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.

5 Jul

camp anokijig

The girls had planned this experience months ago … long before we moved.   And it was important to me that they still be able to attend, so I’m super happy it all worked out!  They each had a friend going with, but it also warmed my heart to know they’d be there together.  Turns out, in fact, their cabins were just down the path from each other.

We traveled back to Wisconsin a little over a week ago and drove the girls up to camp where we met up with their friends.  They were so excited, I think they barely said good-bye!

But that was just fine, cuz I got to spend the week with this little cutie!  She was such a bundle!  A completely different girl without her sisters and I think just so happy to have mom & daddy all to herself.  I really need to be more intentional about carving out special time with each of my girls.

And … huge sigh … as much as I enjoyed the week, and spending time with family and friends … going back to Wisconsin, and just plain being in Wisconsin is just so hard for me.  In fact, get your coffee ready … I’ve got some brain vomit thoughts headed your way!

Posted in life

30 Mar

my god-given story

Here’s the thing.  My family is currently facing the most unspeakable of situations.  But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s part of the story God has allowed to me.  And please … I don’t say this lightly, religiously, or tritely … do I want this as part of my story?  Absolutely not.  But do I accept it?  Yes.

I believe that our story will be to God’s glory someday.  But you better believe when I enter those pearly gates and see Him face-to-face, my first question just might be “really God?”  ;)

Some of you know what we’re going through, and some of you don’t.  I won’t be talking about any specifics or sharing details.  But I’m not going to hide.

I’ve had emails and comments from {whom I believe are} caring people asking me to take down my blog, take down photos of my girls, youtube videos, etc. … that I should be protecting them.

And yes … if the thousands {yes, thousands!} of new hits to this blog are any indication … there definitely are people out there that will be feeding off of our “misery.”  But you know what? so be it!  Anyone that is an avid reader of my musings knows that I have the love of God living inside of me.  I have never backed down or hidden from my trials.  And what others might view as “misery” … my God turns to victory!

Are there some things I don’t disclose?  Sure!  But my main goal has always been to share the positive side of the trials God has allowed into my life.

The thing most people don’t understand is that God has allowed me to look at my trials through His eyes and with His love … not the world’s.  The world is full of hate and unforgiveness.  Seriously, who has the time and energy to put their focus on things that will tear them down?

Many, many, many of you … readers I didn’t even know I had … or that knew “who” I am, have contacted me with love, support, encouragement and prayers.  I am forever thankful and blessed by you.

You are the ones that I’m writing to …

When you have an active and intimate relationship with your Lord and Savior … He will sustain you.  As I’ve told some, I’m currently a walking Scripture cliche … I am living and breathing Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I would. not. want to be facing this trial without my Savior.  And it breaks my heart to know there are people struggling through this life without Him.

My prayer through this journey is that if even one of you come to know Him as I know Him … then our trial was not in vain.

And as far as my girls are concerned … those of you that are followers here for the right reasons, know that it’s my utmost desire to instill the love of the Lord in them.  To show them what it looks like to walk in His grace.  In His love.  In His goodness.  To live for the eternal, not the here and now.

And sure, some of you may have your own opinions and judgments … but please know it hasn’t been without much prayer and consideration that I’ve decided to stay true to myself.  Would I ask my girls to back down and hide?  Or would I want them to share with the world … what the enemy has intended for bad … our Lord will turn for good?

I choose the latter …

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Posted in family thoughts, life

18 Mar


There Is A Time For Everything

There is a time for everything,
and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones
and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug
and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something
and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things
and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart
and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent
and a time to speak.
There is a time to love
and a time to hate.
There is a time for war
and a time for peace.
{Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NCV}

The time has come for me to close {tsj} photography.  The actual business that is.  My photography business.  Trust me … it’s not been without much prayer and consideration … but right now, it’s the best thing for me and my family.

I’ve decided to keep the business name on my blog {and URL’s}, but I’ll be closing down the actual portfolio/information links on my main website.  Over the next couple of months there may be some glitches here and there, and I’m praying you’ll hang in there and continue to follow me on this journey … this next, next chapter that God is leading me to.

What ultimately is leading my decision are some changes my family is facing right now, as well as the stress said-changes are playing out in my body.  Particularly related to MS.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a relapse of optic neuritis … well, it’s back … again.  In the other eye.  And I started another round of more aggressive IV steroids yesterday.  My vision is quite blurry.  Praying that it comes back, but it could take up to 3 months for that to happen.  With MS when the nerves die, they die … so even glasses won’t get my vision back to normal.  Given this, I just can’t guarantee {or feel the pressure} I can deliver quality, clear images … not to mention the burden of editing images with blurry vision.

Anyway.  So I’ve decided to pursue photography for fun right now.  Who knows? maybe some day I’ll be back.  But for now … a long, much needed break from the responsibility of a career to focus on my health and family.

I’ll also be closing my studio and selling some of my props, etc.  If anyone is interested, please feel free to contact me …

Thank you, dear readers.  I feel so blessed to have this space to connect with all of you … this little outlet that has given me the opportunity to get to know some of you … praying we can continue on this journey together!

Wishing you all a blessed and happy weekend!

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Posted in life, multiple sclerosis, photography

4 Jan

2011 intentions :: my girls edition

On New Years Eve, I sat down with the girls and made a list with them of their 2010 Reflections … what really stood out to them this year … be it personal growth, vacation or even something they acquired.

