Embrace Peace

Be still and know that I am God.

My heart feels as though the Lord is constantly speaking this to me, forever telling me to trust Him, and longing for me to sit in His beauty. I’m reminded daily how easy it is to get swept into the beautiful array of ministries that surround us, but then we suddenly find ourselves tired, weary, worn down, and crying out to God for rest.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Seek first the Kingdom and righteousness and all shall be added unto you. I love this promise from our good, good Father. As we faithfully seek after Him and what He is doing here on Earth, everything else is added to us. We have peace with God because of Jesus, and because of that, there is a way we can walk through this life that we do not end up weary. As we follow Him and learn to encounter His heart daily, we are filled up, and He adds all else unto us.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Being a parent has made me see how a new level of how my life is not my own. I think about her needs more than I do mine, and plan my days according to what she has going on. I laugh even as I write this because I just signed papers for her school, have dinner going on the stove, am helping Vanessa do her hair, and am listening to constant questions while trying to type this. “Why is it light out still? Why do seasons change? Is it spring time now? Will it snow again? I don’t like snow. I hope it’s spring time. Are we moving? Why do we only have one bathroom in our house? Do some people have two bathrooms? Why do people need such big houses?” The questions are endless. So many whys! Family is always your first ministry though, and I cherish moments like these because they remind me to slow it all down, breathe, and embrace the journey. Child-like wonder is something we all need to embrace more. It reminds me to never let the ministry of Vanessa’s Village become more important than my daughter Vanessa.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Recently God has been speaking to me about the word EMBRACE. I feel it is a message for more than just me though, so I feel led to share it here. Embrace where God has placed you. Embrace the season He has you in. Embrace the realm of simply sitting at His feet and slowing down for a bit. I feel as though God is saying that He wants to bring us back. I feel He says this. “I want to bring my children back to a simple time, when they had awe and wonder, questions and joy, and when laughter filled their mouths. Child, you keep fighting the role I have called you to, the place I have you, and you are only doing damage to yourself. The more you thrash around in the quick sand, the faster you sink, but I want you to EMBRACE these trial around you; embrace the season I have you in. I am leaning down with a helping hand. Just as I pulled Peter out of the water after he fell in when his eyes were cast down to the waves, so will I pull you out. Do not be like the other disciples and merely sit on the boat, terrified of Me before them on the water. Be like Peter, trusting Me. Step out in faith in what I have called you to. Embrace the call. Even if you sink I am there, for it is better you sink and I lift you than you never walk on the water. Be still and KNOW me. Do not simply understand me. I want you to know the person I am, the heart I have for you. Embrace me, for I am yours and you are Mine.”

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

The Lord has incredible things for us as we seek Him. Come, join us on Tuesday evenings 6:30-8:30pm at 330 N. Main St. Souderton PA 18964 for a time of sitting at His feet and being filled by all He has for us as we embrace where He has us and seek Him first. For more information on this ministry, click Ministries tab and in the drop down select Alabaster Prayer House.

You are so deeply loved!


Dancing in the Will of God

“What if the path you chose becomes a road; what if the ground you take becomes a home? The wind is high, but the pressure is off. I’ll send the rain wherever we end up.” That chorus pierced my heart as I laid on the thin mattress high up on my bunk in the heat of India. “Wherever we end up, Darling, I’ll be there. You cannot choose wrong. I am with you wherever you go.” His gentle whisper invaded my terrified heart; “But what if I choose wrong and miss the plans you have for me? What if I miss Your will Papa? Please! Lead me. Lead me.”

“You can never choose wrong. I have led you here, and now I am telling you to seek my heart. In my heart you will know what you are to do. You know Me; I won’t let you fall. Lock eyes with Me Beloved. Lock eyes and dance with me on the water.”

I pictured Peter, petrified, yet full of anticipation. My heart understood the anxiousness that first step out of the boat must have released, the feeling of fear mixed with pure wonder and joy his heart must have been screaming in the moment he began to walk towards Jesus across the sea. Little did I know, a year later my heart would also know the feeling of betrayal and terror Peter felt as he let his eyes slip from his Savior, the feeling that gripped him as he sank into the deep, vast sea. I would finally understand the hand reaching out in desperation for Jesus, His rescuing touch, and the words of my Father, “why did you fear? Don’t you know who I am? I have you.”

The bridge of The Voyage by Bethel Church musician Amanda Cook playing on my phone shocked me back into reality. “I am the wind in your sails. I am the wind in your sails.”

