Walking It Out


One of the joys of living in Boone was hiking. I absolutely loved hiking the mountains of the Blue Ridge. The vistas were breathtaking, greater than anything man could create, bigger than any worry, more vast than any love I could imagine. Getting to the top and looking out was like looking over a letter from God. Speaking to us of how able He is, of the beauty and grace that is found in His presence, the omnipotence of His Spirit.

Those vistas can’t be seen from the valley. You have to make the trek up the mountain. Some of those trails are short, some are long and hard but when you get to the top, it’s worth it.

Mountain tops are glorious places. Those times in life when the hard work pays off. Your sore legs get to rest. Your breathing quiets and your soul is at peace. In a moment, you forget about the trail that brought you here and you just enjoy the summit.

Last week Ryan and I were remembering some of the mountain top moments during his treatment. Moments where we felt surrounded by His presence and His Word. Tangible moments where we knew that NOTHING could separate us from His love. It’s difficult to put into words, but there were these moments of peace that truly did surpass all understanding, of hope that knows no bounds, of grace that’s deeper than deep, living waters that flow from His fountain.

As we were talking Ryan said how much he missed those moments. During that time he wasn’t sleeping very much because of the meds so he would spend hours reading God’s Word, praying, worshipping, reading books, and dreaming. When one of us struggled and woke the other in the night, we would read and worship and pray.

It brought to mind some mountain top moments in the Bible…remember when God approached Moses through a burning bush and called Him to rescue His people? Moses didn’t see a burning bush every morning. He had that moment, and then he had to walk out that calling. He could remember it, but it was time to put one foot in front of the other. Remember when Jesus took three of his disciples up on the Mount of Transfiguration? Peter said ‘this is so good, Lord, let’s stay here’. Isn’t that so like us? God, this moment, this place is so good. Let’s just stay here. They couldn’t stay there. They had to come down from that mountain and walk out their faith, and that included some very, very difficult days as Jesus was arrested and crucified. He gave them that moment so they could remember it, gain faith from it, receive truth, and have it to stand on it when they needed to persevere. But they couldn’t stay there. And neither can we.

We have to walk out our faith.

The girls and I were so blessed to meet up with a couple who serve as missionaries in Asia, Ty and Cina. We worked with them at OneHope and have stayed in contact with them over the years. They were instrumental in praying for Ryan when we were in the hospital and we have seen God directly answer the prayers they prayed so specifically for us, without even knowing our needs. As I was telling them what God has done throughout this process, they encouraged us to pay attention to God’s wonders. We often ask God for His signs. We ask Him for the big moments, we wait for the big moments, the mountain tops. Yet, every day He is doing wonders among us, and if we pay attention, we can see them.

One morning Ryan and I woke up feeling particularly discouraged. We took Brooklyn to the bus stop and as we were driving away Amari ‘randomly’ said, “Mom, Dad…I need to tell you something. God has better plans for you.” We looked at each other and looked back at Amari and asked her to repeat what she said. “God says He has better plans for you.” We cried. We are so thankful for the places God has brought us, for the amazing people in our life…and in that moment, we felt like God was saying that He isn’t finished. He doesn’t heal to abandon. He doesn’t come close to withdraw. He doesn’t call to walk away. His plan for us continues even when we feel uncertain or afraid.

Our prayer for this season has been that as we wait for God to reveal our future, He would find us waiting with joy and hope. Sure, there will be moments when it is hard. There will be moments when He doesn’t feel close. There are moments when we feel desperate. But His Word says over and over again, “Do not fear…don’t be afraid…who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life…” Lord, as we wait, may You look upon us and see faith, may You see us walking this out, remembering who You are, and that You never change. May our joy be in You. May our faith be complete, not lacking. May You be our everlasting hope.

Those mountain vistas are breathtaking. But we must come down and walk out our faith, remembering those moments and cherishing them when the trail is hard.

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

The other day we ran into some friends who hadn’t heard about Ryan’s tumor. Telling the story and reliving all the miracles was such a great reminder of God’s faithfulness, of His trustworthiness. We left the store where we had seen them feeling so refreshed and full of faith we were almost giddy. We got into the car and we started retelling the story to ourselves.

