1st Day of School 2019

These girls are growing up so fast! I can’t believe how fast time goes. Both girls love their teachers and their school. Raising these girls, I’m constantly reminded that “it takes a village” and we love how family oriented and Christ-centered their little school is.

“I planted, Apollo’s watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth… According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than which is laid, which is Jesus Christ…So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,” 1 Corinthians 3:6-12, 21

Remembering Today

There are just those moments in life where everything stops and you are stuck in a moment of time where things will never be the same.

For some of us, we were able to push the off button or just turn off the tv. But for so many others their lives were being transformed minute by minute. I remember thinking how odd it was to drive down the street and see people outside walking their dogs, washing their cars, or playing at the park with their young kids; while at the same time, miles away, a mountain of anguish was being poured out onto thousands of people whose lives were being forever changed.

We have all experienced those moments of uncertainty when you reach for hope and all seems lost, or when your mind fogs up to the point that it barely has you grasping the reality of the situation. You know the road ahead is about to be long and painful, and a new normal will soon reign over your life, but it’s just too hard to comprehend the depth and difficulty of it (much like navigating grief).

It’s in those beginning moments of grief when you realize it will be months before glimpses of hope and joy will return (and they will be just that- little glimpses). But there’s also a time when little by little, year after year, you’ll begin to see more clearly that which God has healed…And those days when you couldn’t see Him or feel his comfort will become dimmed in the light of his healing.

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is His provision of clarity. When out of His love and grace He allows us to look back on all our pain and brokenness and finally recognize His healing in our life.

It is simply, His unchanging and unwavering love through grace that does the changing in us…molding us into becoming more like Christ through our heartache and pain.

Our Visit to Little Missouri Falls

We had so much fun in Arkansas this past week and couldn’t believe that being in Dallas we hadn’t taken advantage of this beautiful state and all it has to offer sooner! On our last day in Hot Springs our plans to canoe got scratched so I researched different hikes we could hit on our way back to Dallas. I’m so glad I was lead to this little gem…Little Missouri Falls in the Ouachita National Forest!

Getting to the Little Missouri Falls Trailhead:

I’m not gonna lie, the drive to the trailhead was a little off the beaten path….meaning several miles and 45 minutes of driving on an all gravel road. It was a rough, winding road filled with bumps and pot holes. If you don’t have an SUV then it might be challenging. In Texas, the only gravel road I’ve ever been on only went on for the length of a private road so we were taken by surprise at the length of it. Also, there is no cell service once you get off the main road so make sure you familiarize yourself with where you are going if you plan to visit!

Hiking to the Little Missouri Falls:

Once we reached the recreation area it was smooth sailing. There were restrooms that the girls refused to go into, picnic tables that we didn’t use, and lots of unnecessary overflow parking spots. The trail leading to the falls was an easy 5 minute walk down a paved walkway that lead us to a stairway that took us down to the falls. The water was crystal clear and the falls were just beautiful! We were the only ones at the falls and spent the early part of the afternoon there, but I think we could have stayed there all day!

Why I Started Journaling

Words left unsaid.

Tears undone.

What do you do after the flowers have withered,

the hymns have been sung,

the stories told,

And memories shared?

When all have walked out of the church

And you are left with the pieces of a shattered heart…Left to do life as though nothing has happened.

Having lost my mom at the young age of 21, I felt completely lost and overwhelmed with so many feelings and emotions. No one can understand or come to know grief until the sting of death pours down on their life.

So many emotions were felt and so many fears engulfed my soul.Will I forget? Forget her smile, her voice, her laugh? Will I forget all that I learned from her? Will I get to a place of healing and be ok?

What if after the grief has passed and is gone, I forget her love? What if I forget everything I’ve learned through this journey to healing…And her death is all for not?

These questions and more are what lead me into a depression 2 years after my mom passed away from brain cancer. Too overwhelmed with questions and too scared to move forward- I was left stranded. Healing was a distant thought. And honestly, at times, I questioned if I even wanted the grief to leave. It made its home in me and became a comfort. And being healed would mean I was ok…and being ok, for me, meant being ok without my mom.

In an effort to not forget, I kept a journal in the midst of my grieving. It was this journal that lead me to deeper places, into the crevices of my broken heart. It was then that I began to mend and heal over time. There was so much grief within me that it went untold and unwritten until I took pen to hand and allowed my hand to do the talking. Slowly my grief unwritten became unraveled and known, and my heart mended.

My healing became a journey. A long journey that was, and is, a continuous one. But in it all, it was the hope that God continuously poured over me that strengthened my faith and soul….and in the end left me healed.

Our Trip to St Lucia

This place. It has my heart….the people, the rainforest, the mountains, the culture. I love immersing myself in the moments given me. This island has an amazing way of captivating you with its beauty and overshadowing the hard parts of your day that you just can’t help but ignore the stuff that could steal your joy….like getting sick while deep sea fishing.

I’ve never met a nicer or kinder people. Hospitality is just their way. In a world where we would rather keep our noses in our phones and ignore everyone around us for fear we will have to engage with them…they welcome you with hellos and good mornings every chance they get. St Lucia is a mountain of beauty inside and out. I can’t imagine how anyone who visits this place wouldn’t want to soak up all it has to offer.

Caille Blanc Villa was amazing…from the views, to the staff, to the people we met there. The staff became our friends and were nothing less than wonderful. They listened, shared insight and gave advice on things that far outreached “what should we do today”? The food was made from scratch and always delicious. We will forever remember the people we met and the memories this little Island gave us!

