15 July 2015

As I rest here.

I hope you can give me the grace I need as I grow. I know this relationship is so dynamic, ever changing and I'm learning as I go. I'm not attempting to hide anything and I pray that He will continue guiding me so I can speak clearly and with grace, only what needs to be said. This is a deeply personal journey and I feel intensely that this stage is meant to draw me deeper into Him, explore my trust, and I don't want the distraction of "who knows" and who doesn't to prevent this stage in my calling from fulfilling its complete intent.

I am completely willing to talk with anyone who has questions, but at this time I felt a strong sense that this journey be kept in a journal that I continue to keep, rather than a public spectacle. That's not how I've operated in the past, being the transparent personality that I am, but I'm sensing a growth opportunity there, to use wisdom and discernment with what I share and who I share with.

Again, I pray that you can give me grace as I grow, I have so many areas God is asking me for, and my heart is to be willing to listen to that voice even when it changes who I think I am. I want to be surrendered and complete, because He is my life.

27 April 2015

Stress /vs/ Rest

Every so often (more frequently these days!) I am so overtaken by something God is doing in my life or saying to me, that I can't shut up about it. As such, I've been posting maybe too many scripture verses on my instagram and every so often I wonder if it comes across in a self-righteous way. That bothers me a lot, so I start to question if the Holy Spirit is leading my sharing in that way. Stressing. Serious stressing. Doubting my own motives. This is when I remember His Spirit within me can tell me whether I need to delete a verse or comment, or remember His word doesn't return void, and have faith that He will use it for His glory regardless of my stumbling words, so I ask and wait. Being willing to ask, listen and wait is not something I've been good at, but I'm telling you, it was the missing piece for me!!
I was tempted to post a nice pretty picture of a woman kneeling in prayer.
But this is the reality of how my mornings with Christ are spent.
Quiet house, coffee, the Bible app, pj/workout pants, smelly socks, and open blinds so I can see the beautiful day starting.
I treasure them, they are my favorite moments of the day <3 :)

So here are two of the verses that I've read recently (and my thoughts that go along with them) that address my complex:

Galatians 1:10  "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." Sometimes honesty is unpopular, truth can be taken as judgement. I need to remember it's not about me and being popular, it's about "speaking truth in love" (Eph 4:15), and with gentleness and sincerity. If I'm afraid to share what God is doing in *my* life for fear that others feel judged, I don't trust the Holy Spirit enough! 

Ephesians 4:29-30 "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption" I feel so compelled by this to take the Holy Spirit seriously and that regardless of what people say of my life, handing it to God and letting him glorify himself with it, I won't have to worry that I will be grieving his Spirit. Ignoring the work He does on our behalf and turning it into a self-exalting ego trip is a sure way to grieve His Spirit!

Proverbs 16:2 "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord." Regardless of how I feel on a topic, before I say even one single word, I need to speak with my Father, and ask that His Holy Spirit make VERY clear to me when to keep quiet, or how to speak with the grace that he asks me to speak with.

It wasn't long ago that I asked the Father to change my heart. Soften it. Make it not so self-centered. I've been extremely selfish and hard-hearted toward anyone else and their life's story, their pains, their everyday battles. I chose to think mine were more important or difficult, and often interrupted people in order to make myself feel more important, like my story had more value. It took a long time (like, literally my whole life) for me to even recognize this about myself. When God chose to show it to me, it stung but I begged Him to change me. I was a difficult person to love and to be around. I questioned my value to other people and blamed the fact that our lifestyle was different, but in reality, if anyone was put off by me it was because I had a victim mentality and was self-important.  Eighteen weeks ago I hurt someone with my thoughtless words and selfish attitude, and I begged Christ to change me.  Fifteen weeks ago I shared a C.S. Lewis quote. "Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less". I again begged Christ to change me, He had shown me my ugliness again.

I am so thankful that He has led me into such a profound and beautiful trust of His Spirit. All I did was open my heart up and hand it over to Him. I remember throwing my hands up and crying out "The only way that this is going to change is to let You at it, because I don't even know where to begin".

He has led me so well into a deeper understanding of his Holy Spirit. One of the ways was through a reading plan called "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. The Holy Spirit was a concept to me. Growing up the extent of it was hearing my mom say "Are you exercising the fruit of the Spirit?" and basically it just felt like an accusatory presence that judged me, more than anything else. I now am so aware of His Spirit, that not a day goes by that I don't thank Him for the power it gives me. It comforts me. Gives me security in trusting His plan. Allows me to see others more as He does. All the "fruits of the Spirit" are within reach only because HIS SPIRIT is LITERALLY within my body. WHAT. It blows my mind every single day. I didn't know before how to make myself love someone, in an active way. I didn't know how to be truly kind. I had the desire to, but was completely clueless. So The Holy Spirit not only educates me on that daily, having Him within gives my body the power it needs to do *fully and completely* what He wills me to do. And now that brings me to the thoughts I was thinking that led me to even write this...

