Journeys

We Are Mobilizing Disaster Relief Teams in Louisiana!

Those Who Dream, Inc. Disaster Relief Team Information

Those Who Dream, Inc. is mobilizing teams to the flood disaster areas of Baton Rouge and Walker, Louisiana this month (August) to assist in disaster relief efforts for victims and families. We are partnering with Prayer Lake in Lettsworth, Louisiana and New Life Church in Walker, Louisiana to feed, clothe and shelter victims. Our teams will be working specifically in debris cleanup, cooking and feeding programs, supply and resource distribution and prayer for families.

Our first trip will be from Thursday, August 18 through Monday, August 22nd. We will have a high school team and an adult team mobilized on those dates.

 

Here are some of the items that New Life Church is requesting for disaster response:

  • Air mattresses and cots (Walmart has full size air mattresses for $6)
  • Pillows and light blankets
  • Fans
  • Battery powered personal fans
  • Bottled Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Gas cards for teams to go in and out of flood areas

For more information contact us at 985-607-4870 or www.thosewhodream.org

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Hope Is A Four-Letter Word

3

Our words have power. For so long I dismissed that truth mainly because I was so put off by televangelists who hijacked it with “name-it-claim-it” theologies. I have spent my life chasing Hope. That journey took me through over a dozen nations — I looked for it in so many places. But Hope wasn’t someTHING to be found. No, Hope was someONE. Hope was a Person.

There’s more. 

The truth is that our words are not magic. They are powerful. That means that our words do not become spells to conjure what we wish to happen. Sometimes our words are most powerful in tragedy. I’m living proof of that fact.

I found Hope in the eyes of children throughout the world as a young girl. This man — Jesus — the King who left glory for the dirt, He was there. In the chaos, He had turned holy. In the suffering that I witnessed, but didn’t experience first-hand. Until I did.

On a rainy day in August, we buried our little Boy, Beau. I thought Hope had left us. Then, lightening struck twice — and a year later, our most paralyzing fears came true, and we buried our baby Montgomery.

Had I missed something? 

When I was a traveling vagabond of a missionary, a blind man was healed in front of my eyes in the middle of nowhere in the african bush. I found Hope there. People cheered. I thought I had found the answer I had been searching for when I found Jesus in the dirt of the third-world. But I only knew a half-truth.

Most of us spend our lives living out our faith as tamed house cats rather than powerful lions. Our faith has a tendency to become domesticated and supernatural living becomes a philosophy rather than a lifestyle.

It’s so very easy to fall prey to believing following Jesus means adopting wishful thinking. Isn’t that what we’ve done with HOPE? We hope that our lives will matter. We hope that someday our kids will grow up to be happy and walking in the fullness of who they have been made to be. We hope our favorite team wins the game. In the same breath, we hope that our family member becomes a cancer survivor. We hope tomorrow is better than today. We hope. But do we know the Person of Hope?

So many times we use the word hope when all we are really referring to is wishful thinking. We forget the power of who Hope is. We forget the power that blew open a grave and conquered death so that we could know life that is abundant, never-ending, and free. We forget that that same power lives inside of us.

We use the word hope as a way to express our uncertainty. And when our vision of hope is destroyed through suffering, we feel lost and abandoned. When we use hope to describe our own feelings of fear, we unknowingly un-follow the person of Hope. 

Hope is a four-letter word. 

There were many days in the aftermath of our tragedies where I definitely used four-letter words. But Hope wasn’t one of them. I hated the loss of our dreams. That’s when I learned the rest of the half-truth I found with the poor in the third world. Hope is just as powerful in the times of tragedy, death and loss as it is in the times of miracles and greatness. In fact, Hope thrives and is most powerful in our ashes.

The power of Hope — God with us — doesn’t ignore our pain. He is not a God who hides behind the suffering of the world — He is Good, and is not double-minded. This four-letter word of Hope speaks blessings into our lives. It’s not a magical formula for everything to work out right. It’s the same expectation of God showing up in the same way that He did on the day His Son died.

Heaven, too lost a Son. Where was God when He himself needed a miracle? The story of Jesus’ death and resurrected is so revealing on answering that gut-wrenching question of the hurting of where is God in our suffering?

Heaven’s Son was hanging on a tree and all of Hell rested on His shoulders. He cried out for His Father — but the world thought that God answered, “No”. It seemed as if God did not show up. There was no miracle. No gold dust or smoke machine. There was no majesty in the death of this royal. Just great darkness blanketed him.

