that dangerous place

“You will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

Hearing that we were following God into a new place, a new ministry, a friend of mine who is a missionary in a closed SE Asian country shared a story with me about a big step their family took a few years ago. They were moving from one more populated, somewhat Westernized larger city, into a more remote area in their country where there was no health care (she has 3 young children) and some real political tensions. She had some anxieties about the potential dangers, but they saw God was leading them to reach the unreached in that place. Their leader encouraged her, “you will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

The story was encouraging to me as we moved across the country, leaving friends and family and familiarity…I did have peace. And joy. God was taking us.

But the words continued to rattle and clang in my mind – the way they do when God has something else for me to glean from them.

Today I was responding to some over-due e-mails and re-read her encouraging words (and can I just say, it’s pretty humbling to be encouraged by someone I so admire and consider the truest salt of the earth I know!). I couldn’t help but ask myself - “What do I fear that is holding me back? What do I need to give over to the Lord, in exchange for His peace?” 

I had tasted fear before, but wasn’t intimately acquainted with it until I had children. Suddenly a new world of dangers has burst into vibrant life. Mostly they are fears for my children and their physical and spiritual safety, but then there are also fears that I will never sleep again, have a rational thought in the next decade, or be able to leave the house without forgetting somebody’s something till the day I die. I fear messing my kids’ lives up. I fear I’ve already messed up mine. I fear that if I am in certain situations, I will be depressed and in despair.

But I love these words from the Savior:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…” {Jesus, recorded in John 14

The peace Jesus gives us is “not as the world gives”…worldly peace might be a fat bank account, and safe suburb, a promise of health and security. But Jesus’ peace is different. It is over-and-above circumstances, filled with the Holy Spirit, unafraid – even in the face of “the ruler of this world” (our enemy).

What do you fear?

Maybe, like me, it’s discouragement and depression, or some unspeakable harm befalling your children. Maybe it’s a financial or health concern. Maybe it’s vulnerability with a loved one. Can we throw off these fears, begging God to clear our minds of the fog they bring – and ask Him for peace instead? Let us enter bravely into those places that Satan would make us fear. The Lord has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12)! Is there a dangerous place that God is calling you? Can I urge you, friend – step out. There is peace. Sweet peace and freedom.

My sweet friend is experiencing the peace that passes understanding, in a dark and hostile place. Let us throw off our fears! – and every sin that hinders us, so we can “run with endurance the race that is zset before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12)

Peace to you, friend.

<3 jc

Easter babies

The weather was lovely yesterday and I’d been wanting to take a few pictures of the kids in their new spring clothes so we decided it was time to try! By we I mean ‘I’…I probably should’ve waited till I had Nels around for extra hands…:) This photoshoot was an absolute comedy of errors. One kids’ shoe off, the baby eating grass, somebody sneezes (and gargantuan SNOT BUBBLE erupts…tmi? do forgive me! ha!), one is looking at the camera, the other two are arguing over who is sitting on who’s foot/dress/hand, etc. etc. etc!!! :) While I didn’t manage to get “the photo” I was after – of all 3 of them looking at me and smiling! – we still captured some really sweet memories and photos I’ll treasure for a long, long time. <3 Hope you enjoy!

[Kaya 4 years | Hudson 2 1/2 | Ezra 7 mo.]


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*The bow ties the boys are wearing in some of these pictures (arrived at our door mid-photoshoot!) are from the Etsy shop Delicately Woven, run by sweet mama, Sarah. They are 3 ties for $16 and 10% of the proceeds go to support an organization serving women and children affected by sex-trafficking.*

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Happy Easter to you and yours!

Celebrating our forgiveness in Christ! <3


A Morning Prayer {Psalm 5}

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”  Psalm 5:3, NASB

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3, KJV

morning kissies

Mothers of young children expect, almost invariably, to be awakened by their little ones early in the morning. Asking – “Can I get up now?”, slipping in for cuddles, crying out for a clean diaper, “staaaaaarving” for breakfast. It is routine; predictable as the sunrise and the cock’s crow. If a morning came when I didn’t hear a little voice calling for me, for help – the silence would be terribly alarming. But, by God’s grace, I do hear sweet voices every morning. They wait expectantly for me to provide them with all they need for their day – food, clothes, the days’ ‘agenda’ and love. That is the only way for them to start the day. Oh, how I love to hear their voices! The groggiest, most painfully tired morning is somehow made beautiful with the sound of their voices.

