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Our little Oliver is 11 months today. My how time flies! It’s hard to believe he has been adventuring through life for one whole year now. His personality is really shining through. Everyday we see more and more of who God created him to be and it’s just so sweet to experience it.

He’s quite the lover of nature. I’ve been around lots of children and I’m not sure I’ve known any of them to study the wind blowing through the trees. Since Oliver was about 4 months old, the wind captured his attention. Whenever we go on a walk, he loves to have a “treasure” to hold—any sort of flower or leaf. Just the other day we were sitting on a blanket and we found a roly-poly (you know, those tiny black bugs that curl up as soon as you touch them!). Oliver kept studying it as it crawled and then he was super excited to hold it. We went camping recently and he discovered rocks. Every parent’s nightmare. He was so sneaky and quick to shove one in his mouth and just suck on it like it’s nature’s candy or something!

I’ve begun to realize that whenever I take him outside, all of life slows down as we start to pick apart everything we see in detail. Today it was butterflies. Simple, white butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. I’m reminded of the moment God made creation. In the Bible it says after every time the Lord created something, “And God saw that it was good.” My hope and prayer recently has been that I take notice in the world God created. May I be in awe of the tiny veins in the wings of a dragonfly. May I allow myself to be refreshed when the rains come. May I take time to make silly shadows with Oliver due to the warm sun shining its light. May all of us view what God created as treasures we get to enjoy, including the people around us. And may it help us to slow down, soak in life, choose peace, and enjoy God forever.

Make some time to adventure sometime soon! It’s so good for the soul to disconnect from regular life for a while. Allow God to bring refreshment as you set time aside to marvel at His creation.

  • August 1, 2016
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Hello dear friends. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had our Monday times together. Know that I’ve missed you and that I’ve been praying for you!

Here I sit listening to the birds chirping outside, drinking coffee out of my Europe mug, and reminiscing on the month of June. Ben, Oliver, and I were scheduled to be at a month long missionary training in Missouri for the entire month. We had classes everyday usually from 9am-8pm with a few breaks in between. Most days I could hardly catch my breath!

Every moment was wonderful. Every dinner, banquet, class, session, meeting. I was on information overload! I can’t even begin to explain the things I have learned on how to be effective in building the kingdom of God. Our leadership is beyond compare. I am so happy to be a part of the Missions family, Europe family, and someday live in Montenegro sharing the truth of Jesus.

Our month, in a nutshell, was exactly what we needed. I could go into detail of the sessions that changed my life and nuggets of wisdom that I learned everyday. I could tell you stories about Oliver loving his time making other missionary kid friends and learning to dance. But today, my heart is overwhelmed for other reasons. There were times where the new missionaries and the veteran missionaries (those who are already serving in their countries) had worship times together. On this particular day, as the band played, I found myself in a room filled with people who were singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow.” I watched families sing aloud that they would follow Jesus no matter the cost, knowing they were going to countries where they would probably be persecuted and even killed for their faith. A room full of people who decided that the call of God on their lives was more important than their own plans. A room full of people who had a moment of knowing they had to leave their family, friends, and everything comfortable. A room full of people who, knowing that they may never come back, willingly had given their lives so that those across the world would find hope in Jesus like they had.

I watched as hands were raised in worship to Jesus and voices proclaimed the greatness of our God.

What an honor it was to be in a room filled with missionaries to all different countries. My prayer during that time of worship is still my prayer today and will always be: that I would continue to follow Jesus without turning back. No matter what comes my way. I pray the same for you. If you already know Jesus and have experienced his forgiveness and grace, I pray that you would be strong in your faith. Whatever season of life you’re in, whatever it is you may be facing, may you continue to follow Jesus. May you continue to experience His forgiveness and grace. And if you have not yet decided to follow Him, I still pray the same for you. That you would open your heart so that you can experience His forgiveness and grace. If those who follow Christ are willing to leave their families behind, learn a new language, learn a new culture, just to adequately share of their hope in Him, it must be a pretty great thing 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this Monday. As you sipped your coffee this morning, what was it you thought about? Are you hopeful today? I hope you find encouragement in the beginning of a new week!

