Sunday, March 31, 2013

Because of HIM

life can be beautiful and blessings abound....

Praising God today. So thankful we serve a RISEN Savior. Happy Easter, Friends.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Firmoo to YOU

(Poor Firmoo. They did not know I was eight months pregnant when they asked me to model their product.) 

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative from Firmoo. For those who don't know, Firmoo is a global online optical store that sells both prescription and nonprescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. And get this... glasses start at only eight dollars! Firmoo contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing their product. (Read... they send me a free pair of glasses of my choosing and I tell all of you beautiful people about my experience with their product and company.)

After reading the email, I did a happy dance in my living room!

I danced for three reasons.

The first reason I danced is because I love to dance. I look for any and every reason to bust a move. My oldest daughter frequently asks me if I am really going to be that mom. I assure her that I am.

The second reason I danced is because I am a sunglass loving gal, and being offered a free pair felt like Christmas. Sunglasses make me feel like a movie star. I do wear eyeglasses when necessary (though I mostly sport contacts), but I have yet to master that look. I usually wind up looking like a school marm from the eighties. But give me sunglasses and I am a happy girl doing a happy dance.

The third reason I danced is because it now meant I had FOUR WHOLE PEOPLE who knew that I had a blog! My dad, my mom, my favorite auntie, and now Antonio from Firmoo. And let me tell you, four whole readers felt awesome. Definitely something to dance about.

I wrote Antonio back right away and told him that I would love to review Firmoo! He was super helpful and friendly, and the entire process was fun.

After looking through their site, I chose these babies.

(My glasses and my pregnant face pictured above.) I chose that pair of sunglasses because they were orange, and for me there will never be another color. The only thing I was not crazy about were the little white bows on the frames. Not my style. But I knew my hair would cover them, and the color orange covers a multitude of sins, so I went with it. I placed my order right away. It was an easy process, the website was user friendly, and in less than two weeks my new sunglasses arrived in the mail. I was most impressed with the packaging! Not only did my sunglasses come with a handy dandy cleaning cloth, but I also received both a hard and a soft case! Awesome! I tried my glasses on for my girls and then I performed another happy dance, this time looking like a movie star. The glasses rocked and I rocked out. That is what we call a win win situation.

Now here is the cool part! Firmoo is offering a first pair free program. To you! This offer is for new customers only, one pair per person, and you are required to pay shipping. But other than that it is fabulously free! Click HERE for details and to check out this program. Another cool thing about Firmoo is that they offer a Virtual Try On System, where you can 'try on' glasses after uploading your photo. That way you are sure to never look like a school marm. Pretty awesome. If you are in the market for a new pair of glasses, check out Firmoo!

Thank you Firmoo for contacting me and allowing me to review your product. It was my pleasure! And thank you for helping me to look like a movie star while I shake it out in my living room. My family is forever grateful.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Winner(s) of Words

Words by J.K. Rowling. (source)

Words are my favorite.

If not used correctly, they have the potential to wound. But when used correctly (to encourage, compliment, truth tell, inspire), words have the power to change the world.

 I love that God chose words to tell his story that changed history. History that changed the world. And I love when writers who came after him encourage me to walk more closely with the creator of the world, the creator of words. It is my absolute privilege to share words with you here in this space. Words that have the potential to change your world. For those who won the book giveaway, it is my prayer that they do.

I think it is obvious, but I could not draw a single name. A lone name sounded too lonely, so I decided to give the lone name two friends. This made the lone name happy. My oldest daughter worked hard at writing out the names of the ladies who entered my little giveaway, and then she folded them into teeny tiny bits of paper. She was concerned that I would try and cheat (ahem). But what my daughter didn't know was that I had no agenda! It is my sincere wish that I could gift everyone who comes to this space with the gift of powerful words! But today, I could only gift three.

So here you have it. The winners of words:

Denise O.



Friends, contact me ( and we will work out how I will get you the words of your choosing! If you live far away, send me your address and I will pop your prize in the mail. If you live, say, across the street from me, then I would love to hand deliver it to you!

Thank you all for coming to this space. And congratulations to the winners of words! I hope you are blessed because of them.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To Write Love On The Walls

Feathering of our new nest has begun.

Walls are being freshly painted, new carpet will soon arrive. And I am trying to find the balance between creating a beautiful space for our family to call home, while reminding myself that every last bit of it is temporary. I want my children to forever know that we will never really be home until the very end. And I want to assure them that while beautiful things are fun, and while a beautiful space can make the soul sing, life is far bigger than the beautiful temporal. New beginnings and a new home do not necessitate new belongings. A new attitude can make all the difference in the world. So we are striving to create beauty, while being creative with what we already have.


Today we wrote love on the walls of our new nest.

