Happy New Year! – Dare to Hope

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the lord never ends His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” – Lamentations 3:21-24

HOPE. What a small word with such a big and varied application. I hope that I don’t have to take that test today. I hope I get married. I hope I go to heaven. I hope that person I want to see is at the party. I hope nothing bad happens.

Hope is defined as a feeling of expectations and a desire for a certain thing to happen. And even daring to trust in that feeling. In the Bible, Abraham hoped against all hope, and through that became the father of many. (Romans 4:18) When there was nothing left to hope or believe for, Abraham did.  I read those verses a couple of weeks ago and that phrase jumped out at me.  When there was no reason to hope, Abraham hoped.

The 3 verses I began with came after the author is grieving loss, remembering a time of terrible hopelessness. And then he comes to this conclusion and says…I DARE TO HOPE. Why does he make this bold statement in the face of such anguish? Because more than despair, he knows that the LORD is faithful to the end. The LORD has mercy that is new every day. He will not give up on us, and because of that we can stand and hope.

2016 was a year that sometimes felt hopeless for me. Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. The year started with such freshness and then the hits just kept on coming. I made plans, they got dashed.  Over and over and over.  There are still things that I am hoping for that haven’t happened yet.  There are things we need to happen in our family and finances and nothing has moved.  I have dreams and desires and somehow right now they seem to be stagnant.  Maybe this is how you feel, too. We all have our own situations and desires.  But here in Lamentations, as the author is grieving, he stops and says, “I DARE TO HOPE.”

So in 2017 I am daring to hope, and I dare you to hope! Hope in the never-ending faithfulness of the LORD. Hope in His mercies that greet you every morning. Remember who holds your future and dare to hope.

Lord, this year is my year of HOPE. I hope in your promises and rest in your Presence. I wake up each day ready to receive new mercy. I know you are my inheritance and I hold on to the hope and the promise that GREAT is your faithfulness.

Happy New Year! – Dare to Hope

New digs…

When last I wrote, we were living in a camper!  Living big in a small space.  Since then, we have upgraded to a little rental.  1100 square feet!  What??  I feel like I have so much space. My garage still has stuff in it that hasn’t been unpacked, and frankly, I don’t want to unpack it!  If I haven’t missed it since the end of May, do I really need it?  I like being able to clean things quickly and easily and I like not having lots of visual clutter.

We’ve been going through it all very slowly, making decisions about keeping vs. tossing.  The toss pile keeps getting larger!  Hooray!

Making life simple.  I like it.

New digs…

Vacation, Soap, and Contentment

We’ve finished our first month in the trailer!  Included in that was a vacation to our Nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C.  It was a wonderful trip and we had been wanting to take the girls for a long time.  It was definitely this radical change to our lifestyle that ultimately made it possible.  I will cherish the memories that we made on this trip.  It was one of our best vacations ever!

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IMG_7622.JPGIt’s really funny how many things you don’t consider when you move to a smaller space.  As I started packing up things in our bathroom back in May I found so many bath items!  Soaps, shampoos, lotions, body washes, band aid…  Some were from hotels or giveaway samples.  Some were clearance sale items from whatever semi-annual sale I attended last. Plus I apparently have a thing for Star Wars band aids.   I even found a few things that were duplicates because I would forget I had something, or couldn’t find it when I needed it. (this same thing happened in the kitchen, by the way.  Black beans and salt, anyone???)  Not that there is anything wrong with having a backup soap or deodorant, but no one really needs 3 industrial size bottles of aloe lotion.

At one point I made a decision.  I would pack all of that up and bring it into the trailer with me.  No soap left behind!  And I would USE.  IT.  UP.  No buying an item if I already had something identical or even similar.  Now, in this tiny camper bathroom that hauntingly reminds me of an airplane bathroom with an added shower, I have 2 regular house bathrooms full of health and beauty overflow.  It’s crowded in there.  And it is overwhelmingly obvious that I had too much stuff in my bathrooms.  The funny thing is, that I had an entire cabinet in the girls’ bathroom that was empty and I thought I was doing pretty well!

So far in this month I have finished up a bottle of body wash and I’m almost done with another, emptied a sunscreen bottle, a shampoo bottle, a tube of toothpaste, and a few bandaids.  I’ve only had to purchase one toothbrush and some deodorant for Nick.  I’ve put a few things in my shopping cart and then snapped back to reality and put it on the shelf.  Saying no is hard.  Sometimes you have to learn to say no in the little purchases.

I am constantly hit with the realization that I have so much more than I really need.  And sometimes I find myself craving more.  It’s ridiculous the lack of contentment that I find myself in at times.  Totally contrary to what the Lord has called us to.

In Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)  Paul talks about contentment –

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ,  who gives me strength.”