Haiti with the Girls

It’s hard to put into words that which has become a part of our every day life. Haiti is an entire culture that has collided with ours over the past 4 years. I no longer see going to Haiti as a mission, but rather as something God is doing in our lives and at the same time, their lives. I’ve learned more about who God is through Haiti than most things in my life. I have learned over the years that sometimes our mindset on what is important in life has to change in order for God to permeate the broken places in our heart. We live in a great nation. Visit a 3rd world country, or any country really, and you will see more clearly what you have rather than what you don’t have…at least for a little while anyway. I received a question several times before taking the girls to Haiti. The question was “do you think your girls will understand.” Usually my response went something like this…”To be blunt, no, they aren’t going to understand.” They aren’t going to understand that they have more than 99% of the world. They won’t understand that they are the 1%. They won’t understand that people are starving in front of them…because most of the time starvation can’t be seen, only felt. They won’t look at the homes in the village and think it’s any less than what they have in a home. But we didn’t take the girls to Haiti to understand themselves better or to come home completely changed and thankful for what they have. Even if they had come home changed by those things- they are lessons that are usually short lived. We wanted the girls to go to Haiti so that they might also build relationships with those that we have come to love so much. We wanted them to see the culture and embrace that we are all different. To understand that those living outside our own culture are no different than us. We wanted the girls to see and understand that we live in a world that goes far beyond the four corners of our own home. We wanted them to understand that across the world there are people who know God and those that don’t….and we can share Christ wherever and whenever called. We wanted them to see that America is beautiful because within our one culture are many cultures. There is a beauty in being the melting pot of the world where we are surrounded by hundreds of heritages and cultures. Because isn’t that what heaven will be like? Everyone coming together to worship One God- the only One. We wanted their eyes to be open to that which God allowed for their little hearts to comprehend. We took Presley because she had been asking. And we took Hope for Presley.

Hope built a bigger relationship with the animals in Haiti than she did with any of the kids. And that’s ok, because in a moment of a child hurting one of the dogs in the village Hope spoke out and spoke up for what she saw as an injustice of something helpless. And in her moments of uncertainty, she stepped outside her comfort zone and ran around and played “follow the leader” and “chase.” She taught “school” to a group of 10 kids sitting outside their tiny orphanage. She didn’t change their lives, but she made them laugh and brought a smile to their face…and ours.

Both girls touched sand on the beaches of the Caribbean for the very first time alongside 3 other girls who also saw it for the first time. Together, they felt the salty air stick to their hands and feet, and plucked shells out of the ocean for the first time. They were given food that most of the kids living there needed in order to nourish their bodies- and instead chose to eat the rice and beans that the kids get on most days- and they loved it.

You can’t change a heart by sitting down and doing nothing. You can’t change your view of the world by staring at a flatscreen or reading a few books. You are changed when you stand up and go. When you do for others. When you listen to someone’s story and embrace, not only their culture, but their differences. Learning about other countries- by immersing yourself in different cultures (whether it be here or there) and learning from others and about them is what opens your heart to the differences among all of us. We didn’t take the girls to Haiti to show them that they can make a difference, but to show them that there’s only One who can make a difference in our lives and in our hearts and that is Jesus. I would rather their eyes be open to what God can do rather than what they can do.

Presley built relationships and was thankful that she had 100 friends instantly. Three years ago, God placed in her a desire to hold a lemonade stand and raise money to pay for a child to go to school in Haiti. I didn’t find this as something amazing. Kids desire to help others- especially when a lemonade stand is involved. It’s up to us to nurture that kindness and generosity. Most of the time our children are more willing to give away that which we cling so tightly to. If we desire for our children to be kind and generous and appreciative of all they have then show them and allow them to give. Have them set goals. They will learn far more from opening their hearts here- than being spectators across the world.

When Presley met Tueslyne they became instant friends. I truly believe that it was God who built that relationship and nurtured it and brought them together. And I’m certain that the reason is far beyond what I could ever imagine. And I’m certain it’s for God’s glory and not our own benefit. The relationship that Presley built with Tueslyne, her sister, and cousin was worth the trip. To see full circle what God has done in the hearts of these two girls-to the bond and buckets of joy and laughter they created together 3 years later did my heart good.

To My Girls- The Beauty of Being a Woman

May both my daughters always know the beauty of being a woman.

That her identity in Christ is far more valuable than the words of men; and her beauty runs far deeper than what our society paints as beautiful.

May she always look up to women of courage, strength, grace, and kindness rather than those in power and position.

May she never find shame in being weak where others are strong; and strong where some are weak. May she always understand that her equality comes from being equal in worth, but know she is made uniquely perfect by God- who loves her fully.

May she always know the beauty of a woman is found in her character, and strength in character far outweighs strength in beauty. May she rest in the knowledge that spiritual gifts are given and character is built…and it’s usually through mistakes and brokenness.

May she understand the power of her words. That she holds the power to encourage others and guide her husband with wisdom…and yet, still be confident enough to listen and accept wise counsel from him.

May she always gracefully accept the respect given to her…

when a door is opened,

a seat pulled out,

when a man stands up for her.

May she always find comfort in the protection of her husband’s arms. And always understand that her worth is not built on what she can do, but who she is….

And if someone tells her she can’t achieve something may she hold firm to the truth that she can do nothing apart from God and everything through Him …that He has called her to do.

I pray that her identity in Christ will always be the stronghold in her life; and May she stand strong when that identity in Christ is mocked by a nation who is always fighting against it. May she always know that God’s design for who she is is far beyond what the world has crafted her to be.

And may she always strive to be more like Christ – and less like man.