Modifications Are Worth It

We are just days away from Thanksgiving 2020. For me, it is incredibly hard to believe that our family has been living in Virginia for 10 months, it’s been exactly a YEAR since we left Texas, and we are approaching our first thanksgiving and Christmas season on the East coast! WOaH! 2020 you have been one for the record books.

Here’s a little life update on what’s been going on in Rush World while we have been #raising3rushes in a perfect sinful world! Grab a cup of joe (or tea or hot coco) and enjoy the words!

I won’t back track much on all the drab things that have occurred over 2020 because we have ALL been through it together. That’s what global pandemic means right? EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH has been affected in some form or fashion! So, we will hit the highlights!

Rushes finished up virtual learning in June. Praise the Lord for teachers who were able to pull off a last minute switch-a-roo. E1 & E2 & E3 finished up 3rd and 1st grade and PK5 beautifully. They gave it all they had. That Dodd Dino/Wylie Way GRIT that they had been working on for the past several years really shined bright! With all that our family had been through this past year, we decided that homeschooling the kids would be our best option for the 2020/2021 school year. Our 2019/2020 school year consisted of public school, homeschool, private school, and virtual learning! That was from August to June!

After finishing up school, we spent as much time at the beach as we could! Hello, it’s the beach + social distancing + aquatic/sensory therapy all in one! Our tans were on point and our inner places of peace were still and quiet. For the Rushes, we have discovered that natural habitats, such as the ocean, is a place that we fully surrender to the Lord. Despite whatever else is going on around us, the beach does it every time!

One thing 2020 has taught me personally is that tomorrow really is not a promise and that today is a gift from the Lord. We found ourselves living in a new city, new state, new people, new everything and then being put on quarantine to where we really couldn’t get out and experience any of it. So, we just had to focus on what we could do today. Whether it was finishing up a book we were reading or doing a math page to finding a new recipe to bake or calling a friend. It really was and still is a day by day thing. As I write, Virginia has been put back on restrictions of groups of 25 or less meetings no matter if inside or outside. Thankfully, churches are exempt!

Back to what has been happening. . . We had a couple of big moments on the calendar that we held with open hands and daily prayed that the Lord would not allow them to be shut down. These moments were family and friends coming to visit. (At that point we had not had close interactions with anyone that knew us and loved us for just us in such a long time!) When everything (people, places, and things) are new, you really begin to realize how much you crave the comfort of just being around people who know you and cherish being able to sit and not say a word or explain everything! I am happy to report that two of those big moments happened and one was modified but in the end the modification was for the better.

The first big moment of 2020 that happened, since moving & pandemic, was at the end of June our closest friends who are really just extended family made the 20 hour + trek cross country to come see us. At last #ZaRushes were reunited for 7 DAYS!!!! 10 people + a dog spent a week in our duplex and guess what, it was grand! Seriously. . . we had family dinners, many hours at the beach, a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, ice cream treat at the famous Doumar’s for a sugar cone, and wing night at The Dirty Buffalo. We ate seafood while overlooking the ocean and was drenched with an epic last minute rain shower! Movie nights and late night chats outside in the beautiful Virginian summer nights are memories I will never forget. Experiencing the Atlantic coast as #ZaRushes and watching our kiddos nearly get swept away from the chaotic tide and then seeing the smiles across their faces because “that was sooo cool, mom!” Painting Mermaids to take home and visiting an old aviation museum even though you have to wear masks. These are the things we didn’t even know we needed but we cherished every single moment. Heck, attempting to plan out our next homeschool year together is fun even for those that aren’t the planning type! Having my friend stand beside me during worship and hearing her praise the name of the Lord was honey for my soul. If all that wasn’t enough, we even found a Mexican restaurant and broke bread, I mean chips and salsa and queso, together before they loaded up and started the journey back home. Y’all, “see you soon” is never an easy thing to say, especially when it’s been so long since the last one and really there is no definite time when the next time will occur and really you can’t plan it because well PANDEMIC! We were all troopers when that dreaded time came. Yes, there were tears. . . from every single person, multiple times. We cried together. Hugged each other. Prayed together. Hugged some more. Laughed and cried again. BUT, the moments happened and through that week, our faith was reassured a little more that life was happening and a little bit of normalcy was present. No matter what, we know the Lord still loves us and hears our cries and prayers. We are human and long for the physical reassurances that were provided through that week. PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

The second and third major events that were on the calendar was finishing up my Master’s degree before my husband’s parents and sister came to visit during the month of July. Guess what? IT HAPPENED!!! I finished my Master’s degree on July 4, 2020, talk about added meaning to independence day!

