Do You Know Your Kids?

Screaming and running, he tried to jump into the lazy river and pull away from his big brother who was keeping him safe, though he didn’t think so. He just wanted what he wanted.

Years ago, a scene like this with my boys would have resulted me getting angry, scolding, and probably yelling. I most likely would have given a consequence, resulting in more tantrums and a deep seated anger in my child.

Today, thankfully I’ve learned at least a little something. Not much… but a little. When this scene took place yesterday at the water park, I picked him up hugged him and told him it would be okay. I tried to get him to tell me what was making him so angry but he was too upset, so we sat down with some water and a snack to calm down. I gave him some squeezes because he’s a sensory seeker and needs firm hugs. I kissed him playfully in his face to get some smiles. Then a he ate he told me what was so upsetting. And I told him he cannot run off or scream when he’s angry, something that he isn’t going to learn right away, but we keep working on it.

Relationship. This word has been recurring in my life so much over the past 9 months. God has been speaking to me about how important they are and what they should look like. I’m learning to really study my kids and see who they are, how they respond to different situations, and what they need in their lives.

With Lukas, I’m learning his extreme emotions need my calmness and consistent love. He needs to know he’s loved in the midst of his outbursts. He needs strong squeezes and lots of affirming words. And he needs food. That sounds funny, but it’s true. His blood sugar gets low and he gets hangry!

It’s not easy to figure out all my kids. There are eleven of them, after all! And more will be added via marriage and eventually there will be grandkids to figure out. But what’s more eternal and more important than knowing the people God has put into our lives.

Our other pursuits in life, a job, a garden, homeschooling, friendships, and anything else, won’t measure up to us knowing our children well.

It takes time and dedication and energy. But the reward at the end will be beyond our imagination! A solid relationship with our kids, having their hearts, and knowing them well will get us through the difficult times in life, of which there will be many.

And, thankfully, God’s grace is sufficient for our shortcomings. I wasn’t very good at this when my oldest were little and we went through some really really hard things with one of them during the teen years. (You can read about it here. Though I’d done a lot to ruin my relationship with this child, God filled in the gaps and brought other people into his life that he needed. God also pushed him to still reach out to me and open up about his struggles so I could help him. God is good!

And, it’s never too late to really get to know your kids! Even if they aren’t little anymore, you can still discover their personalities, their needs, their likes and dislikes, and how you can have a strong relationship with them.

Here’s some things that have helped me: “The Five Love Languages”, “I Said This, You Heard That”, Marilyn Howshall at, and God’s Word.

True Ministry

When you were little, did you have a role model? Was there someone in your life you looked up to? Or maybe it was a celebrity or musician? I remember having NKOTB posters all over my walls as a pre-teen. I don’t know if you’d call that a role model, maybe more of a fascination and crush! I do, however remember watching very closely some kids who were just a bit older than me in church.

I remember I watched them so closely I’d mimic their stance when we stood in church to sing. I had no idea why they rested their hands on the chairs in front of us, but I figured, if they are doing it I should do it too!

As an adult, I have occasionally had someone who I’ve really looked up to and who has mentored me and encouraged me in my faith. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that those who have traveled this journey longer than me have wisdom only gained from life experience. Another thing I’ve learned is that it takes a humble, vulnerable, transparent person to make a good mentor.

There are a million “ministries” out there nowadays. Seems everyone has something to say about whatever they think they are an expert in.  So how do you know if it’s actually a good ministry, one that will bring you closer to the Lord and bring unity to your family?

There’s no perfect answer, but you can ask a few good questions. 

The first question, for me is:  have they raised kids into, at least, young adulthood? Why do I ask this? Because I can look back on my own life and see how I just “knew” when my kids were young. I knew the right answer, I knew if you just did “xyz” then your kids would turn out right. I was happy to spout advice I just knew was right. Just raise your little ones like this and you won’t have issues. Just make sure to check all the Christian boxes and you’ll have kids who love Jesus. I’ve found a lot of humility over the years, especially because it just doesn’t work out that way all the time. I know this to be true for our family as well as many others. Strong, Christian families who love Jesus and did “all the things” with their kids and yet they have young adults who aren’t following the Lord. I see, all too often, this same pridefulness in parents who’s kids haven’t yet given them the rollercoaster ride of the teen years. Before they’ve been humbled by life’s circumstances, curveballs, and ups and downs, they won’t make good mentors. Pride blinds and causes us to spout advice before we truly can say, it doesn’t always work!

