I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

3 Feb

notes from the blue bike :: blog tour

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m
thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

As part of the Notes From a Blue Bike blog tour, we’ve been asked to write about what it looks like to live slower, simpler, or with more intention. I have to be honest, as a currently single mom of four girls I struggle with this quest daily.

I have a friend who innocently suggested I find more margin {or white space} in my days. When first hearing her, I admit, I was pretty defensive at the statement, thinking … “Um, that’s easy to say when there are TWO of you managing the house and kids.” I know every situation is different, but I promise you … know matter how little you think your spouse does … when they’re suddenly gone, you realize how very much they actually did do.

Never-the-less, her statement has haunted me last few months.

Margin? White space? How?

With four girls and no one to help, it seems I’m running from crisis to crisis. At an appointment with one, while another calls from school sick, while I need to meet another at her appointment … this was my last Friday morning. And while the situations vary, it seems this is my most everyday.

Then there’s the age old statement, “You don’t have to do it all.” Or, “The dishes can wait.” Or when I post a silly note on Facebook and get the comment, “That’s what you have four kids for.” {meaning they can take care of the task I’ve posted about.}

Trust me … I’m no martyr! I definitely don’t try to do it all. I know my limits. And when the dishes can wait, they wait … or the kids take care of them. When I need to call it a day, I wrap it up and call it a day … after all, there’s only so much we can do in day. And when you’re struggling with MS, there comes a point in the day when you literally can’t do anymore.

I long to live intentionally! Heck, it was even my “one word” a couple of years ago! I long for a simpler time … like the times we were able to take a four week sabbatical to paradise!

So when Tsh’s book came along and I heard these words from her — “If slowing down meant a richer life, it would require our family’s attention, energy, and collaborative effort” — she grabbed my attention in a big way.

And while I admit, I don’t have it all figured out yet, I can admit I’m being called to lead my girls in a life of intentionality. The busy, crazy, and crises will still surround us … I may not always be able to create margin, but I’m learning it’s what I do with the margin that’ll make a difference in my life and the lives of my girls.

And so … whether you’re looking to create margin, slow down, live intentionally, or just create adventure with your family, Tsh’s Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World is worth every minute you take to read it!

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

This book is about LIVING LIFE instead of life living us. ~ Tsh

Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.

Posted in gift idea, intentional, resources, review

26 Mar

my heart …

Hunter’s somehow taken up residence in my bed. Shhh … don’t tell anyone … but beside those heel-to-my-ribs midnight jabs, I really don’t mind. There’s something comforting knowing my babygirl is snuggled up next to me.

I didn’t always feel this way, but slowly she’s wiggled her way in and it no longer seems important to make her leave. My reasons were mostly selfish anyway.

I used to do my morning quiet time in my bedroom. I have a fireplace, coffee maker, my Bible and necessary accoutrements all within an arms reach. And seriously … how inconvenient for me to go into the next room so she can sleep in the morning!

But like I said … she wiggled her way in, and I no longer see it as an inconvenience. And instead of pining for my comfy bedroom luxuries, I’ve moved my morning time to the living room.

Let me take a moment and be brutally honest about something … lately, I have been completely and utterly exhausted. I used to have an internal alarm that would wake me at 5:00 am. Up and at’em, I was raring to go! But now? It takes all I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning to get my prayers and quiet time in before I start the day. Some days my snooze button gets a better workout than I do.

But. I know. I’ve learned. If I’m not intentional about my morning time — even if 10 minutes is all I can muster — then I’m basically willing my day to go astray.

All that to say …

Hunter’s my earliest riser and most mornings she finds her way out to the living room for some early morning snuggles, before a little iPad or TV time.

But last week, she completely shocked me! She was getting ready for bed and asked me to wake her up so we could do “quiet time” together. She told me she had her Bible, pens, and paper all ready to go for the morning.

My first impulse was to tell her she was crazy!! Ain’t no way a momma’s gonna wake a sleeping baby before sunrise to do “quiet time.” Not to mention the fact she’d interrupt my quiet time!

Instead I bit my tongue.

Yes babygirl … I’d be honored to have quiet time with the Lord together.

And we did.

Is there something you stay intentional about and see it pay off in your children?

Posted in hunter, intentional, parenting

6 Dec

my “hairbrush” story

So … I mentioned yesterday that I would share my own “hairbrush” story … and what I’ve decided is, I’ll share mine, if you share yours! :)

I’ll go first.

Last Thursday night the girls were whining a bit about going to their extracurricular classes, so we skipped them.  Visions of jammies, pizza and movie night suddenly filled my head so I was on board without much convincing.

We got home a little later than usual because they had a special art camp they attended right after school.  By the time we got home, unpacked book bags {that’s southern for backpack!}, got a snack, and started homework … I remembered.

We’d volunteered to bring bag lunches to church … and they needed to be delivered by 6:30.  A glance at the clock told me it was already 5:00.  It also told me our peaceful night was just thrown out the window.  Sigh.

