July 1, 2016

summer is in full swing

Well, its July 1st and summer is in full swing around here! We bought season passes to our local water park and have been loving that! B's had play dates, volleyball camp, art camp starts next week, pool mooching at our friends, movie dates, and grandma is coming to visit next week while Adam is out of town! Fun! This week some of our mi casa kids have been in town so we've had some dinners with them, that is just about the best ever (and lucky us, some still live here!). Its crazy to see how much they've grown up in 2 years, where does the time go?! I was standing in a restaurant hugging one of them for a long time and the waitress came up to us and said "Aw, this is so sweet, are y'all best friends?" And Cameron looked at her and said "pretty much." Sweet Cam. Have I mentioned how good it is to be back here? :)

In other news, our land officially became ours yesterday! We signed on the dotted line and met our neighbors (who are the ones that sold us the land) and they are about the sweetest little old couple on the planet! The wife hugged me as we left the paper signing, so sweet! It made us really excited to move into the neighborhood and to get settled (and I'm pretty pumped to have a dr next door, that could come in handy!). We drove out to the land last night to watch the first sunset and some of our besties joined us and brought drinks/solo cups to cheers to what lies ahead. It was a really sweet moment and I feel like I'm just relishing in God's faithfulness. Its a pretty sweet place to be.

I've been asked a lot when we will break ground, we're hopeful to break ground this month! Getting the house plans back from the draftsman is a sloooooow process, and inevitably there are changes that need to be made to the drafts still so, that's.... a process. Once those are complete the ball should get rolling...we cannot wait. I've been busy picking out flooring, trying to figure out bathroom vanities and wrapping my mind around the layout of the master bath (that I just recently changed!). For the most part I love this stuff, but there are so many details to consider so it feels like a lot of decision making (and you just hope you're making the right ones!). Its surreal to me that this is actually happening, I'm not quite sure I really believe it yet. All in all we're doing well over here, just soaking up our days with Adam before he leaves for 2 weeks (insert crying face!). B and I have made a list of things to do while daddy's gone and with grandma coming, I think we'll make it! Thanks for checking in, sorry for a quiet blog, not too much to report, just a lazy summer! xo

June 20, 2016

where your treasure is

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21). This scripture is really/especially fitting for me these days. People tend to look at you like you're crazy when you trade in southern California for central Texas, but what keeps coming to my mind is that verse, my treasure is here and so, my heart is here as well. I've heard it said that you'll never regret investing in people, and I'd like to think that's how I've spent my life thus far, investing in others. When people ask me what it is I love about Waco, TX, I typically say "everything but the heat and the bugs, but the people make up for both of those things," and its true. This past week I've been asked numerous times how it feels to be "back" and I find myself repeatedly saying: "It just feels right, and so so good." For the past 2 years I haven't felt "right" and its so nice (understatement) to feel "right" again. Things that hung over me like a dark cloud have been largely removed, distance has given me some new perspective and some new peace and I'm so thankful for both. I love that after 16 years of marriage (this Friday!) Adam and I finally are home and we know (unless something crazy happens) where we are going to raise our daughter and where we are going to live...for good. It feels amazing to be here and to finally be home.

We hit the ground running, moving is always hard and exhausting and in Texas heat, its no joke. Our rental has proven to be...a rental. Sigh. We've had maintenance out here numerous times already dealing with shower issues, stove issues, etc. We're already counting the days until our house is built (which, I'm not even sure if I've mentioned that here...but we're building a house!). Its going to be a long 8-9 months I think but we're all hopeful it will be worth it! :) All my ideas make so much sense in my head....here's hoping they turn out great in real life!! (insert cringy emoji face!).

When we arrived to our rental my friend had tied balloons to our mailbox, it was such a neat thing to come home to and made me instantly thankful for the community we were walking back into. The next day a friend brought lunch, then our friends had us over for dinner, then the next night someone else had us for dinner, then someone called and asked if they could bring us dinner, etc.. Its been so good to hug our friends and to walk into church on Sunday morning like we never left. I went to get B from Sunday school yesterday and my friend (who is the children's pastor) said "Oh, she left a while ago with her friends, she's not here" and I just smiled because, that's as it should be. B knows that church like the back of her hand, I don't need to "get her" she's home now.

