Photos by Lindsey Johnson Photography
There is a war waging for our hearts, to shut them down and disable those who love Jesus.
I feel it stronger than ever before. I went away for a women’s retreat and found God in a place I hadn’t visited for a while. Not a physical place, but a place of depth within my soul. I found Him waiting for me for to crawl through the haze and reach Him.
There is power in people, in bodies who hold the same spirit. When we are together and dig down deep, our spirits unite and God seems to swell up and make Himself known in a way no one can deny. There is strength in unity and love. There is strength in wanting and needing God. There is strength in honesty and humility.
We found God. Anyone who was there can confirm that their hearts melted into one big pile of butter!
That is where I am finding myself now. I am butter before God. The moment I begin to worship Him, whether in my car or church, read the Bible or pray, there He is. I feel Him close and my eyes continue to instantly well up with tears. It’s like all that “stuff” that was between Him and I has diminished. I don’t have to work as hard to find Him. I don’t feel like He is a million miles away. He is close and I trust Him.
But, I have a feeling that something doesn’t like it.
I feel a strong pressure in my weaker moments to collapse, to give my thoughts back to the one who confines them. It feels like spiritual tug-of-war. Satan sees power in the hands of those whose hearts and minds move freely within God’s will. My days, since being home, have been harder than ever. I’ve thought things like “I should have just stayed in bed today.” On the other hand, my moments with God have been richer than ever. He is worth it. I choose to fight this fight against the one who devours. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12)
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3
If this is you, I encourage you to fight. Lift your eyes up and realize where your help comes from! He is worth it!
In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. Psalm 95:4
HLC Women’s Retreat starts TOMORROW!
We are heading to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia! From the moment the retreat was scheduled, I began praying that every women who was meant to be there would find a way to make it happen! Every time someone added, I began dreaming about all the things God had in store for them. So, for those of you who are going, it is meant to be!
God has something fantastic waiting for you this weekend!
See you there!
My story is always the same. God always comes through.
My little family strives to live our lives the most obedient to God as possible. Not to say we are even near the mark because no one is ever sure. We may be completely off! I read a quote recently that went something like this… (Paraphrasing) “Just like a dad catching his child jumping into the swimming pool, God’s will moves with you. No matter how close or far that child jumps, the dad is going to move to catch him.” Isn’t God just like that! I’m jumping! I might not be jumping far enough or fast enough, but I believe God is reaching out to catch me where ever I may land! Isn’t there freedom in that statement? We don’t have to be perfect because it’s impossible!
I have a thousand stories to share about how we stepped out in faith and God provided. I always say that we are quite spoiled by this god we serve. I look back and see an overall favor upon us. We are healthy and happy and so much more.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Notice that scripture, along with many others, talks about “tribulation.” In the back of my mind, I’ve wondered how long this favor can last. I have believed in miracles. I know that God answers prayers. But, something has been looming over me that says, “bad things happen to good people.” How long can this goodness last?
My husband, David, has been ill for months. It has progressively gotten worse and we’ve been worried. A little over a month ago, we finally got in to see a fantastic family practitioner who wanted to run several test. One of those test was a CT scan. We anticipated the day as anyone would. We stated before the test, “As long as your pancreas comes back clear, everything else we can manage.” You see, David’s grandmother died at a young age of pancreatic cancer. David seemed to be displaying many of the vague symptoms of this terrible disease…..
The test went well and I left to visit family in KY. I wondered if I should leave with David being sick. Two days after being there my 7 year old developed a horrible virus that mimicked meningitis. We spend hours in the ER and cried many tears. I didn’t think my heart could take any more hurt and worry. Thankfully, he was cleared and sent back to my mom’s house to recover.
Upon leaving my mom’s house, David called. I was alone there with my kids and the van packed. We were walking out the door to drive 5 hours home. David said “There is a mass on my pancreas.”
Needless to say, my world collapsed. I didn’t need anyone to tell me about pancreatic cancer. As a nurse, I’ve seen it too many times. Nearly every mass is cancerous and almost no one survives it.
David had been sick for a long time. He had lost 20 pounds and even his bilirubin had been elevated. Often that is the first sign of pancreatic cancer. I’d seen him lie sick on the couch for days, unable to move with stomach pain and exhaustion. In that moment, I was defeated. It all made sense. I drove home with swollen, bloodshot eyes and tears streaming the whole five hours. I asked God a lot of questions like “Is this how my story is going to go?” “Has our favor run out?” It was like a dagger in my heart I’ve never felt before.
So, there is where our true journey began. The journey of test, studies and procedures. You name it and he had it done. We had to wait to see the only doctor in Chattanooga who could do the actual procedure to look directly at the pancreas. In the meantime, doctors were ruling everything else out. We crossed our fingers every time we completed a new test, hoping the doctor would say, “We found what is causing the pain.” Maybe if they could find it, the pancreas thing would be nothing. But, no one could find anything.
Each and every time, I sat alone, waiting. Once specific time, I was in a conference room that couldn’t have been bigger than 6x4ft. I wanted to pray but my mind kept on imagining. “Is this going to be the place where I find out the bad news?” “Is this the moment our life officially changes forever?” I even took a picture of the chair across from me where the doctor would sit to deliver the news. Once again, he delivered no bad news. He didn’t even sit in that stupid chair.
