Milestone Birthdays

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We are days away folks. I am on my last few days here on this earth in my 20s. Most of my peers do not want to admit or acknowledge the fact they too are mere days, months or years away from the 30 milestone, or have already passed it. Don't get me wrong, I too was shy to admit from birthdays 26-29 that I was closer to the 30s than ever before.

Why do the 30s or any other milestone birthday thereafter have such a negative stigma for so many? Is it the realization that life is rushing forward, with or without them? Is it due to the thought of failed attempts at lifelong dreams or the realization that you never even attempted to attain that dream? Or maybe the fact that life has happened and you have come to understand that the innocence of teens and early 20s has left you wishing for a day gone by with little to no responsibility?

I personally am thankful for the growth opportunities my 20s have afforded me. I began this decade on a beloved college university, enjoying living with my best girl friends, studying all things business, and relaxing in the freedom only college days can afford. I end this decade with my best friend as my husband, with a family of five, serving in ministry in the Dallas metroplex, having walked through many trials and joys, and loving the adventure the Lord has for our family.

Too often I have heard peers say something in the tune of, "I wish I would have done this before 30, 40, ______insert the age." As I look back on the past decade I am challenged to not look back wishing I would have "done" but thankful for what the Lord "allowed."

My top blessings the Lord allowed this past decade (plus a few years):

15. Numerous...too many to count really, friends that have either been in our lives for a season or for a lifetime. They have been there to counsel, laugh, cry, challenge, correct and affirm us.
14. Fourteen countries visited between Zac and I either on vacation or on mission trips: Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Costa Rica, England and Israel.
13. Thirteen nieces & nephews ranging from the ages of 14 to due dates in 2014 that we get the privilege to love on: Leah, Mora, Joseph, Isabella, Molly, Bryce, Bennett, Benjamin, Ellianna, Maren, Ethan, Maeve on the way in January and baby Dilbeck on the way in April.
12. Twelve years of teaching the Bible through a small group setting to young ladies in their teenage years. What a joy it has been to point these ladies to Christ through the Bible!
11. Eleven years of working in the financial industry. I worked part-time for the finance and PR office for the college I attended, worked full-time internal auditing for 3 years while in St. Louis and 5 years for a CPA firm while in Houston.
10. Ten years ago I met this handsome young man on a college mission trip. Low and behold he would become my boyfriend, fiancé, husband and best friend. Love how our story began on a mission trip putting on a youth camp in Europe to share the Gospel to students representing the nations.
9. Nine vacations filled with relaxation and wonderful memories: Jamaica on our honeymoon, Disney World with my family, three times to the Colorado mountains where a family cabin awaits on the Rio Grand River, twice to Jekyll Island with Zac's family, a cruise around the Gulf of Mexico that was supposed to be 3 days but ended up being 6 due to hurricanes, and Maui on a second honeymoon (crazy story of receiving a free stay at a 5 star resort in Maui).
8. Eight wonderful years of the honor of being the partner in marriage to my husband and love Zac. Eight years filled with love, joy, trials, laughter, tears, adventures and unending fun. Zac helps me love Jesus more.
7. Over the past decade we have had seven grandparents loving on us. What a blessing it has been for us to get to receive their wisdom and also for our kids, their great-grandkids, to get to know their great-grandparents. We also lived through the loss of Grandma Hamm and Grandpa Jack this past decade. What a legacy of faith in Jesus each of them has bestowed upon us!
6. Six places I've called home: Kahoka where my parents live, Hannibal during college, Troy for our first years of marriage and ministry, 1 apartment and 1 house in Houston, and now our home in Dallas metro area.
5. Five degrees completed: my Bachelor's at HLGU and MBA from Missouri Baptist University, Zac's Bachelor's at OBU and M.Div and Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
4. Four places of ministry where we have poured out our lives into making Jesus known: Troy First Baptist Church, Houston's First Baptist Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church and most importantly our family.
3. Three girls we have the privilege of being parents to. Yes, I did just say 3 girls! Baby #3 is the luckiest to call Emmalyn and Kaylin her sisters.
2. Two wonderful sets of parents that have not only been the example of marriage and parenting to us, but the best example of God's love here on earth.
1. One God who was the same when I turned 20 as He will be when I turn 30: faithful, holy, forgiving, the atonement for my sins, grace-filled, everlasting, Savior and Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Whatever your next age milestone is, whether 30, 40 or 60, instead of seeing a decade behind you with things you wished you would have done, choose to see the things that the Lord allowed. Maybe your last decade feels "wasted" in the mundane of life. I love these words from Jason Gray's song "Nothing is Wasted:"

