Over the Hill

Tomorrow I'm turning 40. The big 4-0. Middle-aged. Old.

On Friday night, I sat in an old theater next to my oldest son, now grown into a man, watching The Nutcracker performed live by students from his and Rebecca's school. It really was too much. I love Christmas, I love ballet, I love my son. Not in that particular order. I can't help but remember seeing the Nutcracker with him when he was just about 8 years old. Or even further back, being the age he is now and that very last Christmas that it was just the two of us. Twenty years ago. So much has changed and I couldn't ask for a better life.
I thought I was so grown up at 20. Now 20 years later I look back and think, "What an idiot!" I had no clue what I would encounter, overcome, endure, enjoy. Now I sit here on the brink of 40 and with more foresight, I'm thinking that this can't be the middle. This can't be the biggest milestone of my life. This can't be "old." I feel as if I'm just getting started. I've finally come to terms with who I am and what I'm really supposed to be doing around here.

I've learned not to fear, but to hope.

Disappointment is not something to worry about, keep asking, keep trying, keep going.

Enjoy where I'm at, who I'm with, what I'm doing right now.

Don't be jealous of the young, they don't know what I know. Instead let them be a hope, an inspiration.

Life is good, even at 40...


The Gang's All Here

Every time I sit down for a meal with my children I am engulfed by a scene reminiscent of a rowdy banquet in the halls of Valhalla. Complete with barbarians eating with their hands, course jokes, and the pounding of fists on the table. This family is loud. I owe it to the patriarch of the brood with his booming voice and broad shoulders. This man might hail from the South, but he's got Norseman in his blood.

People join us in our feasting and celebrations and leave with ears ringing and heart fluttering wondering how we ever carry on a conversation. Its not always this way, but these kids brought together in one living room, take up the floor and couches, and enjoy being smack dab in the middle of all the excitement. There are no quiet dinners in our house.

Still, I get in these doldrums sometimes in thinking my own thoughts and speaking with other women and I start wondering what more I could be doing out there. My life seems so small, my footprint just a speck. There are multitudes of other women out there thinking the same things. Does my life matter? Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Am I just a mom?

And therein lies the answer...just. We see just as a bad thing and fail to see what that definition even means. In a sense, by defining ourselves in this matter, we are living small. Paul has a word to say on the matter:
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
Being a momma isn't a small thing. But thinking that is small thinking. When you begin to look at the work that you do as meaningful and life changing, as motherhood is, you realize how grand and wondrous it truly can be! What greater work can there be?


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It all comes to all of us. No one is immune to the affects of living in this broken world. Last week my father in law, brother in law, and two family friends were in a terrible car accident in the Dominican Republic where they are serving as missionaries. It was one of those events where you look at the wreckage and you shake your head because there is just no way that anyone would have survived. But they all did! My little brother in law walked away without a scratch. The other three were seriously injured yet God has been doing His miraculous work on their bodies and we stand amazed at His goodness.

Mama said there'd be days like this...

The weekend prior to the accident I had a dream. At the time, I was confused about what it could mean but as we got word and my husband rushed to his daddy's side, I had complete understanding of what God was telling me. Once again He sent reassurance that everything was going to be ok even though it would be easy to think otherwise. Over the course of the week, we were overwhelmed by the encouragement, prayers, practical needs being met, and generally the rallying together of community to lift these wounded ones up.

In the midst of things like this it is our tendency to hunker down and take care of the necessary things. Prayer comes to the forefront of our lives and as we talk more to our Father, we tend to ask questions. Why? Why? WHY?!? I'm always alarmed by my own tendency to question God when He isn't obligated to answer me, and I probably still wouldn't understand anyway.

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 

Trials shouldn't be a surprise. They should be expected. That by no means makes it easy though. What I think is the awesomeness of the faith of my father in law and his friends. As they recover they speak nothing but confidence in the goodness of God. I am fortunate to have such amazing examples in my life, you guys are my heroes!

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Personally, I had an experience recently that made me want to tuck tail and hide. There are some things that I do for the Lord that I'm comfortable with and others that are out of my comfort zone. When I step out I expect that I will encounter uncomfortable situations and so I prepare myself. But this, this was completely out of nowhere and it shook me. Probably more than it should have, but hey, we're being honest here. My natural reaction would be to stop doing what I'm doing because I encountered some resistance. But that's not how God expects me to behave. Keep moving forward, keep taking ground, keep doing what God has asked me to do. Don't give up no matter what!