My stomach had been in knots since the day David called me in KY. I couldn’t think about anything else. I tried everything to trust God. I tried every way to distract my mind and stay busy. But, that knot in my stomach didn’t go anywhere. It was a constant reminder.
Two weeks after the CT results came, the day arrived. It was time for the big test. The ONE that would tell us what was going on with David’s pancreas. I needed someone to watch my kids again. I needed someone to sit with me at the hospital. I couldn’t sit alone and imagine again. What if the news was bad? How could I handle it alone? My family felt further away than ever.
I reached out. I’m not good at reaching out. But, let me say that I am grateful I did for so many reasons. I didn’t know that there were people who loved so deeply right beside me. We aren’t “home” per say. The home I grew up in is KY. But, isn’t this what “home” is all about? Isn’t it about people who truly love and support one another? There were friends who watched my kids at 5:30am. There were friends that took days off work to keep me busy while I waited on results. I am grateful for the opportunity to see what was there beside me all along.
The doctor finally came out to deliver the results. He said, “I didn’t see anything unusual about the pancreas. It looked normal. There wasn’t even anything to biopsy.”
Psalms 34: 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
I haven’t processed all the emotions enough yet to write too much about life “after” our good news was delivered. After all, it was only a few days ago. Of course, we are beyond grateful and give God all the credit. God has delivered us once again. My story will remain the same. God always comes through. I get to grow old with with man that I married. My kids will have a daddy to see all their great accomplishments.
Strangely, a part of me has felt sad. Why do we get good news and so many people get bad news? There are so many out there who are scared like I was. Do they have support like I did?
There was something completely remarkable about our lives being laid out before God. It’s like we were cut right open and only God controlled our fate. Nothing we could do change or fix a thing. We were helpless. All we could do was wait.
Also, over the years, my faith has become more “reasonable.” I have found myself hesitant to pray for miracles. It’s like my grown-up brain wants to think things like “sometimes bad things happen and we don’t understand it.”
Matthew 14:31 “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Why should I walk around waiting for our good favor to end? What a miserable and sad idea?
God heals. He changes. He delivers. Nothing is impossible with him. David has felt better than ever since the day the test came back clear. Something happened inside of him. Was it a miracle? Months and months of sickness and now nothing? He’s fine just like that?
This process broke us down and humbled us. I want to stay here. It is the most realistic place.
Isn’t it amazing that the most realistic place of faith is also a place of miracles and dreams?
That grown-up, stuffy place is NOT real. That place in your life where you wonder if God is involved or if he just left you here to survive, it’s not true. Neither is truth waiting for your luck to run out and the bad news to be delivered.
The truth is that God will supply every need of yours according to his plan!
Phillipians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”
Many people ask about my decision to homeschool. Those who don’t ask, assume a lot of things.
Here are a few of my thoughts on homeschooling.
- I find it completely remarkable that I am able to birth children, raise them as I please, and choose to school them at home where I, an educated mother, can teach them. The entire process is beyond comprehension and a complete blessing.
- I am not the type of person that believes everyone should homeschool. It is a matter of where your child will receive the best education and upbringing. If you are not educated, motivated or have the available time, then homeschooling is not for you. Public school offers many great possibilities and I personally had an overall good experience growing up in the public school system.
- This is a big one. Everyone assumes that homeschooling is exactly what I am passionate about and love to spend my days doing. This is a completely bogus assumption. Keep in mind that I said that I would never homeschool before I had kids. I made a decision for my family that is currently the best choice for us. I don’t love to sit home and make crafts with my kids. Actually, most days I think, if I skip this craft, we will finish school much faster. But, those hands-on activities are what help my kids learn the most. I do them because I want my kids to learn and receive the best education I can give them.
- Homeschooling is not easy. I don’t sit home and fold laundry or surf Facebook while my kids do their work. I choose to be a teacher and completely invested in their learning. I have given up a lot of things because of this choice to homeschool. I have given up a 2nd income in our family and temporarily given up a nursing profession that I enjoy. I have given up a lot of freedom. The hours that my school age children would be in class, I spend teaching. I’ve given up a lot of free time in preparation in the evenings and on the weekends. I give up a clean organized home on a daily basis and also my involvement in many things that I care about. But, I don’t regret the choice to homeschool at all. For me, the sacrifices are worth it.
- I love that our learning is not limited. We take classes in a classroom atmosphere with teachers and students just like public school kids. But, we also get to be a part of many great activities. We visit business, museums, orchards, do outreaches, etc. We do all this on group field trips with our friends! Also, I get to buy those extra supplies that teachers can’t often afford to do science experiments, artwork and history projects!!
- I don’t have to worry about cultural issues like homosexuality being addressed by other teachers. My children will be exposed to culture. They are pastor’s kids! Trust me, they get a lot of culture! But, I will be the one who will explain these important topics.
- If we are having a productive day, we finish school by lunchtime and have the rest of the day to do what we please!
- I know exactly what level of learning my children are at. We can move ahead on topics they know and slow down for the ones they struggle with. I don’t cut any slack though! I’m a tough Momma teacher! Trust me, you can ask them. We can test regularly to make sure we are up to state standards just like public school! Most of the time we are well beyond state standards.
- We can go on vacation whenever we want. We are on our own schedule!
- My kids get to be a big part of the family. We spend our days together! They help me do everything and they learn a lot of life skills. They get to go to work with their Dad and learn from him too! They cook, imagine, create, plant gardens and anything else we desire. Our possibilities are endless.
