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!

Long Time Coming

Change is hard. Change is scary. And change can be good. During Christmas break 2018, Craig and I began to accept the fact that change may be in our family’s future and that change would more than likely be big. We weren’t certain what it would look like. All we knew was that we were being called to more. Called to obedience and to put the faith that we claim into action. So we prayed, sought wise counsel and prayed some more. In June we began taking steps that involved more than just the two of us. We started working with church staffing agencies to build Craig’s profile with each company and then started searching the data bases for opportunities. We began the conversations with our kids as we drove to the beach because you know God is good like that and sets up the conversations for you. Change is scary. . . .but God is good. Life is sad. . . but God is good. Roar VBX was amazing this year but for me it held a whole different meaning than just simple truths. . . it was nuggets of truth embedded into the minds of myself and my kids that God has used ever since and will continue to use throughout this journey.

Craig has had a desire for nearly a decade to preach and teach the scriptures and he truly has a gifting for it. It’s one of the reasons we took the first big step of faith by moving to Texas in Fall of 2011 with a 15 month old and no jobs. Were we crazy? You bet. Was God faithful? In more ways than one! That simple step of ending a life that was incredibly comfortable and offered what most American dreams are made of, meant that we, daring to take a chance on a life, had no idea what lie ahead. I could talk on and on and share with you way upon way that God showed up and showed out for us over the course of the past 8 years, but that would take several blog posts and we would never get to what we are here for today. The journey of how we have arrived to where we are. Let’s start at that beginning.

You may recall, that during Christmas break is when I began this blog. It’s also the time that my husband created a website and blog of his own. Writing is something that we both enjoy doing for ourselves. It brings peace and calm and clarity in the chaos. It breeds creativity. It’s a way for us to express what we learn in reading and our quiet moments with the Lord.

In today’s society individuals stay so stinking busy and strung up by various commitments (us included) that we don’t even realize how chaotic we can be on the inside. How our focus and our dreams and goals tend to quietly drift to the wayside because the life we have created demands our attention to finish the daily tasks and then prepare for the next day. This past Christmas break we really committed to lay low. To take it easy and allow ourselves to breathe. To rest in the quietness and the awkward moments that would present themselves. In doing so we began the conversations of dreams and desires that had been hidden, masked and some even forgotten. We came to terms with this for ourselves and with each other. No masks, no excuses, no reasoning as to why it wouldn’t be possible. . . just simply this is what I/he/we desire or dream. This is what I/he/we believe the Lord is asking of me/us. What would that look like. . . . and then we slowly began to realize that a second big step of faith was a coming.

We moved to Dallas for Craig to attend Dallas Theological Seminary in 2011. Our initial goal was to come over, get a 2 year degree and then head out onto the foreign mission field. While in seminary, we added two extra people to Team Rush for a grand total of 5 and two of us were out numbered. Our dream of missions is not something that we running from or holding at bay with a closed fist. It’s simply a dream that the Lord has grown us in and shown us ways that a person can be on mission and live anywhere. Missional living is the absolute best for our family. And complete and honest truth be told, Craig and I have embraced the fact that I like hot baths and we both adore our own mattress! I’ve said it friends. Those are two of the #firstworld problems that just help us be the best people we can be.

We didn’t see our life before Dallas as missional living but hindsight is 20/20. We loved our neighbors in Ruston. Most were loud and crazy college kids and some were young families like ourselves. The weekly Wednesday night dinners that occurred every week with our neighbors turned friends from across the street, Nette and Jaz, to being able to walk around the corner and enjoy a bottle of wine with my girl Meredith. Or when she locked herself out of her house and Craig came to the rescue! Man those were good times. We didn’t know it but God was teaching us what it meant to live life on mission. . . allowing conversations to go places that weren’t politically correct and working through the hard tensions of the modern day world that we live in. Where people are hungry for acceptance and truth but face deep dark demons inside while surrounded with “mean” people who are quick to point out someone else’s shortcomings when really all they need to do is look in the mirror to find their own. Showing grace where grace really shouldn’t be extended (according to society) and loving people. We are not perfect but this is how we began our journey of discovering what missional living looked like and the more we learned the more we fell in love with it, with Jesus and with people.

Fast forward to today, October will make 8 years we have been Texans. And Texans two of my kids will forever be. We have LOVED this place. We have grown in this place. The Lord has taught us many lessons in this place and He has allowed us to continue to grow in our mindset of missional living and even be a part of missional living for a community and people that, much like Ruston, we absolutely adore! We have had the opportunity to make solid and lasting friendships that are based on a wide gamete of things, some church/Christ centered and some simply because we share a street, bus stop and local elementary school or play on a sports team together. The common denominator of it all is the fact that we choose to embrace people as people, being genuinely interested in their worlds and want to know more about what makes them tick as a person, loving them where they are in life despite what their life looks like compared to ours. . . only true comparison, if we must, should be how am I measuring up to what scripture says, “to love God and love people.” The author doesn’t go on and give a list of circumstances or situations, it simply says LOVE PEOPLE!