“Can you believe it’s only been six weeks since we found out about the tumor? Look at everything God has done in six weeks! He took us to the perfect doctors. He put so much support around us – of people caring for the girls and bringing meals…praying for us and talking us through each day. Family and friends who waited with Jen in the waiting room, waiting with tears and rejoicing. He blessed us generously through family, friends and our church family in Boone who sent gifts, gift cards and money to help us with bills. He provided for us in great ways through Ryan’s work and their support of us. He brought miraculous healing to Ryan. Healing him sooner than the doctors predicted each time he went into the hospital. Protecting Ryan’s ability of speech. Protecting him from a number of complications. Creating in him such a light and kindness that the hospital staff loved caring for him. He provided incredible understanding and comfort for our girls. He has healed Ryan so he can return to work after only four weeks. And amidst it all, he has given us great, great peace.”

I remember the evening Ryan received the phone call about the tumor. He was so kind and thankful to the doctor who called him. He gently and calmly told me that they had found a mass. Our girls were riding their bikes and playing at the park. We took the news in as we watched them play, smiling at them, and waving as they showed us their tricks. The one day we had to wait between the news and seeing the neurosurgeon was Amari’s birthday and He allowed us to focus on her and celebrate her without sadness or anxiety. He brought great joy in the midst of the storm.

Even in meeting with the neurosurgeon the first time, I remember such a deep peace in our hearts. This isn’t to say there haven’t been moments where fear and discouragement have shown up – they have. But we have never been without hope, and without thankfulness for what God is doing in our lives.

We’ve been somewhat quiet over the past couple weeks as Ryan continued his healing. The other day Ryan said he feels almost like he’s had a sabbatical – a period of time for God to do a deep searching within his heart, to confess and to declare faith, and to be thankful. During the most difficult, disheartening moments, the Lord has constantly reminded us of His love and faithfulness and our ability to find joy in Him.

We’ve spent A LOT of time together as a family. Ryan and I haven’t spent this much time together since we served and travelled with OneHope together, nine years ago. We’ve had conversations that we never took time to have. We’ve gone to the depths and the heights. We’ve shared our hearts with each other like never before, chosen deeper love, and the Lord has brought great healing. For the girls, they’ve always known that Daddy would be home and then back on the road. Having this six weeks with Daddy home has been so wonderful and refreshing for them. He’s been able to be there for them, without question, and to really be involved in their daily lives (including volunteering at school & being there for special events). We’ve taken time to make some wonderful family memories and received some incredible gifts of family time.

It might appear that with Ryan’s healing our journey of faith has reached a final peak. And yet, the Lord still calls us to great measures of trust in Him.

Before all of this happened we were in the process of purchasing a home in Franklin and the Lord had provided so many amazing miracles in the process. We had been walking the process out with little effort and a lot of faith, but unfortunately, we had to withdraw our offer this week. Disappointments will be part of all of our journeys – but they needn’t take away our hope. Future promise awaits.

Our next step of faith comes in looking for a new job for Ryan. His current contract ends January 22nd. Admittedly, this is a scary place to be. It kind of feels like being in the middle of a storm, afraid you won’t make it to the other side. A constant theme of this season for us is that Jesus has called us to the ‘other side’. And if He’s called us to the other side, He’ll be sure we get there. We can’t go around, we can’t stay on the shore, we have to get in the boat, exercise our faith in the storm, and see it through to the other side. We have to walk towards the wilderness and lean into the pain to see God move and take us through to the other side.

I’ve never seen myself as a giant of faith. But as we have shared our new need with friends, they have reminded us of all the trials God has brought us through over the years, and how His faithfulness has remained so evident and clear. We have always been in His hands and nothing can change that. In fact, we hear His voice more clearly than before. We know His love to greater depths than before. We see His hand in our lives in even greater measure than ever before.

We know that God brought us to Franklin and Ryan to this job for this season. And that part of His plan was the revealing of Ryan’s tumor and the healing. We believe that God allowed this time as a great time of inner healing for Ryan and our family as a whole.

