Moving Beyond Intention

Tonight as I was pulling my espresso shots, God spoke to me.

See, we were going to move out of our home. We’d decided we would do it. I struggled with the idea of downsizing to an apt half the size, because I knew it meant selling much of what we owned. But as time went by, He showed me where I was holding on to things too tightly. He led me to the place that I thought I would not be able to go: Continue reading


Crazy “Hot” Love

Funny how God works sometimes. I was able to go to The 2012 Justice Conference Feb.24th,25th, and after the final main session when Francis Chan spoke, I texted Ricky how similar their thoughts are. Many things Francis said from the stage, I’ve heard escape Ricky’s lips as well. Well, when he heard that, he surveyed our tiny bookshelf for the one Francis Chan book we own, Crazy Love.

He’d read through just the first part of it once before, but was in a completely different spot, emotionally. It was in Austin, just after he quit SCBN. It never engaged him. A few years has passed since then, and his heart is in a whole different place now. So much opportunity has come his way. He’s been given a wonderful job at Fidelity National Title, and even better, lately he has been given new perspective. One much more eternal. And Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, has been a huge part of that new perspective.

So if I’d not been able to attend that conference, he would’ve not been inspired to re-read that book, his perspective would’ve been fresh and right, but not really what God had in mind for him right now. Now it is extreme and self-less and generous and compassionate, and more understanding of God’s glory and love for us.

I’m asking God to prepare my heart, as I dive into the same book…for any lifestyle changes ahead. I’m asking God to set the stage of my heart so that I am willing to fully support my husband, not be so self-seeking or clingy to the material and tangible, but trusting that he wants to make these new changes and decisions for the good of his family, and the glory of his God.

This is a perfect example of extremism that has taken root in our Russ men! If they do it, they do it 100%. If they’re hurt along the way, it’s all downhill for them and everyone in their vicinity. Just watch any time Braylon falls down or gets tripped, and you know just what I mean. It’s all or nothin’ with these guys. Which in one sense, is a great thing. It’s a recipe for a tumultuous roller-coaster life, but makes me thankful. Why? Revelation 3:16 says in essence, because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, you make me want to vomit. God is saying this!
I’m thankful that my man is rarely lukewarm, and that he is right now, HOT, on fire for God’s will. Listening, changing, & letting faith lead him.

Braylon, Angel and I are still along for the ride, no matter what…trusting God, and thanking him for this man he’s put in our lives to lead & teach us.


The Voice

Tonight we hopped in Rick’s car to go pick up mine, which had been sitting in the Panera Bakery parking lot for about 24 hours…to my surprise, with the overhead light on.  He zoomed out of the lot just as I tried turning my key to this gawdawful clicking sound. With no time to spare – none to even check my purse for my cell – I jumped out, spotted his car still within reach, ran down the hillside (of muddy grass) with my heels on might I add, and  HAD to get his attention. FAST. But how? I started waving my arms about like a crazy woman in the middle of opposing traffic lanes & approaching the middle of a busy intersection. When I was still 50 ft. away & gaining on him as he sat at the red light to turn left, I was determined to not let him get away. I started yelling.



And in a blessed moment of relief, I watched his light turn green & his car U-turn back toward me.  He pushed mine into a spot where he could help Braylon maneuver some jumper cables onto it, and before you could say “Psychotic Yelling Woman with a Dead Battery”, I turned that key again & heard the vroooomy growl I was yearnin’ for.  Later, I asked Rick if it was my hysterical run-dance that got his attention, or if it was my voice, and to my surprise, he replied, “it was your voice”.  He knew my voice.

I was just thinkin’, as I was reading to Braylon & Angel (from John 14) about how God has been speaking to me lately. And how great it feels to be able to communicate with my Heavenly Father…about anything. Any time. How special I feel in those moments that I actually hear his Spirit gently turn me away from harmful situations, reactions or thought patterns.

Maybe I can hear Him better because I’ve been on a fast. Maybe not. Maybe it’s because I’ve been worshiping more. But maybe not.

Ya know, maybe it’s because I’m a forgetful, needy, silly little sheep.

But hey, at least The Lord is my Shepherd. And I have all I need. I’m listening. The noise of this world is not going to have my attention. It will not drown Him out like it has before. I will take him at His word: His sheep follow him because they know his voice.

God, help me to stay conscious of your Spirit in me, day in and day out. To follow you without distractions. To listen & obey your majestic whispers immediately. No delay. Help me to follow your voice so that my children can follow mine with confidence and joy.


John 10:3-5 (NIV)

3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Psalm 28:8-9 (NLT)

 8 The LORD gives his people strength.
He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
9 Save your people!
Bless Israel, your special possession.[a]
Lead them like a shepherd,
and carry them in your arms forever.

You Always Have a Way

Today my husband got the kids ready for church just like he always does when I’m singing that morning. It’s so cute. Braylon showed up in an awesome new hair style he came up with, to look like Freddie from iCarly. He was simple adorable.

