Praising Jesus in the storm!

It’s true that we have been hit by one storm after another. As adults It can be easy to get stuck in the storm mentally. Imagine how difficult it is for a child when they face one opposition after another. We don’t have control over how hard it rains but we definitely can control how we react to the storms that hit. This past weekend our kids learned that when faced with opposition they can sit down and write down all good God has already done in their life. They learned that even in the storms of life we can still praise God. I am so encouraged by the blessings that were written down by our kids this weekend. In Kids Life we heard the story about Job. Job lost everything. EVERYTHING! His family, his animals, his money… everything. Yet He still praised God.

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,

and I will be naked when I leave.

The Lord gave me what I had,

and the Lord has taken it away.

Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21 NLT

Can you continue to praise God even when the storms are hitting one after another? I was proud to see our kids do just that this past weekend! I was encouraged to read their list and to know that our kids are praising Jesus in the storms.

A Stand Out Scrunchie!

A Stand Out Scrunchie!

In the 90’s scrunchies were the in thing. They were in my 5th grade class anyway. If you were wearing a scrunchie around your wrist or in your hair then you were considered popular in my grade. All the girls in class were constantly putting their hair in a ponytail then pulling the scrunchie out ten minutes later just to throw their hair back up in a ponytail again. I didn’t understand the process but I wanted to be just like the scrunchie girls. I didn’t have scrunchies though so I would watch the girls throw their hair in a colorful scrunchie over and over again daydreaming of the day I would be doing the same. I couldn’t wait to be just like all the popular girls. I could just imagine how cool I would feel. I wanted to live that scrunchie life so bad. If I could just afford a scrunchie then I might have the chance of being popular too. I would finally be noticed.

All the girls with scrunchies stood out.

As a kid I would look for dimes outside in our apartment complex. I did this because if I found 5 dimes I could buy an ice cream at school the following Friday. My friend and I had this deal going where each Friday one of us would buy an ice cream sandwich and split it between the two of us. We switched off every week. She also didn’t have scrunchies. I got the brilliant idea though to save my 5 dimes until I found 11. If I had eleven that would cover the cost of a scrunchie and tax at the dollar store but that meant I would be quitting on my end of the ice cream sandwich deal. I was already sold on the scrunchie I was going to buy at our nearby dollar store though and there was no going back. I didnt think about how it would make my friend feel. It took forever or so it seemed to find all 11 dimes. I was always looking for dimes; on the way to school, on the way home, after school in the apartment complex, during recess and even under our couch cushions. Finally, I found 10 dimes. I only needed one more dime. My neighbor was outside as I was dime hunting. He asked what I was looking for? I told him and he reached in his pocket and pulled out a dime and gave it to me. Like it was nothing! Dimes were a treasured coin in our house but he gave his dime so freely. I remember him really well. He was in high school and a splitting image of Jessie to be honest. He was very kind but often looked sad. His mom had cancer and was so kind too. They were our neighbors. He probably thought I was crazy for the excitement that dime gave me but I didn’t care. I WAS GETTING A SCRUNCHIE!!!!!

Let me tell you! I walked into school the following day with my scrunchie around my wrist, purposefully shaking my hair so that it waved back and forth as I walked. My head was held high. I walked with a huge smile across my face and excitement because soon I would get to throw my hair in a scrunchie 100 times during class like all the other girls. It felt like everyone stopped to look. Everyone noticed me. I finally stood out and it felt great.

Like I said all the girls with scrunchies stood out.

I wasn’t very popular my 5th grade year. There was this girl named Felicia who would pick on me everyday. Looking back I can now see how she picked on everyone. She took a girls purse one day and hid it in the trash can covering it with a ton of tissues. I went and took it out and gave it back to the girl in my class but that was the hardest thing I ever did in the 5th grade. After that moment Felicia would step on the back of my shoes, laugh at me with her friends, pressure me into saying bad words because she knew I was a Christian, and one time she changed all my commas, periods and exclamation points on my paper before turning it in for me. I thought she was being nice for once when she offered to turn my paper in. The girl with the coolest scrunchies was after me. If I had just one scrunchie maybe she would leave me alone. Maybe I would be popular. Those were my thoughts anyway. Sadly, It didn’t work. I was still not popular. I had one really cool scrunchie from the dollar store and still I was not good enough to be a popular girl.

All the girls with scrunchies stood out…. but not me. Why?!?!

