The Lenses of Justice and Compassion

Safe in Mommy's ArmsBack in September my best friend went on a retreat for a few days.  Upon her return, she was not only refreshed, but it was like God had breathed on her.  As she was sharing one night, we got to talking about the specific way God designed each of us uniquely.  In discovering some of her gifts and the perspective she sees life from, there was a test involved.  The more we talked, the more discouraged I got.  You see, I so wanted to walk through her experience, but I am the worst test taker.  I wanted to know my personality traits, gifts, perspective, etc., but I knew if I tried to take that test it would be disastrous.  During test taking, I get locked up and feel like I am desperately searching for the right answers.  I just want someone else to tell me all these things about myself:)

Well, that’s exactly what happened.  A few days after we talked, I sat down and asked the Lord, out loud, to begin to show me the unique gifts He has given me.  As I was going through my day, the words Justice and Compassion kept coming to my mind.  The Holy Spirit was answering my question! I went home and looked them up, of course cause I’m the word nerd, and I had understanding almost immediately.  Compassion, in my own words, is relating to the emotions of others and being moved by that.   Jesus was moved by compassion in Matthew 9:36.  Justice is basically wanting things to be “right” and “fair”, and oh boy, is that me.  Now because I believe these are gifts from the Lord, I know He has a plan to use them in His Kingdom; however, I also know there can be a downside to both of these.  You see sometimes I “take on” the emotions of others, and that puts ME in a place of trying to fix things versus allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to lead me in my response.  Also, when things aren’t right or fair, especially with my children, mama bear can definitely come out, and this robs my joy.  Micah sums up how the Lord intends me to walk these out, “…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  So God is calling me to be an agent of justice and compassion,  but this requires deep, prayerful humility.

So in my discovery of this, and as I am receiving the breath of God in my own life, I understand now why I am passionate about orphans, the overlooked, missions etc.  These are the areas where I feel one with the heart of my Father in heaven.  When we were on our way to the airport to greet our best friends coming home with their daughter from Guatemala, I remember specifically asking the Lord, “what is this feeling welling up in me?”  His response, as I gazed at the stars from the car window, was “you feel My heart”.  It’s the most incredible feeling to be One with the Father.  As you see in the picture above, the Lord has graciously given us a child through adoption, and this picture was taken when I was experiencing that oneness once again.

Today, my heart continues to be drawn to the fatherless.  And yes, I am humbly praying about it every day.  Just because we have already adopted one child, doesn’t change the perspective I view life from.  However, what I am learning is, there are many ways for me to minister to orphans.  I don’t know God’s plan for more children in our home, but I do know that God designed me to see life through the Lenses of Justice and Compassion.  As I yield my heart to Him, He will make us One!

A Return to Family Dinners Part 2

So I left off last week with your menu planned, shopping done, and prep work done.  The table we were building was in the final stages, just awaiting staining and sealing.


As you begin your “plan”, I also said that the being flexible was key.  You see so many times we can get caught up in the plan and miss the journey.  For us in our business, if we get too busy we don’t enjoy the project or take the time to pray for the family who is receiving the treasure.  You don’t want family dinner time to be life threatening if your plan fails:) No “We will sit down together if it kills us” attitudes. I think for me, my desire is to connect with my family in as many ways as possible during the day.  Most of the time that is with individuals at various times throughout the day. So, dinner time is the time we can all be together.  Also dinner time can be a time when we work together.  Our kids have jobs at dinner time so mom is not exhausted by the time we all sit down.  Sometimes they even like to play “restaurant” and take orders and serve each other.  You’ve seen some pictures of our youngest daughter Maggie Mae “helping” daddy build stuff.  Well, when we finally delivered the 14ft Farm Table, he hired on 2 new helpers!

Delivery time was sweet! With much anticipation, we finally arrived Saturday evening at the Godwin’s new home to set up the table.  Due to its size, we had some assembling to do, and like I said, Dexter had some amazing help from those 2 princesses pictured above!  Dexter made the necessary adjustments and …….

