Thankfully ever after

It has not been easy… but nothing in life that’s valuable and precious is easy, our family has endured trials and challenges along the way, facing some of the biggest ones just this past year.

It has been the most incredible and amazing five years I could have ever dreamed or hoped for.

Five years ago we dove into this marriage and family as prepared as we could be. We dated for 11 months and during that time we read book after book about blending Christian families. Read about remarrying after divorce. We tried to be as prepared for anything that we would face as we combined two homes into one.

We did the real life Brady bunch thing. Actually I do believe I recall my father saying he felt like he was watching a TV show when he was here visiting us and a live spectator to the chaos of our daily life!

Looking back not nothing could have really prepared us for the reality of it all. Even though we didn’t know what we were doing we had our trust in the Lord and He was with us each step of the way. Our strength is of the Lord.

Along the way we have learned and grown so much!

We started with five kids, a brother in law, two dogs and two cats.—-> we now have seven kids a mother in law and brother in law living with us. We have three cats, two dogs(almost3), a lizard and a bunny. In the mix of our children, four are now teenagers! Y’all we have four teens in one home!

Oh what an adventure these last five years have been. Looking back and reflecting on all we have done been through and experienced it is so amazing to see how we have grown.

In our love, in our family and most importantly in our spiritual walk with the Lord. We have a long way to go but we have come a long way too.

I am so thankful God has blessed us with this family, even on the hard days.

The next five years of adventure begins. God has big plans and will be with us as we take on the next chapter of our lives. Most of all I am excited to see us continue to glorify God and grow in our relationship with Christ.

‘Be devoted to one another in love, honor one another above yourselves’ Romans 12:10

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Heavy duty stuff

Lessons from Sunday school the few past couple of weeks keeps jumping through my mind. Over and over and over….the words and lessons speaking to my heart mind and soul. Words that are hard to hear but must be absorbed. Things that need to be heard again. And again. And again…..  Reminders to push and direct me. To keep me going forward on the narrow path and not sliding backwards downhill in spiritual cruise control as so well said by our pastor during the sermon this past weekend!

—> ARE YOU TRUSTING THE LORD THE WAY HE CALLS US TO???        I’m not, I am guilty of anxiety and worry….

—> WHEN YOU WAKE IN THE MORNING WHAT IS YOUR FIRST THOUGHT? Is it focused on the Lord?…     mine isn’t its normal grumbling about being tired and not wanting to get up and start another busy day

Beware!

‘Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning’ Luke 12:35. ‘And he said to them “take care and be in your guard against all covetousness for ones life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions’. Luke 12:15

I need to remain in prayer and study of God’s word to be able to beware and prepared for the trials of this world.  The days/weeks I am more obedient with this there is a noticeable difference.  There are so many idols in our lives that it is easy to slip into not making this a habit and a priority in my routine.

Have no fear!

“”I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke‬ 12:4-5

To truly trust the Lord and live fearlessly in Him, I need to be with Him, I cannot do this if I am not studying His word, meditating and learning His word and alive in my prayer life with Him.

Do not worry, do not be anxious!

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:22-26‬

Who am I to question God and His plan with my worry and anxious heart???  But yet I do.  This is truly my greatest struggle and something I am actively working towards.  In the heat of the moment when fear hits the ceiling and physically overpowered by anxiety is when it is most challenging, again I need to continue to improve in my bible study and prayers to move closer to the Lord and farther from living with constant anxiety.

Be ready!

“”Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”” Luke‬ ‭12:35-36, 40‬

I need to be ready with God’s words constantly in my mind and heart.  I need to be on constant and frequent fellowship with Christ to stay ready, if His word is in my heart and mind then that is what will come out.  If sinful and evil is allowed to be entertained in my mind and heart then that is what will come out.  We must stay in God’s word and know it so intimately that we can distinguish false teaching.    Application of scripture in life may change but the truth of it will remain the same.

Christ must come first!

