My Father’s Heart

It’s been three months since my last blog, four months since I quit my job and six months since I came home from Jamaica for the second time. Yet somehow, it all seems like it was yesterday.

I recently made a post on my Facebook page reaching out for prayers and some general support for all that I’ve been going through in this time and what lies before me that I want to be strong for when the time comes.

My father called me a few days after I made this post to sort of follow up with my thoughts and feelings and to do what he’s been best at for the last decade, being my biggest accountability partner. You see, before this last decade, I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my father. He was very much a part of my life and someone who has always been kind to me and loved me more than I’ll ever know or understand. But for the better half of my childhood, he was missing, and although I don’t resent it or wish it had been different. I am thankful for the lessons I learned as an individual about who I did and did not want to be, and what I think a daddy should look like, and what I have learned that a father is.

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My daddy and I at the zoo when I was a little girl

It was towards the end of the years in my addictions that I really started to bond with my dad or even truly have a relationship with him at all. I was very young when he and my mother divorced and although I would see him growing up, we didn’t really have time to get to know each other like one would when you see them day in and day out. Because of his past and what was then my present state of mind, we were able to relate to each other in a way that I am now very grateful for, and that played such a big part in my becoming sober and maintaining my sobriety over the last 8 years. My dad, even as a “stranger”, has always been my biggest fan. I can literally walk into a room and hear him say, “whoop whoop, that’s my daughter, go Kristen go Kristen go”. As silly as that may be, he is always rooting for me and has always been there to tell me how much he loves me and how special I am, and how proud he is of me (even on my worst days). Which is why, even though I only saw him sparingly throughout my childhood, I always felt like I had the greatest daddy in the world and I was proud of that. I was his princess, and I still am, and I always will be.

It wasn’t until I was on the brink of becoming an adult that, I met my father.

My addiction got really bad around my eighteenth birthday, so much so that I was hanging by a thread in the relationship department with most of my family and really anyone who knew me if they hadn’t cut me out of their lives entirely at this point. It was hard to physically be around me, from just how unhealthy I looked, and how insanely terrible my behavior was at this point. I was truly past the point of giving a damn about anyone else other than myself and my need to get high that day.

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My dad and I after my college graduation

But this didn’t stop my dad, this didn’t deter him away from me, and this didn’t make him for even one second of one day give up on me or my potential to “come back home” and be the person God created me to be. No, instead, he just acted as if everything was normal every time he saw me, he acted as if I was his same special princess that had never done anything wrong as he always had, he continued to speak life and love into me even if I didn’t want to hear it, or in doing so, just pushed me away further through the disappointment in myself and feeling as if I wasn’t capable of being all of those things that he thought about me, ever again. At my lowest, when it felt like the entire world had turned it’s back on me, my daddy chose to love me just the way I was and never for one second turned his back on me or made me feel less than.

It would be years before I fully understood this love or where it stemmed from, and truly be able to appreciate it, for all that it was and all that it still means to me to this day.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

Fast forward to today, the present, and the last eight years.

My father is not a blameless man. He too has a past that would probably haunt most, but by the grace of God, has made him into the man that he is today, the man that continues to walk a walk that I can look up to and that has helped me become the godly woman that I am today.

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My dad and I dancing at my wedding ❤

Even though my father didn’t raise me and wasn’t there to tuck me in bed at night or sit around the kitchen table with me each evening or help me to do my homework or teach me about relationships. When he was there, he showed me what a father should look like, and he strived to be the daddy that our father in heaven has always been to him. My daddy has never raised a hand to me in anger, has never punished me with spankings or harsh words (even though I probably deserved it a time or two). He’s never raised his voice to me or spoke low to me in any way. My daddy has always opened up the door for me, never let me talk to him with anything less than respect, and he’s tried in every way to protect me when he could and to teach me about the Lord, and to love me the best that he could like Jesus does, even when he couldn’t love himself. My daddy has prayed for me every day and has always been the first to let me know that my flesh is showing (when I am not walking right with the Lord). He doesn’t lie to me or pretend to be perfect, and when he’s having a hard time in life, he never makes his burdens my burdens, even when I want to be there for him in the same way that he’s been there for me. He will give me his last dollar if it means putting food on my table, or gas in my car, or a smile on my children’s faces. But the greatest thing he’s ever done and continues to do is in teaching me about the Lord.