I remember the day I had to tell the world God had not answered our prayers, and we would not be bringing home our son from the hospital. I still remember the shame that I wore that day. The same cheers that overwhelmed us when the miracles happened, grew strangely silent.

Where was He?

Had God left us?

Had He said “No” to the cries of our hearts?

But just like Heaven’s story, ours does not end there. He always redeems. The resurrected King, resurrects us. By His spirit we rise too! We rise from the ashes of our defeat, just like He did. That’s the power of Hope. Nothing touched by Him stays dead forever.

I think it’s time to use these four-letter words again. Not because we wish for a happy-ever-after. But because we know who He is — and that He doesn’t change.

I struggled for a long time after our boys died not because I lost sight of who God is — that He was Good. Not because I believed God had orchestrated my pain as a “test” and not because I believed God just closed His eyes to my suffering. It was simply because I missed the rest of the story. 

I thought it was over. I thought God had answered. I thought our story had ended.

I thought He had left. I thought that I would always have to live with the deep question of why God had “chosen” to heal one of my children, but not the other. I thought it was a Yes – No answer.

But it wasn’t.

He hadn’t said “no” to my gut-wrenching cries as I gripped my babies in my arms and begged Him to breath life to them again. Just like He hadn’t said “No” as all Heaven watched the Son cry-out His last breath and Mary held Him in her arms crying out my same cry — for a son to live once more. 

God didn’t fail to show up. This was the precessional to the greatest miracle the world has or ever will know. God showed up when He robbed the grave three days later. You see, God ALWAYS shows up.

He didn’t leave His only Son anymore than He will ever leave you.

For a long time, because of the networks our family is in, I begged for isolation. When people shared miracles of how “God had come through” for their family, I ached inside. Each time I saw a story of God healing a baby, my faith felt beaten. Bad theology — even well-meaning encouragement from friends and ministry friends made me believe that sometimes miracles happen and sometimes they don’t. 

But when God showed up in our ashes, I saw His truth. He was here the entire time. God-with-us means God-never-leaves-us. 

Our God has robbed the grave.

If you’ve struggled with the thinking that God didn’t show up when you needed Him most. If the confusion of why haunts you and your faith feels broken, I want to remind you of who He is — and that your story isn’t over.

The resurrected King is resurrecting us. We are rising from our ashes. And we are watching for Him to trump our suffering with His power. And He is.

Our family has an announcement coming soon. Stay tuned.

 

 

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”(Colossians 1:27)

 

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Where Is God In Our Mess?

I’ve hesitated for over a month to utter this question. It sounds so cliche and I know I will not receive an answer — or will I?

One word. The question of the ages. The unanswered cry of the hurting. Why?

During the month since Beau was born sleeping, I have often seen the dawn rise before falling asleep. Questions mull over and over in my mind. I replay every instant, every moment, every decision to recheck. But in the end, I’m always left with the same thing… nothing.

But God, I miss him. I wake up each morning with this ache in my gut that makes it almost hard to breathe. The morning Beau was born I felt God so near. My entire labor was beautiful and worship ushered my baby into the world. I knew though that his spirit was already experiencing worship on a plain I can only imagine.

Beau was born at 3:25 am one Sunday morning. After he was delivered I remember sitting on the edge of my bed — the bed that was so neatly made — to capture pictures of his appearing. In shock, all of my emotions were eclipsed by this knowing that Heaven was closer than it had ever been before in my lifetime. In those fleeting moments I heard Beau — in a tone almost giddy with hope — whisper to me and only me, “Mommy, I’m not alone!”

Those words hit me like a rock in my spirit — all I wanted to yell back was, “But I am!”

I knew that in this instant, my baby didn’t need me. I need him.

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Finding God in Your Ruins: The Power of Remembrance

Finding God in Your Ruins.pngI still remember that day. The wind was cold — there wasn’t any sign of life around me — but I still managed to find a few fresh flowers from the local grocery store. I despise fake flowers in cemeteries. I grew up taking silk flowers to my Father’s grave with my mom. She would always make sure that my dad’s stone had plenty of flowers. But I hated them. To me, they were reminders of how no matter how hard we tried to bring beauty to our ashes, there was still no life in our ruins.

