Welcome Little Patriot: IT’S A GIRL!

Ladies and Gentlemen… It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for… (Well, at least a moment that my Beloved and I and our immediate friends/family have been waiting for…)

We are pleased to announce the birth of our first darling baby…

charis close


Our sweet Charis arrived on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 au natural (no pain meds) at 5:50pm. She weighed 7 pounds and 2 ounces and was 20.5 inches long (pretty legit for being 8 days overdue!)

Her name, Charis (pronounced like “KARE-iss”~ Rhymes with “Paris” or “ferris”)  is ancient Greek for “grace.” (Think: EuCHARISteo or CHARISma) We spent lots of time praying over this baby before her arrival, and God gave us this verse for her.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” ~2 Peter 3:18 NIV

“Grow in grace and understand of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!” ~2 Peter 3:18 MSG

Honestly, it’s hard to put into words how we currently feel. (Well, other than tired… and elated!) HOLY LORD WE ARE PARENTS!! (Sorry for the random outburst. Blame it on the post-labor adrenaline.)

mama and baby

Can we keep her?!?! Oh wait… WE CAN!?! (Thank you Jesus, for this little miracle!)

We couldn’t be more thrilled with this little miracle blessing. It’s been a long journey, but man– what an incredible reward to be a part of the coolest Jesus arts and craft project EVER!!

Momma, Baby and Daddy are all doing well… We have appreciated your love and prayers that you have shown us the past several months throughout this journey– and we covet your continued prayers as we transition into parenthood… In REAL LIFE. (WOW. Apparently this is really happening?!?!)

We praise God for this new season of life– and this wonderful, cuddly, sweet, snuggly little gift from heaven. We couldn’t be happier or more excited. THANK YOU, JESUS!!

Praising to the Heavens,
Mama Sharita (And Daddy Brandon… And “Big Brother” Justus the Pup)

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…”
~Jeremiah 1:5 MSG

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

10 Commandments of Pregnancy: For friends/family/strangers

Remember a little while back I wrote a snappy lil blog post called 10 Commandments of Pregnancy for Husbands? Well, it was such a hit (per generating many laughs, comments and/or AMENS) that we are adding a new chapter of 10 Commandments of Pregnancy…

This time, it’s for everyone. That’s right, friends, family members, acquaintances and yes, even strangers.

Buckle up. Brace yourself. And get ready to chuckle at these real life, personally-instigated guidelines from this pregnant gal.

Remember: They are funny (and applicable) cuz they are true.

So without further ado… We now present “10 Commandments of Pregnancy for friends/family/strangers/etc.” Let’s do this…

1. Thou shalt not give unsolicited advice. This is a big one. Remember that pregnancy, especially for a first time mama (like me) can be overwhelming in general. Our body is doing some absolutely crazy stuff and we are bombarded with information on TV, the internet, books and our doctor. If we approach you asking for advice, by all means, let’s pour a cup of decaf coffee and chat. However, if we met four seconds ago in the produce section of the grocery store, please don’t share the latest statistics about how the .0001% amount of pesticides that might possibly be on the lettuce could cause birth defects. Unnecessary.

2. Thou shalt remember that the pregnant future-mama’s word filter is broken… if it is still intact at all. This is no excuse for us preggos to be rude… but sometimes, especially if you violate commandment #1, our broken/missing word/politeness filter reaction will be automatic and we will say something we will probably regret later. We appreciate your compassion to laugh it off and take no offense to our surge of progesterone word-vomit… or better yet, just nod your head, smile and walk away before the situation escalates.

3. Thou shalt not uninvitedly share your overly-detailed, graphic, or scary aspects of your personal delivery experiences. (This especially applies to complete strangers.) I understand that birthing a child results in the automatic induction to an elite and awesome mommy club. Which is super cool. But remember that our preggo brains are already really good  at dreaming up all of the crazy possibilities that could (but probably won’t) happen during delivery.  So please, please, don’t share with us how much you “tore” during labor (Dear Lord!) or the fact that the 48 hrs you were birthing your child were the most horrific two days of your life. It’s not encouraging. It’s just scary. (And we would like to live in denial for as long as possible, thank you very much.)

