Thursday, October 13, 2011


 Oh my dear goodness, I love design and pretties, but I just need some help getting this blog some love.

Since I love cool designs, I would also love to say that I could design a blog by myself...

Let's be honest, I love the idea of crafts, too...

But I'm much better at appreciating other people's crafts.

Maybe I'm going to have to save up my pennies and ask someone to make this place a cozy spot. until then, it's nice being real.

Confession: I'm not an artsy, crafty, sewing, blog, designer, photographer woman. No offense to those of you that are. Ya know, I love y'alls creativity and pretties, but I'm sure good at spending my time appreciating yours rather than working on my own.

To all my girls out there that have the fabulous ideas in their minds, but can't seem to get them out in real time. I'm here for you.

Exceedingly & Abundantly, Jo

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You do not go unnoticed.

The front row. Church on Sunday. A middle school boy with his mom. I watch as he walks in, sits
 down, and proceeds to rock himself back and forth while we worship. I wonder what he's thinking. He seems captured in his own thoughts...I wonder if he's thinking about the music or Jesus or all the different stage design, or maybe something totally different. I know he knows something I don't know. I can just tell. While some may look at him with questions, all I can question is what he knows that I don't know. I believe that God gives special gifts or understanding to children or people that we may see with what we call “disabilities.” If we can't understand the minds of these children, what things must they know that we don't. So, I watch this little boy. And I know, I know if he is in the kingdom of heaven that he will walk before me, that he will describe details to me in heaven of things I never understood. Things that I overlook, missing details, traits of God...he must know things that I don't know, that my mind can't fathom. The bible says that God has made the wisdom of this world what the world considers foolishness, God has called His own. So we who think we know something, must really be so far behind.

Sweet boy, I hope someday I can see Jesus through your eyes. You know things that I don't. You are so calm and precious. I watch you, as you truly are, not nervous or agitated, but calm and intelligent, detail-oriented, and fearless. I wish you knew that someone wishes they could understand you. Your life is noticed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Do we understand?

 Do we ask?

 Do we really want to know?

 I was thinking the other day about what I most want to instill
 in my future children. Obviously a love for Jesus,
 but what after that?
 Kindness? Honesty? Compassion? Service?
 patience?...there are so many things.
 And then I saw it. God opened up my eyes and showed
 much we choose to not "understand" each other. How often we
 choose to not really look and see people, to ask them questions.
 Instead, our pride tells us we already know.
 The best way God has taught me this is by shaking up my world
 with people that love Him and are redeemed..and they have very
 different stories.
 What do you think of a divorced man?
 What about a young mother?
 That girl that everyone sees as cute, but has no substance?
 What about the mean girl?
 The young woman that's been engaged twice already?
 What about the prideful, all-american 21-year-old man?
 Type A church leaders?
 A woman that goes to church without her husband?
 That crazy-faith woman that has cancer and "thinks" God is
 going to heal her?
 For all of them, I want my children to look deeper, to watch
 with Jesus' eyes, and really see the world around them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's the little things...

I have always loved the beauty of the little things..

Eating a whole bowl of pudding. Driving with the windows rolled down. Having conversations with random people at the grocery store. Writing cards. Waving. Picking things out of the garden and eating them right there...

But, everytime I decide to give something back to God even more, He shows me more of those beautiful, little things I so desperately love.

In January I decided to cut off my long, golden locks that I had been growing out for so long. Not because God told me to, but because I had to ask myself, "What could I give up to show God that I love Him? Do I hold onto my hair because I feel like it's the only thing that makes me beautiful?" My answer to the second question was..Yes. What would happen, though, if I gave up that long hair? God's purposes for me would still be there. His ever-abounding love and grace, still there. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think we have to give up everything or that God is asking us to. Sometimes I just like to physically do something in remembrance of what I have learned in my heart. My prayer was, "God, here's something simple and human, but something beautiful you've given me. I'm cutting it off in remembrance of that all I need is you. If you stripped me of everything, I would still thrive because of You." And God made it fun. We were having lunch with a bunch of our friends after church and one of the great "brothers" in my life, Dale, volunteered to do the cutting. We let him hack away and laughed for weeks when people complimented my haircut.

Recently, I've been trying to be a better steward of the money God has entrusted me with. I've made commitments to not buy anything I don't absolutely need. Even if it's on sale. I've been cleaning out my closet and giving up things I don't need. For the last few years, I've been thinking of all these ways I could help with the ministries that God has put on my heart. One of the greatest joys and callings God has put on my heart is, "Help others achieve their God-given dreams." There are my friends in Mizak, Haiti, who just want to go to university. There are the beautiful families that want to adopt, but cannot afford it. There are people with God-given dreams who we are to use our resources to help. So, this idea was born. A little garage sale style shop out of my room, called Lydia & Yves. Lydia, was a fashionable woman, a seller of purple. I too, love fashion...and I too have been chosen by God. Yves is the name of one of our dear friends from Haiti; A man that proves that we can love each other, even when we cannot speak the same language and are not able to say it. Half of everything I sell is going into a fund. A fund that will for now go to one of three things: helping someone from the blog-world adopt, helping someone in Haiti go to university, or helping with the cost of sending someone on a mission trip.

As all these things were coming about and God was telling me to step out in faith and give. And once I was in step with Him, he reminded me of the beautiful little things.

Last Sunday I told my friend I like her shoes. She took them right off of her feet and gave them to me. How beautiful.

God provided all the ways and money for my tuition this semester.

Today, my grandmother gave me a cute tote bag.

Why? God doesn't have to, but He even surprises us with little things. This is not always the case, but shouldn't we be ready to see those beautiful things when they come along? Give up something and you will notice how much you truly are blessed. Look at your world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Five...

