On Andrew's 11th Birthday

I’m going through the book Made for this: 40 Days to Living your Purpose by Jennie Allen and it has been incredible and challenging so far! It’s a 40 day devotional with questions at the end of each day to dig deeper into any obstacles in my relationship with God. It helps look at life in the big picture and examine where my purpose, time, energy, resources goes to. It helps me to refocus on what’s important and eternal, and not on what’s temporary and fleeting.
One of the questions this week is below and wanted to share on Andrew's 11th Birthday.

Recall a time when you were glad God trumped you in your life?
There have been three major times in my life when God interrupted the direction my life was going and he changed it to a different direction.
The first time is when I was 11 (and much to my disapproval) our family packed up our stuff and left for Florida- where I would live the rest of my life.
The second time is when I was 17 pursuing a wild party lifestyle as a freshman at FSU, and God brought my husband Steve into my life.
The third time I was 26 and we had welcomed our new baby boy Andrew. But we never got to bring him home.
The most painful of these was losing Andrew.  My life was going exactly as I had hoped. Everything was going according to plan- and then it felt as if someone came and broke into a million pieces the life that I was living.  And it be years before those pieces were put back together again.
This morning as I remembered Andrew, I thanked God for the pain he allowed us to go through. Although it was an incredibly painful time, I also remember it as a time when God was very real and felt close. It was during that time that he showed me so many incredible things. I wrote about some of them highlighted below. 

To be bold in sharing my faith

To rest in his sovereignty despite the pain of my circumstance

The shortness of life

To not get so caught up on material things

among many other things.
I will never know the reason why Andrew passed away at 10 days old. While all of our friends at the time got to bring their newborns home, we grieved and cried every day for the year that followed At the time I felt forsaken and abandoned by God. I had cried out to him to heal Andrew and he certainly didn’t seem to come through.
Looking back I believe whole heartedly that God did come through for us. It was not his plan for Andrew to be healed and stay with us, but it was his plan to shower us with His comfort and love during that time of grief. We wrestled, questioned, doubted, and even rejoiced in a mix of emotions that ultimately led us closer to knowing God more deeply. For that I will always be grateful. God proved himself faithful in all his promises- His grace was enough for us, he has restored all of what was broken, he has redeemed our pain for good, he has shown us Himself in the darkness. Despite my emotions telling me otherwise depending in my circumstances, God has been true to what His word says overtime.
I waited patiently for the Lord
He turned to me and heard my cry
He lifted me out of the slimy pit
Out of the mud and mire
He set my feet upon a rock 
And gave me a firm place to stand
Many will see and fear the Lord
And put their trust in him
Psalm 40:1-3

Happy 11th Birthday Andrew. Until we see you and hold you again.

Successes and Failures

Last week the boys wrapped up the school year and to be honest I was sad. When they were toddlers I couldn’t wait for them to get older so they could feed themselves (and you know wipe their own butts!) but now that they are getting older I really wish I could freeze time.

Jack finished 3rd grade and Palmer 1st grade and both truly had a great year. Now that Jack is older he got to attend a school wide 3rd-5th grade ceremony in which he was given a few awards- for Honor Roll, Math, and Regional Spelling Bee. 

As we were sitting there that night waiting for his awards my heart was so proud of him. And it was at that very moment I felt God quietly whisper that this was not about me. The recognition Jack was receiving that night was not a reflection of me being a good parent or having gotten things right. My kid’s success at school or sports does not define my success as a parent. When they get into the college or get the job, my heart so easily can take credit for their journey in life as if it was my own. And then the opposite takes place too. When my kids don’t make the team, they don’t make the cut, or don’t get the awards their peers get, then I can so easily feel like a failure. But God’s word reminded me gently that night that I can’t live life being defined by my kid’s successes or failures. They will have both in life and I will certainly be in a crazy rollercoaster if my identity is tightly wrapped around them in that way. My identity (and their identity) should have a solid foundation in who God says they are despite the fleeting moments when they succeed or fail. And I have faith God will use both in shaping them into the men and women he desires them to be.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about cheering our kids on and being proud of the hard work they put into things. But in this particular time and particular instance I was taking credit for something that has always come so easy for Jack. The truth is we didn’t work hard this past year and yet he still breezed through 3rd grade. His awards were his own that night and part of the story God is writing out in his life.

