About 2 years ago, the lord asked me to walk away from a friendship. At first, there was so much grace to obey. I knew I heard God's voice and I knew I wanted to obey. But within a few months, I started realizing the magnitude of my decision, and how this one choice was effecting every single day of my life.
It was a divorce for me and my obedience was being walked out daily.
In this new season of clarity, Jesus became something more to me than ever before. He was always the one who loved me. He was always my strength and my provider. He was always my savior and my redemption. But now, He was becoming my personal best friend.
I was driving in my car about a year after this loss and I let my mind race to what life may be like if I chose differently, had not obeyed, and went back to how things were. And then He spoke to me again.
"If you let go of the journey, you let go of the reward."
God was reminding me that through every season of obedience, there is a maturity that follows. It's the labor that precedes the birth. The contractions of growth.
I am here to encourage you in the journey you are on. Whether you've said yes to a relocation, a new job, a birth, or a new responsibility, God is faithful and the reward stands before you.
If you let go of the journey, you let go of the reward, and we know...that His rewards are worth it.
It's the Monday after my birthday. It feels almost embarrassing, all the celebrating we have done around here. I just pinch myself and slip up some thank yous for the husbandfamilyfriends who slobber me with love like they mean it.
This is it. The first day of the rest of my life. And tomorrow, the same thing. No fear. Just love.
Wanna hear a crazy story? A little snippet from our weekend? Saturday before leaving for King of Prussia, Brandon stopped at Starbucks for coffee. We tried the drive thru, but 10 cars in front of us caused us to back out of the line. Inside I went, noticing 3 semi-familiar faces in front of me. Possibly from church I "know" them, I smiled politely and waited for my turn. After the 3 chatted a minute, one of them offered to take my drink order and pay. I tried to refuse and told them I was buying drinks for 5 friends too (you can't road trip without coffee in hand), but Tim said 5 was the number of grace and proceeded to pay for my order. How kind. We chatted for a minute about how long I've been at Life Center and then the Starbucks employee interrupted and asked for my name for the cup.
Sam, I said.
And then the 3 of them laughed. They pulled out a white piece of paper on which my name, Sam, was written!
A little while before their starbucks trip they had talked with God about the day and who they could pray for and bless, and the only name they heard was, Sam. Although, when they walked in
to Starbucks and only saw women, they never thought they would meet a "Sam" in there.
But, alas, they did. Me.
I know this is long, but it was SO encouraging. I had to share. The lady, Joy, prayed for me. She prophesied things and prayed things that spoke right to my heart. God whispered pieces to her that I knew were right on target.
And then I thanked them and hopped back in the car. Just like that.
God loves you SO much that He will even talk to other people about you. He is everywhere you go, even when you aren't looking for Him. And His words over you and to you are ALWAYS good. Always.
The month we've all been waiting for. January, a great excuse to start over, clear out the old and bring on the new. Stop, I know what you're thinking. It's not the month you've been waiting for...I get it. I really do. But if you look hard enough, there are a few things to perk up your mood.
I joined the gym. Yup. That's right. Half-Marathon number 2, here I come. And also, going to the gym in the wee hours of the morning before my house awakes always sounds like a superb idea...I have yet to actually get there.
Purging. The kids closets. Old toys. Our drawers. The BASEMENT! Out with the old, gotta make room for the new.
What else? Oh, meal planning for the week. I dislike, very much, the thought of going to the grocery (more than once a week) when it's below 32 degrees. Welcome to where I live. The land of its-not-gonna-get-above-32-degrees. Meal planning for the week actually creates excitement in my little heart to cook. I mean, cook a good meal. Sure, it may be a "hardy comfort food" type of meal, but still, it's gonna be good.
Reading. Yes, lots of reading. Quiet times while the kids are sleeping and the fire is blazing. Yes, lots of that.
I don't want any readers to think that I am ignorant to the fact that January also brings in some negative attributes.
Cold. Toilet. Seats.
Terrible, I know. And yes, I am thankful that I can use a toilet and I don't have to wander outside to a hole in the ground, but still, I am entitled to my opinion, and that includes the dislike of ice cold toilet seats.
Layers. Getting the children ready to go anywhere takes approximately 10-15 minutes longer than it did in summer. And that's for my 2 children. I can't imagine the multiplication of 4 or more children.
Jackets (which they need help to zipper). Gloves (their fingers never line up). Socks (which of course are still upstairs in their dressers). Shoes (not the slip-on kind, the kind that make me sweat).
I choose to stop there.
January used to make me shiver. It made me sad. It made me nervous. But now, it's really no big thang. You want to know what we've really been up to around here...
SO MANY BIRTHDAYS, and it's so much fun to prep for Valentine's Day. Click on these links and check some of the projects that will make your cold wintery house feel warm and full of love.
I'm pretty sure in elementary school we joked about living in "2015".
Like, "Can you even imagine we will be alive and old in 2015?"
And now we are living in that joke, like a real life Back to the Future movie.
Did you set goals?
Did you look back?
Was it a year of highs?
A year of lows?
I suppose no one goes into a new year hoping for the "lows". It's usually a taken-by-surprise kind of thing.
And the highs, the years where babies are born, marriages begin or houses become homes. Those years stick out in comparison.
