Thursday, January 5, 2017


I had lunch with a great friend today. She's one of those friends where you can go months without talking and then pick right back up where you left off, as if no time at all has passed. I always leave her feeling thankful for her wisdom, that she is a truly safe place where I can talk about all things without worry of judgement or confidentiality or that her opinion of me might change. It's a gift... a rare gift. One that I don't take lightly.

As we were talking she asked me what my One Word was for this year. I laughed and said I wasn't planning on a word this year... that typically when I choose a word to focus on, to discipline myself, that it doesn't go well. That some events of last year had rocked me to my very core and I just didn't want to go there this year.

She looked at me and said, "Then I think that's the very reason you need one." This friend? She keeps it real, and it's one of my favorite things about her. We continued to talk and after 2 hours, decided it might be time to wrap it up. As I was driving home, I started to think about it, pray about it, then think some more. It didn't take long before the word I didn't really want came to me.

In this life we will have trouble. It's one of the most challenging promises in the Bible. Because that promise is coupled with the truth that Jesus has overcome the world, we still get a happy ending. And as if that's not enough good news, there's more - when we're in Christ, we won't ever walk the hard stuff alone... we never have to walk anything alone. But if there's anything that 2016 taught me, it's that what I had considered "hard" before, really probably wasn't so much. 

I wasn't a bit sad to say goodbye to last year, even though there was plenty to remind me of how incredibly blessed our family of 5 really is. Those are the things I will choose to remember, but I don't want to forget the hard either, because it's in the hard that I've seen a side of God more deeply than ever before. It's in that hard that I'm beginning to feel safe and protected in a whole different way. It's in that hard that God has been so very present.

Thankfully, I can honestly say that I've never blamed God for the hard stuff that has hit us. I just needed Him too much. But I definitely needed Him in a different way than ever before.

This increased security I've felt lately... it's changed everything. I've experienced firsthand what happens when you have no other option but to lay your worries and fears at His feet. He does sustain. He is my rock when things feel shaky. He has held our family close, and what I didn't think was possible (that our 5 could be any closer than we are) has happened. When we are safely in His embrace, we can face what's ahead.

Embracing change. Embracing the unknown. Embracing uncertainty. When you trust who you're putting your faith in, you can move forward knowing that no matter what, you'll get through it. 

Yes, I've never been more thankful for a new year. We are in grateful anticipation of what's ahead. Loved. Held. With a bright future ahead. Embraced.

What's your One Word for this year? I'd love for you to share it in the comments below. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Where You Are

Sometimes God takes us on a heart journey we never expected. The very things we think have a pretty enough bow on them, carefully covered up to look safe and healthy and secure are anything but that. And He, in a way that only He can, patiently loves us, patiently walks with us, patiently continues to pour Himself into us.

But we miss it.

We miss it because what is always there is often looked over... forgotten. It's taken advantage of. And the very thing we're seeking from someone else, and sometimes from anyone else, is right there beside us.

I think about that with my family. The husband and three boys I am head-over-heels in love with. God, in His great grace, has gifted me with what I feel is the best family there ever could be. As a young and clueless 18-year-old who only had a small idea of what she was looking for in a husband, He led me straight to the man He knew I'd spend my forever with. Because we were 18 and 19 when we met and had no clue what it really meant to be husband and wife, had no idea what the years ahead would hold, and probably had no business getting married at 20 and 21 (young, not quite done with college, no money, etc.)... well, if nothing else it's proof that God's plan is so, so good, and He knew the kind of husband I would need, and the kind of wife Brian would need, even if we weren't those people quite yet. He knew we'd get there.

And our boys? They're incredible... and hilarious and messy and thoughtful and forgetful... and by some miracle the best parts of Brian and me, by God's grace. And together the 5 of us are trying every day to live a life that points others to Jesus. We argue and disagree, we mess up and get plenty of things wrong. We're a passionate bunch, and that comes out in different ways. But.... yes, there's always a but, right? Every day we remember why we're here. And Brian and I take the job of raising these young men into strong men of God very seriously, so we talk about hard things. What used to make them squirm uncomfortably they now take like champs (usually - ha!), because we're slowly learning that there's nothing they can tell us that we can't handle. Nothing that will ever change how we feel about them. Nothing God's grace can't heal and forgive. And nothing that would keep us from fighting to have the best possible relationship with each other that we could ever have. That's what God does for us. That's what He's modeled for us to do here. 

