Welcome to 2020

There are days that feel like a completely surreal moment. When all that can be acknowledged is truly in the Lord’s hand. A few of those days, for me, have occurred over the course of the past four months or so.

One of those days was November 22, 2019. The day we stepped off the plane in Norfolk, VA for the first time. In our heart of hearts we felt a calling to Tabernacle Church from the moment of the first phone interview. So stepping off the plane and meeting people (who had no clue who we were because we were in cogito) brought confirmation for us that these were the people the Lord had called us to. They were people we could do life with, in ministry but also outside of ministry. They are a people group set in an urban setting from various walks of life living authentically in their personal journeys and Norfolk is a city that has more natural beauty than I have ever experienced. Finding a tree for a swing was easy! Though that may seem minuscule, it wasn’t. Finding a place with a tree that could hold a tire swing was key and one of our main prayers. The kids wanted to be able to be outside most of the year and have a swing!

This was the first day that the realization of the journey that we had been on since October 2011 was finally coming to an end. The journey of moving from Louisiana to Texas for seminary. The journey of having babies in the midst of a chaotic life. The journey of serving on staff at an amazing church while Craig was earning a graduate degree. And the journey of the Lord brining Craig to the realization of a calling He has for his life and our course of ministry. We started our journey thinking that we would end up in international land somewhere in Africa sharing the gospel with those that had never heard His name. And through that journey we realized that our missions heart needed a transformation. We did end up on a mission field, it’s just not thousands of miles away and it’s not just to a few select people groups but it’s to several people groups that are similar yet different all the same.

Fast forward to today, I find myself laying in my bed next to my hubby as we get ready to embrace a new day. We are located in Norfolk, VA! The past several months have felt like a blur. We have been in Norfolk since January 23, 2020 and so much life has occurred. Not only have we settled into our rental house, but the kids started attending a new school (and stopped a new school). We started going to a new church and Craig is now a senior pastor of that church. But we have also stopped “attending” that same church. Before your mind starts going there let me explain. (And most of this will be written for the sake of looking back and remembering what this time period was like).

Seven (7) weeks after moving to Norfolk, one of the scariest and most surreal events in history occurred. The Covid-19 Pandemic hit the United States. It’s also known as the Corona Virus. Our kids were in school for five (5) weeks before all schools were shut down indefinitely. We were in a church building with our new church family having weekly services for seven (7) weeks before “shelter-in” orders were given to the entire state of Virginia. Thankfully, Tab Church, had already started streaming the service through different social media platforms so the learning curve of going “viral” hasn’t been as steep as it has been for some. Our kids have come back home to completing the year with distance learning in place. Their teachers email all of their assignments and we complete it here, through google drive and different educational websites. It has been the craziest thing I have personally ever lived through.

Through all of this, so far, I have seen the Lord at work. He is drawing people out of their homes and into the streets again. Of course maintaining and practicing the 6 feet social distancing orders that are in place. People are connecting through the use of telephones and not just texting or emails, but through calls, FaceTimes, zoom calls and whatever platform they use to virtually communicate. It seems as though some of our personal desires and things we keep our hands held tight around with closed fists on personal preferences are starting to loosen and maybe, just maybe, we are starting to call upon the Lord and ask and see what it is He wants instead of what we want. Our preferences of doing business as usual just doesn’t hold up anymore, because well, it just can’t. It isn’t an option. We are either having to adapt or die. And by die I mean, hypothetically, unless your one of those unfortunate ones that contract the Covid-19 virus and the odds are not in your favor. Businesses have shut down to “essential” personnel and some businesses have even shut doors completely. Now how do I see the Lord in that? I’m not 100% sure I can say I clearly see it just yet. But I can say I “see it” because God’s Word is just and true and sometimes it’s just a matter of us relying, trusting, and having faith in God and the things that are unseen!

This. Is. Us.

Welp… this picture about sums up a good portion of my life as of lately. . . kids. Our kids. Sweet kids. Silly kids who are making the most of each day but reminisce on things of the past when life is still and quiet. Kids who are enjoying their friends at their new schools yet miss their friends back in Texas and oh man how we miss our schools back in Texas! Being a Dodd Dino was magical and mystical! The teachers, the friends, the people, oh my!!!! BUT, these faces bring me joy.