- Our conversations are priceless. All those days we spend discussing science and history drives us towards many deep topics about God and our world. I feel I have much more control over their influences in the homeschool setting. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to brainwash my kids! Seriously, I let them think and figure things out on their own. I give them the facts and then we talk about them. For example, we were just discussing the Muslim religion and where it originated. I let them form an opinion. Of course, it is influenced by our family’s core beliefs, but it is better that they discover rather than be told.
- New doors are opening every day for homeschoolers. They can now join public school sports teams and apply for the same scholarships that public school students can.
- I learn a lot of interesting things! I must have either slept through elementary school or wasn’t taught much of anything. Regardless, I do find myself asking “How did I not know that?” on a regular basis!
I’m sure I could go on and write a book. I did not include all the things I appreciate about homeschooling. These topics I’ve addressed seem to be the most controversial. These are answers to many of the questions or assumptions I’ve encountered since beginning this journey. I did not list the cons to homeschooling. There are those too. Nothing is perfect. But, for me, in my current situation, homeschooling is the best choice for my family. We may not do it forever. Regardless, we take every decision to God in prayer and follow His guidance.
I’ve been watching a bird, the same one for days, trying to fly through a window in my house. Repeatedly, it comes towards it, slowly as if it knows there is a barrier, feet first, grabbing and flapping at he window. It’s quite odd. I keep wondering what it sees. Why the same window over and over? God made those birds. Is he trying to tell me something? Yes – my mind goes there. I believe God is deeply connected to everything. No way are we all here counting on good luck and circumstance to get us by!
God told me it was the Holy Spirit wanting so much to move freely, in and out of my soul, without all the restrictions I keep placing on Him. Most of those restrictions are rooted in selfishness. My heart’s walls close in, leaving only the smallest space for Him. I’m mostly too busy. Sometimes, I’m too frustrated with God. I am 100% sure that nothing will EVER go the way I want it to without Him. Even the dreamiest dreams that come true are no good without Him. But, every ordinary thing is ridiculously fantastic with Him close-by! I KNOW these things. Yet, again and again, I loose sight and move on with my own things. Regardless, His spirit awaits, inside my heart, trying to make room, trying to pass through my walls. He tries to move past my barriers, grabbing and flapping, hoping I’ll let Him out again.
Roman, my 7 year old, began today with a smile.
The morning was strangely quiet. So quiet, in fact, that David and I slept until almost 9am! Seriously, that has not happened since Roman was born. He and his brother, Jude, had been up since 7am. It seemed quite dreamlike to wake up after the sun had begun to shine, our boys quietly and happily playing, Estella still snoozing.
By noon, David and I began making comments to Roman about his unusual demeanor.
Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit.
Oh yes, that would be the word to describe it.
You see, we’ve been praying for changes in this little one’s spirit.
He is an unbelievably wise child, understanding things beyond his years. Very observant, never missing a beat and very headstrong.
We have noticed him recently feeling very defeated. He has been in trouble, on average, 5-10 times every day for various things like yelling or throwing or pushing or saying hurtful words. If things haven’t gone as he wanted, an outburst almost always followed. He has felt very guilty after these outburst and had convinced himself that he could never be better. He comes up with the craziest ideas about growing up and becoming a bad guy or having a “bad” heart. Completely aware that these outburst are wrong, he said things like never being able to stop, that he can’t be better.
I can never stand to hear him so down on himself because, of course, I know the goodness that really abides in his heart. I know that he truly wants to show love and not anger. But, I will not be disrespected nor will I let my other children be treated poorly. There is that great parental responsibility to show love through discipline. So, no matter how much I’ve wanted to just tip-toe around him, I’ve, instead, put on my armor and stood my ground
I’ve worried about him feeling very overwhelmed at not being able to control things. I’ve seen frustration rise up in his eyes and a complete change come over him when things didn’t go his way. Had there been something deeper I was missing? It has taken solitude and time to find his way to other side of these episodes.
We’ve tried everything and we have prayed our hearts out. I’ve wanted, more than anything, for him to feel loved and to be able to show love. I’ve wanted him to feel like he had control over his emotions. I’ve wanted him to know that he can call out to God and that God will help him. It has been heartbreaking to see such turmoil inside this little boy’s heart.
Sometimes, though, when you feel like NOTHING is working, God is doing the work.
The entire day today was drastically different. I couldn’t believe the way he was responding when I asked him to do things. He was speaking very softly to his brother and sister. He was stopping in his tracks to assist them. He was pleasant. I hadn’t seen this side of Roman in a very long time, months even. Honestly, throughout the day, I was waiting for the everything to change, waiting for another complete breakdown. That moment never came.
Tonight, just before our nightly reading, I asked Roman why he had acted so different today.
This is what he said. “I was praying alone in my room a couple nights ago before bed. I asked God to please help me to be good. I told him I didn’t want to be bad anymore. Today, God gave me a New Year’s present. The present was courage. I feel like He changed me. I feel like a brand new person. I’m a brand new Roman. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to be better! Now, I understand what I need to do. I feel good in my heart. I mean, look at me, I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy.”
As he said these words, he was smiling and tears literally came to his eyes. He leaned over to embrace me as if the most wonderful thing in the world has just happened.
He was looking at me with these big contented eyes and I could see down to his soul. It was like he was saying, “Mom, everything you’ve been telling me about Jesus is true! He really is with me always. He really does come to help me when I call out to Him. His spirit really does live inside me.”