It's also what has caused me to pause these past several months and take a good hard look at my life. On what and who I place my security in. You see, I'm blessed with a pretty awesome family who loves me well. So it's pretty easy to place my security in them. To allow, and unfortunately, expect them to fill my cup. That's not their job, and when I place my security and sense of worth in them, or in friendships, or on how people feel about me at work or at church, then I'm not trusting my heart with the only One who is able to best take care of it, not to mention putting unrealistic pressures on the the ones I love the most.

God is the giver of all good things. He wants to bless us and love us through people and experiences. But when we let those good things take precedence over Him, when we put our stock, our very identity, in those relationships, they become little gods that pull us away from what really matters most. 

In our enjoyment of the good things, we forget the Giver of the good things. We leave Him behind.

The older I get, the more insecure I realize I am. The more I look to everyone else for validation. I check through a mental list of people, wondering if each of them are happy with me. It's exhausting. And not at all what God intended. And it's taken a couple of difficult circumstances to make me realize that the job of being the people pleaser is an impossible one. 

God met me where I was in that place. And slowly, He's leading me out of it. It is taking a lot of encouragement and reminders that I am loved and cherished and valued, no matter what. No matter what. But He's hanging in there with me, because that's what He does.

And you, my friend, are loved and cherished and valued, no matter what.

An identity crisis, when it pulls us away from His plan for us, is a sin. It just is. It puts the focus on ourselves and our needs and our validation and our feelings and the endless pursuit of acceptance and happiness. And I can tell you from experience, we're never going to find it when we look in there. Never.

But when we dig deep into God's Word and read that He loves us with an everlasting love, that He forgives us and has a beautiful plan for our life, that we are never out of His reach, we will begin to trust that His promises really are true. That He is more than enough. And the weight that we didn't even realize we were carrying? It's lifted and gone.

Am I there yet? Nope. Not completely. It takes a long time to break a lifetime of habits like this. But one day at a time, we're getting there, and I am so thankful.

Yes, God lovingly meets us right where we are, but He never intends for us to stay there. And we can trust that He will be right within us, beside us, and before us, leading us out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Safely Sent

We have less than a week before school starts, and like clockwork, that little twinge of sadness/panic settled in last night as I was going to bed. It feels a little ridiculous that I go through this every year because I know better, but every year that twinge is a little bigger. A little harder to ignore. 
We had the most incredible summer. Quite possibly my favorite. We (and by we, that could mean one of us, a few of us, or all 5, so don't overthink that) snorkeled, ziplined, floated down a river, slept in, visited our KC family, watched and played a lot of baseball, fished, and searched for sand dollars. We stood under the arch in St. Louis. 

We experienced crab legs for the first time. We fed seagulls and struck up conversations with complete strangers in hopes of encouraging them. We toured London (that was just Hud with Nana, but we all lived vicariously through their trip;). 

We wasted entire days watching tv and playing video games. We spent time with friends. We chased butterflies and Pokemon. We worked in the yard, took care of chickens (and subsequently, figured out that chicken farming is NOT for us) and threw water balloons at each other. We played a lot of card games and watched a lot of movies.

Thinking back on this summer, I should be exhausted, right? But I'm not. I'm completely energized. These days with being just the 5 of us, they're fleeting. And while I believed the wise women who have gone before me when they said each year goes faster than the one before, I guess I didn't realize just how fast those years would go.

And here we are at the end, and completely okay with doing absolutely nothing until school starts, and I can't shake that nagging feeling that inevitably comes. This morning I figured out what exactly was bothering me. It's mostly the normal realization that the time for schedules and practices and alarms needing to be set and waking up before the sun rises has come. And while I like structure, I think the world would be a happier place if the day didn't start until 9:00. It's not all that different from other years, but this year I've been able to pinpoint something a little deeper. 

