Hello Fall

Autumn officially began last week. I love Fall. Even though the weather doesn’t change much where I live, and we drink frozen apple cider because it’s so hot out, I still LOVE Fall!

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 2.10.36 PM

I took a nose-dive into Fall. I was leaving work one day with both my younger children and in the parking lot I ate it! I mean: lost my balance spun around and splat, right on the asphalt. I escaped with no major bumps or bruises, only some road rash. However, my pride took a beating.

My son asked me, “Did you have to fall in front of my teacher?” I had been having a conversation with his teacher and turned back to say something when I quickly ended up on the pavement.

My daughter was more concerned about me, “Are you ok, Mommy?” she asked. I knew I was going to be ok, but at that moment, I was utterly embarrassed.

My life resembles this scenario lately. Things are going great and then splat, everything falls. Can you relate? When I think I have our groove down in this new school year, something changes and throws everything off balance. Our schedule gets busier, and the time for laundry, meal planning, and rest decreases. People get sick, and plans change. Do you wish this season would go more like you planned?


School Spirit Day!

We started the school year well! Our routine was working. Uniforms were clean and laid out the night before, necessary papers filled out daily, and homework was getting done. BUT life happens. Monday comes AGAIN, and even more quickly after a jam-packed weekend. Why does Monday have to come every week? Most mornings, on our way out the door, one of my kids forgets something, loses something, and I rapidly lose my mind! Our productive morning goes SPLAT!


This morning was more of a pile-up crash type of moment: My earring back fell out, and I couldn’t find it on the floor. Then, while putting a sandwich bag of chips into a lunch box, they open upon and spill everywhere. All the while, my middle son is complaining he can’t find his planner. He assured me he left it at school on Friday. For the record, when he got to class, he realized the planner was signed and in his backpack. Thankfully, I said “No” to going upstairs to check the library, where I work, before taking him to class.

On most days, it seems the last five minutes of the morning getting out the door becomes the most challenging task. It’s not just my kids who disrupt the morning routine. On many frenzied mornings, I’m running back into the house to grab something – even with careful preparations the night before.

Confession time, I want this season of my life to go just as I’ve planned. I want to make it out the door without a hitch on Mondays, and the rest of the week too. This goal isn’t realistic, nor is it how life is “meant to be.” According to John 16:33, we will have trouble in this life. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I know this, I tell my children this, and women I meet at church. BUT, I still desire the smooth, comfortable, easy-breezy type of day.

Honestly, what I desire more than a smooth day, is a day where I rise above the disarray around me, the irrational thoughts going on in my head, and the impatient actions spewing out of me. Without challenging moments, I won’t learn to rise above the confusion or my emotions. Part of me believes I should’ve grasped this by this point in my life, but the other part of me is eager to surrender my longing for the peaceful and comfortable. And if I’m asking to surrender this fleshly desire, my God is going to give me opportunities to walk it out.

Although I desire to rise above the daily chaos, my flesh often takes over, and I have to learn the same things all over again. My word for last year last was EMBRACE. This year it’s NEW. The NEW thing I’m learning to EMBRACE this season isn’t unique. I’m repeating the same lesson on embracing chaos. There will be similar disruptions this Fall, and new chaotic moments. One thing I know for sure is that there will be turbulence. I hope that I’ll handle the chaos better this season.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I realize if I weren’t holding so tightly to my idea of the perfect morning, it wouldn’t bother me as much when things don’t go as planned. I picture the leaves falling during autumn. Leaves falling is also something we don’t see living this far south. Nevertheless, the leaves don’t cling to the tree branch and refuse to fall. I do, however, clench my desires and plans too tightly. For me to grow and something new to develop, I have to let go! Sometimes I need to allow things to fall. I need to take a deep breathe and help pick up the pieces.

Practically, there are ways I can prepare for the rocky moments. Recently, I printed a morning checklist for my youngest son, so he can see what needs to be done and check each item off himself. I realize I need to focus on a list of my own. Am I making time to rest, to prepare for the next day, or next week? Am I getting alone with the Lord and filling my brain with His truths instead of allowing my worries, desires, and fears to consume me? Lately, because of that checklist, my son is having smoother mornings and is helping more. I can, too, when I’m prepared and not solely focused on how I think the morning should flow.

Another thing that helps is doing something that refreshes me. Embellishing our home is one of those things that exhilarates me. Give me an empty area with a moderate amount of seasonal decor, and I’m in my happy place. The idea of decorating may make you extremely stressed; I have girlfriends who hate decorating!

Go for a walk!

Find something that will rejuvenate you in this season and make time for it. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try something new. I signed up for an online class and can’t wait to get started. Making time for a walk outside can revive me after a draining day. A few times a week, I step away from the burdens of the day while getting my body moving. I listen to an audiobook, podcast, worship music, or appreciate the quiet of being outside. These are all things that help fulfill me. That way, when the depleting moments come (and they will), I can better handle them.

Free Farmhouse Scripture Print-I am with you alwaysIn this season, I hope you find new practical ways to embrace the chaos you’re facing. We will have troubles, but if you are walking with Jesus, remember you’re never facing them alone. I’m utterly thankful for that realization!

Goodbye Summer

Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go. It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures. We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family. I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one … Continue reading “Goodbye Summer”


Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go.

It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures.

We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family.

I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one of our summer adventures!


We enjoyed the outdoors and tried new adventures.


We savored lazy summer mornings.

My husband and I helped out my in-laws’ family restaurant; this took me back to our days of being engaged where we worked together.

We started a small group in our home for young adults. They keep us young and teach us a lot.


I served at our church youth camp and youth conference.

This summer was good for my soul. It was incredible for our family.

img_1538And now we say goodbye to summer.

School is back in session, and my full-time job outside our home begins again.

As I reflect on this season, I remember how opposite I felt when school let out a few months before. I was exhausted, burned-out, and lonely.

I went into the last school year with my own set of expectations; which is never a good idea. I had high hopes for myself and others. Most of which I didn’t even realize.

I thought because last year was my second year at the same job I’d have more things figured out, but I still had quite a bit of learning to do.

I expected my eighth-grader to have a smoother year than his past two in middle school. But, he had similar academic challenges and struggled with responsibility. I wasn’t prepared for his group of friends shrinking and seeing him on the outside of his friend group.

I was entirely caught off guard when my third grader, who never has a rough day at school, began having quite a few rough days at home. His time at home became filled with emotional outbursts, sadness, and anxiety. I couldn’t comprehend how our bright and sweet boy was growing sad and stressed.

I was ill-equipped to handle my daughter going into school crying because she didn’t like her hair, her uniform, or the fact that her best friend yesterday wasn’t speaking to her this week. She was in kindergarten.