14ft Farm Table

Here it is!!!! We are so excited and a bit in awe that the Lord enabled us to do this.  A large table like this will allow at least 16-18 people to gather around and fellowship.  It’s the only piece of furniture you will purchase that encourages spending quality time together focusing on each other and not the things of this world.  You see, without the Godwin family gathering around eating, playing games, making projects with the kids, etc., it is just wood fashioned together into a very large rectangle.  Their time spent at the table is what makes it special.  Someone commented on Facebook after seeing the table and said, “Would love to hear this table talk in 10 years.”  I would too!  So I guess I will leave you with this thought, what would your table say if it could talk?

A Return to Family Dinners Part 1

As Dexter and I were down in the shop building the other night, he shared with me some of his thoughts about building tables.  We got into a discussion about Family Dinners or the lack of families sitting down together eating dinner.  Has life gotten so busy and complicated that we can’t seem to find time to sit, be still, and fellowship with one another around the table?  The dinner table is the one place where our family has our most treasured conversations.  We get to find out about each others’ day, share what we feel the Lord is teaching us, talk about what’s coming up on our calendar, and quite frankly, just look at one another and give each other our full attention.  Now this is not always a “Hallmark” experience.  There are those times when some don’t want to talk, or want to talk about things that shouldn’t be discussed at the table.  And yes, with 5 kids, we ALWAYS end up with some kind of “potty talk”, as we call it.  It used to bother me when our conversations would digress, but now, I just have to laugh because they just can’t help it:) Somehow, some way they end up there!

So can you see why Dexter is motivated to want to handcraft tables for families. It’s the memories! As he is building them, he truly is thinking about all the food that will be eaten, the conversations that will be had, the games that will be played, and the projects that will be completed on them.  He thinks about how many generations will enjoy the table.  Most importantly, how many lives will be blessed around the table.  The 14ft. table we are building now makes us think about all the children, both biological and adopted, that will gather around it, and the Mom and Dad who are faithfully following the Lord as they raise them.

If you are yearning for this experience in your home, let’s look at some ways you can get started!  I’ll correlate it with what we did when we received an order for a 14ft table that we didn’t know how we were going to build! First you make a plan.  Look at your calendar for the week and plan your meals according to your schedule and how much prep time you have.  If you are not a planner, I promise, if you will just try this, you will save time and money and family dinners will be a legacy in your home! Then you make your shopping list, or for building the table, Dexter makes a cut list.

When you come home from the store, put together what you can for the meals ahead.  For instance, put marinade and chicken in a bag before you put it in the freezer, so all you have to do is thaw it!  You can also wash and cut up vegetables before you put them in the refrigerator to cut down on prep time when you need them.  When we have more than one table order, Dexter likes to cut and assemble all the legs at one time….

Now that your meals are planned, the shopping is done, and everything is put away, you can begin to enjoy it one meal at a time.  The key words are BE FLEXIBLE because….

blessed are the flexibleThis sits in my kitchen as a constant reminder that LIFE HAPPENS! It’s much easier to be flexible and move with the changes than swim upstream and fight the current!  Remember, the whole point is to have a time during the day when your family can get together!  More to come in a few days. I will share how you can add some special touches to the table and your dining environment! Also, the big reveal of the 14ft Farm Table!

Small Town, Big Events

Our cup overflows!  It’s been one year since we started Acres of Hope, and it has been an incredible journey.  This past month, by far, has exceeded our expectations, not only in orders received, but in building relationships with new friends.  We started out October a little discouraged to be honest.  We were all caught up  and had no pending orders.  Dexter used his time very wisely and began to get ready for the annual Pike Road Arts and Crafts Fair.  In keeping it real, I have to say, I was not as optimistic.