This is where we find ourselves. . .torn in the tension of leaving a life we have grown to love and friendships that run deep to being super excited to what God has in store for our family. This next big step of faith will more than likely mean that we are moving further away from all of our family and will require that sky miles are accumulated more often than before. It will more than likely mean that we are leaving our Southern roots culture and embracing a different area of the US. . . (side note: for those that like to call us “country” the politically correct term is “southern” please learn to use that instead. Country refers to raised with little to no training and Southern refers to training with refinement and while embracing a southern draw. If you choose to be politically correct in one or more manners then you should probably be politically correct on all other accords as well. Please respect who we are in this manner, it really would be the appropriate thing to do! Soapbox closed.) . Back to moving forward…

We are incredibly sad and mourn the closure of this chapter and the closeness that comes from the friendships we have made but we are incredibly excited about this new adventure. Day by day we gain a clearer picture of what the mission is that the Lord is laying before us. Our hearts are stirring and we know He has a people for us that He has specifically set aside for us to embrace and link arms with to do life. We have four specific prayers that we are praying knowing that He will answer. Your prayers are coveted as we journey through this transition. As of right now, we do not know an exact location or time in which we will depart. We have some great connections that are being established and we are being as transparent as to who we are. We are walking faithfully through doors as they present themselves trusting that the Lord fills in the gaps. He already knows that outcome we are asking Him to guide us to it.

So I’ll leave you with this. . . Team Rush isn’t saying goodbye, simply just see you soon! Please know that our hearts are sad and we are sad for those who are sad. But we are not ending anything, just starting a new adventure. We are exercising our faith muscles and putting into practice that obedience really is greater than sacrifice. Sacrifice of all things we are comfortable in. We adore you all and do hope you hear our words when we say “COME AND VISIT US, PLEASE!” Adventures and journeys are meant to be explored with those who you love and for us we love you all!

From our perspective this step has been a long time coming and now it’s here, ready for us to fully embrace and jump in head first. Will you join the journey with us as we continue to pray and discover?

Summer Loving

Had me a blast

Summer loving happen so fast

I met a girl crazy for me

Met a boy cute as can be

Summer days drifting away to oh oh the summer nights!

And we’ll leave the song at that for now. Oh how the summer tends to fly by. Seems like every moment is full of energy and life and constant motion. We have covered some summer fun in just a few short weeks! And it’s not even over.

I feel like each week needs a post all its own but would that even be worth it?!?

Vacation Bible Extreme was wild and crazy. This year our theme was “When life is wild. . . God is good”. It was a ROARING good time!

After a week of VBX, Team Rush headed out on a 10 days adventure called VACATION! Oh my what a joy it was to go and unplug from reality. Now don’t hear me wrong reality is good, but life at the beach with the ones you love is awesome! It is my happy place!

As time has it vacation must end and reality begins… we came back to the excitement of our beds, our dog and our neighborhood friends.

Since being home, we have picked blueberries at a blueberry farm, baked tons of blueberry lemon bread and came up with our version blueberry pies for dad!

We learned how to play a new board game, went to a science discovery center, the national video game museum and spent the day with Craig at our local Hawaiian Falls! It has been an amazingly fun week back at home.

As we were picking berries I couldn’t help but think about the growing process of the life of a blueberry. We could only pick the blue ones and some of the pink. The green and white ones we couldn’t pick because they weren’t ready and wouldn’t ripen. Pretty interesting. How long does it take to get to the ripening stage (maturation)? How long does it take us to get to the ripening stage? What’s considered mature? Metaphorically speaking, what if I, me, you were picked too soon? Yes these are the things that roll through the inner space between my right ear and left ear!

As we were picking it was hot and for the most part my 3 E’s were great. Sweet Everett just wasn’t having it. “Mom, are we almost done?” “Mom, it’s hot!” “Mom, is your bucket full YET!” “Mom, can you “help” me fill my bucket!” Sweet boy. He’s your 4 year old (almost 5) energetic, life loving kid with with the attention span of… little to none!

Along with the thoughts mentioned above, the verse in Galatians talking about the fruit of the Spirit also started rolling around. As I was picking I couldn’t help but repeating this verse over and over in my mind. I think I May have even broke out in song singing “the fruit of the spirit, is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness. The fruit of the spirit is faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Poor family across the bush attempting to enjoy a morning adventure! But, as I did my vision shifted as did my demeanor.

I went from being a hot, on the verge of cranky momma with three kids, one of which was NOT happy, to being a child of the King who was experiencing something new (to me) and getting to see the final part of the maturation process of a blueberry bush! It was so pretty. The branches full of juicy little round blueberries! It gave me a whole new perspective.

Full disclosure: I am a human. Like completely 100% human! So if you are reading this and think I’m trying to be some super spiritual rockstar, you are wrong. I am just a sinner saved by grace like the next person. What I have learned over the course of my 38 years is this, we are all on a journey. This journey of life and hopefully by the grace of God your journey includes just that, God! Faith in Christ is realizing God’s love for you and then accepting that there is absolutely nothing that you can do to earn that love. Simple as that. He loves you!!! We are human and screw things up ALL. THE. TIME. and He still loves us and wants a relationship with us. That’s patience. That’s love. And that’s the perspective that my mind was being drawn to while I was picking those sweet little juicy balls of joy.

Yep my kid was going crazy. Yep I stepped in an ant bed. True story. Yep I didn’t have much love to give to the said kid who just couldn’t understand patience. But in that moment, as I was looking at that branch and plucking off the blue ones, I understood what the Fruit of the Spirit is and why scripture talks about them being the visible aspects of Christ in us.

Just like Everett, practicing patience and the Fruit of the Spirit is hard! Letting the blueberries mature on the bush and resisting the urge to pluck the white and green ones is hard. But just like being able to experience the sweet taste of a juicy blueberry once it has fully matured, there is something sweet that comes from allowing the Lord to walk us through the maturation process of our Christian walk!

This is just one way that I am choosing to experience the Fruit of the Spirit. What’s a way you are choosing to experience it? Can you see tangible signs of it?