Category Archives: Blessings

The Ripple Effect ~ Jodie’s Story


I recently told you our house story. And I told you that the huge things God was doing in bringing us to this house don’t end with our family. I love how God ripples out the blessings when we tell other people what He’s up to in our lives! Throughout every step of finding this house, making the offer, and signing the contract, I was calling and texting my friend Jodie. In her own words, here is Jodie’s ripple-story —

This is a BIG day for our family! Husband sold his private eye care practice! It was such a beautiful, “only God could do this” blessing.

We opened this private practice when I was pregnant with B. Husband had been working at a Walmart near there on and off for several years, and had a client base established, so he decided to go for it and get a taste of private practice. It has been a lot of hard work, but has been very successful. We have learned a lot about running a private practice throughout our time there. But it’s been hard — it adds two hours to his day every time he works there, because of the drive.

We began praying about selling it and getting him off the road and home more often. A month or so ago, when the Hatchers were praying about their new home, I saw how God opened the doors so wide and blessed them in abundance in only the way He can.

Exhausted and stressed one morning, I prayed, “God, please do something BIG for our family. I mean like Hatcher Overhill House BIG! Something needs to change for our family.” I giggled as I prayed this as I’m sure it sounded hysterical. Well, Honey Child, the Lord not only heard me, He answered my HOHB (Hatcher Overhill House Big) prayer that very day!

Husband had called a few of the local doctors there about buying his practice. He had lunch with one who is known as a very shrewd business guy. He seemed interested, asked several questions and said he would get back to us. We never heard back. We thought that meant he wasn’t interested. Another doctor called him the morning I prayed and said he wanted to swing by and look at the office. He is a very nice man there who has 6 kids and somehow runs two optometry offices and farms! He walked into the office, asked Husband a few questions and said, “I’ll take it.” Say what?? Just like that. You want it?? Crazy! As those words were literally coming out of his mouth, Husband looked down at his phone and the other doctor was calling. He didn’t take the call then, but finished up with the doctor who was there. That man walked out, and then Husband immediately listened to the voicemail from the other doctor, who said “I talked to my partners and I want to buy your practice.” HELLO! Two offers in that same day. The same day I prayed my HOHB prayer! I felt God whisper to my spirit, “Was that big enough for you?” HA!

We were both thrilled, but panicked, because who the heck should we sell it to? The first doctor he met with expressed interest first, but we never heard back from him. The second doctor came in and said he wanted it on the spot. Husband didn’t want to burn a bridge with either one. They said they wanted it at exactly the same time. I said to Husband, “We just have to pray God will make it clear and give us wisdom. Just be very honest with both of them. People like honest.”

I prayed my heart out as he called both doctors. In our hearts, we wanted the 6 children dude to have it. Husband called 6 Kids Dude and told him the situation. He told Husband he wanted it and would have financing secure that night, if necessary, so he could buy. Whoa! Husband then called Shrewd Business Dude, who is not known for being the nicest guy in the world by any means, and that guy said, “You know, I have so much going on right now. Just let 6 Kids Dude buy it. If for some reason that falls through, call me and I will buy it.” WHAT? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, PEOPLE! Unreal! Shrewd Business Dude then went on to give Husband a few really good tips about selling a practice. Hello!

The extra cool part is that 6 Kids Dude told Husband, “I just felt in my spirit I needed to come this afternoon.”

Jesus, you are so good to us. You hear us when we pray. I could just weep at God’s goodness and how He chose to show Himself to us in such a BIG way that day and throughout this process. It has been very smooth. They close today at 2:30!!

So, girls, if you have something in your life you are wrestling with. Something you need BIG answers to, just shout up my HOHB prayer and watch Him move!

I LOVE Jodie’s story!

So what BIG thing are you asking God for today? Just shout it up – “God, I need You to do something BIG! Like Hatcher Overhill House BIG!” And then come tell us your ripple-story.