For Piper it was the healing of our puppy Pebbles.  Pebbles was paralyzed and spent about 3 months in a rehabilitation center this summer.  And when Pebbles finally came home, he still couldn’t walk.  We got wheelies for him, but that was a pain in the butte!  He couldn’t control his bladder or bowel and that didn’t make for a very happy CJ {our pooper-picker-upper and chief dog caretaker … and sure, someone else could take over, but he’s over our shoulder telling us we don’t do it right and he redoes it and so … well … we just let him do it}.

Anyway … when Pebbles came home, he had no use of his back end.  But that didn’t stop us from praying, in fact, the girls still continue to include him in our prayers … and … he’s been healed!  He still has a way to go to be “normal” … but he’s using his hind legs for walking now {most of the time}, and his indoor messes are fewer and far between!  What a blessing for Piper to be able to recall a visible answer to prayer and then to document it for us to look back and see how God is working in our lives.

After our 2010 Reflections, I had each one think about their 2011 Intentions. Aren’t I tricky for including them in my 2011 word?

I pray for them to be intentional about their lives.  About the way they live.  The way they play.  The way they form relationships.  About devotion and prayer time.  About their relationship with their Savior.

So I asked each one of them what they would like to focus on for 2011, and each of them gave me answers … although, her sisters helped out with Hunter’s.

I also asked the girls to think about a Scripture verse that would be their very own Scripture for 2011.  We would memorize it, reflect on it, pray on it, and live it out.  Piper and Wynter picked theirs based on their favorite SEEDS songs … although Wynter’s really applies to her and we use it often when she’s getting anxious.  I gave Taylor’s hers … she picked out a different verse, which was nice, but she picked it cuz she “liked it” … and I really wanted their verses to be meaningful to them.  And Hunter’s … well, based on her 2011 intention to “try to stop whining” {which the girls told her to say} and based on where she’s at in her little four year old life … I picked hers.  ;)

Taylor :: Jeremiah 29:11
Taylor has a tendency to view the world as being against her in a “glass half-empty” kind of way.  My prayer for Taylor has been that she think outside of her own world and instead, try to find her place in God’s bigger picture for her.  I’ve seen some progress in her this past year and look forward to continuing this “lesson” with her.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Piper :: Psalm 34:10
Piper a lot of times cries when she doesn’t get her way or doesn’t get something she wants.  And although, she picked this verse for herself, it really brings home the message I’ve been trying to instill in her … to place her treasures on heavenly things.  I’m looking forward to continuing to explore this verse with her.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Wynter :: Philippians 4:6&7
Wynter … well Wynter, as I’ve mentioned before, is my nervous-anxious girl.  She tends to let too many things get her to thinking too deeply, and sometimes too darkly than I think is healthy.  I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses these words to bring peace to Wynter’s heart.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

Hunter :: Ephesians 6:1
Ohhhh … and my little Huntie!  I think the verse itself pretty much sums it up for her!
Children obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.

I’ve not done this before with the girls, but I’m really excited to see what this intentionality brings to their lives, their hearts and their relationship with God.

Posted in family thoughts, hunter, inspiration, life, parenting, piper, taylor, wynter

3 Jan

2011 word :: intentional

I feel like God has breathed this year’s word into me … and really, for the most part,
it’s also an extension of my word from last year.  I feel like He’s had me on a journey this year …
a journey to be intentional about the things I do … or maybe even more importantly, the things I don’t do.

See my littlest bundle of joy?  She is growing up faster than I want … they all are.  Geesh! Taylor’ll be SIXTEEN this year!  SIXTEEN.  Are you hearing me?  ONE SIX!  And driving.  And working.  And growing.  This weekend, I was watching old movies of Taylor when she was exactly the size of Hunter above.  Even the same haircut.  And yes … so what if my heart is playing tricks on me right now and tears are forming realizing how quickly it all went.

Have I mentioned my oldest will be SIXTEEN this year!?

Sorry … didn’t mean to get all ADD on you there!  So anyway … intentional.  My goal this year is to be intentional.

Intentional in spending time with my Savior :: I’m joining Good Morning Girls with Stef & Amy
Intentional in my parenting :: I’ll share tomorrow what I have up my sleeve
Intentional in homeschooling Taylor :: I’m going to start scheduling time in with her everyday
Intentional in exercise :: honestly not sure how I’m going to stay accountable on this one, but I’m working on it!
Intentional about meal planning :: I’ll be scheduling a time each week to plan out our menu
Intentional about organizing our home :: I’ve already started & will continue to work on each room throughout the year
Intentional about simplifying :: Courtney sent me a note about her new site & mission and I am so ON BOARD!!

On our trip to Israel this past year … God whispered to me “Be still and know that I am God.”  I was trying so hard to hear Him … questioning why He wasn’t talking to me … just busy, busy, busy trying desperately to hear Him.  When out of the blue, and in a quiet moment on the Sea of Galilee, He spoke … “Be still and know that I am God.”  In many ways, I equate this as being intentional … or, stay with me here … proactive.

When I think of being proactive, or intentional … I visualize being organized, in control, on “top of things,” and at peace … or still.

When I think of being reactive, I visualize being out of control, unorganized, hurried, stressed, and very … unstill.

So yeah.  Bottom line … I know without a doubt that God has been preparing me for something big … and although, that “bigness” is yet to come … He’s in the process of prepping me for that journey right.now!

Be still and know that I am God.  Be intentional in the life I’ve laid before you, and you’ll hear Me.

Posted in inspiration, life