  Romans 5:2-5 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


The Princess and the Pee

Yeah, you read that right...

A true life fairytale. That's my life. But like any good story, it is rife with tears, struggles, hardships, bad guys, walking in the rain, laughing late into the night. Who wants to read a book without a conflict, without something to overcome? The classic couple, Darcy and Elizabeth, Snow White and Prince Charming, Jamie and Claire, they all had their shortcomings, and we all understand that riding off into the sunset is not really the end of the story.

Today is the day, 22 years ago, that I embarked on the beginning of the adventure of my life. I said yes to a date with Joshua Goodman. Its crazy how I imagined things would be and the way that they have turned out. Life together has really been one challenge after another, but oh the victories that we have celebrated, the memories we have accumulated, the love that we have built.

Thanks for reaching out a hand, my love, and asking me to join you as you run. There is no other life I could ask for.


Stand With Me

I don't often make appeals on my blog, in fact I can't remember ever making one, so there's a first time for everything I guess. In the beginning of next year, a group of brave young men and women, including my son, Tony and my husband, will be trekking to Tanzania and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Adventure extreme! However, they are endeavoring upon this journey in order to bring awareness and gather support for the over 27 million people who have been sold into slavery. The plan is to help out a local ministry who is actually rehabilitating the individuals who are rescued from this life of slavery and raise funds for the ongoing ministry. In addition they will be documenting the entire journey in film. Words fail me in bringing light to this subject. The team, Standing for Freedom has put together a short video to put into perspective the magnitude of what they are attempting to do. Of course, my mama heart soars as, you guessed it, my boy will be holding the camera. Please consider supporting the team and check out the video here.

If you are interested in funding the documentary, check out this site.

If you want to support the team, go here.


My Face

I was born with it. I'm stuck with it. Love it or hate it, its mine. Rumor has it I inherited my daddy's eyes and my grandma's bone structure and apparently nobody bothered to donate their smile because apparently I never use it.

This non-smiling attribute has been a bane to my livelihood for a long while now. I remember my mom sending me off to a new day of school with the reminder, "Friendly people make friends, Amber." Countless school photographers, "Smile...Please?" My colorguard coach, "Don't forget to count and remember to smile!" He actually went so far as to make us put vaseline on our teeth to keep our lips from closing. I still gag remembering forcing a fake smile for the seemingly endless routine.

 Let me assure you, I am happy. Normal happy, not going around singing tunes like I'm in a stinking musical or anything. Although that does happen at times, just ask my kids. I have never been able to fake my feelings. My face at rest just doesn't look happy and for that I am sad. I don't mean to make you think that you make me mad, or your kids make me mad, or that I'm on the verge of tears, or planning the demise of everyone in my vicinity. 

So, I don't know, maybe its the recent and public scrutiny of my non-smiling face that got me thinking, or the picture that my beloved eldest son posted on instagram in a tribute to me. My close family assured me that it is the best depiction of my face and its a very mean and unhappy face. Trust me that I'm working on it. I'm sorry...


Think Small

The past few weeks have seemed to whirl by with hurricane force ferocity. Two birthdays, school field trips, in-laws in town, church, church, work, school, homework, and on and on and on. These are my least favorite times. I get to the point where there is so much going on and I'm overwhelmed and can't even gather my thoughts together long enough to figure out where to start working. I'm dragged on by the current.

It is precisely times such as these that make me stop and think, that is when I have a moment of quiet to catch them, and in all of my busyness I contemplate, what really matters? When I was young and full of dreams I thought I was gonna change the world. I was going to make a name for myself and affect tons of people and yay Amber! I had big plans. Growing up I was bombarded with encouragements that I could do anything I set my mind to do. Follow your dreams! Go and make disciples of ALL nations. Dream big! Good suggestions all, but in my zeal I focused on the all and the big and when they seemed out of reach, I ignored what was right here in my own house, in my own church, in my own city. God forbid that it is all part of God's plan for my life to live right here with these ordinary people and make the difference that only I can make. If I really believe that my life has purpose, why does the plan always have to be full of glitz and glamor and any where but here God! My heart had a hard time reining itself in to the changing of the 7 lives who live with me day to day. Seeing my coworkers and my own neighbors and those I come into contact with all the time and shining a steady light for them to see. I can glow big and bright for short periods of time, but what about the long haul, how are my batteries then?

