The price of love!

The Price of Love ❤️

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

It’s Valentine’s Day! The day we celebrate love. However, I don’t want to talk about the stereotypical love this day is made out to be. I want to talk about a love that changed my life forever. Let me go back to where it all began for me. It started with the Price family. They have loved me so much and have taught me so much more. As I go down memory lane I can’t help but share.  I know you will take away a lot of love lessons the Price family taught me throughout the years.

Dorothy

Dorothy and I were at yoga one evening when she noticed a tattoo on my foot. She screeched “what is that devils tail on your foot?” Her dramatic response reminds me of her dramatic love for me over the years. Her ability to love a child who is not her own the way she has loved me gives me hope and encourages me. I pray my love for others can be as dramatic as Dorothy’s love has been for me. After every ministry trip in Masters Commission there would be a welcome home note on my bed with a scripture. Often times there would be an encouraging note hidden in my bag to share with the whole team. I have kept every letter, every scripture and every ounce of wisdom she has poured into me. Dorothy was one of the first people I called after having Ellie. She marched up to the hospital at 11 at night with Taco Bell, cupcakes and so much love for Ellie. She was so excited. Watching her be Emmie to Ellie has been wonderful. She once told me the story of how she decided to talk to Wade about their family being my home opener. I’m sure I was the last character they expected to have knock on their door. She said she really felt God wanted her family to open their home to a student so they took a leap of faith and now I’m a half way normal person because of their obedience to Jesus. 😂 In the Bible Mary represents bravery and a servants heart. I think it is safe to say that Dorothy reminds me of Mary. Dorothy was brave to say the least by taking me in. To this day she continues to serve and love me as well as so many others. (Luke 1:26-56)
Take away: When Jesus calls you to do something even if it’s crazy – Do It! You never know the life you are changing because of your obedience. Never stop serving others. Dorothy’s obedience to God and service to me changed my life forever.

Wade

It was Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day. I of course choke on a hot dog. Wade comes to the rescue and saves my life. My ribs hurt for a week and I’m so thankful to him for that. Truth: I haven’t eaten a hotdog sense.  However, this moment reminds me of his deep love for his family. I truly believe the man would jump in front of a car for anyone. He loves Gods people. He loves relating to them and his home is always open to them. He even required that Jessie ask his permission before he asked me to marry him. He was there the day he proposed and he was willing to walk me down the aisle if I needed him. A year before jessie and I got married I asked Wade and Dorothy if I could move back in. Wade responded
“You can always come home.” (Wade, you will never fully understand the impact those words had on my life.) I think this is when I realized how much he loves me and that he counts me as family. I believe his family is strong in their faith and love for others because of him. He leads his family well. Wade reminds me of Moses, one of the greatest leaders in the Bible. Moses led the Egyptians out of Israel.  Wade leads his family toward God everyday and you can see the love of Jesus shine through him daily.
Take away: Be a leader. Lead others toward Jesus by the way you love.

Samuel

One day Sam was home sick from school. He was in the 5th grade. Dorothy had me go get him lunch. On the way back his chocolate shake spilt all over the car. I was already having a bad day and it was one of those moments that make everything worse. I walk into the kitchen and through my tears I explain what happened to the shake. He immediately said “it’s ok! I don’t need it. I’m not mad. You don’t have to cry.” He was so young but so understanding.
He saw that I was having an ugly cry moment and he chose to love me by showing compassion. David was a man after God’s own heart. I believe Sam is too. Sam truly wants to live the kind of life that shows the love of Jesus. (Acts 13:22)
Take away: Develop compassion for others. Understand that someone might be having a bad day and understanding this can change everything for them.

