My 2018 word has been confirmed as EMBRACE. This is an addition or a morph of the last two years' themes, Smart Not Harder and Simplify.
Life is made up of seasons. There are periods of planting, growth, pruning and rest. And yes the cycles repeat, but do we Embrace the one we are in?
Our faith is like onion layers, learning who God is and who He created us to be. This overlaps with the seasons, because the urge to do different things at different times may seem completely opposite from the last season.
My current season has my heart filled with whispers of the Spirit reaffirming my identity in Him. I sense something coming, but not sure what it is. It is almost like He is trying to explain a painting to me so I can trust and appreciate the depth and beauty of His work in an even greater way before I lose focus. Cause let's be honest, I lose focus quickly.
I love the tapestry analogy of how God sees the completed side and we only view the mess underneath. His sovereignty allows me some peace despite the unknowns, maybe not always complete peace. I know He holds me because over the years He has been faithful. He hasn't always done as I wished, but He has walked me through.
The world spins faster and faster! Doesn't it make you lose focus? I feel the need to drop what I am doing and either start running or throw out an anchor and dig in my heels to stop completely in defiance of this mass brainwashing. Who can keep up this kind of pace?! Have you ever felt the need to just check out for a day? I have! When everyone seems to be doing and trying everything, I feel like I'm being passed on all sides.
I NEED to embrace the process rather than rush to completion. There is such satisfaction in accomplishment or checking a box complete though! I feel like my mantra to walk humbly with God needs to be tattooed on my forehead so I don't feel like I'm being left behind. I know life is a marathon and that means moving at a snail's pace is still moving. I don't need to exhaust myself or feel ashamed for pacing myself, especially when I would be dragging my kids behind me. The more I see the trend word HUSTLE the more I want to scream PACE!
How much joy people are missing out on in their hustle? How many small miracles are overlooked because we are in such a hurry to get to the big ones? We tell kids to enjoy childhood because life passes in a flash. Maybe we should listen to our own advice; do as I do not as I say. You don't want to get to the end and realize you missed seeing the best parts in your hurry.
My season may look different than yours and thank goodness! We need variety in this world. Not everyone can rest or prune at the same time. I need to be glad that there are ambitious people out there even if I'm not called to be one of them right now. There is no new, best thing that works for everyone, so I just need to be okay with what works for me right now. I want to encourage you to be okay with what God is calling you to, in this season. So, if He is saying hustle, then by all means hustle!
The quieting of my own life has allowed room for God to show Himself to me. Awe is natural when we see huge miracles, but God is doing so much more than we are aware of. I want to embrace these everyday miracles and dwell in gratitude. The fact that the God of the universe TAKES TIME to orchestrate every detail of my life is - WOW! So, I want to be sure to TAKE TIME to thank Him!
God will meet every need and a lot of our wants too; He is a good father! Recently, I prayed for a bag of clothes because I hate to shop. He has done this for me in the past so I had faith that He could do it again. Spending money makes me uncomfortable and I prefer trying things on in the comfort of my own home. I don't like to return things either so online shopping isn't the best place for me. Less than a week later, I had BAGS of clothes from two different people! (Greater than we expect or imagine.) I got a whole new wardrobe 4 FREE! When I was done I had an even bigger bag of clothes I was able to pass on from my own closet to bless another person. I love recycling - Awesome!
He is a God of specifics. He hears those little prayers for a close parking spot because I need to be in and out quick with three kids. He knows my secret wishes for microscopes and globes for our homeschooling adventures which show up on my doorstep. Through friends and family, He sends new bikes for my children, theater tickets, zoo passes and so much more. Today, He even planned a spontaneous opportunity at the beach where we enjoyed learning hands-on physics and aerodynamics from one of the top kite flyers in the world! How cool is that?!
I don't know where you are in life, but I hope you will join me in taking time to embrace whatever season you are in. Need something? Ask. Want something? Ask. God has things to teach us, about Him, and about ourselves, so take time to connect with Him in this moment.
Coming up on our ten year anniversary and I can't believe how the time has flown by. I am not the same woman who said I do ten years ago. My husband is not the same man. I know we have sharpened each other into better human beings. Our differences and perspectives have challenged and forced us into improved spouses. We have also added three children as passengers to our life. That has defintely changed our journey in beautiful, but exhausting ways. The more and more I think about it, the more I compare marriage to a car. Marriage is the vehicle that embodies our journey.
As most people know, driving with children in the car, is completely different from the days where it was just the two of you going for a weekend road trip. In the beginning you share navigation and driving responsibilities more equally, but then patterns develop and needs change. Mom has to crawl in the back to nurse a baby, Dad has to drive and navigate simultaneously, and the children have to learn to get along or the driver will pull the whole vehicle off the side of the road. Like any good vehicle though, there are times for required maintenance and preferably this happens before tires are bald and the engine seizes. We don't want to put everyone at risk! Safety is key to a fun road trip!