Can I be content with living in a camper?  Right now, yes.  What about tomorrow when I am introverting hardcore?  What about when my kids are fighting and have no place to separate, or when Nick isn’t feeling well and doesn’t have a quiet place to retreat?

Can I be content when things don’t turn out the way I thought they should?  When life isn’t going according to my carefully laid plans?  Am I content then, or do I become a ball of mush in the corner that is pretty much useless to everyone?

Sometimes it comes down to deciding you want to be content.  Going through life constantly consuming and never satisfied like some sort of zombie doesn’t really sound all that fulfilling.  I want to be full.  I want to be content no matter what situation I’m in.  Whether I’m living in this camper or living in a house.

Either way, it’s home.

Vacation, Soap, and Contentment

232 Square Feet of Awesome

232 Square Feet.  That doesn’t seem like much, does it?  No, it doesn’t.  No, it isn’t.  To say that we trip over each other is an understatement.  Poor cat has been stepped on multiple times – and he doesn’t appreciate it.

Privacy is almost nonexistent, and cabin fever will set in very quickly.  If it were fall or winter, I guarantee that we would be spending a lot of time outside.  But it’s the middle of a hot, humid summer.  No one wants to go out.  But we are learning to deal with it.  One of the girls had a mini-meltdown the other night because she wanted to live in a real house again.  She got over it.

I’m actually really enjoying it.  We have a lot of face time…not just FaceTime.  I’ve spent the last 10 months pulled in a million directions and I’m sad to say it was to the detriment of my family.  One of the pitfalls of my personality type (ISTJ) is getting the job done, come what may.  And while it is a good thing to get things accomplished, it’s not a good thing when it’s unbalanced, and family and self-care take a back seat.  I’m trying to learn not to let this happen, but I don’t always succeed.

So part of this summer adventure is connecting again. Connecting with God and each other.  Moving forward in a healthy way.

I’ve no idea where this adventure is taking us.  But we are following the Leader.  And He’s never led us wrong.

 

232 Square Feet of Awesome

Our Summer Adventure Begins

Summer:  A time for lazy days, popsicles, beach visits, and if you live in Florida – profuse sweating!

This summer things will look a little different for us.  The last day of school we came home and began the process of moving out of our rental home that we LOVED.  It was definitely a place that God dropped into our laps right when we needed it and we have enjoyed living there the last 19 months.  In the last few months, the Lord has been speaking to us about changing our financial situation, downsizing, making space in our minds and wallets.  Emptying our plates, so to speak.  So at the beginning of May we decided to leave our rental home and live for the summer in a 29 ft camper trailer:  with 2 kids and a cat!  Borrowed trailer on borrowed land thanks to parents who love us and friends who have learned the beautiful gift and art of expanding love.  (seriously, that’s a whole other blog post).

We have been moved out of the house for nearly 2 weeks now, but with all the hullabaloo and getting set up, etc. we have only been in the camper for about 4 nights.  So far, things are going well with only a few minor hiccups.  We are learning how to get around one another.  I am learning how to not step on the cat.

There are of course privacy issues and a severe lack of alone time with everyone being in such close quarters, but so far no one has gotten on anyone’s nerves.  With a mama that’s a HUGE introvert, that’s a big deal.  I’ll be blogging more soon about things we are learning, enjoying, hating…and the list goes on.  But today I’ll just give you a little picture tour of our Home Sweet Home.

 

We start with the dining room.  It has a nice window, and the far seat has storage underneath that the girls put toys in.  They also have much of the storage above the table (not pictured) for books, toys, backpacks, etc.  I think about 1/2 the stuff in here is theirs!

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Directly across from the dining table is the kitchen!  There is a small fridge and freezer at the far end.  Stove, Oven, Microwave, 3 drawers and a cabinet on top and bottom.  My coffee stuff takes up most of this space right now and I am still figuring out where to put everything so there isn’t so much clutter.  It’s a process.

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Next up is the bathroom.  Again, we still have some clutter and my current problem here is where to hang our towels.  We have a lot of  command hooks in various places around the camper, so that may be what we need to do in here.  Other than it being tiny, it’s functional and we haven’t had a lot of problems.IMG_7545.JPGIMG_7546.JPG

Up top is a loft for the girls and on the right you can see some of the storage that is above the kitchen table.  They have their bed, some toys, and 3 drawers that they put their clothes in.  The curtain pulls shut for some privacy for them.  They seem to like it up there.  They like to stick their heads in the skylight!  You can see one of the cuties and my husband sitting on the couch playing the Wii!IMG_7543.JPG

Which brings us to the back room.  We have a couch and small tv set up in here.  It’s really meant for storing motorcycles, but since we don’t have those, we’ve made it into a livingroom.  I didn’t clean up in here before taking pictures.  It seemed pointless.  It’s not pretty, but it’s cozy and functional.  Behind the couch are stored cleaning supplies and extra clothes.IMG_7549.JPGIMG_7548.JPG

