Praying for Cambodia {Advent Day 2}

We love Cambodia!

I heard these words often when I befriended the Taviano family in 2012.  They’d visited Cambodia and thought they’d move there.  But, after Gabe’s (the dad) heart attack, the chances of moving were slim.  (And I’d never have met them if they would have moved as originally planned.)

So, they decided to help the Hard Places Community in Cambodia from their home in Columbus, Ohio. The three Taviano daughters started The Dancing Elephant and sold homemade gifts, sending the profit to Cambodia.  They sold their home and moved to Abbey Lane, an apartment complex housing mostly refugees.  Their love of Cambodia was deep, but they found a new love in Abbey Lane.  Marla welcomed refugees – and taught me to do the same – long before  it was an official hashtag and or persistent news story.  In fact, these are Marla’s friends whom she loves deeply, not a group to label.  

And God knew all along that Abbey Lane was preparation for Cambodia, and in January 2015, the five Tavianos packed their suitcases and moved across the world.  (You can read more of their miraculous story on Marla’s blog).  Our final visit with them included loving refugees at Christmas last year.  One of my most favorite Christmas’ ever!

(You can more of our story here.  This picture was taken on my birthday last year at Abbey Lane.)

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Marla may live in Cambodia, but she’s still a huge part of my life.  I talk to her almost daily via Messenger, and we Facetimed with her and her family yesterday.  And today, we pray for her country, Cambodia, and its people.


Cambodia, once known as the Khmer Empire,  is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. Its busy capital, Phnom Penh, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. In the country’s northwest lie ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire. (from Google)

The Tavianos live in Phnom Penh, but will move to Siem Reap (home of Angkor Wat) in January to lead a home for The Hard Places Community.  They’ve spent time learning the country’s official language – Khmer – a language spoken only in Cambodia.  The currency is riel.  About 15.5 million people live in Cambodia which is about twice the size of Ohio. About 95% of the population are Buddhists. There’s a small Muslim population and less than 1% are Christian.

From Marla:  Sex trafficking is a big problem. An even bigger problem is sexual abuse of children by their own family members (dads, step-dads, uncles, grandfathers, “friends”). And tons of girls work in KTVs which are karaoke bars. We see them sitting outside on chairs, men come up, pick one of them, and basically “rent” them for the night. Most of these girls used to work at the garment factories (horrific working conditions with hardly any pay) and this is a “better” job for them.

Poverty is huge. Back in the 70’s, the Khmer Rouge overthrew the government and committed mass genocide killing about 2 million people (mostly old people, children, and anyone who posed a threat to them–doctors, teachers, government workers, anyone who wore glasses, etc). Today the country is still reeling from that horror (and most people refuse to talk about it, so lots of PTSD).

The Hard Places Community is doing such great work, but the problems are so deep and complex that it can get really discouraging. You help kiddos during the day, then at night they’re getting sold. One little boy in particular has a special place in my heart. When we spent time in Cambodia four years ago, he was just four years old. Tiny and adorable. And he had been raped by a pedophile (along with his older brother and sister). HPC helped him get counseling, etc, but then his parents abandoned them, and he lives/sleeps on the street. HPC lets him stay all day at the boys center, and many days he just sleeps on the floor all afternoon because he’s so tired. I’ve been praying that there will be some miracle happen.

(You can see the Tavianos’ day in pictures here, including their work with HPC.)

Praying for Cambodia (1)

Lord, today we thank you for our friends, the Tavianos: Gabe, Marla, Livi, Ava, and Nina.  Only you know how much they’ve taught us about love, grace, and sacrifice.  We are all better for knowing them and witnessing your work in their lives.  We thank you for their hearts as they beat for the people of Cambodia.  We love how you’ve created a place for them within The Hard Places Community, a place for them to share you.

We lay the country of Cambodia and its people at your feet.  We pray they see the love, grace, and peace you have to offer, Lord.  We pray they lay aside their multiple gods in favor of the one true God. Please begin a movement in Cambodia to stop human trafficking.  Protect the young and vulnerable.  Provide a way out for the girls in the karoke clubs.  Give joy.  Walk closely with those who are choosing to break free, give them strength, help them feel loved.

There simply aren’t words to express how we feel about little boys being raped and left by parents to fend for themselves or the horrific conditions in the garment district.  Lord, only you see and understand.  We lift the garment workers to you. We pray for this little boy – and so many like him – who live on the streets or in unsafe homes.  We know you love them.  We pray protection.  May they see your unconditional love.

Hear the groans of our hearts for the poor, the marginalized, the suffering.  Those enduring PTSD because of the Khmer Rouge. We can’t begin to fathom what life in other places is truly like.  Lord, may we never be indifferent to their plight, lacking love for our neighbor.  Honestly, Lord, these prayers – there petitions – feel overwhelming to me.  I can’t begin to see how these problems might ever be solved or how these children and girls might ever be free.  But, I am counting on and trusting in you, God, to know and act.

Thank you for missionaries who give all to show them your love. May you work in and through each servant at HPC to love well, giving them hope in you. May you raise up more servants ready and willing to say, “here am I, send me.”

