Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back on 2012

Our 2012 Newsletter, plus more!

This year was a busy and eventful year for us, with many challenges and opportunities. Grant and I have learned so much about relying on the Lord’s strength this year, and He has done some incredible things in our personal lives, as well as in our family as a whole. We began 2012 keeping very busy with revivals, concerts, and retreats at Psalms Camp. We made many new friends, saw the Lord work in people's hearts, and enjoyed sweet fellowship with likeminded saints. In March, I was able to meet one of my role models, Joyce Rogers, who came to Psalms Camp for a Ministry Wives retreat. I was (and still am!) powerfully impacted by that weekend. In April, we celebrated our Nathan's 1st birthday, then our second anniversary a few days later. Shortly after that, we said "goodbye" to Grant's grandmother as she ended her long battle with cancer. Then at the end of April, we welcomed a sweet little niece into the world and became an aunt and an uncle for the first time!

Along with concerts and revivals, we were able to make many memories with Nathan, including taking him to the Zoo for the first time and introducing him to the swimming pool! 

In the summer, I was privileged to sing at one of our dear friends' wedding and watched the Lord prove Himself faithful once again. On June 12, after several months of watching and praying, I discovered I was pregnant with our second child! We rejoiced then, as we do now, for the little life that will soon arrive this upcoming February! The summer was very busy, with Camps, a business trip for Grant, and a family vacation to the beach in Alabama. As the summer wore on, we felt the Lord leading us to stop our traveling and devote more time to growing our Church and Grant's prison ministry. It was a difficult decision to make - one that only God could orchestrate - but we praise God for His peace and His leadership in our lives, and for what He has been doing since. Grant regularly goes into a nearby prison to mentor some of the inmates there, and both of us go in to sing and preach often. Grant has begun training for his CRA (Certified Religious Associate) license which will enable him to go freely into the prison units and barracks to minister more. He is also filling in pulpits when needed, is actively involved in ministries at our Church, and is also the director of the Celebrate Recovery program that will lead many brothers and sisters into freedom from addictions, and into closer fellowship with Christ.

As for me, I am currently the Children’s Church director at our Church and have been as involved as my pregnancy has allowed me to be in working with the children there. It has been a huge blessing to help mold a future generation and I am enjoying it immensely! I am also involved in our Church's Women on Mission ministry. Missions has always been one of my passions and I am enjoying being able to serve and help others. Along with that, I am hard at work trying to complete my book on purity. I ask for your prayer as I try to finish it soon. With my home, my husband, a toddler, a soon-to-be-born baby, and our Church, it leaves me precious little time to myself, but I am trusting that it will all come together "in His time."

Our Nathan is currently 20 months old and growing like a weed. He is an adventurous ball of energy and enjoys running around and talking. He loves music, story time, Veggie Tales, animals, and playing outdoors. We are praying that he will come to know Jesus at an early age and Grant and I both covet your prayers as we endeavor to train him up and point him to the Lord. 

What’s next for us?

Obviously, our biggest piece of news is our upcoming addition to our family! Sometime around February 14, 2013, we will be welcoming a sweet little girl, whom we have named, Selah Elizabeth Lee, into our arms. It is hard to believe that we will soon have another little one to cuddle and love on, but we cannot wait! Be lifting me up as I prepare to deliver in a few short weeks. Along with a new baby, 2013 will mark Grant's and my third anniversary and Nathan’s 2nd birthday, for which we are so very thankful! Also, Lord willing and Lord providing, we will begin the process of building a home in 2013. Above all, we just want "more" - to be more for Jesus, do more for Jesus, and have more of Jesus.

Praying all of you have a blessed 2013!

Habakkuk 3:19
 God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

For some Christian parents, there is difficulty in trying to juggle Santa Claus and the story of Jesus at Christmastime. Do we leave out Santa? Do we add more Jesus? Do we ditch Santa Claus?? *collective gasp!*

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Simply put: Can Santa Claus and Jesus co-exist?

Growing up, my parents didn't teach me and my sisters about Santa Claus. Sure, we were allowed to watch the classic "Rudolph" each year and sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" but we were taught at an early age that a big jolly man in a red suit does not enter our house each Christmas and leave gifts for us. We didn't put out milk and cookies or carrots for the reindeer. There wasn't the belief that we were seen while we were sleeping and watched while we were awake by a man in the North Pole who has the power to leave us presents or coal, depending on how good we were. Please do not misunderstand me. I'm not throwing stones; only sharing with you how I was raised. And in my raising, I learned some wonderful lessons. Christmas was more about family and celebrating Jesus' birth. There was no "here's the story of let's get ready for Santa!" It was just...all about Jesus. Now, I am not saying that if you raise your children to believe in Santa Claus, that you are doing a wrong thing. I am only sharing with you a conviction of ours and reasons behind this conviction. We are all accountable to God by how we raise our children. This is how we are raising ours.

My little boy is an avid lover of Veggie Tales and in purchasing their video "Saint Nicolas: A Story of Giving" I was very skeptical and curious. To my delight, the Veggies did a pretty decent job of telling the true story of Nicholas, yet making it all about Jesus. So can they co-exist? I suppose they can. But I also think it is very, very, very important to tell our children the truth and to, above all, keep their focus on Christ and the beautiful gospel story. God's Word says that Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and His truth will make us free (John 8:32). For us, we will tell our children the truth and also use that opportunity to share the gospel with them. For instance...

