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Order Restored.

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My two older boys are in Portland until this Wednesday visiting with grandparents and cousins. They were higher than a kite packing their own backpacks full of blankets, stuffed animals, cars and whatever else they could find in preparation for their flight back to Oregon with my mom, affectionately known as Mini. And as of an hour ago, they are having a blast!

It is crazy how quiet our house is. Like amazingly quiet. Even with a 2 year old in full force, the volume has been brought down to a level where I can actually hear myself think! And though at night my heart aches a little for Cody and B and wish they were snuggling with me on the couch or we could play another boisterous game of Uno or Dominos, I must admit this is exactly what I needed.

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We moved into our new home almost two weeks ago (yay!!) and my mom flew in that very afternoon to help us with the transition–mainly, wrangle the boys while Tyler and I tried to make our house a home. Praise the Lord for my mama because we could not have done it without her. For example, the 5 hour trip I took to Denton to have my car tested, registered, and order a Texas license–FIVE HOURS. What would I have done with all three children?! AHH!

The entire week my mom was here, daily I would apologize for how I forgot about an appointment, how I forgot where the baby’s milk cup is or where my keys were or where my ANYTHING was. Or I would be apologizing for how late and scattered I was when attempting to go anywhere. You hear me? I could not think straight. Chaos! The amazing thing was, my mom was so gracious and loving and understanding and forgiving…she’s a woman full of wisdom who has chosen to yield herself to the Lord and be able to learn from mistakes and life’s uncertainties. And because she’s been through stuff like this and has had days (maybe years :)) of scattered brain, she just loved on me. Thank you, mama.

With that said, when my mom took the big boys to Portland last week, I could not believe the sense of relief I felt. I mean, my entire body just let down. One kid?! Are you kidding me? I could climb Mount Everest with one kid! HA! And with all of this extra space in my brain I’ve had some time to reflect on the chaos of that week.

I realized that chaos comes in all forms but there are two categories we can place it: chaos from within and chaos from without. I felt nothing but chaos last week. But the Lord has shown me that it was mainly coming from inside of me. My kids were the same. They weren’t acting out–in fact, if I’m real honest they were probably better because they found old toys that had been packed away for years and really occupied themselves with their Mini. Tyler and I were not fighting, my mom and I were not at odds–it was inside of me that I found my chaos and it made my world spin. I just could not get a hold of something to keep me grounded. Ah, yes, grounded…

I didn’t take much time to find my footing that week. In the midst of so much change, manual labor and plain old lack of sleep, I didn’t come back to my Rock, to Jesus to find my footing and find rest that I so desperately yearned for. I didn’t take time to just listen to the Lord–I was doing all the talking and I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off! I just needed to slow down and sit for a couple of moments to be with Him. Such a missed opportunity! And for the most part I was blaming so much of the disorder on what was happening around me–the move, the boxes, the unpacking, the cleaning–but if I am honest, I know the chaos was inside.

The chaos without is another story. There are any number of events and situations and people and places that cause chaos around us. Dear goodness, just being human is chaotic and if you happen to be raising other humans in your home it just gets ridiculous! But though there are some circumstances we cannot change, there are those that we have the ability to control.

Us moms have been given tools and the ability to avert certain levels of disorder in our homes. The hardest part of being a mom revolves around what we can control and what we can’t. And sometimes we give in to too many situations, behaviors, events allowing them to control us rather than us take the reigns.  I’m going to break this down to a very simple, and pretty silly illustration but for me, it drives home the point. For example, moms, you cannot control when your baby goes to the bathroom. Their little bodies do not have the ability to choose when to go or not to go–they just go. And pretty much don’t even know when they are doing it! BUT we have the tools to do something about it and they are called: diapers and wipes. You just have to choose to use them. But if you do not choose to use those tools, total and utter chaos of the most horrific degree would be happening all around you at every moment of everyday as you try to remedy your baby’s bodily function. Am I right?

When my mom was here helping me with the boys it was incredible to have another set of arms and hands and a willing body to get things done. If you have more than 2 kids you understand. You’re completely outnumbered and if you’re like me, your first instinct is to pacify one or two just so you can move on to the other (or others) to help them with something. Right?! I started to notice that my mom was making Dub say please and thank you when asking for something. Now, don’t get me wrong we have taught him those things but it had gotten to the point where I would give him almost anything he wanted just to keep him from yelling at me–yikes! (Seriously, so embarrassing!) Once my mom left, Dub had taken to the disciplined use of please & thank you so much that he says it on his own and our interactions are much more balance–like I’m the adult and in control of his actions NOT him! Like it’s suppose to be. HA!  (Thanks again, mama:))

Nothing is more chaotic than a bunch of kids who get whatever they want, whenever they want it. There is no order. There is no authority. There is no respect or discipline. And really, there is no love. You see, I cannot control that he is 2 and is still a baby in most ways BUT I have control of whether or not my 2 year old says please or thank you.  And because I wasn’t choosing to do so, disorder seeped into our house. And for no good reason other than I didn’t take the time.

Take the time. There is so much chaos around us, don’t let it come from within. Ask the Lord to guide you and speak to you–and be willing to listen and obey! Spend time with Jesus and hear His truth. Spend time with Jesus–do it! Don’t let your children rule your life. Don’t let them take control when the Lord has given you tools to train them!  There somethings only God can do, but there are others He has asked us to do–like bedtime. Oh my, have a bedtime!!!!  I cannot believe the amount of families we meet that don’t have a bed time or don’t enforce it and they are some of the most worn out people we know!  That is a non-negotiable here at the Ross house.  (And comes out of the very real and practicle truth that Tyler and I cannot properly function without sleep!)  God has called us to a very specific and amazing purpose: to raise and love and train and discipline our kids. Teach them rules and enforce them. No matter how hard or tiring it is, the consequences of not doing it now are far greater than how tired you are. In fact, you are probably more tired because of the chaos than if you chose to bring order.

I needed these reminders. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness when I am so unfaithful. Praise the Lord for His strength as I am so weak. For I am incapable and full of chaos without Him!

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

 

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Foolish Territory.

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You ever make decision based on how the Lord was leading you or your family and once you made that decision did you ever stop for a moment and realize that from all outward appearances you look like a plain old fool?

I have.

