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Kenya mission trip

Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.

We want life to go faster. Or slower.

We wish this would happen. Or that.

We want to press forward. Quicker.

We wish we could go back in time. And do it again.

We dream of better days, longer days, days fuller, days lighter.

We dream, scheme and believe BIG, bold things.

We think maybe, someday.


We have a hunch. Yeah, a hunch. If only, God. If God.

We want to believe those nudges are true. We want to believe it’s the Spirit speaking to our hearts, not earthly, fleshly, egotistical desires.

We just want confirmation that all this living and breathing and dreaming is real. That this life of ours is worth something more, more than mere existence.

We don’t want to simply survive.

We want to thrive.

We want to believe in a God who can do anything. A bigger-than-life God. A God who does things totally unexpected. A God who shows up in places and times least expected. A God who wants to surprise us with His glory, His goodness, His richness, His fullness, His plan for our lives here on planet Earth.

We want to know there’s more. That we’re part of a grander plan. A greater story.



So when DropBox was simply too slow, when I had to go into church to upload a load of high resolution photographs from an all-church service day, when I “randomly” commented on the Africa photos in the corner of the pastor’s office that June 1st, 2015, then consequently got invited to join a mission trip to Africa, I was shocked.

I thought the dude was crazy. Me? Go on a mission trip to Africa in the fall? Ummm….No?! Not going to happen that quick. Not now. You might work like that, but not me! You don’t know me. I’m a planner. I’m a preparer. I like to do and know things in advance. There’s no way I’d make such a big decision in such a short timeframe. There’s no way I could ever find the money that fast, get child care that fast, get the a-okay from my husband that fast, get a blessing from our parents that fast. You know. There’s no way it’s going to happen that fast for me. Okay?

To be honest, I didn’t think the pastor’s initial invitation to go to Africa was all that serious. I really, desperately wanted to go to Africa in my heart of hearts. Of course, I was interested. As in, yes please? But now wasn’t the time. More like a couple years from now, or give me at least a year to get this thing worked out somehow? But five or six months from now?! Really? Serious? Is this for real?


I got myself quiet.

And I got thinking about God’s timelines. How maybe we have it all wrong. How maybe I’ve had it all wrong. How maybe my timeline is SO off and SO wrong and SO not God’s. How he’s surprised me before; maybe He’s surprising me again. How I dreamed of traveling to Africa – not to sightsee, but to serve – for longer than I can remember. My Africa dream is so old, I don’t even remember when I started dreaming it. The dream’s just been there. Always. Forever. Then I remembered being invited to Africa by a different party, with a different nonprofit, in May 2014. And how I said NO, I’m already traveling to the Dominican with Compassion. Then I remembered the 2023 trip we visioned to Africa for our 25th anniversary. And I remembered the SINGLE reference to “Africa” on my blog’s Meet Amy page. I thought it was dreamy, but left it there on purpose, without any detail, without any knowing of what that “Africa” might look like. I left it in for hope’s sake. I left it in for the believing in someday, somehow, maybe when I’m much older and wiser and there’s something grand for me to accomplish there.

Is this all mystical-hogwash coincidence, or is this God working His plan?

I began to believe.

I also began to doubt.

I dismissed and diminished the pastor’s invitation to go on the Africa mission trip. I wanted to believe it could be possible. But I didn’t believe it could actually happen.

Reality set in.

I started blogging in July 2012.

Haiti in February 2014.

Expensive new camera in September 2014.

I stopped working as a speech-language therapist in December 2014.

Dominican Republic in January 2015.

Eye cancer diagnosis in January 2015.

Photography business launch in spring and summer 2015.

And now a mission trip to AFRICA in the fall of 2015?

How much more could I ask of my husband?

In my head, I knew it would be much better to discuss this in a year or two. That would be much better timing.

But in my heart, in my spirit, in my soul, I had a hunch this wasn’t about my timing, but more about God’s.

So I left myself open to the slight possibility of going to Africa in the fall of 2015.




I received the initial invitation on June 1, 2015.

By June 17th, I had a solid and highly justified hunch the trip was NOT going to happen this time.

By July 7th, I’d given my answer in writing. NO.

On July 20th, God performed a BIG miracle.

I ignored that miracle until August 2nd, to be exact. I hadn’t been sure what to do with that miracle, but God knew EXACTLY what to do with it. He took it into His own hands. Clearly, I wasn’t moving this Africa deal forward with enough vigor. He was going to make this happen whether I liked it or not.

And that August 2nd, it was beautiful really. I’ll always remember the way she looked at me with tears in her eyes. (You know who you are, sweet friend.) The moment she knew in her heart of hearts that I was going to Africa.

And in the oddest series of events that occurred over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll always remember the moment that same friend told me she wouldn’t be going to Africa. With the same tears in her eyes.

But I’d said, I’d written…

This wasn’t about getting anyone’s approval anymore. This Africa deal was between me and God, and God had made that abundantly clear.

By Saturday, August 29th, I said YES to Africa.

Things were definitely still in the air. Things were definitely NOT 100% clear. The near three-month journey from June 1st to August 29th had been rough, rocky and incredibly spiritually challenging.



I said YES to Africa.

Because God was in on this from day one.

There was no denying it.

