Monday, October 31, 2016

Our Family Grows

This post is intensely personal and very close to my heart.

My biological parents divorced when I was 6 months old and I have never met my biological father.  My mother remarried to an awesome man and he has been the best father I could have ever dreamed of.

In college I was of course curious about my bio father.  We tracked down our fraternal grandmother who told us he still had no desire to meet us.  I spoke with her a few times, but ended up losing contact.  In that process, we learned that our bio father had lived only 20 minutes from us our entire life and we had half siblings.

I figured that was the end of the story. I still prayed and dreamed of running into them one day, but figured it wasn't to be.  Boy was I wrong!  One of the shining points from the past two years was our story of connection.

I have a full blooded sister, two half brothers, and a half sister.  My full blooded sister had friended our half sister on Facebook, but never really pursued a personal meeting.

One day our half sister mentioned to our half brother that she was friends with my full blooded sister on Facebook.  My half brother and his wife had been praying to meet us for years.  We all begun private messaging each other and discussing times to meet.

This was so surreal.  I went from one sibling to 4 more in the blink of an eye.  Disclosure:  One half brother declined to meet us.

This is the part that makes my heart sing.

I begun messaging back and forth with my brother's wife.  He didn't have Facebook so we spoke through her.  In the midst of messaging, I felt something different.  My spidey senses were tingling.

I would catch a phrase or a word here or there that was familiar. This family was saved and born again!  It was like reading my native language in a foreign land.  I was overjoyed.  So were they! I had siblings that knew Jesus and followed His ways!

Not only were they saved, his wife and I had a ridiculous amount in common.  Our bond was instant!  I could not describe the depth of what this meant to me in mere words.  I was beyond myself.

I also had a ton in common with my brother as well.  Lots of similar interests and humor.  The bigger picture being that we were brother and sister in Christ as well.

We set a date to meet at a restaurant.  I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit.  What if? What if? What if?  So many questions.

Stu and I were the first to arrive.  While we were waiting to be seated, my brother and sister in love came in.  I choked back tears.  I hugged them nervously.  I was shaking.

We got to the table and our half sister and my full sister arrived and joined us.  We all seemed to get along. We took a few pictures and scheduled some other dates to see each other again.

When we turned to leave, I gave my brother another hug and it is like our spirits spoke to each other, recognized each other.  As if to say, I've missed you brother, I know you.

I got in the car and cried many tears.  For things I didn't even know I felt.  Years of separation.  I felt like I had missed him for years, but didn't even know he existed for the majority of my life.

We kept in touch and saw each other many times.  My love for them continued to grow.  And my friendship with my new sister in love blossomed.  She has become one of my dearest friends.

Since then many things have happened, both good and bad.  All I know is that day was the answer to many prayers. It forever changed the landscape of our family.  So much was added, but we have also lost some in the wake.

I am forever grateful  that God opened this door and gave us an answer we had never expected.  I no longer feel disjointed or disconnected in my family.  I feel like I fit somewhere.  That someone understands my heart. I have a relative that I can relate too.

Sometimes we ask for something, a simple request, but God is so faithful to answer the desire beyond the request.  I requested salvation, He replied with a remnant family that was looking for the same.  My heart is full to overflowing at His amazing and mysterious ways.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Our move was eventful to say the least.  It was lots of hard work, ups and downs, uncertainty, but in the end everything came together.

We have an amazing peace about where we are.  Lots of room to roam.  6 acres to be exact.

In our suburban home, I always felt uneasy and ready to pounce on any noise in the night.  Everything would make me jump.  We would pray for peace, but it never came.

Our second night in our new home and on the new property, I slept like a baby.  It was glorious!  So much peace!  We love our new place.

The best part, my eldest, who has also struggled with fear is incredibly peaceful about the farm.  This has been the biggest blessing of all.

Here are a few of our views of the land:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Immune Repair

After being on Plexus and experiencing some of the best health in my life, I caught a stomach bug from my littlest.  For her it was mild and I just thought it was something she ate.  So of course, I kept kissing and loving on her.  Which ended in me sick as a dog.  Plexus is great, but it can't stop viruses.

I was vomiting and having diarrhea.  I was also running a mid grade fever 101-102.  I was stuck in bed or the bathroom.  Then my eldest started throwing up.  She had gotten the bug too.  So we stayed in bed together.

I was disoriented and felt awful, but I had a light bulb moment.  Something that hadn't occurred to me settled into my brain.

