Rearrange My Heart


1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

When I was a little girl, I used to love coming home and finding my mom had rearranged my room.  A simple repositioning of a chair and a few pillows.  A few small enhancements to bring excitement back to my little domain.  A little freshen up to change how I viewed my space.  A little act of service spoken in the love language I best recognize.  Suddenly, I longed to spend more time in my “new” room.

Throughout the years I’ve done similar experiments with my boys.  I will do toy box ups and rotate out the toys every few months.  Toys ignored for a year then put out of sight for 6 months are once again treasured when they resurface.  Recently I turned the quilts on the reverse sides and added a couple new pillows.  It was enough to feel like a new room and all 3 boys began wanting to hang out there just a little bit longer.

Can a few small changes cause us to desire to linger a little longer?

I’ve noticed the same thing with any “systems” we implement.  They work well for a time, but after a few weeks or months we become too comfortable with them.  They lose their steam and we find ourselves in a little slump.  Every few months I have to implement a new chore system to spark excitement and bring life to our household work again.

I find this to be true with my spiritual walk as well.  It can’t be systematic.  It must be dynamic.  We serve a God who can and will work through a multitude of mediums to reach our hearts.  We should never approach Him with a complacent heart.

Have you found yourself a little too comfortable in your walk?

One of the first bible studies I took as a new christian was a Beth Moore study.  Here I was a brand new christian, bubbling over with excitement for the Lord.  During the video Beth Moore said something like this,  “We must never enter church with our commonplace shoes on.”  I remember being puzzled by this.  What could she possibly mean?  How could anyone possibly be commonplace when entering God’s house?  Well, 13 years later, I know exactly what Ms. Beth was referring to.  The longer we have walked with God, the more prone we are to wander and become a bit lukewarm.

I find this true in my morning quiet times.  I am a girl who loves a system.  I love organization.  I love task lists.  Tell me how to do it and I’ll knock it out.  But my quiet time with the Lord should never be an item to be marked with a check.  Because the moment I categorize  God with a chore chart, I’m in danger of viewing Him as just another job.

When we lived in Atlanta I attended this incredible bible study for young moms led by the most godly seasoned moms you could imagine.  That time of my life was a huge spiritual growth spurt.  A wise mom shared a daily Bible reading schedule with me that I just loved.  If it is the 30th of the month you read Proverbs 30, Psalm 30 and add 30 to finish the Psalms (30, 60, 90, 120, 150).  If it is the 5th of the month you read Proverbs 5 and Psalm 5, 35, 65, 95, 125)

It was a great system.  But dangerous for me because my quiet times became too rigid and structured.  I was putting God on my schedule rather than letting Him lead the charge.

Sometimes we need a little change-up in our lives.  A little something fresh to revive life.  In my life, I’ve found the first step is always to pray.

If you find yourself falling into a bit of a rut in your walk with the Lord, pray.  Simply pray.  We change.  God doesn’t.  We shift and move from God.  He doesn’t.  Our feelings change.  His don’t.  He is always the same, never moving, never leaving us.  When we find ourselves “feeling” too far from Him, we must pray.  Because He never left.  We moved.

A fresh change in our hearts might be in order.  Can we flip our hearts like we can flip a quilt?  Exposing the side that has been protected from daily use.  Can we toss in prayers like we toss a new pillow on a chair?  Is it as simple as asking God to revive our hearts with a little rearrangement?  I believe it is that simple.  What seems impossible to us is a no-brainer to God.  An honest, humble prayer that pleads for a heart more fully devoted to God, seeking Him in complete awe, is a prayer I imagine God would love to say yes to.

We can slap paint on a chair and add a new pillow.  Our hearts are no chair.  It takes more than some external, cosmetic changes.  That’s why prayer is an absolute necessity.


Making Memories Through Missions


The problems of the world are dire.  Catastrophic.  Overwhelming. Though we often feel unable to make a real difference, that simply is not true.  Not only can our actions make a difference, sometimes life or death in another person’s life, but we can imprint the hearts of our children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends when we work together for the greater cause of humankind.

Consider the imprint left on your child’s heart when you involve their hands and feet in the service of one in need.  In a very tangible way, you are teaching them to be like Jesus.  Jesus served.  Jesus gave.  Even his very life.

Summertime is a prime time to create memories.  What if we used our memory making opportunities to serve another?

Last summer Mondays in our home became Mission Mondays.  This summer we are once again turning Mondays into service days.  We are creating memories that revolve around the needs of others.

Here are a few ideas we are working on this summer.