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine



Good Things Come in Threes

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Our family is excited to be adding a new member in January 2014! Emmalyn and Kaylin have been such a joy to us and we consider ourselves blessed to get to add another to the family. 

Can I be a little transparent with y'all? It has been a rough 14 weeks. We count them as a joy to have walked through but hard nonetheless. After some major complications in the early weeks, my doctor concluded that this baby would have been a twin, but one did not make it. Heartache, sorrow, and grief quickly followed this diagnosis. Yet the Lord has been faithful to prove Himself as the ultimate comforter. After numerous tests and ultrasounds, our surviving baby has been shown to be completely healthy and a fighter. Baby and I were placed in the "high risk" category until making it through the first trimester. We are overcome with joy to know that this week marks the end of the first trimester and hopefully finishing out this pregnancy to full term. 

Through these months, can I just tell you that the Lord has stretched me in ways I wouldn't have chosen for myself. Yet I now can look back, still not understanding His full purposes in the pain, seeing glimpses of His glory. My God has shown Himself as a faithful, loving, generous Father through our pain of loss and in our hope for the future. 



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I have been known to be forgetful. Lost keys, diaper bag, cell phone, phone numbers, names....when it comes to remembering, I like to blame the dog. That we don't have. I feel on top of my memory game when I send out a birthday card in the same month as the one celebrating. The birthday person should feel extra special if their card is within the same week. I think the Lord knew from the beginning of time that His people would be forgetful. Forgetful in the small things of taking out the trash on trash day, yes. But more importantly, that we would be forgetful in the big things.

Our forgetfulness can be a result of our distractions. I am most apt to forget where I put my keys when I am trying to get the groceries inside before they melt, while trying to get my 3 year old to go potty before having a big mess. When I am most forgetful, I am distracted by the busyness of now. The same can be said of my spiritual walk. I am most forgetful of the faithfulness of God when I am distracted by the weight of my circumstances now.

In Joshua 4 the Lord has the Israelite people take 12 stones from the Jordan River as they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. He tells them to make a memorial as a reminder..."When your children ask their fathers in times to come, 'What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know, Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did with the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty...(vs 21-24)" God has the Israelites set up these stone memorials seven times as the people came and received the promised Land (Joshua 4-24).

The stone memorials were to preserve a memory, to pause from the daily routine to remember. These stone memorials were a reminder for the current generation but also were for the next generations to know of. What type of spiritual "memorials" am I building in my life so that I can remember the faithfulness of the One who called me? Am I telling the next generation of those "memorials" where the Lord provided in power and greatness? As I pondered these questions I came up with just a few of my memorials:

- January 18, 1989 when I gave what little I knew about me to a God who knew me intimately and yet loved me enough to send His son Jesus for my salvation.
- A Sunday in 1989 when I publicly professed that I was a sinner saved by grace by being baptized before my church family.
- Super Summer 1997 when I decided that I wanted Jesus as not only my Savior from my sins, but the Lord over my earthly life.
- Windermere Youth Camp 2000 where He reminded me of His unfailing love.
- Corpus Christi Mission Trip 2003 when He opened my eyes to a world in need all around me and said "Go."
- September 5, 2005 when He graciously and generously provided me with the promised gift of my husband Zac.
- March 2008 when He called us to leave everything comfortable for greater Kingdom purpose in Houston, and yet proved faithful in His provision.
- September 10, 2009 and March 5, 2012 when He placed the responsibility of raising children who are the next generation.
- Every Sunday we take the Lord's Supper He reminds me of the cost of my sin and the grace and forgiveness that are given.