I couldn’t shake this feeling I was supposed to go NOW. To Africa. In the fall of 2015. On this particular trip. For such a time as this.


I’d given an absolute NO on July 7th.

God performed a series of straight up miracles.

And by August 29th, I said YES.

How could I deny what He’d done?

How could I deny His plans, His timelines?

This wasn’t about me. This wasn’t about my timelines or my pretty little plans or my best case scenario anymore. This was all about God. His Spirit nudging me again and again and again. His clearing the way. His making a way, whether any of us liked it or not. His desiring for me TO GO. To Africa. Now. As in. NOW.

Friends and family, I want to acknowledge that my retelling of this incredibly life-changing story has been incredibly vague. Much more vague than anything I’d normally share in this space. But this journey has been incredibly personal. This journey will become part of my life story, my lifelong testimony. I’ve documented it in a couple unpublished blog posts, and I’ve tucked away the details in my heart. I won’t forget. Someday, I’ll tell and it’ll make perfect sense and feel good and right in the context of a long-lived life. For now, the story will stay between me, two people who know all the details, and a few others who know some pieces. Some things are meant to stay sacred secret, between us and God.


But this, THIS, is all you need to know.

I planned, wanted, and desired to go to Africa for my whole life, as long as I can remember.

I said NO to Africa twice.

God performed miracles.

And then I said YES.

Which means I’m going to Africa. On a mission trip. Soon!

I’m going to dive straight into details, because no surprise, I’m already running long on words.

  • I’m traveling with a team of 10 to Kenya, Africa.
  • We’ll be gone for 10 days, end of November into early December 2015.
  • All my travel mates are from Minnesota. 5 females. 5 males.
  • We’ve already met twice as a group.
  • Random awesome fact: My first cousin once removed is going on the trip and we had NO IDEA until we arrived at the first meeting and saw each other there! Who knew?! (Okay, so I’m not 100% on the blood relationship. Our parents are first cousins. So what does that make us?)
  • We’re traveling with a nonprofit called Love For Kenya.
  • Love For Kenya is one of our church’s 10 global mission partners, so our church’s mission funds will be covering a portion of our trip.
  • We’ll be staying in huts.

While we’re in Kenya, we’ll be working largely with orphans and widows. We’ll also be doing other ministry, outreach and service projects in the community as we feel called and led through listening prayer. Community ministry might look “as small as” providing encouragement, washing feet, feeding people and giving people clothing, or “as big as” building a home, providing mosquito nets and life-saving medications for a couple hundred people, showing the “Jesus film” to a thousand, and exploring uncharted valleys in an effort to reach people who have never been reached before. We’ll also be heading into the slums one day. It’s hard to say what God has in store. But these details, these possibilities, we know for sure.

The trip is structured, but leaves plenty of room for God to work His plan.


For those of you who are safety minded, our trip will be led by Pastor Randy who’s led 90 mission trips. This will be his 17th mission trip to Kenya. Crazy cool, right? We’ll be 13-16 hours from areas that would be considered unsafe, and will have access to mobile phones. We’ll be together as a group at all times. And local Kenyan friends and partners will be journeying with us once we arrive in Africa.

I’m breathing deep. Sighing. Wondering how this could be true that I’m telling you I’m going to Africa. Now. For such a time as this.

One more important thing…

I will be blogging this trip, just as I did in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We haven’t discussed details yet as far as what that will look like and when, but I’ll definitely let you know. One way or another, you will be hearing all about this journey to Africa.

And I’m hoping, praying and planning on piloting a photography project I’ve been visioning and dreaming of since January. I’ve already talked to Pastor Randy, our trip leader, about this and he thinks it’s feasible within the structure of our trip.

Keep in mind, I said YES to Africa on August 29th. So we’ve only had 18 days to discuss details.

Speaking of this whole timeline – being invited June 1st, saying NO July 7th, saying YES August 29th, sharing with you all today, and leaving at the end of November – I could use a little help.

You see, I wasn’t planning on Africa.

We weren’t planning on Africa.

I didn’t know God had this in store for me…NOW.

I didn’t know He had this in mind for me…NOW.

I thought my Africa dreams were possibly far fetched, likely for later in life when things will be far more settled. For our 25th wedding anniversary? Yes. For an awesome 65th birthday when I join 10 wise writers and photographers on some awesome writing-photography adventure? Sounds amazing. But right now? Not so much. Didn’t plan that.

Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.


So back to needing a little help.

Here’s what I could use…

A prayer team

If you’re willing to serve on a prayer team for my trip to Kenya, please leave me a message somewhere, anywhere, along with your email address. I would love some warriors to pray for travels, safety, health and God’s mission to be accomplished while we’re there.

Financial support

When I originally published this post on September 16, 2015, I made a humble request. I needed an additional $550 to fully fund my mission trip to Africa. Thanks to the generous gifts of family, friends and blog readers, the trip is now fully funded! I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you. (Updated 11/23/15)

Likers & Lovers, Readers & General Supporters 

I need some lovin’ on this, friends. I need some support. Will you encourage me, love me, support me, read the posts I write, lift me up in your thoughts and prayers? Will you encourage me in my photography journey so I’m ready to pilot the project I’ve been dreaming of? Will you be hopeful and expectant? Will you believe there’s a reason God’s sending me to Africa now instead of waiting until my 25th anniversary or 65th birthday? Will you set aside doubt, worry and disbelief for the sake of encouragement? Will you believe in this journey, this mission? Will you will believe with me and for me? I would so greatly appreciate it.

