Thursday, January 2, 2014


As I was leaving Costco yesterday with only Rhett in tow, the checkout lady said... "Oh, how cute! how old is he?". I said "2 1/2 months". She said, "Awe, they grow up so fast... ENJOY".
It is kind of fun to get that reaction instead of the reactions I get when I have all of my kids with me at Costco. No one has ever said that when I had all my children... hahaha.
I didn't tell her I had others. I like feeling like a young new mom of 1 for a few seconds. But the word that pierced my heart was when she said, 
Am I enjoying my children? I think so. I hope so. I have been grumpy lately because of exhaustion and look forward to sleeping again some day.
I felt like the Lord spoke to me through her. What was He saying to me?
It is funny because I can recognize His voice through the noise and crowds. God will speak to you too if you ask Him to. I will tell you it is a lot easier to recognize His voice if you KNOW HIS WORD because that is how He has chosen to speak to us.
"My sheep listen to my voice"
John 10:27

We have to be listening.
So, as I looked for this word, "enjoy", in Scripture, among MANY others...I found these verses:

"I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot."
Ecc 3:22

"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love"
Ecc 9:9
(*sidenote- I hope Tim does enjoy life with his wife- I hope I make that easy)

Guess what the Hebrew definition of this word is...
to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider, 
to see, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, 
watch, look upon, look out, 
find out
to look at each other, face
to cause to look intently at, behold, cause to gaze at

Am I enjoying my children? Am I looking at them when they talk to me. Am I looking at their faces? Am I regarding them and learning about them?

After all, their faces are changing. I want to remember what it is like to wake up to a sweet baby with precious baby skin and teeny tiny shoulders. I want to remember when I first saw Lake has freckles. I want to remember how BIG Hope's eyes have always been. I want to remember Bubba's laugh (it sounds just like mine so when he laughs, I ALWAYS laugh). I want to remember that Crew calls Mango Juice "Bacon Juice" or how he loves to sing "the Bible song" before bed (Jesus Loves Me). I want to remember Reece's lankiness because he is growing an inch per minute. I want to remember his innocence as he wrestles through spiritual things. I want to remember how the boys love to get Crew out of bed in the morning. 
(I don't want to remember Hope telling a lady she looked like a monster at the mall yesterday). :)
Electronics are robbing us of ENJOYING our families. We are having to fight off the tsunami of electronics from stealing our ability to ENJOY what is real instead of what is virtual. Especially boys. They are hard-wired for adventure and fighting. Yet, they can get those needs met in a world that isn't real if we aren't careful. They are to be fighting for the weak and vulnerable. For orphans and widows. For their wives and children one day. But will they have the tools? Or will they continue to live in a virtual world while the real world is dying all around them. Same for us mommas. We have a God-given need to connect. Make sure we are connecting with the people God has given us in the "real world" first. The enemy loves to make counterfeits.
 ALTHOUGH, it is funny how there are REAL people in the virtual world. The girl who has discipled me more than anyone in motherhood was a blogger. God has used the internet/blogging/facebook to bring people into my life I would have never otherwise met... who have deeply encouraged me in my faith. People have received Christ as their Savior through me simply writing God's Word on this blog and being a vessel for His gospel message. I am not saying media is ALL bad. It isn't. It just has to stay in its right place. As do most things. There are ditches EVERYWHERE. We tend to jump from one to the other. We  have to march in step with the Spirit to avoid falling into them. Whether it is bad theology ditches, homeschooling ditches, media ditches, ministry ditches, friendship ditches, etc... God will lead you on the HIGHWAY between the ditches if you ask Him to.

