Sometimes There Are No Words….

…to describe your feelings. That’s kinda how I feel right now. So many thoughts swirling around in my head. Especially around this holiday season. I found myself moved to tears so many times these past couple weeks, and it all began the moment I found out about the shooting in Newton. The shock, the awe…the complete inability to fathom what happened. During the days following, I was so shook up that as I walked around town and saw everyone going on as nothing happened, I wondered how people could move on so easily? Maybe it’s because I’m an elementary school teacher and the scenes seem so real in my mind, or maybe because I’m a mom who has kids the same age as those shot…I don’t know, I can’t say for sure, but regardless, this tragedy has put a whole new spin on things in my life. It has made me think more about who I am, what I am doing and where I am going. It’s made me think more about my kids…am I really giving them my all? Because they could be gone tomorrow. And thanks to this realization, this holiday season held a whole new meaning for me.

This post really started out as my holiday recap, but as I sat down to write, I realized I couldn’t move on without acknowledging what made this holiday season seem more real to me. Newtown definitely did that. It made me think. And I will be forever changed because of it. It has sincerely shook me to the core. Have you seen this?

These beautiful prints were jointly created by friends of this blog and can be purchased HERE . The proceeds go directly to Newton {Hurry, it looks like you only have one day left to purchase!}. I bought nearly every print and will be hanging them in the hallway that leads to the kids rooms. I don’t want to ever forget how blessed I am to have my little ones, and I hope and pray that these help me remember…to love my kids with all my heart and to always pray for those who lost their babies way too soon.

With these thoughts in mind, I gave Christmas a hard look this year. I also started thinking more about the new year and I actually sat down and started thinking about making a New Years Resolution this year. Normally I don’t make any commitments of any kind on New Years, mainly because I am HORRIBLE at keeping them {ha}, but this year, I feel propelled to do one. Maybe it’s the Newtown situation or maybe it’s simply the Lord guiding me, but either way…

In 2013 I am going to strive to live simpler.

To live simpler in my life looks like getting my finances in better shape and living to give instead of receiving. It means to say no more often and yes to things that really matter. It means not complicating life with extra “to dos”. It means embracing my family to the fullest and not wish for something different. It means contentment.

“…for I have learned, whatsoever state I am in, to be content.” Philippians 4:11

All of this will be starting this coming week. I am cleaning out my studio to do inventory, so it is the perfect time to re-evaluate things I have. I am pouring over our finances for tax papers, so it’s the perfect time to cut out the fat. And the kids are off of school, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy them to fullest.

Friends, I mean this with all my heart, I pray for you. I really, really do. Sometimes {like today} when I write a blog post, I pray for you while I’m writing. I want you to know that I love you and you are in my thoughts and prayers. So I have a request for you….will you pray for the Miraflor family? Pray that while we continue doing what God has asked us to do, that we do it simply. I’m praying the same for you.

Love you friends…so tell me, do you have a New Year’s Resolution?

xoxo

Not At The Dinner Table

I grew up hearing that you shouldn’t talk about two things in public: Religion and Politics. Especially at the dinner table. It was considered rude and disrespectful to the dinner host. Well, I suppose that’s what stops me from talking about both of those things on this blog. That, and the fact that I don’t feel educated enough {although I probably am} on either of those subjects, especially politics, to dive into a virtual debate with someone.

But you talk about faith all the time on this blog, you might ask me…. Yes, yes I do. You see, my opinion is that faith is NOT religion. Faith is universal, religion is personal. Religion is the in and outs, the convictions, the Biblical interpretations…that’s religion in my mind. Though I share my faith in Christ and my belief in His everlasting power, I definitely shy away from telling you about my personal convictions mainly because they are, well…personal. And unique to me. What I feel personally convicted on how to carry out religion with my family is MINE and I will keep it MINE.

So politics, well…I feel the same way. Regardless of my personal opinions on the candidates, did you know we are SO BLESSED? Seriously. We live in the greatest country ever. You can debate with me on that if you’d like, but I’d like to see you jump on a plane and move somewhere else. You probably won’t. We are lucky, people. And regardless of the way our politics go, remember this….every leader has a cap. And then we start over. We have a fresh chance. And thank God for that!

