Tag Archives: holidays

Resurrected Hope

Holidays can be hard to be away. Easter was no different.
We felt the absence of our family, friends, church, Cadbury cream eggs.. 😉
But we do our best to make it special– invited some families over for a cookout and opened our home to students who don’t have a car (or a way to get to church) for an evening Easter service.


While Andy was passing around the bread and the communion cups, it hit me.

Sometimes following Jesus doesn’t look anything like the path you had planned.

His disciples have always had these moments…
It’s not too hard to imagine how they felt the day their hope died…
because how many of us can relate.

The Bible doesn’t really say what they were thinking, although we can read between the lines—
the disappointment, fear, confusion— so intense that Peter would, for a moment, deny Truth Himself.

They were told they’d never be left, but sure felt alone.
They expected to reign with Him, but weren’t thinking that meant a crown of thorns.
Who would have ever dreamed He would take up a literal “cross”!

At some point, Jesus’ disciples have a choice to make—
To leave, or believe.  John 6 tells us that after some hard teachings, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. He didn’t seem surprised by this. Instead, he asked the twelve, “Do you want to leave too?” I love Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom would we go? YOU have the words of eternal life!” In essence, we may not understand Your ways, but we will trust Your word.

So, those moments of disappointment, fear, confusion— what do we do?
I think we take our cues from those who have gone before us.
We look back and see that He has always been faithful, so
we remind each other of His words.
We do what He said, and
we wait for Him to show up.

Just like His disciples have always done—

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
{Acts 2:46}

That right there is the dawning of resurrected hope!


Peace out, 2016!

I can’t look back over 2016 without feeling deep gratitude. Not because it was easy in any sense of the term! But, because we made it through! “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength.” {2 Timothy 4:17} #thankyouJesus

2016 started with some major blows that left us feeling knocked down. A year ago, I couldn’t even stand to ring in the New Year; we were kneelin’ in the New Year. Turns out it’s right where we needed to be to face what we would face. The blows kept coming and we found Shelter and Strength on our knees.

One of my favorite New Years’ traditions is taking time as a family to share our highs and lows of the year. We fondue and reflect. Then for the next couple days, they keep telling me, “Oh, I thought of one more.” Too many highs to count!
But here’s a few:
~ Xtreme weekend (Miles)
~ Hiking in the creek with dad (Jack)
~ Riding the crowded bus (Jude)
~ Finishing up the 6th grade (Miles)
~ Camping with friends (Jack)
When I caught 2 gars (Jude)
Going to grandma and grandpa’s house (Miles)
Staying at other people’s houses (Way to look on the bright side, Jack 🙂
2016-06-16-16-10-00 2016-04-23-15-21-12-1
~ Star Wars Marathon weekend with mom (Miles)
~ LeCrae Concert (Jack)
~ Finding shells (Jude)
Their list goes on…
Hocking Hills with Maddie, all the fish we caught, Silver Beach with friends, Vacation Bible School, SaĂ­da da Liderança, campfire with our Brazil grandparents, using a port-a-potty, City BBQ with Maddie, going to Wisconsin to see our cousins, basketball camp, turning 13 and getting Facebook, when we went to that couple’s house for tacos who had the tiny doggie and pool, jumping on the trampoline with Laina and Landon, watching Rogue One with friends, the vinegar store…
Of course, they all said their birthdays; and that they liked each other’s birthdays.
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We were given another year, full of uncertainties and disappointments.
And yet, each day was a fragile and precious gift, to be fully unwrapped and enjoyed. 
How grateful we are for the gift to be here, to do this!

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[Andy speaking at Peniel’s graduation]
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[Rio 2016, which happened to be 7 hours from our house]

This year, my highs were more about the beauty in the everyday. Like that time we were on a date and rounded the bend to see this– a timely reminder of the greatness of our God:
All the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10)
OR like the humor our 13 year old brings into our days,2016-01-06-11-03-51
the tender side of our 12 year old (of all the places he could sit in the house, that he would snuggle right up next to me);
that every flower our 8 year old sees is for his momma,
and how this man has stood by my side, for better or worse.
Thimg_20160404_154553460_hdren there’s the lows…
For me, it was when my 4-6 week recovery turned into 4-6 months when they found a blood clot 4 weeks after surgery and I had to go on blood thinner injections, which made me very sick, like couldn’t even drink hot tea-sick; and we prayed and prayed and prayed that I would be able to go off the injections by my birthday, but my levels weren’t where they were supposed to be, so I waited in the car (because I also couldn’t walk without feeling lightheaded and dizzy) when my hubby went to pick up my prescription refill. And nabbed these pretty hydrangeas while he was at it. It just amazes me that even in our lows, there is evidence of grace. Even if the grace is “this life is not all there is.”