Last night my oldest and I were talking about our broken television. This is the second time that our large screen has been out of commission and daddy and I were thinking that maybe we should just roll with it and get rid of cable and blah blah blah. My son interjects with this statement, "There you guys go again, always so over the top." You know I'm really enjoying this new perspective Tony brings to my life. Nobody else could probably point out the things he can. He's been with us as we glean through our DVD closet and start a new health program and pledge to ride our bikes in to work. He's also seen us buy all new DVDs and eat nachos in bed at 11 pm and you get the picture. Its not about the drama its about the continuity. Don't be afraid to think small and then stick with it.


Book Review: Wife After God Devotional

I have been married for almost 20 years and in those years I have read many marriage books and devotionals and such. When I was first introduced to Unveiled Wife and the new marriage devotional, Wife After God, I must admit I was a little skeptical. I mean, I'm still learning but could this book really speak to my marriage? I dove in despite my skepticism and I'm so glad that I did. Each day addressed a different obstacle or delight in marriage that superceded the fact that I've been there, done that. I was challenged to rise to a new level. As a woman can you ever get enough encouragement to look for ways to love your husband better. Do we ever get to the point where we truly understand how much God loves us? This devotional applies to women in every season of marriage from newlywed to old pro. Check it out for yourself HERE.



I'm still learning. Newsflash right? I would be tempted to think that I might, just maybe, have this parenting thing down to a science. Like maybe I can write a book or manual now or something. Some people have actually said to me, "You really know what you're doing." What does that mean? Have I now reached some ninja parenting elite status or something?

Besides, I am learning that despite opinions to the contrary, having successfully launched two children to college does not make me skilled. This was a four part group activity. My husband, myself, my kid and my God. God is the only constant and reliable part of this project. My first two have pretty much gone off without a hitch, but I don't know where to find the strength to get through the "challenging child." A mother would think that the sleepless nights were over after the baby started sleeping in his or her own room. Oh no. I still get up to make sure they're all where they are supposed to be, breathing and in their beds. Potty trained status isn't the end of cleaning up the messes. Child safety latches and child proofing your house is nothing compared to the damage a teen can do with unlimited texting, the internet, or a car.

Before you start worrying about me, understand this. I know the One with the ultimate parenting skills and He's got my back. He sees everything, knows everything, and can do anything. He has more interest wrapped up in my little hellion than I do. All of my pain from the delivery til now is nothing compared to His Son dying on the cross for that rebellious teenager who mumbles under her breath at me and thinks I can't hear her. He saw her before she even came to be and sees what she will become. He also knows that I learn to understand a little more of His Father's heart every time she breaks mine. He's had His share of rebellious kids.

So maybe I don't have to wish for the simplicity of the days of Moses...There is hope.


Bondage and Futility

So, Joshua and I were having a conversation the other day about how my imagined life doesn't line up with my reality and he said something profound to me, "You like the idea of it." Of course that made me mad, but at the same time made me think, "Is he right? Do I really enjoy the idea of the thing rather than the day by day carrying out of the project?" The man knows me. It irks me to no end, but that's for another time and you probably wouldn't want to read that blog.

I spend my time making lists and cooking things up in my head and pinning on Pinterest and so on. I get fixated on organization, or healthy eating, or homesteading (?) or what have you and I absolutely love the idea of it. But my energy runs out shortly after the planning stages. I get all the supplies together, and I hold up for maybe a week or so and then life takes over and I plummet into the depths of despair because I just can't hang.

My personality is one in which I always want to be doing something to move forward. I can take the leap, but the landing back on my feet is never graceful and is more in lines with taking out a few people on the way. I mean, I have always been this way, goal oriented to the extreme. I set my goal, start out on the way and get distracted by some other project or discouraged from the hardships to get to said goal. I hate it.

I think part of the problem is that I absolutely hate the mundane, the routine, while at the same time loving a programmed and set way of doing things. The day to day chores are so boring and yet needful and then when I get in my groove even the smallest distraction like a phone call can seem like a property infringement. I don't have time for this doing the same thing every day, but don't throw anything unexpected my way, I may just collapse.

I want to invent things that could make me happier, make life easier, make me feel like this matters. My focus is no longer on the things I have, the happiness that I already possess, the people who already love me. I think its all about clarity of purpose and submitting yourself to the life that you have. Why does it always have to be more? Contentment is a scary word to me, it gives me a picture in my head of someone who gave up and stopped moving forward and yet I know that's not at all what it means. Happiness is more work than it should be.


