Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving! I'm so embarrassed that it's been 3 months since I posted on here. I'm almost thinking what's the point, since everyone has just written me off by now. I really thought things would slow down a bit after the traveling this summer, but it's just been a different kind of busy. Movie premieres, caring for a failing grandma, a few trips, just "stuff" that we all deal with on a regular basis. So I apologize for not getting back on here. Maybe God knew I didn't really have anything important to say :)

I recently wrote a devotional for my friends at Sisters in Scripture on Facebook and wanted to share it with all of you here, too. It's taken from Philippians 3:13-14, which are our ministry's key verses. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

When was the last time you had one of those "mountaintop" experiences? You know the ones I'm talking about, right? Going on a missions trip, being involved with a major outreach event, or attending a retreat or conference where you felt free to experience Jesus and His love and really spend time with Him without any distractions from the outside world. You felt changed, more spiritual somehow, and couldn't keep from smiling from ear to ear.

As a teen, I attended church retreats often and usually came back feeling like it was me and Christ against the world and nothing would beat us. Then I'd get back into everyday life and slowly the things that bugged me before would start getting on my nerves again and the relationships that hurt me would start attacking again, and I would get to the point where I forgot how I felt back at that amazing retreat. I'd feel so guilty, because everyone would say "don't lose that feeling" and "keep up what you learned at that retreat." I didn't know why I couldn't stay on that mountain and felt I had done something wrong.

As a slightly more mature Christian, I've realized that each experience in our lives shouldn't be seen as a mountaintop, but just as another step in our journey. Each of these steps helps us grow and molds us to be more like Christ (if we allow it). But we need to let go of that expectation that it has to be some huge step and light coming down from heaven kind of experience. That is based on feelings, and feelings fluctuate so frequently, especially in women.

Being a part of a recent "Get REAL, InC. missions trip to the Bahamas reminded me about this problem we sometimes have. I know many of us were very moved and changed by the trip, but I want to be sure we don't try to make it about that week. That was a step toward the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. We need to take what we learn from the experiences God allows in our lives and use them to help us take another step toward our Savior.

As the year starts to come to an end, we are tempted to look for the "highlights"-the mountaintop experiences. I challenge you to instead look for those quiet, subtle moments in your year where you look back now and can see that God was working on your heart even then. Count each step toward Him as a significant blessing in your life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

School's here...again

Wow, where did the summer go? Everyone always says that, don't they? I catch myself saying the same thing, then I answer myself (yes, I do that alot once everyone goes back to school) with "you had the same # of days you've always had. You need to take a minute and enjoy each one." And I'm right :) But now, whether I rushed through my summer days or not, it's over, and where does that leave me? Well, swamped with work that's piled up for one thing. And alone, for another thing.

A friend of mine said to me the other day that she doesn't do alone very well. I, on the other hand, love my alone time. I love getting lost in my thoughts and whatever I'm doing and not have to answer questions or talk to anyone for a while. What I'm not good at, however, is being still. So even when I'm alone, I feel like I need to be "doing" all the time. I'm not sure why I have so much trouble being still, but it definitely carries over into my time with the Lord. I can be easily distracted by my work, my jobs at home, and my volunteer time at the girls' school and excuse the fact that I didn't kneel before the throne of the Almighty today because what I was doing was important stuff too that needed to get done.

Yes, I know. It sounded really pathetic when I said it out loud, too. But that's way too often the way I live. Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." How do I know the path of life and joy and eternal pleasures if I'm not seeking Him? He can't make known something to me if I'm not even listening. He can't give me joy if I'm not spending time in His presence.

I'm not sure why it is such a tough thing for women to stop multi-tasking and just be still before Him. But I know one thing. I'm going to sign off, so I can spend time with Him right now. Do you need to do the same?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Giving up YOUR Desires

We went school shopping yesterday--always a fun day for me to take out the girls and let them pick out their paper, notebooks, folders, etc. I'm not sure why that's such a blast for kids, but it really is. Then we go to lunch somewhere fun and spend the afternoon getting their tennis shoes for the year and a couple of outfits. We had such a blast, and the girls actually remembered to say thank you after we left EVERY store. It was really unbelievable!

