Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A request for prayer

I am writing to just ask for prayers right now. Ben is having to decide between two very different jobs in these next few days, or it might be decided for him, we are still kind of in the waiting and I can't explain all the details… but if you could pray for wisdom for us, I would very much appreciate it.

Lord, You are our ultimate provider. We look to You for everything. Thank You for calling us to a life of faith. May we live it fully for You. I don't want all the treasures of this world, I want You and Your Holy Spirit and I want to do whatever I can to be more and more dependent on You. Ben and I are finding more and more that the things of this world are not satisfying and the only thing that will ever fill us to completion is You. We want to follow You wherever.

We need Your direction Lord! Open doors or close them, we are Your sheep, the people of Your pasture.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Update and a Request

It's been pretty quiet on here lately. I think about blogging a lot but then I think, no, that's not that profound. Whatever.

This one might just be an update.

Just to document what is going on in our lives right now.

Levi is learning to read. We got the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I've been pretty impressed with the way that they teach. It's only 15 minutes a day and I help him a lot (because he's only four, he'll be five in November) but it's been exciting to watch. He loves encouragement and when I hug him when he does a good job. This kid's love language is for sure words of encouragement and physical touch.

Aria's potty training is going well when I'm on my A Game. If I forget to take her, we usually have an accident. I'm totally okay with that. It's really a mommy-training instead of a potty training. Levi did the same thing and he now goes all by himself. She continues to say as few words as possible. I feel like I'm watching a silent film when I watch her play. She's just quietly going about her business, maybe destroying something, maybe rocking her dolly, you never know. I do need to work on her pronunciation. I was so diligent with Levi and he speaks so perfectly, I was hoping she would pick it up, but I can literally barely understand her sometimes. It makes life pretty frustrating at times.

Simeon's officially mobile… he does the army crawl and occasionally gets up on his hands and knees to see how that feels. I have to watch him now and make sure he doesn't pick up some little thing and choke on it. You would be amazed at that little pieces of things he finds on the floor. He is a constant joy though. He laughs easily and loves all the kids, even though they can be a little crazy sometimes. I can tell he wants to be in there among them as soon as possible. He's eating table food and FINALLY sleeping through the night. I've found the fuller I feed him at dinner, the longer he sleeps…. Duh… He might be starting to put on some more weight now, which is good because his pants keep coming off when he crawls.

Ben is still on the job market. We are encouraged with the amount of exposure he's been getting. It seems there might be some promising futures on the horizon and he might actually get a choice at where he gets to work… but you never know. We are praying for an opportunity right now for him to work remotely with this one company. It's been nice for him to work at his desk in the basement and then be able to come up for meals. It saves a ton of money on gas and food for sure. :) Lord, You are our Providor. Apart from You we can do nothing. You give and You take away, let us bless You in every circumstance.

I'm learning to walk in step with the Lord. I'm learning a lot about having self-control, taming my tongue, being slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to become angry. It's good when you have a loving community of friends around you to point out things to you. Stuff I might not have been aware of otherwise, or excused away because I was "stressed out" or "upset" … I'm learning not to give excuses. :)

More than anything, I think I would covet your prayers for my friend, sister, mentor, housemate and  fellow mother Debbie. She found out she was pregnant with a surprise baby number four in August. She persevered through that first trimester like a champ, we were all so excited about this surprise blessing on it's way. At twelve weeks she had her first appointment with a midwife (she's a home-birther) on a Friday. During the appointment the midwife was unable to find the heartbeat. It might have still been okay, but she needed to go get an ultrasound to make sure everything was alright. That next Tuesday a devastating ultrasound revealed that the baby did not survive. The days that followed have been difficult. It's been a time of grieving a life hoped for. The thing is, the hardest part is not yet over. She has had no bleeding, the baby's remains and everything are still inside. So she still has to go through what we are expecting will be about a third of labor and a third of a physical and emotional/hormonal recovery. Our prayer is that it would happen soon. Since Debbie's a natural birther it makes sense that she would want for things to come out naturally instead of going to a hospital and being put under for a DNC. Debbie is a strong woman and I hate utmost respect for her. My heart breaks for what she is having to walk through right now. So I just ask for prayer for her in these next difficult weeks to come.

Lord, You see all of this. You walk with us through all of this… life in this broken, fallen world and all the hurt. We are desperate for You. You were a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief. Jesus, thank You that You are not some far away priest, but You walked this stuff of loss and tragedy. Be with us. Walk with us. We need You Holy Spirit.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I should be going to bed, but instead I wanted to post on my blog. I've been having a lot of thoughts lately and I just wanted to get them out. Just so I could look at them and see what I am really thinking.

Ben is still looking for a job. He had an awesome interview the other day but he probably won't get it because another person within the company is applying for it and will probably win out in the end. Oh well, we know that we are in the Lord's hands and He is totally taking care of us.

Food continues to come in through our front door for our many little mouths to feed. We are praying about how we can be a blessing to the community around here and really begin to reach out to the poor and needy.

Debbie is pregnant.

I can't even believe that one. I'm totally pumped for her. Four kids by the time she is 30 is quite an accomplishment. Today is her birthday and she is being whisked away by her husband to spend a few days away from it all. You'll probably find out more about it on social media later from her if you want details.

Six kids ages six and under is still no small challenge, even for two moms. Sometimes I think it's harder because there are two of us and we are each only responsible for our own children. We don't spank each other's children but it's kind of an awkward conversation when you're like, "Hey, your kid hit my kid, can you please give them a spanking?" or "Your kid just talked to me disrespectfully and refused to obey, do you want to do something about that?" … I don't know, it's just challenging at times. Honestly, we just need a lot of grace for each other and love for each other's kids. Two year olds are just difficult. So are three and four year olds and even six year olds at times. Sometimes you just want to knock their little heads together and tell them to get a clue. But you can't do that, so you try as hard as you can to be a patient as you can and pray to Jesus that He will not allow you to do any permanent damage on their precious little spirits.

We are about to add another single girl to the commune. Can I call it that? That means that 12 people will be living here. Gabriel's mom AKA: Emmie, or as I would like to call her: an Angel From Heaven Above is here for two weeks so she makes 13. Between us all we have two and a half bathrooms. There are six bedrooms being utilized … and one washer and one dryer. Whew. We can do this.

I keep reminding myself of this:

There are people in this world who have like ten people all living in a single 10x10 room or smaller. There are people who have to use a communal squatty potty (I've been to the refugee camps in thailand, I know this firsthand) There are people in this world who don't have running water. They don't have dishwashers or refrigerators or washing machines or vehicles (between all of us we have a RIDICULOUS amount of vehicles). The truth is that we have it GOOD. We have showers and sinks where water magically comes out if you just turn a simple handle. It's amazing. We have phones and computers which allow us to be connected to the rest of the world. We have AIR CONDITIONING that allows us not to get too hot in our house.

We. Are. Blessed. Period.

If you hear me start to complain about needing some more space or something like that, just slap me upside the head please.

All in all I'm really excited about this new girl moving in though. There is a depth that you get to know someone when you see them in the morning and then at night and you just hang out with them on a very regular basis. You get to see them at their best and their worst. It's a beautiful thing. I'm very excited about her coming to live with us.

Lord, thank You for perspective. Let me never lose a heart of gratitude. Show me how to be thankful for each day, for each moment and each treasure. Help me to live and breathe in You. Please teach me to walk humbly, to love mercy and to do justly. I need You God. I desperately need You. On my own I do this stuff very poorly, so help me depend on You.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life Lately

Okay, so I haven't had much time to write lately. I feel bad because I'm sure a lot of my Little Rock friends are wondering what is going on with me lately.

Here's what's happening: we're still alive. 

I guess you could tell that from my Facebook and Instagram anyways. 

We are deep into community and communal living. Can I just say this? I love it. This is the way we were meant to live as believers. We need each other and we need new perspectives. I love living with the Mayes and I love it that we have a single guy who lives with us as well. We are able to encourage one another, help each other, serve one another in so many ways. I'm praying that if or when God moves us out of this house, He will give us another family to live life on life with. 

Don't get me wrong. It's not been all flowers and roses. There have been some hard moments when my actions have been called into question or our parenting has needed some critique. Those things have nit necessarily been easy to hear, but they have been good for us to hear. I was reading in Proverbs 12 today. Verse one says "Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid." Yep. Lord, teach me to receive correction, let me change to be more Christlike in my character, in my parenting, as a wife and as a sister in Christ. 

