Thursday, August 16, 2018

1st Day of School 2018-2019

My sweet girl is starting 4th grade! She absolutely loves school! She is such a sweet student. I'm so thankful to be her teacher! She is doing Heart of Dakota Preparing Hearts for His Glory. She loves math. I love that she loves math and I hope that will continue!

Jonathan begins his first year of middle school! Jonathan will be the first to tell you that he doesn't like school. While this may be true, there are things that he actually does enjoy. He has always enjoyed science and history. He's always been quite good at math. He is absolutely loving have a desk in his own room. He sits at his desk is able to work without being disturbed.

This is Aaron's first year of high school. HIGH SCHOOL! I have two in high school this year. How did that happen? Aaron is taking World Geography, Earth Science, Algebra, Logic, Spanish, World Religion and Culture, and Literature/Grammar/Composition. This year should be quite a challenge for him. He says that his favorite course so far is Logic.

11th grade, people! What in the world? Martin is taking English 11, Geometry, US History, Bible, Spanish II, Chemistry, Economics, and Finance. He doesn't particularly love school, but he's an excellent student. He is meticulous and conscientious about his work. He is becoming more and more responsible every day. Rich and I both rely heavily on him and he never lets us down. He is learning to drive and is very close to getting his drivers license. I'm praying that all of my children will grow in knowledge and wisdom this school year.

The Lava Tubes

Living out west in the great state of Arizona brings with it lots of opportunity for adventure! Before Rich started at GCU and after we got mostly moved in and settled, we decided to take a daytrip to Flagstaff for a fun family fieldtrip! We left the Valley and headed north. We were amazed at how a short 2 1/2 hour drive north brought us to a completely different climate and ecosystem! We left the desert for the gorgeous northern Arizona mountains and forest! It was 35 degrees cooler in Flagstaff!

Our adventure for this day was to explore the lava cave!  The cave was completely dark. We had to have plenty of flashlights!

We had so much fun! The cave is about a mile long. We rested several times along the way. The path is fairly rocky and wet in some areas, so we had to be very careful. It was about 42 degrees inside the cave! That was a nice break from the 110 degree weather we had been experiencing in the desert!

Several times we rested, took pictures, and turned our flashlights off to experience darkness.

We had so much fun exploring the cave. None of us had ever done anything quite like this before. I'm so thankful for this family of mine. The children were thanked us repeatedly for bringing them on this little day trip. (I love a grateful heart!) And it was just fun to be together!

The views on the way and back from Flagstaff were incredible! The landscape of Arizona is so different than anything we've ever known. What a joy it is to experience a different area of God's creation!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Monsoon Season

This is a picture that I took from my dining room window during the dust storm.
This is an aerial shot of the dust storm taken by Lyons Roofing.
One of the many things that is new to us is the Arizona Monsoon Season. 
AZDOT defines the monsoon season:
Arizona's monsoon season begins in June and continues through September. With it comes higher humidity, which can lead to thunderstorms, heavy rain, lightning, hail, high winds, flash flooding, dust storms and extreme heat.

 In the 3 weeks that we have been in the Phoenix area, we have experienced two large dust storms. As the first one was coming toward us, Martin and I were out driving around. He saw it in the distance and immediately identified it as a dust storm coming our way. It was so unusual looking that I didn't know what to think of it. We made it home just in time, though. I've heard that if you are out driving and caught in one, you have no choice but to pull over because there is no visibility!

In many ways, it just felt like a strong thunderstorm with dust instead of rain. However, the winds were in the 70-80 mph range, so in some areas there was a lot of damage. 
We are slightly giddy when we think about the cooler temperatures that will be coming our way in October! The average high in October is only 89 degrees! I've always imagined that if we ever made a huge move that it would be somewhere with a cooler climate like Alaska or Montana. I still giggle that we moved to a warm climate. It's so completely not what we had imagined for ourselves. Nevertheless we are on a great adventure together and we are going to enjoy the journey!

Sunday, August 5, 2018


This summer we moved to Arizona. We could never have predicted that we would make a move like this one. When we moved to Martinsville a little over 3 years ago, we had planned that to be our forever home. Before that we planned that the home we bought in NC would be our forever home. Clearly I was wrong.

I wish that I would have blogged over the past 3 years of our time in Martinsville planting Uptown Church. I learned so much through that process. I learned more about myself, about others, and about Jesus and His church. Planting a church is hard and exhausting work. There was little time for blogging.

After moving to Martinsville to plant the church, our financial situation changed and became more and more difficult to bear. In the meantime, Rich got a call from GCU informing him of an opening that fit his credentials, he applied, interviewed, received an offer, accepted the offer and we now live in Goodyear, AZ. Leaving our sweet congregation in Martinsville was heartbreaking, but we had no doubt that this job was God's sweet provision for our family.

The children were all up for this crazy adventure, but they also have experienced sadness and heartache in leaving everyone we know and love to travel and live over 2000 miles away. We have been here in AZ for almost 3 weeks now. We are almost finished with unpacking and are settled in. The Holland homeschool will resume this coming Monday and at the same time Rich will be headed off to GCU for his first day. This will be the first time since April of 2008 that Rich has had to leave our house to go to work. It will be a huge adjustment for all of us to go about our day without him close by!

Since we are so far away from our loved ones, I am going to revive this blog and tell of our Holland Happenings once again. There is much to see on this side of the continent and I hope that we will be able to go on many adventures while we are here.

Friday, October 2, 2015


This has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks. Many of you have kept us in your constant prayers and for that I am thankful!
We found out about 2 1/2 weeks ago that my Dad has kidney cancer. I think it's fairly safe to say that most everyone understands the weight and devastation that is associated with the word cancer.
We also found out that my Dad was only born with 1 kidney. So, not only had cancer completely taken over his 1 healthy kidney, he didn't have another one to take up the slack. There was no way to save any part of his other kidney as three quarters of it had been taken over by the cancerous tumor. The tumor had also spread into the vessel. The only option he had was to have the entire kidney removed and to then start dialysis immediately after surgery.
I cannot begin to express the deep sadness and fear that crept into my heart. Fear of the unknown. Fear can completely take over if one is not careful.
This past week, I left my husband and children to travel to where my parents live so that I could be there for my Dad's surgery. We have been inundated with prayers and offers for kidneys. I'm not even kidding about that! It seems like every time we turn around, someone else is offering a kidney! Dad will not be eligible for a transplant until he remains cancer free for 2-5 years. So, while kidney transplant is an option, we have a little while before that will be on the horizon.
I am thankful to report that his surgery went even better than expected. The surgeons removed the entire kidney plus all of the tissue and fat around it. They were able to easily removed the tumor from the vessel. It was a successful surgery.
The hard road has just begun for my Dad, however. He has about a six week recovery ahead of him just from the surgery. He also has to be on dialysis for the rest of his life or at least until he gets a transplant...if that even becomes a possibility.
My Dad had not retired yet, so this medical situation has forced him into retirement. While, he will admit that he does indeed want to retire...he certainly didn't want to retire like this. My parents have some major adjustments to make and a pretty large learning curve ahead of them as they try to figure out the diet that he must be on as a dialysis patient.
As for me...I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked to stay. My children need me too.
I am so thankful that the surgery went well, but I am sad that I can't be of greater help to them as the walk this hard road.
I'll end with my favorite thing that my Dad said after surgery this week.
"I'm just glad I woke up!"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Journey to Decision - Part 2

If this is your first time hearing about our move to Virginia to plant a church, you may want to check out previous posts:
Changes Ahead
Journey Interrupted
Journey to Decision - Part 1

The Journey to Decision - Part 2
Rich and I were on the same page. Our yes was on the table. We were both spending time praying about whether or not we should actually go to Martinsville. We didn't want to just be the warm bodies that went and joined the mission there just because we could. We wanted to be certain that God was calling us to that specific mission.
It was an ongoing discussion in our family. We talked about it numerous times each day. Our discussion each night as we ate supper was always centered around whether or not we should go. The more we talked about it - the more our hearts began to be drawn to the church plant in Martinsville. Our hearts were changing and growing to love the people in Martinsville and to be burdened for those whom we had not yet met.
Decision time was at hand. We were coming upon a time when we really needed to give our answer. We told the children to keep praying about it and that we would have one final meeting where each one in our family would have a vote. We were given instructions to be ready to vote and give a reason for our vote. Rich and I had been praying for quite some time that God would speak to us through our children and that He would unite our hearts together.
The final meeting day came and Rich gave everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts and then we would make our final decision.
Rosalie said that her vote was - yes - but that she really loved her bed. (We were able to inform her at that point that we would actually be taking her bed with us and all of her stuff - she was very relieved!)
Martin said the same thing he had been saying all along. Yes, we should go - its our job to take the gospel to Martinsville!
Aaron - the one who had remained quiet about it during most of our conversations, had expressed sadness over saying goodbye to friends said, You will probably be surprised to know that my vote is also Yes. We should go. It will be hard, but I think it is what God is calling us to do.
Jonathan - Look, this is the kid that asked to be duct taped to the wall and sold with the house. While we were praying for a unified family vote - we were willing to let his vote slide.
When it was Jonathan's turn to speak - he said - I'm all mixed up in my mind. One part says that yes we should go - but the other part says that we should stay. (I promptly let him in on the secret that the parts of my mind were telling me the same thing! Its so hard to leave what you know and love!)
Rich and I also gave our votes and shared our hearts with the children. We know that this is a hard thing to do - but God has given us a heart to love the people of Martinsville and we need to go and take the gospel!
At that point, Rich called for the vote. Jonathan, without missing a beat, said "Why are we taking a vote we already know the vote is 6 to 1!!!"
I said, "Buddy, there are only 6 of us, what do you mean?"
He said, "I already told you I had two votes!"
We all had a good laugh over that one! I am convinced that it is God's great kindness that unified our hearts - even down to the most stubborn one of us.
This decision was not easy for us. We are mourning what we are going to leave behind. However, we rejoice in knowing that there is work to be done in Martinsville and that we get to be a part of that.

If you haven't already, we would love for you to join us in praying for the church plant in Martinsville. You can click here to sign up to partner with us to pray!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Journey to Decision - Part 1

Rob asked Rich and our family to go to Martinsville in November of 2013. I have already mentioned that our immediate thought concerning a move to Martinsville was, "No! We live here!"
At first, we were unable to even wrap our heads around a move to Virginia. We are settled here. We are so content with all areas of our lives. I have fallen into a fantastic routine homeschooling the children. I am teaching choir again and loving it. The older two children are in the homeschool band. All of the children have good friends, love our church, and love our small group. They have community here too! Why would we mess that up? What in the world could possess us to leave all of that behind to go to a part of Virginia that we have no association with whatsoever and start over?
For about six months after Rob asked us to go, we didn't give it much thought. Rich still met with Rob occasionally and discussed the possibility, but I had already pushed the thought aside and moved on. Rich started meeting with Rob more regularly the following summer and I could see a change begin to happen in Rich's heart. I could see his heart starting to love this mission. It terrified me! In many ways, I fought it. I fought against my heart changing in the same way.
Our pastor put out a challenge asking the congregation if our "yes" was on the table no matter what. He asked, "Are you willing to say yes, even before you know in advance what you are saying yes to." When the challenge was given, my first response was, "NO! My yes is absolutely not on the table because if I put my yes on the table, then God is going to make me move!"
I really did think that. I even avoided praying about going to Martinsville because I was so afraid of being yanked out of my very happy and comfortable life.
I couldn't go on like that forever, though. I had a difficult discussion with Rich one evening and realized that avoiding dealing with it wasn't going to make it go away. So, the next morning I got down on my knees and cried. I cried out to the Lord and told him how devastated and sad that I was that I might have to leave the church and community that I love. I cried to him for an hour. I admitted that I was fearful of the unknown and rather enjoyed the safety of where I was.
I cried, I repented, and I submitted. God gave me the courage and peace that I needed to put my yes on the table before I knew what the implications of saying yes would be.
A couple of days of processing later, I told Rich that my yes was on the table.
At that point, we brought the children into the conversation. We both prayed that God would speak to us through our children. God did just that.
Each night when we would gather for our family meal we would discuss the possibility of moving to Martinsville. Martin almost immediately said, "God told the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel - well, we are the church - so we should go!"
Aaron struggled a lot with the idea of going.
Jonathan told us that we could duct tape him to the wall and sell him with the house because he wasn't going to go.
Rosalie didn't say a whole lot about it, but God used her to give us a message at a time when we needed it most. We were worried about the financial burden of moving, selling our house, and especially moving to an economically depressed area. At just the right time, Rosalie spoke up. She said, "I think we should go. God will take care of us in Martinsville too."
Rich and I both teared up at that point. In God's kindness to us, he answered our prayers to speak to us through our children and gave us just the message that we needed to hear!
If you haven't signed up to pray for the church plant - you can still sign up to partner with us to pray. You will get regular updates on how you can be praying! Click the link below!
Uptown Church

The Journey to Decision - Part 2 coming later this week!