Thursday, December 12, 2019


“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ (‭NIV‬)‬

What's up my people? I hope you are doing well! My husband and I enjoyed a little time away in New York City recently. We decided to stay in Union City, New Jersey and we went through a tunnel every day on our way back and to Manhattan.

I love tunnels. We have a few in Rio. I always loved the sensation of getting to the end of them. I think it is mostly because of the light. When you see the light, you know you're at the end of the tunnel.

The view we enjoyed at the end of the tunnel in Rio was pretty spectacular. In New York, it was just nice to know I was where I was supposed to be.

This season of Christmas, my family and I are reading a lot of the scriptures related to the birth of Jesus. Isaiah 9 is one of my favorite ones.

If you give some thought, the people of Israel at the time of Jesus' birth were going through major darkness. It felt like they were inside of a tunnel. As the prophecies were being fulfilled, the light did come. People saw a great light. The light is Jesus.

I never take for granted that some of you might be walking in darkness. Life can be tough. Circumstances, unforgiving towards us human beings. Listen, Jesus is still the light.

The same God who loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, cares for you. He sees your tears. He sees you there, unable to move due to depression. Don't be afraid; Jesus is still the light.

He will light up your darkness. He is ever wonderful. I encourage you to bask in His wonder.

A year ago, my family and I had no clue that God would call us from our community of 8 years into our new assignment. Despite any difficulties we've faced as a family, we kept walking. We kept believing. We kept serving God. I remember clearly telling God "my life is for your service." No matter what season I walk in, I keep looking towards God.

This Christmas, I am still praying about some difficult things. I have no doubt God can handle my every plea. He's the Light and He is ever shinning in my soul.

I pray that this season, despite of how you feel, can be filled with Hope.

I want to share a few songs with those who are especially heavy of heart today. They're not Christmas songs but they all speak about Jesus being the Light. Have a Light-filled day my friend!

The Light - Ricky Dillard and New G
He's Still the Light - Ricky Dillard and New G
Jesus is the Light - Hezekiah Walker

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019 in Review

The kids saying goodbye to our Pine Cove
counselors. We had a fun summer!

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
I became an American citizen.  

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I want to say that yes, I kept them and made steady progress. I will write my goals for 2020 soon.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. One extended family member recently.

5. What countries did you visit?
East Texas. Ha!

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
2019 was a transition year for us. It took a lot of strength and commitment to complete our assignments. I pray to have peace and joy to sow into the new place God planted us.

7. What dates from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day we moved to our new community and 30 people from our church were cleaning our new home for us as a selfless gift. That warm, sacrificial welcome will be forever in our hearts.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Being who God called me to be as a wife and mother is all I want to achieve. Everything else is a blessing too.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm slow to recognize closed doors in friendships. I linger until it is obvious that the relationship is over.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, but I had both of my bottom wisdom teeth removed. And I woke up in the middle of surgery. I know... fun times. My recovery went well. My husband is my absolute hero.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My husband and I had a chance to getaway by ourselves twice this year. This was much needed and it is a record for us!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Giving and debt reduction.

13. What did you get really excited about?
My new community, writing and running.

14. What song will always remind you of 2019?
Zeke's new album The Cutting Room Floor.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

• happier or sadder? Joyful.
• thinner or fatter? Thinner for sure.
• richer or poorer? Richer, by God's favor and grace.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Let go of what was (in friendships) and embraced my present blessings.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Getting mad about stuff I can't change with anger.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Our family came to our home. I cooked dinner, cleaned up, laced up my shoes and went for a run. It was AWESOME!

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched some amazing documentaries. I'm currently enjoying the latest season of The Crown.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I'm glad you asked! I blogged about reading 25 (plus) books this year. You can read it here.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Our church wrote a new Christmas song. My husband is the co-writer and I'm singing background. You can watch it here.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Downton Abbey because that's my favorite series ever.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I made the resolution of not orchestrating my birthday this year. I turned 39. I had a great celebration at home with family and I want to say, five different groups of friends took me out to celebrate the day. It was awesome!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A quicker move to being thankful in all things.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
It's been evolving. Lately, my workplace and church set my fashion concept. When I'm not in those two places, I often have a race t-shirt on and tights.

26. What kept you sane?
Zeke, our kids, and running.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

God sets the tone for my life. My life truly is for His service and He gets to determine where we will serve Him. I learned that children have the correct perspective of the world. I also asked myself, "where is Jesus doing in this situation?" The answer gave me the correct response to difficult circumstances.

Previously in this Series
• 2017
• 2016
• 2015
• 2014 

• 2013
• 2012
• 2011
• 2010

Monday, December 9, 2019

What I learned this Fall 2019

We moved to our new home in the beginning of Fall. I didn't decorate my previous home for Fall because it would be too much. Once we arrived where we are, we joyfully put all our decorations out.

Now that we are ready for Christmas, I'm thinking about the lessons I learned during these short, formative weeks we've had in our new community.

• The answers to your prayers might be disguised as a new opportunity. If I can just stop putting God on a box, I can see Him at work more often.

• When you move to a new community, you find out who your true friends are. There is nothing wrong with acquaintances. I do appreciate the true friends I left behind.

• When you move to a new community, you find true friends. I am sure I will have acquaintances. I do appreciate the true friends I found already.

• Making new friends can be uncomfortable. Press through the weirdness anyway.

• Even if you make others uncomfortable, stand in your confidence. This is kind of the story of my life. My confidence is in the finished work of Christ on the cross. He has given me so much good, I just want to walk in that abundance.

