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.

16 Feb

wordless wednesday :: aspen

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Posted in aspen, vacation, wordless wednesday

17 Jan

exuma :: my heaven on earth

I’m certain that when God created Exuma … He had me in mind!  He knew one day my soul would be tired, weary … my body, sick … He knew I would need to have my own little piece of Heaven, here on earth.

I wish I could bottle and share, right through this screen, what I experience when I’m here.

Time stands still.  Worries wash away.  Peace sets in.

We’ve been here since Christmas, and while it took me a full 2 1/2 weeks to finally feel completely at peace … I finally DO feel completely at peace.

Oh how their personalities shine through in these photos!  And remember Wynt’s accident?
Her shiner below was a full week & a half later!  It got much worse before it got better {can’t even see it now though!}.

Drama much?

Channeling her inner Jackie O?
Okay, but seriously … she won’t take these off.  We bought ’em in the local grocery
store and she wears them everywhere.  The pic of her chasing the waves?  She has ’em on.
Hunter seems to be growing before my eyes on this trip …

Sand burial anyone?  And yes.  As a matter-o-fact, they do eat sand.
Ever since they’ve been old enough to crawl in it!

Island hopping.  Didn’t get many photos this day {actually, haven’t taken many photos at all} …
We visited Long Island … an island believed that Christopher Columbus
first hit when trying to find America in 1492.

And then we have school.  It’s seriously going MUCH easier than last year.  We have a week
left in Exuma, and the girls are pretty much done with their work.  Honestly, Piper
didn’t have too much … and super-student Wynter, flew through hers.
We’ve been working on reading flash cards with Hunter {watch out
Mrs. R, you’re going to be amazed!} … and Tay is plugging along
with her regular homeschool curriculum.

I wouldn’t trade any of this!

And a view of my heaven … here I sit watching the sun rise, reading, writing, praying, gazing, wondering.

And sometimes when the afternoon is coming to a close, I’m back again …
folding laundry, writing, emailing, twittering, reading, gazing, wondering.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with this amazing slice of Heaven.  Knowing the beauty you’ve created here on earth,
makes me yearn for my real Heavenly home all the more!

Posted in blessed, exuma, family photos, vacation

25 Nov

it’s a small world after all …

A couple of weeks ago, CJ had a meeting out of town, followed by hunting with the boys.  So I packed up the girls and headed to Disney!

We had an amazing time.  I’m smiling remembering what a “magical” time they had.  One night while tucking Hunter into bed, she was squeezing her newly acquired, Marie {from The Aristocats}, with the hugest smile on her face … I’m talking huge!  My whole insides were smiling in return and feeling blessed knowing they were experiencing and feeling something so magical.

Hunter fell asleep before we even got into the park for the “Very Merry Christmas Party”

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve really been struggling.  Just feeling like I’m not good enough.  That I can’t measure up.  Now, honestly … I know it’s all hogwash … but when you’re down, you’re down, right?  The other horrible thing about being down is the enemy has a field day with that!  But here’s what I’ve come to realize … I believe the Lord is working in me.  Preparing me to use me in a big way.  I’m not sure what that is, or what it means … I just feel it happening.

And I believe satan is working double-time to hinder my connection with my Creator.  It started in Israel and only got worse when I got home.  And quite honestly, it continued while at Disney.

I just wasn’t myself.  I felt like I was struggling in so many ways.  I won’t go into all the details, as I’m not sure any of them would even make sense.

But here’s the thing … as I was walking around all these different theme parks … very aware of my internal struggle … I was even more aware of and in awe of my surroundings.  The people that is.  So many different kinds of people … that came from all over the world to see this “magical” place.  I’d smile just watching them …

A dad with bright pink, sparkly, glittery, headband ears.  A tween boy with a Mickey fanny-pack.  Grandmas.  Grandpas working rollercoasters and telling guests to have a “magical day.”  Grumpy teens.  Happy teens.  Moms yelling at children.  Children not listening.  Sick children.  A group of handicapped or elderly.  A boy with obvious developmental delays, clapping and dancing and smiling like nobody’s business {and yes, I may be crying as I’m remembering the pure joy on his face}.