Let’s read what Paul had to say in Galatians 1:10

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 NLT

Looking back I realize I was so desperately trying to win the approval of the scrunchie queens. All along God wanted me to see that He already approved of me and called me to stand out in a different way. He wanted me to stand out by standing up for that friend when it was hard. He wanted me to stand out by not using language that didn’t please him. He wanted me to stand out by representing Him by the way I lived my life. He wanted me to stand out by shining my light for Him. I didn’t need a scrunchie to stand out. I only needed to keep trusting Jesus even when it meant I was unpopular and bullied. We miss so much when we try to be something we are not. As we get ready to send Ellie to kindergarten I’m thankful for what the scrunchie has taught me. I know there will be that moment when Ellie realizes she has been called to live apart from the world and it will be challenging for her. I will proudly wrap a scrunchie in her hair or around her wrist and remind her that she was called to be far more than a scrunchie girl but she is forever the girl God has called to stand out for Him. What an honor it is to be able to stand out for Jesus?

A strong generation of Kids!

It was so great to worship along side our Kids Life friends today. One friend asked if we could add some worship songs from the weekly worship set in main service to our list? It was so encouraging to hear this being asked. It was encouraging because it meant even in all the chaos that 2020 has brought us, God has still reached the hearts of our children. As a children’s director there have been many moments of defeat this past year as our children sat in main service instead of kids life. How can our children learn the love of Jesus or how to worship Him with out children’s church? While I firmly believe that there should be a place that every child can go and learn about Jesus in a fun and engaging way I was wrong to think they would learn nothing sitting in main service. I WAS SO WRONG! They won’t pay attention. They won’t understand. They will be so loud and restless. These were a few fears I had going through my head. However, if I’ve learned anything it’s that God will reach a child’s heart no matter where they are at. This past year in main service I watched kids raise their hands to worship Jesus, my own child get in the car after service and start a conversation about the message and kids still bring their friends to church. Covid might of pushed the pause button on kids life service but it didn’t push the pause button on Jesus. He continued to do His work in our kids. I’m so thankful to be fully open in Kids Life again and forever grateful for what this past season has taught us. God is at work all the time and nothing will stop Him!

I’m reminded of the scripture Romans 8:28

“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.”

God did a lot of work this past year even in the mist of so many hardships. He reached down and continued to bless our kids and church through it all. He continued to work in their hearts and I know our kids are stronger for it. ❤️

Extraordinary Kindness!

Extraordinary Kindness!

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Eph 4:32 NLT

A big thing in our home is kindness. Just be kind. Be as kind as possible. In our family, if you cant be kind you better pray yourself into kindness. Our family chooses kindness and sometimes we choose it when it’s really hard.

We are not perfect but we strive to be kind all the time.

So, when Ellie pushed a friend down 25 steps I was really confused about where we went wrong. The friend is fine and there is no lawsuit. However, how is it that my kid is the one sending a friend flying down a flight of steps? We teach kindness constantly. All three kids had the same story. They were playing tag too close to the stairs and when Ellie tagged the friend she tagged a little too hard. However, the first thing I shouted at Ellie was “THAT IS NOT KIND!!” This was before I knew the story. Before I knew my child would not grow up to be on America’s most wanted.

An interesting piece of information about me is that I’m not easily optimistic. Naturally, I see the glass half empty. I have to work so hard to keep a positive outlook and mindset. I can easily go from feeling optimistic about life to all of a sudden allowing panic and worry to consume me. I’m constantly talking myself out of a negative thought. However, I’m mostly naturally kind. I have my days. I’m not perfect but I’m more kind then not. Because I’m not easily optimistic I completely understand how difficult it is for some of us who are not easily kind. So when I say what I say next know I’m not judging you. We all have our struggle. I’m on the struggle bus with you. I might be struggling in a different way but I’m no different then you. Here I go…

If it’s not kind don’t say it.

If it’s not kind don’t post it.

If it’s not kind try really really hard not to think it.

If you can’t be kind on social media get rid of it. It’s that simple.

If you can’t speak without saying something unkind then carry a bag of large marshmallows around and just keep stuffing them in your mouth all day. Your blood sugar won’t drop and you definitely won’t say anything unkind. If you do no one will understand you anyway.

If you struggle to think kind thoughts start writing kind thoughts down.

“The islanders showed us extraordinary kindness. They kindled a fire and welcomed all of us because it was raining and cold.” Acts 28:2

I love where it says “extraordinary kindeness!” Their kindness was not displayed in the usual way. However, the islanders kindness was extraordinarily shown. Their kindness went above and beyond.

There is a post on social media floating around about a missing stuffed animal. Someone saw the post and because there was information on where it was left, a nearby person who works at a salon found it. She contacted the owner and told them where they could retrieve their lost floppy friend. While she waited for them to arrive she gave the stuffed pet a spa treatment and documented the entire spa day for the little friend to see. Talk about going the extra mile in kindness. It was kind just to notify the owner but to go out of your way to treat a stuffed pet to a spa day just so his little friend can smile, now that’s extraordinary kindness.

