can use it now. I can use that time in my childhood to point others to the one who brought me away from a attitude that told me I had no purpose.

Ultimately our attitude is contagious. Others see our attitude and they are either encouraged or they are brought down with us. Let’s Choose to let our attitude color the world with the hope and joy we have in Jesus.

“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

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!