Nearly two years ago, fresh on the heels of the death of both of my parents, my family and I made the painful decision to leave our home church. The church where I met Jesus. The church my husband rededicated his life to God, the church that saw all five of my babies born, the church where we said good-bye to our daughter, the church where two of my children chose to be baptized.

To say it was hard is an understatement, it was like another loss, another death, yet we knew for sure this was the path God had set before us.

God does not always promise easy, but He does promise to carry us.

Leaving carried, not only the pain of separation, but also of a several deep wounds... wounds that needed time, and space to heal.

While we knew we were walking the path God laid out, it was hard to bring our children on the journey. They, too, were leaving home. The familiar. Friends and adopted family. The older kids knew, they saw all of the reasons we were making this move, and it was still difficult. The little ones though, to them, everything was just changing.

I wondered if my sweet baby would ever know the comfort and familiarity of our new church? Would it ever be a place she knew to be just an extension of home?

And Jackie, not shy but not quick to warm up, a quirky kid who doesn't love change. A kid who had his routine and his people, and was the only one truly vocal about how much he missed what our old church had that our new church appeared to be missing.

Jackie, who after months of attending our new church, didn't really know any of the kids in his class.

I would be lying if I didn't wonder, often, if we'd misunderstood God's leading. If we might be hurting our children, yet God continued to whisper...continued to reassure.

Then, yesterday, without even knowing she had captured something holy, Aunt Stacee sent me this photo. A photo of three hilariously goofy friends.

Three friends that laugh and goof around and passionately love baseball. What you can't see is that these boys all also love Jesus. And that these boys all attend our new church.

That's right, God, in His infinite grace brought all of these boys from our new church together on the ball field. God knows my boy enough to know that the connections would be easier, and more fluid here. That the friendships would form differently and more naturally.

I am forever amazed that God loves us for our unique quirks, and not in spite of them. That He finds ways to love on us in ways that only matter to us.

Do people even read blogs anymore? Or is it all snippets on facebook? Or maybe those are the only blogs that get read? The ones that get linked on Facebook? You know the ones that tackle that one subject you're passionate about and finally say all those things you couldn't figure out how to say.

Well, regardless... here I am. I have this goal of posting a few times a week, but if I'm honest, every time I say that some new plague overtakes my home and that priority falls very much by the wayside. Here I am though, regardless, trying to dust things off and start again.

A little over a month ago I had an appointment with a counselor who basically told me I didn't need therapy, but what I did need was some time to sit, think, and process a little. I came up with a plan to take some time each week and really get alone and write. I have been alone exactly zero times since then. (See, I make plans... and *boom*)

So here I sit. It is quite the opposite of sitting at Starbucks, people watching, and thinking deep profound things. Instead, I'm hearing the awesome sounds of Batman, the Animated Series, and Zoe's cough in the background. I am sitting in perfect view of the three loads of laundry that need folding, and I am snacking on the very healthy lunch of Jelly Belly's that I'm sharing with my sweet boy.

So much is happening in my head and heart over the last several months, as I begin to tentatively step into new relationships and a (once again) radically changed and challenged faith. If I don't start to write it all down, I will continue to escape in to Netflix marathons of Bones or weeping while I watch the latest love stories unfold in the Duggar clan.

Where to even start...

It's been nearly ten months since my family left the comfort and familiarity of our old, home church. The very church where I met Jesus. The church my husband and I were married in, and the place where each of my five children were dedicated to God. The church where sweet Eden was prayed for, expected, and mourned.

To say it's been a challenge is such an understatement.

I was rather unprepared for the deep grieving and mourning that this all would entail. I knew it would be sad, but I didn't expect to feel completely lost and adrift... for many, many months.

It's only been in the last few months that I've begun to feel solid ground under me again, and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing. God, of course, did not waste any of that time that felt so lost. He never does. In His infinite wisdom, he allowed this time to bring me to a place of desperate need that only He could meet.

A place where what I sought out was Him, not all the other. New relationships, a new "place" in the world... and then, The rest fell in, right behind.