But here I was in the same cemetery I had visited as a child —this time with a few white roses in my handsbut today I wasn’t visiting my dad. I looked down and at my feet lay two small headstones — each marked with my dreams. Under each name read, “Infant son of Josh & Jess Davis”. I laid a few roses at the feet of each stone — knowing they would just blow away in the wind when I left. But I didn’t care. I needed to see life in our ruins again. I had traveled nearly a thousand miles to get here — to my place of remembrance.

For a long time after we buried both boys, I was numb. Life suddenly looked so different than it used to – than I dreamed it would. And we felt so alone. When we were traveling throughout the world preaching God’s presence, many rallied around us. When a blind man saw for the first time in front of us, so many people were encouraged. When our first born daughter was born at only  1 pound and defied every odd thrown her way, so many people made sure to send us messages and grace our social media pages with “God is good”. But when the miracles ended, those same accolades grew strangely silent. 

When people left us, it was easy to believe the lie that God had left us too. Then one day, I received a message from an old college friend of mine. She too had lost a son after he was born. And her message changed my life.

She wrote,

“No mother should ever endure this once, much less twice. I just cannot imagine this, Jess. I do know this truth.
He was good when He led Josh into your life. He was good when He empowered you to birth and raise Jolie and Tuck.
He was good when He led you beside still waters as you grieved Beau.
He has not changed. He is still good. 

Being present in our ruins can be a tricky place. Our eyes can tell us lies that seem right, but our hearts can show us the true way.  Finding God in our ruins is possible. We don’t have to look far. It all lies in the power of remembrance. 

On the night Jesus was about to be betrayed, He had dinner with His friends. He broke bread and passed around wine and gave the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 

And there was power in that remembrance. It meant that even in the disaster that would soon happen, He was still King in the ruins. When the enemy comes in to steal the life from within you — and please know the enemy brings death, not God. He brings life — because He is Life itself! There is power in remembering who He is in our darkest days. That same power conquered the grave. And it can raise the dead in us too!

That day when I read Kristin’s message, a part of me remembered.

I remembered His love.

The love that caused me to leave my home and run to the ends of the earth to share. 

The love that was so powerful that even death couldn’t change it. That is who He is.

The Love that became flesh and left glory for the dirt — Love Himself that joined me in my ruins and showed me an upside-down kingdom. 

Love that knows the same loss of a son — Heaven’s Son — and still used the death of one to bring Life to many.

If you find yourself in ruins tonight, I want to remind you of the same message that changed my life after we buried our boys.

He is STILL Good. He never changes. 

Don’t let what you see around you trick you into believing the lie that God isn’t with you. If you’ve suffered, if you’ve lost, and if you can’t see beyond the ashes around you, remember His love for YOU and His promise to never leave you.

Forget the misrepresentations of God in others you’ve encountered. Forget the bad theology that many have attributed to Him. Forget the lies your ruins have tricked you into believing. Ask God to make Himself real to you. Ask Him to visit you. Even now.

He is for you. He has gone before you. And He will never leave you. 

Are you struggling to find God in your ruins? How can I pray for you?

 

 

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When We Bury Our Dreams

stockmen

Our house was full of noise and laughter and life today. Except it wasn’t as loud as it could have been. It’s been nearly two years since our son, Beau was born sleeping, and nearly 8 months since we buried our son Montgomery.

You know, I thought that the hardest days would be the funeral, or the day writing their obituary —  definitely their birthdays when I would long to bake a cake and put hours into elaborate birthday parties because I’m just addicted to Pinterest. But lately those “hardest” days have hit me square in the face. I’m 28 years old and I have twice buried my dreams.

I remember those early days. Josh and I walking barefoot in the dirt of Africa, newly married, and dreaming about babies. We believed in babies as much as we believed in life. We had no idea what was ahead of us. And we wonder, what will come from all of this?

After Montgomery died, our friends, the Joyner’s invited us to spend some time at their beach house to get away and try to heal. I was praying God would meet me there. But I had no idea that he would meet me in the face of an older man named Gene.

From the first day we arrived, he was around –working, watching the water, cleaning the boats. And as usual, Josh found a friend in him. Gene invited us to go out on the water in his boat one day. He would drive us around and help us see life when all we could feel was death. He wouldn’t ask us questions. He didn’t have an agenda — he didn’t even talk about himself. In fact, by the end of our trip, all I knew about him was that he was kind and a man of few words, and that he loved eating mullet — a type of fish that feeds on the bottom of the Gulf.

