Move over adults… Youth are taking over the church.

We are in awe of ALL God did at our Fruit of the Roots youth event last weekend!! Youth from Vineyard churches all over Oregon and Vancouver, gathered at our church to worship and seek God together. They connected with one another, old friends and new, deepening community. They had loads of fun, ran around like loons, drank liters of gatorade and ate tons of food… And they worshipped. They prayed. And they served.

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Together the youth made care packages for the Police officers in our community, they gave Hope packs out to people at the hospital and prayed in the emergency room, they made shoes for children in Africa suffering from jiggers thru the ministry Sole Hope, they made meals and gave them to our homeless community, and they prayed for and gave money to various people God led them to.

Personally for our family, God met us with His kindness and faithfulness. Here are a few stories… Selah (6yo) prayed after hearing testimony of eyes being healed on Saturday… “God You are the only God, the One True God. You are the Healer, not the sicker, You are the Healer.” I loved how she prayed “not the sicker”  🙂 The Truth of who God is has been sealed upon her heart. Salem (10 yo) was battling some discouragement when we came to the church. I asked him to come and listen to the service Saturday night, as testimonies were being shared from outreaches the youth participated in on Saturday afternoon. As he listened to the testimonies, he was reminded of the Truth of Who GOD IS. Immediately, the discouragement lifted and he returned to his joyful silly self! This year was Soleil’s (12yo) first time to participate in Fruit of the Roots as part of the youth group. She has been sharing stories of her outreach group going out into the community and serving people God led them to with us all week. She is growing with a burning passion for Jesus that is evident in her joy and Worship!!

Sunday morning, we had an overflow of joy in worship as our church community gathered for our service. There was freedom to dance and shout as we all proclaimed “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God!” Across all of the generations represented in our church, from babies to 80 years young, we proclaimed and sang out “We are the Children of God! We know Whose we are, we are the Children of God!” After the worship time, Adam called for prayer over those in need of healing, addiction and for an increase of Joy. He asked the youth to pray and God moved powerfully over those who responded. We sang again “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. This time, I asked one of our 8th graders to lead out on the song … hesitantly she started singing (since I put her on the spot!) but WOW, God gave her courage and she sang boldly and beautifully as He used her to lead us!

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Sunday evening, we had our Harvest Party. Families from the church and community gathered and our little building was filled with everyone enjoying LOTS of candy, chili, games and FUN!!!

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Adults, be aware – THIS is what happens when young people are in the church. And it is GOOD!  Thanks for reading… our story continues… In Him, LRB

Homeschooling 101

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School field trip to Astoria, OR! I’m such an awesome Homeschool Mom!

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School on the deck… with the chickens…

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Salem LOVES science! Project caterpillar —> butterfly

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Playing UNO ~ and learning math with her dolls 🙂

For the past year, I have been a Homeschool Mom –or HM, when I don’t feel like typing out the entire word– to our 3 amazing kids. This may sound cliche, but it has truly been a journey. We have homeschooled thru their 5th grade, 2nd grade and preK years… I think… At least I think they’ve graduated to 6th, 3rd and Kinder. I think they’ve learned all they need to know as 5th grade, 2nd grade and preschoolers. I think they’ll remember all I taught them. I think they’ll do well in school this year. I think they’ll graduate high school… eventually, right?

Reflecting on a year of a homeschool, it has been the best year and the most difficult year for our family. Our homeschool experience this year was shaped by the challenging and beautiful, mountain and valley, and joy-filled and tear-filled moments, simultaneously. If there is one piece of homeschooling wisdom I can share with you from my experience a HM this year, which absolutely encapsulates my feelings beautifully… it is this…..

My favorite part of homeschooling is the home part. My least favorite part is the school part.

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Kids teaching each other and their animals 🙂

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Our table – always full of school books and food.

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Reading time 🙂

A year ago we moved from Ohio to Oregon. Before we moved, we made the decision to homeschool, mostly based on the fact that we’re crazy. Also, the timing of our move, our unknown housing situation and limited school options contributed to our decision. But I was willing and ready for this school adventure. Friends in Ohio encouraged us in our first homeschool endeavor. They gave me books, websites, helpful suggestions. Still. I had so much anxiety and apprehension.

Once we landed in Oregon, new friends cheered me on – telling me lies, “You’ll be a great HM! You CAN do this! Give yourself grace, you just moved ACROSS THE FLIPPIN’ COUNTRY!” I felt better when they would give me these pep talks. For a few minutes at least.