Moment I received notification I had passed my LAST assignment!

Up until we sold our home in Texas during November 2019, we had not really spent an extended (meaning more than 3 days) with them really ever since marrying with exception to vacations because both my husband and my Father in Law are in ministry and well that means weekends! When we sold our home we lived out of our Sienna with 5 laundry baskets for 2.5 months going back and forth from my in laws and my parents home. All that to say, we had missed them so much. We had grown accustomed to waking up and enjoying a cup of coffee with family and enjoyed endlessly sitting and watching football and walking to see Christmas lights around town. It was really hard to move so far away and realize that really wasn’t an option and then throw in PANDEMIC & QUARANTINE!!!! So, when my in laws said it was happening and they were coming, we were all beside ourselves. Not only had we had a week with our favorites, but we were going to have a week with family!

While my in laws were in town, we did alot of beach time again. We ate seafood and took them to Colonial Williamsburg. The boys birthday dreams came true with a visit to a local surf/skate shop where Leigh-Leigh fulfilled their wish for a skateboard. Gracie and Evelyn painted mermaids and got some to take home to the cousins back in Natchitoches. Lots of fun and eating of yummy foods, but the sweetest thing was Poppa T joined Craig for the Tab Midweek service. We were able to watch them from home. Seeing Craig and his daddy praying for the people of Tab and talking about the experiences they have had in ministry was really a cool moment in time. When it came time for them to journey back to Louisiana, this “see you soon” wasn’t as hard. Maybe it was because it hadn’t been as long since the last one. Maybe it was because they are family and we knew in our heart of hearts we would see them again. I’m not sure, but we all said see you soon and hugged and prayed. We cherished the moments but worked hard to keep the ball rolling.

The Lord really is so good. He fills gaps and voids before we even know there will be a gap or a void. The week or so before my in laws came, we received word that our oldest two had been invited to attend Triple R Ranch day camp this year! Back story, Triple R Ranch is a camp in Chesapeake that Tab Church plants years ago. Because of Covid19 night camps in Virginia were cancelled this year, but day camps could happen. The void of being in Virginia without family or close friends was made a little easier because we had something to look forward to. 2/3s of the E’s had day camp to attend and the 3rd E had a week of momma all to himself as well as a new skateboard to break in at some really cool skateparks he had managed to find for us to visit! Again, all new things, but things that seemed a little normal. Triple R Ranch was such an amazing experience. Those college students who devote their summer to hang out with kids from all walks of life and all ages are amazing. They are walking with the Lord and showing them how to have fun despite life’s circumstances. They are teaching them how to meet with the Father daily and encouraging them to walk in the way. It was an incredible experience for my kids. Let’s just say our countdown calendar for summer 2021 has begun and we hope that we will be able to do overnight camp this year and that we have all the friends who come and go with them too!!!

You may be wondering, what was the plan that was modified? One set of my parents were supposed to come and visit during the month of August and bring my nieces with them. But, thank you ‘Rona, that didn’t happen. Yeah I could be super bummed about it because we were really excited to experience the beach during the summer with them (they are beach people too) but we count our blessings that they were able to see Norfolk when we moved here in January. So what was the modification? The kids and I were able to go home!!! Pappy flew up on a Friday evening. We took him to the beach on Saturday and Sunday morning he and the 3 E’s hopped on a plane and flew back to Louisiana for a week of Camp Pappy & Zsa Zsa.

My nieces joined in for a few days of fun and I flew home a week later to spend a week visiting with family and friends.

I even had the chance to sneak away to Texas for a night out with my #elochos girls. This modification to what we had originally thought would be more family visiting here in Norfolk turned out to be exactly what the Lord ordered.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to be in my old homes (my parents houses, yes plural) and see my other family members. I didn’t realize how much I needed to drive on familiar roads where cruise control could be set and I could sing and praise the name of the Father while praying and thanking Him for all the things. . . even ‘Rona, the sweet peach that she has been for 2020. I needed to be able to walk from house to house to visit family. But more than all of that, I needed a trip back down to the deep south (Norfolk might be geographically considered South but IT AIN’T THE SOUTH) in order for me to see the blessings and remember the good of what the Lord has done and is doing and is going to do in us and through us here in Norfolk. I even began to miss it. Not just because my main squeeze was holding down the fort and keeping the dog in Norfolk, but because whether we had realized it, we had started to form new normals.