Are they focused on relationships or tasks? A tendency of my personality is to be task-oriented. I can very easily get sucked into the To-Do list and forget about the importance of those around me. But God repeatedly and gently calls me back to relationships. He’s the relationship expert, knowing exactly how to bring us into relationship with Him through His son Jesus and He wants us to focus on relationships too, more than anything else. So does this ministry put relationships first or do they focus on the To-Do list? Do they give you a checklist or want to truly reach your heart? It’s usually pretty easy to see, when you look at the order in which they place their values and goals.

Are they biblically sound? This one can be trickier to identify. Almost every Christian ministry has a focus or key verse, list verses on their web page and say they are scripturally driven. For me, it helps to forward a web page to my trusted pastor and have him vet them a bit too. An extra set of eyes can help you see what might, at first, be hidden. And, sometimes, you may not discover some Scriptural discrepancies until you dig in further and that’s ok. Just proceed cautiously.

Recently someone asked if I’d be a mentor of sorts to her. I was humbled and honored. I told her I don’t have all the answers, but let’s get together and get to know one another and I can, at the very least, encourage you and hopefully you can encourage me too! Let’s push each other closer to Jesus and walk this journey together. As I thought about it, the single most impactful “ministry” ever in my life was when a woman who was a few years ahead of me on this journey called life, faithfully and consistently met me where I was at and drew me into God’s truth and word at every turn. That faithful ministry meant more to me than any “ministry” I can find online! And, it’s actually more Biblical. And because you get to know each other well through it, you can quickly see if they are farther along in the journey than you, if they put relationships first, and if they are scripturally sound.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3‭-‬5 (emphasis mine)

So, maybe, the real answer isn’t even what ministry is best, but how can I, where I’m at, minister to another person? Who has God placed in my life to come alongside, to meet where they are at, and to encourage toward God?

Wounds from a Friend

Recently I was praying for some people and the Lord spoke  very clearly to  about them. He said, “they are holding something against you. But it’s ok. You’ve done nothing wrong and I’ll reveal that to them.”

It was honestly a very strange encounter with the Lord. I don’t take every thought that runs through my head as something the Lord is telling me. But I’ve learned that if it lingers and comes up three times it’s the Lord.

Why three, you ask? Three is a significant number for God. He called Samuel three times before Samuel realized it was the Lord. Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep” three times. And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Trinity, God as three in one.

Waiting to hear it three times also gives me time to confirm it is the Lord and not just my own deceitful heart getting in the way!

I ended up hearing this three times. Twice from the Lord when I prayed for these people on two different occasions and once from a friend, who not only said a similar thing but actually clarified it for me through the story she told me.

It got me thinking about friends. I mean, true friends, faithful friends. The reason it did is because these people have never come to me to talk about whatever it is they are harboring against me. And, because I know I’ve done nothing wrong, I am also sure it all could have been resolved quickly and painlessly with a quick conversation. Instead they are only hurting their own hearts by harboring it and not talking about it.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a pretty confident, straightforward person. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. This probably comes across brusque and harsh at times and I’m genuinely trying to soften my responses. But if you do know me at all, you know I am willing to have any conversation that needs to be had. I’m willing to listen and apologize too. Maybe I come across as unapproachable. I don’t know. I do know people used to say that about my mom and I’d always think, weird, you must not know her at all. But as I’ve grown older I see myself turning into her! 🙂

So I went to God’s Word to see what He says of a true friend, because I don’t think a true friend wouldn’t be willing to come talk to me. Here’s what I found.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Proverbs 27:6 ESV

Wouldn’t you want the wounds of a faithful friend? I would. I tell my friends all the time, please tell me if I’ve hurt you. Tell me if my kids have hurt your kids. Tell me if something I’ve said is confusing or hurtful.