4. Thou shalt be excited for said pregnant mama. It doesn’t matter if it is her first baby or her twelfth. The overall idea of two leedle, bitty cells coming together to make a person as part of the coolest Jesus arts and crafts project ever is something to be celebrated. (See commandment #10)

5. Thou shalt not awkwardly apologize for things that do not need to be apologized for. Weird, but true. Even if the mama is a little overwhelmed by the fact that she is expecting her second baby in record time after baby #1 was on the ground, (whoops) or if she announces that her third baby happens to be “another” boy just like the previous two, don’t apologize. It can be offensive and disheartening. (Refer to Commandment #4 and #10.)

6. Thou shalt offer to help in any way possible. Yes, we preggos want to be independent… but sometimes it is nice to be taken care of… I mean seriously, who doesn’t want an extra casserole in the fridge in preparation for baby’s arrival? (This one is especially important if future-mama doesn’t have immediate family right down the road… or in the same state… or in the same time zone.)

7. Thou shalt not be judgey. Seriously. This is dangerous for all parties involved. If you see me shotgunning a Venti Starbucks drink, please don’t shoot me a look of doom… Because in all honesty, it’s probably decaf anyways and it’s been “one of those days.” Yes, if we are super close as friends/family and you see me going to town chowing down 13 Big Macs, by all means, lovingly call me out. (But keep your fingers back. I might bite.)  This also applies to general parenting decisions, such as whether or not we are finding out the gender, or what kind of diapers we will be using. If its something seemingly harmless, just let us be.  It is the safest option for all parties involved.

8. Thou shalt make and extra effort to guard your word vomit… Specifically avoiding phrases like “Wow, you are HUGE!” or “No baby YET!?!” or “Oh you are still super early in your pregnancy” or “Oh you just wait…” Each one of these make me cringe. Remember that we preggos tend to be overly sensitive and hormonal with broken word filters ourselves. So when we are miserably 40+ weeks pregnant counting the hours still baby makes his/her appearance and you utter the words “Still no baby yet? You look like you are going to pop!” we reserve the right to mutter something under our breath about “I will show you pop” then whacking you in the face. (Just kidding. Violence is not the answer.) But seriously. Please guard your words.

9. Thou shalt not touch the belly… or enter into the mama-bubble at all unless invited. I haven’t had to deal with this one too much– yet. I don’t know if it’s because I am not “super big” yet at 27 weeks, or I am not around enough people or if I naturally wear a subconscious look on my face of “Stay back or I will cut you.” Just remember that if you get all up into our kool-aid to “pet” our baby bump, we might spray you down with lysol (if we happen to be in a germaphobic mood) or reach out and pat your belly– which will just make the situation super awkward (and remind you that you shouldn’t have eaten that extra piece of cake after supper last night.)

10. Thou shalt encourage and pray for the mama-(and daddy)-to-be! Much like the 10 Commandments of Pregnancy for Husbands, we need all the prayers and encouragement we can get. As first (or second, third, fourth, etc) time parents, its super exciting, overwhelming and scary. I promise you that if you ask how you can pray for us, we will appreciate it– and be more willing to extend grace when you accidentally  violate any of the other 10 commandments.

What do ya think? Got any other commandments to share (that perhaps personally happened to you?) Don’t be shy about commenting below or sharing with your friends for a lil dose of encouragement today!

Grow baby grow,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” ~Psalm 139:13

Did you take notes?
(PS: For all of you demanding baby bump pics~ Here’s one from around 23ish weeks.)

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , | 18 Comments

10 Commandments of Pregnancy: For Husbands

Pregnancy is… weird.

Sure it’s beautiful, cool, entertaining and overall MIND BLOWING, but really, this whole growing a baby thing is just weird.