It was super stressful moving and homeschooling. I gained 20 lbs — 5 lbs before we moved, stressing over selling our house in Ohio, 5 lbs living with our parents and moving again into our rental, aaaand 10 lbs homeschooling. 

IT’S BEEN GREAT!!! 

Still. I remained encouraged knowing I had great friends near me, and across the country in Ohio, and across the world in India who were also homeschooling….. aaaaand I had a little moto I would tell myself to laugh thru day sometimes….. “Homeschooling, Unschooling, We don’t know what the heck we’re doing.”

As challenging as homeschooling was for ME – the HM, the kids did a fantastic job!! They did their best with the tools they had, and amidst the transition they were walking thru with the stress of moving to a new state, new friends, new church… leaving behind their old house, old friends, old church. And I could not be more proud of them. So, this year we may not have learned everything we needed to know, but there is one thing I know for certain…..

The kids are going —> B A C K TO S C H O O L !!! <— 09.08.15

Have you homeschooled? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you! Please share and follow our journey! In Him, Leslie 🙂

One more thing… {How we barely avoided a serious car accident}

Warning: This post is emotionally charged. Read at your own risk.

This evening we witnessed the worst car wreck I have ever seen in my 38 years of life. The kids and I were on way home down “TV Highway” – a road we travel multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. As we were heading home, I noticed a truck with a trailer a few cars ahead of us. It was swerving in and out of our lane for a minute, and then swerved left, into the turn lane. The kids and I watched as the truck stayed in the turn lane for a minute. I could not shake the feeling this truck was going to be a huge hazard on the road, and thought to myself, “This truck is crazy. Maybe the driver is having an emergency and he really needs to turn (brilliant idea for swerving into a turn lane, right?) Maybe he’s just a dumb ass. Maybe he wasn’t paying attention for a second and forgot *he needed to get into the turn lane…” (btw-not sure *he was he, but assuming he was, and calling him a *he for this stories sake) These are the thoughts running thru my mind for a few seconds, only to realize NO. *He’s just crazy.

He begins to swerve right, out of the turn lane and back into our lane, cutting off the 2 cars ahead of us, which were the only 2 cars between us. I’m slowing down more, thinking – I need to call 911 and report this driver – But I can’t call while I’m driving – it’s illegal!! Within 30 seconds – I’m telling the kids – “This is why we always pay attention when we’re driving. This is why we don’t drink and drive. He must be on drugs or something… Something is really wrong with this guy… What a dumb ass. He is such a crazy driver.” Within the next 30 seconds – as I’m giving my wonderful driving advice to our 11, 8 and 5 year olds – He swerves into the right lane, driving full speed (about 40-45mph), crashing into several cars stopped at the red light at 185th, a major intersection along TV Highway, on his way to crashing into the Chevron gas station, finally halting his path of destruction. The sights and sounds of the crash were surreal. Our eyes glued to the catastrophe merely 2 cars ahead of us… we were in shock.

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I am crying out “Jesus Jesus, *Let no one be hurt!” The kids were crying as they witnessed the whole thing right before their young eyes. I’m calling on the name of Jesus and speaking in tongues praying over the whole scene. I pull over and wait. I felt like I should wait for a minute. Thoughts swirling – I’m praying – I get out of my car and ask the 2 cars ahead of us (barely missed by the rampant truck driver) “Do you know if everyone is okay?” They thought so by what they could see. People are swarming around the scene. A few moments later, the first cop arrives. I wait for a few more minutes, wondering should I stay and try to pray for the people? How can I do that? Can I leave my kids in the car and jump onto the scene of the accident? Should I hang around to give a witness statement? …..A few more moments pass, and as multiple police and fire units respond, I decide it’s probably best to move out of the way.

We drive home the back way. I talk thru what just happened with the kids – “This is why we have to pay attention all around us. We might be a great driver, but we have to watch out for other crazy drivers. We don’t know when another crazy driver might be right behind us.”

Suddenly the reality of the situation sinks in. The depth of what ‘could have happened’ is revealed in my spirit. We had just been at the store. If we had we left ONE minute earlier… We don’t know where we would’ve been on TV Highway in relation to the crazy truck driver. The kids were over-done by the time we left the store, so we were rushing out. But… If we had not stopped for that one more thing – we were about to check out… and “WAIT! I forgot something!” Chocolate – Momma’s got to have her chocolate!