I still miss a lot about the church we left, and I still feel a bit like a visitor sometimes, but I know God is leading the steps in this new "home" and I am excited about the journey.

A few months ago my family and I realized that God was doing something new in our lives... again. I wonder if we can even call it new since nothing has felt the same or old or even familiar since the day we found out our sweet Eden was going to die nearly eight years ago.

Eight years? That hardly seems possible!

But here it was, a new new. A HUGE new. A new I sensed was coming for quite a while but finally was certain was here. Was upon us. It was exciting and terrifying all at once.

A few months ago, my husband and I sat with out pastor, the pastor of the church in which I met Jesus. the pastor of the church I'd dedicated four babies in, The church where we'd loved and hoped for, and ultimately said goodbye to our second daughter... we sat with our pastor and told him we were leaving.

We weren't angry. The church wasn't wrong or bad... but God was calling us away.

It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life.

My parents had died and my pastor and his wife had always loved me like I was one of their own... so now I was an orphan and leaving the safety, security, and familiarity of these two people as well.

As sad as I was, knowing this was what God wanted made it a little exciting too.

Until it was real.

Until Sunday morning came and we had to find seats in a new building, with nothing familiar... until I signed my children in as visitors and saw my daughter be nervous and timid upon entering class...where at home, at *our church* she'd always rushed right in.

Until the singing began and no one was clapping. I guess *they* don't clap here. They clapped at *our church*.

And then, just like that the familiar did stir... because Jesus was there... and all of the parts of me that felt so exposed and raw were just a little bit more comfortable, because the same God from *our church* was the same god at this church.

I wish that was the end. The "And then it was all better and we lived happily ever after. The End" end. But is wasn't and it isn't.

I'm learning that it can be incredibly difficult being new. Not knowing people and making new friends. I feel so far outside my comfort zone at ever event or woman's get together. Not because people are unfriendly, because people really are kind and sincere... but they aren't *my* friends... they are *their* friends. I'm still the new kid.

You know what I am learning in it though? God is still my friend. He still cares and he hasn't changed.

I'm learning that my little is full of really cool, really fun to be around people. I'm learning that God loves to meet us in our desperate places.

I've been thinking about you a lot lately... If I'm honest I've been thinking about you for two years.

I've been thinking about how hard we used to laugh. I've been thinking about how amazing it was to watch you find the heart of a God who adores you. I've been thinking about the things you always said you wanted... but mostly, I've been thinking how much I miss you.

How my heart literally aches at the thought of you. How, when I talk about you, I still start to cry. How I'm probably the only one who still hopes things will go back to the way they were.

I pray for you all the time... every time I think of you.

I don't know what to do with this ache, other than to pray.

Sometimes, I compose long emails to you. Sometimes full of love and hope... sometimes a little pointed and snarky... imagining that if I sent them the sting would snap you back into who you once were. I never send them, though sometimes I'm pretty close.

You don't know the kids anymore. You're missing so much. So much AMAZING stuff... and I just can't believe you're better for it. I can't imagine that the unconditional love of four incredible people isn't missed, either. What do you do with that? Do you even feel the loss? One of them still really feels the loss of you.

I do hope your life is good, but more than that, I pray that you'll be led back to a place of desperation, a place where God becomes *all* that you need and want. Even if *I* never see it. Even if I don't get to be a part of it... that is all I have ever wanted for you... God's perfect and amazing plan.
Waaaaaay back in August, when Stacee presented this crazy idea to run a half marathon to raise money for Team World Vision, I thought "Cool. 13.1 miles. That will be tough but fun."

Let me tell you, I had no idea at. all. what I was signing up for. None.

It wasn't just the 13.1 miles we ran on March 9th, but the 150-200 training miles we ran over the course of 6 was the new shoes, chiropractor visits, special was hours and hours of physical strain.

It was hard.

And it was life. changing.

It's taken me a long time to try and formulate words to put with my experience, mostly because I don't really understand a lot of it, not yet, maybe not ever.

