Seek First

Dear Leiana,
You are such a sweet, outgoing, friendly girl. Today while playing with the boys next door you kept “falling” and telling Dominic to help you up. Dominic is the oldest boy and so use to helping his three younger brothers that it really doesn’t seem to bother him to help you every time you ask… Or tell.
Yesterday we went to Walmart with your adopted gramma, Susie. He wanted to buy you something and get you out of the house so we went on a mini adventure. You sat in her cart on a soda 12 pack container and were the sweetest girl the whole time. You whispered to me once that you wanted something but then I reminded you to be thankful for whatever she wanted to buy you. The rest of the trip you contained to be extremely respectful and sweet. When we left Susie said, “I can’t believe it, I’ve never been in a store with a child who didn’t continually ask for something.” She bought you a cute little green shirt that had a main one shoulder and just a strap over the other and she bought Elise a onsie.
I need to remember to have us make her a thank you card.
She brought you over a razor scooter today. And you got the hang of it pretty quickly.
We have been so blessed while bing here at the ranch. God has truly provided for all our needs. I hope you remember at least some of this time.
I do see that one quality that you already possess is calling people by their names. I know that the people you know think that it’s really neat when you know them and you call across the room or road, “Hi, Christian!” And you say it until they respond. And wen you go give Carlos a hug, or ask John, Juan, or Diane to sit with us.
I hate to tell you because I fear that it will be really traumatic for you but the boys are moving this week. They just found out. Those boys have not had an easy life. I would say that in some ways you haven’t either, with all our moves and daddy and me fighting so much but they have a ton more things going on with them. It may be different for them because they are boys and they may not internalize things like girls, but I’m certain that it’s not easy. They’ve seen much more than they ever should at such young ages.
Just remember that when dealing with people, normal, difficult, nice, weird… We are all broken people. We are either broken people who have our hope and fulfillment in Jesus or people who are pretending and have stuff that they are coping with in their own strength.
I’d rather be dirt poor (we are sure close to it), and surrounded by people who love Jesus and are on a mission to learn and grow to spread His truth than in a mansion. Now if God decided that the rich needed to be ministered to and they would listen, then “Lord, bring on the riches.” But then again, even though in our society we don’t have much, to the world we are still in the top 5% richest. Billions of people go hungry, don’t have medical care, and die every day while we can complain about only having one car… Well, one working car. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” We are those rich people and we are blessed beyond measure. I don’t ever want you growing up thinking that being rich is anything. If God gives us money may it only be the further his kingdom and to meet people’s needs. God has taken everything away and I don’t want to start collecting again or putting any emphasis on stuff because that’s all it is, stuff. What worth is stuff if people are dying? What worth is stuff if we can help send someone to spread the love of Christ? Watch Schindler’s List if you haven’t already. I hope I’m around to talk to you about it when you do watch it.
I love you so much. None of these posts are meant to put pressure on you to do anything. Seek God and His Spirit will lead you and guide you to be who He has made you to be. “Seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you.”


Religion vs. Jesus

Dear Leiana,

There is a big movement in the Christian culture now to move away from traditional religious Christianity. This has been something i really want to get across to you. I want you to understand that as a follower of Jesus, we are not under a rule-system that if we follow it, it makes us good enough to get into heaven. We are not under the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law.

God knew from the beginning that we would NEVER be able to keep the commandments. Jesus affirmed that when he said that (not quoting) if we look at another with lustful eyes, we are committing adultery, that if we are angry with our brother that we are committing murder. We will never be able to fully keep the greatest commandments to Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and love our neighbor as ourselves. No matter how much we try to do good, we can never be good apart from Jesus. Even our good works are filthy rags to God. Even with our best intentions, without Jesus to cover our sins, we will never be able to earn our way to heaven. The problem with trying to earn our way to Heaven is this, without Jesus to cover us, any good we do is nothing compared to the bad we do. Our good works without Christ don’t even come close to covering our sins. That is not the point anyways… some people will say that “As long as I do more good deeds than bad, then God will be happy with that and let me into heaven.” This is not at all biblical or possible under the law. The only way, even in the Old Testament times, to cover sins is by a blood sacrifice. The only thing that can cover our sins is for the blood of an innocent to be sacrificed, similar to the sacrifice of Aslan on Narnia. God created it that way, this point is testified to through the entire Bible. Jesus became our blood sacrifice ultimately. The sacrifices before Jesus came were just a temporary covering until the Messiah was revealed. The law was given to prove to mankind that we are unable to keep the law. Without Jesus, there is NO other way to God. Not by our good works, not even by people not knowing or hearing. As I read in the book Radical the other day, all people know that there is a Creator (whether they deny it or not), all people reject him. If we say that people who have never heard of Jesus get a free pass to heaven then the worst thing we could do for those people is to fulfill Christs commandment to Preach the Gospel and make disciples of every nation. If they hear about Him then they will have an opportunity to reject Him but we have already rejected God.