In ten years of marriage we have moved ten different times. And every single time I have wanted to pick out specific scripture(s) for each room of our new home. For ten years, I have wanted pieces of God's love letter to  the world to be the foundation of our nest. But we would get busy, things would become rushed, and scripture would be overlooked. But not this time. This time we wrote love on the walls. Boss will paint over the words, but they will still be there. Our foundation. A reminder of what we are trying to accomplish in our family and in our home. And it makes my heart happy.


Tonight is the last night to enter your name (HERE). If you would like the chance to win something that has the potential to rock your prayer life, then pop on over and leave a comment. Tomorrow, one of my children will select a name from a bowl (because we are professional like that), and then I will announce the winner! Hooray! It makes me happy to share some of the things I love to love with you!

As always, thank you for sharing in our story. Life is better when we do it together.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Among Thorns


A seed among thorns.

That's me.

I tend to skip over the parables in the Bible, as if I don't need to be taught any lessons. But this morning the lesson jumped right off the page.

The seed (the word of God) that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (Luke 8:14)

Choked by life's worries, riches, and pleasures. That's what jumped out at me.

I want my life to produce a crop for the Lord. I want my days to matter. I want the point of my life to be to point to him. In everything. I want to get this living backwards thing right. Jesus first. All else second. And I do believe my heart is in the right place. I have good intentions. But then I get choked by life. And instead of producing a crop, I am merely a seed among thorns.

I have already shared my hope that our new move produces a new movement in our family.  Less space for us to fill up with worldly clutter, hopefully equals more room for God to work in our lives. Less places our money needs to be spent (just to make ends meet), hopefully equals more to give away. Less of being in the world, hopefully equals more of the world seeing God in us. That is my hope. Those are my intentions.

But then I get caught up in the worries. What if our current house does not sell? What if the world doesn't understand what we are trying to do? And I get caught up in the worldly riches and pleasures. Like paint samples, and designing a beautiful space in my mind. Light gray walls with cherry, turquoise and lemon accents would look nice, I really do think. And our table might not fit, so perhaps we should get a new one. And if our house does sell and we are able to create a new budget, how fun to be able to purchase all of the pleasures I see in my Pinterest dreams!

And just like that I get choked up, all thoughts of less of me and more of God gone. All thoughts of more to give away gone. And we are back to the old way of life. Fitting Christ in around the edges of our very American lives, instead of fitting our lives around him. A seed among thorns.

But praise God the story does not end there. The last part of the parable gives us the key to being successful at producing a plentiful crop.


Though the world will forever try and choke us with its worries, and its riches, and its pleasures, we can persevere. We must persevere. Because Christ did not come so that we could remain the same. He came so that we would have the chance to change. The continued chance to produce a plentiful crop.

Because of Christ, we do not have to remain a seed among thorns.

Friday, March 22, 2013

follow Jesus


I feel like our family is about to embark on a new journey. Sure, we are just moving back home, back to where the corn grows tall, but it is an opportunity for a fresh start. And I love a fresh start. Fresh starts allow me to reevaluate my life. To think on who I am, where I have been, and where I am going. This particular fresh start is allowing our family the opportunity to step back out of the quest for the American Dream. To focus once more on what is most important in life. And we have been reminded, once again, that what is most important in life is not keeping up with those around us. The most important thing we can ever do, both as individuals and as a family, is to follow Jesus. Daily. In all that we do. In every decision that we make.

I have been thinking long on these thoughts as I fold tiny clothes and pack up kitchen boxes. And as I have been reading his Word, he has been teaching me every step of the way. Teaching me what it really means to follow him.

Have you ever noticed that when Jesus called his disciples to follow him, they just up and left? Just like that? They didn't pack their over night bag, or pack up kitchen boxes. They didn't leave a twelve page to do list for those left behind. They didn't tell Jesus to give them just one more stinking minute, and then they would be free to follow. They didn't even ask Jesus where they were going. The Bible tells us that those whom Jesus called left everything behind to follow him. Immediately. No questions asked. No matter the cost. (Matthew 4:18-22)

And I wonder, what has following Christ cost me?

I thought on this last night, but couldn't come up with anything significant.

In high school, perhaps following Jesus cost me popularity. Maybe a few friendships. I didn't drink or smoke, and decided early on to save sex for marriage, so that often left me out of the party scene. But I wonder, did I not do those things because I was committed to Christ, or because I was afraid of the consequences? There is a difference.

As a houseparent for seven years, perhaps following Christ cost me a bit of personal comfort. There were a few children who came into our care that I did not care for. At all. I tried to find one good thing about every child we came into contact with, but on at least four different occasions during our time of ministry, I came up empty handed and wanted that particular child removed from my home. Because when it came right down to it, I didn't want to feel discomfort. I did not want to deal with the bathroom issues of a child who was acting out, and I did not want to sit up all night long with a raging child who was not my own. Actually, I don't want to sit up all night long with a raging child who is my own. So I had the child who was  hindering my comfort removed. I told myself that it was for the sake of my own children, and partly it was, but mostly I think it was for the sake of me. And I wonder now, what if I had tried loving that child as Jesus did? What if I had put following Jesus before my own personal comfort, and taught my children to do the same? Would that have made a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. But it couldn't have hurt.

