Thursday, December 31, 2015

10 YEARS TODAY!


 (Grand Goave, Haiti - Hands and Feet Children's villages)

I hit snooze this morning...then woke up a few minutes later to Drew hugging me and whispering in my ear, "Happy 10 years! I couldn't have dreamed of marrying a wife as amazing as you." Talk about MAKING MY DAY! I am a huge "words" girl...my love language is words of affirmation all the way...

Today...I have been married to this guy...for 10 years. TEN YEARS! I cannot believe how the time has flown by. 10 years ago, we said I DO. We had met just 10 months earlier and dated over the phone, from TX to MI for three hours a night for a week. We talked God, missions, children, what we visioned the rest of our individual lives looking like and realized that with the similiar visions God had given us for what our lives were to look like, we could learn to love each other...so i moved to Texas and moved in with his parents, to date my fiance in person before we got married lol...and the rest is history in the making. There were no butterflies. Crazy sounding - i know. But there was a huge desire to spend time together and serve God together with our family however God leads for the rest of our lives. Best commitment I have ever made. Life-long. Forever. No Regrets. No turning back. Everybody's life has challenges...that's how we grow. Nothing worth having is easy. But life is good. God is good. Serving him is good! And I have the best man ever to serve God alongside. His passion for missions and desire to lead our family to Love God and Love People is constant. I love you Drew and I am such a lucky girl that God gave me YOU!

I thank my God every time i remember you! - Philippians 1:3

2015 Review

WOW...When I started 2015 last January, I would have never predicted that God would have brought me to the place that I am...in SO many different areas of my life. 2015 was definitely an amazing year. One that I would repeat in a heartbeat.


JANUARY 2015
I started last January in a 2k square foot house with a LOAD of excess/clutter. I had been trying to organize that clutter for...ALL MY LIFE...and in January, it clicked. You can't organize excess. And taking care of excess takes away from things/relationships that matter. One evening, as I listened to some TEDx talks on youtube on minimalism, the lightbulb turned on that I need to get rid of what I don't use/need. Have/keep only what I use and let the rest go. Believe it or not, I am still working on this, but this is where my large strides of decluttering began. Joshua Becker quickly became my favorite minimalist speaker. He can be found at becomingminimalist.com. You can also find him on Facebook. Crazy-inspiring Christian, husband, and dad.

We also started raising money to take our family of 5 to Haiti in January. Our goal was to raise $7500 by the end of August for our trip in October. We put the word out and started to search for fundraising ideas.

FEBRUARY 2015
A friend came by and wrote us a check for $1500 for our trip to Haiti. God had blessed them. They wanted to bless us. WOW GOD...that's a huge chunk of change. And a real servant of Christ. God is good!

MARCH 2015
Drew went to Tres Dias...he had put this off for EIGHT years. He went skeptical and came back on fire for God and to lead our family, as well as extremely motivated to move back to P-town. So we started praying about moving back and discussing the pros/cons and weighing our options.

APRIL 2015
Yes, I had still been on a minimizing rampage since January. The bug didn't go away. I had cleaned out my house so much, that my friends would walk in and ask where on earth everything had gone lol! It felt so refreshing and peaceful (kinda like that feeling you have when you go on a vacation and walk into a hotel with just your bare necessities...well some of us lol). With all the stuff I decluttered, along with a chunk of donations from some friends for our trip, I took part in our city's huge consignment sale. God provided beyond what I prayed for from that sale. I prayed for 2k to go toward our Haiti trip...and he gave me a couple hundred more! Did I say God is GOOD!? If it's in his plan...he WILL PROVIDE!

After that sale and one more donation, we were FULLY FUNDED! and that was FOUR MONTHS EARLY! So I contacted a very good friend of the family who has been to Haiti many times and asked her if she would go along with us if God continued to provide enough for her too. The answer was yes of course!

MAY 2015
We made the leap to move to P-town. A friend of a friend was selling by owner at a price better than we dreamed we would find so we took the deal! Here's the craziness....remember my house waS 2K Square feet? Well this one is ONLY 850! This would not have been very possible if I had not let go of my stuff when i did. God was working all along. ...GOD IS GOOD! :D This adjustment was still extremely hard the first week and probaby a few after that. I am a city girl used to my house space....suddenly in the country stuck in an unfinished box that felt nothing like home. And it was raining constantly with red dirt right outside my door that consistently kept my floors and shoes the same color. It. was. rough. But I held on to the FACTS. I KNEW God had led us here. I KNEW God used Drew's leadership to do so. I KNEW in following Drew and trusting this was the right decision, I was following God. I KNEW that I could rest in the fact that we had done the right thing, and the right thing is not promised to be easy. But I wondered how I would ever persevere lol. BUT I ALSO KNEW...that GOD IS GOOD :D.

JUNE 2015
I had been planning to homeschool my kids with the upcoming school year. I had been a stay at home mom the last 8 years with no plans to change that. UNTIL...I got a phone call from my friend/former boss...asking me if I was interested in teaching PE MWF. I excitedly discussed the option with my husband and it was a no-brainer. I was so excited at this perfect opportunity!

JULY 2015
Took our annual trip to Michigan and had  blast :D.

AUGUST 2015
God provided more than enough for our friend to go to Haiti with us!!! :D

I started teaching PE. My kids started school. This has been the BEST DECISION EVER for our famiy! And this job is my dream job. I LOVE IT! Our staff is amazing. I love my students like my own kids. My kids love going to school every day and were actually bummed about how long Christmas break was lol! LIFE IS GOOD! GOD IS GOOD!

SEPTEMBER 2015
I think I have as much fun as the kids do in PE - if not more ;).

I attended Tres Dias where God magnified how much he LOVES me. Amazing time.


OCTOBER 2015
Preparing to go to Haiti!! God provided a crazy-huge abundance of donations through the school i am teaching at...along with the luggage to carry it with us! Because God is good! And HE makes a way to do HIS work!

We had an amazing family missions trip to Haiti - it went smoother with 3 kids than my wildest imagination. God no doubt had his hand in the whole thing. My kids LOVED Haiti. And they often ask when they can go back. <3

NOVEMBER 2015
God provided numerous occasions for us to share his story about what he is doing in Haiti with various churches/groups. He is doing great things!