They make me laugh and they get my quirky sense of humor. They say what’s on their minds and in their hearts and for that I am so grateful. They are loving and they are kind. They are respectful but have learned how to not allow someone to walk all over them. They are loyal and they are fierce. They love Jesus and are learning to walk with Him daily. They enjoy people from all walks of life and every color. They are exactly who they are supposed to be and I love them. There’s nothing fancy to this picture and in fact we are missing our main squeeze. Our captain. Our leader. But this is us. Take us or leave us.

We are who we are and we are committed followers of Christ. Set to live a missional life in our new city of Norfolk, VA. We are committed to doing the hard work of establishing all the “news” for the sake of knowing that the Lord has called us here to use us to be change and experience change. Change of everything we knew and most of what we know. Every. Single. Day is change. It’s a step by step process that can feel incredibly heavy at times. But it’s a calling and I am believing it is worth it.

Change is never easy but sometimes change can be the exact thing that’s needed. Complacency sets in. Self righteousness takes over. Unhealthy lifestyles become habits and before you know it visions and missions are lost. This change has redefined our closeness as a family unit. It has required we rely on the Lord for comfort and unsurpassable grace and faith. It’s required us to give up our personal preferences for the sake of realigning our hearts and our minds to His will.

A simple prayer that crosses my mind most days is this, “Lord would you open my mind, my heart, my eyes and my ears to see what you see and hear what you hear. Would you give me a burden to feel the depth of love you have for your people and show me where I can plug in to your plan for today. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and burden me with the lives around me that don’t know you or who have never experienced your love. May I be a conduit of your grace and love. And may I allow you to work in me but also through me. My lips are yours, use them as you wish. In your Son’s name I pray these things, Amen.”

So, who are you? Better yet who do you want to be?!?! You can be a life changer for Christ simply by living and loving the person right in front of you. Try it, I double dog dare ya. Take a chance and allow the Spirit to change one thing about your day and then be ready for what the Lord may bring!

Magically Ever After

For Christmas Craig and I decided that it was “time” for the ultimate experience gift for the 3E’s. With us having sold our house and would be moving back to Louisiana with a decent amount of time before we transition to our next settled destination, it was the perfect time to pull off the surprise of a trip to Walt Disney World! I’m not really sure who was the most excited… me, Craig, us or the 3E’s!

Mid November I called my friend who is a Disney travel agent and asked for help planning a trip to Mickey’s house. A second friend made my dreams come true of making us matching family shirts and sweatshirts. And my wonderful Southwest Airlines app savvy husband booked our flights… using our sky miles that is!!! It pays to collect those Southwest sky miles. We have traveled more in the past couple of years because we had the sky miles!

Our goal for the trip was 1. to get our kids on a plane and overcome their dreamt up fears of flying and 2. make the most magical memories of a lifetime as the Rush 5 that ushered in what has been the biggest transition in our kids worlds thus far. I can say with confidence both goals were accomplished!

Sorry for the photo dump of a blogpost that I am sure this will turn out to be. My purpose in it is to document our memories, share in some specifics of how we did our trip and mentally relive a few of the moments along the way!

For our adventure, Craig and I decided we couldn’t tell our kids too early what we would be doing for the next week because the anxiety would set in. We waited until the day before we would fly out to tell them.

Give me a minute to paint the picture of packing and what all we took. Knowing we would be flying, I really had to pack minimalistically in the event one of the 3 E’s decided to use their Disney cash to purchase a bigger than normal purchase! Two days before we left, Craig occupied the kids while I locked myself into mine and Craig’s room at my in-laws home. I sorted Disney shirts and packed suitcases. If we have never met in person or spent much time together then you wouldn’t know that I am a bit of an organization fruitcake. I like everything to have a place and everything to be in its place. My kids each have an assigned color that we use and most things are bought in those colors. Let me give you a few examples. When we had our home, each of my kids had bath towels in their colors. Their tablet covers are in their respective colors and their suitcases are even in their colors. It only makes sense that their Disney Magic Bands be in their colors as well. Enough about my organizational character traits, let’s get back to our trip to Mickey’s Magical Kingdom.

