"The Harvest Truly Is Great"

So I'm about 10 days out from leaving for my mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

I honestly have so many emotions and things cramming into my head right now that I can't even make sense of them all.

I'm excited...super excited!  I've never been on a mission trip out of the States before.  I've never used a passport- I might do a happy dance when they stamp that bad boy.  But while a stamp in my passport is super awesome, it isn't the reason for my ultimate excitement.  I am overcome with joy and excitement for the work that God is preparing me and our team for. 

"Then he said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."  - Luke 10:2

The harvest is great my friends!  The people of the Dominican Republic need to hear the hope that is our Savior Jesus Christ.  We are called to go!  The "laborers are few"- we must go...

If we don't.  Then who will?

I think so often we think that the great commission from Jesus right before he ascended to heaven to "Go" was meant only for the apostles, or only for people called to be full time missionaries, or only for pastors, but the truth is- it was spoken to all of us.  If we truly are Christians it was meant for Me and You.

I don't think this means that we all have to rush out and get our passports.  Although imagine the great and mighty work God could do if we all summited to the call to sale all of our possessions and follow him wherever He led us?!...

But maybe God isn't calling you to live in a hut, among tribes in Africa.

Instead- maybe your mission field is right in your own community.

Maybe it's your neighborhood.

Maybe it's your job.

Maybe it's the neighborhood across the railroad tracks that you avoid.

Maybe it's the homosexual community. 

Maybe it's your family.

It could be the Senior Adults where you live.

Maybe your being called to foster children.

Maybe it's, lovingly speaking up and reaching out to those that support abortion.

The point is- We are ALL being called.

I pray that as a church our hearts will be softened and our eyes will be opened to the wonderful things God has for us.  And that we would be moved by the things that move Him.

Jesus didn't see color.  He didn't see sexual orientation.  He didn't see male or female, and He didn't see age.  Rich- poor.  Sick or healthy.

What he saw was a sinful people in need of a loving, merciful, and sacrificial Savior who was willing to lay down his life for his precious children- and all he asks is that we daily take up our crosses and do the same.

One of my very favorite bands is Rend Collective Experiment (You Tube them and thank me later).  One of my favorite songs of theirs is "Build your kingdom here".  Here is my favorite verse and the chorus:

"We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You're our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause
We are Your church
We pray: revive this earth

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray"

Let us refuse to waste our lives.  Let us lay down our lives for Heaven's cause.  And let us pray, as His church, that He will "Revive this Earth"!

Please prayer for me and the team going with me as we head out to the D.R. and please pray for the hearts of the D.R. people that their hearts will be open to the gospel.




Lessons From My Morning Run...

About three days a week I drag myself out of bed to go on a morning run with one of my good friends.  We talk, we laugh, we share, and a couple of times we might have even shed a few tears.  I don't know if it's because it's just so stinkin' early that our senses are dull and before we know it we've spilled our guts to one another. Maybe it's in an attempt to forget that our legs are tired and we feel like a pack of monkeys have jumped on our backs.  But, whatever the reason, we open up and we share our lives with each other.  But it seems like one of the most common topics we seem to always come back to is how as women, wives, mothers we often feel overwhelmed and inadequate.

Why is this?

We worry about laundry not being washed, dried, and folded the second it's dropped in the laundry basket. We worry about dinner not consisting of a grain, a perfect protein, and a vegetable.  We worry that we aren't skinny enough, or that our haircut isn't just right.  We worry that we don't keep our homes clean enough.  We worry that so and so irons her husbands pants before she even hangs them in his closet or that she irons at all (because I do not- but that's a whole other post).  We worry that our prayers aren't eloquent enough or that our bible study time isn't in-depth and intimate enough.  We worry that we aren't liked.  We worry because our kid doesn't have enough friends or that they spend too much time playing video games. We worry that we worry too much!

And what's worse- Is that often times instead of our hearts breaking for one another and lifting one another up in prayer we compare ourselves to each other.  We take intimate information that was entrusted to us and we put ourselves up against it to either make ourselves feel better or to inwardly punish ourselves for not being more like that woman.