Years ago I had said something to a friend intending to be helpful. It came across as offensive to her but I didn’t realize it. For a couple weeks I noticed a coldness from her but I wasn’t quite sure if I was just being insecure or if there really was something. She came to me one day and said, “can we talk?” She told me about what I’d said and how it had hurt her. I had the chance to apologize and ask her forgiveness and I got the chance to learn how my words come across. Now she’s my dearest friend and I appreciate so much that we can be totally honest with each other. That’s a wound from a faithful friend!

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV

He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Job 6:14 ESV

Kindness isn’t niceness. Think about that, especially if you are Minnesotan. Kindness isn’t niceness. Kindness is encouraging one another but it is also saying the hard things sometimes. It’s having those conversations that make your heart beat fast and your voice shake. It’s saying, in love, I need to talk to you about something hard. It isn’t pretending everything is OK when it’s not.

We Minnesotans are really good at nice. But we’re also really good at passive-aggressiveness. Pretending everything is fine and then grumbling and harboring things after the fact. That’s not kindness, not the kindness God calls us to. Iron sharpening iron can be painful. But wouldn’t you want your rough edges smoothed away by a true and faithful friend? Because, let’s face it. We all have rough edges. And, if we’re Christians, the Holy Spirit is going to prompt us to want those rough edges removed.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 ESV

That good work that He started in you? You know, that one, where He’s constantly refining you, smoothing your rough edges, and molding you into something beautiful?  That one is done through His love, His Word, His Holy Spirit, and sometimes through His people whom you call friends.

In the midst of this season, I’ve been so thankful for friends who have been faithful, loving, loyal, and true. I’m thankful for friends who are kind, not nice, who are iron smoothing my rough edges, and who don’t harbor anything against me. I’m also thankful to my God for never leaving me where I’m at but always gently and lovingly pushing me along.

Winter Workings

We’ve been hard at work here on CSA stuff! Even in the midst of frigid temps, blustery winds, and ice pellets, we’re thinking and working on spring plans!

First and foremost, Andrew has been building new shelving and hanging grow lights. Before long there will be lots and lots of little seedlings under those lights, hopefully growing happily in our basement!

In the dark and cold of winter we can feel a little tired and unmotivated. I don’t know about you, but I kind of go into hibernation mode and have to force myself out of my rocking chair and away from the fireplace to get things done. But before we know it, spring will be here! Even the other day I went out early and the birds were singing loudly and cheerfully and it brought vivid images of spring and warmth to mind.

So much is happening here and it always seems as though we’re running low on time. But I have to keep my mind on God’s promises that He is the one leading this charge and he won’t leave us alone, not even for a moment.

Here’s a great praise I just have to share! I’ve been worrying (I know I’m not supposed to worry but I was) about a specific aspect of the garden. Since we’re trying this weedless gardening method, there are certain steps we need to take to set up the land. And we need certain items for that.

We’ve been collecting newspapers and cardboard (thank you to everyone who has contributed) and we’ll keep collecting that. Did you know newspapers are really hard to find? Everyone reads online now. If you have attacks of old newspaper let me know!

The other part is mulch for the walkways and compost for the planting rows. The thing I’ve been getting over is the compost. We’ve called a few places and had no luck or it’s been so ridiculously expensive it’ll take any profit we try to make.

In the midst of this worrying I forgot to pray about it. I should know to turn worry into pray but I’m not always great at it. I shared with my milk guy that we were staying a CSA and asked if I could put a flier at his place. He was so excited about it and was happy to help.

After I left his place I had to drive about 20 minutes so I started praying about our CSA and specifically that the Lord would find us compost.

I bet you can guess where I’m going with this! I got to my destination and had a text from my milk guy. “Hey I have a bunch of compost and a friend of mine does too. I’ll check with a few more people if you want.”

Thanks, God! Not only for the compost but also for the reminder that when move and prompt us, you’ll provide every step of the way. Thank you that you answer prayers!

As in a Mirror Dimly

Many don’t know this, but for the past three months I’ve had trouble seeing. Early November something happened to cause a toxic reaction in my eyes and suddenly it was as if I was looking through frosted glass. I had to quit wearing contacts and haven’t gone back to them yet. I don’t know if I ever will. Glasses are an annoyance to me, and many days it didn’t matter if I had my glasses on or not. I couldn’t see any better with them on.