Our last stop of the day was the Bible bookstore to spend gift cards they had received. They were so excited to see what they could get for their money. As soon as we walked in the door, Jadyn saw a book she knew I wanted and immediately offered to use her money to buy it for me. She argued with me for a minute or two, then was convinced she should use it for something she wanted. They went through the store choosing several items, and for once, Courtney was ready well before Jadyn. Courtney wasn't aware of the conversation with Jadyn, but she saw the same book she knew I wanted. Without my knowledge, she put back a CD she had been wanting for over a year and purchased the book for my birthday. Unfortunately, I didn't know and when I asked to see the CD in the car I was rewarded with tears and "I didn't want you to know. I wanted it to be a surprise!" I felt terrible, but also so grateful for such unselfish little girls.

I'm not telling you this to brag on my kids. Really. Today, she reminded me what totally selfless giving is all about and got me thinking about how often I act that way in my life. Of course, I would give up anything for those I love, but what about those I don't know? What about those who don't like me or treat me well? The Bible says to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us. Do I act like that?

And let's take it a step further. Am I willing to give up my own desires for my Heavenly Father? If I really want to do something, would I give that up if I know God would have me do something else? Even in small matters, like how we spend our extra money. Do I use it all for His glory and good? I hope so. It's easy to say I would give up my own desires for Him, but when we're in that specific situation where it's something we really, really want and it seems soooo "right", do we give it up for Him?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wrecked Still...

Well, we're back from our missions trip to Guatemala and trying to get back into the swing of "regular" life. The trip was way too short for us to emotionally grapple with everything we needed to while there. So now, we all keep revisiting different issues and emotions and processing and praying through things together. The word we keep coming back to is "wrecked." People have asked us to share about the trip, but to be honest we don't really know how to put the experience into words. Let me start with the praises...

Our travels were safe and without complication. One couple on the team missed their flight and had to arrive by way of LA, but finally made it the next morning. No one was injured or sick while there. We all received the food and nutrition we needed and had warm beds to sleep in at night. God was able to use the resources and talents we brought with us to accomplish several things including a mini-makeover in the baby house, new paint in one of the teen boys' houses, new meds in the clinic, new shoes on some feet, craft and story time with the toddlers, doing nails and hair with toddlers and older girls, and helping feed and care for the babies. We experienced a beautiful church service with freedom in their worship like I've never seen before and sat in on youth group and a school music class.

Even with all God allowed us to accomplish, we felt very inadequate when compared to the vast needs at the orphanage and the country as a whole. We saw some of the destruction from the recent natural disasters and the extreme poverty the country deals with every day. In one view, we could see the poverty in the valley, and the great wealth in the mountains above. The staff at the orphanage are doing an amazing job with the resources they have, but they need so much more. The delays in the development of the children are very evident, and there are nutrition deficits. But the saddest thing for me was looking into their eyes and seeing a detachment there that is indescribable. If you can engage them, their whole face lights up. But many times there is just a stare with...uncertainty or fear, I'm not sure which. It's as if strangers come and go so much that they don't want to attach themselves emotionally to anyone.

God allowed us to get "close" to a few of the children, including a 2 yr old little girl who we'll call Y. We would love to bring her home one day, if at all possible. As well as a 3 yr old little boy we'll call J. We also were able to form relationships with a couple of the house parents and plan to continue to keep in touch and support and pray for them. They asked us to pray for loneliness and acceptance among the other staff, more male house parents to give the children a father-figure, health concerns, and of course the children.

We still are shedding tears off and on as our hearts ache for the little ones we left. We're grateful for all He's given us here in the States, but we would love to be able to share it with them.