I am thirty years old. I have been a 'follower' of Christ for most of my life.

And it hasn't cost me a thing.

Not really. Something is wrong with this picture. Something in my life needs changing. I cost Jesus everything. Following him, really following him, should certainly cost me something.

It is so easy to get caught up in the American Dream. I know, because it happens to me on a regular basis. The home with the white picket fence and the two car garage. The two cars that fill the garage. The two children (one boy, one girl, in case you were wondering) and all of the activities that accompany them. The vacations, the shopping and the spending, the eating out. The comfortable life. We don't want to have to give any of it up. Not even for Jesus. Because it's all that we know. We want to work Jesus into our already full lives, instead of working our lives around him. We have it all backwards. And I wonder what the world would be like if we were able to turn it all around?

I wonder what my life would be like if I were able to turn it all around? To start with Jesus first, then add everything else in after him. Or around him. Always keeping him front and center. Or what if I didn't add anything else in? What if Jesus was enough? What would a life of just Jesus cost me? Most importantly, is it a risk I am willing to take?

Along with our new nest, our new baby, and our new look in this space, I am desperately hoping for a new perspective.

Because just Jesus is sounding pretty good. And I desperately desire to follow him.

(Don't forget to enter your name in the giveaway I posted below!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pay It Forward

I have a friend who shines. My friend is an amazing photographer and she is an even more amazing person. I have no doubt that she could be anything she wants to be in this great, big world, but right now she has chosen to focus her time and attention on mastering all things mama. I love that. In a world that is so often self focused, we need more women committed to teaching and training the younger generation. We need more women who are willing to give themselves away in all the ways that matter most. My friend is inspiring.

Recently, my friend decided that she wanted to pay it forward, so she began stepping forward.

In line at Yogoot, with the cashier at the grocery store. It didn't matter where. If her heart felt led, she gave. Kind words, money, a smile. Whatever she had to give. For several days, she purposefully gave back to those around her, and she inspired me to want to do the same. But I didn't. I held back. Because sometimes giving can be scary.

Because what if you give something away, either something material, or something of yourself, that people don't like? What if giving something away is uncomfortable, and stretches you in ways you aren't sure you want to be stretched? What if the person you are giving to doesn't appreciate the gift you have to offer? What if your gift is rejected? What if you are rejected?

All of these worries, all of these questions, often keep me from giving to others the way that Christ has called me to give. All of these crippling thoughts keep me from shining Christ's light to the world around me. But I am tired of the worries, and the questions, and the crippling thoughts. I am tired of being too afraid, and admittedly, too selfish, to give something of myself away. I want to let my light shine in every way possible. And I want to inspire others to do the same.

My family has many blessings. It is easy to look around at what others have and think that we really don't have all that much. But that just isn't true. I read today that a family making more than fifty thousand dollars annually is in the top one percent of the wealthiest people in the world. According to the world, my family is wealthy. So why do I cling to what we have like I must hold on to it with all of my might? Why not open my hands and share the blessings with others? What if we all did that? It isn't a new concept by any means, but it is a concept I am convinced Christians do not think on often enough. I know it is a concept I do not think on enough. And that needs to change.

And so in honor of my friend who shines, my friend who was brave enough to step forward, I want to pay it forward. In honor of the blessings, the answered prayers all around me that I am often too stubborn to see, I want to pay it forward. To you. It's not a big thing, but it's a start.

Recently, three things have changed my prayer life and I want to share one of them with one of you.

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Awesome book. It will change the way that you look at prayer. It will help you to dream big, pray hard, and think long. This book reminded me that the God who performed amazing miracles in the Bible is the very same God that I serve today. Powerful.

The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I realize, and respect, that not everyone agrees with the choices that this family has made regarding their lifestyle. But their choices don't make their story any less powerful. It is evident that God is working in their lives. While the second half of their book talks of raising a large family and homeschooling, etc., the first part of their book is my favorite. It is where I read of the pink blanket prayer. The first part of the book shares the beginning of their story, and it gives evidence of how God has answered their prayers. Powerful.

A Pink Blanket Prayer Notebook prepared especially for you by me. Ever since I have created my own pink blanket prayer notebook, where I record my prayers and God's answers, I have seen God move in my life like never before. I would love to create a pink blanket prayer notebook for you, too. Powerful.