What I pray for you is to fulfill His commandment to make disciples of every nation, to follow Christ to the ends of the earth and preach the good news to the nations. I want you to passionately know Christ, and not just be a “Christian.” I don’t want you just to “be good.” I don’t want you to focus on what you can do and earn and how you can be a better person or even American. I want you to not care about stuff but Love God and Love People above all else. And please Lord, help me to raise this young girl to know and trust you.


First crush

Dear Leiana,
The boys just moved in next door. FOUR boys, D-9, S-7, A-6, and C-1. Well, we’ve been waiting for them to move in all day but they just came tonight hen the sun was setting so you didn’t get to play with them. However you stared out the window waving at them through their window for about an hour, they waved back most of the time. But out of the blue you said, “those boys are handsome.” It was completely out of left field because I never talk about that and you came up with it all on your own. We had a giggle because they are cute but then we talked about daddy wanting to be the only boy that you love and think is handsome right now. I don’t know how much that will work though. We will see.
A few weeks ago at the library you made some friends, an older boy and his little sister. Well, you guys had a blast but you ran the show. They followed easily. But when they were leaving the boy gave you a hug and kissed you. You didn’t pull back but after he left you said, “that was weird. He kissed me.” Then we talked about not letting that happen again. For goodness sake, I don’t want you kissing every boy that wants to.
I remember having boy crushes at a pretty young age but I was much shyer than you. I didn’t even talk or play with the boys unless they were my brother’s friends. You have no fear. That makes me nervous. I don’t want to push the “is he cute thing?” though. I feel like that made my focus growing up all about the boys being cute and I don’t remember anyone saying, “Well, is he nice? Does he have a nice personality?”
Lord, please help Leiana to not grow up too soon. I know you created her to be extremely outgoing and fun but that can also put her in situations that she shouldn’t be in way younger than she should. Please, help me and her daddy to be good parents. Especially in that aspect and teach her how to be pure and the benefits of it will outweigh any “instant gratification” possible as she goes up. In Jesus’ name, amen.

It’s hard being a mom

Dear Leiana,
I can’t believe how much you hear and retain from hearing people talking. It kind of scares me to say anything around you anymore. You realize that I have a difficult relationship with my mom and told me tonight, in other words.
On another note, It is honestly not easy being a mom. I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up KNOWING I would be a mom or fantasizing about it. Caregiving does not come natural to me. Maybe it has part to do with my own insecurities and growing up shy and also partly because I was the baby of the family and was rarely with babies. I did babysit for young kids and a few preschoolers in high school but no babies. Anyways, I’m more naturally introverted and you are definitely not. You are a natural leader and can be bossy in certain situations. Like a few weeks ago when we were at the library an you met a boy and girl, the boy was older and the girl was younger but you automatically took change and starting telling them both what To do. They just followed.

Well, daddy said the other day, “this is what happens when you have a strong-willed child and laid-back mommy.” Yep, sometimes I feel like I’ll ruin you all on my own. If I try to be relaxed just a little bit with my expectations of you, you will take it and run as fast as you can. Today was one of those days. If I don’t give you time to run and play, time to talk, and time To play with just me it’s like I get to the end of the day and you start jumping on me and screaming like a crazy person and won’t stop until I freak out. Ugh, I don’t know how to handle it but I know I don’t handle it right, that’s for sure. But being an introvert, I just want for there to be silence sometimes and it seems impossible with such a cheerful, talkative daughter.
God is working in me to teach me how to deal with it. One of the ways I deal with it is by singing. I’ve taught you a few songs. One of our favorites is “I’d Do Anything For You” from the movie Oliver. You haven’t seen the movie yet but we sing songs from musicals mostly. “Do, Re, Me” also “Happy Talk” from South Pacific, and we almost always sing morning songs like “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma. And other songs that I can’t think of right now.
Well, we have lots if fun. Though I am really excited for you to start school, maybe preschool this year or you may stay with me another year. We will see. I know that you’ll love the social interaction and I know that you need some independence from me. I love you so much though and I thank God for you. The prayer I always pray for you at night is, “May God bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.”
Love, Mommy