Anna

While getting ready to head out to Illinois I put on my warm and fuzzy banana socks (pictured above.) Pulling them over my pants Anna ask, “Are those bananas on your socks and are you wearing them pulled over your pants?”
To which I respond , “Yes! I decided since I walked into this house looking odd I thought I’d leave looking odd.” We both laughed. You’re probably confused. The truth is I had no sense of style when moving in. We still joke today about the outfit I showed up to their house in! I won’t go there. My style was so bad that Anna offered to let me borrow her clothes. A few days after the offer Dorothy told me that Anna never lets anyone borrow her clothes. I love that even in all my weirdness Anna accepted me just as Jesus welcomes all of us. I’m so thankful she didn’t judge me at first glance but she chose to see what could be. She chose to see my potential. In the Bible Ruth represents loyalty. Anna reminds me of Ruth. When I moved in I became family and Anna was loyal to treat me as family regardless of all my many many flaws.  (Ruth 1-4)
Take away: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Choose to see everyone’s true God given potential.

This is not the love that changed my life forever though. Jesus paid the ultimate price when He died on the cross for each of us. His love completely wrecked my world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave up His only son that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

However, I believe He chose to show His love for me through the Price family because He knew they would be Obedient to His call. He paid a huge price for His love for us. His love changed my life forever and the Price family, they demonstrate His love everyday. The Price family made His deep love for me make so much sense.

When we decided to rip the bandaid off and leave for Illinois it hurt. Tears flood my eyes as I remember hugging Dorothy and Wade. It hurt to leave two people who have poured so much love into my heart. God knew what He was doing when He made the Price family my home during my internship. He knew every single detail of all that I would need. Here is the thing. The Price family didn’t sit me down in front of a white board and give me 5 ways to Love well. They taught me what Jesus’ love looks like by showing it to me. I need you to know that Jesus loves you today and everyday. He loves you on your good days and your bad days. His love for you never changes. I’m forever grateful to the family who helped me discover this for myself. They are every bit of the family I pray we are to everyone who walks into our lives. If I could demonstrate just an ounce of the love they have shown me It would change the world. I will forever be thankful for God loving me so much that He has gifted me the opportunity to be loved by the Price family. All of this because He paid the price for love.

Five characteristics of a Kid approved children’s volunteer!

Five characteristics of a Kid approved children’s volunteer!

“ But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”Matthew 19:14 nlt

Before coming to Illinois I had a few people ask me what my part was going to be at New Life. Honestly my only plan was to show up, see where I could be used and wait on God to move. He moved at a quicker speed than I had expected.  I have recently been given the opportunity to oversee the children’s department at our New Life Washington campus. I am in my element to say the least. This is a dream I honestly never allowed myself to dream. It’s crazy how when you choose to follow God He makes the desires of your heart, the desires you never allowed yourself to have come alive. It’s crazy how when God calls your husband He is calling you too.  When presented with the opportunity I was excited. I never gave something like this more than one thought. I never imagined being enough for a position like this. I don’t have what it takes was my very first thought. I played around with the idea but honestly it took me a while to admit that this is something I am passionate about. At dinner with a friend, I couldn’t stop talking about ideas I have, things the kids deserve and ways we can encourage the volunteers. My friend said “You got to do this!!!”  I realized that night  that children are my heart. It’s funny because I called her to meet for dinner to discuss something coming up in the far off future but at some point during dinner God took over. He loves to be in charge! He changed our conversation. That was that! Here we are!  The truth is I’m not enough. No one in children’s ministry is ever enough but God is. I’m honored with this opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. I’m scared. I think I have that God fear thing people say you should have. I have so many fears running through my head. This position I have accepted is far bigger than me. I need Jesus!  Here is one thing I do know. After working with kids at church and school for the past 12 years I know a thing or two about what they approve of in a volunteer. They really aren’t too picky. I’ll start there. Here are 5 characteristics of a kid approved children’s volunteer.

1. A children’s ministry volunteer brings peace!

The church should be  a peaceful place a kid gets to go each week.

You get to be part of keeping it peaceful.