But when I was around Gene, I knew I was around Jesus.B I didn’t know why, I just knew that God was showing me His face in Gene. He had a look in his eyes that looked like he had walked a hard road. And even though his heart was gentle, you could tell he still carried some of that pain. When we left to go home, Gene walked us out and I knew he wanted to tell us something. In that short time, we had grown to love Gene. He hugged us and told us that he could see how much we loved each other, and to remember to never forget that. And just like that, we left.

A few days later, I messaged Gene’s sister-in-law to tell them thank you for the hospitality. I told her how thankful we were to have met Gene. That’s when she told me that Gene’s son had died when he was young. He had walked through a similar road as we were. I wondered if I would still have that same look of pain in my eyes when I grew old one day.

We’ve been following Joey and Rory Feek and their journey in battling cancer. They’ve been such an integral part of our journey in grieving our sons, because of their music.

Today, for some odd reason, I woke up and the first thought in my head was to pray for them and that today, she was going home. So our home has been filled with laughter and noise and life today. Their music has been blaring through the halls, and this song stopped me in my tracks.

To Say Goodbye

He said I’ll call you Hon when I get there,
Ten minutes later he was in the air,
She dropped the kids at school and headed home,
Walked in and turned the front room TV on
She could tell that there was something wrong,
Every channel had the same thing on,
Now seven years have come and gone away,
But she’s still hurting like its yesterday,

‘Cuz she wants to put her arms around his neck,
and look in his eyes so blue,
and say Honey I don’t regret,
A single day I spent with you,
She wants to tell him that she loves him so,
and will until the day she dies,
It ain’t that she can’t let him go,
She just wants to say goodbye

He sits beside her in the nursing home,
Through her silver hair he runs a comb,
He hangs their wedding picture on the wall,
She don’t remember who he is at all,
He tells her stories about the life they’ve lived,
From their first kiss to their last grandkids,
For seven months now she just sits and stares,
But if she wakes up he’s gonna be right there,

‘Cuz he wants to put his arms around her neck,
and look in her eyes so blue,
and say Honey I won’t forget,
a single day I spent with you,
He wants to tell her that he loves her so,
and will until the day he dies,
it ain’t that he can’t let her go,
He just wants to say goodbye

No it ain’t let that we can’t let them go,
We just want to say goodbye

One thing I’ve learned from Joey’s journey is the power of being present with those you do have, right now. I’ve had many things change me since our boys died, some for the good and some that trapped me in my grief.

For a long time, I wrestled with the fear of losing more of my kids. Or of this place that feels so much better than Heaven to me — Home, with my husband and living kids, being taken away from me. That fear crippled me.

When I heard that Joey had died today, I remembered the legacy that she left and the look that their lives gave in how to say goodbye by living fully with those you love. And that, along with their songs, changed my perspective.

Take it from me that you don’t want to wait until you’ve buried your dreams to figure out the value of what is right in front of you. Love those that are in front of you. Life isn’t something to be sheltered because of fear of losing it all — or losing it all again. For all of us, our dreams will one day come to an end. But it’s really not an end. It’s an invitation into something much bigger than what we can see.

Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying the gift of life that you’ve been given. Don’t let busyness and ambition, and strife keep you from finding the joy in a simple life. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the joy that is right there at your fingertips. And don’t waste time because whether we like it or not, we all are running out of that.

Above all else, I’ve learned from their story that you really don’t need to say goodbye. But you can live in a way that makes saying goodbye irrelevant.

I’ve twice buried my dreams. But I wouldn’t trade my story for anything. Having to say goodbye to someone we love, means that we have had the gift of living life with those we can’t live without.

Enjoy Heaven, Joey. Your life lives on.

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Does Jesus Walk Around Your Home?

Does jesus walk around your home-

I was thirteen years old the night Jesus met me in an attic room of our old farmhouse. That’s the day my life changed forever. A decade later, I had watched Him come running to the broken in 20 countries. I watched cataracts fall from a blind man’s eyes under the light of an African moon. And I married the love of my life who shared a heart for God and the world under that same African sky. But the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed was when my first baby — born much too soon weighing only a pound — came crashing into my world. We watched as God proved Himself strong through her and she is now a thriving four year old with no deficits.