“Oh Jesus. Can I really take her in? Can I really do this; adopt a 16 year old with special needs when I am just 20 years old myself? Can we actually do this?”

My eyes froze on the page as I read what would become my deciding factor. “But, if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). I read the lines leading up to this verse, and even though I knew it was in regards to a family that has a widow among them, my heart couldn’t help but feel this was a direct answer to what the heart of the Father is. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

“You know my heart. Whatever you choose, I will love you. Wherever you go, I will be there. Whatever you decide, I will honor.”

In that moment, my heart whispered a simple, “yes.” I love this about our Papa. We can shout yes to what He is calling us towards, or we can whisper it, and He honors it. A mustard seed still produces a tree, so whether you feel you have faith to move mountains or not, a simple, “yes Lord. I will follow Your leading,” is enough to break through any circumstance, move any mountain, and bring peace to any situation.

So, in the smoggy morning of that warm day in India, my heart whispered yes, and it changed my entire life.

One question I get asked quite frequently is, “how do I know the will of God? What if I choose the wrong thing?” I understand that feeling because I have been there, but I want to address the fact that at it’s core it is a totally invalid question and leads us to misunderstand the heart of God. Above all, if you are seeking God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and following Him, seeking first the Kingdom, He will add all else. His heart is never to leave His children in the dark, afraid and insecure about what they are to do. You cannot miss the will of God on your life if you are truly seeking Him first and foremost.

There are two levels of God’s will for those who have heard the good news that Jesus came, as God’s beloved son, who is God, and died in our place, that we may taste eternal life; that we may know life with God as abundant. First and foremost, He chose all people to be loved by Him, pursed by His great love for them, and His heart is that all come to know Him. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place, that we may have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:3-10). His love is for all people. Some choose to accept and receive it, and others do not. One question that is asked often is, “but, what about the guy on the island who lives alone and never had anyone tell him about Jesus? How can he be chosen if he never has a chance to hear?” He still has a chance to hear even if it is not by being told about Jesus. Creation is screaming God all the time. “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48). As in, if you are given an opportunity to hear about Jesus, it is expected you can make a decision based on the abundance of knowledge you have. If someone has never been told, creation still speaks creator. Nature still speaks God. Papa is still pursuing those people in His own way; through dreams, visions, etc. He speaks to the hearts of man. Do not limit a limitless God by saying that this man on the island will never have a chance to hear about the love God has for Him. God died for him so trust me, He will make known that love. Yet, this is why I am all for overseas mission work. “ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10: 14-16). There is a beauty of speaking the love of Jesus to those who have not heard.

To recap: the first level of the will of God is that we are all called to know Him. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). His will is that we seek Him and His heart in all we do, yet true love gives the recipient a choice. If I forced my husband to love me back and never gave him a choice, is that really love? So is it with our Father. God loves us all so much that from day one He gave a choice. He set the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice, follow Him or don’t. Love Him or don’t. Choose Him or don’t. So is it today. His will is that we all choose Him, but He gives us a choice because He is so radically in love with us.

The next level of His will is individualized. I have found for me this lines up so well with desires of my heart. I followed the heart of God in the adoption of Vanessa despite the fact that I wanted to work with Youth With A Mission full time. I wanted to be a missionary, focusing on discipleship and mentoring, worship leading, and leading international mission trips. As I sought forth the heart of the Father and sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, He was faithful in adding ALL else. I met the man of my dreams, said yes to him, and am blessed to spend everyday running this race alongside his beautiful leadership over our family. Two years after my heart whispered yes on that warm morning in India, I am now seeing the desires of my heart come to fruition. Vanessa’s Village is mentoring multiple individuals weekly or bi-weekly, we are leading international mission trips, and in a little over a week we kick off the start of Alabaster Prayer House, evenings dedicated to worshiping our Father and seeking Him above all else. (https://vanessasvillage.com/alabaster-prayer-house/) The will of God on my life individually is not something I can miss as long as I am seeking Him. I left an opportunity that was perfectly lined up to what I felt called to in life for something unknown, but echoing His heart and my desires, and in that, He has brought back the areas my heart thrives in. He is so good.

Pray about all decisions, but if you are seeking a bold, direct answer from Him more than you are seeking Him in general, you will not be left with abundant peace. If you feel like you are worried about missing the will of God on your life, stop, breathe, and sit at His feet, worshiping Him for who He is, and getting to know Him. As we encounter the heart of the Father, the steps in front of us become clear.