The morning before flying out, Craig loaded the kids into the van for church while I was “finishing up my hair and makeup.” In all actuality I was setting out their suitcases with their Disney letters by the Christmas tree. With it being their Christmas present we wanted to make sure they felt like they had a chance to open something up. So they had travel packs with snacks, little goodies, a Mickey Mouse pillow case for autographs (thanks Amazon), a retractable sharpie, a set of mouse ears (from Amazon) and Toy Story 4 figurines that I found at the Dollar Tree. Their tablets were charged and downloaded full of their favorite Disney movies (thank you Disney+ subscription).

My best go of writing a Disney letter for the kids!
Elliott reading and the other two trying to wait patiently!

After church we went back to my in laws home where they found their suitcases waiting and read the letter which led them to opening their backpacks full of goodies. Excited about the adventure, through year filled eyes from ecstatic joy, their excitement continued when we told them to load up because we were going to Dallas right then! They knew we were going to Dallas for the night but thought it was only to see friends not to hop on a plane to meet Mickey!

Disney here come!

I mentioned earlier that one of our goals for flying to Disney was to get them comfortable with flying!!! Here we are arriving at the airport after about 4.5 hours of sleep!

Black and white hides the bags under my old eyes!
Isn’t she lovely!
This kid was brave! He accomplished his fear of heights!
Hopefully you can see from the picture that E3 didn’t have much apprehension! His eyes stayed glued out the window 75% of the flight!
Mandatory first flight picture in the cockpit with the captain!

Upon arrival in Orlando we found our way to the Magical Express transportation station. Y’all, when people say that Disney pays attention to the details, that means every single member of Disney takes pride in their job and performs it to excellence. The cast members at the airport who run the Magical Express exude as much excitement as Mickey and Minnie! In order to get on the correct Magical Express bus headed to your Disney resort they scan your magic bands, tag your luggage and send you to board your bus!

On the Magical Express headed to Art of Animation Resort!

I’ll leave you with the thought, if you could take a Magical Express anywhere and/or everywhere, where would you go and why?

Old Town Road

If your like me your mind has already started singing the chorus of this ever so popular song. I’ll spare you from breaking out in full karaoke mode and instead stick to the topic at hand. During this season of transition, the Rush 5 have spent a large portion of it in my hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Natchitoches isn’t a place that most people “know” about like Dallas or Houston. It’s a small town situated in between Shreveport and Alexandria. It is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and it is know for its brick front street along with several other accolades. Natchitoches during the Christmas season really is a bucket list item and one that i can happily report, the Rush family has accomplished this year.

Picture it… grand firework displays set to Christmas music promptly being released every Saturday night at 7pm. Different live music on the riverbank amphitheater every Saturday. Thousands if not millions of tiny little Christmas light bulbs made into over 30 set pieces, all significant to the culture, line the riverbank of downtown. The Cane River Queen Ferry is a great place to sit and take in all of the sites while enjoying a funnel cake. Horse drawn carriage rides taking off on the brick road that lines the top of the riverbank basin bowl with more shops than one could imagine… these are the things that dreams are made of. Well, it is when you grew up in Natchitoches. I am incredibly thankful I have been able to share this experience with my husband and my children.

Just a few set pieces!
Of course Santa has a lit walkway leading to his Natchitoches house!
FBC Natchitoches choir performing their Christmas music!
And Craig just couldn’t resist a Christmas Night Light 5K!!! He placed like 15th overall and 6th or 7th in his age bracket. Go Craig!

Our time in Louisiana has been just what the Rush 5 have needed. It has taught us how to be in close quarters again. (Houses really are BIGGER in Texas). It has shown us what it looks like to slow down and actually enjoy whatever the task that is at hand. It has provided us with ample opportunities to visit with most of our families. We have ALL practiced the art of patience. And we have enjoyed the delightful flavors of yummy foods.