And how else could we, the children of the LORD, start our day? Do we not need all from Him, and have every reason to expect that He will generously give it? Are our voices routine and predictable, a sweet morning fragrance and aroma to our King who never sleeps? He is a king! The King of kings, but He is our Father too, and we have reason to believe he delights to satisfy our needs and desires. We tumble out of bed and tip-toe into His presence with messy heads and hearts and ravenous appetite, and believe, childlike – He will smile; anticipate – He will provide.

Are we too proud? Starting our day on our own? Making fools of ourselves and frustrations of our lives, when God delights in our morning requests?

Instead,  let us “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Our time of need is first thing in the morning.

<3 jc

“When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave to do the like; our bodies but forerun the spirit’s duty: true hearts spread and heave unto their God, as flowers do to the sun; Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep Him company all day…” – Henry Vaughn



“When I awake, I am still with you.” – Psalm 139:18

House Tour: Part 2

The other day I gave you a partial tour of our home, and today I’d like to show you the rest (except for the upstairs bedroom and bathroom, because I have come to believe it will *never* be unpacked and organized…but, if one day - lo and behold! - it is? i’ll snap some photos and show you! maybe), and then if it ever stops raining we’ll do a “Part 3″ of the garden and porch and such…

This weekend we bought our first “married” coffee table! Yay for craigslist scores!



I kind of can’t believe we’ve never had a coffee table, but I’m glad we do now. It makes the living room a lot more functional…and it inspired a rearrangement…



(You may remember from the previous post that the piano is opposite of these couches…)


This is the front door and hat/coat rack.

To the right of that front door is the kitchen…


(Hello, birthday roses!!!) It’s really nice to actually have a place to put a kitchen table…in our first apartment it was actually in the living room, and then in our last apartment is was half-opened in the small kitchen.



I’m looking forward to potentially sewing some little curtains for this window (and maybe one of the other two) if I find some suitable fabric this summer.

IMG_3828The sink is, in fact, empty sometimes…thanks to having a dishwasher finally! What fun. And out this window you may find our friends – the neighbor cows – grazing on a drizzly April afternoon. :)



The kitchen door, leading to the porch, is often confused for the front door. It actually used to be the front door, because originally the house was just the kitchen plus upstairs bed/bath. To the left of that is the stairs leading to office/guestbed/bath…


(Hello, pantry!!! Never had one of those either. I feel like a “prepper”…only not really. I’m “prepped for a week or two, maybe! ;-p)

And of course, no kitchen is complete without a little coffee nook. So, here is ours…


Now that the house is mostly settled I think we will be spending our every spare moment out in the garden! We are very eager for the planting season and every time Nels comes home it seems he has a new set of bulbs or seeds..:)

This weekend though we are heading out to the youth retreat (3 kids in tow – pray for me!) and are looking forward to a great and refreshing time!

Happy April friends! <3


House Tour: Part 1

Ever since we moved in I’ve been wanting to share photos of our new house for our friends and family back home. I wanted to wait till everything was “just so” – but – I’m realizing that’s not going to happen anytime soon, and I want to show y’all around anyway! It’ll be a work in progress as long as we are here…;-) But we’re also really enjoying our little rented piece of wild and wonderful West Virginia.

Our little 3-bedroom, 2-bath white farm home is in the country, but only about 5 minutes’ drive to downtown, and about 15 minutes to work for Nels.


My favorite thing about this house (besides the washer, dryer & dishwasher, hello!!) is the light. There are a lot of great windows and I’m looking forward to learning where and how to take photographs in this house. It’s fun watching the different beams and shadows throughout the day. Like I said, there are 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but one of the bedrooms and the second bathroom is upstairs…with our kids being little I wasn’t comfortable with either them or us being separated by a flight of stairs in the night, so that is our guest suite/craftroom/office and it is the room that is farthest from being settled! But I think it will also be one of my very favorite spaces.