  1. Lemon-Aide Stand– – What kid doesn’t love to host a lemonade stand?  I love this project through Blood:Water Mission.  For $10 you can order an entire kit full of supplies for setting up your stand.  Or you can print them out for free.  In turn you donate your proceeds to Blood:Water Mission.  “Blood:Water Mission is a grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa.”
    “Summertime – a time to make memories, spend time outdoors, get re-acquainted with friends and neighbors and drink lemonade! This summer, Blood:Water Mission invites you to not only make memories but make a difference, too. Over 320 million Africans lack access to clean, safe water – smart, talented, hopeful people like you can make a BIG difference in the lives of our friends in Africa!
    Build a Lemon:Aid stand in your community to quench the thirst of someone in your neighborhood, as well as someone half-way around the world! Then, donate the profits from your Lemon:Aid stand to Blood:Water Mission and provide your friends in Africa with clean, safe water. “
  2. Baby Care Kits– Assemble baby care kits for CWS.  “In areas of extreme poverty or following a natural disaster, Baby Care Kits help young mothers care for their newborn babies.”  Involve your children in shopping for the supplies.  On the day you assemble the kits, pray over each kit.  Encourage your children to continue praying for the recipients long after you have shipped the kits.
  3. Birthday Bookmarks– I love a birthday party.  Imagine being a homeless child and having no one celebrate your birthday.  This project is great for kids because they understand the importance of feeling special on your own special day.  Bright Blessings is an  organization in Charlotte with this goal : “The goal of Bright Blessings is to bring joy, recognition and support to children and families during difficult and sad times in their lives.   Our two core programs, Bless-A-Birthday and Bless-A-Baby,  raises spirits and boosts confidence for homeless children ages tots to teens, and offers help and hope for babies beginning life amidst the struggles of homelessness.  Each program incorporates education, enrichment and critical-care needs for the children we serve– our commitment is to supporting the whole child.”  A project that is easy to do at home with even the littlest ones is creating bookmarks that Bright Blessings will put in the party bags.  “Every month Bright Blessings volunteers assemble and deliver classroom party packages for more than 100 homeless elementary students who will be celebrating their birthdays. This anonymous program helps ensure the privacy of each student’s living situation among peers. Our volunteers deliver the party supplies, gifts and care packages to school social workers who then take the party packs to appropriate teachers so that the children can enjoy their celebration in class with friends.”
  4. Hospice Meal–  Kids love to help in the kitchen so capitalize on their excitement by blessing someone with a meal.
  5. Deliver popsicles to a homeless shelter
  6. Sponsor a Compassion child.  Or if you have one, write them a special letter.
  7. Have a day of prayer for a cause close to your heart.  Prayer is the biggest impactor of change.
  8. Bake a birthday cake for a Women’s Shelter–  A sweet way to make a woman in need feel special even if for just a moment.
  9. Blessing Bags–  Make bags of necessity for the homeless that you keep in your car.  Hand them out as you have the opportunity.

How Perspective Alters the Journey


Warm sun, cool air, shaded trails, and each other.  Seemed near perfect for a 6 mile family bike ride.  After reaching our halfway point and heading back home, I lagged behind with one of my boys who had lost his momentum.

The entire first half of the ride he was focused on one thing and one thing only.  When we stopped at the halfway point, we would have a drink of water and a tasty snack.  His mind thought of little else than the goodness of what awaited him at the turnaround.

As you might imagine, once we headed back, all he could think of was reaching home.  However, at home there was no “reward” waiting for him.  All he could see was the long 3 mile journey ahead.

Whimpering, he said, “I just want to be home.  My legs are tired.  This is too hard.”

“It’s not too hard.  The trail is completely flat.  We can go as slow as you want.  I won’t leave you behind.  Let’s just enjoy the ride.”

His pouting and whimpering increased.  “I can’t enjoy the ride.  I just want to be done with it!”

“Look around you for a minute.  Look at what all you are missing because you are so focused on the negative.  Look at how the sun is hitting those leaves.  Listen to the birds singing a song just for you.  Look at all that God created that is surrounding us.  Look at this gift of time we have together to get to ride by ourselves and talk just you and me.”

“I know, mom.  I’m just tired.  I can’t hear the birds singing….”

“It’s because you are too busy complaining. Stop right here and listen.”

As we stopped, the birds chirped a beautiful tune in perfect harmony.

“It’s like God is singing a song right to you.”

A smile broke out across his face.

“You know, sweetie, the journey really is the best.  The journey is where it all happens.  Just think.  When we get home from the bike ride, we are done.  We are home, right?  The journey will be over.  When you think back to today’s ride, you likely won’t remember how tired your legs were or how hot and thirsty you were.  You will laugh at our reactions when riding by snakes lurking in the grass.  You will remember dad’s silly songs and chuckle.  You will remember jumping off the rocks with Andrew.  You will have fun, funny stories.  From the journey, not the destination.  It all happens on the journey!”

