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.

The journey!

Truth be told: It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a month. We are Excited for the journey God is leading us on, sad that we are leaving so many friends and family behind, worried about how the entire event will effect Ellie, joy that God has chosen our family, as well as the fear that God has chosen our family, peace each time God meets another financial need, discomfort of not yet having a place to live (can’t wait to look at houses this coming week) thankful that new friends have asked us to crash until we find our home and so many more emotions. One thing remains the same. We are following the path God is leading us on and while it can feel overwhelming and uncertain we know God has it all figured out.

The scripture I’ve been reflecting on lately is…

Philippians 1:6

“Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

There is simply so much peace that it covers all the fear.

Trusting Him…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We are definitely living out Proverbs 3:5-6 as we announce that we will be moving to Washington Illinois the first week of December. While we are sad that we are leaving such a loving church family and our Primrose family we are excited for the opportunity that God has called us to. We will be joining the team at New Life Church as the Campus Pastors at the Washington Illinois location.

Over the past 10 years I have met some incredible people who have become great friends and those who have become family. Leaving all of you is the hardest part of this move. Leaving a community of individuals who have loved me and my family brings tears to my eyes. However, the peace I have in knowing that our family is Following God to where He has called us is overwhelming. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Washington Illinois is where God is calling our family.

Here we are three weeks out and trusting God with all our hearts. I can feel the water works starting as we inch closer. We ask that you keep us in your prayers as we start this new journey. We need all the encouragement we can get so if you would like to, please leave your favorite scripture of encouragement in the the comments below. We are excited, we are sad, our emotions are everywhere. One thing that remains steady is our trust in God and His beautiful plan for our family.

We love you!

His Purpose His Time!

His Purpose His Time!

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Great Grandma Mary sent Ellie socks for the nursing home. However, we have already donated socks and each resident received 2 pairs. Fortunately our apartment complex just sent an email saying they are collecting socks for the homeless. Perfect! Ellie took the socks to the office to drop them off and the staff was so excited and greatly appreciated them. Isn’t God good like that? He never says “you’re too late!” When you show up with your blessing to offer He will always use it for His purpose. Great Grandma Mary was just on time with the socks because they showed up on God’s time. He used them for His purpose and not our own.

Maybe you have a “it’s too late” mindset. I want you to know It’s never too late for God to use you! Show up and watch God grow His purpose in you.

A Thankful Lifestyle!

A Thankful Lifestyle

A few years ago I was allowing my class to share freely. This is the time they can tell the class a story, a fun place they were able to go or something they really like! A little girl stood up and said…

“Be thankful everyday for everyone you love. You never know when they might go to heaven and you will miss them.”

I mean really how do you hold Back the tears? This little girl had just lost her new baby sister. She taught me such a valuable lesson that day. Be thankful EVERYDAY! It challenged me to create a lifestyle of thanksgiving.

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 9:1

It was soon after this little girls touching reminder that I began asking my class each year what they are most thankful for. Now keep in mind they are 4.

They had so many sweet and innocent responses….

  • Mac and cheese.
  • Justin Bieber.
  • Hockey.
  • taking a bath.
  • eating carrot cake with my mom.
  • leaving school early to watch a movie.
  • laser tag.

Like the little girl above these kids also had some pretty powerful responses. Responses that moved me and even motivated me to change in many patterns of my own thoughts.

“I am thankful that I have stuff to share.” Aanya age 4

In a world that is always looking to have more it is refreshing to hear a child be thankful that she has not just enough for herself but for others as well

“Remember this Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

I absolutely love how cheerful this girl was with her response. She is so cheerful about giving to others. I don’t know about you, but this really gives me hope for the future! Not only do I feel hopeful for the future but Aanya has reminded me that during this season our thoughts should be focused on how we can give more than we receive.

“I am thankful that when I grow up I’m going to be a football player.” Kyle age 4

He didn’t say…

If I’m good enough…

If they choose me…

If others approve…

If I’m able…

He said “I AM going to be…”

I love his confidence. He has not failed at many things in life yet. He simply knows what he wants and will get there. We as adults need to adopt this same mindset. We need to believe in ourselves, our dreams, and in the others around us.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Each of you has a passion for something. There is something that sets your heart on fire. You have dreams! Places you want to go! Ways you want to grow. Goals you wish to obtain. Some of you go after your dreams and never look back. Then there are those of you who are terrified to even try. Why? We don’t try often out of fear that we will fail. This little boy has reminded me to not fear my purpose. Do not be scared to fail when chasing your dream. Like Kyle, know what you want and believe with God you can do it.

“I am thankful that Jesus and God are our leaders.” Kelsey age 4

This touched my heart on so many levels.  We often forget that when trouble comes our way, when it seems our world is falling apart, when not a thing is going right and life couldn’t seem to get worse- God is working behind the scenes in our favor. God created this world. God created you! We can’t forget that God has it under control.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Kelsey has reminded me that God has everything under control in my life. Even in this very moment when everything around me is changing I know that God has  purpose and a plan and He will see in through.