He did what he could with Angel … she came  in a matching summer dress (mind you, it’s January 8th), tights and white summer wedges (which she still calls “marches”). Her hair wasn’t brushed, but it was pulled away from her face with a pink headband & she donned a print, fleece jacket so she wouldn’t get cold.

It’s always entertaining to see how the kids show up on Sundays I’m ‘”on”. 🙂

The song I sang today was “I Will Worship You Lord” by David Crowder. I was happy to have been asked to sing this one. It was anointed & the last one of the set, so I got to have everyone “hang out” on it for a minute after it was supposed to end. After some adlibbing, I looked @ the lyrics and noticed a part in the 2nd verse, I wanted to revisit.  The instruments quieted for a moment as we sang:

be all my hopes

be all my dream

be all my delight

be my everything

…and we sang that 4 times and then went back into the chorus, “I will worship you, Lord, only you, Lord. And I will bow down before you, only you Lord”…ending it in one last chorus with just the voices of all the worshipers there. It was so peaceful. And so beautiful to hear those few hundred voices expressing worship to the same great God. What an honor it was to lead that song. Sometimes I just get lost up there. In the best way.


Ricky’s & my relationship lately has been… well, the best word I can think of right now for it is fragile. So after service, at home in our kitchen when he came up to me quickly with a smile, it made me smile too. Then he held me close to him for a second and told me, “you always have a way of blessing me when you sing”. And he finished the moment off with a kiss.

That feeling I felt when I heard him say that and really mean it … just…

melted my heart.

Rick & Chelan’s lil Seattle Getaway

As the Lord is helping us build up some weaker parts in our relationship, He gave us this opportunity: a 2-day, 1-night stay in Seattle where we got to go (kid-free) to a football game, eat some great food, stay at an adorable (well-heated!) Bed & Breakfast, share a delicious latte from Seattle’s Best, shop Pike’s Market, & just enjoy each other’s company. On the drive home, I was just in awe of the how the sunlight hit a truly majestic Mr. Ranier & made it shine.

Rick could’ve chosen someone else to go with him, but he chose me this time ~ bought me a special Eagles jersey-T shirt & then called me his “Sea Gal”  (?!)  I’m just  happy that we got to go together. Who knows?  Maybe it’ll become a tradition.

The Case of the Unidentified Panties

Friday night, Ricky took Braylon with him to the Woodburn outlets while I stayed at home with Angel to do some housework. Not a typical Friday night, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. So I’m taking the clean clothes out of the dryer (mostly Ricky’s clothes he’d transferred from the wash, to dry) and I come across a pair of panties I don’t recognize. Continue reading

~ Christmas Time 2010 ~

This Christmas was different than the last 3 years. Different-eR. It was special because of quite a few things. This is our first Christmas, living in the Portland area, since 2002…the year Braylon was born.

No travel plans to make for us – only the ones made for my incredible in-laws to join us at the home we just moved into. This place amazes me…and the fact that God, in his grace, made it possible for us to rent it and share it with many family members this week. It is humbling, sometimes surreal. The fact that He made this possible and has blessed Ricky’s business as much as He has since July, just makes me shake my head & smile with satisfaction. Yes, he loves me that much. He promises that if we delight ourselves in Him, he will give us the desires of our heart (~Ps. 37:4). We have… and He has. Room for the kids to run and play, an open white & cheery kitchen, a garage, a neighborhood with friendly people and park close by, a backyard, all appliances,  and owners that are incredibly easy to work with and talk to. These are just a few of those desires of my heart, which He has given.

Glory to God, always faithful to His word.

C H R I S T M A S 2010

Before I forget, here are some details of our December.

Music Scene: The 12th, I got to sing several songs at Horizon Community’s annual concert. This year, they were What Child is This, Go Tell It (a duet with the beautiful Brooklynne Levasa) and I Believe, the finale, which was originally sung by my favorite blues musician of all time, Mr. Jonny Lang.  On the 17th, I sang at a cute modern cafe called ‘Cloud 7’ in the Pearl. Two songs: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (blues style) and Silent Night (a capella style) w/a great, young performer, Ms. Sarah Billings & her extremely talented band, complete w/keys, guitar, drums, bass, & even a sweet sax player. SO fun. My family all came and supported me, even for just two songs. What a great night.

The Move: The next day, we finished painting in the new place on Morgan Ct., & we MOVED! Fresh colors on the walls and our own things inside this house really made it seem like home almost straight away. My mom was so helpful! Providing labor (painting the bedrooms), hugs, housewarming gifts and coffee as needed…all week long.

The next day, I was singing again at church; this time blessed by Pastor Kenny who gave me the opportunity to do my bluesy Christmas song, “This Jesus”, a personal one I wrote last year in Texas, about how even though miracles happened more frequently around the time of Christ’s birth, we can still pray for & expect them, even now.