Just as Peter trusted Jesus with that first step out of the boat, trust His leadership on your life. Before our wedding, Sean and I took some dance lessons to prepare for our first dance. I found incredible beauty in learning to follow his lead, locking eyes with him, anticipating the next spin or twirl, trusting that on the dips he would not let me fall. Thus is it with our Lord. Learn to dance with your Father upon the waters of life. Pay those waves no mind. Spin and sway to whatever comes your way, and you will know peace abundant.

Our Heart/ Who We Are

The bus bumped up and down over the roads from New York home to Philadelphia. The journey was long, but well worth it. She would get her visa and be able to travel with us to Guatemala. My mind was racing of all that still needs to be done in preparation for the trip when I felt a tap on my arm. I meet her mothers eye as she leans over and in very broken English stutters, “we need you teach us Jesus. So much. So important. Please teach us Jesus. We need it.” It was all I could do to hold back the flutter in my heart and the tears that sprung to my eyes. I smiled, nodded, and respond, “absolutely. Come over for dinner and we will talk about Jesus.”

That is what it is all about. The desperation in people is why we have chosen a life of serving the Almighty for the sake of the one. Lately, I have been asked more and more what exactly Vanessa’s Village is, what we do, and where donations go to help. I tried for a while to write this post, to explain in a meaningful way our heart, to share the passion and call He has placed on our lives, but I couldn’t quite explain it until Yan leaned over on that bus and asked me with such a desperation in her voice to teach them Jesus.

Our call and now mission statement is as follows. “It takes a village to raise a child, and we are a village that is raising up children of God to KNOW their Papa, KNOW their identity, and KNOW their call.” We seek to serve the Lord, imitate Jesus in all we do, and pursue the one. We strive to worship our Papa, follow His call, and teach the love of Jesus to all we come in contact with. He gave His life to love the one, and so will we.

Vanessa is the inspiration behind The Village. She is our adoptive daughter who came to us with many difficulties. It was so easy to think about other options for her, but the Lord has called us to pursue her above all else; to show her the love of Jesus, teach and disciple her, and ignite her to speak of His goodness. Through taking her in, we have realized a deeper level of how important the one is. Since I keep saying this, I had best explain what I mean by the one. We feel that God meets each and every person exactly where they are at; He pursues them and will never give up on them, and He calls us as believers to do the same. His heart is for the individual. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you! It’s mind blowing, and we are called to reveal that fact to all who have ears to hear. We are a village of people who seek to give ourselves to others through Bible studies, writing and teaching, discipleship, leading mission trips, organizing worship nights, praying for people we encounter while out and about, reaching the adoptive community as well as the special needs community, running a mothers support group, and connecting with people so that we may ultimately connect them to the heart of the Father. Those are some of the current ministries we have running. (If you would like to join the mothers support email group, please send us an email at vanessasvillage@gmail.com). God has placed a huge passion on my heart to start a prayer house. Keep attentive to updates on this. We will be opening our living room starting one night a week to anyone who needs a place to escape to with the Lord. We will have live worship each night. The heart of it is to have a place where we can pour ourselves out upon the feet of Jesus and be filled up with His joy, His life, His peace, and His abundant love. The more people I encounter and speak with the more I am convinced that the world is desperately hungry to know Love, desperately hungry to be taught about Jesus, and desperately needs healing and encounter with the God of the universe who is in an epic pursuit of their heart. This is what The Village is designed for. We are designed as a place and people that bring others into a knowledge of the pursuit of God over their lives.

That is where your donations go. They go towards impacting Vanessa so that she may impact nations. They go towards this blog and Lord willing a future book or two. 🙂 They go to help all the youth that come to Bible studies and paintball nights. (That is another thing I forgot. Sean and his brother run paintball days where they invite men out, play paintball for a while, then end with a Bible study. They continue to invest in these men throughout the following weeks and months). Your donations go to impact the coming prayer room. We are currently praying and looking for some cheap sound equipment to help with those worship times. Donations go to help the one, the individuals that walk through our doors, no matter what that looks like. Sometimes it’s buying a family groceries who cannot afford them; sometimes it is allowing us to spend a few hours a week one on one with individuals we disciple. Right now it is leading ten youth to Guatemala for a mission trip. Lord willing this is the first of many trips we are called to lead. We are so grateful for our Father who gives generously to those who love Him. We are so thankful for the ability to work and our jobs, especially the fact that we both work for Christian bosses. We are so grateful for all of you who give to partner with us in reaching the lives of those in this community.