I read the books ‘Shaken’ by Tim Tebow (it is written for young boys by the way but I read it anyway because I was given a few copies it looked AWESOME) and he says it so well in this book (by the way I highly recommend it for boys 10 years or above):

Tim Tebow says it so well in his book ‘Shaken’ in which he says:

Who are you when everything is going great- when you’re acing the classes, winning the games, part of the in crowd, when your life is picture perfect?

Now who are you when your world is shaken- when you’re barely passing your exams, your parents are fighting, your boyfriend or girlfriend leaves you? 

What do you do when your world is shaken? What do you do when your plan falls to pieces? What do you do when your life is going in a direction you do not want it to go to? Better yet what do you hold on to? I knew in that moment I had to hold on to truth. It was the only solid ground I had. I had to remember what God said.

Though I was disappointed, I was trying so hard to bulk up my confidence. Not in myself. Not in my athletic abilities. I was drawing inner strength from the One I belong to. In the one who created me. In the One who loves me beyond all love.

Well said Tim Tebow. Well said. You may be a Gator but you're ok with me. 
Tim met God in a new way in the midst of his failure. It wasn't an easy journey after that and despite all the praise he received for so many years, he slowly had to figure out who he was in the midst of continuous criticism from the press that lasted for years too. What a great example to our teens and so thankful he took the time to write this book!!
My prayer for our kids is that they won't be afraid of failures and that they will not become prideful in their success. I hope that I will be their biggest cheerleader along the way, reminding them that at the end of it all our stories are not all about us getting the praise or glory, but it is about God is and the story he writes out in our lives.

Venezuela over the last 20 years.

It's hard to keep up with all the events in Venezuela and wanted to write a summary of all that is taking place over there.

1980- Venezuela a Democracy and an oil rich country. 

Venezuela used to be considered a miracle country. Until the early 1980s, it was one of the only four Latin American countries certified by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income economy. It was also a stable, center-left democracy, quite an oasis in a region plagued by authoritarianism, insurgency, or unrest. Today, Venezuela is in ruins. After the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, the nation quickly built its economy on back of black gold – and even today, Venezuela leads the world in proven oil reserves with 300 billion barrels.


1998- Hugo Chavez becomes president and implements socialist programs.

After a failed coup to overthrow the government in 1992, Hugo Chavez is democratically elected to power in 1998 and he remained president until 2013. 

Chávez focused on enacting social reforms. Using record-high oil revenues of the 2000s, his government nationalized key industries and implemented social programs to expand access to food, housing, healthcare and educationChávez's populist policies eventually led to a severe socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela.


2013- Chavez dies and Nicolas Maduro is elected to power.
Nicolás Maduro was first elected in April 2013 after the death of his socialist mentor and predecessor in office, Hugo Chávez. 

Things got much worse.

Hyperinflation of 200-300% between 2016-2019. There have been food and medicine shortages, soaring infant mortality, and one of the world’s highest violent crime rates.

Public health is just as bad. As hospitals have run out of imported antibiotics, surgical supplies and spare parts for medical equipment, infant mortality rose 30 percent, maternal mortality 65 percent, and malaria 76 percent in 2016. 

A poll released in Feb 2017 among Venezuelan nationals found that 75 percent of Venezuelans reported losing “at least 19 pounds” in 2016, while 93 percent of Venezuelans said they do not have the money to secure three meals a day for themselves.

2019- Juan Guaido is a self declared interim president

January 2019- The Assembly of Venezuela (outlawed by Maduro) elects Juan Guaido as the legimitate interim president of Venezuela. 

A lot of international support for Guaidó. 