So today, as so many on facebook, twitter and other social media outlets are complaining or jumping for joy, I trust in a greater and unseen hand. And I will stay confident in the American Dream. Because let me tell you...THIS IS A DREAM! People die for this. They really, truly believe in it. And I believe in it….it’s real. My mom’s parents believed enough in it that they moved all the way from England for it. My dad’s parents built a successful business on it. And so did my Dad and Mom.

And so will I. 

But you know, I will say this about the election…this one really made me think. It made me realize that I need to educate myself a little better. It reminded me that times are changing. I have always relied on my sweet Dad to come over weeks before the election with a voters guide, tell me to read it and make a decision on the issues presented and then proceed to follow up with annoying remember to vote phone calls leading up to the day. And then, after all that, he expected us to sit around the TV the night of the election and be glued to it for hours. But this year, since it was our anniversary, Brandon and I found a nice al fresco dining table at a Mexican restaurant and watched NBC via our phones while we ate {which is a total oxymoron as we’re discussing politics at the dinner table, right? ha}…

…While my parents sat at home watching the election…just like always.

And it hit me.

My Dad is 77 years old. There are not many more elections in his future. And now, thanks to the Parkinsons, he’s slowing down and doesn’t really have the energy to worry about politics like he used to.

It is up to me. It is up to us. At the ripe old age of 36, I am finally grasping this {don’t judge, ha}. This isn’t our parent’s American anymore…it’s OURS. And we need to make sure we do our part to keep it great. Please don’t give up on the dream people! It’s all we as Americans have.

So may God bless America…and may God bless us as we navigate the waters in making the best choices for us as families and for us as a nation.

Big hugs friends. xoxo

**Tonight at 6 PM PST I am loading a bunch of items into the shop. Use the discount code ELECTIONDAY to get 30% off everything in the shop. And yes, we have some new items!! Stay tuned to facebook and twitter for more info on the new items!

31 Days: Trust

Just so you aren’t confused…the post that many of you probably read this morning, was for yesterday. BUT since I typed it yesterday {ok, very, very late yesterday}, I felt it would be best, especially since I have missed several days, if I did a 31 days for today. Besides, I have something on my heart that I want to write on so you’re going to get it whether I call it “31 Days” or not. ha. I know, you’re so excited. You can stop jumping up and down. :)

** Diana Wraps are now listed HERE. Please remember that only the charcoal black wrap is being offered in the giveaway, so if you want one of the colors, snag them before they are gone! :)**

To be honest {I really hate when I say that. I am way too honest, way too much!}, I have so much I want to share with you. I should really just sit down and write a bunch of posts, schedule them and be done with it, but there are two problems with that:

1. I feel that might not make this authentic, I want you to know what I am thankful for TODAY…right NOW. You know? 

2. Who has time for that?!? ha. 

So today I am going to verbally vomit for a second. I have been told that I need to ask permission before I vomit, so….

Do you mind if I verbally vomit for a second? No? Well, thanks! :)

So this week I kinda had a moment where I really questioned God. Have you ever had those? If you have followed this blog over the last year, you know that our family made some major changes to our life. And we did going purely on “faith”. On “trust”. Brandon stepped down from a wonderful position as a youth pastor and moved into full time evangelism. That translates to…

Stability —-> No Stability

Or we could say it like this:

Steady paycheck —–> No Steady Paycheck

OR if you want to get really technical you could say:

Routine —–> NO Routine

I think out of those three comparisons I just listed, the routine one is hardest one for me to swallow at the moment. Stability comes and goes. Money is never enough… it comes and goes and God seems to always take care of us. But because I am naturally drawn to routine, well, the lack of it around is killer.

This morning, my kiddos did what they do most morning…what has become routine for them. They stumble into our room after they hear my alarm go off, walk up to my bedside, peer over me and ask, “Is Daddy home yet?” Since he typically takes a 6 am flight out of SFO to most places, he usually leaves our house at 3 am to catch that flight. And since he usually tries to stay as late as possible without adding on extra days to his trip, he normally gets home in the middle of the night. So if you tell the kids, “Daddy will be home tomorrow”, they usually think when they wake up in the morning he will be there, which is not always the case.

