Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

New

I am thankful:

~ for a wonderful Christmas break, celebrating Jesus and enjoying our family traditions.

~ for a first-time-ever Christmas trip! We surprised the kids with a trip to a cabin in Branson, Missouri right after Christmas. We had never been before, so it was brand new for all of us. Sadly, our two oldest were not able to join us (growing up is tough!). And even though it was a 9 hour-one-way drive, we made incredible memories all along the way!

~ and to safely make it back home BEFORE Birdie has her pups (yep! Expecting ANY DAY NOW!)

We also made it back JUST IN TIME to host a dozen or so teenagers for New Year’s Eve out at the farm.

It’s been a good year.

A year of radical change.

A year of listening to the Lord and trusting where He is leading our family. A year of letting go of the expected and waiting expectantly for a new chapter to unfold.

A year of literally building a new life.

And now we stand upon a path laid out before us, and we say “YES!”

Yes, Lord, we will go. Yes, Lord, we trust You. Yes, Lord, we will lay down our plans, desires, dreams, and expectations and submit ourselves to YOUR PLAN ALONE.

This is not “our year.”

It’s His.

May we love like Him; forgive like Him; serve like Him. May we look more like Him at the close of 2023 than we do today.

Happy New Year, friends.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

Awe

I am thankful:

~ for a week of good eats: delicious homemade burritos with fresh white-corn-jalapeño salsa,

breakfast date with Josh and Tatum K,

ooey-gooey, cheesy, decadent quesadillas from Ruby’s,

and for the rare joy of finding my ultimate favorite (but NEVER IN STOCK) chips! Haven’t found them in months. I downed TWO BAGS bags this week!

~ for our sweet dogs. Bear and Birdie are smart and funny, and add so much love to our family.

~ for a great time at the Vintage & Co “Christmas in the Country” Sale. Giddyup & Whoa was a featured vendor with stacks of handpainted woodburned wood slice ornaments and one massive reclaimed wood statement piece. I love painting for Christmas, and this is a favorite sale. Still have a few ornaments left if you need to snap some up for teacher gifts or for your own tree.

~ for the cutest cheerleaders you ever did see.

~ for a fun school event for Zoe who dressed as Queen Elizabeth I for the 5th Grade Historical Living Wax Museum. Especially thankful for a friend who came in clutch with a dress when I realized the night before that I couldn’t find our box of queen costumes!

~ for a proud moment as Sawyer received a chapel award for the Character Quality of RESPECT. So thankful for his loving servant’s heart. (He was NOT IMPRESSED when his mama burst into R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But how could I not????)

~ for Tatum K’s very first Thanksgiving Feast at school. Her smile sparkled and those blue eyes just shined with joy.

~ for Sawyer and his best buds having a ball encouraging classmates to participate in Operation Christmas Child.

~ for lots of progress on the farm. The fence is growing,

the sheet metal continues to go up,

and we’ve got the propane heater and the TV running so we can battle the cold and celebrate the most special moments together – like double decker Cowboys + Chiefs victories today! Let’s Go!!

Days are flying by. How can it be Thanksgiving week already? I find myself rushing things along one minute, and then dragging my feet the next. The ever-present delicate tension of giddyup and whoa. I resist change, but everything’s always changing. I want to savor time with my babies, but they’re not babies anymore.

We have to hold on for the ride.

But God.

He is faithful and good. Sometimes I’m excited about what He’s doing, and sometimes I don’t understand at all. I don’t get His timing, I wonder about His methods. And sometimes I think He missed it completely, even though I know He knows. But then come those rare moments…those moments when He cracks open a window to let a glimpse of His glory out…and the doubts melt away. I stand in awe. This loving and mighty and merciful and beautiful and terrifying Father is perfectly writing this story, and allowing us to enter into the process with Him. What a gift.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”(Psalms 33:3-8)

“By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas; Who established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power; You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples. They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs; You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.” (Psalms 65:5-8)

A Full Week of Thanks

I am thankful:

~ for a lovely lunch with a dear friend and a beautiful salad. So very thankful for the incredible ways that God brings crucial people into our lives when we need them the most.

~ for progress on the farm! Love seeing Josh’s fence begin to stretch across the property.

~ for a husband who brings me tacos.

~ for wonderful neighbors. Although they are a little on the shy side, we get along great.