Last week we shopped for school supplies and new shoes and first day of school outfits, and it got me thinking about how much we do to get our outsides prepared for the school year...but what about our insides? What are we doing to make sure they are ready to take on a new year from the inside out?

We all deal with mean, unreasonable people. Not everyone is going to like us. We're going to be teased, misunderstood, looked over, and ignored. That is just part of living in the world. And honestly, it's those things that make sending the boys back to school an anxiety-filled event for me (the boys are typically fine-ha!). We live in a sweet community with wonderful schools, and they all have good friends. But I know how hard the world can be, and my desire to shield them from that overrides all logic sometimes. 

Since I can't go with them (I'd be weird and they'd be mortified)... what can I do? What can we do as parents to make sure they are prepared to handle the world out there without us?

1. Make your house a safe home base.

As a kid I loved "clean sheets day" because my mom would sprinkle baby powder on my bed each time she changed my sheets...there was just something magical about it, and I promise my bed was even cozier on those nights. My Momo did it too... I'm not sure if that tradition goes any further back, but I now do the same thing, and we all look forward to "powder bed night" (as the boys call it).  I spend way more time than I'd prefer cleaning, doing laundry, and taking care of our house. With 3 boys and a big hairy dog it all seems futile... it really does. But I can't help but think that all the effort that goes into making our home clean and inviting, that by sprinkling baby powder on our sheets each week when the beds get changed, that baking cookies once in awhile, and making sure the pantry stays well-stocked... my hope is that it provides a sense of balance and calm when the outside world is busy and chaotic. I can assure you that our house is never totally clean, and the ironing basket stays full, snack bowls get left everywhere, and there's always something that needs to be picked up, (so please don't read this as "I need to keep my house spotless!") but you get the idea.

2. Encourage them to be themselves. 

Along with your home being a safe place physically, we need to make sure to create an environment where they feel safe mentally and spiritually. 

There are things we have gotten wrong when it comes to raising our boys, but one thing Brian and I set out to do from the start was to make sure the boys knew they could tell us anything. Anything. Some days those conversations have come easily, and others it's been like pulling teeth, but the boys have learned over time that when they tell us what's really going on with them, it helps. And when they've had to tell us something hard, when they've messed up big, they've learned that we're not going freak out and scream, and they trust us. There are consequences, yes, but they know we're going to help get them through it, and it's going to be okay.  Those conversations, though really hard sometimes, have made us closer. 

All 3 of them have very different personalities. They have different interests. They're all social, but are homebodies too. As parents, we want our kids to fit in, right? We want to know that when they're at school they have friends excited to see them, someone to sit with at lunch, that they're not getting picked last in P.E. But we also know that there are going to be times when they feel they don't fit in, when someone might make fun of them, when they don't get picked for a team or a play. It stinks. So what do we do? 

We remind them that they are exactly who God created them to be, that the treasure that lies within them might sometimes be overlooked by people, but never is by the Lord. Or by us. We make them laugh, we hug them, we tell them that being a kid (or teenager) is hard, but it doesn't last forever. We listen to their hurts, and take them out for ice cream. We talk about past times when something similar happened, and remind them that this too shall pass. We tell them stories from our childhood, so they know it's normal... or at the very least, hereditary. ;) And then we trust that the safe place we've created for them at home will be a comfort for them, giving the security they need to get up and face the next day with a different perspective.

3. Pray with and for them. 

This seems obvious, maybe. Maybe not. But there is nothing sweeter than praying with your kids. Seeing the weight of the world literally lift off their shoulders is incredible. Watching them learn to trust God with the big things and the little things is beautiful. It builds their confidence as they learn that because Jesus goes before them and is with them wherever they go, they really have nothing to worry about. And if someone doesn't like what they say or do, they can smile and walk away, realizing that it really doesn't matter that much anyway.

Be the safe place for your kids. Point them to the One who will fill them up with more love and faith and wisdom than they'll know what to do with. And then send them off into the world with a smile, knowing He's got them. He's got you. It's going to be a great year. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


It hit me hard. 

Last week I was rocking my new (adorable, squishy, smiley) baby nephew to sleep. There was nothing that had to be done at that moment but soak up that time with him, marvel at how much he had changed in the nearly two months since I had last seen him, and try not to think about how different he would be the next time we visit.