Family Together: On the 20th, I just ran around town and did some last minute shopping for food and a few small gifts. The Pilands flew into PDX that night…and Ricky let Braylon stay up and go with him to pick them up, even w/an 11:15pm arrival.  He said when Braylon saw Gamma at the gate, he ran full steam ahead toward her, jumped up on her in a huge hug with all limbs hanging on, nearly knocking her over! I guess he missed her. 🙂 It’d been since May or June. Too long. But not as long as Kim had gone without seeing them…14 months. Way, WAY too long!  Kim, Clint, Aaron & Ali made the 7-hr drive (but it really took about 9 due to central WA snow) to visit & stay w/us. All 4 of ’em piled into Angel’s room. It may be a little close for comfort, but it works!

On the 23rd, the 8 of us along with Jeremy, Jamie, Riley & Tyler all gathered and talked and laughed and ate a delicious meal together, then opened gifts and then indulged in some sweets, played a game, talked more, & just enjoyed each other’s company. I was concerned about providing & preparing the food for so many, but we all chipped in and helped. Janis and her meal-plan she devised with me saved the week from stress. It’s actually been fun to make meals.


My Side of the Fam:  Christmas Eve was spent with my parents and sister’s family, as was Christmas morning (at Charity’s home)…LOTS of fun. I just LOVE them!

As much as we tried to go away from a big ‘ol load of gifts, you can only not-contribute so much – and then when you’re at family members’ homes, you just gotta do what they’re all doing, I guess. Not that gift-giving is wrong or bad. I love giving. I think we just want to move away from spending and focusing on the monetary gifts. Our goal as we’ve been more convicted lately, is to focus a bit more each year, on worship and Jesus and giving to people outside our lil family…like to those who have serious needs. This is what the Lord has been speaking to us. We will be able o use it as a more true teaching moment for our kids and help them to keep their perspective in the right place so that when they have kids, they can learn and celebrate the true meaning of this season, much more than generations past.  Rick & I think that if we all did these things (give more but spend less, serve more as a family, & engage in full worship together, during the Christmas season, it would glorify Jesus more, as he is worthy to be praised. We want to do that in the future. As I type this even now, a Pandora commercial came on for Compassion International suggesting to give a gift of a chicken to a family who needs the eggs. “Go to“. That’s one thing – one example of what I mean. I love that idea!

Back to the Bebb home get-together…we had a blast and enjoyed our time, ate roast beef – which my mom did perfectly! My mashed potatoes, KFC’s gravy, fruit-,spring- and jello-salads, and more. It was different and delectable.  This morning’s feast was traditional for the Bebb’s (@ the Stewarts) including her famous Santa Pancakes (pics to come), hammy eggs, bacon, sausage & a gorgeously gooey monkey-bread masterpiece inside her glass covered cake-dish. Drool – on – keyboard…wiping up now.

It has been amazing to spend so much of the last week or so with so many loved ones – that physical element and proximity make such a difference. The hugs and kisses and games and tickles and photos taken and cooking together and eye contact – these things are all so special. Simply special. They are reminders to me of how good our God is.

That was about it.

I will write later about how we told Angel that Santa’s ‘misfit’ elf, Hermie, came down our chimney and left us a loaf of wonderfully baked cranberry orange bread, ginger bread cookies and pastries.

As for now, I am BEAT! A good beat.

A blessed beyond belief beat.

Spring Break from Kiddos (& more) …

ReCap of Spring Break Week!
This last week was Spring Break ’10…and the 1st opportunity we’ve had since our 10-yr. ann.(’07), to leave the kiddos with their grandparents for a week! This time we were blessed to have Jasis & Bob offer, so we drove the ankle-biters to Kilgore. Sure, we worked days (me @ Gymboree and Ricky in his “crib-icle”, a term he coined to describe his cubicle @ home)…but we got ourselves a few good dates and quality time, just us 2 (Ben Houa & Yama Sushi)! Several times, we jokingly yelled our patented parental phrases into another room or the backseat of the Scion, at our ‘phantom’ children. All I can say is, it was weird; we agreed early on, that we do not like being child-less.

We were planning on traveling back (meeting half way) on Sat., but got a call Fri. morning that Gam had a stroke (later discovering it was her 4th one) & that we’d better come early. Angel was sick anyway. So I put the house cleaning & grocery shoppin’ on hold and we packed up for Kilgore (I drove 3 hrs to Palestine & then had enough).

Papa & Gamma showed the munchkins a good ‘ol time – they watched movies, rode bikes, played with new toys and bouncey balls outside, and took many trips to nearby Synergy Park where they explored, got dirty and went FISHIN’! Yep, Bray’s 1st fishin’ expedition was lead by his Papa Bob (who else?) ~ & he caught two baby catfish off the pier and the bank of the pond.  On day 2, we got a text from Gamma: ” Braylon found a slug by the lake and was tossin’ it around with a stick. Next thing we knew, it went flyin’ and hit Angel in the eye!”

Gam seems to be ok ~ goin to get an MRI today before she heads home. Lord, make your presence & peace known to her. Let her feel your love and help her to be pain-free.  Thank you for such a refreshing week & for keeping watch over us all. We love you with all our hearts.