DECEMBER 2015
WATCHING my kids perform in their Christmas play, I hold back tears, and am reminded AGAIN HOW BLESSED I AM to be where God has brought me and my family.

We are in a city we didn't expect to move back to, in a tiny house we never expected to live in, on acerage we never thought we would own, working a job i never planned to end up with, with my kids in an amazing school we never expected to be at, at a great church we didn't know we would end up at, blessed with new and old friends that I can't imagine doing life without. NONE OF THIS was pre-planned by us. But ALL OF THIS was planned and known by God. I am so glad that his ways are not our ways. I am so glad we were flexible to the "craziness" of his plan. I am so glad we took risks, at times didn't play it "safe," and followed him. This year was the best adventure yet and I am so excited to see how God KEEPS working in 2016 :D.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Haiti (Part 4)... From PAP airport to Grand Goave

When we got to Port Au Prince, the airport was EMPTY. Our plane was the ONLY plane there. This is not the norm at all. But come to find out, it was an election weekend...so people were staying put. I was not aware of these things when we chose our weekend a year and a half before our actual trip. But God knew...and he also know that the emptiness of the Haiti airport would make it MUCH easier to keep track of 3 munchkins while collecting 8 checked bags from the baggage claim. As we walked out of the airport people were sitting everywhere. Apparently just hanging out?? If you smiled at them and said bonswa (good afternoon in creole), their eyes would light up and they would say bonswa back. I was immediately in love with these people. God got us through everything with ease and we were soon piled into a 15 passenger van with Sean (one of the missionaries) and several guys from the hands and feet childrens village and transitional home. Everybody was super-friendly. :)

view from just inside the PAP airport



It was HOT. SUPER-HOT. The van had some AC but not a lot. It still felt good when you could feel it :). As we made the 2 hour trip to Grand Goave, where we would be staying, I took in all the sights. SO DIFFERENT. I felt like i could observe for forever. Unfinished buildings...EVERYWHERE. People...EVERYWHERE. Traffic (car/bike/motorcycle/people walking)...EVERYWHERE. Trash...in abundance. The drive was interesting in the sense that Haitians don't have the same style of driving or traffic laws that we do. Well, they might but they don't follow them and nothing is done about it. Lots of honking. Lots of swerving and passing. Lots of traffic heading toward you and passing on random sides of you....or you passing them. Never once did I feel unsafe though. I trusted my driver. I knew we were in Haiti because God had us in Haiti and when you're walking with God there is nothing to fear.

Natalie was so exhausted she fell asleep in the van.
Love those snuggles :).


Two hours later we arrived at our destination on top of the mountain.The kids were anxious to get out and run around...but it was dark, so they couldn't go to far. This would be our first night of cold showers and sleeping without AC. And it really wasn't so bad...we were blessed with personal fans on each of our beds which ran off the solar power stored up during the day. It's the little things :).

Our room where we stayed in Grand Goave.
(this is NOT your typical style of haitian living...the majority of haitians do not have
electricity or running water...or what you see here...)








Thursday, November 26, 2015

How do we Handle GOD's resources?

My heart is so full and I just can't even think of enough accurate words to describe the joy  of what I see God doing in my life these days. It's just something that can't exactly be put down on paper...it's just too intense. Too amazing. Too indescribable in an ordinary language. God is so good. SO GOOD. I love seeing his hand of sovereignty all over my life as I look back on all he has done and look ahead in wonder with where it will all lead me.

Sometimes God just allows things to "click." And lately he has been radically altering my perspective on things of this life versus things of eternity. I thought i had a good grasp on what it meant to seek first God's kingdom and to store up treasure in heaven and not on earth. But how God has revealed himself to me in the last month(s) is just mind-blowing. He continues to show me that the more you study and desire to know him, the more he reveals himself through his word and renewing my mind.

I want to be careful to pour my life and resources into things that matter eternally. Does this mean never take a vacation or do something for fun? Of course not! But it does mean NOT taking in worldly pleasures in excess to the point that I am spending too much of my resources on myself and not on others who have spiritual and physical needs that God wants to use the rescources HE has GIVEN ME to meet those needs. God does not provide for me to live a life of excess. Anything he provides beyond my needs, he intends for me to reach out as his hands and feet to minister to others and a lost and dying world who needs to know their Savior. Great motivation comes when I realize that money spent on let's say something like six flags, is not bad in and of itself, but it does not offer anything of eternal value. There is no treasure stored up in heaven for that (X) amount of dollars. That same amount used to help a friend in need, or the orphan or widow, or however else God leads - HAS VALUE FOREVER! It makes use of my earthly resources ETERNAL! We have the power and choice to choose to use God's resources to  enjoy the pleasures of this world or to invest in things of eternal value. And that is how how the way we spend reveals where our hearts are. Now God also gave us all things for our enjoyment...so yes I will go to six flags periodically (well only if it's not in the heat of the summer ;)...Great tool to invest in relationships and lavish love and joy (gifts from God!) on our kids! The problem comes when all we ever do is spend the majority of  our GOD's money on ourselves and enterntainment...that is foolish and will burn in the end. We are failing to be wise stewards with what God has entrusted to us when we fail to pour HIS money back into HIS work.

Well that's a tiny portion of what's on my heart right now. Just the tip of the iceberg. God is amazing. He is good. And may my life GLORIFY HIM ALONE! <3

"TO WHOM MUCH HAS BEEN GIVEN, MUCH MORE WILL BE REQUIRED." Luke 12:48

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

our suffering for God's glory


I am so thankful and beyond blessed by the amazing friends God has purposely placed in my life who love HIM whole-heartedly and speak so much of HIS TRUTH into my life! Yesterday morning, God used two of my friends, within FIVE minutes of eachother, to remind me of his precious promise in Ephesians 3:20-21...the first friend was via text message bright and early in the morning and the second was a friend via my facebook feed. I KNEW God had a purpose in feeding me that verse twice, although I wasn't quite sure what it was YET.