It’s a hard reality for them.

This morning, when they said that, my heart wanted to break. See, we are REALLY, TRULY, stepping out on faith here. We went from having Brandon with us almost all the time to him being gone a lot. It’s very hard on the kids. Thankfully, they seem to be adjusting, but the first couple days of any trip he takes are pretty rough. This morning when I dropped Evy off at school, she said to her teacher, “Daddy is coming home today!”

My heart burst.

Let me honest friends, this isn’t perhaps the easiest route for us to take. No amount of beautiful home, lovely living environment, great family surroundings can make up for it. Then why do you do it, you ask? Well, we feel this is where God has placed us for the moment. And regardless of whatever job situation God puts in our path, we just don’t feel that it’s what is right for us NOW. Not that it wouldn’t be in the future, it’s just that we don’t feel a release.

Without making you think I am complaining {because believe me, I am SO THANKFUL for all of you who have my husband minister at your churches. I love and appreciate you all so much. You think he is blessing you, but by having him speak, you are blessing us}, I got kinda mad this week. I told the Lord, “I’m done God. This is too hard.” I cried. I admit it. Superwoman I am not. I told the Lord that I wished we were “normal” and “not in the ministry”. I’m sorry if this is too much information for you, but it is what it is. I told Him that I wish Brandon just had a regular job where we could put roots down and not worry about where God is going to call us or place us or tell us to go next. I want to have some stability, job security, assurance that my family will be in one place for a while. I admitted that I was scared and I really let Him have it regarding my thoughts. Sad, I know.

But then I started thinking…you know, who am I kidding? Even if we had a “regular job”, NOTHING is EVER secure. EVER. God always has His way. Even when you don’t realize it. Working a regular job doesn’t mean it’s secure, or “for sure”. Job security is a very foreign concept now a days. And not to mention, God could decide He wants you move to Timbuktu and wahlah…you could lose your job and/or be transferred. We ALL, regardless if we are in the ministry or not, need to be trusting that God has our best interest in mind and that He will do what is best for us. When a door shuts, He ALWAYS has a another one open!

TRUST. It’s what being a Christian…NOT just a preacher {or a preacher’s wife}, is all about. You trust daily. With your family, your life, your career. You TRUST. Because things are not for sure. EVER.

I have spent the last couple days telling the Lord I trust Him. I believe in Him. I know that He knows what is best for us. Remember our move? Or how about the amazing Evy’s Tree success? Or how about the fact that we are able to put food on our table still?? He hasn’t forgotten us. Ever.

Please forgive me for being honest and I hope that I’m not speaking too plainly. But I felt to share this, because I do feel there are probably many other wives out there, whether ministers wives or not, that feel like I did this week…stuck, abandoned, scared. I want to tell you something I felt the Lord tell me in that moment…

IT’S OK. It’s ok to feel lost, abandoned, scared. He understands that. All throughout scripture we see many men of God feel like way. Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul. It’s common. But what I love about our God is that He doesn’t walk away…but He loves. And because He LOVES,  I TRUST.

So today I am thankful for the ability to trust. Because trusting takes away so much fear and doubt. It automatically erases the ability to be scared. Regardless of what place you are in life, when you trust, you know that it will all work out. And today I am thankful for that.

I love you Lord. I trust that you know what you are doing for the Miraflor family. I pray that you guide us and give us wisdom for the future. Especially now with my kids. Give me the wisdom to parent them on my own sometimes. Thank you for what you have done in our lives. And I pray for my friends who are reading along….help them to trust. I know you also have THEIR best interest in mind.

Love you friends. xoxo

“Trust in the Lord with thine whole heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding. In all thy way acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

* * * * * * * *

In case you are wondering what’s going on here, I am joining up with The Nester and her 31 Day Challenge. I am challenging myself to write about Thankfulness for 31 days…every day be thankful for something, even if it’s little. A way to force me to look at the positive so to speak…if you want to see all the 31 day posts I do, click HERE.

Save Evy’s Tree: The End Is Near

Well everyone, one week left. YIKES!

