My Best Friend's Wedding

And so Heather is married...she is now Mrs. Travis Jones. It was an eventful summer with showers and parties and the finale was just this last weekend. It was quite an emotional journey.
I have watched Heather go through so much in 6 years of friendship...job changes, cross the world moves, boys in and out of her life, learning more and more about who our God is, dealing with her singleness, watching her become an aunt to my children, finding a career, and falling in love. What a roller coaster!

I am amazed at the way God defines each of our paths so uniquely. His love for us is not easily felt at every turn. We have to just trust the words of the Bible and know that His love is there, even when we can't feel it. And Heather has seen both sides of this too.

I was filled with joy to see my friend stand before God and all of us and commit to love a boy forever and ever, no matter what...And I was filled with even more joy to see that boy commit to love her forever and ever, no matter what. It's the closest earthly picture to the way Jesus chooses to love and commit to us. And I believe it changes us.

There is no way to not feel completely and utterly loved by God when something you have desired and prayed for your whole life is actually happening to you. It made me cry to see my friend experience a moment like that.

God, bless this new family. Continue to teach them and grow them. Soften their hearts to the things you want to teach them. Prepare them in every way for the trials they will face. Break them of any selfish desires. Create in them a love for what is good and holy. Mold their marriage after that of Christ and the church. Help them to see bad circumstances as your way of creating, in them and through them, something beautiful. Most of all, cause them to understand you and your love more fully and to trust in your word for guidance. Draw them to yourself in their weakest moments. Lord, I celebrate you today...for this new union and everything they will do in service to you! To you be all the glory!

We love you Aunt Heather and Uncle Travis!

And we will be on our knees for you every step of the way.

Brotherly Compromise

Mommy to boys: You guys can watch Star Wars, but you have to decide together which Episode.

(Boys turn to face each other.)

Chad to Brett: Brett, would you want to watch Episode 4?

Brett to Chad: (Long sigh and pause.) Does it have Darth Vader?

Chad to Brett: Yes.

Brett to Chad: OK

(Then both boys turn and sit facing the tv.)

***If it could only be that simple every day!

Brett likes the bad guys....

milestones in canada

So many milestones have taken place here...

Brett got to go to his first beach. He was born to chill on a beach! I always knew he would love it and he so did...the sand, the water, the sun, the mess of it all-----so Brett!

Kaylie had her first manicure. This has been a long time coming. She was in absolute heaven.

Chad has become a man on this trip...or so his dad says. He caught his first rainbow trout, and second and third. He lost his first tooth and his second tooth...his great grampa pulled them both out. Such a great memory. He took his first 'mountain deuce'. His dad's verbage, not mine. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Also, Brett turned 6. Daddy turned 31. And Chad turned 8. Kaylie learned how to serve others and was a second mother to, Jadyn her new baby cousin, 3 months old. Chad learned to play hockey with his cousin Evan and they played almost everyday. Brett got to spend so much time with his great grampa Kashuba, who he actually looks just like...weirdly enough. And those two have such a special bond. They crack each other up.

They picked cherries and rasberries, shucked corn, pitted the cherries in their undies. They ate their first borscht, a Ukrainian dish that these Polish Ukrainians just love. They also ate their first schnitzel, which is an Austrian favorite...Auntie Simone makes the best!

All in all, it was a quite eventful trip and we had so much fun with all the other Kashuba's...the ones from Canada and even the ones from Austria!