  • There is no Santa Claus watching our every move. There is, however, a holy God who holds the universe together (Colossians 1:17) and who sees even the smallest sparrow fall (Matthew 10:29).
  • Being "good" all year does not mean we deserve gifts at Christmastime. According to Romans 3:10, there is "none good; no not one." We should teach our children that our good works are not deserving of presents and blessings. Only through His blood and His salvation are we given "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17), and "all spiritual blessings" (Ephesians 1:3).
  • We do not celebrate Christmas with a bearded man, flying reindeer, and lots of elves. We celebrate Christmas as the moment in time when God looked down and saw us destitute and in need, and became one of us so that we might be saved! And because of that great miracle, we, like the shepherds, should glorify and praise God for His unspeakable gift! That is far more exciting and joyous than North Pole fun.
  • Christmas is not about getting. It is about the joy of giving. We give because God "so loved" that "He gave." Being His children and His people, we should follow the example of our God by loving and giving just as He did. It's important to teach children to give.... and WHY we give. Instead of spending half the year making a list of all the things they want, we should teach them to make a list of ways they can give and be a blessing to others.
My parents received lots of flack for not "doing" Santa for me and my sisters and already my husband and I are beginning to hear little negative comments on our decision to raise our children with the truth. That's not to say we don't enjoy watching "Polar Express" and other Christmas movies that are about jolly old St. Nick. But it's all fun and it is - and always will be - made known that it is only fun and make believe. There is no "magic"...but there IS power and glory which comes straight from heaven through Jesus Christ and the truth of the blessed and wonderful Christmas story.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Making Christmas Memories with your Toddler

With little Nathan at 20 months, it is much more fun this year as we celebrate Christmas. He is curious, anxious and, if I'm reading "toddler" correctly, he senses all the excitement in the air.

If you are a new parent or in need of a few ideas for Christmas traditions, below are 5 ideas to add a little more fun to this wonderful season!

  1. Decorating the Tree. Maybe it came from my mother, but setting up and decorating the Christmas tree is a big deal to me. I always have Christmas music playing and each of us - as a family - put our ornaments on the tree. This year, little Nathan hung his own "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornament from last year. My husband hung ornaments from his childhood and so did I. It's a special tradition we share.
  2. Christmas movie night. I love Christmas movies. Each year, I buy one new holiday film to add to our collection. This year, Nathan and I had a special night where we watched Polar Express with milk and cookies! Each year we, as a family, sit down with The Nativity Story. Maybe you will want to make Grinch punch and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas or possible make snowflake cookies while viewing White Christmas. Movie nights are always fun and special.
  3. View Christmas lights. This Christmas, we plan to take an evening and go for a drive to view the Christmas lights. Do some research and find a place to go! Some towns have their own little village/community where they host a Christmas light display! Children always love it.
  4. A Christmas Eve breakfast. On my Dad's side of the family, we always celebrate Christmas Eve with a big breakfast. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents come together and we cook a festive and hearty breakfast each and every Christmas Eve. Among all the food, one significant tradition of ours is always fried cheese and salmon. But make it your own! Maybe your breakfast is chocolate chip pancakes in the shapes of Christmas trees. Or apple spice oatmeal. Use your imagination!
  5. Explaining Christmas gifts. Children are very interested in the wrapped packages under the tree. Nathan has thoroughly examined the bows and the ribbons. It's important - even at his young age - to explain WHY we give gifts. Christmas is not about receiving toys and clothes and goodies. It's about GIVING...because God so loved, He gave. Begin a tradition where you sit down with your children and explain gift giving to them. Then help them come up with a special gift to give to others.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pregnancy Files | Week 30 | baby #2

Here I am at 30 weeks! My Nathan was born at 39 weeks, so the knowledge of how close I am to little miss Selah's arrival is unreal! Here's what's happening with us!

  • She is about the size of a cucumber, roughly weighing around 3 lbs.
  • Her brain is growing daily AND she can regulate her own body's temperature.
  • She is strong enough to grasp a finger.
As for me...
  • After enduring the grueling three-hour glucose test, the results came back negative. No Gestational Diabetes for this momma!
  • I'm uncomfortable and easily tired. But honestly, that is completely understandable seeing how I have a little person growing in my abdomen and I'm chasing after a toddler every day.
  • Itching. With Nathan, I had SEVERE itching moments. I even remember breaking my skin at one point. Thankfully, I learned a little from then and have been loading up on the lotion!
  • I haven't had heartburn, which I contribute to not eating late at night and drinking Ionized water.
  • Unlike my first pregnancy, I haven't had one single leg cramp. This is awesome news. :)

This weekend, I am working in her room and planning for things to be done after Christmas is over. Please continue praying for me and for little Selah; that we will be healthy, strong, and that the Lord will be glorified every day.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Yesterday I made something new and seasonal. Pumpkin pancakes. Let me just say with a heavenly sigh, YUM. I now consider it my duty to share with you this fantastic recipe!

Warning - These are so delicious that you will have to make them again and again!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1 1/4 C  all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash ground ginger
1 C milk
1/2 C pumpkin puree (I used pumpkin pie filling)
1 Large egg
2 Tablespoons oil or butter

These pancakes do not need syrup. I sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar on top and I had some fresh sugared pecans that I added as garnish (such a fun word to say!).

So in the words of my sister: Mix - Cook - Devour!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012 || A Conversation with God

I did not vote for Barack Obama. As the results came in last night, I felt my heart slowly sinking. I'm going to be honest, I was not happy angry. I was upset. I literally cried (call it pregnancy hormones). Some have said, "Get a grip! It's over. Quit mourning!" Really? I think America has just cause to mourn. I think we SHOULD have mourned long ago for the state of our nation. The election is over, yes, but that does not mean that the children of God should shut up and "get over it." Our country needs help and I think it's good that many are speaking up, completely and soberly aware of the situation we are in. Personally, I am praying this leads to a massive revival of God's people. It ought to...

To be clear, I don't think Mitt Romney was outstanding. People hailed him as some kind of savior and maybe that's where the conservatives messed up. Who knows? But I voted for him because he would have been FAR better than the socialist view of our current president. I could vent a lot, but I won't. However, I'm going to give you a conversation I had with the Lord last night and this morning. When things do not go as we want, it is comforting to know that no matter what our thoughts say, Jesus always has an answer that brings peace!