Giving With Gratefulness

Throwback Thursday – I wrote this in April of 2009. A little more than a year earlier, we had uprooted our lives to serve as support staff missionaries in the home office of a large international mission organization. 



Did you know we’re supposed to be thanking God when we make our offerings to Him?  (I know, some of you are saying, Duh, everyone knows that and I just spent 30 seconds of my life clicking on this blog, and I won’t get that 30 seconds back.  Sorry.  I’ve told you all along that I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.)

I was reading Deuteronomy 26 the other day and noticed God’s instructions for the Israelites after they harvested their first crops in the Promised Land.  As they gave the priest the basketful of the firstfruits, they were supposed to recite the stories of God’s faithfulness to them.  They were supposed to give a brief history of how God had delivered their nation from Egypt and kept His promises.  Then they were supposed to bow down and rejoice in all the good things the Lord had given them ( Deut. 26:11).

God wanted the Israelites to give Him their best and to do it out of hearts full of thankfulness.  As they gave Him their offerings, they rejoiced and expressed their gratefulness to God.

You know what suddenly struck me as I read that?  The Israelites were not supposed to gather the best and first of their crops and take them to the Lord and stand expectantly to hear God thank them for their offering.

I know, you’re thinking, Of course the Israelites wouldn’t expect God to thank THEM.  They were giving in order to show thanks to God!

Yeah, I know that. I really do.  But I realized that I do often, at least on some level, expect God to be grateful to me for what I offer to Him.  Do you ever do that?

There are days when I count the cost, but not in a good way.  My mind goes down the list of all the things I have offered to God.  I gave up everything — my home, having friends nearby, the church I loved, going to the grocery store and seeing people I knew, belonging, money, our trampoline, our grill.  I gave it all up to come here — where I have to walk up three flights of stairs, where getting groceries from the car to the apartment is a pain, where I don’t have many friends, where getting preschoolers to and from the car is really hard, where I don’t have privacy, where everything seems harder.  

And some days my list goes on and on and on.  I remind God of all the things I sacrificed for Him.  And it’s as if I am expecting the God of Heaven to declare,“Thank you, Jennifer.  I am rejoicing in all the good things you have given up for me.”  

Just so you know, that is the wrong attitude!

I should be going down a mental list of all the things God has given to me, all the things He sacrificed for me.  And then I should declare, “Thank you, Father.  I am rejoicing in all the good things you have given me and my household.”

Because really, when you compare the list of what I’ve offered to Him and the list of what He offers me — well, my list is pretty shabby.

Do you ever give your time, your talents, your money to God and expect God to be grateful to you? Or maybe you let God totally interrupt your life and you find yourself sorta, kinda thinking, “God better appreciate this! I’m giving up a lot for him!”  Or maybe I’m the only one. In which case, I’ll be in the corner self-medicating with chocolate.

Gratitude vs. Grumbling

Several years ago I studied the Life of Moses in Bible Study Fellowship. During one morning’s lecture, our teaching leader told us that grumbling and complaining about our circumstances is really grumbling and complaining against God.


Let me tell you — hearing that was uncomfortable. I wanted to forget that part of her lecture and just stuff my brain with the historical and theological facts and information. But try as I might to plug my ears and close my eyes and say, “Na na na na na. I’m not listening!” I had heard her, and I could not shake her words from my mind.

Over the next few weeks, I’d be at my apartment unloading the dishwasher or making dinner or folding laundry — minding my own business, for heaven’s sakes! — and ZING, out of nowhere, that statement would pop into my mind. When we grumble and complain about our circumstances, we’re really grumbling and complaining against God. 

And the more the words rolled around in my head, the more I realized the truth bound up in that sentence.

When I gripe about the weather, essentially I am telling God, “You made a day of crappy weather, Creator and Sustainer. C’mon, You could do better.” Or when I whine about how my house is too cramped and small, I’m basically saying, “God, what You gave me isn’t good enough. You’re not a good provider.”

