Things As They Are

original cover of the book "Things As They Are" by Amy Carmichael

From the time I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the story of Amy Carmichael.  She had brown eyes, and like my 10 year old self, she wished God had given her blue eyes.  I remember lamenting to my mother my woe that my eye color did not match her own.  "But Amy Carmichael had eyes like yours."  my mom had answered me.  And she began to tell me the story how a young girl met Jesus and didn't want to hoard His love all to herself.  She just had to tell the world.  Amy felt God calling her to India where she would spend the majority of her life living among the Indian people, spreading the Gospel.  She later thanked God for her brown eyes because they made her acceptance in India a little easier.

I devoured everything I could read about Amy Carmichael and I was convinced that I was to be a missionary like her one day.  God reminded me of those books and writings I have kept of hers and led me to re-read them.  I've been challenged and humbled all over again.  One book in particular, "Things As They Are", in which she describes the painstaking journey of missionary work in a dark and destitute India of the 1800's, has shaken me to my core.  I just have to share an excerpt from her book, a chapter that has been haunting my mind and tugging at my soul.  She describes a prophetic dream the Lord gave her and it reaches through the centuries to convict my heart...

"...I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space.  I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths.  Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass.  They were making for the edge.  There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress.  She was on the very verge.  Then I saw that she was blind.  She lifted her foot for the next step... it trod air.  She was over, and the children over with her.  Oh, the cry as they went over!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters.  All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge.  There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air.  But some went over quickly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge.  I could not.  I was glued to the ground, and I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.  Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals.  But the intervals were far too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between.  And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their back turned towards the gulf.  They were making daisy chains.  Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them, and they thought it a rather vulgar noise.  And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down, "Why should you get so excited about it?  You must wait for a definite call to go!  You haven't finished your daisy chains yet.  It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."

There was another group.  It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules.  And being tired and needing a change, she had to go rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called--but nobody seemed to hear.  Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass.  And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew.  And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob.  And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was--the Cry of the Blood.

Then thundered a Voice, the Voice of the Lord: "And He said, What has thou done?  The voice of thy brothers' blood crieth unto Me from the ground."

God forgive us!  God arouse us!  Shame us out of our callousness!  Shame us out of our sin!"

sidenote:  I just noticed that the unreached people of the day (in my left sidebar) to pray for are the Teli of India.  Amazing how God works!  And I just received a comment from a missionary family in India.  Let's pray for them and for more workers to be sent out into the harvest.


thrifty thursday

Here's a few of my favorite thrift finds of late:

minnetonka moccasins, vinyl records with fab covers for my latest art project

vintage dress

wonderful vintage crazy quilt top (just need a little tlc)

Happy Thursday!


we're learning, can you tell?

Caution:  school is in progress.
This is the result of letting Thaddeus have his own journal and telling him he can write "whatever he wants in it."
"Whoa, really?  Anything?"
He was excited.  That's what it's all about, right?
He decided to write a story.
It sounds familiar.
It could very well be a true story.
Legend is affectionately nicknamed "Baby" by his three year old sister.
And yes, he does poop in his pants.
And I guess it could happen when he's running at the walls.


it felt like a vacation

We took a little unplanned four day weekend vacation
It was wonderful, a gift from heaven.  And ironically enough, it was the result of Joel's layoff from his most recent job on Wednesday of last week.  We celebrated!  Honest.  It was a job that won't be missed.  After six long 80 hour weeks, we needed this time together as a family.  The day after Joel's job ended he didn't waste the daylight and went out in search of another job.  And jobs that pay the bills are scarce right now.  But this time, I can't explain the peace we had.  Maybe it was a mixture of relief and thankfulness for the time we could spend together and the faith that comes when it's all we have left, but we weren't worried.  The sixth company Joel called offered him a job.  An answer to prayer.  God, you are so faithful.

And for four whole days we had our daddy all to ourselves.  You would think he would take this time to catch up on some much needed rest.  But no, he took us on bike rides, played games with us in the park, walks through the woods, family fall festivals, music in the square, and late night movie dates.  He did what he always did and does the best--he loved us well and with everything he has.  It's no small wonder we adore him.

looking mighty fine on a park bench
We love you, daddy-o. You are our hero.

And thank you, my Lord and my God, for these four days of wonderful.


a picnic-ing we will go

Photos taken at my ranch in Nebraska this summer with my great grandma's quilt and my mom's picnic basket

I'm in madd love with picnics.  And you might be freezing and think I'm crazy but down here in Looosiana it's been hotter than a hornet's nest.  Yesterday it was 89 degrees.  Eighty-nine.  Today was the first day this fall that the temperature dropped and shocked us all into our stockings.  But that's when I like to picnic the most--when you're not in threat of a heat stroke.