Father’s, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. – Psalms 103:13 (ESV)

When my dad called me the other day to check up on me and just talk to me on his way home, he took my feelings of doubt and confusion and encouraged me with the truth.

You see, coming back from a mission trip can be tough. Really tough. Not only are you reeling from one of the greatest high’s you could ever have, after spending a week with Jesus. But you are working through and trying to understand all of the things that God taught you while you were there, and what He’s trying to show you after you come home.

It can take months before you feel “normal” again and you begin to truly see the changes that God has made in your life and the path that He has laid out for you. But, when you have great accountability partners, like my dad, it’s much easier to stay on track and gain perspective when things don’t seem to make sense anymore.

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Dad and I during Easter this past year

When I talked to my dad that day, we talked about how nothing was really “wrong” with me and that I instead was just feeling off and I didn’t know why. After coming home from Jamaica and quitting my job, and becoming a stay at home mom again, I couldn’t find the peace that I once had and with all the changes going on around me. I didn’t know why or what had changed. But he showed me that, I have changed. I allowed myself to become distracted by all the changes going on in my home, that the routines I once had in my day and my walk with Jesus, had changed because of me. That in fact, nothing was truly wrong, and I just needed to give it to God and allow my thoughts to line up with His will. I needed to ask the spirit to make my ways, His ways, and for my heat to bear His fruits.

He always has the funniest metaphors for everything, but they really help to make things stick when I’m just not getting it. Things really are simple with God, but we are always trying to complicate it and that’s where my dad comes in to help me, when I am not getting it.

My daddy said you know when you go shopping for something that you need? You will go to the store that has exactly whatever it is that you are looking for. Well, it works the same way with the Holy Spirit. When you need fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, you have to go to the Spirit for it and He will supply all of your needs.

DUH DAD.

He left me with this.

It’s important every day that we guard our hearts because everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

And when things aren’t making much sense and you feel like you have lost your way, just remember…

His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our paths…in all our ways if we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths to line up with the accordance of His will. Psalm 119:105 & Proverbs 3:6

My dad has mimicked those verses to me over and over again in my life, and somehow, I still forget. But that’s okay, because we have a good good father that shows no condemnation and forgives us of our sins and is always, always there waiting for us to get back on the straight and narrow path that leads us back to Him.

I am thankful, and so very blessed that I not only have a Heavenly Father that has chosen me to spend all eternity with Him, but I have an earthly father that resembles Him and is making sure that no matter what happens in this life, that I will get there too.

Sorry I made you cry dad, I love you, Happy Birthday – your princess.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

Speaking From His Heart

Last night at church I was sitting in the large group listening to our preacher teach his sermon. All of the sudden he asks, “Who here wants to see God face to face”, of course, everyone in the room raised their hand. He then said, “Now to turn to the person next to you and take a look at them”. As we all turned to look at our neighbors he then said, “There He is”. My sister bent over next to me and whispered, I told you to look at my toes wiggling them joyfully (to remind me when I saw Jesus in a stranger recently when I had my toes done).

On the way home after church later that evening, it was just me and my oldest son in the car listening to the radio and then I hear;