Ben is still on the hunt for a job, we are continuing to trust The Lord and pray for His provision. So many times lately He has provided groceries (basically the only thing we are helpng pay for other than gas) just from other dropping off food or getting food pantry items. It's always exactly what we need. We have also found ways to be frugal but still have fun. Last week we rode the train to a neighboring town and walked to their park and brought a picnic, the train was only $6 for all of us. The week before we went to a beach here in Crystal Lake, it was after 5:30, so we got in for free and then picnicked on the beach. It's been a lot of fun and forced us to be more creative with our resources. 

Levi is loving having constant playmates around.  When he's not building Legos with Gracen he's usually playing mommy and daddy with Darby or cars with Deacon. Aria and Deacon have finally become friends. I think before they just tolerated each other but this past week they have actually started playing together. I mean like, for real playing. I think they now consider each other friends ... Maybe. It very much reminds me of when Levi's cousin Caroline came back from Africa two years ago and for the first month or two they fought constantly, we could not leave them alone together. But by the end of the four month period of her being here they were best buds.  I still look back on that with fondness in my heart. 

We are attempting some potty training this week with the two year olds ... So keep Debbie and me in your prayers if you think of us.

I feel like God just keeps stripping away layers and layers of pride in my life. I was thinking, they I'm pretty awesome, we are going up to help with a church up here in Chicago, we got this... But I thni more than anything God is wanting my humble submission. I'm struggling a lot with taking the humble place. Well, maybe not struggling with it, I mean, I'm doing it or it's happening, that's one reason why I haven't blogged in a while, because I have been asking, am I doing this for my glory or for God's? I'm coming into a place of questioning all of my motives, and it's a good thing. I feel like The Lord had to pull us out of our normal lifestyle in Little Rock and bring us up here to where we would be uncomfortable and where we would have to depend on Him even more. 

Lord, please change me. 
Teach me to be humble. 
Teach me to seek You with all my heart.
Show me Your ways and Your paths, I need You. 

I have nothing else. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A New Phone

I sat down to do my normal Bible study and just felt like the Lord was telling me to write.

It was a rough night last night with Simeon. It took several tries to finally get him down (this often happens when he's overtired) and then several times throughout the night he would cry so I just brought him in bed and nursed him. Then I would wake up sometime later, put him back in bed and then he would cry later on and I would go get him again. All in all it makes for a confusing night and I'm not sure he needs to be fed so much.

Anyways, I wanted to blog about my phone and the loss and the restoration and all of that story.

After I posted a picture yesterday Ben told me I need to give credit where credit is due. :) Our friends, the Spena's gave us their iPhone 4S, (Ben had a plain old 4 that was on the brink) so Ben decided to up grade his phone and instead of giving me the 4S he gave me the 5S that he could have taken for himself. He would not have been able to do that without the gift from the Spena's though and we are so thankful for generous friends

He gave me the nicer phone because I take all the pictures and it has a nicer camera. I had just better be super diligent about not LOSING this one. Oh my gosh…

So many times when I look back at that fateful day of losing everything I just want to kick myself and be like, "You idiot!" I seriously lost hundreds of dollars worth of stuff that day. Gone. In the blink of an eye. … I can't even talk about this right now.

Lord, help me not to live inside of regret. It's a place that paralyzes me and flattens me down to nothing. Help me to just learn from my mistakes and move on. Help me to be diligent and mindful of where my stuff is and keeping track of it. Let me not be lazy as I am getting ready and help me to remember to put things in the right places when we get home.

Thank You for loving us and taking care of us even when we do stupid stuff.

Thank You for always providing in spite of our mistakes sometimes.

Thank You for letting us learn lessons and suffer consequences.

God, if there's anything I've learned in these past few weeks, it's that You are all sufficient. You are all that I need.

Friday, July 4, 2014

No Regrets

I'd rather be pursuing food blogs right now… that's what I'd rather do.

But I think I just need to process. So why not do it online?

Dear TSA and Southwest Airlines,

I hope you find my bag and my phone. It would be so awesome if you did.



I really really really miss my phone. I was thinking about that today. I miss being able to call someone and chat while I drive. I miss my friends texts (goofy and serious) and the connectedness I felt with them. I miss being able to take pictures of cute things my kids do and then post them on social media.

We have decided that I probably need to just get a new phone and a smart one would be ideal because it will be able to navigate for me. It will also be able to take pictures and videos. The only thing is that we would have to bite the bullet financially to get it. No, we are not going into debt by any means, just cutting into our nice, pretty pile of money we have saved. It's just frustrating.

I haven't really bought many new clothes. I mean, I got a skirt and two shirts for the wedding and rehearsal dinner, my sister gave me a pair of shorts (which I love so far, Faded Glory, who knew?) and a shirt. I bought two more shirts from Target and then that's about it.

Ben's parents gave me one of their Bibles which was similar to the one I lost. I love them and their generosity. It's good to just have a Bible I can mark up now and make my own. I've been using little pieces of paper as a journal. I should have bought one the other day, but I just don't spend money. I always think, "I can hold out a little longer."

I was talking to Ben about this nagging feeling I have of regret. Thinking: why did we fly? Why didn't we just drive? At least we wouldn't' have forgotten so much stuff, we wouldn't have inconvenienced my parents by using their van, I would still have my phone, we would have been fine to drive… Then Ben pointed out that if we had driven I would have been miserable. We would be in the car with three kids four and under for 39 hours. It would have been stupid.

So maybe I just need to live and learn.

-Keep track of your stuff
-Don't freak out at airports
-Don't regret stuff

Lord, help me to live with no regrets. I struggle with this because it's easy to look back and wish I had done things differently. But if I spend all my time wishing I had done something different, then I won't enjoy what I'm doing right now. Lord, help me to live in the moment and for the future. Help me to look ahead and around me. Let me learn and move on. I'm struggling now Lord, help my heart and my emotions to catch up with what I know to be true: You are sovereign. You work all things together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.

Thank You for perspective Lord.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Losing Stuff

We are on a vacation/seeing family/wedding in Dallas trip.

It's a bit on the epic side (for us) because my older brother and his family is here for a few weeks from Thailand. Yes, you read that right: Thai-land. Like as in on the other side of the world, opposite time zones and all that jazz. 

They flew back for my younger brother's marriage which will be happening in Austin on Saturday. We are so excited that Travis found the perfect match in Kailee, she is going to be a precious addition to our family. Our only regret is that he didn't find her sooner. :)

So after being in Chicago a couple of weeks, we are leaving for just a few more. 

It was going to be around 50 hours of driving with the kids, so we, having some amount of discernment, decided to bite the bullet and fly here. The McCall clan (my family) is converging in Dallas on a  friend's ranch before the wedding and then we will all head up to Little Rock to spend a few weeks with Evan and Emily before they go spend a few more weeks with her family in Tulsa. 

Yes, you read that correctly, we flew with three small children. It definitely beats infinite hours in the car, but after my story, I'm starting to have my doubts. 

Let's just say that the Lord is teaching me about patience and anger and being content in Him. 

I'm a firm believer that there are no accidents and that all things are under God's sovereign hand. I believe He brought yesterday's events about and I can trust Him … in all things. 

The cheapest direct flight from Chicago to dallas left at 5:55 am. We decided that it would be easiest to wake up the kids and bring them. It would put us in Dallas around 9, we would be good to go. This meant we needed to be at the airport by 5 and so we needed to leave the house at 4. Everything would be fine. 

Everything was not fine. 

We got to the airport around 5 and the lines for the ticket counters were totally backed up. Ben said, "I don't think we're gonna make it." I started to feel panic rise up in my chest. Hindsight, I should not have panicked. We all were going to live, we would all make it to Dallas eventually. Oh well, I'm not an experienced flyer, I don't know these things. 

The kids were still pretty groggy and I was carrying Aria and pushing Simeon in the stroller. We had Levi in charge of one of the carry on bags. In fact, we made it to where all of our bags could be carried on. We were flying home on Delta and didn't want to have to pay for the 30 dollar baggage fees. As we were looking at the line I told Ben we should just go check in at the kiosks, we could just take our bags with us. 

So He checked us in and we ran to the elevator and down to security. Thankfully they have a child/stroller line that we got in so we didn't have to wait as long. We got up to the checker and she said, "Where is your boarding pass for the infant? He's not on here." Ben had forgotten to put that on the check in kiosk. He looked at me and said, "can you run him back up there and see if they will let you get a pass for him?" We had no choice. I took Simeon and my pass and dashed upstairs to get a boarding pass (somehow). There was a lady at the counter and I immediately realized that I didn't have Simeon's birth certificate or my drivers license. 