All the while, I’m trying to make sense of it all.  Like there’s some bigger meaning … {shaking my head} I don’t know … like I said, I’m not sure I can make any sense of what’s going on inside of me.  There I was … in the most “magical” place on earth, surrounded by thousands of people, and realizing, we are all part of this great big world.  We’re all struggling with something.  And when the girls and I hopped into a boat for the “Small World” ride … and the music started playing … “It’s a small world after all … it’s a small world after all … it’s a small world after all, it’s a small … small world!”  YES! it.is. a small world.  And we’re all in it together.

The big epiphany … my breakthrough … was understanding, without a doubt, God’s cookin’ something up for me!  And … oh my friends! that makes me smile!  For that, I am thankful!  For that, I’m excited!

Look at these girls … the last time we were at Disney World in Florida … in Minnie’s house … on Minnie’s sofa, was 2004.  Wynter was 5 months old.  Piper had just turned 2.  And it was Taylor’s 9th birthday.

{Tears …} And look at them now.  We’ve added little Hunter to our crew!  Wynter just turned 7.  Piper’s 8.  And my big girl is 15!

Blessed and thankful am I.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone … I pray you receive many blessings, but more importantly … you give many thanks!

Posted in blessed, life, random, vacation

19 Nov

on the road again!

Me and my besties are headed outta town and will end up here!  I’ve long been a deer-hunting-widow and a few years ago, decided to do something about it!

I look forward to this time every year and start dreaming weeks ahead-a-time of the sand, the water, the sun, the {much needed} girl talk, the laughter, the food, the dancing, the games, the karaoke!

And look what designer genius Nellie made up for us this year!  Nellie’s been joining us for a few years now, but this’ll be her first official year as a “mama!”

And that. my friends, pretty much says it all!  sun. fun. eat. sleep. repeat.  Now if you’ll ‘scuse me while I work on my tan …

Posted in exuma, friends, vacation

27 Oct

the blessing came :: israel

warning :: random stream-of-conscientiousness may occur!

Recap Of What We Saw
We saw and did so many amazing things.  Too many to try to post about, or explain in detail.  The intricate detail, scripture and history involved behind each place we saw … honestly, I’m still processing it all myself.

We visited Old Testament, New Testament, Jewish history, the Holocaust, Israeli landscape … and trust me, that’s a compact, nutshell version!

Traditional & Believed-To-Be
We heard those words a lot.  You see, sometimes, at some places it’s hard to know what really happened where.  Scholars, archeologists, and historians can do their best to make the best judgment, but in many cases, there isn’t a way to be 100% sure.

We walked the Via Dolorosa … the said place that Jesus walked carrying His cross.  Which led us straight into The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  This church was built around Calvary … where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

I don’t know … this place was INCREDIBLE.  Incredible to imagine … Jesus was here.  He hung here.  He died here.  He rose here.

But … it was crowded.  Wall-to-wall-you-couldn’t-breathe crowded.  I kept praying, talking to God, asking for a feeling or whisper from Him … but honestly … I didn’t feel it.

We left this incredible, incredible place and I gently asked Taylor if she was feeling anything.  If any of this meant anything to her or if she was getting anything.  She answered with more conviction and honesty of any 15 year old I know, “I’m really not.  I’m trying, but it’s just so crowded, it’s hard to feel it.”

Oh amen Taylor, amen!

{you can see those images in my facebook gallery}

The problem is, my expectations were SO high!  I mean, the land Jesus lived … how could I not have high expectations from this trip?  I expected to eat, sleep, tour, and breathe in Jesus.

I feel defeated to say that just wasn’t the case.

This is the Holy Land … I thought I’d find God at every turn.

Moments Of Blessing
~ At one point, our tour guide read some scripture from the Bible … in Hebrew.  The language Jesus spoke … the words and way He would’ve spoke.