So, how are we doing? Honestly, not much different than when I posted last week. At that point we were about 50% of the way there. Today we are at about 53% of the way there. So not a huge amount of progress.

Let’s be honest…am I going to make 100%?? Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I can’t say positively that we will. Don’t get me wrong, I believe God can do anything, but sometimes you have to be realistic. When I first started out on the Save Evy’s Tree trail, I had a minimum and a maximum amount that I needed in order to proceed successfully with Evy’s Tree. The 100% goal, obviously, was the maximum amount. The minimum amount would allow me to cautiously proceed…I would still be able to make a manufacture order, however, a bit smaller than what I had planned, but an order just the same that would enable Evy’s Tree to continue to grow.

 In order to reach this minimum I would need a small miracle in one week: 350 items would need to sold. I had mentioned before that I wasn’t going to give you a number of hoodies left to sell due to the fact that this number is just an average amount that may or may not match up with the final number I need in the end {remember…any tee shirts, scrap boxes, etc, help me reach this goal and change the amount of items need to sell}, but I have had so many people tell me it helped them to know an actual number we need to reach, so there it is. Hopefully that helps some of you. :)

So here’s where I need your help…so many of you have already jumped on board and bought something. THANK YOU!! You guys are really, truly amazing. I can’t express how thankful I am to you all. SO SO THANKFUL. I was telling my friends and family that if Evy’s Tree succeeds…it will most definitely be because of you all. I love you.

So where to go from here:

1. The shop will close on Friday, July 6 at 11 PM PST. I will close indefinitely while I figure out the financial side of Evy’s Tree and take some time to pray about the future of Evy’s Tree with my family.

2. We will take preorders until that last day. Please remember that preorders have a 4 week turnaround before they ship. That will be the same amount time even if you order on the last day.

3. #saveevystree on Instagram and twitter. I’m hoping that you all can bombard twitter and instagram with the hashtag “saveevystree” and tell your friends about our shop. If you love our items, let them know! Take pictures of your items and share them!

4. Tee Shirts. Tomorrow morning {Friday, June 29} at 10 AM PST, I will be listing the new tees. Here are a couple previews:

The tees and tanks will be $19.95 + shipping. Here’s where I have a huge favor to ask of you….if you can’t afford a hoodie, could you buy a tee? I keep thinking that it would be so awesome if we had hundreds of Evy’s Tree tees out there! We will have both adult and kids and in many colors.

5. PLEASE PLEASE PRAY. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. I am begging you, please pray for Evy’s Tree. Please. I need it and that’s the bottom line. I have to be honest: I am tired and can’t really see which way is up at the moment. I really need to know what God wants for this business. Here’s the thing, I do believe that if this business is supposed to succeed, it will. Because that is just how God rolls. But where the prayer comes in is for the human side of it: me…for direction, peace, clarity. Thank you friends. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

I hate to sound like I am begging, but I guess I am. ugh. 350 items is a big number. Really, really big. But I have a big God. Oh and I have great customers. ha. Want to shop? Click HERE. I add a bunch of new things too, FYI… :)

I love you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

#saveevystree!!!!

xoxo

PS. Klove’s encouraging word today made me cry, guess I just needed to remember who holds a cattle on a thousand hills and knows my every thought and need. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:24

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Cravings: Daily Devotional By Carey C. Bailey

Several weeks back {maybe longer, yikes!!}, my friend Carey sent me her amazing daily devotional.

It is so cute! It has a little cupcake stand that holds the daily devotional cards with a stand on top to display each day’s card. There are 40 cards and each one is so inspiring in such a simple and quick way.

They are a great way to start your morning or even finish your day with. They would also be a great supplement to your regular daily devotions. I was also thinking that the car would be a great place to keep these cards, as I find myself needing a pick me up in the car the most {ha!}.

Day #1 {in the holder} has been a huge blessing to me. I keep going back to it, especially with all that is going on in my life at the moment.

“My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:2

Looking for a good little {and quick!} devotional? Head on over to Carey’s site and get one! Or better yet, follow along with her blog, it’s always super encouraging as well!