The pictures tell the story probably as well as, if not better than, we do. If you would like to take a look at the pictures, we'll have them up on our Facebook page in the next day or two (!/pages/Higher-Ground/62792533430?ref=ts). Thank you so much for your prayers.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Day 3 of the trip: The word for the trip is "wrecked". It's heartbreaking to see these children in need of fathers and a real home with a forever mommy. Courtney (and thus I) broke down last night as her heart broke for these little ones. I feel constantly in a state of near-tears, but also at the same time want to give these children fun, love and laughter while I can. We've talked about as sad as it is for us to see what these children are lacking, they have FAR more than many, many others in Guatemala. When we arrived at the airport, a little boy no older than 6 (if that), asked to carry our luggage so he could make a little money for his family. He just wanders around the airport asking to help all day.

God has answered so many of our requests while we're here. He's given us weather that's not too hot, taken care of Robbie's arms, allowed us to really serve, and opened our eyes a little more to the needs of others. Our major goals were to be selfless servants and to build a relationship with at least 1 person that went below the surface. I've been able to encourage the English-speaking staff members, but it's been hard with the Spanish-speaking staff.

The most frustrating part for me of the whole trip has been the inability to communicate well with so many of them-staff and children. Many know a little English, but still I can't understand what they're saying to me or each other. It's been really difficult. Of course, the kids don't care, but it kills me. So I'm praying that God will release me from this barrier I'm feeling and allow me to feel effective despite this barrier.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Only 2 more full days left. It's going very quickly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We're going to try to blog while we're away, but we may not have a chance until we get back. We appreciate your prayers for safety, good health, and that we will stay strong the whole time we're there. Also pray for servants' hearts in each of us.

Heading out

It's been a bit of a roller coaster this past week. We've been preparing our hearts and lives to serve the precious orphans at the Casa Bernabe orphanage in Guatemala since last fall. All the funding came in, the passports arrived in plenty of time, and we were all set to start the packing when the country was hit by not 1 but 2 natural disasters in a matter of a couple of days! The Pacaya volcano (about 20 miles from Casa Bernabe) erupted and spit lava causing the area to be covered in ash. Then just a couple of days later, there was tropical storm Agatha, which was responsible for well over a hundred deaths in Guatemala. The storm also caused the black ash to harden into a concrete-like substance.

At first we were pretty sure we weren't going to be able to make it, then we were, then not so sure. Now, it looks like the airport will reopen, and it will be safe for us to travel into Guatemala on Thursday.

So I'm thinking about these disasters and the people who have lost their homes and/or their families. It reminded me of Job and how God allowed Satan to take everything away from Job. God knew Job would continue to remain faithful to God. Job lost his land, his living, his children, and his health. If I was in Guatemala with my family, and they were taken from me in an instant, I think I'd be devastated. If He also took my way of living, my home, and my health, would I want to go on living? Would I remain faithful to God? I hope I would, but I don't know. Thankfully, I've never had to suffer that kind of loss, so I really don't know. I hope I would remember that Job stayed faithful, and God rewarded him with more blessings for the rest of his life than he ever had before. But I don't know. What about you?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Give Thanks in all circumstances

Be joyful always, pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess. 5:16-18

So this was our family verse to memorize a couple of weeks ago, and this morning I realized how often God kept showing this verse to me since then. Different people keep posting it on FB, it is stuck in my head all of the time, and finally today (I'm a little slow) I realized there may just be a reason for that. You see, we sold our house on Monday, and I haven't been super excited about it. I know I can be joyful without being "Woohoo" happy, and I AM very grateful that He brought a buyer for our home. I've thanked Him in between bouts of pouting. But I'm also pretty sad to leave this house and the neighborhood I've grown to love. We have no new home to go to yet, and in the back of my head I keep thinking that it can't be as good as what it is now. I've prayed about it a lot and keep giving it back to Him. I know that's wrong, because we've done this 3 times and it keeps getting better and better. But those are my honest thoughts.

So this morning I realized this verse was getting placed before me over and over to remind me of the part I'm missing. The Always, the Continually, the ALL. That's God's will for me. Not in between my own selfish thoughts and pouting. Not alongside the thoughts of never having it "this good". But I am to be joyful, praying, and giving thanks Always, Continually, in ALL circumstances. I need to cover my life, my talk, my walk, everything with joy, prayer, and thanksgiving to God for all He has done and for who He is. God is good All the time! And I need to live like that!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are you Ready?