When stuff like this happens I immediately blame Ben. This is part of my natural sin tendencies. I think, "Why didn't he give me my drivers license back? Why didn't he make sure I had Simeon's stupid birth certificate? What am I going to do? Why did I marry this idiot?" Upon later contemplation I was just as guilty of the stupidity in my just dashing off without anything. I will gladly and openly admit this. I have a good, wonderful husband who is about ten times more responsible than I am and I am thankful I married him. (most of the time:))

Thankfully there was this magical lady standing at the ticket kiosk and after uttering a word I won't repeat here under my breath I told her, "Hi, um, I have a baby and we checked in here because we are in a hurry and about to miss our flight and um, I don't have his birth certificate but here's my boarding pass, can you put him on it?" I'm not good at lying people, I cannot do it. So this angel from heaven just looked at me and asked for his name and his date of birth and MADE A NEW BOARDING PASS. No questions asked, just the sweetest, most wonderful angelic woman. 

In relief I made it back to the elevator, trying to be polite but still in a hurry. I mean, I should have been in mad-dash mode, but I just didn't think it was right to mow over people. I made it back to the security lady and she ushered me up to join Ben in line to get checked out. 

We started putting our mirads of bags and things onto the conveyer belt. The kids shoes, our shoes, taking out electronics. Later they counted and we had ten items that went through their little scanner. I had Simeon in my arms so they had to swab my hands. They also had these cute little chairs for the kids to sit in, but we didn't have time for that so I was yelling at my kids that no, we were not going to sit in the animal chairs, we are going to RUN to our gate. Aria was screaming that she wanted to sit in the chair. There was an older couple in front of us just sort of standing there, so I was trying not to bump into them, but we had to hurry. It was craziness. I might have looked at my watch and it was 5:50. Ben kept saying, we're not gonna make it. (Ben, you're not helping anything by saying that.)

We start heading the wrong way after we FINALLY made it through security. Levi started asking, "Where's the orange bag?""I'm like, "What orange bag? We don't have an orange bag …" Wait, we are missing a bag. The one with the orange trim. The one we were borrowing from our friends. The one that had all of my clothes in it. And my Bible. And my essential oils. And Aria's flower girl dress and the boy's bow ties and suspenders. Or course, I didn't realize all this at the time, it was just one of our bags and Ben needed to go get it while I herded the kids in the right direction. 

The kids and I made it to the gate on time. The lady asked if I wanted to board without my husband. No, I needed to wait. And I waited. And waited. Eventually I heard on the loud speaker that there was a grey Nautica bag with orange trim that needed to be found. That was our bag. Oh dear… 

Ben eventually came back and said they couldn't find the bag. It had been taken off the conveyer belt but then mysteriously disappeared. Maybe it was stolen? Hopefully just mistaken for someone else's bag. 

We then flew standby to Oklahoma City and onto Dallas. 

Here's the other thing I lost: my phone. 

I'm an idiot. 

I was in a deep conversation, talking about childbirth with the lady next to me. I was nursing Simeon which made it hard to bend over and put my phone in the diaper bag, so I put it in the setback pocket in front of me.

And then I left it there.

It wasn't until we got on our next plane and I thought, "What am I going to do to entertain Aria while she sits next to me with Simeon in my arms?" then I remembered my phone. It was on its way to Houston.

Lord, help me to be patient. Help me not to give in to anger or self-pity. Help me not to complain. I keep asking myself, "am I being sifted? Am I being pruned?" What's the lesson in all of this?

It definitely feels like a sort of stripping away. I am super sad that the suitcase had my Bible and journal in it. The clothes can be replaced. In the end, it's all just a bunch of stuff.

Lord, I've been praying that You would loose me of my stuff, my things. Thank You for only taking a suitcase's worth. Thank You that I still have my children and my husband. Thank You that we still have money in the bank. Thank You that You are the ultimate provider. Thank You for a little sister who is willing to let me borrow her clothes. Thank You that clothes don't matter.

God, I pray that You would be the one desire in my life.

These scriptures have been coming to mind these past few days, so I will leave you with them.

 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

Better a little with the fear of the Lord
    than great wealth with turmoil.
17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
    than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs chapter 15:16-17

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life Lately

Time to answer the question that everyone is asking … (what a presumptuous statement, as if "everyone" is on the edge of their seats, checking their feeds to see if I've blogged or not, waiting on me… get over yourself Jody)

How's Chicago?

Technically it's Crystal Lake, we are about an hour outside of Chicago.

I love the weather.
The parks are awesome. Ben is taking the kids to them like every day on a huge scavenger hunt that the park administration office came up. He has to find out all kinds of questions and for every ten of them they get a prize. So far he's been to about 25 parks.
I'm loving the people too. I think I really like the Chicago accent, every time I hear it from people up here I'm always pleasantly surprised.

What else? I love the church. It's strange because a lot of times people move places and then they have to go looking for a church. In this case, we are doing the opposite, we found our church, now we just have to find everything else. I love the people of the church, it's been really cool to walk into open arms. They have been knowing that we are coming for a while. They often say "So good to finally meet you!" Who wouldn't love that kind of welcome?

Ben is still looking for a job. I'm praying that the Lord will give him somewhere close to work, that he would enjoy it and he would be able to have a ministry there. Right now it's as though he's on a  really extended vacation. I love it. He's always around and always helping. He's been doing all kinds of odd jobs around the house and it's been really cool to bless Gabriel and Debbie in that way.

Okay, the biggest change in our life right now is the fact that we are living in community. I mean like the same house. Six little kids, two sets of parents and a single guy. It's crazy. And I love it.

I mean, I really really do. My kids always have playmates. We have the boys room and the girls room. Ben and I have our own room, so do Gabriel and Debbie and Manuel lives in the basement. It's kind of a huge house and we all fit. I mean, we could probably even do another couple of people if anyone else wants to join … just kidding, I mean, maybe.

Debbie and I were talking one day about how maybe we need to write about living together. When your friend says that you should write about it, then you know they are okay with having you around.

I am tossing around a blog post with a list of rules for living with another family.

Here's a few:
1. Do as much as you can around the house. Try to out serve the other. If everyone does as much as they can, so much will get done. Don't try to keep track of what the other is doing, just serve each other. It's beautiful.
2. Give the other person alone time. Whether it's a shower or just some time alone in their room. It's always good to tell the other person, hey, you look tired, I can watch the kids by myself for a bit while you go and hang out with Jesus for a while.
3. Divide and conquer. If one person makes the meal, the others should clean it up. One person take care of cleaning the kitchen while the other gets to sweep all the floors.

Those are just a few things. Debbie could probably add to the list. She has honestly been a joy to live alongside. She's a hard worker and she's the real deal, she doesn't turn on or turn off her love for Jesus and her passion for others. She's a good mom and for sure a wife of noble character.

I've also been a fan of "team parenting" in that we as moms decide to instigate things and then when we are tempted to give in to the children, the other mom can be like, "um, didn't we agree to this?" (just ask us about the issues with kids and them insisting on a certain color of plate) there is strength in numbers. There's also the fact that we both have glorious two year olds. There's something about the two year old phase/age that is just plain humbling as a parent. No matter how much you spank them, try to reason with them, anything, they are still going to test you. It's always going to be frustrating. They are going to have whiny little voices and you just have to keep in mind, "this won't last forever."

Aria story: at 3 am this morning I woke up to see a light under our door. I walked out and found Aria had gotten the first aid kit down from the third shelf up (this means she had to climb up the other shelves) and was trying to get a band aid. I tried to calmly tell her no, she screamed that she wanted a "ban-iad" and that she could do it herself. I did my best to settle her down, thankfully we didn't wake the whole house. It was just one of those two year old moments.

I felt a little better when Debbie had to spank Deacon during breakfast (didn't even make it through) this morning. Something about seeing someone else struggle as you do is just a little more heartening. Something in you says, "I'm not alone, everyone struggles."

Lord, thank You for leading us here. Thank You for the things you are teaching us about trust and surrender. Thank You for the rest You have given us. Thank You for the good work that you've had us to do these past few weeks. I'm amazed that we are here. It's been a beautiful time so far. Help me to be humble and to serve. Thank You for community and the gift that it is. I don't even know what else to say, only that I'm thankful for where we are and I'm looking forward to what You have next.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Life Lately

Dear blog,

I don't have time for you. I'm taking care of a whole bunch of littles. It's pretty tiring, but it's good. Okay, fine, it's nap time and I will blog. Fine.