Thank you, friends. Thank you.


I stayed up until 1:10 a.m. writing this and I’m in for a long day ahead. After the kids left for school this morning, the doorbell rang. It was our 4-year-old neighbor boy. When I opened the door, he looked me in the eye and whispered “Your butterfly is going to fly away now.” It was truly the most miraculous thing ever to me. I ran to grab my camera. The caterpillar my daughter put in a bucket weeks ago and had been keeping on our porch had just broken from its chrysalis. It was on a fern next to the bucket. Our sweet neighbor boy notified me just in time. We watched its first moments free, its first flight. It was amazing. Miraculous. God’s confirmation for me this morning. Fly, dear one. Fly.

All photo credits (except the butterfly) to Love for Kenya.





Kenya_smallbuttonThis post serves as the landing page for my trip to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in 2015. All the posts I write about the trip will be listed and linked here, at the bottom of this blog post. You’ll also find this Kenya graphic displayed on the right sidebar of my blog homepage. Click on the graphic anytime, and you’ll be brought right back here where you’ll find all the blog posts in one place!


To read other posts in the series about my trip to Africa, click on the title below:

Africa. When STAY RIGHT BY ME is All God Asks.

One More Day and We’ll Be On Our Way

The Sweet Song of Shangilia Orphanage

God’s Good, Good Work

Home. A Blessing and Dream Come True.

Less Productivity. More Connectivity. The Lesson I Had to Learn in Africa.

On Earth, As It Is In Heaven

Good Love and Good Bye

Messy. Slummy. Safari Beautiful.

Africa. The Untold Stories.


Okay, everyone. This might be the only time you see a Vikings picture on my blog. And you must forgive me, because the Mall of America outing I’m about to describe wasn’t on our original Summer Bucket List. So I feel like I’ve cheated a bit. But once you hear the story, I think you’ll understand WHY I’m including it in the Summer Bucket List series. Because bucket lists are risky sometimes. Bucket lists are fun and adventurous and full of who knows what might happen. So let’s do it. It’s Friday. Let’s chat about ALL the grand adventures at Mall of America!

The story begins two weeks ago at a Vikings football game. My son, Cooper, went to a game with my dad, my brother and my brother’s girlfriend. Apparently, when they were leaving the game, they each received two or three of these Mall of America “Mystery Gift Cards.” Cooper showed the cards to me immediately when he got home. He was bound and determined that we were going to use them! My husband and I spent the next week and a half trying convince Cooper that they were a scam, a sweepstakes, not a guarantee of anything at all, just a ploy, a way to get people in the mall, worth nothing more than a coupon for $5 off dinner at Rainforest Cafe or $20 off a $100 purchase at Nordstroms. I’m not even kidding you. We were really dissing and disregarding those “mystery gift cards.”

On Monday, when Cooper had been begging for a week and a half to go to the Mall of America so we could use these “mystery gift cards,” I finally told him there was a CHANCE I might give in. After all, we had nothing planned for the day. The one problem was that there was only $14 left in the entertainment budget for the week, so funding for the day’s adventures was bare bones.

I also told the kids that if I gave in to a trip to the Mall of America to use these “mystery gift cards,” that they’d have to be aware that they might be ALL COUPONS, that they might end up with that $5 off dinner at Rainforest Cafe and $20 off $100 at Nordstroms. And if that was the case, our fun for the day would be going to those locations and giving people the coupons to use on their purchases. Random acts of kindness was the worst case scenario. Who could say no to that? My kids didn’t. They were willing to take the chance, even if all they won was a bunch of coupons. So off we went to the Mall of America.

We parked at Nordstroms, as we were supposed to redeem these “mystery gift cards” at Nordstroms Court, whatever that was. We found Nordstroms Court quite easily, actually. The kids took their 8 mystery gift cards and headed straight for the redemption center (Cooper had his + my dad’s and brother’s gift cards they’d given him).

A cute young woman with blonde hair took Cooper’s 8 tickets, smiled and told us we “actually have a chance of winning something good” with this many tickets.

One by one, we won.

1 Mall of America coupon book. (told you so)

1 Mall of America coupon book. (told you so)

1 Free Pepsi at Hard Rock Cafe (pretty much told you so)

1 Free Scavenger Hunt at Nickelodeon Universe

1 Free Scavenger Hunt at Nickelodeon Universe

96 Points at Nickelodeon Universe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Score! The kids were right on taking this chance! We had several hours of rides ahead of us!)

1 Free Pepsi at Hard Rock Cafe. (pretty much told you so, but it doesn’t matter anymore)

1 Mall of America coupon book. (told you so, but it doesn’t matter anymore)

This was craziness! The kids were elated beyond belief. They were so excited that they won! And I couldn’t believe they actually won anything of substance. Good going, Mall of America! You successfully got and kept us there for a full day!

(Apologies to my son for the pictures…we’d just arrived at the mall and he was carrying his baby sister’s Sophia the First backpack for her. Sweet, right?) 