Deja Vu

I love how God deals with Joshua and I. What I mean is the language that He speaks that we can understand. You know when He stoops down and whispers something to you and you can watch it unfold. We have been many places together, all over the world, and seen God's hand work in our lives and the lives of others. I have been blessed with a man who loves me and loves my babies and fortunately has a lot of love because we have a lot of babies. Looking back on where we have been, missionaries, and youth pastors, and church planters.

Dominican Republic May 2001

And then looking at the us that we are now and the places where He has brought us as a family. The hard times and the good times, but always together times. Its funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same...He's always a right on time God. No matter where my feet roam, He directs my steps. There is peace in that.

Cliffdale Christian Center August 2014


Here's Looking at You, Kid

And then there were four...

Joshua and I grew up with Tony and Becca. They were our originals and now that they're all done and gone off to pursue their dreams I can't imagine this new life. We have had six kids in the house for awhile now and you just don't get used to the difference. Its been forever since we "just" had four. Its cleaner, quieter, calmer. Most of our friends with kids have two and are "done" now. They talk about how they get "me" time and are enjoying this new phase of life. I wouldn't know...but its different all right.

I catch myself looking over at my Joshua and thinking we finally grew up, we're different people. Hopefully better parents, better partners, and we've proven we can be trusted with long term projects. For 20 years we've been building this family and watching it grow. Now the kids are starting to leave and I know that they will be bringing back more to our group, but for now it feels oddly disjointed with the paring down of my daily routine. Its a stretching and a pulling to fit into a new way of doing things. My middles are my big kids now. Onward and upward, Goodman clan.


Taking Leave

Grandma prayed that the delivery would be quick and easy. Especially after your brother decided to make a slow and painful entry into this world two years earlier. God granted her prayers and I started dilating one whole month before you were born. It was a series of small pains and when the day came, Daddy and I went out for a late movie and I was awakened early the next morning before the light with what I thought was "just stomach cramps." We rushed to the hospital and got there just in time to labor for a few short hours, and three pushes later you were among us. I will never forget the way your Daddy seemed to forget me and just followed you around the room as the nurses cleaned you up and weighed you. When he finally looked over at me his look seemed to say, "Look at this beautiful creature that God made, look what we did!" I could see that the sun was just beginning to peek up above the trees and I knew that sunshine had been born in my life that day.

Today you leave me, not for the first time, but most certainly the beginning of the last time. I had prayed that your going would be easier. Especially after your brother left two years ago and I thought I might never feel whole again. But God granted my prayers and you only brought us a few small pains and now that the day has come I feel like it snuck up on me. You came into my world crying and now I'm the one crying as you leave it. Daddy followed you around helping you pack up the truck and get ready to go. Then you drove away with the man I've shared you with all these years, and I am absolutely certain as he leaves you today and cries his own tears he will be thinking, "Thank you God for letting me help form this beautiful creature," and the sun is just beginning to rise for you my darling beautiful girl. Don't ever forget that you're my sunshine.


God in the Hands of Angry Christians

You're probably not gonna like this post. Just the title is a little off putting. I mean it makes God seem helpless, weak, touchable. Yet, that's how we treat Him sometimes. Ok, maybe not you, let's be safe and say, that's how I treat Him sometimes.

You've heard it before. God I just don't understand, I have been doing this and this and this for you, getting it all right and I just don't get why you could let this happen to me. Or even better (or worse) I can't take this anymore, I'm at the end of my rope. I'm just so done!

I take issue with God when things don't go my way, I misrepresent Him as if His purpose is to make me happy. The problem here is that the relationship is misunderstood. I weas created for His good pleasure, not the other way around. My life is not about me, its about Him and others.

When I vent my disappointment and disillusionment, He can handle it, don't for a minute think that its too much. But think for a minute what is going on here. Look at it from another perspective. I say, "God, I did such and such and live my life right and follow the rules, and still this thing happened and I'm so confused and so mad and so disappointed that you allowed this to touch my life!" He says, "You did this sin and that sin and turned your back on me and broke your promises and yet I still sent my only Son to die on the cross for you!"

There's nothing more that He ever had to do for you, for me...

The ultimate price was paid for my lousy, wretched self-important life and I still have the nerve to expect more. To be angry and bitter and lose hope. To shake my fist at heaven as if He owes me something in exchange for my choice to be His servant and enter into His family.