  • July 11, 2016
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Hello my dear friends! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write and it’s caused me to miss you! Consider this our moment of sipping coffee and enjoying some “me” time together.

Our church had an outreach this past weekend and it was incredible. People were getting healed—PHYSICALLY. I mean come on, how often do you see someone pull out their oxygen and trach tubes and run up and down flights of stairs because Jesus healed them?!

This particular passage in the Bible has just been constantly demanding my attention. It’s found in Luke chapter 6 and verses 18 &19. Jesus had been praying on a mountain and when he came back down, he was surrounded by his followers and crowds of people. Luke states, “They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.”

The reason my attention keeps being pulled back to these verses is because it’s not a common thing to see someone pull out their oxygen saying that Jesus healed them or for someone who has been experiencing back pain for years be able to reach down and touch their toes. But here’s the thing: the Bible says that Jesus healed everyone. And if you follow Christ, then you believe that he is the same God now as he was then. So if that’s the case, wouldn’t Jesus want people being healed to be a common thing?

Like I said, I’ve just been going over that passage like crazy, studying it and trying my best to understand it. I don’t know why sometimes we can pray and believe for something and it just doesn’t happen. But I do know that from my own personal experience, even just this weekend, sometimes in order to actually receive healing, you have to admit that you need it. That was my case. Yes, pride crept in like crazy and I began to deal with insecurities (ugh, get away from me) and what ifs, but nevertheless, I had a moment of sheer desperation needing God to move in my life or I couldn’t live in the full potential he has for me. 

And God HEALED ME.

Is there something you need healing for today? Anything? Physical, emotional, mental, whatever it is, I believe that Jesus wants to heal you. We hear all the time that nothing is too big for God, but you know what else? God cares about the really small things, too—the things that are so small they seem unimportant and go unnoticed. Nothing goes unnoticed by God. Be filled with faith, admit to God what you need freedom from, and believe that He wants to heal you and will.

  • May 23, 2016
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As I sit here in the living room trying to get my thoughts together, I am feeling the whole “Monday vibes” thing. My coffee is cold because I couldn’t get to it in time, dishes need to be washed, and Oliver has been refusing to nap for at least an hour (I’m being generous). I even got up early to get to Aldi’s and do my grocery shop before the day actually started. I was there at 8am, ladies! Talk about feeling accomplished. Sad to say they don’t open until 9am. So like I said, I’m feeling the whole Monday thing.

On the other hand, our front door is open and the birds are chirping so loudly that you’d think they were in our house, I’m sitting in a chair that’s directly in the sunlight pouring through the windows, Ben and Oliver gave me glasses as an early Mother’s Day present so I can actually see, and Ollie is just needing extra snuggles today—something I know won’t last forever.

If I were to hold all of the happy things in one hand and the “Monday things” in the other and weigh them, the “happy” hand would definitely be higher than the other. It’s just one of those days where I have to remind myself that my schedule for the day may not get to be a priority and that’s ok. For those of you with kids, I’m sure you’ve experienced this—possibly more than you’d like! Even if you don’t have kids, sometimes life just happens and your day gets all twisted up.

How many of you are thankful that coffee can simply be reheated?! I don’t know how great of a thing this is, but the dishes will always be there for whenever we can get to them! What a privilege it is to live this thing called life. It’s days like these that I’m almost gasping for breath and in the still moment when I can actually catch it, I’m reminded of the grace that I’m given to live each day. I truly believe that Jesus doesn’t give us grace just to make it through the day, but to live in our full potential for every set of 24 hours He gives us. Such a beautiful thing to soak in His peace, love, and compassion for us.

I’d love to hear how your day is going! Has it been hard to land on your feet today? Don’t hesitate to share how you’re able to stop and catch your breath during tough days.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of Jesus and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:6-8

  • April 25, 2016
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Throughout all of last year, I found myself in a place of really needing to be reminded of God’s love. I’d begun to forget His love in its entirety for me, you, and everyone else.

Here, I’ll explain a little more.

I wasn’t questioning God’s existence or if His love were real (because I know both are true). It’s just that due to circumstances in our life at the time and the difficult season Ben and I were immersed in, I felt like all around me I was watching God’s love being taken in vain. Not realizing it, I began to think, “I’m not going to accept God’s love in vain. I’ll make sure I work for it.” Y’all, that’s totally not how God works. But after days and days of the way I was feeling, I subconsciously made that decision—that God loves me depending on what I do.