We are continually, as a family, celebrating and thanking God for the many miracles He has done. With grateful hearts, we ask that you would pray with us for Ryan’s next step. We are in the beginning of this process, and January 22nd seems like it will be here so quickly. We know that God knows our situation and has heard our prayers. We know that He works behind the scenes and that faith is the evidence of things not seen, of things hoped for. We are believing for a future of hope and promise.

So, I know we have asked for a lot of prayer over the past few months. We continue to ask for your prayers as Ryan continues to heal, as baby Smith grows, and as we search and wait for Ryan’s next work opportunity. He would love to use his gifts and skills in a ministry setting. More than anything, we open our hands and we look to Him. These last six weeks have left us stronger, with increased perseverance, faith and hope. We count on His promises that He has not forgotten us. We choose faith rather than anxiety and we take it day by day.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  –Philippians 4:6

“During Advent, as we wait for the fullness of God’s promises in Christ Jesus, we are invited in humility and gentleness of spirit to whisper our longing to one another and to elicit a new depth of sharing with one another. Intercession is both a duty and a privilege, but we can only intercede when we learn to trust others with our unique yearnings. Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.”  — Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, Enuma Okoro

Thank you for your prayers, beloved friends & family.

Part I

This used to be my place.

Yet, I haven’t visited it in ages.

IMG_3356I haven’t known how to share my heart without also bearing the soul of my family, which can be difficult. This is my place, where I have opened up but I want to be careful in how I share my family since their hearts and stories are their own to share…and they are sacred. They have been forged at a price.

Over the past several years, the Lord has taken me through a journey of learning how to be there for my husband and our girls when they are going through a storm. It’s difficult. As the ‘manager’ of our home and our family, I want to fix things and make them better. I want to encourage and be strong but at the same time, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why we go through hard things. I don’t have an explanation or reason for everything. I have to admit, mostly to myself, that I am not in control. In between the great days, there are good days, and sad days, and blah days, and plain old hard days.

I have to reconcile that my prayers are not always answered how I want or think they should be. I don’t know the whole story. I don’t know how the parts fit together or why the Lord allows some things to happen. I am also not aware of everything He has protected my family and I from. I am so limited in my knowledge…

So I have to lift my eyes from the waves and trust Him. Trust Him because I know He is trustworthy. I know God is faithful. Even when my heart is hurting, when I feel like my family is in the depths, I can rely on His everlasting love and goodness. He never wavers. It’s never too hard for Him. In the darkest tunnel, He is our light. He is our hope.

When we are broken, He is our refuge.

IMG_2195Shortly after we moved to Franklin, Amari and I were on our daily bike ride/run. We went a new way home and I remember so clearly, Amari asking me if we were going the right way. I assured her that we were. She told me how she didn’t recognize the way. She knew we hadn’t come this way before. How sure was I that this would lead us home? I asked her to trust me but she continued to ask for reassurance. After about a mile, we turned the corner and I looked down at her on her bike. Her eyes lit up as she recognized where we were. “You took us home, Mama! It wasn’t the way I knew, but I trusted you and you brought us home.” I remember, finishing that run with her words running through my mind. “It wasn’t the way I knew but I trusted you.” Feeling the truth of those words in my own heart.

IMG_4637For a long time we hoped that Boone would be our place. We fell in love with that little mountain town…it was our ‘home, home’. Our friends were family. Our love for them was (is) so deep. We put our roots down in our church and the community. We thought our girls would grow up there. We loved our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When it came time to say goodbye, it was so difficult. We were excited for what lay ahead but we also grieved who and what we were saying goodbye to. We knew well that what we had found there was rare, and beautiful, and precious.

As we transitioned to Franklin, Ryan and I kept reminding each other that transition takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Relationships and places with value take time. They can’t be rushed. We had learned that when we moved to Boone. We had to be patient with ourselves and the girls. We had great days, good days, and super hard days. Brooklyn had a lot of hard days. Okay, let’s be honest. We all had a lot of hard days. I think Brooklyn’s hard days took the biggest toll on Ryan and I. She loved her school, her friends, and her village in Boone. There were a lot of tears and a lot of prayers.