Welp, we're in Crystal Lake. We made it. This week has been somewhat easier than last week. Last week it was all about moving in and getting kids used to each other. Everything was pretty busy and in upheaval. Things have settled a lot this week. I am so thankful that Ben doesn't have a job and that he's not one of those guys who just sits around. Every time he would finish something he would always ask me what else I needed. Then he would do it. I have an amazing husband people. Just so you know.

He fixed my broken drawer, he set up the garage door opener with our van (I don't even know the term for that, but now we can open their garage door with our van) He's run errands, he's returned things that I've been needing to return for weeks (yes, I even dragged those things to a different city, knowing Target was here too) He's helped with laundry and cleaning … it's just amazing. I have an amazing, servant leader husband and I am seriously in awe of his strength and his heart.

Right now we are taking care of six kids. Our three plus three more. Two of them two year olds… need I say more?

The interesting part is that it's not all that hard. I mean, honestly, our kids have been the most difficult. Aria has been the most difficult. I'm realizing more and more that she is strong willed and that I need to watch her because she has a tendency to manipulate me. I mean, there's nothing like realizing that your two year old is manipulating you. It's embarrassing, frustrating and enraging all at the same time. Lord, help me to control my anger. Help me to communicate to her that she is not in charge. Also, please help her to stop hitting.

Where are these children's parents? In Mexico. They drove down there. 18 hours (through the night) to Houston and then another 7 hours into Madamoris (I have no idea how to spell it, so I probably maimed it.) to go help build (like construction) a church building and minister to the people living in the slums down there. They will arrive back sometime Monday morning.

One thing I know about this church is that they don't do things half heartedly. It's going to be all or nothing, in or out, hot or cold, there's not lukewarm about this little church up here. So Ben and I are pulling our weight by taking care of the littles. Wiping bottoms, cleaning messes, feeding children, settling squabbles, rising early and being dead tired at night. It's good. It's kingdom work here. The other day I was reading in Mark 10 where Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for such is the kingdom of heaven. If you do not receive the kingdom of God as one of these you will by no means enter it." Wow.

It made me think about how so many times I get tired of children and taking care of them, but if I despise the privilege then I'm despising the gifts that Jesus has give us. These six little kids would be the ones that the disciples got tired of and rebuked but Jesus would want them to come up and tell him those endless stories and He would see them with their snotty little noses … He might even wipe their nose with his shirt sleeve, hey, if He washed the disciples stinky feet, a snotty nose would be small potatoes.

Lord, help for me to care about my children and other children around me as You did. Help me to learn from them and the way they receive things freely so that I can receive the kingdom as they do. Thank You that You lead us tenderly as we care for the young. Thank You for the two year old age and how humbling it is and how often I have to cry out to You because I have no idea what to do.

Hard times:
- getting kids to stay in their bed
- kids waking up TOO EARLY.
- changing three diapers in a row, two of them poopy. It's a lovely way to start out the day.

Good times:
- when I was praying with my friend on the phone this morning Aria and Darby came into the room and just laid quietly on the bed with me this morning.
- going to the park with Ben and the littles this morning. We ALL played on the playground. I've determined that I need to play more.
- the kids playing on the play set in the backyard while I did dishes after lunch.
- the BEAUTIFUL weather. Seriously. It's a high of 72 today. I've been wearing a jacket all morning and it's June. ((I'm going to freeze this winter))

Lord, help me to focus on the good. 

PS, and thank You for naps. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Body Image

I should be blogging about our journey to Chicago. If I was a real blogger and good at blogging, that's what I'd be doing.

So far I just have one main thing to say about it thus far… it's been hard.

Moving, traveling, settling into someone else's house, three little kids and trying to sort out bedtimes and naps and just management … it might not be so hard if our kids weren't so small, or so many. Aria accounts for like 3 kids by herself. So really, we have been caring for more like 5 kids.

But God is faithful. He has given us mercies and they are new every morning.

No. I actually want to blog about … my favorite thing to write about: body image.

This seems to be something I deal with on a daily basis. It's something I just get to keep coming back to. I'm thinking, "Really? Didn't we already deal with this a while ago? Wasn't I freed from this or over this or something like that?" Well, yes and no. I'm in a much healthier place than I have been. I don't think dark thoughts all day that I hate my body (not ALL day) and I don't go days on end bingeing and then exercising like a crazy person to make up for all of it.

At the same time, I do struggle. I struggle with seeing my body as being good enough. I struggle with looking pretty enough. I struggle with what I would call "body envy" where you look at someone else and score them next to yourselves. I'm amazed at how quickly my brain just automatically calculates how I measure up against another woman. It's like everyone who would score "worse" than me, maybe she's pudgier or something, I have a tendency to like more or feel more comfortable around. But the ones who score "better" than me, I have a tendency to be uncomfortable around and think that I'm less valuable than they are. This. Is. Ridiculous.

The Lord would give me a super tiny friend who sees none of that, just so I can see through her eyes what she's really thinking when she sees me. Let's just say this: she's not "scoring" me based on how big or small I am. And maybe if some corner of her mind does score me, she doesn't let that affect what she thinks of me.

The weight of baby number three is not coming off too well for me this time. I worked hard and tried not to gain much during the pregnancy, but it seems like the pounds are not moving. I will say that I have struggled a lot with stress eating during this move. Many afternoons it was all I could do to keep myself packing boxes and not looking for the next thing to shove in my face.

I want to start waking up every morning and thanking God for my body.

That's what I want to do. I don't think it will solve all of my eating issues or secret thoughts about how I'm not pretty enough. But I do think it would start to shift my mind in a different direction about it.

I need to remember that my body is a good body. It does good things like rock my children when they are tired or need comfort. It allows me to kiss my husband and tell him he's awesome. My body allows me to clean the floors that my children and husband walk on. There are people in the world who would love to have a body like mine. It functions well. It even stores up extra fat for if there's ever a famine. It's a good body.

I want to start thinking differently about food. Let me enjoy it Lord. Levi asked me the other day why something was salty and the only thing I could think of was because God made it that way and isn't He good for giving us such an array of flavors? He gave us sweet and salty and spicy and all kinds of mixtures and flavors we've never even tasted because we don't live in that part of the world… and isn't God just good?

He is good. He created food for our good. I want to eat whole, real food, not because it's the latest craze, but because that's the way God made it. It's how He designed our bodies to filter it. He created us to feel good when we eat healthy things. If I eat too much junk then my body is more prone to illness and I just feel worse. Help me to remember these things as I sit down to eat a meal.

Lord, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. You are my strength in my weakness. You are the One who reminds me a shows me who I am. Help me to be thankful for this body You have given me. Thank You that it is a source of comfort for my family and even for others outside my family. Let me be a place of rest for those around me. Let me give life to others around me. Let me value people and not "score" them. Let me see them as You see them. Thank You for new eyes. Thank You for my body.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Steps of Faith

Today we close on our house and Ben quits his job.

We will be officially unemployed and homeless.

Oh good.

That's the nutshell version. I almost posted that on faceook but then I thought better of it. Better make it a blog post so that we can explain.

This is us saying yes to God and His call on our lives.

We are moving to Chicago to help start a church, but really, it's been so much more than a move and so much more than us wanting to help friends with a church plant. It's been God asking us if we will truly give up our lives and the things we love here on earth so that He can have more of us. He's been asking us, are you really going to follow Me anywhere?

Can I just say right here that Jesus wasn't just some good prophet? He wasn't a good man, His teachings were provocative at times. He was, I should say, is God. He doesn't want just part of our lives, He wants ALL of our lives. Ben and I are feeling the weight of that as we make this move. Jesus said things like, if you don't hate your father mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even your own life - such a person cannot be My disciple.

We are learning to hate even our own lives.

Ben said in talking to people at work he can tell that they think he is foolish. He's refusing to climb the corporate ladder there and is venturing out for a new job in Chicago.

Yes, we will be helping with the church, but we won't get paid by them. This has also been a dream of Ben's, to be involved in church planting but still be a part of the work force.

We are heading up with our stuff on Monday. We will be living with Gabriel and Debbie Mayes for a few months until Ben finds a job and we can find some place to stay a little more permanently. Our kids will be sharing rooms with their kids (praying this goes smoothly, hoping for the best and expecting the worst) Ben and I will have the fourth bedroom and share the bathroom with all the little ones (for about two seconds I was disappointed but then realized we share our master bathroom with all our kids anyways, so whatev).