This boy has had his first God experience. I know exactly what he was feeling. I had forgotten but now I remember. The burning warmth behind the eyes as they well up with tears. An aura. A sort of giddiness.
God had always been with Roman, but now he senses His presence. I know the future for us all will be full of mistakes, full of learning. Nevertheless, progress comes when we are changing, when we are allowing God to teach us, when we are asking and listening and feeling.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
What would I like this year to be?
This is not about resolutions. It’s just about hopes and dreams.
My 30’s have caused me to think much more about passing moments and time standing still.
I’ve become more likely to do things I’ve dreamed of doing.
I find myself asking, “why not do that?” and realizing the risks are much lower that previously assumed.
Moments stand apart from others – like the green crispy lettuce on my sandwich this morning.
Just that one, simple & organic detail made it taste so much better.
Like mixing batter in vintage ceramic bowels is more beautiful than mixing in those ugly plastic ones.
It makes me feel like I’m creating something wonderful that will fill my children’s tummies.
Like walking outside in the early morning cold to care for my chickens.
I take a deep breath and the coolness expands my lungs full.
It is quiet. The air is crisp. The sun is rising. The squirrels play.
I am not alone here in this world. God is with me always.
Like the sound of the stream running behind my home in the dark woods.
Though it looks desolate out there, it is not.
There is the sound of water flowing, moving across the ground, carrying things here and there.
I would like to continue on this path of progression in 2014.
I am a person who changes. My thoughts morph as I am inspired, as God speaks.
I want to pull myself together when I feel weak.
I want to feel compassion deep and always have time for another.
I want my words to mimic God’s heart.
I want to be so close that I feel His spirit envelope me.
I want to teach & inspire & love.
I want my sight to be focused and undistracted.
That is what is so special about this God I serve.
He is gracious. He is present.
And He makes my dreams come true.
What would you like your year to be?
The favorite present: this baby (she hasn’t put it down since the party) We’ve given it baths, changed it’s clothes 1000 times, fed it, and taken it for a walk in her stroller.
I have to admit that my heart is broken, just a little, because she is no longer 1. I have loved every second of 1.
And 2 sounds SO much bigger!!
Have you ever loved anything so much that you didn’t want one part of it to pass by???
That is her in our family…
We all, including her brothers, ooh and awe over her so many times a day.
She melts our hearts with her batting eyes and little twirls.
My favorite part of ALL is her tiny mommy heart.
She keeps her eyes on everyone and everything, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is obeying.
She doesn’t mind to tell her big brothers to watch for cars or to slow down when things seem dangerous.
What a precious little gift she has been since God brought her into our family!
We love you forever Miss Estella!
Mommy, Daddy, Roman & Jude
Beginning with the nomads, my son and I have studied history through the middle ages. We have examined Islam, Buddhism, Greek gods and goddesses, and Christianity. It has been intriguing to learn how various religions began and where their stories originated. This investigation has given us a much better understanding of the core of each religion. There are so many that ask, “How do we know our God is the real one? How do we know we are right?”
Others are often more devoted and even more passionate than we are as Christians. They follow outward rules and rituals without hesitancy. We’ve seen the daily devotion from those like Muslims who bow towards Mecca to pray five times a day. Some are peaceful with beautiful beliefs and traditions like Buddhist who believe in being truthful, non-harmful and wise. Following a path to an “awakening” seems dreamy and romantic.
Their thoughts are noble, to remain completely devoted to their god or goddesses, or the teachings of their leaders. On the other hand, when you dig deep, you realize that Buddha never intended himself to be worshiped. He wanted to help people live fair and honest lives and to be awakened to a sense of self. His ideas of the afterlife were his own. Good intentions they were, but not actions of a God. He was a man. There was no pre-curser, no follow-up, only him and his ideas. Then, when you look at the life of Mohammed, you ask yourself how one could trust a man who stole and murdered as “the only prophet of Allah.” It is an entire faith based upon the stories told by one man, one who prospered much by the lands he conquered and controlled, then died a sudden unexplained death and left his followers with no guidance.
Christianity is a faith in existence from the beginning of time. The birth and death of Jesus Christ was prophesied by many before His coming. History documents Biblical truths repeatedly. His story is one of love and forgiveness. He is one man that lived a sinless life, leaving us with the Holy Spirit, guidance, testimonies, power, and promises.
I’m tired of weak-mindedness. I’m tired of the lack of commitment and how easily we question our core beliefs. We have all greatly taken for granted our fruitfulness. We, as a nation under God, are broken. “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19 God has, no doubt, stored up and released many great things for us as a nation. However, I worry that we have grown lazy and undecided. We expect everything for nothing and how long will this last? Muslims stop and pray five times a day. How many times a day to do we stop and pray to our God? We are idealistic, believing we should accept all religions. How many times have we closed our mouths and hidden our hearts in fear of offending. We want to take the best from each religion, believing that whoever is “up there” will have mercy on us if we are good. Where are our rituals? Where are the things that hold us down and keep us centered: church on Sunday, our spiritualism, our goodness? Are those enough? Is expecting God’s grace and love with no commitment on our parts enough? Where is His power? Jesus walked on the Earth, performed miracles, then left us with the Holy Spirit. We have power in Jesus Christ. There is power to heal and to restore. There is love and wisdom to stand firm and love everyone, regardless of religion, without being persuaded to change our minds.
