Coram Deo


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This time last year we had been staying with my parents for a couple of weeks since we’d sold our home in Tennessee and were waiting to close on the house we live in now, two states away, in Florida. While we were there I was doing a devotional on the Bible app on my phone and it had to do with the phrase Coram Deo which means- living before the face of God. As I read and thought about that phrase I started to get excited. I know that I refer back to college a lot and I’m going to again because that was the time when I developed my thoughts and philosophy of life and ministry. At that time, “worship as a lifestyle” was really popular. Worship as a lifestyle is the thought that worship isn’t just us standing in a worship service, hands raised and singing but it’s also what we do after the music stops. I didn’t want to just be a singing worshipper- I wanted then and I still do now- to be one who worships God with my life.

I wondered then what does a life living before the face of God look like? For me I’d have to say that it can’t be some mystical, unrealistic pursuit. I think back to a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a long line of monks are walking and chanting something along the lines of, Pie Jesu domine, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and then they’d smack themselves in the head with a board. Thankfully I understand that my holiness is found in Jesus and requires no self flagellation. Coram Deo in contrast has to be real and honest because life isn’t clean and tidy. And it changes season to season. When my kids were very small Coram Deo looked like making sure they had fresh diapers, full bellies and time at the park. Today it’s making sure that Chloe gets her biology done, that Halle has done her math and making time for Amanda and Daniel to come over to hang out. Even though I refer back to college often I have to say that my philosophy of what life and ministry should be has changed a lot. Back then I thought that the absolute only answer was to be on staff at a church full time. The concept of lay ministry was an affront to me mostly because I was felt called to full time ministry, as a single mom I really needed to be able to support my daughter and I, and my idealized view of life was very, very narrow. Fast forward 20 years (almost) and I see how important the ministry of being a mom is. I see how important the ministry of being a wife is. I see the value of being able to pitch in and help those that are in full-time ministry to help make their load lighter. When I’m aware that I am constantly living before the face of God my life means more than just hours that I might log at an office but it’s the sum total of what I do day in and day out.

My current season is as a stay at home mom, homeschooling my children. It has been something that I’ve never felt quite suited to but have known that  it was the right thing to do. I also make sure we don’t starve, that everyone has clothes to wear and I keep the girls on track with their chores the girls since house cleaning is a team effort- thankfully, because my housekeeping skills leave something to be desired. So my biggest challenge in making sure that I’m living before the face of God well is in managing my time. I don’t think that God expects me to be busy from the time I get up until I fall into bed exhausted at night. But I also need to not let distraction steal away hours and hours doing things that just don’t matter. Coram Deo isn’t glamorous, it’s real and it’s worship or at least it can be. What I do in my life day in and day out matters. What you do in your life day in and day out matter- no matter how trivial or frustrating it might seem to be right now.

I’d like to challenge you today to think of your life in terms of Coram Deo. What does that look like for you. Are there things that you would change? Are there things that God is asking you to change?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1







Filling in the Blanks Part 2

So, where was I? Oh, we’d just made an offer on a house that was accepted but the homeowners couldn’t close for a month and a half. Got it.

I was sitting in the master bedroom of my daughter and son-in-laws condo. When our Realtor relayed the news about the closing date I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. We were closing on our current home January 18th and they wanted to close on February 14th and as we pressed further they said that they’d close absolutely no sooner than February 10th. They hadn’t expected their house to sell so quickly but there was a baby on the way and a C-section scheduled so we had only two options 1. take it and figure out what to do for three weeks or 2. keep looking. We had pretty much exhausted every decent house available in our desired location so we’d have to expand our search area maybe even into a different city. I learned something very important in our last move though that kept option #2 from being a real possibility. When we moved from Franklin to Spring Hill we had a very similar dilemma, house prices had risen very drastically very quickly which meant that we could sell our house but we’d have to move to a house that was too small again or buy another fixer upper or move to a townhouse. I didn’t have it in me to do any of those things so we looked farther out and landed in Spring Hill. Our home was large a beautiful and brand new and I loved it and our neighborhood but I didn’t really like living in Spring Hill. It was a nice town and I loved the people that I met but even though we were only 25 minutes south of where we lived previously it changed all of our relationships. And since relationships with our family was a driving force in our move we knew we had to keep our preferred location.