Maybe it’s my age, perhaps its selective memory, but I don’t remember middle school, third grade, or kindergarten being this difficult! We did survive the 2018-19 school year, and all grew in many ways. But I welcomed summer break like never before.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”        Ecclesiastes 3:1

There was also the challenge of carving out time with my husband amidst our opposite schedules. I had to accept the heartache of dwindling relationships with friends and family without understanding why.

What I did know was: I didn’t feel like I was enough, in any area of my life, and that felt awful!

It was at the end of “my rope” that God began to refresh me with His Word, with friendships that were growing, with sweet time early in the morning sitting at His feet.

And I mean early.

Groggily, I’d peek at my phone to check the time. Most mornings, I’d pray/beg the Lord to let me sleep a little longer. After tossing and turning I’d realize that wasn’t an option. I’d head out to the living room and find my cozy spot on the couch. I’d open my bible or devotion book and wait for the Lord to reveal something.

I’d long for Him to remind me:

· I am not alone.

· Your plans are good, even if I don’t feel like they are.

· I can keep going.

Most days throughout the past school year, I did start my day in my bible. I listened to worship music on my way to work. I enjoyed sweet conversations with my kids (most of the time). I was grateful for the many blessings in my life. But I still felt this heaviness and sadness that weighed me down. I became so physically exhausted; I ended up going to my doctor. I found out I have something wrong with my thyroid, nothing serious at this time, but it is something to watch.

I also realized I had something wrong, spiritually. I was going through the motions and not being filled with Jesus. I was trying, in my strength and my set of expectations to take care of everything/everyone in this season. I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

 I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

I began changing my thinking and reminding myself:

o God is always with me, ‘I’m never alone. Deut 31:8

o I trust Your good plans for my family and me. Jer 29:11

o I don’t have to keep going in my strength; I can persevere with Jesus. Phil 4:13

1280x1280-1I also began realizing Jesus wanted me to know Him as my friend. I sang many times in church, “I’m a friend of God.” I never fully grasped this.  If I hadn’t felt so isolated this past year, I would’ve missed out on knowing my Savior in a new way.

There are times now when I’m hurt, upset, or scared that I stop and pray instead of picking up the phone to call a friend. God has also shown me the importance of having friends in my life to ask to pray and speak into my life.

He’s challenged me to make time for intentional moments with friends. I need to be surrounded by women who have the freedom to speak truth into my life during this season. Because of my busy schedule working full-time, I don’t have as many friendships as other seasons. But I do have deeper friendships during this season. One of the sweetest times since being back at work is the lunch breaks I’ve scheduled with friends. They have been life-giving to me. I’ve learned I’m not alone and to extend the benefit of the doubt; we are all walking through something.


One reason I felt so alone is that I was focusing on my difficulties and believing no-one else was struggling. That’s not true, this is a fallen world filled with broken people, and we all need Jesus.

I’ve sensed God refreshing me this summer. He is reviving me with His Word. Jesus has brought reconciliation to strained relationships, which are stronger than before. He is renewing my relationships with my kids and leading me as I meet them in their seasons. He’s restoring our marriage as we navigate this busy season. I feel like I’ve been through a renovation this past year. I see “new” rising in many areas of my life. Newness I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t walked a lonely road of being overwhelmed for a season.

1280x1280Jesus continues to meet me in my expectations, emotions, stubbornness, and weaknesses. And He will meet you too. I’m thankful for this crazy, challenging, blessed life and the undeserving grace of Jesus that gets me through.

Haircuts & Hard Conversations

I was on my way out the door to women’s bible study when our daughter’s after-care called to let us know…


I couldn’t fully process what my husband was telling me as I rushed out the door.

During my drive to church my mind was racing but at the same time I was surprisingly calm.

I was reminding myself this is common.  Our oldest son did this to our youngest son. I remember the chunk missing, right in the front. It eventually grew back. We can even laugh about it now. I was wishing we could fast forward to the someday, when we could laugh at this situation.

BUT, that someday was not today.

I’ve previously shared that our daughter has Emotional Behavioral Disorder. We often live in a place of, what’s her reaction going to be? That night we were beginning our study on the book, “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way,” by Lysa Terkeurst. Isn’t that the truth! I absolutely crave a predictable and comfortable life. Not sure, I’ve ever truly experienced what I consider a “normal” season, but I sure would like to.

pexels-photo-1249214My girl keeps me on my toes and often pushes me outside my comfort zone. All of my children do in their own unique ways. They remind me just how unpredictable life actually is.

Thankfully, we learned the haircut didn’t cause any major damage and could be fixed with a minor trim. We did have a necessary conversation with the ESE Specialist and Administration at her school. Although, as her parents, these were awkward at times, they were beneficial.

At school, our girl’s consequence took place a few days after the incident. I remember walking her into school that day and explaining she’d miss out on something that afternoon for cutting her friend’s hair. She’d had consequences at home and written an apology letter. My heart broke for her.  I could see on her face that she was not grasping why there was still more.

Oh, how I relate to this moment in her life. Even as an adult, I make a poor choice and want to skim over any consequences it might bring.

I wonder if this is how my heavenly Father looks on as I walk out the consequences of my poor choices? Desiring to take away the challenges and awkward moments, but knowing it’s not in my best interest.

Making the right choice takes work. I’m not perfect and won’t make the right choice every time. Neither will my husband, kids, family and friends. No one is perfect! I’m extremely thankful for God’s mercy and grace. I need it daily!

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16


Desiring a teachable moment out of this; I made us both hair appointments. My incredible friend went along with the questions I was asking her about her job. She explained to my daughter that you need tools and have to learn how to correctly cut someone’s hair. Then she braided her hair and we told her how beautiful she looked.  This was such a sweet afternoon with my girl, it was a beautiful moment that developed out of difficult circumstances and hard conversations.

I’m grateful my Heavenly Father provides beautiful moments to eventually arise after I blow it. I believe He desires them to rise up in your life too. These moments are often filled with grace and take work too. Difficult conversations, if done in love, can often be a step in the right direction.

This hasn’t been the only topic of hard conversations this month.

There was another conversation where I didn’t know what to say. (Which is unusual for me.) My middle son had a lot to say to my husband and I recently about being stuck in the middle of his siblings. Recently he’d been responding very harshly to his siblings and us. After an extreme outburst, I reached out to our friend who is also our daughter’s behavior therapist. That Saturday everything stopped and I sat at Starbucks listening to him share how he feels, I was not able to say much at all. Just listen and choke back tears. Although things were hard to hear, I was grateful for the glimpse into his situation and feelings. We are working on helping him grow as we learn how to best support him.img_0174In addition, the opposite happened in another conversation. I knew what to say, but received nothing in return. This was a conversation I’d prayed about. I had expectations that after this time of sharing things would be different. We would move forward in a new way with a better understanding of what each of us are facing. Not receiving any response left this conversation uncomfortable. I crave the predictable and safe in my life, especially in relationships. However, when things remain the same there is less chance to love like Christ.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Romans 12:9-10 MSG

Sometimes God allows me to be uncomfortable to learn to better love others. This awkward feeling causes me to ask God to search my heart and reveal any unhealthy expectations. I want to discover how to be intentional in my relationships in this new season, when responsibilities can be overwhelming. I desire to enter the messy and bumpy spots with those God has placed in my life. That means having hard conversations in love, but not always in my timing. I’m trusting God’s timing is perfect and He is preparing my heart to receive what I need to hear.