The first room to get completely unpacked was Kaya and Hudson’s room! We took down the bunks (they were giving me ulcers), and decided to put their beds side-by-side for now. Their room is cozy and small, but they have a great big closet for the changing table, clothes, toys, random storage and half-eaten snacks….;-)



Beside their room is the laundry closet…(with toy tractor that I did not notice till now! HA)…



And across from it is our room and the main bathroom.

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Our room is pretty spacious (a new and weird feeling!) and right now it feels a little under-furnished in some places, but I’m also enjoying just having some floor space. Our master closet doubles as Ezra’s bedroom for now. And…the neighbor’s chickens are partial to the yard out one of our bedroom windows…;)


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The living room is also still a work in progress. I’ve been searching around craiglist and some local flea markets and thrift stores for a coffee table and some accent chairs…we may make progress on that this weekend! But for now…



…one side of the room is for our couches and the piano…(will have to upload another photo later! oops)



…the other side is for our computer and more bookshelves…



(whatttt show were we watching?! no idea. lol)

Anyway! That is most of the main floor! I hope to share some more sometime soon…:) It’s starting to feel like “homey” as Hudson says!





on parenting failures and God’s abundant faithfulness

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True…” 


One evening last week I lay in bed late, eyes wide open, mind still busy.

It’d been a long and full and hard couple of weeks. I was exhausted and stressed and irritable. Unfortunately, my dear first born had been the one who suffered most.

I was convicted that I needed to apologize to her for hurrying her so much. For being frustrated with normal little kid antics, for sighing deeply and dramatically over innocent (or not!) messes, for responding in anger and for not spending as much time just talking and playing with her. My heart was so heavy. I wanted to tell her that, with Jesus’ help, I would try to be a better Mommy tomorrow.


But. It was after 11. She was sound asleep. I sighed, and prayed, and opened up a book, deciding that I would try to talk with her first thing in the morning.

It was maybe 2 minutes later that I heard her call out from her room “Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!” And I smiled, knowing the Lord’s presence and gift of a special moment – the chance to make things right, even in the middle of the night. He heard me! A dream had woken my girl up, and I knew that moment was God’s “second chance” for me. My sleepy little 4 year old was practically purring like a kitten, loving every second of cuddling in mommy’s bed. She was quick with forgiveness and hugs and kisses and “It’s okay, I love you Mommy.”

In an amazingly redemptive moment, my own sin, followed by my apology and the forgiveness of God and my child gave me a fresh and powerful encounter with the Gospel, and allowed me an opportunity to share it with my first-born disciple.

I was so happy to have my conscience relieved, to share a special moment with my daughter, and to see the Lord being faithful to help me as a parent. I confessed my sin, He forgave me, and then provided me an immediate opportunity to make things right. It is such an overwhelmingly strenuous and monumental thing to be a parent! I’m so grateful that God doesn’t leave me to go it alone. He is FAITHFUL and He is TRUE.

With His help, I’ll be a better mommy tomorrow…;-)

<3 jc

Happy First Day of Spring! :)

Happy First Day of SPRING! :)

Are you doing anything fun and spring-ish to celebrate the turn into a new season? We are itching for flowers and garden produce around here! I’m a little behind on housework though so we’re not going too crazy just yet (listening to The Briefing while cleaning…interesting news and commentary from the president at Southern Seminary). ;-)



I think we may still be in for some snow in West Virginia (though Kaya has officially stopped praying for snow, for which I am soooo grateful), but I am starting to feel optimistic about the eventual arrival of some truly lovely weather. And the further possibility of…


Spring crafts…


Daffodils & fresh decor…


… starting a little kitchen herb garden on the porch…

…and maybe my kids all deciding they’re into afternoon nap time again?

Happy Spring to you & yours ~

Hope you enjoy this Christina Rosetti poem for the occasion…;-)

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.

I wonder if the springtide of this year
Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;
If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,
Or if the world alone will bud and sing:
Sing, hope, to me;
Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory.

The sap will surely quicken soon or late,
The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;
So Spring must dawn again with warmth and
Or in this world, or in the world to come:
Sing, voice of Spring,
Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.

- the First Spring Day