We thank you, Lord, for the people of Cambodia.  Each is an image bearer of you.  May we never lose sight of them as those you dearly love.  Amen. 

If you’d like to help the Hard Places Community, you can donate here.  And you can support the Tavianos here.  

It’s a great time of year to make a donation in honor of someone for Christmas.  Perhaps this year, we give fewer shirts and shoes and toys and more voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

Praying for Honduras {Advent Day 1}

The plane lifts off, and I have a small panic attack.  What in the world am I doing?  I have two small kiddos – ages 7 and 4.  My parents are with them, but I wonder about my decision.

It’s 2007 and I am headed to Honduras for the first time.  Scared. To. Death.  I’ve not known much life outside of West Virginia. My life has been sheltered, and I am about to land in the murder capital of the world.

Lord, please.  Let this be right and good.  

The pilot releases the wheels, and I dare to look outside the plane’s window. Beneath me lies San Pedro Sula.  And in that moment, Honduras took a piece of my heart and never returned it.

I’d work in San Pedro a few more times before venturing to other parts of Honduras:  Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, Roatán, La Moskitia, La Esperanza, Santa Ana, Yamaranguila, Valle of the Angeles, Comayagua – and many places in between. In 2013 my daughter would accompany me.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Praying for Honduras

God clearly calls Hannah and I to Honduras.  I return many times.  Hannah’s been a second time. We look through much of life through the lens of Honduras and her people.

So when we began to choose our 26 countries for Advent, next to the United States, the most obvious choice was Honduras.

Honduras is located in Central America and has a population of approximately 8 million. It’s about 43,278 square miles, or about double the size of West Virginia.  Sugar and coffee are the dominant industries.


  • is 80% Roman Catholic
  • has a minimum wage of $2.25 to $4
  • has a mostly tropical, hot/humid climate
  • is a Spanish-speaking country.

Our good friend, Jen, served as a missionary in Honduras for eight years.  I also have the privilege of knowing about 200 other female missionaries living and serving in Honduras thanks to Sisterhood Revive, a four-day retreat for English-speaking missionaries in Honduras each November.  I’ve learned so much about the country through these women.

Honduras isn’t a faceless shape on a map for the Farish’s.  It’s Dilcia.  It’s Yovany, Marvin, Mario, Francisco, and Antonio.  It’s Marcella.  It’s the lady living alone in the mountains outside Ojojona. It’s the girls living at the Hogar in Comayagua.  It’s friends like Paula, Brittany, Jana, Janet, Lynda, Lori, Laura, and Sheree who live there and serve Him daily.

It’s deeply embedded in our hearts.

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Today we lift Honduras to our Heavenly Father.  We acknowledge the violence and the poverty.  The need.  We envision each of the beautiful faces we’ve met and grown to love. We thank Him for each person.  We bring Him the government and police corruption.  We pray for orphans and widows. We acknowledge the plight of those who feel endangered or hopeless in Honduras and thus cross the border.  We ask for His blessing on the families of those who have crossed illegally and might never see their children again. We pray a special blessing over the missionary families living and serving in Honduras.

We know so many people doing awesome work in Honduras.  There are too many to mention, but if you’d like to purchase with a purpose for Christmas or support a ministry, these are a few of the non-profits in Honduras that we know personally.

Mi Esperanza

The Micah Project

Reach Out Honduras

Mountain Top Ministries

Breaking Chains

Proyecto Traducción Bíblica – LESHO

Sparrow Missions

Team 6 in Honduras

I have posted much about Honduras. Two of my most life-changing experiences occurred in La Moskitia and El Patronique:  The Least of These {The Boy Who Changed My Life} and Reina and Her Umbrella {An Unexpected Encounter with Jesus}


Contents of a Backpack

Hannah Goes to Honduras

Watching God Work {Veronica’s Story}

Reminded of His Faithfulness in Honduras

God Sees You and Me

And some of my favorite images over the years…

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boy in la moskitia

Praying for Our World {Advent}

We find ourselves in one room without a pressing to-do list.  It’s a miracle!  An almost whole day to catch up and check in. I bring up Advent, showing my kiddos some options on Pinterest for countdown calendars and gift giving.  We begin brainstorming a “giving” calendar, combining a few Pinterest ideas.

Hannah interrupts with you know what I wish we could do?

I wish we could focus less on us and more on others, especially those living in other countries. Could we pray for a different country each day of Advent?

I love that this is HER idea and not mine. That her heart wants to do this instead of me “making” her observe this season because “it’s the right thing to do.”

I google and search Pinterest.  No “daily prayer for countries” options.  But, that doesn’t deter Hannah.

We just make it up.

It’s not perfect.  We have great ideas that don’t work – not sure anyone can make a card stock country fit in a glass ornament although we’ve tried.  Oh, some gal on Pinterest made it work, but ours was a bust.

Still, fancy country ornaments notwithstanding, we invite you to join us in Praying for Our World.

praying for our world

There are 26 days from November 29 to December 24.  So each day/evening, we will learn about and pray over one country.  According to Google, there are 196 countries in the world.  We can’t cover them all, so each of us chose six.  Two countries were a given:  Honduras and the USA (for obvious reasons!)