“”And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Luke‬ ‭12:8-10‬

I need to rest in the Holy Spirit, putting Christ above all else, first in and above all things in this world and the Holy spirit will be there leading me, convicting me when needed, and preparing me for His return one day.

I am so very thankful for God’s truth, for God’s mercy and grace upon me and my life.  I am so thankful to be in this Sunday school class where I am being challenged, spiritually fed and convicted.  I am so thankful for my salvation in Christ. My heart is so happy to be moving forward in my walk, learning and growing along side sisters and brothers in Christ.  I am so VERY THANKFUL for HEAVY DUTY STUFF to be laid on my mind and heart on Sunday mornings ❤

Rising to the challenge

We had a heck of an evening.  One of those disaster after disaster days when you question whether or not you have done anything right as a mother.   

After several minor sibling problems and other behavior issues brewing amongst several of our children.  Our daughter especially presented us with quite the challenge as her preteen attitiude took rude and disrespectful to an entirely new level.  There have been moments of this attitude here and there but this evening her attitude exploded and crossed many lines.

I will not go into all of the details but reached a point a line was crossed and enough was enough.  It was not quite 6 pm when this situation peaked.  As an immediate consequence her youth activities at church were taken away and she was sent to bed without dinner.  And to bed without being allowed to complete her homework for the evening.  If you know Emily you know that not being allowed to do her homework is devastating.  

All this being done with discussion and further consequences to be given tomorrow.  These are the moments when parenting is at its hardest and most challenging.  Respond don’t react.  Don’t overreact.  I am human, I struggle in the heat of the moment with this concept, but today this situation I kept it together.  Calm face, no raised voices. Success, no yelling or arguing she put herself to bed.  Deep breath and I have time to collect my thoughts and prepare to sit down and discuss this with her tomorrow.  

Several hours later after I chopped up some fresh veggies for salad I slipped into Emily’s room to slip the carrot peels and lettuce heads to her bunnies.  I startled her out of her sleep as I was slipping back out of the room.  Half asleep, eyes closed and she says quietly to me “Mom I love you”.  That’s it, drifts back off to sleep.  

No pleading for getting up out of bed, no justifying her behavior, no apologizing, begging, arguing, just a sweet simple ‘mom I love you’.  

This is the first thought she had when she woke up.  Not angry with me for holding her accountable.  Not trying to get out of consequences.  Just that she loves me.  Oh despite her many flaws I love this girl’s heart.  This sweet heart melting moment does not change her consequences the following day.  She is still held accountable for her words, actions and behaviors.  


But as I lay drifting off to sleep I wonder what if that’s how I responded to God.  When I am dealing with the consequences of my own sin, facing the mess I have created trying to do things in my own strength and not turning to God.  Instead of rationalizing, justifying, complaining and worrying about the discussions of tomorrow.   To just stop and rest and tell the Lord I love Him.  Laying in bed after a day of trials and storms and just say “God I love You.”  How peaceful, simple.  

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”  ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭


Wholehearted Desire ❤️

Like splashing cold water on my face or waking up to an obscenely loud alarm clock, or maybe even being submerged into a dunk tank.  That is how I feel right now.  Eyes and heart wide open, an overwhelming sense of spiritual humility.  Wake up! Alarms are sounding it is time to wake up and RISE!  

 

The condition of the mind or living with  the feeling of being ‘satisfied’ or ‘gratified’ leads to a condition of ‘forgetting God’.  So easily we can fall into the routine of our day to day  and allow the busyness of life take over.  

Going through the motions, going to church, reading your bible even praying, but then you are not actively pursuing God with your whole heart, then that is all it is; going through the motions.

  

 

While I can report that I have successfully read the entire bible it was cover to cover; unfortunately I admit this was more for the satisfaction of being able to say I read it rather than truly learning God’s word.  I certainly feel like I was not focused in my reading process at that moment in time; it was more of going through the motions and not so much learning and loving God’s word.