We also had conversations with our teenager as we walked him through making the best choice for him this year. Even though it was hard and required giving up something he loves doing.  It also meant, as his parents, we had to have some difficult conversations with those in authority over him. We needed to share why he was quitting. This was hard for us because quitting isn’t something we encourage in our home. Through prayer we knew this was best for him. Sometimes we must do things that don’t appear to be the right choice, but through prayer and seeking God’s Word we know they are.


These are just a few of the hard conversations this month. There have been more! There will continue to be more. Nevertheless, the hardest conversations have been with myself.

Honestly, I think the wrestling to get to the fruit of these conversations better makes me exhausted. Probably because I often try in my own strength. Accepting the “new” challenges in this season aren’t easy. I still lose my patience and am apologizing for my poor choices.

This is why day by day I have to seek God’s will and not my own.

My prayer is that I’ll get better at handling the difficulties that come. I will continue learning when to speak up and when to listen. I will have the hard conversations, in love, to cultivate better relationships. I will embrace the undeserving grace of Jesus and extend this gift to others. I will continue letting go of my desire for a “normal” and comfortable life. I will joyfully take hold of the new and challenging things in this season.





Embracing the NEW


img_9404Hello & Happy New Year!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas spent with loved ones celebrating the birth of our Savior.

We had a wonderfully busy Christmas season all the way through December 25th. Our break began on December 26th, in the wee hours of the morning as we headed to the mountains of North Carolina. We left the warm sunshine for significantly colder weather and a much-appreciated change of scenery. This was our second year heading to the mountains to experience a little winter fun. Our minivan was packed full with the six of us, lots of luggage, loads of excitement, and anticipation!

This feeling of expectancy was one I’d hoped to hold on to as we headed into 2019 a week later. We were on our way home and headed down the mountain for a stop in Charlotte, NC. On the way up the mountain we completed our trip in one day, but decided to take our time heading home. It had been a fantastic week, filled with snowy adventures, board games, exploring a new city, and only a few squabbles between our three kiddos.  Our pace slowed as we adapted to mountain time, creating time to breathe and enjoy the slow pace of this small ski town.

Only for one fleeting moment did I miss the hurried pace of home; when I ordered a coffee for my mom and the wait was extremely long. All of the customers were being served, but at a much slower pace than I’m used to. The employees were kind and that definitely helped make the wait time easier.

As New Year’s Day arrived I felt a heaviness I couldn’t shake. A heaviness I didn’t want to embrace. I was heading into 2019 with a few things I didn’t want to be facing:

The weight of unanswered prayers and areas of my life where I felt God had been silent in 2018.

The weight of parenting challenges that I hoped to be on the other side of this year.

The weight of changing seasons which has led to changes in relationships.

The weight of hurt and disappointments I thought I was “over” and didn’t want to drag into another year.

But in order to go forward, and embrace the “NEW,” my word for 2019, I was beginning to realize a digging up of old pains and hardened areas of my heart must occur. Then the new could take place. I’ve been listening to a song by Hillsong entitled, New Wine. There’s a part of the song I can’t get out of my head –

“In the crushing –  in the pressing – You are making New wine
In the soil, I Now surrender You are breaking New ground”

I was excited for the new things in 2019, but wasn’t prepared for the necessary surrendering of the old.

Nearly a week later the heaviness finally started to lift. A week of praying, reading my bible, asking God to allow the heaviness to lighten. I asked my husband and a couple of close friends to pray for me. I also trusted that this would pass, even when it didn’t feel like it would.

Nevertheless, it was a week of pushing myself be present and appreciate each moment. We were still on our trip home and I didn’t want to miss out. I wasn’t going to let the heaviness consume me to the point that I couldn’t participate in the end of our winter break adventure. I have been through seasons of sitting out in the past; where hurt, grief, difficulties, disappointments, and physical illness kept me on the sidelines. But not this week!

Please take the time to see the ways you’ve grown in the middle of your difficulties. Appreciate every step forward on your journey, even the baby steps.

When we returned home, I had a few fun things planned with the kids and I wanted to continue being present. There were a couple of days scheduled with friends at the park and the beach. These outings were something I needed as much as they did. I also attended a charming baby shower and a fabulous lunch with some beautiful women that weekend. And I enjoyed them both! I knew God was renewing me in the midst of the heaviness. A heaviness that I couldn’t fully describe and couldn’t share with everyone. God was working, I needed to be still and continue walking in faith.

The last official day of our vacation, a Monday morning, the breakthrough began. I was up early and couldn’t wait for my devotion time. My time to delight in God’s Word and see just what He had for me that day. At the end of my time I began reading our next bible study book, “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way,” by Lysa Turkuerst. The verse from Revelation 21:5, And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” was weaved throughout the first couple of chapters. I knew God was speaking and moving on my behalf. An excitement and expectancy I’d desired was rising up.

I don’t know if you’re carrying anything heavy into 2019, but God does. Don’t lose heart!  Keep trusting; day by day, and even moment by moment. The digging up of the old feels painful, heavy and even unnecessary sometimes. However, in order to truly be made new, the old has to go! Matthew 9:17 says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

Breakthrough is coming!

I’m praying for the new God wants to do in you this year; especially the new He wants to bring about in areas you might think could never be made new. I’m Trusting God that it is no coincidence you’re reading this. The best gift of all is the abundant, undeserved, never-ending grace of Jesus. This amazing grace allows me to miss the mark day after day, still get up, and try again. It’s because of His grace upon grace that I get to share my story and continue being renewed day by day. I hope you embrace the gift of amazing grace poured out for you on the cross.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8







Embrace Surrender

Last month I wrote about embracing adventure. I even placed an exciting picture of a roller coaster at the top of the page. Surprisingly to me, this month feels more like I’m on a roller coaster, except it’s not by choice. I have no control over when the ride speeds up, slows down, loops, or drops! Have you ever been in a season when your days feel a little out of control? When you’re trying to be diligent and intentional with your time, but other things pop up that trump everything else. Do you spend days with your mind racing, over day-to-day concerns, anxious thoughts, and things that aren’t even true? I am able to surrender to my own thoughts and ideas, which can be harmful to myself and others, OR I choose to surrender unhealthy ideas and thoughts and replace the lies with the truth in God’s Word.