God knew that the enemy had been chiseling away at my mind over-time the day before...telling me what a horrible, impatient mom I was. And really attacking me with lies that I will ever get things right as mother to my children. I felt like the failure of all failures. The worst. A disappointment to my kids. That I would ruin them.

AND THEN MONDAY HAPPENED...I don't usually mind mondays. I love all days. But THIS monday morning brought so much torment to my spirit as it crashed down on me with a flood of impatience and annoyances before we even left the house for school. I just wanted to cry. But i refrained. As we drove to school, Andi Rae prayed for our day. And that sweet girl prayed for her momma to have a better day too with the perfect words given to her by the Holy Spirit. That little prayer warrior ministers to my heart all the time!

When I got to school, my friend, THEEEEE BBE was waiting for me in my office (that stands for best boss ever ;). LOVE HER SO MUCH! Annnd...after a cheery greeting from her I crashed with all my emotions flooding out my eyeballs and talk about about how I was feeling. She closed the door, listened to my heartache, hugged me, looked me in the eye, called out the devil's LIES, and SPOKE GOD'S TRUTH into my life over and over...combatting every excuse or reason I brought up that may justify any LIES I was believing with consistent and constant TRUTH and great God-honoring advice. (seriously, how did i get so blessed to have a boss/friend like this!?) She reminded me that I am human and will make mistakes...BUT GOD. ONLY GOD can heal me and change me. She reminded me how important it was to continue to apologize to my kids when I wrong them and to LOVE on them especially after a struggle. This among many other things. This convo brought SO MUCH healing.

By now my eyes were firey red from my tears and it was crazy obvious that something was bothering me...bringing amazing love and concern from my other teacher friends who saw me. Some prayed over me - praying exactly what the Holy Spirit led them to pray, leading to even more healing in my spirit...followed by more speaking TRUTH into my life. Another friend reminded me that my kids are not my own. They are on loan from God...they are GOD'S KIDS! And to keep that in mind when I get irritated and impatient with them. It serves as a reminder to give them grace...love them well.

I must continuously give myself grace too...because God has given me amazing grace. I am a mom desperately seeking and running after the heart of God for my life and my familiy...and I am doing the best I can. There will be hard days. BUT GOD. BUT GRACE.

God used my vulnerability and honesty, my amazing friends carrying my burdens, and my longing to be free from the enemy's lies to heal me yesterday morning BEYOND what I could ask, think, or imagine. The rest of my day did not go as I expected when my morning started out so crappy...i had a fear the rest of the day would follow the same pattern. BUT GOD.  God used his spirit and his people to turn my day around BEYOND what I could imagine. He did what only GOD can do. All my classes went exceptionally well, and the love and renewed patience I felt for my kids refreshed and inspired me that GOD gave me Eph 3:20-21 that morning to show me how big and amazing he can be in my life. And just how much he loves me...and my children <3.

And remember...the purpose in the struggle...is ULTIMATELY - GOD's GLORY <3.
(this was our cool-down yesterday for several of my classes :). God is good :D.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Haiti (part 3)...take off to arrival...

Traveling to DFW to MIA to PAP was such an exciting time! The kids, especially, were in great anticipation to ride an airplane and go find some friends in a new place. Other than some rain while driving the trip went smoothly. Oh ya, we DID have a 2am fire alarm in our hotel haha! It was the quietest, politest fire alarm we have ever heard! A soft voice came over an intercom (that was ONLY in the hall ways and could barely be heard in the rooms) and said "there is a fire in the building. Please exit..." We weren't very fast exiters as we packed up our stuff in case we couldn't get back or it burned because we NEEDED it for haiti ha! We were first floor and had the window if necessary anyway ;). It ended up being nothing...other than maybe an attempt from the enemy to sleep deprive us early ;).

As we took off from miami to port au prince, the craziness of what was ahead hit me. There was no turning back now...was going through my thoughts...along with i hope this week isn't too stressful with 3 kids in a foreign country! :D

Here are a few of our travel pics!


We LOVE our Eula :). This is at the hotel the night
 before we are supposed to take off for Haiti!

 


There's more than one direction to sleep on a bed!


 This tired momma asked andi rae to hang it up! LOL! 
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a phone! :D


 Waiting for daddy to park the car and come find us in the airport.

ahhh these little munchkins kill me with their cuteness!


 Tired girl...

Excited to fly!


 God reveals his glory in his creation!


 Sooooo thankful for Eula to help us with the kiddos! 
Natalie was testing Eula's energy lol!

She's such a ham! 
Keeps us laughing.


 ...crashing again ;D


 ARRIVED IN Port Au Prince, Haiti!
Time to get out the leashes to keep our kiddos close
through potential airport chaos. Thank you Tammy! :D
(We had 7 bags for 3 adults to carry thanks to your donations, PLUS the kids had their own suitcases and backpacks!)




Stay tuned for more of our story! :D

Thursday, November 5, 2015

HANDS AND FEET PROJECT IN JACMEL AND GRAND GOAVE, HAITI (part 2)

Because of another missions trip Drew was involved in summer 2014, and to avoid confusion on which october we were going, we opted to wait until November 2014 to start fund raising. God provided enough to purchase our passports in just about at month...Then between January and May, God provided the $7200 my family needed to be fully funded for Haiti! When I saw that God was providing more than enough and well before we needed it, I contacted our friend Eula, who had been to Haiti many times before, to see if she wanted to join our family on this trip. Of course she said yes and God provided the funds for her before they were even due as well! God is soooo good and his resources to accomplish his plans are limitless!

A couple weeks before we were scheduled to fly out to Hands & Feet in Haiti, some of the missionaries emailed me asking if we could help with various donations and supplies that were needed. Passionate about giving what we can, we jumped right on it. Once again, God came through in amazing ways through CHA in here in small town texas. In less than a week we had almost more donations than we could physically get over to Haiti. Clothing and over 100 pair of shoes plus 30+ puzzle books and candy for Christmas presents for God's children in Haiti. Problem was we had no luggage to get these donations there (minor detail I hadn't thought about haha!;). And again, GOD KNEW :). And through His people, he provided MORE THAN ENOUGH luggage to move these items over-seas.