A few years ago Mrs. Geni (Children’s Pastor at Grace Outreach Center) encouraged me at rejuvenate to spend the year writing down 1000 things I am thankful for. I did it! It was one of my most joyful years too. I want to extend this challenge to you. It’s easy to go through the year and not allow time to reflect on all the good that is happening around us. What if we spent the year writing down everything we are thankful for, all the good that is happening and all the blessings we are expecting? I truly do believe doing this will be beneficial to our life.  Let’s not allow November to be the only month we reflect on all the blessings in life but instead let your lifestyle reflect one of thanksgiving. Be thankful each and everyday.  Along with this challenge, this thanksgiving don’t forget to give more than you receive, to believe in the purpose God has given you and to trust that no matter what the day brings God has got you in the palm of his hand.

What is something big God has done this year in your life that you are thankful for? 

Come As You Are!

Come As You Are

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

My family is in love with dressing up for Halloween. Okay! I’ll tell the truth. I’m in love with dressing up for Halloween. Most Halloween’s involve more then one costume and the fun starts the first day of October.

The day after Halloween I am already dreaming about the following years costume. It’s fun to get to pretend to be someone else for a time. It’s exciting to see who everyone chooses to dress like. Its interesting to see what each family decides to be. It’s all around my kind of fun.

While getting this years costumes together I had a thought. We don’t have to dress up for God. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we are not. We don’t have to have it all together before we can run to Him. God loves you so much and He wants to help you right where you are.

I was a junior in high school. I ran to the altar after a heart changing sermon with tears flooding my face and my heart a mess. I held my wrist out to my pastor showing him the fresh marks and old scars. I stood there weak from starving my body out of fear of gaining weight. I had no idea how to stop all the self destruction. I had no idea how it all began. I was so spiritualy tired knowing I was going down the wrong path. I was emotionally and mentally a wreck. I wanted to disappear! I wanted to die! I didn’t know what to do other than ask God to fix the mess I had created. When I left church that day I do believe my whole life took another turn. A better turn! No! I wasn’t completely better. I still for a time struggled with self harm and anorexia. I struggled finding Gods purpose for me! I still struggle daily to keep this part of my life behind me. However, there was something about running to God that pointed me in His direction. Me simply acknowledging that I needed Him changed my direction in life entirely. Choosing Him pointed me toward the help I needed. My point is that I went to God that Sunday morning a mess and He loved me in all my brokenness. He didn’t tell me to fix my problems before coming back but he walked with me through those challenging moments. More importantly he loved me enough to help me through all the pain that was causing this self destruction. Can I just tell you this, when I found His love, His forgiveness and His purpose for my life I have never been the same.

There are still moments everyday that I have to run to God as I am and pray the following verse over myself!

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

There is so much more He wants to break and mold in me and YOU! I encourage you to write this verse down and memorize it. Pray it over yourself daily. Yes! It’s ok to pray for yourself (another devotional for another time).

I get that I tend to be very transparent in my writing. It’s possible it makes some uncomfortable. The truth is it’s real. If I can share parts of my story that are not proud moments. Moments that really hurt but moments that shaped me. If I can share these moments to relate with my readers then I will. I truly believe that writing is part of Gods purpose for me and sharing it is another part of His purpose.

There are some of you who are completely a mess. Maybe not the same mess I was in but you are in a mess. There are some of you who are in more of a mess than I could ever even begin to imagine. Some of you are in a mess that you didn’t even create for yourself. Some of You see no way out. You feel completely wrecked and powerless. You don’t know what to do. Maybe you want to give up like I once did. Don’t! Hold on! (BTW you have to listen to the song “Hold On” By TobyMac) Regardless of the size of your mess just breathe!!! It’s ok. God loves you. Don’t think for a second that He wants you to clean your mess up alone. While he doesn’t want you to stay the same He does want to wrap his arms around you and hold you through the pain. He wants to help you out of the mess. Will you let Him?

As October kicks off and all the fun of the season starts remember that God wants you to come to His door as you are so that He can mold you into all that He has created you to be.

Family costumes since 2016…

2016 Moster Inc

2017 Mickey and Minnie Mouse

2018 Fun Clowns

Just wait for 2019… it’s gonna be good!

Bows! Cupcakes! Tears!

” A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

I woke up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by a rather loud screech from this child. Why? Did she have a nightmare? Did the Boogie man grab her feet? No! Her bow! It fell out of her hair! Lord help me. Really? Are you serious? I know your two but did this really just happen? What did I do? I wanted to sleep so I put that pretty little bow back on her head but not before preaching a very long sermon on why a bow does not deserve our tears ESPECIALLY at two in the morning.

Guys! I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna pull the life lesson out of this moment because I just can’t help myself. Here we go….

There is something in life that you are crying about and just like a bow it does not deserve your tears.

Don’t get me wrong. There are things in life that cause us pain and in those moments we need to cry. Even Jesus himself cried.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:33

BUT…

Jesus cried over things that mattered.

1. When he saw others hurting. (John 11:33)

2. When he saw how lost the people of Jerusalem were. (Luke 19:41)

It’s not wrong to cry. It’s healthy to cry. If you are going through a time where crying is what you need to do know that God is with you.

