He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

27 February 2013

To Grandmother's House We Went...

There are very few places on this planet that I can truly rest.
And by "very few" I mean ONE.
It's found in the hills of Western Pennsylvania at the home of Ma-and-Pa-in-Law.
There isn't much to do around those parts.
The closest anything is just shy of half an hour's drive.
You'll find sweet, small town friends who always have time for you.
The pace is slow and the conversation is never rushed.
 It's where I find rest.
 Ma and Pa love the kids and set aside everything just to be with them.

 This is the place I go to in order to read my one book a year.
This is the place I go to sleep in...
and where I don't have to answer the question "what's for dinner?".

It's where I can reconnect with Hubs. 
It's where I go to find space from my kids...
and have the opportunity to remember why I like them so darn much.
 This is where my Sweet Hubs goes to reconnect with old friends.
 This is where my kids go to play.
 Anything they say goes around here.
 This is where our family finds rest.

 It's a safe place where we know we're always welcome.
Thank heaven for places like this.

14 February 2013

This Valentine's Day

I don't normally share this kind of thing, nor am I usually choked up by something I've read but this one got me.
I found this on AOLs front page and it was linked to the twitter account of jamster83
How beautiful.

You may or may not have someone to smooch today, someone to snuggle with today, someone in whose neck you can nuzzle today but know this... you have a God who loves you more than anyone else on this earth, whose arms you can run into today, whose shelter you can hide in today, and who gave up His own life for you so that you may live today.
 Happy Valentine's Day!

12 February 2013

Encouragement for Today Devotions

I have been meaning to share this with you for months now. It's a rescource I found through Passionate Homemaking and it has been a drink of cool water for me since the day I signed up.
It's called Encouragement for Today and it is a daily email that comes to my phone of Kindle each morning and lifts me up.
I was finally moved to share this morning because it spoke so clearly to me that I couldn't ignore it. I have attached today's words below and if you take the time to read them you'll likely think what I do when I normally read this "type of thing". You hear it often "blahdee, blah, blah, blah".
Not today.
Today this was nourishment.
I have been going through several days of difficulty with Miss Mak and potty training.
I've lost my patience.
I've yelled.
I've become angry with her to the point of need to apologize and at time wanting to shut her out completely.
She's only three!
She's not some chick on the street that I can ignore. I have to face her almost eery moment of every day and I'm not handling it well.
I've been praying for peace and patience for me.
I've been praying for an obedient and willing heart in her.
I've prayed that we would be able to like each other again.
And yet I've run dry.
The words "you need Me" have been popping into my head regularly and my response has been something like "Yes, I know I do, but..." or "I'm just so tired..." or "I don't have enough time..."
And when I opened my email this morning I grazed my cursor over the delete button for today's email and though to myself "I don't have time to read this today and I want to get my inbox decluttered" and then I heard that voice again "What if today was meant just for you?".
Sometimes that happens, you know.
Sometimes the verse my Bible falls open to is just what I need to hear.
I hesitated because I figured it was unlikely to be one of those mornings.
And then it was...