~ for the great privilege of having the freedom to cast my vote. And for my voting buddy.

~ for a new batch of hand painted Giddyup&Whoa woodburned ornaments headed to the Vintage & Co “Christmas in the Country” Sale this week. Grateful for the opportunity to get creative. I’ve missed it.

~ for an amazing evening representing Gold Network of East Texas at a benefit concert hosted by our friend, Derek Holland. His 60 Feet 6 Foundation is dedicated to helping military veterans and kids with cancer. I love how kind he is to Sawyer, and how clear it is that he really cares. Casey Donahew put on a fantastic show, and the kids had a blast. And pretty proud of Sawyer for bravely speaking to HUNDREDS of people from onstage!

~ for a special weekend celebrating our niece, Jackie, and her fiancé, Nick, at the most beautiful wedding shower. So grateful to be a part of such a fun and loving family, and for the godly heritage we are blessed with.

~ and to continue the LoveFest, later that same day we got to attend the wedding of a young couple from church. It was a lovely outdoor service, but SO SO COLD thanks to the abrupt Texas cold snap! Thankful for blankets and propane heaters and DANCING and lots and lots of laughter to keep us all warm.

~ for a warm and delicious pumpkin muffin that was my dinner tonight.

Thank You Lord for the big and the small gifts. Thank You for children who are actually listening more than you realize. Thank You for glimpses of fruit. Thank You for always showing up.

And to all of you who read each week, for whatever reason I never quite understand, thanks for caring about our family. It’s the season of giving thanks. If you’re not used to it, now’s a great time to start. Begin exercising your gratitude muscles, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly your perspective begins to change.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalms 23:6)

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:31-34)

23

I am thankful.

I am thankful for this man. This man who came into my life so unexpectedly. Who pursued me so relentlessly no matter how hard I tried to discourage him.

I’m so thankful he wouldn’t give up on us.

I’m thankful we grew up together in almost every way. We simultaneously became best friends, parents, spouses, Christ followers, and started a completely new course for our lives almost overnight. And we never looked back.

I’m thankful that he taught me a love like I had never seen before. I’m thankful for the amazing dad he became overnight, and the way he has learned and grown and outdone himself over and over through the years. I’m thankful that he boldly and courageously leads our family to honor Jesus.

I’m thankful that the words “Giddyup and Whoa” were spoken over us two decades ago, and that they have consistently remained true, almost comically so. Sometimes we are so opposite we drive each other crazy, but we know we need the balance the Lord built into our relationship. Can’t drive without BOTH a gas pedal and the brakes.

I’m thankful we learned how to communicate, how to extend grace, and to forgive. I’m thankful that even though we learned a lot of things the hard way, that at least we did learn. And we are still learning. I’m thankful that God knit us together so tightly in preparation for the trials we didn’t know were ahead. We clung tightly to Him and to one another through darker days than we could have imagined.

I’m thankful for laughter and adventures, for Mexico, for the everyday grind, for back-breaking labor, impossible projects, and working side by side. He’s seen me at my worst. He knows all my details, and he still sticks around.

Today we celebrated 23 years of marriage. We served a luncheon at church, hung metal out at the barn all afternoon, and ate gas station pizza with the kids for dinner.

For better, for worse.

In sickness, in health.

For richer, for poorer.

Thank You Jesus, we are so very rich indeed.

I’m thankful we’ve never stopped dreaming. And that we will continue to be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“I’m gonna live where the green grass grows

Watch my corn pop up in rows

Every night be tucked in close to you

Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed

Point our rocking chairs toward the west

Plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows

Where the green grass grows.” (Tim McGraw)

“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Breathe In

I am thankful:

~ for generous givers on East Texas Giving Day. Gold Network of East Texas received more than $600 in donations!

~ for the perfect cup of coffee in the afternoon.

~ for the triumphant successful completion of our largest Giddyup & Whoa order to date! We were commissioned by our high school to create 67 handpainted reclaimed wood signs for the parents of the 2022 graduating class!

It was an intense effort of measuring, cutting, sanding, building, sanding again, field painting, handlettering, and watercoloring each one.

Then each was stamped with GW and wrapped with our signature twine and tag!

Phew! What a fun challenge! Thankful that even though I received the order with only 20 days to have them completed, I actually beat my deadline by 3 days!