Hopefully we are always on the alert for the low oil or check engine light to come on in our relationship. Being aware of the state of our vehicle is important, but even more so in our marriage. There are some people that never learned to check their oil, but when you pay tens of thousands of dollar for a car trust me when I say - better learn quick. The same goes for our relationships; we can learn! We made the vow and maybe added passengers to this vehicle; we better learn the value in regular tune-ups, before the flat tire happens. Got premarital counseling? That is great! Should be good for the first few thousand miles. Those date nights are like checking the oil, or putting air in the tires. Those late night heart to hearts are like a tire rotation and alignment. Don't know what that is? That is okay, but let's not stay ignorant to the fact that a healthy marriage takes continual, intentional education. I can show my spouse that I value them, by learning how to keep them running - running well!
I can't tell you how many people that have helped put a little air in our tires. I know we wouldn't still be cruising along if we hadn't had a lot of road side assistance. Even with regular maintenance there will be a nail or two that you can avoid and that is when it is time to phone in help. Parents, friends, pastors and counselors are there for a reason. It is a sign of intelligence not weakness to do regular maintenance.
Sometimes I get a little film on the headlights; makes it hard to see. Happens slowly over time, sometimes I don't even know its there! Friends have helped me shine a light on things, restore perspective, so I can see the others properly. Sometimes I just need to drive and let Dad deal with the kids. Sometimes I get vehicle envy. Someone else has a spouse that does such and such or I berate myself for taking the long way around. Sometimes we just need to pull over and take a vacation!
I am extremely thankful to the many couples who come to my husband for counseling. They keep him having to practice what you preach. That has been a huge help in our own marriage. (And here is my shameless plug for my husband's counseling practice - Clarity Counseling.)
Without GPS (God's Positioning System) aka the Holy Spirit we would be totally lost! May He get us through another decade without too many bumps and bruises. I will continue to take all the road side assistance I can get!
Tips for Regular Maintenance
Our Relationships affects more than just us, so maintain better than a car!
I know! Weird title, but its the truth!
This week I went walking on a trail with a friend and our children only to come back and find out that my car window had been broken and my purse snatched. Thankfully it is more diaper bag than a purse, but yes my wallet was stolen. My sweet friend stayed with me the entire time even though she had a tired baby with her(angel #1).
My husband "happened" to be less than a block away when I called him so he was able to come riding in like a "white night on his white...err truck ;) He was able to make the insurance calls and stop our cards and such as I dealt with writing a police report - First ever at 29 years old. I am pretty fortunate to make it this long without needing the police, especially in this day and age!
Traumatic yes, but I feel so blessed that no one was hurt, even with curious children getting too close to shattered glass for comfort. The police officer was very nice and looked into the suspicious vehicle my friend had gotten the tag number from and explained all the steps I should take to get the issue resolved. The children thought it was terribly exciting that the officer was gonna get the bad guys!
The next day I received a phone call from a bank out of state that had a suspicious attempt to cash a check with my id and debit card. They weren't successful and I will have my ID back in a day or two. (I heard later from the sheriff's department that 9 out of 10 times this scheme works!)
We found out our insurance deductible was too high to cover the cost of a new window and were really bummed out since we have a lot of weddings coming up, tuxes to rent, and all our bills were moved to one week in the month causing some discomfort. But God heard our frustration and sent some friends (angels#2&3) to our door who not only paid for our window to be fixed but brought a new purse stocked with all kinds of goodies including a pretty diaper pod to replace the one I had lost and missed.
If that wasn't enough good news because the thieves were able to use our card here in town before they left for Georgia we got footage of them on a security tape and the deputy thought he knew one of them from our town. Normally these are teams that move from Tampa to New Jersey jumping on and off I-95 hitting up gyms and parks where moms exit a car without a purse. They smash a window, gas up and head on the road. Thankfully the footage may lead to an arrest here in town and we can have a safer town. Someone else from our church recently had this same thing happen, so hopefully, we can be a small part in ending these happenings!
So needless to say, I am feeling Joseph's quote in the bible when he talks about what was meant for evil being used by God for good!
Our faith and security in God were not shaken, but strengthened!
Our silly insurance which was really no security at all, allowed us to experience God-surance!
We saw tangibly that God is sovereign and he is all the security we need!!
Count it all joy!!!