Tennis shoes that CHA students, staff, and parents donated.
 There are boots and sandals too which are not shown!


  The second graders really jumped in and took a lot of 
responsibility for this great project!

shoes and donations all packed!


CHA students and staff praying for a successful trip to Hands and Feet!
We are so blessed by this great family school family!


Thank you to those who prayed, paid, donated, helped, etc to make this missions trip a success! GOD IS GOOD! ALL THE TIME! :)




Tuesday, November 3, 2015

HANDS AND FEET PROJECT IN JACMEL AND GRAND GOAVE, HAITI

A year and a half ago, I sat observing my children and their behaviors and realized I wanted to do something drastic to help rein in what really matters in life. God matters. People matter. Eternity matters. Our connection with God above all else matters. Toys, possessions, materialism, accumulation of stuff, keeping up with the Joneses does not matter in the end. Having things is not wrong. But living for them is. God expects us to use whatever he has given us to love him, love people, and further his kingdom. And to hold things loosely. Even at their young ages of 2, 5, & 6...i could see a sense of materialism and entitlement that needed to be addressed. So I started searching for a way to introduce them to a drasticly different culture to prove to them that we can be satisfied in Jesus regardless of our environment and possessions. Enter Hands and Feet Project in Haiti! We had known about this Childrens village (orphange) for some time since it was started back in 2001 by Drew's favorite Christian band, Audio Adrenaline. I decided to email them and see what their minimum age was for missions trips. Other groups we had talked with could not allow small children due to the nature of the work being done those weeks. I quickly received a reply saying there is no minimum and we were welcome to bring our small family! GOD IS GOOD!!!! He gives us the desires of our hearts (psalm 37:4). so we set a date for a year and a half later, Oct 24-31, 2015...we would embarq on the journey of a life time for our small children who would be 4, 6, 8 when that time arrived.

We had 1.5 years for this one income, pay check to pay check family to raise $7500. this was a God-sized task. But if he wanted us to go, we would go.

I showed the kids the above  video...and Andi Rae's words were: "Oh mommy! those kids are so happy and they don't even have a lot of toys! I want to  sell all my toys and go be their friend!" Ok, Andi Rae...here we go!

to be continued...


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The blessing of having a child just like me (or you !)

I've often heard that parents say to their children..."I hope you have a child just like yourself someday!" I personally do NOT remember my parents ever saying that to me...which was nice of them ;)...because usually when parents say this, they are frustrated in the moment with whatever behavior their child is displaying that doesn't meet their expectations. Guess what...our children were not born to MEET OUR EXPECTATIONS. They are NOT GOING TO MEET OUR EXPECTATIONS. They will NEVER be the perfect child and you and I will never be the perfect mom. That's why we all need Jesus ;).  Our job is to love them where they are and be Jesus to them. Jesus was gentle in his spirit, spent great amounts of time along side teaching and hanging out with his disciples, washed their feet, served them, ate with them...they were his priority. My children must be MY priority! God made me a mother...TO MOTHER MY CHILDREN! That is my NUMBER ONE JOB. :D  Am I investing in my children like I should? Am I gentle, spending time with them, teaching them, hanging out with them, serving them, eating with them (all that without an iphone distraction!?). 

 I know we've all been there...wondering how we do this thing without messing our kids up or without going crazy in the process. Parenting in the moment is one of the HARDEST THINGS EVER!!! ESPECIALLY when your child is just like you! Orrrr is it actually EASIER when they are acting just like you? I think this really depends on your perspective. Think about it. If your child is acting JUST LIKE YOU. Then you have a  "back door" so to speak into their heart and mind. Because if they're acting just like you, you have a great idea of what they must be thinking/feeling. You have insight into why they may be frustrated in a particular conflict between the two of you.You have an excellent inside scoop on their personality/bents. I can't tell you how many times throughout the day my 7 year old acts just like me. And I am left with a decision to make...am I going to let this irritate me and think she is against me and out to get/annoy me...or am I going to recognize that quite possibly, she is just utilizing her God given personality and some things just need to be tamed/brought under control and very likely there are things I just need to let go because it really doesn't matter. I think back to my days as a kid and when I was acting this way I was not usually out to get my parents...I only wanted to understand and be understood. I am not advocating that my child is always right - she needs a lot of molding/refining/discipling. But I do know that in my tendency to lead/control/be right, I can easily respond in anger/frustration/irritation if I am not careful...and Jesus would NOT do that. Jesus would seek to GENTLY. REACH. HER. HEART. He wouldn't scold in frustration. He wouldn't get annoyed. This is where my heart breaks, and I am humbled, and I realize that only by the grace of God can I be the parent that my children need me to be. Not lording it over them, but gently walking alongside them, teaching them, coaching them, redirecting them, gently disciplining them...just like Jesus did. Just this morning I read 1 Peter 5:2-3 and while it was written to pastors, to me it very much applies to how I raise my children..."Care for the (children) that God has entrusted to you. Watch over (them) willingly, not grudgingly - not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the (children) assigned to your care but lead them by your own good example." WOW! Take a bite of that! These last couple days I have really been focusing on the areas of gentleness and patience with my children. I have focused on being more intentional in everything. It has been challenging to remain this way when they through fits. But I can feel the stretching and growing in my personal and spiritual life. And I LOVE it. I love how God is changing me.


It's ok for your child's opinion, taste, behavior, idea of how life should be is not what YOU think it should be. God PURPOSELY made them with their personality and bents to fulfill the specific role he has for them to play in his mega-story of redemption in this world. Kids don't wake up in the morning on a mission to bring you down. Their behavior, however it plays out goes much deeper than that. They are little people with great personalities and an idea of WHO they believe they are supposed to be and also of WHAT their world should be like. Some of these are biblical world-views and some of them need to be molded and tweaked. But they need you as a parent and they definitely need God to help them do that. Because I know AR possesses great leadership qualities and intense passions, I recognize this coming through in our conflicts. These skills she has are gifts from God that the enemy is trying to run away with.This is why it's so important to be more invested in your child's day than your screen in front of your face. For this reason I HATE SMART PHONES. They're the devil. Yes, I have one. And it's a blessing and a curse. Ok, smart-phone rant over ;).