I fear it is time to bid farewell to the movie-renting chain that won my heart in the early 90's. Michael and I had a date last week and decided to rent a movie...something we hadn't done in years. We went to the good ole Blockbuster, the one we used to frequent as newlyweds. It was quite nostalgic for us. While we were there, we saw that Tangled had come out and it was only $1 to rent it for a night. Kaylie has been begging us to see that movie, so Michael told me to come back and get it the following week for the whole family to enjoy. He's a sucker for a blue-eyed blonde, wink, hair used to be blonde.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into that very same Blockbuster 1 week later, to find things much changed. Me and the kids strolled in those doors earlier this evening. They quickly informed me that I had walked by 2 typed papers taped to the doors stating that the store was closing and that I had failed to notice that nothing was left on the shelves. I turned around with all 3 kids in tow to go back out the door I came in, only to find that, it, in fact only opened from the outside, as Blockbuster doors tend to do. I was forced to take that final walk around those oh-so-familiar counters and out the other side, the exit door. You know the one where they would hand you the movies in their white plastic bag, just past the security system, so as not to sound the alarm. There were workers, still clothed in their navy blue employee shirts, packing all the videos away in boxes.

And so I drove off, thinking that now I understood what old people feel like when they talk about things like Route 66 and 8 track tapes. Things that were once a huge part of their life, that eventually got past by or outdated. Blockbuster is my own Route 66.

Blockbuster, you have been outdated...thanks to Redbox and satellite tv. The world no longer has a need for your service. I commend you for a valiant effort to keep up with the latest made it through DVD's and Blueray. I don't think you will make it through this one.

So, thank you Blockbuster for providing me with many a Man in the Moon rental in 5th grade, and then there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 6th (the movie, not the series!), and then the Ace Ventura years...they lasted a while. All of that faded nicely into Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, Dumb and Dumber, Goonies---for goodness sake. I almost forgot about my obsession sometime in high school with 8 Seconds, which my mom got sick of spending the money renting so she ended up buying me my own VHS for Christmas one year. I loved that video tape mom, even though you accidentally got it with Spanish funny and so my life!

Good times! The even funnier part is that I went to Redbox to get the kids something else tonight...not Tangled...because they don't have that new of releases at Redbox. Annoying! Couldn't even rent any movie because something was wrong with the machine/computer...whatever it is and the screen was frozen! I needed Blockbuster tonight and everyone else in the world who cares about technology has long forgotten about it! I like the navy shirts. I like somebody telling me to enjoy my movie. I like seeing all the people in there who had the same idea I had on a Wednesday night.

I am being dragged kicking and screaming into all of this upgraded technology! I am reminding myself of my dad, who still to this day does not actually have call waiting on his home phone.

Nothing last forever...not even Blockbuster.


VBS at our new church, Park Springs Bible, starts tomorrow! Michael and I have been serving in children's church, every other week, for a couple of months now. It has been so fun to bring our gifts and everything that we have learned serving for 5 years with McKinney's children over here to Arlington.

I am the Preschool Director for our VBS...which is pretty much what I did professionally for those 5 years at McKinney. I have been working hard on this event for a month or so, but tonight after everything was decorated and all the supplies bought, gathered, sorted, and prepped I got quite emotional.

For one, I miss everyone from McKinney that I served with for all those years. And at the same time I am excited about all of the new people I am meeting and will work with this week. It is so neat to see how God is at work everywhere, not just in your one little corner of town....or in your one little church!

And then as I drove away from the church tonight, I was just thinking how cool God is that He prepares us for things like this. How amazing that he gave me people like Nita Minshew, Margie Simpson and Sherri Whitener to do ministry with and watch and learn from. People who taught me so much of what I know in ministry and in running large events.

I am so different than when I first met each of those women and so many others at McKinney...not only different as a person, but professionally I have grown so much. It makes me cry to think that I get to be a part of the MULTIPLICATION of each of the ministries that God has given them. I am overcome with gratitude and overwhelmed by the power of God to use regular people to do his work in the world.

Nita, Margie, Sherri: My ministry is a reflection of your ministry...and all of that reflects the love Christ has for the world! To God be the glory!

And let the MULTIPLICATION continue...


Silver and Gold

I really love silver. I wear it almost daily in my jewelry. I also really love gold, but I don't wear it as often. It feels more like a special occasion.

I have been given the amazing gift of friendship. So many people have come in and out of my life at different times. Some have stayed. Some have gone. Some see me everyday. Some I don't see for years at a time. Some I talk to everyday. Some I have no contact with.

But they are all my friends. And I love friends!

