About Us

Not too much to say (at least not yet)... no long list of credentials... just a story that's worth sharing. I'm Adam Vaughan. My wife, Kelly, will also be sharing. We have 6 children. Our two sons, Lincoln and Tucker, have gone to be with the Lord. The remaining four with us are Emmiline, Eloise, Elliott and Charli. Charli is a triplet. Her brothers Lincoln and Tucker are identical twins. They're dancing with Jesus right now, and they're not sad about it at all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a different kind of day

What  a difference a day can make.  I am thankful for a God that would allow us to start over fresh each day.  Yesterday was a doozy!  After many more attempts,  I went to bed without my youngest princess drinking anything.  I had to fight all the what if's that wanted to attack my already fatigued mind.  The enemy loves to lurk in the late, dark.  I prayed, and I released... as much as I could.

Morning came as it always does.

Today is Bud's 4th birthday.   As I awoke I chose with my spirit to make today a blessing... for him, for my girls, even for me.  I have a choice, and today I choose to celebrate.  I love the change that even a birthday brings.  Our good God knows how rut-bound our hearts are.  
So far... the day has been crazy, full and wonderful.  Charli drank half a bottle this morning.  After lunch she returned to her old "wall-well," and you'll be glad to know I promptly removed her.  I offered her some water in a sippy cup, and for the first time I think she got it and liked it.  I am learning that water is her beverage of choice.  There's just something about WATER that is life giving.

I think today I am just in awe.  Yesterday was such a dark mind and heart day.  I have some broken parts in me that simply cannot be mended.  I have to be delivered from them.  I feel like some deliverance has come for me today.  I have tired, fresh eyes.  I like today's vision much better.  Yes... what a difference a day can make.  I was blessed by a comment yesterday that mentioned a break in the clouds with light shining through.  I've got my break today.  As I type this... all bundled up under a blanket with my heater on... the sun is shining beautifully behind me.  I am reminded... AGAIN... that storms will always come, but I don't have to choose fear in the midst of them.  He has given me an anchor.  
The Daddy that loves me asks me to walk by faith.  He invites me to lay down the super-human and lean on the SUPERNATURAL.  I don't need to be a super woman, super mom, super wife, super anything.  I have no need to hide behind something I am not.  No reason to cover up my anchor hope with the flashy.   I just need to be messy ole' me... living over here on Ridgegate... crying out.  I must always remember that my Deliverer is coming.  It's important for me...
and for the ones that only know about the storms through their momma's tears... for someday their own boat will rock on the waves of the enemy.   May I always remember the power deposited in me...  so that when the enemy strikes again... with all his might...  I will remember my anchor.  I will fight the temptation to battle using my own powers... instead I will raise my little finger and point to THE STORM CALMER.

This heart is so thankful for a different kind of day... even if it does officially mark this little prince one year closer to becoming a warrior man.
Right now, I am just drinking deep of the sweet and small...  and saying thanks for the blessings of today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

living water

I need living water.  I am like that deer panting.  I am panting with much desperation.   This morning has been dark.  The enemy has invited me to spin and for most of my day I have accepted.  I knew the dance would trip me up, but I chose it anyway.  I hate my choices sometimes.
I hope I have not deceived.  God has FULLY REDEEMED ME...but...  my flesh is toxic.  This book shows a small glimpse of how I have behaved today.  Let me set the scene a little bit...

Charli has decided that she doesn't like her bottle... AT ALL.  After about a million attempts starting last night I have be unsuccessful to get her to drink ANY.  Normally she fights me, but I can usually get it down her.  Now....ZERO.  I thought I would outsmart her this morning.  I got a sippy cup and took out the stopper.  I managed to get a lot in her just to have it puked back up all over me.  I think some went down the wrong way.  She followed that beautiful show by puking up her food about 4 different times.  I WAS SO MAD.  

I should also share that Charli gained a pound last week.  The best progress she has made in months.  The doctor still thinks we should do the tube, but we feel otherwise... today.  So, all that to say, she has been doing great but has to go in for weight checks every week.  This feels VERY HEAVY for my already tired heart.  Every morsel of food and every sip of fluid counts.  I NEED it to stay down.  

This morning just confirms what I had already suspected.  Charli's eating or not eating has become an idol for me.  She eats well = all is well.  She won't eat = I am undone.  I share this only so you will know how to pray for Charli and for me.  Sadly, the sickest of the two is me.  I feel broken as I realize the truth in what I just typed.  Panting... in need of living water.

I have spent  time talking with God about the darkness.   I have said I am sorry for dancing in the dark.  I have repented to my smalls, and I have cried.  I am sorry.  I am just like Paul.  I do what I hate.  