I spent almost an entire year forgetting the true love of God. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I had a conversation with Ben realizing my current situation. Then came the constant prayer and asking God to remind me of who He is and His love for me and all people. One day in January, Oliver had woken up from his nap crying. I headed up the stairs, reached in to pick him up, and started to sing a song that is on an album that he loves (For Our Children EP by The Brilliance—it’s the most precious music written by a band to their children and Oliver’s in love with it. You should check them out!). I started to sing, “And as you sleep my dear, know that I’ll be near…” and instantly everything inside me broke. Through my tears of joy I said, “Ollie! That’s what God says to me! He feels about me and all other people the way I feel about you!”

It was one of the sweetest, most real moments I’ve ever had. I love Oliver with a precious love that only moms can relate to. His protection, well-being, and needs are always on my mind. Every giggle, coo, and even every cough is just the best thing to me. He has caught my attention and will keep it forever.

THAT is how God feels for us! He is a gracious God, filled with love for people who really are so undeserving. He loves us and that can never change. As much as I love Oliver, God loves us with a love that is so much more intense and passionate. So much love that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for the sins and wrongdoing of all humanity (yours and mine) so that our sin would no longer separate us from God. Only when we recognize our sinfulness, acknowledge and believe what Christ did on the cross, and give our lives over to His leading can we step into a life filled with worth and love in God.

As you scroll through this today—wherever you are and whoever you are, no matter your situation in life—know that God loves you. Your protection, well-being, and needs are always on His mind. Every giggle, tear, and breath doesn’t go unnoticed by Him. You have caught God’s attention and will keep it forever. I encourage you to ask Him to show you how He loves you and I promise He will answer you.

If you’re needing to be reminded of God’s love today, check out the book of Psalms chapter 139 in the Bible. Absolutely incredible. And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!”

Psalm 139:17

  • April 18, 2016
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Our itineration travels have really picked up over the last few weeks. During a span of services and pastors’ meetings over 10 days, we spent one night at home and every other night in a completely different place. As crazy as it sounds, we love traveling together as much as we can. We are so excited that God has called the 3 of us to be missionaries that we all want to be a part—even in the craziness.

Like I said, we’ve been traveling fools. We have met so many incredible pastors and made so many new friends. That’s the lovely side of it all. And now, from a mother’s heart. Most days I feel so alone in what life hands me as a mom. I just continue to encourage myself in the idea that other moms have moments of insanity, too. So if you feel otherwise, there’s no need to share. I’ll just continue to find peace in the lie I’m telling myself! 🙂 It’s been a while since I’ve written some of the comedic side of our lives. This beautiful March Monday is the absolute perfect day for some giggling!

1. At the beginning of the last week of our travels, Ben and I both caught the flu. There’s absolutely nothing worse than being sick in a hotel that’s 3 hours from home. Thankfully, we caught it at different times so we could each take turns taking care of the other one and Oliver. No, Oliver didn’t catch it. He was bathed in some intense prayer!

2. I googled the actual definition of this bullet point and it’s very similar to how I want to use it personally! Blowout: a sudden rupture or malfunction of a part or an apparatus due to pressure, in particular the bursting of an automobile tire.

This is my definition. Blowout: a sudden rupture or malfunction in the bowels of Oliver due to pressure, in particular the bursting of everything inside him coming out EVERYWHERE. Y’all, I’ve never cleaned so much poo in my life. I have stripped Oliver down completely naked to wash him down with baby wipes in so many different church bathrooms and hotels. Let’s not forget to mention having to carry him into a pastors’ meeting facedown because poo bursted through the diaper, is leaking down his leg, and their first impression of me is needing a bathroom. To so many pastors, I am, “that missionary who’s always cleaning her poopy child.”