As great as this is, it will never compare to the greatness of why we decided to, in faith, step out and follow the Lord and where He has been leading us. As of right now, I will not mention that exact place, but I say that our precious time in Louisiana is drawing near. Though we are sad to be leaving our life close to family, we are EXTREMELY excited for this next big adventure. Would you join us in continuing to pray for the Lord’s direction and that our humanness would continue to rest in the peace and comfort that comes from submitting to the Father?

The old town road is coming to an end, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and the tunnel is a coming! Til next time…

Memories in the Meantime

I’ve been a little MIA lately but for good reasons. Team Rush has been tying up life as we knew it in Wylie, TX. With all that that entails, we were really doing our best to stay present in the moment while making sure that we were going through the full process of experiencing all the feels and hugging all the necks of those we cherish dearly.

This may sound absolutely absurd but one of fears that I have in #raising3rushes is that we make the parenting faux pas that contributes to or fuels future unhealthy mental issues in the 3E’s. With that being said, some may say that I tend to over analyze circumstances, but picture it. . .

Craig ended an 8 year season of serving in various roles on staff with Chase Oaks Church end of September. The 3Es and I ended our schools Thursday, November 14th, and we closed on the sale of our home in Wylie on Monday, November 18th. We packed all of our belongings into two storage rooms in Wylie with the exception of our daily essentials. Since then we have been bouncing back and forth from Natchitoches to Bossier City and then back again. That right there is enough to make one human a little batty much less 5 humans plus the fact that 3 of those are still in the process of learning their feelings! SO. . . all this to say, it has been incredibly important to me that not only the 3E’s transition well but that Craig and I do too! Over analyzation or not, all of it has been covered in prayer and wise council on how to process through the tough and icky feelings of saying goodbye to friends has come in handy.

Our time with family has been precious! The 3E’s have had extended weekends with grandparents and cousins while Craig and I traveled to checkout a possible new home state! Swimming pool was heated not only for playing but for all the evening baths that occur when only at your grandparents! More popcorn than you can imagine was bought and enough seats to fill a row at the theater for opening day of Frozen II. Oh we can’t forget tennis lessons! The 3E’s always leave grandparents a few pounds heavier and always wore out! And that was just a few days with one set of grandparents.

Headed to tennis lessons

Thanksgiving was something completely different this year. My brother and his wife hosted our 5, my dad, step mom, one of my step brothers, my half sister, and my sister in law’s parents. Here’s the super fun part in this, they live on a 40 acres farm! A “farm in the making”. They have 3 bunnies, 2 dogs, 2 horses, 2 or 3 grown barn cats and I couldn’t get them to stay still long enough for a head count, but it looked like about 8 to 10 kittens! Those are just their animals. On their property they also have 10 to 15 cattle as well! We rode one of the horses, Dan took us around on the 4 wheeler showing us his property (it’s breathe taking), and we had all the yummy goodness of the holiday plus a little more!

My dad Danny, brother Dan & me
My man, Pastor Craig!
Have you heard the song Old Town Road? It is a family favorite at our house. As soon as he got on the horse our kids started signing the song and dancing!
It was cold but the laughter and coffee were hot!
Evelyn was thrilled to ride a horse
Elliott unintentionally gave the horse commands to gallop!

On Black Friday I decided I would brave the crowd at WalMart and it wasn’t too bad! We spent the day with Craig’s family, his parents, youngest sister and his younger sister and her husband and their four kids. Family time is so great. Having cousins who are you age is a beautiful thing too!! Look at this. In birth order.

From 9 years old to 1.5 years old
And their real personalities!

Being back in my hometown has been fun. I have run into one of my aunts and one of my cousins that I don’t see often. I have spent time with my grandmother, gone to the movies with my little sister and I have even run into old high school friends. But, just like everything it also has its downs. The pace of life is COMPLETELY the opposite than that in which we are accustomed. It’s a pretty small town with limited outing opportunities. BUT… the silver lining in it all is that we are soaking it all in. Cherishing the moments of Leigh-Leigh’s cooking and conversations around the living room. Moments of tire swing rides that make you think the sky is within reach. And moments of popping in to my dad’s house for a few hours to sit and say hi!

