life beyond the well…

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Smudged Prints

I will be the first to admit that I can be better about housekeeping. It’s not that I don’t want to maintain a perfectly clean house; however, I have struggled to managed all of the components of what that means (i.e.: What systems of cleaning and organization need to be in place so that the house looks the way I want?).  With both Preacherman and I having demanding work schedules, along with leading a church, and parenting, tasks sometimes find themselves waiting to be completed late in the evenings, early in the mornings, or on weekends. We manage; however, it’s a goal to improve these systems and to simplify our life to truly be good stewards of the home that we have been blessed to have.

While I feel an urge to improve on systems for laundry, and vacuuming, and even the dishes; there’s an area that simultaneously annoys me, yet fills my heart to the brim: windows and walls.

Kids touch everything. It’s how they learn, and supervised exploring is healthy. On a daily basis, I find myself correcting BabyAlmondJoy as he touches all the things all the time.  And this touching and exploring means that I have windows and walls full of smudged prints, from tiny hands that are growing far faster than I can imagine.

The part of me that likes clean wants these smudged prints to go away.  I can say with a great deal of certainty that when my mother visits in a few months, she will ask me about when I last cleaned those windows or will remind me that a magic eraser or some touch up paint can easily fix the walls. But at the same time, my mama heart loves this beautiful evidence of the presence of a sweet boy who is starting to love learning and exploration a little more than he loves sitting in his mama’s lap.

So, if (when) you come over and see you see those smudged prints, don’t judge my housekeeping.  Instead, please pray for my mama heart to embrace the beauty of her baby growing far faster than she can grasp and to learn to love each phase of the journey- smudged prints and all.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Weekly Word- I

Happy Wednesday! Over the past week, I was able to scale back some of my news intake and spend more purposeful time with my family; which helped me to focus more on the joy near me, as opposed to the chaos out in the world. This week, I’m continuing with a memory verse that I find to be encouraging, despite everything that is happening in our world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

When I consider the state of this world, I can absolutely see (and sometimes feel) the trouble.  I need to spend more time focused on the promises of Jesus and the fact that He has already overcome the world.  It’s encouraging to know that through Him, I already have victory!

Reflecting on this verse for this week, also reminded me of this song.  These lyrics stood out for me:

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are, then every doubt I feel deep in my heart grows strangely dim. All my worries fade and fall to the ground, ’cause when I seek Your face and don’t look around any place I’m in grows strangely dim…

I’m challenging myself to focus more on His promises and His victory in this week as I reflect on this verse.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

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Weekly Word- H

There’s a lot going on in our world. I’m a self-proclaimed news junkie (I like being informed), but lately, I find myself overwhelmed with everything that I see and hear and feeling a little on edge.  This week, there’s a two for one with the weekly word, as I found that I needed more than just one verse to calm my spirit and rest in my soul.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

As I wrestle with everything that is happening, it is important for me to be able to trust the word of God and hold on to what I’m believing for this year.  Not only that, I need to remember that God keeps His promises; so beyond what I can see right now, He is at work to bring those things to fruition.

When I started this year, I made a promise to myself that I would be fearless; that I would move forward with bold confidence. It is important for me to take hold of the command issued by God  to be strong and courageous with the reminder that God is with me wherever I go.  I need to rest in the fact that there is no need to fear because I am never alone.  Ironically enough, when I try to operate in my own strength is when I find that I am most afraid.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

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Weekly Word- G

Happy Wednesday!  On this Valentine’s Day, as we think about love and the essence of it, I’m often reminded that love, when demonstrated well, allows us to be our whole selves and lets us feel safe.  With that thought, this week’s verse is:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

The love of God is one that is compelling, but also one that is safe. We can truly find comfort and rest in Him, and in our weakness, He equips us with strength. I love that I can never escape the presence of God- whether it’s in times of trouble or times of joy.

I think we often utilize God has our place of refuge in times of trouble; however, I’d push us to think of using Him as a place of refuge even in absence of trouble.  We don’t have to be in trouble to “hunker down” and really spend time with God.  And it might just be that time spent “hunkering down” that helps to circumvent trouble.  I’m truly grateful that I don’t have to be in trouble to seek God or to experience His peace, help, or strength.

Until next time…

Be encouraged. Peace and blessings!

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Weekly Word(s)- D, E, F

Soooooo…I totally wasn’t expecting to get behind so early in the year! It’s true though, we set resolutions and goals, and usually by February, we’re off the wagon and on to something else.  I had a week of travel, followed by being back home and trying to get caught up with life after a week of travel (#firstthingsfirst), and so I missed a few weeks.  But we’re back!  And that’s what’s most important.  Also, shout out to my cousin and my mom with gentle nudges for accountability!  But without further adieu, here’s the THREE verses that I’m focused on:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. – Isaiah 40:28

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

I get really excited when I think of these verses, because it reminds me of God’s power to work on our behalf, and that which He places in us through the Holy Spirit.  My gifts and talents should be used in service of others, giving me the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those I encounter.  And while I may face things that are challenging, I have no reason to fear, because His spirit in me is one of power, love, and a sound mind (in other translations, self-discipline).

We’re at the point in the year where it’s easy to fall back into old habits as opposed to the new goals and resolutions that we had just a month ago.  I believe that if we truly lean in to God and His word, we will see the outcomes that we’re believing for this year.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!