And I realized for the first time since I don't know when, I was actually letting myself relax. I didn't have a mental to-do list running through my head. I ignored the nagging "Jaclyn, you should be doing _______" that inevitably plagues me when I least need it to. 

It was as if I had some kind of epiphany.  A revelation.  That God was quite possibly face-palming (if He really does that sort of thing...and with me, it's likely;) as He watched me finally get it.

God used that quiet moment to show me His word for me for the next year.

"We stand on the brink of eternity.  So there is enough time.  Time to breathe deep and time to see real. Time to laugh long, time to give God glory and to rest deep and to sing joy." 
-Ann Voskamp

Because I'm a Type-A-ish personality (the -ish is for the creative brain part of me that forgets I'm Type A), I like organization. The -ish part becomes a problem with actually seeing the organizational plans through. Calendars? A beautiful idea. I'm all in until about April....then, May-December are left blank.  Chore charts for the boys? Brilliant! Until our schedules get the best of me and we forget to do said chores. That chart sure looked cute though.

The -ish is obviously a problem, but that's another post for another day.

Organization. I like the idea of a New Year's Resolution, but not the pressure of it. So at the end of the year I try to listen hard for the thing I need to work on the most in the coming year, in one-word form. You know, because if it's just one word it's no big deal, right?

Last year, my word was "brave." I'm kind of a worrier-wimp.

This year, God quietly whispered the word to me.  Time.

Taking time.

Time to soak up kid moments, because we all know how fleeting they are.

Time to start my day with God, instead of merely sending prayers up as I go. The day is always better when it's started with the quiet whispers from Him instead of the loud shouts of the world.

Time to feel no guilt when I opt to read a book or have a binge-session on Netflix instead of vacuum, or fold laundry, or clean toilets, or.... 

For the love of all things, it's time to stop hurrying through this life. What am I rushing to anyway? I'm missing so much along the way. 

The hope in all of this is that by taking time for what is most important, the less-important but necessary things in life (keeping a clean house, making sure we're all clothed, the fridge and pantry stay full, etc.) will still get done without taking precedence. 

That's the rub, isn't it? 

Things feel out of balance. I think I've finally reached the point in life where social media is going to take a back burner. Like, way in the back. I've grown weary of it all. 

Friendships that were once incredibly important to me have fallen away. Not intentionally, but because we've mistakenly thought that if we can keep up on Facebook and Instagram, we're good.

But, we're not.

So, I'm thankful for time. Time to get things right-side up again. To look up and pay attention. To sleep soundly each night, knowing the main things stayed the main things.  Not the leftover things. And that will be enough.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Glass Houses and Fish Bowls

There's an old saying, "Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." The meaning behind it is that basically we all have similar struggles, so we shouldn't criticize each other.  If we could all see what it's like day in and day out in each other's homes, we'd see that some things are familiar. Or that we'd happily keep our own problems after watching others'.  We'd most definitely understand each other better. 

But if you're a ministry family like we are, the term "glass house" means something a little different. When you're a pastor or pastor's wife or pastor's kid, life can feel a bit like being in a fishbowl (or a glass house.) Life at church can feel different. Life outside of church is also different.  Expectations, whether intentional or not, whether realistic or not, are often put on ministry families. And while yes, it is biblical (read James 3:1) for higher standards to be placed on those who teach in the church, and there should be, I'm concerned about the effects of that on pastors' kids. Not on the higher standard part, because God called us to that, but the expectations part? That's different. That's where our flesh can take over if we're not careful. 

These are our three boys. They are awesome. They are smart. They are hilarious. They love each other. They are creative. They are athletic. They are darling. They are thoughtful and happy. They are each a unique, much-prayed-for gift. 
But also? They fight. They get tired of each other. They roll their eyes. They talk back. They forget to do their homework. They leave a trail of food, clothes, Legos, books, games, Nerf guns, shoes, etc. wherever they go. They don't always know the right answer in Sunday school. They squirm and wiggle in church. 

They're pastor's kids. 