God has been tender in His response to my sin and desperation.  He gave me an unexpected and clear vision.  I shouldn't  have been surprised by the tool he choose... but I was...
Yep... this little one.  She is exploring the water line that hooks up to our fridge.  I have let her play a good bit today because I have had so little to offer her.  I had no idea that her independent play time would turn into her feeding me spiritual food.  What I saw her do totally floored me...
She got some of the dirty, dripping water on her hand and started sucking it off.  Most moms would've stopped their children from such disgusting practices...UNLESS...they have four children and are completely parched themselves... so I just watched instead.  And, it got better...
She stopped licking her hand and put her mouth really close to the line itself... I know, more gross and more intriguing.  Then...
She started drinking right out of the wall.  All I could think about was the irony drowning this situation.  Here I am...offering her plenty of healthy, wonderful, and life giving drinks, and she refuses even a sip.  Not even a SIP.  She has total access.  I would give her as much as she wants.  It would satisfy.   It would benefit her and bring joy to the momma... but she says, "no thanks."  She will find her own water....

Oh, I ache as I know this to be true of me.  I like Charli, refuse what is best so that I can find my own water.  I too sip from contaminated wall-wells.  It isn't clean.  It could harm me.  It won't satisfy, and it doesn't even taste that good.  But, it's on my own terms.  It's my choice, and so I often choose water from the toilet instead of the living well.  At first it tastes like good water, but after swishing and swallowing I find I am filled with waste. 

The water-cry of my thirsty soul today is that I would stop returning to the broken cisterns of life.  I don't want to do my life if He doesn't fill me.  For not only will I die a slow death, but I also know I won't have any water to spill forth and bless.

So, as I exhale... and chuckle about the comic relief the Lord so graciously supplied for my heart, I know  without a doubt that when that thirst surfaces as it so often does...  I must run to the source.  I must return to HIS LIVING WORD and remember HIS TRUTH AND PROMISES, and I need to drink deep... face and heart soaking it all in.

Monday, November 28, 2011

getting ready

Today has been a day of getting things ready.  This will be a week full of events but lacking Pastor.  A week with much to be done and fun to be had.  A week that has potential for precious memory making.

This is Bud's birthday week.  I can hardly believe that my little Prince will be 4 in a few short days.  He is getting so big and yet sometimes I think he is more baby- like than Charli.  I adore him and we plan on celebrating him well.

I have spent most of the morning getting things ready for his day.  He requested chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing so I was busy with my messy hands making him delicious treats that are safe for his little system.   All the while...

Pastor has been getting ready for his workweek.  Packing lists have been made and marked off... snacks have been packed... home chores have been tackled and hearts try to get prepared for another goodbye.  I'm afraid I wasn't ready for how our young prince was going to process seeing his daddy leave again.  And, I didn't have the heart to tell him that he wouldn't be home for his special day.  Transition is a hard place to live whether you are 4 or 34.

A small body with such a big, tender heart.  It's breaks a momma and a daddy to see their smalls so broken.

But, Pastor still has to leave and the day must go on... so we rally.  We try to distract the hurt of the small and replace it with joy.  We play music and pretend and we put a band aid on what hurts... knowing that the only thing that will fully mend is a daddy being with boy.

I feel like Elliott a lot.  The thing I desire and need most on the planet is to sense my Daddy's nearness.  I long for it.  With each passing day I see my need and desperation more.  I cannot do my life without HIM.  He is my source.  Plenty of band aids offered daily, many I accept, and they distract for a bit, but the ache always oozes at some point.

As I attempt to get this old, raggedy, heart ready for the advent season I grieve my inability to "get it done."  I simply cannot get my heart where it needs to be by myself.  Sure, I can bake the cookies, purchase intentional trinkets, wrap the gifts, trim the tree, sing the carols, make appearances, but the "most important"....  well, I just can't pick that up at Walmart on Black Friday.  No coupons, no deals, no Cyber Monday specials exist for aligning my heart and mind with the amazing truth of this season.  The God of the universe sent His Son so that I wouldn't have to rely on bandaids to fix my ache.  He is THE GOD OF NAILS AND NEARNESS.  

It feels like a lot for my rainy heart to process.  I'll have to rely on the Maker of Advent to show up and cause my heart to be full of joy and wonder.  I'll have to again accept the blood- covered gift of faith.  I want that gift and you better believe I'll share, but I won't regift.

As we continue the getting ready... whether it's Pastor's leaving, birthdays coming, Advent stirring, or just the day to days... I am reminded by my youngest princess the value of serving... serving from a heart that delights in blessing others...
This morning I caught this little lovely out in the rain bringing up a trash can twice as big as herself... no one asked her too... she just saw a need and joyfully offered her hands.  I want to be like her when I grow up... she is always serving and doing it with joy.  I am blown away by her heart.  I am humbled.  I am broken.  I am choosing to learn.  We can learn a lot from little hands.

