Special Ticket Price for the June 18th Event in High Point, NC!

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

We have a special promotional code through Memorial Day to save $5.00 on each general admission ticket!  Use the code  ENCOURAGE  and save!

Click here for tickets:    


Promo ends Monday, Memorial Day!

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Speedy, the Three-Legged Turtle

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Blog | 7 comments

Sam and Speedy

I just had to write to you and tell you about Sam’s turtle, Speedy.

Speedy is a red-eared slider turtle that Sam found three years ago while we were living in Tennessee. Speedy only has three legs, so he is a special turtle!

Speedy lived in Sam’s room in a nice, big, aquatic turtle tank where Sam took good care of him.

What you might not know about red-eared slider turtles, is they can live up to 70 years! YES, that’s right! 70 years! I had no idea about this tidbit of information when I agreed to this turtle idea three years ago.

Last summer we moved to NC and of course Speedy came with us. It was then that I noticed how much he was growing. We already upgraded Speedy’s tank the Christmas before, but now he was growing even bigger.  I had no idea what to do about it, so I decided to do a little research and see what other people had to say about these terrapins.

It is never good when you come across a blog about red-eared slider turtles that reads, “Think twice before keeping that cute little turtle.” I learned that these adorable tiny shelled critters grow larger than a paper plate and require much attention and money!

One might ask why a responsible parent did not do this research before they gave an innocent child permission to keep the turtle. Yes, one might ask.

Well, by now it was too late! Speedy was a family member, and he was getting bigger by the day.  Bryan and I were not sure what to do, so we did what any desperate parent would do. We tried to talk our nine year old son into releasing a three-legged turtle back into the wild.

Yeah, it did not go so well.

We have a pond right beside our house so we began talking with Sam about how wonderful it would be for Speedy to have more room to swim. We told Sam that Speedy deserved a chance to have a family (including a wife and potential baby Speedy turtles). We talked about how happy Speedy would be basking in the sun on a nice big rock with other turtles.

You can imagine how that turned out. Sam would not have it! He was totally against it. He quickly reminded us that Speedy only had three legs and that he was not a strong swimmer. He told us that Speedy could never survive on his own and how he would most definitely die! AND–how could we do that to a member of the family???

At the rate this was going, I was quite sure Speedy would end up in the nursing home with me.

Much to my surprise, last weekend (out of the blue), Sam runs into the house proclaiming, “I am going to release Speedy.”

Wait, what?

I had already given up on this turtle moving out of my house, and had already begun researching 100 gallon turtle tanks!

Sam just up and decided he wanted to set Speedy free and he wanted to collect baby turtles in his tank. He told me he had been thinking about it and I was right.

Wait, what?

Speedy was getting too big for his tank, so he was going to set him free and set up a turtle care center in his room. Grow the turtles up, release them and catch new ones.

This happened fast, my friend!

Within minutes, Sam got Speedy out of the tank and he and his friend, Ethan, put Speedy on the bank of the pond. I grabbed my phone so I could capture this moment with photos and videos as we watched Speedy, the three-legged turtle, set sail on a new adventure!

Just like that!

As I watched Speedy’s shell sink beneath the pond’s surface, I thought about how hard it was for Sam to let Speedy go. I saw a few tears in Sam’s eyes, but I also saw joy on his face when he saw Speedy swimming on his own.

I was reminded of what it’s like being a Mom. We have these sweet little babies and little by little they grow up until one day we realize just how grown up they are. We begin to understand that they no longer need to be under the direct supervision of Mom and Dad. We realize they are ready for a life out on their own.

There is a time when we must let them go.

If you’re a mom, then maybe you’re like me and your kids are still at home. Or maybe your kids have already set sail on their own life’s adventure. Either way, life passes by quickly and with each season of life, there are challenges which pull at our heart strings.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. There is a time plant and a time to uproot. God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

I think Sam learned a valuable lesson by releasing Speedy. He learned what it’s like to love something with all your heart and how to have the courage to let it go. He learned that some things in life only last for a season and then they are gone.

You know what? I learned those lessons all over again, too.

Sail on, Speedy!


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Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments


Just last week, my kids and I were leaving for school and we had some leftover Easter candy on the kitchen counter. So, unbeknownst to me, Sam (who is 10) grabs a handful of solid milk-chocolate eggs as he heads to the car. I begin talking with the kids about their plans for the day and I notice that Sam is unusually quiet in the backseat.

Sam is very rarely quiet, so I knew something was up.

Before I could say anything, my daughter Ellie (who is 12, and was sitting in the front seat), whips her head around and notices the crime Sam has committed. She sees the empty Easter candy wrappers on the backseat and she has a look of complete disgust on her face as she sees Sam’s cheeks puffed up with chocolate from one side to the other.

She blows the whistle on Him and yells, “SAM IS EATING CHOCOLATE….IN THE MORNING….AND THAT IS NOT RIGHT!”

Now, siblings will be siblings.  Deep down, brothers and sisters love each other,  but they can be very quick to tell Mom and Dad when the other one is doing something wrong.  

Is it ok to sneak milk-chocolate Easter eggs for dessert after breakfast, in the car, all the while hiding it from Mom?  Of course not, but that’s not the point of today’s blog.  My purpose today is to share with you how God used this situation to remind me of His Truth.

I can relate to Ellie in this situation.  Ellie is a child who has a deep conviction in her spirit for what is right and wrong.   Most nights, she and I lay down in her bed and she talks about her day.  Often, she confesses her sins to me and wants me to pray with her.  Her heart is concerned for justice.   

I can also relate to Sam in this situation.  Sam was tempted to eat yummy milk-chocolate candy.  Those eggs were laying right there on the counter and he could not help himself.  He knew better than to sneak them in the car, but he did it anyway.  Temptation got the best of him. Haven’t we all fallen into temptation?

In the book of Micah, there is a question answered as to what God requires of us.  

Look at this verse in Chapter 6:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  ~Micah 6:8

We are instructed to act justly.  To be “just” is to do what is right and fair.  We should treat others fairly and we should be honest, (even when no one is watching). God has told us in His Word what is right and good.  We should do what is right and good.

We are instructed to “love mercy”.  This means we should show compassion and kindness toward one another.  We often see the definition of “mercy” as “tender mercy.”  It’s easy for us to extend this type of compassion when someone has an illness, or a tragedy has struck their life.  It can be harder for us to extend this type of mercy when someone has fallen into sin.  

Lastly, we should walk humbly with our God.  The word, “humble” is also translated, “lowly.”  It is the opposite of pride and arrogance. Being humble is understanding our right place with God.   He is God.  We are not.  He is always right.  We position ourselves in reverence to Him because He is worthy of our worship!  We should walk with Him in this way.

The church should be a place that is safe for people to share their struggles.  The church should be a safe place for people to fall.  Sometimes, it is not.  Instead of being a group of believers who come alongside hurting and broken people, we often throw stones at them with our words and with our actions.  

I am guilty of doing this.  What about you?

My friend, you and I need to be people who do what is fair and right, while showing tender mercy and compassion to others.  Let us not think too highly of ourselves. We did not save ourselves. We are saved by the tender grace, and loving mercy of God, through the blood of Jesus.

I hope you will take some time today and think on this verse in Micah.  Let it penetrate into your heart and ask God to speak to you.

We need to be careful how we respond when we find out about another person’s sin.  There is the temptation of tearing someone down with our words or actions, but God tells us to extend tender mercy and compassion, instead.  

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”   ~John 8:3-7


Do justly, love mercy….walk humbly with your God.


I am very grateful for you!



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