We are also looking for people who would like to partner with The Village. We need people willing to disciple, worship leaders for the prayer house, people who want to help mentor Vanessa and other special needs children, someone to teach some children with special needs basic sign language, and friends who would like to help with some upcoming events we have in planning for local children with special needs. We are also looking for local Churches and youth groups to speak at and share the Love of God through our story. We thank you for all you do. We couldn’t do what we do without you, honestly. Sometimes it’s the simple sitting down with us and hearing our story, listening to us, praying for us, and keeping in contact that makes a world of a difference. It takes a village to raise a child, and we are a village that is raising up children of God to KNOW their Father, KNOW their identity, and KNOW their call.

Thank you for being a part of the Village.

So Will I

Life with a special needs child can be a roller coaster at times. One day it seems as though things couldn’t get worse; behaviors have increased for the worse, and nothing has changed with medication or nutrition so you are at a loss for what is going on. Then all of a sudden she’s back to normal: happy, go lucky, joyful, and calm. You begin to question what you are doing. You’re in far too deep, but your heart is aligned with the Fathers, and you know He wouldn’t stop pursuing healing. He wouldn’t stop fighting because He gave His life for the one, for the one sitting in front of Him, so if He gave His life to love them so will you, regardless of what you see, regardless of how hopeless you feel, regardless of what the roller coaster seems.

I thank Jesus that He made a way we could walk on water. When we are so prone to sink, so familiar with failing, He made it possible to walk above it all. The disciples saw Him walking towards their boat. They turned to one another freaking out because they thought they were seeing a ghost. As He got closer He said, “Take courage. Do not be afraid, for it is I.” Peter questioned Him asking, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you.” Jesus whispered, “come.” And Peter walked on water.

He whispers come to me daily. When that roller coaster takes a drastic turn which evolves into a heart wrenching drop that I’m not sure I will come back up from, He whispers, “come.” Come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Come to Me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Peter walked out to Jesus on the water, keeping His eyes on the Lord. For a split second he saw the waves below him; he heard the roar of the wind, and fear swept over him. He began to sink and cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus caught him. “Why did you fear son?”

Why do you fear? What have we to fear when our God has already conquered this world. Oh how I fear some days. Oh how I doubt and struggle to keep my head above those waves; sometimes they look so tall; the depths of those waters full of demise and despair. I flail as water begins to cover my head. Up and down I bob as I struggle to catch a breath. Jesus! Save me! Immediately He reaches out. Immediately.

That is the best word in that entire passage of Matthew. Immediately after Peter called to Jesus for help he was saved. Immediately as I call His name, He shows up. He invades the situation and brings abundant life. Trials produce abundance in our relationship with Him as long as we cry to Him for help instead of crying to Him blaming Him for what we are walking through. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:2-8).

Oh how I long to never be like that wave tossed in the sea. I long to always keep my eyes on Jesus, walking on the waters side by side with Him, my first love. Yet, the times I stumble and fall into the waves are the times I tend to see who He is again. “Lord,” Peter cried out, “save me!” Lord He cried. Lord. In those waves Peter saw Him for who He is. He is our Lord, our savior. These waves produce a good in me and a glory to His name, so I will praise Him in the storm, for He is my Lord.

If the stars praise Him, so will I.
If the waves submit to Him, so will I.
If He gave His life for the children of this world, so will I.
If He gave His life for the child that sends my life in a roller coaster some days, so will I.

So will I.

***Update on Guatemala- Sean and I have the privilege to lead 10 youth to Guatemala this coming January!! 🙂 We are so excited to see what God does in and through us as a team. Please pray for us in this endeavor and pray for the youth that they may come to KNOW Him. We were planning to bring Vanessa along, to let her experience a new culture and land, however, due to some complicated issues with her birth certificate, we were not able to get a passport for her, and it will take too long to reapply for all the papers she needs before we go. Pray with us she can come on the next trip we take. Thank you!!

The Village

Upcoming Fundraiser

⭐️ Come out and eat an awesome meal at The Green Fork & Local Roots Market. (115 South Main Street North Wales PA 19454) Vanessa’s Village will receive 20% of the proceeds from 12-8pm that day only. ⭐️

⭐️These funds will help make our Guatemala Mission Trip possible as well as helping us reach other families! ⭐️

⭐️Mark it on your calendars! ⭐️

Joy Unexplained

I had a conversation the other day with Vanessa that has stuck with me. She was talking about the other kids at her school, saying she was different than some of them. When asked what made her different she replies, “well I’m special.” “What makes you special? Do you know what it means to be special needs?” She smiles and joyfully responds, “well I can do things they cant do.”