My perspective is skewed, its faulty, and when I step back and take a breath I recognize it as such. I am powerless in comparison to His almighty strength and still I say, "Its not enough! I want more! I want things to be my way!" I'm like a spoiled child only thinking of myself or the way I see things as the correct and appropriate one.

Even before I'm all done flailing my opinions around and kicking and screaming for my voice to be heard and understood and heeded, He stoops down and scoops me up and like all loving Fathers holds me close until the tantrum is done. I'm very certain that His Father heart aches with the false accusations I declared against His love for me and care for my well being. Yet, He still loves me and cherishes me enough to allow me to come back again and again and say, "I'm sorry, You were right..."


The Long Summer

Well, its been a long time since I last wrote. I had to look back to see exactly how long. Whew, school let out for us at the end of May and then we started our summer with a bang up trip to Myrtle Beach and one thing led to another and here I am back at school for the new year. The summer was long and very eventful and I had so many thoughts pinging around in my head. I don't like to write until I have fully processed and it just seemed that between busy summer fun and really difficult personal challenges, I just couldn't get things thought through enough to put down in blog form.

May seems so far away looking back on it. Camping trips and family time, house guests and summer school. We had some issues to face that were entirely new to us as parents and we are still rising to that challenge. Church events seemed stacked back to back and Goodman would have to forcefully pull away to take short and solitary surfing trips. At times it felt like we had taken a jump off the high dive and were fighting back up to the surface of the water.

Now we're back into a semi routine just in time for Rebecca Lynn to go off for her first year of college and Tony to move into his own place off campus and you can bet there will be many blogs to come regarding those events and the feelings they evoke. Until then, its not that I didn't have anything to say this summer, I just couldn't put it into appropriate words, there was just too much. If I had to put it in a nutshell, this would be it: God is always right on time, my husband is the most awesome person I know, I will survive parenting and so will my kids. There you have it. Its good to be back...


Our Demographic: The World

I was raised in small churches and have been going to church since I was a tiny baby. Maybe I didn't realize it was there but I never remember the pastor making a big deal about what the "vision" of the church was. I think maybe all of us in the congregation knew what the point was. We were a community of believers hanging out together on Sunday and going back out into the field to bring back as many as we could next time. We didn't have to have a slogan or a sign or a card to hand out, we just did it.

I know that times change, and new generations need different avenues to express their uniqueness, and society gets used to things their way, and some would even say that the American church is a travesty. As a church goer and then a member of the pastor's family and now a pastor's wife, I have heard all sorts of complaints about the church from Christians and non-Christians. I can't get into the music, the music is too loud, the nursery isn't staffed properly, the youth group doesn't reach out to my teen, I don't like the coffee they serve, the air is on too low, the seats aren't comfortable, I don't like the way the pastor, or worship team, or staff dresses (too formal or not formal enough), this environment just isn't reaching me, etc., etc., etc. The list could go on and on. But first we have to realize that this is not a new phenomenon!

Let's travel back in time to the people of Israel. They have been miraculously rescued from a life of drudgery and generations of slavery, but they've got room to complain. They complained about no food (Exodus 16:2-3) and then they complained about the food God supplied (Numbers 11:4-6). They complained about Moses leadership style. They thought he was too holy (Exodus 34:33), and then they thought he thought he was better than them (Numbers 16:1-3). Their grumbling and complaining and general lack of faith kept them from entering the Promised Land and receiving the blessings God wanted to pour out on them.

The church was established in the New Testament but things didn't go smoothly for them either. Paul took up a lot of space with instructions for the various churches he oversaw that seem almost ridiculous. The Corinthians had to be reminded that the head of the church was Jesus not the particular pastor's teaching that they preferred to listen to. People were getting drunk during communion and speaking out of turn. Sleeping around, cheating one another, spreading gossip. These were Christians he was admonishing...What? Doesn't sound too different nowadays.

We hear a lot about the American church and its insatiable need to be catered to. Its "you're not giving me what I need!" mentality. Having been to churches in other countries around the world and worshiping in unfurnished, non-air conditioned buildings with no electricity or sound system I would tend to agree. However, I am sure given the nature of all mankind, that the pastors of those churches could relate to Paul and Moses as well.

Are You Not Entertained?
The thing that gets me is this trend towards each church having a vision and a mission statement and a stated demographic that we are trying to reach. The pull is strong to want to stand out from the other churches. I mean our cities are not exactly unreached populaces. You can locate a church on just about every corner. The choices to the people are limited only by their personal desires. But, before leaving this earth Jesus gave each one what we needed to navigate the call.
Matthew 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 What's the vision of the church? To see the lost saved...