Yes I have rambled. It's on my heart right now. Sorry if it doesn't make sense to you. I do not claim to be an amazing writer, but I do hope this encourages many of you :). I am passionate about encouraging :).

In closing, here are some of my favorite quotes from sally clarkson!
"Life will be hard because I am fighting against the enemy for the hearts, souls, lives of my children." 
"I am to train these children, who's souls have eternal implications, to be ambassadors to the world."
"Raising my kids for God is my spiritual act of worship."

And one of my VERY favorite quotes from Sally, was when she encouraged us to relate this to our children saying,  "I will never be a perfect mom, and you will never be a perfect child. You never have to fear you will fail me because God has already caught you and you can live in grace and freedom." She also related that to us as moms when she said "God wants us to rest in the fact that we will NEVER be enough. There is NO condemnation though, for those who are in Christ Jesus! We have freedom! And Ask God for grace to accept your limitations because HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH!"

Go and seek to be a blessing to your children. You could very well be raising your best friends who love Jesus and serve him along side you for the rest of your life. Now THAT is victory in parenting :D.

xoxo


Friday, March 13, 2015

WHAT ARE YOUR "MUST HAVES" IN YOUR LIFE?

As I was folding laundry today, and I spotted a pile of clutter on the folding table in the laundry room. I started thinking...thinking about how good it would feel if that pile was gone. Either put away if that pile contained something I love. Or gone out of my house if it doesn't  enhance my life (or somebody else's in my family). Piles tend to zap my energy and I'm making great progress at getting rid of them, but I am not done yet. So then I had another thought which will help me continue this purging process...make a list of the things I MUST HAVE/DO in my life. Both the necessities and the things that bring me joy. Then...Any thing, activity, item that takes away from my vision needs to be removed from my house/life. So I've STARTED a list...and here are the MUST HAVES in my life...

quiet time with God in the morning
fun times with my husband and kids
discipling my kids/teaching them what it means to follow God..both in lifestyle and in Bible lessons/talks
get together with friends and their families
music
pay bills 
make healthy meals and eat as a family
down time to chill
laundry/cleaning
dishes
open spaces/no clutter

So knowing the above... I can continue my adventure to minimalize and weed out what I don't need. I can use that list to ask "does this item help me accomplish or enhance any of my priorities on my list?" and if it doesn't, OUT IT GOES. Because having less stuff to take care of frees me up to live the life I was born to live...without regrets.

How about you? What really matters to you? And what is standing between you and accomplishing your priorities?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

DECLUTTERED BEDROOM #1

My little man's room is finished! We have decluttered several items, and while I still think he may have too much, it is HIS stuff and so he gets a say it what stays and goes. He has really been very cooperative in the purging process and I am VERY, VERY proud of him :). I think it's really important to work with your children in this area and not just overhaul everything that's theirs without their consent (as tempting as it is to just throw it all away at times ;) . It would break my heart to accidentally throw away some treasures. After all, it's taken me 34 years to get to the point where I am at now...this is a process that each person will arrive at on there own terms in their own timing. It's not fair for me to rush him into this with removing things he feels really attached to. All that being said now, He knows if I keep finding items on the floor, I am allowed to assume he doesn't want them any more and get rid of them. We gave each item it's own home. A place for everything. I also like to keep his blocks, legos, and train set up in the top of his closet so that he has to ask for them. Only one of those items is allowed out at a time because they are so messy with so many little pieces. This has worked out really well. This is something I implemented a month or two ago.

So here's a peek at the decluttered, minimized, organized bedroom! (we just moved around his furniture today at his request so the decor doesn't match up to well.)





Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Facebook Group for Blog

I have started a facebook group for this page. So if I don't know you personally, rather than requesting me on my personal page, I would love y'all to join me here on my group page :). Come hang out with us, encourage with your stories, and be encouraged by others! I will probably even throw in some challenges along the way! :D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/livealifeofnoregrets/


Monday, February 23, 2015

A WAY TO PAY DOWN DEBT

I am challenging myself, from now, until March 23 to see how LITTLE I can spend of our grocery money. ANY MONEY SAVED will be applied to our financial debt. We typically spend $700/month on groceries for our family of 5. That includes EVERYTHING...from toilet paper - to shampoo - to food/milk. It all fits neatly into that $700. Obviously we will have to spend some...we don't want to run out of toilet paper or soap and the kids need to eat ;). This is about to get interesting, but I'm excited about the challenge :). So glad I have a husband that is on board with my crazy ideas too :D.

I think my new minimalist mentality is changing my way of thinking and living in more ways than one. Gotta love it <3.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

EXCESS EQUALS STRESS

I used to sit on my couch at any random point in the day (or anywhere in my house for that matter), longing for a feeling peace amid the clutter but feeling a tension inside of me. Thoughts of "I wish my flat surfaces were completely clear" would constantly pass through my mind...I knew then I would feel the "no-clutter-peace" I was looking for. I would close my eyes and imagine it. It felt great. I could see how wonderful it would be to come to the end of my day and be able to feel good about my accomplishments and organized house. Thoughts of grabbing a box and just swiping would follow next. At least I would have peace of mind then. For me, clutter on my counters makes my mind feel cluttered, and it's unsettling to me. The thought of swiping everything into a box isn't much better because what if there's something in that box that I need and forget about? It's a viscous mental cycle of thinking I need everything I have to live a happy life but all the while struggling with all the stuff I've accumulated. It felt like a cyclical battle that I would never ever win. Then one day in January of 2015, after the kids had gone to bed, I started listening to minimalist talks on YouTube, searching for inspiration, while cleaning up my kitchen. The first two talks I heard inspired me so much that I continued to search and listen for THREE AND A HALF HOURS while going through every drawer and cabinet in my kitchen, getting rid of anything that was excess! These talks helped me to realize that excessive stuff was robbing me of my joy and that NOTHING would fix my problem EXCEPT for getting rid of the excess. At the end of the night. I FELT AMAZING. This was the start of a new beginning for me. I could feel it. I was NOT going to stop there. THIS MINIMALIST MENTALITY was the path to the feeling in my house that I had been craving. Almost a month later, it takes being intentional every day to maintain what I have done...but with so much less stuff in my kitchen, even less dishes and silverware, it is 100 times easier than before!