This week Adam is in Florida with friends so its just me and B, I think we'll be doing a lot of pool mooching and hanging out with friends, just as summer should be. :) Thanks to all of you who have checked in on us, we're alive and well its just been a nutty week! B had volleyball camp, I shot a wedding on Saturday (and I'm just going to throw this out there, moving halfway across the country and shooting a wedding in the same week...eeeeek!!), Adam has been trying to get his office set up and taking many trips to/from our storage unit, etc.. We're all well, just tired. :) Get ready for lots of house posts...this should be fun!! xo

May 31, 2016

crunch time

T-1 week and 1 day until we make the big move back to Waco. It's that time that I hate in every move, where life becomes inconvenient because most things are packed, you are eating on paper plates and eating not-great food because most of your cooking stuff is packed, the house looks sad because things are coming off the walls and it becomes the empty shell you walked into nearly 2 years ago. Brennan has 2.5 days left of school and I'm not sure whose more excited, me or her? I am SO OVER the long trek to her school each day, and since I don't feel like I was ever really here this go around I'm admittedly detached from her school and just want to go home. I've said to Adam on more than one occasion that I think this will be the most anti-climactic move we've ever made, I really think we'll get into the moving van/car and just drive off with little emotion over actually leaving. These past 22 months haven't felt like real life to me, I've admittedly lived with one foot out the door since we got here and I think when we get back to Waco it will take about 2 seconds before it feels like we never left and this will all be a distant memory...and truth be told, I can't wait for that. I don't want to be insensitive to our dear friends who have made these past 22 months actually doable, and of course we will miss them terribly, but they have known from day one we haven't been "home" and they are eager for us to get back to it as well.

This past week Adam was out of town, then a friend from Waco came into town for a night, then cousin Mike flew in Friday morning and was here until yesterday morning. We had a fun weekend with him but poor B got sick so that put a damper on some things. Its been kinda nutty around here, but in a good way. :) We've got back to back to back dinners this next week saying goodbye to sweet friends, that's always bittersweet. I can't believe after all the waiting that this past year has entailed that we're here, we're finally HERE. The older I get I find I keep saying things like "life is so weird" to Adam, and he agrees. I think when you inch up on 40 something changes in you, you become more introspective and you start to realize how quickly life goes, how fast kids grow up, how you feel like you're still in your 20s so how can 40 be so near? Its a funny/weird phase of life for me, I've been thinking a lot about what I want for my daughter and for our little family, what lessons I want to teach her and what I hope she doesn't have to figure out the hard way. I've had some weird health stuff and have had numerous drs appointments and its reminded me how fragile life is and has kept me in check with the person I want to be and what I think is really important. I've read lots of books the past 2 years, probably more than ever in my life and I've feel like I've learned new things and gained new insights into this crazy life. I've been intentional about spending a lot of time with people who are wiser than me and have let them pour into me and teach me and its been so life-giving/rewarding. I've kept my mouth shut when I didn't want to and have learned valuable lessons in doing so. I've spoken truth into other peoples lives and have seen it yield some good things and some hard things. I've learned over and over again that good things comes from hard things and that hard things are less hard when you surrender them to Jesus and wait on his timing (have I mentioned I hate waiting?). I won't be sad to say goodbye to this "season" of life if you will, but I am thankful for all I've learned, I'm going to try to remind myself of that truth over and over and over. xo

May 26, 2016


I've been thinking a lot about betrayal lately, its something that I've had thrown at me a lot in the past year and a half in various ways for different reasons, but ultimately 1 reason that has manifested itself in different ways at different times. I've been thinking a lot about it for several reasons but the main one being, I keep trying to figure out what Jesus would do with certain circumstances I've been given? You see, when things aren't black and white it leaves a lot up to interpretation and that can lead to actions where one can have a hard time trying to decipher what the "right" thing to do is. I've talked about this before, I've been wresting with it for a while so its making another appearance on this here blog. I was talking to someone recently and I said, I wonder what Jesus would say was the hardest part about the whole crucifixion experience? If we could sit down and have some face time with him and ask him to break it down, what would he say was the absolute worst part? The long walk carrying the cross while people yelled horrible things at him and spit in his face? The crown of thorns pressed violently into his head? The actual nails being driven into his wrists? The hanging with the weight of his body on those nails? The spear in his side? Or...was it the betrayal by those that claimed to love him the most? To have to endure watching the people that repeatedly told him they loved him look him in the eye and betray him like it was nothing? Please hear me here, I'm in NO WAY comparing my hurt to what Jesus experienced, but I have had some very painful physical pain in this life, and I've been betrayed and felt the sting of that and for me there's no question, the betrayal is by far the most painful...and lasting. You see, Jesus eventually was out of the physical pain, that was removed when it was finished, but the betrayal doesn't go away...he still has that pain to carry with him.