My story used to end there — with a miraculous telling of a baby who shouldn’t have lived and did. People lit up my social media pages with “God is good” and rightly so. He is. He always is. But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers. And even in the midst of daring hope, we learned that lightening can strike twice, and we left the hospital again with empty arms and faced with writing another obituary and funeral for a son we would never be able to hold again in this life.

“But my story — our story– changed again one rainy morning in August when our third baby, Beau was born sleeping. I’ll never forget the sound of the rain that morning on the window, or the fear and shame I had of letting the world know that God did not answer our prayers.”

I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left. He hadn’t lost or somehow chosen to turn his head away from our suffering. The miracle in this deep, dark place was that Heaven had still won. And my boys were in a place that possessed a reality I had only hoped for in days past.

“I couldn’t write it — but my spirit ached with the awareness that He still was good. He still was there — HERE. He had never left.”

For a long time I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. The sting of shock crippled me. Eventually I realized that my husband and living children were grieving too. And our kids needed us to guide them in walking through the pain and bewilderment of a loss that their little minds couldn’t understand.

We started asking Jesus to walk around our home. Whether we felt Him or not, each day we invited Him near. Our family is still walking through the ashes of the loss we have encountered. There are highs and lows, but His presence never waivers. And our kids know Jesus is here.

Raising our kids in God’s presence is more than attempting a glorified Sunday school. It is the very essence of the calling we have as parents –to help them cultivate a personal history with Jesus. And what we teach them will determine how soon they begin to walk in their destinies — and the fullness in which they walk it out.

“Helping our kids cultivate a personal history with God starts with simply asking Jesus to walk around our home.”

So how do we go about this task of connecting the Creator with our little ones? Truth is, we can’t. When I left for Africa the morning after high school graduation, I expected to bring Jesus to the world. What I soon realized was that He was already there when my plane landed!

The same lesson is one we often learn as parents — we cannot do what only God can do. We can’t make our children be anything or become what we envision. But we can make sure to put them in front of His presence. We can become examples of lives laid down for Him alone.

In grieving the loss of our sons, we realized that the greatest thing we could model to our children about suffering was to be transparent in our ashes and show them each day by living out the reality of depending on God for everything.

So how do we help our kids cultivate their own history with God?

  1. Stop comparing Jesus to the Easter Bunny. One of my biggest fears early on was that my kids would equate Jesus to Santa, the Easter Bunny, or other cultural stories we pass down to our children. I didn’t want them to know Him because of my story. I wanted them to learn about Him from hearing His voice. If you want your kids to cultivate a personal history with God, it’s time to talk about Him like He is real and present with us.

  2. Ask God about His dreams for your kids. What is His heart for your child? Have you asked Him? When we begin to hear His voice for our children, we can partner with God for the destiny He has for them. 

  3. Daily speak destiny over them. Our words have power. I’ve been in public and cringed over words I have heard spoken from parents over their children. What are you speaking over your kids? Being intentional about our charge over them means we can partner with God’s heart for our kids by speaking destiny –what He sees in them–each day.

  4. Call out the gold. It is easy to find fault in your children. Especially on days where you are over-stressed, over-stretched, and over-tired. Make an effort to be intentional about calling out the gold in your kids — those things that God has placed in them that can impact the world around them. What gifts do you see God has placed in them? When you see flaws, speak the opposite over them. It sounds like a silly and simple task, but this even applies to toddlers. When my kids were potty training, if one of them had an accident, the other would call them a “baby” because they didn’t have it all together. One day, when this was happening, I told my oldest that we were not going to use negative words towards each other. I told them when we make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that is who we are – it doesn’t change our identity. I asked her to call her brother a name that would encourage him – and she did. Now when our kids make mistakes (which we all do everyday), my kids will respond by cheering each other on. If my little boy had an accident, my daughter would say, “Come on Tuck, you are a big boy. You can do it. We will try again next time.” Even at a young age, my kids are learning to call out the gold in each other.

  5. Live as a family on a mission. Do you know God’s purpose for your family? I know in our culture, we have been gorged with the idea of finding our individual purposes. But we can’t forget we have been made for each other! Spend time asking God about His dreams for your family. And then be intentional about living those adventures together as a family. Your greatest way to make sure that your kids cultivate a deep history with God is to cultivate your family’s history with God with them.

“Your greatest way to make sure that your kids cultivate a deep history with God is to cultivate your family’s history with God with them.”

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Making Adventure A Family Lifestyle

Making Homeschooling A Family Lifestyle (3)I spent half a decade traveling around the world with a backpack and a pair of flip-flops. My journeys took me to twenty countries, and my life was forever wrecked for living an average life.