I promised you sweet readers weeks ago when we announced the coming of our first baby that this would not turn into a pregnancy blog. And it’s not. There are plenty of other folks out there that are way more knowledgeable (and less hormonal) to provide you valuable info in that category.

However, this post idea has been marinating in my pregnant brain for a few weeks, so we are going to have a little bit of fun today. (Hopefully you ALWAYS have fun when you stop by 7 Days Time… But perhaps today will be a new kind of humor.)

So yes, my darling husband and I are expecting our first baby in February. We are well over the halfway point and the third trimester is looming in T minus a month or so. In this first stretch of pregnancy, we have learned a lot… about growing babies, about each other and yes, even about Jesus.

If you have had a baby, are currently pregnant, know someone who is pregnant or especially if you are a husband of a pregnant gal, this post is for you. Feel free to share, and please comment below with your OWN “commandments” for being pregnant <or dealing gracefully with a pregnant woman. Creativity encouraged.>

(By the way: My hubby and I kind of co-wrote the following– some of them are from our experience, while others are inside jokes we wanted to share with you. Sense of humor is vital!)

Wait… You said WHAT? (This is my preggo warning look. Scary, I know.)

Ready? And now, we proudly present in no particular order, the Ten Commandments for Husbands with Pregnant Wives!

1. Thou shalt not eat the last of your wife’s “pregnancy food.” This includes all items purchased during a “craving” moment… just because the craving has passed for now, don’t assume it won’t come back. It also includes all “easy meals,” leftovers and anything involving chocolate. When in doubt, ask permission. Otherwise (in my husband’s words) your wife “may destroy you.”

2. Thou shalt prepare thyself for her hormonal mood swings. Know that she can go from sweet and darling one minute to hysterical over something seemingly small the next. Oh. And never, EVER laugh at these changes, no matter how random/entertaining/goofy they might seem.

3. Thou shalt never refer to her as any kind of bovine– aka, milk cow.  It doesn’t matter if she gives you play-by-play of her changing body, her yearnings to drink more milk and the idea that she will soon potentially be able to produce milk to feed a tiny child. Even if, on a good-humored day, she taught you a cheer from Universal Cheerleading Camp about milk: “Don’t gimme no pop, no pop, don’t gimme no tea, no tea, just gimme that milk, moo, moo, moo, moo, just gimme that milk, moo, moo, moo, moo.”

4. Thou shalt be enthusiastic about week-by-week updates of the baby’s growth. Yes, even if you have to fake it a little bit. “Wow, honey! Week 22!! Our baby’s eyelids are fully developed AND it’s the size of a spaghetti squash! Cool!” (It does not matter if you do not know what a spaghetti squash is. Google it.)

5. Thou shalt be interested in all things baby. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the difference between an Exersaucer or a walker or a Pack-N-Play. Engage. Participate. Even if you have to feign interest. Your wife will LOVE you for it! (See commandment #4.)

6. Thou shalt not brag about how great you feel, how much weight you lost, or how well you slept. Chances are, she doesn’t feel great, she weighs more than she has in previous seasons of life, and she is not sleeping well. Instead of her being overjoyed for you, it will probably activate commandment #2.

7. Thou shalt not make a huge deal about the awesome foods you are eating or how much you ate of it. Avoid talking about how great that bratwurst at Oktoberfest tasted or how refreshing your homemade beer was as it sloshed down your throat. If you ignore this commandment, you risk being thwacked… or having your shoes puked on.

8. Thou shalt never utter the following phrases: “Calm DOWN, wife.” or “Wow, you are getting SO HUGE!” or “It’s all in your head.” Self explanatory.

9. Thou shalt be aware of your “smells” and keep them to a minimum. Keep in mind that a whiff of your smelly army work boots or you noshing on your favorite Limburger cheese could send your wife running to the bathroom… And then running after you when she gets done.