Truth is, we are always getting ready for something.  I sense the Lord enticing my heart with aroma of advent.  His tools for today are the tears of a prince and the trash-carrying hands of a princess.  He is beckoning me to possess a heart of servitude.  This is not drudgery for me.  It is a longing... one that is equally matched with a desire for energy so that I can be used.

Getting ready... it's a process... it's tiring... it reveals needs and enlists the help of others... it reminds... and it never ends.  Praying today that we would have hands that serve and eyes to see God's nearness as we await the gift of faith... joyfully knowing that they most often appear together.     

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Feeling pretty powerless tonight as I think through yesterday, today and the next few days.  Seem to have stumbled and bumbled in several situations / conversations where I genuinely wanted to help... to invest... to encourage... to connect, but somehow I don't feel like I accomplished those things.

Even tonight in the middle of a very meaningful, vulnerable and honest conversation with Kel... I felt powerless to help.  I know I'm not designed to "fix" things.  I don't have the ability, but it doesn't keep me from trying.  I'd be happy just to improve things a little.  Just wish I could have at least given more hope.  I definitely listened intently, and it truly mattered to me.  I just wasn't able to help.  Felt like I should know what to say and do.  Isn't that what I'm supposed to be about?

Below is a picture I took a day or two ago.  Let me preface this by saying that I haven't ironed anything in years.  Again, that's literal.  No, I don't use dry cleaning.  Every once in awhile I'll iron one thing.  I just don't do fancy much.  As I folded some of the laundry the other night I noticed that the collar of one of my shirts was weird and crumbled.  I decided to iron it.  I knew I wouldn't wear it with the crazy collar.

After letting the iron warm up for 10 to 15 minutes I pressed down hard with that thing... for some reason it wasn't working... only to realize although it was plugged in, I hadn't really turned it on.  Yet, somehow I had managed to pour excessive amounts of water onto the shirt and somehow make the shirt dirtier.  Good metaphor of how I "try" to fix things.  When I do try to fix things, man,  I make a mess of things.

As I prepare to leave for Ohio tomorrow I think two thoughts.  First, that Willie Nelson's an idiot.  The lyrics, "I just can't wait to get back on the road again."  What was he thinking?  He obviously didn't have my family.  Second thought, feeling very powerless as I think about being away from my family for the next 6 days... unable to see them, unable to contribute around the house, unable to shepherd, unable to lead...

Feeling pretty powerless as I hope to see my home sell... knowing I can't make it happen.

I think a better word for powerless is, "helpless."  Aware that this is a good place to be spiritually.  It just doesn't always feel that way.  Somehow that illusion of power still seems very enticing.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

also given

Pastor's wife here.
Woke up and spent some time with some of my new best friends.  Ahhh... good times.  The V's are still lovingly passing along some serious funk.  As I nearly drowned myself with saline solution, I offered back some pretty unsightly Christmas green muck.  And, I felt affection for my little blue friend.  I remember thinking how crazy this process is... pouring something painful in to get the contamination out.  Anyone that has done the neti pot knows it doesn't feel great, but the results are kind of like a cool science experiment.  Us desperate people can see God in everything... so this morning I was reminded of how God tenderly allows the flow of astringent things into my life while allowing His water to flush out the toxic.  Painful... yep...  embarrassing... often.... unsightly... always....worth it....YES!  I am all for trimming the fat.... which leads to the next portion of my morning...
Pastor and his tree.... what can I say?  Nothing like having your house on the market and your beloved husband bringing home a tree that consumes almost all your family's living space.  I have had much anxiety about this tree.  It is way huge and has required the help of two grown men in addition to Pastor to get this beauty to stand.  We have had several chainsaws running IN OUR HOUSE and have enjoyed using other outdoor devices to trim the tree so we could walk around.  It has fallen over several times, and we have successfully set off multiple fire alarms from the chainsaw smoke.  I am married to Clark Griswold Jr.  

I had pastor trim and trim and trim our new housemate.  After several hours our children are finally free to move about. It is still much too big for our home, but now that it has been cut back I am finally able to see it's true beauty.  It is the loveliest tree we have ever owned.
It's funny how too much excess detracts from the beauty that is already there.  This speaks to my heart as I still wrestle with insecurities.  Being a woman, I long to posses beauty.  Most of my life I have desired worldly beauty over the spiritual.  Now I long for more of the spiritual... partially because I am too tired to bathe most days... but also because I am living proof that external beauty fades.  It's hard to fight against my flesh.  I so desire to be radiant.  I want something to offer... something that is worth treasuring... something unique.  Many days I feel afraid, so I run back to Egypt and I try to "fix myself up."  That whole process just makes me feel heavy... and my focus becomes consuming instead of giving... much like too many branches on a Christmas tree.  It may look grand, but the real beauty that lies within is hidden underneath all that sap.