You can view one of the talks here: (I am having trouble linking the other one so maybe next time!)





If you're up for it, my challenge for you today is to go through your kitchen and remove anything you have doubles of and also things that haven't been used in the last 6 - 12 months. Remove anything that is excess or "just-in-case."  If you're not ready to completely get rid of them, put them in a box and throw that box into the attic or elsewhere so you can experience the joy of less. Keep only what is NEEDED on your counter top. If it can be hidden, hide it. And then sit back, and enjoy the peace of a clean, decluttered kitchen :).




Friday, February 20, 2015

WOULD YOU HELP FUND OUR MISSIONS TRIP FOR MY BIRTHDAY? :)

My birthday is Monday -  I don't usually ask for things but would you consider giving a donation to help my family get to Haiti? Even just $5 toward our missions trip adds up :). You can give online by clicking the link below or our PO box is PO BOX 9948 Tyler TX 75711.

This link allows you to give online and receive a TAX DEDUCTION ;).

http://org.grouprev.com/mccfam?saved=1


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CASH FOR CLUTTER

As I've been putting minimalism into practice in my house, I have been selling our clutter to raise money for our Haiti trip...and I have turned several pieces of clutter into $300 cash toward our missions trip!...and counting :). And this has only been in the last 2-3 weeks! Who knows, maybe God will fund our whole trip through our clutter ;). Ok, I really don't think I have that much left, but I will keep posting, so keep checking back! :)


THE STRUGGLE WITH GROWING OLD

Talked to my grandpa today. He returned my call that I had left him on his voicemail for his birthday. Oh I miss that man so much! Seeing him and grandma once a year is just not enough. Especially when I see them struggling. Let's be real - the aging process SUCKS when your loved ones are hurting. :( I wish I could be there for them like I was for my great grandma. I have great memories of going up to my Great Grandma's assisted living home and spending time with her and playing piano for her. She would sit in her chair right next to me as I played her favorite hymns and if I listened carefully I could even hear her quiet voice singing in my ear. Her favorite song was "IN THE GARDEN."...we would play and sing that one every. single time. She would close her eyes and sing those sweet words from her heart straight to her Savior. Her friends, the other residents, would gather one by one into the room where the Holy Spirit would minister to their hearts and mine. There was no greater joy than worshiping Jesus side by side with my great grandma and her generation. Oh to go back. And how I wish I lived close to my grandparents now so I could repeat the same thing with my grandma in her assisted living home today. How I wish I could spend their last years with them enjoying sweet fellowship and ministering to them in person. For some reason I'm a sobbing mess after hearing my grandpas voice today...and feeling at a loss for anything to do with them so far away. I want to hold them. I want to serve them. I want to worship with them. Phone calls and letters just don't seem like enough. But it's what I can do and so it's what I will do. And I pray that each phone call I make and each letter I send will lift their spirits, make them smile, and help them enjoy life and feel loved just that much more.

God gave me this sweet song when I got off the phone with my grandpa. I need to send it to him, too. I love the many ways God speaks to us.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

OUR FIRST FAMILY MISSIONS TRIP

LOVE GOD! LOVE PEOPLE! 

October 2015 will be the year of our first of hopefully many family missions trips. As we strive to raise and disciple our children in western culture, our eyes have been opened to how desensitized we Americans are 
to what truly matters - LOVING GOD AND LOVING PEOPLE. We, as a culture, are consumed with gratifying our desires and cravings for the latest toy or gadget in our attempts to satisfy that empty, but extremely loud space we feel inside of us.

1 John 2:15-17 reminds us of what really matters...

Do Not Love This World

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.



On our trip to Haiti, we want to 

1. Love on the sweet kiddos at the Hands and Feet Orphanage

2. Serve alongside a great Christian ministry we believe in

3. Teach our kids first hand that true and lasting happiness doesn't come from accumulating possessions. ...after Andi Rae viewed a video on YouTube of these sweet children at the Hands and Feet orphanage, she turned to me and said, "Mom! These kids have nothing and they're so happy! I want to sell all my toys so I can go be their friend!" I LOVE her tender heart toward the things that matter and I pray that never goes away!



We have always had a heart to be a missions-driven family. We do what we can to teach our kids to serve locally and want to go global as well, as God opens doors and leads. Never did we dream that we could introduce our kids to foreign missions at the ages of 4, 6, & 8! God is AMAZING! As we looked into this orphanage that we already had a heart for and were made aware that there was no minimum age, and they encouraged our family to come, we knew we had to step out in faith and move forward in this pursuit. In a world where our children are constantly bombarded with MORE + NEW = HAPPINESS, we want to expose them to a 3rd world reality, where the JOY OF THE LORD is proved to trump the THINGS of this world. We want their eyes to see that life really is all about LOVING GOD AND LOVING PEOPLE...that's where our joy comes from.

If God hasn't led you to give already, would you please prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible financial contribution to help send our family to Haiti? This cost includes everything - plane tickets, room and board, supplies, etc... you can contribute online via check/credit/debit here:

http://org.grouprev.com/mccfam?saved=1

If you prefer the snail-mail method, support can be sent to: K. McCuistion - PO Box 9948 - Tyler, TX 75711.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!



Isaiah 6:8 - And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me!”



PS - would you like to join us!? Contact me and I will tell you how you can!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DO YOU WANT LESS STUFF?