I love just laying in the grass with all that blue sky above you and a soft quilt beneath you.  Watching little feet fly through the field and land every now and then beside you for a satisfying snack.  A few Sundays ago we had a picnic in the park right after church.  Nothing fancy, just ordered food and threw a blanket down (a beautiful blanket my friend Abbey made me).  The sun was a scorcher that day but it was still fun.  We are a picnic-ing kinda family.  

I just adore my Princess Astair's lovely braided locks

close up of the lovely blanket I was gifted
You can see more of my absolute favorite picnic scenes and ideas here.


the free blessings

{us guhrlz}
I am blessed.
Oh so incredibly blessed.

How do I ever forget this?
How can I ever complain?

I could never deserve all God has blessed me with.
It's Grace, undeserved and spilling over.
The Love of a Saviour though I am a sinner.

It's in the smiles and silly faces of four tiny people.
It's their laughter and embraces.
This soul deep kind of love that carries us.

It's in his voice when he looks at me.
His eyes that say it all.
The forever love of my very best friend.

There is no thing that can compare with these.
No worldly possession.
No earthly treasure.

The greatest blessings after all
 are the ones I've been given for free.

*Linking up to a whole lotta lovely right here:


Je t'aime Vieux Carre

I parked in front of the hotel on St. Charles in the heart of New Orleans at three o'clock.  
No rush hour traffic, no babies babbling in the backseat, no pre-schoolers pleading for potty breaks.  Just me, with nothing on the agenda but a romantic twenty-two hours in the Big Easy with him.  It was really happening.  I think I half expected one of the kids to get sick or have some emergency that would require us to cancel our plans.  But no, everything went so smoothly--heavenly even (and I'm not sure the French Quarter has ever been described in such a term before but for me and for this weekend it was).

He parked in front of the hotel on St. Charles at 3:45.  And I was waiting in the lobby.  He was still in his work clothes, his hair windblown and his boots dirty, but to me he looked positively wonderful and more dangerously handsome than ever.   It was almost like seeing him through new eyes.  Eyes that have long loved him, but haven't had the luxury of seeing only him for too long, features that my heart memorized and was now anxious to rehearse.

We rode his motorcycle through the French Quarter in the haze of an afternoon sun and a lazy breeze.  Winding in and out of narrow streets and the hordes of people.  And when we tired of that, we walked till the sun set over the St. Louis Cathedral, our feet tapping in rhythm with the city of jazz.  We stopped by our favorite shops, listened to music at Cafe du Monde, and then ate dinner beneath a canopy of lights twined through ancient oaks at the enchanting Court of Two Sisters.  

Lights twinkling overhead and a fountain gushing behind us, we talked about how well we remember what it was like to be young and hopelessly in love, and how this is even better.  The years add strength to passion, patience and understanding, acceptance and thankfulness for the differences.  There's a deep appreciation for the other, after having walked together through sunshine and rain and all kinds of weather.  Less selfish in love, more selfless.

photos:  French Quarter streets, band in Cafe du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral taken with iphone, sorry for the blur 

We woke up the next day to a glorious morning, a radiant but gentle autumn sun and a steady breeze that's rare in New Orleans.  We ate breakfast in the outdoor French Market Cafe, while a jazz band played Louis Armstrong's A Kiss to Build a Dream On  (click on this song and it will make you incredibly happy, I promise).  Everyone should wake up to this kind of breakfast.  Every single day.  And a few kisses for good measure, of course.
The French Market Cafe
We rarely visit the French Quarter without strolling through the French Market.  It's colorful, gaudy, and always packed with people.  My favorite wares are the handmade goods from Senegal, Africa.  Nine years ago, when we were dating, I bought a pair of handmade African sandals that I literally wore till they were in shreds.  I loved them.  My man expertly maneuvered me toward that ethnic vendor and insisted I get another pair.

French Market wares and African sandals
We left the Market and strolled through the French Quarter, hand in hand and carefree.  We turned down Royal Street and meandered towards the riverfront.  The sun was soft on the quaint streets splashed with bright shutters and adorned with intricate fern laden balconies.  My steps were lazy and my gaze was full.  I didn't realize just exactly where he was headed until he stopped in the exact same spot he proposed to me in Jackson Square, right in front of the towering and prisitine St. Louis Cathedral.  I laughed at him then and I laughed with him now  (he wasn't laughing the first time--he was deadly serious and I don't think I had ever seen him that nervous before, of course, laughing at him didn't help...)  Memories now overlapping and more treasured than ever.  