I was young in elementary school. We were handed a coloring sheet. I chose one color and scribbled all over the paper. Maybe I was being a little turd! Maybe I was hard to deal with. I definitely had my share and your share of energy. Whatever the reason my  sunday school teacher took the paper from me, ripped it in two and threw it in the trash. I was handed another coloring sheet and told to not scribble this time. I don’t think that was the correct response to the phrase what would Jesus do?  I didn’t dare cry though! I was too scared. I definitely did not want to go back. Maybe he was having a bad day? Its possible, but your bad day is never a child’s fault.

Make church for kids peaceful by…

1 Being positive

2 Avoiding conflict between children

3 Demonstrate Love love love

AND NEVER THROW THEIR ART AWAY!

2. A children’s ministry Volunteer is excited to show up!

We don’t always feel it but we have to show it! The kids will remember how you make them feel. By showing up excited you are shaping a long term attitude toward church for them.

When I was in the 5th grade I had two fantastic Sunday school teachers. Karen and Judy. They came prepared with the most engaging and funny stories, fun activities, words of wisdom and most importantly hearts of love. Looking back on my children’s church experience I remember these two ladies most and I strive to be the volunteer they were during my time as their student.

How to be excited:

1 Laugh with the kids!

2 Have fun with the kids!

3 Just act like a kid and you are good to go!

3.  A children’s ministry volunteer is faithful.

A children’s volunteer shows up even when they are not feeling it. In children’s ministry it is important that the kids know they can count on you being there. You might be the only stable relationship in their week.  How many individuals in their life did not show up this week? Don’t be one of the count!

My wonderful 5th grade Sunday school teacher told us a story one time that really stuck with me. She said how there have been times in her life that she wanted to stay home from church so that she could get the laundry done, clean the house and relax. Have you been there? I have! Judy went on to say that anytime she fell victim to this mindset that she regretted it. She told us that every Sunday she skipped church she never got the laundry done, house clean and she didn’t feel more relaxed. However, when she decided to show up to church even when she wasn’t feeling it she left with more energy and the ability to get more done.

Every time I want to stay in bed and not show up. I CAN’T! Her voice pops up in my head reminding me that I will regret it! Every time I want to text and say I can’t serve today I think of Judy and her story. I pull myself out of bed, I show up and this is something I will never regret.

IF YOU ARE SICK I AM NOT TALKING TO YOU! DON’T BRING YOUR FLU TO CHURCH!

The enemy always wants to make us tired on our week to serve. Fight the tiredness and remember you have kids waiting to be loved by you.

4. A children’s ministry volunteer is interested in their life.

These kids want to know you care. They love it when you talk to them. They love hearing your stories but they also want to tell you their stories. They want you to ask them questions. They will tell you a lot of things. Things that are funny, parts of their life that will make you proud and parts that will break your heart. Be prepared to have your heartbroken in children’s ministry.  Not only do they want you to be interested in their life but they want you to pray for them. Don’t be afraid to stop and pray for each of them by name!

Make each child feel like they are a 10 and like they are the most important person in the room.

5. A children’s ministry volunteer is part of the children’s salvation story!

It’s easy to think that if we don’t pray the salvation prayer with the child then we had nothing to do with their salvation. However this is furthest from the true. Everything you do that points the children to Jesus is part of them coming to know Jesus and asking Him to live into their hearts.

My Aunt Sandy is a big part of my salvation story. She was also one of the volunteers in children’s church the year we lived in Springfield. She taught me many scriptures The first scripture she helped me memorize was

“I will keep my angels in charge over you.” Psalms 91:11

The scriptures that she challenged me to learn pointed me to Jesus and helped me understand His love. No! She didn’t lead me in the salvation prayer, but she definitely had her part in it me coming to know Him. As  a parent, teacher, a children’s ministry volunteer, in any involvement you have with kids  you are part of their salvation story.