Back to where I started... the muck and the yuck... and I have plenty... not just the drainage kind... the heart kind too.  My youngest prince has it the worst right now.  I hate seeing those sweet big eyes all sad with sickness.  I admit out of all my children he is spoiled the most.  It's like Pastor and large pine trees, something just comes over me and I simply cannot help myself.  My heart longs to connect with that little prince.  So this morning, I did what any good mother would do, and I gave him whatever he asked... and some extras that weren't asked for.
He and his best-stuffed pal got to watch some serious PBS programs with a side of juice boxes, frosted flakes, chocolate milk and candy canes.  I am aware that this is not equivalent to echinacea, but this formula works wonders over here on Ridgegate. 

This too makes me think... when the Lord is helping us fight off the things that so easily entangle us whether spiritually of physically how many sweet extras He also offers?  I think sometimes we let out circumstances blind us to the others He has also given.  I do believe He loves us better than I could even begin to love my small people.  I think I reflect a portion of my Daddy when I love my children well.  And if I long to bless how much MORE does HE ENJOY BLESSING US?

So... as I return to pine needles and saline-blue filled pots I remember the call to remember the things ALSO GIVEN...

money for medication
smiling children
extra large apples
helpful neighbors
The smell of Christmas that can now be enjoyed all across Hardin Valley... You're welcome!
And, always... for Hope... knowing that I must remember the truth of The Good Book... we are all glory bound!  No matter what... I am bound for glory... I can't mess it up.  
And, I fully know that in heaven there will be no need for neti pots or chainsaws.  And that makes me smile and gives me eyes that look for the things also given.  Like... 
 little boys and their toys and hearts that love to play!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Clark Griswald

I am much like my dad.  If you haven't met my dad, he IS Clark Griswald.  That's a literal statement.  It is not a metaphor.  Truly, my dad could sue for copyright infringement.  I've lived "Christmas Vacation" over and over again because of him.

Well, I think sometimes I'm unaware of the similarities between my dad and I.  Today I was reminded of some of those similarities.

I bought our Christmas tree today.  It may seem early to you, but you're wrong.  We usually wait until December 1st (Kel's birthday), but I'll be in Ohio all week.  Felt it would be nice to have it before I left.

Tradition is fun.  Our tradition is to buy our tree from Mayo's Garden Center.  For some reason I've been known to buy very large trees.  I'm a pretty cheap guy, but this is one place I'm willing to spend a little extra without hesitating.  Well, I picked out our tree like normal (with the help of Emmiline and Eloise).  The workers kept commenting on how big the tree was.  The gentleman who showed it to us took us back behind the building to a special stash of trees.  Obviously, the tree would need to be transported to be cut and prepped.  The girls and I went inside to pay.  As we waited at the front of the store I probably should have realized this tree was a little too big when I saw them carrying it via a large forklift.  Then when they told me it was too big for their drill press (because our special tree stand), and it was way too large to run through the netting machine... well, you'd think something might have sunk into my brain.  It didn't.  I only got more excited.  Then, when it required 3 grown men to lift it on top of the car, you might assume I'd have realized this was too much tree... still not registering.  We'll just say that Clark Griswald (aka, my dad) would be proud.  So far, no squirrels in the tree.  However, just like Clark, I got to use a chainsaw inside my house today.  It's not very often I get to do that.

Yes, those are double doors behind the tree.
Every year I say the same thing to Kelly, "It doesn't look that big when it's outside."  She's quick to reply, "You say that every year."  Well, she's right.  Pretty obvious that we all develop patterns of response... even if they're not always wise.  I'll think about that more another time though.

In addition to being like my dad I was reminded of how I've longed for my dad's approval all of my life. The crazy thing is that he has always given it.  I've never questioned or doubted it, but I've also sought it relentlessly all my life.  He's always been affectionate and supportive.

Last night I watched the movie, "Rudy."  I accidentally stumbled onto it on cable, and I couldn't turn it off.  I own about 5 movies that aren't kid movies.  "Rudy" is one of them.  Every time I watch that movie... I ball my eyes out.  Been processing why that is.  Maybe because he too desperately longed for the approval of his father.  Maybe it's because he too didn't feel especially gifted in any way, but he gave his all in efforts to be more than adequate.  Man, that movie always touches me.  Always stirs within me a desire to commit to something much bigger than myself... go after it with all that I am and all that I have.

As I continue to press deeper, thinking maybe I relate even more because of how I've longed to earn the approval of my Heavenly Father.  I've never felt especially gifted in any way.  Felt like my greatest gifting was probably steadfastness.  Much like Rudy Rudegger.

As a result I can gravitate toward two different paths.  I can persevere and remain steady through hell and high water.  Faithful to use my gifts.  Or, I can became jealous of the giftings / blessings of others.

Seem to spend time on both of those paths still.

Grateful for truths that remind me who I am... remind me of the approval that's already been achieved for me through Christ.  At the same time... still tired from battling the flesh.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

abounding hope

A day of thankfulness.  A day that should prompt our hearts to be thankful everyday... for all things.  No doubt a holiday overshadowed by abundance.  For most of us we are surrounded by loved ones and more food than any group of humans could possibly consume.