I have to choose to surrender…. download

I sometimes have to surrender my time and energy to care for a sick family member. I often times have to surrender to changes, at work, church, or in our family that are out of my control. I must surrender to new seasons with friends as moves happen, jobs change, and kids are born or leave the nest. I must surrender to others’ schedules, kid’s activities, church calendar, friends in need, work demands, family plans, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure there are times when you must surrender to plans and ideas that aren’t your own. For me, this can lead to questioning, doubting, or complaining. This is one reason it’s so important to surrender unhealthy thoughts and embrace TRUTH.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When I choose to surrender my expectations and embrace: the season, plan, difficulty, forgiveness, my life is calmer. I have to decide to embrace surrender over and over. I’m not talking about the wave your white flag, give up, accept defeat kind of surrender. My preferred definition of the word surrender is; “agree to forgo especially in favor of another.” This definition of surrender is a verb, an action word. I must agree to forgo getting my own way, my plans, ideas, dreams, and schedule.

When I embrace surrender, I’m saying I will do this without complaining, not angrily, or bitterly. It shifts my perspective.  Although these “things” life throws at me are out of my control, I am in my control of how I react to them. I’m still trying to embrace this lesson, while teaching it to my kids. We are responsible for our reactions, even if it’s not your fault, it’s your siblings fault, or your friend was mean, or because life isn’t fair. You’re right, life isn’t fair!

One of the hardest things for me about embracing surrender, is surrendering to the unknown.

If I could understand the direction I’m supposed to go, the easiest way to get there, and the instructions to follow along the way that’d be great!

Navigating life doesn’t always come with the Waze app. I use the Waze app almost every morning on my way to work. We have multiple ways to get to school and I want to know the quickest route based on the circumstances of traffic each day. I know in this day and age I can’t use my Waze app mentality in my relationships. Relationships don’t usually work that way; they take time, grace, forgiveness, and love; and they aren’t predictable.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8rod-long-974346-unsplash

I’m learning to share things in a more loving way.  I’m learning to surrender my ideas for how and when difficult conversations are necessary. I’m trying to forgo my own feelings and share things that are difficult in a healthy way. I’m a fixer, I want to fix the problem and move on as quickly as possible! However, I can unintentionally end up doing the exact opposite, making the situation worse instead of better. I don’t always take time to think through conversations and how it might affect the other person. I desire to share truth, that needs to be heard, but with love and grace. I absolutely have to surrender my feelings, my timing, and “fixing it” ideas to accomplish that. Although I still speak without thinking and say things harshly, I am becoming more aware of these times. I’m working on surrendering the need to say things right away with-out avoiding them so much nothing changes. I’m working to surrender my need to say things immediately,  instead saying them in love and grace after prayer. Hopefully then issues are not ignored but actually improved.jude-beck-552165-unsplash

I’m recognizing I choose surrender, it’s just a matter of who and/or what I’m surrendering to. I unmistakably embrace surrendering to fear, insecurity, and unhealthy thoughts. Do you have something negative in your life that you’ve been surrendering to, maybe even unintentionally?

It’s a challenge to continually embrace surrender and I will never be perfect!

You will never be perfect, isn’t that freeing!

Thankfully we don’t have to be perfect. Jesus is the ultimate example of surrender. Because of His surrender I can walk in freedom. I’m grateful for the grace and mercy I receive daily, whether I blow it by saying too much or shut down and avoid communicating at all. I’m loved by my Heavenly Father whether I embrace healthy surrender or fail to and instead throw my hands in the air. BUT I want to keep embracing surrender, adventure, growth, strength, heartache, and whatever else the Lord is showing me in this season. It makes my life fuller and allows me to show the love of Jesus to others.

As we step closer to the end of 2018 and enjoy the fall season, may we take time to be thankful for what we have. Embracing the fall season is difficult where I live, it’s basically summer all year with a few cooler days. I’ve had to surrender the idea of crisp autumn air and sweaters coming out in Fall. I am however, embracing Fall in my neck of the woods, a season filled with iced pumpkin spice lattes and autumn decor while we still enjoy the pool.

May we embrace surrendering things that didn’t go as planned this year. I’m praying you’re able to surrender those things which weigh you down and keep you from embracing God’s best for you. Happy Fall!

Embrace Adventure

This summer was a whirlwind, and much too short in my opinion. It was filled with many restful still moments along with many crazy busy scheduled moments. We started off the month of June with a guy’s trip to Boston, my husband, teenage son and our youngest son. I’m delighted they let me tag along! It was a great time celebrating our oldest turning thirteen this year; while exploring a new city with our boys.

That week was an adventure; as Webster’s dictionary’s second definition clarifies, an exciting or remarkable experience.”

The next week we were home with just enough time for my oldest and me to get ready for the youth mission trip to the Bahamas. That same week our daughter turned six! I knew if we didn’t celebrate her that week, it wouldn’t happen. We had plans to head to a lake house the day after we returned home from the mission trip with my niece and nephew, who were visiting from out-of-state, and my in-laws. June was definitely a full month! But it was one of those months I knew everything packed into our calendar was necessary. It was a busy time we’d prayed over and prepared for. This helped me plan for and embark on the many adventures happening in June.

However, I wasn’t prepared for the adventure smack dab in the middle of my one-week at home. This adventure I’d definitely describe using the first definition for adventure in Webster’s Dictionary: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.”

It was Wednesday and it was packed. I had an MRI scheduled, I hurt my Achilles and needed it to be checked before we went away again. That afternoon we had a few close friends coming over to celebrate our sweet girl’s birthday and then we were heading to church. My son and I were going to meet up with our mission trip team and be prayed over before heading to the Bahamas.

As I laid in this machine, not able to move I had no idea things were going crazy outside of the mechanic tunnel. My husband got a call from our daughter’s camp that he needed to head there, immediately! She had a “moment,” and needed to be picked up. We hadn’t seen one of these “moments” in quite a while. Our sweet girl has EBD, Emotional Behavioral Disorder, and has certain challenges that can take an ordinary day and turn it into a lengthy adventure of searching for peace and calm. Reminding our daughter, she’s loved and accepted is essential during these times. Although we try to calm her down and remind her she’s loved, she struggles to accept it. She then shuts down, speaks negative words about herself, us, and those around her. These hostile, demanding, and unfortunate moments have been part of her journey since she was perfectly placed in our family. She was placed in our home when she was six months old and we were her foster family until getting the privilege of becoming her forever family.

download-3That day she got in trouble, nothing major, but then panicked and wouldn’t accept the miniscule consequence. Things escalated and she made a couple of extreme statements, she was looking for a response, and she found one! Our princess is a smart young lady and she knows how to push buttons, and that she did! She certainly struggles with the word “no.” I don’t know many people, adults or children who like being told, “no.” For our sweet girl this has always been an issue. I pray often that we will find the root of her reactions. We have seen so much growth in the past couple of years, but we also have a way to go.

