Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Getting Ahead In Life

Bills.Stress.Kids.No Sleep.Crying.Bills.No Sleep.Flat Tires.Crying kids.Stress.

You know those days. We all have them. Some of us, more than days. More like months and years.

We have been having these months...a lot....  especially lately.
Summer is tough for us - We have 95+ degree weather with 100% humidity. That's rough on my hubby who works OUTSIDE. I don't know how he does it {he's pretty much amazing} But, he does and we pray for the cool weather to set in....(fast). Owning our own business also means we eat, sleep and breath it. Pile on school beginning, family issues & flat tires ..... We are feeling the squeeeeze of life. High gas bills. Bigger grocery bills. We are left wondering...   Will we ever GET AHEAD?

This morning I just had to get out.
Clear my head, think straight...
So, we did. Just me and the two littles packed it up and hit the park & beach (4 minutes away!)
And I just sat .......and watched.

Then my heart burst.

Watching my children be just that....   children...   was overwhelming. I paid careful attention to the story line of their pretending. All of a sudden the park turned into a gigantic ship and they were out to sea... sailing the ocean blue. Without a care in the world, they set about playing, thrilled that I would chime in...   in 'character' mode.

I texted my husband the picture of these two with the caption, "This is why you work as hard as you do." He called me right after receiving the text... and with relief in his voice, thanked me for reminding him.

It's so easy to do, isn't it? Lose sight of what's important?

The world tells us we need the large, 2-story home with 2 luxury cars parked out front. Nevermind that may mean both parents continually work and the kids are constantly in someone else's care, right? The world says "This IS how you get ahead!" Nevermind that the marriage relationship could be strained. Nevermind that the relationship bonds within the family may grow thin and tense without the mother being home. The world tells us to sacrifice these important factors for our family in the name of status... personal belongings... 401k's.... and the neighborhood you live in.

Let me clarify right here to understand me a little better and where I am coming from.

I live in Palm.Beach. Yep, that's right. The land of mercedes, massive boats, sprawling mansions, and almost every kid wearing a private school uniform.
The "Jones" here...    ha. Good luck keeping up with them!

It can wear on you.

Then I watched her.

My little girl. The middle child.

Smart. Observant.

She came running to me with a creature in between her fingers and she was beaming from ear to ear.

This was the first bug she had ever braved at picking up!

The poor lovebug, I'm sure, was squeezed to death while she examined every inch...    but, watching the excitement on her face...
I was there. I saw it all. I wouldn't trade this for any job or salary in the world.

I have the WORLD'S best job!
I am a stay at home mom and I am proud of it.
My family makes sacrifices for these moments.
We relish in the fact that I am here 24/7 for their every need, as much as I can.
We take comfort knowing I will serve every meal to them, kiss every scrape & answer all their little life's questions.

If you're finding yourself in the same position, hold fast.
Tune the world out and tune the Word in.
Let God direct your path and lead you where He wants you to serve your family.

In the end all these worldly things will soon pass away.
I have just these moments...    just these tiny glimpses... to impress onto my children's hearts the love that their parents have for them and the love that the Father has for them,
as well.

I want to make each moment count.

THIS, my friends, is getting ahead in life.

Make your moments count.

Our beach find.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

guatemala: Rescuing Kevin

Walking into the hut, I wasn't sure what I would see. In my gut, I knew it wasn't going to be good.

I had seen the baby rescue clips on World Help's web site. So, I did realize we were walking into a dire circumstance. Just like when you call 911 when you need emergency help, that is what this is - these baby rescues are their 911. It's the only help that is coming for them.

As we stepped inside the small, dark hut, I was immediately greeted by the face of a child in pain. Severe pain. His chubby cheeks were not of sign of healthful eating. No - it was a sign of something much different.

Kevin's mother told us he had been diagnosed with cancer and became swollen 8 days prior. My mother, an RN, asked her some more questions and the outlook began to look even more grim. This particular rescue soon turned into more of a Hospice case - this boy needed help and comfort to pass on. He was in organ failure. I do believe in miracles and DO believe God can heal a person all the way until the very end - but, I also understand that sometimes that it not the answer. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers and heals the sick. And then there are times that God answers yes, takes them home & they receive their eternal healing.