Ever since our decision to move to Connecticut the Lord has constantly prompted us to keep walking by faith and not by sight at the risk of looking like a fool. The entire string of events that lead us to Texas was looked at by a lot of people as pure lunacy. But did that matter? No. It couldn’t. Because we knew, we knew that every step into the unknown, every tip-toe into fool territory we took, the Lord continued to show Himself faithful and gracious as He held our hands down His road.

Apparently moving to Texas wasn’t the end of it. We’ve had to make a couple more decisions that have been perceived as “out of God’s will’ or just plain old stupid to others. Yet each time we chose to believe in Him, He has shown just how much He desires for us to be with Him, to seek Him and to know Him. The Lord has graciously blessed and challenged us to keep moving forward no matter what the world or even other Christians may think.

Yes–other Christians. You ever find that to be the hardest one? Where you could care less if someone judges you for going to church, but when it comes to others who are in your bible study, home group or those who sit next to you on Sundays, it’s much harder? I’m not talking about deciding to deliberately disobey the Lord’s instructions and commandments in His word. NOT that. I’m talking about the other countless decisions you make as parents or as a husband and wife that are not explicitly laid out in the Bible and have been left out for us to seek the Spirit and know God’s will for our lives. You know simple things like: if you’re going to have children, when you have children, how and when you children sleep, what you eat, where you live, how many sports you play–if any. Or harder ones, like what we are facing now: homeschool? public school? private school?

Those decisions are hard to make, especially if it doesn’t look like everyone else around you… Living in 3 totally different areas of the country have revealed somethings so interesting to me and something I was very ignorant of: that different churches and Christian communities place different priorities on different things. For example, in Portland, there are large amounts of families who homeschool and have been blessed in the process. And we also felt huge pressure to homeschool. In Connecticut, private Christian school was seen as almost an imperative if you desire to raise your children in a godly way. There were large pressures to follow in line there as well. Here in Dallas, Texas, most every mom I meet works and homeschool is kinda weird and the public schools are viewed so well that private school is not really considered. None of these choices are right or wrong based on what the bible says–each family is called according to the purpose and plan God created for them. Each of these vastly different communities and have very specific and purposeful reasons they might lean toward one kind of schooling over another. But what happens when your plan doesn’t look the same as everyone else? That is when you start to step into what I am calling “foolish territory”.

I want to first clarify that the Word calls us to seek godly counsel (Proverbs 11:14 & 15:22) and to bring your needs and questions and desires to the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). When you are thinking about doing something, praying about doing something, if you feel the need to be secretive about it or are ashamed to share with your mentor or other godly people in your life, that is a clear indication that your “something” is not a God thing. Bring your desires or decisions to the Light–confess it to the Lord, ask friends and family to pray with you and seek with you and the Lord will direct you! And He will never contradict what is in His word!  If you are feeling the Lord is leading you toward a decision that doesn’t look like everyone else’s, seek Him fervently and ask others to join you as well. He will never leave you to make choices on your own when you are asking for His help–never.

But when He is guiding, it doesn’t necessarily mean His answer to you will look like what your peers are expecting…

So, as you probably figured out, my latest “foolish” move is school related. I mean, I have literally wanted to wear a sign around my neck that states: “If you have any questions regarding the school my children are going to attend next year, please read this preface before you think I am an idiot, selfish, stuck-up, foolishly misguided or not really a Christian. Thank you.” You see, the Lord asked us to go out on a limb for something a couple of months ago that was so far out of bounds I thought, “I MUST be making this up!” I would pray Psalm 139: 23-24:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

I sought prayer and counsel from dear friends and of course my family, and though they might not fully understand, they were faithful to pray and walk with us through this process. But I realized that from outward appearances here in our community, this decision came with whole load of judgements and preconceived ideas of who we are as a family and what our priorities are. And I started to shrink back, I found myself talking down our own decision to some people when I ran into some push back to our decision–totally caving into the fear of man. Once I did that, I opened the door for the enemy to speak in doubt and fear of what we had prayed for and listened to…and just when I am spiraling down the pit of doubt, the Lord swoops me up in His mighty hand and reminds me of the truth: that He loves me. That He is my father in heaven who will never leave me or forsake me. And that He is the one who is in control–not me and not anyone else. From that instant I realized that no matter the outcome of our journey, whatever happens the Lord is with us and He will guide us. So I decided to take off the sign and start boldly living like a fool on the outside for a God who lives on the inside.

Don’t let others determine what your faith looks like. Don’t look around to figure out what God has for you. Look up. Seek Him, let Him show you what is best for you and your family, no matter what it looks like on the outside. No matter how foolish it seems. Our ways are not His ways. Don’t do what seems right in the sight of man, but seek our Savior, Author and Perfector of our Faith and you will be given guidence and direction, and most importantly you will begin to seek the things of the Kingdom of God and not of this world.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 1:31

 

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Breakfast Nook Design.

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This is my inspiration board for our breakfast nook–I have been sourcing this stuff for a couple of months now and as of today, this is what we hope to create.  Who knows what it will all end up looking like, but this is definitely the direction we are going.  Staying true to the comfortable elegance, easy living style we love, I think these elements will come together to achieve just that.  I wanted to bring in the softer wood tones into the breakfast nook as it shares the same space with the kitchen.  It will allow all the gold and dark bold cabinets to be toned down with the softer hues of natural wood, leafy greens and white slipcovered end chairs.  I hope to have more pictures of our real house next week!

Here is the floor plan to give you a better idea of where the kitchen and breakfast nook and living space are all connected:

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1.  World Market’s Large Wood Bead Chandelier. Seriously, dying over this.  I love the look of beaded chandeliers but usually the are outrageous when it comes to price.  Gorgeous but ridiculous.  So when I stumbled upon this one at World Market for $215.99 I was sold!  I’m not sure if it’ll still be on sale when we buy it but even without the sale it’s a steal of a price!

2.  Our floors will be a darker grey and our cabinets will be darker too, so I wanted to lighten it up a little bit on the rug.  This Tile Wool Kilium Rug from West Elm is perfect!

3.  We need a little gold in the breakfast area since it’s directly across from the kitchen, so I thought I’d bring it in with some whimsy :)  Love this “Hey Ya’ll!” print from Stephanie Creekmur on Etsy.  So perfect for us newcomers here in Dallas!