As I’m processing this phone call and trying to take in what happened, my heart just broke. Our sweet girl was supposed to be headed home for her party. Do I cancel her birthday party? Do I have everyone over and hold it together? Maybe I should pull this minivan over and just cry, will that make this moment better? Isn’t it funny how other people’s “moments” can lead us right into our own “moments.”  Oh, and I had a captive upfront audience as my thirteen-year-old sat in the passenger seat taking in what was happening. Wondering if his sister was ok and watching how I’d handle this. This was an adventure I didn’t want! I didn’t want my daughter going through it and neither did I. BUT we don’t get to choose all of our adventures. Sometimes adventure appears and it changes our course, whether we are ready for it or not.

I didn’t cancel her party. My husband and I, with the help of her therapist, were able to help our princess process what she said. We tried our best to help her realize our words have consequences. This is something I still need to be reminded of an as an adult. The party went on, I might’ve not had as much time to prepare our house or decorate, but we celebrated her! It wasn’t my party but I definitely cried. And the mamas that were there with me loved me, encouraged me, and most importantly prayed for our amazing girl. Thankfully we even made it to church. It’s funny how in the midst of the crazy God Knows just what we need.

The next day my girl and I, hand in hand, both took the long walk into camp. She didn’t want to apologize, but she did. I knew she needed to go, because if she didn’t she wouldn’t ever want to return to the place she experienced such a bad day. Another part of this adventurous life is recovering after we blow it. Her coach welcomed her back and reassured us both she would have a good day. This wonderful woman isn’t just a cheer coach, she’s also a mom, and she was so encouraging to me that morning. Our girl made it through the last couple of days at camp and she performed her little heart out on the last day! She would’ve missed out on one of the best parts of her adventure that week if we let fear and shame keep her on the sidelines. She conquered her fear that week and recovered big time. We are so proud of her. IMG_7237

What a week….

I learned plenty to continue embracing on this adventure.

  1. Everyone needs a little extra help sometimes and that’s ok. We can still be adventurous while accepting help from others.
  2. Being adventurous doesn’t always mean it’s enjoyable.
  3. If we want to be brave and embrace adventure, we have to be willing to embrace all types of adventures.
  4. Not my plans, but God’s plans. (“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9)

There were more fun adventures and memories made during the rest of our summer. My son and I had an awesome time in the Bahamas together with our team. We served the community through Vacation Bible Schools, visiting a foster kids center, and work projects in the area. We also had a great time taking in the beauty and culture of the Bahamas.

We enjoyed some much-needed family time when we returned. The cousins had a fantastic time visiting with each other and their grandparents. We went tubing, roasted marshmallows, played board games, and enjoyed just hanging out!

July was much calmer, a time to exhale……

We spent July 4th with friends who are more like family. We tried to beat the heat by enjoying lots of pool time. Thankfully our sweet girl was able to get a water proof cast for her fractured ankle. Yes, even in the midst of our calm part of summer more unplanned adventures occurred. She hurt her ankle at a trampoline park and needed a cast. She handled it like a champ and both her brothers stepped-up and helped her out.

Now school is in full swing and new adventures have begun. I’m back to working full-time. Our oldest is in his last year of middle school and growing up much too fast.  Our middle is in third grade and has crossed over to the “older” side of elementary school. Our daughter is now at school with me and her brothers. This is the first year we’ve had all three children in the same place and I’m so excited! It’s been an adventurous adjustment to say the least, but we are making it. img_2947

I hope your summer was filled with fun adventures and time to be still. I pray this year we will all embrace the adventures that come our way with wisdom, hope, and joy.



Embrace GROWTH

Summer is here! School is out, the rainy weather is stopping, and it’s HOT in my neck of the woods. I survived my first year working at our boy’s school. My family has survived my first year working full-time. I’ve always worked but not a Monday – Friday, set schedule, full-time job. They survived with fewer homemade meals, more tasks to do on their own, and many days one tired mama. But we made it and I’m grateful for this past imagesschool year, my job, and the growth that has happened in us all.

This year I’ve been purposing to embracemore of this life. Each month I sit back and reflect on what I’ve learned and am embracing in this season; what I’ve held too tightly or let slip through my hands. I thank God for the areas I’m growing in and for this
“embrace” journey. Thank you for joining me on this adventure.

IMG_7626With growth often comes growing pains! Our eight-year-old gets them often. He asks for his dad to massage the back of his knee until the aching subsides and he feels better. I’ve tried to fill in when dad isn’t home, but it’s just not the same, and he lets me know. I’ve learned this year no one can quite understand my growing pains like my Heavenly Father. My husband, family and friends have been supportive of me going to work full-time. They have understood there are things I just couldn’t do this year. My close girlfriends have made time for me on my schedule and been accepting that I have to say “no” to more things.

But that doesn’t mean this year hasn’t been hard and lonely. It means I’ve had to use my planner like never before. It also required spending time laboring over what I can say “yes” to and what I should say “no” to. There were days I left the house in a frenzy and pulled in the driveway twelve hours later too exhausted to cry over the difficulties of the day. Can you relate? Has this year seemed busier, more challenging, or been filled with learning something new?  Have you felt alone in your season?

Some days these growing pains have been downright hard! The saying; “Can’t teach an old dog a new trick,” has been ringing in my head quite a bit. However, I’ve learned you can, if the “old dog” is willing. The days I was willing and embracing the growing process were much easier than the ones I was longing for a less busy time. Guess what, my previous was difficult too. My part-time job was challenging and frustrating certain days. The car pool route I did between two different schools and activities for our three kids was draining! AND the days I embraced that season went a lot better than the ones I grumbled about. In order to grow and embrace each season well I have to take the good and the bad days while embracing the mundane.  bloom.jpg
At my new job this year the growing pains came in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been learning to sit more, be still, and become a better listener. Each of these are challenging for me. One thing I loved about my previous part-time job was, when I finished my tasks for the day I could go, wow was that a blessing. This year, even in the slower moments, I had to be present; trying to be still and embrace finding something to do. In order to learn my new job duties, I needed to listen more. My brain goes extremely fast and most times when someone is talking to me about an issue; I’ve answered their question, figured a way to help them, and have a plan for how this can go smoother in the future, all before they’ve completed sharing their issue. Numerous thoughts often are rolling around in my head and I try not to blurt them all out……. sometimes I do better than others. I’m learning to listen better; to my husband, children, family, boss, and friends. It’s literally a battle in my head! I’m realizing that I’ve missed quite a bit in my life by not taking the time to listen.