Today the news came out that Baylor's head football coach, Art Briles was fired due to an (alleged) cover up of sexual assault by some football players. I don't know all the ins and outs but I keep thinking about the girl(s) who were abused, and how the silence and (alleged) cover up of it all (by a Christian university no less) must have felt like such a betrayal of their experience and pain. And now, the truth is "out there" and natural consequences have taken place, and I can't help but think they must feel so vindicated, like their abuse wasn't nothing. Its SO HARD when a wrong has been done and people turn a blind eye for their own sake, they don't want to get their hands dirty. I have to believe this is not what Jesus had in mind when he called us to be peacemakers.

In college I majored in Christian Ministries with a minor in Theology and I had an emphasis in youth ministry. I took a class that required that I go hear Bart Campolo give a lecture at my school on youth ministry and it ended up being one of the most profound experiences I had in my 4 years at APU. For those of you who don't know who Bart is, he is (well, rather this is who he was when I was in college, he's changed his views a lot in recent years) an evangelist who lives and breaths urban youth ministry. He spends his days "in the ghetto" trying to reach broken kids with the good news of Jesus. When he's not doing that he's traveling the world speaking, trying to recruit urban youth workers to come work with at-risk youth. He's got a pretty amazing mission and is a very dynamic speaker with gripping stories. One of his stories has haunted me for years because of the reality of how messy life can be, and Jesus calls us into that mess and yet, he doesn't always give us the clear "right" answer for how to respond to certain situations. He explained how he had been working with a boy who came from a broken home, no dad, mom was working lots of jobs just to get by, he was often left unattended and was on a bad trajectory if something didn't change in his life. Bart had been pouring into this kid, trying to show him there was more to life and that was Jesus. This kid showed up at Bart's house one day and asked if he could live with him? Bart said this was a regular occurrence, kids would often come to him after trust was built when they felt they had nowhere to go and how it was a tricky thing to navigate b/c obviously he couldn't let all these kids come live with him and his family. So he pushed back on the kid and said "What do you mean your mom kicked you out?" After some back and forth the kid confessed that his mom wanted him to beat up a kid and he refused because "Bart said that Jesus said that you don't hurt people and that fighting isn't okay." So, because of his refusal to beat up this kid his mom kicked him out and he had nowhere to live. Bart pushed back some more and asked why his mom wanted him to beat up another kid?! After more back and forth the kid confessed "Because he's been raping my little brother." Bart went on to say how when in these situations, when life is this messy there's a problem, its true, Jesus says to love and not fight back but rather, to turn the other cheek. Bart went on to say, "in the ghetto you're often not dealing with good and bad, you're dealing with bad and worse." "So I looked him in the eye and I said, you go beat up that kid, you beat him so hard so he never touches your brother again." Bart went on to say when that kid walked away he felt so yucky, so gross, that he was covered in mess and he didn't want that on him, he cried out to the Lord and begged for his forgiveness but he didn't know what else to do, there was nothing "right" about any of this!!!!" He goes on to say how life is messy, doing life with urban youth is really messy, and Jesus calls us into the mess without all the answers but you go anyway, because that is what Jesus would do, and he too would get the mess all over him.

Life isn't black and white, there's a lot of gray, even/especially in the Christian life, but when a wrong has been done and people don't want to make a move because they want to keep their hands clean, people get hurt. Life is messy, but Jesus calls us into the mess, sitting on the sidelines isn't an option. xo