We have started building this weird and unexpected (because of COVID) community that I was missing. Friendships here aren’t anything like the past, but they are sweet, and they are happening. Schooling our kids is definitely different than what we had imagined. Leading a church?!?!? Forget about anything normal in that! All of that is out the door for 2020. The churches that have survived are ones that know how to engage culturally while maintaining biblical relevance through the virtual inter webs while maintaining all the standards for Covid19, and thankfully my husband is great at that! Unabashed plug for my man and the church we are called to. . . if you are looking for wholesome, God fearing and scripture leadership material to add to your daily feed check out Craig’s website and always Tab Church of Norfolk.

All that to say, by the end of our time in Louisiana, I realized I MISSED MY CURRENT LIFE and I can say that on the plane ride home, I did business with the Lord and fully surrendered to Him that I was in 100%. I was ready to commit to being so far away from everything that is normal and familiar. That I was ready to plant some roots no matter how different it looks. I was ready to follow fully in whatever season that may be. If it means homeschooling our kiddos long term, so be it. If it means, churches are virtual moving forward, so be it. If it means I have to do zoom calls in order to see people and have “groups” then so. . . well I haven’t gotten around this one just yet. But you get the point.

As a family and individually we surrendered our lives to the Lord for whatever that meant lie ahead on December 31, 2018. We knew that the current life we were living had met its expiration date and as scary as it was to face that, we did it. . . as a family in full obedience to the Lord. We had each other to lean on and we had the Lord together as a family to lean on. Everything about our world was changing, but we had each other. As a parent and a wife, I had a sense of responsibility to keep trudging and “keep the faith” for my 3E’s. But it wasn’t until summer of 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic on a plane that I found myself fully surrendering all of it to the Lord. And here I am today, November 2020, finally writing it out!

As the old saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun!” These are just some of the highlights of 2020 and today I am taking the time to be thankful for them! There are TONS of added highlights that I will write about soon with all the added pictures, but today we will stop here and give thanks in all of it!

What are you thankful for? What positive insights has the Lord revealed during 2020? Do we find ourselves having an attitude of gratitude? I am thankful for you and your dedication in finishing this to the end!

Love you friend!

Lost, but not forgotten

Update 11/21/2020: Before you begin reading, this was written three months into the Covid19 global pandemic and is being posted 8 months into the covid19 pandemic. Take it as you will, not much has changed.

Today is a Friday. Friday, June 12, 2020 to be exact. Will this be posted today? Who knows but today is the day I am taking a moment to write. I have written one post since this whole COVID-19 pandemic thing has occurred. Talk about a surreal moment in time and living history at that. For all of you out there that like to use real life to teach the next generation, I sure hope you are taking note of all that is going on in the world around us and how we are being able to not only read or hear about history in the making but we are living it. Day in and day out. I am not so sure that our kids will be going back to school “in the deficit” when it comes to history.

Have you seen those birthday cards that say “if you were born in ______ year” then this is what was going on and this is how much stuff costs? This season of pandemic has made me think of those cards more and more. I often wonder what will the year 2020 card look like? What will the going price of gasoline be? How much will a gallon of milk be listed as? Other than pandemic stuff, what else will be listed as major life historical events that occur during the year 2020? It really blows my mind beyond compare.

Before moving to Virginia, I had the privilege of teaching a dental assisting class to high school seniors at a local career and technical education center. It was a short lived part of my career that I will cherish dearly!!! Seriously, total greatness. Why I mention this is that the last group of students that I had in class graduated from high school this week. That means that half of their senior year was cut short. For some, it was WAHOO we don’t have to wake up early and go to school. For others, and most of them, it was a super sad point in their high school career. I mean, can you think of your senior year? Second semester was by far the pinnacle of what high school was about. Senior prom, senior skip day (yes it exists and yes even those God fearing seniors do it, it’s like a rite of passage), spring break, these are just a few of the things.