I’m embracing the growing pains that come with breaking old habits. I desire to hear more of what I’m missing out on by not fully listening to those around me. I’m pursuing slowing down and being still even when it feels uncomfortable. I want to embrace the growing pains in this area in order not to rush through life.  I love this quote by Dallas Willard, from the book Soul Keeping, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Maybe listening is hard for you too, or maybe speaking up is. I can also relate to not wanting to answer tough questions. While getting a pedicure for Mother’s Day, the sweet young lady asked me if I have any siblings. I still dislike this question. It has been eight years since my younger brother passed away, but when that question comes up it feels fresh and painful. That day I briefly answered and changed the subject. I’m working on embracing this question more. I want it to be an opportunity that I get to talk about my awesome, kind, and brave brother. To also share what I learned from him in his twenty-six years here with me. I want to share about what God has done in my life on this grief journey. I miss my brother and would LOVE to have him here today, but I also know there’s a deeper trust in God that has come out of this season. There’s a softening of my heart that has come from the growing pains of grief. Grief is something we all have in common. We are all grieving something; a person, a season, a place, or plans we long to see happen. Maybe by sharing my grief story the sweet young lady would’ve been able to share hers. Opportunities are missed when I’m quiet at the wrong moment.  I miss out when I stay stagnant and don’t actively pursue growth in my season.

itjustbloomsIs there a question that causes you to clam up? One that you just don’t want to answer? A question that for someone else might be NO BIG DEAL. But, when asked, you freeze, want to run, or breeze past it. What are you missing out on by not embracing it? This can also open the door to the lonely side of grief because it’s your hard question, not everyone else’s. This is area of grief I have to continually grow in and realize, grief is unique. No one grieves the same, even if it’s a similar loss, we all process differently. And that’s okay. Grief also moves at its own pace through different people and during different seasons. This is why I’m truly grateful to lean in on my Creator, who knows me better than anyone else. Just like my eight-year old needs his dad sometimes to help him through the physical growing pains of life, I need my Heavenly Father. I’m grateful that He lets me continually stumble and grow in His grace. Even if some days that feels like a crawl instead of a leap. I’m praying those of you reading this find some time to get “real” with God and share your difficult questions. Let Him know the areas that are hard, lonely, and hindering you. When I bring my cares to Jesus I can then begin working on them and walking a little lighter. I pray we all continue growing and embracing more of this life, even in the difficult times, it’s a gift.

In my morning devotion time I’ve been studying 1 Peter and am just about to the end. I am comforted and strengthened by these couple of verses and pray you are too:

I Peter 5:10-11 out-of-difficulties-grows-miracles1
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His
eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever.





Embrace strength

Embrace Strength

As I celebrate Mother’s Day this year I’m grateful for the privilege of being a mom to my three unique and wonderfully created children. I’m additionally blessed to celebrate my remarkable mom. I realize Mother’s Day isn’t easy for everyone. I know it can be a challenging day where celebrating is the last thing you want to do. Do you have a difficult Mother’s Day memory?

My most difficult Mother’s Day was in 2004. We spent the morning at my sister in-laws with my parents and my husband’s parents. My sister-in-law was pregnant with her second child, my beautiful niece. My wonderful nephew was 9-months-old at the time. I remember offering to cook breakfast, I think I took over her kitchen. After all I was the only one who wasn’t a mom, I might as well serve those that were, right? Can you hear the tension in that statement? I wasn’t serving out of a place of love to bless my family. I was serving to keep busy because I might break down at any minute! I had been seeing an infertility doctor for over a year and had finally gotten pregnant in the summer of 2003. Then we went through a miscarriage. I thought God had finally answered my prayers and when we lost the baby I was angry, sad, broken, and close to despair. This was one of my first experiences being entrenched by grief.

To say this Mother’s Day was tough would be an understatement, it felt gut-wrenching. I made it through breakfast, although those around me probably were walking on egg shells and definitely feeling the tension. I’m a wear your heart on your sleeve kinda gal and don’t do well at hiding my emotions.

beautiful-bloom-blooming-1042578“….You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” Psalm 56:8 
It was at church where I FINALLY broke, something the pastor said gripped me. I can’t remember the words, but I remember the unstoppable ugly crying that took place. And the crushing feeling of loneliness that engulfed me that day. I want to pause here and say; “I’m sorry if this Mother’s Day is a difficult one for you.” Please know, you aren’t alone and God sees every tear you cry.
On the next Mother’s Day, I was celebrating with my one-month-old baby boy. God had a plan, a miraculous and mind-blowing plan! I had been taking hormone shots daily the year before that made me super over-emotional. (My poor husband!) During that time God was planting the seeds of adoption in my husband and me. We were blessed with our second son in 2009, both born without the help of infertility doctors or medicine, truly answered prayers. I know this isn’t the answer everyone receives. I have a beautiful friend who isn’t able to have children. God called her and her husband to adopt; later in life then they would’ve planned. But His plans are good and their life is forever changed for the better. They love their princess and are amazing parents. If you’re in a place of embracing God’s plan for you and your family hang in there. Even if it’s different than you hoped your beautiful unique story is being written moment by moment.
img_6751Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2013, I was celebrating with both my boys and our foster baby girl. She became officially ours through adoption in 2015. It’s a story only God can write and I’m blessed to continue embracing His plans on this journey, the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly comes mostly when I am struggling to embrace the challenging things and even sometimes embracing the good moments. God has been faithfully refining me, especially through being a mom. I’m growing in managing my emotions and am still a work in progress, but gradually improving, step by step.
I’ve not only watched God work and move in my life, but also in my mom’s. My brother went home to be with the Lord in 2010. My mom’s world stopped, our family’s world stopped. Grief entered like a hurricane through shock and loss. My mom wasn’t a stranger to grief at this point; she’s suffered a lot of difficult losses. After her best friend passed away from cancer I saw her embrace strength. She spoke beautifully at her memorial about the wonderful memories they’d shared. I often wondered how she was able to get up and speak that day, until I had to do the same at my brother’s memorial. It’s what you do when you love someone, you embrace strength that is far beyond your own. It’s what we do as women every day in the difficult moments we face. My mom has also been lovingly looking after her friends two grown daughters ever since. Both of whom are wonderful mothers to their boys, they exude strength as they love and care for their families while terribly missing their mom. We are certainly family by choice.

img_0060 My princess, mom-in-love, me and my mom.

My mom is an incredible mother to me and my husband and an even more remarkable Grammy! My mom has started sharing her story and it’s been a blessing for me to have a front row seat. I was privileged to interview her recently at our church’s Women’s Ministry spring picnic where she shared how God challenges her to trust in Him, even when she doesn’t understand His plans. She’s been meditating on this verse and I’ve seen her walking it out in her own life – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Thanks mom! 

img_6825I am grateful for the many strong women in my life. My resilient mother in law has fought for her boys on her knees through prayer. She is a prayer warrior for her family and grandkids today. I have friends who are moms that have battled cancer themselves, who home school, work full-time, serve at church, encourage their husbands in their jobs, and raise respectful teenagers in this day and age. I have friends who desire restored relationships with their mom or children and still keep fighting and trusting in the Lord.  I have friends in parenting seasons ahead of me that I learn from. The list could go on and on of women in my life and their uniquely glorious stories of strength. Don’t forget you have your own unique story God is writing as you embrace more and more of the plans He has for your life.