In an attempt to be real and transparent- I tell you I'm not immune.  Early in the mornings when I'm out running with my friend- I talk about all the laundry I'm behind on, how my poor husband has to dig through the clean clothes to find himself something clean to wear.  I never iron- I would rather chop my own arm off. There are days where my children drive me to say and act out in ways that would make you drop to your knees and pray for me right where you stand.  Sometimes we eat popcorn for dinner because I feel like the simple act of opening the fridge might bring me to tears.  Sometimes I'm hateful to my poor husband for no other reason than the fact that he walked into the room.  And there are times when my laundry room is so full of clean and dirty clothes all piled high on the floor that I have to re-wash clean clothes because I've lost track of what's what.  I don't tell you all of this to give you ammo to judge me, but to let you know that you are not alone.  All of these things make me feel at times like a failure.  They make me feel inadequate and like I am so overwhelmed with it all that I might cry- and sometimes I do.

And it seems to be universal.  Every women I spend time with seems to share this burden of time spent feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.  We all play the compare game.  We convince ourselves that every other woman has it together and is Super-wife or Super-mom but us.  We find our worth in things of this world- clothes, hair, how clean our house is, how well dressed and put together our families look, how 5 star our meals are, and the list goes on and on.  When the one place we should be looking for our worth and our sense of calm and peace is from our Creator and Heavenly Father.  Isn't that why Jesus Christ died on the cross?  To free us from the burdens of this world.  To free us from self doubt and worry.  To free us from anxiety and comparison.

Dear Friend, find comfort, for "everyone who is born of God overcomes the world..." - "our faith" is the "victory that has overcome the world" (1 John 5:4).  Have faith in our Savior.  Have faith that his promises are real and true.  Don't let the world define you or let the world's view keep you from encouraging and lifting up those women around you  that are hurting and struggling with the same worries and doubts that plaque us all.  For it is in Christ that we have "victory" and that "victory has overcome the world" and all the doubt and peace robbers that come with it.  "Love one another" (2 John 5), encourage each other, and pray for each other.  And "walk in the truth" (2 John 4) knowing that it is only in the truth that we will find our worth and be able to steal our joy back.



Our Life In Collages...

Hello there!

As usual I said that I would be trying to post each week, and as usual- I've not done that...oops.  Sorry.

So this post is going to be a catch up of all things life related- with pictures- so Yay!

To make it easy- I'm going to start at the top left of each collage and work my way clockwise...

Here we go...

1.  We got some BIG news!  We are expecting baby #4!!!

2.  We may need a bigger bed.  On Saturday mornings it's getting a little tight when everyone piles in...including the dog.

3.  Baby #4 will be due around Halloween 2015.  This picture is the picture we used to announce his/her's soon to be arrival.  (Thanks Pinterest)

4.  Baby's first ultrasound

You might not remember but in my last post I announced that we are going through the required steps to get certified to become a fostering family.  I did not know that I was pregnant when I wrote that post.  We are still 100% planning on continuing on that path.  We actually finished up our 10 week certification classes just last night.  We still have some other things until we are completely certified, but we are closer each day. Really the only thing that will change is that there will have to be a window of a few months when we have baby #4 where we do not take in a child. We want to make sure that we don't throw too much change on our kiddos (and ourselves) at once.  We want to make sure we adjust and allow time to bond and get used to baby #4 before we add a baby #5 (I wrote the number 5 with my head between my knees!  Holy cow!)

1.  I'm headed on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in July!  My passport finally came in and I couldn't be more excited!!!  What a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel and the wonderful hope and joy that come from the truth that is our my Savior Jesus Christ!  And on top of that- first passport ever- Woohoo!

2, 3, and 4.  The wonderful group I am going on the mission trip with is in full swing having lots of fundraisers for our trip to the D.R.  I took these pictures in our churches fellowship hall while we were getting our Spaghetti Dinner prep on.

I know what some of you may be thinking... She's pregnant!  How could she possibly be going on a mission trip?!  (your doing the math in your head right now to figure out how far along I'll be- I'll help you out- I'll be 26 months along- right at the end of my second trimester.)  