We made our way to a Guest Services desk to redeem the 3 tickets we had for Mall of America coupon books. We scored 3 coupon books that typically sell for $9.95 each, all valid through December 31, 2015. I was inclined to take just one coupon book, because we only come to the Mall of America once every couple months. But the kids advised me to take all three. So we did. I figured I’d give one to my brother who helped us win all this.

Then we headed down to Nickelodeon Universe to redeem the two Scavenger Hunts and see what that was all about. The kids each got a map, a credit card thingy, a green Mall of America pencil, and directions for where to head first. Okay. So apparently, I was clueless. I kept asking what the goal was, if we were going to get something when we turned in our completed map at the end of the hunt. I quickly discovered that the only point was to hunt. There was no prize other than to solve the “problems” at each station hidden throughout Nickelodeon Universe (the huge open area in the middle of the Mall of America with all the rides) and enjoy the journey.

The Scavenger Hunt was a bit boring and tedious for me. But honestly, the big kids LOVED it, so I sucked up all the adult in me and enjoyed the adventure.



After the kids finished all 12 stations of the scavenger hunt, it was time for lunch! We perused the coupon book we just received, on the hunt for some BOGO deals. (Remember, we only had $14 left from our entertainment budget and since I’m not earning any money for our family right now, I’m trying to honor that budget as closely as possible.) We found BOGO deals at Auntie Annie’s, you know, the pretzel shop? I hadn’t eaten anything there in YEARS, but we made our way anyway and enjoyed 2 for 1 pretzel hot dog combos. Not the most healthy lunch, but it worked and the kids were pleasantly surprised at how much they liked those pretzel hot dogs. Plus, they allowed me to use TWO coupons, so we paid a total of $13 for all four of us to eat!


After lunch, we went back down to Nickelodeon Universe to begin using our 96 points of rides! We priced it out before we began riding. 96 points had an approximate value of $75.00! SCORE! Without that one “mystery gift card,” we would have never gone on ANY rides that day.

I didn’t keep track, but I’d estimate we were able to go on a total of 10-15 rides with those 96 points. Since Maisie, our baby, was too short to ride many of the rides by herself, I often counted as her chaperone and didn’t have to use points. That made the points extend further. Plus, our first ride was free because the guy’s scanner wasn’t working. The kids thought that was extra cool.

My favorites were Swiper’s Sweeper (pure joy for the kids) and The Ghost Blaster Ride (always fun for everyone). Our carousel ride is one of my favorite summer memories.



By the time we used up all 96 points, the kids were ready to be done.

We made our way to Hard Rock Cafe and handed our two Free Pepsi coupons to people dining outside. Those random acts of kindness came true, at least in part!

We had a dollar left from lunch and a couple extra dollars in my wallet, so we pulled a Buy 3, Get 3 Nestle Tollhouse coupon from the coupon book and bought 6 cookies for a snack. After that, we caught a 10-minute kids game show at which the girls had a blast dancing and winning a gummy crabby patty.


I was exhausted that night, but we had a blast.

Were the “mystery gift cards” worth the trip to Mall of America? Definitely.

Was the adventure Summer Bucket List worthy? Definitely.

Thanks, Mall of America! 

Cost: $17.75

Mom Lesson: Be bold. Live free. Take a chance! That thing your kids are asking you to do might just work out for everyone.

Kid Lesson: Keep using those mystery gift cards!




This post is part of a summer-long series titled Summer Bucket List. This is my first summer home full-time with our three children. My hope for this series is that it will challenge me to adventure out of my mothering comfort zone, will provide opportunities to live and write simply, practically, beautifully and meaningfully, and will stimulate some some fun ideas for your summer as well! To check out the entire series, click here and you’ll be directed to the introductory post where all the posts are listed and linked for easy reading. Enjoy, friends! And have a blessed summer.



My husband had the afternoon off, so we decided to include him in our Summer Bucket List fun for the first time ever. A family bike ride seemed to be the best option. After all, we desperately needed dad to fill all those tires and make sure everything was in working order.

Our two adult bikes were hanging from the garage rafters. We hadn’t ridden them in two, maybe three years. They were dusty, dirty, and the tires were completely deflated. So Seth broke out the pump and filled everyone’s tires while I managed other prep needs.

Two children put on their helmets without question. One child did NOT, I repeat, did NOT want to wear his helmet. “Dumb.” “Babyish.” “This looks so stupid,” he said. “Nobody my age wears a helmet.” We persisted that we were going on a very long bike ride and that he needed to wear that helmet. Finally, after much persuasion, he agreed and we were on our way.




As we biked out of our driveway, I realized it had been an incredibly LONG time since we’d gone on a family bike ride. I honestly couldn’t remember when the last family ride would have been. As we greeted a neighbor on our way out of the neighborhood, I also realized that it’s incredibly RARE to see families go on bike rides together anymore. Growing up, my family went on bike rides all the time. Back in the 80s, it was fairly routine to see families on casual evening bike rides around town. But today? Not so common at all.

By the time we got all the way out of the neighborhood, I was already a bit winded. Seth reminded me that I should be the most physically prepared for this bike ride since I work out so faithfully. But I haven’t ridden a bike for any long distance in years, so truth is, it wasn’t that easy for me. Why is it that biking as an adult is so much more physically taxing than it was when you were a kid?