There have been days where they have been so bad I didn’t want to drive anywhere and other days where they’ve seemed almost normal again. I think they are progressively getting better now, after lots of extra supplements and eye appointments. I’m thankful for an eye doctor who has been willing to take a more natural approach and not stuff me full of prescriptions!

In the height of it, my kids asked, what if you go blind?

It actually was a concern to me for a while that I may never fully regain my sight and that it would possibly get worse and worse. I remember taking with them about how drastically life would change if I really couldn’t see anymore. No more driving to coop, band, parks, or the grocery store even. They joked that they would have to stop leaving toys laying around so they wouldn’t trip mom!

As they have improved I’ve been so thankful. I’ve looked at my family’s faces in a new light, with a new appreciation for their sweet faces. I’ve thanked God I can see their beautiful eyes from Elliot’s shiny green all the way to David’s deep dark brown. Recently I could see well enough to make these signs again that I’ve been wanting to add for months!

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

I wanted this verse in my kitchen because I thought the “taste” was fitting. But I’ve come to appreciate this verse even more as I’ve struggled to regain my sight. See that the Lord is good!

I’m so thankful I don’t actually need my physical sight to see that the Lord is good. I know it from experiences and from the faithfulness He has shown me over the years. I know it through the prayers of friends in the midst of this trial. He is good and I see it with my heart!

This verse has also come to mind.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Everything we see now is a if in a reflection and one day we’ll see clearly, when we see our Savior face to face. I’m thankful that whatever I may face here on earth, I have eternity with a perfect and wonderful Savior to look forward to! And I’ll see clearly like never before.

And even better than that, I will know fully all the things I can’t fully understand here in earth, like why I have to struggle with my eyesight. A promise, not to be forgotten in this verse, is that we are fully known.

Right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re facing, you are fully known! By a perfect God who loves you dearly! And He promises good to you. It may not feel good right now, but He is good and loves you so you can trust Him. Today, look into the sweet faces of those around you. See how they bear the image of a great and powerful and loving Creator and cherish them. Be thankful you can see the cloudy gray skies and the brown fields and spatters of white snow. Be thankful for the smiles you see today! I know I am!

The Battle: Fear vs. Trust

Well, it’s getting really real! The second shipment of seeds came!

Unlike the first shipment, I didn’t feel excitement. I felt fear and dread creep over me. Do you ever get that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach? No? Just me?

This whole idea came about slowly over the years we’ve lived here, yet now that it’s here, it’s a bit terrifying. I’ll share the vision story at some point, but for now, we truly believe God has called us to this. He put this idea on our hearts and is leading the way.

So, then, where does the fear and dread come from, you ask?

I’m a planner. To my very core, I love to plan. I love a clean notebook and Pilot G2 0.7 pen. I love to research and take notes and ponder what it could look like. I love to think through all the details and sort them out. Problem is, God’s not letting me plan this time around. At least not how I like to.

He has been slowly giving us one small step at a time and I’m having to learn to just trust Him over and over and over. It’s been a huge refining process for me. Huge.  I want to look ahead and figure out everything as is my nature. But God keeps reigning me in and telling me He’s got this.

Those steps He gives are so good and perfect just like you would expect from Him. He has been leading us down a beautiful path that He has created and ordained for our family. I’ve always looked at those families who have that “one thing”, that unique trait that sets them apart. Like a family of musicians or a family of farmers or a family of kayakers. Whatever it might be, they have that one trait that binds them together. And God is giving us that trait to unify us as a family, which is another whole story in the midst of this.

For now, as we walk this path He has given us, I have to keep laying down the fears and worries and the unknown. I have to keep reminding myself He is trustworthy and faithful.

Years ago, a friend and I had planned and set up a silent auction to help a women’s center. It was a huge undertaking and I remember freaking out the week before. I was asking Andrew, in a panic, “what if no one shows up? What if no one contributes?”

He said very calmly, “He got you this far. He’s not about to leave you at the doorstep.”