I don't know why running = clean water. I don't know why someone says "Yes, I'll support this" when you put one foot in front of the other over and over again. Much like I don't know why Jesus spit in mud to heal a blind man. Most of all, I don't know how finishing a 13.1 mile run, and connecting to a cause that had never really been on my radar before, completely reworked who I am inside.

It's not the running. I still don't really love running, I like having run. I like doing a fun 5k with cool goodie bags are a silly theme, but it's not the running that changed me. It was doing something huge, something so far beyond myself, so in opposition to who I thought I was...God healed something deep inside me on the streets of LA on March 9th, in a sea of 25,000 God stretched out His hand and showed me a strength I never knew I had. Taught me that I can persevere, and that I don't always just give up. That, with His leading, I really can do hard things!

With Eden's diagnosis, my pregnancy with her, and her death...He showed me I could survive hard things. That I could still grow in the midst of trial... but this time, it was that I could *do* hard things. That I could step it faith and push on. I never knew that about myself, and have spent much of the last 39 years feeling like a quitter. Listing my failures and half finished projects as constant proof.

Not anymore. On March 9th I ran 13.1 miles for God's glory. He led me, and I pushed hard... and He blessed me with a chance to partner with Him to *change lives*. Not a few either... at last count the Team World Vision LA Marathon team had given clean water to just over 14,600 people!!!
Here's my most favorite part about running outside...because the reality is, running on a treadmill is easier and climate controlled. Running outside is so much harder. There is wind, and cold, and fun!

But my favorite part. My most absolute favorite part about running outside, and specifically in my neighborhood, comes after the run. Sometimes I'll be driving somewhere and think "I ran this! All the way from there to here and beyond. All the way from that street I just turned on to where I am now. Up those hills."

That's the *best* part. I'm still not loving to run. I'm still fairly certain I might just collapse in a puddle of tears and sweat around mile marker 10 on the marathon route in March. Truth is, I'm quite terrified of the actual half-marathon.

But in my car, on the streets I run, I feel like maybe I'll make it.

Please consider joining me by donating to Team World Vision. This is not something I can do're support means the world to me!
This past weekend was a group training run with Team World Vision. I was tired and it was very cold for this Southern California Girl...but I was feeling pretty good about things. I felt ready.

I stretched with our group, I started to warm up. I was inspired by the combined energy of 20 or so people united in this common cause to bring clean water to children in Africa and to eradicate the water crisis in my lifetime.

The course was a little different than I'd run before but I was excited to get out and push for those 50 minutes...maybe someday I *wouldn't* hate running.

Stacee and I started at a nice jog...up hill.

I'm not sure if it was the cold, my stuffy nose, the hill, or what but I soon found myself lagging behind on that uphill run. When we hit the straight away I evened out a bit and then, I just couldn't keep up anymore. I couldn't push. I lost Stacee and ended up totally solo. My lungs hurt and my Nike Run app was reminding me that I was a full minute behind my normal pace. Suddenly it just seemed too hard. I wanted to sit down in the middle of  the path and just cry.

Saturday was the day I looked at the Half Marathon and thought that maybe I really can't do this. That I failed, and would fail. That I would have to contact my supporters and tell them I couldn't actually run.

Maybe I could help my team fundraise.

I almost started crying on the path. The crazy non-runner...all by herself...lost from the pack because the path veers and I didn't get what they said and missed the sign to turn...almost had a break down right there.

Still I had to get back to the car, to get home, and quit. And the car was so I turned around and started running back.

Running, feeling like a failure, and still running.

Somewhere between get lost and the parking lot God met me in my failure. He reminded me that I wasn't running for *me*. That it wasn't just some crazy idea...but HIS crazy idea, that HE would strengthen and sustain me.

It was still really hard...and my body still wanted to give up. I'm still going to want to give up when my alarm goes off...but i will get up, and I will lace up my shoes, and I will ask God to meet me, mold me, teach me and use me while I am pushing my body beyond what *I* think it can do.

Please continue to pray with me; for the villages where clean water is so desperately needed, for my physically (and emotionally) to endure and be transformed...and most importantly for my fundraising efforts. Also, please consider joining with me to change lives by donating :)