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A California encounter…


There are moments when the above scripture just doesn’t make sense…
Like when my family fell apart when my dad died.

When my cousin Brenton passed away from cancer.

When miscarriages happen.

When doors have to shut on a family business.

When homes catch on fire.

The list goes on and on. 

I’m sure you could fill in the blank as well with story after story. 

This verse came to mind just the other day when my first born and I had an encounter and long conversation with a paraplegic we met at the beach in Cresent City, California.

I saw him sitting there in his wheel chair and our family, and everyone else for that matter just walked on by.

Moments later, I found myself sitting with my oldest on a bench right beside him. He was selling earrings and bracelets made of stone. 

I decided to walk over and speak to him. I wanted to hear about his jewelry that he was selling. If you know me, you know I love stories… and I wanted to hear his.

His name was Scott. He was an artist, a guitarist and singer, prior to his accident. His eyes filled up with tears as he shared the moment in January when he was hit by a car and his life has never looked the same. I applauded him for using his creativity and hands to make beautiful jewelry that will bless others. He went on to tell me he lost his wife 2 years prior to cancer. At this point in the conversation, we were both in tears. 

This man has had a rough life.

This man has an excuse to give up and quit on life.

BUT GOD

BUT GOD…

As we spoke and I asked permission to pray over Him, I saw joy in Scott’s heart. I saw purpose and passion. I saw a reason for him to keep on fighting and living life to the fullest regardless his circumstances. 

He mentioned there was a time after his wife’s death that he was angry at God. I talked about how God understands that and wants us to wrestle with Him because He gets it. 

Scott said he is able to live again but is trying to find his way. I commend Scott for choosing JOY despite his circumstances. I commend Scott for trusting God even though he’s been dealt a rough pit. I commend Scott for doing something to rise against the ashes. 

Thank you Lord for this journey our family is on.  Praise you for a life of travel, a life where we are free to follow you wherever you lead and have the blessing of encountering people all across the US whom we would have never crossed paths with otherwise. 

We felt led to come to California. We knew my oldest wanted to see San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean… but the Lord revealed to us over and over again that we were to come to for more reasons than 1. Meeting Scott was for sure one of the reasons. 

California is a gorgeous state! For me, to be surrounded by mountains, farms on one side of the road and the beach on the other was indescribably breathtaking! God, you were showing off when you formed California. We absolutely enjoyed our time there… and can’t wait to return to travel the southern areas.

Here are some pics of our journey through Northern California…


Our first night in CA started off rough (you can read my story about it on social media). We ended up in a campground in the middle of the redwoods that an RV our size had no business journeying to. So word to the wise… if traveling in anything over 25ft… don’t even attempt to head to Little Basin Campground. We survived the drive by the grace of God, and the views were glorious but goodness was it a bumpy and scary journey there. Sometimes the curviest roads lead to the best views…


Just outside of Half Moon Bay was where my kids touched the Pacific Ocean for the very first time! What a memory! A dream come true for my firstborn. 


San Francisco was as charming as ever. One of our most favorite cities to visit. I was able to meet up with a precious friend from GA that I haven’t seen in 15 years! We stayed at a little peaceful campground in Napa during our time here. Check out Skyline Wilderness Park for a great, inexpensive stay when visiting SanFran. It’s a little over an hour drive to the city (without traffic 😜) but oh so peaceful. 


Ferndale was an absolutely quaint little town. We stayed a few nights at Humboldt county fairgrounds, cheap and simple but only a few miles from farms, mountains and breathtaking ocean views! 

Next stop was Trinidad! We were able to meet up with some friends we met in Texas, so that made this stop one for the books! We camped with them at Emerald Forest cabins and campground. Make sure you request a site in the back if you ever stay there… that’s where the sites are bigger and nestled between ginormous Redwoods. Trinidad was an adorable coastal town.


We loved our time hiking though the Redwoods National Forest 



And stopped for another glorious sunset on our drive back from the forest.


Our last stop in Northern CA was in Cresent City. No tips for campgrounds here because we boondocked for the night at the WalMart parking lot with a dozen other RVs. We had our very first beach campfire! What a memorable night!
Oh Lord… we praise you for the journey.

And California… you for sure keep me dreaming.

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Overcoming fears…

From the moment he was old enough to be afraid, my first born had fears.  

When he was 2 and in preschool, he would go to the directors office when his preschool teacher vacuumed after lunch because he was afraid of the loud noise.