We have the blessing of singing with a dear friend on Sunday. His name is Brandon, and he is an amazing vocalist with a heart for the Lord. His only fault-he is a Southern Gospel follower. Just joking about it being a fault, but he knows every Southern Gospel song ever written, really. We're going to sing a couple with him on Sunday, and one we've been working on is called "Are You Ready?" It talks about being ready when Christ returns.

For unbelievers, it means deciding today to stop living for yourself and start following Christ. Commit your life and all that you are to living for Him.

If you already have committed your life to Christ, are you ready? has a different meaning. I was walking to pick up my girls from school a couple of days ago, and the sky had this odd crease down the middle from a plane or cloud. It looked like it was about to split in half. I thought what if it did? What if in the next moment I would be lifted up through the sky to meet my Maker and Savior. Was I ready? What if today He said, "Welcome home, how was your day? How did you bring me glory today? Did you live in My grace today or try to survive on your own works?" I had to go through my day and figure out the answers to these questions, and some moments of my day weren't so pretty.

Here's the verse I'm singing in the song: The Bible speaks of two men who were standing in a field. Where one is taken, and one is left behind. Two women in the kitchen. One goes and one remains. So get your house in order while there's time. In the cross there is salvation. Through the blood there is a way to secure your destination on that resurrection day.

It's not about me. It's about Him. His blood, His power, His grace offered to me to live in victory every day. What if it was today? Are you ready?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Update on Robbie

We haven't posted an update on Robbie lately, because progress at this point is pretty slow. He went to PT last week and was told he was doing great as far as mobility and motion, but needs to "stop trying to be Superman" and put the brakes on a bit. Because he is moving quite a bit, there is popping and clicking and sticking going on that shouldn't be. He was really hoping to be able to do some yardwork by now, so please pray for patience for him, that he doesn't get discouraged by having to slow down, and that he doesn't do anything that will impede his healing. He still does not have full range of motion and is continuing to gently work toward that goal.

You don't realize how much everyone works together in a family until someone can't do their part. I'd ask that you pray that the girls and I can get done what needs to be done around the inside and outside of the house, especially with all the showings on the house we've been having and the busy schedule we are jumping into for the summer. We have a summer packed with events, and I am needing to focus my attention on getting the props and sets ready for the video in July and preparing for all the various concerts and camps this summer. I am feeling quite overwhelmed and often have to stop and just pray for help to relax and not stress about the timing of everything.

We knew it was going to be a long road ahead, and we're not in crisis mode anymore. For that we are very thankful. But there's still a lot of healing time ahead. Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the Surface

Some of you may know we are trying to sell our house right now. I was cleaning our house like a madwoman on Friday for a showing we were having, and I realized how good I was at making things look clean on the surface. I have the ability to "stage" a house so that it looks like it is immaculate. I hide away the bills, school papers, pictures, and dog bowl. Other things sometimes get thrown in the dryer. I wipe up the wall marks and dust really quickly with those new wipes. It lasts at least until after the showing. And I know to put away half of my kitchen counter so it looks like a hotel. Please don't think I'm bragging, because those thoughts quickly led me to the realization that often I do that same thing with the other areas in my life. For so long I wanted to look like I had it all together and wasn't struggling with self control, perfectionism, pride...

I read a book called "The 12 Steps for a Recovering Pharisee...Like Me", and it changed my mindset. I am a recovering pharisee, too. I have worried about how what I say makes me look. I have worried about what I wear and what others will think of me because of my look. I have thought too much about impressing others. I have to work hard at stripping back the layers of pride and perfectionistic thinking that have been built up and really let people see the real, vulnerable Denise. I almost said "weak", but I am not weak. I have weaknesses, but I am strong. My strength comes from the Lord, and it is only when I allow myself to be real and vulnerable that He can make me strong!