I never thought of myself as a high-stress person. I thought it was legitimate to feel so fiercely about getting things done and making sure others put in their time to make sure things got done for my comfort or the good of the household.

Usually it was Drew who saw this part of me. Maybe we were having someone over. Maybe going on a trip. Maybe planning a party. I can't number the times I worked so angrily, or muttered things through tears because I *knew* that if *he* would get it together and just help, and not doing the stuff I felt wasn't important (somehow he was supposed to know that cleaning floors is more urgent that picking up toys in the playroom?!), etc. then we would get it all done and I could be at peace. He would always tell me "you really stress out about this, it's not as big a mess and as bad a situation as it seems to you because right now everything seems huge in your mind". I'm not sure this minimizing of my assessment was helpful or not, but I do see now that he was absolutely right. I just thought I was right to be upset and the huge list really was so huge and the time so short. (what I was clueless of at the time was, that, the higher my anxiety level, the fuzzier my connection with the Spirit. The more I complain to other people about what's wrong with them, the less ear they have to give to the Holy Spirit!! I'm just shooting myself in the foot all the way around.)

Fast forward to a couple weekends ago. Like I said, God has changed my heart in a lot of ways, but this wasn't one of the ones I pointedly asked for help in, because I honestly didn't see myself as a stressed-out person. I thought I was relaxed because I let my kids play freely without worrying nonstop, let them learn through their mistakes. Ha. That may have been, but God showed me a couple weeks ago that I was, indeed, a worrier.

Matthew 6:27 & 34 "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

While I was getting things ready for Drew's competition a couple weekends ago, I made a list of stuff to do. A few of my friends are great at that, and I thought it might give me a chance at not forgetting something. :) Moving through the day on Friday, not having packed a stitch of clothes for me or the kids, God gifted me the most wonderful peace, through the Holy Spirit. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't rushing or feeling overwhelmed because I had wanted to have everything done before Drew came home, and even knowing it wouldn't be, my brain didn't go into overdrive analyzing the massive pile of "undone" and freaking out. It just wouldn't. The only way I can describe it was a thankfulness for the time given to me to do what I needed to do, and a complete rest that all that truly *needed* to be done, would be done. I hadn't been lazy, I had been diligent, I just had a pretty long list. Yet that list just wouldn't crash through my brain like a freight train and push me over the edge like it literally *always* had done before. As I moved, I wondered about it, but thanked God over and over because I knew what my tendency was and I was so thankful He had given me the gift of peace over it.

All throughout the weekend, I had experiences that reminded me of this. When my keys were locked in the car, I didn't freak out, I knew there was a good reason and a plan for my day, and forcing it one way or another won't change it, it just doesn't allow the presence of peace.

Now it's a daily thing, thanking God for this gift, His Spirit. The power in it is incredible, and knowing He's taking care of even the most minor details relieves me. That peace and thankfulness that comes from knowing I'm not the one planning my day, and that he gives me the time, strength and power to fulfill it. So profound.

I know I've been changed. Like I said, 15 weeks. That seems like a long time, but if you knew how dark and ugly I've been, but how lovely it is to see Christ change it, you would know that fifteen weeks has been the most beautiful and exciting time of my life. Hearing others give me witness to the fact that I seem so much more caring and loving, is just another reason to praise Him for using my awful self to glorify Himself and his transformative power!!!

The concept of living to please the Spirit has never before been grasped by me. It's always been about forcing myself into a mold of tradition. When this verse FINALLY got real to me, I realized this: You don't do good things for others in order to get them to return the favor or to feel good about yourself. You don't love on others only when they choose to love on you back. You don't include others or be kind to only others who include you or be kind. You don't acknowledge only those who acknowledge you. You continue to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into acts of love and kindness even when you are fully aware that it will go unnoticed and unproclaimed. He gives us opportunities to love on each other. Living to please the Spirit is about listening, waiting, watching, and acting on those opportunities. That's what it means to store your treasures in heaven.

Galatians 6:8-10 "Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So lets not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.

Here's a caption I put under a verse I shared a few weeks ago. It really summarizes the heart behind this post and all my thoughts. I'm falling more in love with my Father, My GOD, my SAVIOR. And that is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.