I know it may seem crazy- but just because I'm pregnant doesn't change the fact that I feel a huge burden to go on this trip.  I felt that way before I was pregnant and I continue to after the fact.  I've spoken with my doctor and have been given the green light.  I know that things happen sometimes.  I am well aware of the dangers and concerns, but the truth still remains that I have prayed diligently about this trip and the fact that I'm pregnant hasn't changed how I feel.  The truth is I would rather be in God's will in the Dominican Republic and something go bad than to be at home disobeying his call.  I know that may sound crazy and maybe even irresponsible to some, but as Christians we are called to go, to proclaim the gospel, to disciple, and I am so excited at this opportunity.  

I hope that you will commit to praying for not only me, but our team as we prepare our hearts, our bodies, and our supplies for this trip. Pray for our safe travel there and back.  Pray that we will do the work and run the race that God has prepared for us in advance.  Please pray for the people of the D.R. that their hearts and minds will be open to hearing the good news that is our Savior Jesus Christ.

1.  Little Man placed in the top 6 at the Sonata Festival (piano)!  He went up against over 18 other kids some of which have been playing for a year or more than him.

2.  Spring is here!  The weather has been so amazing and the kids are having the best time playing outside.  Little miss loves to take her book and climb this tree in our back yard.

3.  We walked down to our local Square the other day and while we were there I let the kids climb the big awesome tree in the middle of the square.  It was really awesome right up until a city worker came and chased them down.  Oops!

4.  This girl is funny.

5.  We invited anyone and everyone over to our house back in February to celebrate Fat Tuesday with us.  I prepared over 400 beignets for us to eat...it was crazy town!

1.  Wedding photo booth with the brother and sister-in-law.

2.  The girls were Flower Girls in the same wedding.

3.  The wedding was back home and while we were there we took the kids to the trampoline gym.  Ellie had a blast!

4.  My sister went home the same week we did and brought her kids.  Little Miss and her cousin got their pedicure on.

5.  Funny Faces with cousin Landry.

1.  Before it gets unbearably hot and the mosquitoes start carrying off my children we have been trying to get in as much park time as possible.

2.  While working in the kitchen one day I turned around to find the smelly dog like this.  So like any normal person I took out my camera and took a picture.  Duh.

3.  I'm still running.  Around 3 miles 3 days a week.  I'm starting to feel the extra weight though.  My goal is to run up until the mission trip.  We'll see though.

4.  Little man is a reading machine.  Right now he's working on "The Hobbit" and "The Incredible Journey".

We've been in full swing soccer mode around here.

1.  Ellie and I have made the most of it.  We're quite the cheerleaders.

2.  Little man is doing great!  We are hoping to get him onto a competitive travel team in the fall.  Soccer really is his sport.

3.  Little Miss is worn out after every game.  She hasn't scored a goal yet, but we have one more game and we're hopeful.

4.  She keeps on smiling though!

5.  Team Helder- dad's the coach..What a team!

There you have it.  There's of course been some other things going on around here that I didn't have any pictures of.  Nolan preached this last Sunday.  His sermon was wonderful and so convicting.  I am so blessed and amazed to see the way that God is working in his life.  The kids are doing awesome in school- reading and learning like all-star pros.

Hope everyone has a blessed and fun day!  Until next year!  (haha- just kidding...I hope.)



The Great Unknown...

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"

Have you ever heard the song by Hillsong United called "Oceans"?  It's a wonderful song.  One of my favorites probably.  

In the past few months I have deeply prayed, like the song states in the chorus, that the- "Spirit would lead me where my trust is without borders", and that God would "let me walk upon the waters- Wherever He would call me".  That He would "take me deeper" than my own, human feet would ever take me on there own.  And that my "faith would be made stronger In the presence of the Savior" through whatever door He would choose to open to me.

When we came to Alabama six months ago I knew right away when he blessed us with our home that he was calling us to use it as a place to gather, to fellowship.  We have tried to stay faithful to that calling by opening the doors to our home as often as possible.  However, as I prayed my prayer of Him "taking me where my trust was without borders" the more I felt the burden to use our home for something more.

It was around this time that a few different things happened.  1) We started to really speak to our children about the need for Christ's followers (Christians) to see and to serve through love the needs of those hurting around them.  2) I started to become really good friends with my neighbor who has devoted her life and her home to the needs of foster children.  And 3)  I started to diligently read the blog of a sweet friend from many years ago who has been called to foster children- and just recently adopted two of those children.  And as I prayed my prayer and began to open my eyes and heart to what I knew God was trying to tell me- I knew...