May 17, 2016

my friend's gratitude dinner

This weekend was a lot of eating and spending time with good friends. Adam and I went to a nice dinner on Friday with a long time friend of mine and her boyfriend, for one final "ho-rah" before we leave. Saturday we went to a joint birthday party for 2 of our long time friends who turned 40, that was really fun and we ate lots of good food and got lots of hugs from their parents who've treated us like family over the years, good stuff. We couldn't get a sitter 3 nights in a row so Sunday I went solo to a gratitude dinner that my friend threw for herself and it was so great. When we moved here almost 2 years ago we rented a house that just happened to be across the street from friends of ours and we didn't even know it! I don't think it was a coincidence that we were neighbors for that month as it ended up to be a really hard year for my friend and through that rental we got back in touch with one another. My friend and her husband are in the midst of a divorce and anyone who has gone through a divorce themselves or has walked with someone going through a divorce knows, its a lot, and its hard. I've watched my friend have good days and bad days, I've gone with her into her new apartment after having to sell her beautiful home, I've sat in her backyard as we've talked about how hard life can be, I've sorted through her belongings to help with those hard decisions of what to keep/get rid of when it feels like you're loosing so much already. Through it all she's had an unwavering faith that has been really amazing and encouraging to witness. On Sunday night she gathered those nearest and dearest to her and treated everyone to an amazing dinner at a local restaurant and talked about how thankful she is for the role that each of us has played in her life. Her dad got up to say a speech and to remind his daughter of the truth of God's word, it was really life-giving. He was saying how when we wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength, we will run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. His depiction of the famous Isaiah 40 passage was really poignant for me and it filled me with hope and truth and reminded me of what I know but never tire of hearing. Waiting has been a theme for me a lot in my life, most particularly these past 2 years and my eyes filled with tears as I was reminded that those who hope and wait on the Lord will be renewed. What a timely reminder for me, and more importantly for my friend.  Sunday night was one of those experiences that make up the good stuff of life, and I was so thankful to be there. I wish I could take away my friend's pain, but I love that in the midst of it she is celebrating God's faithfulness and acknowledging his goodness in the pain. It was an honor to be invited, it has been an honor to be on this journey with her, and I don't think the Lord providing a rental house across the street from her was just an accident because that's how God works, He's in the details of our lives even when we don't know it....yet. xo

May 10, 2016

May 4, 2016

a busy season / blessing the hard ones

Its a busy season in the Winn household, I'm tired. Anyone who has moved knows how much work it entails, its not just the buying of the supplies, the packing, the details of where to live, selling a house, renting a house, etc. it's also the emotional piece. Its hard for B to watch her room get packed away for strangers to come traipsing through, its hard to say goodbye to beloved friends who are like family, its hard to leave a home because, it was your home. As someone who has been on a quest for home for years, and who is passionate about making my surroundings home, this is hard for me. As eager as I am to get to my real home, I've poured my blood, sweat, and tears into our cottage here and there is a part of me that is sad to see it go. Our house officially went on the market yesterday, so that means its been a flurry of cleaning, home repairs (aka: money disappearing), realtor meetings, photographer/drone photos, runs to good will, etc.. Its just a lot. In addition to this, I nanny a couple days a week, we've had company in town from Waco, my mom flies in tomorrow, open houses this weekend, etc. -all good things, just a lot. Sorry, don't want to complain, this is minor in the grand scheme, but it also helps to explain my quiet little blog. :)

In the midst of all of this God continues to work on my heart and bring peace, and remind me of what really matters in this life and of the person He wants me to be. There have been a couple poignant things that have left a mark and as I've stated numerous times, when something strikes me I share it here b/c you never know what someone else might need to hear. My pastor (who I can now quit referring to as being my "Waco pastor" b/c..well, we kinda live there now :) has really challenged me lately by his example and I want to share those instances here. Shortly before we moved from Waco my pastor (and his family) moved into a house across the street from ours, it was SO great having them as neighbors and I was so sad to move so soon after this came to be. Well, as anyone who lives on our street in Waco knows, its spotty. To be fair, Waco is pretty spotty but our old street is definitely spotty. All that to say, several friends of ours who live(d) on our street, have been broken into. This is a sad reality of Waco, there is a lot of poverty, and break ins are not uncommon in certain areas. No one wants to hurt anybody (generally speaking), most breaks ins happen during the day when the home owners are obviously gone, and electronics and jewelry are stolen, and it is typically just items stolen, no damage done to the house. Well, about a week ago my pastor was broken into, big sigh. I hate that this happened to their family, no one ever deserves to be broken into and to be violated in that way (speaking from experience {not in Waco}) and they joined the ranks of that brokenness. I say all of this to get to the point of Josh's response. Josh posted on facebook a letter to the people who broke into his home, he said how sorry he was that they were in a place to do that and he wondered if they also had 4 kids like he did and if they were desperate for a way to support them? He explained that he contributes to the world's brokenness himself and that he too needs forgiveness. He explained that as a pastor he often preaches love and forgiveness but that he has often wondered if he is full of shit, as it's one thing to teach obedience and another to act on it. He thanked them for giving him the chance to essentially put his money where is mouth is. He goes on to say that he is tasked with forgiving something small like stealing, but how hard life is for many people who really know suffering, and how he has been taught by people who really suffer that with great suffering comes great grace. He goes on to say that the more he thinks about them (the thieves) the more compassion he feels for them, and he goes on to remind them that they are loved by God and they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that although it is doubtful they will ever read his post, its important to bless them because that matters.