For the last year I have been following a chronological reading plan to read through the Bible in a year, I’m not sure I have even made it halfway yet.  While I have not been disciplined enough to keep up with this daily but I am taking my time and not rushing through it.   I will read the outlined verses and go to the study bible for additional information.  I am taking time to review information for each chapter that I come to in an effort to deepen my understanding.  I will then later listen to them on my audio bible to follow up and reinforce what have already I read.

This week my scripture reading has led me through part of 1Chronicles and Psalm 119. This week I find myself paused and rereading parts of Psalm 119 and then reading it again.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—”. Psalm‬ ‭119:1-2‬ ‭

Those who walk according to His law and seek Him with all their heart are not blessed because they will have an easy and luxurious life with worldly desires fulfilled.  In fact quite the opposite, they will likely have many trials and attacks from the enemy as the seek the Lord and follow His ways.  Those who follow His laws and seek Him with their whole heart will be blessed in their relationship with Him, with joy in His love and salvation despite their circumstances and trials.

 

Some of the important reminders that I am taking away from this weeks scripture reading and study is this….

I must know God, everyday and night, grow in my relationship with Him, no ‘just going through the motions.’

Obedience- must be obedient to God’s law because I love Him and want to please Him, not because it ‘I have to’ or it is what is expected.  —–>Psalm 119:7-9 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.

Memory- I need to continue to actively commit His word and truth to memory so that I can always recall His works.  I am doing this but I could be putting more energy and effort and approaching this ‘wholeheartedly’.  Meditate and study His word, EVERY DAY with true desire. —–>Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Distinguish ALL BLESSINGS as flowing from God’s grace.  There are so many of His gifts and blessings we take for granted everyday.  Continue ‘counting my wins’ each day and be more intentional in giving that glory for God, thankful to Him for all things. —–>Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Trust God, walk in His ways not my own, surrender, less of me more of Him. —–>Psalm 119:37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Each day choose GOD, choose to love Him, to learn and follow His laws, find my delight in Him and not the circumstances of my moments. —–>Psalm 119:44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.

Be confident in waiting for God, his timing, He is in control, do not fear for the evil of man for God is faithful, His mercy endures always, keep my faith in Him, he will not forsake me. —->Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

I have power over sin with the strength of the Lord, wholeheartedly place my petitions and needs to Him and He will direct my steps.  —–>Psalm 199:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

His Word and law is essential not optional to truly surrender to Him, the Word of God is WONDERFUL.

—–>Psalm 119:137 Your laws are righteous Lord, and your laws are right.

 

Victory in Christ, I have victory in Christ on the good days and the bad days, I will actively seek and serve Him with my ‘whole heart’.  What an awesome reminder the scripture has brought me this week. 

“Where one man reads the Bible a hundred read you and me.”       Dwight L. Moody

 

 

Shame on me….time to refocus and CHOOSE JOY!

In our home my husband and I both work full time, we blessed with 5 animated, active, industrious and busy children; the daily routines and responsibilities are usually layered with elements of commotion and chaos. Since school began 3 and a half weeks ago, football and cheer practice and games in full swing and activities at church on top of keeping up with meals and house work, it feels like we are trying to fit into 24 hours what should take us 36 hours to complete, always rushing and never having enough time in the day to balance all of our responsibilities to the best of our ability.

I am so incredibly blessed, my life is full of answered prayers- God is good all the time! I am a mother to 5 amazing children, a wife, football and cheer mom, I work full time as a nurse practitioner, volunteer at the free clinic 1-2 times a month, women’s group a church, helping with the preschool class at church on Wednesday evenings, community group with church family on Sunday evenings…and last but certainly not least a follower of Christ. Of all of my duties and responsibilities—–being a follower of Christ is by far the most important but yet I have been allowing the hustle and bustle of our routine take over and giving only what’s left from my overstuffed and exhausting day to my relationship with Christ…..that’s not the example I want to set for our children. I want my energy and focus to go first to Christ. How can I teach my children how to live a Christ centered life if I cannot set an example for them to follow in?