In a season where I am making new friends everyday, this old children's song has been on my mind.

Make new friends.
But keep the old.
One is silver.
And the other, gold.

I may spend most of my time in new relationships right now...kind of like the jewelry I wear everyday. But I have not forgotten anyone. And when I do get the chance to spend time with any of my 'old friends' it feels like a special occasion!

Here's to God making my 'new friends' feel like 'old friends' and many special occasions in my future. Old and New...of equal importance. They are both precious!

Do you have any 'new friends'? We are called to relationship. Love of others...kind of a big deal in the Bible. And not just the same 'others' year after year. In my experience so far, I would say that God is ever-carving out new opportunities or relationships in order to spread his life-giving message. My most fruitful ministry has always started with a 'new friend'. Lord, help me bear much fruit for you.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds"
Proverbs 27:23


"Strong Christians"

What a weird label. The whole premise of being a Christian is realizing that we are sinful, imperfect, weak people who need a Savior...a Savior who is perfect, so unlike us. How could that be considered 'strong' at all? Christianity is not about being strong, it's about knowing that we are weak! We are not strong. Jesus is strong.

Stop calling me a "Strong Christian". You are missing the whole point!

If you go through life, thinking that people are "Strong Christians", you will be disappointed with them. We are just like you, only we love Jesus and desire to please Him. And don't forget that we have a great hope for what comes after this life is over...that's a pretty important part.

Be careful with the labels that you give people, even if you consider them to be 'good' labels. They may not reflect the true nature of that person and that person may not even believe themselves to be near as good as the label you give. Why don't you ask them if they think they are a "Strong Christian"?

Why don't you ask me?


"they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!" Mark 4:12

Perceive! Understand! Turn! Be Forgiven! It is better by far!

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Jesus in Mark 4:9, and all throughout scripture

Being Myself

It is so hard for me to just be myself...

Especially in situations where I don't know anyone. I am scared I will be too loud. I am scared I will be too crazy. I am scared to make a mistake. I am scared of being intimidating and stand-offish. I am scared of being too outgoing and open right away. I am scared I will talk too much. I am scared of appearing not altogether as a mother. So many fears!

The thing is, I am at times too loud, too crazy, intimidating, stand-offish, too outgoing, too open, and I never have it altogether as a mother! Why do I even try for that one? I absolutely talk too much! I am a flawed person. These things are a part of me whether I like it or not. And these things do not always please. Nothing I do, or anyone else does, can or will please everyone.

Finding new community is hard. I am focusing on 'being myself'. Even when I feel totally exposed and vulnerable and like they may not like what they is me they are seeing. And I am just Amanda. And I screw up every day, all day. But I do love Jesus with my whole heart.

And He loves me.


So far, so good. Being myself is hard for me...hard, not impossible. I do have to be intentional to be myself doesn't come naturally. Go figure!

Enjoying the new church. We became members a couple of weeks ago. Really excited to get on board with the pastor and his vision. This is exactly what we prayed for!

Faith and Blessing

I never doubted that I would one day be a mother. Never. Not one time did I actually believe that Michael and I would not be parents. It was so clear to me that we would. In my mind I always knew that adoption was absolutely an option for us with or without infertility.

Parenthood would happen. We just didn't know how. But at the same time, any number of other circumstances could have occurred that would not allow for us to even adopt. Why then, so much faith that it would be? I have no idea where that came from...if it was pure or out of ignorance, but here's what I do know...WE ARE PARENTS NOW. Faith came before the blessing.

And we still desire to conceive. But do I have that same faith? Should I? No and I don't know. The sovereignty of God!!! He does what He wants. With or without faith, He still does or doesn't intervene. We can't understand His ways.

But so many times in scripture faith does come before a blessing. Sometimes the blessing is given to increase our faith. Sometimes it is given mercifully when faith is not present at all. Most intriguing to me right now, it seems sometimes He is motivated to bless out of the precious faith of the individual...the bleeding woman, the woman with the demon-possessed daughter (both found in Matthew). In Matthew 17:14-21 the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to heal the man's son. And Jesus replies, "Because you have so little faith...".

