Approaching the slow zone to meet with God


The mental checklist threatened to ruin the pace I was determined to set for the last week of summer. Slow.  In the town I live in, the speed limit is 35 wherever you go.  We are pretty good at slow here. We are forced into slow.

The mind is a fierce fighter. 

As christian music softly filled the silence of the car, we meandered towards home.

When Jacob spoke, his words hushed my internal conflict instantly.  “Mom, I love to watch people solving problems.  Or when they are in a situation and they have to find a way out.  I love to watch how they figure out their problems.”

I will miss these conversations.  The ones that occur at spontaneous and random moments.  The ones we have at 8:30, 11:00, whenever a thought occurs.  The ones that make summertime a bittersweet season.

“That’s neat.  Like what kind of problems do you mean?”

“Well, like that man right there,”  he pointed to the cross walk.  A man I see in our town no matter the time of day or night.  A man I have felt burdened to pray for for the last year.  A man who looks to be recovering from a stroke and is always out walking.

Nothing is random in life.

Jacob continued, “I feel like we should always be praying for people with problems.   You know people who need help.”

My body felt as though it had taken a plunge into a refreshing spring on a scorching summer’s day.  The underwater silence.  The peace.  The outside world is silenced and everything no one else can see is alive, vibrant…..REAL.  You resurface and your lungs feel they may explode and you know you can’t retell it.  They need to see it for themselves.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, I resurfaced.  “Jacob, I’ve never shared this with you, but that man you are pointing to is someone I’ve been praying for for the last year.  I’ve told Daddy about him and a few friends.  I don’t know why God has placed him on my heart.  But the fact that you just felt the urge to pray for him is like hearing God speak to me through you.”

A moment ticked by.

“Mom!  Did you just hear what the radio said???”


“They just said, ‘We need to remember to pray for those in need.  Those who need our prayers.”

“Well, then we must pray right now.  God is clearly speaking to us.”

I prayed.  And I thanked God that He is a God that still speaks to us.  That He is a God that cares deeply and passionately for His people.  That He cares enough to intersect our to do lists, school supply labeling, house-cleaning days.  And I prayed that my boys would KNOW that they serve a REAL God.  And we prayed for a man we don’t know, who God has put in our paths.

As we neared our house, I said to the boys, “There will come a time you will have conversations with people who do not believe in God.  They don’t believe in the Bible.  Because they don’t believe in the Bible, you can’t say that you believe in God because the Bible tells you so.  You can tell them you know God is real because you have seen Him in the most real ways imaginable.  And you can share exactly how God has worked in your life.  Then let God do the work from there.”

Later that morning, I heard Zachary retelling Steve how God talked to us in the car.

One of my favorite songs reminds me that “God’s not dead.  He’s surely alive.”

Oh the sweet gift of the Lord to give a gift like that on a day I was desperate to hear from Him in a noisy world.

The gift of a normally annoying speed limit that forced me to SLOW DOWN.

God is in everything.  But He is magnified in the slow.

Go slow this week.  Hunt for Him.  Seek Him out.  Make the most of every moment.  They are fleeting.  The slow allows you to linger a bit longer.




Book Release & A Little Christmas Quiz


Do you……

  • Find your anxiety level rising as Christmas approaches
  • Feel the commercialization overshadows what really matters
  • Wish you could simplify Christmas
  • Feel the hectic pace and busyness makes advent devotions impossible
  • Desire to capture the true magic
  • Long to create memories & traditions with depth & meaning
  • Wish there was a devotion for today’s busy family
  • Want more than just a devotion
  • Want an experience
  • Want to address all of the above AND complete half of your gift list

If you answered yes to the above, you will be excited to know my first book is being released this month!


When We Need A Do-Over


Glancing at my watch as I exited the banquet hall, I knew I needed to hurry home.  Exhaustion prevailed.  3 full days of a conference wiped me out.

Despite my best intentions, the magnetic pull of the dessert table triumphed.  Just a quick nibble from the turtle cheesecake, and I’d be on my way.