I say all this because I’m tired of these things in my own life. I’m tired of not being prepared to defend my beliefs. I’m tired of days passing and “forgetting” about God. I’m looking for ways in my daily life to make Jesus Christ my center and my family’s center. I’m tired of being distracted and caught off guard. I would like to have meaningful rituals that remind me why we exist, our purpose, and our future. What can we do daily to help us remember that God is truth and He is all that matters? What Christian rituals does your family practice?
Some days my heart aches for home.
God called us to Chattanooga. This was the place God had been telling us about for so long. He carved the way for transition and peace . We pastor a church here in the city and feel a strong connection to this place. There is so much goodness to come. The things we dreamed about, God is bringing to pass. There is always a certain sacrifice though.
I told my husband last week I was “homesick.” He looked at me surprised and immediately started describing the lack of opportunity for us in our hometown. His lack of understanding lead to my complete conclusion that men are completely different than women when it comes to emotion. And it’s okay, even natural.
My heart aches for these people we left behind, not the place. I said “left behind” like we are now moving on without them, which is not true. But, oh, how it feels that way.
We moved just far enough away to make it difficult for frequent visits. No one is at fault for this. It is the distance, the road between us I contend with. I feel a certain ambivalence towards those miles. They are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever traveled – winding roads, over the mountains and around the vast waters. Then, they change into the lush flat farmland, familiar to my home, for miles upon miles to see. But, they keep us apart. They separate us into here and there. I wish I could pick them up and set them aside.
I miss “come over for dinner” and “stop by on your way home from work” phone calls.
I miss all the talk about absolutely nothing particular.
I miss my kids running to the door when they knock and the loving embraces that only a grandparent can give.
They are the people who care about all the details.
They are the ones who ask about it all. They listen to my rambling words and feel them.
There is an acceptance and love that I crave. They haven’t gone anywhere. They’re always there, just further away and harder to feel. If I’m busy I can ignore it, the longing for them. But, in quite moments it’s always there.
When days go on long, and I don’t know what they are doing, what they are feeling, I feel separate. I feel excluded. Not purposed by any means, just an unavoidable circumstance.
I have them. Not everyone does. I can visit. I have that. Not everyone can.
It’s okay that my heart aches a little sometimes but, I’m thankful all at the same time. I have a father that loves my children endlessly, a sister just like me, and an endearing lovely mother whom I can’t live without.
Love and complete acceptance are vital, whether it is from family or friends. I wish we could all show it to each other better. As a pastor’s wife, I hope I can show this family love to others, in the way I’ve learned it from these people.
BIAC serves those with brain injury, special needs and other disabilities.The camp is on 42 acres in Henderson County, KY and is an outdoor site created to provide adventure activities for those with and without disabilities.
The facility is also used for team building and outdoor education.
The camp has low ropes course, fishing ponds, one mile trails, zip lines, therapeutic horseback riding, adaptive trikes, gardening and arts.
BIAC began after David’s cousin, T.K., suffered a traumatic brain injury while snowboarding in Colorado in 2003 at the age of 25. T.K. was in a coma for three months. David’s uncle, Tim, T.K.’s father, never left his side and when therapy ended, Tim continued to encourage and work with his son. Although doctors did not give much hope for life beyond bedridden, T.K. continued to improve. Tim explored opportunities for T.K. to grow physically and mentally and discovered an adventure camp in Colorado. After volunteering at this camp several times, Tim was convinced that such a camp was much needed and would be utilized in the western part of the US.
That began the long road of prayer, work, donations, research and so much more. Today, this is an amazing nonprofit organization that serves people in an awesome way.
We were amazed at the passion and love found within this organization. Most of all, we loved spending time with family we hadn’t seen in a very long time.
You can find more information about BIAC here:
I love summer mornings on my mom’s farm.
The air is hollow. We rock on the porch and feel the breeze. We talk and watch them run and play.
Beads of dew on the grass and my pulse slows.
Clouds puff up early and the sun melts them away.
Deer prance in the pasture and God finds His way into my daydreams.
Life is moving faster than ever but this time I slow down to see.
Freezing moments of baby smooth skin and loving embraces.
Carefree laughter and a heart full of this very moment.
We embrace what God gives.
Today, it feels like a gift, tomorrow it may not.
What ever the day holds, it is a day given by God, with all things considered.
We believe, hold strong and breathe deep.
A year ago, I had NO idea I would be here or that I would be anywhere different than where I was for that matter.
So, for all our family and friends, near and far, here you go!
This is where we landed.
It’s our place.
Looking out & Looking in.
Baby Bear wanted a picture.
My favorite room.
This is where we learn & play.
This is where it is just “us” and books and art!
Little parts of the dining room.
Peeking in the half bath downstairs.
I am in love with this print my mom and I found antiquing last weekend.
“The Shepherd” 1909
Also, you can see my funky curtains from World Market on the right.
Left: Looking into the kitchen
Right: Looking over our dining room table into the living room.
(Notice how convenient it MIGHT be to put your kids at this table for lunch and turn on a cartoon for them to watch. I mean – only if you were that sort of mom ;)
I finally found something to do with all those old clay jars I had laying around…
I can’t believe I didn’t photograph my pantry.
You can see the first door to the right in this photo. That is it!
It very big and amazing. This is my first actual pantry can you tell?
I love it!