I had a fever.  An actual fever.  I have not run a fever in 14 years unless I was in the hospital or dying.  Literally.  Not even an exaggeration.  My immune system was so tanked for years that it wouldn't kick in to do it's job, but now it was!  Fevers are the body's defense when a pathogen is in there wrecking havoc.  So I was overjoyed! Immobile and sick as a dog, but overjoyed.

Then a second thought occurred to me.  I wasn't in the Emergency Room.  Every stomach virus I have gotten in the last 14 years, I have ended up in the ER with an IV and heavy duty anti-nausea meds to get me to stop throwing up.  I was ecstatic!  I couldn't believe what was happening!

So the Plexus was doing exactly what it claims to do, helped my immune system become stronger.  80% of your immune system resides in your gut and once it started repairing that, I was stronger than ever.

Even though stomach bugs are yucky and awful, I would chalk this up to a win! So thankful for this health tool in my tool belt!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hard Lessons

Some days don't go as planned.  I feel like I've said that a lot lately.  When parenting kids 5 and under, you will have many days that will get hijacked by strong wills, sad behavior, and frustration.

My mother and I decided to buy each other a spa day for Mother's Day.  My dad was supposed to watch my girls while we went, but he got called in to work.  So the girls had to go with us.  Not the most relaxing spa day ever.

When it was our time to get pedicures, my eldest asked for one as well.  They were booked so she couldn't.  This caused the biggest, longest fit she has ever thrown!  I was shocked.  She is strong willed and stubborn, but never like this.

She yelled "what about my toes? why don't you want me to have pretty feet too?"  My feet were soaking in the jet tub already and we were waiting on the ladies to come start their work.  We waited for 20 minutes while she screamed and we tried to reason with her, offer alternatives, etc.  Finally I got up with feet soaked and took her to the car. I was hoping to dry off my feet and legs, but she wasn't stopping.

I left my mother and my chill toddler in the spa and went to get dinner.  All the while trying to calm her down and get through to her.  It wasn't happening.

We picked my mother and toddler up, went home.  Still screaming.  We had a birthday party we were going to attend that night that I threatened to cancel.  She kept on.  I had to follow through.  No birthday party.  Which hurt me too.  I hadn't seen these friends in months and was really looking forward to it.

She screamed more.

This lasted 5 hours.  She has been the master of fits before but NEVER this long.  I was exhausted just trying to talk her down.

We tried every strategy.  It was awful!  She could not let it go.

She finally gave up the fight.  Then asked, "can we go to the birthday party now?"  Sorry little girl, not happening.  Fresh tears, but less dramatic.

It was an afternoon of hard lessons.  Lessons in consequences, lessons in follow through, lessons in effective discipline.  We learned that we don't always get our way and we need to be ok with that.

At the end of the day we were able to talk more openly about why this was a bigger issue than it needed to be.  It was also setting the stage for one of the most intense spiritual battles we would face in the coming weeks. More on that later.

Grateful and blessed by these lessons, no matter how hard.

Art of Marriage

Last month we attended a small marriage conference at our church.  We went in with somewhat defeated spirits.  The move and all the turmoil of the past few years had left us battle weary.

So many obligations, so many time consuming events, so many times we missed out on each other.

We hoped this time would refocus us on what was most important.  God first, then our marriage, then our kids. The great hierarchy of family.  First things first.

It absolutely did.  Lots of wonderful conviction and practical advice in how to love, honor, and respect one another.

Some of my favorite takeaways:
You married "the one".  If you married them, they are the one.  There isn't any "oh well, they aren't who I thought they were, I guess they aren't the one."  It is a daily intention to put them first and to fight for your marriage.

Praying for your spouse, with right intention, is the most powerful thing you can do for them.  Once I started viewing myself as my husband's first line of defense, it changed my perspective on prayer for him.  Also, the intention behind the prayer is important.  Not "God get them cause look at how they are flawed", but "God help my heart to be strong and help their heart to be one with You."  Powerful stuff!

Sometimes all you need is a little refresher course to give you back the vision of your marriage.  We are very thankful for this ministry!  If you have the opportunity to attend one of these or a Weekend to Remember in your area, we highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Words Will Never Hurt Me

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." -Children's rhyme and outright lie.

I have meditated, studied, and prayed about the scripture "the power of life and death is in the tongue. Proverbs 18:21"  Many times.  Words are important to me after all.  They tell stories.  They can build someone up but they can also tear them down.