I have taken the time to realize and reflect on the fact that there will never be another Thanksgiving just like this one.  Every one that follows will be different.  The ages of my children will have changed.  Where we live will be different.   New people will join in the celebration and others we long to be with will be missed.  As I slow and think I remember the importance of offering thanks for the now.  The crazy food prep, the hustle, the grocery trips, the cleaning, the thought... are all gifts because we have people to be with and life to celebrate.

I have had a precious day.  It has been family-rich and a huge blessing for my heart.  I have had honest conversations, I have shared embraces, I have documented thanksgiving, and I too have overeaten my share of the feast.  I have had a thankful heart today.

Some other highlights for Pastor, me and our smalls were watching the parade while eating breakfast with loved ones, cozy snuggles with little bodies, good food, sharing time and hearts and resources, watching my children enjoy, laughter everywhere, warm homes with warm hearts, blessing hands, mostly well Vaughan children playing with their cousins,  Charli eating chocolate cake, sunflower peanut butter, bites of cinnamon rolls, refried beans, a pinch of Turkey and some smoothie... this alone fills me with gratitude... and to top it off she didn't do half bad on her milk either.

As my day winds down I also thank God for precious friends that surprise and bless with raw pumpkin pies and hugs on a Thanksgiving morning after delivering food to the needy.  With it was a beautiful note that had love written all over it and prayers that today would be a day where hope would abound.
God has answered that prayer... for today, and everyday, if I will let it.  Yes, today, hope was in abundance for our family.  I do realize that is not the case for everyone today.   My heart aches as it offers a prayer for all of those that desperately need to sense Gods nearness.  I have been such a person and will be again.  I must remember to pray for others the way that others pray for me.

Thanksgiving, a day to remember, celebrate, be with the body and pray for the body... to be hands and feet... to fully live... to be present...  to reflect... to edify...  to share... to love... to feast... a day for hope to abound.

May I be a carrier of such hope.
Thanksgiving blessings from The V's

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Very tired

Man, feeling tired.  Not just my body though.  It's more than that.  There's the martyr within me that wants to ramble and rant about the things that are making me tired.  That's not really helpful or healthy.  We've all got those lists.

(by the way, this is Adam writing this one).  Feeling like my mind's in two places.  Catching myself not being as engaged as I'd like to be... noticing this often.  This makes me tired too... that my mind is racing, but it's kind of like there's nobody home upstairs ("if you know what I mean").

My body is tired, but there's a tiredness that isn't really refreshed with a good night's sleep.  Seems I'm always waiting and hoping for that next thing (i.e. selling the house, all living in the same city, etc.), but I can forget to enjoy, engage and seize the opportunities given to me in the now.

Much contributing to the tiredness.  So much to be grateful for... still much that feels rather taxing.  On top of that, my little ones are struggling.  This makes my heart struggle.  As Kel mentioned, Shorty's really had a hard time with the croup.  So grateful she's making good progress.  Unfortunately, little Bud feels terrible now.  Heart-breaking to see that little dude feel so gross.  Praying Charli does not get it.  That could be very bad.

Little Charli continues to be the feisty, princess warrior that she is.  Seeming hungry most of the time, but refusing to take her formula like she should... we'll just say that I often blame her strong will as the reason for my anger... I know.  Very sad... blaming my anger on the sick preemie.

Can't communicate how excited I am about my new position at the Vineyard.  I know I've mentioned that a few times already, but also feeling so tired as I think about all the time away from my family.  It's not the driving or work that make me tired.  I think it's the strain on the heart.

Very aware that I'm not the only one experiencing pretty significant degrees of tiredness lately.

Charli asleep in the car (this never happens).  Feeling exhausted after blood work at the hospital this week and a visit to the pediatrician's.
Papaw asleep while Bud watches Dora in his lap.

Back view of Shorty... it was only 6:15pm.

Front view... sleeping beauty, but she had lost her giggle and bounce.

No, I'm not a creeper or a stalker.  It might look like it after you see just a few of my pics I've caught of people sleeping.

Took the picture below earlier today.  Sensing that the person in this costume might be a creeper.  Not sure why.  I will say that Charli's never been afraid of any toys, costumes, etc.  (all my other kids were!)  I've even put on my luchador mask a few times to see how she responds.  There's sometimes a strange look on her pretty, little baby face, but I'd never describe it as fear.  With this creeper below she communicated much fear today.