If you would like one of the above books to be yours, leave your name in the comments below. Next Wednesday (March 27th), one of my children will draw a name and the person whose name is selected will get to pick one of the itms listed above. And if my mama is the only one who leaves her name (because I know she reads my blog), then she gets a new book. So be sure and leave your name, Mom!

I want to pay it forward, so I am stepping forward.

Perhaps you will consider doing the same? It doesn't have to be much. A smile goes a long way to brighten a lonely soul's day. It doesn't matter what we give. All that matters is that we give. Of our time, our gifts, our energy, our money. Or a book filled with wise words that has the power to change a life. Because that's what I have to give today.

So leave your name. And then step forward, so that you can pay it forward to someone else. Share with your neighbor, or the man on the corner, or with the world, something that has inspired you. Let your light shine like my amazing friend. And together, we just might make a small difference.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Nest, New Baby, New Look

I can never pick a favorite season. I love something about them all, finding seasons to be one of God's most inspiring creations. Life would be dull if every day were the same, and it is the same with seasons. I find that just when my soul is ready for something new, change comes.

Change is coming for our family. A new nest needs to be built, a new baby is on his way. And I find it fitting that these changes are happening in spring, a season of new growth. I love that. It feels hopeful. Spring signifies that brighter days are on their way, and that is my prayer for our family as we transition.

This space needed changing, too. Soon, our story will no longer take place on Fieldcrest Lane, so we needed something new to go with our new nest and our new baby.

This is now the story of {our life} Plain & Simple.

It is the story of our family. It is the story of how we spend our days. It is the story of the things we love to love. I have always been a dreamer, and I hope that I always will be. Dreaming big is good for the soul. It makes me feel alive. But I also believe there is magic to be found in ordinary days. The magic of life is all around us, sometimes we just have to search a bit to find it. So I am determined to spend my days finding the magic, while I spend my years chasing big, crazy, extraordinary dreams. It is a balance I want to learn to walk well.

Thank you for coming to this space. Thank you for sharing in our story. Thank you for choosing to do life with us.

* The new look in our space is courtesy of Always in Bluhm Designs, Etsy shop found HERE and website found HERE. I met Theresa nearly ten years ago through mutual college friends and I got to know her a bit better after connecting with her on Facebook. She quit her job after the birth of her son and started up an amazing design business. Theresa has a creative spirit and a beautiful, artistic soul, and she is awesome at what she does. The girl has mad skills. If you are in the market for a new look for your space, check her out. You will be glad that you did.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Less is Often More

Last of the birthday posts. Promise.

Thank you for my best happy birthday, Mama!

My son keeps saying this to me with a huge smile filling his little face. The last three days he has partied hard. And he has been loved well.

The longer I have mothered, the more our birthday celebrations have changed. In the early party days we did things up big. Think pony rides and giant inflatables. It was a statement of sorts, to celebrate my children in big, public fashion. But at one particular party, I stopped and noticed my daughter's face. It was the pony party of 2008, and despite the amount of money that had been spent, my daughter was not having fun. Her small face looked sad. The only time she smiled was when the planned activities were over and she was free to run and twirl and dance with her friends. That party taught me a lesson.

As with most things in life, less is often more.

So we slowed things down. Less people, mostly family, sometimes close friends. Not as many planned events, more of allowing each particular child to be who they are. To love what they love. To embrace them turning another year older in a more intimate and personal fashion. And my children started smiling at the thought of their own special day again. We have not celebrated each child less, we have simply been striving for more than the boxed version of typical childhood celebrations.

At three years old, Jack is into cheese burgers and trains. So we gathered grandparents, we ate cheese burgers, and we went to look at trains. And that smile you see on my son's face was there for the entire day. Precious! We blew up balloons, ate cake, and opened carefully selected presents. And that was it. And it was more than enough.

Sometimes, I think as parents, we put the pressure on ourselves. We are the ones who look around at what everyone else has, at what they are able to give their children, be it parties, toys, or experiences, and we think it is our responsibility to keep up. We believe that somehow, if we do less, it means we love our children less.

But my children have taught me that less is often more.

My children don't care about keeping up. They just want to love what they love and to be loved. Those two things are all it takes to produce spectacular smiles. To love and be loved is more than enough.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jack. You are loved. And you are more than enough.

Pancake Perfection: A Birthday Breakfast

On Friday we were in need of a birthday breakfast for our boy. I wanted to come up with something spectacular, because you only turn three once. Also, because my children compliment me when I do something spectacular and I like compliments. I thought about pulling out the old cookbook, but cookbook's make me feel old, so I did what any mama of the 21st century would do. I logged into Pinterest. I typed birthday breakfast into the search engine, and there they were in all of their spectacular goodness.

Cake Batter Pancakes, or as I like to call them, Pancake Perfection.