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Weekly Word- C

This week there’s a two for one with verses, because I really wrestled with which one spoke most to my heart and which one I wanted to hold on to.  Truthfully, I need to hold on to both, and since that’s the case, that’s what we have:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

Far too often, I find myself trying to hold on to things that are beyond my control, when what I really need to do is bring it to the Lord.  When I truly trust that He cares for me, it is easy to bring my burdens to Him and rest in His love and promises.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

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The Praise that Matters

When we were growing up, Preacherman and I both played multiple sports. He played basketball, baseball, and ran cross country and track.  I played volleyball and basketball, and also ran track.  We both really enjoyed the experiences (you learn some valuable lessons on teams), as well as the opportunity to be physically active; and we desire for our children to hone in on some activities as well.

BabyAlmondJoy can walk (and run) now, and already LOVES being outside. And, since we know it’s never too early to get kids started with being active, we encouraged (read: told) my mom that a Little Tikes Basketball Goal would be a great Christmas gift (besides, you gotta start early if you’re going to play Carolina basketball).  It miraculously appeared at our home before Christmas (thanks Mom!), and it’s been a hit with the whole family.

This past week, we were having our mini “basketball practice”, and after putting the ball in the basket, we would cheer for BabyAlmondJoy. But I also noticed that something else would happen after we cheered- he (BabyAlmondJoy) would immediately run to Preacherman to get a big hug or a high five. Despite me standing right next to Preacherman, the only praise that mattered for BabyAlmondJoy was that which he received from his father.  It didn’t matter that I was there, it didn’t matter that I participated in the process with him, it didn’t matter that I celebrated just as his father did.  When BabyAlmondJoy wanted to receive praise for his accomplishments, he went directly to his father.

I wish I could say that I was like this. Despite me knowing that the approval of God is much greater than the approval and permission of man, time and time again, I find myself worried about what people will say, as opposed to what God says. And when I find myself in positions of worldly victory, there are times when I’m slow to acknowledge that any victory I’ve experienced is the result of God working on my behalf (in me, through me, and around me).

I’m grateful that God plants these small reminders of what matters most into the life and heart of my baby boy, and I pray that I’m always open to receive what He’s sharing. But beyond that, I pray that I remember who’s approval and praise matters most- and that I line up my actions accordingly.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

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Weekly Word- B

Happy Wednesday! As I shared last week, I’m trying a new way to memorize scripture this year by finding a verse each week that starts with a different letter of the alphabet.  With 52 weeks in a year, I should go through the alphabet twice; and my hope is that this will challenge me to grow in my knowledge of God’s word (as opposed to relying on the same scriptures all the time.  Here’s the word for this week:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32

When we recall the grace and mercy that God has so freely extended to us, and the magnitude of his forgiveness of our sins, we should be willing to extend that same forgiveness to others.

To be clear, forgiveness is difficult and messy. Forgiveness is a process.  Forgiveness does not mean that we excuse someone’s behavior, but it does mean that we stop holding grudges, and we actively pursue God’s healing so that we (and they) can be made whole.

In order to get where God is calling us, there are things that we must leave behind. Who do you need to forgive so that you can truly move forward?  I’m praying that in 2018, your heart won’t be burdened by previous hurts and wrongs, and that God’s strength and power will enable you to forgive and move forward.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

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Only the Father Will Do

There’s a running joke in our home that the first person to grab BabyAlmondJoy and get him his milk/breakfast after he wakes is his favorite person for the day. It’s as if whoever meets that first, most immediate need for him is the best parent ever, and over the course of the day, he will generally indicate a preference for that person. We attempt to tend to his needs equally; however, there are days and tasks that lend themselves to one person over the other.  Parenting (in the midst of the many other things we have going on) lends itself to teamwork and an ebb and flow as it relates to who does what. That said, sometimes I am the best parent ever, and other days, Preacherman wins the award. We cheer for each other, and make sure that above all, BabyAlmondJoy knows he is loved and cared for by both of us.

BabyAlmondJoy and I recently had a bout of sickness (really the entire time from Thanksgiving until Christmas) that left us oscillating between feeling okay and terrible, but never at 100%. After multiple trips to the doctor, and a few rounds of medication, we both showed signs of improvement; however, just before Christmas break, BabyAlmondJoy encountered yet another virus (complete with fever, rash, and general irritability).  We took another trip to the doctor, only for them to tell us that, “It’s a virus” and, “You just need to give it time”. And so we did.

During that time, BabyAlmondJoy could ONLY be consoled by Preacherman. Despite my best efforts to be the nurturing mama, he let me know that in this moment, only his father would do. My attempts and desires to console and care for him were nice, but he knew that what he needed to feel better was wrapped up in the arms of his father.  And so, for about 36 hours BabyAlmondJoy stayed glued to Preacherman. It was only when he reached a certain point of restoration and wellness that he allowed me and his sister to really engage with him.

Though my mama feelings were slightly hurt, my soul was encouraged; and I was reminded that there are situations in life where only the Father will do. While there will be times that God will send people to work on his behalf, there are also times where I need to rest in Him until I reach a place of healing, restoration, and wellness before I engage with others. In those times, I need to press into His presence so that I can be given and accept the healing that is needed.

Until next time…

Peace and blessings.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” – 3 John 1:2


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Weekly Word- A

In the past, I’ve tried a couple of different methods to encourage myself to memorize scripture and really take hold of what the Bible says.  This past year, I saw that one of my Facebook friends does a weekly bible verse with her family based on alphabet- each week they memorize a verse that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet.  It seemed to work well, and I liked that it could encourage me to find/identify verses beyond the ones that I already know well.  That said, I’ll be trying that method this year, and posting here on Wednesdays for accountability (so y’all hold me accountable!).

This week’s letter is A, and our verse is from Matthew 7:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

I love this as a reminder for starting the new year.  Friends, what are you asking God for this year? What are you seeking? Where are you knocking? I pray that in your asking, seeking, and knocking; you are led by God down a path that leads you closer to His purpose for your life.

Until next time…

Peace and blessings.