So, I guess one of the steps I have to keep retaking in this journey is the step of trust. I have to repeatedly tell my heart His truths to calm fear and anxiety. And maybe you are facing a totally different journey, and yet you feel your throat constrict, your heart race, and your gut sink when you look ahead. Maybe you don’t wake up in a panic over bugs infesting your squash or mold killing your plants, but you do wake up in a panic! Maybe you don’t worry about no one signing up for your endeavor, but you do find yourself worrying.

Here’s what I’ve been doing and maybe it’ll help you too. Stick to Hs truths.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6‭-‬7

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:25

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Look up trust in your Bible and start reading and praying His words right back to Him.

Lord, I trust you. Let me rise up on eagle’s wings, help me run and not grow weary, help me walk and not grow faint. Let me not sit in the snare of fear but trust you and be kept safe. I will cast all my worries on you because you care for me and I will trust in the path you have made straight for me. I will trust in the name of the Lord and when I doubt, renew my strength and trust by reminding me of your faithfulness again and again.

The Battle Plan

Have you ever felt sunk low? Have you ever felt like your feet are stuck in the muck and mire of life? Have you felt like there was no escape from the yuck of life?

I’ve been there, friends. Years ago, I suffered a bout of severe depression. I know what’s it’s like to be brought low. And the last couple weeks have just been emotionally draining and hard.

Because of that depression I have learned to recognize some really negative, wrong, thinking patterns. I’ve also learned how to combat them. It’s not easy and it is a true battle, but it is doable. And it’s so fruitful and rewarding when you are victorious over it!

I’ve really had to employ these tools lately and I think they are worth sharing! I hope they bless you as they’ve blessed me.

1. Surround yourself with Scripture! Read God’s Word and then read it again. And then read it again. Write it on post its and stick them all over your house. On the cabinets, on your bathroom mirror, on your steering wheel in your car. And the read His Word again.

2. Listen to Worship music. Put together a Playlist of songs that only praise Jesus. Pick songs that put your heart’s focus on Him and Him alone. Play it in every room and in your car. Let it fill the air around you.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray for your hurt to be laid down at the cross. Pray Jesus helps you take up His yoke and His burden. Pray for the sin in your own heart to be revealed and repented of. Pray for those who hurt you (that’s a hard one!). And Praise! Praising Him no matter your circumstances is crucial!

4. Focus on the future. His mercies are new every morning and His promise to bless you if you obey never fails. Trust He is working all things for your good and His glory.

5. Obey Him. What’s He telling you to do in spite of your emotions and feelings? How does He want you to act, react, and respond no matter how hurt you feel? This one is so hard. But Jesus says, “if you love me, you will obey me.”

It’s a New Day! Praise Him!

Ah, putting it all in a simple little list of five items seems to make it easy. Let me tell you, it’s not. It’s probably the hardest battle I’ve ever fought in my life. Winning over your negative thoughts feels and seems impossible. And, actually it is without the Holy Spirit! But it’s a fight worth fighting. Your mental, emotional and even physical health depend on it!

You can take every thought captive! And the fruit of God’s work in your heart is so so good!!

Plans and Progress

Well, I did something this week I genuinely never thought I’d do or need to do, but when you’re motivated, you’re motivated, right?

We spent a very very frigid evening measuring our pasture for our new garden. Yeah, crazy right?! It was 20 degrees when we first went out with a freezing north wind howling straight through our yard. And if you’ve ever seen our property, you know there’s really nothing for miles around to stop that wind!

We ended up doing a fairly poor job measuring. Gee, I have no idea why! Couldn’t be the freezing temps, the howling wind, the frozen, packed, uneven ground, or the dark, could it??

Once we realized how many measurements we still needed, we decided, foolishly, to bundle back up and head back out. At this point the temperature had dropped to 8 degrees, the wind had picked up to what felt like hurricane force gales which whipped loose ice pellets at us, and the moon was high in the sky, faintly illuminating the frozen tundra we hope to turn into a garden! The kids were great sports and stood as markers where we directed, turning their backs to that howling wind and probably thinking their parents had lost their minds.