Holy guacamole pancakes they were pretty, all covered in colorful sprinkles. Like the creator of this recipe, I am convinced the world would be a happier place if more tiny bits of colored goodness were involved. It was love at first sight. And I knew then that my boy must have them. I rose early that morning and my two youngest children helped me prepare a birthday breakfast fit for a king. We sifted and stirred and sprinkled. And we decorated, because a breakfast of pancake perfection requires decorations. And it's absolutely true that polka dot straws and striped cups make the morning milk taste better. Add three blue balloons for the birthday boy and your party table is complete.

The recipe for these pancakes can be found HERE. How Sweet It Is is a delightfully funny blog full of delicious recipes. Check it out.

Make these pancakes. Your birthday boy will thank you. Your mouth will thank you. Your hips, not so much, but the rest of you will sing your pancake perfection praises.

You're welcome.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Magic in Ordinary Moments

We have spent the weekend celebrating our three year old boy.

 I have driven my children crazy with all of the picture taking, but I believe that anything worth celebrating must be documented well! They will thank me one day. However, add some props and allow silly faces, and my children are suddenly on board. Amazing what adding a bit of bling will do to an attitude!

I have found that to be true in all of life. Binoculars and a walking stick turn a hike into an adventure. A blanket turns lunch into a picnic. Sparkly shoes turn an ordinary dress into a ballgown. And props turn plain pictures into a photo shoot.

Find the magic in the ordinary moments of life.

Then celebrate like crazy and document well!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Birthday Boy

Tomorrow, my son turns three. Three! Three amazing years old.

I remember well the morning he was born. My water broke in the middle of the night, as it always does, but I waited until the early morning hours to share the news that it was baby day. My parents arrived to keep the girls, phone calls were made, and Boss and I headed to the hospital, knowing our lives would never be the same again. They would be better. Because of our new son, we would be better.

We were settled into a room, friends and family arrived, and I drifted in and out of rest as my body labored. It was peaceful and perfect. Five hours after arriving it was time to push, and a few minutes after that, our baby was here.

Jack Ryan was perfection. He still is. The last three years have been an undeserved, but much appreciated gift. Life with a son is unlike anything I have ever known before. It is dirty, and silly, and incredibly funny. Life with a son is superheros, and bouncing balls, and  trains, and swinging swords. It is jumping, and marching, and all. the. time. LOUD. Life with a son is the best. Life with my son is more wonderful than I ever dared to dream.

My son makes me want to be a better mama. He makes me want to rise earlier, try harder, laugh louder, and dream bigger. My son's world is big. One minute he is a Power Ranger, the next a pirate. Anything he dreams up becomes his reality, if only for a moment. I could learn a lot from my son about becoming the person that I want to be. I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned for his life. Though he is small now, big things await our birthday boy.

Jack, thank you for three amazing years. You are all I ever dreamed of. And so much more.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feathering a New Nest


Our family is moving. Again. I would say blech, but you don't say blech to an answered prayer. Instead, I will say thank you to the Giver of all good gifts. Because this move is a gift.

Our family is moving home.

Out to where the corn grows tall, over the railroad tracks, past the big red barn, one last bend in the road, and we will be home. Home where we lived prior to living on Fieldcrest Lane. Home where we were houseparents for five years. Home where Emma learned to ride her bike, and where Kate said her first words. Home to the place where we brought Jack after he was born. Home. Only this time, we will not be houseparents. This time, we will be moving into staff housing that has recently become available. Boss will remain principal of the school, and I will be mama to our four children. We don't have an exact move in date yet, but we hope to be settled in our new nest before baby number four joins us in the next several weeks.

For the most part, life on Fieldcrest Lane has been lovely. I will miss the rolling hills, the big trees. Our charming street, and the old tree swing out back. For one year, our family built a life here, and there are things that will be missed. But as lovely as it was, it was also hard. Because the most charming houses are often old houses, and for us that meant a leaking roof, ceiling damage, and a stubborn old heat pump that needed constant repair. And those things are never in the budget, are they? And because our family strives to live debt free, that meant draining our savings faster than one can blink. Boom. The bank account was nearing empty. So, mama went back to work.

When things began to get tight, a sweet friend generously offered to let me keep her darling daughters a few days each week. Because we homeschool, our children worked with me, and this small job was a tremendous blessing to our family this year. Honestly, we would not have survived without it, and we will always be grateful for friends who were willing to help us out in a season of need. But it was not the life plan that we left houseparenting for. We left our work there, so that I could focus on raising and homeschooling our children, and that did not happen quite as we would have liked for it to this year. So we had a choice to make.

Boss could look for a new job, he could have taken a second job in the evenings, I could have continued working, or we could move back to campus into the staff housing. It was not a hard choice to make. I love our house here on Fieldcrest Lane, but I love the lifestyle that we dream of for our family more. In our family, it is our priority to have Boss work, while I stay home and raise our children. It was our priority long before we ever had our children, and we will always strive to make this lifestyle work to the best of our ability. It is a tough thing to raise a family on one income, but people over possessions, I always say. I want to be with my children, more than I want to be able to give them the best of the very best. For us, family IS the best of the very best. It is not the choice that every family would make, and I respect that completely, but it is the choice for us.