Michael: Momma?
Me: Yes, baby?
Michael: If I ever wondered off away from home and got separated from you and daddy, I wouldn’t be lost and I would know how to find my way back home.
Me: Oh really? What makes you say that?
Michael: Well, I would never be lost because Jesus is with me. He is always with me momma.
Me: Yes baby, he sure is.
Michael: He is with me right now, sitting right beside me.
Me: Yes He is, He is with you wherever you go, He will never leave you.
Michael: I know that momma. I just wish I could see God and hear Him. I know He is sitting right beside me and with me always, but I want to see Him like really see Him and talk to Him.
Me: Well babe, you can see Him and hear Him, it’ll just take time to before you are able to recognize it as such. The more time you spend with Him and the closer you get to Him…
Michael: …Oh, I already know mom. The closer I get to God the brighter it will be!
Me: It will? That’s an interesting theory…what makes you say that?
Michael: Because! The closer I get to God, the closer I get to Jesus, and Jesus is His right-hand man, the sun. The sun is the brightest star there is, you know that!
Me: Chuckling, you are so right hun, but I think you are a little confused on the meaning of “son” in reference to Jesus.
Michael: What is confusing about the sun, I get it?!
Me: He’s not the sun, he’s the son. Like you are your father’s son. Jesus is the son of God and God is his father.
Michael: Oooooh. That makes much more sense now.
Me: But don’t forget, that He is the son of God, but also one with God and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, before He went back to Heaven, He left the Holy Spirit here with us to guide us…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I know that mom. Jesus is living inside of my heart! When He died and went to Heaven he built a home in my heart and that is where He is now.
Me: Yes, baby, I suppose that is true. I have never thought about Heaven being in my heart, only that God is with me and in me.
Michael: Yeah mom, He lives inside your heart! That’s why we celebrate His birthday on Easter!
Me: No, Easter is about His death…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I got that wrong. Easter is about Jesus dying for us on the cross and Christmas is His birthday! Yeah, mom, Easter ain’t about no bunny and no candy. Neither is Christmas, that’s not what you are supposed to think about. We aren’t supposed to be worried about presents or Santa or food or trees! It’s about Jesus!!
Me: Beaming on the inside. You are so right, baby! Did you learn about this stuff at church tonight? (wondering where all of this information is suddenly coming from)
Michael: No mom, I am just telling you what’s in my heart.
Me: Oh, well! That’s so amazing baby. Do you want to be a preacher when you grow up like Edward?
Michael: Hahaha Nooooo mom. I could never do that.
Me: Why not? That’s what you are doing right now. You are sharing the gospel and not even skipping a beat!
Michael: What’s the gospel, mom?
Me: Everything you just told me, son. The gospel is the story of Jesus and how He came to save us from our sins and how much He loves us and everything in between!
Michael: Oh yeah, I can do that!
Me: I am honestly so surprised to hear such wisdom coming from a five-year-old. But you could share this with anyone, anywhere and that would be preaching!
Michael: Oh yeah mom, I don’t think I know any other kindergarteners who do that.
Me: Me either, but there could be more! That’s why it’s important to share Jesus with others.

MOMMASMichael then fell silent and I turned the radio back up, I am sure he was thinking about everything we just discussed, that was a pretty amazing conversation in such a short amount of time if you ask me. Then, over the sound of the music I hear him say, “hey stars, talk to me, I want to hear you sing!”.

I’ve always said that my most favorite learning moments about Jesus come from my children, this night was no different. Jesus is truly with us wherever we go. Whether we can see Him or hear Him, He is there. Like my pastor pointed out tonight if you are looking for God just take a look around you. There is evidence of Him everywhere. Through all of His creations of the earth and in His children that you speak to every day, God is with us. You just need to pay attention.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The truth will set you free, or burn you, one of the two

Have you ever went through life assuming you knew how someone else felt about a particular situation or thing, based off of what you know about that person or how you felt at that time. In that assumption, did you take your word for it and never venture to find out if it was true and move on with life because you were satisfied with the truth that you had given yourself, even though you were not 100% sure that it was the truth at all. Even after not knowing and feeling whatever type of way your truth left you with, you still did not try to dig deeper or simply ask to see what the real truth was, maybe even letting years go by before eventually finding out the truth and then feeling dumb because you were wrong the entire time. It didn’t happen that way. Things could have been different. But you stuck with your truth and here you are now and there’s nothing you can do about it, but accept it.

I have.

This past weekend I got to go on a trip with one of my childhood friends to see our best friend so we could make plans for her upcoming wedding, and get away for a couple of days. It was a pretty great trip when it was all said and done and I am glad that I went on it. It was an experience I was not planning on, to say the least, and something that ultimately left me feeling satisfied yet indifferent.

1 (1)The trip started out with me spending five hours in the car with a girl that I had not been around alone, or much at all for that matter, for over ten years. This same girl used to by my best friend. We grew up with each other from a small age and were nearly inseparable through middle school and high school. We had a lot in common, similar personalities, and had this overwhelming need to compete with each for everything (in a healthy way of course). She and I and three other girls (including the one who is getting married) ended up in a group referred to as “the fab five”.  Awful I know, but I cannot make this stuff up. We did not give ourselves that name if it makes it any better, but if you saw one of us you saw all of us and the name got stuck with us so we ran with it. Right before her sixteenth birthday (my friend in the car with me), found out she had cancer. This was a devastating time in our lives and the initial shock of it all was overwhelming, but like any normal teenager (speaking for myself) life keeps going on, with or without your friends, whether or not cancer sneaks up and bites you.