My thoughts: God, how could this happen??

His Truth: I have made all things for myself: yea, even the wicked. (Proverbs 16:4) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7). For the kingdoms are mine: and I am the governor among the nations. (Psalm 22:28)

My thoughts: You are in control, Lord. But oh how I wanted a different outcome!

His Truth: My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. (Isaiah 55:8)

My thoughts: Lord, I know Your Word says this world is only going to get worse before You return, but why can't I experience a little of the America my parents and grandparents had?

His truth: See that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass. (Matthew 24:6) For this cause have I raised you up, to show My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exodus 9:16) Fret not because of evildoers. (Psalm 37:1)

My thoughts: But Father, what about my children? How can I raise them for Your work and Your glory in a world so evil?

His truth: My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I will keep you in perfect peace if your mind is stayed on Me. (Isaiah 26:3) My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

My thoughts: Oh Lord, will You remove Your Spirit from our country??

His truth: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18) The Comforter shall abide with you forever. (John 14:16I will give strength to My people; I will bless My people with peace. (Psalm 29:11) I will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

The Lord is good. His peace is surpassing. His faithfulness is sure. His strength is our shield. His truth is our sword.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Teaching our Children to Give

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My 18 month old little boy has a lot of toys. He really does. He is our firstborn AND he is the first grandchild (and great-grandchild!) on both my side and my husband's side so, suffice it to say, he has many goodies to play with.

I made a decision before Nathan was born that I would teach him, and our future children, not to hoard up toys and clothes, but have a heart to give and bless others. I decided that each year before Christmas and every birthday, I would go through their things with them and we would choose items to give and donate away to other children. This has a two-fold purpose. Not only does it free up space in our home and keep our house from becoming overly cluttered and hoard-ish, but more importantly it instills in them a habit and a love for giving. A statistic from 2011 reads that 42 million people in the US live in poverty; 16.1 million of them are children. Did you know that at least 80% of humanity live on $10 a day? According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. I don't know about you, but that breaks my heart. And when I look around at the mass of "stuff" that is easily accumulated in our home, I am even more disturbed. I want my children to see that they do not "need" 20 coats, 50 pairs of shoes, and 100 toys. A simple baby doll is extravagant to one little girl out there. A warm coat means the world to a shivering little boy somewhere. It is my goal to direct my children's attention to the needs around them, and then have a desire to try and meet those needs. And like most things, a giving heart needs to be taught at a young age.

The other day I sat down with Nathan in his room and we began going through his toys. I chose toys that he does not play with and that have no sentimental value, and explained that we were going to share those things with a little boy who has nothing to play with. I said, "We have friends who don't have lots of toys! Let's give them a few of ours!" He, of course, doesn't fully understand, but one day he will.... And I hope when that time comes, that he will have learned to have a cheerful, giver's heart. It's also important to remember that we cannot expect to teach our children to give when we, adults, hoard up our stuff. I can't be hypocritical. I, too, go through my clothes and things and pack a box to donate or give away. As a parent, I have to set the example.

What are ways that you have found to help instill a giving heart to young ones?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fifteen Reasons to Flee Fifty Shades

I feel the need to post a warning at the beginning of this post. This blog post is about the popular series, "Fifty Shades of Grey" and contains sexual references. Please be advised before you continue and I would ask that those ages 15 (at least) and younger do not read.

A few years ago, before I married, I worked at our county Library. It was there that I came face-to-face with the ever-popular romance novels. Growing up in Church and with godly parents, I had heard on numerous occasions to flee the books and not be drawn into their lust. I never quite understood just how harmful a little book could be. Little did I know....

I remember one morning at work, watching as an older lady came in with (literally) a bag full of romance novels to turn in and exchange for a new bag. As she exited the library and I looked at the stack before me to put away, my curiosity got the better of me and I wondered, "What on earth is in these things?!?" I picked one up, I opened it, and after less than two minutes of skimming, I was slammed with foul, obscene, sexual talk that I had never been exposed to before. Quite honestly, I was shaken. I was disgusted. I was embarrassed. I was affected. And then I was horrified and righteously angry as I watched countless Church women grab armloads of the books to cart home.

Now I have sat quietly and observed scores of women - young and old, Christian and non - who are raving about the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, and are about as obsessed with its content and characters as most tweens are with the Twilight phenomenon. I can't sit quietly anymore because I have a passion for purity and for marriage. So I have listed below 15 reasons to avoid and run from Fifty Shades. I don't want to offend and make anyone upset, and I am in no way going to be drawn into a debate. I'm just speaking what I believe the Lord wants someone to say. And I pray we will all have "ears to hear" and hearts to obey.