4.  This Riviera Armchair is the beautiful little sister of the bar stools we chose for the kitchen and I am dreaming of one day having her in our breakfast nook!  LOVE! There is also a version without arms that I love as well.  Serena & Lily did an amazing job capturing the simplicity and beauty of the European Bistro chair while keeping it fresh and modern with the black and white pattern.  It’s rattan frame and woven plastic are pretty much ideal for boys who spill and make messes at the dinner table :)

5.  The Parson’s Slipcovered Armchair from Ballard Designs is a bold move considering the aforementioned reality of messy boys, BUT it’s just a must.  A MUST.  So pretty, so crisp and airy–seriously, I know it’s not very practical, but if there are only two and those two are just for mommy and daddy, don’t you think we could get away it?!  HA!  Plus, they are slipcovered so if it all blows up in my face, I’ll order some more covers:)

6.  Oh, my dining room table.  It’s the Abbot Zinc Top Rectangular Fixed Dining Table from Pottery Barn and how I adore thee.  Last year in Connecticut we were out shopping and stumbled into Pottery Barn and lo and behold they were having a floor sale blowout!  Most every other day in my life this means nothing but a deeper burning of lust for new beautiful things I can’t have BUT my dream table just happened to be on KILLER sale–like, it was so killer Tyler couldn’t even deny it.  And after both of recited our vows to make this our birthday and anniversary and Christmas presents, we bought it!  You might think it’s a weird choice, but it is beautiful.  I love the look–the mix of the solid eucalyptus wood base and the zinc top is so refined rustic!  And one of the best parts about it is, zinc is like indestructible when it comes to food and markers and the like!

7.  Fig Leaf Trees.  I hope to have one of these beauties in my breakfast nooks to bring some fresh color into the space.  Don’t you think it’s beautiful?

8. That picture up on the top (which I now realize I forgot to number) is a nice shot for my inspiration.  This is from Georgiana Designs tumblr and the designer is Threshold Interior’s in Massachusetts.  A gorgeous example of causual elegance to be sure!  No, we will not have the lovely bench seating that goes up the wall but you get the idea :)

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Kitchen Design

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Good morning! At any given moment of the day there are almost endless amounts of ideas, dreams, ideas, plans and worries swirling about in my brain about our house and the finish work that is underway right now.  And to regain some of my sanity and well, share some of these fun things with you, I figured I’d better get them all out on “paper”.  So here is a little inspiration board of what is to come in our kitchen.  I hope to have more of these boards for our breakfast nook and family room, and maybe even the boy’s room, but for now this is what I have.  Paint is almost finished and tile is starting to be laid, and I am stalking my own house as I drive by it almost every day!  Those subcontractors must think I’m crazy…

If any of you follow my on Pintrest you know I have a problem:  I love pretty pictures of pretty things.  I think I’ve mentioned it before (I know some of you do too, I see your pins!)  But since we have started building a house, my obsession has only intensified.  BUT this is not without purpose–oh no, it has great value as I have been able to compile loads of images and ideas on how to design and finish our house. (See! Pintrest isn’t only a life sucker or marketing tool, there can be some merit to it…).  The best part about all of those images is that I definitely know what I want.  I know what I like and don’t like, and I know what is current and trending and for the most part, I know what I want to do with those trends.  The most difficult issue in decorating or designing a house is being able to understand what you like and don’t like and then being able to put it all together.  For some reason I really enjoy doing it.  In fact, when I had my Design Center meeting scheduled to choose all of our house finishes, they usually have 2 separate meetings at 4 hours each.  I made all of my selections in just under 2 hours.  All of them.  BAM.  My mother-in-law used to call me picky and I would quickly say, “I”m not picky, I just know what I like.”  :)  He hehe he.  I’d say that’s a gift.

I have always loved a beautiful, classic white kitchen.  Ahh, aren’t those pictures just dreamy?  White inlaid cabinets to the ceiling, beautiful molding, stunning Calcutta marble as far as the eye can see, a white farm sink…yes, unbelievably beautiful.  BUT my eye has been equally drawn to the kitchens with grey cabinets.  I loved how it stood out from the other kitchens, and I loved the drama of it.  So as it came down to my Design Center meeting, I had to stop see-sawing in my mind–white? grey? white and grey? maybe blue?–yes, I even thought about a deep navy blue (wouldn’t that be awesome?!)–and make a decision.  Then I realized that this could be my one and only chance to actually pick out the finishes in a house and I didn’t want to go safe.  Let’s do it:  grey!  And not just a soft grey, but dark!  Dark, dramatic, and beautiful!

Knowing the cabinets would be dark and the molding in our house will be the dark grey as well, I knew that all of my other choices needed to be bright, open and airy.  I knew I had to go white on the counters, white on the backsplash and the furniture and fixtures need to complement that airiness as well.  And the walls will be a very light, light (almost white) grey, keeping it bright.  There is no need for this place to feel like a cave so my other choices helped to ensure this.

My next bold move was:  gold.  Now, hold on, I know what you just said because that’s what my husband said…yes, gold.  Hang with me.  It’s coming back, people.  It’s been showing up in decor and furniture for the last couple of years and now it has made its way into fixtures and hardware–and I am drooling at every image and article I read.  Seriously, if done well it can be amazing! Brass is back and worth our attention!  You cannot deny, that image of the dark grey cabinet above is absolutely stunning with that brass pull on it–don’t pretend!  You probably didn’t even realize that the pulls were gold and just thought it was pretty!  BUT I also know that trends are tricky–especially when you are reading trendy blogs and magazines. Just because someone does it in their loft in New York doesn’t mean it’s going to translate into my house in suburbia heaven in Lantana, Texas.  So I wrote into a couple of blogs, started to ask around and no one seemed to be able to gage if this is a trend to stay…can’t anyone tell the future in the blogosphere?!  Please!  Alas, the decision was all on me, and after texting with a friend, I realized that I should just go for it.  If I like it, I should do it!  BAM.  Antiqued brass will be making a grand appearance in my kitchen!

My hope is our house is a home we can be proud of.  My hope is that our house exudes our personality.  My hope is to have just enough sophistication and drama mixed with the comfortability of family living and style.  And I hope it all works out :) Let me know what you think!

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1.  A shot of our kitchen before painting began.  The cabinets are full overlay in the shaker style.

2. Lew’s Hardware Bar style pull in Antique Brass.  Can.  Not.  Wait.  I received one in the mail this week and it’s exactly what I has hoping for.  A bit modern, but the shape is timeless.