We were on the playground at school. An ambulance comes speeding by, lights on and engine blaring.  24 kids run to the gate to watch. They were excited. However, I watch and listen as one little boy raises his hands to the sky and prays “Jesus thank you that you are helping them.”  I thought to myself. Wow! This little boy.  “This 4 year old must go to a fantastic church with a fantastic children’s ministry. They are really teaching him how to pray for others and trust in Jesus.” You get to be part of that story. You get to teach kids to pray. You get to teach Kids that they can trust in Jesus. You get to instill compassion in young hearts. And you don’t have to be part of a huge church to do this either. Just show up where you are at. You are more than a babysitter. You are a difference maker. You are never wasting your time or missing out when you serve. You are part of changing the future for many kids. Ellie gets so excited each Sunday to go to church. She knows she gets a donut, gets to play with friends (AKA: her teachers) and most importantly in her words “I get to talk about Jesus.” It does not take much to get a child’s approval. All it takes is love

I’m a mean girl!

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”  Psalms 46:5 (NIV)

I was at a conference once. We broke off into smaller groups. The speaker suddenly put me on the spot. “What do you like about yourself?” I wasn’t exactly my biggest fan. I didn’t even know what to say! I never gave that question much thought. Was this a trick question? I did that awkward thing where you point to yourself while looking around hoping it isn’t really you being called on. Unsure,  I said the first thing that popped into my head,  “My toes?”  Looking down at my unpolished toes that honestly are not cute AT ALL I quickly hid them under my seat wondering why I chose to wear flip flops that day. I immediately felt my face turn a shade of hot Cheeto. Why hot cheeto?   My face was on fire. Everyone stared at me. Some smiled awkwardly. Others looked confused. The speaker excitedly declared “that’s a start.”  She went on to say, “you gotta start somewhere. Raise your hand if you too like your toes?”  She chuckled. Maybe one person raised their hand. I wanted to run to Australia. As embarrassed as I was I went home with one question on my mind. A question that changed my life forever. What do I like about myself? That question was daunting and difficult  to answer. I didn’t even know until that moment that it was even ok to like yourself.

Recently while Looking back on this moment in life I realized I had become the person who I dreaded seeing each day. I was the person I wanted to run the opposite way from when spotting in the hallway.  I had become the individual who pointed out every negative flaw. I was the person who had nothing good to say. I was this person not to others but to myself. I realized I was so mean to me.  I wasn’t my biggest cheerleader. I had become my biggest bully. I realized “Im a mean girl.”

There are many mean girls reading this post right now. No! You would never even think about being mean to others. You would never call someone else ugly. You would never tell another person that they have no purpose. You would never stop someone on the street and say “no one will ever love you.” You wouldn’t sit your best friend down explaining that it’s too late for them to accomplish that dream. Would you? Yet! You look in the mirror each day and you say these things to yourself. You call yourself ugly. You say your body is not what it should be. You tell yourself you’re behind in life. You think to yourself “I have no purpose.” You let yourself believe that you are a failure as a mother. That you don’t measure up at work. That you have reached the end. That no one could ever love you. That you’ve made too many mistakes. Should I go on?

My point? We all have a inner mean girl. Years ago, at the conference If the speaker  would have asked me to tell her  something I dislike about myself I could have written her a book. To be honest I feel like it’s almost like we wear a badge of honor if we can top everyone else on why we suck at life. I had to work hard and I still have to work hard to view myself in a healthy way. Some days are more of a struggle then others. I hope to one day have the courage to share the entire story of God’s healing on my journey of choosing to love myself.

That mean girl voice will not  just silence itself. We have to work to keep it silent.

It’s time we silence our inner mean girl!

3 ways to SILENCE our inner mean girl::

1 Kill her with kindness!

I decided this year I’m going to write down 365 things I love about me. Why not? Right? I want to challenge you to do the same. No wrong answers. Go for it! Tell me a few in the comments. Brag on yourself. Go all out.

2 Pray for her!

I spend a lot of time praying for others. I dont always pray for myself. One way to show that inner mean girl your worth is to spend time praying for you. Pray for your dreams, your fears your disappointments. Pray for you. When you feel that inner mean girl creeping up in your thoughts pray her away.