Hannah has been closely following the refugee crisis, so she chose countries like Syria.  Owen chose countries that he’s heard of – Russian and Brazil.  My friend, Jen, researched the countries she chose, trying to find those that are the poorest or those with the most unreached people groups.  I chose Cambodia and the countries that border it because my good friend, Marla, lives there.

After choosing countries, I used Google images to find an outline of the country.  (I literally googled Syria outline.)  We saved the outlines and inserted them into a Google Drive document and printed them on card stock paper.

Hannah cut out each country and taped a looped, colorful ribbon to the back of the country.  She also wrote the country’s name on the back because we can’t tell them apart (geographically challenged!)

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Hannah also researched each country looking for the most practiced religion, dominant industry, size in square miles, climate, wage per day, and nonprofits working in the country. I added population and other unique information that popped up.  

Each day we will share a bit about the country.  Pray over it. And hang the ornament on the little tree we used last year for a Jesse tree.  I love Hannah’s idea because it will truly help us to keep perspective during a busy time of year that’s full of wanting and spending.  When we look upon the needs around the world, loving and focusing on them not us, I pray our hearts are opened and softened as we don’t want to be indifferent to the plight of others.

You can join us here each day of Advent or choose 26 of your own countries to pray over.  Ornaments and research are bonus. You can always pray for our world without the extras.

We’ll also be reading Born is the King separately.  Hannah and I will read along on She Reads Truth while Owen reads on He Reads Truth, preparing our hearts for His coming!

If you’ve not decided on a way to observe Advent, this post and this Pinterest board have LOTS of ideas.  I hope you find something that fits your family.

See you back here tomorrow to pray for Honduras!

Much Love,

Holidays and Divorce {And a Prayer}

I scroll through Facebook and notice two posts – almost in a row.  Two moms saying goodbye to their kiddos today as they take them to their dads for Thanksgiving.

My heart whispers “thank you, God, that I have my kids.”  Then, a glance at my phone.  I see their dad’s name on my screen, and know…because I have them, their dad doesn’t.

Friends, it doesn’t feel like winning. It breaks my heart.

Holidays & Divorce

My kids would like to see both parents on all holidays.  Our extended families – my kiddos’ grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins  – would like my kids to be at all the celebrations.

But, they can’t be.

And, it’s ok to grieve that.  Whether you’re a child of divorce, a parent who was wronged, or a parent who chose divorce for whatever reason, it’s irrelevant when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays.  Easter and maybe even Halloween.

Holidays are hard.  Heck, every other weekend is hard.

It’s plain hard to watch the two you gave birth to pack a bag and walk out the door on Friday nights or for summer vacations or on Christmas Eve.

For the families affected by the brokenness of divorce, please know you’re in my heart.  I am sad for you.  For those who watch grown children depart for dads.  For those who won’t see their children. For those who will attend eight dinners to please all parties.  For those who feel obligation and not love.  For those estranged from loved ones because hurt and anger stand in the middle.

For all of these…I pray…

Lord, hear the hearts of your sons and daughters. Remind us that we are first and foremost yours. And in the brokenness of family, we thank you for your unconditional love and our place in YOUR family.  

As moms and dads say goodbye to their children during this holiday season, remind them that it’s only a day and only for a time.  Give them peace.  May they feel your arms wrapped around them.  Help them to love one another well, finding other ways and times to give thanks and celebrate your birth. None of this easy, Lord. saying the words won’t make it so.  We can’t force our own joy.  But, we can choose You and choose love.  

I pray you make us brave, Lord. Open our hearts to new traditions. Help us to remember the old while embracing the new.  May we carry one another’s burdens in this season and always. May we see one another as image bearers, understanding the hurt of our “ex” as we also move forward and celebrate with those around us. Be the light in this darkness. Carry us, Lord.  

We give thanks for our children.  We give thanks for the many who love and care for them, even if and when it can’t be us.  We give thanks to you, Lord, for giving your son on a cross, for the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrating love for all mankind.  May we find joy in this day regardless.  May we feel your perfect peace as we give thanks in all circumstances for your glory.  AMEN

And, friends,  if you’re not affected by divorce this holiday season, could you give grace and love to those who are?  Invite them for dinner.  Check in with them even if they say, “no, thank you.”  Choose not to stand in judgment.  Remember, we serve the God of redemption.  He can do anything with anyone regardless of sin or brokenness – i.e David and so many others in the Bible.  And that redemption is available for me – for my ex-husband – for all.  There’s no picking and choosing according to our culture’s standards.

I love you, friends.  And I pray as you eat your meal today that you remember the thousands around the world who aren’t with families.  The thousands who do not have food.  The thousands who do not know Jesus.  Those who are alone and forgotten.  Embrace the beauty of those before you – even if life is hard – and savor each bite you take, remembering that He is good all the time.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. James 1:17-18

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i]have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

Much Love and Happy Thanksgiving,

Advent {A Guide to…with LOTS of Options}

I can’t believe it – the holidays are upon us.  I feel as if I JUST wrote that statement for 2014!  We are all aware that holidays often equal busy.  That’s not earth shattering news to you.  But, after being at Revive 2015 last week and focusing on stillness, I know that this year (more than EVER), I must guard my time or the “to-dos” will suck my joy.