Feeding the Animals

Living here at the ranch is amazing. I love it, and you definitely love it. One day a few weeks ago we went for a walk to the back where the Nature Center is. There they have an owl, chickens, goats, sheep, emus, llamas, peacocks, horses, donkeys, and even a bob cat, oh and some smaller animals and birds. So we were walking around and ran into John, daddy’s friend, who helps take care if the animals. He was about to feed the animals so he asked if you wanted to help. He fed the bobcat cat food… Weird, I know but that’s what he is told to do. But then he had two baby mice under a bowl for the owl. Before I saw them, I thought they were dead, I told him that you would be okay with it. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WAS THINKING! Well, you insisted on seeing them and they were so tiny and cute. You just thought they were the cutest things in the world and started talking baby talk to them. I realized then that I had made a mistake. Luckily we didn’t tell you what they were for and you got distracted by the other animals while I motioned to John that he should just to go ahead and feed the owl while you weren’t looking. So I’m so thankful sometimes that you have the attention span of a fly. This was one of those times.
Later, when we fed the llamas, sheep, and goats, who all live together, John handed you the hay and before he could even tell you what to do you threw it over the tall fence and it landed perfectly in front of the animals. We laughed because you knew exactly hat o do and you are so strong.

The wheels on the bus

Tonight we went to Pastor Mike’s bible study on the ranch. Daddy really likes the worship before the study because the guy sings folk and country songs so he wanted us to hear it. He sang a George Strait song I think called Daddy’s Love. That was daddy’s favorite. So then the singer said, “there is one last song but I’m going to sing a quick one especially for the young lady.” You and your sis were the only kids there so he was referring to you but you didn’t know it. You were sitting next to Juan because you asked if you could and I think you were talking to him at the time. Well, he started singing, “The wheels on the bus…” And everyone started laughing because they knew it was for you and we all started singing. Well, just as he finished the first part about the wheels you whispered loudly and excitedly to Juan, “I KNOW this song!!” Oh my goodness, that cracked EVERYONE up. I seriously wanted to cry it was so funny and it totally reminded me of something Junie B would do. And you started singing and tried to follow along with the words as much as possible. I can’t explain to you how great that moment was.


Dear Leiana,
You drew a picture of yourself today and showed everyone at lunch. They loved it and were so amazed that you put so much detail in it. They couldn’t believe that you drew so well for being four-years-old.

Well, you have the genes for it. Your daddy and Mamaw are amazing artists. They can draw very detailed and life-like. Your Mamaw loved to draw horses especially. I don’t know if she draws much anymore. I used to draw tigers in high school (they were my favorite animals) and now I’m more crafty. I love doing lettering and simple solid painting, as opposed to shading or toll painting. My mom used to paint the ceramic Mardi Gras masks and would sell them in a shop on Bourbon Street when I was young. She made pretty good money doing that. Also for a few years in Missouri, she sold crafts at craft fairs. Mostly toll painting on wood and some ceramics.

I wish I had pictures of a few things that we have all done so that you can see. Ill try to get some to publish soon.
Well, we used to do a bunch of crafts when we lived in Colorado. Remember, when you almost cut my finger off? Probably not… Bad mommy mistake though. I decided to let you try to cut a piece of ribbon because you begged!!! Well, I held the ribbon and you closed the scissors, it didn’t cut, then you tried again, it didn’t cut again, so you bared down and cut really hard… Only it wasn’t the ribbon you cut, it was my finger, right to the bone. Yes, it happened faster than I could have stopped you. Although Ill never make that mistake again. We had to drive all the way to Steamboat Springs, and I got stitches. Those stitches were the most painful experience of my life. They gave me like 5 shots in my finger that hurt so bad I literally cried each time they did it. I couldn’t bear it. But then the numbing didn’t even work so I felt every stitch they made. So it actually would have been better if they hadn’t have even bothered with the shots because they were WAY WORSE than the stitches even those were bad too. So anyways, we stuck to painting for the rest of the time we were there.
We will get back to crafts one day soon. I love it, and I know you do too. I want to teach you to sew and crochet and whatever else you want to do.
Love you,