Not sure why, but I suspect that the Shoney Bear looks something like Smeagol (from the Lord of the Rings movies) underneath that costume.  He's finally socially accepted because his true appearance is hidden from sight.  Have no idea why I think that.  Maybe Charli's suspicions instigated it.  Maybe the tiredness is playing tricks on my brain.  Not sure.  Just know whether I'm tired or not I'm not asking him to babysit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

invitation still stands

Just wanting to be real and continue to invite you to eavesdrop on the real over here on Ridgegate.  Its been a hard faith day for us.  Walking by faith has been a theme for our family for years, and today I am failing... and I feel a little angry.  Anger is one of my best "go to's."  I am familiar with that cruel friend.  Sad but true.

Today, we spent the day getting ready for a showing.  I barked out orders, and we got things ready.  Interrupting nap time for two children makes things tricky, but we rallied.  As the time approached we got in our car and went down the street to play cards until the showing was over.  We waited in expectation.  The girls squealed with delight as we saw a car pull into our driveway.  About two minutes later that same car backed down our driveway.  They didn't go in... they didn't look inside.  Seriously?  You have to be kidding me?  All that hustle and bustle and not even a complimentary peek?  My heart sank.  As I ran back inside to turn the lights out I fought back the tears of disappointment.  I uttered truth from my head to offer hope to my heart.

I got back in the car with my princesses to run our errands.  A song came on reminding us that we are the light of the world, and we have to let our light shine.  We three princesses sang and danced with renewal.  Praise restored hope.  We agreed that this song was issuing a call to be a light no matter what.  We were going to choose joy.  It was rich.

Since then, Charli won't eat well.  Eloise is still sick and my heart is just plain worn out.  I haven't connected with Pastor in over a week, and I am feeling it's effect.  I am feeling depleted.  I am feeling sad.  I am feeling alone.  What happened to that whole walking by faith thing?  What about that whole choosing joy thing?  We'll I am still doing it.  We are still doing it.  But it doesn't look like a Disney movie over here.  It's just hard.

Faith... it's hard.  Life... if you have lived long enough... is really hard too.  How do we live a life of a faith?  An honest one?  One that feels and is fully alive and yet is desperately aware of its need.  I am choosing faith.  I am not fretful, but I could use a good cry.  That is the truth.  I know I can rest in the fact that God is ok with my tears.  He sees my heart.  He knows all... He knows me.

Just wanting you to know that it's not all combat boots, rainbows and butterflies around here.  Today it's tears and tissues. 

But, that's real life isn't it?  It would be a lie to write about anything other than what is really happening in my heart.  

I am still choosing hope, faith, and joy.  At this moment I am just feeling my neediness a little more.  And, that is something I can honestly say I am thankful for.  When I cry out in extreme need, He answers.  He will meet me here.  He hates pretending.  So He receives my cries... my struggles... all of me with tender joy.  I don't have energy to pretend... not for God, not for my family... not for you.

So, there it is.  The raw invitation to eavesdrop.  And, raw it is.  I am expectant and certain that God will redeem every morsel, and He is already at work doing so.  The truth I cling to... the only truth that matters is that when He is all I have... He is all I need.   He is MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR ME.   Thankful that in the mess He calls me lovely.   May I live out of the beauty of truth and not out of my circumstances.
May I reflect what He sees!  A little girl fully wrapped in Her Daddy's garment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

dancing in the rain

It is so yucky outside.  It's gray, wet and dreary.  It's the perfect environment for taking a nap... a less attractive one when trying to choose joy.  

My heart is battling today.  I am trying to stand firm and not be defeated.  I am a little tired from flying solo and my small fries have been sick.  Charli had her appointment today, and it didn't go great.  She is doing amazing.  Her protein levels have totally been healed.   TO GOD BE THE GLORY!  Again, feeling great, but there's still major iron deficiencies.  Also, because she hasn't gained any weight their first response is always the g-tube.  Don't get me wrong... I am a big believer in helping when a small one needs intervention, Charli is no stranger to such help.  But, she has never been more fully alive than she is at this moment.  She is eating well, playing hard, and growing more and more delightful with each passing day.  I am her momma lion, and I am roaring.  I honestly think that being so active and getting longer has kept her from gaining.  I fully believe she will catch up, but it will be slow.  I keep getting splashed by this puddle, but I know today that I must choose to either avoid the rain or to dance in the puddles.  I am choosing to dance today.  It's not a pretty dance.  It's not even an energetic one.  It is humble and requires the hand of The Father to lead me.

Shorty is pretty sick with the croup right now.  Of course, this would be super harmful to Charli if she got it.  We are praying against fear as we pray for healing for Eloise.  Anxiety issues flow through our blood, and the past several days it has plagued my middle princess as she fights for breath.  There was a window today that I honestly thought I was going to have to call 911.  We prayed and talked it through.  It seems like the enemy really loves attacking the small.  Yes, the croup is very serious, but I believe her fear is much more debilitating.  My heart aches and so I take the hands of one smaller than mine, and I hold the way I have been held, the way I am being held.