Thank you Carey for the “sweet” gift!! :) So sorry it took me so long to tell you!!!

xoxo

*GULP*

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram {evystree}, I posted this tonight:

Just thought you might want to know how we are doing after such an amazing {miraculous, really} day. This is NOT how much money we made {thankfullly! ha} it’s how many more hoodies we have to sell to reach our goal.

We serve a God of miracles. I am excited to see Him work. Thanks friends. For everything. I am eternally grateful! xoxo

You Are Not Alone Part 2

Last week I was chatting with a friend and in the middle of the conversation she looked straight at me and said, “You wrote a blog post a while back called You Are Not Alone {HERE}. That post hit me right where I was at. After I read it I hid my face in the kitchen cabinets and cried and cried.”

As is often the case when people mention back posts, I couldn’t remember what the post was about or why I wrote it, so as we talked I made a mental note to go back and read it. About 24 hours later, I took a few minutes and read the post. AHHH…now I remember it. Right.

The post was written in January 2010, over two years ago. 2010 was literally one of the worst years EVER, by far the most difficult year of my Christian walk since being married. The third year of our marriage was the worst year of our marriage as a couple, but 2010 was my worst year Spiritually. I remember feeling like I was dying the entire year. It was horrible. Just before I wrote You Are Not Alone, I had something happen to me that was CRUSHING. Completely, 100% life killing. Sucked the strength right out of me. It was bad. And You Are Not Alone was the first blog post I wrote after that happened.

After my friend said it ministered so much to her, I went back and read that post and then skimmed through the posts written throughout 2010. WOW. There were so many posts that were deep, heart pouring posts. The kind where you KNOW God was speaking to me and I was communing back with Him. The kind where you KNOW I was walking with God and He was walking with me. The kind where you can FEEL His presence while reading them. But you know what hit me as the most amazing thing regarding these posts?

I had no idea how lucky I was.

I was walking through the fire and all along, even though I couldn’t see it, or feel it, God was walking right there with me. Holding my hand. Putting His arm around me. Hugging me close. I never really knew it. But I never gave up hope that He was there. Never. I kept seeking, I kept walking. I kept my head up high. I didn’t give up. I didn’t let anger and frustration overwhelm me. I kept on going.

You know the crazy thing? After I skimmed through those posts of 2010, I found myself almost wishing for that time again. I remember thinking, “I may not be perfect, and I may have failed, but I am going to chase HIM with everything I have inside. I refuse to give up.” And it worked! While I was treading water so desperately, sometimes dipping under and sputtering for breath, I kept my eyes on HIM. And the result was a year of beautiful communion with my Creator… a time of growth and strength. A time that I can look back on and remember HIS presence with me…ALL.THE.TIME.

The other day I was chatting with a very, very dear friend who is going through a very, very tough time. We talked about when you go through rough patches in life, you automatically think, “ok God, what did I do wrong to deserve this?” But I have been thinking the last couple weeks about this..and the more I think about it the more I am convinced: We don’t do anything wrong. Although there are times when God allows bad things to happen to put us back on a right path if we aren’t following him, I’m pretty sure that most of the time moments like these are God ordained so that we can KNOW His power. So that we can Commune with Him. So that we can draw closer to our Heavenly Father.

This morning I was reading through Daniel {again. One of my favorite books of the Bible} and right in the first chapter I saw this verse:

“…Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God.” Daniel 1:1-2

HUH?!?! You mean GOD handed over his kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar?! {yes, I am aware there is a whole back story here regarding Judah, but I am mainly thinking about Daniel and his friends here}

In the next passage of scripture we are introduced to Daniel and his friends and begin to follow their captivity. If we read the first scripture right, we understand that GOD handed Judah, which included these amazing young men, over to Nebuchadnezzar. How could that be? Why would God do that?? A little ways down we find this verse:

“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning…” Daniel 1:17

So…God DID allow these young men to be handed over to the enemy. BUT…He didn’t do it without giving them them tools. Tools they would need to survive and be SUCCESSFUL in this new kingdom. He did not leave them alone and useless. He moved them into this difficult season to show them that HE was near and that HE had a better plan for them.

If you continue to read through Daniel, you find many more encouraging stories of Daniel and his friends being protected and taken care of. Tested, yes. But always protected. And in the process their faith grew. Just like mine did in the year 2010. During that year, my faith grew leaps and bounds. No longer did I rely on my pastor, or my pastor’s wife or my friends to help me find the voice of God…

I found it for myself. 