3 Locate scripture that proves her wrong!

I could give you the scriptures but where is the fun in that? Loving yourself, silencing your inner mean girl, discovering your worth takes work. So, get to work. Find scriptures that remind you who He created you to be and how much HE LOVES YOU! Make a list of ten scriptures that help you when you feel your inner mean girl is coming out to fight you. Put your list of scriptures somewhere you will see often.   One of my favorite scriptures that encourages me to shut my inner mean girl up is Romans 5:8.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)

I love this scripture because it reminds me that when I was at my darkest (before I knew Him) he still loved me. I know that no matter what I go through He is there ready to take my hand and walk me through it.  He loves me so much that He will never give up on me.

Maybe there is something you need to change in your life. There might be something you don’t like and you know it can be better.  Your inner mean girl is feeding you lies about your lack of ability to change and so on but God has other words for you. Words of Hope.  “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But withGod everything is possible.”  Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Be willing to ask God to help you change what can be changed. However, be willing to change, walk away and not continue letting your inner mean girl beat you up over it. There is a difference between your inner mean girl beating up on you and the voice of God prompting you to choose a different route in life.  One is mean and one is love. Choose love.

Well… what is it? What do you like about yourself! My prayer is that this month you will be able to answer that question confidently. Its ok to lIke yourself.

Joyce Myers puts it best,  “Liking yourself doesn’t mean you’re full of pride; it  simply means you accept yourself as the person God created you to be.”  No longer be the person you run away from in the hall. Don’t continue disliking the person staring back at you in the mirror. Choose love for yourself. Choose to silence your inner mean girl. You are worth breaking free from her.

When Markers Run Dry!

When Markers Run Dry!

“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you in this dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalms 63:1 (NLT)

“Oh Great!” I hear from across the school age room. “The markers are all dried out.” A little girl headed to the trash to toss the dried out markers, but I jumped in and stopped her pulling some markers that had already made it into the trash can out. I explained to her that if we are patient we can put markers in water overnight and all the ink left throughout the marker will come down into the water turning it into water colors. “We can paint with it” she asked excited? As we filled cups with water and placed the dry markers in each more kids came over to watch as each cup began to turn a different color of blue, red, yellow, green and brown. The kids were amazed. They continued to watch the experiment growing more and more thrilled as the colors of the water grew more strong.

My family is on this amazing journey as Campus Pastors at Washington New Life. Even writing the words “Campus Pastors” feels surreal. Some days we feel on cloud nine that God has called us and other days we feel way over our head. However, we know that regardless of what each day brings we are right in the center of God’s purpose for our family. I came in excited but empty. I felt frustrated. Where is my place here? After having Ellie I struggled to find a balance between motherhood and servanthood. Something in my heart was changing. My desires were shifting and I had no idea how to respond to it. So I continued to serve in many different areas at Grace. (A great church family! If you live in the Dallas area check it out) I never felt like I was doing what God has called me to do. I struggled finding my place after becoming a mother and I was scared that struggle would follow me to Washington Illinois. “Something must be wrong with me” was a common thought. I showed up to Grace each week and I poured my heart into many areas but felt so dry doing so. There were so many times when I wanted to throw in the towel, sit on the couch and wait for God to tell me which card to play next but that didn’t feel right either. Honestly, that is the season at times. Dry! It doesn’t mean you give up it means you press on. You stay faithful and you never allow that inner voice to tell you that you have nothing left to give. You don’t allow yourself to believe that sitting on the sidelines is better than feeling dry serving.
If for a moment you believe that you have no value know that you are so valuable to Christ. Continue to show up! There is only one person who doesn’t want you to show up and he is not worth your time.
However, I do believe there are times when you should step back from serving and focus on God but only you and God can determine if that is the step you need to take. Our family is walking into a new season in life. We are dealing with things as a family and individually. I’m slowly finding my place at New Life. This season is pushing me toward God. The things He is asking of me are bigger than me. I often feel like I can’t do the things God has called me to do. Who am I kidding? I can’t. Not without Him but I have Jesus  “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT) I wasted so many years believing these three lies…
I do not have what it takes.
I have no purpose.
I’m not worthy.
(Sound familiar?)
I’m done wasting time believing a lie that is not true. I hope you are done too! I’m excited for this new season in our life and I am scared out of my mind. I guess you can say my dry season is beginning to see some rain. The kind of rain that causes growth.