3.  Pure White Quartz for all of the countertops.  No marble here.  Totally impractical and expensive.  Quartz is amazingly durable and really sleek.  I think the contrast of the dark dark grey cabinets and the white counters will be stunning.

4.  A beveled subway tile and a light grey grout for the backsplash.  I am particularly excited about the grout color.  It’s going to be subtle enough that it would take away from the crisp white of the tile but add a gorgeous definition to make the tile pop!

5. Oh, man, I have been stalking these Eldridge Pendant Lanterns by Ballard Designs for months.  It’s in an antique brass to play off the brass pulls on the cabinet doors.  I wanted something really airy to keep the sight-line open to the rest of the kitchen and the breakfast area directly across from the island.  I also wanted to make sure it would not darken the room.  There will be two above the island.

6. These are our floors!!! So pumped about these!  Though they won’t be in a chevron pattern, they still will be amazing!

7. And finally, the bar stools.  The Riviera Counter Stool by Serena & Lily. Another item I’ve been cyber-stalking and lusting over for months–actually, I’m pretty sure it’s been a year now.  Bright and fun, and I feel as though it will bring in a nice relaxed atmosphere among the dramatic grey. Plus, you have to admit, they are amazing.

8. This is as close as I could find to match the color of our cabinets and this kitchen has brass too!  And if you look at the bottom of the image, they even have similar floors!  Dying!!

Cody and God’s Unchanging Love.

Bradley’s preschool is right next to Cody’s elementary school. One side of the recess area ends right next to the parking lot of the preschool. There is a baseball field and lots of grass at this end of the playground area. It’s a really large playing field. I came to pick up Bradley from school on Thursday and like usual, I try to find Cody in the crowd of kids. I know he doesn’t really have friends and I know he hasn’t connected with anyone (or really feels safe for that matter) so I’ve wanted to see what goes on during recess. This time I found him. And bless his precious heart, he was running around and playing by himself. I watched as he tried twice to go up to different groups of kids to play with them and I watched as they both turned away from him. I had to go in and grab B so I walked away trying not to cry and I tried to reassure myself that not all kids have friends all the time…

Turns out, B had a field trip to the library with his class that day and I was 40 mins early. Totally slipped my mind. So I came back outside to get in the car but I wanted to check on Cody again. This time he was really close to me, about 40 yards away. He couldn’t see me but I could see him. And as I stood there, I saw him running around and then kind of got swept up with these two other boys and the next thing I know they decide to push him against the chain link fence and rough him up. Slapping him on the stomach, stretching his arms out wide along the fence as they smack his rear…and at that point I yelled out “CODY! Are you okay?!” The kids freeze. Cody sees me. I yell at the other boys to leave him alone and ask Cody to come close to the fence where I was standing. He was crying. My heart was racing…I told Cody to follow me and meet me at the other end of the field where the adults were. NO ONE SAW THIS HAPPEN or even saw me until I walked down the side of the street with Walker in my arms and came up to the woman who was supposed to be supervising the recess. I explained to her that Cody is my son and I just watched him get beat up by two boys at the other end of then playground. She was alarmed. I was trying not to cry but my voice was cracking and tears were streaming down my face. I told her I am taking Cody home–she said I had to have the office call for him before he can leave the playground. So I walked back with Walker, sobbing the entire way, got in my car and drove to the school.

As I am in the office, the secretaries just stared at me. The lack of compassion or interest for my situation was suffocating. It took a little time for Cody to get to me. He was okay–he’s always okay…precious, he is too precious for this…I then tell them I would like to speak with someone about this as they just act as though it’s a normal lunch period for them. The principal was not available, so we waited for the counselor and spoke with her. She was nice. Cody was crying a little and didn’t want to talk about it. I was calm. I just wanted to get out there. I couldn’t get my heart to calm down. She threw out phrases like “These kids are too young to do these things maliciously. They are boys and they just like to see how far they can go.” And, “This is more than likely not bullying.” Sure. Whatever makes you feel better. This worldly perspective on the human condition is really going well for you, as my 6 year old son was just attacked by two 5 year olds on the playground after lunch. It’s hard to make real sense of this when you think everyone is basically good.

So we left. Picked up B. And we got some ice cream.

I could go more into the conversations with the principal and vice principal that Tyler had but really, it just gets me upset and the Lord has asked us to let it go. We are not taking any action other than when we turned in our letter of withdrawal the very next day.  Cody is good–he’s more than good, he is great!  We talk about it when he wants.  We encourage him in the Lord and who Christ created him to be.  We talk about the nightmares and the insomnia.  We love on him and pray.  He is doing great–in fact it’s pretty much a non-issue now–praise the Lord!

Lord knows, I wish that day had never had happened–NEVER.  But that day happened when it did and where it did so I could be there for Cody.  In fact there are so many reasons that it happened it would take me many more paragraphs to tell of the blessings and insight and truth that has been revealed.  This is the sort of thing that lurks around in a parent’s worst nightmares and when it becomes a reality, questions and doubt and saddness and fear flood in and you are left with a couple of choices:  either you cast blame and guilt upon someone or yourself OR you can cast your cares upon the Rock, the Cheif Cornerstone, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the Creator of all things; our loving Father in Heaven.  The choice seems easy when you read this.  It seems obvious if you are a believer.  But if you have ever experienced something like this–if you live with or have lived with pain and fear and trouble living in your little one, this choice is not as easy as you wished.  My situation is nothing compared to acts of horrendous bullying at school or sickness or desease or death mothers, fathers and families struggle with everyday.  But God gave me a little taste.  And I had that choice.

I feebly casted those fears and doubts, and all my saddness on the Creator and Father of my son, Cody.  As He reminded me that Cody is HIS. And He reminded me that the fear paralizing my body was the stark awareness that the Lord is in control and He will have His way in my life and my children’s life no matter what it looks like or feels like. It occured to me that I am not afraid of being asked to move to Africa, adopt a child, give away money or be invisible to others. No. I am fearful of losing my children. And that, it completely out of my hands.

That is Truth.  But it’s hard.  It’s confusing as my humanity to tries to make sense of Divinity.  But just because I can’t make sense of it, it doesn’t make it any less true.

I cannot forget what it really means when I say, “You’re in control, Lord. Not me.” I’m saying that my three precious, innocent, little boys are His. And He loves them more than I do, and yet He allowed this to happen to Cody. And here is the TRUTH: So me, being an evil mother, am capable of loving Cody and giving him good things means that, God, The Perfect Father, is capable of so much more! And that I believe will all my heart.