As I have told you all before, high school was not an easy time for me. Which you are probably curious as to how now that you know that I was in a group called “the fab five”. Everything started out great for me, for us, but after she got cancer everything changed. We all changed. I’m sure this change was starting to form long before the news, but this event marked a new time in history and looking back, things were never the same after.

I dropped out of school by the time cancer was gone from her life. Meaning, I wasn’t there when she came back and I have no idea what it was like or what she came back to, I just know what it was like for me and why I was gone and how I felt when I left and why I left. I always assumed there were other reasons why she quit being my friend and “gave up on me” like everyone else, and this weekend I felt out I was completely wrong. It was totally my fault, well most of it anyhow, and had I not been in such a crappy point in my life she would have still been there and she wanted to be there, but I made that an impossible thing to do and it took me over ten years to find that out.

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Ours wasn’t as classy, but you get the picture.

When we got to our best friend’s house we wasted no time getting the party started. We immediately went out and bought pizza and wine and spent the rest of the night reminiscing about when we were younger, the people we hadn’t seen in years, and filling in the gaps thereafter and in-between. We did our wedding planning like we were supposed to, but the majority of the trip was spent with us just enjoying each other’s company and hanging out like cancer never came and our lives hadn’t changed. It was an overwhelming feeling to be around two people who I know so well and have such a huge history with and that I do not get to see every day, but love so much and so deeply. It was truly refreshing to be around two people who you can just laugh with and at and never skip a beat and make you miss all the years that have gone by and cringe at the reality of how old we are getting now.

 

On the car ride home, it’s like we were two totally different people. Nearly strangers with fond memories as we rode to our destination, to old friends who have known each other for a lifetime, catching up after years of being apart.

There was a lot of healing that came with finding out the truth, a truth that I did not even know existed as anything less than what I thought it was, a truth that I was not even looking for and thought I already knew. There was also a lot of pain that came with finding out that truth, pain from allowing myself to assume that I knew what was true instead of taking the time to find out for myself, years ago, and missing out on having someone so near and dear to me in my life.

I cannot go back and change the choices I made or the action of allowing myself to assume I knew better. But I can move forward with knowing I was wrong and change it if that is what is in store for us now. I learned a powerful lesson this past weekend that I know is true with so many other situations in my life and throughout the world. We should never assume anything, even when the pieces look like they fit so well together, we can still be wrong if we do not take the time to find out the truth. I for one do not want to go through another experience like that again in my life and hope that the next time I am faced with a choice to assume or ask, that I ask. The outcome could possibly change my life or someone else’s. Do yourself a favor, do not assume.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

If you could see what I see, I know you would believe

This week was rough on me.

Nothing really crazy happened to make it that way, yet I was dying every single day from not feeling completely like myself and from feeling like I had so much to do and not enough time to do it. It is crazy because I actually got to stay home three nights in a row without running around like a crazy woman going to practices and the grocery store and to bible study and trying to find the time to get my homework turned in somehow. Yet even with my surprise break that never happens, I was exhausted. Granted hormones played a part in it, but the timing had nothing to do with it.

Life was kicking my butt and all I could do was lie down and take it, which was not my finest moment.

Yesterday I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a fellow mom talking about how crazy her life was and how inadequate she felt with all the chaos going on around her. She has six kids who range in ages from three to eighteen and they all are involved in various activities as well as go to school and of course, just kind of exist and need to be taken care of because they are unable to take care of themselves on their own. In addition to motherhood, she runs her own business (two actually) and is the wife to a husband who owns his own as well. They have a beautiful home, their kids are smart and kind and well taken care of, and you can tell that through all the crazy they are pretty happy with their lives and she is doing a great job at simply being a mom and a loving wife.

There was another post that I saw later on from a different mother who was heartbroken over people giving her a hard time over her son’s behavior, who is three, and essentially behaving like any three-year-old boy. Their words were like knives and were ultimately making her feel like she was doing something wrong as a mother. Even though her son is gorgeous and well-mannered and loved so much by her and everyone who has ever met him and is happy and healthy and being raised to love the Lord, which if you asked me, is as good as it gets! She was still made to feel less than, and it hurt.

This morning I was updating my calendar because I signed up to take snacks for my son’s tee-ball team twice this season. I then took that time to add his Easter party at school and the trip I will soon be taking out of state to see my best friend to do a little wedding planning. As I was looking at my calendar I started to get a little bit of anxiety and wondering how in the world I was ever going to be able to do it all. In addition to the items that I added to my calendar, I already had many meetings for our mission trip team scheduled, conference calls at work, baseball games, Easter, birthday parties, assignments due and barely any white space for breathing room in-between.