Maybe you are going through a similar season. Maybe you feel like the season you are in is dry. You might feel like what you have left is not enough. If you are patient God will pull the little you have left, the little you feel is not enough and turn it into something beautiful that will be used for Him.
“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! for the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart” John 7:38 (NLT)


Just as a marker that is assumed dry can turn water to color God can take what you feel is dry and pour His water on it and suddenly you’re dry land will be a blessing for all to see.

A laundry basket of love!

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31

Ellie made a friend at the laundry mat a few months ago. Ellie had just turned two. The little girl who was 3 was so sweet to Ellie. She walked right up and gave Ellie one of her tea cups. They played together, laughed together and chased each other all over the laundry mat probably annoying everyone. 😂 After packing up our laundry they gave each other a hug and we left.

While they played I took a picture to remind myself that as believers in Christ we should aim to show love the same way Christ loves. This little girl shared what she had with Ellie so willingly. She treated Ellie the way she wanted to be treated. It came so natural for her. In a world that is so often filled with hate we should let the love of Christ shine through us by simply being kind to others, showing compassion and treating others how we would want to be treated. At such a young age this little girl is an example of what Gods love looks like! He shines in the dark.

If nothing else, this year make it a goal to show kindness, love others, and spread joy.

Follow Your Heart ❤️

“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” Psalms 119:2

A sweet friend gifted me this beautiful bracelet before our big move. It has the phrase “Follow Your Heart” engraved on it. It has been a sweet reminder in this season to make sure God is at the center of my heart.

❤️ We were recently looking for a house. If I’m honest you’ll know that I have not been the most patient in this process. If it were up to me I would have settled with the first house and all it’s creepiness. Let me tell you! It was CREEPY on so many levels. I didn’t care though. It was a house and I wanted a place to call home. I could pray through all the creepy, right? Nope! Jessie is a great leader and truly a man after Gods own heart. He knew this was not the one and He was not willing to settle. Deep down I knew it wasn’t right either. 😒

We came to a point where we searched and searched and with no peace turned down each house. Finally! We found one! We applied for it and put it in God’s hands.

I might be a tad bit dramatic saying we “searched and searched.” 😂 We have only been here less than a month and are already in our new home. We couldn’t have possibly searched as much as I let on. However, at one point in this search I threw my hands up. Literally threw my hands in the air and exclaimed to Jessie…

I’m done. Don’t call me. Don’t text me. Don’t Facebook me. Don’t instagram me. Don’t MySpace, Snapchat or E-Mail me anymore houses. I’m done. Just pick one and tell me when to move in.

Like I said. I’m dramatic. 🤦‍♀️

Moving on, the realtor who showed us the home called to let us know we were not chosen. It was so weird. For the first time I wasn’t mad, confused or worried. I simply said it must not be a God house! That was that. We immediately had peace that this house was not what God had for us. To our surprise the realtor gave us a number for a lady who has some rental properties in the area. He told us he didn’t normally do this but felt in his spirit that he should. We called her right away.

This new realtor called us the next day and said she had two properties. We went and saw them and felt complete peace as soon as we walked into the 2nd house.

She said her husband kept trying to get her to do what she needed to do to get it listed but she felt like she was waiting for someone specific.

We were that someone!

She even gave us a hundred dollar a month discount on the rent.

God is amazing. A house not even listed. Not even ready to be listed. A house sitting there, chosen by God and waiting for our family.