So, our family is moving home.

And this mama has much work to do, to feather our new nest before baby number four arrives. As always, thank you for joining in our life's journey.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Miles Down Memory Lane


I have walked many miles down memory lane, rereading our family story here in this space.

In many ways, we have traveled far in the last six years that I have been writing. We have gone from babies, to toddlers, to young ladies. We have gone from two children, to four. Boss and I are nearing a decade of marriage together. Ten years of marriage to my best friend. We have moved three times, and taken new jobs. We have been involved in work that matters. The souls of our shoes are worn, but the walk has well been worth it.

In other ways, I know that we still have a long way to go. As a family, and as individuals. I look back and read of  things I was going to work on five years ago, many character traits and habits that needed attention and changing, and I realize that some of those things still need changing today. I still want to be a better wife, a better mama, a better keeper at home. I still want to know God more, to be a better steward of the gifts I have been given. Though many miles have been traveled, still many remain.

But two things have remained constant on this journey of my life.

My humanness, and God's faithfulness.

I see evidence of this on nearly every page that I have written. His hand on every part of my story. I can't see where I am going, God shows me the way. I tear things apart, God puts the pieces back together. I am broken, God is the healer. I sin, God forgives. I plead to be heard, God answers. Every. Single. Time. So much of the past, God has redeemed, but I was too busy to notice. It turns out, he was answering my pink blanket prayers all along.

In 2007, our family visited the welfare office. Boss has a college education, a Masters degree, and he has always worked, in some seasons, nearly 80 hours a week. But we did not have enough to make ends meet. We stood in that line, heads cast down, embarrassed at our plight. When we left, Boss
shed tears and tore up the paperwork. He said we would find another way. I looked at my daughters strapped into the backseat of our car, and I worried. But over the years, God has always provided. We have known seasons of plenty, and we have walked through seasons of want, but we have always had just enough. Exactly what we needed. A prayer was answered.

In 2008, we began desiring to grow our family. Things were much better financially, and we longed for a third child. We thought adoption was the path we should take. We pursued it for over a year, but every door was always closed. A year and a half later, and we learned that our first son was on his way. A prayer was answered.

In 2009, we learned that the school where Boss worked was out of funds. His dream job was going away. It was a blow to our hearts. Today, my husband is thriving as Principal of a new education program that was created after the demise of the school where he was first working. He loves his job. He finds purpose there. This job supports our family almost entirely, where the other job did not even come close. A prayer was answered.

In 2012, I miscarried our fourth child. A child I had longed for. My secret dream. Today, I am less than ten weeks away from meeting our second son. A prayer was answered.

All along, God has been answering.

I started this blog for my children. To record the story of our family. So that years later, when we look back at the pages here, we can see for certain that God worked great things in our lives. Mostly, I try to look forward, to keep pressing on towards the goal. But every once in a while, it is good to look back. To walk miles down memory lane.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pink Blanket Prayer


It started with the story of the pink blanket prayer.

Several weeks ago, I was reading The Duggars: 20 and Counting, when I stumbled upon the story of the pink blanket prayer. The Duggar's second daughter, Jill, wanted a pink blanket. A pink blanket similar to the one her older sister had. But the Duggar family got this money thing right from the start. If it was not necessary, you did not need it. And Jill did not need a new pink blanket. She simply wanted one. So, her parents encouraged her to pray. Her parents encouraged her to ask God for a pink blanket. Not because a pink blanket is all important in the grand scheme of life, but because they wanted to teach their daughter to take all of her cares to her Creator. They wanted to teach Jill that nothing is too big, or too little, for God. So, Jill began to pray. And the story goes that sometime later, as Jim Bob was cleaning out an old car he had just purchased for his used car lot, what should he find in the back of that car? A pretty, pink blanket, of course. And Jim Bob knew that God had answered his daughter's simple prayer. Her pink blanket prayer.

At first, I must admit that I scoffed a bit at the story. It had to be coincidence, did it not? God wouldn't answer a simple prayer about a pink blanket. Surely not. But then, as I thought about the story over time, I realized that my problem with the story was jealousy. I wanted my own pink blanket prayer to be answered. I wanted to know that even in the small things, God heard, and he answered. So, I began to keep track.