The powerful aspect of my life then wasn’t found in the globetrotting adventures I thought were epic. My life was an adventure because my lifestyle matched my heart– those things that called out life within me.

This morning, I find myself in a very different place than I did before, but the adventure is the same. I wake up each morning in a small town new New Orleans and my heart is alive much in the same way it was in the markets of Jerusalem or the dirt paths of Africa. But this time, my adventure has a face: these two.

12694929_10153494458983235_7811721409336544469_oI meet so many moms and dads who have been tricked into believing that their lives post children have to somehow become hectic and unfulfilled. I was naive enough to think that way at one point too. Until the day my world ended.

On a rainy morning in August of 2014, my third baby, Beau died just before birth. I got up again and hoped once more. But like some families are keenly aware, lightening can strike twice, and we buried our 4th baby, Montgomery in July of 2015.

For a long time Josh and I struggled to find a way to live again. Each day is a new mountain for both of us in grief — even for our two living children. But we are determined to be intentional about loving life again.

This morning I woke up and heaped a spoon of dark roast coffee in my french press, surrounded by the sounds of small town America, and I realized something. My heart is coming alive again.

Our family is a homeschooling tribe. We love living, loving, and learning together all over the world. But where we are in the world is not what makes the adventures alive — it’s being together.

If you’re a home school mom or dad who has lost touch with that sense of adventure, I want to encourage you that it is all around you. There are still days that I look up and wish all four of my stair-step kids were running around me. I ache for that reality. But that ache drives me to squeeze every ounce out of the life I have been given with those I do have.

Creating a lifestyle of homeschooling in your family means that you find the adventure in the mundane, ordinary things, but also live our your heart-beat as a family.We use Mother Goose Time curriculum for our children, and this month we have been focusing on Health and Fitness in our learning journey. God challenged my husband and I to live out what we have been learning and teaching our kids. So we did something different this month.

One week contained lessons on types of foods, including veggies, fruits, dairy and protein. As our children were learning where our food comes from, we decided to take the plunge and buy as much of our monthly food needs locally from farms as we could. When we worked on protein, we took the kids to buy farm fresh eggs. We made our own bread when learning about grains, and in a few days we will make our own strawberry jam to barter with for local raw honey.

Our kids aren’t just learning what is necessary to make it in the American public school system – they are learning how to live out their adventures in learning. They are able to reach out in front of them and touch what they are learning about. And those experiences will shape who they one day become.

As a home school mom, I want to encourage you to take the gift of teaching your children as an invitation to live out your dreams as a family. Go on adventures. See the world. Don’t become overwhelmed by the details and scheduling and work load. Find life in your learning. And live it fully. 

Here is a sneak peek into our month of buying locally as a family:

Are you a homeschooling family who has lost your sense of adventure? Join us in being intentional about loving life together at The Davis Tribe

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Finding Time

stay close to

This morning, I should be waking up and celebrating our son Montgomery’s 6 month birthday. After losing two sons I constantly find myself on this roller-coaster-kind-of-ride of attempting to find how to live after my world stopped twice.

In the midst of the chaos that filled most of our lives, I have been intentional about finding time lately to live presently and fully where I am.

I looked at old videos of our kids today, and thought to myself, “Where did the time go?” It seemed like that was literally yesterday and somehow, here we are. I know a lot of you can relate.

Something God has been speaking to me lately is to simplify. We have gotten rid of nearly 50% of our belongings, purged our home, and developed a dream of being much more free as a family. He’s also been reminding me to find time instead of making my daily chaos and to-do list, rule my life.

Our family is a homeschooling, family business, ministry/mission focused, author/writing, all-in kind of family. That means most of my days are crazy. Our home is a school, a church, two different kinds of offices, a play place, a refuge, and more. It represents our world, and sometimes having all the “plates” spinning around us can cause us to lose sight of what matters most: one another.

School for us has to be flexible because our hours are often different day to day. Mother Goose Time is our choice for preschool curriculum. I’ve been so blessed to be apart of the MGT writing team this year. It has allowed me to focus on our big goals for our family, and leave the details to the pros.

I had a day this week where life was hectic. All of the demands of the day pressed on us, and as the sun went down, I had not been able to finish school with the kids. Mother Goose Time has 4 lessons a day that I can choose to use to teach my children. So, in all the craziness that we found ourselves in, school began around the dinner table tonight.