A glance to my left derailed that plan.  My favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, sat at a table only steps away.   Not a soul in line yet.  As if riding on one of those moving airport sidewalks, my body glided straight over to her table.

Clearly, my mind lingered a little too long at the dessert table.  Mouth opened.  Words spilled out.  Her kind eyes engaged mine.  The words wouldn’t stop tumbling forth.

“Hi, Lysa…….I loved your sessions….blah, blah, blah…..I loved your book Who Holds The Key To Your Heart…, blah, blah, blah……more blah, blah, blah.”  Stop talking!!!  Seriously, what are you saying right now?  You are sounding like a rambling idiot.  Someone put me out of my misery.  Can she see my hands shaking?   This is RIDICULOUS!  

My mouth and mind simply refused to cooperate.  She graciously engaged in my nonsense babble, proving to be exactly who I expected her to be. Her eye contact said, “I care what you are saying.”

As I half-jogged to my car, all I could hear in my head was, “What a waste of an opportunity.  Seriously, Renee?  That’s all you got?  For someone who has written books that impacted your life, you said that?!!”

I wanted to hit rewind.  I wanted a do-over.

I wanted to confidently approach Lysa and say, “Thank you for being obedient in your calling as a writer and speaker.  Your words have greatly impacted my life.  Every time I read one of your books or your devotions, I feel as if I’m reading about myself.”

But I wouldn’t get that do-over.  And I couldn’t stop beating myself up.  My cheeks burned as I drove home. The tape played over and over and over and over again.

I couldn’t hit rewind, but I sure knew how to hit replay.

Have you ever felt like that?  Like you just wish you could have a do-over.  Say it right.  Do it right.

On any given day I find myself in a mess of sin.  Why did I do that?  Why didn’t I do that?  Why did they do that to me?  Why do I want to say that to them?  The tapes play or replay far too often.  We heap guilt on ourselves and regret our actions.  In our hearts we know that forgiveness for sins is available through Christ.  We know it.  But do we live it?

How many times have I entered into conflict with a friend or loved one and rehashed the scenario in my mind a hundred different ways?  How many times have I messed up with my kids and allowed the guilt to cover me rather than determining to seek forgiveness and ask God for help?  How many times have I hurt someone, and allowed my pride to dominate humility causing anxiety and guilt to reign in my heart?

What if I hit the pause button instead?

Pause and pray:  God please intervene like only You can.  Give me a humble heart that seeks reconciliation.  Lord, my feelings are so hurt.  Heal my wounds and help me move out of this place.  Lord- I messed up.  Please forgive me.  Help me to live under your forgiveness rather than my guilt.

The enemy loves to hit replay for us.  God loves to play a new tape.  One that whispers this:

Lamentations 3:22-24 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

He is faithful.  His mercies are new every single day.  God gives do-overs.  His mercies never come to an end.



Blackberry Moments

This is a post I wrote last summer. A reminder as we enter the last half of summer to slow down, enter the moments, engage fully. Reap the rewards.


“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

As I embark on this journey to create more moments and memories with my family, I’ve realized that without complete intentionality, the moments have the propensity to slip away completely.  Time never slows down.  It moves at a consistent pace.  However, our pace determines the outcome of the moment.  Our pace determines the extent to which we can fully engage in the fleeting moments of life with our family.  Moments are all around us.  Experiences are available for the taking.  Memories are waiting to be created.  Traditions are waiting to be developed and claimed.

To grab the moments, we must be available.   Life needs to be a little less complicated, a little less distracted, a little less busy.  Buffers of time must exist in order to capture the moments that sometimes crop up unexpectedly, without warning.

We have one chance to paint a beautiful life.  Lord willing, the day will come when we have more time on our hands than we know how to fill.  Our houses will be quieted.  Our homes will look the same way at 7 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm.  Because there will be no block towers built, no army scenes created, no pillow forts constructed, and no sword fights fought.