WHOA right?! I'm not sure how you can encounter something like that and not have it change you. If you know Josh like I do, you know he isn't trying to be all "look how good I am," but rather, he is trying to really live out the gospel he preaches each week. He is putting his money where is mouth is, he is choosing to be better because that is what Jesus calls us to do. Whether you've been in church your whole life or not, we've all heard the "love your enemies" bit, right? But you know the part where it says to pray for those who persecute you? To bless them? Man, talk about taking it to another level! HOLY COW THIS CHRISTIAN LIFE STUFF IS NO JOKE! I tried this recently, I tried to pray for and bless someone who has really hurt me, it was really, really hard. I was talking with the Lord about it and trying to be really honest and transparent with where my heart was and the reality of if the person I was praying for knew how much she was really loved by Jesus and if that really penetrated her heart, it would change her-it would heal her. You see, hurt people -hurt people, and I know this person is really hurting, that isn't even a question, but when you set aside your hurt for a minute and actually bless your enemy - something transformative happens. You begin to see them more as God sees them, and not how you do. God doesn't love this person any less than he loves me, I'm just as much a sinner in my own right, and that is a hard truth to ignore. Forgiving your enemies is surely one thing, praying for them and actually praying blessing for them, I assure you is entirely another. Man, its hard.

I recently had someone say to me "Man, you're a better person than I am!" in reference to me doing something to better understand someone who has hurt me, and it made me pause, because the real truth is, I'm not better (even though I like to think that I am). I remember 15 years ago during our small group when I was talking passionately about grace and my friend said something like "I guess I've just thought about grace being so important for the 'really bad sinners' (I'm paraphrasing here) so I've never thought of it so much as it applies to me" and I remember saying "We ARE those really bad sinners, we are the worst ones and that is the point!" The truth is, sin is sin and we are no better and no worse than anyone else and Jesus died just as much for me as he did the murderer and the thief. When you have that "aha" moment where you realize you are no better, and you're just as messed up as "the worst" that is when you realize what grace really is, and the words "to whom much is given, much is expected" start to really resonate. Those who have been forgiven much, need to forgive much. I have been forgiven much, so I have no choice but to forgive much -that is grace of which I have been freely given and I need to freely extend. And its really, really hard. But this is the gospel message, folks, this is the good news that Jesus came with and for and it is life changing. When people tell me they know there is no God I almost just have to laugh -these things don't.just.happen. People don't forgive wrongdoers and bless them just because -that is God work, and it's as real as the air we breathe. xo

April 27, 2016

The Long Road to Home

When I married Adam we had a plan, as the joke goes "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." And isn't that the truth?! We thought grad school, job, family, etc... Mainly we thought after years and years of grad school a job would quickly follow -ha! Anyone who has been on this long journey with us knows what a joke that is! It took 7 years for Adam to get his first job which not only "messed up our plans" but took us on a long, wind-y road to finding our home. When we took a big leap of faith and moved to Waco, Texas in August of 2010, it became clear quite quickly that Waco was home. When Adam's job took us to California the three of us experienced a hole in our hearts we couldn't ignore or fill, and it was the Waco-shaped hole of home. If you know me personally and have walked with me closely these past 2 years then you already know how much begging and pleading I have done with the Lord to take us back to Texas. Being a Christ follower is a funny thing sometimes because you have to wrestle a lot with what the Lord's plans are in relation to your desires and the two don't often add up and its hard and confusing and scary. I won't go into all the details and ins and outs of what this journey/process has been like the past 2 years, (more specifically the past 4 months) but what I will say is that God is faithful. My husband recently accepted a tenure track position at a university that is taking us back to Waco, to say we are thrilled would be an understatement. But here's the thing, I don't ever want to be "that person" who proclaims God's faithfulness (only) when things "go my way." If you've been following my blog for a while you know this isn't me at all but I am very aware of how easy it is to proclaim God's faithfulness in the good times, and I realize how hard life is/can be and I want to be sensitive to that and proclaim: God is faithful no matter what. Adam and I have often been on "the losing side" of the job hunt, we've made it to the final round and not been the one chosen. Clearly there was someone who wasn't chosen because Adam was and I know that heartache and disappointment and I don't take that hurt lightly. Adam getting the job means someone else didn't and I imagine that person is on a long road to a job or a home, I get it. As I've said more times on this blog than I can count, God is faithful even still, as true as it is that good things come in small packages (I love my Christmas stocking the best of all! :) I believe long, hard roads (often) lead to extreme gratitude, affirmation, and thankfulness. The road to home has been a long one for us, but man, it feels really good to be on it. xo

April 5, 2016

"Moving On"

I love how you can hear a song and it grabs you and speaks to your heart in that exact.moment. This new song by Mat Kearney is my current jam. Good stuff here.

We were young, we were brave
With our eyes wide shut in the choices we made
Well you lit the match and I got caught with the flames
And your voice still rings out through my mind
And the thorns still twist down in my side
All the promises that we left for dead in the night (woo woo)

Because I'm moving on, letting go
Forget the past and giving up the ghost
All we are is fading stars, life's too short to stay where we are

Forgive, let live and move on tell me that's gonna make me stronger
Forgive, let live and move on (woo)
Forgive, let live and move on tell me that's gonna make me stronger
Forgive, let live and move on (woo)

Maybe I'm broken, maybe its the fame
Maybe it's the moment you said I had changed
Where did thirteen years go like I didn't know you at all (woo woo)

I heard you were back with regrets and you meant it
I had a reply to your text, never sent it
Bridges were burning in accusation
Funny how time is the great revelation (woo)

March 31, 2016

March 23, 2016

I want an oompa loompa now daddy

Anyone who has seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory knows this line, Veruca Salt says this to her dad in the whiniest, most obnoxious, spoiled, entitled way "I want an oompa loompa now daddy!" Adam and I often say this to each other and we say it to Brennan and Brennan says it to us - all in good fun when we want something that we know we don't deserve, or when we want something that's coming to us but we want it NOW. Its an on-going joke in our little family but we all know what it means in the moment and it renders a good laugh or some understanding of how hard it is to wait. I HATE WAITING. I am in a season of my life where I'm waiting...for several things...and I hate it, like HATE it. I've spent some good time talking about waiting on this here blog, its something I've struggled with for as long as I can recall and the deeper into my walk with the Lord I get, I don't find that it gets much easier (insert cringy crying emoji). I've been very intentional about trying to wait better (whatever that means!) and I try to give my frustrations over to the Lord for him to deal with, that does help some I guess. I'm reading a book right now with some good stuff, [I'd rather not give the name of the book b/c it implies something that leads to questions I can't answer on this public forum but if you know me personally and want to know, you can shoot me an email and I'll pass along the info]. Anyhoo - I read something today that stopped me dead in my tracks, and as with anything that I find helpful/interesting/of value to me and thus maybe to someone else I share it here. It said : "The work that God does in us when we wait is usually more important than the thing for which we wait!" DOH. Right?! I'm waiting for several things in my life, some exciting and hopeful things, some hard and kind of icky things but I find this relevant with all my waiting. As much as I hate limbo and the in between, its so crazy to realize that even when those "things" come to fruition, this process is/can be the "meat" if you will. Sigh.

