what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

Distractions

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I spend a lot of my time feeling distracted.

Being a creative person- there’s always some song I am compelled to play on the piano, or an amazing sunset I want to take a picture of… or I am inspired to read my Bible, or write.   All of these things require my undivided attention, but with two teenage daughters, a husband, two dogs, and a home to take care of- there is always something else that needs my attention when I’m at home.

And this has, at times, led me to being very frustrated.

But He is really opening my eyes to something…

In my quest to focus on my creative outlets, my ultimate desire in doing this is to have time with Him.  That is when I feel closest to Him- when I am quietly and focused, in my creative zone, with no other distractions around me.

But His presence never leaves me, and my fellowship with Him is continuous- no matter if I am alone or in a room full of people.  No matter if I am driving with my daughters to school, or cooking dinner with two dogs barking underfoot. He is helping me to live in the moment, and to recognize that He is using ALL things- even the things that distract me- to strengthen my walk with Him.  In fact, I will say that this is a huge “aha” moment for me- that I am able to see distractions as part of His will for each moment of my day.

One of my dogs will sit at my bedroom door in the morning, and he whines until I get up to let him out.  He is waking up earlier and earlier, and  I am not always a happy camper when I roll out of the bed at 5am to let him out.  But the other day, as I leashed my dogs up, I realized what a blessing it is to be up so early- and to have all that quiet time.

I sat down on the couch that morning,  and as I reveled in the peace and quiet-  I noticed an eerie glow coming through the dining room window and the kitchen.  Distracted from my “quiet time”, I got up and looked outside, and the clouds were absolutely stunning- it was like they were on fire.

It was such a beautiful moment for me, because I felt that little nudge from Him-

He is there in the quiet moments

and He’s right there in the distractions, too.

Fix your eyes on Jesus- Hebrews 12:2

forever young

Recently, I was reminded that “youth” is all about perspective…

With teenage daughters, it’s easy for me to feel old and out of touch with the youth culture.  I often have to ask them what slang words and current sayings mean.

But as I walked through the grocery store the other day, I caught the twinkling blue eyes of a gray haired lady, leaning heavily on her shopping cart- squinting to make out my face.

“Are you Amy?” she called out to me.  She looked at me like she was trying to remember who I was.  I didn’t recall ever seeing her before.

“No, I’m sorry.  My name’s Julie.”

She said she thought she knew me from somewhere. Then, she began to tell me how she missed being able to do all the simple things I take for granted- like grocery shopping without getting out of breath,  standing up straight and walking without leaning on a cart, being able to see without straining…

She smiled as she began to move her cart past me and said this-

“You better enjoy your youth while you have it!”

A brief, but meaningful conversation- and a great reminder for me to appreciate all the little things I am able to effortlessly do at my youthful age of 42 🙂

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A gray head is a crown of glory.  

It is found in the way of righteousness- Proverbs 16:21

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What’s on your billboard?

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If you had the opportunity to put up a billboard to advertise anything– what would it be?

As I sat in the drive thru line at a McDonalds recently, a parked minivan grabbed my attention.  It was white, had a ladder on top of it, and I knew it had to be a work vehicle.  But there was something different about it- on both sides of the van there was a picture of the cross with the words ‘One Way” and then beside the picture it said- “Christ” The WAY to heaven- John 14:6.  The license plate was also a reference to the same scripture.

It struck me how profound this was.

In a day where people want to advertise EVERYTHING-

their businesses,

their political affiliations,

etc…

here was someone using their “billboard” to point people to Jesus!

Over the front tires on either side in very small print was the name of their business and a phone number.  I just happened to see that the business was called “Schock Electric”.

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What an encouragement to see this today- and a great reminder to think about this – what are you advertising?

 

Jesus IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.

 

the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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June Walk

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Softly stepping

sunlight blazing

umbrella trees

perfectly shading

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rustling leaves

deer are feeding

toddlers shuffling

songbirds tweeting

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couples hand-holding

walking slow

enjoying the view

down below

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sounds of nature

creation in tune

a blessed summer

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Let everything that has breath praise the Lord- Psalm 150:6

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Sun- shining bright like a diamond 

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Where’s Waldo?!  Can you spot the deer? 

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A little songbird feasts on some twigs 

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This gorgeous butterfly led me down the trail 

21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown 

 

growth

Usually I file and clip 

and hear the choppy 

snip snip snip… 

but now they’ve grown 

and I can’t stop staring 

’cause it looks like press-on nails 

I’m wearing 

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I have let my nails grow and they are reaching enormous lengths!  It’s not something I normally do, because when I play piano they break easily…but I have been blessed with a few weeks off from ministry (it’s called a sabbatical) and I am grateful for the time of renewal and rest.  I am also completely amazed at how fast my nails have grown over these 2 weeks!

I’m sure they grow fast all the time- it’s just that I normally don’t notice it because I keep my nails filed down.  I always say it’s a good Sunday when I am leading worship and I break a nail playing piano!   I give my all every Sunday morning for Jesus- and it brings me great joy to lead worship.

But this time away has been good.  I’ve been able to reflect on my spiritual growth, and as trivial as it may sound- I’ve also enjoyed having long nails for a couple of weeks 🙂

I have been the worship pastor at my church for over 10 years now.  Years ago, when I would miss a Sunday-  I couldn’t stop thinking about church and wondering what I had missed!  What if this happened, or this didn’t get done… would people miss me being there?  So many what if’s, it exhausts me just typing them out!  But now, I have learned that He always makes everything come together.

And time away is a very good thing.

When we stop, everything somehow keeps on going 🙂

I can’t wait for that first Sunday back- it’s going to be a “nail breaker” for sure!

 

MARVELous

I have entered into a new phase of motherhood.

My girls have crossed the bridge from kids to tweens, and now we are smack dab in the middle of the teen years- when the unexpected is always to be expected.

These days, I am doing everything I can to be the strong mother my teen girls need, while also trying to cultivate a relationship with them- one that will stand the test of time.

So, my oldest had one request of me last week- to watch every single Marvel movie that has been made- so that I could then go with her to see Endgame (this will be her second time, and my first). I have to admit to you that watching movies is NOT my idea of fun. I have a short attention span, and don’t like the idea of sitting on a couch with my eyes glued to a TV for hours at a time… but I love my daughters and knew that this invitation was a huge blessing- a blessing that my oldest actually WANTS to sit with me on a couch for hours and hours, and also that by watching these movies- I am getting to connect with the girls in an entirely new way. Oh- and I can’t say no to a challenge!

And in these 15 hrs or so we have spent watching Marvel movies, I have grown to love the charisma and charm of Iron Man, I have admired the bravery of Captain America, and I now love to hate Loki.

But even more special is the shared experience of doing something the girls love WITH them.

I am so thankful for my daughters. They are independent thinkers, intelligent, funny, thoughtful… and how cool is it that they are actually people that I enjoy being with? They are MARVELous! And how amazing it is that they actually WANT to spend time with me?!

I am blessed.

Hope all the “moms” out there have a MARVELous Mother’s Day!!

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

I know Easter was a whole week ago- but I can’t NOT share with you what happened on Easter Sunday…

After several years of talking to my daughters about being baptized, they finally took the “plunge”! And what could make that even more special?!

I got to baptize my daughters!

It was one of my proudest mom moments of all time…


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me- Galatians 2:20

Oh Happy Day!

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.- Psalm 30:11-12