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. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ministry and Moving and Other Related Things

When we moved to Georgia nearly 5 years ago I remember hoping that our time here would be short.  Two or three years, tops.  I've often joked about the fact that you could see the skid marks on HWY 20 all the way from Fort Worth to Atlanta, which were from my feet dragging themselves here.  I've shared the burning bush moment I had with God about this whole thing, that it took huge, specific, and seemingly crazy answers to prayers before I felt sufficiently convinced that it was the right thing to do.  That part of the story I've carried with shame.  Shame that it took that much for God to convince me that this was indeed His will.  But over the past couple months I've been thinking on that some more, and instead of solely focusing on my insufficient faith, God has quietly shown me that it's okay to give myself a break, and so I'm choosing to focus instead on what a beautiful example it is of His boundless love for us.  That when we're scared and stubbornly resistant, He will go to great lengths to keep us on the path He's carved out for us.
 When the journey to Georgia began the boys were 8, 5, and 2.  We were nervous and excited, sad, but trusting that God had great things in store for us.  And did He ever. 

I can look back now at how His hand was in EVERY little detail of our time here. You see, God knew that this was not only going to be a tough move, but He knew he was calling us to a tough place to serve Him. So He surrounded us with neighbors who made us feel like family, on a street filled with boys who loved to play outside together.  Neighbors who hung around outside to talk while the kids played.  Neighbors who quickly became friends...friends who checked in on us.  Whose children became our boys' friends.  So what seemed like an endless search for the house we would live in was actually God orchestrating our move to the exact spot He knew we would need to live.  Beyond our street, there have the been the boys' schools (3 of them, to be exact, and each dear to us for different reasons), their ball teams (oh, how we are going to miss our Longhorn family), and some members of our church who loved us and made us family.  We have absolutely loved our time here, and looking back it seems that these 5 years have flown by faster than ever.

So in September when God began opening the door to a new opportunity, I wasn't sure. Again. The thought of starting over, of moving the boys to a new place once again...that part is harder now given their ages and how invested they are here with friends, sports, band, school activities, etc.  It's overwhelming.  How quickly we forget what God does for us, don't we?

After one door after another has opened, we know God is indeed calling us out on a new adventure. Brian has accepted an Executive Pastor position at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, MO.  We've been blown away by the community and how so many have gone above and beyond already to make us feel welcome and loved.  Brian and I are beyond thrilled to partner with the pastor and his wife there, and to join in the ministry with the rest of the's going to be an incredible adventure.  We're excited about being so much closer to our Texas and Oklahoma family and friends, and of course to be in my birth state and so close to family in Kansas City.  The state park where my family had countless reunions growing up, and that we've gotten to share with Brian and the boys now, where my Dandy taught Brian to fly fish, will be less than an hour away. Who would've ever thought it? Not me.

Our God works in mysteriously wonderful ways, doesn't He?

The transition out of our home in Sugar Hill is going to be rough.  Like I said, leaving our Georgia friends behind is going to be hard.  I'm just now really letting myself process that. Seeing your kids be sad about saying goodbye to their friends is brutal.  I know firsthand what that feels like, having moved a lot as a kid, and it stinks. When you're as far away from family as we are, your friends become a surrogate family.  Leaving those loved ones behind now?  Not sure how we are going to do that.  Makes my heart hurt. On top of that, we're going to be farther away from my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew in VA, which I can't even let myself really think about yet. Yes, there is a lot we are leaving behind in this place that has been our home for 5 years...yet the boys still understand that the best way to live your life is to be in the middle of God's will, so they're willing to make these changes with us because they believe He has big things in store for our family there. Couldn't be more proud to be their mom than I am right now.  They've taught me so much about faith.  Are they sad?  Oh yes.  There have been tears and uncertainty, but still, their faith amazes me.  Only God.

Things are moving quickly here, and in just a couple weeks Brian will be heading to Springfield, with the boys and I joining him as soon as the house sells.  We ask for your prayers as we make this transition.  Lots to figure out in the next few weeks, but believing that the One who called us will also provide exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine, once again.