If I let myself, I could spin all out of control about all the things out of my control.  I could choose anger and bitterness, and often times I have.  Most days I just choose to be angry with Pastor because I feel like he should be able to fix it, and he can't.  So we dance our dances... he always invites... sometimes I accept and receive blessing... but most of my life I have accepted the invitation of my flesh.   This dance looks normal to everyone else, but it is one that quietly kills the soul.  

What I have been learning and will fight to keep learning is that I must choose thankfulness for the good and the hard.  Thank you, God, for always inviting me to dance in the rain.  For holding me... for supernatural shelter.  For dance mates with umbrellas and warm words for the soul.
You are so good.  You can be trusted.  You delight in the dancer that chooses to sway in the storm.  YES!!!!  I want to sway... with a house that needs to sell, a body that is tired to tears, with sick babies, being at odds with doctors,  a Pastor that will leave again, uncertainties, heartaches, longings, dreams, HOPES, wonder, struggle, too much to fit in, meals to cook, minds to teach, tears to tend to... some of my own and some from my smalls... house to keep clean, shepherding, documenting, providing, connecting... in all of my "get to's" that can often get the best of me... I want to dance and twirl with a Spirit that expresses an invitation that cannot help but be noticed by others.. I want to do an Eden dance. 
Dancing with the Father isn't always graceful.  It isn't always neat and tidy.  It's splashing in puddles, soaked clothes, dripping hair, and dirty feet.  A good reminder for me as I learn hard thanks is that the One that extends that dancing hand is also the One that gently tends to my dancing feet. 
I don't want to live my life with petals that lose their ability to dance under the heavy storm's rain.  I want to flourish under the downpours.  I want His beauty to shine even more fully.  Refine me that I may fall even more in love YOU... I want to dance... rain or shine.
thankful in ALL!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

new church

Pastor here... well, just got back from my Ohio drive.  Very glad to be home.  Feels like I was gone for a very long time.  So excited about my new church home.  At the same time... just so glad to be back with my family.  Wanting to make sure I really engage the kiddos tomorrow even though this aging body's feeling pretty tired.

Few random things... mostly church stuff... then an important Charli tidbit.

Love, love the Dayton Vineyard.  Seems I can't walk down the hallway without seeing someone praying for someone else.  It's a culture of stopping in the middle of a conversation to pray for someone who expresses hurt or need.  Pretty awesome sight to see people loving on each other like this.

Have developed several new friendships with struggling addicts.  They've been embraced by the church, and they're not wanting to keep fighting their battles alone.  Excited about the way the Lord is pursuing them and that they've invited me to be a part of it.

Enjoyed being a part of one of the church's giving opportunities.  In addition to giving away 10,000 lbs. or more of food a month, they gave away around 525 very large turkey dinners yesterday.  We just went to the parts of the city that are in greatest need... knocked on a door... explained we had a gift for them (the gift was a frozen turkey breast and all the traditional Thanksgiving food items)... then asked how we could pray for them.  So powerful.  At the Vineyard they're always giving food and gifts away simply to practically share the love of Christ.

Haven't shared this yet... but it happened a couple weeks ago.  It was the night before I was coming home from Ohio.  I was staying at some new friends' house in Dayton.  Throughout the night I woke up a lot, but that wasn't the strange part.  The strange part is that every time I woke up I'd try to lift my head up to check the time.  Within 2 seconds of lifting it I would have to drop it back down immediately, or I could feel that I was going to black out.  The dizziness was so intense.  I have never experienced anything like it.  The next morning the dizziness persisted.  I had only worked a couple days at the Vineyard.  There was no way I was going to let myself skip work because of any illness.  At the same time I couldn't even make myself stand up for over a minute or two without having to put my head back down.  After stretching my limits to take a shower all I could do was collapse on the bathroom floor.  My sweet host prayed for me with such sincerity.  She did not want me going anywhere or doing anything.  Not only would I not let myself miss work, but I also had to make myself drive home that afternoon!  Understand, the church was not putting any pressure on me, but I was putting unreasonable pressure on myself.

Of course, anyone I informed about the situation prayed for me.  One man in particular asked me a question after praying over me.  He said, "Did you feel that?"  I didn't know what he was talking about.  He then said, "I could feel heat coming off your body."  Within a few minutes the dizziness was gone.  Truly amazing.  I felt great.  Completely a miracle from the Lord.  No other way to describe it.  Never experienced anything like that.  Glad to be a part of a culture that expects miracles.

Speaking of healing miracles... please pray for little Charli.  I'll take her to Children's Hospital tomorrow for follow-up blood work... to see if she's where she needs to be.  Then I'll take her to the pediatrician to determine the new plan of action.

Again... grateful for my new church.  Grateful to be home.  Grateful for good news I'm anticipating on hearing tomorrow about Charli.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

taste and see

Today has been full, and it has been fully good.  I have laughed.  I have cried.  I have shared heart talks.  I have played kitchen with my prince, and I have delighted my girls with 1/2 off, Goodwill treasures.  The sun made the day overflow with warmth and beauty, and the Lord made deep deposits in this hole-filled heart.