I bought a pink notebook and divided it into five different categories: faith, family, friends, personal, and life/other. And over the past several weeks I have listed any prayer requests I have had, big or small, under the appropriate category. Inspired by the faith of a child and her pink blanket prayer, I began to list my own pink blanket prayers. Areas of my life in which I was asking God to work. And as I have prayed more fervently than ever before, God's work has been astounding. So many prayers answered in such a short amount of time. And I give the glory all to God. I have come to believe, or rather to know, that God is there. He is waiting to work on our behalf. He simply wants us to ask him to do so. He wants us to acknowledge his power. So, I daily list my cares, big or small, and I wait in watchful anticipation of how God is going to answer.


The story of the pink blanket prayer has changed my life. My pink blanket prayer book, a constant reminder that God is always at work. I want to encourage you today to lay your requests at your Father's feet. Big or small, he can handle them all.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (New Living Translation)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Be a Beauty Creator

I dream of far off places. For someone so fearful, my dreams travel far.

I dream of big cities. I dream of buildings and Broadway, of culture meets coffee house charm. I dream of busy streets, of people heading important places. I dream of artwork in the form of architecture, and adventure that knows no bounds. In a big city, every body can be somebody. In a big city, I could be somebody.

I dream of the ocean. Of waves crashing loud, exclaiming creation. I dream of feeling small as the tide rolls in, of knowing that life is larger than self. I dream of sand beneath my toes, and sunshine on my face. I dream of seashells, and splashing, and smiles.

I dream of the mountains, of trees towering tall. I dream of walking, and walking, yet never out walking God. I dream of cabins, and quaintness, and down to earth people. The salt of the earth variety. I dream of all that is real. Mountains make me feel alive. Mountains assure me that my Creator is alive.

I dream of the country, of life lived slower. I dream of hard work and hearty meals. A place where every body knows your name, and a neighbor will give you the shirt off his back. Just like that. No questions asked. I dream of land, and animals, and a place where family life is valued and placed high.

But I don't live in the city, and I don't live by the ocean.  I don't live in the mountains, and I am not in the country. And those places, no matter how I dream long for them, those places are not the setting for my story. For today, my story takes place here. On Fieldcrest Lane. It's what I have been given.  And it's easy to get caught in the grass is greener trap. It's easy to dream so much, that the reality of the day becomes a disappointment. Some people spend a lifetime searching for beauty. Other's create it right where they are. And I want that to be me.

I want to be a beauty creator.

In my home, in my church, in my town. In my marriage, and as I mother my children. And dreaming is not bad, I will always be a dreamer. But I cannot allow my dreams to rob me of my days. For a beauty creator finds contentment right where she is.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Morning Lark


Nearly seven years ago, I birthed a beautiful baby girl. My second daughter. She lit our entire world with warm rays of sunshine, but after her birth, my soul started sliding into darkness. Anxiety consumed me. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I had always had a timid spirit, a fearful heart, but this was different. This anxiety, this darkness, was all consuming.

In the weeks leading up to Kate's birth, I heard a story about a mother who suffered a heart attack and stroke several hours after delivering her second child. There were no warning signs. Tragedy just struck. And being that I was just weeks away from delivering my second child, I could not stop thinking about that mother who passed away. I could not stop thinking about her story. Because if tragedy could happen to her, it could happen to me!

The day finally came when I would get to meet my new daughter. I desperately wanted to meet her, but I was scared. So I waited at home as my labor progressed. My water had broken hours before, the contractions were strong and regular, but still, I waited. Finally, Boss convinced me that we needed to head to the hospital, if not for me, then for Kate. And so I agreed, for the health and safety of my unborn daughter. But had it been only about me, I would have sat at home forever. Home felt safer than the unknown.

We had an uneventful birth. A much easier birth than what we experienced with our first daughter. Boss did his best to hold my hand (he does not do birth), my mom was able to be in the room, and everything went just as it should. And then finally, after nine long months, they handed me my beautiful new daughter. She had the most glorious head of thick, dark hair, a button nose, and her eyes held a hint of blue. And she was so tiny! The nurses all claimed she should have been on the cover of an Anne Geddes calendar. And my world really did light up. For hours, I loved her and held her. I kissed her tiny face over, and over again. And as long as the sun was shining outside, sun also shined in my soul. But then night came. Boss took Emma home to sleep and my mom stayed with me. We settled in for the night, but I could not rest. I could not stop thinking about that mother who had died. And along with the darkness of the night, came a deep darkness in my soul. I could not have explained it if I tried, but I felt it. My heart started racing, the anxiety began mounting, and I was certain that I was having a heart attack. The nurse came and gave me something to help relax me, yet still, I could not find rest.

The next morning, my blood pressure was sky high. The doctors, who were unaware of my mounting anxiety, began to run all sorts of tests. And the more tests they ran, the more afraid I felt, and the higher my blood pressure rose. To the point of scary. To the point where they were scanning my lungs for blood clots and strapping me to the bed in case I seized. I had never felt more fear in my entire life. After about a week, my doctor found a medicine that worked to successfully lower my blood pressure and life went on. But the anxiety went on, too. I took my blood pressure constantly. I refused anti anxiety medication, because the listed side effects of the medication gave me even more anxiety than I already had. Funny to think about now, but at the time it was anything but. One doctor suggested I breathe into a brown lunch sack when I felt anxious. I informed him I would need to have it clipped to my neck at all times.