My point in this? They're not perfect. They are trying to figure out this world just like every other kid is. Just like most (read: all) adults are. None of us get it right all the time. Thankfully, they know all about the incredible gift that is God's grace, because it's something we've taught them; something we've learned that we need every single day. Every day is a chance to do things better. To learn something new. To forgive and start again. That's what Grace does. They know that our house is their home base~ their safe place to just be themselves. To learn and grow and make mistakes. 

In our family we try hard to make sure their lives are balanced. We don't always get that right. But they know the huge importance of church life~ of connecting with other believers, building strong friendships, learning how to share God's love with others. They love going to church. 

But we've also shown them that their school and extracurricular activities are important opportunities to minister while building friendships, so we've allowed them to miss church things here and there because of games or other commitments. Our hope is to prevent bitterness down the road from feelings that they had to be at church every time the door was open...because when they're old enough to make the decision themselves, we want them to want to go to church. Not because they're pastor's kids, but because they are Christ-believing men who want to continue to grow and serve. 
So when we sent this one off to church camp this summer...
....the last thing we expected to hear when he came home on Friday was that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. We were completely caught off guard. You see, as far as we knew he had already done that at the age of 5. 

As his mom, who has a tendency to worry/overreact/blame myself for, well, just about everything (I'm working on it...really) my first thought was not "this is incredible! I'm so thankful and happy and relieved." Rest assured, that came later. But my first? Sadly, it was "What are people going to think?" followed closely behind with "How did I not know?"

Yeah...not my best moment, although I did a decent job of keeping my shock hidden. But as we hugged him and listened to him tell the story about what God did in His life that week, my heart nearly exploded with joy. There was a light in his eyes I hadn't seen in awhile, something I had chalked up to normal teenage hormones and sadness about our recent move. But no, it was something much bigger than that. Something so much better. 

Later the next week I asked him what the difference was between now and when he was 5, and his reply will stick with me forever. He said, "Back then I thought it was what I was supposed to do because I'm a pastor's kid...but I didn't understand what it really meant then. Now I know I don't have to worry about what everyone thinks. God got ahold of my heart in a very real way, and I want to follow Him." 
We talked about that pressure he felt as a PK, and I asked where he felt it coming from. His answer surprised me: he said it was from himself. And that sometimes he notices people watching him and he's not always sure what to do with that. I told him I feel the same way sometimes, but that God is teaching me to tune that out and do my thing and keep my eyes on Him. The rest will work itself out. Hopefully that helped. We're figuring it out as a family. 

This morning he was baptized by his dad and his youth minister, Pat. We are so thankful for the impact Pat has had on Harrison's life in the few short months we've been here. And there's nothing cooler than watching your husband baptize your son. 
In our 6 months here, God has already opened doors and answered prayers beyond our wildest imaginations. I still get emotional nearly every week because I'm so happy He brought us here. I don't ever want to forget what that feels like. Ever. My prayer for this post is that it wouldn't sound like complaining, because that's not my heart. But I think it's important that honest conversations like this are happening. That if you too are in the ministry, maybe this helped. Maybe you have advice for us. That if you're not, maybe you'll have a better understanding of what it's like for families like ours....the good parts and the hard parts. That if we could step into each other's shoes and gain a better understanding, the world would be a happier, healthier place. I am so incredibly thankful that God called Brian into the ministry, thrilled that I get the privilege of joining him in that, and that our boys are being raised this way.  
And the more I think about it, fish don't seem to pay much attention to who's watching them swim around their bowl anyway. They just keep doing what they know to do. Smart fish. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brave New World

I have a confession to make. 

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. 

Can you have a mid-life crisis at 38??

These past couple weeks I've felt myself slipping into a weird kind of depression. I couldn't put a finger on why exactly....there's no obvious thing going on to justify or explain it, so I chalked it up to the moving-to-a-new-town blues that I experienced after our move to Atlanta 5 years ago. There's a difference this time though. This time when I think about how I feel about our move here, I'm really happy. I love our new church and am so thankful to be here. Our boys are thriving. I feel like we are home. There are plenty of things about living in Georgia that we miss, but it didn't take long to realize that our recent move had nothing to do with the way I am feeling. 

So what is it?