We rode those bikes 3.5 miles anyway, all the way to our destination. Up hills. Down hills. Through neighborhoods. Along the highway for a bit. Across the railroad tracks. Then finally through a long bike path.

We drove without stopping, although when we arrived at our destination – a large park – we were exhausted. Thank goodness for the bottles of water I hauled in my backpack.


After a few minutes of rest, we decided we’d go down to the lake where there’s a public swimming area. Suddenly, the kids had a burst of energy. “Let’s go swimming!” Ummm….okay? They, of course, didn’t have swimsuits along, so they agreed to go in their clothes. Not exactly mom’s ideal scenario, but it worked. Two kids in the water with soaking wet clothes. One playing on the sandy, wet shore. No swimsuits for mom or dad. No towels. And no change of clothes for the kids. But again, it worked! Perhaps I need to get out of my box more often.

The fun eventually wore off and the kids came in from the water. We reminded them they’d have to ride all the way back (another 3.5 miles, mind you) with sopping wet clothes, that they might get chafed skin with all the rubbing that was about to happen. But they didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they barely complained about those wet clothes. Wet clothing wasn’t an issue at all. I was shocked.

So we made our way back, all 3.5 miles. Up hills. Down hills. Through the bike path. Across the railroad tracks. And along the highway. Maisie, our youngest, exclaimed “woo hoo” from her baby bike trailer the whole way long. (Yes, that was my favorite part of the adventure.)

The kids wanted to stop for ice cream. Dad thought it would be better to stop for another round of hydration. So I tended the bikes, and Seth and the kids went into a gas station for drinks. We refueled as customers pumped gas. Then we made our way back home.

Elsa LOVED it. Said she’d do this everyday.

Cooper not so much.

Maisie. “Woo hoo!”

Seth and I? A little exhausted.

Family bike ride? An overall success.




Family Bike Ride

Total Cost: $9.00 for beverages at the end of the ride

Mom Lesson: Step out of the box and have a little fun.

Kid Lesson: Don’t underestimate kids’ ability to go with the flow.





This post is part of a summer-long series titled Summer Bucket List. This is my first summer home full-time with our three children. My hope for this series is that it will challenge me to adventure out of my mothering comfort zone, will provide opportunities to live and write simply, practically, beautifully and meaningfully, and will stimulate some some fun ideas for your summer as well! To check out the entire series, click here and you’ll be directed to the introductory post where all the posts are listed and linked for easy reading. Enjoy, friends! And have a blessed summer.



Nearly all the guests had left. Just a few remained, mingling and chatting quietly in our kitchen and living room.

The evening was much more than the pipe dream I thought it was when I applied to host two months prior. It was God’s dream, God’s gift to us. Singer/songwriter, Ginny Owens, in our house performing an acoustic concert for an audience of 43.

Who would have guessed?

Who would have known this was possible?

Who would have believed such a thing to be true?

Ginny shared mentoring words with young and wise singer/songwriter, Jessica Joy, on our living room couch. Before I knew it, we were all gathered for a group picture in remembrance of the night Ginny Owens and Jessica Joy performed at our house.

I honestly can’t remember how it all went down or what the conversational context was, but shortly after we dispersed from the photo, Ginny said these words to me – totally unprompted, mind you.

“You’re so fun.”

I promptly called her on her word choice. “Funny you say that because FUN is the last word I would use to describe myself. In fact, I wrote a post about that just a couple weeks ago, how I’m so NOT fun.

Ginny disagreed, “You are SO fun! You opened up your home to all these people and let us perform!”


The conversation moved on. I didn’t have much more to say about that, but deep down Ginny’s words struck me like gold.

I’m fun? Really?

She sees me as fun? Really?

There’s no way it’s true.

I’m so NOT fun. I’m one of the most serious people I know. I take everything to heart and have been told hundreds of times to have more fun and be more excited about life.

What is this talk of me being FUN?

The night wrapped and a couple hours later I found myself in bed, unable to sleep. I was wired, like a maniac, like the night before I left for the Dominican Republic with Compassion International and didn’t get a wink of sleep.

I didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 a.m.

I woke up again at 3:00 a.m. and was up wide awake until 4:30 a.m.

Seems there was a battle in the middle of that night. A battle between good vs. evil, a battle between doubt and belief, a battle between the night being an amazing miracle and the night being pretty good with a few mishaps here and there, a battle of wondering why I was mostly serious and if I was even just a little bit fun.

I hope everyone had an amazing night.

I didn’t get to say good bye to LeeAnn & Ed.

I hope so and so felt welcome.

I feel bad that three people from Aaron’s party weren’t able to make it to the concert.

And what about that sort-of-awkward moment when I might’ve dove far too deep into someone else’s most serious conversation?

Why didn’t I get a picture of me and Monica with Ginny? I should have publicly thanked Monica for encouraging me to host the concert.

I feel bad that I broke up Ginny’s awesome mentoring conversation with Jessica Joy.

I didn’t thank Jim and Dianne enough for all of their help today and they stayed far too long and late. 

Oh man.

The enemy came crashing into this middle-of-the-night adrenaline rush party of mine. His intention was to steal, destroy and kill all the joy and peace I ever felt about the Ginny Owens concert that had just happened in my house. But God wasn’t having any of that.