I don’t even know if he was listening anymore.  The more I talked, the more I realized I was speaking for myself as much as I was speaking for him.

Our perspective changes the moment entirely.  Our viewpoint makes all the difference in the world.  How many times have I caught myself irritated about something only to realize the problem was my own perspective, how I looked at the situation.  When I changed my perspective, everything appeared different.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Journal the Journey


photo journal

photo jacob journal

My boys,

View your life as one great read.  One juicy story full of drama, sweetness, sorrow, celebrations, samplings of heaven, and tests of the faithful.  A page-turner for sure, full of twists and turns and a constant wondering of what may be revealed with each turning of the page.

Though we don’t know all the details that fill the pages of this story, there is one thing we are certain of.  When we reach “The End”, we have only begun.  What awaits after this story concludes is a hope and a future far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend.

While we are here, creating this story, never lose sight of the hope beyond The End.  And make the most of every single page of your story.  With every stroke of the pen, let Christ’s light shine on every single word.  And let Him guide and direct the drafting.

We just closed the chapter on 1st and 3rd grades as well as 3-year-old preschool.  And what a year we had.  So many experiences that have greatly impacted our hearts and grown us in ways we never imagined.

You have served as great examples to me and dad as well as anyone else who has the honor of knowing and loving you.  

My dear Jacob.  Your quiet leadership and strength of conviction astound me.  You inspire me to stand firm for justice and righteousness.  Your teacher chose a verse for you that brought instant tears to my eyes as I knew the Lord had laid it on her heart.  2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  

My precious Zachary.  Your tender heart and your giving spirit are a beauty to witness.  I aspire to be as selfless as you.  You have such a servant heart.  The way you speak words of encouragement and life into all who know you is a true joy to experience.  When your teacher awarded you for working well with others in all situations I couldn’t agree more.  Jesus is so evident in your life.  

My sweet Drew.  Your strong will is a privilege to parent.  I thank God you are as strong as you are because I know He has great plans for that spirit.  I can see God molding you into one fiery warrior for Him.  God uses you in my life every single day to sanctify me.  Thank you for being used by God so readily.  I pray the fire in your heart grows stronger with time and you will use your gifts to serve God’s kingdom in a mighty way.  

So, my 3 precious boys, I am giving you this journal.  Fill the pages of this journal with your stories.  May this summer be one in which your faith grows stronger.  Fill the pages of this journal with all the Lord lays on your heart.  Share your heart with Him here.  Write out your memories and your experiences the Lord brings your way.  Let your imaginations run wild.  I pray this summer brings you much joy as you ponder and explore what God shows you and you journal away these long, lazy summer days.

With all my heart,


The Swinging of Time


What makes time move so swiftly?  Is there any way to slow it down?  I’ve yet to find the key. Try as I might, it continues rushing and raging on.

Time wants to steal my moments.  So I try to slow the time by being IN the moment.  But the moment still whisks by.

I’ve not wasted time.  I’ve not rushed through my days.  I’ve indulged in the moments.  Yet time won’t slow.

I wish time were a swing, moving back and forth.

I didn’t have to wake him for school on this Tuesday.  This last Tuesday of 3rd grade.  Wait.   Is that right?  Is he really finishing 3rd grade?  Yes, time wants to steal my moments.  I dig my heels in harder.  His voice pulls me back into the moment.  I thought I was there.  I wasn’t actually in that moment.  I was drifting.  Drifting back to the moments of preschool days that seemed long and endless, full of innocence and wonder.

His voice brings me back.  “I can’t wait for today to be over.”


“Because then I’m one day closer to the last day of school.”

Wait he can’t do that to me.  He can’t rush his time.  If his time rushes, then my time rushes.  And that’s simply not fair.  I need that time with him.  I want to stop the clock.  He wants to fast forward.

My hand rests on the small of his back.  “Don’t do that honey.  Don’t rush a single second of your life by.  Treasure each day as a gift from God.  Remember that you will never have today again.”

That grin.  Oh that grin. “I know, Mom. I’m just so excited about summer break.”

I can’t be too hard on him.  I was just like him.  My mom said I spent most of my childhood worrying away my days.  Planning for every possible scenario, nervous about the future.  I wanted the time to pass quickly, the faster the better.  I couldn’t relish in childhood because I was too focused on the future ahead.  What I would do, what I would be, who I would marry, how many kids I would have.  I wanted to get there.  Quick.

How I wish I hadn’t done that.  So many moments I never fully entered because I was somewhere else.

But no more.  From the time I was pregnant with our first child, I knew I was done rushing time.  I knew I better enjoy every single second I was allowed.  I know time is lurking in the shadows, propelling me forward.