What's the mission? Make disciples of all nations...

What demographic are we trying to reach? The world...

We can dress it up and make it fancy to suit your need to feel unique and cutting edge, but bottom line its about a community that has been building since the foundation of time to join together in unity gathering as many as we can to culminate in a great and glorious reunion.
Ephesians 5:25-27 ...just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
That radiant church doesn't qualify because it has the best worship, or announcement videos, or coffee shop, or newest, coolest, flashiest bait...the qualification is holiness and blamelessness. Are we striving toward those characteristics in our outreach programs? What about our own "me, me, me" demands for our local church body? Our example is a man who laid down His own life for us, how does streamlining the Sunday morning service work into that scenario? When was the last time you laid down your own desires for another person?

I don't want to be a part of the generation that complains and murmurs and doesn't get into the promise...let's get this thing together and look towards the goal in front of us.



Beverly Kay...the mother of my beloved. How can I not pay honor to her memory on this day for mothers? I only knew her for a short two years and yet what she left behind lives on. Those who knew her describe her beauty and her strength, her love for her family and people in general. My memories are but a fleeting glimpse of the woman she was, but they paved a way for me that has sustained me along the journey.

From her sitting down with this wayward girl with a baby in tow to feel out just how serious I was about her first born boy, the blazing fire in the lodge at Ober Gatlinburg still burns bright with the questions she posed to me. Her quiet way of loving her family and occasionally not so serene way of knocking some sense into your head. I had the pleasure of presenting her with her first born grandchild, a beautiful blond haired blue eyed girl with daddy's ears and papa's curls. My last moment with her would not be recognized as such until hindsight brought its clarity. She was sitting on the couch and I kissed her head. Just another day, but never to be repeated.

My loss at her passing is so feeble in comparison to what others suffered, yet it is still felt nonetheless. The memory of her life and the impact it had affected so many. I am but one.

She taught me how to pray for my crazy children and never to give up on them. She showed me to always be there for your man no matter how hard headed he could be, and not to shrink back when something needs to be said to him, you may be the only one who can say it. There is an elegance to just being who you are and not pretending to be something you're not. Lead through example.

I am eternally grateful for this woman who loved and nurtured the man who would one day be mine. She endowed him with her love for people and willingness to sacrifice self. Words can never express, but thank you...



This month Joshua and I are celebrating 19 years of marriage. Whew! Like I always do I've spent a lot of time thinking about how far we've come and where we're going. Looking back I realize that it wasn't just the two of us that got us here. I mean its obvious to me that God had to be smack dab in the middle of it all for any marriage to survive, I give Him all the glory in this endeavor. What has really impressed me is the amount of people that have had a deliberate hand in the makings of this marriage. I want to take a little bit of time to acknowledge those who have helped to fashion us.

First and foremost I need to acknowledge our parents, for my mom, who prayed for my husband to-be from the time I was born, and then kept on praying no matter what, and for my in-laws, who somehow put up with me ranting in their living room, and listened to me whenever I needed to spill my guts. You guys always had faith in us.

My sister, who maintained there was no man good enough for her big sister and therefore, helped me to keep high standards... Jennifer and Jessica, who maintained that there was no girl good enough for their bubby, and somehow they love me anyway, ha!

Leagues and leagues of people in our church and ministry families: Pat Barnes, who whispered in my ear and reminded me that everything would be OK, Thelma Alexander, who reminded me to never hang my head, Bryan and Lisa Fragas who encouraged and rallied us onward even when our hope was lost. To Randy Johnson who sang me my very first and only love song from the Lord and Malinda Rogers who let us know that God really made us for each other on a porch of a house in Jeremy, Haiti, those experiences have kept me going when I wanted to give up....Mitch and Debbie Martinez our missionary friends in the Dominican Republic who taught me never to be ashamed of having a lot of kids!!!

To my own children, Anthony, Rebecca, Serena Marie, Taylor, Emari-Melina, and Zion: you guys are the reason for my life and the greatest joy of my existence. I hope that daddy and I can model a marriage worthy of being imitated...

And most of all, I give supreme kudos to the love of my life, my own personal good man, my Joshua. You see things in me that I don't see myself, you put up with my frailties and give me courage to view this life as the adventure that it is. Thank you for claiming me as your own and teaching me that true love can be found. I love you!