Sometime during my 3:00-4:30 waking, I remembered Ginny’s words.

“You’re so fun.”

What was that?

Why did she say I was fun?

What made her say and believe so quickly and easily that I was FUN?

I was all in for Ginny’s song about God “Call[ing] Me Beautiful.” But “Call Me Fun?” Not so much.

That’s when I remembered. In the middle of the pitch black room all by myself. Overdosed on adrenaline.

I remembered the 10-year-old 1986 self from home videos. The video where I rode my sky blue bike with a sky blue, orange and white striped banana seat. I was proud and true. I wasn’t afraid of what the camera thought or anyone else for that matter. I spoke my mind. I wore my homemade red backpack and striped polo shirt and stood straight and tall. I was clearly a FUN girl.

Tears came to my eyes. I felt the Spirit rush over me, reminding me that while God made me mostly serious, contemplative and thoughtful, a true INFJ at heart, He also made me FUN.

Ginny’s words had opened my eyes.

Ginny spoke what she perceived and believed to be true. She perceived and believed that I was FUN. The absolute LAST word I would use to describe myself. But God knew I needed to hear it.

He whispered it in the dark of night as I lay in bed unable to sleep. While I might not be aware of it, while I might not acknowledge it, God made a part of me to be FUN.

Sure, I tapped into that 10-year-old “fun” self in 9th grade when Jenny taught me how to swear. Sure, I must have tapped into that 10-year-old fun self in high school when I seemed to be friends with everyone and was voted homecoming queen. And surely, I tapped into my “fun” self in college with all that partying those first couple of years. But there’s more fun to be had, a different sort of fun, the kind of fun God designed me for that’s barely been tapped.

Yes, this was eye opening.

I’d go so far to say that this is what ultimately brought me peace and helped me fall back asleep that night. The realization that God created me with MORE in mind, that part of that MORE might be more FUN.


How about that?

Thank you, Ginny. I do believe God spoke truth through you that I really needed to hear for some reason.


So I’ve been wondering how this works for you, friends.

What part of you have you been holding back? What are the unknown, unexplored parts of you? Are there facets to your personality that you’ve never acknowledged, never embraced? What have you hidden from the world? What is it for you?

Perhaps you’re more adventurous than you know.

Perhaps you have an edgy side you’ve never explored.

Perhaps you need to let loose.

Perhaps you’re far more confident than you’ve let on.

Perhaps you need to initiate and believe you can do any and all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Perhaps you really ARE gracious and hospitable.

Perhaps your spirit is dying to be free.

Perhaps “just okay” is good enough.

Perhaps you don’t know and understand everything. Perhaps you don’t need to know and understand everything.

Perhaps you’re much more sensitive and tender-hearted than you’ve ever allowed yourself to be.

Perhaps you’re a dancer, a painter, a teacher, a counselor, a lover, a high flier, a farmer at heart. And you don’t even know it.

Perhaps you’re living large and you’re meant to live small.

Perhaps you’ve been living small and you’re meant to live large.

Perhaps you’ve pressed and pushed down half your real self your whole life long.

Is there anyone in the house for that?

I do believe there is.

Perhaps you know yourself oh so very well, but there’s a teeny tiny part of yourself waiting, longing to be expressed. What is that? Where is that? Why is that?

Ask yourself today.

Think about it.

Maybe you’re fun.

Maybe I’m fun.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s something else for you.

What’s the last word you’d use to describe yourself? Does something come to mind? Perhaps, just maybe, God put a little bit of that in you, too.

What is it, friend? What is it?




You might have noticed I’ve been extra quiet on the blog the past two weeks. That’s because we hosted Christian singer/songwriter, Ginny Owens, for an acoustic house show three days ago!

From day one, the house show was in God’s hands. I sensed God was at work, that He wanted to do something through this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I needed to simply surrender to His plan. This was a true act of faith for me. But very early on and all throughout the journey, I experienced a spiritual battle of doubt and fear. Faith won. I knew it would. I knew it must.

I journaled my way through the experience of hosting the Ginny Owens acoustic house show. Today, I’m letting you in on my two-month journey of doubt, fear and God’s provision.


May 13, 2015

When I opened Twitter late this morning, a tweet from Ginny Owens popped up in the center of my feed. In-between Ginny’s performances at big Christian music festivals, she and her band were going to be performing intimate acoustic house shows. Ginny was in search of hosts. The thought of hosting Ginny Owens for a concert in my own home sounded AMAZING and I figured there was nothing to lose, so I took 60 minutes to complete the online application and an additional 15 minutes to send photographs of our home. I was convinced this was a pipe dream. I thought there was NO WAY we would EVER be selected to host a Ginny Owens house show. But after I sent the application and photos, I prayed anyway, asking God to make a way for our application to be accepted if this was His will and plan.

May 14, 2015

I received an email from the House Show Agency stating they would love to have a show at our house pending management’s final approval. I was completely shocked. In awe. I had no idea that this pipe dream would become reality. The House Show Agency proposed two potential concert dates, which meant this thing was for real and I’d need to share the news with my husband to see if we could confirm! But there was just one small problem…because I thought it was a total pipe dream, I never told my husband I applied. So when I called him that afternoon, I had to tell him that I had applied AND that we had been accepted and invited to host! My husband was surprised, but thankfully open to hosting the concert at our house with one caveat. He was going to be gone on a three-day business trip leading right up to the concert, so I’d be taking on all the concert preparations by myself. The tweet came through my feed randomly. I applied on a whim. I prayed after I sent the application. I couldn’t deny that God was at work and wanted this to happen, so I sent an email to the House Show Agency stating YES, we are interested. Let’s do this!