15 Reasons to Flee Fifty Shades

  1. It glorifies sex outside of marriage. Of course, it's common these days to have sex outside of marriage, but that makes no difference to a God who says "I change not" (Malachi 3:6). The relationship between Ana and Grey in Fifty Shades is an immoral relationship, simple as that. They are not married, yet they are engaging in premarital sex over and over again. God's Word says to "flee fornication." (1 Corinthians 6:18) If He says it, we should obey it and run from it. Not place a glorifying picture of it on our coffee table or download it onto our Kindle.
  2. It's all about lust. Let's just be honest. People aren't reading Fifty Shades because it is a  literary masterpiece. I'm no fool. It's ALL about lust. The Bible is strong against lust. I'd go as far as to say that the root problem for nearly every sin is lust. The Bible says in 1 John 2:16 that the lust of the flesh and the eyes is not of God, but of the world. In James 1:15, it says "Then when lust hath conceived  it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." That's a serious verse, people.
  3. BDSM is praised. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled. Meaning that as long as you stay within God's guidelines, you are free to enjoy the pleasures of marital intimacy. First of all, the couple in Fifty Shades is not at all married, so sin it still is. But if they were married, it is wrong to beat, harm, be demanding and hateful, controlling, and inflict pain upon another. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind, gentle, and tender.
  4. The book(s) are explicit. You can go ahead and argue that Song of Solomon is explicit. But before you tune me out (if you haven't already) I would like you to sit down and read the whole book of Song of Solomon and then compare the most detailed and "explicit" verse with a basic sexual paragraph from Fifty Shades. Song of Solomon is a beautiful, poetic picture of marital love and intimacy. It is written in allegory and because it is in God's Word and goes according to His principles, it is good. Fifty Shades is nothing more than a trashy counterfeit that's more about "hot-sex-in-the-backseat" than pure and holy marital love. Sorry, but it's true.
  5. It takes the glory away from marriage. Been there, done that. I have had to sit still while biting my tongue while women talk down about their husbands as they tote a bag full of romance novels to the front desk of the library. I've seen women belittle their hardworking husbands on Facebook and then gush about the hot and steamy "love" in Fifty Shades. NEWSFLASH: Marriage is not like movies and books. Marriage is hard. It is not for the weak, the lazy, or the "pamper-me-princess" type. It takes 110% on both parts and, honey, if you're soaking up the made-up "ideals" in books like Fifty Shades, you're slowly breaking down your marriage, piece by piece.
  6. It's pornography for women. If your husband (I'm including your FUTURE husband, if you're single) excitedly sat down with a Playboy magazine and spent an hour turning the pages, would you be offended? Here he is, gazing at naked women and maybe even excitedly telling you about how great the magazine (or website, etc) is. Let's get real. It is no different. You can try to justify it, but YOU sitting there reading about a man ripping clothes off of his conquest and letting your mind take flight in your own private movie is the same thing... it's porn.
  7. It stirs up discontentment in marriage. I've heard it. "Why doesn't my husband do that?" or "Why can't my husband treat me that way?" Romance novels - and I'm not just talking about Fifty Shades - are written to appeal to women's sexual appetites. They gaze at the "hunk" on the cover or read his detailed description in a book and wonder why their husband can't look like that. They read about a passionate moment and become discontent because they haven't had one "just like that." Ladies, IT'S MADE UP. It's fiction. Expecting our husbands to live up to this make-believe man in a book (or movie, for that matter) is stripping him of HIS glory. God made him the way he is. And you married him. Toss the garbage and focus on your husband. He may not be as romantic as the made-up guy in the book. He may not say the same things in the same way. He may be 50 lbs heavier than he should be. But hey, if you're like me, you probably don't look like a goddess yourself. My husband loves me. He works hard for me. He is the father of my children. And I adore him. Not for one minute would I think of belittling his good qualities and try to change him into a mold of man some woman made up. No, thank you.
  8. It mistakes lust for love. Reviews say that Fifty Shades is "bringing marriages closer." Come again? All this book does is point our affections to a fake man. Yeah, it may possibly make you run and jump into your husband's arms. But what's the reason? Because you're desperately in love with him? Or because you're in a lustful frenzy? Is it because you find him absolutely desirable? Or because you have a mini-movie playing out in your head and you want to act it out for real? Don't mistake lust for love.
  9. It gives unrealistic expectations to the single. If you read Fifty Shades as a single person, you are setting yourself up for disappointment in marriage. All you're doing is focusing on made-up, sinful fantasies from a woman who does not know Jesus Christ. If you want to prepare for marriage, go to the best marriage manual ever written - God's Word. There are plenty of Godly resources and Godly people who can help you become ready and worthy for a great marriage. But mark my words, if you absorb the mentality of romance novels like Fifty Shades, you will not only be ill-prepared, taint your mental and emotional purity, but have a distorted view of how a marriage relationship (or any relationship) should be.
  10. It has the potential to lead to adulteryFifty Shades is full of immoral sexuality. As I mentioned above, it can EASILY lead to discontentment in marriage or unrealistic expectations prior-to marriage. Discontentment often breeds a need to find....well...contentment! And I've heard people say, "Well if I can't find "it" here, I'll go elseware!" Don't say you are above it. Many greats in the Bible failed because they did not guard themselves properly against Satan. Do not be surprised if you find yourself unsatisfied with your husband and begin to wonder how green the grass is across the fence.
  11. "No-strings-attached" is the key. There is no romantic relationship in Fifty Shades. Only a sexual one. No plans of commitment. Just raw, sexual vomit. As a happily married woman who waited for her wedding day, I can testify that they (and the millions in the world following the same destructive path), have no clue what they are missing.
  12. It's captivated the world. If you take a step back and even open up your Bible and read the history of God's people, you can find that usually whatever is wildly acceptable in the world is anti Christ. Fifty Shades of Grey topped best-seller lists around the world. The series has sold 40 million copies already, worldwide. Book right have been sold in 37 countries. It has set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, beating the Harry Potter series. Usually, that's a red flag to stay away. Whatever is loved and admired by the world, is usually hated by a holy God. 1 John 2:15 says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world...
  13. It makes us vulnerable to Satan. Lust begins with the eyes and mind. It's been said that the mind is the devil's playground. By opening our mind up to books like this, we are hanging a big "Welcome" sign to the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan would like nothing more than to destroy our marriage, our purity, and our walk with God. And he will use tools exactly like Fifty Shades to fill us with vile, sinful thoughts.
  14. It will mare your purity. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." In other words, if I may paraphrase...."Guard your heart no matter what it takes, because what's in the well comes up in the bucket." When we fill ourselves with impurity, (and, be honest, Fifty Shades cannot in any way constitute as "pure") make no mistake, it WILL overflow. Purity is important. And it isn't solely for the single. Purity is a LIFESTYLE. It physical...but it's also mental and emotional too. The Lord says be holy (1 Peter 1:16). 1 Timothy 5:22 says to "....keep thyself pure." It's important while single. And it's important while married.
  15. It will draw you away from God. You may be a Christian and secured in your salvation, but if you soak up perversion and filth, you will not be close to Jesus. Sin drives a wedge between us a God. That's why Christ came and died for us! - to bridge that gap and give us a way to Him. When we willfully indulge in sin or toy with evil, we are spitting in the blood that saved us from hell. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all fall! We all fail. But that doesn't mean we should frustrate His marvelous grace and embrace sin, while waving the "I'm saved forever" card in His face. Pursue righteousness. Run after Jesus and all that He is. If we, instead, try to ride the fence and have our cake and eat it too, we will drift farther away into mediocrity and have little to no impact for our Savior.