Ways that God has provided financially:
He gave us a ridiculously good car for a ridiculously low amount of money last fall. (It was doubtful our 1995 Camry would make it up there in all the snow)
He gave Ben an end of the year bonus (this was pretty typical) and then a second bonus (totally a surprise)
He sold our house in like three days! At our asking price! (Whaaaaaat?! Thank you Lord!)
Ben had saved up a few weeks of vacation for when Simeon was born but wasn't able to take it because he was so busy at work, so now he will get two and a half weeks of vacation.

God has done all of this. Time after time I ask Ben, "Why do we worry?" Why do we fret about these things? Does He say that He will provide? Now I'm praying that we will be wise stewards of the resources He has given us. It's like the Lord knew we would have enough stress with moving and three little kids, He just didn't give us more than we could handle. He truly is a good God.

He is our Provider.

Side note from that: I just want to say here that Ben and I have intentionally avoided debt in our lives and that really has allowed us to have freedom to move. It's allowed us the freedom to step out in faith and quit our job without (major) worries. Romans 13:8 says "Let no debt remain, except the continuing debt to love one another, whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." That's been the goal of our life in Christ.

Lord, this is rough. It's been a difficult last few weeks, but because of You, it has been good. Thank You for Your provision. Thank You for support of friends and family, this could not have been possible without the body of Christ around us. Thank You for constantly helping me with my attitude. You are my healer, in so many ways. I pray for open hearts for Ben and I as we move, we are plant ourselves in a foreign city for Your glory, that we would follow You even more. Let us be more devoted to prayer, and to Your Word. Let us be more sensitive to Your Spirit. You are worth it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Moving to Chicago part 3

Wow. That's all I can say.

We will be moving to Chicago (Crystal Lake, Illinois) in a week from Monday. It's happening. It's here.

I can't even blog coherently about this.

We sold our house. It went on the market on a Sunday. We got an offer that evening. We countered and they rejected. Then three other people came in and made offers. In the end, we got our asking price. Thank You Lord. It might have been the most painless part of the whole process. For me at least. Our realtor, Ray Ellen (I'm just gonna say his name so that if you need a real estate agent in Central Arkansas you can call him), did an awesome job.

God is merciful. Really, He is. This whole process of picking up and moving… not the funnest process. I've had moments of wanting to melt into a puddle of tears, but in His goodness, God has given us some incredible gifts during this time. Staying at my in-laws: sweet fellowship with them plus a clean house to pack up in the afternoons. My parents who have taken the kids overnight several times just to give us a break from the chaos. Friends who have watched the kids on different mornings. I'm learning what it means to ask of others and not cower in shame.

We are still waiting on a job for Ben. Honestly, I just am not worried. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He tells us not to worry. Ben is an awesome worker, he's not lazy. I know that as soon as we get to Chicago he will begin looking really hard for a job.

He did have an opportunity with Verizon and that was encouraging. He had a phone interview and then flew up for a face to face interview. Then we waited to hear back. And we waited … and waited. Finally, this week he got a response that was almost, practically a "no" but encouraged him to apply for other jobs within the company and they would send on his resume.

It was a true let down. I mean, after all that time Ben and I were not feeling good feelings like he would get it, but still to have it sort of there, I think that was hard, especially for Ben. But he handled it like a champ and he had a good heart to heart with the Lord because of it.

One thing I know about this WHOLE process of receiving the call, praying through it, seeking counsel, saying yes to the Lord, and picking up and moving, Ben and I have been more challenged in our faith to truly believe that we are in His hands than ever before. This has led to a crazy intimacy with God and with each other. It's put some grit in our faith. Singing the songs on Sunday morning: "We won't move without You, You're the light of all, and all that we need" "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back" "I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is always by my side" … those lyrics now hold a weight to them.

Sometimes I feel like God is calling us to Chicago just to change us.

Lord, let us be malleable clay in Your hand. Let us testify to Your faithfulness and Your goodness. That's why we're doing all this stuff. It's because You are faithful. You have so transformed us and changed our lives and made us new from who we were, that we can't help but give our lives to You.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Crazy Cravings

It is always my goal to be completely open and honest on this blog.

It's my goal to be honest in my whole life. It just feels better that way, to be known, not to have to hide anything or think, wait, should I really be talking about this right now? Often it simply results in someone else saying, I have that exact same problem/sin/difficulty and I thought I was the only one.

You're not.

No one is.

I remember sitting in small groups in high school and college and thinking I was the only one struggling with something. I struggled a lot to have good relationships in those times but I think I just didn't know how to do it. I was fearful much of the time.

Anyways, most recently I've been struggling in the area of food. I've decided not to struggle with my weight, I just had a baby not long ago and it's okay to need to lose a few pounds. Any of you women who lost all their pregnancy weight within their first six weeks… don't even talk to me right now. Don't do it, I will stare you down coldly in my mind while nodding and smiling. I digress…

My struggle with food has gone like this. All day I eat healthy and well. I don't overeat too bad, I allow myself to experience hunger, I eat a few salads, I also eat fats and carbs and proteins … it's going great. Then comes dinner. I allow myself to get pretty hungry and I clean my plate because it is just delicious, okay people? So good. I eat so fast and I don't experience complete satisfaction at the end of the meal. Then I go to the freezer, pantry, fridge for whatever else I can fit into my mouth and belly. It's not that I just want a cookie or a little bit of ice cream, it's that I want the whole cookie recipe or the whole stinking container of ice cream.

This desire proceeds until about 9 pm.

Two things usually happen. I do my best to ignore the voices in my head that are violently telling me to eat my heart out and then the 9 o clock hour rolls around and I feel 'successful' OR I eat whatever I can (usually behind Ben's back because that's how my sin nature rolls, I'm good at sneaking this stuff) and the 9 o clock hour rolls around and I hate myself. I literally, truly hate my own guts. I beat myself up and tell myself never to eat like that again, that was stupid and dumb and what an idiot I am.

This has been going on for several weeks now. I'm not actually sure about the time period, but it feels that way.

What's interesting is that I haven't really been aware of this whole battle. I just knew I had either good nights or bad nights.

Finally, the other day I realized it and I told it to Ben.

This is kind of how the conversation went:
"Ben, have you ever just wanted to eat everything in sight?"
"Maybe when I was really hungry to something."
"No, like really, even when you weren't hungry?"
"Well, I have realized that every evening after dinner it's like there's this … um … overeating monster … um … voices inside my head and I just have this desire that if I just eat as much sweets and things as I can then I will be happy. Rationally, I know this is not true, in fact, it's much better if I don't eat tons of food because then I will sleep better and not have a stomach ache when I go to bed. But still, it's like these crazy little voices that come on at 6 and don't turn off until 9. Isn't that weird?"
"That's weird. Wow. "

Once I openly acknowledged and admitted that to Ben things got a lot better. It was like, instead of going into a battle each evening dressed like I was going to a dinner party, I was dressing my mind more like I was going into a battle. I was ready for action. Bring on the crazy little voices who tell me to do stupid things… I'm ready for them and their rationalizations that never cease to amaze. Like "You deserve this" "You are nursing" "No one will know" "Who cares?" "This will feel good" and the list goes on and on.

The truth is that I don't need to eat anything after dinner. Dinner was sufficient, I don't need to eat a batch of cookies. If I eat unhealthy things they won't make me happier. Even if I eat healthy things in unhealthy amounts, my body will still not like it. The truth is that I only need satisfaction in the Lord.

Two things that have helped in the evenings are: not being left alone in the evenings as well as avoiding sweets in the evenings as well. Sometimes (not always) I don't even need to taste it.

Lord, I pray that You would be my portion forever and ever.

Healing an Angry Heart

A Sunday afternoon blog post. Why not?

It's been a rough week. That's all I can say. It's been rough, but the truth is that God is faithful.

Moving is not easy. Putting your house on the market isn't easy either. Trying to figure out what we will need for the months that we will be staying with the Mayes and what we will need to put in storage… not a lot of fun. Add to that trying to be a wife and a mom and I've pretty much become a puddle of tears. Usually angry tears.

This week was a huge struggle with anger.

I wouldn't say I am usually an angry person, however, my kids are best at provoking that out of me. As my sister-in-law told me the other day, "It's amazing what comes out of you when you are squeezed." Oh I have found some not-so-pretty things come out of me. Not pretty at all.

Some things I have realized about being a homemaker and a mother. Nesting happens. I have my nest and I like my nest. Don't push me out of my nest or mess it up. Moving nests is not fun. I lose things, I forget where I put things … putting kids down for bedtimes and naps is about a thousand times harder. There are new rooms and territories and boundaries that need to be set. I feel like I've been all out of sorts this week.