One of my closest friends and fellow pastor’s wife is a wonderful mama to her three wonderful kids. We met each other when she was pregnant with her third child and I had just given birth to my second baby boy. We became fast friends and although we are wired differently we “get” each other most of the time. One of our first adventures was driving over an hour to a pumpkin patch with my 5-year-old, her 3-year-old, my 11-month-old, and her 3-month-old. It seemed like the busiest day ever just to visit a pumpkin patch. Yeah, we can be crazy like that and our friendship has been an adventure ever since. We’ve walked each other through some extremely difficult times. I met her about 6 months after my brother passed away and she has been there for me ever since. Little did we know about a year later she’d be walking her own grief journey. She found out her youngest son has cerebral palsy. Her and her family have been embracing strength and navigating God’s plan and for them ever since. She has recently joined the blogging community and you can check out her blog by clicking the link at the bottom.

img_4628I’d describe her as my breezy Bahamian friend. Sometimes I wish I could be more lighthearted and cheerful like her. I’m still embracing the way God made me and accepting how I’m wired, even in my 40’s! I often feel like the serious one of the group, sometimes even the Debbie Downer, but she loves me anyway. One of the things we have in common is we don’t get to enjoy a quiet morning on Mother’s Day.  We usually lightheartedly and sarcastically remind each other that some moms are enjoying breakfast in bed and being pampered on Mother’s Day. Not us!!!

This relaxing morning we dream about is not for us in this season.

Instead we are fulfilling our normal Sunday routine – juggling to get the kids out the door and make it to church with everyone dressed and fed! All the while knowing our husbands, who left much earlier, will come home completely exhausted like most Sundays. But we have each other; we laugh and we cry and will do it all again next Sunday. Shout out to the ministry wives who make it to church on Sundays, especially on Mother’s Day! And shout out to all the mamas, sisters, aunts, grandmas, mentors, friends and women who are inspiring those around them!

Embrace your season, your weaknesses, and your insecurities.

Embrace the days when you feel like you’re not enough and the ones you feel like you’re too much!

The secret ingredient we all have to being strong women is – drumroll please – it’s NOT our strength!
imagesI couldn’t make it through my days if it weren’t for Jesus. I’m embracing His strength as a I continue to navigate working full-time, parenting our three children in their
unique seasons, and serving with my husband whenever I can.
My oldest son’s favorite verse, Philippians 4:13, rings true in my life every day. And I’m forever grateful for it!

Happy Mother’s Day.– Gretchen

Meet my friend Shona here: https://www.weare17.com/blog/we-are-seventeen

Embrace Heartache

IMG_33C4B3208F85-1It hasn’t been the month I hoped it would be after sharing my word for the year, embrace. Instead of welcoming this month with open arms, I’ve been grasping for glimpses of joy. On February 14th Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School faced a horrific tragedy. You’ve probably seen or heard the heart-breaking story. This high school is nine miles from the school where I work; many students and staff members here have friends and family at this school. Broken-hearted is how I can describe these past few weeks. Broken-hearted for the families, staff, and students who suffered and are suffering the effects of this tragedy. Broken-hearted for the first responders, grief counselors, doctors and nurses doing their best to serve this community during this tough time. IMG_6359Broken-hearted for my kids living in this time and doing my best to answer the many questions they have.

“Lord, how do you embrace this?” I’ve asked this question numerous times during this past few weeks. I don’t have a clear answer but I do know I’m not alone. God is here in the pain, doubt, and sorrow. He is with those grieving the loss of loved ones and in the hospital rooms where there are still students fighting for their lives. Grief can come in waves that sweep us under. Grief can then linger like an unwelcome companion. As I’ve been swept under quite a few waves this month Jesus is there to remind me I’m not alone and in Him is the hope of heaven.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Most of the time I need Jesus to help me from myself; the battle in my head not to focus on the negative and difficult. Whatever you’re facing make time to get alone with God and come clean; let Him meet you in the good, bad and ugly going on in your head. God knows all of our thoughts, fears, and insecurities and loves us through all of them. If you’re in the early stages of deep grief go slowly, God is with you and He is patient. I remember reading Psalms 18, two days after my brother was killed in a hit and run accident, it was the first time I realized God was with me in the midst and He spoke comfort through His Word. I didn’t feel immediately better and the pain of his loss still lingers with me years later. BUT it was the beginning of knowing I’m not alone and God has a plan even when I can’t understand it.  I just had to open His Word.

When I was in the beginning stages of my grief journey I prayed like never before. It was one of the first times in my life I couldn’t handle normal day-to-day tasks. For the past couple of weeks, it has been a time of praying without ceasing, mostly for others who are in the midst of this tragedy. This should be a constant thing in my life, but often times trials have a way of turning me back to the Lord and reminding me to pray more. I’ve also been praying that I don’t forget to keep praying.

It also helps when I shift my focus from my difficulties and focus on serving someone else. If you’re able to help others who are grieving do so. God takes our little and uses it, multiplies it, and blesses through it. Our women’s ministry group at church made “thinking-of-you” bags for the teachers at West Glades Middle School, the school next

“Thinking-of-you” Bags

door to Stoneman Douglas High.West Glades Middle School was also deeply affected by this tragedy. The staff returned to work the next day trying to figure out how to process their grief while caring for their students. The staff was so appreciative of the “thinking-of-you” bags. God took our little something and used it to make a big impact. There have been other opportunities to serve too. They’ve seemed like small tasks, but trusting the Lord to use them to make a bigger impact as His church comes alongside to serve this heartbroken community.

I’ve had to remind myself God’s grace is sufficient for me during this time. IMG_6260My husband told me last week he’s been praying for me to be filled with joy. That felt more like a smack in the head then the loving encouragement and concern my husband meant it to be. Conviction started to rise, how long has it been since I’ve been joyful in our home. Definitely not the past couple of weeks. I’ve been allowing the heaviness of grief and difficulties weigh me down. I was being bumped and nudged and what was coming out wasn’t pretty! I needed to look up instead of around me. Now I’m not talking about “feeling happy” type of joy. I’m talking about the joy that only comes from faith in Jesus. The peace and joy we have, as believers in Christ, because of the hope in heaven.