10. Thou shalt support and pray with (and for) your wife regularly. Pregnancy, especially the first one (in our opinion) is exciting, confusing, emotional and yes, even a little scary. Always be willing to take ahold of your wife’s hand or stroke her hair and say, “Let’s pray about this, sweetheart.” Always point her back to Christ in moments of emotions, fear or doubt. After all– you both have been invited to participate in the coolest Jesus arts and craft project ever… TOGETHER, as husband and wife.

“May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!” ~Proverbs 23:25

Categories: baby, Family | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

A Patriotic Reveal

Today’s blog post is brought to you by little green army men, our pup Sweet Justus and a fun sense-of-humor-laden family project…

Praise Jesus!  I am so thankful that I can now share with all of you wonderful readers our “secret.” (I felt like I was leading a double life there for a little while.) It’s been a challenging first three months, especially learning how to be preggo plus pneumonia AND another nasty bug on top of it all (three rounds of antibiotics are now complete!)

We praise God for His faithfulness… When I told my friend Brandi a couple weeks ago about our Little Patriot, she used the phrase “bittersweet.” And that is a pretty good descriptor of the last 14 weeks or so– although, now that I think about it, it’s not been so much bitter, but perhaps “apprehensively-sweet.” We will never forget our sweet Baby Klove, but are very excited for this hopeful  journey into parenthood with Little Patriot.

In this tiny, new life, God has revealed His Love. His Hope. His Grace. His Faithfulness.

So, we rejoice. Won’t you join us?

Glory to God,

“This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.” ~Titus 2:12 (MSG) 

Categories: blessings, Family, God | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Unblock Your Heart

I will never forget that phone call. It was March, my senior year of high school. I was “supposed” to be in English class, but of course was spending my time ever-so-wisely in the library. The secretary tracked down my location and transferred the call to the library. It was announced: “Sharita… You have a phone call.”

The chorus of “Oooooooo, I wonder if she’s in trouble?” echoed in the room from my schoolmates as I rolled my eyes and made my way over to the phone.


“Sharita.” My mom’s voice sounded… weird. “Um, your Daddy is sick.”

“What kind of sick?” I wondered why Dad having a stomach ache would warrant a phone called to school.

“I think he’s having a heart attack.”

BOOM. There it was. He was 45 years old. I was a senior. My sister a junior. And little brother just started kindergarten that year. How could my Dad be having a heart attack? Just 45 days before, he had been to the cardiologist for insurance check-up stuff… and they gave him a clean bill of health.

 I didn’t really understand the severity of his heart attack until they decided to LifeFlight him to the Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita. The events over the next several hours could easily fill up a week’s worth of blog posts. I will never forget the details.

Turns out, an artery in his heart was 98% blocked. By the time Mom, my two siblings and I got rounded up and arrived in Wichita, he was already out of surgery from receiving a stint and resting in the ICU.

Scariest few hours of our lives. All I could think about was the fact that we might lose him that day. Not fair. Where did that blockage come from? They said he was HEALTHY less than two months ago.  He was supposed to see me graduate high school and college, walk me down the aisle at my wedding and give me away, hold his grandbaby in his arms.

All of that was threatened to be taken from us from a tiny blockage in his heart.

When was the last time you had a heart check-up from God?

I am happy to report that over 8 years have passed and Dad is still kicking. (Thank you, Jesus!) As I reflected on this event, I couldn’t help but think how our OWN heart blockages can threaten to take our lives…

I am not talking about the heart blockages from plaque and build up. I am talking about the “heart junk” that keeps us from being in an intimate relationship with Christ. If our heart is blocked, it becomes hard… we start to die from the inside out. We grow farther and farther from Christ.

All the while, we could convince ourselves that we have a “clean bill of health” from the outside. We are “doing” all the right things– going to church, half-heartedly praying, giving to the poor– but inside, we are slowly dying. Our heart for Christ is blocked. Clogged. Slowing down. Ceasing to beat.