** Please note that this blog post was written to fellow Christians. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I was not directing this post to you. However, I would love if you would click here to learn more about the Jesus who loves and saves!

The One You Need

As we are now expecting a little girl....this song melts my heart over and over. <3 br="br">

Shane and Shane

Hey hey sweet daughter
I am so proud to be your father
Each day is like a gift from God

Hey hey sweet daughter
There’s no music like your laughter
And your smile is like a rising sun

You know I loved you from the start
So come in close
Take my hand for
Daddy shares his heart

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone if you just believe
Be your hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the one you need

No matter what you walk through
He will always love you
Just the way you are
For there’s nothing in this world
That I’d walk for my baby girl
That she’ll be happy ever after

The story of your life is still untold
I pray the King of all the Universe
Would make your heart His own

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone if you just believe
Be your hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the one

Who will never leave
He’s been there all along
All ready You can find to love

I wish that I could be your everything
Be the one to give you all the things you need
Sometimes I’m gonna let you down
But there’s Someone if you just believe
Be your hero like He’s always been for me
Darling, Jesus is the one you need

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's a....GIRL!!

Yesterday my husband and I went to have our gender-reveal ultrasound and were shocked to find that our little one is....a....


For some reason, we were both thinking "boy" so when my doctor said, "I do believe you have a little girl in there, Mrs. Lee," my heart momentarily stopped.

"A girl?? A baby girl? A little darling to love on, squeeze, and dress up?"

Oh yes. :)

Since that moment, I have thought about so much, but my thoughts go beyond ribbons, ruffled dresses, baby dolls, and the color pink. I've taken a good look around and I am well aware of the little girls around me. Sadly, most little girls these days are not....little. They are just mini-Marilyn Monroe's. Growing up, I played with dolls until I was twelve or thirteen. I didn't give much thought to boys at all until then. I wasn't preoccupied with my looks. I was a child, not a wanna-be-pin-up-girl. These days, little girls are carrying around iPhones, iPads, texting all the time, wearing loads of makeup, and dancing seductively to Britney Spears. I want the extreme opposite for my baby girl. My prayer for her - right now - is that she will not resemble Paris Hilton, Honey Booboo, Betty White, Hilary Clinton, or any other well-known "example" of girlhood and womanhood. I would rather her emulate Queen Easter, Ruth, Amy Carmichael, Sabina Wurmbrand, and Leslie Ludy. I would rather she have character and inner strength. I pray she will fall in love with Jesus at an early age and make Him the lover of her heart. I pray she will be servant-hearted and kind. I pray she will be pure, set-apart, and passionate for the truth. I want so much for her and, yes, I am aware that I have an enormous responsibility to TEACH her - by word and example - what a lady of the Lord should be. So please pray for me. And pray for her.

It's important for us to pray for our children - even before they are born. Especially given the horrifying statistics around us. We ought to pray for our sons to rise up and champion the cause of Christ, be protectors of purity and righteousness, and seek to be...well, MEN. Strong. Mighty. Noble. And likewise we ought to pray for our daughters to embrace their calling as women; to love the Lord; to be gentle, wise, kind, and beautiful on the inside more than on the outside. I encourage you to begin praying for your children today if you haven't already. They need it. The world needs it too.

So what did we decided to name our little sweetheart girl? I am thrilled to announce that her name will be:

Selah Elizabeth

The name Selah (pronounced "SAY-lah") means: Pause; Rest; Reflect on the goodness of the LORD.

Elizabeth, which is my middle name, means: Consecrated and vowed to God.

Please join us in prayer that she will rise up and fulfill her beautiful name.

Psalm 45:13
"The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Pregnancy Files | Week 20 | baby #2

Currently I am 20 weeks pregnant with baby #2! Halfway there! Tomorrow is our big gender reveal ultrasound! I haven't seen our baby since I was 8 weeks pregnant, which is quite different from my last pregnancy, so I am very excited and anxious to see how much he/she has grown. For now, here is the latest with baby and me.

  • Baby is about the size of a banana.
  • Baby weighs around 10.2 ounces and measures about 6.5 inches.
  • The taste buds are working.
  • He/She is able to gulp down several ounces of amniotic fluid each day!

I am more in awe all the time. As for me....

  • My nausea is gone.
  • I had an extreme bout with dizziness for several weeks, which was difficult, but now it's completely gone. Yay.
  • I am feeling lots of movement and tiny kicks and thumps. It's precious.
  • I have a you can see from the above picture. :)
  • My appetite has been interesting. I haven't had much of one, but I have been craving fruit like mad. I've stocked the house with strawberries, grapes, oranges, apples, bananas, kiwi, and grapefruit. Fruit popsicles ...fruit smoothies...fruit juices....fruit with my meals. But unlike my last pregnancy, I have eaten tiny amounts...hence the small appetite. I'm not concerned, tho. I'll gain it eventually.
  • My energy levels have gone up, but I can crash quick when I've done too much. But I'm thankful I have lots more energy than a few weeks ago. 