~ for a fun visit with Aunt Gina and Uncle Justin, who made the trip to Tyler and helped Josh and I divide and conquer to attend the 2 baseball games + 1 Spring Concert we had…all at 7pm on the SAME NIGHT! I was thankful to get to see Zoe’s concert and catch most of Gavin’s game,

but SO DISAPPOINTED that I missed witnessing Sawyer running OUT OF HIS SHOE and scoring a run BAREFOOT!!! (Thankful that Samantha got pictures!)

~ for the tastiest traditional gyro smothered in tzatziki sauce.

~ for Sir Gavin the Knight of the House of Rucker having an awesome Medieval Feast with his 5th grade class.

~ for priceless time with our Gold Network ETX HERO couples at our CONNECT Support Group. Beautiful fresh flowers, delicious BBQ, and decadent desserts set the stage for a time of loving on these families through whatever stage of the cancer journey they are in. How we love our time with them!

~ for a special treat for the boys: Colton’s birthday gift to his dad was tickets for the 5 of them to the Texas Rangers game! What an awesome day! Even came away with a W!

~ that I got to enjoy a sweet time with my girls while the boys were away. After church we enjoyed stuffing our faces at Olive Garden! Restaurant dining is a rare treat for our bunch, so they were THRILLED!

~ for a husband who loves me right where I am. In my struggles. In my mess. In my doubts. In my fears. He lovingly leads our family, and I’m so grateful I can trust him completely, because I know his trust is in the Lord. There are big changes brewing on the horizon for our Tribe, and it’s both exhilarating and terrifying. But there’s no adventure I wouldn’t risk with him. My “Whoa” would sure miss out on a lot if it wasn’t for his “Giddyup!”

But I don’t always FEEL adventurous and excited about change. Sometimes my emotions and fears and anxieties take over and I’m, well…the word “basketcase” comes to mind. BUT GOD. I calm my heart by returning my eyes from the waves to my Savior. And I give thanks for the little blessings that surround me. Hugs and kisses and coffee and silly dogs and silly kids and coffee and the smell of candles and fresh laundry and coffee.

Breathe in.

God is good.

Breathe out.

All the time.

Eventually, we will make it victoriously across the finish line. And we won’t even care if we lost a shoe along the way.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” (Proverbs 4:11-13)

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalms 62:1-2)

Stretching

I am thankful:

~ for a safe spot to weather the latest rash of East Texas storms!

~ for Gavin’s school project: using fractions in a recipe, and cooking a treat to bless the custodial staff at the school. He chose one of his great grandmother’s recipes. So fun! And what an awesome assignment!

~ for awesome spring evenings at the ballpark.

~ for the opportunity to snuggle some of Bear and Birdie’s puppies! It’s so awesome when we get to see them!

~ for a heartwarming, long-awaited reunion. Years ago Sawyer made a special friend at the Lighthouse Family Retreat for cancer families in Florida. One of the families serving had a daughter named SAWYER! They were instant fast friends because of their names, even though she was several years older.

We were thrilled to find out that Sawyer and her family lived in Fort Worth! They made the trip to Dallas several times to see our Sawyer at his oncology checkups, but it’s been at least a couple years.

Well last week I got a call that their family was camping at Tyler State Park, and they wanted to get the Sawyers back together. I kept the secret, and asked MY Sawyer if he remembered his Lighthouse friend. His eyes lit up when I asked if he’d like to make her a card to send in the mail. He quickly set to work, and asked me, “Mama, how do you spell, ‘I miss you so much and I hope we can see each other soon’?” My heart sang! We met at C Rojos, and Sawyer and Sawyer were SO EXCITED to see each other! Our families had the most wonderful, if way to short, visit! I love the connection they have!

~ for a great day at the Vintage & Co Spring Barn Sale Preview Day. Each sale they do an Early Bird Day with an admission charge that benefits their charity of choice. This time they chose Gold Network of East Texas! What an awesome blessing! Tatum K was my trusty assistant. But more than once, she frighted guests by popping out from under my table!

~ for a wonderful evening watching Kora and her classmates 6th Grade production of “How I Became a Pirate.” She did such a great job, and had so much fun.

~ for one of Sawyer’s self-proclaimed “Best Days of My Life.” The beloved “Creature Teacher came to visit their class! Baby kangaroo, lemur, and a python were just a few of the animals they got to meet up close and personal. I LOVE the pictures captured of Sawyer’s excitement!