I learned so much from the speakers and missionaries at Revive in Honduras as we discussed our Creator as our ONLY.  As we learned of kairos moments – those “supreme” moments during our everyday lives in which we see Him at work or feel particularly loved (read Don’t Carpe Diem for more on kairos).  We were also reminded that He wants to finish the good work that He began in us. It was so rich!

And so, I began researching and praying about Advent.  This year I want to be intentional with my Savior, my time, and my kiddos.  I don’t want the holidays to fly by in a flurry of shopping and gift wrap. I want to savor the moments and “be” more than I “do.” As Ann Voskamp says, “I want a Christmas that whispers Jesus.”

ann christmas quote

If you’ve followed my blog for very long – or if you know me – you will know I lack discipline in the “do something everyday” area.  I am a dreamer and a starter. I am rarely a finisher.  And so I know one thing: If I make my Advent “to do” complicated and grand, then I’ll drop it by December 10th.  That’s the sad truth.  Often I don’t finish because my dreams outrun my time.  Or, I simply don’t spend enough time gazing at Jesus, so the observation of Advent or Lent or whatever becomes more pressure less wonder.   

So, I ask God: What this year? I consider lots of options and create a Pinterest board, my go-to way of organizing my options.  I read a post by Tsh Oxenreider because she’s the Queen of Simple and I am the Queen of Complicated. I repent of my lack of discipline while also asking God for help in choosing how I can best commune with Him this season.

Ultimately, I land on Make Room for me and Born is the King for my family.  (You can read more about that below.)

But, friend, there are many, many options. And because what is best for me may not be best for you, I am sharing my “research” in hopes that you’ll find just the “thing” that speaks to you.  A book or a plan or a calendar.  There’s something for every length of time and every budget – including FREE.  I pray whatever settles in your heart as a restful YES to gazing toward the manger and a soft NO toward frantically spending and running becomes part of your December.

Please know…I don’t intend for this list to overwhelm.  I want to say “yes” to each one….they all sound so good!  I simply intend for this to give options.  And if you have other options I can add to my Pinterest board for safe keeping, I’d LOVE to hear them.

What is Advent?

Advent is defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event; the first season of the Christian church year leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.  So the season of Advent looks toward the arrival of Jesus  – both his birth and return.  This year Advent begins on Sunday, November 29.  If you’d like to know more, this article by Tsh Oxenreider is both helpful and informative:  6 Ways to Keep Advent Simple and Special.


Advent for the Youngest

Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White (of ohAmanda)  – Each day Truth in the Tinsel will lead you through a passage of Scripture, a corresponding ornament craft, and talking points for you and your kids. If you don’t have time for the craft, Amanda offers downloadable, printable ornaments for $3.99. Truth in Tinsel also can be downloaded in Spanish and German for those of you serving in Spanish and German speaking countries who want to share Advent with others.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones – While this is not an Advent book, you can use it as one with the accompanying reading plan found here on Pinterest or found in the original blog post.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp – My kiddos and I used this book last year.  We created a Jesse Tree using a small, 4-foot prelit tree (below) from a discount store, a red bow, and the free printable ornaments (available here with the purchase of the book).  Each day we read the original scripture as well as the story/scripture in the book and discussed it. We couldn’t always do the “suggested activities,” but we often adapted them to fit our time and season of life.  For one day, I purchased the kids new blankets /throws.  It was inexpensive, but we still remember those blankets as “advent blankets.”  Technically, this book is for 5-12 year olds, but my 12 and 15-year-old learned much and loved the illustrations. By the end, we could connect Adam and Messiah, standing in awe of the Bible as one story with one central theme:  Jesus.

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Processed with Moldiv

Processed with Moldiv


Advent for YOU

Make Room from Naptime Diaries – This is the Advent guide I plan to use this year.  It contains the writing of dozens of women, and I like multiple perspectives. It also contains photography, which I love.  However, my heart chose this one because of the focus: Make Room.  My schedule has margin now, but I don’t need JUST margin, I need more room FOR HIM.  The authors divided the study into five sections:  retreat, expect, accept, embrace, and celebrate.  Aren’t those beautiful ideas?  They’re also so unlike me.  I never retreat or expect.  So, I am excited to see what God has for me.

I also love that Naptime Diaries is partnering with Illustrated Faith for tips on how to creatively explore Advent.  I have ZERO artistic ability, but I admire the Bible art journalers and hope to learn something from their process.


The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp – I read this book intermittently last year.  It corresponds to Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, which I was reading with my kiddos.  Often I could give them further insight because of my reading in this book.

From the book’s description: Ann reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus — the greatest gift — through the majestic advent tradition of “The Jesse Tree,” each day featuring its own exquisite ornament highlighting the Biblical story.

Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn’t blurred past you but your heart’s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for.


Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio – I’ve not read this book, but I listen to Louie each week via podcast, and he’s become one of my favorite teachers. From the book’s description: Waiting Here for You helps us anticipate rather than dread the busy season of Advent and Christmas. Life is full of waiting – we can’t escape it. We find ourselves in the middle of it every day – waiting on a prognosis to be given…a verdict to be reached…a promotion to be announced. And in these seasons of waiting anxiety, desperation and hopelessness creep in.