June 12, 2015

I didn’t hear back from the House Show Agency for quite a while. So much so that I began to doubt, to fear that maybe we hadn’t been selected after all, that maybe someone better, with a bigger house, more well suited to host had been chosen instead. So much so that I’d resigned myself to the show not being at our house, that it was meant to be, that God wanted to show me another glimpse of the awesome things He could do, but it simply wasn’t happening this time. Just as I’d surrendered, just as I’d doubted the house show wasn’t happening, I received an email asking if I was still saving the date we’d discussed a month prior!

I responded with seven questions, feared and doubted that our house wasn’t big enough to host a small band and 50-person house show. I asked my husband, counted out seats and imagined a bunch of folding chairs spread across our kitchen and living room. My husband assured me fearlessly and nonchalantly, “I don’t think you need to worry, we can make it work!”


June 19, 2015

The House Show Agency responded to all seven of my questions. They wanted to know if “we’re good to move forward” and “get this [concert] locked in.”

I was still in shock, I think. And I was fearing and doubting big time. Would tickets sell? Was our house really big enough?

I sent a friend a Facebook message. I shared all the insecurities I’d been feeling about life and myself, how there’s this very big event we could host at our house, but I’m just REALLY not sure. Maybe someone else would be well suited to host? Maybe I’m supposed to suggest another location? She affirmed me. Prayed for me. Reminded me that I applied and we were accepted. Told me I should leave the rest up to God. After reading her message, I knew we needed to move forward with the concert.

In addition to the message to my friend, I contacted a young Christian singer/songwriter, Jessica Joy, and asked if she happened to be available the night of the house show. She’d come to my mind so many times I felt prompted to involve her. She had the night of the house show wide open and was willing to open the concert pending management’s approval.

June 23, 2015

This afternoon, I signed a contract which means we’ll be hosting the Ginny Owens acoustic house show in less than three weeks! I also sent an email with a special request for Jessica Joy to open the concert (with Ginny and management’s approval, of course). By late afternoon, Ginny’s management sent me a ticket link to share with family and friends.

Tonight, I personally invited five friends to the concert via Facebook message. I wanted to give them first dibs on a small group of discounted concert tickets available to us as hosts. Two were able to attend. Three already had plans for the night. My mind got to worrying. What if everyone’s busy? What if tickets don’t sell? What if Ginny’s team is disappointed in the number of people who show up for the show? What if our house doesn’t live up to expectations? What if I don’t live up to expectations?


June 24, 2015

I sent a message and ticket link to a larger group of 20 people I thought might be interested in the concert. Trickles came in…”Sounds amazing! But so sorry, I’m unable to attend. We have ___ that night.” I was so grateful for the responses, but my mind continued to race with fear and doubt. What if the tickets don’t sell? What if somebody else would have been a better host? Why am I not good at rallying troops for things like this? Peoples’ availability and interest is totally out of my hands, but for some reason, I still feel responsible for ticket sales.

June 25, 2015

Today, we received a “fully executed contract!”

June 26, 2015

We we received first details about the concert and word that Ginny would “love for Jessica Joy to be a part of the house show.” I shared the awesome update with Jessica Joy and the group of 20 on Facebook, and had one party indicate interest in three tickets almost immediately!

June 27, 2015

Only two weeks remain until the Ginny Owens concert at our house! I decided to go ahead and share the news on my personal Facebook page. The post went wild fairly quickly. Within an hour, we sold out of all 20 discounted tickets and were directing people to the regular-priced ticket link. I felt great relief knowing that with one simple Facebook post, a nice little crowd had developed for Ginny’s performance at our house. I viewed it as confirmation that God was in control, that He was going to take care of these tickets I was so worried about, that He was going to orchestrate the details and that I didn’t have to fear and doubt so much.

Behind all my fear was the fact that I didn’t want to disappoint Ginny, her management, or her band. I wanted to make our house show worth their while. I wanted them to feel like they’d made the right decision in choosing us to host.

My ticket sale fears subsided for the moment, but I still didn’t feel secure. My fears circled right back around to the size of our house. Maybe there won’t be enough room for everyone. Maybe our house isn’t big enough. Maybe I shouldn’t have applied.

I decided that I MUST let this fear go. I must TRUST that God opened these doors for a reason, that He wants us to host this show, and that He has awesome things planned for Ginny Owens, Jessica Joy and all the people who will be attending. I decided to view this as a feeding of the 5,000. Jesus took little and made much. He performed a miracle and will do it again. There will be enough space in our house for everyone who comes. I must trust this is true.

June 29, 2015

Jessica Joy shared the ticket link on Facebook and received a nice response. I shared the link on Twitter. And Ginny shared a Facebook post about the concert, too.