We never know when the one more thing could be the thing that keeps us from being involved in a serious accident. The Holy Spirit guides us in all wisdom and leads us in the paths of chocolate… But seriously. He leads us. We need Him, wherever we are on the road, and wherever we are on this journey we call LIFE!!! We need to be attentive. Wherever we are on the road, whether we are in the direct path of a crazy driver or not. I’m not a perfect driver, but I try to drive with awareness of all that is going on around me. On the way home, I’m reminding the kids what a great driver I am and I’m sure they were taking notes… “Mommy’s never been in a wreck that was her fault. I’ve only been in three car accidents and none were my fault. And once I hydroplaned across a 4 lane highway miraculously avoiding hitting any other cars. One wreck happened when another car ran thru a 4-way stop sign and sideswiped us, another time I was rear ended while stopped at a red light, and another time I was sideswiped while driving thru a neighborhood, by a truck who was being chased by the police!” Thankfully, I was not injured in any of the car accidents or hydroplane incident. So Thankful.

The reality settled deeper into my spirit. Pay attention to everything. I don’t know why all this happened, but I do know God is in control. And He says – Pay attention to the ‘one more thing’. But what about the things we can not see? The Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me, He is our rear guard, our protection from what we can not see and when we can not see. The cars who were in the path of the crazy driver most likely did not see him coming, unless they were looking into their rear view mirror right at that moment. They did not have a chance to respond, and even if they had, there was nowhere to go. They were locked in. There was no escape route for those cars. I don’t know why all this shit happened?!? But I DO trust God and I know He is in control. Things could have been much worse, from what we saw unfold before our eyes.

In spite of terrible car accidents, in spite of crazy drivers and whatever or whoever may try to pummel you from behind. In spite of everything evil in this world, He will make right the wrongs in this world. He holds all things together. In times grief He will be our comfort. He will bring forth mercy. There will be justice.

I am grateful. I am grateful for life. For my family. For stopping for the ‘One more thing’… which happened to be chocolate. Hug your kids a little tighter tonight. Hug your spouse a little longer tonight, or yourself if you’re single. Hug somebody, appropriately of course!!!

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE — DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE OR DO DRUGS AND DRIVE OR TEXT AND DRIVE — in fact, don’t do any of those things even while not driving, except the texting, in moderation of course. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!

I don’t know if the crazy driver was on drugs, drunk or driving while asleep at the wheel. What I do know is he was not supposed to be behind the wheel. He should not have been operating a vehicle… with a trailer for pete’s sake… and I pray he will be prevented from operating a vehicle ever again!

Thankful for the ‘one more thing’ tonight and grieving for the families involved in this car accident we witnessed. *As I was writing this post, I read the update (posted in the link above) to find out there was one death and several injuries at the hand of this accident. My heart is breaking and my prayers go out to the families involved. I’m also praying for the crazy driver.

Join the HWR blog journey -click the “Follow” button- and feel free to share your thoughts and stories. I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

96 hours

Last week I was sick with strep throat. It slammed into me out of nowhere. Two weeks prior, the kids were each sick. One after the other. I guess I caught it from the kids – could be a long shot… but probably not. Anyhoo. I was super sick. For 96 hours.

We had been traveling nearly non-stop for 4 weeks, when the kids began getting sick. On our last day, Selah (our 5yo) woke up sick and threw up 5 times throughout the day of travel back home. She slept in and out of cars, planes and shuttles. It was hard… but every time she felt a little energy she sang, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here…”

For 96 hours, this strep throat kicked my butt. I unable to be of any assistance to anyone. My family, my friends, all of society. It sucked. For 96 hours I was basically useless. The kids were worried about me. They would check on me every so often and Selah would sing “Holy Spirit…” over me. I told the kids not to come too close to me. I did not want to pass anything back to them. For 96 hours, I did not hug my kids… but they would blow me sweet kisses from a distance.

For 96 hours I slept thru the day and night. I did not shower. And wow – I stunk. I am grateful for showers. And soap. I did not eat anything except a few crackers and sips of water. I did not leave the house, except for a visit to the Doctor. The kids fended for themselves. They made their own food and their sticky little fingers left jelly, peanut butter and humus on the drawers and counters and they left their dishes in the sink. They tried to be helpful, but I am a control freak about the kitchen. Eventually, the army of ants we had been trying to rid the kitchen of, took over again temporarily.

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The kids played well together and worked hard to get along and entertain themselves. When I finally emerged from the bedroom after 96 hours, the house was a disaster with their toys everywhere. But they did a great job cleaning up! For 96 hours, Adam avoided me. He had much more to do without my help around the house… and keep working his job… and he did not want to chance getting sick!

We were all extra anxious about my being sick because it was intense for those 96 hours. I was worried the kids would catch something again. Or Adam would get strep throat, and our 18th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii was upcoming!