Waiting Here For You takes us through the advent – the season of waiting. In it we see the story of the coming of Jesus. It teaches us that waiting is the means God often uses to carry his plans in our lives. And it brings us back to the truth that our waiting is never wasted when we are waiting on God.


IF: Equip Study of Advent from the IF:Gathering – I have never participated in an IF:Gathering study, but many of the women of faith whom I admire greatly have and love them.  Best of all, they’re free.  You simply sign up here, and each day the scripture, devotional, a short video, and activity will be delivered to your inbox.  Very convenient!

I streamed last year’s IF:Gathering, and I can tell you that those who lead this ministry will share their hearts authentically while teaching God’s word fully.

Advent for You, Your Husband, Your Family/Older Children

Born is the King from She Reads Truth  and He Reads Truth– I know my kiddos probably aren’t ready to give up their Jesse tree just yet, and we may revisit some of those lessons from last year, but this year I have a 13-year-old and an almost 16-year-old, so we are going to dive into Born is the King together.  Hannah and I will use She Reads Truth, and Owen will use He Reads Truth.  This might be a bit “mature” for them, so I plan to discuss the reading daily. NOTE:  We aren’t purchasing the $40 guide. I purchased Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him last year, and the contents was no different than the app on my phone, which costs $1.99.  You can also participate online for FREE. Simply sign up when the plan becomes available, and SRT/HRT will sent the scripture and daily devo to your inbox each morning.

From She Reads Truth: Jesus Christ, the King who saves us, was born—made small, humbled, and lowly. Birth didn’t make Him our King. He already was! Our already-King became homeless so He could become our home. This scripture-rich Advent plan is presented in two parts:

In Part I (weeks 1-3), we will learn together how Jesus is the true Hero of the Old Testament—the true & better Adam, the true & better Joseph, the true & better manna, and so much more. Every story points to the birth of our King!

In Part II (week 4), we will read the Christmas narrative, viewing each part of the story through the lens of God’s Story—the redemption of His people through Jesus Christ, the Promised One, Immanuel, Messiah, King.

[This is] a journey whose one and only focus is Jesus Christ, our King. Sally-Lloyd Jones puts it perfectly: “It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby… He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.” Our prayer for you this Advent season is exactly that—through God’s grace, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the truth of His Word—you would see the whole, beautiful picture of the gospel.

And this is my prayer for my kiddos…to see the whole, beautiful picture of the gospel.

Advent Activities, Decorations, and More

If you don’t see yourself as the read and study Advent girl, consider taking a picture each day of Advent. Each day you can take and/or post a photo inspired by the word of the day….like star, peace, angel, and joy. There’s even a hashtag for following others: #AdventPhoto


You might also make a chain, focus on the lighting of candles, create a countdown, or serve others…

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I also have a few more ideas pinned on my Pinterest Advent board if you’d like to check it out!


I hope you’ll share with me how you plan to observe Advent this year! Many prayers for a restful, Jesus-awaiting, God-gazing holiday season!



The Gift {A Valuable Lesson Learned}

Months ago I saw a  Facebook post from a woman I see once a year.  She’d lost something dear to her.  Immediately I know…I can help her.  I have the means to replace it.

As the weeks pass and our meeting time nears, I am aware that I need to arrange this help.  I tell a friend.  I feel the Spirit nudging.  Still, fear and selfishness keep me from acting. (Story of my life!)

I arrive empty handed. I feel I’ve missed my window to deliver her gift.  And I hate it.  It’s such a small step of faith; I wonder why I didn’t act.  I ask God to work in my unbelief.

My time with her draws to a close.  I am packing to leave and hear one last time…help her. I don’t have access to the actual item, but I do have a way to provide the funds for purchasing it.

You’re right, Lord.  If I see her again – although chances are slim – I will do what you’ve asked me to do.  It’s such a simple ask, and I love this sweet woman.  It is a no brainer.  I am sorry for my tight fists, holding on to what is really yours.

I walk out the door, and there she stands near the vehicle I am to leave in.  Chance?  No way.  I do what God has asked – and what my heart desires.


The gift is met with disbelief and extreme gratitude.  I want her to know He sees her.  A simple reminder of His love- and mine.

I leave.  The moment does not cross my mind again.

Until last night.

Hannah texts me. Someone we know has handed her a card containing a gift. The exact amount I’d given. An amount only Jesus and I knew.   Wow.  Lord, we hear you. 

I often live with tight fists, holding on to all I have.  As an American, statistics tell me I live wealthier than 90% of the world.  But, most days it does not feel that way.  I feel like I am constantly budgeting and rebudgeting and trying to pay for this or that sudden expense.  I hate it.

So, fear.  Fear of not having enough or being enough creeps in.  If I trust God and give as he tells me – of my time or of my money –  what if I don’t have enough for the kids? this trip? or Christmas?

It’s ridiculous thinking, isn’t it?  Someone has a need, and I hold on to my little bit of excess so I can buy more excess, experience more excess.