And now I realized why I had the nagging feeling to get to the food store all day.  I knew I needed to go, I just couldn’t remember why!

So here it was 5:00 pm and I needed to run to the food store before I could make and pack the lunches.

I scramble to said store … reach for my purse … and d’oh.

Run back home and grab my purse.  5:20 pm.

I get back to the store, deposit $$ into the Salvation Army bucket and then frantically run through the aisles gathering what I need.

I check out and head back out the door.  Past the woman ringing the Salvation Army bells.  I get in the car and God tells me to buy her a hot chocolate.

But I’m already in the car.  And I’m late.  I’ve got to get these lunches to church … for other people we’re trying to help.

I keep glancing at the woman.

I’m already on my way to help those in need.  I don’t need to buy her a hot chocolate.

And have I ever mentioned … I get kinda hot & sweaty and nervous when I approach someone with a good deed.  Like when someone’s out asking for money, I usually help, but I get all nervous and sweaty.  What’s with that?


I drive around the parking lot.  Literally.  Arguing with God.

Alright, alright!  You win.

I park on the opposite side of the store and go in the other entrance.  Like I was worried she’d think I was crazy for going back into the store.  {p.s. there’s a Starbucks in our food store}

I order a hot chocolate and a piece of pound cake too.

Goods in hand, I walk to her entrance and tell her I have a surprise for her … or something lame like that.

And that’s it.

I don’t have a miraculous ending to the story.  She was obviously very happy to receive the unexpected surprise.

And I walked away smiling too.

The point of sharing my story is to encourage you to listen to that still small voice.  We have no idea what a seemingly small act does in someone’s life.

More important than that … the more you listen … obey … that small voice {God, the Holy Spirit}, the stronger that voice gets.  When that voice tells you to pick up a piece of trash at the edge of the sidewalk … do it.  Before long, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you’ll be buying hot chocolate, witnessing to people, and ultimately … brushing their hair.

Scary thoughts to me.  Scary.

But I know God is equipping me.  He’s equipping you.  He knows what we can handle.  What we’re capable of … what pace we need … baby steps are workin’ just fine for me, thank you very much!

I have more stories to share this week … I pray you’ll join me!  And be sure to stop by later today when I announce the winner of this giveaway!

Alright … fair’s fair!  I’d love if you shared a moment when you heard God speaking and you were obedient to the call.

Posted in faith, inspiration, intentional, jesus

2 Aug

my girl + her boy

Oh boy!  I’m not sure where to start with this one …

I’ve never really talked about Taylor’s boyfriend on the blog before … but I think it’s time.  I took these photos of them last week and sure, I’d like to show the beauty of them to you … but what I’d like to share, is the beauty inside these two kids.

We met KP and his family over a year and a half ago in Exuma.  While on our sabbatical for the month, I was determined to make sure we got to church on a regular basis.  Turns out the church we found and attended was founded by KP’s family.

They were regular folk {yes, folk} living in the northeast when they felt God place a calling on their lives.  So they obeyed and started a ministry planting churches in the islands and as divine planning would have it, the first church they started was in Exuma!

This family has been the most incredible blessing to me.  I love, love, love how God, in all His infinite wisdom, works!

I’m thinking I don’t have to explain how Tay and KP were attracted to each other … :)  But what I love, love is the beauty these two possess inside.  They both realize that God has a plan for their lives and they strive to follow that plan everyday.

You know how in relationships you should seek to be with people that make you better?  I see that in these two.  But even a step further than that, I’m so thankful they both have a relationship with God and help each other be better in Him.

I’d like to share something …

I wasn’t ready for this relationship.  I wasn’t intentional in talking to Taylor about my expectations of when she’d be allowed to have a boyfriend.  In all honesty … it happened much sooner than I was prepared for.  And sure, technically I’m the parent and could’ve put a stop to it … but there was something too special about this boy … and his family … that I fell in love with.

I wrote this post about them over a year ago and their character and values couldn’t be more true today.  In fact, I feel like they’ve only deepened that commitment.

I believe that God has ordained this relationship … and although I don’t know what the future holds for them, I’m so thankful they have the high standard of each other to live up to.

Anyway … this week, I’m reposting and sharing some of my thoughts on parenting and I wanted to include these thoughts as well.

In the end, it turns out I’m thankful for this sudden, unprepared and unexpected relationship.

KP has been a rock for Taylor during these last few months.  His family has been interceding in prayer on our behalf.  Taylor’s sisters can see, and maybe measure what a relationship with a godly boyfriend looks like.

That said … the other thing I’m thankful for and have now learned … is that I need to be intentional with the little girls in what our expectations are for them in future relationships.  I’ve realized that I need to have small, but intentional conversations with them starting now.  I also need to be better about praying over their future spouses.

I trust God has a plan for each of my girls lives … and it’s my job as their parent to pray over that plan, to disciple them in that plan, and to continue to hold fast to that plan.