I'm not sure yet what this year holds for me, for us, for our family. We have high hopes and small-to-big dreams. The truth is, this is the first year in a while where I have been more focused on living in the "now", reveling in the present, than sketching out the future.
Both is necessary.
Both keep us alive. Very alive.
Cheers to 2015, the newness of a new year, and all the goodness and mercy it already holds. I'll leave you with this link, a song from an album Brandon bought me for Christmas. It's on repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
What is the earmark of Christmas that snags at your heart every year?
Is it the idea of a king, birthed in a barn? A king, who chose to serve.
Perhaps it's the attraction, the beaming star in the sky that sent mere shepherds and wise scholars, for months, to this boy. This Jesus. Sent from a star.
Or for me, this year, I'm stuck at the father. This God who loves me so entirely, that He looses HIS son, as human flesh, to save me, His daughter.
I am a parent now. I feel the pain of children taunting my own kids. I run when I hear their cries for help. I mend their scrapes and bandage their blood, and it overwhelms my heart when they experience pain I can't immediately soothe.
And God. And God, the father, daddy in heaven and now on earth, He watches king Jesus birthed into dirt and muck. He watches His helpless son, laid in manger by mother Mary. He watches for years, the taunting and scrapes and pain, and He can't...He chooses not to step in...
Because He saw the beginning from the end.
You/I/We were/are worth his only son's suffering because He saw it all, and He saw redemption in that frail baby made of skin and bones.
I get to step in and touch my babes and wrap them in my arms, but He let His son go...for me.
What is this love?
Who is this king of all kings?
How consumed am I with this kind of infinite love.
I see this Christmas as "letting go". Freedom means letting go, even when it hurts, even when the pain is excruciating, knowing that this dance is going to be worth it all.
He let go of his son. And his son redeemed it all.
Merry Christmas! I'm praying you catch an image of the manger today. I'm praying it goes deep and you experience the infinite love sent through a babe.
My eldest child was an infant when my friend over at aseedinspired.com gave me a littleBIG piece of advice to cope with Pennsylvania's long fall/winter seasons.
E M B R A C E I T.
This girl has weight in her words. It was blunt and I love it.
Seasons were a'made to change. So, if you are like me, let this list compel you to EMRACE IT. Seasons were made to change, warm months and all.
10. Mark down on your iCal all the traditional holidays celebrated by the postal service (they observe all of them). Then, make plans to do something extra special on those days. Teach your kids a lesson about the holiday (that will make you and them feel super smart) or watch a video about it on YouTube.
9. Eat seasonal food. I get so excited when I know fall is settling in and I can makes soups every week. Comfort food. Something so hardy and PA Dutch. I may be scarfing down chicken and wild rice soup as I type. I may.
8. Plan your summer vacation. Somehow, planning for the summer makes me not want to wish away the colder months. No one wants their vacation to come and go, so plan for it when it's cold. Dream about the tropical. Look at all the pictures of the waves and sand.
7. Thank AmazonPrime for providing you with free shipping, a.k.a., every product under the sun at your fingertips. Yup. Do it. Buy new slippers. They scream fall. Buy a scarf. You'll thank me later. Buy your kids adorable scarves that they'll never wear, but at least they will look cute in that one picture you threatened them with their lives to get. (I'm just kidding, of course, calm down.)
6. Make best friends with leaves and snow. I know what you're thinking. And yup, you're right. BUT, what I'm saying holds true as well. IT IS A LOT OF WORK, but you will sleep bettersweeterhappier knowing that you raked a huge pile of leaves and listened to your kiddos laugh long or looking out the window one more time at that less-than-perfect-snowman. Best. Friends.
5. Light some candles. Another friend of mine would meet me at Kohl's every fall for our yearly candle hunt. Not sure why we went to Kohl's, but the moral of the story is, if your house smells like fall or Christmas or fresh new year (does that smell like cotton?), you will be happier and cozier. Promise.
4. Read. You'll be inside for plenty more hours than the warm months. Make yourself a cozy reading corner or add a new pillow to an old chair. Claim it. That space is yours for the taking.
3. Catch up on the list of movies you haven't seen or TV series you haven't finished. And don't feel guilty. Don't feel guilty (preaching to myself). With the amount of educational television out there these days, give yourself permission to let the kids watch a couple episodes while you read in that corner or make purchases on Amazon. It's ok, really.
2. Get your game face on. We've already played an embarrassing amount of Twister since the temps have dropped. Apparently games are a great way to teach your kiddos about taking turns and being a "good sport". And sometimes, games may even lead to a competetive match between mom and dad, while the kids sit on the sidelines. Wait. Just our family?!
1. Turn your mourning (of summer) into dancing. You may never love the cold, and that's ok, but your frown will turn upside down when you start to count the things you are thankful for. Like a warm home, healthy kids, comfort food, dance parties, and quality time inside with friends and family.
CHEERS to embracing what we are walking through, even if it's snow!
It all started with a guy and his gal in the garden. I'd like to think I'm like them, tending the fruit that's been given to me and learning to capture the beauty all around. It's in my husband. It's in my 2 kids. It's everywhere. These are the revelations I dig up while meeting with the gardener. I'm recording what is in this garden family and what He says to me. Come and join us! You're welcome here.