This past weekend I was blessed to attend a Living Proof conference with an awesome teaching from Beth Moore. This was exactly what I needed. I had time to reminisce about how Jesus met me right in the midst of my sin and doubt twenty years ago,  just like He met the women at the well. And He still meets me today to extended His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I was savoring the reminder that Jesus is the only thing that can truly satisfy. As I returned back to my day-to-day living; I was determined to relish in this beautiful reminder of grace. I felt like I could sprinkle joy all over our home like confetti!

Then I woke up Monday and definitely didn’t “feel” joyous but I was ready to pursue Jesus and His joy this week. Then my mom called; through her tears she told me one of the managers at her office was killed in a car accident on his way to work the night before. The questions arise again; this broken-hearted grieving wells up AGAIN. I was blessed to work with this young man for a couple of years when I worked part-time at the office. He always had a smile on his face and a kind word to share.  “Lord, why?” Grief upon grief. Broken-hearted for my mom who personally invests in her employees, for his family whose life will never be the same, for my co-workers that are grieving the loss of their friend and co-worker. “Lord, how can I just sit here and go through these tasks?” I wanted to be at the office where I used to work to grieve and pray with the employees that were processing this, and encourage someone if I could. Not sitting here pretending like it’s another normal day.

That was Monday. By the end of the week one of my dearest friends had traveled to see her Grammy in hospice to say good-bye one last time. Another sweet friend celebrated what should’ve been her daughter in heavens 13th birthday. I learned of a woman in ministry who ended her battle of depression. Grief upon grief upon grief….

Again, I ask God, “How do I embrace this?”  What do I do with this broken heart of mine? What do you do with your broken heart?  Thankful God can shoulder my concerns, I run to Jesus, I pray, try to offer the little encouragement I can while trusting God to use it for more. The heaviness isn’t gone, neither are the tears, the pain, or the questions. What do you do when those close to you suffer loss? When these stories on the news weigh you down? When you begin your own grief journey? Take it day by day, extend grace to yourself and others, seek Jesus in His word and in prayer. Take time to acknowledge all you’re grateful for. Remember this isn’t our home, heaven is our home! UnknownMay we be ever thankful for the hope of heaven.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Philippians 3:12

“Dear Jesus, meet us here in the midst of our broken hearts. You know each burden and loss we carry. Help us to pray like never before during these times we live in. Lead us by Your Spirit to comfort others with our little. May we make time to open Your Word and be comforted, convicted, and encouraged. Help us find true joy in the hope of heaven.”

Embrace 2018

My word for 2018 is Embrace. God has placed a sense of wonder and excitement as He encourages me to courageously press on out of my comfort zone and embrace all He has this year. I’m steadily trying to embrace the challenges and joy this season brings.

IMG_5784Hello 2018! What a year it’s been so far. A year filled with fun, adventure, reminders, great memories, illness, and difficulties. Isn’t that real life – the good, bad, ugly, and amazing all wrapped into our day-to-day living. My word for 2018 is Embrace. God has placed a sense of wonder and excitement as He encourages me to courageously press on out of my comfort zone and embrace all He has this year. I’m steadily trying to embrace the challenges and joy this season brings.

At the end of 2014 my good friend challenged me to pray about a word for the new year. A word to be somewhat of a focus, challenge, and way to grow in the Lord.   This year is my fourth year with a word of the year. But this year it’s been different; the Lord is calling me in a new and bolder direction. This word can best be described as a compilation of the words I’ve had over past 3 years. I’m amazed at the things God has done in my life in these couple of decades. I’m also blessed to see what God does in those I have the privilege to do life with. This excitement dwindled a little when I got my verse for 2018. And I wasn’t sure if I was more comforted or convicted. It’s found in Jeremiah 31:22. I like the Message version: “….How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
How long before you make up your fickle mind?
God will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”

I’m convicted because I trust in the Lord and believe God’s Word to be true, living, and active but I don’t always embrace it for my life as I should. I am convicted not condemned, convicted to seek God and how I can truly embrace His plans for my life this year. I’ve learned I can still be guarded in this whole embracing thing. Grief has a way of doing that to a person.  Unknown

 My dad went home to be with the Lord in January 2014 after fighting a difficult battle with cancer. In 2015, that first year with “my word” it was somewhat of a new beginning. A beginning I didn’t ask for, plan for or necessarily want. It was grief piled upon grief. January 15, 2015, it had been one year without my dad and January 16, 2015 was five years since my younger brother was killed by a drunk driver. How do you process that; grief upon grief? As an over-emotional almost forty-year-old wife and mom of three children; 10, 5, 2 at the time, not well! I cried more than I’d like to admit and coasted through many days on auto pilot. Our family dynamic additionally changed in the summer of 2014. We moved into a new house with my mom. Taking care of our parents is something my husband and I thought might happen later in life. Perhaps when our kids were older, but not smack dab in the middle of discovering how to do life with three children.

But God knew what we needed and what my mom needed. She helps take care of us and our kids which allows us to serve at church and in ministry together. It’s still a challenge navigating these new roads life brings, the hills and the valleys, but God is with us through them all.

We also were foster parents at this time, we didn’t adopt our daughter officially until March of 2015. One of the most beautiful blessings that has come out of our grief journey is our amazing daughter. God does that if we pay attention. He graces us with beautiful moments of answered prayers, blessings, adventures, and glimpses of heaven right in the middle of our trials. But we have to recognize it and embrace it!

This stirring, conviction, excitement, and nervousness for something new in 2018 challenges me to embrace this life again. Our life has been filled with many incredible moments in the past eight years and I have so much to be grateful for! But, I believe there are parts of me that I’ve closed off not wanting to be hurt again.  Likewise, I’ve grown and experienced God in countless ways in the past eight years; ways that I couldn’t have without the deep reliance upon Jesus to walk me on this sorrowful road. But I still need to embrace more of God. Don’t we all? It’ll take a new surrender, funny that’s my husband’s word for this year. God has a unique way of weaving things together. Already this year I’ve watched seasons begin and seasons end. Many I welcome and some I don’t want to let go of. There’s that reminder – I’m not in control and that’s ok; Embrace the unknown!

 As I sit behind my computer after work in the quiet library, waiting for my oldest to finish basketball practice, I’m reminded to embrace the still moments, albeit few and far between during this season. Embrace the time with my kids, it might be less now with my now full-time job and their increasing activities, but it can be sweet and celebrated when it happens. Embrace the times with my husband when we get a moment to just be. Embrace the gift of life God gives us out of His loving kindness.


I don’t know what your 2018 has been thus far, but I do know God has good plans for you. He wants you to embrace all He has for you this year. Jesus desires you to let go and lean on Him. Bring Him those areas you might’ve closed off after a difficult time in your life. Maybe it’s a dream you gave up on that He wants to reawaken. Whatever “it” is bring it to the Lord and let’s embrace all He has for us in 2018.

%d bloggers like this: