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40 Months

Hiking the Franklin MountainsThis May marks our 40th month here in the high desert of El Paso.

That feels significant. Maybe it’s not. Sometimes it feels like it is… especially with the current struggles our family is going through right now.

I haven’t written for a long time. At least nothing really personal. And a lot of that has been intentional. Not out of my own protection, but for the protection of some of those around me. And some of it has just been for the “silence” in the journey.

This journey. It’s been exhausting. At times, it’s seemed impossible. Raising support for over three years lessens yearly and our family has felt serious ramifications of financial strain and deficit. But God is good and He is constant… even when we aren’t. And this 40 months in the desert has been an intricate  part of our journey as a family, as a couple, and vocationally. I have learned so much about community, boundaries and my personal capacity levels. It’s been profound.

Brian and I don’t know our future holds in our journeying… but we do feel like God is telling us a change is coming. We don’t know what that change is… we don’t currently have any plans (and for those of you who know me, know how strange that really is)… but we’re listening.

We’re asking you to pray alongside us as we seek out our next steps in our journey. I’m excited. And a little bit scared.

But mostly excited.

 

Asking

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” ~John 14: 13-14

I forget this all the time.
I forget that God wants to bless me.
I forget that when I pray according to His will, my asks will be granted.
I forget to ask.
I forget that I matter to Him.
I forget that He delights when I ask Him for anything.
I forget He already knows what my heart desires.
I forget He already has a treasure chest full of goodies for me.
I forget He wants to use me to glorify Christ.
I forget.

Today… I am remembering.
Today… I am asking.

… for effectiveness and efficiency in my work for His Kingdom.
… for JUSTICE and an end to human trafficking.
… for continued health in my family.
… for miraculous healing friends who battle sickness.
… that He kick cancer in the face.
… for His continued favor in our lives.
… for financial independence.
… that we are responsible with his financial blessings.
… for reminders of His overwhelming love.
… that He reveal his overwhelming love to others thru me.
… for brokenness that makes me whole as He intended.
… for refuge.
… for a journey worth journeying.

Today… I am asking.

What can I ask for you?

 

Faithfulness

Faithfulness. That’s a word that has clarified itself more and more to me in the last 6 years.

From the lack of mine, to the recommitting of OURS, to the constantly constant of God’s. Faithfulness.

Last Friday, one of my closest friends called me to tell me her husband (also a very good friend) had been diagnosed with cancer. A mass, the size of a grapefruit/volleyball (seriously… that’s what her text said). How is this possible?

My friend, who just found out he has this mass the size of a Cirque Du Soleil acrobat, has been one of the most faithful men I know. He’s faithful to his wife, his children, his family, his friends, his church and God. FAITHFUL. When Brian and I were struggling thru my infidelity, these two were constant prayer warriors for us. She texted me often to let me know she was thinking of me and prayed every day and he CHOSE to stay neutral and not pick sides even though he was close to all parties involved. And not that there’s a “type” of person that “should” get cancer, because cancer does not discriminate and is an equal offender to all despite your race, gender or class… but if there was ever a person that wasn’t supposed to get cancer… HE would be this person.

On top of all this, my girlfriend has ALREADY lost her Mom (whom she was extremely close to) to a 12 year battle with cancer just a few years back. “Cancer” is an expletive in her family.

The other day, Brian said “We’re finally old enough to have bad things happen to us and our friends.” Think about it… for the longest time, it was our always our parents or grandparents friends who were divorcing, getting cancer, having affairs, losing a spouse, losing children… and now it’s us. We’ve graduated to SuckVille. It’s not something we want to graduate to… I’d love to stay in a place where none of my friends get sick and everyone lives happily ever after.

But going thru what we went thru ourselves… the journey HAS to include the pain. Without the pain, you can’t feel the relief and comfort. Or maybe you would, but would it really feel as sweet?

In my devotional time today, I was reminded of the One who in His own name is Faithful.

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” ~Psalm 36:5

“His faithfulness continues through all generations.” ~Psalm 100:5

God is constant. He’s faithful. He’s proven Himself in history over and over… so what makes us think He’ll be different today?

Will you join me in praying for my friends? I know you may not know who they are… but they matter greatly to me.

 

She’s a HE

Our family raises laying hens.

We don’t breed them. We simply raise them. We take care of them, water them, feed them and let them roam the yard… and in return, they produce fresh eggs for us (and our friends).

Earlier this year, we got 2 new young chickens (the kids named them Lava & Sonic) to add to our existing 3 hens (Bowzer, Sexy-Boo & Dinner). My kids and I handpicked them. And though they weren’t the little LITTLE fuzzy chicks you are picturing (they were a bit older)… they would have a year of growing in front of them before they started laying.

Now… it’s difficult to tell the gender of a young chick (unless you’re a professional chicken sexer)… but within a few months, Lava was almost twice the size of Sonic. Brian turned to me and said… “I think she’s a HE. I think Lava’s a rooster.” But other than being bigger, there weren’t any other signs yet. I was hoping Lava was just a big girl.

Fast forward to a month & a half ago. Lava started crowing.

We don’t live on a farm in the country. We live within city limits… with neighbors… that we like. We tried to give Lava away. To our surprise… no one wanted her… er… him. So, Brian and I decided we’d slaughter our chicken.

To be honest, I was a bit heartbroken. I DID pick Lava out myself, after all. I was mostly afraid of how our kids would react to the news.

They ended up being more “fine” than me, but it provided some great conversation about what sacrifice looks like.

We talked about how in the “old” days, this was how people put food on the table. They raised their own, they hunted, they scavenged. We talked about how people would pick the best in the litter, raise them as pets, caring for the “chosen” ones better than the rest, then offer them up as a sacrifice and offering to God.

And then, we talked about how Jesus came and became the living sacrifice for us so we don’t have to do this anymore.

Slaughter day came. So did the day we made him up for dinner. And as I was prepping him for the crockpot, I thanked God. I thanked Him for:
… never leaving us hungry.
… always providing shelter.
… a family I never thought I’d have.
… love and grace I still don’t fully understand.
… able bodies and minds to work.
… the privilege of relationships.
… sacrificing Himself on my behalf.

and finally… for the life of our rooster, Lava, that reminded me not to take anything for granted.

What are you thankful for today?

Happy 7th Birthday, Chance

At this moment, I’m listening to Chance and 2 of his good friends, Caleb & Reed, giggling like little girls in his bedroom.

Chance turned SEVEN today. My firstborn. My baby. My baby who’s not really a baby anymore because he’s having his VERY FIRST sleepover, EVER!

I write about and to my boys every birthday… and this year isn’t any different. I think it’s important because SO much changes every year.

This morning, Brian took Chance, Paxton & Chance’s friend, Alaric, to the park. They were playing in the playground when another kid came up and threw sand in Chance’s face. Chance screamed out in pain. When Brian got to him, he found gritty sand all over his nose, mouth, and heavily caked in his eyes.

It took 10 minutes for Ken (Alaric’s Dad) and Brian to wash the sand out of Chance’s eyes. He cried, because it hurt… but he patiently allowed himself to be tended to.

Brian told me that he wanted to take the offending kids head and smash it into the sand. I don’t blame him. We all have that Papa Bear/Mama Bear tendency (of course he DIDN’T do that. Cuz that would be horrible, right?). To add insult to injury, that kids’ mom never even approached Brian or Chance to see if he was ok. She did, however, pull her child aside and tell him he needed to apologize.

After Chance was alright and went back to play, the offending child walked the loop around the playground and came up to Chance. He said, “I’m sorry.” and my sweet Chance graciously responded with, “It’s okay. I forgive you. Would you like to play with us?

SERIOUSLY!!!

——–

My Dearest Chance…

You ASTOUND me with how you choose to extend grace in graceless situations. I’m not sure where you got this from since Mommy is still learning how to do this on a daily basis. You must get this from your Daddy. Whichever way… you are impressive. I am SO proud of you.

You are likable… no… lovable by all those around you. You have this genuine sweetness about you that draws everyone around you in. You honestly care about others. And this is why so many care about YOU.

I want to thank you for:
… always being excited to see me when I come to your school.
… not being embarrassed about kissing me in public.
… being quick to forgive when I mess up.
… being quick to apologize when you mess up.
… doing all your chores willingly & without fuss.
… being kind to your brother (most of the time).
… being inclusive with all of your friends.
… being excited about life.
… being the awesomest seven year old that I know.

Baby… I’m so thankful God let me be your Mommy. You make my life fuller… with more purpose. You teach me to love more than I ever knew I could. Thank you!

Happy Birthday, Chance.

Paxton: SAVED

Yesterday was Monday. Nothing Spectacular. Ordinary.

After dinner, we had Chance take a shower and go to bed first. Paxton had a 4 hour nap so we knew he wasn’t going down at 7:30pm. Brian took an extra few minutes with him in the bath. Then Pax came out to cuddle with me.

First thing he asked me was if I could play “Beautiful Things” by Gungor for him. He’s my musical child, so I didn’t think anything of it. I just played it for him.

Then, we talked about Jesus again. We talk about him a lot.

And tonight was different.

Mid-conversation, Paxton said to me:

“Mama… I want to invite Jesus to live in my heart.”

My heart did a flip inside my chest. Was tonight the night?

I didn’t want to force him into anything he didn’t want to do. This decision is a PERSONAL decision and not one anyone should every force on their child. So, I asked a lot more questions… just to be sure. I asked him:

Me: “You want to invite Jesus into your heart?”
Paxton: “Yes!”
Me: “Do you believe Jesus is God’s Son?”
Pax: “Yes! And he’s King!”
Me: “Yes, he is. Do you believe you’re a sinner?”
Pax: “Yeah, cuz I hit Chance & am naughty sometimes.”
Me: “Do you believe Jesus died for you even thru all that?”
Pax: “Yes.”
Me: “Do you believe you will live with Jesus forever in heaven?”
Pax: “Yes.”
Me: “Let’s get Daddy to pray with you, ok?”
Pax: “Ok.”

I had the privilege of praying with Chance when he was 4 (Brian was at work), so I didn’t want Brian to miss out on this one. I called out for Brian to come over. He came out in his PJ’s looking confused. I quickly caught him up to speed.

A big smile broke out on Brian’s face.

Pax crawled into his Daddy’s lap and Brian asked him all the same questions all over again. We are thorough, if anything. Then we prayed. The three of us… a moment never to be forgotten… we prayed. Paxton repeated his Daddy’s words, inviting his personal Savior into his very own heart, changing his eternal destination, and joining a family bigger than our own.

We are thankful. We are humbled. We are blessed.

Yesterday was spectacular. EXTRAordinary.

Here’s a video… because of course we had to make a video.

Lord,
You make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things out of us.

THANK YOU!

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