My full-blown pity parties are decorated with banners exclaiming, “God, You alone are not enough.”

But then God’s Spirit reminded me that gratitude is the antidote to grumbling.

So every time complaining filled my heart and mind, I chose to counter that with thanksgiving. Instead of dwelling on the murmuring and grumbling, I would name at least three things I could be grateful for.

It works like this –

Geesh, I hate doing laundry! I think some of these clothes aren’t even actually dirty! Those rotten kids put clean clothes in their hampers!  As the thought rumbles through my brain, I stop. Thank you, God, for these children. Thanks that they are healthy enough to play and make their clothes dirty. Thanks that they clean their own rooms. Thanks that I have a washer and dryer and don’t have to beat my laundry on rocks in a river. 

Ugh, I hate cold weather. I’m freezing, and I might not feel warm again until spring! Just as I start to feel good and grouchy about the cold temperatures and the stupid heat pump that doesn’t ever make the house feel warm, I stop myself. Ok, I am thankful for hot cocoa, warm socks, fuzzy blankets. And I’m thankful for kids who will snuggle up to me and make me feel warm. 

Gratitude is the antidote to grumbling. Thankfulness overcomes complaining. We can’t feel very discontent when we’re feeling grateful.

Lately, I’ve sort of ignored the lesson I learned from the Israelites’ experience in the desert. I’ve again gotten comfortable with grumbling and complaining. So I’m glad for the holiday that reminds me to be thankful. It’s time for me to capture those complaining thoughts and replace them with gratefulness again.

Because God is enough. He is good. He does bless me far more than I deserve. And I don’t really want to grumble against God. I just want my kids to put their clean laundry away.


Liebster Blog Awards

My sweet sister-in-law, Julie Abel, nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. Liebster is a German word that means dearest. Bloggers pass along this award to other bloggers who have a following of less than 200 people. Awards like this are a neat way to network bloggers who don’t have a huge following yet.

And because the “rules” of the Award require recipients to answer 11 questions and then nominate no more than 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions, it’s a fun way to get to know more about each other.

Thank you, Julie, for your nomination. I appreciate the blog-love, Sister.

Now, as I answer Julie’s questions, y’all may learn more about me than you ever really wanted. Here goes . . .