Right as I was driving into work this morning the song priceless came on the radio. I hadn’t heard it in a while and the lyrics popped out at me. It was God. He was opening my ears to listen because I needed to hear it and because I needed to share it with others who needed to hear it too.

Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall. Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws, this isn’t who you are.

It might be hard to hear, but let me tell you, dear. If you could see what I see, I know you would believe this isn’t who you are, there’s more to who you are.

No matter what you have heard, this is what you are worth, you are more than all the money or diamonds and the pearls. Oh, this is who you are. There’s more to who you are.

I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom, at the sight of you. You are irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable, darling you are beautiful. I see it all in you, oh so priceless.

He’s talking to you moms. God loves you so much and thinks that you are superwoman, truly. He made you to take on the world and whatever life might throw your way. He made you strong and beautiful and brave and worthy. He made you to be gentle and kind. He made you to be the safe place for your children and their bravest fighter from all that is wrong in their world. He made you smart so you could juggle a million things at once without skipping a beat. He made you resilient so you could get back up when life knocks you down. He made you fearless in the face of danger or anything that could harm the ones you love. He made you perfect, in his image. He made you.

For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, in your book, was written every one of the days that were formed for me, before they ever happened. Psalm 139:13-16

You are perfect in every way. God doesn’t make mistakes, only masterpieces.

Just remember, when life gets rough and knocks you down by busy schedules, scary full calendars, or mean words from others. Dust yourself off, get back up again, and remember who you are. You are priceless.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

My trip to Harmons, Jamaica

Last year, God decided He was going to shake my world up in ways that I could have never expected. In December of 2015 I answered the call to join the Jamaica Mission Team for 2016 (JAM Team)! In six short months God was going to prepare us spiritually, mentally, physically and through all of our other needs to travel to Harmons Jamaica and spend a week doing whatever it is that He asked us to do. Spreading His love through building relationships and changing lives forever (especially my own).

Over the next six months God really did a number on my heart. My relationship grew with Him in leaps and bounds and my trust and faith in Him and all that He is was greater than I had ever known, I was over the moon and ready to take on the world! But I would settle for a week in Jamaica! During those months we had to raise the money that we would need for the trip as well as donations that we would be taking with us. Including plane tickets, airport fees, passport fees (since I had never been out of the country before), trip insurance, food while we were there, things we would need to “survive” while we were, as well as the money that is used to help employee the people we would be working alongside during that week.  I honestly do not remember exactly how the money came or when it did, I just know that God provided every cent of my needs and I never had to think twice about where it would come from or if I would have enough to go. I trusted Him completely and He provided all of my needs!

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Miss Kimberly at our packing party.

As the days grew closer to us leaving, our team gathered together a few more times to square away the details and just get in some good bonding time. Then a few days before we left we took all of the donations that we had gathered over the last six months and packed them in two 50lb suite cases (twenty in total). Once this was done we were ready to go and just two short days after that we gathered at our church at four in the morning to load up and head out! We were on our way!!

As I stated before, this was my first time out of the country which was a big deal for me! It was also my first time on a plane, which was another huge deal for me! As well as my first time on a mission trip and my first time seeing the ocean! The whole entire trip was filled with first for me and I was so excited and so ready to experience them all!! Ain’t God good!

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Waiting to board the plane! I ❤ these people soooo much!
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Katie on the left, me on the right.

It is really hard to describe all of the feelings that came with this journey. But I was super glad that I was getting to share it all with my sister, Katie. Not that I was unable to go on my own, but having her there with me made it easier for sure. Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience such awesome stuff with their sister!! The plane ride wasn’t as bad as I expected, I mostly tried to ignore the fact that I was on a plane and had no way to escape to until it landed again. It was only a two-hour flight, which was awesome and coming into Jamaica was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen!  The second they opened those doors we knew we were in Jamaica, the humidity hit you in the face and you realized, this is the air that I will be breathing for the next week, Jamaican air baby!!

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First site of Jamaica!

We had a little mishap when we got to customs, because we were in a large group and because we were each bringing in 100lbs of goods that we didn’t plan on taking back home with us. But just like anything else in our lives, God took care of it for us! Instead of searching us like they were supposed to, they did a once over through each bag and sent us on our way! We were free!