This truth has put me to the test of trust and knowing that God loves us.  He never changes–and though everything else in this fallen world does He is constant.  Praise the Lord for that!

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Getting busy.

When we moved to Dallas Tyler and I knew that our life be crazy busy. Living smack dab in the middle of suburbia heaven bursting with young families and kids, schools and sporting events, church and church events, friends and work functions–I know, I know. It’s totally normal for the majority of America. I am not naive to how this world works, but all I am saying, is I used to have not a thought in my brain, and now our calendar is so overloaded I spent almost all of Sunday pumping myself for the week at hand!

Cleaning up the backyard patio.  Yes, walker is wearing his shirt as a turban.

Cleaning up the backyard patio. Yes, walker is wearing his shirt as a turban.

And now we are dabbling in our first Texas sports season.  The first of many to come, this to be sure but the first is always the trickiest.  You never quite know what you’re going to get as the “new kids on the block”…we signed the big boys up for baseball when we first moved in. I found a league in the neighboring town of Highland Village (Lantana doesn’t have one yet) and the boys got a spot on a 6 and under team. The league is set to start in the middle of March. But who needs march when you can start now?!  That’s right, we had our first “unofficial” practice last Friday night (shhh, don’t tell the NCAA we might be found ineligible). We are flying under the radar as we get our 1st graders and Kindergarteners out on the field for some intense workouts, complete with full-out warm ups–nothing like watching a 5 year old trying to the “grapevine” up and down the field.  Matching practice pants, shirts, belts (I didn’t realize we needed belts), batting gloves, waterbottles, bags–the whole shebang. Games on Saturdays.  And on Sundays, we are invited to come in for an optional practice to work on whatever we need, like switch hitting…

Anyone? Yes. Okay. What we see in the movies is real, people. Texas loves them some sports. But you know what? So does the Ross family :)

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My parents and my precious niece, Karli are coming to town tomorrow! We cannot wait! For Bradley’s birthday we got him a night at The Great Wolf Lodge and he is taking his brother and cousin Karli too. Such a huge blessing to be able to share this with her!! It’s strange we still live so far away. It doesn’t really hit us until they get here and I realize how much we miss our family.  But so blessed they can come and visit…

What else…Oh yeah…well, remember when I shared about laying down my own dreams and prayers for this year asking the Lord to reveal His will? Well, as He always so faithfully and graciously does, He did and He asked me to apply for a Masters of Biblical Studies at The Dallas Theological Seminary.  Yes, you read it right :) YES! Crazy-town!

I have to file this under, “A Dream That I Once Had But Put Away Because I Got Married and Had Kids”. Seriously. Anyone else have one of these files?  When I was younger I remember marveling that people could go to college and learn just about the Bible. What a concept! Though, it didn’t go much further than that, especially since I graduated from undergrad, got married and immediately had kids!  But if you know anything about me, you know how much I LOVE the Word of God. LOVE IT. And given the opportunity to study it in a structured setting and get amazing tools and insight all the while earning a Masters, I had to say “yes!” It took me a couple of days to finish the application–all the while terribly nervous about the practical implications of actually going back to school: ummm, I’m a mom! And of course the money…But I could just hear the Lord quietly remind me that I can do this with Him. That if He is the one bringing this to me, He will be the one who gets me through it!

Of course He is.

This is a 2 year program, completed almost entirely online. And today I was officially accepted!  I start Aug 25…

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WOW!
It’s kind of weird to type all of this out because I never thought this would be possible…how different my life is shaping up to be than what I had expected.  Praise the Lord for His perfect timing and will and not my own!

Thank you, Lord!

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Building in Lantana.

We are here!  Texas.  And as I’ve come to slowly realize, saying we live in Texas is more like saying I live on the West coast if I lived in Oregon, because Texas is HUGE and apparently all parts are not definitely created equal.  We live in the Dallas/FT Worth Metroplex, in a subdivision, almost it’s own city, called Lantana.  Weird, yes.  But the amount of sprawl that has occurred in this area since 2000 is unbelievable–this is the largest metropolitan area in the South and the fourth largest in the United States.  It’s nothing that I can properly explain, especially coming from the weird city of Portland, Oregon–you just have to see it to believe it.

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When Tyler and I came to Dallas in October to look for a house, the search was overwhelming.  There were too many options!  There were amazing places to live all over the metroplex.  Houses and neighborhoods and strip malls and restaurants and any kind of medical office you could ever think up (talk about plastic surgery heaven), sports arenas, schools–every inch of this place is teaming with people and things to do.  And let me tell you, coming from The Woods to this was a breath of fresh air!  HA!  If I was more romantic perhaps–or well not me–I would long for those days in the Forgotten North (a name that Tyler and I have now affectionately dubbed Somers, CT), but let’s be serious:  I do not belong in The Woods.

Right now we are renting in Lantana while our home is being built. I KNOW.  We are building a house!  Crazy, right?  Yeah, we definitely still think so.  In fact when we came looking for houses the LAST thing on our minds was buying a new home, let alone building one.  The Lord was so faithful in navigating us through this foreign place, and he brought us to this community in the most unlikely of ways and just when we thought we were going to leave more confused than when we arrived, we found this place.  Totally scary.  But totally what the Lord has planned for us.  And totally beyond our wildest imaginations.  Who would have known that handing over everything I had fought so long to keep in my feeble clutched hands to the Lord would bring something that I had never thought possible…

Our lot!

Our lot!

Lantana is a master-planned community that was developed on 1,780 acres in Denton county and opened in 2001.  Since then there have been numerous home builders building homes to complete the community.  Our little neighborhood is one of the last.  There are 2 elementary schools and one middle school, with another elementary school planned to open in September, all built in within Lantana–people, this thing is massive.  There are close to 10,000 residents.  It’s not a city, but almost.

So the process of a semi-custom home is an interesting one, but as of right now, we broke ground last week (yippee!) and are scheduled to close some time at the end of May.  We are anxiously awaiting that day!  And for me, the best part of this whole thing is designing the inside.  Oh man! I get to pick the colors and cabinets and floors and all the finishes!  Seriously, I have been pinning like it’s my job any moment I can get on my computer, I have color swatches galore in our closet and a computer desktop that is littered with photos of kitchens and hardware and floor-plans.  I feel like I am in heaven when my creative juices are used like this.  I don’t know what it is–maybe it’s the challenge of pulling different elements of a room together to create a space that is inspired and beautiful…I don’t know, but my heart has been aching with desires to do something like this for years!