So, I wonder…God, why did you give it back to me? You know I only considered saving it because I wanted to buy Owen a birthday gift or buy Christmas presents or spend it on an upcoming trip. Why return it?

And I heard clearly in my Spirit …because I care about chocolate chip cookies.

I’d recently heard the story of the cookies from a sweet gal.  She and her husband had very little and wanted chocolate chip cookies, which they could not afford.  They told no one about the cookies. They didn’t pray for the cookies.  But, when they opened the door the next morning, there was a gift card for a grocery store with the note: God cares about chocolate chip cookies.

Sisters…he cares.  When we trust him with our all – our money, our cookies, our hearts’ desires, our time – his story is greater. And better yet, we please Him, the one we love so very much.  The one who died for us.

No, we don’t give to get.  We give because we love Him and others.

No, He doesn’t promise to give you cookies or a car just because He knows you want it.

No, this is not some name it and claim it theology with misplaced, self-serving motives for more.

What is this? A sweet reminder from God that I am to live a surrendered life. That He will take care of me – of us.  That I need to live open-handed, trusting in Him for my every need and want, knowing He can and will provide that which lines up with His plan and purpose.

And for today…His purpose was and is to use a gift as a way of honoring the hard decisions of my 15-year-old girl and the her momma’s release of control.  (And perhaps something even greater that Hannah and I can’t see right now.)

We thank you, Lord, for these gifts.  And for the reminder that you are faithful. Every good and perfect gift is from above.

Prepare Your Child or His Path? {Parenting is HARD}

Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:

Sometimes kids get a mean teacher or a class they don’t like or an inflexible deadline even though that child was “exhausted the night before.” We should not cushion every blow. This is life. Learning to deal with struggle and to develop responsibility is crucial. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day.” Jen Hatmaker

Struggling with preparing the path vs. preparing the child today. I know how hard this kiddo worked. I’d like to prepare the path. But. These moments develop character. I hope.

Hannah and I read For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, and when Hannah happened upon this quote, she shared it with me as one of her favorites.  Mom, I wish more parents prepared the child and not the path.  I want you to prepare me, not my path.

At the time, I thought of how I’d pulled strings for her – mostly using my job as a teacher at her school to get her into a certain class (or out of one) – along with the things I’ve paid for to make her life easier. I’d actually prepared the path quite a few times.

That began to shift when I divorced.  With only one parent in the home cleaning, cooking, and washing clothes, the kiddos naturally pick up the slack.  And when they began picking up my slack, I felt so guilty.  I wanted so badly to do it all and be it all.

Then, as I read For the Love,  I realized I’d been preparing the path and not the child.

My goal had been to make their lives as easy as I could.  Do everything for them.  Be everywhere with them.  I felt sorry for them.  No one wants divorced parents.   And, yes, these are ways we love. And certainly not all wrong.

But, if I kept doing it all, when would they learn?  When would they take ownership?

So. Yesterday.

I get this text from my son: (shared with his blessing)


He’d misplaced his Spanish project. And not just any project:  the project we’d worked on and stressed over (me, not him) on Sunday.  We’d drawn drafts and printed and colored…

I can NOT believe it. I want to lecture him on responsibility.  Let him know how mad I am.  Just, ugh!  How could he LOSE it?

But, I picture him sitting at school.  A straight-A student about to get a zero.  Devastated.  (He later tells me…it was all I could do to keep from crying, Mom, I was so disappointed in myself.)

So, I ask questions. I try to help via text.  I consider texting the teacher- a lady I know well who is the kindest, most gracious teacher in the world.

I am sure I can explain – other kids saw him this morning with the project – he definitely did it. My mind is working overtime. Then, a quiet voice.  I see Hannah sitting on the couch asking me to prepare her for the path.

I text Owen this…(although it about kills me)…

I am sorry, buddy, I won’t help this time…you’re on your own.  

We discuss the logistics of redoing it.  He says he won’t get a zero, but he will lose 20%.  I tell him to do his best and take what he earns.

We exchange love you’s and then I sit with the decision.

Lord, it’s so small, but let this be right.  I can’t keep saving them.  I have to let them stumble.  Is this how you feel when I mess up? You hate it.  You’re bummed.  But you love me and want to fix it.  But, if you keep fixing then I’ll never grow closer to you. I don’t like parenting. I never know what to do.  I want to give them the best life I can, but I feel like I am poking around in the dark. Please help Owen to see that I love him.  That he has to be responsible.  I won’t always be around to help him, to save him. Just booooo, Lord, help. 

I find the Jen Hatmaker quote.  Post on Facebook.  Remind myself this is right. Hope (secretly) someone will validate this decision by commenting on Facebook.  Sad, but true.

Then, this…

(Give grace to my errors. There were tears.)




These words…Thank u for the discipline and not doing everything for me.  I will thank u in the long run for all of it.  BEST MOM EVER AWARD GOES TO: Sarah Farish!

My little boy gets it.  He gets how much I love him. Not many are giving me the Best Mom Ever award, and they don’t need to because Owen Farish does and that’s enough.