...He was asking me to be faithful to the scariest part of the prayer.  The part where he takes me "deeper than my feet could ever wander"...He was calling us to open our home to children through Foster Care

Would I have chosen this path on my own?  I'm not sure.  If I'm being totally honest I would probably say "no".

It's scary.

It's uncomfortable.

It's the unknown, and that is never a fun place to be.

But the comfortable place isn't where God always calls us to be.  Actually the more I grow in my faith and love for Christ the more I'm realizing that if I'm comfortable I'm probably NOT where He wants me to be.

So I spoke to Nolan, and he immediately was supportive and on board.  We spoke to our children.  We told them about this wonderful opportunity to open our home and our hearts to the hurting and how it is a perfect opportunity to show Christ's love.  One of the proudest moments in my walk as a mama was the moment they both said how much they loved the idea.  How they loved the idea of loving on a sweet child that may have not experienced much in their shorts life.  We have plenty to give around here and my sweet babies are ready.  God went before me and prepared the hearts of my husband and my children.  He was just waiting for me.  For me to say "Here am I!  Send me."

Last night we attended the first of ten classes that we have to take to get licensed.  We have to have a home inspection, and get background checks.  Nolan and I have to be interviewed together and separately, and our kids have to be interviewed also.  I tell you all of this to ask you to please be praying for us as we travel this journey.

Pray for peace.

Pray for our hearts to be opened to whatever God has for us along the way.

Pray for the hearts of our children as this will be an adjustment.  The main concern they've voiced is the sadness that will be present when a child has to leave our home when their time with us is up.  Pray for understanding for them.

Start now praying for the children that will be placed in our care.  Pray that they will make a smooth transition, and that they will see Christ and know his love while they are in our home.

Pray for us that we will be able to love those children through the heart of Christ.  And that we will be able to be His light in a very dark situation.

In the song, "Oceans", it talks about God calling us out upon the waters to the great unknown.  Where we know that our own, human, feet may fail us, but that it is there, in the great unknown, that we find God.  And that because we find him there, "in oceans deep" our faith will stand- it will not fail...

Pray that as we are headed into "the great unknown" that "our faith will stand", and that even when things get hard and the waters feel deep that we will "Call upon His name" and that there, in the unknown, we will find Him.

"He has never failed, and He won't start now."

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"
By: Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine



Happenings and Such...


So you know what's going on- I've decided to basically make this blog my family scrapbook.  Just a log of all that has been going on in the lives of our little family.  Now that we are living in Alabama it also seems like a great place for our family to see what's been going on in our lives.  So here it goes...

A sweet girl in our youth group had a birthday the other day at this great park that we have been wanting to take the kids to.  It's a historical park with a great playground, live animals, hiking, and buildings that were true to the 1800s.  It was so much fun and the kids had a blast!  Here are some pics from the day...

Sister Love...

Love this one!  Ruthie's hair- Wild!...

 Getting pushed by big sister...

Look at that face!...

Zip Line...

Silly faces with her Mama...

My boy (he styled his own hair- Love it!)...

This goat looked at us like we were crazy.  We probably are...

Nolan and the kiddos with a few boys from our youth group...

Later that night it was pass time for Nolan to get a haircut!  He preached Sunday so he needed to look goooood.  As you can see he was so excited about it...

Baby Girl turned 2!  I'm pretty sure she was more excited about the balloons we got for her little party than anything else.  Next year she's just getting balloons.  There was a green one but her sister made sure to pop that one about five seconds after we got home...

We bought pizza and I made cupcakes- It was quite the party!...

I'm not sure she liked it...

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

This last picture is from Christmas.  I just love the picture so I thought I'd throw it in.  I love the man in this picture with me so much!  He's pretty much the best.  I need to tell him that more often.  I want him to know that I'm proud of him and how hard he works to love his family.  I'm thankful for the way he shows me and the kids how to follow and love our Savior.  And he's nice to look at...so there's that too.  

So that's what has been going on around here.




Year In Review...

Our 2014...A recap.

Where to start?

A lot happened in 2014 I feel like.