"...the path of the upright is an open highway."
Prov 15:19

""And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness."
Is 35:8

Another temptation is to rush into the next season of life. That is born out of our discontented hearts. You can see that when the stores start displaying Christmas decorations.. in JULY. Now they have started putting out Valentine's Day items. We are programmed to want to think about the next season. Yet, God wants us to ENJOY the one we are in now. I want to ENJOY my children today. Not when they are older. Not when I am sleeping again... 
I want to be present in what is REAL. 
So, thank you Costco lady for reminding me to "ENJOY" my baby. 
I am going to... along with his siblings.
Tim and I got to go on our yearly getaway for 2 nights. It was amazing. Our friends met us there and we shut down every place where we ate because we couldn't stop talking. 
We need other believers in our lives. If you don't have like-minded friends in your life, pray that God will give them to you. They are a gift.
I hear of a lot of people who no longer go to Church because they have been hurt "in the Church".
I believe that because we have also FELT it but you can't give up. It is your family. 
I love Tim more than anything in the world but I have hurt him. He has hurt me. We don't give up on each other. There are also people in the Church who are NOT Christians. Maybe that is who hurt you. It is hard to be vulnerable. But there are safe people and places of refuge. We can't forsake the Church. We are in sin if we do and I have seen believers who stop seeking fellowship get *off track* and in danger. The enemy loves for us to get out of the safety found in community. That is when we are most vulnerable to danger.
Find a Bible-believing Church. Fellowship/Community is a fruit. It pops out of a Bible-believing group of people who study the Word and do life together. 
I didn't have one single Christian friend when I gave my life to Jesus. God has faithfully given us a whole community of "family" to do this life with. There have also been wolves in sheeps clothing along the way. You will learn how to tell the difference after a while. Whiskers stick out of the costume. 
I've been deeply wounded in "the church"... that is part of it. 
Keep going. And let's do our best not to hurt someone else while we are there.
Think of how Jesus has been "hurt by the Church". Yet, He will never give up on it.. 
We had a great Christmas with my family at the beach. We may celebrate every holiday for the rest of our lives at the beach. The fresh air and sunshine is worth the effort!
I am super thankful that we were all healthy and that God allowed us to be together. My dad has had a very hard year as he has battled cancer and been going through chemo. God is drawing all of us closer to Himself through this trial. I praise God for my dad's life and for all He is doing in us through this. 
In spite of our sinfulness, God has chosen to pour out His blessing on our family.
We have issues. Like every other family. But, I think there were some prayer-warrior-Jesus-lovin'-believers who paved a way for us generations back. I truly believe I am living off of inherited blessings from my forefathers who served God and left an inheritance for us. I hope I am doing the same thing for my children's children's children.

Yesterday, I took Hope to the mall for some "girl time". The check-out lines were miles long. I bet I waited in line for 1 hour. The department store was having such a HUGE sale that they had HUGE boxes at the entry for people to carry all their stuff in. It was a mad house. It was exciting. There were treasures to be found! But, as I think back on it, I am convicted that all of those earthly treasures will not last. As much as I wanted all of them, I don't have room in my house anymore. I think we have too many earthly treasures already! God is really changing me so that I don't buy into another virtual world of "pretty" while everyone dies all around me. Those gorgeous ornaments that were 75% off were really not that tempting to me. My kids would prefer stringing popcorn and sticking lollipops on the tree. I want to invest in what is eternal. What rust can't destroy and thieves can't steal. 
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
Matt 6:19-21
Treasures in heaven are 
God's Word, 
investing in marriage, 
teaching/loving/ENJOYING our children, 
Rust and thieves can't touch those things. They will continue on through eternity. They will survive the big "bonfire". Because they are built on the sure foundation of Jesus

"Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss."
1 Cor 3:1-15

I did buy some new pots and pans. I think those will make it through the spiritual fire... lol. :) Tim and I are constantly in the kitchen. I have to tell the kids that the kitchen is CLOSED between meals or I would be standing in it all day. Tim can cook like nothing I have ever seen before. He cooked for my whole family while we were at the beach. He usually makes the meat and I make the sides. His food is better than going out to eat so he has turned me into a food snob. I had no idea he could cook when we got married. That was a bonus (among others). I just knew by God's confirmation that Tim was the one God has chosen for me. I am so thankful I get to be his "help-mate". I love saying, "how can I HELP you"? That is my job. To help my husband do what God has called him to do. I am watching God raise him up and strengthen him. He is a servant leader. He has served me and the children all these years... with no applause. He doesn't need applause or attention. He serves out of a pure heart. Wanting nothing in return. He has shown me what agape love looks like on earth. On our honeymoon night, the first thing he did was get a bucket of water and a towel and wash my feet promising to serve me in our marriage. It was so humbling and mind-blowing. So NOT-OF-THIS-WORLD... Such a picture of Jesus. We have had fights. Big ones. We have hurt each other deeply but the super-glue of God's grace brings us back together and gives us the ability to forgive.
We are both horribly-flawed-forgiven people. And we know it. Yet, God saw past that... just as He does with you. He has a plan bigger than us and He has a plan bigger than you. 
I want to be used by God. I keep ask the Lord to show me where to invest my time and talents for the greatest return on investment. All for HIS GLORY. So that I can be a vessel for His gospel message in a world that hasn't understood it. 
What is my New Year's Resolution?
To Run My Race HARD in 2014.
What is holding you back? Is there sin tangling you up? GET RID OF IT. You can by the power of Jesus Christ.
 "let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
Heb 12:1
Have you chosen the narrow road? If not, you are on the wrong highway. The highway you are on ends in destruction. You already know that deep down inside. Yet, God has made a way for you to be rescued off that path. Will you receive it? I am begging you to. There is nothing that can separate you from God's love. He does not want to punish you. He TOOK your punishment in order that you may live forever with Him... forgiven, NEW, washed, chosen, LOVED.
"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."
Matt 7:13,14

"let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water."
Heb 10:22

I will end this post with our Christmas letter that Tim wrote this year. 