And my life became a pattern. During the day, when the sun was shining bright, I was good. But at night, when darkness prevailed, I could not find rest. All I could find was fear. And that is when I became an owl. A night owl. When the rest of my family went to sleep, I stayed up. I watched mindless TV, searched the web, read a book. Sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, when the first rays of light started to fill the sky once more. Anything to keep my mind from wandering. Anything to keep the darkness at bay. And then, when I was so tired that I could not see straight, I would crash. The hours I began keeping worked great for my anxiety, because for me, light equaled safety and darkness equaled fear. I could rest when it was light. But the hours I was keeping were not great for my role as mother.

For seven long months, I suffered in the darkness. For seven long months, I kept the hours of an owl. For seven long months, my marriage suffered and my family suffered. Boss took on most of the responsibilities of each day, so that I could sleep when I felt safe. And my biggest regret is that fear robbed me of the early months with my beautiful second daughter. I can't remember anything about those days except for the darkness that consumed me.

But, as with most things in life, the intense fear eventually passed. Anxiety no longer consumed me. I began to function again. And we laugh now when we talk about those early months after Kate's birth. We laugh that some of Emma's first words were blood pressure cuff. We laugh that I could not take anxiety medication, because thoughts of the medication gave me more anxiety! We laugh whenever we see a brown lunch sack.

Most of the events of that time are behind us. All but one. I am still a night owl. The hours I keep are much better, they still allow me to function as a mama, but those first few hours of darkness still consume me. So I sit up and wait for sleep to come. And then I pull myself out of bed the next morning to be mama. It works, but it's not the mama hours that I want to keep.

Because I don't want to be an owl, I want to be a lark.

Rising early with song, joyful for each new day to begin. Greeting my children with a kiss and a smile, rather than having them pull me out of bed with their daily pleadings for breakfast. And some morning quiet time would be nice. Some time to start my day with God. Time to be in his Word.

God's Word constantly talks about being an early riser, and it is beginning to convict me.

Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Proverbs 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

And God's Word talks much of being a part of the light.

1 Thessalonians 5:5  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

I am becoming convinced that I cannot honor God with my life if I continue to let the darkness consume me. I can't be the mama that I want to be, if I do not rest when my children rest, and rise before they rise. I am owl enough to know that is not wise. I want to be a child of the light. I want to be a lark. My Christian walk is a journey. Ever changing, walking closer with the Lord each step of the way. And while sleep habits may not seem all that important to some, for me, it signifies something more. It signifies letting go of the darkness and entering God's light. It signifies the next step on my journey with the Lord. It has been seven years coming, but I am ready to be a lark.




Saturday, March 2, 2013

God STILL Answers


In case you are wondering, God still answers prayer. I know this, because he just answered one for me. For two weeks I continually laid a request before God, a request I believe has been building in my heart for the past two years, perhaps even for a lifetime. And on Thursday, God answered.

I fear I have been looking at God, and prayer, and the Bible all wrong. Robbing all three of their power in my humanness. I would talk to God in prayer, but I would really only get serious when I wanted something. As if God could be my own personal genie. I would read the stories in his Word, but it's as if I believed they were just that. Stories. Tales from long ago. I believed the stories of the Bible were true, but I could not seem to relate them to my own life.

And then I saw a book title on a blog. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. And the more I read, the more my life began to change. And I began to wonder, could the God of the Bible, the God who parted the Red Sea, the God who shut the mouths of lions, the God who provided manna in the desert, the God who made the blind to see, and the God who sent a Savior for sinful me... I began to wonder if that very same miracle making God could really and truly be active in my own life today. Because his miracles may not look the same in our today as they did back then, but does that make them any less miracles? And did I not see him working because I didn't really believe that he could? Or that he would?

So I began to pray as if I meant it. And the more I prayed, the more I did. And the more I did, the more I began to believe that the very same God in the Bible, the God who accomplished one amazing, miraculous feat after another, was capable of doing the same in my own life. I even started to believe that he wanted to. He only wanted me to have faith enough to ask. And it has been life changing.

For two weeks now I have boldly asked God to answer my prayers, and I have already seen him at work like never before. Not because he wasn't working before, for I am now convinced that God is always working, but I was not seeing because I was not looking. God answered a BIG life prayer for me last Thursday, and I give him all the glory. Sometime soon I will share the story with you. It is a good one. But tonight? Tonight I simply wanted to share with you that God is active..So do not be afraid to ask him, because he answers. And his answers are going to change your life.