I would suggest the book if you haven't read it. More importantly, I would highly suggest trying out the "being real" thing. Don't wear makeup for a day. Don't worry about making sure you look or sound just right to others. Just let people see you for who you are. Zits and all. As hard as it is to start, the freedom it allows is pretty amazing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We love to hear fun ideas from families about them spending time together without spending a fortune. We know there are many who love to hang out together but are on a tight budget. Last year we were trying to figure out what to do on Spring Break and wanted it to be amazing but had little money to work with at the time.

I saw someone talking about staycations on the news and googled it. From there the ideas started flowing, and we ended up having what my girls say is "the greatest vacation ever." We wanted to share some of the ideas with you and hope that it spurs new ideas in you that you will share on our blog ( or on here. We're working on some for 2010 right now, because Spring Break is only 3 weeks away! We thought we'd be filming our children's DVD, but since that's not happening until July we are going to surprise the girls with a few special days. I'll share those days later, but here's a glimpse of 2009's Staycation.

Last year's journey around the world (the key to each day is the costumes and characters you create complete with fictional names):

Day one (or the nicest day): Camping at Yellowstone National Park
Restaurant called the "Canteen"
Cereal in a box for breakfast and fruit
Free exploring time in the am; lay and read; Google Yellowstone and identify the various animals living on our campgrounds
Hotdogs and chips for picnic lunch
Fishing-afternoon activity and bike ride to search for "footprints"
Go Fishing
Freshly caught fish for dinner (have back up fish if needed)-serve on tins and in thermoses
Build a fire, roast marshmallows/smores, sing campfire songs & tell stories
Sleep in sleeping bags in the family room-everyone!-or borrow a large tent
Buy glowsticks and play hide-and-seek or tag with them

Day two: Hawaii
Restaurant called the Copa Cabana
Buy leis and have a few decorations (shell centerpieces)
Breakfast is coconuts, bananas, and Hawaiian sweet bread french toast
Morning activity-make a lei or fly a kite
Lunch-ham sandwiches and pineapple
Afternoon activity-free time then make your grass skirt with paper strips…, watch a movie set in Hawaii
Dinner is build your own grilled skewers and grilled corn on the cob
Have a luau party with dancing, grass skirts and umbrella drinks and invite a few friends to join you

Day three: Wild West party
Restaurant called the Chuck Wagon
Buy red bandanas, gingham checked cloths and burlap sacks for decorations; make a horse with 2 sawhorses and a long broom covered with a big blanket and a horse head taped to the front
Breakfast-eggs and bacon
Morning activity-Go to the “Sheriff’s office” and make wanted posters-dress up with vests, cowboy hats or bonnet, frilly dress, etc; take picture & put picture on brown paper bag paper, print out “Wanted! And Big Reward” with a statement at the bottom “If you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of this despicable criminal, please call the Local Sheriff.”
Lunch is sloppy joes and fries
Afternoon activity-barrel racing outside with trash cans; lasso stuff; horseshoes
Dinner-b’bque ribs, chicken, mac n cheese, salad, and horseshoe biscuits, root beer or other bottled drinks-sassafras
Play card games

Day four: Kids plan
They loved getting involved and making the plans
Ours ended up being the Indianapolis Children's Museum (where grandma is a member and got us all in free)
Make your own pizzas for dinner

Day five: Spa Day
Relax at home
Take baths while reading books
Do nails, hair, makeup (probably won't work with the boys :)
Stay in robes all day
Order dinner in and ice cream for dessert
Finish with a movie

I hope this gets you started on your own creative staycation experience!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Update on Robbie

The prescription pain meds are now completely out of Robbie's body. Yeah God! While he's in quite a bit of pain with just Advil and Tylenol, he's very happy not to be sick and hot anymore. No major side effects from going off the meds, which is great. He is realizing how much he doesn't remember about the past 4 weeks, which is kind of sad. He's having trouble sleeping, and we're not sure if it's the pain or the Tylenol PM that's having the opposite effect on him.

His therapy has been bumped up a notch too. He's now hanging a bag with a 2lb container of peanut butter on his left arm to try to pull it straight. It's a pretty painful process, but for whatever reason his left arm isn't progressing quite like the right. So they're trying to help it along a bit.