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

For the rest of us not everything deserves our tears.

For example…

One time I cried as I shouted

“A CUPCAKE IS NOT A CUPCAKE IF IT IS SMUSHED!”

I don’t even remember the back story.

There was another time that I cried when I found out they take some of the icing off the toddlers cupcakes at school. (Found out later it was to keep the kids from getting sick from a sugar overload). Makes total sense!

I guess I have a weird thing with cupcakes. 😂😂😂 However, my point is those two moments did not deserve my tears and there are moments that won’t deserve your tears.

Honestly, it’s different for everyone. I made a list of 3 things I feel are not worth my tears!

1. Cupcakes

2. My messy house

3. When someone does not like me.

What are your 3 things not worth your tears?

A new season to love yourself!

A New Season for Love!

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalms 139: 13-15

It’s fall y’all. This cute pumpkin 🎃 made my heart smile this morning. While getting her dressed she said “Ooooooh I’m cute!” This simple statement is told to her in some way everyday by her teachers at school as well as her daddy and I. I love that her teachers not only teach and take care of her basic needs but they show her so much love and they teach her how to love herself. I love that her teachers at church tell her constantly how much Jesus loves her. I love that she wakes up feeling good because of all these factors.

I think we get it wrong in life. We live life with the mindset that it’s not ok to feel good about ourselves. That some how loving your self makes you conceited. However, God loves you! God created you! Even in all our flaws he loves us You can continue working on your hang ups while still loving you. If you are one who struggles loving yourself I encourage you to dig deeper in His word. I promise it’s filled with verses of Gods love for you. Here is one of my favorites…

“For the Lord your God is living among you.

He is a mighty savior.

He will take delight in you with gladness.

With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

It’s ok to feel good about yourself. It’s ok to wake up and like what you see. It’s ok to love yourself and enjoy being in your own skin. You can love yourself without being conceited or full of pride.

I like what Joyce Myers has to say on this subject,

“Liking yourself doesn’t mean you’re full of pride; it simply means you accept yourself as the person God created you to be. “

In Matthew 22:39 we are told to love our neighbor as ourself.

“…love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

If we can’t love ourselves how will we ever be able to truly love others?

It’s fall y’all. It’s a new season. It’s another chance to see yourself as the wonderful person God created you to be. It’s a new opportunity to love yourself. Let’s make this season count.

Sneaky Little Sin!

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we(a) are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12

It came out of no where in the middle of night with a raging fever and a sudden volcano eruption of vomit. Its name? The flu!

An hour or so after arriving home from the Doctor I realized that Ellie was acting zoned out. I checked her temperature and was in disbelief that the thermometer read 107. We immediately pour Tylenol down her throat (the proper dose) and call the on call doctor. We were blessed that it went down quickly but were stunned that it came on without warning. I realized later on that I had missed a dose of Tylenol and this allowed time for the fever to spike. Isn’t sin often this way? If you are not on your guard It will sneak up on you. This is why it is important that we spend time in prayer and in the word daily. Doing so equips you with the power to stand against sin. What is your go to scripture to combat sin? If you do not have one I challenge you to find one this week.

Here is mine:

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Stirred up faith!

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:7

When I was in the 2nd grade my family was struggling financially. At this point in our life we needed assistance for food. One day my mom was on her way out the door to go to a church to receive several boxes of free food. I asked my mom, “Do you think that they will give us Kool-aid? My mom couldn’t answer. I know it’s such a silly thing to pray for but still I went to my room and prayed “Lord please help them to give us purple Kool-aid. I want purple kool aid so bad.” An hour or so later my mom returned home and asked me to help unload the food boxes. Looking into a box I pull out an extra large container of purple Kool-aid.

My excitement grew and I began to shout…

God answered my prayer!”

That day I learned a very valuable lesson that went with me for the rest of my life. That day I learned that I could place my faith in God for not only the big things but the small things as well. This moment in my life has challenged me to always put my faith in God. I want to challenge you to never underestimate what God can do for you regardless of how big or small.

I recently spent the morning teaching Ellie how to make purple Kool-aid. While making the Kool-aid I told her this story in a way she can understand. I want her to know early that she can go to God for anything. I will continue through out life to share this story with Ellie over a glass of purple Kool-aid because I want to stir her faith up in God!

Maybe you are reading this and you say what I need from God is bigger than a glass of Kool-aid. I want you to know that God is in your corner. He is fighting for you. You are not alone. He will come through for you. He will come through on time even when you feel he is already late. I want to encourage you to continue to stir up your faith in God until you…

“Taste and see that the lord is good.” Psalms 34:8

How do I stir up my faith in God?

1. Prayer! Don’t stop praying for what you need from God. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”

2. Read His word! The word of God is filled with stories of God coming through just in time! Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

3. Reflect on what God has already done for you and thank Him. 1 Chronicles 16:34-35 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!His faithful love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, O God of our salvation!Gather and rescue us from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you.”

Thank God for what He has done and will continue to do for you.

Remember, God loves you so much. He’s not up there laughing at the struggles you face. He is cheering you on. Don’t give up. Continue to stir up your faith in God. He’s got you!