~ for the amazing milestone, Tatum K taking her admissions assessment to start Kindergarten at GCS in the fall! How is my littlest peanut so big!? She was tearful that morning, “I’m afraid to be wif-out you, Mama!” But she calmed down and had fun with the teacher. What is my mama heart to do!?

We are in such a season of stretching in our family. The kids are quite literally stretching, growing out of their clothes and shoes almost daily. But more than the physical stretching, we are in a place where God is causing each of us to be stretched out of our comfort zone in about 17 million directions. I have definitely come to the realization that I am NOT A FAN OF STRETCHING. But I know it’s necessary. And I know it’s good. There is not much growth that happens when we are comfortable or still. It’s an awesome lesson to talk through with the kids, and even more awesome (not really) to see how much still I need the very same lesson myself.

When my faith is sifted back down to a mustard seed, I see more clearly than ever my need for a Savior. I’m nothing without Him. BUT GOD! Because WITH Him, and Him in me, all things truly are possible. So grateful for the beautiful and terrifying adventure He has in store! And even though I’m not always a fan of the process of stretching and growing…I know the best is yet to come. I don’t want to stay where I am. So let’s get to stretching…

Are YOU willing to be stretched?

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Do the Work

I am thankful:

~ for baseball, baseball, and MORE BASEBALL. (And finally got to see Samantha play softball!) It’s a busy season with constant practices and back to back games, but we are loving it.

~ for zesty buffalo and blue cheese chicken wraps.

~ for wonderful friends who walk beside me in good times and bad. What a blessing not to walk alone.

~ for 2 special birthdays this week! First we got to celebrate Josh: a down home Southern meal of mashed taters and country fried steak. And yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing of course!

And then the self proclaimed Birthday Princess herself, Miss Tatum K, who was very proud to turn 5!

After much back and forth, she settled on a menu of homemade pizza, salad, and CHIPS! And for her dessert, she remained true to her love of both sweets: confetti cake and lemon pie.

Cake? Pie? YES!!!

If you are new-ish around here, back when Tatum K was a baby, she would chant and beg for cake and pie in her high chair, banging the tray with a fork in each fist like a little pirate. And when I asked her if she wanted cake or pie for her 2nd birthday, without blinking an eye, she replied, “YES!” So it’s been cake AND pie ever since! Love that spicy girl!

2021
2020
2019

~ for a Giddyup and Whoa order of epic proportions! We have an order for 67 signs, due in 2 weeks! It’s all hands on deck around here!

~ for a successful kickoff of our Annual Gold Network of East Texas Oncology Clinic Toy Drive.

We have several drop off locations across East Texas, and will be collecting until May 15. A small toy, craft, or gift card is such a small thing to us, but such a blessing to kids of all ages going through cancer treatment. Just a tiny incentive to make them smile through the hard. We were blessed to benefit from a Camp Gladiator Super Saturday this week. An amazing workout group collected toys and funds to support the toy drive. You can drop toys at any of our locations, or give online at www.goldnetworkoet.com/donate and we’ll do the shopping for you!

Current drop off locations (looking for more!!):

RDA Pro-Mart 2318 Judson Rd Longview,Tx 75605

Big Daddy’s Stereo 2624 Bill Owens Pkwy Longview, TX 75604

Vogue Salon 3000 Gilmer Rd Longview, TX 75604

Bombshell Salon 522 Titus St, Gilmer, Tx 75644

Village Salon 1118 W. Panola St., Carthage, Tx 75633

Serenity Salon & Spa 2500 East End Blvd. North Marshall, TX 75670

Faith Veterinary Clinic 206 W Duval St Troup, TX 75789

Caring Hands PPECC 3001 Spur 124 Highway Tyler, TX 75707

Kingdom Veterinary Clinic 15051 County Rd 1103, Flint, TX 75762

I was so encouraged during my Bible reading this morning. As so often is the case, I read a Scripture for like the millionth time, and it suddenly stood out to me like never before. In 1 Chronicles, David is talking to his son Solomon about the monumental task of building the temple, and he says, ““Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” I read it again and again. I told Josh, “If this is not our family motto, I don’t know what is!” It’s really that simple. Be strong and courageous, and DO THE WORK. We have to be willing to work. Everything isn’t always going to just fall into place. We all have to do hard things. Make hard choices. Make hard changes. We can’t sit idly by and watch as life passes us by. BUT GOD! The Scripture goes on to encourage, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20). We do not labor alone or in vain. He is with us always. He sees. He cares. He has a plan. But He expects us, COMMANDS US, to do the work, to put our hands to the plow. To extend ourselves expectantly, knowing that He is moving with us. I hope this encourages you as much as it does me. We personally are in a season right now where it is time to be brave and do the work. He is faithful. And I can’t wait to see what He has in store!