The second door is the laundry room which leads to the two-car garage.
Corner of living room.
Just found this old bookshelf mostly for kids novels and a few of my favorites.
Now that Roman is really reading, I love collecting all the classics for him.
Did I mention how appreciative I am of this laundry room?
It’s right off the kitchen and when I do laundry, (which is much more often now that my washer & dryer are indoors) it smells like warm fluffy lavender all over the house.
It may be the widest, longest hallway I’ve seen.
Apparently, this is good for nightly kickball tournaments.
I’ll pause here and mention how incredibly blessed my kids are at this moment in time.
This playroom is amazing.
Upstairs Hall again on the right.
A gigantic walk-in closet in the playroom full of toys.
Plenty of space inside for sleeper sofas, huge outdoor playhouses and wrestling matches.
(Don’t ask me why Roman is wearing Estella’s bib in this photo. I’m pretty sure Jude is feeding Roman pretend baby food.)
Guest bathroom/Kids brush my teeth space.
(This would be the kids bathroom altogether but it seems that everyone would rather bath in my large jacuzzi tube.)
(I’m reminded of the “Master of the House” song from Les Miserables right now.)
It really is wonderful.
David made this headboard for me. Isn’t it beautiful?
Oh why didn’t I remember to pick up candles to fit in those lovely vintage candles stands?
Do I dare show you our closet?
Well, just a peak… I cleaned it up just for you!
It is truly the size of a small bedroom.
Roman and Jude’s room.
Could these boys fit any more stuffed animals in their beds?
By the way, my husband made these headboards too.
“The Stolen Kiss”
I found a little treasure today digging through some old books.
When my grandmother, Margie, passed, she left behind some medical books that were passed along to me.
I think this may have been lost among those.
It is called God’s Minute: A Book of 365 Daily Prayers Sixty Seconds Long for Home Worship.
Published in 1916 and written by 365 Eminent Clergymen and Laymen.
Within the first pages there is this poem written by Blinton Scollard.
A CALL TO WORSHIP
Let us put by some hour of every day
For holy things! – whether it be when dawn
Peers through the window-pane, or when the noon
Flames, like a burnished topaz, in the vault,
Or when the thrush pours in the ear of eve
Its plaintive monody; some little hour
Wherein to hold rapt converse with the soul,
From sordidness and self a sanctuary,
Swept by the winnowing of unseen wings,
And touched by the White Light Ineffable!
It’s remarkable to read words written nearly 100 years ago, knowing they were worshiping the same God as I.
They were seeking guidance from the same Bible.
They plead with us regarding the importance of spending time with God in their words left behind.
Many of the writers are now with Jesus eternally.
And who was Mamie Billups that lived on 906 Bellemeade Av whom this book belonged?
I may never know but I’m glad this little treasure somehow landed in my hands.
(Interpretation)God is stronger. God is stronger than anyone else in the universe – like the Hulk or Superman or anyone else you know. God is loving and kind and he is great. I love my God. He died for our sins. I pray all the time. Sometimes I cry because I love Him more than anyone else in the world. Actually, I’m crying right now and praying right now. The end. From Roman. Made April Tuesday 9, 2013
You can imagine how my heart melted just now when I found these printed words.
Roman, my 6 year old son, typed and printed this with no prompting or assistance.
It isn’t the spelling or grammar that is so stunning.
It is the heartfelt words of my sweet boy who knows the love of Jesus.
He said that these are the lyrics to a song he wrote and wants to sing on the microphone.
I asked him if he really cried and he said “I had one little tear.”
Of all my days as a mommy, today is one of my most happy and thankful so far.
This morning, Estella and I were eating breakfast at my mom’s harvest table.
The sun shone through a windowpane and a bird sang right outside.
It warmed our skin and our hearts.
Estella loved hearing the bird’s song. She gasped each time and repeated “bir bir.”
The morning sun whispered to us the secrets of the day to come.
It would be an unusually kind winter day.
I’m a sucker for wide open spaces, cool breezes, flocks of swarming birds and unspectacular farm houses.
I love when the sun makes my children’s skin glow and their eyes sparkle.
Simplicity is the best.
I thought I was strong enough.
Turns out I’m not feeling strong at all. I’m going to need His help this time.
Just when I thought this move was going to be easy, the weight of my thoughts and life press down. I’m the type of person that believes God has a plan. I believe His path always leads to somewhere great. I’ll give up anything to follow Him. But, this time, it’s harder…
I keep pressing forward even though my heart hurts. I’ve shed some of tears. By no means are they tears of regret but, instead, a sort of realization.
It’s a realization that familiar takes time and I don’t want to wait.
It’s a realization that I’m homesick. Although, I’m not exactly sure what home I’m longing for. There is nowhere I long to return. Yet, home hasn’t settled here in my heart either. So, I stand here, somewhere between where we were and where we are going. Displaced.
It’s a realization that family is far away and that isn’t going to change. I want them here to love my kids, to embrace them and warm their little hearts.
When things are out of sorts, everyone feels it. My kids feel it and I can’t fix it. I show it and they see it on my face. I’m having a hard time disguising my thoughts. Roman said, “Mom, you look sad about something.” My general countenance seems to be taking a toll even when I’m not aware.
The problem with all this “realization” talk is that it’s admittedly self-indulgent.