These are the wood floors for downstiars, the tile for the bathrooms, paint for my kitchen cabinets (!!), and tiles for the backsplash and master shower :)

These are the wood floors for downstiars, the tile for the bathrooms, paint for my kitchen cabinets (!!), and tiles for the backsplash and master shower :)

Though it’s “custom”, I say it’s more like “semi-custom”.  I can’t do whatever I like, if it’s not “standard” it’s an “upgrade”, which is code for “lots of moola”.  And it’s not like I can just move the fireplace from the corner to the center of the wall–not gonna happen.  And you kind of have to learn to go with the flow as you realize that they are up-charging you on things you could buy yourself for 1/2 the cost–you know smile instead of punch kind of going with the flow :)

BUT seriously, no complaints just pure thankfulness–a steady consciousness of thankfulness to the Lord for this place He has so graciously brought us.  Our family has settled in quite nicely.  I am so grateful for my boys and their willingness to go with the flow and trust mommy and daddy as we bring them from one corner of the country to the next.  I am so blessed by my husband and his new job and what amazing opportunities it has brought him and this family.  I am overwhelmed by the church we attend and the incredible community we are plugged into because of it.  And I am beyond excited for what the rest of 2014 holds for us.

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And speaking of 2014…

So when January 1st rolled around Tyler and I felt we should write down our prayers for the year–there are so many possibilities this year!  Personally and as a married couple and for our boys and our family.  We wrote them out and have purposed to pray for them. This is big for me because it could mean failure.  Oh man, it could mean that I’m human and don’t have it all together and God could say no and move us to Africa.  But the Lord has shown me in The Woods and now here in Lantana that no matter what the outcome, He desires me to come to Him, to pray fervently for my family and those around me and He desires to show me His will in the midst of me submitting my dreams.  The Lord is asking us to give Him our dreams and trust He will accomplish His will through the desires of our heart.  Trust in Him. Delight in Him.  Commit your way to Him.  And then rest waiting for Him. (Psalm 37:3-7a).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big resolution person.  In fact most of my adult life I have shied away from writing down goals or dreams because of my fear of failure and disappointment.  I had convinced myself it wasn’t worth the pain of not seeing my goals through and therefore didn’t write them down or pray for them.  Umm, yeah.  That’s horrible, right?!  Yes.  But when you are a believer in Christ, it’s not about writing down a goal or praying for a dream and then doing all you can to force it to happen, but it’s about submitting these desires to our loving Father in Heaven who so desires us to come to Him with those goals, dreams, hopes, and even the fear of failure and disappointment if they do not come to pass.  He longs for us to be honest and raw about what is on our hearts and He longs to give us good gifts. In Matthew 7:7 it says, to ask and it shall be given!  Seek and you shall find!  Knock and it will be opened to you!  Jesus is telling us to ask!  Telling us to come to the Father with the things of our hearts–even if it’s scary.  Because He wants to bless us (Matt 7:11)!!

I encourage you all to write down your hopes and desires for 2014.  And when you do, lay them down before the Lord and let Him have His perfect way in all of them as you pray continually through the year.  You will be amazed, as I will be when December rolls around :)  If you have time read Spurgeon’s sermon on Achsah’s Asking–A Pattern of Prayer.  It’s amazing and I pray you find it encouraging if you were like me and error on not praying and asking because of fear or doubt or failure or what ever else… :)

Dani

…and, dear Meghann, you are the best at keeping me on top of this blog and I thank you for your encouragement and for even reading!

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Out of Control.

Good morning from New England…err, I mean Dallas! Sorry, but with 4 inches of ice on the roads and a wintery mix of snow and sleet covering the ground, it’s hard to tell whether or not we ever left The Woods. Well, that’s not completely true, because in New England school wouldn’t be closed for the third day in a row, long haul trucks wouldn’t be stuck on the 35 for 3 days, grocery stores wouldn’t be out of meat and for goodness sakes, people would actually know how to drive in this mess–oh, and there wouldn’t really be a mess because they have something called snow plows and deicer (I think I am remembering a similar post…).

But today is supposed to be almost the last of it. The sky is clear (finally!) and with the sun rising the last of the ice (it’s still 17 degrees outside this morning) should wither away and hopefully the night will not bring more. This probably wouldn’t be so disruptive to our little family of 5 if we didn’t just roll into town Thursday night as the freezing rain was coating our car like an ice coffin and we have yet to receive our moving truck full of our things. All too familiar is this feeling of a cold and empty house, sleeping on the floor, sitting on the floor and praying for some reprieve. But this time, we don’t have a refrigerator. Tyler broke down and bought one of those dorm room ones where we squeeze in a gallon of milk, eggs (when the stores still had them), butter, yogurt and a sippy cup. And maybe one more thing…the washer and dryer that was advertised for this house was also broke. We don’t have one, so we had to buy one. Just what we wanted…

Now about this surprise purchase, I have to say this has been one of the grandest highlights of this little adventure–anyone buy a brand new washer and dryer lately?! OH my! I cannot believe how A-MAZING they are now. I use to put my laundry in the our washer and it would take over 1 hour & 1/2 to wash–100 mins is what would show on our reader screen. And that was rather ambitious for the 7 year old machine that was bought used and suffered through 6 moves. And if the machine actually drained the water (and usually it decided to take a brake from such luxuries when I really need one of the boy’s blankets cleaned or a nuclear meltdown would ensue) then our poor little drier that couldn’t would take 80 mins to dry most of what it chose to. But these new modern inventions are nothing short of a housewife’s realization of a dream where heavy loads are perfectly cleaned in 40 mins and and dried in 30–and if by chance you need to sanitize a pillow throw those suckers in your dryer and BAM you’ve got some pillows that are cleaner than when you bought ‘em. Serious.

Ok, as you could imagine my goal of this post was not to incite large mobs of washer/dryer envy but to share a bit of us :) And of me. And really, the Lord. There are almost innumerable situations and just plain ole “no fairs” that have come across our path as we struggle to find our way in a foreign city…like don’t even have a tree yet–I know some of you had them before Thanksgiving!…but what’s been amazing has been my realization that just because all of this nonsense is buzzing and swirling around us, we can still hold fast to the promise that the Lord loves us and protects us, and though these circumstances that create extremely trying and frustrating moments, the reality is it doesn’t change Him. And most thankfully, He is still in control.