Its no secret that God uses bad to bring about good -that's all over the Bible so clearly that's no revelation and as I've discussed many times this past year+ good things come from pain, but another line from my book that "got me" today was: "I've had to conclude that God would not allow spear throwers into my life if He did not intend that their arrows bear fruit in my life." UGHHHHH, its so hard, and I don't like hard! But is sooooooooooooo (unfortunately -insert cringy face) true! [Btw the definition of a "spear thrower" is someone who lives by their own set of rules, who has a manipulative and divisive spirit, displays acute insecurity and jealousy, etc...]. I'm sure we either all have someone like this in our life or at the very least we know of someone like this. Man, the process of refinement is so.dang.hard. and it wears me out sometimes. I hope this doesn't come across as self-righteous, I'm a disaster in my own right so this isn't me being judge-y - "look at these messed up people I have to deal with that only make me better." That's SO not my point, my point is simply that we all have things/people/issues in our life that are hard and (maybe) don't appear to be going anywhere, and our job is to figure out how to respond the right way in the midst of this reality and to be "better." Not a self-righteous better, but better as in a better person, choosing the high road when it would be so easy not to b/c God is using whatever ___X____ scenario is in my/your life to bring about fruit (ie growth, maturity, good things we can pass on to others, etc.). Sometimes I can't stand the reminder of what I already know to be true but its too good not to share, ya know? I know God is making me better, its come through a lot of pain and heartache and betrayal and things I would never want to experience if given the choice, but who of us would choose hard things?! But how many of us have benefited from hard things? Sigh. DARN IT, right?! I was telling someone recently that I'm not the same person I was a year and a half ago, I've changed...(I mean, please, I'm the same...I feel like I've hardly changed since jr high), but I mean, I've changed in that I know I'm better than I was in a few ways, a few big ways. They might not be apparent on the outside (I'm mainly referring to my heart), but I can feel them on the inside -and that's something, that's God-work. God-work is hard, refining, drag -you-through-the-mud work, but coming out on the other side brings good life-giving things. Keep in mind that your process might in fact be "the thing." Keep on keepin' on. xo

March 17, 2016

Spring Break // Spring Break

Whew! Its been kinda nutty around here! Its always a bummer when Adam's spring break doesn't line up w/ Brennan's, it seems they both end up getting the shaft a bit b/c you can't really miss a week of work and its not ideal to miss a week of school (esp right before a long break). This year my sister asked if Adam and I wanted to join her and her husband in Sun Valley, ID for a few days and it just happened to line up w/ Adam's spring break! It took lots of maneuvering and some serious graciousness by several friends of mine to look after B but we made it work and off we went! (B got sick before our trip so it was looking like we might need to cancel but thankfully, she got well enough and we were able to go and have a good time). We ate good food, played lots of darts, walked around the cute town and went shopping, took the ski lift up the mountain and ate yummy food while taking in beautiful view, etc. Fun times. When we got back it was B's turn! Some dear friends of ours joined us for FUN TIMES at the brand new so Cal Great Wolf Lodge! We all had a great time and came home water logged and wiped out! Yesterday Adam took B to Disneyland (he had a free hook up!) and the two of them had a great time and came home late tired and happy. :) Today Adam is at work and I'm going to take B to a movie and tomorrow we're having a long play date to round out her spring break, I'd say we all scored pretty well this year on spring break fun!

It feels like its been go go go lately with nannying and travel, March has flown by! I just announced a shooting trip back to Waco at the end of April, I have one spot left if there happens to be any interested Wacoans reading this! :)

Lastly, HAPPY ST.PATRICK'S DAY! As I have said many times before, since living in Ireland St. Patty's is especially heart warming to us, I hope everyone out there is wearing green and giving the Irish some love today! xo

February 25, 2016

getting out of dodge

Its been a busy week around here! I started back up my nanny gig that I got last fall so a couple days a week I'm busy with twin newborns and a 2 year old! I assist the mom, I'm rarely alone with the girls but when I am, wowza! Not enough hands! Props to all the parents of multiple's, that's no joke! Whew!

Today the 3 of us are headed to Waco and we all can't wait! Its been a long time since Adam and B have been back so everyone is anxiously awaiting our flight tonight! Its going to be a busy whirlwind of a trip like always, but its always good for the soul too. Today I'm doing laundry, editing and packing so I'm gonna get after it! Hope everyone has a lovely weekend! xo

February 17, 2016

The Desert -a new perspective

I am still on the email distribution list for our church in Waco, which means I get the weekly "in the life of the church" emails that get sent out. This past week's was really poignant for me and struck me so I want to share it here because 1. I thought it was really insightful 2. It was really meaningful to me at this stage in my life 3. I think its important to share life-giving information, you never know what someone else is going through.

The most shocking thing about the Temptation of Christ is the first line: “and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1).  It’s shocking because we know what happens next.  As Jesus fasted, the Devil approached with three temptations: one of hunger, one of power, one of safety.  We know that Jesus is able to deny Satan and the Spirit leads Jesus out of the wilderness.  This isn’t the end of the matter, however.

            “Was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”  It is God who leads Jesus into the desert.  Nothing good happens in the desert.  The desert’s hot, no water, no food, almost no life and the sun is unforgiving.  The sheer vastness of it drives minds mad.  Furthermore, people believed the desert was a haunt for demons (Luke 11:24; Matt 12:43).  Still, Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”

            Do you ever feel like you have been led into the desert?  Maybe you have.  Maybe it was God who did the leading.  After all, if God led the Lord into the desert are we, as his followers, expected to do any less?