Our blockages can come in many forms. Unconfessed sin. Unforgiveness. Desire to control our lives. Inability to trust God. Worry. Anxiety. Depression. Unhealed hurt from others.

Fortunately for us, God is the most talented cardiologist that ever existed. He doesn’t require medication, LifeFlight helicopters, or surgery. We must simply RECEIVE His grace and mercy into our hearts. If we share with Him openly our hurts, sins and grudges, He is the one who can heal them. Clean them out. Immediately.

Ask God if you are living your “clean bill of health” from the inside out or if you have some blocked areas of your heart. Ask Him to reveal any “blocked areas” to you and then help you to clean them out… He is The One who can make your heart beat, healthily, wildly and passionately. For Him.

Today, let’s allow Jesus to unblock our hearts so we can Live for Him.

Lovin’ His Lub-Dubbing,

“…Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having ourhearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” –Hebrews 10:22

How is your heart beating today? Is it healthy? Has God helped to unblock your heart? In what ways? I would love to hear about it. Comment here.

Categories: blessing, Christ, faith, Family, fear, God, healing, health, hope, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Helping Hands & Burgers for Babies (Factor of 7)

Did everyone see the awesome article in The Bayonet yesterday documenting our latest “Factor of 7: Latte Love?” If you read it and were inspired, I have some GREAT news for you… You can share the love of Jesus RIGHT NOW!

Mandy Gramkow is a friend of mine from college, a fellow blogger, a wife, a mama to two precious little ones and a daughter of Christ.  She ran across 7 Days time and realized that she was actually in the middle of her own Factor of 7. Team Gramkow’s journey of faith will simply blow you away, so please check out her message below to answer her call of sharing the love of Christ!


Our miracle preemie, Beckett was born at 2 lbs. 2.6 oz. at 25 weeks gestation. During our a 88 day NICU stay, we walked alongside so many parents who were in need of support of this difficult journey. Beckett’s neonatologist, Dr.Grubbs, and his wife Lisa founded NICU Helping Hands here in Fort Worth, Texas. Team Gramkow believes in their mission to helping families who endure a NICU journey.

Our Beckett turned SEVEN months on Monday….So in honor of Beckett’s SEVEN month birthday, we would love to have SEVEN people pledge to donate TODAY to our fundraising efforts for NICU Helping Hands. We only have SEVEN DAYS to reach our goal of $2,500 to get a table at Burgers for Babies! The Burgers for Babies event is here in Fort Worth on May 10! May 1st is the deadline for us to receive donations. 

We are so appreciative of any support you can lend to this cause. God’s blessings to you! 

Team Gramkow (Ben, Mandy, Ellie and Beckett) 

(See Beckett’s 7-month birthday challenge blog post  for complete information and how to make your donation today!!)

Ellie and Beckett... Celebrating God's faithfulness! High Five!


Wow, folks. That is powerful stuff, huh? I personally have been following Team Gramkow’s journey ever since Ellie was also born prematurely at 28 weeks in 2008. They are such a powerful testimony to God’s love and faithfulness! As of this writing, Team Gramkow has received donations totaling $1300. Pray about this opportunity to share the love of Christ. And if you feel so led, then pay it forward by making a love offering to this wonderful mission. Don’t delay– we only have 5 days left to help them out!

If this story has touched your heart, don’t hesitate to show the love via leaving a comment here or making a donation. Every little bit counts. Remember that you will be part of Helping Hands, Burgers for Babies AND multiplying HIS love by much more than a Factor of 7!!

Little babies and great love,

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”–Matthew 19:14

PS: HUGE congrats to our Latte Love winner Tina (Aka GoldenPrayerBear) over at Pot of Manna!!! You have won a Starbucks gift card! (I will be in touch with you asap to get info) Thanks to all of you who shared the love of our ministry and left encouraging comments… Keep ’em coming 🙂

Categories: baby, blessing, challenge, Christ, Factor of 7, faith, Family, generosity, God, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Family Tradition

“Pass the green bean casserole.”

“White or dark meat?”