A couple of weeks ago, Jacob and I went for a run.  For me, the actual run was not a good one.  My foot was hurting, and I couldn’t quit cramping.  Our pace had to change.  Our “run” turned into a walk.  I continued to apologize to Jacob for slowing him down as I urged him to go ahead, to leave me behind.  He wouldn’t do it.  He is loyal like that, and he wanted to be with me.  He wasn’t running to exercise, he was running so that he could enter my time and space, and he didn’t want to lose that.  My “bad” run was a blessing in disguise.  God is good like that.  Lord, help me see the lemonade through the lemons. 

As we neared our house at the end of our walk, I noticed a small patch of wild blackberry bushes.  “Jacob, look over there!  It’s blackberries!”  Always cautious, he asked, “Can we eat them?”  I replied, “Yes, we can.  And we will be picking and eating them for weeks!”  I watched his eyes light up immediately at the thought of spending days together picking blackberries, watching for the red ones to turn to deep purple, spending time together making yummy blackberry treats.  For him our blackberry discovery equaled precious moments and memories with me.

Jacob, so wise beyond his young years, said as we walked back home, “You know, Mom, it’s a good thing we weren’t running today and we were walking instead.  If we were running, we would have missed the blackberries completely.”

Right you are, my sweet boy, right you are.  If we walk rather than run through life, we will reap the rewards of countless blackberry moments.




Mission Monday: Lemon-Aid Stand


Proverbs 30: 8-9 “….give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

Summer is a time to create memories, enjoy time together, and slow down.  Ironically, it is also the perfect time to multi-task.  That is multi-task  with some memory-making, moment-creating opportunities that center not on our own.  Centered around those who can’t possibly focus on making summertime memories because they spend every ounce of their time focusing on survival.

I am uncomfortable being so comfortable.  Chopping organic tomatoes on my granite countertops causes my stomach to feel a bit knotted when I think about the poor and needy all over God’s earth scraping up morsels out of dirt to fill their bellies.  His children!

Internally, I rage when I listen to talk of storing up wealth, saving for retirement, creating comfy cozy lives all while millions of children are starving all over the face of this earth.

And I am one.  It is my own voice that causes the rage to well up.  I don’t want to be so comfortable being comfortable.

My primary mission field is my home.  I have the greatest influence on the 3 little hearts under my care.  Though I may not realize it in the moment by moment, I can impact the world by training up boys to care more for the souls of humanity than for themselves.  I can impact the world by training these little men to love others more than themselves.

I can be with my kids, create memories with them, all while showing them how much God needs them on His mission field.  Together we can do more good.

I must be focused on the long-term not the short.  Training my boys to be mission-minded, we can significantly impact God’s kingdom with the opportunities He’s given me right beneath my nose.

Lord, I pray I will use the blessings you pour onto me to bless others.  Let me never grow so comfortable being comfortable.  Give me no more than I need lest I forget that I need you.

As we move closer to our midway point of the summer, some of our best summer moments have been on our Mission Mondays.

Last week we had a lemonade stand.  Or a Lemon-Aid stand for Blood Water Mission.  Raising money to bring clean water to African communities.  Places where 7 year olds walk miles every day just to bring clean water back to their communities.  Communities where HIV/AIDS is widespread.

Blood Water Missions provides great tools to make this such an exciting way to raise money.  We made t-shirts, applied tattoos, made posters, and set up our stand.  I loved listening to my boys explain to their customers why they were selling lemonade.  I loved watching the little children’s eyes as they heard something they’ve never heard before.  And I pray that each person that visited that stand will have a heart that desires to leave a few comforts behind and do a little more good for humanity.  For God’s world that is in desperate need.

We did see it though.  We saw people so moved by what the boys were doing, they would pay $10 for a small cup of lemonade.  We listened as one little boy said, “We have lots of clean water at our house.” His mom was able to begin a conversation about how blessed we are to have access to water.  Something we take for granted every day.