Parenting-20th Anniversary Collector's Edition

So I've been stuck at home for the second four day stretch with my little people and its got me thinking. The first couple of snow days earlier this year were all fun and games. It was a nice little treat and we had some good family time and sat around playing games and eating stuff and just hanging out. I kept thinking, I really miss this "having the kids with me all day" kind of routine. By that Friday I was so ready to get out of the house it wasn't even funny. Then this week I didn't even play, we did school work, chores, naptime, etc. and I hated it. The kids' voices and requests just started nagging at me and I wanted to get AWAY FAST! I felt the irony of the whole thing, the sentimentality of the perfect scenario tricked me again. It reminded me of my early parenting years.

I came into the game early and made my assumptions and judgments of how my parenting style would be the most amazing thing ever to hit this universe. I would be the laid back, cool parent who had all her stuff together. No toting around an arsenal of kid relative materials in my bag. My children would learn to suck it up and drive on without all the bells and whistles. They would not completely alter my life patterns. Back then I had no clue what I was in for. Today I'm still parenting little people and I am not the same parent twenty years later. Here are a few things that I have learned:

1) "They're not little forever"-this can seem like a hopeful thought when they are pooping in their pants and crying all night, but it can also be a helpful reminder as well.

2) "You never stop being a parent"-no matter how big your baby gets he or she will always be your baby.

3) "When your child messes up they are not doing it to hurt you"-Remember this when they are teenagers.

4) "Parenting is not an obstacle course with a finish line"-Take it slow, it passes faster than you think.

5) "You're going to start calling your parents to say you're sorry more and more as you're children grow"-I never understood my mom's wisdom until I became the parent of a teen.

6) "They are tiny versions of you"-Your mannerisms, icky traits, idiosyncrasies, are all magnified in your children, it will be like looking into a scary mirror, therefore you'll be doing a lot of apologizing to God and your spouse as well.

7) "The detachment process is going to be harder than you think"-Remember the first day dropping them off at school? Imagine their first day of college or wedding day, it doesn't stop!

8) "You will want to kill people"-Sometimes it will be your spouse, sometimes it will be your child, or your child's teacher, or another child who has hurt your child, the list goes on...

Now I share these things to encourage you parents out there, not to discourage you! Parenting is one of the single most terrifying, challenging, nerve-wracking, wonderful, rewarding, life-changing experiences that you will embark upon. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a life long endeavor that is blessed by our Heavenly Father himself. You will learn more about yourself, your own parents, and your God than you ever dreamed, not to mention have the unique privilege to be a partner in shaping a future citizen of the kingdom. Take the job seriously, but don't take yourself seriously. Enjoy and don't over analyze. You get one chance, and one life, make sure and find joy in the journey!


Didn't See It Coming

Have you ever been surprised by a very bad turn of events? A bill that you never knew about that was in the final stages of collection? a car accident? a revelation of sin in a loved one's life? death? I think we can all relate to being caught off guard by something scary bad that seems to just jump on us from out of nowhere. There were no warning signs, no clues, just a suddenly.

What happens then? Our adrenaline is pumping, our anger rises up, we cry, we rant, we clean up, we prepare. Its a whole gambit of emotions that file through our minds and hearts. Then we start looking for somebody to blame, was it him, her, God? Did I do something that caused this? Could I have prevented it?

Then we go into prevention mode. That is not going to happen to me again... Really what we are doing is living in fear and it paralyzes us. We cannot help ourselves when we remember the pain, but we can keep ourselves from remaining there. God has all things in His hands and its very important for us to keep that in perspective when we look back over the events of our life.

Psalm 91

You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”


The "Real" Classics

You all know about my love of literature, and also then of my recent return to the love of the vintage books of my childhood. I neglect a very important genre with not writing about my love affair with the Christian bookstore. My mom took us to the bookstore with her quite frequently and it stood out from other stores in my little kid perspective. The walls were adorned with beautiful paintings, my absolute favorite being one of a glowing Jesus standing beside a garden wall knocking on an elaborate wooden door. Soft music floated on the air and it had the semblance of the library in the fact that one did not want to run or speak above a hushed whisper. It even smelled different to me. I had the suspicion that the back door really opened into heaven, it was that otherworldly.