            Thank God for the Lord then.  If God is to lead us into the desert we have the Lord as our example.  He was in constant prayer before being led into the desert, once there he fasted, and because of these his mind and spirit were completely in tune with God.  There were no distractions for Christ.  This is why he could deny the Devil.

            The Lord said “If anyone would follow me, they must first deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  The “follow” part is wherever Jesus leads, that most certainly includes deserts.  The hope then is this: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).  Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert.  The key is, as always, to keep following. Amen.    (written by Kelly Doolittle) 

I think when we go through times of "being in the desert" we don't often think it was God who brought us there, we just beg and plead with him to take us out! Right?! Its an interesting thing to sit and wrestle with, that God brought us to the hard place, the barren place, and is choosing to leave us there....for a while. Several months ago I was in a bad place, the darkest hole I've ever been in and someone said to me "He won't leave you here." In that moment I wanted so badly to believe it, that this wouldn't be my new normal but I wasn't entirely sure. You see, when you're in a dark place, and its unfamiliar territory you start to question a lot of things (including your sanity!), and what were once simple truths become big questions, its frightening. Now that I'm on the other side of that I can better understand and appreciate the words "He won't leave you here." The good news about that is, now I can tell someone else that same thing-and know that its true, and speak truth into their darkness. Good things come from pain. I was doing my Bible study homework today and the take-home was that God remembers his people. Its fitting that today I'm being reminded that God can/may be the one leading me to the desert but he won't forget me and leave me there. "Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert." As Kelly said above "keep following." Amen. xo

February 16, 2016


Whew, 2016 has been a doozy (understatement). Each time I think a do-over is going to happen, we get another whammy. I started feeling better a few days ago and since B had Friday off school we thought we'd do something fun and get outta dodge for the day. We woke up and started getting ready to head to Santa Barbara for the day and as we were about to leave we saw water coming from the guesthouse...ay yi yi. Needless to say, we had to sit around all day and wait for a plumber to deal with a clogged drain...plans ruined...AGAIN. So far 2016 has been one for the record books but in a baaaad way. I'm SO THANKFUL to be finally feeling better that the other stuff seems pretty small, perspective is always good, right?

Saturday B had a birthday party for a dear friend, afterward the 3 of us got in the car and drove to Big Bear where our friends invited us to join them for the weekend, that was fun! We played in the snow, ate yummy food and had a fun time being away and just relaxing and getting a breather for the first time in a while. 2016 do-over now please?!!!

The other day I was catching up with one of my best friends in Waco, we talked for about 3 hours and we were discussing the past year and a half for me and how hard its been and all that it has entailed and she asked me what God has taught me in this time, what my take-away is (if you will) on this season of life. I told her that in all my years of life, the many Bible studies I've done, the lessons I've learned, the hard things I've gone through, etc. the "theme" or the constant that I always come back to is God's faithfulness. God is faithful when I'm not, he never leaves me or forsakes me, he never gives up on me when my faith is weak, he doesn't delight in my suffering, he doesn't walk away when the going gets tough, but he also doesn't coddle and make life easy. Like any good parent, he allows me to learn from my mistakes, he doesn't shield me from hard things, and he doesn't always tell me what the "right" answer is to the question, he gives me free will and lets me decide. But also like a good parent, he is faithful and he shows up, he is comforting in hard times and he rejoices in the good times, he gives peace when nothing is peaceful, and he hurts when I hurt so I'm never alone in my suffering. I've been doing a Bible study with a few ladies the past several months and the name of the study is "Believing God," there are several points that the author of the study is trying to "beat into you" and a couple of those points are:

*God is who he says he is
*God can do what he says he can do

I think so often we doubt God when things get hard, that's our go-to rather than instantly being trusting and trusting that he will deliver us/redeem the situation. I get so mad at myself when I do this because really...I should know better. I mean, I've been a Christ follower now for greater than 30 years, and yet my faith is so quick to weaken when the going gets tough. Its been a good reminder that God is who he says he is, and he can do what he says he can do -he has that power, its not just a thing he says. :) God is faithful, no matter what is going on in your life, you are seen and cared for and not forgotten (even if it feels like it), hang in there. xo