So we prayed about it and felt like we should move forward. Our Realtor had suggested an apartment that we could rent by the week but we couldn’t have our dog, Daisy with us. She also checked with all of the rentals they had listed with their agency but nobody wanted to rent to someone with a dog. We felt like it was too much to ask anybody that we were related to to watch her for that long and we’d never kenneled her for that long either. Since she has high anxiety when she’s kenneled I didn’t think that was a good option either. But since we knew that we were supposed to proceed I called our Realtor and said that we’d do it and that we’d figure it out. Approximately two minutes later I realized that we didn’t actually have to be in Lakeland for those three weeks. The girls take their school with them anywhere and Travis works from home so we could literally be anywhere. After Travis shot down my suggestion of staying at a cabin in Gatlinburg for three weeks I suggested that we ask my parents who live in Birmingham if we could stay with them. And, of course, they said yes. Sometimes you don’t get an answer to your questions until you step out in faith.

After that we had the holidays and a host of frustrating house closing things. Our whole 16 1/2 years of living in Tennessee was one frustrating/disappointing/heartbreaking situation after another (I wish I was exaggerating) and this was no different. Adding to the stress of the holidays was the stress of needing to pack the house but being unable to because we had a house full of people visiting. And we also waited for a very long time for our house’s appraisal to come back due to the VA financing of the new owners. Long story short, our house didn’t appraise after a weeks long process and it looked like everything could fall apart at the last moment. It was frustrating because the house should have appraised with no problem and I was very, very tempted to just cancel the contract and start over. But having your house on the market is such a stressful process and the girls and I just didn’t have it in us to do it all over again. And after our Realtor did some finagling we’d only be making about $1,500 less. It was definitely a moment that I had to swallow my pride and not let my frustration take over.

So, after all of that we had to plan our actual moving trip which looked like this. We packed up the truck and my car with everything we owned including the dog, drove to the Title company, signed a bunch of papers and drove to Birmingham. We dropped off the kids, luggage and bedding that we’d need for the next three weeks and went to sleep for about 4 hours. The next day we drove to Lakeland intending to put all of our stuff in storage but got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it there in time to unload the truck. So, we parked the truck at my brother-in-law’s house, went to our daughter’s condo and promptly passed out. The next day we unloaded the truck which ended up being a family reunion of sorts and then passed out again that night. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so tired. Then we rested for a day and drove back to Birmingham in torrential rain and tornado warnings. Our phones were going off every few minutes with that emergency sound, it was jarring and nerve-wracking but thankfully we made it back safely.

And then we started dealing with the emotional fallout of moving our teen and pre-teen daughters away from the only home they’d ever known. There was a lot of crying, often, for months….and we still deal with it from time to time.

So, I’m tired. I’ve been very, very tired for a very, very long time. And so I’m taking some time to rest. Clearly I’ve been taking time since so much time has elapsed between blog posts but I’m going to continue to take time. My health has been a struggle since my first job as a music pastor nearly 20 years ago and it got much, much worse due to the stress that I was under while we lived in Tennessee. I don’t want to be melodramatic in any way but I can say with complete honesty that there wasn’t an easy year the whole time we lived there. Maybe there were some years that were less hard. I look at those years with gratefulness for all that God changed in me and for how those hard times helped me to grow spiritually. But emotionally and physically it’s left me broken in a way. When we moved to Spring Hill I was talking with a friend who knew all the details of what we were going through and she said, “You two are due a nice long rest”. I wanted desperately for that to be true at that time but I knew that it wasn’t. But I do know that this current season is a season for me to recover. I’m starting to see some improvements in my health although I still struggle especially with insomnia. So what about writing? Well, I’m going to write but most likely with a different subject. Writing these blog posts has been difficult for a long time. I constantly hear people say, “tell your story”, and so I have thought, “I guess I should tell my story”. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t. My story is too heavy for me right now and it weighs me down. The only thing I really want to write about is something fun and I have and idea in mind. But I don’t intend on really starting that until after the first of the year. So, for those of you that are reading, thank you. I appreciate my readers whether it’s one or one hundred. See you next year…






Filling in the Blanks

In my last post I hit some of the highlights of our move. I didn’t really want to bore people with the nuts and bolts of some of it but as I replayed those months in my mind I realized that there was more to write- much more. As I’ve read some of what I’ve written over the last 12 years I noticed that my early writings were very rambly which was fine by me because I wasn’t trying to be a writer. I just wanted to tell our friends and family that were far-off about our life and to share pictures of our adorable kiddos. I’ve noticed more recently though as I’ve tried to tighten things up and convey thoughts more clearly that I’ve become much more succinct. That can be a good thing but in this case it isn’t. So, I’ve decided to share more even if that means that I break this post into parts. My goal is to show that we weren’t just navigating the tough waters of uprooting our whole life by ourselves. God led us in every decision we had to make- and there were so many.