Have you been reading my blogs and fb status updates and wishing you could start minimizing too? Does clutter overwhelm your life? Do you walk into your house and wish it felt more homey? or peaceful? or inviting? Does it feel like there is too much and you are too attached and it could never be done? I HAVE BEEN IN YOUR SHOES! We have been fed the lie since we were born that buying more stuff will buy us happiness and contentment...Pretty much daily, we hear..."You NEED this or that! Buy this product and you will thrive and be successful! Buy that product for beautiful skin or hair. Buy that one over there for fastest weight loss." LIE LIE LIE!!!! We live in a culture of EXCESSIVE CONSUMERISM. Too much stuff truly does rob us of our joy. I've piddled with simplifying for the last 8 years and just the last few months, my brain has switched over and realized the REAL VALUE in getting rid of our "valuables." I'm done with clutter. My goal is to be completely clutter free by the 2nd week of April. 

Even if you're not ready to go extreme. Start somewhere! You will feel so much better!
There are countless helpful minimalist videos on YouTube...One of the videos I started with is here. And if you listen to it and declutter at the same time - it really helps your progress ;). And listening to them will give you great ideas for getting started! Not to mention inspiration from someone who has been where you may be and overcome it!

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

MY DE-CLUTTERED KITCHEN!

My husband and I have been accumulating STUFF for probably 8 out of our 9 years of marriage. Maybe 9 actually ;). But a year into our marriage we started having a slight desire to get rid of some of our stuff because we were running out of space and our home was always cluttered. Clutter is so stressful. And it's extremely hard to learn to break the emotional attachment that we form with our possessions. However, there is nothing peaceful to me about it when clutter takes over my own home. I tried and tried and tried to organize my clutter until sometime, nearing the end of 2014, I came to the realization that YOU CANNOT ORGANIZE CLUTTER! So sometime this last month I decided that I AM DONE! DONE trying to organize clutter. DONE being attached to (the rest of) my possessions. (some of my family would say I hardly have anything left anyway - and it's a running joke that I will put any random thing I'm given in a garage sale when I'm tired of it.) DONE keeping things around just in case. And so over the last several weeks I have been listening to motivational talks on YouTube about simplifying and minimizing while attacking my house at the same time. I have a WHOLE EXTRA ROOM in my house devoted to getting my STUFF out of my way so I can sell it in our upcoming CCC sale. The stuff that doesn't qualify to sell there will be donated to local charities if it doesn't sell via social media before April (to raise money for our family missions trip to an orphanage in Haiti).

I do not have a before picture...there is probably one somewhere on my computer...but you can ask any of my friends and they will tell you how messy my counter tops used to be!

My kitchen has made GREAT progress...my counters used to CONSTANTLY be cluttered. ALL OF THEM. They have never been this bare since we moved in however many years ago. I LOVE the peace it brings. I LOVE being able to sit down at the end of the day and see THIS. THIS is what allows my mind to slow down and rest. THIS allowed me to play hide-and-seek with my husband and kids outside in the dark last night and not feel like I had to be doing something! THIS is freedom from my clutter. And I'm still purging ;). We have somewhat minimized our dishes as well - there's something about having less dishes/cups/etc that makes cleaning the kitchen so much faster and easier! Things cannot pile up throughout the day if you don't have enough of them to pile up before needing them for the next meal, ya know!? I LOVE living like this.

I cannot put into words how excited I am about all this. About how refreshing it is to my spirit. My oldest is loving it too. In fact, she got out of bed tonight, an hour into bedtime, and came out grinning ear-to-ear asking if she could de-clutter more of her stuff. Of course I said not until morning ;). But I'm so excited that she's excited too! Clutter leaves a negative energy and my family is feeling the positive effects of purging ourselves of a materialistic mentality. On the other side, they also feel the negative energy created when mommy is restless and can't play because I need to tend to our STUFF...take care of it, clean it, organize it - NO MORE. I'm done with that.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

THE BEGINNING OF MINIMALISM (but not to the extreme;)

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to enjoy life and your family when you are on vacation!? No distractions. (unless you still can't put down your cell phone ;).  No job/housework to get in your way. No project calling your name. No dishes in the sink to do. No clutter to pick up. NOTHING - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING between you and your family. It has always intrigued me, as a wife and mom, how free I feel on vacations because my mind is not being pulled toward all the STUFF that my task-oriented self fells the drive to tend to. I tend to get pulled to the "Martha" side of the "Mary and Martha" story in the Bible...I find it very hard to relax and enjoy my family when there is so much STUFF to take care of! Recently, in my latest drive to minimize my belongings and simplify my life, I have realize that MY STUFF is a tactic designed by my enemy, the devil, to move me to focus on THINGS THAT DO NOT MATTER. THINGS do NOT add meaning to my life! THINGS take away meaning from my life. The more stuff I have, the more stuff has me - because it pulls me to take care of it in one way or another. Luke 12:15-25 has jumped out at me in a fresh way...this man had accumulated SO MUCH STUFF that he had to build bigger barns JUST TO STORE ALL HIS STUFF!!!! And our Americanized bigger, better lifestyle is not any different! We work, to make more money, to buy more stuff, to get lost in taking care of it, to miss out on what truly matters. LOVING GOD AND LOVING PEOPLE! Having things is not wrong...but the greedy accumulation of things is - and it is also wrong for however little or much we have to control or dictate our priorities in life. PEOPLE MATTER MORE. 


Luke 12:15-2 (ESV)15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down mybarns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This nightyour soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Let me say this - it is NOT WRONG TO BE RICH...but it does matter where our heart is. And it DOES MATTER how we spend our money. To whom much has been given...much more will be required. (Luke 12:48)
So this freedom that I feel on vacation...the freedom from stuff...I have lately found myself minimizing my stuff, so that I can feel that freedom from stuff as a normal part of my every day life. I don't NEED stuff...

I've come to a place in my life where I never thought I would be...I can honestly say that there is no material possession that I find myself wanting. I am completely content with everything I have. In fact, I don't want STUFF anymore. I want to let it all go. I am realizing more and more how the stuff I own takes away from my relationships...because the more stuff I have, the more I have to take care of, the more THINGS get in the way of what really matters. 