My situation has had me so focused on the sovereignty of God that I have lost sight of the role of faith. Do I think that if I start believing I will conceive, that I will? No. First of all, I can't make myself believe. I'm not fooling anyone...positive thinking is total crap. It is the work of the Holy Spirit for me to believe more. But it is possible if my belief is real! Anything is with God! I am so not going to write Him off!

I don't know what His plans are for me. I do want to ask Him for more faith. More faith is pleasing to Him. Not asking for more faith, so that I can get what I want. I actually believe that if I start asking for more faith, I may start wanting totally different I may start wanting what He wants more, whatever that is. And though, I will never be so in tune with Him that my heart will desire the same things as Him. I can grow in my faith and become, by His grace, more in tune with Him. And I do desire that regardless of any blessings that more faith could bring.

Faith and blessing go hand in hand. My Sovereign God loves me. Two truths not to be separated.

Mostly inspired by Beth Moore's Believing God,


Counting to 1,000

It seems like Brett started getting really excited about counting super high when he was 4 1/2...Kaylie has followed that same pattern and Chad probably did too, but I didn't get sweet Chad until he had already turned 5. By that point he already knew how to count to 1,000.

So, today at lunch Kaylie was talking about how high she could count. She said she could count to 20 and didn't know how to count any higher than that. I explained that she could count higher if she wanted because its just like counting 1-10. Brett showed her for a while and then she had the hang of it. She was so proud and surprised to know that she actually could count way higher than she thought. I remember that moment with Brett, too. It's so cute how they follow in each other's footsteps!

Brett bragged that he could count to 1,000 and Kaylie was very excited to hear that and asked Brett to do it for her. I guess she forgot that about a year ago he did this almost every morning in the car...or at least as high as he could get before we got to school. I can only assume that Kaylie might be motivated to practice her counting for a while too...just like Brett did.

Anyways, Brett agreed to count to 1,000 for her. It went something like this:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-thats when I get to drive, 17, 18. And then I started laughing when I realized what he had said. I especially laughed at how he just kept right on trucking through the rest of the numbers. He smiled that Brett smile at me and winked as he kept going. I love that he is already counting down to when he can drive...such a boy!

He has been winking lately. His new trademark. And, ladies, it will melt your heart. He was having some trouble listening on Tuesday mornings with his new teachers. So, I told the teachers to please hold him accountable by telling me if he was not listening the first time. I also gave them some pointers on handling my middle man because he can be a little tricky, but that's beside the point. Anyways, I stopped by during the break to check on his progress. I was ready to give him a quick 'pep talk' to get him back on track if needed. I leaned into his room and said, "How's it going?" They said to my delight, "Brett is making really good choices today!". I happily looked over at him and said, "Good job, buddy!". To which he gave only a smile and a wink. It was classic Brett and I will remember that look forever.

Another funny side note:

We were eating lunch when all of this counting was going on and my mind started to wonder to Chad and how he was doing today. God is really moving in him right now and I am often reminded to pray for him throughout the day. Well the Spirit moved and I felt the need to pray for Chad, so I interrupted Brett at 119 to see if he and Kaylie wanted to pray with me for Chad. They agreed, but Brett vocalized frustration at possibly having to start back at number 1. I assured him that we would remember where he was and he could start at 120 when we were done. Heads bowed. I prayed. And the second I said 'Amen' Brett continued 121, 122, 123.....and gave me that same smile and wink.

I love these kids!


'Dirty 30'

Oh My! What fun we had! I just loved celebrating with all of the best girls in the world! So much to be thankful for!

Thanks to everyone who joined me and Heather. Thanks to my fine husband who watched the kids while I went out on the town. Thanks to my mom for the new dress. Thanks to Miranda for a great show. Thanks to Jess for driving us around with her pregnant self! Thanks to Heather for doing life with me for 6 years now...nothing is too stupid to talk to you about, and I talk about some pretty stupid stuff sometimes!