1. Morning or night owl?
I am definitely a night owl. It takes quite a bit of Dunkin’ Dark Roast to get this girl going in the morning. Actually, I used to be pretty hard on myself because I just don’t like getting up and getting ready and having quiet time before my children get up. I thought that’s what good, Christian moms were supposed to do. But I’m just not wired for early mornings. I’m a night owl. God knows that about me. He’s the One Who created me this way. So, finally, I stopped trying to be something I’m not. 
2. Guilty pleasure song?
This is a tough one. I do sometimes crank up and belt out Air Supply’s Greatest Hits while I’m driving down the road alone or cleaning my house. I shared that once on Facebook, and based on the reaction from some friends, I suppose they think I should feel guilty about it. And sometimes when I’m exercising, I have a special Pandora station of current upbeat songs that probably aren’t kid-friendly. I typed in Taio Cruz’s Dynamite and Pandora works its magic and chooses other songs it thinks I might like to listen to while I work out. 
3. Most inspiring woman to you and why?
Wow, what a difficult question! I have been so blessed to know many incredible women. Today, I had lunch with a dear friend who inspires me. She is authentic; she is not afraid to face pain and grief and truth and difficulty head-on; she pursues God and is always growing and learning. That inspires me. When I leave her, I feel stronger and smarter and better. 
Really, any time I interact with a woman who is brave enough to be authentic, brave enough to be vulnerable, I am inspired. Any time I interact with a woman who humbly loves others and seeks God, not to be right but to know truth, I am inspired. Just being around women like this pushes me to become better – to become more authentic, to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with my God. 
4. Favorite season?
Hands-down — autumn! Blue jeans, sweaters, warm socks, a mug of steaming coffee or hot cocoa, crisp air, mist hanging on the mountains, crunchy leaves underfoot, brilliant colors painted on the trees, a mountainside of orange and yellow and maroon. Yes, autumn is my favorite season. 
5. What lesson do you keep learning over and over again?
That it’s OK to ask for help. That it’s OK to not be perfect. That real friends will love me, knowing full well that I’m a mess sometimes. 
6. Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
Often, it’s in my interactions with my children. Sometimes it’s because of something I read or a song I hear. I just try to be aware of opportunities to learn something; I try to listen for the still, small voice of God in the midst of my crazy life. And then I write to help process what I’m learning. 
7. What has been your greatest accomplishment of the last five years?
It’s not easy to sum this answer up in a couple sentences. I could definitely write an entire blog post about it; and perhaps I could write a whole book about it. The last five years have been hard. My greatest accomplishment may be that we have survived it, that my children feel secure and loved and are overall happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes, when the kids are fussing about stupid little things, I think that my greatest blessing may be that my children are secure enough and fortunate enough to have the luxury to get upset about dumb things. I don’t know if that makes sense. 
8. If you knew you were having your last meal tonight, what would it be?
Really well-made shrimp scampi with pasta and some yummy warm white bread. Then, for dessert, I’d probably want some sort of chocolate cheesecake. OR I might want to go low-key with homemade tacos and chocolate cake with white icing for dessert. 
9. Biggest time suck of your life right now?
I’ve been taking naps lately. That’s not always the wisest use of my time. And Bejeweled Blitz. I’m sure that’s not the best way to use my time, but I really need to beat my friend, Tina! 
10. Most people would say you are (fill in the blank- one word).
11. One thing most people would never guess about you.
I have watched some episodes of the Showtime show WEEDS. And every single time I drink out of one of those clear, plastic cups from Panera, for a couple seconds, I feel like Nancy because in so many scenes she’s drinking a frozen mocha or something in one of those clear, plastic cups. And it probably won’t surprise you that I’ll now give a disclaimer — I do not recommend this show to anyone. 
Now, it makes me very happy to nominate some other blogs for the Liebster Award. Here are a few blogs I really like. And, please, if I nominate you and you have more than 200 followers, please forgive me. I nominate you with the best of intentions to honor you for the good your blog brings to the InterWebs.
Confident Brokenness – This blog is about traveling through life’s ups and downs in pursuit of truth, in the midst of community. I am blessed every time I read something Cassie writes.
Victoria at Twirling Girl — Victoria ponders life. I like reading her ponderings. I think you will as well.
Laura Parker Life Overseas – She was living overseas doing humanitarian work. Now, she’s back in the States. She was homeschooling. Now, her kids are in public school. She loves God and blogs about life and the truths she learns about Him smack in the middle of normal life. She’s a fellow High Calling blogger. You should read her stuff.
Now here are my 11 questions for these ladies.
1. What was the last movie you watched that made you cry?
2. What is your favorite holiday and why?
3. What’s your dream vacation?
4. What book can you read over and over again? (Other than the Bible)
5. What’s your favorite room in your house? Why?
6. What would be your theme song?
7. What’s the one thing about your life that you find most surprising?
8. What’s your least favorite household chore?
9. What was your favorite TV show growing up?
10. Biggest shopping temptation?
11. Favorite Bible passage?
Give these ladies a few days and then hop on over to their blogs and read their responses.
And thank you again, Julie, for the fun way to network with other bloggers.

I Should Have Named Him Isaac

This adorable kid turned 10 yesterday. He was born on a Friday, the start of Labor Day weekend, 2002.

We lived in VA, and my mom had driven down from WV for the long weekend hoping I’d conveniently have a baby while she was there. That Friday morning, my husband made his 30-minute commute to work. My mom and I were taking care of my three little ones and cleaning the house. Nesting.

I felt some contractions. But that was nothing new because I had contractions for a couple weeks with all my babies. My body liked to start the first half of labor around week 36 and drag it out for a while.