So I have very seriously began this journey of minimizing. Not to the extremes that some people go - which you can find on YouTube - although I have to admit it is tempting ;). But having felt the freedom from stuff on road trips, and having experienced the freedom in boxing up my doubles and extras, and things I don't use to sell/give away, I feel like I've tapped in to a whole new world/way of living! So now I am selling our STUFF, to raise money for our family missions trip to Haiti. We cannot wait for this amazing experience. Can't wait to go love on some kiddos who having nothing material-wise, but who know real happiness. We were never designed to be tied to our stuff. We were not created to focus on STUFF! We were created to do life with other people...TO LOVE GOD, and LOVE PEOPLE. Good bye to my THINGS that get in my way of that.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

WHAT IS YOUR WORTH?

I really enjoyed my quiet time this morning. I was reading in Romans 12...(v1)...I plead with you give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (v2) Don't copy the behavior customs of this world. But let God transform you into a new person BY CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK! THEN you will learn to know God's will for you, which is GOOD and PLEASING and PERFECT!

I started thinking...what are the behavior patterns of this world that I am NOT to pattern my life after? A few random things came to mind...unfaithfulness in marriage, selfishness, materialism, slander, dirty talk, drunkenness, gluttony, trying to be the perfect mom/super mom (in the eyes of the world), American dream, over-busy (even God rested), undisciplined, out of control, self-pleasing. This list could go on...I am not to blend with my culture in these ways. 

Verse 3 goes on to say....Do NOT think you are better than you really are! Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. It's as if Paul was trying to say - "now that you're working hard to be who God created you to be and live holy lives, DON'T GET A BIG HEAD AND THINK YOU'RE AMAZING BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DO OR DON'T DO!" With the help of my notes in my Bible, and hearing the holy spirit speak to my heart, this is what I walked away with, and it really encouraged me!

I must NOT base my self-worth and value by measuring myself up against the world's value system, my success and achievements, or my roles and responsibilities. I am NOT defined by ANY of this! Doing so can have two negative effects. It can make me think too much of myself and cause pride in my life. Or it can even cause me to compare myself to others, feel defeated, and think too little of myself. Both evaluations are wrong and cause me to question my worth in the eyes of others and miss my TRUE VALUE in God's eyes. I am defined by WHO I AM IN CHRIST! And NOTHING can change this! This jumped out at me. The times that I am discouraged with who I am, or even who I am not, I am focusing on my worldly value. I am comparing myself to a human standard. This value system will ALWAYS FAIL ME! I am created and loved deeply by God who sees my heart and he died for me ANYWAY because his love is so great for me! He sent his Spirit to live inside me and speak to my spirit! This speaks volumes of my value and what I am eternally worth! Without God, I can accomplish nothing of eternal value. With God, my value and impact on eternity and the lives of others - my children, family, friends, and beyond - has no eternal limit. God is SO GOOD! IN CHRIST - I am soooo important and cherished and valued and loved and ACCEPTED! There is no rejection in Christ.

So when you feel discouraged, thinking you're not enough, remember you have ETERNAL VALUE and THAT's what we are here for. THAT is what matters. IN CHRIST, you are enough!. And also, remember, IN CHRIST, you're not better than that girl next to you, either ;).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I STEPPED AWAY FROM SERVING TOO MUCH...

I love the feeling of peace and joy God gives when you know you are right where you're supposed to be. I used to think I always needed to do more to serve...I felt like it was never enough, that I needed to add more good works/volunteer hours to my plate...to feel fulfilled/satisfied/enough...and then one day, things started to click and I started stepping back...EVEN from some of my ministries at church. I had to re-focus and re-evaluate what my priorities are to be for THIS SEASON of my life. Seasons change, and with that, some priorities will change too. See, we only have our children for a short season. Just the other day, I realized that ONE THIRD of my time raising my kids is OVER!...and it caused me to re-think my (outside) ministry life even more...because MY FAMILY IS MY NUMBER ONE MINISTRY!  and many days...THAT IS ENOUGH! On my desktop background, I have a quote by Andy Stanley, "Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." This hit home and was exactly what I needed to hear on those days when I feel like I should be doing more outside my home. In a world full of distractions, even via "ministry" and good intentions, our enemy, Satan, pulls away from what is BEST in exchange for what is just good, if we're not alert. He is seeking to devour us (Ephesians 6)...and taking us away from the training of our children in exchange for us doing good for others to the point of exhaustion or just not having time to stop and disciple our children is one way he can "subtly" rob us. This is HUGE. I CHOOSE to live simply and focus on discipling my kids to love and serve Jesus. I do not exist to burn myself out in outside ministry to the neglect of my family. God has blessed me with 3 beautiful children and while I am supposed to lead them by example, part of that is teaching them how to pour their life into their family at home. And if my ministry outside my home is robbing me who I am to be inside my home, that tells me it is not the time for me to be serving in that particular ministry. There will come a day when I serve (more) with my children outside my home but now is not the right time for me...or for my children. My current role is to raise little disciples in my home. THEY are my priority. There is nothing small about this God-given responsibility. It is one of the most important things I will ever do, and I should never look at it as if it's NOT ENOUGH! That is a lie from the enemy in attempts to make me FEEL defeated. I say FEEL because it's just a FEELING...because I am NOT defeated in Christ. In Christ, I am an OVER-COMER! And by the grace of God, so are my children.

Ephesians 1:22-23...I am part of Christ's body! I function as part of him, along with other believers, to fulfill his kingdom agenda right where He has placed me. I only have 15 years left for my kids to be kids and I KNOW that this is my season primarily at home. And that's OK :D.

And a side-note to my single friends. Paul says in 1 Corinthains 7:7...Being single is a gift from God! Being married is also a gift from God! Either way - we are to be content right where God has us...and to live a life worthy of our calling Being single we have so much ability to pour our lives into outside ministry into people, our church, and in other organizations. Bottom line - WHEREVER GOD HAS YOU, SERVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART HOWEVER YOU CAN! :D Whether married or single, don't compare yourself to others - that is not wise! Look to Jesus and seek his heart for how you live out your days. Make them count :).

Ephesians 5:10 "Carefully determine what pleases the Lord (v15) So be careful how you live. Don't be like fools, but like those who are wise. (16) Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. (17) Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Eph 6:7) Work with enthusiasm! You are working for the LORD, not for people! (8) Remember the LORD will reward us for the good we do!"