So often, in our humanness, we can begin to think that “this shouldn’t be this way” or “that shouldn’t be that way”. In this season of life and this particular month of the journey, it would be so easy for Craig and myself to say “man, this thing is moving SO slow” and don’t get me wrong there a few times I’ve thought it and more than likely voiced it. BUT it’s in those moments that I am reminded that there is a season and reason for each season and that His timing is just perfect. And it is in His perfectly perfect timing that keeps us able to keep our eyes on the prize knowing that the testing of our faith produces perseverance so that we will not lack anything.

While we wait and lean into the Lord, #raising3rushes will also be having a little bit of extracurricular fun with Mickey and friends! As we speak I am finishing up this blog from my phone while kids try out their tablets that are loaded with movies and Craig drives us to Dallas. Tomorrow morning we hop the red eye to Orlando and party like it’s 1999 (well, maybe little kid style 2019)!

I leave you with a picture of the 3E’s this morning. We had been to church and were heading to my in law’s house to pick up our bags because “we were going to visit friends in Dallas for the night”… little did they know that a stop in Dallas is simply the beginning to a week full of fun! Enjoy and I will be back later this month to hopefully update you Team Rush new adventure news but we will update you with loads of pictures from our Rush family Disney vacation!

Disney World, here we come!
All their bags are packed, they ready for some fun!
These are steps (and exact location) I took my bridal pictures before they were even a thought! Love sharing the beauty of where I grew up!

Small Beginnings = Rejoicing

The 3Es had fall parties yesterday at school and both Craig and I were able to attend. I just love watching my kids in their own elements. Most parents can agree that the early years can feel like a beat down. Always directing and redirecting kids to the way that they should go. Correcting and encouraging… sometimes we forget to allow or maybe there just isn’t space for them to put all those lessons into practice. We give them the knowledge, but we forget about the application process. Well, that’s one reason why I like spending time with my kids while they are at school. I get to go in, sit back and enjoy watching them do there thing. Their teachers are in charge and I am a spectator. Seeing how they respond to their peers and their teachers is so cool to me!

At times there are moments where all those small beginnings of raising children feels like it was a waste, but at other times my parental feathers fluff up and this sense of accomplishment washes over me and I realize those small beginnings are developing into something really good and maybe even grand.

Do you ever wonder if this is how our Heavenly Father feels? Does He feel like beating His head up against a wall because we mere humans just don’t get it? Or do you think He continues to see all the small beginnings as just that, beginnings. A place for it start. A place for life to begin. A place for transformation to occur. Does God have “parental feathers” that He fluffs every now and then? Oh the thoughts that meander between my left ear and my right.

I’ve been a believer of Jesus long enough to know and have experienced that the God of the universe (thankfully) doesn’t look at issues of life like we do and His concept of time isn’t anything like our worldly concept of time. Praise the Lord for that! So… when He says in His word not to despise these small beginnings for He rejoices to see the work begin… He doesn’t have a time frame to it or conditions or even meanings in which He intends that to mean.

This verse has sat by my sink everyday for the past five months. I do not believe in coincidence or flukes. So when I flipped the card one morning in June to this card I had no idea what the Lord’s purpose would be for it. All I knew was that each morning when I would go in to brush my teeth and get ready for the day, I just couldn’t flip the card. Can you read it? Small beginnings…..

I believe whole heartily that the God of the universe has a big work for Team Rush to participate in. This week we took some more pretty big leaps of faith and guess what?!? He is still faithful. We shut doors and removed worldly “security blankets”.. my increase in heart palpitations weren’t because we know a solid direction but more or less they have been from removing those things we know we aren’t called to. Obedience is ALWAYS greater than sacrifice. Not sometimes but always and God is good ALL the time!

So, what are the small beginnings in your life that the God of the Universe is wanting to rejoice in seeing the work begin?