This afternoon my sister-in-law came for a visit and brought a life gift.
She brought her ears, and she listened.  She brought her time, and she shared.  She brought her heart, and she offered her love.  She also brought a gift of celebration and remembering...
She brought a sign that calls my very being to celebrate sons that I do not get to raise, hold, wrestle, love on and mother.  Lincoln and Tucker are not living under my roof, but the value of their story lives here.  I look forward to hanging this.  It will serve as a constant reminder of the truth and the tears we have given in pain and joy.  Lives worthy of so much... we must not forget.  So...

Today I seized an opportunity.  I did something so unlike myself.   Before my sweet company arrived I had started cupcake making for Bud's upcoming birthday.  I let Bud have a sample as a "potty perk."  All of a sudden I received an invitation in my heart to offer some cake to Charli, in honor of her life and her brothers.  I accepted. The last time I offered her cake was on her 1st birthday this is what the scene looked like... no offense to my baking, I'm sure.
This wasn't a logical decision.  This was a decision of HOPE.  So... (this is the unlike me part.)  I plopped her down on the floor by Bud... no bib, no rags for puke, no anal retentive clean freak... just two small people, their momma with camera in hand, and a celebration cupcake.

She started with a nibble... cake is a new thing... a new delight.  Even the new-good takes some exploring.  We often have to cultivate our taste buds.
Sweet, new things can often taste a little funny at first.  It's not that they aren't good... it's just not familiar.  Too often we cling to the familiar.   We are too afraid to risk.  The God that I am falling deeply in love with invites us to...
dive face first into the new-good.  He wants us to sink our teeth into it.  
The wild things of God beckon... risk invites,more risk and the sweet taste increases the appetite for more... the call is so intense it stirs... burns... even haunts... some let fear win... others grab onto it and take a bite.
The risk always pays off... seeking to taste and see more of who God is always fills us with good things.  And when He does crazy things start happening in us... and we can't help but invite others to risk in the tasting.

Who doesn't want to offer to others the amazing goodness... a feast is more fun when it is shared.

It doesn't mean that it's always neat and clean.  There is ALWAYS a cost.  Tasting, seeing and sharing is often very messy...
and so very, very, very worth it.  Yes!  The risk.  The sharing.  The mess... all totally worth it.  
May I live out of a hope that beckons risk.  May I not turn my nose up to the new and different.  May I be faithful to share my feasts with others.  May I grab hold of Him who holds me, and would the evidence of His goodness be all over me.  

I taste.  I see.  I want MORE!

Friday, November 18, 2011

light THE WAY

My smalls and I just finished up our 2nd annual Festival Of Lights at my brothers house.  It has become a holiday highlight around here.  We plan for it and countdown to it.  Decorating my brothers house for Christmas is a joy-giver, and we celebrate its arrival.

Somedays I forget that God is the Author of Celebrations.  As I think back to the story about Jesus' birth I remember that He was the one that thought up lighting up the night sky with celebratory lights.  Oh... I so want to be like those lights... all glowing, all lit up, all screaming in the dark...  I am celebrating who HE is... what HE has done, is doing, and will do.

Today, I am feeling a little charged.  My intense desire to be used for the kingdom is growing.  The Lord is using wild and crazy tools to change my cold heart into a warm inviting home that draws others to Himself.  
Sometimes I am tempted by the flashy so I must fight to remember truth... I can best be used for the Kingdom right where I am...as a homeschooling, diaper changing, spit up wearing, Pastor loving, dinner making, house cleaning disciple maker.  I feel joyful about that today.  To think, He would invite me to shine and help the other strands of light in this home burn for Him.
How easily I forget that no one can offer Him my exact gifts and if I am faithful with a little, more will be given.  My heart longs for stewardship that reflects The Good Steward.  I ache to be trustworthy.  I have much to learn about shining lights and so...

I choose to spend time with light experts, and I focus on being a learner.  I watch, I ask, I listen and on occasion...
The Teacher stretches me and lets me put what I am learning to good use.  I get to use my hands to be vessels that carry light.

So as I struggle with the waiting and learning and being faithful with "the smalls."  I enjoy the fact that the One in charge of the light within me sees me fit to help others shine.  I want to accept His invitation to learn.  I am just not good at patience...
He is aware of this, and He is not afraid... instead He lovingly wraps His arms around me and teaches.  I love this.  He does not rebuke me in my fumblings... He does not abandon me in my uncertainties... He doesn't give up on me when I feel like quitting.  No, He is The Perfect Light... always shining, always providing a way for the lost, always offering hope in the dark.  I am so thankful that He would let me be a strand of His brightness... may I be faithful to offer up my light for all to see so that...
when the world goes dark this house will light up THE WAY... praying this will be true of me.