We all have the right to fall apart every now and then, right? It’s times like this, in my vulnerability, that I recognize Jesus reaching out to me. After all, in the Bible, Jesus didn’t typically run around helping those who had it all together. He was moved by people who knew they had needs.
Psalms 61:2 “I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
The solution is not found within myself. The answer is not the resolution of all my concerns. I can’t even suppress my fears with the power of positive thinking.
I simply need a Rock (Jesus) for shelter from my little storm. I need a higher place, higher than the floodwaters.
To achieve peace, I need to anchor my mind and heart on Jesus Himself. I know that He keeps His promises. I know that He loves me passionately. Now, it is time to trust that He’ll save me, even if there is a storm raging inside.
It’s safer to stay anchored to Him than to drift off on my own.
Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Give thanks unto Him and bless His name.”
This scripture is a call to rise and look, in faith, to the God who loves us. It’s time I fill my mouth, heart, and mind with praise; I have a feeling that I’ll find that God’s presence is right there, ahead of me.
Very uncharacteristic of late December in Kentucky but very appreciated.
We ran and played on grandmother’s farm for Christmas this year.
We finally got our hands on growing baby Violet who is almost 6 months old.
They help us to settle down.
Recent changes have been a little more difficult on me than anticipated.
Cozy & familiar are nothing of the sorts.
As a mother, a sense of security in my children is important.
I want them to feel at home and peaceful within.
I place a lot of value on this because it is important to me.
With our move, as expected, things were turned up-side-down.
They still are and will probably be for a while.
Why have I been struggling so much with that?
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
I have to re-evaluate.
Is my security found in myself?
Does my peace come from control and perfection?
Are my eyes really fixed on the Lord?
I have to ask myself these questions and be transparent with myself.
Did you know we can lie to ourselves?
It’s called denial.
The answers are not what I wanted to hear.
So, here we go Jesus.
I’m having trouble trusting You.
For some crazy reason, I’m finding myself more capable than You, my creator.
This mindset looks like a lot of disappointment and heartbreak for my future.
So, let’s talk about changing it.
Show me how to let go.
I don’t want these frustrating feelings in my heart and now I know why they are there.
I am Yours.
My heart is Yours.
My mind is Yours.
My life is Yours.
My family is Yours.
My days are Yours.
I do not know what is best, You do.
I’m setting my mind on You.
Every moment & every second.
Thanks you Jesus that you love me so much that you show me how to feel better.
This week at my mom’s house in the country has been a gift.
Did I earn such a gift? Probably not.
But God loves me despite whether or not I’m deserving.
Today, we say goodbye to this house.
It’s only a house.
But, it has held us for six years.
Roman was less than a year old when we first moved in.
We celebrated his first birthday party down the road at a local park with family and friends.
Two years later, our Jude was born.
We brought our little red head home and watched him grow.
Two more years went bye.
Lovely Miss Estella won us over as she became a part of our family last year.
It has been are such a warm cozy place.
I know it was the love & family within that made it what it was all along.
And that will be with us wherever we go.
Many of you have heard that we are moving to Chattanooga to pastor a church.
One of my greatest heartaches at this moment is over THIS group of girls.
Never in my dreams could I have known how I would LOVE these students so deeply.
They have inspired me beyond words.
They’ve changed me in some way each time we’ve met.
Their desire is to show God’s love, become more like Him and humbly inspire others.
I could write a story about all the things that have happened among us over the years.
I’ve seen their hearts.
They are beautiful, honest and genuine.
I’ve watched many of your grow from children into young woman.
The openness among this group is something truly remarkable.
They listen to each other and encourage one another without judgment.
They have inspired me to love and not judge, to embrace life to it’s fullest and trust God wholeheartedly.
The time I’ve spent with them will forever hold a special place in my heart.
To all those who are a part or have been a part in the past:
Girls, I love you dearly.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.
I’ve loved every moment.
I cannot wait to see the amazing path unfold that God has chosen for each of you!
Call me. Text me. Facebook me.
I’m not far away!
I’ll miss you.
I wish this barn was sitting in my backyard… and that these horses were mine.
I wish that every day was appropriate for afternoon explorations.
I wish for nothing more than exactly what these photos depict. Peace & love & happiness.
(This horse was particularly fond of Estella.
She was giggling here because it was sniffing her neck and tickling her!!)
My husband made these ADORABLE invitations and they made my day!
How lucky am I to have such a talented husband?
Our baby girl is turning 1 next month.
Oh – how moments are just flying by.
Within the past two weeks, she has discovered so many new things.
I LOVE when children suddenly understand that there is a greater reality than what is right in front of them.
They look out beyond the trees and into the sky.
Their eyes search to find the barking dog across the street.
Their arms flail out to feel the movement of the wind as it presses against them.
Their eyes follow a bird coasting along it’s path.
Last night, Estella reached up to the sky and wanted the moon.
Her little fingers moved in & out motioning for it to come near.
“Ooooohhhh” she said. (code for “wow” in Estella’s language)
I remember each one of my children “finding” the sky.
I love the night’s sky. Maybe that is why I remember them each finding it so vividly.
I imagine their world’s suddenly expanding.
How overwhelmingly extraordinary it is to be reminded of our creator.
To be reminded that there is more that what is found within.
My world is small but His is immeasurable and ceaseless.
Homeschooling has been such an unexpected journey.
I began very unsure if it would be something I would continue. I held many false preconceived notions.
If my words were enough to describe the moments of love & learning being shared in our home, you would understand.