"My speech is completely lacking in Grace; my heart is really just so selfish and ugly. But right now, I trust the Holy Spirit that chooses to live in it, to reside in this body, to transform that heart and purify it. The King is becoming my friend--not because I'm worthy but because He desires my heart, loves me, changes me. And the one thing I can do is enjoy Him and the glory that comes to Him when this transformation happens."

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12 NIV) 

(I feel the need to share this verse and an example of my heart still needing much work. Last week Drew was supposed to come home to stay with the kids so I could go out with some friends, and I mistakenly allowed myself to believe that the delay in his arrival home was wrong and shouldn't have been that way. I was very late, and I had a horrible attitude. I forgot that this situation, too, was in HI s hands and the only thing I needed to do was let go. But my selfishness and plans like to assume their importance over God's will and timing. Nothing new there. Just an opportunity to remember I continue to fail unless I trust the Spirit.)

20 April 2015


This man. It's so much more than a cute little crush. His character and strength and the way he pursues Christ have me so thankful I was chosen to experience this adventure with him. He's open minded to all my craziness and the way I like to challenge society's rules and trends. 

Not only all this, but he is really excellent at what he does, but humble and loving, sharing everything he knows and has with others. It brings tears to my eyes thinking of how he lets Christ love through him. The journey to this first place award is far too long for a caption, but I will tell you prayer and peace in God's will and the power of the Holy Spirit was a HUGE part of why it means so much. While it wasn't the most "ego-satisfying" way to win, it so obviously was God bringing glory to Himself in the most perfect way that he only can when we let Him shine. From the Busch ad that allowed Drew to afford some MUCH needed gear, the fact that Drew's friend won International so Drew didn't have to try to beat him, to the little ways others helped us throughout the weekend (borrowed gear, help with the kids, rescued keys), to the rain that appeared so that the guys couldn't test their skill against the international champion (James Earhart), to the way that the Master's challenge was never actually completed, to the (surprising) reason two of the best climbers had to be disqualified, it was the most humble way possible to win first place. And that's why His Glory is so visible, how this even came to pass. So many small pieces that seem insignificant (if you're not looking for God's hand) that fit into a glorious mosaic. I'm thankful for the way it went and Drew's grateful and God-glorifying attitude within it all.

Through this super small story within a much greater story, we are learning more and more how much He wants to be in our lives, to move through us. There are a couple ways I've recently felt His hand on my shoulder, asking me to do some things that I'm completely uncomfortable doing. But this morning, my prayer to Him was about asking Him to take me, and use me however He can. Only He knows His power and if I trust He will give me whatever it takes in order for His plan to happen, I don't have to worry about it. I just have to be listening. I'm thinking of Moses right now. (Exodus 4:11-12) The only One who can bring Him glory is HIM.

And he said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

MAC-ISA 2015 Championship

So many beautiful things about this past weekend. The weather (such a rare thing to have such perfect weather for these competitions), the park, the visibility of God in all of it. I wasn't the only one that noticed Drew's light shining exceptionally bright. And I know it wasn't because he was trying. It was because of his journey to an intimate and trusting relationship with His Father. I'm the human that spends the most time with this man, and I know for a fact the changes within his heart are nothing but peeks into the glory of God. That, friends, is the most beautiful thing I saw all weekend. The fruit of Drew's intent to grow into the place God has for him, the trusting spirit I witnessed as he prepared, knowing that God's will was first and foremost in how the whole thing went. He had complete rest and peace. 

A couple other facts you should know:
1) my weekend went far smoother than usual, thanks to the help of my friend Stephanie (James Earhart's wife) and my mom & Drew's mom's help watching the kids
2) I left my purse in the car on Friday night in an effort to reduce the number of items I would have to load in the morning, forgetting my van keys were in it. I didn't remember this until we were on our way to eat breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room. We then checked to make sure Drew hadn't left it unlocked,  then called him because it was locked...he hadn't finished gear check, but his co-worker Casey had, and was right there and willing to run Drew's keys back to us at the hotel-we weren't late to see the guys' first event. We calmly ate breakfast and fed the kids while waiting for the keys. One of the best things about knowing God's present in every situation, is the peace...I don't remember feeling freaked out at all.
3) Drew had needed a 9mm prussik in order to compete in one of the events, and couldn't find one in any store nearby. A co-worker had ordered and just received one in the mail the day before, and was willing to let Drew borrow it. He used it for the entire competition.
4) After the events were over, among the door prizes TreeStuff.com had donated for the event were several prussiks. Drew's name was called for the door prizes, when there was just one prussik left to claim. Just what he already had needed.