Here are some highlights:

1. Heather bringing me a Sunkist while I was getting ready that night. ( I had been off caffeine for a while.) Heather, just so you know B and K also enjoyed the Sunny Delight...heehee.

2. Tara Stone for making last minute yummy cookies for my friends the night before the party. Have you tasted Tara's cookies? Call me for her number if you need the cutest, most delicious iced sugar cookies.

3. Getting sweet texts from some of my besties that couldn't make it as I was getting ready. We missed you guys. So sweet to think of me, even while you were away.

4. All of my friends wearing there dresses and boots! Loved it! People at Pappasito's were stopping and asking what kind of group we were, with all of us wearing boots. How could they not know Miranda was in town and obviously that is where we were headed!

5. Sooooo many laughs at dinner! I could hardly eat from laughing! I don't think I thought or even looked outside of my table the entire dinner...we might have been the only ones in there. How fun to not have to think about anyone else for a couple of hours!

6. Crazy ladies, pumped up about the concert all stuffed into my mini-van riding over to Billy Bob's! (Casey Riles is the world's greatest co-pilot in any situation...truly gifted!)

7. Holding hands and winding our 16 person line through the shoulder to shoulder crowd at Billy Bob's to find our seat. I kept looking behind me to make sure everyone was there and I could see that you guys were all laughing hysterically, just like me, at how ridiculous that was. I will never forget that.

8. Heather totally disregarding any and all rules, like always, and going under the rope in front of us to get drinks. Love the boldness, Heather! Thanks for the margarita!

9. Rocking out with Tiffany! And laughing at each other the whole concert...Doing a spin with Tiffany around the dance floor after the show...Tiffany twirling by herself for a second in the middle of the dance floor! Loved it! Thanks for being down for that, Tiff!

10. Walking Lauren to her car and having her drive me back to the group...14 spaces away!

11. Amber laughing at my jokes or maybe just at me from the back of the mini-van...I miss that girl! A-team forever!

12. And to top it all off, Brenda riding Kaylie's bike, which I mistakenly left in the back of the van) around the Billy Bob's parking lot!

So many sweet faces! I could just eat everyone many much love. My best friends in the world, all at the same time. I could not stop smiling all night!

I will remember forever the night of the 'Dirty 30'!


Reading again...

Reading some great stuff right now including: Beth Moore's Believing God, and Dr. Les Carter's The Anger Trap. I am also going through The Gospel-Centered Life on Tuesday mornings this semester. God is really digging in right now!

"She actually felt very close to her mother and had admired her for the way she worked hard to overcome the potential problems that would come to a single mom. She wanted her mother to be proud of her, and she certainly did not want to be an additional burden, so she was careful as a girl and young adult not to be a nuisance. Since her mom did not talk openly about personal matters, it was easy for Connie to go about her responsibilities with no fanfare and keep her feelings to herself."

Dr. Carter is explaining how 'Connie' came to suppress her anger, rather than dealing with it appropriately. He goes on to say, "Somewhere along the way they (people who suppress anger) concluded that nothing good can result from emotional transparency, so in the adult years they cringe when potential problems arise. They may actually convince themselves that a stoic or stiff approach to conflict is good. Pain is seemingly averted, yet it is only compounded."

Very, very interesting...this book has been fascinating. I guarantee you will see a bit of yourself in this book and it will benefit you and your relationships.

I am only through 3 chapters and I am already recommending it.


p.s. My mom is stinkin' amazing! I do want to make her proud and she tells me every chance she gets that I do! Love you momma!

one day at a time

I have heard this at least a thousand times in my life, but it had new meaning for me this week. Before kids, it was difficult to only think about 'one day at a time' because I had so much time to think about everything. Why not go into the next day and the next month and so on and so on? Not a great idea, but with too much time on our hands, we are usually not at our best.