Still today, there are days when our footing may not be sure. It may feel slippery and risky. In those moments, that’s when we need to find ourselves in Him. He is our sure footing.

Part II

IMG_6882When we found out we are expecting a new little Smith, we were thrilled. Everything about this little life reminded us that He is the giver of life, the author of our stories. My first appointment went smoothly. I really loved my doctor. I saw little one’s heartbeat on the ultrasound. We were going to wait until I was done with my first trimester to tell the girls but since we were going to Montana to see my family, we decided to share the news a little early. The girls were delighted. We told them while visiting a pumpkin patch with my mom, sister, niece and nephew. The girls were shocked but overjoyed. Brooklyn’s jaw dropped and stayed like that as she hugged us over and over again, looking at the ultrasound photos. Amari put her hand on my tummy and said, “There’s a baby in here? Is that why you’ve been so sick?” That little one is so smart! Our entire Montana vacation was amazing – full of family, friends, food, and great memories…

We came home and at the end of the week I received a phone call from my doctor. She said that my bloodwork had taken longer than expected because they had found three unique antibodies. One, Antibody D, most likely developed after Brooklyn’s birth. Injections are normally given during pregnancy and after to prevent the development of these antibodies. These antibodies develop in Rh- patients against Rh+ blood if negative blood mixes with positive blood. It only takes a very small amount of crossover for these antibodies to develop. My doctor told me that I would be considered a high-risk pregnancy and would need to see a specialist who would take special care to monitor the baby’s bloodflow through ultrasound. The Antibody D in my blood has the potential to destroy the baby’s circulating red blood cells if they are Rh+. This can lead to various complications. She said that if the baby is in distress and showing signs of a low blood count, we would deliver as soon as possible. Rh incompatibility is pretty rare due to excellent prenatal care in the U.S. but unfortunately we are one of these rare cases.

I cried. Of course I did. I’m a crier anyway, so pregnant…of course I cried. However, we prayed over baby Smith and I hung onto the promise that He is the giver of life, the author of our stories. And that even though we don’t know the way through this, even though it doesn’t look familiar to us, He knows the way home. He knows.

That next Monday, I scheduled a routine eye exam for Ryan. For years he’s been struggling with inconsistent nausea and vomiting. We wondered if he had parasites from traveling, perhaps he got a lot of food poisoning, maybe it was from stress…we had no idea. When we still lived in Boone, he started getting migraines. After we moved to Franklin, their intensity really increased as well as the pressure. He would randomly spend days to weeks in severe pain, vomiting and fatigued. We found a new primary care doctor and went several times. Ryan received migraine and nausea meds but they didn’t help. It was frustrating. Then we noticed that Ryan would close one eye or tilt his head back to see. During some of his migraines, his vision was affected. I thought maybe he needed a new prescription. Long story short, they found something unusual and sent Ryan to get an MRI. That afternoon, Wednesday, he received a phone call that the MRI had revealed a brain tumor. They scheduled an appointment with a neurosurgeon for Friday morning. IMG_6865So we had a day to wait…that day was Amari’s 5th birthday. Ryan and I decided there was nothing we could do but pray, ask some family & friends to pray, and celebrate our 5 year old. We spent the day celebrating, crying, praying. It’s been significant for us to have our new Franklin community rally around us. We didn’t make it to our small group that Wednesday but they came the next day with a basket of celebratory gifts for our pregnancy, and gift cards, and prayers. A friend brought us dinner and our community filled our hearts with messages of prayers, hope, encouragement and love. As did our family and friends from far away. These messages, texts and phone calls have meant so much to us. The Lord has used them in a powerful way to uphold us. We only told a handful of people since we didn’t have a lot of information.

Friday morning we met with the neurosurgeon, who thought we had already seen the scans. He started the conversation by telling us how rare it was to see a tumor this big. You can only imagine our fear in that moment. However, there was some favorable news. He told us the tumor was a meningioma. Here’s what we’ve learned about them from WebMD:

A meningioma is a tumor that forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull. These tumors are often slow-growing. As many as 90% are benign.