The sermon today was quite convicting for me and has moved me to want to be more bold, dedicated and determined in my example of Christ to my children, I am being convicted in a big way and feeling very led to step up to fill the role God has called me to be in. I wouldn’t be here in this place of my life if God did not think I could handle all this. He made me for this, He knew what I was going to be capable of, He knows what I could handle, and this is not a mistake. God does not make mistakes. Yes, this season in my life is so full it is almost busting at the seams and while it all feels so overwhelming to the point I want to scream and cry at times, but I just need to stop take a time out and need to look at it in a different way. How AWESOME that God has given me such huge responsibility, what and honor and blessing that He made me to have all of this in my life! I need to step up and carry these responsibilities for what they are, a blessing directly from GOD, not a burden or stress or too much for me to handle, He wouldn’t have me here if He didn’t equip me to carry out these responsibilities.

I want our kids to look to me and feel Christ’s love and see my joy in Him. Unfortunately this is not the example I have been showing these past few weeks. I have allowed the day to day routine, stress and the extreme busy in our lives overcome me and dictate my moods and steal my joy. Shame on me! Our kids for the past three weeks have looked to me and have the impression of stressed and busy means you need to be rushed, short-tempered and grumpy after a long hard day. That’s it!!!! I refuse to let all of the blessings of this life stress me out and dictate my emotional forefront and allow the circumstance of my stressful day steal my joy in the Lord. I want my children to look at me on the busiest and most stressful days and see not just a smile on my face but see joy and feel Christ like love.

After sitting down with my amazing husband and reflecting on how we have handled the last 3 weeks with our children, we have identified the areas that we are lacking, where we need to make some changes and we came up with a plan of how we can work together as Christian parents to better lead our children by our own example.

#1-One area that my husband and I have done well in, is starting our day together reading scripture and in prayer. We get up early every morning, and over a cup of coffee we sit in bed, read scripture, discuss if anything spoke to us from our reading and pray before we begin our day. This is all wonderful except that during this time all the kids are fast asleep in bed and don’t even realize we are doing this. They should see us reading our bibles regularly; we need to lead by example. We will continue with our morning’s devotional time, this is important for us to start out day with the Lord and quiet time together. To be the example so our kids can see us reading our scripture we will take 10 minutes at the end of the day after whatever activities the evening kept us busy with and sit on the couch and read while they are getting ready for bed, so they will see us doing this.
#2-Our oldest three are in the car for at least 20-30 minutes to and from school each day. During our morning ride in I am going to have them each take turns reading out loud from the bible. Reading the bible is not something that they are going to ‘choose’ to do on their own and not likely something they will want to do but it is so important to instill this in them. It will be something we start with small, I am going to start at the beginning and have them work their way through the bible, only require them to read 3-5 verses each. I will be working on making this a priority with them during our morning routine and setting this example for them.
#3-We are going to work together to keep the stress, schedules, on the go, chaos each day brings us from taking our joy, to be able to smile and support each other through the most trying and difficult days, so our children can see the joy of the Lord through us.

I choose joy….the joy of the Lord is my strength

I choose to live in God’s presence.
James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance’

I choose joy on the days when everything feels like it is falling apart, when all 5 children are acting out, all I want to do is cry and start the day over while there are endless things to be done to survive our day….I will still choose JOY
Philippians 4:4-5 ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.’
I will grow in my joy when my children can see Christ in me.
I choose Joy…
Hebrews 12:2 ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
I choose to find joy in my life praising God