My gorgeous man, Royal Street, and where he proposed to me in Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral, and Joel riding through the Warehouse District, one of my favorite areas downtown

Funky Monkey (one of our favorite shops), Joel and I on Magazine Street, and me
(all photos in this post  taken with my iphone so please pardon the pixelation)  

Ah my man and Vieux Carre, thank you for a weekend to build a dream on.  It was a dream within itself.


thank you my friend

Really, truly, thank YOU.

For taking the time to write such encouraging comments and emails.

For taking the time to read this little blog in the first place!

God used your words and prayers to bring me so much comfort.

It's no small thing, this community of bloggers.

It's friendship at it's finest though miles and even oceans may separate us.

sniffle.  sniffle.  great big hug.


My birthday is coming up in one week and to celebrate my hubby and I are going to be spending the weekend in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  It's only an hour from where we live and it's on his way home from work.  We're acting like young loves we're so excited.  Solo hubio y me.  Es muy romantico.  (I've learned all my spanish from Dora, by the way)  Oops, I think I got a little confused there, shouldn't I speaking French?  Pardon moi.  Je ne parle pas francais.

Source: flickr.com via Kylie on Pinterest

We have history in New Orleans.  The picture above is where my husband proposed to me.  In front of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

Bonjour, Vieux Carre, here we come!


not about me

I don't think I've mentioned it on my blog yet, I think it's been too painful for me to write about, but my husband and I are no longer youth pastors.

The main factor is financial reasons--though God knows we would have kept going full steam ahead if He would have allowed us to.  This is a heartbreak we don't really know how to walk through.  It's what we always felt God called us to do and we were so certain then that He would make a way for us to do it.  Now we feel lost, bereft, afraid to dream anymore.  And life without dreams loses so much of its luster.  I've spent many nights crying myself to sleep, asking God why, straining to hear His answer, but even then knowing that there is no answer that would satisfy this ache inside me.  

 "Do you trust me?" God asked me today in a whisper meant to reveal my heart to myself.
"Do you trust my love for you?" He's gentle but persistent.

And my own hesitation confirmed my answer.  My heart is fearful.  Down deep in my soul, I know God loves me and I can trust him, but oh, my heart plays the traitor.  My heart with all it's fickle feelings.

It feels like God's given up on me.
It feels like hope deferred.
It feels like the end of a dream.

But will I trust my feelings or will I trust the God of my soul?
I'm praying for the strength to trust and for the courage to dream again.

 I was reminded of this post from two years ago when I was in a similar season....

I started fretting.  And getting anxious.  Dreams were passing me by, floating just out of my reach and taking my heart with them.

Had God forgotten about me?  Was He passing me by, too?  I thought my dreams were important to Him.  Hadn't He promised me the desires of my heart?

I laid all this and more out on my messy kitchen table.  With my head in my hands I let my selfish tears flow.  I needed to know.  I needed the reassurance of my Father.

He was as gentle as He always is.  And yet His question was persistent.

"Am I more important to you than your dreams?"

I knew what God was asking and I knew what the answer would be.  In His own compassionate way, He was reminding me that this life I live is not about me.  I was clinging to my dreams instead of to His will.  I had my own ideas of how things should work out, what I wanted living for Him to look like.  It was just a matter of time, I thought, until God will bring my dreams to pass.  And although I know my dreams ARE important to God, what if He has other plans?

I had to let them go.  I had to choose again to let Jesus fill my soul.  His dreams must become my own.  And I am remembering just how incredible it is to dream God's dreams.  They are more, so much more than even I dare to imagine.

This life I live is not about me and I hope that it never will be.
It's about the overwhelming, life-changing, all-encompassing love of my Jesus that dares to make the ordinary into the extraordinary, the impossible possible, and is changing the world one mended heart at a time.

Use me as you will, Father, use me as you will!


family photo album

"Oops!  Did I just cut my bangs?  Oh, hahaha"

Mommy didn't think it was quite so funny.  And after telling Astair exactly what she thought, Astair  wailed, "Everybody won't like it"

Oh dear.  Must tread carefully here.

DJ Boston.
He's got that groove.
Those cool cat moves.

Those big puppy dog eyes of a Legend.
Hugs like a bear and kisses like one, too.
Loves his daddy like there's no tomorrow.
Loves his momma too.

Oh Thaddeus, Oh Thaddeus,
where have all your teeth gone?
Oh Thaddeus, Oh Thaddeus,
your smile is ever changing.

Daddy has one day off every week. 
 And the things we do in that one day could fill an entire month.  
We ride our bikes, we build campfires, we race our four wheeler, we make boats, we go on picnics, we swim, we laugh, we love him possessively and wish we didn't have to share him with overtime.

And then mommy gets daddy all to herself.  Sunday nights are date nights.  
Sunday is the most wonderful day.
Sunday nights are incredible.

This is for real, ya'all.


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