Christmas 2013
Hey everyone! Hope it’s been a great year! I thought perhaps instead of complaining about absurd Christmas song lyrics this year I’d share something that has been on my heart about kids.  As many of you know, we (OK, Steph) delivered a healthy baby boy, Rhett, on Oct 12th. He’s our 6th child, 5th boy .
At the office I get to rub shoulders all day with lots of great people, many of whom responded with, “ know what caused that?” Which I love because it gives me a chance to talk about something way more interesting than teeth. J But the real answer? Yeah, I know what caused that.
God gets a chance to exploit the love I have for my wife, the love I have for my kids, mix it with something miraculous and in the end show the world my love for my family. Did a bell just ring? If anyone deserved a chance to answer the common question it was Joseph. “You know what caused that?” “…um, no not really” – Let me help you Joe – Love caused that.  God loved the world so much that he created a child, supernaturally, who was born to show The World how much God loves His family.  It was love that created Rhett and it was Love that created Christmas.
I think it’s amazing that the result of God’s ultimate expression of love was a child. In my case, Rhett gets to be a child in our family. In your case, you get to be a child in His. Christ came because of His ultimate love, the firstborn of the ultimate father, lived in ultimate humility, paid the ultimate price, so that…ultimately…you can join His family. You can be his kid. God only has kids – no grandkids, no steps…just His own children, who are LOVED.
I guess this year I’m encouraged because I understand God a little more – I’m a little more in sync with Him. So when I see the commercials, hear the songs, enjoy the decorations, smell the food, click “Pay with Paypal”, take the pictures, and hang the lights – I’m enjoying it a lot more because…
Yeah, I know what caused that.
Let me tell you about my short best friends:
Reece – turned 10 in August and is really a “great guy”. That is what everybody says about him and it is true.  His heart for the Lord is so apparent in the way he does everything his best. Everything he takes on he gives it all he’s got…I wish I could say I taught him that but that’s just him.  He and Evan are finishing up 5th grade and doing well – he played football for the first time this year and really enjoyed it.  He also did a great job on the mound . He’s  an amazing big brother and a favorite of little kids everywhere.  He is a huge help to Steph with the babies.
Evan (9)  He is our jester, a creative quick-witted-movie-quoting power pack of potential.  There aren’t many 9 year olds doing 6th grade but he’ll be there next month…and doing really well! He also tried football this year and loved it, along with baseball and music.  He makes us all laugh really hard. He wants to be a pastor when he grows up. I hope God continues to lead him in that direction.
Lake (6) Lake is an unusual child. He seems to have less of a sin nature than the rest of us. God placed a double portion of joy in his heart along with a song. Music comes naturally. He sang before he talked and has never stopped. He makes us all want to be more like Christ because of his pure heart. As an answer to our daily prayers, he seems to be outgrowing his severe allergies/asthma. We praise God for how He saved Lake’s life and know that God wants to use His life. He is doing 2nd grade and loves soccer.  Currently, he wants to work for Nintendo when he grows up.
Hope (3)Wow. If you have met Hope, you know that she is FULL of life. She brings color into our world. She loves ballet and cheerleading. She cheered for her brother’s football team this year. She is loud so it is a great fit for her. She loves people. She wants a sister. She says she doesn’t have anybody to play with. So, I wake her up in the morning and tell her she has to get up so I can have somebody to play with. She gets in trouble (a little). She would make a great lawyer as arguing comes very naturally to her. She is beautiful with great big eyes. She is compassionate. We love how God made her. She is complex, smart, and very gifted. She is learning to read.  She loves for me to read Gen 24 to her.
Crew (2) Crew is our white-haired, duck-loving, ball-throwing, hug-giving toddler. He is a delight. His mission in life is to take down his older sister. It is funny because he is the sweetest child in the world until she walks in the room. The look in his eyes changes and he begins to make sure she knows he is not going to let her take advantage of him. But, he wants to be with her and do everything she does. He loves balls more than any of our other boys did at this age. He has an award-winning  smile. J
Everett Hart “Rhett” (2 months) He shares a birthday with his older brother, Crew. He looks so much like the other boys did as babies, it is easy to think we just went BACK in time instead of forward. I can’t wait to see the uniqueness God has placed in him. The newborn stage is hard but we don’t want to wish it away as we truly do feel like Rhett is our “clean-up batter”.
Steph- Is “desperate for Jesus” as she would tell you. Between teaching the children, sports, Bible Studies, conferences, running our home, and having a newborn, there are no extra minutes in her day. Rhett’s delivery was great. God granted the desire of her heart and she was able to have the baby with no meds.  One of the highlights of this year for her was speaking alongside Kay Arthur at the last girl’s conference.   She is so thankful for every minute God lets her be a wife/mother and to serve Him!
Tim –  Am enjoying life and family so much! This year was another blessed one in the office with the great team God has provided. Aside from work this has been a really fun year for me as a dad… Rhett being born was awesome – the other highlight was baptizing Reece and Evan while we were in FL for Thanksgiving. It’s so amazing how these guys are growing up and we’re becoming teammates – they really are my best friends. I begged them to go with me to Legoland and Busch Gardens. 
Pray for us. We are in way over our heads… far outside the boat now. Yet, we know we are exactly where God wants us. Pray that God would teach us how to be good parents because we are lost apart from His help. We are humbled that God would entrust us with so much.  More than anything, we would like to tell you how much you are LOVED... Loved so much by God that He sent His One and Only Son to die in your place. If you are not right with God, you can be.  Jesus made that possible.  Have a beautiful Christmas. 

 Tim, Steph, Reece, Evan, Lake, Hope, Crew, & Rhett

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've re-visited this post a whole bunch of times and am finally commenting - - beautiful, every word, every person photographed. I'm inclined to say you've impacted my life in much the same way (you mentioned) that another blogger has impacted yours. And Tim's Christmas letter? My goodness. How blessed you are to be together.