It took us 3 ½ hours to get to Harmons from Mobay (Montego Bay). We had prepared ourselves for one of the worst rides of our lives going up into the mountains (from stories we had heard from other’s who had previously been on this trip), but we ended up taking the toll roads (which wasn’t so bad) until we go to the mountains and then experienced the scariest ride ever at nighttime up a mountain on the opposite side of the road going 80 miles an hour (I might be exaggerating it a little bit, but I am not too far off). Once we finally made it to the Harmony House we were greeted by the summer staff who we would be spending the next week with and unknowingly falling in love with before it was all said and done.

 

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The summer staff ❤

 

It was 9 o’clock at night and we had just spent the last sixteen hours traveling, so of course taking a picture was the way to go and unpacking all of our things to get ready for the week ahead of us! Yet none of that really mattered because as far as I was concerned, I was home!

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Straight off the bus!!

Over the next week I got to spend every moment with God, literally, from the time I woke up until I closed my eyes at night I felt like I was walking hand in hand with God and experiencing the most peaceful week that I had ever known before. I was up on the mountain with God and I never wanted to come back down! I know you are probably wondering why it’s not like that for me every day, here at home. The answer is; it is. God never ever leaves my side. But we have so many distractions here that make it hard to focus on Him like I need/want to and I have to struggle every day to keep my eyes on Him and Him alone. But, it is so worth it and I will live every day doing just that!

I’ll try to summarize the week as best as I can for you…

Day Two (first workday):

We went on a walkbout (a walk about) around the neighborhood and we got to meet Gonga!

I spent the day with the house ladies sorting through the clothes that we brought getting them ready to go into the Harmony House Store!

Then that evening we had a party at Son’s which was so much fun! I got to meet so many amazing people that day, and I cannot wait to see them again this year!

Day Three (second workday):

We built a foundation! You guys! It may sound silly to you, but this was the coolest thing ever! Literally from the ground up we put in the rocks and dirt and concrete that began the foundation of the home that someone would soon get to live in. Priceless.

On this day I saw a million different fruit trees; star wrapper, jack fruit, kens berry, tangerine, mango, avocado, (which is a pear to the U.S) and oranges (truly my favorite thing about Jamaica!)

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We did not cordinate all of the blue and green. haha

Day Four (third workday):

My sister and I got to go to the greenhouses. I spent half of the day with Maxine pruning tomato plants and just talking about life. It was amazing how much we had in common, but more amazing to see how much she loves God! She really touched my heart that day.

Later that day we went to the infirmary in Maypen. The infirmary is like a nursing home/orphanage where people go when they do not have anywhere else to go and they can’t survive on their own. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. My most favorite part was getting to meet Ms. Mary Patrick and listen to her quote entire books of the Bible without skipping a beat!

That evening we had a party at the crawl and enjoyed some relaxation in the community dancing the night away!

Day Five (fourth workday):

I got to meet the girls and get my hair braided! The entire week the rest of the team had been on their land building their new homes, and in another day we would get to dedicate them. I fell in love with this family and am blessed to still be in contact with them today! I hope I get to see them when we go back this year!

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Day Six (home dedication):

That morning we got to dedicate the completed homes to the two families that we were helping that week. It is really hard to explain what it feels like to hand the keys to a family and know that they will now have a roof over their head for years to come! It was a blessing to get to experience that and I am so thankful God allowed me to!

This was our last day in Harmons, bitter sweet for sure.

We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out; climbing mountains, playing soccer, getting our hair braided and nails done and some of our team even got some awesome designs cut into their hair!

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Climbing the mountain was amazing. The absolute hardest thing I have ever physically done. But so rewarding!!

That night we had one last party with the community before saying our goodbyes and getting ready to leave in the morning. Best night ever.

Day Seven (back to Mobay):

As much as any “normal” person would look forward to the part where you spend the day on the beach, it was definitely the lowlight of my week. Amazing, in every way I’m not denying that. God really showed out when He created the ocean and all things in it. It was beautiful in every way and I could have stayed there forever, but it was nothing compared to the six days before in the mountains with Jesus.

That night we had one last hoorah with the team (and the team that was with us there all week from North Carolina…too much to tell about them all…but so much love and such great memories!!) The next morning we made our way back home.