When someone pulled the fire alarm at church and his children’s class didn’t follow procedure like he had been taught (to go outside), a fear of fires was born in him. 

When we had to grab the children and head to the basement in the middle of the night because of a tornado warning, a fear of storms was created. 

Fears

We all have them

We can’t deny them

And the way our current world seems to be filled with such darkness on most days, fears are legit and understandable.

But

Can we allow them to lord over us? 

Can we use them as a crutch to never enjoy life to the fullest? 

Can we hide and live in fear forever?

Is that what God wants for us? 

Did God create us to fear the things of this world? 

NO! 

Were we made for so much more? 

Does God tell us to fear Him and nothing else? 

Does God have greater plans for our lives than to succumb to our fears? 

YES! 

  This is a picture of our family at the very top of Pike’s Peak. And my son… My first born who has many fears… With the fear of heights being one of those… Is in the photo with us! What an astounding accomplishment! We were so proud of him to come with us as we traveled the 14K feet in elevation and the fact that he even got out of the truck and walked around by choice, was a miracle in itself. 

    

Jonah, we are so proud of you! 

He has come so far! Not only has he overcome his fear of loud noises, fires and heights… He is daily growing in the Lord and is trusting His life with the Creator of the Heavens and Earth! 

The Lord has big plans for my boy’s life! I love watching the Lord pursue him and draw him unto Himself.

Just this past Winter, we saw a first hand glimpse of God doing just that. 

We were visiting my husbands parents and my best friend in Nashville and spent a day exploring downtown Franklin, TN. 

We had a beautiful encounter with God in this store called Philanthropy. God was showing off for my son and it was wonderful for this mama to have a front row seat. 

When we walked into the store, Jonah noticed this metal cross. And without a doubt in my mind, and regardless the cost, I knew we had to buy it for him. 

You see, he is somewhat of a private individual… And like many men, his walk with the Lord is somewhat private. Now my second born son, we call him “preacher Jake” because he has proudly worn a cross necklace for years and is quick to want to purchase a cross or anything else that displays his faith in Jesus. 

Jonah, on the other hand is more private. We know he loves the Lord and has a personal relationship with Jesus, but he isn’t as quick to “display” it. 

So when he eyed this cross in Philanthropy, carried it around the store, and continuously spoke of how fond he was of it… We knew we would be purchasing it. 

During our time in the store, we had a lovely conversation with a precious woman who worked there, and spent a few minutes writing prayer requests on their prayer wall.

   

After spending time in the store, my husband went to the register to pay for the cross for my son Jonah. And that was the moment we witnessed the Lord show off for my son. The precious lady that we spent so much time talking with, was also the cashier, and she told us, she felt as if the Lord wanted her to purchase this cross for our family. 

Wow! I was in tears! She had no idea the fears my son carried with him, the shyness of his heart and that his wanting this cross was such a big deal. She didn’t know, but God did! God loves my son so much and through this cross displayed His love!  

(Below is a photo of Jonah and the sweet woman who paid for his cross). 

  

And to this day, my son has this special cross displayed over his bunk in our camper. It is a beautiful reminder of Gods love and perfect plan for each of our lives! 

  
Jesus paid it all…

He paid it all so that we won’t have to 

Worry

Doubt

Live in anxiety

Have fear

Jesus paid it all…

So that we can be set free

Walk in faith

Trust and obey

And just like my son on that beautiful afternoon on top of Pike’s Peak…

Jesus paid it all so that we all can be an

OVERCOMER! 

  

Thank you Jesus for creating my son to be an overcomer so that he can enjoy the beautiful display of your splendor! 

And for your enjoyment, here are a few pics from our drive up Pikes Peak… 

  
    
    
   
  

His plan…

He has a plan. He knows the plan and daily He is working that plan in and through you. That plan is specifically designed for you. Written by Him with you in mind. Before creation and the first breath of life came into existence… He had a plan.

There is no confusion in His plan. It is plain and simple… And His intentions are true and pure. His plan is the best and it is beautiful.
The confusion comes in when we “our fleshy selves” try and manipulate, detour or fix the plan. Confusion sets in when we rely on fear instead of faith. When we rely on faith… there will be peace. His word tells us that He is a God of peace and not disorder… (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The plan… His plan may be long. Hard. Curvy. Filled with valleys low and mountains high… At times you may question His plan and at times not even understand it… But at the core of all of that… You must rest in His truth. Truths found in His word. Promises to never leave or forsake you, promises that He knows the plan He has for you and promises to protect and care for you.