One of mine began to count the money.  He said, “I just can’t believe how much people are paying for lemonade.”

“People want to feel good about where their money goes.  It’s easy to pay a lot for lemonade to help a good cause when you have the ability to do so.”

“You know, mom.  This is so much better than having a lemonade stand where we keep all the money for ourselves.  I love knowing how many Africans will have water because we sold lemonade.”

Just $1 provides clean water for one year for one African.  The boys raised $80 and were floored at the idea of how that will be used to provide clean water for an entire year for 80 people!

So for us parents in this stage of life,  desiring to be out in the world, used by God to save it.  Rest assured, when we invest in our children, molding their hearts to care for the needs of the world, we are being used by God to save the world.

When the Days Become Heavy

When the moments are painful and not what you asked for.  When joy seems impossible.  When the weight of your problems skews your view of life.  When the trials breathe flames of fire that threaten to destroy your moments.  Look up.  Look to Him.  And seek encouragement.

Bask in the truth of this hymn.


When Friendships Move Away



“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis

Summer was coming to a close.  We had just arrived home from a massive grocery trip.  The boys and I were on a mission to unload the groceries as fast as possible.  And eat.

Not much can derail Zachary from food.  Except people.  I’m convinced that a magnetic field surrounds my social butterfly and pulls him with extreme intensity to any new face that enters his range of pull. Loaded down with bags and boxes, I heard his legs pedaling at an insane pace as I wondered why he thought he could stop helping us unload the car.  Whipping my head around to find him, I saw him pedaling and waving simultaneously up the path by our house.

Squinting to see if I could recognize the faces, I quickly realized I had never laid eyes on this family before.  Because I would have remembered.  It was 3 boys that looked the exact ages of my boys!

That’s enough to make me drop my groceries.

Before I knew what had happened, Zachary had intersected them on the path and was in full conversation.  Suddenly, the growling in my stomach disappeared as I walked the path to meet this family.

In a matter of 60 seconds flat we were all excitedly exchanging names, ages, and anything and everything we could think of.  They were new.  And had just moved into the house directly diagonal from us.

“Hi, I’m Renee.  These are my boys.  Jacob, Zachary, and Andrew.”

Excited little voices responded, “Hey, my name is Jacob too!”

“And my name is Andrew too!”

And as fast as each person could get a word in, we all discovered we shared same names, same middle names, ages, interests, toys.  You name it.

3 boys.  9, 5, 2.  Our boys were 8, 6, 3.  Their names: Jacob, Andrew, Dylan.  Our names: Jacob, Zachary, Andrew.  It was eerie.  They met on the path riding the identical bikes our boys were riding.  Within 10 minutes bonds were formed.

Their great-aunt surely thought I was crazy as I began talking  as fast as my brain was moving.  Explaining how we had been praying for friends to move in that our boys could be friends with.  We had no idea God would bring such a PERFECT match for our boys.

20 minutes later these new friends were sitting at our kitchen table eating lunch with us.  Their Jacob said as he left, “Thank you, Mrs. Robinson, for being so nice to us and letting us play with all your toys.”  He had my heart from that point forward.

I only saw a glimpse that day.  But now, one year later, it is confirmed.  God brought my boys the best friends imaginable.  My boys were given the sweet gift of friendship at a young age.

A few weeks into knowing these boys, I truly loved them.  Their Andrew sat at our dinner table and said to Zachary with a completely straight face, “You know.  It’s like we are brothers from another mother.”  Then he picked up his hot dog and continued eating.

One year later we are losing them as they move back to Kentucky to be near family.  We are heartbroken to see them go.

When God blesses us, we need to thank Him profusely and enjoy every single second of it to the fullest.  Never taking it for granted for a single second.

It hurts to say goodbye.  I was grateful to God the day He brought them into our lives.  And I remain grateful to Him today that He allowed us the time, ever so short it was, to be a part of their lives.

True friendship leaves an imprint on our hearts like a footstep on the surface of the moon.