Last fall was beautiful in Tennessee. The weather was perfect and the leaves on the trees were changing. For the first time since we’d moved there though I was completely unable to enjoy it. It’s hard to have your heart stuck between two places. We are a homeschooling family and have been for many years. Usually we start school around September which gave the girls and I some uninterrupted time at the community pool since the schools in our county started at the beginning of August. That year was different though, I felt very strongly that we needed to start school when the public schools did which was August 2nd. So, after prayer and talking to Travis I found an online program that the girls could do for a relatively inexpensive fee (a nice bonus) and we could do school anywhere that we had an internet connection without having to lug around and keep track of books. I didn’t know then how important that would be.

It was later in that same month that everything in my life started to change. (I wrote about that here and here).

Fall is hands-down the busiest time in our lives because that’s when our family from Florida wanted to visit most years. And we were doing school. And we were still hosting life group. And I had already started to feel like I was going to have a breakdown. So I really, really didn’t want to put the house on the market until after the first of the year. But we prayed and felt strongly that we were supposed to put our house on the market then. When we talked to our Realtor she said the same thing, that if we were going to do it we needed to do it right away.

Putting our house on the market right away meant that we were going to have to disappoint some people though and I hate disappointing people. But we knew we couldn’t host Life Group anymore. I tried to rationalize keeping it, after all it’s only two Wednesday nights a month, surely I could keep going. But do you know what happens when you continue to hold onto something that you’re supposed to let go of? It starts to get really, really heavy. It started to feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was crying easily and a lot. I felt frustrated and irritable. It was time to let go and to trust that God would provide what that group needed.

After we put the house on the market and had shown the house many, many times we finally had an offer that we accepted. It had been our plan all along to head to Florida to look for a house to buy the second we accepted a contract. But as we were planning to leave I felt uneasy, like maybe we shouldn’t take off so quickly. I talked to our Realtor and mentioned that we were planning on leaving and she really wanted us to wait to leave until after our house had been inspected. The problem was that there was a house that I’d seen online that Travis and I both really liked and they had just dropped the price significantly. I was sure that the house would sell before we got there. It was definitely a moment that we had to trust that God knew more than we did and that he was leading us. So we decided that we’d leave the following weekend. I kept my eye on that house all week but I’d determined that I would keep my distance emotionally and if it sold before we got there then that was God’s will.

Once we got to Florida I was a little nervous about house hunting. I had been looking at houses for a couple of months online and I knew that there just wasn’t much available at that time in the area we wanted to live that was also in our price rang. And as it turned out our first day of house hunting was very disappointing. The first house we saw was a rental property that was occupied. It was awkward to say the least. The tenant and his family were very, very nice but everything smelled like curry since we’d arrived around lunch time and even though the house might have worked for us it there were plenty of things to knock it off our list. The second house we saw was the house that Travis and I were very excited about that I mentioned earlier. It looked nice from the outside and the neighborhood was really nice but as soon as we stepped onto the front entry area I noticed that the foundation was cracked. And a few more looks around showed shoddy workmanship. We’d dealt with foundation issues in our first house and weren’t anxious to deal with it again so we passed on that house too. In fact, we passed on every single house that day.

That night I noticed that a new house had come on the market while we were on our way down to Florida. It was a really vibrant shade of green that I wasn’t crazy about. The inside though had been updated in a super cute cottage style that I really liked and it had a *pool*! My oldest daughter, Amanda had been sending me house listings for a couple of months with houses that had pools. They were mostly unsuitable and I joked that she sent me pictures of pools with shacks attached to them. I didn’t think too much of the house because though it was in our price range it was at the top and we didn’t really want to go that high.