He goes back to work 1/2 days a week from tomorrow. Pray that he feels comfortable driving by then and opening doors. Also pray that he can sleep, because his body really needs it to keep healing. And finally, pray for more opportunities to share Christ and bring glory to His name through this. We feel the prayers from everyone and know that God is going to use this small trial. We may not know how, but as our verse from our 2nd DVD promises, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on Robbie

Robbie had his 1st follow up with the doctor today. The doctor called him a "rockstar" and said he is making great progress. He also saw the PTist, and she is encouraged by his progress as well. As a matter of fact, she is presenting his case at a conference where she is teaching doctors. I guess having 2 arms broken gave her 2 case studies in one patient :)

Robbie has another week and a 1/2 off work after this week, then he'll be able to go back 1/2 days. He also decided to stop taking the pain meds yesterday and has started just Advil and Tylenol. Please pray he does okay with the pain. He was on one of the highest-powered meds out there.

He's worn out and now sleeping soundly. But he's not been nauseous since he went off the pain meds, so he feels 100% better.

Thank you all for your prayers and concern for Robbie. We treasure all of you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Update on Robbie

Thanks for checking in here to find out what's going on with Robbie. He is slowly but steadily improving in motion. He is extremely tired from the physical therapy and has been sick the last couple of days again. Not sure why this time. Maybe from starting to wean off the pain meds, or maybe from the pain itself. Don't know, but that makes it more difficult to get the needed exercises in each day.

It's a long road, you know? Kind of like life. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And there will be days when things are really rough, and we feel attacked from every direction. Or days when we feel like God could never love us after what we've done. Then there are days when we are soaring and truly living in His grace covering for us. But why don't we live like that every day. We can. The goal is to live in that covering all the time, because that's the way God sees us. His perfect, holy children covered by His grace, because of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us on the cross. We just need to keep going, keep pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). Run the marathon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update on Robbie

Another physical therapy visit this morning. He threw up on the way there and has been in bed since we got back. Still making progress, although his left arm is not straightening quite as much as they'd like to see. They'll reevaluate on Friday. He gets really sick when he's riding in a car, so that just compounds the issues. God has been so good to us. The PTist he sees is the director of the program, and she is amazing. She is just the kind of personality Robbie needed. Also, we've been able to share about Higher Ground and all of the people around the country praying for Robbie. A couple other therapists have overheard our conversations and were asking questions about the ministry as well.

Keep praying specifically for Robbie not to be sick, for the full range of motion to come back, and for God to change us and use us through this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I promise I have a really good excuse for not being on here in such a long time. Elbows! Robbie broke both of his about 3 weeks ago, and it is amazing how many things you need your elbows to help you do. And no one really thinks about elbows. We have received so much love and support through this little trial in our lives, and many cards expressing concern and prayers. One in particular has really touched me, and I wanted to share it here. I pray it's an encouragement to you as well.

"I can't think of a single Scripture passage about God using His mighty elbows, although He surely has some, or His mighty arm would have been directionally challenged. His Word, Jesus, has elbows, or He'd have difficulty with the delicacy needed to divide between flesh and spirit, bone and marrow as He performs surgery on our hearts. God provided elbows, surely to Adam and Eve in the garden, and returned them to the great host He put back together in the Valley of Dry Bones.

Robbie, I may not remember your face, but I doubt that I will ever forget your elbows, and I look forward to what God has to teach us all about how essential is that rather obscure part of the Body of Christ. Surely there are many of us who are hard at work every day behind the scenes, helping the arms to be effective, and the hands to do all the creative and amazing things they do with the full power of the arms behind them.

I am sorry for your suffering, rejoice in those victorious moments when you rise above them. Thank you for your honest and transparency as you-and your whole family-pass through this fiery trial. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all..."

So many times in life, I want to be the face of Christ or the arms of Christ doing the "big" jobs. But this was a great reminder to me that we need elbows. If you have been serving and feel unappreciated, unnoticed, or like your job is not important, know that you are needed and that God appreciates your effort and it does not go unnoticed by Him!