I love the “togetherness” of us – our family.
I love that we learn and read and grow together.
I love that I can teach them what I please and reinforce Godly habits in their lives.
I have a love/hate relationship with the chaos of a crazy messy house until 3pm every day.
I love that my 1st grader knows way more than I ever did about the hunters & gatherers, ancient Egypt, famous composers & artwork.
I love that he corrects my grammar and pronunciation.
I love that we all pile up with blankets and read classic literature.
I love that we were reading a Bible story and when the word “Mesopotomia” appeared, my son knew exactly where it was and that is was the first documented city on Earth.
I love that my kids have the opportunity to grow intellectually and spiritually in this way.
I love so much about it all. Especially, I love that the end result of such a challenging task is worthwhile.
Little bug with his two favorites.
#2 4th generation hand-me-down micky mouse pjs.
10 months old and she finally has teeth to brush.
She’s Oh So Proud!
Peeling it from her hands is a true task.
You know one of the best parts about having kids?
You get to do a lot of silly things (adults normally don’t do) and it’s okay!
The hubs above setting up a tent in our suburban backyard.
He’s a keeper huh?
Little doll baby playing with kitty kitty.
See my new compost pile in the background!
These girls have grown. It’s about laying time!
Sometimes “hollowing” is exactly what I need.
Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
We had a little time off this weekend and decided to cram as many things as possible into 2 days!
First stop: Holiday Drive-In.
(David and I spent many dates here early in our marriage.)
I’ll never forget Jude’s face the first time he saw the BIG screen come on. He apparently had NO idea what to expect. His mouth literally fell open and popcorn hit his lap. I’m sure he didn’t close his mouth for at least 1 whole minute!
Popcorn, Slushies and a little pre-show baseball.
Next Day: Holiday World.
(Both places start with “Holiday.” Weird huh?)
My little diva happily refused a nap the entire day. She wasn’t going to miss a thing! She swam, road rides and had funnel cake & ice-cream with the rest of us!
She was looking a little tuckered out here!
Look Mom! You did ride a ride. We forgot about the old-fashioned cars!!
Estella’s first ride ever! Does she look like she’s having fun?
Our little end-of-the-summer hoorah!
On the wall
In the firelight
Let both of
I raise my
And you raise
Your arms, so!
From the wall
To the ceiling,
Just you and
And none else
Ivy O. Eastwick
Nighttime reading leads to dancing! Not so relaxing huh?
I see you my sweet little Estella darling.
This is me as a baby. Look at the barrette in my hair and compare it to the one above in Estella’s hair!
I’m NOT kidding. I took these pictures of Estella this morning. Then, I thought to myself, “I know I have a photo of me somewhere around the same age.” I went and found a photo and I am wearing the EXACT same barrette!!
Oh my goodness. Now these photos are even more special!
I found these precious little vintage barrettes on Etsy.
They are obviously just like the ones I wore in EVERY picture I’ve seen of myself as a baby.
Ducks & Poodles & Bows.
I love them!
The colors in the vintage barrettes are SO much better than the new pastel & neon ones.
She finally has just enough hair to wear them!
Me and My Nest
My name is Margie and I am the writer here at “Let Love Abide.”
I am a pastor’s wife and nurse who mostly stays home to homeschool my little ones. I also have a shop on Instagram called “Happy Hen Vintage Shop.” Go check it out!
I have three little darlings. Two boys, 8 and 5, and one little girl who is 3. My hubby and I have been married for over 10 years. He is a seminary graduate, pastor of Hamilton Life Church in Chattanooga and city boy married to a semi-country girl. We live happily somewhere in the middle.
Home + School
I said I’d never homeschool and here I am, eating my words. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way! They flourish and I love the time I have with them. I am honored with the opportunity to mold their little hearts & minds. With God’s help, I am growing fantastic, brilliant little people that will someday become awesome adults who love their creator! I’m learning that homeschooling is just as much about character building as it is about succeeding scholastically. I predominantly follow the classical curriculum suggestions of The Well Trained Mind.
God & Me
I am absolutely passionate about God. He is the center of my life. Every decision I make comes back to Him and where He is leading me. I believe in miracles. I believe His presence dwells within me and all around speaking in different ways. I believe He answers prayers and loves us. I believe He has our best interest in mind. I believe He sent Jesus Christ to be our savior.
I lead a lovely group of women at Hamilton Life Church! There is so much love and community among them and they represent God in the most amazing ways!
Vintage things make my heart flutter! I love rummaging through junk stores and estate sales to find beautiful treasures. My home is filled with a lot of old-fashioned love that once belonged to someone else. Those things are all about the people who made them or treasured them and we continue on, loving them just the same.
I love poetry, heartfelt stories and classic literature. Seeing my kids, cuddled up with a book in hand, amused by the stories of Narnia, Green Gables or 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, makes me feel very proud!
Nature is medicine. It revives my creativity and enthusiasm and reminds me how close we are to God.
Farm and Garden
I’ve been gardening organically for a long time on a half acre in the city. My garden spot is ridiculously large (for such a small yard) and produces more food than my little family can consume. It is so much fun to watch my kids take their little baskets out to the garden to gather food. I also have back yard chickens and a mini pig. I’d like to have a real farm someday but we will have to see where our future leads us.
That just about sums it up! I’d love to pray if you need prayer! You can message me here. Thanks for visiting!