Can I just pause to say here that it's no one's fault that I have been upset? Seriously, I have the most gracious in-laws who have let us come move in with them so that our house can be shown at a moment's notice. That way I wouldn't have to be constantly picking up after a four-year-old, two-year-old and a new baby. It's wonderful, and they are the most gracious hosts I have ever been with. Seriously. You have no idea. I pray that we will be like them someday, the Lord has blessed them and they have open hands with it.

Anyways, I think I have just been mad about the situation. I've been angry that I have had to pack up all of our clothes and bring them somewhere else. I might have been a little bit angry that Simeon hasn't slept well (therefore I haven't slept well) for the past few days.

Finally, Ben and I were in the car and I was just telling him, "I am so angry and I don't even know why." Everything he said I took offense at, I just could feel angry vibes going towards him. He was like, I don't know what to do Jody. So I did the only thing I knew to do and that was just to start praying out loud and confessing my anger to God. I was asking Him, please take this away from me, please cleanse my heart and my spirit, I cannot take it out of my own body. I cannot stop wanting to spew on everyone around me.

And that was it.

We drove on to our destination in relative silence. That evening it was like I had a new heart. I literally have no idea what happened, except that God answered my prayer. All that bitterness and anger had been sucked right out of me. The next day was better and the next day was even better. The Lord heard my cry and He healed me. It was crazy.

Lord, You are my Healer. You are my very present help in times of trouble. I need nothing else BUT You Jesus. Thank You that You are faithful when I am willing to call on You. My faith in You grows each day as I get to walk with You. Not only that, but each day I am more and more convinced that there is no way I could do this on my own.

Thank You Lord.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Moving to Chicago part 2

Several times today while cleaning and packing and just thinking about packing I have wanted to break down and cry and just lay on the floor and tell everyone I can't do this. I just … can't … do … this.

But as I was cleaning the Holy Spirit was asking me, "Jody, is this your home? Is this where you were meant to be?' I was reminded that this world is not my home. It's just not. We, maybe especially americans and maybe especially housewives, want our homes all tidy and nice around us. We want it to be comfortable and a place of permanency. That's probably because we were created for permanency, for paradise. The sad part is that this world is not permanent. The world and everything in it is passing away, but the Word of God stands forever.

Lord, thank You that this is not my home. How hopeless I would be today if it were.

Okay, so more about our call to Chicago.

Why is this so hard for me to blog about?? Maybe it's because sometimes it feels foolish to say, "God told me to do this" … because really? Are you sure you heard Him? Yes, I'm sure! But really? Would He really tell you to do something that makes no sense like that? Yep. Makes sense to me.

I'll share a little from Ben's story.

We had just truly decided to begin pursing the idea of going to Chicago. We told Gabriel and Debbie one Sunday night about how we were truly feeling like the Lord was leading us there to partner in ministry with them. They were thrilled. True to form, Gabriel gave us a challenge. He's definitely the kind of guy who will hold your feet to the fire … in a good way. He challenged us to start telling people about the possibility of moving and how God was leading us. He told us to make sure and be intentional in this time.

The next day Satan started attacking. Fear. Hardcore fear. Would Ben be able to find a job? What if we went for a period without insurance? Would we be able to sell our house? What if our parents thought we were crazy?

All kinds of questions and fears.

He hadn't ever experienced fear on this level before. He decided to download a podcast from Matt Chandler. He hadn't listened to Matt before, he just knew I had listened and decided to download a sermon. It was about fear. Matthew 6 and how God provides. Ben was weeping in his car. He was on his way to lunch with one of our pastors. His meeting with the pastor was so encouraging that if the Lord really did want us to move, God would make a way and He would make it clear. God would not leave one of His children in the dark or obstruct their way.

Another meeting with a pastor Ben had just read about Jonathan and the armor bearer and how they went up and defeated a philistine outpost. Ben had a vision that he would be like the armor bearer. Ben is a team player, he wants to support, not as much lead. This pastor had preached a sermon on this passage just before he left his old church. They were able to talk about the passage and the pastor had a lot of confirmation that Ben was following God's will.

God just kept telling us to keep pressing into ministry here in Little Rock. We knew that we needed to stay for one more season. We needed to have our third baby here and Ben needed to see a huge project through at his work. He wanted to leave his job well. He didn't want to leave his co-workers in the lurch to "go start a church" for some reason, we didn't think that would be a very good witness. :)

It's sort of felt like we've had a line of bread crumbs we have been slowly picking up as we follow God. A sermon here, a scripture there, a word from a friend at a very appropriate time. People who we told would ask us, "How is Chicago looking?" And I could honestly say, I feel like I can only see about ten feet ahead of us. It's like we are on a train and God is literally laying the track out in front of our eyes.

It's been a huge faith journey for us and we are excited about what else He has in store.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Favorite Album Ever

Okay, I know this is totally not what I usually do, but this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I have been wanting to give an album to some friends, one album, many friends. If I could just push it through the internet into every home and buy one for each of my friends I would TOTALLY do that. However, I do not have the financial capacity for such things.

So, I will write.

I've posted a few times before about the album "Campfire" by Rend Collective Experiment. (I think they recently shortened it to Rend Collective, good choice, cause a lot of times I just shorten it to Rend, the easier the better is what I always say).

Can I just take a moment and speak as a musician and someone who has sold some CD's that I made myself? It's hard. I mean, I made a lot of mistakes and maybe pressured people to buy my CD when I shouldn't have, but really, we take advantage of musicians way too much in our culture today. Just buy the album is what I'm trying to say. If you like their music, this is a way to tell them, "Hey, I like what you do, please, go be fruitful and multiply. Good job." I don't know, I've just taken to buying music lately and it's felt like a very honest thing. So, I will just put my two cents in there and say, why not try supporting the musicians?

Okay, onto my "review" of this album. I'm sure I've lost about 90% of you with that last paragraph.

This was supposedly recorded in front of a campfire, so there is always that sound and the sound of the ocean in the background. I love it. It's all on acoustic instruments and there are lots of voices singing on it. Every time I listen I feel like I'm right there, yelling and worshipping right along with these crazy campfire people.

1. It starts out with "Kumbaya" which, when I first heard it I was like "Really? Laaaaame." But the word kumbaya means: come. So they are inviting the Lord to come and meet with them. It's short and sweet. And it's grown on me.

2. The next song is "Come On My Soul" there's not much to it lyrically, but the banjos and mandolins and the people yelling out "Come on!" Oh how it lifts me up! Every time I'm like, "Yeah!" Just like David saying in Psalm 42 "Why are you so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for He will yet lift up your countenance." Several times I have had a hard morning with the kids and will get in the car to go somewhere and that song comes up after Kumbaya and I have just started weeping. The lyrics "Come on my soul, it's time to look up." "Sing my soul, it's time to look up."

 3. Oh man, "Dessert Soul" the thing that I LOVE about Rend is the fact that their lyrics are so honest and raw and have such a right view of man and God. Truly, all we are is dry bones without the power of God. Can I also say that I LOVE the accordion and banjo? What a good idea. Also, the fact that so many people are singing on it, the chorus of the voices. The lyrics "I'm lost without Your creative spark in me, recreate me." That has been my prayer lately. Honestly, I've felt like dry bones in the area of creativity, these songs are like a breath of fresh air in my heart.

4. "Build Your Kingdom" This one gets played on the radio a lot. I don't like the radio version much, but this one, this is the one. Again, it's probably the rawness and acoustic nature that attracts me to it. The lyrics are incredible. Each time I want to yell, "Yes!" I love dancing to this song (and every other one on the album)

**Crud, I don't even know how to put all this stuff into a blog! I'm not a music critic, who am I kidding? Help me Lord.

5. "Movements"One day I was struggling just to hear from the Lord. Again, I felt like dry bones and just like I was crawling in my life towards the Lord. This song talks about keeping making movements toward the Lord. Even through difficult waters, even if it's crawling, even if it's running fast and free. I remember weeping before the Lord that morning just that I would keep making movements to Him no matter what. I love the honesty of the lyrics, I can't do this on my own, I'm not good at this, even when I'm squirming and uncomfortable. I want to love You more, please help me.