Thankfully, I recovered. The meds and prayers kicked in and after 96 hours, I was back to normal. Which is unusual, because I’m an unusual person. But I was back to my normal, unusual self 🙂 Just in time for Hawaii… whew. We had a few days to spend family time together and prep for our trip. Monday morning came and the Grandparents were getting settled in to our house to stay with the kids for the week. We were almost out the door to leave for the airport when… Salem threw up.

NOOO!!!!

Confident in the Grandparents ability to bravely handle whatever came their way this week, we loved on Salem and made sure he was okay before we set out for our trip. He was fine with us leaving, and slept off and on thru the day. We checked in when we could as we traveled, and he was fine by the evening. The next day he had an infected splinter in his foot and Dr. Grandpa took good care of him. Soon, all was well and the kids had a great time with their Grandparents, while we spent 96 hours in Hawaii.

After 96 hours of sickness ended my heart was incredibly grateful. It could have been much worse. There is always so much to be thankful for, regardless of our circumstances. The 96 hours we had in Hawaii together were phenomenal. We celebrated 18 years of marriage and family. We started missing the kids and wishing they were with us after 48 hours! More on our adventures in Hawaii later… Now our hearts are full and we are grateful to be home with our family again. In Him, Leslie

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PDX –> LAS –> PDX –> PHX –> OKC –> CMH –> PDX

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The other day, the kids and I flew from Portland to Las Vegas, and back to Portland… just for the heck of it.

Kind of.

Not really.

We were planning to connect in Las Vegas and fly the rest of the way to Oklahoma City…. but Sometimes you need to take a step backward in order to move forward. Or, in our case, you need to fly back home in order to fly to your final destination.

When we arrived in Vegas, we shuffled ourselves from one gate to the next, anticipating a short layover, with time for a quick bite to eat and onto our second flight. We arrived at our gate and were greeted with a longer delay. UGH.

Our original arrival time was already crossing into the middle of the night, and I did not want my parents to have to pick us up further into the night. SO….. I made a split second decision with a thousand thoughts running thru my mind…..

The kids were crying, missing daddy. We had no desire to stay and watch people play slots in the Vegas airport.  Could we hop on the next flight back to Portland? Try this again tomorrow? Was there another flight back to Portland? Does this even make any sense?!?

Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

I spoke with the airline agent and worked thru the details. We could fly back to Portland, sleep in our own beds, be with our church family in the morning, and catch the next afternoon flight back to Oklahoma City. Makes sense? Not really. Done.

We were excited to be at church the next morning to participate in sharing testimonies from our missions trip to Mexico the week before… yep. We had just returned 3 days prior from a 2,500 mile journey to Mexico and California. So, after I made the split second decision to go back to Portland, which turned into a 15 minute discussion, explaining my brilliant idea to my mom, Adam and the kids….. I spoke with the gate agent who told me – it was too late. The Portland flight was about to leave. Panic. Okay. Kids crying. Again.

Still with a thousand thoughts swirling in around my mind – I felt strongly this was the right decision. Mixed with the questions every human being has when they go on a plane – will we die on this plane? or that plane? or either??? Why am I thinking about dying anyway??? Geez THE PRESSURE!!!

Now the ordeal of a flight delay turned into a bigger ordeal I had complicated with my brilliant idea and now the whole deal was a big ordeal.

I sat down and talked with the kids, who had calmed down, drinking their jamba juice smoothie… and I looked at the flight screen. <> Well. Wha-do-ya know? The Portland flight had been delayed and we would have time to catch that plane.

So we did.  

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We had enough time to grab dinner at Pei Wei, laugh at the irony of the fortune cookie quotes, fly back home to sleep in our own beds, in a muggy 89 degrees in our un-airconditioned house, which reeked of a skunk who a just sprayed our whole street, go to church, share in the beautiful Mexico testimonies with our church family, and fly again… this time thru Phoenix… this time with no delays.

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord… the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps…” and flights… 😉

My hearts desire is to please my heavenly Father in everything I do. Every decision I make. Every step -and flight- I take. We made it to Oklahoma City in the not – as – late time of night. Greeted by my parents, we have enjoyed a sweet visit with my family this week. This time together has been such a gift. Making the decision to go back to Portland was chaotic, but it was the right step in the backward direction. Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

…and in a few days, we fly again. This time to Columbus… allowing us the gift of seeing the old and new converge.

Follow the blog and Join us on the journey… the stories are only half written.

In Him, Leslie