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalms 145:17-18)

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalms 143:8)

“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” (2 Samuel 22:29-34)

Coming Out of the Dark

I am thankful:

~ for the great privilege to have the freedom to vote. Tatum K and I had the opportunity to volunteer for a friend and candidate. It was such a sweet time with my girl. And when we went inside to vote, she even got to cast my ballot!

~ for a fun and different sign challenge. A dear friend has opened a new birthday party venue, and she asked me to create a sign for her…probably A YEAR AGO! I had started it right away, but almost immediately developed a creative block. I can do lettering or paint solid colors blindfolded and asleep. But a bright, multicolored, whimsical piece was more like the paintings I did 20 years ago, when I used to paint name canvases for children’s rooms and colorful teachers’ chairs. But this week I finally got inspired, and laid down layer upon layer of blended color, then fine-tuned the lettering, and finally finished with all the tiny details and GLITTER! Such a fun project!

My poor dogs

~ for God’s provision and the Body of Christ in action. One afternoon, I was sitting in traffic at a long red light, totally zoning out, when a tap on my window startled me to death! A school dad had hopped out of his car to alert me that our rear bus tire was low. Like REALLY LOW.

I pulled over and sent a picture of it to Josh, who sent me straight to the tire shop. Not the afternoon I had planned: 4 of my school kids plus Tatum K plus one kiddo who had stayed home from school sick (and those two of course had no shoes on because they were not expecting to get out of the car) PLUS two extra kiddos I had for the afternoon! So that’s 9 of us basically filling EVERY SEAT of the waiting room! But what a miracle that we made it there – the mechanic found a 3 inch screw in my tire! They took great care of us, and we are so grateful for a good ending to an eventful afternoon.

~ thankful for another great hibachi dinner on the flat top. Colton tried his hand at it this time. Fried rice with veggies, chicken, and shrimp…delish!

~ for a great evening of worship and teaching at a local women’s conference. I was invited by a friend, and several ladies were going from our church, but I really battled whether I actually wanted to go. My anxiety always flares up when I have to get out of my comfort zone in social settings, and I rarely attend any event that takes me away from my husband and kids. I just like to be home with my people. But God just keep drawing me, and I knew I was supposed to push past my comfort, and that I was supposed to go. I sat in my car for several long minutes before I worked up the courage to go inside, and endured some awkwardness as I entered the crowded foyer filled with groups of ladies chatting. My heart wedged somewhere between my throat and my armpit. But I found some friends to sit with, and when worship began, I closed my eyes tightly and turned my focus to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Almighty who made me and loves me unwaveringly as His child. And I was swept into the Throne Room. The teaching that followed was powerful, convicting, and inspiring. I left feeling awakened and challenged. What a gift.

~ for a fun, early morning cheering Josh on at the Fresh 15K race. We parked at the halfway point until he ran by, and then made our way to the finish line to cheer him in. So proud of him!

I’ve been pretty open here with my personal struggle with anxiety. It’s been a dark and ugly battle, crippling at times. But I am able to say with great joy, I see a brightening light at the end of this very long and lonely tunnel. I have heard the phrase over and over in my mind recently, “coming out of the dark.” I’m so grateful to feel a little stronger, a little lighter, and a little more capable. But I know that no matter how I feel or how I have ever felt, the Lord has walked with me faithfully all along. In my weakness, He is strong. He pours through all the gaping holes in me, and uses me even though I feel like I have absolutely nothing to give. What an awesome God we serve!

Whatever you find yourself walking though, whether you feel yourself coming out of the dark or smack dab in the middle of it, be encouraged. He’s behind you and before you and on every side. And darkness won’t last forever.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,”(Psalms 107:13-15)

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (Micah 7:7-8)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1)