Funny how each pregnancy is so different. Can't wait for tomorrow! What are your predictions? Will baby #2 be pink or blue?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Honey Boo Boo" and Parenthood

I do not have a daughter, but can I just be frank with you? If the Lord ever blesses me and my husband with a sweet little girl, I can assure you that she will not resemble the "Honey Boo Boo" child that has recently infiltrated network television.  Not familiar with Honey Boo Boo? You're not missing much. In my opinion, you are just wasting half an hour watching a family that is horrifyingly crude. Don't misunderstand me. I am not "hating on them," only holding them up as an example of everything I do not want my children (and my family) to be. Now I am aware that the children on this show most likely don't know any better. They have obviously been taught that living together while unmarried is acceptable, that bodily functions are hysterical, and that using disrespectful and foul language is the norm. It's heartbreaking. It's disgusting. It makes me want to run to them and say, "Oh, what you are missing!!"
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If you are a parent, then you have an enormous responsibility. Some believe that our job as Christian mothers is only to make sure our children attend Church, come to know and love the Lord, and be a good, moral person. But, friends, that is only scratching the surface! In a generation where God's people look no different from the world, it is necessary vital for us to rise up and begin teaching our children, not simply to be children of the King, but how to behave as children of the King. Which leads me to ask....HOW can I do that?! Apart from the obvious (getting in the Word of God, praying and seeking the Lord's wisdom, praying for our children), there are many practical ways we can begin to instruct our children on how to represent our Lord and be set-apart from the world.

Here is a small list I have compiled:

  1. Teach them to show honor and respect. I am repeatedly appalled at the lack of respect children and teenagers have for authority these days. I have seen a preacher and a teacher confront a young person about a wrong, only to be shown blatant irreverence. The Bible says to show honor to those in authority. -- Common courtesy would be to show respect to all! -- No, I don't agree with certain things my elders or my governmental officials say and do, but that gives me no cause to go against God's Word and disrespect those who have been put over us. It is important to teach our children how to speak and act towards those in authority. Yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, no sir. Please. Thank you. You're welcome. Teach it.
  2. Teach them nobility. A word we don't often think of when talking of children is nobility. These days, it is common for boys AND girls to burp, scratch, and do all manner of crude things. I remember being challenged years ago to act and speak like a lady. As a redeemed daughter of the Lord, I am royalty. I am part of a priesthood. You do not see a princess or a prince behave vulgarly or crass, so how much more should the children of God practice nobility?! (here's a hint: WAY MORE!) ---On a side note, I am thankful I have a husband who is not the run-of-the-mill "burp/spit/scratch" type. He practices nobility. We should teach our children to do the same.
  3. Teach them basic table manners. A few weeks ago, I watched TLC's United Bates of America and observed this godly family training their children how to behave when out and about. Their training began at home. To follow in the footsteps of nobility, it is important to train our children to sit at the table, to thank the Lord for His provision, to eat calmly, to chew with their mouths closed, and not to throw food, smack, or burp when finished. Basic table manners. It's not hard. (And I really don't want to see your chewed up food rolling around in your mouth, I'm so sorry...)
  4. Teach them to help others. As a woman (and a mom who lugs around a toddler, a diaper bag, a purse, and growing baby belly), I appreciate men who will open the door for me. That's called chivalry, and though it was once the norm, it is now very rare to see. So many boys and young men will blaze right through the door and let it close in my face. Now yes, I am perfectly capable of opening my own door, but let me just say - I am blessed and honored when a man (young or old) pauses and holds the door open for me; who lets me walk in before him. I am touched when a little girl offers to help me carry my son's bag out of the nursery at Church. I always say "thank you" and let them see my appreciation. It is important to teach our children to be willing helpers. We ought to teach our sons to be courteous and chivalrous and train our daughters to be gracious, kind, and giving. Teach them to observe a need, and then meet it. The little things matter.
  5. Teach them Godly character. It is one thing to be a good, moral Christian young person. It is another to be Godly and have Godly character. Anyone can be good and kind and go to Church and be involved. But it takes strength, integrity, and spiritual grit to make hard decisions, to say "no" to what others deem perfectly natural, and to stand alone in going by the Scriptures. It is so important to train our children to always go to the Bible for answers, guidance, and truth, and then teach them to implement the Word and stand on it. Teaching them to obey a list of rules "because I said so" isn't enough. Training them to search the Scriptures and to love the Word of God and instilling in them a hunger to live by it is what builds character and strong, godly men and women for the future. 
Do you have practical tips on how to raise godly daughters and sons in a vulgar "Honey Boo Boo" generation? I would love to have your input! Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Can I Do All This?!?

My life is full. I used to think a stay-at-home wife and mother had a simple enough job. I was so wrong. It is the most important, exhausting, never-ending, rewarding, and demanding job I could ever imagine.

I am currently a wife to my best friend, a mother of a very active and rowdy 17 month old little boy, and 18 weeks pregnant with baby #2. I spend my days trying to keep the laundry going, the dishes clean, the floors swept and vacuumed, the house tidy, the yard picked up, the grocery bill down, the errands run, and food on the table - all while training, teaching, disciplining, playing with, and loving on a little boy. Oh yes, and coping with pregnancy fatigue, headaches, and a growing belly.

I also have studying and personal prayer time that should be a priority every day. To be 100% honest with you, it isn't a priority every day. Far too often, I wake and plunge right in to making breakfast, refilling sippy-cups, and squeezing in a shower.

There are hobbies I enjoy (blogging, emailing, reading). I have ministry work to do. There are plenty of aspirations and things I would like to learn (sewing, gardening).

Sometimes I ask myself, "How am I supposed to do all this?" What about family time? My social life? My down time?

When I see our never-ending list of places to be - the dentist at 10 a.m., pediatrician at 11:30 a.m., grocery store run, OB appointment at 2 p.m.,Church meeting at 6:30 p.m.  - and the enormous list of things to do - scrub the kool-aid stains out of the floor, bathe the kiddo, put a load of diapers in the wash, iron my husband's work shirts - sometimes, I want to throw my hands up in the air and say, "I can't do this!" Strangely enough though, I am learning that I'm right. I truly cannot do it all. I can't keep up and I can't keep going without the strength and the power of Christ pushing me onward. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Apart from Him, we have no strength at all. Without His power, we are weak.