Just this past weekend, a very dear and very beautiful friend of mine said “I DO” to her Prince Charming!! She waited more years than she wanted to… Was the bridesmaid more times than she desired to be… The years of waiting was hard… But she endured them. Years of waiting, trusting, crying, leaning, doubting, and many, many lonely prayer filled nights on her knees all lead up to her speaking those two words. I. Do.
She married! She is a bride! Her day has come! He had a plan and He worked it out in her life. As she sits somewhere tropical today, enjoying her honeymoon… I can only image that every now and then… A tear fills her eye and her heart skips a beat as she rests in His plan for her. His beautiful, perfect plan.

You may not be somewhere tropical today as you rest in His plan. In fact, you may be in the middle of a valley… Days filled in darkness. May you be encouraged to rest in Him. Trust Him even when you don’t understand.
You may be in need of answers… And now… Trust Him… He has a perfect plan and is working it out in your life even now.

running with perseverance

running photo

Hebrews 12:1: “run with perseverance…”

Okay, many of you will probably shut your computer screen off and never read a single blog post from me ever again once you read the following statement…

I. HATE. RUNNING!!!  Okay, okay, maybe hate is a harsh word and one of the “no, no” words that my children are not allowed to use… so maybe I will exchange the word hate with loathe, detest, or scorn when it comes to the idea of running.  It’s not that I have yet to try and enjoy the popular means of exercise.  On many attempts, I have set out in my driveway to begin a new journey of running… and I get to my neighbors mailbox and am DONE.  I throw in the towel and start walking instead almost every time I set out to conquer the idea of running.  Now walking… even power walking… is something I am fond of.  But running, well as you just read… for me… is a different story.

I have several friends who absolutely LOVE to run.  My friend Leah and Lori are running buddies, they keep each other accountable in their running journey and have fallen in love with running.  My cousin Miki, has ran so many races that she usually gives away bags of t-shirts at our family reunion.  It seems that running is a very popular activity these days.

Perhaps I can’t relate to a passion and love for running like my friends and family members… but there is one thing that I am absolutely passionate about in terms of running and racing… and that is running towards Jesus, desiring to be more like Him, and persevering in my faith even when the going gets tough.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV):Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV): Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NASB): Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 

 

Rather or not you have a love and passion for running marathons, half marathons, or just around your neighborhood for exercise… there is a race that as believers we are all running.  And the best news of all is that WE ALL WIN!!

The going may get tough.  There will be mountains high and valleys low… but we must persevere and keep running… keep our eyes on the goal… stand strong in the faith.

Just as runners need a good pair of running shoes, comfy sports attire and water to keep them hydrated… to stand strong in the Christian race… you need to be in community with other believers (church,fellowship), spend time in His word and pray!  How are you running your race?

 

Our Passover Lamb: A Lesson From Exodus

Want a great read that beautifully sets the stage for the Passover? Spend some time today with bible in hand as you read from my precious friend’s beautifully written lesson on Exodus and the Passover Lamb.

Abide in Him Blog

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When the sun set yesterday, Passover began.  So today, I’m going to post a lesson from the Abide in Him study of Matthew. It helps us understand Passover which foretold of Jesus our Passover Lamb.  I hope you can pull out your Bible to the books of Matthew (New Testament) and Exodus (Old Testament) to enjoy the wonder of a God who doesn’t want us to miss the only way to Him – through the blood of Jesus.  How interesting that a total lunar eclipse or “blood moon” took place last night, as well.  (See Genesis 1:14.)  Treat yourself to some Bible Study and ask the Lord to teach you.  Please take your time and have a spiritual feast.  Enjoy!

“And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,
for the glory of God illuminated it,
and the Lamb is its light.”

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peace out!

I studied the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) with my children over the summer.  It was a great lesson for us to learn together.  I taught the virtues as a means of discipline for the children and to teach them how to have their hearts directed towards Christ as they interact with others.  Not only did I pray these virtues over my children, but over my own life as I desired to possess the same virtues when I am disciplining and raising my children.  I also desire to have the fruit penetrate my heart as I walk through life. My last 2 posts were about the fruit love and joy.  Today I would love to introduce the third fruit to you.

I love hearing my children quote the fruits back to me.  I am always tickled to pieces when Emma Rose (my 3 year old) cites the virtues and always says love, joy, “peace out” … when she gets to the fruit that we will be looking at today.  I thought there would be no better introduction to this post than to pray that you all will go forth in peace as you allow the Holy Spirit teach you through His truths over this virtue.  So, PEACE OUT!