Andy’s lows included spending extra to buy what you think is a better van… only to have it break down again and again and again… leaving us stranded yet again (below). AND being the one to give me the injections.

But that was all SO 2016.
Turn up the music. It’s time to ring those bells!!! We’re happy you’re here 2017!!!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go; 
Ring out the false, ring in the true…
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
{Alfred Tennyson}

Time to resolute! We’re thankful for second chances.
There is a word that keeps coming to mind.

It’s how I want to respond when my teenager rolls his eyes and mumbles under his breath, when things don’t go “my” way, when I disagree, when there are muddy fingerprints on the refrigerator door… yet again.
It’s what I want to be when I feel misunderstood, unappreciated, hurt, insulted.
Who I want to be when confronted, intimidated, opposed, challenged.

  1. an attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.

    πραΰς, Ï€ÏÎ±Î”áż–Î±, πραΰ
    Transliteration: praus
    Phonetic Spelling: (prah-ooce’)

John MacArthur writes, “Pride has been redefined in American culture as a virtue. The strong, the beautiful, the powerful, the intelligent, and the privileged take every opportunity to put themselves forward. Politicians manifest pride in speeches and debates; entertainers glamorize pride in their movies and lifestyles; educators teach pride by emphasizing self-esteem and making every child a winner (whether they deserve it or not); and sports icons reinforce pride as the path to greatness.

Probably the least admired character quality in America is meekness. And yet the greatest Person who ever lived was a meek and humble man — “learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus exemplified meekness during His first advent, even as He ministered in the power of God. Those who follow Him will also demonstrate meekness, or gentleness as fruit of a Spirit-filled life (Galatians 5:22).

“Meekness” is a humble attitude that expresses itself in the patient endurance of offenses. Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. As the writer of Proverbs says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32).” {John MacArthur}

“Picture a wild stallion that has been broken and is now tamed. That stallion still has as much power as when he was wild, but now that power is bottled up for the master’s use.” {Rick Warren}

If meek had a theme song, pretty sure it’d be this. And if meek had a manual, it’d be Psalm 37.

I don’t know what all #meek entails. 
I just know I’ve got my work cut out for me! Because this does. NOT. come. natural.
BUT, it seems worth it:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

Thank God for second chances. A new year, full of hope!

Kneelin’ in the New Year

Well hey there, 2016.
We’re happy you’re here! And we’re ready to take your blank squares and color them in with more adventures in love and life.

But before we look forward to all that it is to come, we can’t help but give our proper adieus to 2015. It was a beautiful year. I wouldn’t call it “easy” or “comfortable.” But we look back and recall grace upon grace and we feel so blessed. New Year’s Eve, we were recounting some of our family’s favorite memories of 2015. Among those mentioned…

– SaĂ­da da Liderança {our yearly getaway with the leaders of Peniel}
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– Rodeo with cousins
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– Surprise visit from fam
– Riding our bikes to Winona Lake
– Birthday celebrations
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2015-06-12 18.24.50
2015-07-03 20.45.18
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– Hugs from grandparents
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– Activities with students
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– Escaping to the ocean that is less than 4 hours away!
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– Encontro {New Tribes of Brazil’s Conference for Missionaries}
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– Candlelit dinners {AKA power outages}
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– Sitting in on Prof AndrĂ©’s classes
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– Graduation {the chance to be a part of these students’ training to become tribal missionaries}
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– Celebrating our 15 year anniversary in Rio
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– Christmas Eve with grandparents

Looking back, the moments I cherish just as much are when the camera is put away, and my little boy hands me a fresh-picked flower or handmade card “To know. I love you”, the hugs in the kitchen and the prayers before bed, the exchange of apologies and forgiveness, a note or call or visit at just the right time, knowing we are exactly where we’re supposed to be when I witness my love do what he was made to do, those moments when there’s no other place to turn than the throne of Mercy and the grace He has given, the week everything seemed to go wrong and the Lord kept painting rainbows in the sky–5 in one week!