Me trying to draw in the dark… yes my hands hurt by the time I was done!

I have to say I’m thankful for a family willing to adventure and have good attitudes! I’m also very thankful for high powered laser levels that work in the dark!

Once we were thoroughly frozen through and I could feel my cheeks were sufficiently wind burned, we headed back inside to sit by the fire (grateful for that too!) and have Samuel draw up our garden. Again, so thankful for a drafter in the family!

So, we’ve made some progress on our CSA! Now to start planning where everything will go…of course that always changes as we actually plant, but you gotta have goals, right? Kind of like how I set my alarm for 6am every morning…gotta set a goal…

Well, we’re excited for where God is leading us and we’re trying to be obedient to His promptings. We know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is trustworthy and faithful. And as we obey Him, He will continue to bless us and care for us. Even in the frozen tundra stage!

Maybe You Need to Hear This

I’m not generally an overly emotional person. I’m fairly logical and can see long term so I don’t often get wrapped up in the moment of a bad day.

But I feel like I’ve been going through weeks of heart ripping. I’m weary. If you see me and ask me how I am, I’ll tell you I’m good. And I am. I know where my peace and joy come from. I know my Savior is with me. I know God’s got this. But it’s heavy. Lots of relationship changes, the world seems heavy, and tomorrow is my mom’s 64th birthday and I haven’t celebrated a birthday with her for 20 years now.

Today, I was at the gas station, on empty. I swiped my card and started pumping. Then I looked at my phone and, no joke, a friend had just texted, ‘gas jumped 20 cents!’ I looked up at the sign and sure enough, the price was considerably higher. The pump clicked off, letting me know Bertha was full. As I pulled the pump and hung it up, I looked at the price. $85! For a tank that will last less than a week.

And, I just broke down. I couldn’t help it. It was the final chink in the dam that’s been cracking slowly over the last few weeks. Tears flowed freely as I got back in Bertha and pulled out of the station. As I turned onto the highway, this song by Jordan St Cyr started that I’d never heard before.

“Weary Traveler”

Weary traveler
Beat down from the storms that you have weathered
Feels like this road just might go on forever
Carry on

You keep on givin’
But everyday this world just keeps on takin’
Your tired heart is on the edge of breaking
Carry on

Weary traveller, restless soul
You were never meant to walk this road alone
It’ll all be worth it so just hold on
Weary traveler, you won’t be weary long

No more searching
Heaven’s healing’s gonna find where all the hurt is
When Jesus calls we’ll lay down all our heavy burdens
Carry on

Weary traveller, restless soul
You were never meant to walk this road alone
It’ll all be worth it so just hold on
Weary traveler, you won’t be weary long…

Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Someday soon we’re gonna make it home
Gonna make it home

Weary traveller, restless soul
You were never meant to walk this road alone
It’ll all be worth it so just hold on
Weary traveler, you won’t be weary long
Weary traveler, you won’t be weary long
Weary traveler, you won’t be weary long

And then I cried harder.

Have you ever had those moments where God presses in so tangibly? Have you ever had him whisper to you, “I love you”?

I don’t know if I can say I hope you do experience it, because it almost always happens in the midst of hurting, but at the same time it’s so good and sweet and healing. To know that He sees me, He sees my hurt, He sees the healing at the end is so so good.

I read this devotional to my kids today. I highly recommend it if you have kids. It’s called Indescribable by Louie Giglio. Today it talked about the Pleiades. Did you know we see 6 to 7 of the stars in Pleiades but there are about 3,000 stars in that cluster? And God can palm Pleiades. He can palm the whole universe.

“God, who is powerful enough to hold the whole universe, also holds you in His hands. And He loves you so much that nothing – no problem, no worry, no bully, no bad day – can ever snatch you out of His hand (John 10:28). Oh, the devil will try. He’ll throw all kinds of yucky stuff at you, and he’ll tempt you to do things you know you shouldn’t do. But God is bigger and stronger, and the devil is no match for Him.” (excerpt from Indescribable, pg 90)

It’s been a hard day. And as the wind howls outside, whipping icy cold air around, I’ll stay inside my home where safety, joy, and peace reign. The world can be ugly, cold, and harsh. I will choose gratefulness in this midst of this storm and tomorrow His mercies, which were abundant today, will be new!