Kevin's brother rode next to me on the bus back to Hope of Life. I placed myself in his shoes and it all felt so surreal - What was he thinking? What was he feeling? How would I feel to be in such a desperate situation? I really could only imagine. One thing I knew for sure - this family loved Kevin.

Arriving at the rescue center.

The World Help team:
Vernon Brewer, Noel Brewer Yeatts, Tom Thompson & Sal Vargas (Hope of Life)

We received word that Kevin passed away just 5 days after this picture was taken.

I wish I could say there was a miraculous healing that took place but that just isn't Kevin's story. Kevin's life is a story all too familiar in these countries - No proper medical care is available for these families. There is no St. Jude's Hospital to take them to. No fundraisers to be had for the medical expenses even if there was a facility that could treat him. Clean water and adequate food..? The answer is also no. These basic ammenities that you an I take for granted each day are just a distant idea for so many suffering in this world. What can we do to make any kind of difference?

Consider a donation - big or small - to Hope of Life today. Hope of Life was the love of Jesus to this little boy in his last days. Kevin was not only surrounded by his family during his passing, but also by a slew of people who fervanly prayed for him. Kevin touched us all.

May his story not be in vain. May his life be used to rescue more babies in desperate whose stories are still being told.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

guatemala: "Welcome home"

Crying. Pleading.
Desperation. Wailing.
Praying. Hoping.

November 2010 is a time our family will never forget. Kelly Loveland Gourley, my beautiful cousin, was waging a futile battle against the cancer that was ravaging her body. With each passing day, more hopeless news was delivered. Our family began to transfer our mindset from the process of treatment and remission to trusting and praying for a miracle. We placed Kelly in the Lord's hands and believed He still may heal her at the very end.

Gathered in Kelly's front yard on the night of November 1st, more than 300 friends and family lit candles, sang and prayed together for Kelly's miracle. I believe God heard our cries that night. He heard the pain. He heard the pleas. He hears it all.Kelly went home to be with the Lord on November 10, 2010. We know Kelly did not lose her fight against cancer. Cancer lost it's grip on Kelly. God heard our pleas.

During the dedication of the special needs center in memory of Kelly this past Friday, July 27, 2012, I couldn't help but remember our candlelit gathering. There was crying at this event, too. Sprinkled throughout speeches from Vernon Brewer, the President of World Help, Carlos Vargas of Hope of Life, the Minister of Health of Guatemala and David Loveland, Kelly's father...   there was crying. But these cries were different. These cries were coming from the children. The children. God hears their cries.

Pain. Abandonment.
Hopelessness. Hunger.
Waiting. Needing.

The cries emerging from the row of strollers was the sweetest sound a person could hear. These cries were about to be answered. At the moment the ribbon was cut, the Lord wrapped His arms around these children and said, "Welcome home".

We believe God did the same for our cries. The moment Kelly took her last breath, He was there, too, and said the same to Kelly.
"Welcome home".

See more from the dedication here:

Monday, July 30, 2012

guatemala: Lifting The Fog

Returning home from Guatemala, I am experiencing a phenomenon called re-entry.

The trip lasted 72 hours, but in all honestly, it felt like we were there for a lifetime.

Thursday morning, I left my posh, comfortable surroundings in Palm Beach, FL headed for Hope of Life in Zacapa, Guatemala. Within 7 hours I was holding orphaned children, some who had been left to die on the street and in landfills. The emotions were simply overwhelming. As a mother, my instict is to provide for and protect my children. First thought: What must these mothers be facing in order to reach the point of abandoning their own children? I would soon find out in the coming days.

Now I am back home....
Surrounded by my four healthy children.
Clean running water.
....And I am in a fog.

How can all of this be real?

As I sit here processing our trip and all that we experienced, I am continually reminded that the God I serve is big. And He is real.

He wants His children cared for. The least of these. The orphans that have nothing to give back. Sometimes, not even a smile. And God is good because He has placed decent & caring people in this world that are doing just that - Helping, caring and loving without any glory at all.

I found Jesus down in Guatemala. I found Him in the face of a 12 year old girl - abused and raped by her step-father, left pregnant and nowhere to go. Until Carlos Vargas reached out his helping hand and showed her the love of Jesus, she would have been short on options and in a desperate position.