As we close out 2015, I’m keeping close my verse for the year: Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of joy. {Ps. 65:8}

There’s just something about a New Year.
Whether or not last year ended as we hoped, we get to turn the page and start another chapter. It’s a chance to put the past behind us and resolve for things to be a different, better, happy new year.

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

The weeks proceeding the New Year, I take some time to consider what I want my life to be characterized by. One word that I want to describe my living and being and going and doing. Last year, I chose JOY. {hence the verse above}
Not just superficial-laughter, smile-on-the-outside, happy-when-things-go-my-way–JOY.
But deeply-rooted, my-hope-is-in-You-Lord, can’t-touch-this, regardless-of-circumstances–JOY!

Since I’m now a master at all things JOY, it’s time to move onto another word.
{Or something like that… 🙂 }

I’ve really had a hard time deciding on my word for this year…
Shine * Believe * Love * Engage * Laugh * Hope * Cherish * Courage * Peace
I want it all!

New Year’s Eve, we fondued it up {tradition}, rang in the Paris New Year {at 9:00 🙂 }, tucked in our boys, said our prayers, turned off the lights, and spent the last moments reflecting on 2015. I felt both relief and uncertainty. That moment when you’re thankful you made it, but aren’t sure you really have, and you wonder how much you have left in you. Give me a few weeks or two and I’m sure we’ll be back in the “mustering up all we got” and “sucking all the marrow out” business. But this New Year’s, we’re tired. I don’t think it’s an accident that we feel this way. I think this is exactly what I needed to resolve not to muster up, but to kneel.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:6-7

Not just “be in a position in which both of your knees are on the floor” kneel.
I’m talkin’ the posture of our heart regardless of our position, because we were created for purpose – KNEEL. As in. You want to shine, believe, love, engage, laugh, hope, cherish, have courage and peace….well, in His presence you can have it all – KNEEL.

I’m hopeful about 2016. I really am! We’re already marking in our calendar squares with classes and visits and dreams we’ve always dreamed. Regardless of our goings and doings, our living and being, if there’s one thing I hope to accomplish in 2016, it is to kneel.

No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

.:| 2014 |:.

Just like that, we closed the books on 2014. Been there. Done that. Time to buy a new calendar.
Meanwhile, I’m still getting used to writing 2015… So, I don’t suppose this post is too-far overdue.

For those of you who have been left hanging since July, I used to post monthly snapshots, but now I have no idea how I ever had time to do that…But! For the sake of these memories being remembered and celebrated, here is our 2014! Our first year living overseas. SO much new…

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When we arrived in December, the house we’re living in was still being built. The boys and I couldn’t say much more than “obrigado,” but we tried to show our gratitude by taking Coke to those working on it.
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We got nothing but warm welcomes. [I wrote more about that here.]2013-12-12 10.47.39
Speaking of warm, it was our first 90-degree December. Baking Christmas cookies in the heat was quite a shock. But, we had fun having our new friends over to decorate cut-outs. 2013-12-28 11.47.42
Andy and I celebrated 13 years by introducing the fam to one of our favorite spots–Salto Corumba.2014-01-13 17.45.34
2014-01-13 17.24.14
“Mom, can we play in the mud?” never registered in my mind as this. But, we survived our first rainy season.
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Both Andy and I had to get used to teaching (him because of preparing 1 1/2 hour classes in portuguese, me because of schooling 3 boys who would rather be outside). But, we’re both loving it!
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2014-03-23 12.13.372014-04-08 19.53.032014-06-12 05.52.312014-06-12 16.55.522014-06-16 19.11.552014-09-29 15.26.33
2014-05-05 21.22.582014-05-05 21.04.29