I think back to the day we were driving here. I was so uncomfortable with showing up with no home of our own. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the family who welcomed us so graciously, but I still wanted a place of our own too. (A blog post for another time.) To see now that God had it all worked out gives me peace about the future. He has it taken care of. There is nothing I need to possibly worry about. That’s a huge milestone for me.

It would have been so easy for us to take the first house available in fear that we would run out of options. We felt like we were running out of options and I was running low on patience. If it were not for Jessie’s complete patience and trust in God I would have settled. Not one of the houses we viewed gave us peace. As soon as our realtor opened the door to this one we knew it was chosen for us by God. I was so thankful in that moment that Jessie is so obedient to the voice of God.

It is so important that our hearts are completely surrendered to God. One lesson I’m currently learning is that when you follow the heart of God you never have to feel rushed to make a decision. You just have to trust Him to lead the way. God is daily asking us to follow Him not just in the big things but the everyday small things like which house to take as well.

As we get ready to walk into the new year let’s remember to keep God at the center of our hearts. It is only with Him that we can truly be led into His complete purpose for our lives.

A Kiss from God!

This week has been a true eye opener to the love God has for our family.

One of the life groups at Washington New Life decided to fill our pantry with all the basics. Life has been crazy since we decided to say “Yes” to the next journey God is taking our family on. While we know we are truly where He wants us there are still moments of uncertainty. However, the way our new community has welcomed us has lifted that uncertainty and has given us peace. It’s more than bringing food to our door but it’s another way God shows us that when He calls you He will provide for you. So many have opened their doors, hugged our necks, brought dinner to our family, helped us move in and even unpack. We have felt so much love by so many individuals and that love is a true gift from God. (I like to call it a God kiss.)

Hebrews 13:16

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

We are excited for 2019. We know God has great plans in store for Washington New Life. Thank you to everyone Back home and here in Illinois who have made this transition so smooth and full of Gods love and peace.

#Winning!

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

One afternoon I was watching Ellie through her classroom window. She was at dramatic play center. She had the table set perfectly with her corn on the cob ready to eat. She sat down took a look at the food making sure it was ready to go and then folded her hands and shut her eyes to pray. I nearly lost it! I’m so thankful that God allowed me to peek in at just the right moment. (Perks of Ellie being down the hall from me everyday.) 😍

Do you ever feel like you are losing as a parent? I feel this way often. Watching Ellie fold her hands and pray reminded me that Jessie and I are winning in the right areas. We might not always get it right and we are surely in need of Gods Grace daily but at the end of the day we know we are raising Ellie to love Jesus. Raising Ellie to Love and serve Jesus is an area I always want Jessie and I to win in as parents.

What areas as a parent do you want to win in?

The Tantrum of the Toothbrush!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10

We have been in Illinois for a week now. The other night as I was putting Ellie to bed she threw a tantrum when I wouldn’t let her sleep with her toothbrush in her mouth. I explained that it’s not safe and I put it where she could see it explaining to her that she could have the toothbrush when she wakes up. She cried for about 20 minutes before laying her head on my chest. She lays there and began asking questions about all of her stuff that is packed away on the pod.

Mommy! My couch is with Ashley?

Yes! We will buy a new one.

Mommy! My chair is yucky?

Yes! We had to throw it out but we can pick out a new chair that is easier to clean.

Mommy! I sleep in my bed?

Your bed is safe till we get a house. Then you get your bed again.

Mommy! Christmas is at home, It’s not here?

Christmas is almost here. Christmas is everywhere because Jesus is everywhere. We are home now and we will celebrate Christmas here.

This conversation made me realize that the toothbrush was only the surface problem that brought out her real frustration. She’s frustrated that all her stuff is gone. It seems she thought we just gave it all away when we let our friend Ashley have the couch. Now I won’t let her have her own toothbrush. When she was given a moment she was able to let me in on the deeper issue. She’s worried about all her stuff. she’s starting to understand we left home. Deep down I believe she is missing her home, routine, and friends and she’s frustrated.