I went to Guatemala, hoping to make a difference or change for the people.

In the end, Guatemala changed me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Here I am Lord, send me.

I promised myself the last time I stepped off an airplane back in August 2008, that I would never fly again. Ever.

It wasn't a bad flight. That's not it. I just simply do not like flying. I like my feet firmly planted on solid ground. I have only flown 4 times in my 31 years of existance, a record my 11 year old could run circles around, and all 4 times I was a complete nervous wreak. It's just not my thing.

So, you can imagine my husband's surprise (and mine, too!) when I woke up one morning last month and told him I felt the Lord tugging on my heart and urging me to go to Guatemala.
Back up - Why Guatemala, you ask? What could possibly be there?

A lot, surprisingly!

My uncle began working with an amazing group down there, Hope of Life, Int, who is in partnership with World Help. After his daughter Kelly went home to be with the Lord, at the age of 38, after a courageous battle with breast cancer, he began looking for something. Something from the Lord that would help restore his faith and help others. When he found Hope of Life and heard of their immediate needs for a special needs home for the children in the area, he went to work. When the rest of our family heard - Remember, there is a lot of us! - we all went to work. Some of us even baked hundreds, close to thousands, of cupcakes for months and sold them at street stands with our children - celebrating every dollar that was collected. The goal was met in December of 2011. Ground was broke January of 2012 and the end is in sight! The dedication is set for July 28th & the home will be in memory of my beautiful cousin - something so appropriate since she was a nurse and
also had a huge heart for babies and children.

Now, fast forward to today. Why am I going again?

Honestly - I'm not sure. Truly, I am just a stay-at-home mom with nothing more to give than some shlepped cupcakes on the street. I have no missions experience, I don't speak Spanish, and I have never left the country. (Canada does not count!)

Seriously though, the most obvious reason is that it will be an honor to stand as a part of Kelly's family as the building is dedicated and opened. It will be quite a sight to see the doors opened & to know this place will be a beacon of light for generations to come.

But, there is something more - I trust the Lord in that He telling me to use my words. My blog. My camera. Twitter. Facebook. Use it all to spread the word about what He is doing down in Guatemala. I am excited to see how God will use my trip to this place and am praying I remain faithful to what He wants. In the end, I am praying HE is glorified in it all.

Today, please take a couple minutes out of your day and check out this short video about
Hope of Life - have a couple tissues handy, too:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Capturing Motherhood

Each year, Mother's Day comes & goes.

Flowers are given. Breakfast is made. Cards are created. Mothers everywhere are praised for the work that they do. Churches ask them to stand to be noticed, restaurants hand out roses & complete strangers wish them a happy mother's day. But, alas, after just 24 short hours, we moms return to the trenches.

And honestly. . .  the trenches is where I revel the most in the glory of motherhood.

You know the trenches I'm talking about. The unseen ones. 
The middle-of-the-night fevers.
Packing lunches.
Praying over them while you watch their chest rise & fall. 
Wiping smeared peanut butter off the glass windows.
Finding leftovers snacks hidden in their closet...   a week later.
Changing diapers in the parking lot.
Spending the night in the bathroom, assuring them it will be over by morning.
Long hours spent on school projects.
Laying awake all night while your unborn baby kicks relentlessly.
Constantly pretending we are lost in the woods & we have no food to eat.
Answering 30 questions during a 10 minute car ride.

Can you relate to my trenches?

I can feel them slipping away at times. . .  My oldest is beginning to care for herself more than I would like. My youngest. . . well, he's feeding himself now. How is time slipping away so fast?

After being a mother for nearly 12 years, I am learning there is no way to hold on to this thing called. . . time. Sure, you can snap thousands of pictures. You can record countless hours of video. You can collect dozens of maternity shots, holding that belly that will soon disappear. You can imprint their hands on all sorts of materials, trying desperately to capture their littleness. You can even blog everyday, just so you'll have all the memories written down. But, none of these things will capture your motherhood.

Your motherhood is literally defined by the quiet moments. Not on film. Not in ink. It's not in the color-coordinated outfits or the perfect Christmas greeting card.
It's in the kisses you plant on their cheeks. The tiny hands you hold. The answers you give to all their questions. The countless fevers you soothe. The many prayers you speak over them. It's your touch, your voice, your influence over them.