~ Touring the museum of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I was interested, but also just browsing through … like you would a museum.  When I came upon fragments of a scroll from this verse that stopped me cold in my tracks:

Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign.
Tie them on your forehead to remind you, and write
them on your doors and gates.
{Deuteronomy 6:8-9, NCV}

~ When Taylor whispered to me on our last day here, “Thank you for taking me on this trip.”

My Health
Praise God that I stayed relatively healthy throughout the entire trip.  We did a ton of walking, early mornings, and late days.  I had my ups & downs, but overall, I seriously couldn’t have asked for more!  So thank you! for all your prayers!

The Conflict
We had a tour guide that lives life on the side of cranky … at one point, someone asked for more information or concrete-type answers about the Via Dolorosa.  He answered roughly, “People just want a “place.”  A place they can see and touch.  Christians shouldn’t be asking for evidence.  They should be happy to have a place.”

I overheard the conversation and thought to myself … “I don’t need a place.”  Everything we’ve seen and done has been absolutely wonderful!  But I don’t need a place.

The other thing about this crab-filled guide … I was struggling with wondering if he wasn’t taking something away from me.  I’m human and have human feelings just as anyone else does … I get annoyed, upset, and even angry.  And as a Christian, I really struggle when I don’t love “everyone.”  And this guy was not a hugable, lovable kinda fellow!  So in some ways, I wondered if he ended up blocking God’s voice to me.  Silly, right?

A Tour Is Just A Tour
Please don’t get me wrong.  This trip has been an incredible, incredible experience!  To imagine Jesus walking some of these streets.  Or the prophets living in this land.  The City of David in Jerusalem … or the En-Gedi, the Spring of David … the hills and water source it’s believed that David used and hid from Saul.  Amazing.  Awesome.  Wow. {Wonder of Wonders … I remembered Cyndi!} :)

But …

The Biggest Blessing Of All
I realized … I don’t have to go to the land of Jesus to find Him … because my Savior lives right inside of me.

We had a visit to the Garden Tomb.  A traditional or believed-to-be place of the crucifixion.  I’d now seen 2 places believed to be the place of crucifixion and resurrection.  How in the world does one know what to believe?

Let me give you some facts about the place known as Calvary, or Golgotha {which means “place of the skull” in Hebrew}.  Here’s one scripture for you … “And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull … ” {Matthew 27:33}

The Via Dolorosa didn’t have a skull anywhere near.  But look at the photo below … do you see two eyes … a nose?  And please realize, my photo doesn’t really do justice.

An actual tomb was also found.  And inside the tomb, and empty place.  I LOVE the sign inside this VERY small room.

Lastly, scripture tells us there were gardens near the place of Calvary.  The “Garden Tomb” is nothing but a garden!

We had a different guide once inside the Garden Tomb.  And he let us know right off the bat that he was a faith-filled-Jesus-loving-believer who had Jesus living inside of him!  Chill bumps all over the place my friends!

I don’t know … but I’ll tell ya … there was something about this place.  I felt the Holy Spirit like I hadn’t felt during our whole trip.

After the tour of the tomb {which was just a small, small room}, we went to an upper place for communion.  It.was.incredible!

And Then
Our last day in Israel, we visited the Western Wall, also known as the wailing wall.  Tradition has you write your prayer requests or notes to God and stick them in the wall.  That morning, I wrote out 3 pages of prayer requests to put in the wall.

When we got there, it was crowded, hot, hustling and bustling.  When I finally made it to the wall, I put my prayer requests into the wall, bowed my head and prayed:

Father God,
Thank you.  Thank you for loving me enough to send your only Son.
To live inside of me.  So that I don’t have to go to a foreign land to
find Him … all I have to do is call out and He is there.

And that, my friends is the blessing that will last me a lifetime!

More vacation photos here, here, here, here, here and here.

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Posted in inspiration, jesus, vacation