This moment has reminded me that many times we are upset over a surface issue but in reality there is a deeper problem. We become upset over such a small problem and that problem is what we focus on. However, many times that frustration isn’t the real problem at all. There is a bigger issue deep inside of us.

When Ellie let me in on the deeper issue I was able to help. I was able to pray for her. After she explained her frustration (the way any two year old can) she said “I’m happy” and fell asleep.

Are you allowing Jesus to get in on the deeper issue? He can help! Maybe you don’t even know what the deeper issue is. Begin to pray Psalms 51:10 over your heart. Ask God to reveal any issue to you that needs healing. Jesus is interested in your heart. Don’t allow a silly “toothbrush” to stand in the way of what God wants to do in your heart. Get to the root of the problem so you can live the life God has called you to.

Be A Light!

Acts 20:35

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I can remember it was Christmas eve and there was nothing under the Christmas tree. My sisters and I understood why but as anyone can understand the realization was still difficult for us. We are sitting in the living room when we hear a knock at the door. When we open the door there are at least 10 people standing there with a smile on their face. Some had boxes of food in their arms and others had big black trash bags full of toys. There was a bag for each of my sisters and I. Attached to the bag was a gift certificate for free skates. The entire moment was beautiful. They came into our apartment not judging where we lived but showing compassion and joy with the food and toys they had brought us. The moment that changed me forever was when they gathered around our table held our hands and prayed for us. Honestly, I can’t remember the words they prayed I just remember the feeling of peace and comfort it gave me. I knew everything was going to be ok. I knew in that moment God was watching over us and He had a plan for us.

Standing there as an 8 year old little girl listening as they prayed I remember thinking “one day!” One day I’m going to be standing where they are. I wanted to help in the same way. 23 years later I can say I am living the “one day” out. I don’t say this with a “look at me” attitude. I tell this story because I’m so thankful that God took an uncertain time in my childhood and molded and shaped it into a beautiful memory. I am so thankful I now have the opportunity to give back to my community in the same way it was done for my family growing up. Giving back is the greatest way to say thanks!

This year my family started The Christmas Bag Project. It’s a way for me not to forget. Its a way I say thanks for all the Christmas’ that people poured the love of Jesus on my family. I know what it is like to have someone show my family so much love and this is what stirs a passion in my heart to share that same love with others.

Each month this past year we bought a toy for our Christmas bag Project. We would take the toy home and pray over the child and the family who will receive the toy. After praying we put the toy in a pile that we can see everyday. Ellie will often bring us a toy and say “open please” we use this opportunity to tell her who the toys are for. We tell her the importance of giving to others.

We are excited knowing that a little boy and girl will have toys to open on Christmas morning. However, we are most excited that the prayer we prayed over the families will overflow into their lives this coming year.

Maybe you are not in the place to be able to give this year. That’s ok! You might be on the receiving end this year. I want you to believe that the year is coming that you will be on the giving side. Start believing that “one day” you will be able to give. Start praying for those you will bless.

For those of you who are in a season that you can give, I want to challenge you to find a way that you can give to the community. Jesus has called us to be givers.

Places you can give:

1. Toys for Tots

2. The Grind at Grace Outreach Center Plano TX (choose a child’s name and shop for them)

3. Operation Christmas Child.

You might have your own special way to give this season. Share with us.

2 Corinthians 9:7

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The moment a group of individuals walked into our apartment with gifts, food and the love of Jesus, a fire was starting to burn in me. A moment in life that started out to be so difficult was turned into a joyful Christmas memory because of the obedience of a group of people who chose to shine His light on my family that Christmas eve. I can never forget that Christmas because it changed me forever. I pray we all choose to be His light this Christmas season and the year to come.

What are some simple ways we can be His light this coming year?

Looking forward: I’m so excited because this next 2019 year for our Christmas Bag Project we will buy a game each month! Our prayer is that the game the child receives will bring their family closer together.