Time isn’t really the enemy though.  We are our own enemies.  Time can’t take from me if I’m completely in the moment.  Yes, time passes.  But if I enter that moment with my full self, the moment passes, and I’m left with the richness of the experience.  The treasure of the memory.

What builds a beautiful life?  Is it not a collection of the moments?  Each segment of time pieced together to form one meaningful existence?  Moments of pure joy and moments of gut wrenching sorrow.  Moments.  Each one a piece of the puzzle.  Piece by piece building the picture God is creating.

I don’t want to miss a moment.  I don’t want to rush a single second.

When we enter the next season of life, I can’t imagine the sweet satisfaction that fills the heart when we look back and know we gave it our all.  We poured in.  We poured out.

Thank you, God, for one more day.  One more day to pour in and out.  May it bring You glory.

7 Organizational Tips for an Intentional Summer


(Photo from 2011)

I have 2 favorite times of year:  Christmas and Summer.  Partly because I have my little guys home with me for an extended period of time.

We are on the brink of summer break.  I always have high hopes of long leisurely days together, reading book after book, sipping lemonade in the sun, long walks and talks, and late night cricket concerts.  And of course I envision the 5 of us basking in each other’s presence, relishing in our time together, warmth and love flowing from person to person.  Moments of beauty throughout the day.

Usually by day 2 reality sets in.  After 9 months of a structured schedule and relatively little time together, we need to readjust to being together for so many unstructured hours.  And by the end of Week 1, I find myself already sad that we are one week closer to the end of summer.

Each summer is bittersweet.  It’s a beautiful time together, but I’m always reminded that we only have so many summers with our children.  I want my boys to know that every ounce of my being wants to spend as much time with them as possible.  I never want them to believe that I dread summer when they are home.  I cringe when parents say (in front of their kids) that they are already looking forward to August when the kids go back to school.

To make the most of the fleeting moments of summer, we must be intentional.  And a bit more organized.  Here are a few tips for organizing an intentional summer before the season hits.

  1. Create a summer bucket list.  Involve the kiddos.  This is such a fun way to get everyone excited for the season ahead.  And it is so fun to look back on at the end of summer and remember the great times and memories created.
  2. Create a chore chart or system.  Some way to get the kids involved in the daily tasks around the house.  Chores help them to feel like they are making a difference in the family.  And when they know that fun can’t take place until after work, you will be amazed at how quickly and completely they can work!
  3. Create a daily schedule.  Now I don’t mean a strict time schedule that you will follow every single day.  More like a guideline for the days you will mostly be at home.  I used this website for some great inspiration.  I really loved some of her ideas.
  4. Create a reward system.  We are using a reward chart for reading and math.  Once they fill up their chart, we go out for ice cream.  20 minutes of math and 20 minutes of reading earns one sticker for each.  This potentially means ice cream every other week!  Completed books earn a treasure box trip.
  5. Determine any goals you have for the summer and write out a plan for achieving them.  This may require scheduling things ahead of time to ensure you work towards the goal.  Every Monday is Missions Monday.  I created a list of projects we will do every Monday during the summer.  I like knowing I don’t have to scramble around to get our project ready.
  6. Create a summer bulletin board in your home.  Our summer board has our daily summer schedule.  In addition we have a section of summer fun food coupons and summer outing coupons.
  7. Determine what is important to your family and if it is possible go ahead and print out a schedule.  The summer $1 movies are a big hit here, so I print out the schedule ahead of time and schedule in which movies we will plan to see.  It helps me to make sure we do the things we really want to do.

Being organized not only keeps me sane, but it allows me to make the most of the time I’m given.   I spend less time thinking and more time doing.  The thinking, planning, preparing are done ahead of time.  So when the time arrives, I can be fully in the moments.

Here is a glimpse of what we are doing to organize our summer:

  1. Summer Bucket List-Completed by entire family
  2. Each child has their own clipboard.  On the clipboard is their chore chart, library and bookstore reading program charts, our reading/math reward chart.
  3. We have a daily schedule
  4. We have the schedules for summer concerts and movies we plan to attend
  5. We have Mission Mondays planned and ready to begin
  6. My boys don’t enjoy going to VBS or Bible Clubs.  So I’m doing a Bible study with them this summer.  We will have Home Bible Study every Wednesday morning.  Last summer we read through Case for Christ for Kids together (awesome, awesome, awesome book…my kids were a bit young for it though).
  7. As a Kick Off Summer gift, I’ll be giving each boy a new journal.  They can use it for journaling away these long summer days.

What are some ideas that work well for your family?  How do you create fun summer times and keep the stress down?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Winner Announced

The winner of the Mothers Day giveaway is Michelle Payton Chapman!  Have fun ordering you new soaps!