I'm a big fan of lists and numbers and fonts...and things to be thankful for. I started giving my top with friends awhile ago. It brings joy just to say, "What are some little things that blessed my week or keep coming to mind?" So here's my top 5. Please tell me yours.

1.) The day I decided to cut off my long, blonde hair.

2.) These slightly cooler, beginning of fall days.

3.) White Chocolate Mocha,

4.) Cleaning out the closet.

5.) Confessing our struggles to friends and having them encourage with scripture!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

dear goodness..............

One year ago, I sat on that couch with some people who I never knew would become my best friends. I watched fireworks with them, not knowing that a year from that day, the very boy whose couch we were sitting on would be coming home from Monrovia. That boy is now a man.

Heather, that summer was a summer of healing. God gave me a love for His word and I read more of the bible in one week than I usually read in a month. To try new things is a comfort. All in one day, we saw miami, I tried shrimp, and you learned to longboard.

My favorite coffee mug from philly. Thank goodness someone talked one of my friends into going...and then, they talked me into going. I let go of being perfect and the lie that for a christian to admit pain and struggle and to be sad means that they are not trusting God. It's okay to feel deep sorrow. My heart finally heard the words "You are so beautiful, and I will call you Beautiful." And I will never forget the way God uses people to speak the words we wait so long to hear.

                                      This man is the one coming home from Africa. Because of God, he left behind all that he knows, so that he might learn what he doesn't know.

3 things I love: Romans, flowers, and cocktail rings. I'm not sure if there is any other part of my bible that is highlighted as much as Romans 5-8.

 In philadelphia, my top bunk faced a window. Every night I could watch the train run by. I could see faces. It's beautiful. I couldn't sleep very much those nights, but had time to pray for each member of my team. There is nothing like being in the moment of prayer, while everyone is sleeping, speaking scripture about their lives for the day ahead.

I am blessed beyond measure.

Friday, July 1, 2011

dear goodness

"Oh dear goodness!" is something i exclaim often these days. Whether in surprise or when i'm caught in a predicament or just out of sheer joy. Some things are just simply dear goodness to our spirit. These are mine...

                              Cupcakes in bed for my 21st birthday. Thanks, Mom.

To be continued....

Monday, May 16, 2011

"How do you know?"

Saturday night....

A peppermint mocha in hand, I thought I was going to spend the evening playing at my park, Lakeside, in fort wayne.  As we drove past all of the beautiful houses, I pointed out my favorites to Clarke. The roses were going to be so beautiful at Lakeside; I knew it.

My heart dropped. That's my overly dramatic way of saying I was disappointed when we saw there was some sort of soiree happening at my park...and obviously, we would not be welcome....even though, I appreciate that park more than a bunch of kids in fancy attire that are 17. I'm not bitter or anything.

Who knew that plan B could end up even better than plan A...

We decided to just move onto the next thing on our list. Dinner at Dash-In. This place is like home, except without any stress or expectations to keep it tidy. It can take a long time to eat there, just because you want to savor every moment. At Dash-In you're guaranteed: sweet waitresses. food that is a whole wonderful experience of its own (like bruschetta grilled cheese. yum.) an atmosphere that's relaxed. older couples and young, college kids. Great beer. Raspberry iced tea that still tastes good 2 hours later. Happiness...i'm telling you, I've never seen a grouchy person in the place.

When we finally dragged ourselves out of dash-in, with a to-go cup full of raspberry iced tea, we contemplated many options before settling on Arthur. The movie. We went. It wasn't what i expected. The humor was better...actual brilliant, witty lines. The characters and story reminded me of a 1950's movie. And the story actually made me happy and then made me cry. Yes, I cried over Russell Brand and his nanny.

The night only got better when we walked out of the movie theatre and it was raining. Not just any rain, but that perfectly soft, cool rain that my friend, Aisha, describes as "romantic" rain.

I used the rain as my excuse (not that anyone ever needs an excuse to wear Hunter boots) to wear my red Hunter boots, and I jumped in every little puddle that would give me a tiny splash. One of my friends told me that when they ask for her name at starbucks, she always just makes one up. They didn't ask for a name, so I found some lipstick and did the job myself. Estee Lauder, you should start a line of fancy pens.

We drove home to the sound of me and My Chemical Romance, belting "Welcome to the Black Parade." Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, "So Paid," by Akon....our taste in music is truly refined.

While the possibilities at wal-mart are endless, somehow a 21 year-old women walks away with Raid (I hate bugs, okay!), a number 9 to replace the worn-out one on our mailbox, and peonies that I can't wait to plant.

The moral of the story: the only sensible way to end a saturday night is with a cup of starbucks and a trip to wal-mart. And: plan B is almost always better than plan A...not that we ever really know if we don't actually experience plan A, becuase we have nothing to compare plan B to.

Love, Always, Jo

Friday, May 13, 2011

The magic of ordinary days...

My best friend left for Kenya today. It's her 19th birthday.

On birthdays, we celebrate life. We celebrate the fact that we were given it and how many years we've been part of it. Every birthday we look back on how old we are, all that has happened, or how far we are from where we used to be.

As I eat ice cream, in honor of Aisha Caye, I'm celebrating the fact that God knows the ways we take, our coming and going.

Today I celebrate: That God has taught us His beauty. That His beauty is not as well seen in perfect birthdays with presents, but that His beauty is seen in the unexpected. Birthdays spent on flights to Kenya. Birthdays spent preparing for 10 unplanned weeks of adventure, learning to live and love in Mombasa. Because really, birthdays are His day...the day he began to let us see that He can make our mess into something beautiful.

Aisha Caye, that you were born is just the beginning....that you are able to truly live through Him is what makes every day, birthday or not, the real celebration. I love you, always. -Jo