• In the midst of uncertainty, hold on to what you know for sure. I know that God loves me. I know my family certainly loves me. I also know that no matter what, God's for me.

• It takes a long time to unpack a home. I learned that unpacking is not really a competition. It is about prioritizing my family's wellbeing and gaging how much energy I have to unpack.

• I learned to get over the state of my home when people came over to visit. It did feel a little embarrassing to showcase a home filled with boxes (in the beginning) and recently, it was tough to stand in a kitchen filled with dirty dishes and clutter. I decided right there and then that at least people can see how a real home looks like. I also decided to clean and make sure the other 40 people at least saw clean dishes drying.

• When you feel bad, fill your environment with praise. God encouraged me to do that in our first few weeks in our new community. It really does work.

• Good things coming from God happen. Even in the Fall. I'm thankful.

More in this series:
• Spring 2018
• Summer 2018
• Fall 2018
• Winter 2019
• Spring 2019
Summer 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Seven

1 • When we left NYC early Tuesday morning, I decided not to use my phone. I wanted to keep that last look of Manhattan to myself. Seeing the city that never sleeps quietly getting ready for a busy day was an experience I will always treasure.
2 • We hit the ground running when we arrived in Texas. I find that sometimes, the best part of a trip is coming home. I missed the kids so much.
3 • My MIL is the reason why my husband and I can getaway every now and then. We are incredibly thankful for her help and encouragement.
4 • This week my exercise schedule was shorter than usual. I usual go for 5 days but this week, 3 days it was. We are 41 days away from the big day. I'm keeping the hope alive. I am believing God for my best marathon yet.
5 • I keep telling myself that I need to be more understanding with the results I got from my 2019 goals. I made progress. I am enjoying the progress. So what I didn't achieve every goal on my list?
6 • This week I got another no on my job search. I wasn't discouraged. I did pray that God would close the doors that needed to be closed. A few minutes later I got another job interview. I believe God knows what He's doing.
7 • It is important to be okay with where you are on the way to where you are going. Enjoying where you are is finding contentment. Contentment is Godly and gives good returns to those who embrace it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Focused Action 2020

• What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?  
I made a decision to decrease mindless browsing this year and I made progress in that area. I got mad a lot in 2019. What I want to do is to deal with those unresolved issues. I'm sure you are wondering about what I got mad about. One issue was the role of women in church. Instead of being mad about what I see, I want to have the correct perspective as far as I'm concerned. Getting mad doesn't solve the issue for me. I need to take further steps towards inner peace. 

• For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year? 
The same people from last year plus a few. I'm also going to be more bold about asking people if they want to get saved. 

• What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
Scheduling actual time to do it in my actual calendar. I pray often. I long for longer stretches of time. 

• What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity? 
Spending intentional time with my husband and children. Time goes by so quickly once you have little ones. We want to be sure we build strong Christians who will transform the world for Christ. 

• What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?
Paper clutter. I've been making progress in this area but I want to find a system that will fix the problem for good.

• What habit would you most like to establish this year? 
Journaling. I don't write as often as I'd like. 

• Who do you most want to encourage this year? 
My immediate family.

 What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
Zeke and I have had some growing conversations recently. I am going to take those into consideration when I act on being a blessing to him this upcoming year. I know that encouragement and prayer are always in order.

• What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren? 
I can teach the kids about the Bible and I can live in front of them as a Christian mother should.

• What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year? 
I read quite a bit this year, I plan on keeping that trend going in 2020. I have a running list on my Hoopla app. 

• What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year? 
I regret not embracing change quicker. 

• What's the most important trip you want to take this year? 
Brazil for sure. 

• What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year? 
I want to be a better communicator.

• What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it? 
I'm not so much interested in doctrine as I am interested in motivating people to read the Bible as a habit.

• If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it? 
I think they'd say to focus on God, family and health. Everything else will take care of itself. 

• What's the most important new item you want to buy this year? 
I can always use new pens.

• In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
This is the year to arrive at a normal BMI (and stay there).

Previously in this Series:

Christmas Conflict

Christmas is not easy for every family. Some people will face conflict during family gatherings. Today I want to offer some reflective questions that will help you manage your side of the equation:

• If I know conflict is coming my way, how should I act?

• What have I learned from conflict? Was it really worth it? Did it bring about lasting change?

• Am I interested in winning more than cultivating a good relationship?

• If the relationship is broken, what are some steps towards mending it?

• If fruitless confrontation starts to happen, are there ways I can separate myself from such confrontation? Do I need to physically remove myself from the same room as the person?

• If the conflict needs to happen, will I be ready to hear the other person? Will I be able to understand as I seek to be understood?

It is easy to post memes and give clap backs. Growing as a human being will take reflection, prayer and the courage to know what God requires of you.

Top posts of 2019

I have been blogging since 2003. I'm always thankful to have readers. This year, these are the posts that you read the most. I look forward to writing more in 2020. Thank you for reading and for supporting everything I do here at!

Lessons from a job I didn't land
Which Church should I visit on Easter?
Christmas without the crazy with Abbey Land
Moving to a New Community
Being single, dating and married with kids
Why is keeping friends so difficult?
What I learned this Spring
New Music
The Heart and the Schedule
My Weight Loss in 60 seconds: comeback

More in this series:
Top posts of 2018
• Top posts of 2017
• Top posts of 2016
 Top posts of 2015