As the morning went on, my contractions got stronger. I wondered if this could be the real deal. Knowing my doctor spent Friday afternoons in surgery, I called to ask what he wanted the plan to be. He told me to call back and come in if the contractions got to be 10 minutes apart.

That was very convenient because I lived 10 minutes away from the hospital. I didn’t want my mom to have to load up all three of the other littles ones -ages 4, almost-3 and 17 months- to drive me to the hospital. So when my contractions were 10 minutes apart, she helped me load the little suitcase into the car. I hugged and kissed my kiddos goodbye and said we might have a new baby the next time they saw me.

Then I called my husband and told him to meet me at the hospital. I sat in the driver’s seat until the next contraction ended, knowing I’d have exactly 10 minutes to get to the hospital before another one came. I sped to the hospital and got just into the parking lot when the next one started. I stopped and breathed and waited for it to pass, then I found a parking spot and made my way into labor and delivery.

After pausing in the hall for another contraction, I got to the check-in desk, where my OB was waiting for me. Laughing at the story of my drive to the hospital, he rolled his eyes and said they usually recommend women NOT drive themselves to the hospital while they are in labor. Yeah, well, not everyone tried to coordinate labor around a husband’s work schedule, a mom’s visit, a toddler’s snack and nap schedule and a doctor’s operating room schedule.

The entire labor was odd. Either my labor needed to hurry and happen so my doctor could perform surgeries, or the baby needed to wait until he was finished with all his afternoon procedures. At first, labor slowed down. It seemed ThingFour was going to wait until late afternoon. Then the OR called to say my OB’s surgeries had been postponed. An emergency surgery had taken one of the operating rooms.

The pain of back labor started, and I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came right away, but he gave me a very low dose of the medicine. As my pain worsened, the epidural barely dulled the searing in my tailbone. I called my doctor in and half-jokingly told him I wasn’t going to pay for the epidural if I hurt that much. He called the anesthesiologist back to adjust the dose.

Then, because he didn’t have any patients in the office or any other moms in labor and because the afternoon procedures were delayed, my OB just hung out in my room. He and my labor and delivery nurse sat on the couch by the window; my husband sat in the chair beside my bed; and -of course- I was hooked up to the monitors and the epidural IV. We talked and laughed. My doctor told us about the memoir of a midwife that he’d been reading.

Suddenly, I was fully dilated and ThingFour was ready to be born. Thanks to the epidural and the distracting conversation, I’d easily gone through most of labor. Because everything started happening so quickly, in sharp contrast to the couple hours we’d spent chatting and waiting, I think my husband, Patrick, and I were sort of not ready – we didn’t quite have our heads in the game at first. All of a sudden, it was time to push. My husband did not start counting to 10. My OB looked up with a grin and said, “Dad, it’s your job to count. If I have to do the counting, I charge extra.” We all laughed.

Then, I panicked. I couldn’t remember how to push. I felt a lot of pressure, and my body was probably involuntarily pushing; but my brain went blank. I started to laugh. “This is my fourth baby in just over four years, and I forget what to do!” The nurse started laughing. It was absurd. We were what the nurses call frequent fliers in labor and delivery, yet Patrick forgot how to count and I forgot how to push.

From behind the mask he’d just positioned over his mouth, my doctor said, “You can push or you can keep laughing — either way he’s coming out. Right now, you’re laughing him out.” I laughed a little harder, then gave a couple good pushes and out he came!

We’d already chosen a name, but I told Patrick we should have named him Isaac because Isaac means laughter.

Ten years later, this kid still makes me laugh. I’m so thankful I get to be his momma.


The Roller Skate Story

As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve noticed that the Israelites had this habit of recounting the stories of God’s faithfulness to them. Isaiah 38:19 even says – “the fathers tell their children about your faithfulness.”

