Ryleigh Elizabeth ~ 6 years old

Ryleigh, dsc_0395

You are the one that made me a momma.  I’ve experienced so many firsts with you because of that, but also so many others.  Living internationally, learning a different language, extended camping trips, and the list could go on and on.  You are no doubt one of the most flexible, go with the flow, kiddos that I’ve ever met.  I see so much of myself in you (for good and bad) and while you love a list & a schedule – you’re A OK when that changes.  You love traveling and you love being at home.  Learning to read has been a highlight of the year and you are always wanting to pick up a new book and figure it out.  I do love that you still want to be read to though too!

He has given you such a compassionate heart (just usually not towards your sister).  I’ve seen it from the beginning of when your personality began to emerge but even more so this year.  There’s not a time when an ambulance or police car passes us that you don’t voice a prayer for whomever they are on the way to help.  img_8926

Anyone who knows you, knows you are a talker – but you are also an excellent listener and that shows up in how you pray for people about things that I didn’t even know you were aware of.  I’ve loved teaching you in VBS and Bible Buddies this year and seeing how you make connections to what He is teaching you through your friends, worship songs, and our devotionals.

Of course, this past year, the highlight has been that you are now my sister in Christ and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Your concern and passion over praying for your little sister to also become a part of your eternal family has been such a sweet thing to be a part of.

You love your people fiercely and have a boldness for Christ that would be hard to rival even by someone 4x your age.  Some may say you’re bossy but I’m praying that He will conform that into leadership skills that will honor Him in magnificent ways.  We talk alot about how when you grow up that you can be anything you want to be only for you to remind me that it’s anything He wants you to be – and you are SO exactly right.

I’ve prayed from the beginning that He would use you to glorify Himself.  He has proven faithful to that request in ways I never imagined and I just can’t wait to see what He has in store.

There’s not a night that we don’t sing your goodnight prayer together and our mornings this year as we travel to school have already become such a sweet time of memories for me.  Your silliness keeps us laughing and your request for “cuddle time” is one of my favorite things.  img_9001

You love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pickles, and black olives.  You’re addicted to cran-grape juice and you’ll pick a kit-kat over any other candy.  You still love a bowl of rice with nothing else on it and you can put a bowl of beans away in a hurry…I guess raising you in Madagascar has influenced your palette.  Which also is probably why you have a love for animals just like your daddy.  Right now you think you’ll be a veterinarian -but you want to work at a zoo because you like all the “crazy” animals…or at least that’s what you say.

Your life verse from before you were born is Zephaniah 3:17 –
The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

I truly believe that His way of reminding me of that verse all the time is by giving you a love of singing.  I don’t remember a time when you didn’t love making up your own songs and singing & dancing to each one.  His joy is evident in you and it is a beautiful thing.dsc_0378

I love you Ryleigh Elizabeth and I am so grateful He chose me to be your momma.

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the ellipsis…

ellipsisanyone remember when you had a limit on the number of texts you could send in a month?  how about when unlimited texting became a thing?  who would have ever imagined how much we would communicate without ever talking?

and then they came out with the ellipsis in texting.  you know what i mean?  those 3 blinking dots that let you know that the person on the other end is texting you back.  anyone ever get impatient with the other person?  ha.  I mean, if I don’t see the dots – you can take 3 days to text me back…but if those dots pop up, then suddenly I’m ready to know what you are about to say.

as I was staring at these blinking 3 dots recently, the Lord began to speak to my heart.  How long do I sit and wait for Him to speak?  I’ve been reading Fervent and asking for the Lord’s leadership in a specific prayer strategy over numerous areas of my life.  It’s been such an incredibly humbling journey and so so SO good for my soul.  I am far from what someone might consider a prayer warrior but He has been teaching me much about prayer, the power that we have in coming to His throne room, and the importance of being intentional about scripture being a major part of these prayers.

However, I confess, that there are times when I sit and wait staring at my phone screen until the 3 dots disappear and words appear.  I wait to formulate my response or delay making a decision until I hear from whom I am corresponding with.  Sometimes it’s a few seconds, and other times it could be minutes or hours.

I’m not so sure that I am that faithful with waiting on Him.  There are times that I am guilty of praying to Him and instead of saying Amen meaning “let it be done”, I use it as “I am done.”  That’s all I wanted to say Lord, I’ll get back with you later.  I forget that it’s an ongoing conversation.  That sometimes there are situations where I do need to wait and see how He responds.  To take the time to pause and let His Spirit speak to me through His words, through a worship song, through whatever means He chooses.

I need to remember that even when I can’t see the ellipses, He’s there wanting to speak to me…but I do have to stop long enough to listen.