Going to Harmons, Jamaica was truly one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. It is insanely crazy to think that it is just the beginning for what God has in store for me! It wasn’t just the seven days that I was gone either, but everything leading up to it and even the lessons I had to learn once I came home. Coming home was much harder than I expected it to be, coming back to the reality that we live in and hating the way that the world is, it was hard. It is still hard. But I am thankful to have a different perspective on life and the world and all the things in it.

I have so much more to learn and experience, I know that. But this experience will be one I never forget. We are going back to Harmons this summer with a different team and I am so stinking excited and grateful that God has called me to go again! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am and how much I cannot wait to see everyone there!! God really showed up big last year, I can’t even fathom what He is going to do for us this year!! Keep me in your prayers, and my team that is going. We will definitely need each and everyone one of them. Thank you for taking the time to read this all the way through to the end. If you every really want to hear the details, I would be glad to share them with you! Plus I have more pictures 😉

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

p.s. The organization that we partner with on this trip is Won by One – check them out!

If you want to help donate for this year’s trip you can do so here (or click on the picture on my sidebar)

I want to go back

I want to go back to the basics. I want to be like a child again. I want to live in a world where this is the same for everyone. Through the way that we act and the way that we treat each other and the way that we see others, the world, and Jesus.

We teach our children to act this way, we teach our children to follow these rules, we teach our children to believe in these things, yet somehow we do not expect the same from ourselves. In simple things like;

Please
Thank you
No Thank you
Yes ma’am
Yes sir
No ma’am
No sir
You’re welcome
May I
Excuse me
I’m sorry
Forgive me
I forgive you
Treating other’s as you wish to be treated
Respect your elders
Listening to understand, not to respond
Waiting to talk and not interrupting others
Asking permission when the person, place, or thing is not yours
Being kind by thinking before you speak
If you do not have anything nice to say, then you probably should not say it all
Acknowledging someone in your presence
Knocking before you enter
Opening the door for others
Waving back at someone who waves at you
Returning a smile
Offering to help, even when it’s not needed
Using language that is pleasing to God, essentially anything that is good and anything that is true
Not calling people names, even if you think it is “just a joke”
Giving someone your full attention, even if you are bored and uninterested (in any given situation)

The list undoubtedly goes on and I would have let it, but hopefully something in that list struck a chord with you and made you think twice about how often you do that in your own life, or if you do at all. The answer should be always, every day, at every opportunity and I know for a lot of you, it is not.

This goes far beyond just face to face interaction, but as adults this can mean on the phone with a bill collector or someone from your job, at the store while you are shopping and passing people down the aisle, in your car driving down the road as you let someone onto the road or take turns in a parking lot without having to be the “most important person on the road”.

Taking the time to remember someone’s birthday, and calling them or texting them to tell them so (instead of simply allowing Facebook to do it for you).

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praise worthy — think about these things. Phillipians 4:8

All of these things seem may seem trivial, yet have such a profound impact on our world and the way that it is today and what it will be like in the future. You truly can help make the world a better place by doing any one of those things, every day. Imagine if you did them all, without question or a second thought. Imagine what the world would be like. Imagine what your world would be like.

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Not only are we setting good examples for others around us, but the most important of all is the children who watch us and mimic our actions. What kind of example are you setting? How are your actions changing the world?

There’s more.

God expects us to act this way. Matthew 18:2-6 Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among them and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus is not calling us to be perfect. He is just calling us to be kind, honorable, loving, and to treat each other with respect. That is why my children teach me the most about God, because they allow me to see myself through His eyes, through theirs.

My friend sent me a song yesterday that really summed this all up for me and was exactly what I have been feeling for quite some time now. Listen to it.

“I wanna go back to Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I wanna go back to this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. I want to go back to yes, Jesus loves me.”

I want to go back to blind faith, as small as a mustard seed, yet big enough to move a mountain. I want to go back to pure joy, for no reason. I want to go back to being enamored by the stars and thinking my daddy hung the moon. I want to go back to smelling every rose. I want to go back to jumping in puddles and watching the clouds for hours. I want to go back to singing random songs I just made up and dancing to the music in my head. I want to go back to walking around in circles in my front yard and talking to God. I want to go back to never knowing a stranger. I want to go back to thinking I could save the world, with just one hug, and then trying to. I want to go back to the basics. I want to go back to being like a child.