I want to think back beyond March 12, 2020, when the schools here in Virginia were put on “shelter in” orders. Let’s think back seventeen to eighteen years ago. What year do we arrive at? 2001 to 2002? What major life event occurred late 2001? 9/11/2001. When were these high school seniors born? Are you following me? Back to my time with my seniors.

I had the opportunity to walk through remembering 9/11 with them. We discussed what happened. We looked at videos. They were curious as to what I was doing and where I was? If I knew of anyone specific had been affected. . . you see, I had one maybe two of my students who were just days old. The rest were in the womb. Can you believe it? The generation of students who entered the world during turmoil are leaving their primary/high school educational career during a world wide pandemic. Do you think this is by coincidence? I sure don’t. I believe that the God of the universe doesn’t make mistakes and he sure didn’t by the timing of all of this. I am not saying He caused it because he didn’t but He has allowed it all. Why? I have no clue and frankly I may never know, not until I reach those pearly gates of glory when my mission on Earth is done. But I do believe that in His amazingly beautiful ways and His loving kindness and grace, He allowed this generation of young adults to enter the world during such a season and end a major season of their life during such a season.

As I have been communicating with my now former students during all of this, I have been placing the challenge in front of them. What if it really is your generation that is called to be the world changers that our world so desperately needs? What if you are the ones that are called to flip the script and lead the way on how the rest of “the world” around you responds to pandemic? Or heck, how they respond to life! Some of those young men and women really processed through the challenge and have been making it their goal to be the world changers that, I believe, we are all called to be in some capacity or another. The challenge stands with you. . . are you being a part of the process in helping to change the world for good or are you being a part of the problem and giving into the media and all the negativity around you? It’s a choice. A daily choice.

On top of the “shelter in” pandemic quarantine, our world continues to struggle with the lack of racial reconciliation. IT BREAKS MY HEART!!!! Why can’t we just treat people equally and get along? What has been going on is wrong! Yep you heard me correctly, people of color loosing their lives because of the color of their skin is wrong! No matter how you try and slice it or dice it, WRONG! I don’t care who did what or what did who, or started what and what nots. WE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL IN THE IMAGINE OF GOD. Last time I checked and read my Bible, God created Adam and from Adam He created Eve. . . . and one by one the rest of the generations of people were created, offspring from offspring. So if you want to get into the whole genealogy thing, guess what? WE WERE ALL CREATED FROM ADAM AND EVE!!!!! Let’s stop killing and fighting with people, people some way or another we are connected to! I stand for JUSTICE AND MERCY! I stand for truth!

The short and sweet on why “stuff” happens is because although we were created equal by the same God of the universe and are all some how genealogically related in the family tree, we also are human and all of us have free will and sin natures. Those very two first humans that God created (Adam & Eve) made a big old mistake that set this world into motion that we live in. Eve gave Adam a piece of forbidden fruit, thus sin entered into the world. Why? Well, it opened their eyes to see that they were not God and brought about the realization that we need God. We need a Savior and that without Him we are nothing. Left to our own ways we would continue to allow Satan to kill, steal, and destroy us. . . one by one! The only hero in the story is GOD! What will be written from Christian theologians that are post-trib perspective be and on the flip what will pre-trib Christian theologians write? I hesitate to even write these thoughts out as I am afraid it will create a point of contention causing an uproar of angsts because well COVID-19 quarantine and the lack of social interactions and lets be real most people are looking for something to get all huffy about.

But I write because I am called to write and say the things that most of us think between the inner linings of our left and right eustachian tubes but wouldn’t DARE speak it out loud for fear we may just have to have a real conversation about it. So, this is it. All of it, for me. I personally have no desire to know what side of the fence you stand on politically, socially, emotionally, etc. you get the point, if you first and foremost point of concern is not JESUS and how someone is doing in their walk with the Lord. Heck, if we allow any of the things that have occurred during 2020 to take precident over our concern with whether a person knows how much they are loved by The Savior of the world, it is absolutely wrong!

So. . . here’s my challenge. What is that you are taking away as absolutely and utterly the most important things in life? What have you found out about yourself that you would say “defines you?” Are you seen as a person who loves Jesus (not just professes Jesus as Lord, but LOvES Jesus) or are you that person that people generally tend to slowly distance themselves from? Answer out loud if you like, but I implore you to do the hard introspective work and allow the Lord to help you determine what the rest of 2020 and 2021 will look like despite the cultural context around us.