For His Glory,

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learning to lean

learning-to-lean

off balance.  that’s the first thing I think of when I hear the word “leaning”.  I picture some building in my mind that actually looks nothing like the actual “leaning tower of pisa”.  And, well, I think of myself because if you know me at all you know I’m not the most graceful…I tend to get off balance quite easily.  Feel free to ask my friend Natalie how many times I have fallen going UP her stairs.  Yes.  Seriously.

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

I really think it was a verse in my first ever round of Bible Drills in the 3rd grade.  I remember thinking it was a parent verse.  Like something a parent would pray for a child…because isn’t that what children do?

Over the years I’ve seen that this verse is definitely for children…and I am a child so it applies.  Regardless of how old I am on my birthday, I still think that I know best about certain things.  Oh how grateful I am that the Lord perseveres.  He doesn’t give up on me no matter how hard headed or near sighted I can be.

When I do get off balance – emotionally/spiritually/physically…I like to be able to lean into something/someone though.  I like explanations – reasoning for whatever is going on…or simply the knowledge that I won’t fall down – something is going to hold me up.

It seems so smart at first to trust myself.  Go with “my gut”.  Follow my heart.  Ha.  It’s truly almost comical if it wasn’t so destructive.  The Word says that the heart is deceitful above all things. And well – it’s pretty difficult to lean against yourself isn’t it?  I mean have you tried it?  Yep…you’re bound to fall.  It’s physically impossible.

I absolutely love when the Lord speaks new things through words I’ve read numerous times.  He’s telling us not to lean on our own understanding because it’s NOT WORTH LEANING AGAINST.  It can NOT HOLD US UP.

But.  BUT. When we lean into Him.  Into His truths.  Into His wisdom.  Into the Biblical counsel of friends who are intimate with Him – whom He sends to equip/encourage/reprove/rebuke/exhort us.  Then our paths will be straight.  Even if we are leaning…feeling a bit off balance and sideways…His truth will hold us up.  He will keep us exactly where we need to be.

Yes, I pray daily that my girls and the my friends’ kiddos will learn to lean.  Lean on Him.  But also…I’m intentionally praying that I will do the same.  To live by example – to allow my babies to see me leaning…to honestly talk with them when I fall about why I did.  I don’t want to dismiss it.  I don’t want to brush it under the rug and shrug things off.

Let’s open up – let’s share with our children – with our friends -with our family about when we are feeling off balance.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to the One who will support us.  We are explicitly told to not do this on our own.  We must trust Him.  We must learn to lean.

For His Glory,

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a weary world…REJOICES

a-weary-world

Holidays are hard to avoid.  Decorations are everywhere, most work places are closed for the day, commercials well commercialize, and small talk can revolve around them.

But there are times when celebrating is hard.  When a sudden life change means you’re holiday isn’t going to look the way you envisioned.  Perhaps, the life change wasn’t close to the holiday at all…but it’s just your first one to go through without someone you have celebrated with for as long as you can remember.  Tough days.  Happy faces and casual greetings to everyone you see aren’t exactly what you feel up to.

There’s other seasons when celebrating feels natural…simply an overflow of the joy that is bubbling up from deep within – an abundance of gratefulness and joy of what each day holds – whether or not it’s a holiday.

However, when any of us stop – if we truly choose to look around us…life is hard.

Family/friends/ourselves – experiencing miscarriages, divorce, babies born with cancer, car accidents, human trafficking, missing children, affairs, house fires, mental illnesses, abortions, poverty, & hate crimes, and that’s not even delving into anything in the political realm that seems to be on everyone’s minds these days.  How do you celebrate when this is the life we know – that we’re living through or at the very least have a close friend who is walking through it?

How do you sing and dance when there’s SO much death and brokenness – hurt and hate? These issues – these problems…you can’t gloss over them and just because you flip the channel on the TV it doesn’t make them go away. How do you speak about the Resurrection when everything around you seems to relate more to the crucifixion? 

Well, I don’t know.  My heart breaks too.  Life is hard and the future here on this earth??  It seems pretty dim…BUT JESUS.  Friend, don’t forget that there WAS the resurrection.  There IS hope.  There is LIFE.  And honestly, in the middle of the weariness?  The desperation and sinfulness?

There’s Christ.

There is redemption.  There is grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  And there is no darkness that can put out the Light.  And that’s why we sing.  That is why we worship.  That is why I’m at church this morning…to REJOICE. 

There is no doubt that life is hard and that we each walk through our own struggles – rather private or public.  But Jesus does not change.  He is faithful.  So we keep walking and fighting.  We keep raising our hands in surrender & in praise.  We keep kneeling and weeping.    We will be weary…but we STILL rejoice.

Merry Christmas weary world.  Grateful for the reason to rejoice no matter the season.  Hugs to each of you today!!

For His Glory,

 

 

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