I’m grateful for His Word that always sinks deep into my heart and soul, for friends I can turn to who hug me and pray for me, for God’s intervention through a song, and for a family full of laughter, love, and perfect chaos who make me smile and love me unconditionally.

Maybe you needed to hear these words today too. Maybe the storms are swirling. Maybe the hurts are building in your heart. I want you to hear these words from your good good Father. “I love you. I see you. I know you. And I’m bringing healing.”

Walking into the New Year

Merry Christmas!

We have so much to be thankful for this year. As i look back over the year, I can see so many ways God has provided, blessed, and given us reason to praise Him. Of course, I can start simply with being able to praise Him for who He is and how much He loves us!

Many have questioned things in our lives and those of our children. Isaiah has been working out with the poolies. Those are recruits heading to the Marines. Many have asked us and him, “are you sure?” “We’re in such a volatile political, world, emotional, financial situation. Do you really want him to serve?” “Does he really want to serve under this administration?” The questions go on. All I can say is this, he keeps seeking the Lord’s will and we pray along with him. We want him to be guided by the Lord into the path He has for him, and thankfully he wants that too. And so we trust. And we praise the Lord for his guidance and wisdom along the way.

Samuel got engaged in September and many have said, “they’re so young.” I look at it as a huge blessing that he’s found the one he loves early in life and doesn’t have to carry any baggage into his marriage. I see her as a gift from God for him and for our family. She loves Jesus, loves Samuel, and fits right in. I couldn’t possibly ask for more! And we praise God for blessing us abundantly!

Some exciting news we’ve only shared with close friends is that we’re starting a CSA in the spring! If you don’t know, that stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically you can buy a share of our garden and come weekly to pick up your fresh produce. We’re so thrilled the Lord has led us on this path and also totally frightened it’ll go horribly! I told a friend recently, I vacillate between being super excited and ready to plant to freezing in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store with overwhelm and fear. So, if you need something to pray for, it can be that! I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord is leading this new charge in our lives and He never starts something without walking along with us and helping us finish strong. And so I keep stepping out in faith, trusting he’ll show us the way. Right now, I’m deep in research so that our garden can be as successful as possible. Of course, we’ve had a few who have questioned this as well. One person even told us we don’t know what we’re doing and probably shouldn’t pursue it! That’s okay though, it just helps us push harder, dig deeper, and hopefully come out more learned on the other side.

I’ve been thinking a lot about people God used in the Bible. Over and over their stories speak of God giving them the ‘what’ first and often not the ‘how’ or ‘when’ until much later. Mary was given the what – you’ll carry a child before you physically should be able to and he’ll be the Savior of the world. She wasn’t given the ‘how’ or ‘when’ right away. She just had to trust that what God said was true and step out in faith. Moses was told the ‘what’. You will save the Israelites. He wasn’t given the ‘how’ or ‘when’ right away either. He had to step out in faith.

I feel like this has been a huge stepping out of faith for us. We were given a vision from God and we’re being obedient to what He’s called us to. We can’t answer all the questions of ‘how’ and ‘when’ because He’s giving us a step at a time. So, we take the next step and then ask God for the next. As a planner myself, this has been an enormous and wonderful stretching of my faith. And I can praise God for always refining me!

Because of God’s faithfulness over the years and in every area of my life, I can walk into 2022 with confidence and joy. So many look down on 2020 and 2021 as horrible years with not much to rejoice in. And I am not discounting that there have been difficulties and grief. But, in reality every year is fraught with those things. Regardless of our situations and circumstances we can choose to focus on the negative and grow more bitter and angry or we can choose to focus on God’s abundant care and blessings and settle in His peace that surpasses all understanding. I choose to look at the good, at the blessings, at how God is always before, beside, and behind me.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Schwab family!
Photos by Paul Caron Photography

We wish you a confidence, peace, and joy that is unshakable in the year ahead! May you walk with God, no matter how scary it seems! And, if you happen to be interested in a garden share, let us know!