From the beginning of the day, it went like this: 

Drew sharing tips with his team, who followed his climbs in order throughout the day (the order of the climbers is random, and is selected at the beginning of the day. The climbers toward the end of this order have the advantage of having watched the previous members of their team complete every climb) this is after his Aerial Rescue climb, the first event for his team this time
 Not to mention loaning gear to anyone who needed something he had, for any event.

the creek running through this park was stunningly beautiful, and perfect for explorative children <3
He loved the "lash" (splash) when he threw rocks into the water

hopping stones

sharing pineapple

so excited about the kids climb!


this sleepy boy wanted to play with cars while lying down

setting up for footlock

Arden was photographing all the things at one point...she managed to snap this one ;)
 I can't say that I was surprised to see Drew receive this award. In the past, I had thought this award was just for the loudest person hollering to the competitors, mostly positive things. It had seemed that it was something you had to really try to be loud and forceful with in order to gain the attention of the judges, that you were "encouraging".  While Drew did a decent amount of yelling encouragements (everyone does at these events!), especially to other groups since he had trained some guys from TrueTimber that he wanted to encourage, I really feel it was the quiet helpfulness and uplifting attitude within his own team that set him apart.
Rob Allen, awarding Drew the Spirit of the Competition Award

one of Drew's co-workers (and trainees) received 3rd place in aerial rescue, which is extremely difficult to do, especially on your first competition! We were SO happy for Casey!!

1st, 2nd & 3rd place footlock (right to left) James' time this year was 1 second slower than the world record!

1st, 2nd & 3rd place work climb (Right To left)
Although James (as usual) won 1st place in prelims, he gave up his spot in the Master's challenge since as the International champion, he is able to return to international next year to defend his title, without having to win his local chapter. This enabled the 5th place climber to enter the master's challenge on Sunday.
2-5 place overall- Chase Giebner, Drew, Chris Coates, Mike Blashford 

Drew with the Randy Fackler award and his three 3rd place medals (Work climb, footlock, throwline)
One of the fun things about this competition is that the chair, Rob Allen, was Drew's first boss in this industry. When he began in 2010, the only experience he had climbing was recreational, with James Earhart, as they grew up together. He eventually lost his job at Bartlett, which was tough in a lot of ways, especially since I was newly pregnant with Arden at the time and we lost our insurance. But so many blessings are a direct result of that. The Patton's Property Maintenance & ProArbor stepping stones provided character building opportunities (for me as well) and working with John Ernst educated him in a lot of ways. The commute over a couple years before moving to Richmond built character as well. That broken road, looking back at it you see the many ways those harder times led us to the beauty of where we are now. We are so grateful God stood in the way of our home selling process until the timing was right, too-we would've been living so far from Drew's work for no reason, and building the relationships we have now would've been impossible. So many frustrating situations turning us toward exactly the place He wanted us to be. And that's another thing we are learning about God's will. We could've saved ourselves a lot of stress if we had quit pressing for our will and let him lead.

Receiving his 1st place award after the Master's Challenge

Phil congratulating Drew, Will

Scott Ross congratulating Drew (Jocelyn's husband)

:) Proud Papa <3

11 April 2015

Thayer's birthday party!

Thayer loves Thomas & Friends. :) That made his 2nd birthday party way too easy to decide on and plan... I loved it!!

a screen grab of his invitation :)
We invited as many of our friends and family as we thought we could squeeze in our back yard and home :) Thayer doesn't have any boys his age, so it was mostly girls, plus his cousins Chandler, Declan and Louis!

When Mom first arrived, she thought she didn't have her camera so she walked around with mine for a bit and took these first few photos.

Mike & Janiel

I love how Lewis is checking out Uncle Drew!! <3

Sweet Joslyn <3

Chandler & Abigail

Edith and her gorgeous hair!

My birthday boy eating snacks next to his Nana!

Birthday cake!!

Such a fun cake to make! 


Didn't take him long to claim his new engines ;) Victor & Thomas!

I LOVE this photo of all of them checking out Thayer's chip/bucket truck from Uncle Clare & Aunt Molly!! 

Hugs for Uncle Garret before he went home <3

Thanks to Uncle Trevor for this picture!

Testing out the new train set!!

Having so many sweet friends and family all in one place was so much fun! Michael and Theresa also brought brisket, cole slaw and baked beans for our family and whoever else stayed; such a wonderful end to the perfect day!!! Amazing weather, too!