I’m not sure what some of you are going through at this moment, but I can promise you this…God is with you. He knows where you are at. And He desires that you look to Him for your help…not yourself or anyone else, but HIM. He allows things to happen in our life, not to teach you a lesson, or make you suffer, or punish you, but He allows things to happen in our life so that we can become CLOSER to Him.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the path of righteousness for his names’s sale. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell int he house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23

Much love to you dear friends. Thank you following along in this journey with me. I pray for you all. Big hugs. xoxo

I Am Home

Sometimes I cannot believe I am back in Santa Rosa. Just can’t believe it. When I left in 2002, I didn’t know if I would ever come back. But I hoped. When I married Brandon, I pretty much gave up the idea. He was born and raised in Stockton, and furthermore we had chosen ministry as a career…we most likely could never afford to live in Sonoma County again as living in the San Francisco Bay area is expensive. VERY expensive.

Choosing Ministry as a career was not an easy option for me. I was raised with a lot. We always had more than enough. And here I was, entering a world I was unfamiliar with…it was scary, stressful and sometimes frustrating. But I had known since I was 12 years old that I would be a youth pastor’s wife. And I could not deny that doors were opening that could only be a God thing, so I walked through them. And I was blown away by what God did, just by my simple act of faith by stepping out.

When Brandon and I got engaged, we began looking for a home. We had some money set aside and wanted to invest it wisely. We started looking right at the very beginning of the San Joaquin housing market boom, so thankfully, prices of homes weren’t too high {although definitely higher than normal}. We wanted to purchase a charming little old bungalow downtown by the Universtity of the Pacific, but my dad {THANKS DAD} talked us out if. He explained that we would spend years on end and lots and lots of money fixing it up. He suggested one of the track homes being built on the North West side of town.

I cried. At the beginning of our dating period, I made Brandon promise me that we would NEVER, EVER live in a track home {they don’t have much of those in Santa Rosa and I thought they were so very ugly ha}. But I knew deep down my dad was right. We finally found a development that wasn’t too track home-y and went in with our preapproval letter from the bank, thinking we’d find a home pretty quickly. Ha. What a joke. There was a giant waiting list for homes. We were out of luck.

Brandon and I prayed. We told the Lord exactly which house we liked in the development we were looking at. Asked Him for a corner lot. Explained to Him the color choice we liked. We also told God that in the house plan we wanted…there was an option for a 4th bedroom in place of a 3rd garage. We wanted that too. We were specific. A couple weeks later, the realtor for the housing development called us. She had a house whose buyer feel through, would we like to come look at it? We drove over and looked at the paperwork she had for us.

It was the exact same house we prayed for. Exactly. 

Needless to say, we bought the home, moved in and lived seven wonderful years there. I love Stockton and always will. I consider it one of my home towns. I lived there for 9 years, and that does not include the 5 years there previously attending Bible School. Combining those years, I have lived in Stockton for almost as long as I have lived in Santa Rosa. It will always hold a special place in my heart. ALWAYS.

This morning I was reading about the exodus of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. I came across a verse I have never noticed before:

“So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing…..With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.” {verses 34 and 39, NIV}

Wow. They left with something, but not everything. They had part of the ingredients to feed themselves, but not all. They walked out on FAITH. I can’t be positive why these verses really hit me, but I think it’s because that is how I felt leaving Santa Rosa for Stockton…and then Stockton for Santa Rosa this time around. I felt scared, wondering..feeling like I had a little bit of the equation, but not all. It was new, unsure.

I had the dough, but didn’t know where the yeast would come from.

The cool thing about these verses is that they ate the bread without the yeast. And they still survived. In fact it became normal to them. And that was ok. I love that. That’s exactly how I felt when I moved to Stockton…it was strange. It was foreign {IT WAS HOT!! ha}. It wasn’t home. But it became normal for me. It became home. And I was ok with it. I embraced it, and I loved it. God provided. ALWAYS.