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
Champ!
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!

Ready, Set. . . .

Some of you out there are probably anxiously awaiting for an announcement post declaring where Team Rush will be embarking on our next adventure. Well, I’m sorry friends. No huge announcement to report. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have plenty to report or that God isn’t good because we have tons to report and no matter the circumstance of life, GOD IS STILL GOOD!

The past month the Rush residence has been constantly moving in some form or fashion. Craig was busy transitioning out of his position with our church and helping the new guy transition in. He has had interview after interview with church after church. At one point we had a spreadsheet of 9 different churches that spanned across 9 different states. Mind blowing? Try being us! We would find ourselves just sitting in the living room looking at each other like Jesus himself had just walked on water or better yet He had called Peter to walk to Him on the water. MIND BLOWN! All we measly humans could do was pray. We have fasted (well Craig is better at that part than me, but I have practiced intermittent fastening, does that count) and we have prayed. We have read scripture and we have prayed. We (well maybe just me) have even had some pretty strong conversations with God while driving my van home from school. If I passed you during one of those times, please don’t commit me just yet I was only trying to make sure God was hearing me. I don’t think He wears a hearing aid but in case He does and He didn’t have it in I needed to make sure He heard EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.

At the time in which we had 9 possibilities all we could pray was “Lord, shut the doors to those that are not right and not for us. You already know where you want us and even where we are gonna end up so could you PLEASE just shut the doors already!” Friends, in case you haven’t experienced praying with boldness like that especially knowing your husband is almost JOBLESS let me give you a little insight into how it feels. . . TERRIFYING!!! Yep, from the human perspective it is terrifying BUT from the spiritual perspective it is absolutely, 100% the most FREEING feeling in the world! Like OTF 500 + calorie workout with endorphins firing on all cylinders EXHILARATING type of feeling! Back to that prayer. . . we prayed and God answered. In one week alone 3 maybe 4 doors shut in a matter of just a couple of days and others have shut since then as well. WOAH! Our human mind was saying “TOTAL REJECTION who do you guys think you are” but the Lord was speaking to our hearts and we were rejoicing and saying THANK YOU GOD!

SO, where does that leave us? It leaves us right here, in Wylie. We are finishing up packing up our house and preparing to have it on the market within the next week. Our kids are loving school and having great seasons of baseball and softball and I am having a great year with my students! I just adore them! Craig is preaching three out of the four weekends in October and we will be spending time in Ruston as we partake in the Hall of Fame festivities where my step-dad will be inducted for baseball. We are in solid conversations with a couple of churches and we are continuing to pray and ask the Lord to show us clarity as we journey through this process.

Craig mentioned this past weekend as we were saying “thank you” to all of our friends and family at Chase Oaks – Woodbridge for the last time, that this season of our life is not just us preparing to see where God wants to use us but it is a season of us learning what God wants and is doing in us. The passage in scripture that talks about the refining process of silver (I believe) that’s what I feel like that this transition has been. It’s been the refiner’s fire. Do you know the song? The Chorus goes like this:

Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

I am 100% human and I am tempted just like the next person. For me, I have to choose to set my eyes on the Lord and stay looking forward or else I will fail. I will always choose my human wants over my heavenly needs. The more I sing the chorus to myself the more I find my heart and my head matching up and wanting to do the will of the Father. It’s a day by day process and it starts with the small beginnings.

Thank you all for the weekend of celebration. Team Rush left Chase Oaks feeling so honored. If you saw us on Friday night, thanks for loving on my kids as they sat in the auditorium balling their eyes out. They have been the biggest troopers I have seen! Your words of kindness in our notes have all been enjoyed. The food you prepared and shared was delicious. And the hugs that you gave will last for a long time. Team Rush doesn’t feel like we have just been leading teams or a body of believers. We see the last three years as God’s opportunities for us to come alongside with arms linked and serve a community and people together with you. It has been our joy to call ourselves Woodbridgers and you all will hold special places in our hearts.

Let’s end this post with a recap of fun memories that were captured by the one and only Gretchen Starns. Hit that girl up for some family photos. She has got the skillz! Love you all and hope to see you around town until we embark on our next big adventure!