“Bahhaaahaa! Look at Dad… He’s snoring on the couch!!”

“Hey, who took a bite out of my pumpkin pie?!?”

“Let’s pray…”

In case you didn’t get the memo, it’s Thanksgiving. I know that folks have been blogging, talking and preparing for this festive holiday for days, ready to discuss of overeating, conversation, football, worship and in my family’s case, activities that involve shooting rifles and/or hunting.

Just like the quotes above, families throughout the world have a variety of traditions. Some do the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes route. Others order a pizza and watch football until their eyes go googly. Others are busy mapping out their Black Friday shopping domination strategy. Some gatherings have dozens of people present (high blood pressure anyone?) and others might just have a wife and husband with their new baby, or some due to circumstances or choice, fly solo.  My family here in Kansas has a few traditions as well…

We usually have the staple Thanksgiving foods listed above, but add things like cornbread stuffing (Grandma Neva’s recipe) and fried okra. We usually dine early afternoon and then our tryptophan-induced activities post-gorge include lounging, TV (maybe football… eh) and maybe even doing some target practice in the front yard. Then, after a light supper of leftovers (since we are typically still reeling from the afternoon feasting activities) we bundle up, strap on our headlamps and head to the trees for a round of coon hunting with our hounds. (But that’s whole ‘nother post…)

Regardless of your personal family traditions, there is one that we all can share together. If you are member in the family of Christ, we can worship Him for the sacrifice of The Son. No matter how you slice it, I firmly believe He is the reason we are here, with the ability to give thanks today.

I’m thankful for my faith. And that, my darling family of Christ, is a family tradition we can all share.

Thankful for Jesus,


“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.” -Psalm 42:4

Categories: Christ, Family, food, sacrifice, thanks, tradition | Leave a comment

You can’t out-give THAT!

It was November 17, 1985. The blistering cold north wind whipped through the trees in a small northwest Kansas County. A redheaded Kansas rancher lovingly helped his petite yet round little wife to the truck.  Their life changing moment was creeping closer with each passing second.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was the day I was born. I would say that it changed my life, but to be more accurate, it BEGAN my life. Several hours after arriving at Phillips County Hospital and some pretty intense tugs of the forceps later, I made my entrance in the world.  (Don’t believe me about the forceps part? I still have the bald spot on the right side of my head to prove it. Don’t worry. The doctor said it would grow back in a few weeks. 26 years later, I’m still waiting…)

Anyway… I don’t tell you the story of my birthday to dig up showers of birthday wishes and glory. (Although, if anyone is so inclined, I enjoy things that involve chocolate, books, God and shiny stuff. Kidding.) But I share this with you because 26 years later, I am very thankful for my time on this earth.  And believe it or not, it’s not about me receiving birthday stuff… but this is about giving. (Hang tight—I’m getting there.)

I wasn’t really “supposed” to be here. My parents tried for two years to have a baby and had given up. Then, surprise! Wish granted. Shortly after they announced the excitement of their first baby, Mama was put on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy because it was such a high-risk pregnancy. Nature sure is complicated, huh?

But as it turns out, God had a plan—and His plan was to give my parents a 7 lbs, 14 oz little girl named Sharita Gwen Lacey. And he had plans for this little girl… most of which have really taken off (in somewhat of a crazy manner) this last year.

God is a giver. He gave me life.  Hence, He is a giver of life. He has given me friends and family who loves me. He has given me a husband who constantly supports me and puts up with what deem “the emotional roller-coaster that is being a woman.” He has gifted me to write and minister to others. God continues to give and provide for us daily: financially, emotionally, spiritually. It BLOWS MY MIND. Seriously.

I think there is a reason that it is called “giving birth.” It’s a painful experience (so I’ve heard) and yet daddies and mommies throughout the world continue to create families to experience the joy of giving life to another. Awesome parents (like mine) give their heart to raise their little girl (or boy) to be a potentially successful and happy adult. Then, if it is in God’s plan, they eventually give that baby-now adult over to someone to love and cherish, just as Christ loved the church.