2014-10-04 20.13.382014-10-04 20.21.472014-10-01 17.30.1210262135_273550209482669_8552716559276749593_n2014-05-27 21.09.322014-06-19 12.11.59
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We all are enjoying getting to know the students and staff here–hosting movie nights and World Cup games, cafezinhos and baby showers, prayer gatherings and zumba, volleyball and churrascos.
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It’s been so neat to watch these boys’ friendship grow. Kinda by necessity, but they’re making memories of their own that I imagine they will talk about years from now. Remember when…
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Sledding looks a little different here, but still super fun! No need to bundle up. Just need some cardboard and tropical grass.
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We survived our first broken arm. And the cast survived this guy…although, barely.
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2014-09-20 16.45.492014-05-03 16.41.41
Birthday parties are kinda a big deal here, and we got invited to several, which was perfect for culture/language-learning. Sometimes the kids even let me wear their Elsa wig and let it go.
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We’re thankful to live closer to Andy’s parents (closer…as in 12 hours away:)
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2014-04-04 13.53.012014-03-28 17.19.22
What a blessing it was to have my parents visit! AND friends visit!
So grateful for the refreshment and FUN! our time together brought.

Now, here we are–2015!
There’s just something about a New Year.
Clean slates–waiting to be colored with new adventures in love and life.
Blank calendars–bursting with possibilities.
New resolves–wanting to BE the change.

I’ve been thinking alot about what I want my life to be characterized by. One word that I want to describe my living and being and going and doing. For me. This year. I resolve to JOY!
Not just superficial-laughter, smile-on-the-outside, happy-when-things-go-my-way–JOY.
But deeply-rooted, my-hope-is-in-You-Lord, can’t-touch-this, regardless-of-circumstances–JOY!


The Bible has a lot to say about joy.
Here’s some of my favorites:

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. | Psalm 16.11

The joy of the Lord is your strength! | Nehemiah 8.10

All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. | Psalm 22.6

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. | Psalm 34.5

Joy fills hearts that are planning peace! | Proverbs 12.20

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a Mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joy.” | Zephaniah 3.17

“But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. | Malachi 4.2

You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’ | Acts 2.28

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. | Romans 15.13

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—Rejoice! | Philippians 4.4

When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. | Hebrews 10.34

When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. | James 1.2

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. | 1 Peter 1.6

Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. | Psalm 90.14

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of JOY! 
| Psalm 65.8


Happy 2015, all! EnJOY.

Feliz Ano Novo Gente!

Happy New Year, All!
I love putting up a blank calendar and all the white squares of days waiting to be filled. And this year especially, it’s ALL new. I don’t know what this year holds. Or tomorrow holds. Or really, even today.

Sometimes I start to feel hesitant to keep walking into all this new, with all its unknowns and will the scorpions get our kids? Or worse? But again and again, we see that the Good Shepherd who has led us here has also followed close behind with all His goodness and His mercy.

Surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
Psalm 23.6

Just yesterday, Jack had broken out into a flaming, itchy rash on his face. We thought it was allergy-related, but to what? SO much new here. We took him to the pharmacy, and Andy started asking the pharmacist in Portuguese what cream to use for an allergic reaction. A guy overheard, turned to me and asked (IN ENGLISH) “Has he been eating mangoes?” First, I was taken back to hear a stranger speak to me in English. And second, I was floored he knew! Mangoes are Jack’s favorite fruit, and has been devouring all we can right off the tree. This guy went on to explain when he was a kid and moved to Brazil from the U.S. (40 years ago) he broke out in a flaming rash because he would spend his days in a mango tree, peeling mangoes with his teeth and was allergic to the sap. I am always in awe when I see God orchestrate things like this. Here we are in the middle of Brazil with our son who has been spending his days in a mango tree, peeling mangoes with his teeth. The pharmacist asks if Jack has been exposed to anything new, Andy replies everything is new, and a man appears with a story exactly like our son.


Is it not God’s goodness and mercy that followed us to that pharmacy,
and showed us exactly what we needed to know to bring our child relief? 

We can welcome in this New Year with all its unknowns knowing there is One following close behind, full of goodness and mercy. And our cups overflow.