This morning, I was reading 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

I am encouraged by that. I am weak, but in my weakness, I am made strong through the grace and power of Jesus Christ. It is important for us, especially us mothers, to acknowledge the fact that we are not superwoman. We can't be 100% awesome all the time. However, when we fall to our knees and claim the power of God, and confess that He alone has the ability to give us all that we stand in need of, then we are made strong. So, fellow wives, mothers, homemakers, and women, in light of your responsibilities and obligations, TRUST and KNOW that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20)  That's encouraging, isn't it??

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pursuing Purity in Marriage

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If you are single and reading this, then I hope you will take this to heart and remember it for later. If you are married and reading this, I hope you can find encouragement and inspiration.

Simply put: purity isn't a "singleness thing," it's a lifetime thing.

Yes, that's right.

I remember when I was single, I worked hard to remain pure while I waited to be married! It was difficult. Our sex-saturated society mocks abstinence and pushes every temptation imaginable into our view. It is only by God's grace and His strength that we can walk through our single years and remain pure in body and heart. But this post isn't about purity while single. It is about purity while married. I know some of you singles reading this might be shocked and wonder how purity can be a challenge after marriage! I mean, doesn't the struggle end once you walk the aisle and say your vows?? Far from it, I'm afraid. 

Before marriage, the struggle is to keep our body and heart pure, saved for our spouse. So what's the struggle AFTER marriage? Actually, it is exactly the same! - to keep our body and heart pure, saved for our spouse. And the battle is fierce.

Take a look around. Do you see the divorce rate? Have you noticed that affairs and infidelity is at an all-time high? Have you seen the ads, commercials, and TV shows that mock a happy, fulfilled marriage and parade lust and adultery like it's something we should be engaging in? I have. The other day I saw a yogurt commercial where two women gulped down spoonfuls of Greek yogurt because, magically, the more they ate, the more their husbands turned into a celebrity look-a-like. Hmm. A subtle point to lust? Looks like it.

Satan is sharp and is, indeed, roaming around like a hungry lion anxious to devour our marriages. It is up to us to build up walls of protection and guard against his devices.

So what are some practical ways we can have purity in our marriage?

  1. First, delve into the Word of God. We are like sponges. If we are full of Jesus, there will be no room for anything else. It is not just important, it's VITAL, to soak ourselves in the Bible. Memorize scripture. Learn more of Who God is. Study. In so doing, we will grow and soak in all that He is. And the more of Him we have, the less of the world we will want.
  2. PRAY. It is important to saturate our marriage and our husband in prayer. Pray for your husband to be strong, to be courageous, to be the leader that God has called him to be. Pray for strength for him when temptation arises. Remember that just as Satan is after you, he is also going to come against your husband. Pray. It's powerful.
  3. Have an accountability partner. It can be your husband. It can be a friend (of the same gender). Whomever you chose, make sure that they are strong in their faith and passionate about purity. Pray together. Lift one another up with encouragement. I am thankful that I have a few select women in my life that I can call on and say, "Hey, Satan is trying to fill my mind with impurity. Pray for me right now, will you?" We need each other. It is important to have someone cheering you on, running the race with you, and lifting you up in prayer.
  4. Remove the bait. Satan will come at us in different ways. What tempts you may not tempt me. So it is important to search our hearts and lives and find whatever our "thing" is that is enticing and remove it. If your computer is a problem, put in a filter, get rid of it, or appoint someone to keep you accountable. There are websites that link your net history to another's computer for better accountability. If it is a TV show or HBO blockbuster, consider turning off your satellite or cable or removing your TV from your home altogether. It isn't extreme to obey the Lord.
  5. Steer clear of the devil's pawns. Impurity is everywhere. TV shows like "Sex and the City" and "Friends" where fornication and adultery is praised, should not be considered. Movies like "Magic Mike" where women are encouraged to gawk and giggle over male strippers, we should stay away from. Romance novels like "Fifty Shades of Grey" that explicitly describe what should be private and sacred, should be tossed in the garbage. Music that approves what God calls a sin, we shouldn't let our ears hear. Do not give place to anything that is unholy. If you compromise in the name of entertainment, don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself unsatisfied in your marriage and far from the Lord.

God is pure, therefore Satan is on the attack against the purity and sacredness of marriage. It doesn't end at the wedding. Purity is a lifestyle. It is a direction. It is an attribute of Christ and, therefore, should be pursued forever.

Cheering you on!

Sidewalk Paint

With the temperatures becoming a little less unbearably hot, I have been looking forward to playing outside with Nathan a lot more. Soon, it will be too cool for him to splash in his kiddie pool, so I have been brainstorming and trying to find fun activities for him to do - both inside AND outside. I hit the bulls-eye when I discovered and tried the idea of sidewalk paint yesterday. WHAT FUN!

Nathan LOVED it but, to be honest, I think I had more fun than he did! Here is the recipe that I used for our sidewalk paint:

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 6-8 drops of food coloring

Put the cornstarch in a small plastic bowl and slowly mix in the water. Then add your chosen color of food coloring and stir together. Then pour into your choice of paint holder (I used a muffin pan). Repeat with each color.

Being my first time to try this, I only used about 4-5 drops of food coloring instead of the suggested 6-8. I was curious about it staining Nathan's skin and the sidewalk, so I watered it down a bit. As it dried, it lightened up considerably and had a chalk-like texture. It easily washed off of him and my muffin tin. Next time, I plan to use more food coloring so the paint will be more vibrant.

the paint in my muffin tin

Nathan getting ready to check it out


He got it on his face and thought it was funny

Our finished product. I'll let you guess which artwork
belongs to Nathan and which belongs to me. :p

This was a fun project that we will be doing again and again in the near future! And it was so cheap!