There was a time in my life after I became a Christian that I hoped Jesus wouldn't come back until after my list of dreams was completed. I wanted to get married. Have a bunch of kids. Watch them grow up. Retire with my hubs and spend our days together. Have lots of grandchildren to spoil rotten. Then, after all that, He could come back for us. Regrettably, and embarrassingly, it took several years before I realized how wrong, how shortsighted that was. 

"Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity."  
~Charles Spurgeon

I'm a little restless. And trying to figure out why was maddening.

It's summer. Summer is supposed to be fun and carefree and full of pool time and snow cones and roller coasters and summer camp and lazy mornings and staying up late. 
But when the happy little world you live in is also the world where Planned Parenthood, ISIS, and racial tension exist, where police officers are vilified, where there are more orphans than there are families willing to care for them, where Donald Trump is trying to run for president (and scarily enough he's not the worst option)'s all enough to make me realize that ignoring it all and carrying on with our summer isn't really an option anymore. 

So what exactly are we supposed to do?
I think it's time to get serious. To bravely take on things we've lazily allowed "someone else" to do. Watching and waiting for Christ's return is a good thing. It's what we're commanded to do. I've never been more ready for the new heaven and new earth He's promised us. But God hasn't left us here to just sit and wait. 
He's called us to step out, to be different. He's called us to live a life that makes people want what we have. 

This is my sister, Reagan.
She just got back from Honduras. A few weeks ago she was in Haiti. Through Tribe Alive ( she works with different charities here in the U.S. and around the world, helping develop better give women opportunities to provide for their families using the gifts God gave them. She's making a huge difference using her gifts to help others all over the world. God is using her to impact the world in an incredible way, and I'm so proud to be her sister. 

What is your passion? 

What is my passion? 
Yes, the day I became a mom, I felt that I had found my calling. I am so thankful that I get to spend my days with three beautiful, hilarious, creative, headstrong boys. Our testosterone-fueled home is my favorite place to be. And I can't wait for the day I get to finally see our two babies that are already in heaven. I firmly believe that those two little souls are waiting for us there. That God created them, and yes, that even though they left us so early (the first at 8 weeks, the second at 5 weeks) they each were just as much a life as their three brothers who I carried to term are. 

understand the value of being a mom in today's world. They need me. I need them. It's such an important job. And it's because of that passion that I feel this one:
More than 55 million lives. There is an overwhelming amount of hurt and pain in the world, but this is the thing that breaks my heart to its very core. 

You have to find the broken part of the world that speaks to you...the one your heart hears screaming the loudest. 

If I could single handedly take down Planned Parenthood, I would. From the looks of it, they might've taken care of that job themselves. Time will tell.  I may not be able to take them out on my own, but there is something that can be done. 

In my life pregnancy was a gift I got to experience 5 times. I had a loving and supportive husband and extended family. Our children were greatly anticipated and loved from the moment we saw the positive pregnancy test. We had the means to provide and take care of them. 

For many women, this isn't the case. And for those who find themselves expecting a baby but do not have the means to provide for him or her, far too often they seek an abortion, thinking that's the answer. 

It isn't. 

Study after study is finding that the aftermath of abortion is devastating. That the mothers who choose it struggle to recover mentally, to forgive themselves, to justify becoming a mother again. Google "studies on women after abortion" and you'll find article after article on this, not one with anything positive to report. 

My passion is to help these women see there's another way. There's help. There's hope. And if it's too late and they've already sought abortion to fix their situation...there's still a God who loves them, who will forgive them, who will set them back on their feet. 

I will never fully understand the boundless love of God....can't completely wrap my brain around the grace He so willingly gives each and every one of us when we believe. But He does. 

If we are to take on this fight to save babies from death we have to be ready to fight for their mothers too.

Starting tomorrow I get the awesome privilege of helping launch an orphan defenders ministry in our church. I don't even know what that's going to look like exactly, but the possibilities are endless. In addition I'm in contact with a crisis pregnancy center to volunteer there as well. 