Have you had hectic weeks lately?  Do you just feel that life is spinning faster and faster as each day approaches?  We live in a fast paced world.  At times, it is nice to take a retreat, a break from the mundane and take your mind off of the reality of an everyday busy life.

Although I can’t physically take you to a retreat spot right now, I would love to take you there in your mind. After reading these next few sentences, I want you to close your eyes. Be still (Psalm 46:10) and enjoy the silence if it is for just a moment.  I want you to picture yourself in the middle of the woods sitting by a stream of softly flowing water.  There is a gentle breeze and no other sound but the water hitting the pebbles.  Nice and serene, isn’t it? If that is not your “cup of tea” then picture yourself at the beach or on top of a mountain.  You get the point, close your eyes and picture that scene of peace in your mind.

Where did your mind take you?  How did you feel in that peaceful moment? How long were you able to sit in silence before having a distracting thought?

As a mother of young children, at times, the only time I am able to have a “peaceful” moment is when I lock myself in my closet or bathroom. You are laughing because you so get that, don’t you?  Do you realize that the peace you felt in that moment is the exact same peace that the Lord intends for you to feel in any and every circumstance?  He is a God of peace!

Life may be busy… but He is peace.  Life may be confusing… but He is peace. Life may be loud… but He is peace.  Life may be………. But He is peace.

Read over Philippians 4:1-9:Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

As you read about the virtue of peace, please be in tune to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to show you the specific areas in your life that can be filled with peace.  Are you filled with anxiety or are you calm?  Do you show peace in your relationships (your spouse, children, family members, friends etc)? Do you rest at night knowing that the Lord is in charge and you are able to sleep peacefully or do you lie awake in doubt and worry?  Trust the Lord and rest assured that He desires to fill your life with peace.

I would love to pray over you (put your name in the blanks)

Lord of Peace,

I come before you praying over my precious sister/brother ___________________. Please fill his/her mind, actions and attitude with peace.  Thank you that with you all things are possible and that your peace transcends all understanding.  May ___________live a life of peace and not disorder.  Guide _____________ to bathe in the virtue of peace every day as he/she trusts your word and your love towards him/her.  You are an amazing God and I pray that ____________ will  bask in the peace that you offer, for he/she is your child.

In Jesus name, Amen.

James 3:17 (ESV) tells us that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

the joy of the Lord

Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT): “for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

Let’s have a little history lesson on the background behind these words.  Nehemiah was a common man, who was cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes (do not ask me to pronounce that name).  He was a man of God and was called to a very difficult task.  The Lord wanted Nehemiah to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to not only restore a broken city, but to restore broken lives.  There was much opposition with rebuilding the city. Do you ever feel opposition when you are trying to do something the Lord tells you to do?

After completing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah gathers the people around to hear Ezra (a priest) read the Book of the Law of Moses, also referred to as the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible.  These people, the Israelites, were previously led out of a long period of 40 years in the wilderness and desert then after many years taken into captivity in Assyria and Babylon because they didn’t value God’s law to walk in it.  As the Book of the Law was read to them, they began to weep because they felt so far from righteous.  By the time we reach Nehemiah 8:10, he says to the people, “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  As we read further, we learn that they followed the Law by celebrating a seven day Feast of Tabernacle.  The entire group that had been delivered from exile had not celebrated like this in a very, very long time.  We learn from verse 17 that their “joy was very great.”

Have you ever felt like you were in a desert, a dry and weary land?  Let’s refer to those circumstances or times in our lives as our “Egypt.”  Some of you may feel like you are there now.  If we are anything like the Israelites, we will find it very difficult to praise and glorify the name of the Lord when we are in a dry and weary land.  In the book of Exodus we learn that the Israelites grumbled and complained practically the entire time the Lord was leading them to their promised land.  I am sure the complaining was much fewer and far between once they experienced the land flowing of “milk and honey” (Exodus 13:5; NIV).

Life’s journey will take us through mountain top experiences and valleys, highs and lows, happiness and sorrow but if we keep our eyes on the prize (Jesus Christ) (Philippians 3:14).   We may not always be happy, but we can have joy.

We know that God’s promises are true and we know that He will always provide our every need (Philippians 4:19). The best thing that we can do in the midst of trials is to keep joy in our hearts.  It is not always easy to do that but it is always best.

IS the JOY OF THE LORD your strength?