Aint that the truth. She can pick up any beat from any song and dance around the front yard care free, singing at the top of her lungs. She can ask people questions most of us would find rude; she says things like they are. She can play on monkey bars and go down the kids slides at 8pm on the local playground, not giving a care that shes an 18 year old. She can make friends better than most people I know, unafraid to talk to people around her. She’s amazing with children and such a help when it comes to babysitting. And yet, by some she is looked down upon; her bad behaviors stick out and what she cant do outweighs what she can. She is seen as disabled, when in reality she is more able than most of us in ways that matter. I find myself easily slipping back into this mentality when we have a bad day, but God reminds me of the Truth.

What if she was treated the same as every other child by each person she encounters? What if she wasn’t spoken to as if she is three years old but rather treated with the dignity and respect she deserves? You see, we at Vanessa’s Village have this vision, a picture of what children like Vanessa can do when they are not held within the restraints the world puts on them. We see Vanessa being able to open the bakery she desire. We see her traveling, telling her story, helping at orphanages, teaching those around her to be free and to not conform to the patterns of this world.

With that said, it is our great delight to announce that Sean and I have been given the opportunity to lead a team of youth to Guatemala this coming January to work with a mission down there that brings hope to children as well as medical care to those who need it. We feel very led to take Vanessa along, broaden her view of the world, and reveal to her that God is greater than Philadelphia Pennsylvania. We just applied for a passport for Vanessa. Please pray with us that all clears and she is able to join the team. We are so excited to lead a team of youth, inviting them to join us in seeing God in a greater sense.

My times traveling overseas have opened my eyes to the glory of our Great God. Children like Vanessa sometimes have a greater ability to see God in things that I may miss. Vanessa’s joy is explainable some days, a joy only God can give. I am excited to see her joy increase as He is revealed in greater ways to her.

His joy is for you as well. He came to give life and life abundantly. His joy is for today. His joy is for you today. His grace is sufficient and His joy is abundant. Oh weary one, come to the alter and be filled. Be filled to overflowing.

Rest Assured

“The choice is yours my dear.”

“But you’re Papa, you are, not me. Lead me. That’s your job! Speak.”

“You know my heart. You know who I am, for I do not change. My Word is the revelation of who I am. You know my heart, and I lead you well. Let my heart lead you. Jump darling, jump.”

The choice is yours today. Papa is always asking us to do the unthinkable: to trust Him with our whole hearts, with every fiber of our beings; to walk in a surrender so deep that some days we feel like we are sinking in an ocean of grace; to walk in a love so overwhelming that all we can do is sit smiling at the One who gave us life because we know apart from Him we are nothing. I feel today to simply encourage you that He is for you. He is for you, and your life is a testimony of that.

In your weakness the God of the universe is strong. In case you forgot little one, He holds the whole world in His hands. He numbered the stars, and you know how He did that? He did that as He created them, as He set them to shine for all of eternity. Don’t you ever go forgetting that He knows you: the number of hairs on your head, the way your eyes sparkle, every tear, every smile, all of who you are, He knows it, for He created you to sing; and He is faithful to the end of time. His ways are good, His plans, full of love and honor. All He does is for His glory and your good, but do not forget that in your weakness, He is strong. He is exactly who He says He is, for He cannot deny Himself. He is love, and that will He be for all time.

I am hyper aware of His overwhelming grace today. I am not sure if it is the beautiful fall temperatures, the joy of friendship and Jesus conversations over coffee in the morning, waking up in a beautiful home next to my wonderful husband with our beautiful daughter down the hall, or simply tasting more of His goodness to me today, but I stand in awe of who He is; and I cant help but remind you who you are. Did you know that you’re crazy loved? Like it’s unbelievable, almost silly sounding. He just adores you. You completely ravish and undo Him. Smile and rest in that. He is doing a great work in your life.

“Oh little seed little seed I see you. I see new life stemming through the crack inside of you.”

God has continued to repeat this phrase to me for months now. Picture a great oak tree. It didn’t just appear one day, rather a small seed was planted. It had to first crack, that new life could stem out of it, growing into a tree that would withstand all the wind that came at it. That crack in you is being used for greatness. Undeniable strength is found there, and through it will stem life and life abundant. He sees that. He sees the cracks, the broken pieces, the bumps, the bruises, and all the hurt you hold so close, but He also sees the new life stemming through. Give it all to Him and stand amazed as an Oak of Righteousness returns in it’s place. He is faithful and will use it for your good and His glory. You are so loved.

Rest assured. He sees you and is producing a spectacular work in your weakness.