So, the tumor is separate from Ryan’s brain tissue and can be removed surgically. The doctor said that once the tumor is removed Ryan’s brain will go back to normal. He showed us Ryan’s scans and we were shocked. The tumor is about the size of baseball and he said it’s probably been growing for about 10 years. He immediately put a plan in place and scheduled the surgeries. He gave Ryan a prescription for some steroid medicines that will help with the pressure and hopefully begin the slow process of shrinking the tumor. This Monday or Tuesday we will go to the hospital for pretesting (labs, paperwork, etc.). November 4th, Ryan will have his first surgery where they will cauterize and seal the blood vessels that supply blood to the tumor. This should take an hour and a half and he will be able to come home after the surgery. November 10th Ryan will have a craniotomy to remove the tumor. This surgery should take 3-4 hours. Ryan will be in the hospital for 3-4 days and then need 4-6 weeks recovery time before he can go back to work.

It has been a whirlwind of a week to say the least. Lots of emotions all across the board. We spent part of the later afternoon visiting the doctors who had taken part in this process, thanking them for being so diligent in their work and referring us to specialists until we found the tumor. Ryan’s humor remains intact and we spent the afternoon laughing together. Once we arrived home, Ryan was exhausted. He has spent most of his time at home sleeping when he’s not at doctor appointments. The pressure in his head is intense and overwhelming. Ryan shared the news with Brooklyn Friday evening and then we told Amari. They have known Ryan’s symptoms well. Just a few months ago we planned a little day trip to the amusement park, Holiday World. Ryan spent the day vomiting and sick with a migraine. He ended up sleeping in the car while the girls and I finished out our day. He has tried so hard to be present and to be himself while being in a lot of pain. We’re so thankful to have found the source of these symptoms.

We know we have a journey ahead of us. We know there will be many tough moments but we also have so much to be thankful for. Thankful that they found this tumor. Thankful that his symptoms haven’t been worse. Thankful that the tumor appears to be benign and can be removed with surgery. Thankful that we have an amazing surgeon. Thankful that this is curable. Thankful that Ryan’s vision should return to normal.

We may not be familiar with this road. We may need reassurance that it leads home. But we will trust in Him, even when it’s hard, and even when the journey seems too difficult. We know He will lead us home. He is a good, good Father.

We would love your prayers as we continue down this road of healing. Please pray for the Lord to give us peace that surpasses understanding, for Ryan’s pain to be tolerable as he waits, and for the surgeries to go smoothly and without complication. Please pray for baby Smith to be healthy and whole. We are so grateful for your friendship and love…and the time you took to read this. We hope that when we make it through to the other side we can say to the Lord, “It wasn’t a road we knew, but we trusted You.”

Much Love,

For years I’ve loved this worship song. It’s resonated with my soul.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.

I lift my hands, close my eyes, and everything disappears. It’s just Him & I.

I’ve prayed and hoped for trust without borders, desiring more depth and strength in my faith, and in our faith as a family.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and you won’t start now.

This is one of these moments, a moment of diving into deep waters. This is a moment where we hold fast to the promise that He will be our guide. This is a moment that will change the present and the future. We reflect on His faithfulness. He has never failed us. It is our moment to step out in faith.

Here’s a hint…
photo 3

Friends, with sadness AND great joy, we are saying goodbye to our beautiful home, Boone, North Carolina. We are embracing our friends and crying lots of tears. Thanking God for our history here and looking toward the future.

photo 1This little town has been an amazing home for us. We’ve enjoyed the breathtaking views of God’s creation. We’ve had the privilege of being part of an amazing community. I remember when we made the decision to move here from Florida…I had a conversation with my friend, Kimberly. I was so sad to be leaving friends. She said, what about the friends you’ll make there. You need them too. She was so right. Ryan and I decided from the beginning of our time in Boone that we would be intentional about relationships – finding family. This has been one of His greatest blessings, our Boone family and our church, theHeart.