Cornstarch - $1.00
One box of assorted food coloring - $1.95

Water - free!
Muffin tin - already mine
The memories and fun made - TOTALLY priceless! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

This morning I decided to try a new recipe find from my favorite web spot, Pinterest. I chose the baked oatmeal casserole. In the original recipe, it is gluten-free and includes nuts. Below is my tweaked version. As one who isn't fond of oatmeal, I loved this and so did Nathan. Give it a go and enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal Casserole
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 6

2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup berries {I used a package of mixed berries}
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, peeled, 1/2-inch slices

Preheat oven to 375° and generously spray the inside of a 10-1/2 by 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the berries and half the chocolate. (Save the other half of berries and chocolate for the top of the oatmeal). In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.

Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining berries and chocolate on top. Add the banana slices then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. And then sink your teeth into the yumminess. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Recommended Books for Little Boys

There are few things I love as much as books and the memories that I have in reading through my most cherished ones growing up. Below is a list I have compiled of my current favorites that I think are very beneficial and precious for little boys. Of course, most of these can be read to girls too (some are among my childhood favorites!), but I also find them very good picks for those with little snips, snails, and puppy dog tails, too!
I bought this book only yesterday for Nathan that I am going to give him for Christmas. I plan to begin reading it to him while he is young to instill the powerful message of this book into his heart at an early age. You may have heard of the popular (and HIGHLY recommended) book for girls, The Princess & the Kiss. This book, The Squire & the Scroll, is written by the same author with the same principle in mind: teaching purity. This story is about a young squire who travels a long distance beside a brave knight. Through dangers and perils, he learns what it takes to flee temptation and to guard the heart from impurity. In this age, that message needs to be deeply rooted into our children's hearts.

Barney Wigglesworth is a cute little collection of books about a mouse named Barney. In each book, he learns valuable and moral life lessons such as: cooperating with others, perseverance, caring for those in need, etc. My mom used to read me the Barney Wigglesworth books as a child and now I am taking great delight in reading them to Nathan. They are so very cute.

Adam Raccoon is probably my favorite to read to Nathan right now. I love the strong Christian parables in this series and he likes to look at the pictures. Each book is a treasure trove of spiritual lessons. In Adam Raccoon in the Lost Woods, he learns to follow Jesus, In Adam Raccoon and the Circus Master, he learns about forgiveness. This is, yet another, series I had as a child and I will always have these books in my home.

My mom began collecting the "Building Christian Character" books when I was little. This is probably my family's favorite series that we read growing up. There are so many books in this collection! The above book, Max and the Big Fat Lie, is about telling the truth. Buzzle Billy is about sharing. Sir Maggie the Mighty is about obedience, Handy-Dandy Helpful Hal is about helping. Cheating, greediness, thankfulness - there are so many topics that these books hit and the creative way they illustrate those messages are great! I definitely recommend this series!

Do you have any recommended reads for little boys? Feel free to share!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Pregnancy Files | Week 12 | Baby #2

I can't believe I am 12 weeks already! Here is the latest on baby #2:

  • Baby is about the size of a lime.
  • The tissues and organs in his/her body is growing and maturing. Baby is swallowing fluid and kicking up a storm. His/her organs — including the kidneys, intestines, brain, and liver — are in place and starting to function. Reflexes are the newest development! 
  • Tiny nails are formed on fingers and toes and peach-fuzz hair is growing!

Incredible, isn't it? As for me....

  • My nausea comes and goes, but it is significantly better.
  • I am more tired than I was three weeks ago. I do have days full of energy, but I can get exhausted very quickly.
  • I have a small bump. That's been hard for me because I didn't show at all until well after 14 weeks, but I have heard that you show quicker with each pregnancy. So, 'tis fine. 

There's a little update on me and baby #2. I cannot wait to find out the gender! It won't be long now!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Plans and Purpose

As you may have noticed, it's been very quiet here on the blog. If you know me in real life, then you may have noticed that my social media has been a hit-and-miss for a little while as well. And there are reasons behind it.

Months ago, my husband told me he felt the Lord was about to shake our world. That was fine and well with me, but I had no idea just how "shaken" my world was about to become. And like some of you, I don't do change well. I worry, I fret, I doubt...and I occasionally freak out. I'm going to spare you the details but the Lord opened one door after another and gave us sign after sign and He led us to where we now stand. A year ago, we began looking for another Church; one closer to home (we were, at that time, driving 1.5 hours to Church and couldn't be as involved as we wanted). This past Sunday we praised the Lord for leading us to a new Church where we KNOW God is going to do big things! Along with that new step, like a domino effect, the Lord began to reveal to us His will and His plan. After much prayer and some tears, we have decided to stop traveling with my family's ministry and focus on our ministries here at home. God is opening doors of growth for my husband's prison ministry and has revealed quite a bit of needs here at home and in our new Church that we cannot wait to be involved in!

While thinking and praying about all the many changes occurring in our life (a new baby coming, a new Church, new ministry opportunities), I was led to this verse in Proverbs chapter 16, verse 9:

"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."

I have always had a lot of plans for myself. I dream big. :) But as I get older, I am learning that we can plan all we want but, ultimately, the Lord leads. We may dream big (and so we should!) but HE dreams BIGGER. And better. Sometimes, He leads us through the mountains where everything is!! And easy. And then other times, He may lead us through a valley that is dark and full of twists and turns. Sometimes the path is exactly where we want to go. Other times, it is NOT the path we would prefer to take. And we always have two options:

1) We can either cross our arms and say, "No. THIS was my plan and I think this is just a little bit better. I'm fine right here on my road. But thanks anyway!"


2) We can choose to follow where the Shepherd leads; through rain or through sunshine. Just blindly walking by faith, trusting that He will uphold us, take care of us, and work in and through us. Simple as that.

Grant and I ask for your prayer. More than anything, we want to be willing vessels that the Lord can use however He wants. We want Christ to be glorified and praised in every decision we make and in every area of our life. So, friends, please lift us up as we take steps of faith in doing just that.

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