I try as a mom to be affirming and loving.  I don't always do the best job.  My tongue can get away from me and I can say something harsh.  Then your child repeats it back to you.  And oh, it stings.  Stings deep.  You can only imagine how their little heart must have felt.

As a wife, you can say something that cuts straight to the quick.  Sometimes unintentional, or worse completely intentional.  Because sometimes we want to make a point, darn it!  Then you see the look in their eye.  Your words have hit the mark.  That look hits the mark in you.  You feel ashamed that you hurt the one you are supposed to cherish the most in this world.

It says over and over in the Bible that words matter.  Words created matter.  God spoke into existence. God spoke and it was there.  So where do we get this horrible notion that words cannot hurt me?

Pride, ego, and bitterness are the roots of this lie the world projects onto children.  Granted I don't think we should be offended or sensitive.  We should measure the words that come to us from the source.  But more on that later.

As parents we teach kids to say kind things to one another.  We want to edify them as well as them edify others.  I have been particularly focused on speaking life giving words over my children, home, and spouse.  Those things that we release in spoken word, will be in existence where you are.

Then I saw a meme.  I love memes, funny, profound, silly, inspirational.  Any kind really.  This one was convicting to the core!

If the words you spoke appeared on your skin... Would you still be beautiful?  

Oh my! I can answer honestly, no.  Some parts might be, but how often do I say negative things?  A lot!  About myself, about annoyances, about anything really.  

"From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34"  For real!  

So how do we fix this?  It's not just about choosing your words, it's about transformation from the inside out.  That comes by agreeing with God's word.  

I know people will come along and say ugly things to me, my children, my husband. The words may attempt to pierce us and they may hurt us, but we need not be wounded by it.  We need to always consider our source.  Not the source of the words being spoken to or over us.  Our source of identity.  What does God say about you?  If what is being said doesn't line up with His opinion of us, then we can lovingly say I choose truth and move on.  

When we are in agreement with who God says we are, we speak with honor and lovingly to those around us.  Because who wants to act unbecomingly when walking in their identity in Christ.  You are His image bearer. 

At the end of the day, do I want to build people up? Do I want to speak life over them?  Do I want to share what God says about them?  Absolutely!  Because words matter, choose them wisely.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Importance of Community

No man is an island.  No woman is either.  

During our two year journey, we had no idea the depth of community we would experience.  When we were on bed rest, the Lord had poured out so many people to love us, care for us, and see us through.  These people were family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ.  

For me, receiving help was unthinkable.  I'm supposed to help people.  Not the other way around.  This was another area of humbling that God was working out in me.  So instead of my standard"no that's ok, we are alright," I had to say yes.  

When a friend would call and ask, hey can I stop by to bring dinner?  Yes.  Can we come sit with you for a few minutes and play with Zoe?  Yes.  Can we come pray with you?  Yes.

At first it was hard, but then I was incredibly grateful.  We wouldn't have been able to make it without every phone call, visit, meal and prayer.  We grew in our relationships with people.  We even started new ones.  

It truly felt like an image of the church in Acts.  Pouring out for ones in need. The pouring didn't stop after Amelia was born.  As you've read, we continued on a path of needing people.  God provided incredibly!

During depression or anxiety, God would send someone to call and pray for me.  Some things would bring breakthrough, others were great encouragements on the way.  

When I threw my back out and we had hand, foot, and mouth the week before our move.  A team of women from church came and packed up the remainder of our house.  I sat and teared up as these women spent all day packing our kitchen and bathroom.  Even when we moved and I was unpacking each box from our kitchen and bathrooms, I would thank God for those women and pray blessing over them.  

Not many would have a friend that would offer for them to stay with them while they transitioned homes.  We are so incredibly grateful for that time and provision!  

Each person was a cog in the wheel of our lives.  Our lives kept turning, when we thought it was stopping, because of each one of these people.  Truly the hands and feet of Christ in action.  Much has been given to us the last two years.  We only hope to give that much more as we have moved into a new leg of our journey.  

We now have a new portion of community to expand into.  We have new neighbors and a new town.  We hope to carry into this new portion lessons we learned during this time.  Sowing into people God's love and provision in times of need.  

If you ever feel lonely or you desire to be in the mission field.  You ARE in the mission field.  You have family, friends, and neighbors you can impart Christ to.  Through your blessing, you may change someone's world!