Thank you, Lord.  Just thanks.  Thanks for this gift and thanks for discipline.  Help me to remember that I live for an audience of one – YOU.  And your love is enough.  If you did everything for me, where would I be?  Entitled and spoiled.  Not closer to your heart of humility and service. Best Father EVER award to you, God!

A little later Owen tells me that I do something else well:  And there is also something else.  U always make a bad situation not so bad anymore.  

And I cry for all the bad situations he has known. I recognize his resiliency and Jesus. Jesus. Hearing my prayers for my children, knowing that He can and will use “a bad situation” for good.

Yes, Jesus, you make a bad situation not so bad anymore.

And for it all, we give thanks.  In the words of Owen, we will keep asking Jesus to help us because HE IS THE BEST EVER!!!

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Much Love,

This Month {Thankful Hearts} {Join Me!}

Hi friends,

I know it’s already November 2, and I’m a bit behind.  But. A friend shared this idea with me, and I knew: I have to do this!

I just finished Jefferson Bethke’s It’s Not What You Think and was convicted of living thankful. Thankfulness and perspective have been so crucial in my walk with Jesus…(especially lately!)

Ugh! I have to do the dishes! versus Thanks, Lord, I have dishes to wash, clean water to wash them in, and food to dirty them.  

No, it’s not a pie in the sky mentality.  Rather, it’s a heart of thankfulness.

So.  The challenge/idea/thing to do:

Each day in November, copy the Scripture on the list, listen to God as you write and for a few minutes after writing, list at least thing you’re thankful for.  That’s it.  Fifteen minutes or less.

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I pray in that 15 minutes you’ll hear Him, and your heart will give thanks to Him, remembering He is good.

The fine print: I borrowed this idea from Shannon at Sweet Blessings.  Visit her site to print the PDF version of the writing plan (pictured above).  You can join me each day on my Facebook Page (Making Much of Him 365) and Instagram (@sarahfarish).  I’d love for you to share some of your thankfulness with me.  And if you have needs, share those too. I’d love to pray and cheerlead for you!

Happy Monday and Much Love,

Oh, Mercy! {A Concept Fully Against My Nature}

Mercy. It’s concept far beyond my human nature. If I am extending mercy, then you KNOW it’s God through me and not me. Because I am a justice girl. A fair girl.  One who thinks what you put in is what you get out. Nothing is free; all must be earned.  My parents raised me not to take handouts, but to work hard for what I have. I am a type-A achiever. An ENFJ (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judgement).  I read the parable of the workers in Matthew 20 and think…that’s  just soooooo UNFAIR!  Those who worked a half day received the same pay as those who worked a full day – what in the WORLD?  

Oh, Mercy

So, mercy?  It’s not my nature.  It’s my struggle. 

What exactly is mercy?  Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  Kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; an act of kindness, compassion, or favor.  

It’s not getting what you deserve.  

According to my handy dandy Bible study tools, “several Hebrew and Greek terms lie behind the English term ‘mercy.’ The chief Hebrew term is hesed, God’s covenant “lovingkindness.”  The Greek term behind “mercy” is most often eleos: compassion, pity, to show mercy.”

It comes from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, price paid, wages.  (Yeah, I see where this is headed!)

R.C Sproul calls hesed “loyal love.”  Hesed wraps love, mercy, grace, and kindness all up together. In fact, it’s my favorite characteristic of God – a kindness borne from love- a loving kindness.  If someone is going to be kind, wouldn’t you rather have their kindness  rooted in love?

So, this word – mercy- sounds lovely when it’s coming from God, who has told me that ALL have sinned and fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23) including ME. It’s a great word when another extends her hand toward ME when I do not deserve it. When she has EVERY right to be mad as well as the position to punish me.

But, then…there’s mercy I must extend.  Loving kindness that must flow from me to others. And as soon as I consider it, my head says things like…

I am NOT a doormat!  I will not allow people to just walk all over me.  I must stand up for myself!  {Ask my momma about my mouthy teen years!} I can hear myself saying the same to my kiddos:  Stand up for yourself!  Blah, blah. 

They deserve it!  Bad choice after bad choice.  They will just have to suffer.  Or...actions have consequences and these are his/hers.  

I have even played God a bit…God is allowing this because of all they’ve done.

Have you thought these things?  What goes around comes around?

Friend, there are consequences to sin.  But, they’re not mine to dole out.  There’s wisdom after you’ve been hurt again and again.  I get that, and it’s between you and God.   But, when I look at Jesus – at his MERCY toward me and you – I don’t see a man standing before Pilate, proclaiming, “I am NOT a doormat!  You will not spread these lies!” I don’t see him calling down angels, which he could have done.  You know what? Jesus could have ended it all, gotten revenge on all of those shouting, “Crucify HIm!” with just a few words.

But, He didn’t.

They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus replied, “You have said it.”  Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. Mark 15

WHAT?  are  you kidding me!  He said NOTHING!  Come on, Jesus. TELL THEM.  Explain!  Bring the hammer down.  (That’s what I say in my head as I read this – oh, the INJUSTICE!)

Jesus said nothing.

Shew.  I have read that over and over.  Because that girl in me that does NOT want to extend mercy.  Or grace (unmerited favor).  The one who wants what SHE thinks is fair…that girl can’t believe: Jesus said nothing.  