When it came time for our Stockton chapter to end, Santa Rosa seemed unattainable. Even when God did another miracle with our new home {you can read about that HERE}, I felt a little bit like those Israelites, walking away from their home with some ingredients missing. I had no idea how it would work out. I still don’t to be honest. We live by faith. ALWAYS.

But…even still, I am home. I am home! I am where I grew up and with my family. I am shocked and surprised. I never thought I would get here. That unleaved bread of Stockton became so normal for me. It became a place I loved. So much so that I didn’t know if I wanted to come back to Santa Rosa. But it was time. And God made the impossible, possible.

I guess I am writing this because I want to encourage someone who is feeling like they just ran out of their life with the dough only. Like the Israelites leaving the yeast behind, you feel like you have left all that was important to you and moved on. You may feel  {and SEE} God opening doors for you to do other things and step out of your comfort zone, but like I was, you are scared, maybe frustrated at times. Everything feels foreign. The unleavened bread that you are now eating tastes funny. It doesn’t seem right. But don’t give up!! I promise you, those 9 years I lived in Stockton, married my husband, stepped into full time ministry, began a family…they are some of the best years of my life. And I know that if God leads you, He will fulfill His promises. HE IS FAITHFUL.

And now I am home. And it starts all over again. I am learning to live here, just as I learned to live in Stockton. It is a new chapter. Life is full of them. But now, because I stepped out before, I’m not as afraid to step out again. I believe with all my heart that God will take care of us, that He will provide, that He will make my home REALLY home again. Because that’s what he does, He “…calls things that were not as though they were.”{Romans 4:17}

I love you dear friends. I pray for whoever is reading this who needs encouragement. You can make it. I believe that with all my heart. Follow what God has asked you to do. You will never regret it. NEVER.

Beautiful Sonoma County. I am home.

xoxo

Weekend Thoughts…Have I Really Gone?

Happy Saturday everyone! Hopefully you are having a wonderful and relaxed Saturday. Ours has been so nice. After Brandon taught a morning prayer class at our church, we met some good friends and my mom for Thai food. It was so yummy. And the kids had so much fun.

So Brandon and I have been doing quite a bit of talking about the Great Commission. Are you familiar with it? If not, the Great Commission is what Christians call several verses in the Bible from Mark 28:19-20:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The Great Commission is often preached, taught, encouraged by almost all Christian churches worldwide…but I have been wondering…do I REALLY do this? This is something my family has been evaluating in our personal lives for a while now, wondering, are we really “going”? Really, really going into the whole world, to all nations? Or are we just going to the church world only?

I have to be honest and say my fear is that we have gotten so used to ministering to the church that we have forgotten about those outside of the church who really need us to GO. 

I think I really started thinking about this when I was at a Bible study filled with first time church goers. I mean people who have NEVER, EVER been to a church of any kind, picked up a Bible or really understood who Jesus was. I think that sometimes it’s hard to believe that such people actually exist. Especially when we surround ourselves in a environment of people where just about everyone and anyone is a Christian. It’s easy to do that, you know? Easy to live amongst ourselves…our community that we as a church have worked so hard to build. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the community..it is important and NEEDED. I love our community. But I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was speaking of when He told us to GO. I’m not sure He was telling us to go to our community of Christians ONLY. I’m pretty sure he was telling us to go OUTSIDE of our Christian social circle as well.

At this Bible study I was surrounded by people who have never even opened a Bible. They had no idea what a “book” of the Bible was, what a “chapter” or a “verse” was. NO IDEA. Everything they heard was new to them, it was fresh. It was LIFE.

I can’t explain to you how amazing it was to watch these people soak up the Word like they did. I’m pretty sure a little bit of life was reaching into them. It brought me to tears to see faces go from hard to soft when hearing about the love of Christ. It was powerful.

So I guess the past couple of weeks I just keep thinking about “GO”. And I’m convicted. Because I’m not really sure I’ve really GONE. I mean, I love and teach and reach the community within. The Christians that come to our church. Those who walk through our doors. Many of them born and raised here. Sure, maybe they have never made a solid commitment and I help them do that, but they already know about Jesus and really are already interested and integrated. Although I need to reach those people too {and I adore doing it, so much so}, ministering to them only is an easy trap to fall into and stay into…it’s comfortable and non threatening, it’s where I want to be. But at what point is this “going” in my life become an external thing and not an internal thing? At what point am I really going to GO?