July 1, 2015

Today, I started to freak out a bit about ticket sales again. I’m continuing to feel the weight of responsibility to ensure “enough” ticket sales for the concert to be a success. Logically speaking, I understand that it’s NOT our responsibility to ensure sale of the general public tickets. But emotionally and psychologically, I still feel the weight. So today, I sent more Facebook messages…to a group of six women who expressed interest in the ticket link four days ago, to one of the pastors at our church, to my dad’s cousin and her daughter.

July 6, 2015

I disengaged from all things concert for the 4th of July weekend. Today, I put a second notice of the concert on my personal Facebook page. Someone contacted me yesterday to let me know they can no longer attend, so that made two $15 tickets up for grabs again. This was the second time I shared the concert news, so the post received the moderate response I expected. An encouraging comment, another wishing they could attend, and a couple handfuls of “likes.”

As the evening progressed, I became more and more encouraged. Three shares of my post. And one person who said he’d take the two discounted tickets and eight more at regular price. I received his notification when I was at Target purchasing a cart load of water, pop and coffee for the concert. I breathed another sigh of relief. This concert has NEVER been in my hands. It is God’s doing. He has a plan and will make it happen in His own timing.


July 7, 2015

When we stopped by a boys baseball game tonight, a friend surprised me by letting me know she’d purchased a concert ticket. She asked if she should share the ticket link with a friend who might really enjoy the concert. “Go for it! Of course,” I said. God’s lining up everyone who needs to be at the concert. Of this, I am sure.

July 8, 2015

I’m continuing to prepare for the concert as I’m able. With three kids home for summer, my husband at work all day and heading out for a three-day business trip, nearly all of my “free time” this week has been spent doing intermittent concert prep. We have most of the beverages. My mom is making four varieties of bars. I’ve borrowed trays and ice buckets from neighbors, two sets of folding chairs from neighbors and more to come from my mom and aunt. Lining up a coffee percolator, bar stools, guitar stands and a music stand. The carpets have been cleaned. I found a cute caddy at an antique store over the 4th I’m going to fill with old books, vintage vases and delicate flowers for decor. I’m not an antiquey kind of girl, but it seems I have fresh vision.

Despite the forward progression, I’m still feeling a bit stressed. The baby isn’t taking her nap today. Our oldest daughter had a fit about oiling her trumpet valves and taking a bath. And the oldest isn’t being super helpful. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels with house and cleaning prep, but I can only trust that God will make a way, that He will provide time for me to get this place ready for the concert. It’s now 75 hours until Ginny arrives with her crew.


July 9, 2015

This afternoon was a bit anxiety ridden. So much to do, and three kids to mother at the same time. Anxiety was setting in just thinking of all the to dos. And my husband was getting ready to leave for a three-day business trip – Thursday, Friday, Saturday leading up to the concert. If all goes perfectly with his flights, he’ll be home two hours before Ginny & the band arrive. But I got some stuff done. I kept progressing towards the goal of hosting this thing that was God’s from the beginning anyway!

July 10, 2015

We dropped our youngest off with my mom this morning. My parents are caring for her Friday through Sunday so we can prepare for and host the concert. While I love our “baby” heaps, she’s very busy, so it’s tremendously helpful to have her away for the event. As the day progressed, I realized there’s absolutely NO WAY we would have been able to host this concert had we NOT had child care for our youngest. Thank you mom and dad. And oh yeah…did I mention my mom made five varieties of bars for concert refreshments? A life saver, for sure.

Cleaning started strong. We made our way fast – me, our son and our oldest daughter. When our oldest daughter left for an overnight birthday party, time continued to tick super fast, but our progress seemed to slow. At 4 pm, I was feeling good about things. By 8 pm when my mother-in-law checked in via text, I was feeling just okay about where we stood with the to-do list. Now at 11:42 p.m., I feel fine. I have peace. We’re not nearly as far as I’d like to be at this point, but we’ll get things done. It will work out. My in-laws are coming mid-day tomorrow and will help us close the loop. For now, we’ve done ALL we could and had fun doing it!

Ticket sales seem to be going well. 54 hours ago, management reported 18 online ticket sales plus our 20 discounted tickets equaled 38 guests. But since then, there’s been additional sales reported to me, so I know we’ll be near sold out. It WILL be a full house.

Which brings me back to doubt, worry and fear #1, the fear I had from the beginning – that we won’t have enough room for a full house of 40-50 guests + Ginny and her two band members. Despite my fear and doubt, everything has gone like clockwork. All the doors have been wide open. And I’m continuing to remember that I prayed about this, that God’s given us an incredible opportunity to host, that He will make a way. So I am trusting He will part the seas, trusting that everyone will fit, be able to see and partake in this ministry of music.





July 14, 2015

It’s been three days since the Ginny Owens’ house show. It was amazing. Went off without a hitch. With the continued help of our kids, my in-laws, and my husband for the last two hours, we got all the cleaning and preparations completed on time. Jessica Joy’s opening performance was beautifully executed. Ginny Owens’ performance was absolutely amazing! We had a full house of approximately 45 guests. Everyone fit just fine and enjoyed themselves tremendously. And we had the great honor of special one-on-one time with Ginny and her band after the concert.

Doubt and fear worked overtime to steal my hope, peace and joy throughout this two-month journey. But God proved to be faithful and fully in control the whole way through.


It’s a miracle.

Pure grace.

For me, you, and Ginny Owens too.


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