But with the encouragement of a few sweet friends, I picked up my bottom lip and was reminded  that this whole business is about God’s perfect plan, not mine and to trust Him.  So I headed to the shed to make myself useful.  My sweet, patient, husband taught me how to build boxes, knowing that he could have probably gotten it done a lot faster himself.  Sound familiar to you mommies out there with “little helpers” at home.  All was going well until…….

Nail Gun Injury

Yep, you guessed it, or maybe you didn’t 🙂  I shot my finger with the nail gun!  Remember a few weeks ago when I shared with you about Uncharted Woods.  Well, once again, I was traveling through them and didn’t realize that when a nail hits a knot, it changes direction.  The direction this one went in was the joint of my index finger.  I’m not even sure there is a word to describe how that felt, so I’m not even going to try.  Needless to say, I was not allowed in the shed for a few days!  BUT in my stillness, there was much activity going on in the heavenlies.  I received a Facebook message from Layla Palmer over at theletteredcottage.net  inviting us to come and join some other incredibly gifted women at The Chapel Market in The Waters.

Excited about The Chapel MarketThis was my reaction to seeing the awesome space we were blessed with.  Yes I’m a goof ball, and yes I used to be a cheerleader, but at 46, my form is a little rusty!  We worked fast and furiously to complete as many projects as we could in 2 days.  We were welcomed by so many that did not know who we were.  We met people from all over the country and learned a lot about the blog world.  Thank the Lord, our friend Colby was visiting for the weekend. We could not have accomplished what we did without him, and you would not be reading this blog he created for us!  With only two weeks until the Pike Road Arts and Crafts Fair, we had a lot of work to do.

It was all hands on deck in the Watts’ house.  Let me just say, our children are amazingly flexible.  Sometimes dinner was on the table late, laundry got left in the washer, our 16 year had to be the taxi driver, but they never complained.  They understand that this business is what allows mom to stay at home and be available for them!  Dexter and I are in awe at the children the Lord has given us!

Pike Road Arts & Crafts 2013We made it! All set up and ready to bless many people with our hand crafted treasures!  It was a beautiful day in Pike Road, AL.  It was estimated over 12,000 people came out.  We sold our tables and most of our specialty items.  In addition, I have been quite busy this week taking custom orders from clients we met on Saturday!  Our hearts are overflowing with thankfulness for how God has provided for us once again.  He sees the big picture!

We thank Him for guiding us each step of the way.  Our prayer is that we will be  followers that “can be trusted with very little and in return trusted with much” Luke 16:10  We are a small business in a small town, but we serve a Big God!  “Who dares despise the day of small beginnings…” Zechariah 4:10.

Pull in a Little Closer

Watching the Pig Races
Watching the Pig Races

Who would have thought a simple day at The Pumpkin Patch would have so many teachable moments. Now if you are thinking I had teachable moments with my 5 year old daughter, Maggie Mae, think again:) It was me that was being taught. So many lessons the Lord has taught me in 3 short years from this  little girl, and oh how I am eternally grateful.

Living with someone who has been legally blind since birth has revealed to me so much about the other 4 senses. Close your eyes for a few minutes……… Listen for sounds close by and way off in the distance. Now take a deep breath. Is there something cooking, a fire burning, laundry washing, or just simple fresh fall air? Now walk around… be careful… and touch things. How do they feel?… soft, sticky, wet, cold….. Here’s the hard one. Let someone feed you some things with your eyes closed (find someone trustworthy;). How does the texture feel in your mouth? Is it sweet or sour, spicy or salty? All these senses are heightened when you are visually impaired.

Does not being able to see clearly stop Maggie Mae from living? Absolutely not! You know what she does? She just Pulls in a Little Closer . If you know Maggie Mae, you know she does not let her “weakness” dictate what she can or cannot do. Simply because, she has yielded her weakness to the Lord, and in her weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is no longer a weakness, it’s just a different way of seeing life. So here’s where I learned more about this at the Pumpkin Patch.