And I have come to realize the only way I will know I have captured my motherhood is by literally telling myself one thing - I am enjoying this. I enjoyed it! Yes! That's it. Speak that to yourself while you prepare their meals. At the park. In the middle of the night, rocking away the fussiness. Cleaning out the crumbs from the folds of the couches. Answering the same question for the tenth time.

Soon it will be gone. Your home will be clean. The smears will be no more. The little questions from the backseat will grow silent. But, you will remember one thing. . . You enjoyed the trenches.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeds Do Move Mountains!

Lately, I have been reflecting a lot on the Scripture ~ "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." {Matthew 17:20}

The following post is to give ALL the glory to Jesus.... 

 First, let me give you a little history on me. I am blessed to come from a family where we are all believers in Jesus Christ. Here is my family:

If you're counting, this is 76 people. {Two have gone Home.}
Yes, I'll repeat, we are all believers ~ sinners saved by grace.The little ones who are too young are currently being trained in the ways of the Lord.

Let's go back in time for a minute...   Back to the beginning. Back to the mid-1940's.
The setting is Pittsburgh, PA. A traveling pastor sets up a tent and begins a small town revival, preaching the Good News of salvation through Christ.

My great-grandfather, who was raised in the church, drove by & decided to go in. Upon entering he laid his eyes upon the image of the two roads hung up on a wall - the roads .... one toward Heaven, one toward hell ~ something he had never heard before!

That night he accepted Christ into his heart, went home and informed his wife and 3 children they would be going the next night. One of his children being my grandmother. This was the spark that lit a fire in my family that has burned throughout 4 generations and is being spread into the 5th generation of little ones. Because this one man followed the Lord's promptings & began to evangelize, the seed he planted blossomed and has truly moved mountains.

We are a humble, Christian family that has been used to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

*Our family helped start a private Christian school in Palm Beach county that has equipped thousands of young people to impact the world for Christ for over 40 years. This school has sent doctors, lawyers, school teachers & missionaries out into their work force to be a light in a dark world.

*Our family helped plant a church in Palm Beach that ministered to families for over 30 years ~ We supported missionaries, fed the hungry and homeless, trained new believers, began an Overcomers group for addicted individuals and spread the name of Jesus throughout our area.

*Individuals in my family have struck out on their own to spread the name of Jesus - using everything from missionary trips around the world & building orphanages to funding revival concerts to planting more churches to our little ones selling cupcakes on sidewalks to build a special needs shelter for children in Guatemala.

*When my cousin, a young mother and wife, became sick with cancer, her body began to fail but her faith never wavered. People throughout the world prayed for her and were moved by her trust in Jesus. Though she is not with us anymore, her words are here: {}

No one could ever begin to measure the ripple effects from these efforts. Only Heaven knows about the little children in Romania & Costa Rica who were ministered to...   the lonely soul who found Jesus at a rock concert revival in Boca Raton, FL, the countless believers that were equipped at the school & church who went on their own to begin their own ventures. Are you beginning to see these ripples? They are looking more like Heavenly tsunamis to me.

There is power in the name of Jesus. If you're feeling small in this great, big world I want to encourage you that you are not! God has a purpose for you - right where you are. Are you a stay at home mom? You have hearts to teach right in your own home. They will grow up one day to impact their world for the King of Kings. Are you currently in the workplace? Ask the Lord to lead you to a lonely soul in your office. When you're in your yard on Saturday, begin to beg the Lord that He will send you to your neighbors that do not yet know Him. Ask Him! Ask Him to send you opportunities to share the Gospel...   believe me, He will.

We are a family that can count on each other & pray for each other. When we have encountered trials & tribulations, we know that the others are lifting each other up to the throne of Jesus. Go back to the first picture of my family and study each and every face...   go ahead... I'll wait a moment.....
Did you look again? We are just one example of what God can do with just one person. That pastor. That simple, humble man traveling through my great-grandfather's town. I'm sure he is in Heaven now with his Saviour and he knows full well what came from his small efforts to expand the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thank you, whoever you are. Save a spot for us.