3. Ever have those moments where you are in a quiet situation and so desperately don’t want to be disruptive, but you keep thinking of something funny that happened? You bite your lip and do your best to think of an orphan puppy or anything that you hope will make you sad. Yeah, this is mine. We were in a meeting with a pastor before service was starting and Ben was holding Oliver. In his words, “I noticed that my pants had gotten wet, so I shifted Oliver a little thinking somehow the bottom of his shoe was damp.” About 5 minutes later, he looks down and realizes Oliver has once again pooed through his SUPER THICK overalls and onto Ben’s lap on his light green pants. Y’all, he was preaching in 10 minutes. I tried to contain myself while the pastor kept talking and I carried Oliver out like he was superman again. We made it to the bathroom and I had to change him on the counter, stripped him down, and put him in his little misfit, “this is when I’ve pooed through everything else” outfit. So yeah, during service I found my lips quivering from wanting to just burst out in laughter at the thought of Oliver pooing on Ben.

And now comes story-sharing time for you! I know I’m not alone in the craziness that life brings (at least I hope not!). I’d love to hear the moments of your life that made you step back and say, “Did that just really happen?”

  • March 21, 2016
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Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to do great things for God. At a young age, I remember thinking I would do whatever it took for people across the world to hear about the life of Christ and how to have hope through Him. In the 8th grade, God asked me if I would be willing to give my life as a missionary and I said yes.

When I was in school at Central Bible College, God continued to confirm how He had created me to give my life in overseas missions. My heart burned with passion for those who had never heard of Jesus. The thought, “if I don’t go and tell them, they will die without knowing” continually ran across my mind. At times, I felt guilty because of having experienced the love of Christ on a daily basis while others were living in desperate and scary situations with no chance of receiving what I had. And though I don’t believe God would place guilt on me for having experienced His love and power (since He freely gives it!), I do think it was a good reminder to not allow myself to be comfortable and forget that others deserved the same chance.

Though I was confident in God’s purpose for my life, I had several moments of being afraid to do it alone. And you know, in college everyone is at the age where you start “looking” for someone to spend your life with. Let’s just be real, the thought of being single and going across the world alone sometimes distracted me from keeping my eyes completely on Jesus—knowing He had everything under control. Sometimes I found myself not wanting to go into missions without being married. I’m sort of a romantic and it was easy to allow myself to dream of what I wanted instead of what I knew God was asking. What was it that He was asking? Simply that I be willing to follow His voice and do whatever it took that others would hear the Gospel of Jesus.

In chapel at CBC, I had this beautiful realization. The fear of not finding someone to spend my life with was crippling me. I wasn’t created to fall in love, get married, and live in a Disney movie the rest of my life. No! God created me so that I could enjoy His presence, He could enjoy mine, and that I would know Christ and share what I knew about Him! Early in life, I had experienced feeling physically safe in the presence of Jesus. I knew what it was like to be insecure and find worth in Him. At CBC, I really began to understand why Jesus—who lived a perfect life—chose to die for all of mankind who was so far from perfection. The God who encounters nothing too big or impossible, the God filled with love and compassion for a people so undeserving, the God I had given my life to as a young child promised to empower me as a witness of all of these things to all people. I made a declaration that day. No longer was I going to put God’s perfect plan for my life on hold because of thinking I had planned it better. No longer was I going to sacrifice that others would know Jesus because of my own desires. I had chosen to give my life over to Jesus and there really was nothing more I wanted than to live completely in His plan. Besides, He knows me better than I know myself. Wouldn’t He take care of my desire to get married? I left chapel that day declaring I would go overseas alone and do whatever it took that others would know Jesus and I meant it.

Be encouraged as you strive on in the life God has for you. More often than not, He asks us to sacrifice our desires for the sake of His purpose for our lives. I’d love to hear how God is leading you. Have any similar situations? Maybe God is asking you to let go of something and trust Him.

  • March 14, 2016
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I haven’t started off a post this way, but I feel the need to this time. Below is a Scripture from the Bible that has totally been my life recently. I have the Scripture listed and then my explanation will be underneath that.

In the book of Romans chapter 8 and verses 5 and 6 it reads:

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

How many of us would raise our hands in saying we don’t think evil thoughts? That our sinful nature doesn’t control our minds? I’d probably be the first in raising my hand, however, the Lord has really been revealing my sinful thoughts to me lately. Our minds run at a capacity that we can’t actually keep up with. Have you ever had those moments where your thoughts are so far out there and you can’t figure out which train you took that led you there in the first place? Sometimes we allow our minds to say that something is happening or that someone is thinking a certain thing about us when it’s not even true or that we are the one thinking evil thoughts about someone else. Our thoughts really can be so tricky and truly drive us crazy.