Can we go above and beyond in our kindness? Can we stop the name calling? Can we be more understanding to others? Can we take others feelings into consideration? Can we smile more, open a door, pay for the person in front of us because for some reason they don’t have all the money they need? Can we show the love of Christ to those who don’t walk the same way we do? It’s ok to disagree but can we disagree in a kind manner?

I’m not sure who said it but I like the following quote…

Kindness is free, sprinkle it everywhere!

Can we please just be more kind? Please! Seriously! Please! Can we be more kind? Even if like me kindness comes pretty naturally we can still find a way to be even more kind. If 2021 needs anything it needs more of us to stand up and go the extra mile in kindness. 2021 needs us to show kindness in an extraordinary way. Together let’s bring kindness to life in 2021.

The Apple!

This weekend in kids life elementary we learned all about Adam and Eve and the day they ate from the forbidden tree. When Adam and Eve ate the apple from the forbidden tree it brought sin into the world. To illustrate this we hollowed out an apple and filled it with baking soda. When talking about how sin entered our world we poured vinegar on top of the baking soda and watched as the two ingredients reacted. Quickly the apple bubbled over and spread all over the tray. When we disobey God our disobedience can affect those around us. We should always obey God even when it’s hard.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22 NLT

Dirty Feet!

Dirty Feet!

Have you ever washed your kids feet in the bathroom sink? Most nights I’m either wiping Ellie’s feet clean with a baby wipe or washing them in a bucket of warm soap and water on the bathroom floor. I mostly don’t mind. It gives me the opportunity to remind her that I will always love her dirty feet and all. Oh and just to clear one thing up Ellie does get baths too. However, even on bath nights she manages to get her feet dirty after. Her feet get so dirty because she likes to run around the house without socks and regardless of how clean my floors are, the bottom of her feet are covered in everything icky by 5 pm each day. The thought of walking around without my feet covered makes my skin crawl but to each his own.

I was looking at some newborn pictures that we had taken of Jay. His little feet were so tiny and I can only imagine how much I’ll be washing them as well in the next few years. While falling in love with his tiny feet pictures I was reminded of the evening Jay was born. That evening as I sat on the toilet trying to muster up the courage to pee the nurse knelt down beside me and washed the blood off my legs and feet. It was the most humbling experience. This nurse served me in the most vulnerable way with no benefit to her. I mean, sure she is paid to be a nurse and maybe washing the feet of her patients is in her job description but it would be pretty easy to skip over the feet washing part. I would have never known. I also would have never complained. I also can’t even remember her name and for that I am ashamed. That night I was left with one question on my heart. Are we willing to serve when there is no benefit to us?

Can you look at someone who has nothing to offer you and still serve them? I had nothing to offer my nurse at that moment. I couldn’t even get thank you out because I was so stunned and frankly trying really hard to pee. Going pee after delivery is one of the hardest things I have done.

Read John 13:1-17

I think about how dirty the disciples feet must have been to have walked the dirty street. Much more dirty then Ellies at the end of each day. They didn’t have shoes that protected their feet from the human waste, animal feces and other filth that covered the streets. If they wore anything it was a sandal that didn’t offer much protection. Yet God didn’t look at any of them and say your feet are too dirty for me to wash. He didn’t send them away. He washed their feet.

God’s love for us even in the midst of our sin was what I was reminded of as the nurse washed my feet. When I think of the way I have been served by some important people in my life I want to be that for others. It goes beyond doing kind acts although that is important too. It’s truly sacrificing your wants and needs so that you can love someone else. I’m sure Jesus could have been doing much more when He was washing His disciples feet. However, to Jesus He was doing what was important in that moment. I don’t know that I’ve ever served anyone on that level but It’s my desire to wash the feet of those around me in a figurative way of speaking. That is what Jesus did for each of us on the cross. Loving us so much that He took the pain of the cross so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life. He bore the cross we could never bare ourselves. He sacrificed His life so that we could have eternal life. We can never repay him and He knew that yet He still gave his life for each of us. Can we be more like Jesus this year? Can we wash more feet? Can we look past the dirt we see on the feet of others around us?

Jesus is that for each of us. We can run to him when we are dirty and broken. We can run to him with dirty feet.

“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13: 12-15 NLT

Big Emotional Revenge!