The next morning I woke up at 6am-again- because our Realtor is an early bird and we set out to house hunt. I don’t remember much about what we saw that day except for the green house. As soon as we set foot inside I knew it was our house. It was much older than our current home and less upgraded but it just felt like home. We’d be losing about 450 square feet but each of the girl’s rooms were big enough for a queen size bed, it was something we really wanted since each girl has a queen size bed and there are very few homes with guest rooms big enough. They were already giving up their friends and life in Tennessee so we really didn’t want them to have to give up their beds too. The kitchen was not as spacious as the one I had and I was going to lose my big island and we were also losing a laundry room and a bedroom but there was a separate living area that we could use as Trav’s office which was another must since he would be working from home full time. What we lost in interior space though we got in spades outside. With a lot that was over a third of an acre (more than double our current lot) and a 600 sq. ft. screened in patio with a pool it was definitely worth the trade off. After all, we’d be doing a lot more outside living since we wouldn’t be trapped inside the house for 5 months of winter.

So after seeing another house and taking our Realtor’s advice to sleep on it before we made an offer we prayed about it and decided that we definitely wanted to move forward with the green house. We made an offer and to our surprise they accepted it….with one small exception- they couldn’t close when we wanted to. They actually couldn’t close anywhere near where we wanted to since the wife was having a C-section two days before our closing date in Tennessee. That left us with a giant dilemma- which I will talk about in my next post.

Until next time…


Moving On

I’m going to say this in the most succinct way I know how- moving is hard. I have discovered that every time we make a move to a new place I get sort of numb. Emotionally I feel detached and out of sorts and it takes a while before I can get my footing again. I don’t write during these times because even though I’m normally pretty level headed I can also be really dramatic and feel like the world is going to end (I was a music major after all). Whenever I write during a “Chicken Little” phase I end up wanting to crawl under a rock and hide…or delete my post- either way. I say all that to say that the fog has started to clear and I’m starting to feel more like myself again. Our life here is still really new but I don’t feel like my life is something I’m watching happen from a distance anymore.

In my last post I had a lot of questions that didn’t have answers and I’m happy to say that most of them are answered. We sold our house in Tennessee and while I was relieved to have it over with I wasn’t really happy about selling it. I wasn’t ready to move yet and I was kind of bummed but knowing that we were doing the right thing helped. We also bought a new house and it isn’t pink…it’s froggy green but that’s better than pink to me. Although in a funny turn of events, our oldest daughter and son-in-law bought the most adorable little bungalow in an historic area of Lakeland just two blocks from a lake and downtown and it is most decidedly pink! Pink with green trim to be exact. It looks great and fits in perfectly with it’s historic surroundings but they do plan on painting it at some point. And their moving into their first home is something that I was here for. For the first time in over 5 years I wasn’t sharing this experience via Instagram or text messages, I was here. Or rather, we were here. We all helped them move from their condo to their new house, her little sisters took some cast-off furniture and things for their rooms and helped clean their old place. Travis gave Daniel advice on the mechanics of home ownership and other things that we girls were too busy to pay attention to.

We were also able to go to birthday parties for our nephew and niece and my brother-in-law and hosted a birthday party for Amanda (three of those parties were in one weekend). My parents stayed with us for a week so we could go to Amanda and Daniel’s college graduation (with a BS & MBA respectively). We’ve seen long lost friends and reconnected with family, found a church home and our girls are starting to make friends. And the sobbing that happened every afternoon is starting to subside- moving is really hard on kids.

About a week or so after we closed on our house we bought Disney passes and so interspersed with all of the aforementioned things were Disney trips, lots and lots of Disney trips. I’d gone to Disney parks many times but I’ve never gone this much in a single year. I think it helped me transition from Tennessee to Florida just to be able to have some really fun days. And also I’m nearly an expert on Disney parks now so I have even more things to write about 🙂

Is it what I expected? I’m not completely sure but I think it’s been better. Our house now is not the brand new home with the highly desirable upgrades that our last home was. It’s older and has some nice upgrades but also needs some updating- currently the counter top in our master bathroom is mauve, blech. We think we’ll be in this house for quite a while though so there’s time to update it when were ready. And we have a pool! We had a community pool in our last house and the first summer it was really nice. By the third summer though there were a lot more people living in the neighborhood and the kids seemed to run amok and made a mess of some things so it wasn’t as fun to swim there. I actually spent last summer dreaming of having my own pool, never imagining I’d have one.