We have been Going on Safari this month. All of our lessons and letters are centered around that theme and the kids are enjoying it so much. Josh and I spent many years in Africa and were married there. We will be adopting from Uganda as well. So this theme means so much to our family.

Tonight, I heard, “Find the time” in the midst of chaos. And you know what? God turned that chaos holy.

Here’s what happened. Laughter. Love. And Learning Together.

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Becoming A Family With Purpose

a guide to big city life & love.-2

We started off the New Year with 10 Ways to Dream With Your Family in the New Year. I will be writing a series on this later this month, but I wanted to also focus on the act of becoming a family with purpose.

Throughout the years, we have attempted to be intentional about being purposeful in how we live out our family dreams and our everyday lives. Nearly 90% of those attempts were unsuccessful, until I finally realized what was holding us back.

Three words: The Almighty Schedule. 

It beat me like a dead horse but for some reason, I always came back and failed miserably to fit our family into the boxes of those I saw around me. I honestly believed that scheduling our family meant that we possessed purpose. But the truth is, scheduling our family was suffocating our purpose.

I have a vivid memory from when Jolie was a baby and I attempted to “get it all together” by making an itemized schedule of the day set in fifteen minute increments. It was ridiculous. And of course, in the first day when we were already “behind schedule” it caused us all to react and live not only in stress, but also away from our purpose.

Now, five years later, we have finally discovered that routines work best for our family. And quite honestly, routines in our home are very loose. Our family thrives on unpredictability. Though, because we have toddlers, who thrive on a sense of security through predictability, we have had to be intentional about including the hallmarks of our day consistently.

Becoming a family of purpose is something our family is going after in 2016. Abraham’s story speaks so much to us because in it, God was so intentional about calling out a family into the world. It was the first story of family missions in the Bible, and it fascinates me.

Longing to become a family with purpose? Here are five ways we have intentionally focused our family in that direction.

  1. Know your family’s purpose. What has God placed inside of your family that needs to be shared with those around you? Some of us have been so stuffed with the ideology of discovering “our” purpose, that we do not know how to be a part of a team. As a family, you are a team. Are you a family on a mission? Do you know what that mission is? If not, think about asking God as a family what His dreams are for you.
  2. Call out the gifts in your kids. As parents, we know our kids like no one else. Our three year old son has an extreme gift of encouragement. I’m not talking about a tendency towards flattery, Tuck literally can motivate and enliven people around him with his words and observations. He calls out the gold in people everywhere he goes, and it hasn’t been taught to him. It’s just innate. Are you calling out the gifts in your kids? Those gifts can help bring clarity to discovering how to live out your purpose as a family.
  3. Know the hallmarks of your day. Why do you do what you do? Each day, there are hallmarks of our day that we intentionally go through to build up our family. Some are small, like praying at the dinner table together. Some are routine aspects like our bedtime routine before bed. But all of these acts help strengthen our purpose for the day.
  4. Reassess, Reassess, Reassess. Some of the greatest advice I have ever received was that I didn’t need to fit my family into someone else’s box. That was so freeing to me! I would encourage you to find what works for your family and to constantly reassess what is working and what needs to be changed. I was amazed at how many things I did throughout my days that lacked meaning. When what we are doing does not work for our family any longer, we change.
  5. When you don’t know the big picture, focus on the basics. Sometimes change can be overwhelming. And to be honest, God might not show you the entire picture for your family in the beginning. In the craziness of life, one of the keys I have had to remember is to get the basics right. When all else seems too much, and schedules overwhelm our days, I know to go back to our family’s greatest purpose: to love and enjoy one another. If we aren’t doing that, we’re missing the point. Small steps like focusing on my marriage and doing small acts that speak my husband’s love language, making sure to hug my kids and tell them I love them each day, and even enjoying a cup of coffee are all basics of my day no matter what is happening in our world.

As leaders of your family, I want to encourage you to ask God about the promises He has placed over your tribe. In Genesis 12, God encountered Abram and said, “I want you to go to the land I will give you. I promise that I will bless you, and make your family great. I will be with you in all you do, and because of you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Abram, and later Abraham’s decision to obey God and live out his family purposefully meant that other families around him were affected. Your decision to live in the reality of the dreams God has placed in your family can directly affect families around you. What promises has God spoken to you about your family?

 

 

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