Nicki Koziarz
February 12, 2013
When You Miss God
Nicki Koziarz

"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." James 4:8 (ESV)
It's 3:38 a.m. I stare at the clock and something inside me whispers, "You should get up." I toss, turn, and wrestle with my sleep-deprived thoughts for a few minutes before I finally climb out of bed.
Downstairs, I turn on the coffee pot and sit down in the white chair. Opening my journal, these words pour out of my parched soul: "God, I miss You."
Life has been moving at a warp speed lately. Work has been busy for both my husband and me, our three girls' lives are full, and someone always needs something.
Truth is, I would pay a lot of money for 28 hours in a day.
But mostly, in this stretched season of life, I'm experiencing how "it" happens ... how people move far from God.
It's not always intentional:
The kids are sick ... so church is missed.
Carpool has to start earlier the next morning ... leaving no time for quiet prayer.
Bodies need exercise ... reading the Bible gets pushed aside.
Meals must be prepared ... so worship becomes secondary.
Reports and projects have to be finished ... you get the idea.
The list goes on and on of what can keep us from the closeness of God.
I understand these struggles all too well. And I'm finding there is a great danger in these stretched times of life.
We can miss being with God, but we also can miss the movement God is doing in our lives. Missing God {either way} is tragic and threatening to our souls that long to thrive with God.
Recognizing how much I've missed God, I'm taking some time for reflection of this struggle. I'm burdened but also hopeful in the words He is breathing during these soul-stretching moments.
Maybe you too feel that tug in your heart, pulling you back to Him? I share these three things we can do to move closer to the heart of God, because maybe, like me, you're just as fearful of unintentionally moving too far from God ... of missing Him as much as I am.
1. Find our God-space.
Even if it means it's 3:38 a.m. When life feels busy, stretched and chaotic I can stay open to the Spirit's prompting on my heart to create God-space.
Obviously 3:38 a.m. won't always work for me, so I do need to be intentional about scheduling time with God. Finding the moments of white space where we can fully be with Him is important.
May we find our God-space ... everywhere, knowing He is always near.
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8 ESV)
2. Experience the awe of God.
The colors of the sky on the drive into the office ... experience it. The sun warming our skin on a chilly day ... experience it. Giggles from children, the way someone we love smiles, the praise of God's people ... experience it.
May these moments remind us what it's like to be fully alive and connected to Something much bigger than ourselves.
"... stand in awe of God." (Ecclesiastes 5:7b NIV 1984)
3. Have ears that listen {always}.
The prompting in your heart to slow down, to breathe in the moment ... listen to it. A nudge on your soul to say no when you really want to say yes ... listen to it [or vice-versa].
May we not want to just dream about the promises God has for our life, but want to live them by listening to His voice, always.
"And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (1 Kings 19:12 NIV 1984)
There is always an opportunity in the midst of our busy lives to be aware of God. As we find Him, experience Him, and listen for Him, our intentional steps will always lead us closer to His presence.
Lord, please help me to be intentional with my steps towards You. I can't always control the things around me, but I know with Your guidance I can still draw close to You when life feels so stretched. Amen.
Related Resources:
A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
Visit Nicki Koziarz's blog today for a short video message of encouragement to help make it through the busy days of life.
For more encouragement to make space for God, "Like" our Facebook page.
Reflect and Respond:
Which do you struggle with the most: Finding your God-space? Experiencing the awe of God? Or having ears that listen?
What would you have to change to spend more time with God?
Power Verses:
James 4:8, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (ESV)
Ecclesiastes 5:7b, "... stand in awe of God." (NIV 1984)
1 Kings 19:12, "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (NIV 1984)
© 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


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09 February 2013

and so it goes.

Not gonna lie... I'm quite surprised that we actually got EXACTLY what the weatherman said we'd get.
I can't think of the last time that happened.
The exact amount... 30 inches give or take
The times at which it'd fall... 8 pm until 4 am at the heaviest
Bean had her first real snow experience. 
As you can imagine, it didn't last very long. 
 Miss Mak and CJ have become surprising brave in the snow.
Praise.the.Lord! We didn't lose power.
Hubs and I had the house ready to go last night just in case we lost power.
We put it in a convenient spot and covered it with a tarp.

Yeah... again... PRAISE.THE.LORD for power!
Hubs, my brothers, brothers-in-law, our maintenance manager, and newly retired dad headed to the greenhouse late last night to keep an eye on our in-the-midst-of-construction-greenhouse as the snow fell... little did they realize another portion of the greenhouse was in jeopardy and finally gave way in the middle of the night.
It may be helpful to add that they JUST finished constructing this roof within the past couple of weeks.

Needless to say it has been a long 24 hours for these guys.
And now... we pray for safety as they clean up and recovery of as many of these babies as possible.
Meanwhile, the kids and I are snuggled in warm while the neighbor boys clear our driveway.
Hot tea and a nap are in order for everyone at this point.

08 February 2013

and so it begins...

I'm told there's a big snow storm headed our way today and tomorrow.
Reports like that are always hit or miss around here.
Often times when we're told this will be the storm of the century it ends up being a mere dusting due to a last minute shift or what-have-you...
We're told this one is gonna be a whopper so we've prepared...
the cars are gassed up.
the generator is on standby.
the oil tank is full.
the shovels are at the ready.
the wash is being finished up.
and the kids and I have locked ourselves up for the day.
Miss Mak has been banished to the kitchen for the day (with plenty of toys, coloring books, and eventually my Kindle) because it seems to me she has decided she is not going to potty train. Our house is mostly carpets, I'm finding myself getting upset with her every time I have to change her, and quite frankly, enough is enough. (This may be an exercise in futility but I feel I must try something at this point).

After a week of craziness, rushing out the door early in the morning and not returning until after two, the house has paid a hefty price. The dust is thick enough to write in.

The clean laundry, about 6 loads worth, is piled high and waiting to be folded.
The clutter has taken over and I'm beginning to suffocate.
So today is the day I get crazy and start to clean like it's my job.
Which... I guess it sorta is...

Stay Warm this Friday! 
(and if you're from a warm locale then feel free to invite me for a visit)


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