This is the bedroom…and Mr. Bean.  There’s a little ledge on each side along with two drawers, a teeny closet, and a little shelf up top.  As you can see, I do some work here.  I switch it up between here and my kitchen table on getting work done.  I’ll probably hit up a coffee shop or two here pretty soon on days when I need some serious uninterrupted time.  IMG_7547.JPG

 

So that’s it!  I also threw in a bad picture of my one decoration from the house…my beloved painting that has been almost prophetic since I got it in March!  This is a daily reminder to me that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than mine.  I didn’t think 6 weeks ago that I’d be living like this for more than a few days.  God had other plans.  What those plan entail for the summer are yet to be revealed here.  So I invite you on this journey of crazy with us!IMG_7550.JPG

Happy Trails, adventurers!

Our Summer Adventure Begins

Love Beyond Betrayal: the Gospel According to Doctor Who

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come  to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved  his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,  rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:1-11

Anyone who knows me well, knows that Doctor Who is one of my favorite television shows ever.  There are a few episodes where the Doctor will say something or have a speech and it comes across to me in a powerful way.  The Series 8 Episode, Dark Water, is one of those.  In this episode, The Doctor’s companion, Clara, completely betrays him and his trust and everything about their relationship.  She does this willingly out of complete desperation.  Then the conversation goes like this:

Clara: You’re going to help me?
The Doctor: Well, why wouldn’t I help you?
Clara: Because of what I just did, I just…
The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed our trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!
Clara: Then why are you helping me?
The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

WHAT?!?!  Am I watching Doctor Who or am I listening to a sermon?  At this point there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference.  I first heard this and immediately had to back it up and listen again.  What a picture of grace and love this is.  I immediately thought of Jesus and His willingness to help us.  His willingness to serve us and save us in spite of knowing that we absolutely will betray him

In the Scripture I posted above, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples KNOWING that Judas already had it in his heart and a plan in place to betray.  KNOWING that Peter would deny him 3 times that very night.  KNOWING he would be turned over to be mocked, tortured, and killed.  And in that moment Jesus is washing their feet.  He’s serving them and preparing to sacrifice himself for them.  He’s reaching out in love.  He’s giving the commandment to love one another.  Love beyond betrayal.

We’ve all been betrayed.  We have all betrayed someone else.  We’ve all betrayed Jesus.  And yet, Jesus looks at us and says, Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?  That’s TRUE love.  It’s true when we are not.  It’s true when we are surrounded by lies and deceit.  It doesn’t fail.  That’s the love that Jesus has shown and given to us, and that’s the love He has called us to.  Love that reaches beyond the betrayal we feel and says to our betrayer, “I care for you no matter what.  How can I serve you?”

Can we do that?  It’s not easy.  But if we will humble ourselves before the LORD, He will give us that kind of love.

Love Beyond Betrayal: the Gospel According to Doctor Who

Thankful for my friend.

When I was 7 months pregnant with Anna, Nick and I moved from Florida to Alabama where he took a position as a worship pastor.  Moving is hard.  But when you add pregnancy plus hormones, new state, new job, leaving friends and support behind…this was a particularly hard move for me.  We had one car that I couldn’t drive at the time, and so I spent the majority of my time stuck at home.

Then Anna was born.  I felt scared, alone, and more than slightly claustrophobic.  Postpartum depression reared its ugly head.  (It’s a real thing, y’all!) I loved that baby with everything in me, but I had no idea what to do with her.  And I was bored, depressed, tired, and lived in a box.  A tiny, tiny box.  I was alone.

Except I really wasn’t.  God saw my need and he sent me a friend.  Someone reached out to me and dragged me out of the house every Tuesday night for dinner, conversation, sometimes just watching tv.  This was my favorite night of the week.  I grew up so much during that time, and learned how to be a mom and a person at the same time.

We developed a bond and a friendship that lasts to this day, even though we don’t live near one another any more.  I know I can call or text her at any time for a laugh, or a prayer.  She became more than a friend, she became a sister.  Her kids are my kids.  I loved to watch them grow and develop into beautiful, godly women and amazing mothers.

I was thinking about her again last night, as I do on most Tuesday evenings, and realized that the years have passed and I am now the age she was when she first took me under her wing.  It suddenly dawned on me that maybe it’s my turn to be the mentor to a younger mom.  One that’s probably overwhelmed by the little poop/cry machine that just got dropped into her lap!

So I wanted to write this to say thank you, Melody.  Thank you for being my friend and mentor.  And thank you for what you are doing now, mentoring another generation of young women into being the women of God they are called to be.  I’ve seen you move through seasons of life with grace and wisdom.  I’m glad you are my friend.

Thankful for my friend.