Then, the kids came and I was on constant over load...working with everything I had to stay one step ahead of them. I needed that for my own sanity and for their success. I am not saying that this was absolutely necessary or right. It is just sort of how I dealt...immense preparation for every aspect of my life. I thought through the individual needs of all 3 kids and my husband, scrutinized over them, so that I could move confidently forward. I lost myself for a long time behaving that way. It was a heavy burden to bear and my obsessive preparation often overwhelmed me.

Obviously, I could never keep that up forever and I knew that full well while I was doing it. I didn't allow myself breaks at all and even after the kids went down I continued on in the preparation. With lunch-making, kids playing after they were in bed and the disciplining that followed (all in 1 bedroom for the first 7 months), cleaning, laundry, preparing my next morning so that it could also be successful, talking to Michael about what was going on with him at work, runs to the store, brainstorming with Michael on how to handle one of the kid's latest struggles, etc....I don't think I officially stopped for at least a year and a half and then only slowly gave up those ways---maybe still giving them up.

This last year I have worked hard to be the 'normal mom'...not right on top of every little thing, but not super behind either. I am trying to be more authentically who I am as a mother. One great thing has happened! My kids go to bed so well! Praise God! I have from 8pm-10pm to read, spend quality time with Michael, drink a cup of tea, watch a movie. I have no anxiety or worry about the kids during this time at all anymore. I have even figured, most of the time, how to squeeze making lunches for the next day into my afternoon routine or even while dinner is cooking, so that I don't have to do that after they go down. It is truly the break and refreshment I need to get me to the next day.

So now, I say to myself, "Just make it to 8pm and you are in the clear!" "Keep it together, hold your temper, remain patient!" If I can just make it to 8pm, then I can get refreshed, get well-rested and start all over again. 'One day at a time' is really working for me right now! I can do anything till 8pm, right? This is the pattern I want for the rest of my days. Thank you, Lord, for showing me both extremes and teaching me how to trust you just 'one day at a time'. I have been 'not busy enough' and 'way too busy'...both of my own doing. This is what you want for me in every season of my life, no matter how leisurely or how busy it is.

P.S. I don't regret any of it. I would do it close to the same way all over again. I really believe that is what they needed from me. I really believe that is what I needed from me. It was just a season. I'm also really glad that time is over. God is so good!


Committed to Community

So...since I have been off of staff for about 5 and a half months and we have adjusted to my new schedule, etc. We thought it was time to shake things up again. Just kidding, we don't really try to shake things up on purpose! Basically, Michael and I have felt led to be involved in a church closer to our home for a long time. While being on staff it was never an option, but we both always kind of felt that one day we would make the transition. Honestly, I was scared to do it when I first left staff. I was already going through so much change, so we decided to wait a bit...maybe a year or so we thought.

This last month or two the Lord just kind of burdened me with it though, so I talked to Michael and we began to pray for clarity. We have decided to commit to finding a new church, one in our community. We are quite at home at McKinney in every way, but we desire to have a church and relationships that are down the street, rather than down a major highway and in another town. Please know that if McKinney was down the street from us, we would absolutely be delighted to continue our worship there. Our only reason for leaving is geographic.

We desire to be a part of what God is doing in SW Arlington. For so long now our ministry and our community has been divided between SW Fort Worth and SW Arlington. With SW Fort Worth getting the better part, sad to say. We are choosing to seek the kind of community we have always wanted: where Michael's work, our church, our kid's school, and our home are all in the same place. We feel like now is our chance.

For now me and Brett and Kaylie will remain at ELC. Brett goes to Kindergarten next year anyways. I think I will also continue to be a part of the women's Bible study on Tuesday mornings, at least until I find something comparable here in Arlington. I think this will be a super slow transition, considering how many ties we will still have at all of my friends and B and K's school and my teaching position. We don't plan on falling completely out of the picture just yet, if ever.

We know it will take a long time to rebuild what we have had at McKinney and that it will be a lonely journey, but we are excited about all that God has for us right here in our neighborhood! God is good and He is at work in Arlington, just like He is at work in Fort Worth!

Seeking His will,