For Dad

It’s not easy being a dad.
The older our kids get, the more I realize this. It’s not an easy task. Provide. Protect. Lead the home. And manage all the everyday stresses that come along in a way that doesn’t exasperate your children.
We had no idea what laid on the shoulders of our dads until we entered parenthood and started carrying the same burdens. The delicate balance of giving our boys the freedom to fly and preserving their lives.

It’s not easy being my dad.
The further I get from home, the more I realize this. 13 years ago, they gave their blessing to their baby girl marrying some boy out of the jungles of Brazil. Knowing it could mean their grandbabies could move to the jungles of Brazil someday. My parents still live in the same red-brick house they brought me home from the hospital. And yet, they gave me wings to explore the world. Sending their high schooler off to a Navajo Mission in New Mexico. Then on a summer mission trip in California. Their college girl to be a camp counselor at an Inner-City Camp in LA. Then to Berlin, Germany. Papua New Guinea for the summer.

I never realized what sacrifice and courage that required.
For my dad to let go of his baby girl. But I do now.
And I just have to say thank you.
Thank you for loving me enough to learn that delicate balance of protecting and leaving in the hands of our Protector.
Thank you for always welcoming me back into that red-brick house with hugs and home-made apple pie.
Thank you for your example of trusting our Almighty Father, casting your cares to Him because He cares for all of us.

It’s Father’s Day, and I am thankful for my dad. I am amazed by my husband who just got back from taking our boys camping, for all the ways he loves and serves and loves and serves. And I am blown away by our heavenly Father who has given all He has for His kids.
He gives good gifts.
My cup overflows.
And the tears fall.
Knowing this not the story for everyone. I weap for the fatherless. For those who cringe at the idea of a day to honor fathers. “Dad” means abandonment, betrayal, disappointment, abuse.
I pray the deep layers of pain this day may provoke brings you to an understanding of One who never leaves, never lets go, never gives up, never loves less. God, our Father! Our generous, lavish-loving, gracious, dependable Father. He knows. He sees. He hears. He cares. And you know what? He is near.

I look up to the mountains–does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth!
He will not let you stumble and fall; the One who watches over you will not sleep…
The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Psalm 121

For Mom

Dearest mom, Happy Mother’s Day!
I have thought about you all day. All you are and all you teach me. All you have done and all you have helped me become. You are a wise counselor, a peacemaker, servant, prayer warrior, and close friend. You teach by example. You inspire through encouragement. You love without limit. You have prayed me through hurtful relationships, out of difficult situations, and into an understanding of the matchless love of our Heavenly Father.
I love you, mom. More than words.
Thank you…for everything.


And for the mommas out there who wonder if the roses of this day are worth the thorns. Mother’s Day may hold recognition and praise, but there’s countless days of self-sacrifice and sleepless nights. I found these words inspiring. I hope you will too.

“Mommas, you are the warriors of our world. You are equal parts soft and strong. You are paramedics, nutritionists, comforters, counselors, personal shoppers and chefs, teachers, and principals. You are life-givers and life-enrichers. Let’s face it, without you we’d all have candy for breakfast and stomach aches by lunchtime. We would feel lost in this big, scary world, but you tether us to the soft edges of home. You guide, instruct, nurture, and pray.

And all of this even though your job is often thankless. There is always one more load of laundry to fold. One more crisis to resolve. One more meal to cook. Being a mother means a lifetime of work that seems small but adds up to big stakes in the lives of your children (and their children, and their children . . .)

Clothing little bodies. Putting cold washcloths on warm foreheads. Making endless plates of mac n’ cheese. Creating a home that says, “You’re welcome here any time.” Gassing up the car again to visit children and grandchildren in far away places. It doesn’t go unnoticed, momma. And the ripple effect of your efforts to mother go far beyond your children. Look past the “least of these” in your world, and see that your service and sacrifice has Kingdom implications.

You don’t have to work to be noticed, because Jesus already sees all you do. Your prize isn’t just a great Mother’s Day gift or a fancy brunch. It’s knowing your life is a living demonstration that sacrifice is worth it, that love doesn’t have to be earned, and that living for more than ourselves is worth every mess, stretch mark, and sleepless night. Your family is a gift, momma, and your thank-you card has already been delivered through God’s Word. Press in to the One who gave them to you, and press on!
~ Erin Davis