With feasts and festivals and holy days, they set aside time to remember what God had done for them, how God had protected and saved them on numerous occasions. But I also get a sense that God’s people included stories of God’s faithfulness in daily conversations, talking about Him as they sat at home and as they walked along the road, as they lay down and as they rose up. (Deut. 6:7)

We have tried to do this in our family. Discussions of God’s faithfulness and stories of His provision are part of our daily conversation. We have a few favorite stories of times God was really, really obvious that He was the One providing. One of my favorites is the story of the roller skates.

We were serving with an international mission organization at the home offices in Florida. We hadn’t lived there very many months when there was a mistake with our monthly check. Each month, people and churches sent money to the mission for our account. And at the end of the month, the finance office deducted our insurance payment, our rent, some other fees and the children’s monthly school tuition. Then we received a check for whatever was left. That’s the money we used for groceries, gas, clothes, doctor’s appointments — whatever we needed each month.

Well, this particular month we didn’t have as many donations as we normally had (or someone sent the check too late to be included in that month’s “paycheck”). And the finance office made a mistake and took out too much for tuition. The check we received was for about $150. No, I didn’t forget any zeroes. We had $150 to live on for a month.

Of course, at first my husband and I were seized with panic. How in the world would eight of us live on a hundred and fifty dollars? Then we prayed. We both felt a peace, that God was telling us just to trust Him. We didn’t call the finance office to get a credit for the extra tuition; we didn’t send out an email or make any phone calls asking for more money. We just waited to see what God would do. It was completely His idea for us to be there, so we trusted He would provide what we needed.

Trying to make a game-like challenge out of the situation, I got creative with the food in our cupboards and freezer. We may not have been eating foods that satisfied every craving we had, but we weren’t going hungry. One evening, we ate a very unsatisfactory meatless dinner, thanking God for providing and resisting the urge to grumble and complain. We tucked the children into bed and settled onto the couch to rest.

Then the phone rang. The mission had hosted a thank-you dinner for the snowbird volunteers who had spent their winter helping out around the home offices. There was quite a bit of food left over, the caller said, would we be interested? My husband hurried downstairs. When he returned to our apartment, tears poured down my face as I looked at the bags and containers of food he brought. We had bags of smoked chicken and beef  and pork, baked beans, cornbread, baked potatoes, coleslaw. There was so much food! So much meat! I used that meat in various meals for at least a week, stretching it as far as we could.

For several weeks, ThingTwo had been asking for roller skates. We explained that roller skates weren’t in the budget, that buying some wouldn’t be the wisest use of our money. She didn’t complain. But she did pray, asking God to make roller skates fit in the budget.

Near the end of that month, a neighbor knocked on our door. “My daughter outgrew these,” she said, holding out a pair of roller skates. “We thought one of your girls might be able to wear them.”

I had never cried over roller skates before. But I sure did that day. What a sweet, loving Father we have! Not only did He provide the food we needed, He provided delicious, abundant meat! And not only did He give us our needs, He gave my little girl the desire of her heart.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

Counting Blessings


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and settle in with a mug of coffee and count my blessings, name the gifts in my life.

If I am not intentional about remembering, naming, numbering, then my mind and heart get caught up in the circumstances swirling around me. For me, cultivating a spirit of gratefulness requires purposeful, deliberate thought. Contentment does not come naturally, I learn it through practice.

When I stop and breathe and look around and within me, I discover I have so many blessings – even the smallest gift comes into sharp focus.

So this morning, as I sip my coffee and slowly inhale and exhale, these are the blessings flowing all around me, these are the gifts I have been given.

• a surprise bouquet of flowers

• streams of sunshine pouring through the windows

• a pretty, cheerful tablecloth

• healthy, creative, active sons

• new mercies as I rose this morning

• God’s nearness and unfailing love

• children who can dress themselves and pour their own cereal

• a dishwasher full of clean dishes and a helpful child to unload it

• laughter

• bright, cheery toenail polish

• hope

What are your blessings today?