In closing, so far our move has been great. There have been some challenges (the aforementioned sobbing) but the Lord has brought us through it. The girls are currently at camp and I’ve seen pictures of the things they’re doing and it looks like they’re having an amazing time. Before we left Tennessee I told Halle that this was an opportunity for her to learn to trust the Lord, that He knew what was best for her and that He had a plan. I think I was telling myself that too. I knew that God is faithful no matter what the outcome but taking those steps of faith can be scary. And I’m happy to say that out of all the moves the Button family has made, this one is the best.




When Facing Uncertainty

In my last blog post I talked about finding peace and I truly thought I’d gotten a handle on why I wasn’t peaceful and what I needed to do about it. And as it turns out, being determined to continue doing what I was doing wasn’t all there was to that particular storm.

It’s a long story and I won’t share all of it but at the end of it, Travis and I decided that we’re moving back to Florida to be near our family. We’ve lived in Tennessee for all but 11 months of our marriage and while those years have been really difficult I have still considered Tennessee home. Sort of. Really, I think it depended on the day. I’ve often wondered if other transplants feel as conflicted as I have. I’m not sure if it’s because Florida is so completely different than Tennessee or because it’s so far away but I’ve often felt like a fish out of water. When we’d go home and go to the beach I’d wonder why I ever left and then we’d get back to Tennessee and I’d see the hills and trees and think that I’d stay here forever. Forever is a long time to be away from our family though. It’s always come down to what God was asking us to do. Always. When Travis’ mom passed away last year our first inclination was to move immediately. The house didn’t matter, our church, our life, none of it mattered but that wasn’t God’s plan for us at the time. Of course, we had no idea that there would only be 5 weeks between her diagnosis and her passing. There really was no time for us to move then.

This past summer, Travis really felt like God was asking him to be willing to move. We’re settled here. Our kids had made some really strong friendships and I didn’t want to turn their lives upside down. We had done that with our oldest daughter when we moved here and it was really hard for her. I wanted things to be more stable for them, I wanted things to be more stable for me. Apparently, I don’t like change as much as I did when I was in my 20’s. So when Travis passionately told me that he felt like God was asking him to be willing to move I didn’t take it so well. I’m pretty sure that I said, “I’m not moving”! It was about two months later that I was heading to my parent’s house feeling like I was caught in a whirlwind with no idea how to find peace. Peace comes in obedience.

So, the last few months have been a flurry of activity, getting the house ready and we’ve put it on the market. And when the activity was done and I had a moment to try to figure out my feelings I realized that there are so many questions that I don’t have the answers to. What will it be like living near our family? They already have their lives and I know they’re busy so how do we fit into that? What will our new house look like? I’ve been looking at houses and there’s nothing like our house there in our price range. Have you ever seen Florida houses? Some of them are pink. I really don’t like pink that much. Where will we go to church? We’ve gone to the same church for 11 years and I can’t imagine not being there. Will I miss Tennessee and be miserable?  Will I ever see my friends again? People I’ve laughed and cried and prayed with. The people who have seen me at my absolute worst and still loved me anyway.

I was running errands one afternoon and I was listening to the radio. One of the DJs was talking about her dad and said that he was a pastor that had resigned his church and right after that had broken his leg and had been house bound for 6 weeks. Being unemployed, house bound and without a church family was weighing heavily on him. But in the midst of it he sent a devotional to his kids declaring how good God is and that he would take care of him. I thought, “What a blessing it is to hear someone declare the goodness of God before he has the answers, before the deliverance comes”. Tears streamed down my face and I was encouraged and I knew that I had to write about this before I have the answers, before the house sells, before we know where we’re going to live- God is good. And I know that He’s going to take care of us, I know his plans for us are “For His glory and for our good”- Dale Evrist

One hurdle that is already crossed is Trav’s job. He’s been given permission to keep his job and work remotely from Florida. As stressful as moving two states away is, having that resolved is a huge blessing. Two out of our three kids are ecstatic about the move, our oldest, Amanda who lives in my hometown already and, Chloe, our middle daughter. She says she’s always been a Floridian she just hasn’t been able to live there. Our youngest is very much like me and is taking it pretty hard but even in that I’ve seen God help her get through it. I don’t know how to feel a lot of days but thankfully I don’t have to rely on my ever-changing feelings, I can rely fully on God to bring us through this.

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28