Early 2014 my hubby started to feel the call into ministry after being a high school teacher/coach for the last 8 years.  We visited three different seminaries pretty sure that God was calling him to school first in preparation for full-time ministry.  Even though we were fairly certain that seminary was God's will Nolan still seemed to have a nagging feeling that maybe we were wrong (when you have a wife and three kiddos to think about, quitting your job, becoming a full-time student, and hoping you find a part time job that pays you enough for you and your family to survive on can be a little scary).  However, after visiting Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky we felt certain that is where God was calling us...

We were wrong...

The day after we arrived home from Louisville sure that we were headed there a friend of ours who is a pastor at a church in Alabama called us and told us his church had an opening for an Associate Pastor/Youth Ministers position and he felt like God had laid my husband on his heart.

God is so funny sometimes isn't he?!.

So once again we started praying for direction, for peace, and for His good and perfect will to be accomplished through us.

Would we ever make a decision?  I was starting to wonder.

In the end we truly felt God calling us to Alabama.  The hubby felt at peace knowing that he would be providing for his family while getting experience serving and working in a church all while doing his seminary work online.  It really was amazing how God worked out all the little details and showed us (me mostly) that sometimes we must earnestly seek and pray for His guidance and will to be revealed, and He doesn't always make it easy or quick.  We must learn to be patient as we learn to listen and understand what He's saying to us.  While the uneasiness of being in limbo and just not knowing what we were doing and where we were going was enough to make me completely frazzled at times I wouldn't change that time in our journey for anything. Learning to earnestly pray and seek God during that time grew my faith in ways I didn't even realize possible. We learned to trust God's provision and to know that He would make his plan clear to us in His time.  I learned to trust my husband as he lead our family.  It was such a blessing to experience His hand at work in our lives and has become such a huge part of our story- how God has truly shown himself good and faithful to us.

So in 2014 Nolan changed professions and we moved to Alabama!  Pretty Huge Right?!!

We bought a house that was built in 1912.

In the short amount of time we've been here we've made some amazing friends.

We love our church, and immediately felt right at home.  We work with the youth at our church.  We have them over often.  The highlight was our tacky Christmas sweater party.  I wore a Christmas jumper with matching turtle-neck.  It was pretty legendary I'm not going to lie.

In November we took the students out door to door to pray for those in our community and to offer meals to those in need for Thanksgiving.  It was eye opening to see the huge need in our own community, and a blessing to take our students into the community to serve.  We delivered around 40 meals to those in need on Thanksgiving.  It was awesome to be a part of!  Since we didn't go home for Thanksgiving we had our own Thanksgiving here in Alabama and invited a few friends over to celebrate with us.  I cooked my own Turkey!  It was so scary and gross- I totally didn't pull out the bag that was inside it...oops.

The kids and I volunteer once a week at a local thrift store that raises money to buy food for the needy.  It's pretty awesome to serve right along side my kiddos, and to see them learning to love and serve those in need.

Little man played football for the first time ever, and started piano lessons.  He rocked Jingle Bells out like an All-Star pro at his Christmas Recital.  He's now in basketball season, and he's getting better and better. He continues to be an amazing reader, but his most exciting news of all is that he excepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in January of 2014!

Ruthie continues to be sassy, but at the same time sweet and loving.  She loves her big brother and and thinks he hung the moon.  We are hoping she might play soccer in the spring but in all reality she just wants to dance, twirl, dress-up, and use her imagination to take her to places that I'm sure are full of unicorns and colorful dresses and high-heels.

Baby girl is a mess!  She is by far the friendliest child we've had.  She waves at and tells everyone she sees "Hi!".  She's a climber, but by far the craziest thing she does is take her diaper off every chance she gets!  I seriously can't hardly keep the thing on her- and it's all fun and games until she's poopy!  I'm sensing potty-training in her near future- Ugh!

Nolan is doing awesome and I love him more and more each day.  He's serving in our church.  Working on his Masters degree through New Orleans Theological Seminary.  Playing basketball when he can, and starting Monday I'm making him do a 10-Day Detox with me...He's very excited about it.  I feel so blessed to share this journey with him by my side!

There you have it...2014.

It was pretty great!

And crazy...

And Silly...

And Wild...

And sweet...

And I loved every bit of it...

I hope your 2015 is Amazing!  Happy New Year!