6. "You Are My Vision" is what caused me to buy this album. I had heard it a few times on Pandora and was like "WHO IS THIS AMAZING BAND?!" I had an iTunes gift card I hadn't used and just decided to buy the whole album. It must have been the Holy Spirit telling me to do it, because this album got me through so many hard times. I mean, I feel like the Lord USED this album so many times to just pull me by my shirt collar out of depression. The thing that I like about their version of this song is that they take out the old "Thous and thees and arts" and put in modern language and for some strange reason the song came alive in my heart. I love the lyrics "I don't want riches or many's empty praise, You're my inheritance now and always"

7. "You Bled" Honestly, these next few songs took a while to grow on me. I was in love with the first six for a long time and just sort of listened to the other ones. Truly, these are just as good. I love the lyrics of this song "You left Your perfection and embraced our rejection" They don't cut corners or dumb things down with their lyrics. Christ's sacrifice should be celebrated in truth in this way.

8. "The Cost" Oh my gosh, this song. Whew. With the things that we have been going through as a family lately, it's been asking me, "Jody, have you counted up the cost? It means leaving everything you love behind and following no matter what." I just have to reiterate here how much I love the musicianship of this band. It's like the perfect blend of excellent music along with lyrics that will pry open your soul. What could be better?

9. "Alabaster" Lord, let me always be broken at Your feet. Let me always bow my life at Your feet. I don't even know what to say about this song, but it's just a picture of the woman who wept before Jesus and her brokenness.

10. "Second Chance" I love the banjo and violin intro on this one. The truth that the cross changes everything, it's a chance to begin again. I love the passion in the singer's voice in these songs. Rend Collective is Irish and I think it's just that passion inside of them that gives all of these songs so much heart.

11. Best version of "10,000 Reasons" I have ever heard. Sorry Matt Redman. I love the vocal intro to this song and the male/female trade offs on the lead. Something about hearing this song in a different setting gives it a fresh feel.

12. "Fireworks" I blogged about how this song pulled me out of anger and depression one day here I love the lyrics to this song, the fireworks in the background, it's just so happy. I think often praise and worship songs these days are so serious that we forget that it's supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be a time of celebration because He has given us a new heart and a new home.

13. "Campfire Story" At first I thought this was kind of a cheesy advertisement, but the more I listen to it, the more I see the truth of what they wanted to communicate in this album. It sums up the feel of the album and the heart behind it.

Thank you Rend Collective. Sorry this is not the best explanation of your amazing work, But I just had to post.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Different Kind of Announcement

Okay, so I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. A long while.

Yes, we are moving. There, I said it. Does that make it more real? To Crystal Lake, Illinois, a suburb outside of Chicago. We are going to help in the upstart of a church there.

Really, I should probably start this story from the beginning. Crud, I don't want to blog right now. I am tired. I've been taking care of three little kids all day and I'm really just done. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors, this is going to be just raw and real. Lord help me.

Where do I even begin?

About three and a half years ago we met a couple, Gabriel and Debbie Mayes. They came to Little Rock to start a business called QBot back then it was Qpon Revolution. They came to our church and just knew the Lord had led them there. Gabriel immediately started serving with me on the worship team. They are the kind of people who don't waste any time. They jump in with both feet. It's all or nothing with them. Gabriel is direct and passionate, he is a leader to the core. Debbie is quiet but has a fierceness about her (I'm pretty sure it's the irish blood that runs through her veins) that holds her to her convictions. For some reason, in their two years here in Little Rock the Lord knit our hearts together. I could call Debbie the night before and ask her to watch my kids the next morning. We had them over for dinner, they had us over. Gabriel and Ben would have game nights with other guys and go see movies together. They were the first couple who had ever mutually pursued us as we pursued them. We just clicked.

Anyways, around November of 2012 they told us they were going up to Chicago to start a church with Gabriel's cousin, Nick and his wife Lyndie. They challenged us to come with them. Honestly, in my head I thought "No way I'm leaving Little Rock, God has us here, I like it here, family is here, we're good." In other words, I was thinking, "in your dreams."  I was good and I didn't even need to pray about it.

Ben prayed about it and we didn't feel a peace about going. I was like, "of course" … :) I remember having one last meal with the Mayes and Gabriel saying that he had no doubts that we would end up in ministry together at some point. I'm being so honest here… I thought, yeah, when y'all come back to Little Rock, we will have ministry together. One thing I need to learn  in my life is to never say never.

The next year I decided to read through the Bible chronologically. I had never read through in a year before. I've read most of the Bible at different times, but for some reason I took the challenge and actually succeeded. I don't even know how.

Well, in mid July I remember reading a passage in Jeremiah. The israelites were asking Jeremiah for a word from the Lord. This was after most of them had been taken off into captivity in Babylon. God had a command for those who were to stay. He told them, "Do not go down to Egypt. (this is Jody paraphrasing) You think it will be safe there and you will be protected. But I want you to stay in Israel and live here even though it feels dangerous. If you go down to Egypt just know that sword and famine will follow you." So I thought, where is my Egypt? Lord, where do I seek comfort and ease? Am I where the Lord wants me? I remember talking to a friend about it and she was like, "This is Egypt." Referring to our easy, beautiful life down here in Little Rock.

Slowly, the Lord was pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Around September Gabriel came down to Little Rock to visit. I thought the issue was dead, but he took Ben out for dinner and laid out the whole reason why they want they Hefners up in Chicago to help with their church. It had been going for several months and they were doing exciting things in ministry. My heart was still in an "I'm never leaving Little Rock, it's way too good here" mentality. Ben and I talked afterward and I said, "So you turned him down right?" His response surprised me. He was excited about the church up there. He was really and truly considering it. I asked him why and his response cracked open my door to the possibility. He said, "No one has ever challenged me so much in the Lord as Gabriel Mayes. I don't always agree with him, but he has pushed me further into scripture than any other guy."

This gave me pause. … My husband wants to be around other men who cause him to grow closer to the Lord. I will move to the other side of the world for that.

So we prayed. Ben fasted. He told me that he wanted me to receive a word from the Lord as well, it couldn't just be him. I was still riding the reluctant train with the dread of the possibility of leaving family.

Enter October. This is the part of the chronological reading plan where Jesus FINALLY comes. By this time in your reading you are so tired of the Israelites and their kings and then their oppression and prophets, it's weary. So Jesus finally comes on the scene. Since all the gospels happen simultaneously I started to just read where Jesus was calling the disciples. God is good because if it had just been one or two callings I would have totally overlooked it. But I kept reading: follow Me, follow Me over and over. It was making me uncomfortable. They would ask Jesus questions like, "Where are you staying tonight?" and He would say vague things like, "Come and see." You mean… maybe we won't always know where we will be staying? This doesn't sound very safe and secure. Ummmm …

I think the passage that hit me the hardest was when James and John were fishing with their dad, Zebedee (cool name) and Jesus told them to follow Him. They literally got up and left their nets and their father and followed Jesus. For the first time I saw it from the parent's perspective. He was left there, holding those nets. Maybe he was glad they had been called, but maybe he was also heartbroken that he wouldn't see his sons anymore. I saw my parents and Ben's parents. We love them. We want to stay and hang out with them forever. Seriously, we are so weird. I want my kids to know them well. I want to be near them. But God was nudging me on the shoulder asking me if I could leave them so that I could serve Him.

Was I willing to do that?

Had James and John said, no, we don't want to leave our dad, we love him too much, they would have missed BEING TWO OF THE TWELVE DISCIPLES! Hello! And what would I be giving up in the Lord if I refused to follow Him wherever He would lead me?

The Lord kept telling me that this life is but a vapor. Use it for all it's worth right now because time is passing quickly. We will have an eternity to live near our family and love them. We only have this short life to follow and serve the Lord wherever He leads.

There is definitely more to this story. I'm ending this post, but I reserve the right to post more if needed.

Deep sigh.

Jesus, help us.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Life with Littles

Dear Blog,

I don't have time for you. I'm tired. I would rather watch a movie or do yoga right now. Truly, I'm trying to avoid eating a big bowl of ice cream. I miss my husband who is gone for the night. I need to be in bed by ten. Can we be done by ten please?



I have been thinking about this phase of life. This one with three little kids and how sometimes Ben and I look at each other at the end of the day and just sigh a deep sigh of exhaustion. We love our three kids. We would not trade them for anything, but really, they are a LOT of work.

It's constant discipline, constant watching to make sure they don't hurt themselves (anyone can attest to you that I'm not good at this part, it's God's grace that has kept them alive thus far), constant noise … my kids love to make noise, lots of loud noise. I left the lunch table to do something and came back and they were just screaming at each other. I asked them what was wrong and they both just smiled and said "nothing" … it kind of frays your nerves.