Guaidó is supported by the United States, the EU and other countries condemning the Maduro regime and questioning the legitimacy of the elections that gave him his second term of office.

US President Donald Trump announced shortly after the swearing in to recognize Guaidó as interim president. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, says that Trump's government will ask Maduro to resign "in favor of a legitimate leader who reflects the will of the people". 

Maduro states that the opposition is trying to carry out a coup with the support of the American authorities, who in turn want to take part in the Venezuelan government. He has called in the help of the army to preserve "unity and discipline" in his country. c

February 2019- Humanitarian aid is attempted to be delivered to Venezuela by the U.S and Canada. President Nicolas Maduro refused to accept the aid and sent troops to every border to prevent the trucks from getting through. There are reports of some trucks getting through and being set on fire before it reaches the people of Venezuela.

March 2019- The main Guri water power plant in Venezuela goes out. This plan supplied over 80% of the country's power. Due to years of lack of maintenance, lack of engineers, and the capital to restore the plant, it is unclear of when it will be back up and running.

This creates a major blackout for most of the country along with lack of water as well. Hospitals are in the dark, food spoils in refrigerators, people are not able to go to the shower or bathroom. There is a great unrest and looting across the country.

Currently this is week 3 of no power or water and it is not clear of when it will come back on.

Please pray for the people of Venezuela. They are in desperate need of a savior and a mighty powerful God to come through and rescue them. Please pray against oppression, injustice, and for the country to be restored to the beautiful land it once was!

a. https://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/venezuela-1980s-1990s-and-beyond

b. http://origins.osu.edu/article/roots-venezuelas-failing-state

c. http://www.tellerreport.com/news/--self-appointed-interim-president-venezuela-recognized-by-several-countries-.SyzlwDIXN.html

Serving God in the Ordinary

These past 6 months have felt very quiet and routine. And I have wrestled with my lack of excitement of serving God in the most ordinary of places- being a stay at home mom. The truth is some days are filled with hugs and kisses, and other days are exhausting and not-so-glamorous. There are moments when my six year old cups my face with his hands and says ‘I love you so much. You are the best mommy in the whole world!’ And moments when I haven’t slept all night... and my two year old throws a temper tantrum while the boys won’t stop bickering with each other (and I’m wishing I was in a far away beach sipping on a margarita!).

Often I think I should be doing MORE for God, more to serve outside my home, more to help our family financially, more to make an impact on those hurting around me. And I have wrestled with that this year. I want to do all those things… yet I find myself today pouring myself into our children and knowing this is where I’m called to be.

‘’God had been teaching me the extraordinary strength it takes just to be ordinary. To dwell knowledgeably and hospitably in this place He has given me with my people is, in fact, an extraordinary call. He has shown me the beauty of being attentive to one person, in the mundane, again and again.

In a full life of trying to do great big things for God and see His glory in great big ways, He showed me He is glorified in the small too.’’  Katie Davis Major- Daring To Hope.

These words jumped out at me when I read them in the book 'Daring to Hope' a few weeks ago.

There are days when doing laundry, changing poopy diapers, making meals, cleaning the house, etc. doesn’t feel that important or life changing. It doesn’t feel like I’m bringing God glory in doing this day to day. Sometimes it is hard to do it over and over again with joy. But I am learning that even in the most mundane and routine of places, in the unseen places of everyday life, God is still there. 

I’ve felt God whisper to me this year to love the people around me well. To not love them half-heartedly, or give them half of my attention while keeping my eyes somewhere else.

‘’What really counts will be the quiet devotion practiced in our own homes. What will matter most at the end of our lives are the people right in front of us who get to see all of it- the happy stories and the tragic ones, the pretty good parts of us and the ugliest part of us. At the end of time all that will count is that we lived the gospel with our very lives, that we paid attention to the people God gave us.’’ Katie Davis Major- Daring To Hope.

Yes I want to serve God in an extraordinary way. He seems to be calling me to serve Him in the ordinary. And while He may call me to something else in the future, today I will find joy and excitement in this very place!