What the Lord has been showing me is that every one of my thoughts has a motive. Now, looking back at the verse, we see that either our sinful nature controls our thoughts or the Holy Spirit. It’s one or the other. So if I’m not thinking about how I can bless others, looking for the good in people, or just simply being positive, then my thoughts aren’t pleasing to God which makes them evil thoughts. Something I have begun to do is question my motive for every thought I can capture. Was my motive to boost my self-esteem or try to get someone to do something for me? If my motive isn’t pure, then something about my thought has to change. And check this out! While analyzing my thoughts and doing my best to keep them positive, that helps to control what comes out of my mouth! It’s just this great cycle of being uplifting to those around me, and keeping myself in a positive mood. Just like the book of Romans says, “letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

Any thoughts? Experiences you’d like to share? I’m all ears! Thanks for reading.

  • February 22, 2016
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Y’all, I don’t know what my deal is lately. I have fallen 3 times in the last month. That’s more than I have fallen in like a 10 year span.

The fall that started it all:

A few weeks ago after putting Oliver to sleep for the night, we headed downstairs and my feet decided to fail me. We have a total of 12 steps. My foot slipped off of the 2nd from the top and I did not stop sliding until I hit the 9th step. Please tell me how it is possible to have so much momentum from a slow-paced walk?! It sounded like a dinosaur was running down our stairs. The only thing missing was hearing a Referee yell “SAFE” and feeling accomplished in scoring the winning run of the playoffs for my softball team. Sadly, I’m not on a softball team and there was no Ref. I did have a bruise the size of a softball for about 2 weeks, though. At least I had a battle wound for the fall I’d taken!

About a week later, we were picking my mother up to run some errands. It had just snowed majorly and her driveway was pretty icy so we couldn’t make it up in the truck. I decided to hop out and get my mother while leaving the guys in the truck. As we were headed down the driveway, my mother said, “Why didn’t you come all the way up?” To which I began to respond, “Under the snow is solid ice…” I didn’t even get the full sentence out of my mouth and both of us fell and slid maybe a foot down her driveway! Thankfully, we weren’t hurt at all and had a great laugh. I’m 100% jealous of Ben who watched it all from the truck like a comedy movie.

Just 2 days ago we were headed out to have breakfast at my mother’s home. Ben took Oliver to the car (don’t blame me for not trusting myself to carry the carseat outside with my recent record) and I was carrying a heavy laundry basket filled to the top. After making it down our steps and to our sidewalk, something happened and the next thing I knew I was on my knees in the snow bending over my laundry as if it had asked me for prayer. I chuckled thinking maybe this was God’s humorous way of saying I need to spend more time with Him.

I’ve accepted that my legs are very similar to a newborn lamb’s. That’s all for today. I hope my wobbly moments from the past month bring a smile to your Monday. And of course, fall stories are my favorite! Do you have any? I’d love to know I’m not the only hazardous one!

  • February 15, 2016
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You know, I’ve never thought of myself as a pumpkin fan, but recently I’ve just really grown to love it! There are certain things Ben will hop into the kitchen for and whip up and this soup is one of them. It’s just plain tasty.

You will need:

300 grams of pumpkin squash

3/4 liter of veggie broth

1/2 liter of milk

1 medium sized potato

1/2 of a medium onion

Parsley, salt, and pepper to taste

Let’s do this:

Combine milk and broth; boil lightly on medium heat. Peel and cube the potato, squash, and onion. Add to boiling liquid mixture. Let boil until veggies are cooked and soft. (If a film of milk forms on the surface, just scoop that off and toss out.)

Once veggies are cooked, pour mixture into a blender and blend to desired consistency. Pour back into the pot, add spices, and simmer 15 minutes.

Pair this soup with a fresh salad or biscuits and you’ve got yourself a phenomenal meal for a wintery day, sick day, or just a soup day! We’d love to know what you think and how you tweaked it to make it to your liking!

  • February 8, 2016
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