“Heavenly Father,
You are so awesome and so mighty! Thank You for all of Your grace and mercy in our lives. Thank You for loving us unconditionally. Thank You for your blessings. Thank You for sending Your son to suffer for our sins. We do not worthy of all that You have given us, yet our lives our full of undeserved blessing, Thank You for always providing for us, thank You for answering prayers even if the answer is no, for being with us and equipping us to live in this sinful world. Thank You for Your word and direction on how to live our lives and serve You.
You know my heart, please forgive me for not seeking you first, for letting the details of our busy lives overtake my time with You. I confess my weakness in being overcome by stress and circumstance. I need You Lord, my strength comes from only You, I cannot do any of this on my own, without You I am powerless. Lord please give me power to be the woman You created me to be, I pray if my words or actions begin to step out of Your will please give me guidance to fall back into Your will.
I come to You today in surrender, I seek Your wisdom and strength as a mother, to live my life with a joyful heart always, whatever the circumstance of my day I pray to have a joyful heart in You Lord. I ask for wisdom and guidance in all my roles and responsibilities, please lead me and guide. I pray to always keep You center in all that we do.
I pray our children grow to know You, to serve You and love You, that our example in their lives lays down the foundation for their faith, they grow into godly people and they can go out into this world as an example of Your love and share You with those around them.
I pray for Your protection over my children, protect them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
In Jesus name I pray- AMEN”

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Welcome to the country!

I was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in the suburbs of Chicago where I lived until I enlisted in the Navy and moved to Virginia in 2000. I lived in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia from 2000 to 2013 when I moved to the middle peninsula of Virginia. So gradually over time I have moved into areas that are less and less populated. I have always considered myself a ‘city-girl’ but this past year I have fallen in love with what is considered a ‘rural’ area so maybe…just maybe I am a country girl at heart.

 

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I moved to Gloucester, VA at the end of March in 2013 as I made my career transition from Registered Nurse to Nurse Practitioner. It was my career that moved me from Chesapeake, VA to Gloucester but there are so many reasons I am thankful God led me here. Tonight I will reflect on all the reasons I am thankful that the Lord brought me to the country.

1- I am thankful for God’s mercy, forgiveness, love and grace. He led me here and has filled our lives with blessings. Over the last 13 years even when I was not living my life faithful to the Lord He was always there with me guiding me and protecting me. NO matter what storms life may bring to me I know God is going to be there with me. When I encounter something that at first appears impossible I remember all the difficult times God brought me through before and I know He can do it again. I have constant peace within as I know that God is always with me and He will always love me.

2- Moving here led me to meet Matt, the love of my life, my husband who shares in my love for Christ, best friend, spiritual partner and the most amazing man I have ever known.

3- I have been told, “Welcome to God’s Country” in a way it is almost like a whole other world out here, this area is full of believers, there is an atmosphere of love among most people here, everyone smiles and waves hello, you actually feel like a person living in a community with others who care about you and are happy to see you. I have never felt more welcome or wanted in a community or town than I have felt here.

4- Smaller towns means smaller schools, my kids get more one on one personal attention in their classrooms and schools here, they are not just lost in the crowd they are a child that is cared for and loved by their teachers.

5-I live in a town of less than 40,000 and commute to work in a community with less than 9000 each day, I have NO traffic, a bad drive to work is encountering a tractor or school bus, which gives me a peaceful 25 minutes to pray, sing worship music or have quiet time to myself before or after work without having to fight hundreds of other drivers for space on the road, thank You Lord for country life with no traffic!

6- My church family.  I had an incredible church home in Chesapeake, but the church home I have been led to here in Gloucester is beyond what words can describe, I have never felt more welcome than I felt my first day at Newington Baptist.  My church family is amazing.

7- I can really enjoy God’s wonderful creation here, there is just a short drive to enjoy a beach, woods, mountains, farms and not too far to get to the city if we are in the mood for the hustle and bustle of an evening on the town.  At night if you go outside, it is pitch black, you can see every star in the sky and nature chirps a wonderful serenade.

 

Welcome to the country!!!  I am so thankful the Lord brought me to this area.  I know I am most likely missing a reason or two for reasons I am thankful to be away from city life but bottom line is I am thankful, for the Lord, my salvation, my life, my family, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

“As for God His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” Psalm 18:30

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9