Posted in family thoughts, intentional, parenting, photography, taylor

21 Jul

outreach, fasting + prayer {repost}

This post is so dear to me, as it’s a reminder that my goal in parenting is to instill the heart of Christ deep into each of my girls.
{original post date 1.28.11}

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is
plentiful but the workers are few.”

Matthew 9:37

In this little pink house, nestled not too far from the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas, lives a 95 year old man … Brother Clifton.  You see, in the Christian community in the Bahamas, there’s an old school respect for addressing their brothers and sisters in Christ. I love that!

The girls and I went on an outreach program one morning with Clear Water Assembly of God, where we visited a couple other brothers and sisters in Christ, but first I’d like to tell you about Brother Clifton.

As I mentioned, Brother Clifton is 95 years old.  He’s also blind and bed-ridden.  He’s also alone.  He’s also hungry.  He’s also filled with a deep love of the Lord.

There’s a story in Luke 2, where Jesus is 12 years old and stays behind in the temple to learn from, and talk with the religious leaders of the time.  Mary and Joseph couldn’t find him and were worried.  When they found him, Mary basically scolded him and explained they were worried.  Jesus’s reply was, “Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?”

So as the girls and I were visiting these houses that morning, I would ask them excitedly … “Whose business are we doing?”  And they’d reply, “God’s!”  Why do I mention this?  Because when we walked into Brother Clifton’s small home, to find him bed-ridden and hungry … he was ALL about his Father’s business.

The church does this outreach once every week.  And they found out that Brother Clifton hadn’t eaten since the previous week they were there.  So when we arrived, we immediately asked if we could feed him.  But no … he told us to “take care of business first!”

He wanted us to first be about our Father’s business.

He wanted his spirit fed … before his belly was fed.

We read from God’s Word.

We sang worship songs.

We prayed over him.

We fed his spirit.

Then, we fed his belly.

Brother Clifton lives in this small house.  It consists of one main room and a couple of small bedrooms.  He is bed-ridden and blind, so stays in this bed all day.  I simply can.not imagine that.  His sister lives just down the road from him.  She’s blind too.  But she’s in a home being taken care of.  I’m not sure of the circumstances surrounding them and why one is being cared for and the other isn’t.  Right now the church is working to reunite them and get Brother Clifton into the same home as his sister.  At the very least, get them together for a visit.

Again … I simply can.not imagine.

After our visit with Brother Clifton, we went down the street to visit Sister Mary.  I simply fell in love with this woman!  Although old and living with not much of anything … she was full of spunk and a love of Jesus!  She’s one of the very few in the area that has been blessed with fertile ground.  She literally lives off the things she’s planted near her small home.  In one of the photos below, you can see where she has a mango plant literally growing from the rock!

Sister Mary was proclaiming the Word of God … singing His praises and goodness!  At the end of our visit, we asked her to lead us in prayer, which she did … and left me with tears rolling down my face.

The faith … grace … love that shines through.  We were on a mission to bless others that day … but God, in His infinite wisdom, blessed us!

And then there’s Brother Deacon.  I’m smiling just thinking of him.  He didn’t want to talk about anything else but Scripture … and he could quote it with the best of ’em!  The first thing I saw when we walked into his tiny home, was his well-worn Bible sitting on the table.

Brother Deacon loved the girls.  He told them repeatedly to “Honor your mother and your father.”  He read Scripture to the girls and explained to them over and over how they’ll live a long and healthy life if they obey their parents.

I was so proud of my girls.  Even though they felt uncomfortable and out of their element, they were gracious, kind and caring.

The day before we went on this outreach, I talked to the girls about fasting.  I explained what it was and it’s purpose … and that there are many different ways to fast.  But the most important thing in fasting, is to know why you’re doing it.  Then I asked if they would like to join me in fasting.  It warmed my heart to hear them excited to do it.

We agreed that we’d do the fast the day after this outreach and we decided that we would be fasting breakfast.  I also explained that Hunter, being four, doesn’t understand fully what we’re doing … that I didn’t expect her to … and that she’d probably be eating something while the girls were hungry.  They bravely said they could handle it.

After this outreach, I talked to the girls about the people we visited that day … how they didn’t have much of anything … how Brother Clifton hadn’t eaten in a week and the pears we had just fed him would be his only meal that day.  And as we went into our fast the next morning, I asked them to remember the people we visited.  When their bellies would growl, or when they had the desire to eat … to instead pray for our new friends, to pray for strength and to give thanks for what we do have.

At one point, Hunter asked for something to eat so I took her into the kitchen and again explained what the girls were doing and that I’d like her to eat what she wanted in the kitchen, so the girls weren’t tempted.  Hunt was asking for some goldfish crackers and after I explained it to her, she said, “Well, I’ll just have one goldfish.”  So sweet to recognize the sacrifice she was willing to make in her four year old mind! {I gave her more than one}. ;)

We prayed the morning of the fast and even though the girls played and watched TV most of that morning and I would check in on them and ask them how they were doing … it wasn’t this great-big-drama-fasting thing.  It was a small … intentional learning moment in Christ.

Posted in charity, exuma, inspiration, intentional, parenting