Just Mom and Me

imageI remember a beautiful day back in the summer of my childhood. I was probably around ten years old that summer. We lived in the back country roads of Ohio. This particular day was a gorgeous, beautiful day. We had gone to a farm and gotten a ton of fresh strawberries. My mom was cleaning them in the kitchen of the big farmhouse that we lived in.
All I remember is mom getting in the car handing me a fresh bowl of strawberries to hold. They had been cleaned, cut and had a little sugar on top. We drove down the road and I was holding the very fresh, ripe, red strawberries. I was the only one around at that time I have no idea where all the kids were. They were probably all with Dad at the little country church Dad pastored down the road or a hometown baseball game in town. It was just mom and me. We drove down the country road in Ohio the grassy fields were waving in the wind the beautiful sun was shining so beautiful that day, I remember so vividly.

My mom pulled into our neighbors house. I said, “Mom, what are you doing?” My mom quietly got out of the car and said “I am going to give these to our neighbor”. She ran up to the doorstep. The older lady came to the door and they talked then mom came back to the car with the strawberries. She handed the bowl back to me. I still remember the old country white ceramic bowl with the French blue country heart in the bottom. My mom normally had displayed in a hutch in the old farmhouse. She said that the older lady had allergies and was so grateful but she couldn’t eat them. I said, “Mom can I eat them!” She said, “Sure”. So as we drove along those back country roads I ate and ate those fresh strawberries until they were gone. They were the best strawberries I had ever had. They were the fruit of my moms gracious, simple, kind act of love to our widowed neighbor on that gorgeous summer day.

I don’t think anyone ever knew about that simple gesture my mom did that day. But I never forgot it. Thank you Mom for living life with me and loving not with just words but with good deeds. And I just LOVED those fresh strawberries.

When Hope Sings

imageWhen Hope America was just a little tiny girl I took her out to the store. We were going to go shopping. Hope was just my little doll I loved taking her everywhere I could. I would strap her into her car seat get in the passenger seat and we would drive. One day it was a beautiful day to drive and I put Hope in her little seat and I drove to the outlet mall’s. I turned on the Christian music station and blared the song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”. Hope and I sang to the top of our lungs together. “Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be the glorious name” over and over again we sang. Well we arrived at GAP and I got out of the car and went to grab up Hope and into the store we went. I started trying on different clothes in the dressing room. Hope America had gone into the dressing room with me as she was just a tiny little girl. All of the sudden Hope America busted out, “Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name!! Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be the name.” She sang and she sang loud and she kept getting louder. She was so proud she sang with a bright smile on her face. I tried to quiet her I said, “Hope, Hope, Um… okay okay let’s be quiet”. But I Hope America just sang louder. Everyone in the dressing room could hear her tiny little voice just screaming out singing “Blessed be the name of the Lord”. I realized, after a moment, a didn’t have the heart to quiet her tiny little praise and so I just let her sing. When we walked out of the dressing room that day with her tiny little hand in mine I was a tad shy and maybe a little red in cheeks. But hat day Hope America’s song taught me a lesson.

I thought about my reaction. I thought about how I had told Hope to be quiet. I thought to myself why did I quiet Hope from singing? Hope was singing the Name that has given me such everlasting joy, peace, comfort, happiness. This name has set the captives free. THIS captive He has eternally set free. My little mini Hope America taught me a valuable lesson that day. Hope America reminded me that I need to be bold with the Name of Jesus. The One who was unashamed to hang naked on my cross for me. He was ashamed so I could have this life free from bondage and shame, guilt and despair. Why is it that we, as Christians, can boldy proclaim him in the car but when we get out into the real world we hush His name? We don’t live bold Christian lives, live backseat Christian lives. No one really knows if we are saved. The Bible says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord SAY SO!” {Ps.107:2} So today I want to boldly proclaim with Hope America “Blessed be the Name of the Looooord, blessed be the glorrrrrrious Name of Jesus Christ”.

Dreaming Big, {praying bigger}

I still remember the drive to work. I prayed big prayers. I prayed things that I felt if others heard they would laugh at me.

I still remember one such day. I still remember the railroad track I bumped accrossed as I prayed on my way to work. A mundane job. God had called me to do. But I prayed like I did every day on my way in.

I still rememeber smiling at my own crazy big prayer and thinking I was silly. I still remember telling God “I want a cool, neat story that is beautiful and worth telling!”

I wanted to tell other girls about the faithfulness of God.

Well when my Jesse August flew me back and forth to the West Coast for the very first time ever I never dreamed that would be my story. When I look back I see the clear hand of God in every detail.

I never dreamed that my story would be one of the happiest stories to tell in all of the world. But God knew.

My advice to you today is whatever stage of life you are in pray big prayers. See what God WANTS to do. Whatever it might be.

We don’t serve and love a small god. But The God. Our Creator. He wants better for you than you want for yourself!

He will answer in ways you never dreamed… But they will be so so much better than you could have dreamed.

Keep dreaming beautiful ladies and pray bigger! God WANTS to write you a BEAUTIFUL love story.

Hugs. xoxoxox

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{advent: Our Hope} The Hardest Christmas

image“I remember one Christmas that stands out like a boulder in my life….” It was a particularly hard christmas. Words can’t explain everything. And for the sake of my Mothers pride I won’t. My Dad was a faithful Pastor with at that time seven young children. He worked hard and did all that he could do to make sure we were happy and healthy. I was the oldest daughter. That particular Christmas I remember well. I remember for many reasons but one that stands out in my mind…. was the image of my Mother sitting down in a chair and just crying. My Mom never cried. So when I saw her I knew it must be bad.
We didn’t have a place to stay that Christmas. Our lease had run out on our home. But someone found a tiny house that had no heat in the middle of the rolling hills of Ohio where we could stay. We all got sick. All seven kids. We laugh about it now… when we all get together. We debate about who threw up in who’s hair. Stuff like that.

I remember one sunny afternoon my older brother said, “We have to have a tree!” I said, “How are we gonna do that!?”
He looked at me with that smile he gets when he is up to something. He grabbed something out of the old barn and ran for the nearby wooded hills.
He came back a little while later dragging a little Charlie Brown christmas tree. He had cut the top pit of a pome tree!
We happily all followed him into the house and put the one strand of lights we had on it. It fell over. We all laughed as kids. I think my parents secretly cried.

Today my life is different at Christmas. I live in a gorgeous home on the coast. I have rooms that sit empty normally. I have lights and we will have two trees this Christmas. As I decorate I think back. I think back to those years. I look back and smile until the tears fall. That was the hardest Christmas. Full of people I love with all of my heart.

But most of all I am overwhelmed with Gods goodness. He isn’t just good today. He was good and faithful that hardest Christmas ever. He was faithfully leading us. Loving us. Watching over us. So as I set out my “Charlie Brown” tree in my beautiful kitchen I smile and I rememeber back. This God I serve is faithful. Even when life is hard and feels hopeless. HE is our Hope no matter the circumstances. As I stood in my home today I was overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord. To the point of weeping. I said “God I don’t deserve this! I don’t” I felt his presence. He said in the quietness of my heart, “You don’t, that’s true but I love you. Now tell everyone about me and my goodness”. That was the impression on my heart.

Even during the hardest, coldest, darkest Christmas of our lives. Our God was faithfully shining like a bright Star of Hope in our lives. “What can I do but praise You? What can do but make everything I do a hallelujah”. This song has blessed me this advent week as I focus on the Hope of Christ. It has been playing here as I write..