My friend and I were walking out to our cars after playing on the playground the other day. We were both yelling at our kids not to run through the parking lot, it's dangerous. Did they listen? Of course not. Thankfully no cars were really around, but I had this thought come out that's been brewing in me. I thought: this is hard. I mean, like digging ditches kind of hard. It's like manual labor continuous stress management, you have to be ready for anything at any time of the day.

I get to the end of the day and think, really? Do I really have to wash the dishes or sweep the floor? I am SO tired. If it was a rough night with the baby, it's even worse.

Okay, so what's my point?

Maybe it's that it is like digging and all the hard work of plowing up the ground before you plant a garden or something. This is the most physically intensive part. The other parts will be intense and difficult I'm sure, but this part is where it's just taken out of me.

Maybe the hope that I'm clinging to is that it won't be like this for long. My house won't be such a wreck for long, my children will someday be potty trained, they will someday dress themselves or fix themselves a snack, they will someday do chores or know to wipe their feet before coming in the house with dirty shoes.

But really, these years are such a treasure. These are the times when I can kiss them freely. I can hold them and cuddle them. I can sing to them and scratch their little backs at night. Someday Aria won't let me kiss her yummy cheeks. Someday Levi won't see me as the smartest, coolest mom just because I built him a hanger for his planes out of blocks. Someday I won't be able to play little piggies with chubby little toes or enjoy sweet coos from Simeon.

Lord, these days really are precious. Let me not wish them away. Teach me patience. Help me enjoy these years while they last.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

my next goal: to take a picture with all three of them together. 
How do I not have one?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life Lately

Here are some snapshots of my life.

This is emphasized for humor. Because, let's face it, sometimes in motherhood if you're not laughing, you're crying.

Ben says this morning, "Hey Jody, can you please take our three small children with you to the paint store [so they can be bored out of their minds while some idiot kid can match the paint that he failed to match the first time]"
"Sure Ben, while I'm there I'll have him mix the eight gallons of paint I just realized we need to touch up with in different parts of the house. That will totally work."
Sometimes I participate in idiocy.
"I'll also bring our daughter in her new panties so she can poop in them while we are there."
"Good idea."

Just kidding. That's totally what would have happened though, had I not thought to put Aria in a diaper before we left.

Pulling into the paint store Levi asked:
Mom, why are you backing into the parking spot?
Because I'm a daredevil like that.
Oh, okay.

Thank you Sherwin Williams for being awesome and serving me so well. Also, it was good that the store was empty. (This had to have been a blessing from God.)

Also, I have now VOWED never to take my children to "look" at toys again. Oh wow, if this isn't teaching them to covet, I don't know what is. I just wish I had Levi's face on camera when he found out we were leaving WITHOUT buying a toy. Oh my. I'm laughing in my head just thinking about it right now.

On that note, I kind of hate whoever thought to put toys in the grocery store. It's like the bane of every shopping trip to continually respond with, "No Levi, we are not getting a car today." "No, no car." "Not today." "If you ask me for a car one more time you are getting a spanking." It's kind of like when you get that cart that makes horrible noises the whole time and keeps wanting to veer into the display cases. Kinda like that.

Aria is amazing me with her potty training abilities. I mean that not in a good way. This little girl can hold it while sitting on the potty until she has a red ring around her buns. Then you finally give up and say, "well, I guess she doesn't have to go." You put panties on her and she pees in them two minutes later. I am suddenly wishing I had done some sort of EC with her. If you don't know what that is, you can read my blog about it. If only she had a cue that would make her think, "go pee NOW." That would be super helpful. The good thing is that she is not terrified to poop on the potty like Levi was.

So Simeon might get some tastes of infant potty training. I'm hoping this will spur Aria on in her desire to stop going in her pants.

Dear House,

Would you please clean yourself? You look atrocious.



I had better go start working on dinner. Let's go Simeon, before the other two wake up from their naps.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dear Simeon

Dear Simeon,

Thank you for being such an awesome baby. I love you. I love cuddling you, I love rocking you, I love singing to you. I wish I had been able to enjoy my other babies as much as I enjoy you. Maybe I did, I can't remember. I love your smile and your sweet little coos. If you could figure out the thumb sucking thing instead of trying to shove your whole fist in your mouth you could probably be the most perfect baby. Aria sucked her thumb, I think that's why she started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. … maybe. I can't remember.

Why does my life flash before me? I wish I could bottle up these thousands of moments. The little smiles, watching my baby fall asleep in my arms, the new discoveries … I don't think I can even write a complete sentence my brain is on such a low-functioning level. I don't even care.  It's like I wake up one morning and these tiny babies are huge. I want to cry when I look back on videos of my children learning to walk. I want to go back there and tell myself that these moments are precious, be thankful for them.

But life is truly a vapor.

It will be passed before we know it.

Oh my Simeon, remember this, don't waste any time on trivial things. Live it to it's fullest.

I love you my sweet son,

Your Mama

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weight Struggles

I was journalling, like in my journal that's made of paper, that kind of journalling. And then felt the overwhelming sense that I need to just blog.

On the internet.

Deep personal thoughts and all that… for everyone to see. Okay. Cool.

If you're uncomfortable with that idea, you totally don't have to read this. It's fine. I won't be offended in any way.

Here's what I wrote.

Umm, I'm talking to God here, that's just what it is.

"Why is it that I finally get around to having time alone with You and for some strange, stupid reason I don't want to be alone with you? Why am I stupid like that?

Why does Satan lie to me? Get away Satan. I hate you and your constant ability to bring up old sin in my life. "

That's it. That's what I wrote. Okay, time to continue on with the blog and stream of consciousness from here.

I've been struggling. On many fronts. I've been procrastinating in some areas. I've been getting angry at my kids more often. I've been thinking thoughts like, "I hate my life." or just "why me?"

Most of the time I have one way of dealing with these things: Food. Just eat.

Which leads me to another struggle: weight loss.

Honestly, I just wanted to sit in my kitchen and eat this afternoon. Just eat anything that would help me to calm down and make me feel better. That sounds so lame now that I write it down, but it's the truth. I used to be a major closet eater, and it's still a struggle in my life. Lord, really, I just need You.

I'm tired and I can't do this on my own. I'm tired of my body and it being tired. I wish all the weight would just come off overnight. I wish I could just wake up tomorrow morning and it just to be gone, and I could just fit into my old clothes again. But I don't think that would solve all my problems. And I don't think the body is supposed to work that way. It's supposed to be slow, change needs to be gradual.

Lord, please give me patience.

Help me to run to You in my stresses. Help me to run to You even when I don't want to. Thank You for Your Word that reminds me that I haven't resisted sin to the point of bloodshed yet. I pray that the pull of my sin would lose it's grip on me. Lead me Holy Spirit. Show me exactly what I need to do in each moment so I can follow you completely.

I need You.

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Epiphany from The Lord

I really want to spend more than 15 minutes with God in the mornings.

That was my complaint this morning.

Honestly, I have a cold and Simeon kept me up for part of the night last night so I gave myself an extra 45 mins to sleep in… so today it was only 15 minutes.

Lord, help me to spend more time with You today. I need it.

Thankfully God does speak in small segments at times and His mercies are rich to us sleep-deprived moms. He gently leads those with young.

I had decided a while back to just start in Genesis and read through the Bible. I got a new one and it's not marked up (I LOVE marking in my Bible, it's how I have engaging conversations with my Father). I am on chapter 22.

It was the passage where Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac. As a burnt offering. That's what my Bible said. Part of me kind of felt revolted by this. Really God? Are you really into human sacrifice? I know you didn't follow through on it, but you told Abraham to do it and isn't that kind of sadistic? Not only that, but God kept emphasizing in the text, "Your only son, the son whom you love…" Really God? Are you going to rub it in his face that this is his only son? The one that he loved?

After reading the whole passage and seeing again, "you have not held from me your only son, the son whom you love" it hit me.

It hit hard.

Oh wait, God did that. He sacrificed His only Son. The Son that He loved. He laid Him down. He caused Him to die a brutal death.

I realized the language God was using completely paralleled later scriptures that talk about how "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

I have been thinking about how Easter is coming ... more correctly, Resurrection Day is coming.

Every time I sing about the cross and His sacrifice it brings me to tears. Big gigantic tears, of how my savior bled and died, completely of His own freewill so that I could live.

Lord, thank You for giving Your only Son, the Son You love, to take our place and pay for our sin. I am in complete awe.