And just maybe that baby just might grow into a woman who, on her 26th birthday, is a writer, army wife, leader, lover of life and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder if they knew THAT was going to be the result of their efforts as they cleaned up my messes and dealt with my childish (not to mention outrageous teenage) antics?

My walk with Christ has taught me to give until it hurts. I have also learned that you can’t out-give God. He has proven time and time again that each time I give ANYTHING, he “pays” it back to me ten-fold. I have experienced that on about four different occasions in the last week. Each time He so generously gives to me, it brings me to my knees.

Moms everywhere literally give until it hurts when it comes to bringing a child into this world. Dads give until it hurts when they watch their daughter walk down the aisle into the arms of her new husband. And God gave until it hurt, in the form of His son… on the cross.

Today, on my 26th birthday, I am filled with gratitude for the people who have given so much to me throughout my life. I am so grateful to worship a God who gave his son for ME. And for YOU. Talk about giving until it hurts. And we definitely can’t out-give THAT.

To give is to receive,


“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” –Psalm 75:1

Categories: faith, Family, growth | 3 Comments

A Family to be Valued

Today, Baby Dog Sweet Justus and I leave Georgia and begin our long driving trek home to Kansas. Our red-phase visit really brings sweet excitement to mind about reuniting with my family.

It’s been over six months since I have gotten to see my parents, brother and friends from back home. Ideally Brandon would with us, but the demands of the army have dibs on him first. Thus, Justus and I are going to Kansas to enjoy the presence of friends and family for a couple of weeks, just the two of us. Can you say excited?!?

I could extensively elaborate on how awesome my family/friends are… like how my parents have set such an incredible example in their 32.5 year marriage, or my little bro’s hilarious comments and love of agriculture, or little sister’s work ethic and nurturing heart. Instead, I am going to present a challenge to you.

Take some time to seriously think and consider the gift that God has given you in family… and remember, family doesn’t have to be blood, it can be anyone who has made a difference in your life.

The various forms of thanks, thanksgiving, thankfulness etc occur about 144 times in the New International version of the Bible. So obviously, it’s kind of a big deal. Today, I am incredibly thankful for my biological family, as well as my friends and “married-into” family.

I am also remarkably thankful for being in the family of God. I am His daughter! He has given me brothers and sisters in Christ to walk with. He is never disappointed in me, never failing.

That, dear reader, is what I call a family to be valued.

A heart of thankfulness,

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” 1 Thessalonians 3:9
Aren’t we a precious group? Such an awesome
family to be valued!
Categories: faith, Family | Leave a comment

In the Garden

Growing up in northwest Kansas as the daughter in a farming/ranching family provided me with many chances to “get away.” Ok, let’s be honest– we were 90 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart. We were always “away,” so actually going somewhere was a big deal. Anyway, Dad worked a lot of hours taking care of the cattle and crops, but some of the most precious memories I have of my youth were those moments when I would climb onto the bathroom sink, lather up my face and pretend to “shave” as he did the same in the mirror. We would sing as we “shaved,” and to this day the song “In the Garden” takes me “away” and back to solidarity on the farm… and now to solidarity with God.

The song “In the Garden” reminds fondly of my youthful days on the farm and also of my relationship with God. It brings back around the importance of spending time with Him daily, reflecting in his glory and love for us.

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Check out the link to hear the song…

Jesus deeply desires to spend time with us, love on us, romance us. Are you giving Him that opportunity? Where is your garden? Is it literally a garden? Maybe someplace else in nature? Perhaps at your kitchen table before the rest of the family awakens? It might even be at the bathroom sink, staring into the mirror, talking to God and thanking him for the memories of the past and the promises of the future.

Spend some time to go your “garden” with Him today. None other will ever know the joy you experience with Him as you walk, talk, and tarry there.

Walking in the Garden,

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

Categories: Family, peace | Leave a comment

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