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Baseball Season, the most wonderful time of the year

It’s spring time! You know what that means?! Baseball Season!! The most wonderful time of the year; when you are a baseball mom of course! For all you moms out there that are starting your first week of practices or already got a game or two under your belt, this is for you.

I am a second-year veteran tee-ball mom. I know you 10 – 12 moms are rolling your eyes right now because two years is nothing compared to the 5+ that you have under your belt. But before I was a tee-ball mom, I was a baseball and softball aunt. I did my fair share of running kids to practices multiple days a week and running between two games that are at the same time (sometimes in completely different locations) trying to cheer for both kids, staying as long as you can until one bats and then run back as fast as you can to the other game before the other one is on deck.

Baseball season can be grueling y’all.

Game on Monday, practice on Tuesday, church on Wednesday, game on Thursday, practice on Friday, Tournament on the weekend, all weekend.

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You can forget about eating decent meals for the next three months (six if you make it to all-stars). Concession stand foods, take-out, sandwiches in the car or frozen meals in the microwave/oven minutes before it is time to hit the hay and do it all over again.

Let us not forget about uniforms. What are your team colors this year? Black and some other dark color, like royal blue or forest green? We got gray this year which is the ugly first cousin to white, which means that we will be washing those bad boys every day. Do not even get me started on white and the stains…oh, the stains…you might as well get you two or three pairs if you want to make it through the season.

Oh yeah word to the wise, all the other moms out there hate you this year. Keep that in mind when you get a crazy look from another mom right after a game that both of your kids just played in. You didn’t do anything wrong, she’s just thinking about how she is going to stay up all night making sure she gets the fresh grass stains our of what started out as pearly white pants (for the umpteenth time) while you get to go home and pop yours in the washer without a second thought and then go straight to bed, it’s not personal, but you suck.

It is super fun if you have children who are not even playing that year. Oh, you forgot you had other children? Yeah, the ones that you have to try to entertain and keep an eye on while simultaneously cheering on the one in the game. The one who is constantly asking you for one more dollar because the snow cone man is there. Sure, you feel lucky when they have other friends at the game that they can play with and thus be entertained without your help. Except, when you look up and notice how filthy they are because they just spent the last thirty minutes rolling down a dirt hill (that last inning was too intense to look away from, I know). Doesn’t make it suck any less when you are forced to give them a bath before they go to bed.

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You have to give it to them, though. They are either not old enough to play yet or completely uninterested in doing so, but still tag along to every game excited as can be and usually without much trouble, eat crap for dinner for three months, getting less sleep at night, doing homework in a camping chair, lugging around chairs and bags and snacks for the team or simply sitting outside for hours on end in the blistering heat without any other choice and deciding to make the most of it. Well-deserved recognition for their efforts I’d say, be sure to thank them for it the next time you see them.

But somehow, through all the insanity, it truly is a wonderful time of the year.

There is nothing in the world like it. I know, it is little league baseball. But it is so dang exciting and so much fun to watch. The tee-ball years are the best and comical, to say the least. Digging holes in the outfield, chasing each other around to get the ball, dancing to the music in their head, trying to catch the pretty butterfly, hey look, mom, a plane! Then they move up to coach pitch and you really get to see their talents unfold, they are starting to get the hang of just how the game works, and by this time you are pretty clear on the type of player they will be in years to come and exactly what they need to work on in the off season to impress their coaches next year.

Once they move into kid pitch they have become “pros”, truly, experts on the way a season goes. Ready for their practices, the many different coaching styles, which players to look out for on other teams, what to expect day to day in the months to come, and when they play they come ready for whatever position they excel in most ready to hit the ball out of the park (because it’s going to happen this year).

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Each year really does get a little bit sweeter and a little more exciting and a little closer to them growing up and playing in the “big leagues”.

There is nothing quite like being a baseball mom. It takes a lot of talent, yes talent, to get through the season with your sanity still intact. You are the chauffeur. The dry cleaner. The fast food girl. The teacher. The scorekeeper. The team mom. The friend. Heck, sometimes even the doctor. But most important you are their biggest fan, they know it, and they love you for it. When the season is over, a party is definitely needed to celebrate being alive and getting your life back. But you are also sad because you know there will be seven months separating you from the next game, the next practice, the next all weekend baseball tourney and all the crazy in between…and you will miss it.

Baseball really is the best time of the year, if you are a fellow baseball mom you know what I am talking about. Good luck, I’ll see you out there. Let’s play ball!

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart