To Be Your Mama

To Be Your Mama

“I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”

It’s a phrase I use often. It’s true. It’s intentional.

Of the things I want most for my children, nearing the top of the list is a feeling — a knowledge — that they are delighted in. That they loved, that they are cherished.


“Preparing the Soil” wasn’t a name pulled out of nowhere. When I read the parable of the sower with fresh eyes and realized that the seed thrown (the Word) was the same in each of the four stories, I sat staring…realizing even more the incredible power in parenting.

We can throw the Word at our children. We can bring them to church, put them in Christian schools or teach Christian curriculum at home, we can buy them Christian books, send them to Christian camps, and pray for Christian friends.


But if their hearts (the soil) has not been tended to and is not ready to receive the truth of the gospel’s great love and freedom, our attempts at growing our children up in the Lord will be in vain.

A farmer tends his soil. He waters it. He plows it. He prepares it. Before the first seed is planted, the ground is made ready to receive.

In the same way, we must tend to our children’s hearts.

“I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”


I say it with words. I say it with actions. I say it with the things I say yes to and the things I say no to. I say it with the food I make, the trips we take, the choices we make. I say it with the tone of my voice and the feel of my touch.


“You are loved. You are delighted in. You are a blessing in my life. You are not a distraction or a hindrance to my life. You are part of the abundant life God has given me and I’m so glad I get to be your mama.”


A Colorful Life


Sometimes even I don’t believe it.

In our short fifteen years of marriage, we’ve done a lot of things.

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  • We moved to India having been married only six months.
  • On our first anniversary we spent 7 weeks traveling around North India, including a three day camel trek in the desert.
  • We dorm-parented 19 11th grade girls (and had a blast) the same year we welcomed our first child into the world.
  • We’ve welcomed five more children into the world in three other countries.
  • We’ve worked with children (and adults) from all over the world and have seen the beauty in the diversity of culture and country.
  • We’ve had adventures in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, Netherlands, America, Thailand, and more.

We’ve done a lot. Seen a lot. Lived a lot.

And yet, in all the color we’ve seen — from the streets of Mumbai to the color of fall in the US —we’ve never seen this before.

And what is this you ask?

The dream of seeing translated Bibles for each and every one of the approximately 2000 languages that are still waiting for their FIRST WORD of Scripture.

We’ve never seen something we believe in so deeply, something we are committed to so whole-heartedly, and something that makes us want to focus so intently.

My greatest source of blessing, encouragement, and hope in my life has been through the powerful words of the Bible. From the time as I child I wept reading, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed your transgressions from you” to the time this week I spent smiling and snuggling my three year old as I read, He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children,” my Bible has been my nourishment, my sustenance, and my refreshment. 

As we spend our days in training as part of the newest class of members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, we become more and more excited (and more and more humbled) to be part of a group who long to use their individual personalities, passions, and plans to see a vision come alive. Vision 2025 is a dream Wycliffe and its partners around the world have to see a Bible translation project started for every language that needs one by the year 2025. And each of the people with us this week, as well as each of you, has a unique role to play. God has equipped each and every one of us to be part of Vision 2025. It’s Wycliffe’s vision and it is our vision. It still amazes me that Jason and I can use our particular skills and passions to accomplish something so beautiful.

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Can you imagine something more amazing? More astounding? More colorful?

Revelation 7:9 & 10 give us a glimpse into the colorful beauty we have to look forward to:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

What a celebration that will be!

I cannot think of anything I would rather give my life to and I can think of no other dream I could have in my heart that would compare to the joy of seeing people with the word of God in their own language for the first time.

We’ve lived a colorful life, but it pales in comparison to the color we’ll see on that glorious day.

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And in case you couldn’t tell, my kids live a colorful life as well ;)



God is Writing Your Story

I had three minutes.

Three minutes to articulate what God has been doing in my life over the last 37 years. Three minutes to share how God took a little girl who was hurt and broken and molded her into a woman with a passion for the Word. Three minutes to share all God has done in our family over the last few years to bring us to this exact moment. Three minutes to share God’s goodness and graciousness.

We’re currently in Orlando, attending the first our our training courses with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Our course is called Equip and it is designed to do just what it says: EQUIP us as we start on our journey of sharing with others about the needs of the Bibleless people around the world.

On Sunday we spent most of our day listening to the stories of how God has led each individual, couple, and family to this point. It was amazing to listen to the myriad of experiences that paved the way for people to give their lives to advocating for, supporting, and working for those who are still waiting for the chance to read the word of God in a language that speaks to their heart.

Over and over again we listened to stories of God weaving together experiences, dreams, disappointments, conversations, encounters, opportunities, and passions to bring each of the people to a point where they could say “Yes!” to Bible translation. Each of the stories was unique, and yet there were common themes: themes of God’s goodness, His patience, His love, His direction, His healing, and His creativity.

I spent most of the day thinking, “God is such an amazing story teller!”

He wrote the stories of each of the people here. So many seemingly insignificant moments blend together in a way that only makes sense when you step back and look at the whole. A broken heart here. A conversation there. A mission trip here. A shattered dream there. A calling here. A lost job there.  An invitation here. A sermon there.

All of these moments are part of the story that takes one person to the place in their own heart where they can answer the call of God on their lives.

God is writing each of our stories. He is using every moment, every conversation, every fear, every disappointment, every opportunity, and every dream and is preparing us to say “Yes!”

I don’t know that your “Yes!” is. It won’t look the same as mine. It won’t look the same as anyone’s. But there is a “Yes!” that God wants you to say. In the spirit of Romans 8:28, everything in your life is leading to that yes. Moments don’t just happen, they are ordained.

As you go through your day, as you mull over your years, as you think on the trials and triumphs of your life, know this: God is writing your story. He can and will work all things together for good. If you will give your unbridled “Yes!” to Him, He will take all of your moments and experiences and show you that it was all “for such a time as this.”

Your hurt isn’t meaningless.
Your dreams aren’t purposeless.
Your hopes aren’t in vain.
Your conversations aren’t by chance.
Your failures aren’t hopeless.
Your trials aren’t for discouragement.

Your life has meaning and purpose. God created you to be His unique image-bearer. He wove you together in your mother’s womb and your days were ordained before there was one of them.

Don’t despise what He is doing in your life. Don’t fret over the years of the locust. Don’t let yourself believe for one moment that He has left you or forsaken you.

Instead, set down the pen and let God write your story. You never know where it might lead.

…But I Trust in You


I mentioned it back in the spring…I am a slow writer. It’s why I tend to either just post photos here or I don’t post at all. It isn’t for lack of words and thoughts…it’s a lack of time to write them in a way that they mimic what I feel in my heart. I have found that recording my words is a much faster process for me…and much more raw. Someone asked me this summer if I plan these audio posts out and have things written. No. Not at all. I plug in my microphone, press record, and just start talking. It’s not edited. It’s pure and raw me. In fact, in this post, I had planned on sharing a completely different passage of Scripture, one that I just read. But the words take over and I pray that the Lord would have me speak what He wants. Listen with grace. I am a verbal processor and since these thoughts and words aren’t planned and not edited, they may be rough around the edges. I hope, though, that you will find encouragement for your weary soul.

As a P.S. — I recorded this last Friday, and like often happens, to Lord brings the same lesson in other means. Check out this post on the Desiring God website: When God Feels Cruel.

Our Week in Photos (Sept 27 – Oct 4)

Life around here is busy. We’re in a state of transition (and will be for a long time) and there are a lot of issues to sort out and decisions to make. I’ll admit, it’s tough. The stress builds up. The emotions run high. I’ll even have an audio post on it tomorrow. But in the midst of the stress and decisions, we are aiming for a sense of routine. Of normal. Of us.

“US” means school, and baking, and playing, and reading, and resting. I want to remember these little moments because I know that one day when I look back on this time in our life, the little moments will be what matters.

She follows directions well

She follows directions well


Some extra sight word practice for the boys...terms they find in math and get stuck on.

Some extra sight word practice for the boys…terms they find in math and get stuck on.

Almond Joy pancakes. One of my faves!

Almond Joy pancakes. One of my faves!

A family rolls.

A family favorite…pizza rolls.

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Big brother and little brother, playing with cars.

Big brother and little brother, playing with cars.


Happy homeschooler (at least for this week...usually she doesn't like doing school.)

Happy homeschooler (at least for this week…usually she doesn’t like doing school.)


She trying a new method of curling.

She tried a new method of curling.

Off to their monthly Home Depot Saturday!

Off to their monthly Home Depot Saturday!

Alaina's beautiful cake

The beautiful cake Alaina made

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My newest little baker

My newest little baker


Apple cider cupcakes...mmmm!

Apple cider cupcakes…mmmm!

Bethany loves doing what she calls 'gool.

Bethany loves doing what she calls ‘gool.

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A Summer Wedding


Back in early July, I had the honor of shooting a wedding for two missionary families. The bride was a student at our school in Malaysia and through a friend of mine/sister-in-law of the bride, we connected again. This was only my second wedding (my first was for a missionary family we were friends with in India) and my nerves were high. However, the bride and groom and their amazing families put me at total ease. The love that these two have for each other just oozed out of every look, every smile, every touch. It’s easy to photograph people so in love! It’s also easy to photograph someone this beautiful!


Thank you, Ben and Kirsten, for allowing me to be part of your incredible day. I can’t help but look at you two, both who grew up overseas, and wonder about my own children’s futures. I pray that the light of Christ will shine bright in your marriage. Whether it’s Cambodia, Malaysia, Bolivia, or Atlanta, Georgia, may you feel God’s presence wherever you are.

And thank you to my amazing husband and assistant. I couldn’t have done this day without you!

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Right Now…I Love

Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up to receive our ministry updates. It was so fun to see names we’ve known for years and names we can’t wait to know. As scary as this whole process can be, there is great anticipation as we share our vision with friends — new and old — and gather around us people who want to be part of Bible translation. If you didn’t get a chance to sign up the other day, you can go here and click on the link that says Receive Updates. While I will share some things in this space here, our full ministry updates and prayer requests will be given via our newsletter updates.

As I mentioned in my last post, we snuck outside last Saturday to get a useable family photo for our ministry page. Although the family photos weren’t anything spectacular, I was happy to get a few pictures of the kids individually. It had been a while since I had taken any pictures of them (as in posed photos rather than my typical candid shots that I love so much). It wasn’t planned and we didn’t spend much time on it. We were just playing around outside and I started taking photos of Bethany. Then Zachary (who is in a complete mimicking phase) sat down and wanted his picture taken. Once I had two done, I figured I might as well call the rest over and see what I could get. I love getting pictures of a specific moment in time. The kids won’t stay the same for long…always changing, always growing. But right now, this is what I am loving…

Zachary — 18 months

Zachary — 18 months

Oh Mr. Z! How I adore you! You are entering into my favorite baby stage. This is a time when you start to really notice the world around you. You are starting to understand function — shoes go on feet, tops go on containers, clothes go on bodies, and more. You bring us our shoes and demand we put them on. When the other kids are helping in the kitchen, you want to be on the counter helping as well. You love saying hi to perfect strangers. You love your carseat (I suppose after 7000+ miles it brings some comfort and security to you). You give great hugs and you love to cuddle with Mommy. Spicy food is your favorite and you don’t like any drinks other than milk and water. You adore your older siblings and they adore you. You love to throw things and have no clue that there is a difference between throwing a soft ball and chucking a show across the room. Don’t worry, you’ll learn…and at least you do it with a smile on your face. Little man, I am so thankful for you. As I watch you play, I wonder what your life will be like and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to be your mom. I love you, Zachary.

Bethany — 3.5 years

Bethany — 3.5 years

My sweet Bethany. Beps. Beppy. Bepsters. I’ve said it a hundred times: I love three! Seriously. There are no words. I adore every little thing about you and the age you are. Can you please stay three forever? How will I ever go on without the funny things you say? The adorable things you do? The cuddles and the kisses? I love it all and am trying desperately to soak up each and every moment of your three year old self. I love that adore doing school and ask all day long (usually starting at 6 am), “Is it time to do ‘gool? I love when you tell me, “I very love you.” And then I tell you, “I love you more.” And you respond with, “I love you morer!” I love that you are completely happy to eat nothing but corn or a bowl full of beans. I love that whenever anyone asks you what time it is, you look at your watch and say, “Four o’clock.” Unless it was the other night. Then you looked at your watch and said, “Cupcake time!” I love that you call oatmeal “antmeal” and that you have the most amazing manners of any three year old who has ever lived. “Thank you, mama” flies out of your mouth a zillion times a day. I love your soft blond hair, your silly personality, and your big hugs. And it breaks my heart every time you ask, “When are we going back to my Ibu Erna’s house?” (Our house in Indonesia). I love that you miss Indonesia, miss Ibu Erna, and always always call her, My Ibu Erna.” My sweet Bethany, I love you dearly. I am so thankful that when most people would say four children is enough, God chose to give us you. I cannot imagine life without you. I am so glad to be your mama and I can’t wait to watch you grow and blossom into the young lady God has designed you to be.

Katie — 6.5 years

Katie — 6.5 years

How do I find words for you, Miss Katie? Spunky. Feisty. Giggly. Sweet. Style. Words just don’t do you justice. You bring excitement to all our lives. We never know what crazy outfit you will come downstairs in and we don’t know what crazy idea you will have next. I love that you make lists for your day (well, you insist that Daddy write as you dictate) and then you never once look at the list the next day. I love that the things that concern you and you deem to be emergencies are often things that are years off (“Mom! I know what I want to eat for my 9th birthday!”) I love that you adore babies in every way. Whether it is your plethora of baby dolls or you begging me to have another baby (often suggesting that twins would be ideal), babies are forever on your mind. You would never take your hands off of Zachary if we didn’t force you, nor would you ever clean up anything. You love to take photos, draw pictures of our family, and do Bible time with Mommy. You would rather no do school — ever — and if I never brushed your hair again, it would be A-OK with you. Your two missing teeth are the answer to many of your prayers and you love to write and give invitations to events you forget to put on. Oh sweet Katie, I love you. I know that God is a creative God with a sense of humor because He created you. As we often tell you, I am not sure the world is ready for Katie Phillips! But oh sweet girl, I adore you and I can’t wait to see God’s plan for your life unfold. He’s up to something special!

Levi — 8 years

Levi — 8 years

How does this keep happening? How do you keep growing up and I keep finding myself loving you more and more? Just like Bethany, I begged and pleaded with you to stay three forever. But each year you do what you told me at age three, “I have to grow big and change numbers.” And as you keep growing and changing numbers, you keep becoming this young man that I have to stand back and ask myself, “Do I really get to be his mom?” Beaver, you are amazing. I shouldn’t be surprised, though. You are your dad in miniature form. You love to have fun. Anything is worth it is if it is fun (and we’re working on the situations when that fun is at the expense of others.) Your smile lights up the room and I love to hear your laugh. I love that you still want to cuddle with me (and have a suspicion you will still want to when you are fifteen but will threaten me with your life if I ever photograph it or tell others.) You are the most amazing big brother. You adore the three younger kids and are often seen playing with them or helping them with something. You often will make the little girls breakfast or lunch and you let Zachary hit you on the head and you laugh. You love to cook (including pink and purple pancakes for your little sisters) and you are my right hand man when we make tortillas or Indian bread. Baked oatmeal is your new specialty, and as I type, the smell of the cinnamon rolls you wanted to make fills the house.  You are our little monkey — always climbing and often found in trees. You are strong and an athlete and your freckles make me swoon. You have a special bond with Caleb and I am often amazed at the unexpected blessing of raising three boys when, if I had had my way, I would have had none. I love you, Levi, and I can see that God is molding you into an incredible young man. I am so grateful to be your mom and I look forward to many years of watching you grow in favor with God and man.

Caleb — 10 years

Caleb — 10 years

Caleb. What can I say? When I find myself lacking for words when it comes to you, I always give up and settle for, “You are such a cool kid!” And that’s because you are a cool kid. You are this amazing young man with a beautiful mind and a big heart. If Levi is a mini-dad, you are a mini-me. That’s exciting and humbling and scary all at the same time. I understand you in a way that is deep. It’s as if I can hear your thoughts, foresee your struggles, and dream your dreams. Your creativity and passion inspire me. You see things that no one else does. Where others see trash, you see treasure. Where others see impossible, you see nothing but possible. You catch onto an idea and pursue it with relentless passion — until something even more exciting grabs your attention. You love to get up early and you love to run. We run our miles together and I can’t quite get over the fact that I have a ten year old who looks forward to a long run with me early in the morning. I love to hear you talk of running marathons one day and I know I’ll be waiting at the finish line (not having run it…I chicken out on dreams past 13.1). I love to see the amazing Lego creations you build and the attention to detail that makes them so great. Walking into my office to write this, I almost tripped over your full American Ninja Warrior Lego model that I hear from Alaina is a prototype for what you plan to build in the front yard. I think we need to chat. I love that you haven’t let your academic struggles keep you down. You understand that you are a great work of God and that He created you just as He wanted you. You are excited to keep pushing on in reading and in therapy — partly because you understand the world that opens to you with the ability to read well and partly because, in your words, “Doing therapy together means we get to spend even more time together!” Sweet Caleb, I love your just-like-mama talkative introverted (no, those are not mutually exclusive) personality and I am waiting with earnest expectation and hope for God’s beautiful plan for your life to unfold.

Alaina — 11 years (counting the months until she turns 12 and can join the women's activities at church)

Alaina — 11 years (counting the months until she turns 12 and can join the women’s activities at church)

You are the amazing girl who made me a momma. A short paragraph can’t contain even the briefest feelings in my heart. I. AM. SO. BLESSED. You are my dream come true. I spent many, many years wondering if God really loved me and cared about the desires of my heart. When you were born and the nurse told me, “It’s a baby girl!” all of that wondering ended. Never had I wanted anything so much as I wanted a baby girl to hold, love, raise, and watch grow. And you have been the fulfillment of my dreams, bringing forth the reality that God really can and does do far more than we ever asked or imagined. You, my girl, are my walking, talking, giggling, hair-curling, Duggar-watching, nose-in-a-book, cupcake baking almost-twelve-year-old daughter and I couldn’t be happier to be your mom. I hear so many women dreading the teenage years and I literally can’t wait. I am so excited to see you blossom into all God created you to be. You are kind, considerate, grateful. helpful, and polite. You might be a bit bossy towards your siblings sometimes, but we’re working on that :) You pick up on everything — the feelings of those around you, the ideas of things you hear and read, and the private conversations Dad and I are having on the other side of the house. You are my memory (because having you and your siblings killed mine) and you are the one that inspires me to be a better me. I love you and your sweet smile, your fake laugh, and your beautiful blond curls. I love seeing your heart for the Lord grow and I am looking forward to seeing how God weaves your love for people, beauty, and words together into something that world desperately needs. I love you, sweet Alaina, and today, just like every day, I am absolutely thrilled to be your mom.

Will You Do Me a Favor?

Family Sept 2014_web


For some reason, this makes it all feel real:

Will you do me a favor?

Will you click on the link above (or the image below) and go to our page? From there, there is a button that says, “Receive Updates.” We’re working on gathering a list of friends and family who want to hear more about our ministry and receive regular updates (both while we are Stateside and once we move). We’d love to include you in that list!



We knew we were going to have to post a photo and we didn’t have any recent ones. So on Saturday night, despite not being in the mood at all, I gathered all the little people and we headed into the yard. It was a very quick shoot since taking family photos really needs to be something you are in a good mood for! None of the photos were great, and there was some head swapping involved, but it was good enough to call done. Shooting your own family photos is not for the faint of heart! And, it usually turns into this:

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Although the family photos didn’t turn out all that great, I took a few individual photos of the kids that turned out well (my kids are always beautiful to me!) I’ll be back tomorrow with those :)

Arches National Park

By the time we got to Arches, we were tired. We had just spent an entire week in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and we had been on the road for almost a month. Add in the 100˚ temps and we were rendered pretty out of it. We decided that rather to to push hard to make sure we “saw it all,” we would instead do a lot of resting and only a little hiking. This meant that we didn’t see a lot of arches, but it also meant that we got the rest we needed to gear up for the last two weeks of our trip. We knew going into the trip that there would be things that just had to be cut. It was more important that we enjoyed our trip and enjoyed one another rather than checking every single thing off our list.

We had two nights and one day near the park. The campground was full (one of the few National Park campgrounds that allows reservations), and this turned out to be a good thing. After camping at Badlands National Park with temps in the upper 90˚s, I was happy to not tent it. Instead, we found a great place with what they call tent cabins. The cabins have beds and A/C, but no bathroom. Outside there is a picnic table and grill. It was the perfect compromise for a bunch of weary travelers.

(phone photo)

(phone photo)


We arrived at about 6pm and I ran to the grocery store to get some food for dinner. The kids (Alaina especially) were THRILLED to find out that the cabin had a TV and got TLC. That meant that she got to watch the season premeire of 19 Kids and Counting. We snacked on veggies and dip and watched.


The next morning we headed out early for a hike. We knew that if we didn’t get out early, we wouldn’t get out at all. The temperature hovers around 100˚ by late morning and doesn’t relent until the sun goes down. We spent about four hours driving through the park and hiking. It was bright and sunny and was scorching by the time we were done, but we had a great time and we were glad that we got to see the parts of the park we did. We debated about going back later in the evening to see the famous Delicate Arch, but instead opted for and afternoon at the pool and resting. The key to a trip like ours is to know when you need to rest and then to do it. The kids, however, did get to complete the Junior Ranger program, making it their fourth of the trip!

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Yellowstone Days 2&3

The weather turned cold…and wet. This meant that we couldn’t do much hiking and instead had to do a lot of driving. One day, we spent almost eight hours in the car, driving the loop, looking for animals, and getting out whenever the sun popped out for a few moments. We saw the temperature drop as low as 37 degrees in mid-morning. Brrrr! Animal watching was fun, though! All in all, we saw bison, a wolf, elk, mule deer, a baby bear, a mama moose, osprey, eagles, and more. The cold and wet was a little disappointing, but it was still fun and we had some great laughs, including watching Jason cook grilled cheese sandwiches in the pouring rain while we all stayed huddled in the car!

grilled cheese

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The girl has moves!

The girl has moves!

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The kids were told that they could pick out one souvenir, with a maximum price of $10. Bethany picked a pink lollipop :)

The kids were told that they could pick out one souvenir, with a maximum price of $10. Bethany picked a pink lollipop :)