You see the grand finale of the day was the Pig Races! Most of the children were sitting in the bleachers ready to watch the race. Maggie Mae was on the fence waiting in anticipation for the pigs to come. Now keep in mind, she probably has no idea what a pig is from our perspective. This is what happened when the race began……

Pigs came by

Look! She was in aw. She probably saw some shadows, but….. She felt the breeze go by, she heard them snort when they jumped the hay bails, she’s cheering along with the crowd and of course she smelled them. These were the things that I experienced too! For the first time, I “watched” the races from her perspective. All I had to do was Pull in a Little Closer.

When I can’t seem to find my way, I need to listen and my “ears will hear a voice behind me, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it”(Isaiah 30:21b).
When I’m weak, I need to rejoice for “The Lord is my strength and my song..” (Exodus 15:2).
And when I think I have it all figured out, and my plans fail me once again,  I must humbly ask God to see things from His perspective,  “Show my Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

A Mommy date at the Pumpkin Patch

“We live by Faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Uncharted Woods

A path well traveled

A path well traveled

Beginning a journey with map in hand and a clear cut path is where I am most comfortable.

Uncharted Woods

Uncharted Woods

However, looking through the thicket with briars, stumps, fallen trees, and no path is where I stand.  It’s exciting, yet I’m a little apprehensive.  So instead of trying to make sure everything is perfect on this blog, I am choosing to forge ahead into Uncharted Woods.  It’s the unbeaten path, listening for the next step, a place of discovery.

Thank you for joining the journey with me.

Our Home

Our Home

First of all, our motto for our home is “People Live Here!”

It has been the most freeing 3 words I was ever taught in a bible study.  Our home is not a “shrine” to be worshipped and adored by others.  It is the place where we gather around the table and share stories about our day.  It’s the feeling my children get when they drive down the driveway and know they are finally home.

The Fragrance of Home

The Fragrance of Home

The Fragrance of Home

The Fragrance of Home

It’s the smell of candles burning, something baking in the oven or frying bacon for breakfast that draws them all to the kitchen.

A cozy bed with lots of blankets and pillows, or multiple Enos hanging up around the house as if we live in the jungle.

The boys in their Eno

The boys in their Eno

The crackling of the wood burning fireplace, and the occasional smell of smoke when we forget to open the flue.  A cowbell that hangs by the back door to call them in for supper, and if that doesn’t work mom just yells at the top of her lungs.  The multiple tree houses and shanties out in the woods built by boys being boys, which means an endless amount of dirt in the house.

Selfies!

Selfies!

The girls, taking pictures, making videos,  listening to music and having dance parties upstairs, but it’s so loud they sound like they are downstairs.

The sound of some power tool coming from the shed would be Dexter handcrafting the next custom farm table for a client.  Big dogs barking at anything that moves. Little dogs barking because the big ones are.  Kids jumping like Superman out of the tree house onto the Trampoline.  And the list goes on.

Hope in the darkness

Hope in the darkness

Yes, this is our home, and people really do embrace life here.  We don’t try to attain perfection, but our goal is to mature and discover, daily. Feelings get hurt, sharp tones are used when frustrated, dishes don’t end up in the dishwasher,  the lid does not get closed on the washing machine, etc.  But at the end of the day, we all know we are loved unconditionally by Jesus and one another.  There is nothing more important to us than that.

So take a little walk around our blog.  Get to know a little bit about Our Story, Our Family, Our Business, and coming soon, you can shop online with us!  I look forward to forging ahead into this blog world with you guys and share a little about our life, our business, and our everyday walk with The Lord.  Following Jesus in this world every day is a journey.  As we approach those Uncharted Woods, we can stand boldly before His throne with this prayer,

“Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

A special thank you to my friend Tara over at Between You and Me for inspiring me, and to Colby at Triumph Fitness for helping me design and set up the site.