Louisiana Saturday Night

This past weekend Team Rush set off for an adventure. To some it may seem like we “just went home to momma and daddy” but for us it was a big time. Why? We were able to see all 6 parental units, visit 4 different towns in Louisiana, attend the LA Tech Hall of Fame Banquet, see Aunt Anna while in Ruston, attend a LA Tech football game, Craig preached AND we were able to introduce our closest friends one of the places (town) that is nearest and dearest to our hearts! All of that was accomplished in just a 5 day span! Hearts full, bodies tired and spirits refreshed from being with family.

ZaBloudils headed to Natchitoches!!!

Our adventure started with our first stop in Bossier City. We stayed at Pappy and Zsa Zsa’s and then divided and conquered. Craig and the littles headed to Natchitoches while Elliott and I stayed in Shreveport. Teddy had a reservation at Casa de Rush on Harling Lane and I had an appointment with Jordan at Rosie’s Beauty Operators.

With clothes meticulously picked out, Team Rush along with my brother, sister in law, their three girls, joined Pappy and Zsa Zsa for the 2019 LA Tech Hall of Fame ceremony. Pappy played ball for LA Tech from 1971-1974 and still to this day he holds some pretty cool records!

Two sisters before wrangling kids at an adult event!
Aren’t they the cutest!?!

With 8 new inductees, the speeches were a little much for the littles, so my sister in law and I took the kids outside to have a little cheerleading fun! Aren’t they adorable?

We called Aunt Anna to come and visit with us. I can’t even imagine being a sophomore in college and having 11 nieces and nephews! Her she is with 5 of them!

Dan (brother) and Craig finally joined us and then we headed off to El Jaritto. Oh my the food still tastes as yummy as it use to.

3 of the 6 Robertson/Rush/Harris kids

Saturday we tailgated, ate more yummy food, watched the ballgame from the DAC (aka air conditioned and catered food environment) and the kids stole the half time show with Pappy!

Gang’s all here
More Aunt Anna time
Team Rush
Elliott was super excited to be on the field as well!
Evelyn was in hog heaven!

As we were leaving Ruston headed to Natchitoches, Elliott made the comment that he was able to check something off his bucket list… attending a collegiate football game and going on the field! I love that kid. He is the easiest to please!

Church on Sunday was a blast. Yes my man was on fire as he brought the Word of God, but I was able to worship with two of my parents, my in laws, my 90 year old grandmother, and our best friends!!! And it happened in the church I spent most of my life. The epitome of a sentimental memory!

Isn’t she a beauty!
My daddy! I love to hear this man pray. He has prayed for me my entire life.
My girl Doodle! We are rebels. I believe this was taken during that prayer by my daddy. When we normally forget to take a selfie to document the occasion but you remember during prayer, you take the picture and ask forgiveness later!
Poppa T introducing Craig and gladly sharing his pulpit with his son!
When family fills the pew, it’s a glorious day!
The #ZaRush children all growing up!
Last but not least, my man 😍!

When in Louisiana one must indulge in Johnny’s pizza!

The cheese sauce 😋

We traveled down south a bit and had some yummy seafood. By the time we were loaded and headed back to Wylie, our tummies were full and the kids were tired.

Being with family & framily is always one of my favorites. I forget how much I adore my hometown until I spend some extended time there. It is so much fun to be able to drop in and visit, reenergize and then go back to life outside of Natchitoches. It’s not a place that Team Rush could call home but it is the place that was my home for 18 years of my life. It’s the place all my childhood memories were made and the place that a large part of my family has stayed.

One thing I know is true is that no matter where this next big adventure is that we are on with the Lord, it will be good and we will learn to adjust to the new normal. We will add to our framily and add memories to the mental memory book.

As you read this you may find yourself thinking “well that was a pointless post, just a photo drop update”. And your right, but can I be bold and ask will you pray for us? Will you ask the Lord to continue working His plan in all of this and if He so sees fit, could it speed up just a little?!?

How can we pray for you? Contact us. We want to spend our time in prayer and love when we can call people by name!

Off to bed I go as school alarms come early! Good night blog world! Til next time… enjoy!