In a world that is distracted with the busyness of now, the Lord invites us to pause and remember. Remember the memorial stones where He proved Himself faithful, gracious, and full of power.


"Clomp, Clomp"...the sound of mercy.

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As a guy, I love hearing stories of glorious kingdoms, mighty kings, valiant knights, epic battles between good and evil, and happy endings. You mention King Arthur and his round table of Knights, and I’m all ears. Specifically, I enjoy studying how kings lived and ruled. Were they a good king or a bad king? Glance through your old history books and you can study up on those who ruled with grace and extended a hand to their people, and then you read those who took advantage of others. The Old Testament has records of this as well. Second Samuel 9 is a beautiful picture of grace and leading well.

It’s dinnertime and all the place settings are prepared. The food is ready and the guests have taken their seats. Yet there is one chair that remains empty, and it’s next to King David. Finally in the distance you hear “Clomp Clomp…Clomp Clomp…Clomp Clomp.”  Emerging around the corner is a humbled face, apologetic of his tardiness. This is Mephibosheth (say that 3 times!)– David’s guest and best friend’s son. Injured at a young age from being dropped by a nurse, Mephibosheth is crippled in both feet and needs crutches. His story goes way back - son of Prince Jonathan, grandson of King Saul, and adopted son of King David. He is a recipient of grace.

In those days once a new king was crowned, his first action was to kill all threats to his throne including family members of the former king. Mephibosheth, being a royal family member, had a target on his back…but not from David. David’s question, “Is there anyone still left in the house of Saul…” started off as one who may have a vendetta. It ended with “to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Mephibosheth arrives expecting punishment or even death, but receives mercy and grace. He now has a permanent seat at David’s table (v.10).  He has been elevated from outcast to adopted son.

Though we may not have the physical impairment of Mephibosheth, we do have our own hindrances that cripple us. The great news is that we’ve been extended a hand from a Heavenly King. God has declared, “I will show kindness for my Son’s sake.” We have received mercy and grace not by anything we have done, but from what Jesus has done for us. God loves hearing the “Clomp Clomp…Clomp Clomp…Clomp Clomp” in the distance as we approach our empty chair right next to Him. It is in this chair that we have all we need – His love, His peace, and complete rest.



A New Season

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Growing up in the Midwest, both Zac and I were accustomed to a change in the air about every three months. The glorious changing of seasons. From the first snow, glimpses of green buds on the trees, to uncontrollable frizz due to humidity, to the first crisp morning where it seems all nature has been dusted in silver frost; seasons marked the time. Fall marked the sharpening of pencils, the smell of books, new beginnings, and the harvest of crops. Winter marked the holidays with homemade pies and endless laughter with family, being snowed inside for days, and gray skies. Spring meant new life as fields were planted in hopes of the harvest in fall. Summer marked rest. Season changes made me stop and appreciate the season I was walking out of and look toward the future season with hope.

In the natural world, seasons are used to mark time. In our walk with the Lord, seasons are used to invite you into spiritual growth. Seasons of heartache, hope, trials, peace, mourning, gladness, loss, plenty, busy and rest. These seasons though are not bound by time constraints.  Sometimes the season lasts in glimpses throughout your day. Others seem to only last for a few months. Yet others make you walk on and on, teaching you what true perseverance means. The Lord uses spiritual seasons for growth. 

We have personally walked through many different seasons.  Even now we are walking through a season. Just like as a kid I wanted summer to never end, some seasons I wish would last forever. Others draw me to my knees every day asking the Lord for His strength to see this season through.  In both types of seasons, the Lord was drawing me to Himself.  In the seasons of blessings, He draws me to Himself through thankfulness for His gracious overflow.  In the seasons of hardship, He draws me to Himself by reminding me of my desperate need for Him to carry me through the season. In every season, the Lord's goal is to make me more like His son Jesus.  At the end of every season, I pray I look less like me and look more like Christ.

I pray that as your season changes, you will stop and appreciate the season of growth you walked out of and look toward the future season with hope. I pray that you will allow the Lord to use the current season in your life to transform you into looking more like Him.

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Words take from Hillsong's- Desert Song