ryan in liberiaAlaska photoSamaritan’s Purse has been an amazing ministry to serve. Some of Ryan’s favorite life moments are on the field with SP…filming projects in Liberia, medical outreach in Bangladesh, seeing the land of the Bible with Franklin Graham and his daughter Cissie in Israel, working with an amazing team in Alaska for Operation Heal Our Patriots and capturing the amazing smiles of children receiving Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. As we have been in the process of making this decision, Ryan’s greatest struggle has been saying goodbye to remarkable people. Some he works with on a daily basis. Others he sees every year at OCC events or medical trips. Others, he may have only met once, but they made a significant impact on his life. I know there are memories that will never leave his heart or mind…his first SP trip to China after the earthquake, time spent in Haiti after the earthquake, medical miracles on the field, children receiving Christ after receiving shoeboxes. We believe in what God is doing through this ministry wholeheartedly and consider it such a privilege to have been able to serve here.

And now with great anticipation we are on the move…to Tennessee. We’re moving to the Nashville area (Franklin) to start an amazing, new adventure. We have been praying through this decision, watching the Lord guide every step, receiving His confirmation, walking where we never imagined He would take us.

photo-14Ryan is joining Evolve. You can check out their website here: http://evolveimg.com.

He has followed their work for several years, sharing their videos with me frequently. He had the opportunity to work with them and loved it. It’s been a gift to see him excited about this opportunity and working with an amazing creative team. We thank God for this opportunity and His opening of an amazing door. It’s super exciting to begin a new adventure, and at the same time, super scary to leave the comfort of what we’ve known.

In the midst of this, I am so aware that He is answering my prayer:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.

goldengate-r&jOur trust has been strengthened in this journey. We could have never brought ourselves to this place. We thank God for where we are, and where we’ve been. We thank Him for a life-changing beginning 15 years ago with OneHope. We thank Him for bringing us to Samaritan’s Purse. We thank Him for Evolve and what He has planned for the future.

People plan their path, but the Lord secures their steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

Our hope is that as we take this next step, our eyes will stay focused on the Lord. May He always be our hope and our strength. May we find our meaning and worth in Him. May we live daily in His presence.

And so, we move into 2015 on a whole new adventure. I find myself as we prepare for this move, telling Brooklyn the same thing Kimberly told me. There are friends in Tennessee that God knows you need, and they need you. This is part of our story, this move. He has been graciously preparing us for this, and He will see us through.

I’ll end with words to another one of my favorite worship songs. It’s been my song through this process:

IMG_8062Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you.
Through it all, through it all, it is well.

Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you.
And it is well.

So let go, my soul
And trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name.

It is well with my soul.

Friends, if you are ever passing through the Nashville area, please be in touch. We’d love to see you!

Our official moving day is February 10th…if you are in Boone, we’d love to see you before we go. xoxo
photo 4

August 27th…

Well, tomorrow is the big day.


I remember when my mom & dad were 35ish. I was around 15-16 years old and I thought they were sooo old (sorry mom & dad). ☺

And now, here I am. Mid-thirties.

It feels good.

I am stronger than I was yesterday.

I have learned a lot of lessons. I have some scars. I have some limps. I’m sure there’s more to come. I have fought some battles…I have proved that I am an overcomer. I have learned that I don’t give up. I have learned that I am brave…

I have learned to have joy in the seasons of life…to embrace the good moments, to lean into the sorrow, to persevere when I feel like I can’t.

To laugh, to dance, to open my arms wide in the rain.

I have learned that each year gets sweeter and stronger than the year before. The memories and the people cause my heart to overflow with joy. My faith grows and becomes more real & authentic than the day before. He becomes more and more my sustenance.

I climb higher mountains. I don’t have as much fear for the valleys.

I am learning more and more what love is…and I hope that continues for the next 35 years and beyond.

Thank you, for being part of my 35 years…and the years to come. My life and my heart is full because of you.

Ryan, Brooklyn & Amari…words cannot express what’s in my heart for you. May my prayers, my embrace, my tears and my laughter show you how much I love you.

35…here I come!




I wish I could sleep. I don’t feel tired but it’s 1:30am and I know I’m going to be tired in the morning. I just can’t get there until I type this.