I recently rediscovered some of my old Bible story books, and Emari asked me to read a few to her this morning. As I read aloud to her and she snuggled into my shoulder I was transported back, to the innocence of the times before. When those stories were just as exciting as Dr. Seuss and Snow White. The magic of it all was that I knew these stories were TRUE! Those stories began my own journey, this relationship that has stood the test of times unlike any other in my life. Emari had so many observations and important questions about Baby Moses and Jesus on the cross and the Parable of wedding banquet. I realized that she learns at church, and she learns at school, and I try my best to teach her from my example at home, yet I had neglected introducing her personally to this whole world of the real classics of literature. The villains, the heroes, the struggles, and victories!

Its not enough that she hears it elsewhere. She needs to hear it from me, to introduce her to all of my favorites and embark on this journey for herself...


Control Freak

When I was a kid, I loved riding on roller coasters. I didn't like the sudden drop sort of rides but anything with a track and loops and twists and hills, was awesome to me. Not that you'd believe it if you rode the thing with me though. Or you know those pics they take of you while you're riding? Well mine would definitely show a girl head turned to the side, eyes tightly closed, hands gripped in white knuckled intensity, and not a peep of a scream escaping her lips. What's that all about? Why did I ride the thing, standing in line forever, only to endure it?

This goes back even further to when I was a tiny little girl and my mom told me that one time my finger was accidentally shut in the car door and I wouldn't for the life of me let anybody look at it to assess the damage. I just held it and cried and acted like everybody just needed to move on and get where we were headed to.

Now I always held the notion in my head that as we matured, we would grow wiser, better, etc. etc. I had this image of myself as an adult with perfectly manicured nails and meticulously kept hair and the words that flowed from my mouth would be a wonderful edification of every one that heard them. The thing that I didn't count on was that God gave me my personality and He also set me in certain situations to help to train and mold said personality and unfortunately the two stories I shared above tend to be my go to ways of handling trials and tribulations of all sorts.

I'm up for the adventure, I plan, I pray, I prepare. Then I tuck my head and endure. I don't enjoy. When I get hurt, I cry about it a little it, but for the most part, its my hurt and I'm not gonna let anybody close enough to help me sort it out. Control is what I desire to gain, maintain, and keep.

Life can't be that way, unfortunately. I really don't have any control whatsoever, even when I think I do. When I try to grab it or keep it I end up looking like a real jerk. I think the key here is to realize when you're on the roller coaster and ride it out. Have fun, enjoy the twists and turns. Let a few screams out and laugh along the way. When you're in pain, let some people in to hold your hand and thank God that you still have the ability to feel and that there are people around who love you enough to help you get better.

I feel like its kind of late to begin, but I really want to start letting go. Stop worrying about what there is to lose and allow myself to gain some good experience instead.


Kicking and Screaming

I started reading a new book last night that I honestly didn't even know existed until I picked it up at the library. Its a tiny little book by C. S. Lewis called, A Grief Observed. It is actually a journal that he kept after his wife died to record those feelings that he was trudging through. So far, I'm loving it. He is such a great writer and champion for God, yet he makes human emotion a tangible thing. The Psalms in the Bible and even Job tend to make me realize that this relationship I have with my Father isn't a blase and unfeeling negotiation of wills. He completely realizes that I am His workmanship and He knows what makes me tick. Even when I rail at Him and spit and scream and kick, He can handle it. He loves me and I love Him and that's all there is to it. When I'm disappointed and disillusioned and just plain mean, He grabs a hold of me, sometimes by the collar, sometimes by the seat of my pants and sometimes He just scoops me up in His arms. At the end of the day, even in my worst experiences and most challenging trials, I can truly rely on Him.


2014 Here We Come!

Wow, I really can't believe that Christmas is over and we are in a new year! Time flies by so fast. For us here in the Goodman household, 2013 held a lot of milestones. Looking back seems like a flurry of changes and transitions and stretching. Phew!

I know that right now I am in the midst of returning to school and work and getting back into the old pattern after a much needed break. It was superbly awesome because right after Christmas my awesome in-laws sent us to the beach for a week and it was so refreshing. We spend a lot of time together as a family, but most of the time we are working together not just sitting around enjoying one another. From Zion all the way up to Tony, Joshua and I had the opportunity to spend some time with our kids and that it so special. As they grow and move away, each moment we have to be together becomes more and more precious.

Now we're back at the helm and ready for what's to come. I love it how God always shows me some things I need to work on and some things to look forward to in the coming year as one year passes by and the new one begins. I have my work cut out for me in the honing that He is requiring of me in the coming season, but I am also confident that He has some super duper awesome things heading this way too. Looking forward to what's to come. Happy New Year!
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