You see, a couple years ago in the same circumstances, there would have been a rush of cold fear coarsing through my veins and as soon as it reached my hot head–the moment I stub my toe on ice, find my house filled with dead bugs, or even hear the kiddos fight–I would explode into a thousand pieces all over my family. Attractive, I know.

But this disaster waiting to happen is rooted in pressures uncontrolled. Your hear me: uncontrolled. And for me, a control freak,the scariest thing to realize is: I cannot do a single thing to control the acts of others or for goodness sakes, the weather. And let me add to that, I cannot do a single thing on my own to be kind, generous, self-controlled, joyful or loving (I think you’re getting the picture found in Galatians 5:22-23). So how do I live with kindness and love and all of the rest of the fruits of the Spirit: the Spirit Himself. I must live day to day asking and seeking for Christ’s grace and mercy, and for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to walk as He walked. Without that, I would be and am one big explosion of selfishness and sinfulness.

Living in The Woods my eyes have been opened wider than they ever have before to the extent by which I live a fairyland existence of control and self-discipline. If you’re anything like me, when you explode out all of the frustration or anger of trying to control when nothing is going how you planned, you see it too: it’s just a facade. You never had control. And it is painfully obvious once you erupted. It doesn’t matter if you think you are controlling your weight, your money, your job; the cleanliness of your home or the behavior of your children or husband; your own moral code or knowledge of the Bible; what house you have or will have or place you live or will live–you aren’t controlling anything. God is just allowing you to live with this illusion, and until you give it up you will spend countless days, months, years of your life kicking against the goads when Jesus is just waiting for you to give it up to Him.

…I can only list most of those examples because I have spent the majority of my life living in a charade of sorts believing I was in control and finally landing in a pit of despair when none of if works out because I believed the lie that God love me only if those things happen for me…Yikes! One of the greatest lessons I have ever learned was to truly know God loves me no matter what I am experiencing or facing down here on Earth–through birthing 2 sons 15 months apart, living with chronic pain for 2 years, having a very difficult 2nd born, and moving every year we were married–none of that had to do with God’s love or lack of love for me. He does not change. (I will write more on this in the future!)

But back to subject!

Of course because of our sinful nature we will always have mega failures–and you can count on that–forever. For example: when I was outside trying to tighten a tiny nut on the battery of my Suburban in 17 degree weather while my husband is Face Timing instructions to me as he is trying to make it into his first day of work–kinda lost it, not gonna pretend. But praise God we are forgiven and we can start over right where we left off with His forgiveness! And by living with the knowledge of, standing firm on the truth of Jesus Christ, circumstances DO NOT have to determine whether or not you are able to love your children, be kind to your husband, smile to complete strangers, or be grateful for the grace and mercy that has been shed for you. Even when you don’t have a Christmas tree :)

Because you were never in control to begin with. And God loves us. AMEN.

There you go. Our family, me and the Lord. Continual training. Not just a year, but a life time of training. And it will continue here we are in Lantana, Texas, some where in the midst of the massive Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We’re in there. And once the tundra recedes from our landscape we might actually find out what this place is all about.

Best!
–dani

(OH man that was long! And yes, I started this post in the morning and I am just finally hooking up to internet, so just go with the whole “good morning” thing :))

Much Thanksgiving.

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Happy Sunday!

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday in The Woods.  It was, as the boys said, “The BEST day EVER!”.  Aren’t they cute? :)  But seriously, we had such a wonderful family day.  Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, followed by lots of packing; turkey in the oven and bonfire of cardboard and wood in burn pit; Christmas music and lots more cooking and finally a fantastic dinner to top the very long and productive early Thanksgiving.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE to entertain and to cook.  One day I hope to go to culinary school–I just enjoy it so much.  But this is the first year we haven’t done Thanksgiving at my in-laws house, and I was itching to be able to put a menu together and fix up a big feast!  And since we are way ahead of most of you, I’ll share the recipes I used in case you are looking for some last min ideas :)

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I know it’s bit early for Thanksgiving but with all of the packing and preparing for Texas, as well as the fact Dub and I are flying out to Portland on the official Thanksgiving Day (!!!!!) we decided to celebrate when we could.  Uhhh…YES!  Flying back home for one last visit.  I cannot wait!  Initially it was supposed to be a big surprise for my mama and sis so it was kept under wraps, but my dad and I totally biffed it yesterday and let it slip in a family mass-text–MAN!  We were SO close to pulling it off!  (Um, I might have had a slight meltdown when I realized what had happened) But no matter now, I still get to come home and see my family and so many others I have missed, being out here in New England.

And really, I’m just realizing how bitter sweet the whole trip will be.  It will be hard to come back to where I grew up and lived for all of my life and know that those visions of what I had thought would be my life are no longer in my future.  It will be painful to say good bye to church family that has watched me grow and helped shaped me into the woman I am.  And it will be almost unbearable to have to look into my family’s eyes and know that Portland is no longer my home, but somewhere 2,000 miles away is where I will now live…it would be so much easier to not have to do this.  Though denial only works for a little bit, I would have been okay with that.  At least for a year or so :)

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With each passing day the reality of our move sets further and further in to my consciousness.  So pumped, so excited!  But there is so much left to the unknown, it’s hard to picture what our lives will look like.  Lots of changes–in fact there is hardly anything the same other than the fact Tyler and I have been married for 7 1/2 years and we have three beautiful, healthy boys, Cody, B and Dub.  I think that is pretty much all that will be the same.  Cody will be attending public school for the first time as a Kindergardener, B will finish preschool with me at home, Tyler has a crazy amazing new job in downtown Dallas that is 45 mins away (his commute now is 15 mins), and we will once again know no one and know nothing about the area.

The most amazing thing about all of those changes is we aren’t anxious or worried, but by the grace of God we are so ready for what is next.  Moving to our home in Dallas will make it 7 moves in 7 years.  And since we are building a home (!!!!) we will yet again move in May from our rental to our true home.  I guess this could all seem so overwhelming and obviously there will be days or even weeks of us feeling like we aren’t going to make it and probably wondering what we were thinking, but it’s an amazing thing to know you are in the will of God and for now, we find so much peace in that truth.  And just as I blogged right when we arrived here in The Woods about not wanting to miss the reason for our move and knowing it was going to be tough, we arrived at the other end of this year with blessing abounding and lessons learned, so Dallas will be nothing short of the same :)

Hope to see most of you in a week!!

