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The Walk! Happy Father’s Day 2019!

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

Some days I feel like I live in a fairytale. Other days, Jessie is a pain in the butt.😂 Mostly though, life married to him is a fairytale. To top it off he’s a great dad as well. Ellie and I hit the jackpot with Jessie. I don’t mean to brag but I most definitely want to celebrate him today.

I don’t think we slept the first year of Ellie’s life. Just as I would fall asleep Jessie would jolt me awake to tell me that Ellie was breathing, tooting or smiling funny. 😂😍 Guys! It was intense. However, Jessie’s love for Ellie (both of us for that matter) has always been intense. He always loves big. He wants to be at every doctor appointment, tumbling class and play date and 90% of the time he is. However, this isn’t what makes him a great dad. These things are just toppings on the cake. The most important thing that makes him a good daddy is the example he is everyday at showing Ellie how to love and serve Jesus.

When we were petting the stingrays at the Chicago aquarium Ellie wasn’t tall enough to see or touch. Jessie told her to stand on his foot and he raised her up so that she could participate. Everyday Jessie raises Ellie up to love and serve Jesus just by the way he lives his life. It’s great to encourage your kids verbally to trust Jesus, love Jesus and serve Jesus. However, it’s better to show them how. Jessie walks the walk that he is raising Ellie to walk. One of my favorite parts of their relationship is hearing both of them shout JESUS over the loud worship music in The sunroom. Ellie loves to be near Jessie as he worships Jesus. We love him so much. We are so thankful for him. Most importantly, we are blessed to know him. Happy Father’s Day Jessie. Jesus couldn’t have chosen a better daddy for Ellie.

A few of my favorite pictures of Ellie and Jessie!

A Joy Filled Bubble Party! Fathers Day!

A Joy Filled Bubble Party!

Fathers Day

Ellie was turning one! My dad drove to Dallas to visit and we agreed to meet at our traditional place IHop. My dad is always early. If he says 8am he will be there at 7. So naturally when we walked in he already had a table. Guys, brace yourself because not only was he sitting at the table but he had a new bubble machine for Ellie sitting on the table and IT WAS ON! Guys! The bubble machine was on and blowing bubbles EVERYWHERE!! I’m pretty sure there were bubbles landing in someone’s Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity. I won’t lie I was probably the darkest shade of red. However, I laugh so hard when I reminisce over this memory. I can’t help but laugh out loud. I love this memory. I love the memory of my dad sitting there with a big cheesy smile on his face and bubbles EVERYWHERE! I love the excitement that day in Ellies clap as she fought to get out of my arms so she could pop the bubbles. I wish I had a picture but who is ever prepared to walk into a restaurant where someone is throwing your kid their own live bubble party? I wasn’t prepared with the camera but I’m so glad we were invited because the memory will never fade. Most importantly I remember how he was not phased my anyone’s reaction. He didnt care what anyone thought of him. He probably should have cared that bubbles were landing in other people’s food but you get my point. He wanted to make Ellie smile. He was not willing to let anyone steal the joy from his live bubble party. I learned a few life lessons from my dad that day…

1. Never be on time! Always be early!

2. Make others laugh!

3. Smile! People ALWAYS remember a smile!

4. Don’t allow anyone to steal the joy away from your bubble party. (There are moments when we should not care what others think.)

Happy Father’s Day to the greatest dad in the world!

What is your favorite memory of your dad or important male figure in your life? What important lessons have they taught you?

Set this fire 🔥 ablaze! (Poem)

I remember when my heart was torn, bruised, lying shattered in broken pieces scattered on the ground. I remember when I cried myself to sleep. For a while I forgot that once I was so weak. Now! I am strong in you. I stand firm with my heart locked on the truth. I stand full of your spirit and affection. I stand full of all the plans for me that all along you knew. I was weak and you made me strong. It is so wonderful to know to whom I belong. Tears feel my eyes when I realize all the wasted time I spent running away; diving deep into a world of lies and self hate. I celebrate with tears of joy because it is you who was always running after me. You never took a break. You didn’t stop to catch your breath. You never stopped pursuing me. You knew the moment would come when from my heart I would hear you beat. It was then you picked me up and embraced every good and broken part of me. You never left. You brought me through it all. I will never forget how you broke my every fall. I will never forget you dusting off my knees. I will never forget your voice calling my name from so far. I will never forget how From that torment you set me free. I will never forget because there you still are keeping this fire ablaze within my heart.

The Carousel of Life!

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Psalms 22:19

After the carousel stopped Ellie wanted to ride again and again and again. She didn’t want the ride to stop. It doesn’t feel like long ago, before I met Jessie and long before Ellie that I too sat on the carousel. I’m talking about the carousel of life. I sat there not wanting the ride to stop. I was playing a game with God. The game where I so desperately wanted to live for Him yet still eager to chase worldly things. I didn’t want to stop my worldly ways. On this carousel of life I’d see the goodness of God and only wave as I kept spinning in circles living my life the way I wanted until I would see Him and wave again as I passed by. Over and over again my life went round and round never leaving me satisfied. One day I heard God call out my name and this time it was different. This time I found myself desiring for the carousel to stop. God was calling out my name and I wanted for the first time to really follow His voice. Unfortunately I was on the carousel of life for way too long and suddenly I didn’t know how to make it stop. Eventually I grew the courage and called out for Him to stop what I was powerless to do myself. I haven’t looked back. I thank God everyday for His Grace on my life. I thank God everyday because without His unconditional love I would still be that broken girl spinning round and round on the carousel of life.

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!