The other day Jay pulled Ellie’s hair. She was very emotionally shaken by this. 😂She couldn’t seem to understand that Jay is only reaching for something to grab a hold of and isn’t intentionally trying to hurt her. We watched as she stood by Jay staring him down. The look on her face had us worried that she might be planning some sort of payback. I slowly stepped closer to them just in case revenge was underway. Ellie is pretty sweet (especially to Jay) but she’s also 4 so you just can’t be too careful. A sigh of relief was heard as she ran to her bedroom crying instead of doing the alternative. She felt better when we used our voices to pretend he was apologizing! Being a big sister is rough but I’m proud that Ellie was able to make the right choice even with the strong emotions she was feeling.

Ellie taught us an important life lesson. We all have strong feelings. Feelings that make us want to act in ways that normally we never would. Thinking before you act makes all the difference in these moments. We should all remember to think before we act this year.

“The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.” Proverbs 14:16-17 NLT

He Never Stops

He Never Stops!

The laundry never ends. I find myself doing several loads a day just to keep up. While Jessie’s mom was here she helped us get our house in order. She cleaned, sanitized, organized everything and never complained. One day I asked her how she does it? How do you keep this house so clean? I feel like I clean all the time but it never looks this good! I’m always behind. She said “I never stop!” She went on to explain that the house is going to get messy again so you always have to be cleaning! You have to get it before it gets you! This woke me up. I don’t know why it took me 33 years to grasp this concept but it did. My entire adult life I’ve been frustrated that the house never stays clean. I clean just for it to need to be cleaned again. It’s like I’ve been expecting it to magically never get dirty. Like if you clean it once you’re done for life, right? No! Wrong!! Very wrong!!!

My mother in law and her life lesson on the art of cleaning got me thinking about our relationship with Jesus. You never can stop. Never stop reading His word. Never stop worshiping Him. Never stop talking to Him. Never stop. The conversation you have with Jesus when you ask Him to come live in your heart is not the last conversation you should have with Him. It’s only the beginning of many conversations. We should never stop talking and listening to God.

To be quite honest for some of us 2020 felt like a never ending laundry pile. Like a dirty house, 2020 was one mess after another. One thing is true, life will never be perfect! The laundry of life will sometimes pile up. God never said it would be easy but when we spend time in His word and in worship and prayer He has a way of showing up and filling our hearts with peace because we ultimately know that He is in control. God has a way of making the never ending laundry pile seem less overwhelming when we chose to continue trusting in him.

Since the departure of my mother in law I have been on my game. Our house will never be on the mother in law level of clean. She is just that good. She has the touch I can only hope to have one day. Nevertheless, I have taken her advice and I clean constantly. I never stop. It doesn’t mean I don’t rest, it just means I’m always aware to clean before it gets out of control. I get it before it gets me. More importantly, I have to get with Jesus before life gets at me. This is a lesson I’m taking with me into 2021. Life really got at me in 2020. Let’s face it. Life got at all of us this past year. And rightfully so. However can we all agree that many of us spent more time complaining about 2020 then we spent talking to God about how we can overcome it. I love all the stories of individuals taking what life has handed them and making it work in their favor. I want to live like that. No matter what 2021 brings, allow God to work it in your favor. It’s true 2020 is a bad word. It’s a real bad word that has made me want to throw things at the wall, crawl into a ball and eat everyone’s candy. … BUT GOD!!! God is still and has always been alive in 2020. He is still working in each of our lives and will continue to work well into 2021 and on. There is something positive that we can take from 2020. Really sit down and think about something good from this past year. What is it for you? This year in 2021 let’s make it a priority to spend more time with God. No matter what 2021 brings let’s face it knowing God has a plan and is working even when we can’t see it we know He is at work and He never stops working in our life. God never stops loving us. He never stops rooting for us. He never stops defending us. He never stops showing up. Even in all the chaos of 2020 God has never stopped showing up and neither should we!

“You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.” Psalms 77:14 NLT

I don’t want to leave the impression that I think it’s wrong to acknowledge our grief from this past year. We should grieve all the losses from this year. I just don’t want us to go into 2021 so defeated that we leave no room for God to work. There are amazing things that He has in store for us if we just keep trusting in the one who never stops working.

Daddy daughter date!

Jessie took Ellie on a daddy daughter date. Her request McDonald’s and stop for flowers for her. She’s been asking for daddy to buy her flowers for a while now. This cracks me up because I’m not a flower girl. 😂 He’s the sweetest. ❤️ Every little girl deserves a dad who takes her on a date.

I remember my first daddy daughter date. My dad let me skip school and he took me to work with him. I was 7 or 8. We didn’t have a lot of money to do much but on the way to the City of Houston where he worked we stoped at a gas station for a snack and drink. I still remember that I picked out Oreos, pop tarts and dr Pepper. I felt very special that day, getting to skip school and have one on one time with my dad. I clearly never forgot it and neither will Ellie forget the many dates she goes on with her daddy!