I don't say any of this to brag about what I'm doing. Honestly, I'm ashamed that it's taken this long to do something. My hope is that if you're anything like me and you've waited to put your gifts into action, insecure and unsure like I was, that this will be the push you needed. Being an expert isn't a requirement.  Being willing is.  I'm trying to find the balance between keeping the world a safe, fun, happy place for our family and enjoying it with them while still teaching them to help those whose life isn't any of those things. The idea isn't to be a buzzkill on this beautiful life God has given us...but to love and soak it all in while helping breathe life into others who need love. And when that feels overwhelming, we have to step back and remember we're just one person who can impact others one person at a time. 

What will your brave new world look like? 

Sunday, May 17, 2015


We've been in Missouri for over two months now...long enough to be unpacked, to be getting used to our new normal, and it's starting to feel like home. We jumped right in with sports and activities, knowing that is the quickest way for things to feel normal again. I'm falling in love with the beautiful farms along the winding roads, the sounds of cows mooing in the fields across from our neighborhood, the early morning songs from the birds who insist on making their homes on our deck...the smalltown-ness of it is proving to be what we needed, even if we didn't realize it right away. I wasn't sure what this transition would feel like...leaving Texas was horrible. Leaving Georgia was a different kind of hard. Our time there represents something huge for me~ that was our chance to show what we were made of. Proof that where God calls, He blesses. And equips us to thrive. So to leave it behind made me worry that I was leaving a part of me there...a big part of me I didn't know existed before. That place changed me...changed us in ways I never expected, and I think it's taken our move here to really see that. 

I've been somewhat transparent about what serving at our old church was like. At the risk of being disrespectful, I've been protective of my thoughts. What I feel is safe to say is that it was undoubtably....hard. It was there that I learned a tough lesson~ that you have to be very careful with who you trust, and unfortunately had a few times where I got to learn it firsthand. I know now that I gave up on that place about 3 years in; while still trying to be the supportive minister's wife, still half-heartedly staying  involved, I had given up. I fell short. I know I failed big time, because there's no doubt that the lesson would've been learned somewhere else at some later date, and I wish I'd had the faith to rise above it rather than succumb to it. 

Thankfully, in the midst of all that, there was good.  It was there that my love and respect for my husband grew even more,  as I watched him wake up before the sun every morning, make the long drive to work, and give his all to that place every single day. He loved the people. He did above and beyond what needed to be done. And he did it without complaint. He served happily. He gave all the glory to God. And I know he would've continued to do it again and again, every day, for as long as God wanted him to. All the while leading our family, loving us, being fully present. And then there were the neighbors and sports family He gave us there, knowing how much we would need them. They were what made it hard to leave...they were a gift. They are a gift. Yes, it was there God showed us that He had us...He was protecting us, and that if we would just trust and hold on, something incredible was just ahead. 

The biggest truth I learned from our time there is this, the thing I pray I never forget: we can worship God anywhere. It doesn't matter if the music style isn't your thing, or you don't feel like you fit in, or you are longing for a sense of community and it's not easily found in the building God called you to serve in. In the middle of what seems hopeless and broken, God can move. God does move. 
In a place that felt uncertain and unstable, that left me feeling insecure and confused, I found out what trusting in the God who never changes really means. And although I am so incredibly thankful for the church He has called us to serve in now, I know I wouldn't be appreciating it nearly as much had I not gone through what we did before. I appreciate the freedom I feel to worship here. I love the genuineness of the people here. I'm excited to serve and be a part of what's happening here. I'm in awe of the fact that this transition has been remarkably easy, and so thankful for another chance to do this dig deep and invest in and love people the way God intended. I don't think it would've been quite this wonderful had we not gone through the hard stuff first. God is doing incredible things here, and the fact that He wants us to be a part of it? I pray I never lose the gratefulness, the wonder, the incredible, humble, "thank you, Jesus" that I feel now. 

In our time in Georgia, I let my people-pleasing self rule. It was exhausting. I lost the wonder, the gift, the grace that comes from following the God whose love is all-encompassing.  It's something I fear will have to continually be laid back down. May it never be something I stop fighting for. May it become easier to accept. 
I've made it hard, when it really is quite simple. May we never lose the wonder that is the undeserved love of God. May we be steadfast in any circumstance. May we be more grateful for the hard stuff we will inevitably walk through, and rest in the undeserved goodness He so freely gives.