IMG_4053Several weeks ago I pulled my cobweb covered rollerblades off the shelf and put them on for the first time in probably seven years. In our three moves since I last used them, Ryan has asked me several times if we need to keep them. And I have guarded them like they were a prized possession. I always imagined that it was because of the memories attached to them. Memories of dear friends in South Florida. Conversations that meant so much to me. Time spent together. That is a big part of it. But then, I took them off the shelf and used them here in Boone and I remembered another reason I have guarded them so passionately over the years.


My first lap was a bit shaky and I remembered quickly how much you have to use your calves to control their motion and their direction. I was afraid. Every small bump in the path seemed like a hill. There were several moments that I thought I made a mistake taking these out. But halfway through my second lap, I got my rhythm. By my third lap, I spread my arms open wide. I let my sweater fall off my shoulders. I breathed in the fresh air and let the evening sunset blush my face. I closed my eyes. It started to rain, and I held my arms up high. I tilted my head to the sky. I went faster and faster.

IMG_4051And I felt it.


It seems that this theme has been echoing in my life over the weeks since then. The Lord speaking to me so clearly about trusting Him…not letting the small bumps seem like mountains. Being brave and fearless…so I can live in freedom. Living wholeheartedly as I am. Authentically, in truth. My truth…the truth of who God made me, of what He put inside of me. Teaching our girls these truths.

I kept thinking I should write about this. But I kept putting it off. The message kept echoing in my heart.

Then, today He reminded me in a big way. We were at the pool. The day was beautiful and sunny, but the pool wasn’t busy and Brooklyn had a big empty space around her. I watched as she began dancing in the water. It was beautiful. Amari cuddled in my lap. After watching Brooklyn for several minutes, she came close to me and said, “Mommy, as an adult, are there ever times when you feel free?” From the mouths of babes. I immediately answered, “When I was rollerblading.” She smiled at me knowingly and said, “I feel free now, Mommy. Dancing.” Then, she went back to dancing.

What a gift. Freedom.

Are there moments when you let go and allow yourself to be free? Free of control and restraint…free of fear…free of worry and anxiety…free of judgment and perfection…free of grudges and resentment…


IMG_4627I’ve been taking moments. Moments watching the sunset. Moments dancing with the girls. Moments staring at mountain masterpieces. Moments watching the clouds pass by. Moments breathing, playing, resting…they help me to be hopeful, to trust, to be free, to be me….as wholeheartedly as I can be.

Thank you Lord for freedom and the clarity, purity, and faith that is found in those moments. Help me to live there…with You.

Tomorrow is Brooklyn’s final day of kindergarten. I wasn’t expecting to feel so emotional about this special day. I thought I’d feel relieved…grateful for warm summer days…late mornings…time with our girls. Tonight as we were praying together before the girls went to sleep, Brooklyn told me how much she loves school and that she hopes when she goes in tomorrow that Mrs. Suddreth will tell her class that they have 18 more days of school. She told me all the things she will miss: centers, math, gym, computer lab, and the library were just a few. She doesn’t like that the desks are cleaned off and empty. She doesn’t want to empty her cubby. I know some of it just has to do with a change in the familiar. Mostly though, I think it comes from a little girl’s heart that is full of adoration for her teachers, her friends, and her experience at school.

It takes me back to the first day. When I sat at my computer in tears, praying that kindergarten would be kind to her. Praying that her teachers would see her heart and bring strengths out of her that I didn’t see. Praying that she would find kindness and friendship. Praying that she would love and enjoy learning. Praying that school would be a place of security and peace. Praying that she would be compassionate, kind, and thoughtful.

We’ve had some moments this year…when it was time to read but she’d rather play. When homework needed to be done, and she wanted to watch a movie. We all have those days. But at the end of the year, I have a little girl who loves school, who loves to read, who looks forward to each school day, who adores her teachers, who finds great joy in her friendships…

I am so grateful and so blessed. So thankful for an amazing year. For amazing people who poured into our oldest daughter, who welcomed Amari with open arms, and who embraced our family, wholeheartedly.

Thank you Parkway School. Thank you Mrs. Suddreth. Thank you Mrs. Kornhauser.

Thank you for a wonderful year. We are excited to see you next year (after enjoying a wonderfully, sunny, adventurous summer)!