Our Core Team has graduated the Celebrate Recovery Step Study! We have launched and more and more people are coming each Friday night. We have different worship groups leading each week from many different churches! We are praying the Lord provides financially as we grow. Josh is seeing clients as well as working full-time as a lawn technician. We are praying for wisdom to know when to take a step of faith and leave behind the lawn work. Praying for more clients, but already reaching that point of how to take on more in a healthy way when the spare time isn't spare. God is good and we are trusting Him to move us as He sees fit.
The women's group finished our step study. Such sweet things the Lord lead me through this past year. Setting me free from things I didn't even realize I was captive by! So grateful that He is never done with us.
I am working on balance as I stay at home with the girls, work from home for TOH and minister with Josh in the CR ministry. I am allowing God to remove my perfectionism and replace it with the need only to please Him. This time is hectic so my daily prayer is that God would be guiding us!
We are getting closer to the Launch of Celebrate Recovery and Josh has opened up the Counseling Service of Lifeline. We have been able to raise up a leader for the Lifecoast Nursery ministry so we can step out of direct leadership in that ministry. This will allow us to concentrate more fully on the Lifeline Celebrate Recovery Ministry and Josh's Counseling Practice. We have several fundraisers in the works and are praying for God's continued provision as we move forward.
Joshua has finished his thesis for his MA in Christian Counseling! Thank you to God, our Pastors and several key friends for their support through this process. Can't believe this day is finally here and we thank you for helping make it happen!! <3
For the last two years, we have tried several programs to lower our mortgage to what they told us it would be when we bought the house. At first with no children and both us working we could afford the mortgage, but add two kids and me only working part-time from home, and it is a lot tighter.
We were denied the first round after months of resubmitting paperwork. Then in March, we heard of another program so we applied. After several attempts at closing, we finally got a solid date this week. An hour before closing we got the call that we needed additional funds to close, which we did not have.
We didn't feel any peace about the situation. We didn't feel right about taking funds from Josh's schooling to pay the closing fee. We were extremely frustrated and angry at the last minute turn of events. Instead of allowing them to pressure us, we went to a friend in real estate to talk about other options. She called to check out the situation and 5 minutes after we would have signed the paperwork, the lenders had a new hud that had just arrived. This hud said they gave us money instead of us coming up with additional funds. Our friend came with us to our closing half hour late and verified the figures and walked us through the signing which brought way more peace!
It turned out the lender was a Christian agency. We chatted with her about church and ministry and also talked about her son who was also pursuing his Masters in Counseling. The man who had set up the old paperwork never showed, but having our friend there made us confident with the new paperwork.
I know God really blessed us because we did not allow ourselves to panic, be pressured into signing, or be rushed into a decision. Our mortgage is now at a lower fixed rate. It is now about what they told us it would be when we signed for the house 5 years ago. We even have a month reprieve from our mortgage payment. We are so grateful that God walks before us, especially as we prepare for Josh to move into full-time ministry/counseling this Fall.
We got our confirmation email today! Yesterday we had our re-evaluation virtual interview. We have been accepted into the Launch Training program now that our vision for a Celebrate Recovery Campus is clear.
Conferences are lining up to prepare us for the next 6 months of intensive training. This has been a huge encouragement! A year ago we went to launch. We were approved but were waiting on God to clarify his vision so we could proceed.
It took some heart work, since starting a Celebrate Recovery is not an easy path. We are excited to see God placing things before us to reaffirm that this is indeed the path He has called us to.
The last year of team building opportunities through other ministry has been a challenge. The time has strengthened both of us to be more resilient. (Nursery Ministry & Counseling)
So we feel ready to say, BRING IT ON! :D
I got a job working for Trades of Hope! I get to be with my girls and work from home on my computer as their technical support specialist. I get to bring in some extra income but still be home doing what is most dear to my heart - watching my girls. I feel so blessed and grateful!
It is a year old organization started by my aunt, Holly Wehde and a friend of hers, Gretchen Huijskens. They sell fair trade products made by women all over the world and help women stateside support their families as well, through party sales and becoming compassion entrepreneurs (representatives) in their region.
All of the products go to support keeping children with their families, giving clean water, and getting women into better circumstances. It is a cause I can really get behind having seen my share of women here and abroad who need to be able to support their families in a healthy, better way.
Also, as my girls get older and the company grows I can grow my hours and take on more responsibility, but for now it is the perfect amount of time.
I still get to be mom (my most important job!) but I get to use my brain and get creative doing something I love! I feel really blessed and hope this is the start to a cool career that will work alongside my dreams of homeschooling my children and supporting my husband in ministry!
Recently, we have been praying for provision. Having two girls and a house to pay for on one income hasn't left much left over for Josh to finish school.
The other day a friend answered our prayers by funding Josh to finish his studies! <3
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....