Friends, Jesus does not subscribe to my idea or your idea of fair.  He is  just. He is merciful.  He has the power to sentence me to death.  He has good reason to send me to hell.  I sin every day and fall short of His glory.  

But, mercy. Price paid.  Hesed. Loving kindness. Compassion and forgiveness. Kindly forbearance.

He extends his mercy to me, for while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). He who knew no sin died so he could become MY righteousness.

And I am worried about my “rights”?  And standing up for myself and being heard?  


I am reminded of the Egyptians pursuit of the Israelites in the book of Exodus 14.  Moses looks at the Israelites and says, “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I am claiming Moses’ words today.  And that’s big because I can be the mouthiest gal in the room. But, God has been whispering mercy over my heart.  And all those hurts and those “that was so mean’s” and “why did you do that to me’s” are passing.  I feel my heart releasing them as I say over and over, Lord, have mercy.  And it is only by Him and through Him that I can extend mercy.  

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.  I am ever so grateful.  May I remember that mercy is not just a feeling.  It’s an action.  It’s how I respond in thought and deed. I am to be merciful.  Always.  May it be so.  

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7



My nudge toward studying mercy has come via a daily devotional by Paul David Tripp:  New Morning Mercies.  I highly recommend this devo.  It’s so so good!

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Don’t Miss the Wonder {By Being Wrapped in Self}

In 2009 Alece Ronzino, created One Word 365.  The goal was and is to forget the new year’s resolutions and focus on One Word.  I began choosing “one word” a few years ago; my words have included hope and abide. And this year: wonder.

After praying and begging God for a word (for almost three months!), I found my word tucked in a paragraph in Common Prayer: May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever He may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our door.

After a few difficult years I felt ready for WONDER.  Doesn’t that word seem exciting?  It means…a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable; to feel admiration and amazement; marvel; rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience; a feeling of doubt or uncertainty. EXCITING!

I looked forward to a year of admiration and amazement. Little did I know that God was beginning with the last definition: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty. Boo.  As the year progressed I began to doubt.  Doubt God, doubt church. Doubt who I am.  Doubt if I really knew and loved Jesus or if I just desired to be good.

I began picking apart and analyzing every single area of my faith.  It wasn’t all “wonder” and “amazement” – at all.  There was ick and bad theology – unforgiveness and selfishness – misplaced motives and bitter roots.  I actually stood in “wonder” of what I found (guess I’d been a bit delusional).  I’d been wrapped up in religion so long that I was unaware of how I listened so much to others and so little to my Father.  My faith had become so rigid and ruling that I had missed…. the wonder.

Isn’t it awesome how He works?  He began with wonder and led me to wonder.

Don't Miss The

At the wonders He has shown you...I began noticing ordinary things more and more. The holding of a Daddy’s hand.  The sunset over the river. The twins in front of me at a football game. The way my son’s brain works. The grace of my daughter.  The loyalty of a friend. Wonder everywhere…Jesus everywhere.

All obvious and available as soon as I took the first step toward wonder and chose to look outside of me.

I just read that God created our brains to engage on the right then left.  We engage our creative and wonder side then our logical side…until we are educated not to.  That is, until we are culturally conditioned to be logical first.

I’d lost my wonder. I’d thrown out my “right brain” in favor of the left brain – in favor of safe and “wise.”  I’d forgotten the amazing of Jesus, of Creation, of Father God and His Holy Spirit.

God caused me to wonder, so I’d seek. Seek so I’d find Him.  Find Him so I’d stand in wonder and amazement.

On this journey to knowing Jesus and delighting in Him – and Him alone – I am overwhelmed with wonder, and I pray you are too.  My life’s song has become…

May we never lose our wonder

Wide eyed and mystified

May we be just like a child

Staring at the beauty of our King

Fill us with wonder…

Cause you are beautiful in all your ways

King of Kings

You are beautiful in all your ways

Just close your eyes, you’ll see him

Open the eyes of our heart to see you God

May we never lose our wonder…

We give our lives to sing

Cause you are beautiful in all your ways

You fascinate us with who you are

You fascinate us with your love

You are beautiful

You are glorious

Yes you are…

May we never lose our wonder  (from Bethel Music)

I read these words – I sing these words back to my Creator – and I know that I want a heart that beats to know Jesus.  More and more and more.  Not to keep rules or have right behavior. Not to serve out of obligation.  Not to love because He says so, but because it flows naturally from my love for Him.

To live in wonder and to stand in awe. To live with a desire for more and more Jesus – loving Him and all His people.

Friends, today I pray you live in wonder – that you stand in admiration, amazement, and astonishment when you think of Jesus and the cross.  When you consider what He did for you at Calvary and how He continues to seek you – to pull you closer and closer to Him.  Throughout scripture we see God wanting to dwell with his people – with YOU and IN you.  How could we not marvel at a Creator whose love never fails, who never gives up on us, who died and took our sin and shame and condemnation?

Wide-eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child staring at the beauty of King Jesus, giving our LIVES to sing His praise with fascination. Lord, open our hearts to see you today.

With Wonder,