Dani

Thanksgiving Menu

-Roasted Turkey in an oven bag…you don’t know about the bag?!  DO IT.  Perfect turkey every time.  Prepare your turkey how you like, put it in a bag, bake and take it out for a wonderfully juicy bird!

-Jansen Family Stuffing inside the bird…I know, my mom and I are probably the last people on earth who still stuff the turkey but let me tell you, there is no point to having stuffing if it’s not cooked inside the bird.  It just doesn’t count

2 Onions diced

1 1/2 bunches of celery diced

2 Jars marinated artichokes

Bag of Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs (of course you can make your own!)

1 stick of butter

Chicken broth

Salt & Pepper

Sauté onions and celery in the butter until onions are soft.  Pour into a large bowl with bread crumbs.  Add the artichokes and a jar’s worth of the juices from the jar (so good! More if you want!).  Cover with enough chicken broth to make the mixture moist.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Then stuff the bird–pack it to the brim with this goodness and then bake the turkey as directed.

-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges (from Style Me Pretty Thanksgiving Guide 2012)–these are fantastic!  I wil make these again for sure!

1-5 Sweet Potatoes

3 tablespoons of veggie oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 garlic powder

1/8 cayanne pepper

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 cumin

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut potatoes in half and then into wedges then coat them in the veggie oil.  Mix together all remaining ingredients and completely cover the wedges with the seasoning.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 mins, turning once, until they are tender on the inside and completely cooked on the inside. (these are soo good!!!)

-Red Devil Cranberries (from Guy Fieri on the Food Network)–if you like a little spice, these are for you!  To die for!

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/4 cup minced shallot

1 teaspoon minced serrano pepper

1 cup blood orange juice, fresh if possible (I used regular orange juice and needed to add more agave syrup for the tartness)

1/2 cup agave syrup, preferably amber

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper

1 teaspoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan, add the oil and saute the shallot and serrano pepper over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the blood orange juice, agave syrup, cranberries, chipotle, adobo, cinnamon, and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is thick, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to thicken.

-Jansen’s Homemade Sweet Dough Rolls

1 pkg active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening, margarine or butter

1 tsp salt

1 egg room temp

3 – 4 cup flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg & 2 cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead unto smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched)

Punch down dough.  Shape, let rise and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 mins

Do-ahead Tip:  After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.

Texas.

So, today Tyler told his boss he is leaving the company.  That he has taken a position with another commercial contractor.  In Dallas, Texas…

When we arrived in CT I had a feeling that our life would really “start” once we moved again. Out here, in our little incubator of deciduous woods and small town little league we have been given a life that is void of distractions and buffers. A life that hardly has a responsibility beyond caring for our children and Tyler holding a job. We have lazy mornings & evenings, and even lazier weekends. No friends or family or even a church family to take up time in our days but we knew that’s where the Lord has wanted us while we were here.

We knew we would not be gazing upon a quite acre of land for long. We knew that the rubber would finally hit the road and life would start. But we had no idea it would look like this. His plans were so far beyond what we could have ever expected, we have been in constant thankfulness for what He has done in our family.  And just as we think our relinquishing of control has hit it’s pinnacle out in The Woods, God asks of us again:  a year isn’t enough, move to Texas.  Why Texas?? The Lord is not done with us.  A year’s time away from Portland is not the end of His plan for our family.

In May we knew were supposed to go but as summer came and went, the easy, well lit path we thought we’d take to Texas became nearly invisible.  It was like walking through dense fog at dusk– we couldn’t tell what the heck we were doing–the only thing we could do was look up and ask for more faith.  Just one example:  we booked a trip to Dallas to look for houses in October with Tyler’s company’s blessing and we found out the day after we booked it that they weren’t going to send Tyler to Texas.  What?!!  So, Lord, your telling us you want Tyler to quit his job and find a new one in Dallas?  Yes.  Oh my goodness.  Here we go!

We have known since May that we would be moving but it hasn’t been until these last 8 weeks that we have been given a glimpse of why.  I cannot even tell or recall all of the countless prayers and cries to the Lord for help and reprieve and vision and change that we have prayed that have been answered in one little Yes to moving to Texas.  By the grace of God we heard and listened.  And we began to choose to abandon all of our tightly held visions of what we wanted our lives to be and trust in God’s plan for us.  God’s plan.  Not mine.  Not Tyler’s.  God’s.

You’ll find that when big changes happen in your life, God will give you a small window into the process by which He used to change our heart’s desire for things.  That you will have the ability to look back and see how God molded into what He wanted, rather than what you thought you wanted. Texas was not what I had planned for our family.  I had a picture of what house, city, schools, gyms, friends, family–everything was supposed to look like.  It was perfectly packaged with a nice red satin bow waiting for me when the Lord brought us back to Portland.  HA!  Tell me you don’t have your own package waiting somewhere for you?  Well, God had other plans–big plans.  Better plans.  So much better. And lovingly brought me along to be ready for it.

 

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Tyler and I put this on our wedding invitation.  I had it engraved on his wedding ring.  It was an amazing thing to know God had prepared us for each other.  That no matter what we did in the meantime, He had preordained us to find each other.  So obvious was this, Psalm 37:4 was the verse we knew to be ours.  Well, at this point in our 7 years of marriage, God is still using that Psalm to show us that He loves us and that no matter what we think is the best for us, HIS desires are what we want.  AMEN.  Amen.

The Lord who is mighty to save and mighty to shed grace, pre-planned a Year of Training for a wife and a husband who lost the will to find joy in their children and each other. Before we were even born, He laid out every detail in order to restore and prepare a family for a life in Texas and living it for Him.  It is amazing to know this!  A-MAZING!  Christ who created all things loves us. He loves us! A profound truth we have been greatly privileged to see in a deeper way here in The Woods.

So why Texas?  Because it is us letting go.  Because it is the tangible evidence that God’s plan is greater than our plan.  And because when it all comes down to it, you either choose to live as He has called you or you can do it on your own.  This move is only the beginning of what The Lord has in store for us to further His kingdom and live a life surrendered to Him.  We are so utterly excited to get down there and see what is in store!  We leave December 2nd…

So blessed.  So blessed.

Dani :)

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