As I helped those brand new people struggle to flip through the Bible and find a verse…I realize now I am really going. As I step outside of my comfort zone and teach a Bible study to the down and out, I realize I have gone. When I look past the hardness, the outward, the “lack of”, I realize I have really gone. When I understand that this Great Commission is bigger than just reaching out to the church only…it goes way beyond the church and into the world…I realize I have really GONE.

I am pretty sure the reason why I have never gone isn’t for lack of compassion or desire to help, but mainly for lack of exposure. I have to be willing to put myself in the pathway of those who really need and have never heard the message I have to offer, get beyond the fear of sharing it, and be willing to stick in there with them as they grow. Because this growing process with be a lengthy. I have to be willing to go…and stay going.

Because in the end, if I am moved I can make a difference, “And of some have compassion, making a difference” Jude 1

Thanks for listening friends. Much love to you all. Shall we go? :)  xoxo

Cornbread and Discouragement

Today has been one of those days. I hesitate to even write about it because nobody likes a Debbie Downer {DD} and I’m pretty sure I’ve used up my DD passes already on this blog. So being at risk of sharing too much info I’ll just give you a quick run down:

1. Jake has been out of control for days. OUT.OF.CONTROL. He has pretty much given up his naps, but probably still needs them. He won’t listen, talks back, just plain old really, really testing us. I’m currently revamping our discipline routine. It’s exhausting.

2. Evy has entered the terrible twos with a flourish the last month. FAB.

3. Evy’s Tree is…well, it’s also testing me. In more ways than one. Growing pains are always difficult.

4. I think we have some sort of critter in our attic, I keep hearing something running around up there. Brandon has set traps. CREEPY.

5. Have I mentioned Jake is out of control??

6. After weighing myself for the first time in 4 months, I promptly logged onto weight watchers yesterday. wow.

Hmmm. So what did I do about all this discouragement? Oh, I ate cornbread for dinner. With butter. And honey. I have no idea how many points that is, but I had 9 left, so I figure I’m probably ok. {Not yours yet Kelley, I’m dying to make it but didn’t have the ingredients! This is just plain ole’ Trader Joe’s box mix}

So what do YOU do when you feel discouraged? Apparently I eat cornbread! ha. And pray. I do a lot of praying. I have no idea how in the world I’d make it without prayer. So thankful for my faith. How about you?

Oh, I also spend some time focusing on the good things God has given me. Like my family, or my home, or the food that we always have. Or my health. Have you been following about my dear friend Ashley? My word, how in the world do I feel like I have a license to complain??

Please keep praying for Ashley, as well as consider blessing her with a donation or joining in on the auction or buying a hoodie. Every penny counts for her.

In closing, I had a long talk with some friends on our facebook page regarding Evy’s Tree and what you all want/desire/need from us. I’d be interested in hearing your comments too, if you didn’t join in on FB already. Here’s what I asked:

“Hey guys help me out. I’m in the studio designing today…have the bug. :) What is your ideal hoodie? Something different than what I normally sell? And include COLOR preference. :) PS…I’m super excited about what I’m working on. Think you’ll LOVE it.”

And here’s what I was working on:

Please excuse the bad picture…I took it quickly before I left the studio to make dinner, so didn’t get a chance to steam it. The colors are black and grey and it’s left open with no zipper {buttons only}, but does have a hood. It’s super cute on. The sleeves get really bunchy by your wrist which is fun. It will come in navy and orange and maybe a few more colors. I’m toying with the idea of letting you choose your base hoodie color and adding whatever color ribbing you’d like from a couple options. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Oh and it doesn’t have a name. Feel free to contribute ideas. :)

Have a wonderful evening friends. Thanks for always listening {I know, I know, like you have a choice, ha} xoxo

“And we know all things God works together for good of those who love him, who have been called together for his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Oh, PS…please feel free to pin this new hoodie. All you have to do is click “Pin It” and it will go to your pinterest. Pinterest has been super helpful to help spread the word about Evy’s Tree. Thanks friends!

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